Saturday, October 14, 2017

Published Today!



A gallon of gas cost 60 cents — an outrageously high price in the inflationary mid-1970s. The Vietnam War had just ended, and the first videotape recorders were appearing in Japan. Bell-bottoms and teardrop eyeglasses were in style. Fugitive newspaper heiress Patty Hearst — who had joined her kidnappers in robbing a bank — had just been captured. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak would soon form Apple Computer Company. A year after that, the lights would go out in Manhattan for 25 hours. The following year, Egypt and Israel would sign an historic peace treaty. These were the newspaper headlines of the times. Against this backdrop, a teenage reporter sought his own headlines, interviewing the famous and the powerful, seeking new stories to tell while in pursuit of “the scoop”: the Holy Grail of all reporters. Starting at the age of 16, armed with only a pencil, a borrowed camera, and his trusty typewriter, this intrepid “cub” reporter covered some of the greatest stories and people of the era. This is his story... and some of the stories he wrote. 

What will you find in Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter? In addition to some entertaining autobiographical anecdotes of my brief stint as a “cub” reporter (from college press and country journalism to turning down CNN), and contemporaneous articles I wrote during that period (like the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in Washington, DC and the Spenkelink execution in Florida), Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter also includes my interviews with and/or photographs of:

Reubin Askew (Florida governor)
F. Lee Bailey (famed criminal defense attorney)
Griffin Bell (U.S. attorney general)
Leigh Brackett (science fiction and mystery author)
Jimmy Carter (U.S. president)
Lin Carter (Conan author)
Steve Cauthen (Triple Crown-winning jockey)
Lawton Chiles (U.S. senator and Florida governor)
Midge Costanza (Carter White House aide)
Alan Dean Foster (science fiction author)
David Frost (British television personality and interviewer)
L. Sprague de Camp (Conan author)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (actress)
Dick Giordano (comic book artist)
Valerie Harper (actress)
Leon Jaworski (Watergate prosecutor)
Hamilton Jordan (Carter White House chief of staff)
Jeanette Kahn (DC Comics publisher)
Gabe Kaplan (comedian and star of Welcome Back, Kotter)
David Kennerly (Ford White House photographer)
Coretta Scott King (widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Charles Kirbo (Georgia attorney, confidant and advisor to President Jimmy Carter)
Jack Kirby (comic book artist)
The Amazing Kreskin (George Joseph Kresge, a famous mentalist)
Gary Kurtz (Star Wars producer)
R.A. Lafferty (science fiction author)
Keith Laumer (science fiction author)
Stan Lee (Marvel Comics writer and publisher)
Barry Manilow (singer-songwriter)
Eugene McCarthy (U.S. senator and presidential candidate)
Walter Mondale (U.S. vice-president)
Martin Mull (comedian and actor)
Noel Neil (“Lois Lane” in The Adventures of Superman)
Jody Powell (Carter White House press secretary)
Vincent Price (actor)
Helen Reddy (Australian singer)
Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek creator)
Robert Silverberg (science fiction author)
Jim Steranko (comic book artist)
George Takei (actor)
Jack Williamson (science fiction author)
Mike Zeck (comic book artist)
Roger Zelazny (poet and science fiction author)
Anthony Zerbe (actor)

If you’re a fan of television, movies, comic books, science fiction, politics, or the craft of writing then you will find something of interest in Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter.

Publication Date: October 14, 2017






Thursday, October 12, 2017

Freedom Isn’t Free

The bravest thing I’ve ever seen was when an ordinary citizen in support of democracy and in open defiance of the Communist Chinese government stood up to a tank in Tiananmen Square. Alone and unarmed, in a tense situation in which the government had turned weapons of war on its own citizens to quell dissent, this one man blocked the tank’s path. The military leaders didn’t know what to do. They realized the entire world was watching and they knew what the optics of a 48-ton tank crushing a man on live international television would look like to the world. Finally, the tank commander blinked first, and the tank pivoted to swerve around the man. The man then rushed in front of the tank again.

One man can make a difference. Imagine if he had been joined by millions of others, not just the thousands protesting beside him, but millions willing to actually put their lives on the line for democracy and freedom.

Freedom isn’t free. No one gives you freedom: not the government, not the Founding Fathers, not the truisms you studied in history books in school. It has to be earned, and not just once but repeatedly like a license that must be renewed. Earning means you have to do something, not just sit on your ass, and sometimes it even requires sacrifice. Our generation has forgotten that. Ironically, we’ve had the luxury to forget because of the sacrifices of previous generations.

In the words of Janis Joplin, “Freedom isn’t free. You’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to sacrifice for your liberty.”

It is shameful that members of Congress, and other employees of the federal government, all of whom swore an oath to protect democracy and the Constitution of the United States, are standing by doing nothing while the Constitution is being violated on a daily basis by a mentally unhinged man in the employ of a foreign hostile government.

The rest of us didn’t take an oath of office to protect the Constitution, but we did grow up pledging allegiance every day “to the flag and to the Republic" it represents. The future of that Republic, and democracy itself, is in jeopardy. One man cannot stop what is happening in Washington, DC. Those of us who speak out on public forums are standing in front of the tank. But I have to wonder, as I did watching that brave man in Tiananmen Square back in 1989, where are all the other people? Where are the ordinary citizens willing to stand up and march to Washington, not in protest, but to physically remove any and all threats to democracy? Drag them right out of office and don’t let them back in. 
Image may contain: text

What will you find in Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter? In addition to some entertaining autobiographical anecdotes of my brief stint as a “cub” reporter (from college press and country journalism to turning down CNN), and contemporaneous articles I wrote during that period (like the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in Washington, DC and the Spenkelink execution in Florida), Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter also includes my interviews with and/or photographs of:

