Quick Roundup 238

Monday, September 10, 2007

Two Posts on Philosophy in Law

Qwertz has two long, but very interesting posts, "On Philosophy in Legal Education" and "More on Positivism" at his blog. From the second of these:

In come Progressivism and Positivism. Between the 1830s and the 1860s, the dominant philosophy changes. By end of the Civil War, the Constitution is no longer an empowering document. It is now a limiting document. Government power to do a thing is assumed, unless the Constitution (or Bill of Rights) removes that power. The philosophy finally consumes the whole of the law in the 1930s, with the packing of the Court.
Read both to see how things got to this point, and to get a glimpse of the state of legal education today.

Five Email Tics ...

I've been stopping by the personal productivity blog 43 Folders lately after visiting Noodle Food. Rummaging around this weekend through the email section, I found an old, but still relevant and amusing list of annoying email "tics" the author -- and myself -- would like to see go away.

#4 gets my vote for most annoying, and #2 for most amusing. #5 looks, at least to me, like it's almost extinct.

Carnival of Recipes

The Carnival of Recipes was posted this weekend over at Food History.

Mechanical Computer Virus -- or Computer Prion?

From a roundup at 43 Folders comes a story of a computer hardware "virus" that affected all Macs that plugged into a certain video projector adapter at the author's job. Basically, a certain kind of video output adapter socket became malformed, which deranged the corresponding pins on any computer that plugged into it. These, in turn, could damage other adapter sockets to resemble the one that damaged them in the first place, spreading the problem. The afflicted computers could no longer send their video output to a projector, but were normal in all other respects.

So this behaved like a computer virus, only it wasn't computer code, but a hardware component. This reminds me a little of prions -- the proteins that are best-known as the cause of mad cow disease.
Prion: A disease-causing agent that is neither bacterial nor fungal nor viral and contains no genetic material. A prion is a protein that occurs normally in a harmless form. By folding into an aberrant shape, the normal prion turns into a rogue agent. It then coopts other normal prions to become rogue prions.
So in the sense that this "disease" was caused by and affected the abnormal configuration of a normally-occurring hardware component ("protein") rather than by a self-replicating piece of foreign software ("viral DNA"), this problem looks more like a prion disease than a viral infection.

The analogy between prion diseases and this "hardware virus" most obviously breaks down at the point when one remembers that prion proteins are produced from genetic information in the host (which may or may not be correct, as it turns out), while here, the Mac's native software "genetic code" has nothing to do with directing the production of its components.

-- CAV

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