Reubin Askew (Florida governor)
F. Lee Bailey (famed criminal defense attorney)
Griffin Bell (U.S. attorney general)
Leigh Brackett (science fiction and mystery author)
Jimmy Carter (U.S. president)
Lin Carter (Conan author)
Steve Cauthen (Triple Crown-winning jockey)
Lawton Chiles (U.S. senator and Florida governor)
Midge Costanza (Carter White House aide)
Alan Dean Foster (science fiction author)
David Frost (British television personality and interviewer)
L. Sprague de Camp (Conan author)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (actress)
Dick Giordano (comic book artist)
Valerie Harper (actress)
Leon Jaworski (Watergate prosecutor)
Hamilton Jordan (Carter White House chief of staff)
Jeanette Kahn (DC Comics publisher)
Gabe Kaplan (comedian and star of Welcome Back, Kotter)
David Kennerly (Ford White House photographer)
Coretta Scott King (widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Charles Kirbo (Georgia attorney, confidant and advisor to President Jimmy Carter)
Jack Kirby (comic book artist)
The Amazing Kreskin (George Joseph Kresge, a famous mentalist)
Gary Kurtz (Star Wars producer)
R.A. Lafferty (science fiction author)
Keith Laumer (science fiction author)
Stan Lee (Marvel Comics writer and publisher)
Barry Manilow (singer-songwriter)
Eugene McCarthy (U.S. senator and presidential candidate)
Walter Mondale (U.S. vice-president)
Martin Mull (comedian and actor)
Noel Neil (“Lois Lane” in The Adventures of Superman)
Jody Powell (Carter White House press secretary)
Vincent Price (actor)
Helen Reddy (Australian singer)
Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek creator)
Robert Silverberg (science fiction author)
Jim Steranko (comic book artist)
George Takei (actor)
Jack Williamson (science fiction author)
Mike Zeck (comic book artist)
Roger Zelazny (poet and science fiction author)
Anthony Zerbe (actor)

If you’re a fan of television, movies, comic books, science fiction, politics, or the craft of writing then you will find something of interest in Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter.

Publication Date: October 14, 2017

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

In Case You Were Wondering…

As readers of my blog know, I don’t like to discuss personal matters. I’ll talk about societal issues, the craft of writing, and even relay a few humorous anecdotes, but I prefer to keep my private life private. I believe an author’s job is to provide his readers with informative and entertaining books, not to indulge in pandering to readers’ curiosity about the personal life of the authors they follow. But there is one exception to that rule.

The exception is when personal matters interfere with an author’s ability to meet his obligations to his readers. So I’ll break my long-standing rule this once and explain why I’ve been off the grid for quite some time: why I haven’t sent out my monthly newsletter in seven months; why my blog posts have dropped from three-per-week to one-or-two-per-month (and even then some have been republished posts); and why several books announced for publication in 2017 have been delayed.

I offer this not as an excuse or apology but simply as an explanation for those of you who have noticed, and particularly for those of you who have written in. If you’re not one of those, you should probably stop reading right now and wait until I have something far more interesting to post.

Some of you may recall my blog post a few years earlier about the death of my grandmother, to whom I was extremely close. What I did not reveal was that shortly thereafter my beloved canine companion also died following complications from a protracted illness that had required a great deal of personal caregiving and an enormous financial commitment -- her last day in the hospital alone ran up a $14,000 bill, creating even more stress and financial hardship for me. All throughout this period, I had been diagnosed with suspected thyroid cancer and had been putting off the recommended surgery, partially because the attendant risks of the operation and partially because of the other situations I was dealing with, including a myriad of other health problems.

I continued ignoring the advice of many doctors until finally my surgeon reviewed the latest ultrasound scans and said it was time. I had chosen, quite literally, one of the finest surgeons in this specialty in the world so his opinion weighed heavily with me. There was also the uncertainty of what the Trump administration might do regarding the availability of insurance coverage, so I agreed to have the surgery. It involved cutting between the jugular vein and the carotid artery, with the risk of accidentally slicing the vocal cords leaving the patient unable to speak. I scheduled the operation at the out-of-town cancer facility.

Two weeks before my scheduled surgery, my cat was diagnosed with lymphoma, a particularly insidious form of cancer that cannot be cured by surgery. Sometimes the patient’s life may be prolonged by chemotherapy, and I started my cat on that. I watched her lose half her weight as I tried to do everything I could to prolong her life and make her comfortable. Then, I had to leave her to go to my own surgery. The day before my operation, the doctor did the preliminary tests, scans, and exams. He noticed I had a suspicious lymph node in my neck: it was 2 ½ times the normal size, the cell wall had broken down, and the nucleus did not look right. He still planned to remove part or all of my thyroid because of the suspected thyroid cancer; however now he also wanted to remove the lymph node and send it off to be biopsied to determine if I had lymphoma.

I had studied up on lymphoma to help care for my dying cat. I knew what it was; I knew how devastating it could be; and I knew that while it might be possible through chemotherapy or radiation to put it into remission that there was no cure and that it could not be surgically removed. After my surgery, I was released from the hospital and returned home a few days later to spend the next two weeks watching my cat die from lymphoma, waiting for my own biopsy report that would tell me if I was seeing a preview of what would be in store for me shortly. After my cat’s death, I learned my biopsy report had returned negative.

I was still recuperating from my operation. It was painful, as all surgeries are, and the painkillers they give you have the unfortunate effect of making you sleep a lot, which adversely affects your productivity. I sent out one final newsletter to let my subscribers to let them know what was happening but that was all I could manage. I had a number of blog posts I wanted to write, but between the tendonitis and bursitis in my arm that limited my typing and the throat surgery that made it nearly impossible to use dictation software, I had to cut back on the blog posts.

I had a number of books planned for release in 2017, and fortunately all of the announced books had already been written and edited. But there were two problems. The first was, because of my health issues, I would not be physically able to do all the marketing required for of these books once they had been released. It was decided to postpone publication of all but one until my health had improved.

The second problem has to deal with one of my publisher’s primary distributors. I will not identify the party because we are currently contemplating litigation against them for unfair trade practices, and fraudulent and deceptive business practices they engaged in, which cost us tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales. I prefer to discuss lawsuits after I’ve won them and not before. To paraphrase Kenny Rogers, “You never count your money when you're sittin’ at the table; there'll be time enough when the dealin’s done.”

There were other business-side problems as well. One of our printers fell to a new level of incompetence, and was no longer even able to provide us with a dedicated account rep. Phone calls went unreturned, follow-up rarely occurred, and problems went unresolved. Then, our much-anticipated audiobook project fell apart when the chosen narrator did not live up to the contract and produce the audiobook.

Meanwhile, a lot of these great books promised for 2017 that were sitting in the can ready to be released had to go on hiatus. But I didn’t want to completely disappear from the scene, so in an attempt to attract some new readers and whet existing readers’ appetites for the publication, I turned to Wattpad and started publishing excerpts from several of my previously published series. The stories were well received and that led to a brand-new series that will definitely be published in 2018.

But back to 2017. I was fairly well recovered from the surgery and while we were dealing with the devastating financial losses caused by the illegal activities of one of our distributors, I managed to release the eleventh edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law, first as an electronic download available from the wonderful people at VitalSource, the leader in digital textbook distribution, and shortly thereafter a print version.

And then, last month we were told that a Category 5 hurricane was heading straight toward us and that we would be wiped out. Our homes and offices were in buildings that were not built to withstand anything higher than a Category 3. We were advised to pack up what we could and flee the entire state, which in my case was impractical. If we chose to remain, we were warned, we would likely be flooded and lose our roofs and some or all of our walls. We would lose every item we owned. It was a very stressful time. Fortunately, the hurricane veered to the northwest and we were only struck by Category 1 winds, yet still threatened by about two dozen tornadoes spawned by the storm. We now had to spend the subsequent weeks cleaning up and repairing the fortunately minor damage we suffered. It could have been much, much worse had the storm not changed direction, but the stress during that week was overwhelming.

Emergency services were not available during the hurricane. Even afterwards, the roads were filled with debris, fallen trees, and downed power lines feeding live electricity into the numerous puddles. It was a bad time for my health to take yet another turn for the worse, but as soon as the roads were cleared I was able to get to the emergency room of the local hospital. I believed I had developed a thrombosis in my leg, and if there were a blood clot it could travel to my heart and cause instant death. Fortunately, after an ultrasound, the hospital concluded there did not appear to be a blood clot but that I had other serious health issues causing the problem I was experiencing. I was referred to several other doctors, including my own general practitioner and specialist, as well as to a neurologist. I’ve spent the last two weeks going to different doctor offices, having exams and consultations, running blood tests, having MRIs and ultrasounds, and other specialized tests.

So I guess the short answer to why I haven’t been posting my blog regularly, sending out my monthly newsletter, replying to nonessential emails, and most importantly publishing my books on schedule is that I’ve been a bit busy. But that sounds flippant, and my readers who have stuck with me this long and given me their support and encouragement deserve a better answer, so I hope this incredibly long one suffices.

Now, some good news. My long-awaited book, Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter will be published next week. I’m going to try to post on Facebook about it, and maybe a post on my blog but that’s about all the marketing I’m up to doing right now. I hope my fans will check it out and spread the word for me. 
Image may contain: text

Saturday, October 7, 2017

I have three novels nominated for awards at the Imaginarium Convention in Kentucky this weekend.

Flashbacks (Fangs & Fur, Book 1) is up for BEST FANTASY NOVEL

The Tomorrow Paradox  (The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer, Book 2) is up for BEST SF NOVEL

Cops and Robbers is up for BEST GENERAL FICTION NOVEL

A lot of stiff competition, but always nice to be recognized regardless of the outcome.

Image may contain: text

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Red Hot Chili Peppers in a 401(k)

I was in the mall last night when I got hungry and decided to stop at the food court. I was tempted by the Chick-fil-A stand but there was no way I was going to pay $10 for eight measly chicken nuggets. Instead, I stopped at McDonald’s on the way home and bought a dozen chicken nuggets for $2.50. The cashier asked what type of sauce I wanted to go with my order. “What are my choices?” I asked. She rattled off a list of names and I chose the last one, out of curiosity because I’d never heard of it. 

It turned out to be a good choice. It was made with cucumber and chili peppers, hot and tangy, just the way I like it. The next day, I tried to find the sauce in the supermarket but I couldn’t remember the name. Finally, I returned home and dug the plastic dipping sauce container out of the trash and learned I was hunting for sriracha sauce. Or more specifically, sriracha sauce added to McDonald’s Big Mac sauce, since sriracha was merely the main ingredient in the sauce I had tasted.

So I turned to the Internet, which led me to eBay where I found plastic dipping containers of McDonald’s Sriracha Mac Sauce™ for sale at surprisingly high prices: the first ad I stumbled upon offered a single container for $10,000. I carefully washed and pressed the lid of my previously discarded Sriracha Mac Sauce™ and compared it to the pictures on eBay. They were identical. I stared into the empty container realizing with dismay that my previous night’s $2.50 dinner may have been the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten.

I had no idea why someone was offering a dipping sauce container for $10,000. I assumed the seller must have been a flake, but then I saw other listings from different sellers, albeit much more reasonably priced, ranging from $75 to $3,000. Something was going on here. So I went back to McDonald’s tonight and dug out the three dollars I had squirreled away to buy a lottery ticket (a.k.a. my retirement fund) and ordered the Chicken McNuggets. “Oh, and by the way, I’d like some of that Sriracha sauce.” The cashier brought me a brown bag of McNuggets. I gave him the friendliest smile I could muster without looking like I was coming on to him. “Could I have a few more Sriracha Mac Sauces™?” I asked, innocently.

So now I’m driving home with $60,000 of McDonald’s Sriracha Mac Sauce™ in a little brown bag, eager to log onto eBay and fund my retirement. Of course I’ll have to forgo the lottery ticket I was going to buy, but even if this doesn’t work out I can still eat my retirement dreams.



Friday, September 8, 2017

Order Your Copy of Issues in Internet Law!

Now available as an electronic download to your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android devices, Chromebook, and other e-readers! Save up to $10! Download the 11th edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law from VitalSource !

The 11th edition of Issues In Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law has been updated for 2017 with the latest cases and trends in Internet Law. Of particular note are major changes in the areas of online privacy, and the European Union.

Topics include:

Privacy: Invasion of Privacy, Public Records, Workplace Privacy, Employer & ISP Monitoring, Data Collection, Data Retention, Data Breaches, the Right to be Forgotten, E-Mail & Chat Room Privacy, Web Site Privacy Policies, Behavioral Marketing, Flash Cookies, Device Fingerprinting, Privacy & Children, Metadata, Border Searches, FISA & the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA, FISA Court, PRISM, XKeyscore, EU Privacy Directives;

Free Speech: Defamation, SLAPPs, Gripe Sites, Revenge Porn Sites, Mugshot Sites, Blogs & Vlogs, Obscenity & Pornography, Harassment & Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Repression, Student Speech, CDA, Anonymous Speech, Commercial Speech, Expressive Conduct; "Fake News";

Social Media: Misuse, Ownership, Coerced Access, the Courts;

Cybercrimes: Spam, Phishing, Identity Theft, Spyware & Malware, Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying, Computer Trespass, Wardriving, Virtual Crime;

Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets, Creative Commons, Linking, Framing, File-Sharing, Fair Use, Public Domain, Work-Made-For-Hire, DMCA, VARA, Domain Name Disputes, Keyword Advertising, America Invents Act;

Business & the Internet: Internet Taxation, Internet Interstate Commerce, Web Contracts, e-Discovery, Corporate Securities, Crowdfunding, Reg A, Reg D;

European Union: Directives and Regulations; the General Data Protection Regulation; the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive; the Privacy Shield;

Also:Cloud Computing; Digital Currency; Right of Publicity; the Internet of Things; Web Accessibility; Net Neutrality; Online Reputation Management; Social Media Monitoring; Podcasts; Geofiltering; Digital Journalism; Hyper Local Web Sites, Digital Estate Planning; Sexting; Facial Recognition; E-Books and many more subjects.

Concisely written and covering a broad range of topics, this is the most current book of its kind!


Reviews:

“Concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

“Although it deals with the complex legal issues surrounding the Internet, it is written in layman’s terms and illustrated with ‘ripped from the headlines’ court cases.” (Amazon)

“The concepts and issues are presented in a way that is sufficiently rigorous but very easy to read, making the book one I can recommend.” (Computing Reviews) * “A valuable resource, well-researched and well presented.”

“I want a copy on my bookshelf always within arm’s reach.”

“The anecdotal nature made it easy to understand the underlying legal concepts.”

“It is imperative that schools adopt this book in a way which would help young students gain knowledge about the various issues involving the Internet.” (Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law)

“Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law will be a welcome addition in both academic and public law libraries… It should be acquired by libraries for its concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Voyage of Discovery

With a new school year approaching, this is an appropriate excerpt from my book, Collected Essays of a Reluctant Blogger:



When we gaze into a classroom, we see the faces of 30 young students endowed with differing innate abilities and skills. They were not all designed to work the same way. Our educational system teaches them as if they were monolithic, or at least fungible entities. But they are not. One might be good with his hands, capable of creating fine pottery or crafts; a second might be a thinker; a third, a strategic planner; yet another, an artist or poet. One might be good with numbers, while another able to conceptualize complex theories.

It is distressing to see our leaders place their entire educational emphasis on science and math, ignoring the importance of history, writing (communication and expression), philosophy, and the arts (art, music, and literature). A society needs citizens grounded in a sense of history, for those ignorant of the past are doomed to repeat its errors. Those citizens need the ability to communicate and express their thoughts and ideas in an articulate, cogent manner, free from emotional argument ad hominem. And as we have learned from the relics of all great civilizations -- from Ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome forward -- societies need beauty. From the Great Pyramids, to Michelangelo’s “The David”, to William Shakespeare’s oeuvre, a civilization is inspired by, and defined by, its art.

Science and math have their place. Societies have always needed ship builders and navigators, be it the Greeks to design and pilot their penteconters; the Spanish, their galleons; or the Chinese, their junks. From galleys to spacecrafts, math and science have played an integral role in man’s ability to free himself from landlocked constraints and set forth on voyages of exploration. But while important, science and math are not the only disciplines our children must be taught.

Civilizations need thinkers. Philosophers. Individuals who contemplate, as well as those who plan. The de-emphasis of the disciplines of philosophy, history, and the arts, in both our schools and our culture, explains the sorry state of our society today and the Weltschmerz that permeates us. We live in a culture of corporate greed, where individualistic selfishness has replaced altruism, idealism, and principles. But now more than ever, we need thinkers and philosophers to express their thoughts and communicate their ideas, as much or more than we need a nation of scientists and mathematicians, because while it’s important to build the ships that will take us across vast oceans or galaxies, it's more important to know where we're going and why.


Friday, September 1, 2017

Order Your Copy of Issues in Internet Law!

Now available as an electronic download to your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android devices, Chromebook, and other e-readers! Save up to $10! Download the 11th edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law from VitalSource !

The 11th edition of Issues In Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law has been updated for 2017 with the latest cases and trends in Internet Law. Of particular note are major changes in the areas of online privacy, and the European Union.

Topics include:

Privacy: Invasion of Privacy, Public Records, Workplace Privacy, Employer & ISP Monitoring, Data Collection, Data Retention, Data Breaches, the Right to be Forgotten, E-Mail & Chat Room Privacy, Web Site Privacy Policies, Behavioral Marketing, Flash Cookies, Device Fingerprinting, Privacy & Children, Metadata, Border Searches, FISA & the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA, FISA Court, PRISM, XKeyscore, EU Privacy Directives;

Free Speech: Defamation, SLAPPs, Gripe Sites, Revenge Porn Sites, Mugshot Sites, Blogs & Vlogs, Obscenity & Pornography, Harassment & Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Repression, Student Speech, CDA, Anonymous Speech, Commercial Speech, Expressive Conduct; "Fake News";

Social Media: Misuse, Ownership, Coerced Access, the Courts;

Cybercrimes: Spam, Phishing, Identity Theft, Spyware & Malware, Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying, Computer Trespass, Wardriving, Virtual Crime;

Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets, Creative Commons, Linking, Framing, File-Sharing, Fair Use, Public Domain, Work-Made-For-Hire, DMCA, VARA, Domain Name Disputes, Keyword Advertising, America Invents Act;

Business & the Internet: Internet Taxation, Internet Interstate Commerce, Web Contracts, e-Discovery, Corporate Securities, Crowdfunding, Reg A, Reg D;

European Union: Directives and Regulations; the General Data Protection Regulation; the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive; the Privacy Shield;

Also:Cloud Computing; Digital Currency; Right of Publicity; the Internet of Things; Web Accessibility; Net Neutrality; Online Reputation Management; Social Media Monitoring; Podcasts; Geofiltering; Digital Journalism; Hyper Local Web Sites, Digital Estate Planning; Sexting; Facial Recognition; E-Books and many more subjects.

Concisely written and covering a broad range of topics, this is the most current book of its kind!


Reviews:

“Concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

“Although it deals with the complex legal issues surrounding the Internet, it is written in layman’s terms and illustrated with ‘ripped from the headlines’ court cases.” (Amazon)

“The concepts and issues are presented in a way that is sufficiently rigorous but very easy to read, making the book one I can recommend.” (Computing Reviews) * “A valuable resource, well-researched and well presented.”

“I want a copy on my bookshelf always within arm’s reach.”

“The anecdotal nature made it easy to understand the underlying legal concepts.”

“It is imperative that schools adopt this book in a way which would help young students gain knowledge about the various issues involving the Internet.” (Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law)

“Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law will be a welcome addition in both academic and public law libraries… It should be acquired by libraries for its concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Order Your Copy of Issues in Internet Law!

Now available as an electronic download to your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android devices, Chromebook, and other e-readers! Save up to $10! Download the 11th edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law from VitalSource !

The 11th edition of Issues In Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law has been updated for 2017 with the latest cases and trends in Internet Law. Of particular note are major changes in the areas of online privacy, and the European Union.

Topics include:

Privacy: Invasion of Privacy, Public Records, Workplace Privacy, Employer & ISP Monitoring, Data Collection, Data Retention, Data Breaches, the Right to be Forgotten, E-Mail & Chat Room Privacy, Web Site Privacy Policies, Behavioral Marketing, Flash Cookies, Device Fingerprinting, Privacy & Children, Metadata, Border Searches, FISA & the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA, FISA Court, PRISM, XKeyscore, EU Privacy Directives;

Free Speech: Defamation, SLAPPs, Gripe Sites, Revenge Porn Sites, Mugshot Sites, Blogs & Vlogs, Obscenity & Pornography, Harassment & Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Repression, Student Speech, CDA, Anonymous Speech, Commercial Speech, Expressive Conduct; "Fake News";

Social Media: Misuse, Ownership, Coerced Access, the Courts;

Cybercrimes: Spam, Phishing, Identity Theft, Spyware & Malware, Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying, Computer Trespass, Wardriving, Virtual Crime;

Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets, Creative Commons, Linking, Framing, File-Sharing, Fair Use, Public Domain, Work-Made-For-Hire, DMCA, VARA, Domain Name Disputes, Keyword Advertising, America Invents Act;

Business & the Internet: Internet Taxation, Internet Interstate Commerce, Web Contracts, e-Discovery, Corporate Securities, Crowdfunding, Reg A, Reg D;

European Union: Directives and Regulations; the General Data Protection Regulation; the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive; the Privacy Shield;

Also:Cloud Computing; Digital Currency; Right of Publicity; the Internet of Things; Web Accessibility; Net Neutrality; Online Reputation Management; Social Media Monitoring; Podcasts; Geofiltering; Digital Journalism; Hyper Local Web Sites, Digital Estate Planning; Sexting; Facial Recognition; E-Books and many more subjects.

Concisely written and covering a broad range of topics, this is the most current book of its kind!


Reviews:

“Concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

“Although it deals with the complex legal issues surrounding the Internet, it is written in layman’s terms and illustrated with ‘ripped from the headlines’ court cases.” (Amazon)

“The concepts and issues are presented in a way that is sufficiently rigorous but very easy to read, making the book one I can recommend.” (Computing Reviews) * “A valuable resource, well-researched and well presented.”

“I want a copy on my bookshelf always within arm’s reach.”

“The anecdotal nature made it easy to understand the underlying legal concepts.”

“It is imperative that schools adopt this book in a way which would help young students gain knowledge about the various issues involving the Internet.” (Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law)

“Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law will be a welcome addition in both academic and public law libraries… It should be acquired by libraries for its concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

Since my last post, I’ve had some people take issue with my comment that Robert E. Lee was a great man. As is usually the case when people make such comments, they do so without any knowledge of history. The world is full of people who are quick to express their opinions regardless of whether they know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, we live in an era in which people absorb sound bites and headlines to form their opinions without delving further into the facts that are necessary on which to base their opinions. So let’s look at the facts, learn a little history, and answer the question Who was Robert E. Lee?

Robert E. Lee was the son of the revolutionary war hero "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. His father led raiders who captured food and medicine from the British enemy troops that helped Gen. George Washington and his troops survive the bitter winter at Valley Forge; he was elected to the Continental Congress and later as governor of Virginia. Harry Lee commanded the troops that ended the Whiskey Rebellion and was later elected to the U.S. Congress where he eulogized George Washington as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” He died when Robert was 11.

The orphaned boy went on to graduate second in his class at the U.S. military academy at West Point. Lee, an engineer, helped construct the St. Louis waterfront and worked on coastal forts in Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia. He married into George Washington’s family. He distinguished himself in battle during the Mexican War. In 1859, Robert E. Lee led a company of U.S. Marines to quell abolitionist John Brown’s raid on the U.S. military at Harpers Ferry (Brown was executed for treason and murder).

Lee was recognized as a brilliant military tactician. It was because Lee was considered one of the finest officers in the U.S. Army that President Abraham Lincoln offered him the command of the federal forces in April 1861 following the secessions of seven southern states from the Union. But Lee was devoted to his native state of Virginia. As he wrote to a friend, “If Virginia stands by the old Union so will I. But if she secedes (though I do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution), then I will follow my native State with my sword, and, if need be, with my life.”

The rest, as they say, is history. When Virginia also seceded, Lee resigned the commission he had held in the U.S. Army for 32 years and offered his services to Jefferson Davis, the newly-elected president of the Confederate States of America. After the Civil War ended, Lee accepted a position as president of Washington University, where he served until his death in 1870. The school was later renamed Washington and Lee.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower revered Robert E. Lee, stating he was “in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our nation. . . . selfless almost to a fault . . . noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities . . . we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.”

Yes, Lee owned slaves; but so did George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In fact, the first six presidents of the United States were slave owners. However, in a letter he sent in 1856, before the Civil War, Lee wrote: “There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former.” A year before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, Lee, in accordance with his father-in-law’s will, freed the slaves at Arlington House.

Robert E. Lee was no saint but he was a great man both because of his personal accomplishments and those on behalf of the United States military during his 32 years of service, and because of the way his actions affected the course of history. He might come up short by today’s standards in some critics’ estimations but while the application of universal relativism may be appealing to the politically correct of the 21st century, men must be judged through the prism of the times in which they lived.

Robert E. Lee was an honorable man and his decision to place loyalty to his state above loyalty to the Union is understandable given the context of the times. The United States was a young country, less than a century old when the Civil War began. There were Americans older than the country itself. Today, we envision America as a monolithic entity but that wasn’t the case when the country was founded in the 18th century. Back then, it was called the United States for a reason: it was not so much one nation as it was a union of former colonies. The Founding Fathers and their constituents actually feared a strong central government. They wanted the 13 colonies to be 13 sovereign states but they recognized the need to form a union for two specific purposes: mutual trade and defense.

They realized a common currency would facilitate trade among the contiguous former colonies, and that no individual state could stand against an assault from larger nations such as England or France so it made sense to band together. They drafted the Constitution, explicitly giving the federal government the power to coin money, raise and support armies, and provide and maintain a navy but also adopted the 10th Amendment, which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Most 18th century Americans looked upon the American Union the way the European Union is viewed in the 21st century: as a union of sovereign states banding together to create a common currency to facilitate trade and to provide for mutual defense. As with any union (even the union of marriage) membership is voluntary so member states should be able to enter or leave such a union. No one expects the European Union to go to war against Britain because it has voted to leave the union. One could argue the foolhardiness of both Brexit and southern succession, which leaves both the exiting states and the remaining members in a less advantageous position, but while the wisdom of doing so is debatable, the right to do so appears straightforward. If one can enter into a marriage union, then one should also be able to file for divorce, and certainly not be compelled by force or violence to remain in the union.

Robert E. Lee was not, as many this week have labeled him, a traitor; he simply placed his loyalty to his native state above that to the Union of which it no longer wished to be a part. The real traitors, if you want to be technical, were George Washington and the Founding Fathers, who at the time of their rebellion against England did not represent sovereign states but rather colonies of the British empire. But history is written by the victors and they are now American heroes; had they lost, they would have been executed by the crown as traitors and vilified as such in all the history books.

Likewise, had the American South not been defeated in the Civil War, history would have regarded Gen. Robert E. Lee as a hero and founding father of the Confederacy. It’s important to remember that in any civil war half of the population is on the other side. In the American Civil War, 642,427 Americans died – and 483,026 of them were Southerners. Part of the process of healing and reunification requires us to respect the memory of those who fought, and of those who died, on both sides because they were all Americans.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Scam Alert!

A word of caution, especially for students. There are several websites purporting to offer a free PDF download of my book, Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law. Two important things you should know: First, there are no PDF copies in existence. This is a scam to get you to sign up with these sites and hand them your credit card info. Once these unscrupulous crooks have that, it will cost you a lot more than the price of the book. If you are foolish enough to register and pay their fee, what you get to download is a four-page brochure (available free at the www.IssuesInInternetLaw.com site) PDF file. Second, we've also received reports of students getting more than they bargained for from these sites, by way of downloaded Trojan viruses with the file.

You can buy the book legitimately from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Amber Book Company, VitalSource, eBay, and many reputable online booksellers. Also, any bookstore can order it for you if you provide them with the ISBN (the number above the bar code, also listed on the Website).


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Statues Don't Get Up and Move

One person is dead and 34 were injured in the wake of a protest that saw Americans parading under a flag bearing the Nazi swastika turn violent, as fights broke out and a domestic terrorist drove a car into the crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia today.

Let that sink in for a moment. Someone was killed today. A lot of your fellow citizens were injured, half of them in a street fight with other citizens and the other half in an act of domestic terrorism. Not Islamic terrorism, which we hear so much about, but white nationalist terrorism. But perhaps the most stunning image of today’s news was not the physical violence or the car assault, but rather young American men proudly marching under the Nazi banner. We fought a war against the Nazis. Thousands of Americans gave their lives fighting for American values and against the un-American, fascist, and hate-mongering philosophy of the Nazis. While, unlike the Nazi regime, America allows free expression of even the most heinous beliefs, anyone who feels the need to carry a Nazi flag through the streets of America should pick themselves up and leave our country. If you’re rallying behind a Nazi flag then this is not your country and those of us whose families have fought and died for America and everything it stands for want you to go.

The violence took place in a city park. I’ll tell you its name later. Ostensibly, the protest was over the removal of a statue. That’s right, someone is dead tonight because of a piece of stone in a park. But it’s not really about the statue, not directly. The removal of the statue is what we can call the inciting incident. This is what attracted the people we’ll refer to as outside agitators. Agitators seize on an inciting incident and use it to promote their own agenda. In this case, we didn’t just have local citizens concerned about a park statue: we had groups, each with its own agenda, on both the far left and the far right. They came to clash; some even dressed in paramilitary outfits with shields and weapons and could easily have been mistaken at first glance for police. Others showed up with torches evoking memories of the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses in the previous century. But make no mistake, these agitators were not there because of the statue; they came looking for a fight and they found it.

So we have an inciting incident, local citizens concerned about the removal of the park statue, and groups of outside agitators intent on exploiting the situation and the media presence to further their own agendas. Oh, and one deranged individual who decided to mow down protesters and bystanders with a car. The groups ranged from an anti-fascist organization and Black Lives Matter on the political far left; and the Alt-Right, the KKK, and the neo-Nazis on the political far right. But let’s talk about that statue.

We need to examine both sides behind the inciting incident. Since this matter involves such polarizing groups, many of you probably believe there is only one side. But if that’s what you truly believe, then you’re part of the problem not part of the solution. Yes, the Alt-Right, the KKK, and the neo-Nazis are among the most odious humans scum ever to crawl from the primordial ooze. But that makes it even more curious that anyone, especially so many young people, would literally and figuratively march beneath their banner. The question we must ask is why, and while in some cases, such as those of the outside agitators, it could be summed up as simple hate-mongering, for others it is a matter of societal alienation and disenfranchisement. Far left liberals may be creating their own far right monsters.

The statue commemorates Gen. Robert E. Lee. Lee was a great man and a great general who chose the wrong side of the Civil War. I say chose, because both the North and the South wanted him to lead their troops; he was that well respected by both sides. The antebellum South had both a proud history and a shameful one. Beginning with Reconstruction, Southerners were browbeaten over their shameful past and attacked whenever they sought to assert any part of their antebellum culture. Yes, slavery was a large part of that culture, but it’s simplistic to paint the North as good and the South as evil, or to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Southerners must acknowledge the shameful parts of their history but Northerners must also acknowledge Southerners are entitled to their own heritage. Likewise, history is a matter of record and not something that should be changed in an Orwellian manner to suit the political climate of the day.

The statue used to sit in Lee Park, named for Gen. Robert E. Lee. Now it sits in Emancipation Park, named for the freeing of American slaves. No, the statue didn’t get up and move; it’s a statue, they don’t do that. The park was renamed. Gen. Lee’s name was taken off the park (which was then renamed for the cause he fought against) and the city voted to remove his statue. Basically, this was an attempt to rewrite history. It was an affront to Southerners whose families fought and died under Gen. Lee’s command. But more importantly, it was an attempt to erase history. History is important. Monuments and place names are important because they remind us of history. Even bad history. Especially bad history. Philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We should not erase historical monuments that represent unpleasant periods of the past, but rather we should preserve them as a valuable lesson for all who come after us.

We should encourage people to visit Robert E. Lee’s statue and read his biography. It should serve as a teachable moment to learn about the man’s conflicted life during a period of our nation’s conflicted history. It should not be discarded, just as history should not be whitewashed.

Far left liberals need to stop creating opportunities for far right agitators to seize upon. There should never have been an inciting incident in this case. By renaming Lee Park and removing the statue, the message being sent to Southerners was not that slavery was wrong but rather a total repudiation of their entire heritage, both the good and the bad parts. . They feel they are being marginalized in their own country or in their words “replaced.”The reaction of many is naturally to become defensive  -- the young particularly, because they are seeking their own sense of identity, and are therefore easily brainwashed into becoming fodder for the far right groups.

We must see that there are two sides and rather than discounting one side’s views or grievances entirely, or allowing ourselves to become indoctrinated by the extreme left or the extreme right, we should approach inciting incidents with an open mind and a willingness to learn the history behind them and to use that as a teachable experience. Understanding each other, where we are each coming from, and why we believe as we do is the first step toward conflict resolution. Failing to do this invariably leads to the violence we’ve witnessed today.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Girls Have Cooties

Now that the fires of the Fourth of July barbecues have cooled to embers and the previously unfurled flags have been folded and placed back into storage for another year, it’s time to consider the dangers of patriotism.

Patriotism is like ice cream: A little bit is a wonderful thing, but too much leads to bad consequences. Patriotism is defined as proudly supporting or defending one’s country and its way of life. It sounds reasonable until you realize the “Us versus Them” mindset lies at its foundation.

From the time we were children, we’ve been indoctrinated with the “Us versus Them” dichotomy. The world is divided into two groups and you must pick your side or be assigned to one camp. Boys to the left, girls to the right. School sports captains divide the physical education class into two teams. Students at large cheer for their school against the competing team. At Sunday school, children form new groups based on religion. It’s always “Us versus Them” whether it’s gender, sports, or religion.

The obvious problem with the “Us versus Them” dichotomy is we always have to be better than “them”. Boys are better than girls. My team is better than your team. My god is the real one. When you divide the world into two competing groups, no one wants to be on the losing team. The first problem with patriotism is that it can lead to nationalism: excessive or fanatical devotion to a nation and its interests, often associated with a belief that one country is superior to all others. In America, we call this “American Exceptionalism”: the belief America is the best country in the world because it chose a different and better path than any other nation.

Nationalism leads to two even more dangerous propositions: jingoism externally and xenophobia internally. Jingoism is extreme patriotism expressing itself in hostility toward other countries. Unscrupulous leaders will often play on jingoism, whipping up public fervor to take their nation into war. After all, it’s “Us versus Them”. Their very existence poses a threat to our way of life, so such leaders ask Us to Rally-‘round-the-Flag and march into battle against Them. While on the home front, such leaders or political aspirants will stoke the flames of Xenophobia: an intense fear or dislike of foreign people, their customs and culture, or foreign things. This targeted hatred of “Them” often quickly turns violent, taking the form of physical attacks on individuals, pogroms, or genocide.

Perhaps more insidious is the subtle effect of nationalism: the devaluation of the life of anyone who is not one of “Us”. I found the answers to these two questions from an online quiz to be illuminating. The first question was “Are some human lives worth more than others?” Overwhelmingly, the response was ‘no’. I disagree. Each individual makes a positive or negative contribution to society, so those who contribute positively are of greater value. Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Plato, Socrates, Benjamin Franklin, William Shakespeare: their lives were more valuable than those of Jack the Ripper or the Boston Strangler. If Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Osama bin Laden, and Mother Teresa are on a sinking ship and there's room in the lifeboat for only one of them, who would you choose to save? If you answered 'no' to the question, then we'll flip a coin to decide who lives while the others go down with the sinking ship.

Yet, what I learned from the quiz answers was most people say, if not believe, all lives are of equal value. But that’s when weighing individual lives against each other. The second question was more revealing:“True or false, the life of one of your fellow citizens is more valuable than the lives of 10 foreigners.” Once again, an overwhelming majority placed me in the minority by answering ‘true’ to this question. The same people who thought all lives were equal added the corollary that  "our lives” are more valuable than “10 of theirs.”

Why would one human life be worth more than 10? I would argue it might depend on the individuals: say, one foreign humanitarian vs. 10 American convicts; or one American murderer vs. 10 foreign schoolchildren. But the respondents weren’t balancing individuals; they were comparing groups, looking at “Us versus Them” and concluding “we” are always far more valuable than “them”. The insidious effect of nationalism is the devaluation of the life of anyone who is not one of “Us”. We see examples of this constantly in news reports where “129 people were killed, including three Americans” implying the American lives are somehow more valuable than those of the other unfortunate people. 

Girls have cooties. Your team sucks. Your religion is false. I am better than you.

Divisiveness is destructive. It’s one thing to take pride in America because of the democratic beliefs on which this country was founded but we must be careful pride does not become hubris that leads us to believe we are better, or our lives more valuable, than anyone who by happenstance was born somewhere else.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

An Independence Day excerpt from My Book

And now, on this Fourth of July, an appropriate excerpt from my new book, Collected Essays of a Reluctant Blogger:




On this day commemorating the founding of our republic, it is appropriate to take a moment from our barbecues and fireworks displays and reflect on the state of our country and our society. Recently, the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United case, which allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts backing political campaigns and spurred the development of superPACs, effectively ruled money equivalent to speech. But speech can take many forms, and depending on the nature of that speech, past courts have found it necessary and indeed advisable to place certain limits on it. There is a distinction between information and political propaganda (misinformation and lies). When massive amounts of money are spent to distribute misinformation to an uneducated, and frankly, ignorant populace, the result is not democracy but aristocracy. Our society had devolved into a citizenry so poorly educated that when surveyed, 40 percent thought the Civil War preceded the Revolutionary War. Americans knows more about the Kardashians than the Kennedys. American society is composed of "low information voters" who make decisions based on snippets and soundbites instead of researching and learning about the important issues of the day. The plutocrats are now spending untold millions on such snippets and soundbites to misinform and misguide poorly informed voters.

There has been an enormous transfer of wealth in American society, from the middle and upper-middle classes to the highest stratum of the upper class, on a scale not seen since the Gilded Age. But what the plutocratic billionaires have yet to realize is, once they have filled their coffers to the brim by draining the financial blood from the rest of society, there will be no one left to afford to purchase their goods and services, and their financial empires will crumble. They seek a return to 19th century economics, when the plutocracy grew rich through a cheap labor supply and a growing nation of consumers to purchase the goods they manufactured. But long before America outsourced its jobs, it had outsourced its manufacturing base to Japan,  Korea, and China. America is no longer a manufacturing nation; it is a consumer-based nation, and the consumers - whose jobs have been shipped overseas or made obsolete by technology we embraced too rapidly without regard to consequence, whose wages have fallen, whose benefits have been cut, and whose incomes have failed to keep pace with greed-driven inflation - can no longer afford to consume.

The plutocrats distract the masses with high tech toys, reality TV shows, and political kabuki theater. The Romans had a name for that: bread and circuses. Give the peons enough food and entertainment and they will shift their attention from what goes on behind the curtain by those who govern them.

Did you know that the gulf state of Qatar provides each of its 250,000 citizens with free cradle-to-grave healthcare and public education? All without taxing its citizens. Of course, they can afford to do this because they are an oil-rich nation and they have made trillions of dollars selling that oil to America. We Americans are subsidizing free healthcare and education, not for ourselves, but for the Arabs. Why? Because we continue to cling to an outmoded mode of transportation - the automobile powered by the internal combustion engine, devised in 1806. We could put a man on the moon, but not devise a better transportation system (for example, like the high-speed rail systems of Europe and Japan)? Of course we could. But there are plutocrats whose fortunes are maintained through the oil and automotive industries, providing them a strong disincentive to change the status quo. We need to replace the automobile industry, which is based on a centuries-old technology, pollutes, has created massive sprawl, and ties us to oil, a commodity controlled by our enemies. The only ones benefiting from it are the oil companies and the car manufacturers.

The same is true of pharmaceutical companies, who have the same strong disincentive to devote their research and development budgets to curing diseases, when it is far more lucrative for them to create pills that merely treat diseases. Better to have a perpetual market for their product than to harness their collective scientific brainpower to eradicate disease and eliminate the need for their wares.

Our country is in trouble and needs leaders. Instead, we are presented with buffoons: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry... the list goes on, ad nauseam. Where are the men of the caliber of Harry Truman, Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, LBJ, FDR, Hubert Humphrey, let alone men like Lincoln, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, or John Jay. The current contenders have made a mockery of the presidency, just as jurists like Clarence Thomas sitting on the court where John Marshall, Hugo Black, and William Brennan once sat is farcical. Need I comment on the pathetic state of Congress, with its 9% public approval rating, as it fills its chambers with Tea Party nutcases like Rand Paul and Allen West? When Chris Wallace, of partisan Fox News, asked Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell one simple question: "You insist on repealing Obamacare - if you repeal it, what will you and the Republicans do to insure the 30 million uninsured Americans who will get insurance under Obamacare?" He answered: "That is not the issue." Wrong answer, Senator Bozo. That's precisely the issue. You've shown you and your clown party don't have answers, just partisan lies and attacks.

The only solution is to work to replace these people, who have slipped into leadership positions of our government, with qualified, responsible, progressive reformers. This entails recruiting such individuals and financially backing them so they can be elected. It also requires those of us who are educated to speak out - publicly, loudly, and often - to debunk the misinformation and lies spread by the plutocrats and their lackeys.

JFK summed it up best in his inaugural address (condensed): "The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe: the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God...Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans - born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage — and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. ...We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty...United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do, for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder...If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich... So let us begin anew, remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us... And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

The world is very different from the one into which we were born. We have the means to abolish human poverty, yet instead allow our country's great wealth to sit in the hands of less than 1% of its population. Perhaps the new generation of Americans, born in this 21st century can reverse this trend, provide our country with world class health care, education, and public transportation, and restore the liberties stolen from us by the Bush Administration under the guise of protecting us. Perhaps they will produce leaders who, unlike our current congressmen and candidates, realize civility is not a sign of weakness and cooperation, negotiation, and compromise are far from anathema to the proper functioning of government. Perhaps, but I doubt it. As Lincoln said, "A house divided cannot stand." I have been amazed to see so many of my poorer friends reach out to help others in need, while many of my wealthiest friends are quick to adopt an Ayn Rand attitude of every man for himself. The solution to our nation's ills will only come when the plutocrats and those still reasonably well-off join with their less fortunate brethren and ask, as did JFK, not what their country can do for them, but what they can do for their country and their fellow citizens.

Happy Birthday, America. Enjoy your Fourth of July fireworks and barbecues. They fiddled while Rome burned, too.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Born in the USA

I recently attended a naturalization ceremony. The last time anyone in my family became a naturalized American citizen was four generations ago, back at the turn of the nineteenth century, so this was a unique experience for me. It took place in a government building, in a large room filled with prospective citizens and their guests. A little boy, whose mother was becoming an American citizen, sat next to me in the guest section. Two television monitors were positioned on either side of the stage at the front of the room. A Statue of Liberty replica stared out at us from its perch on the table beside the monitor closest to me, surrounded by dozens of miniature American flags. I smiled at the little boy. “I think you’ll get to bring one of those home with you.” Sure enough, a woman came by, passing out flags to the children.

Music played through the speakers, as we waited for the ceremony to begin. A black man sung an odd rendition of America the Beautiful, off-key and adding his own improvisations. But the strangest song on the playlist was Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, perhaps both the most unlikely and inappropriate tune for the occasion. The video monitors displayed an articulate welcoming message from President Barack Obama, followed by an inspiring message from former UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She described how she had fled her native Czechoslovakia as a child to escape the Nazis, and returned to her homeland later, only to have to flee again as a teenager when the communists took over. She became an American citizen, earned a PhD, and rose to be one of our country’s most distinguished diplomats.

Her visage was replaced on the monitors by a slideshow while the Star-Spangled Banner played in the background. It was a song filled with great meaning, but as with many songs, people often repeat the words without truly appreciating what they mean. As the crowd around me blindly mouthed the words, I looked down at the little boy next to me. I wanted to explain to him what it was we were hearing. I wanted to tell him how Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to the Star-Spangled Banner, inspired as he sat aboard a ship in the harbor watching the bombs bursting in the air. It was during the War of 1812. He was aboard the British warship HMS Tonnant to negotiate the release of American prisoners. While they were on board, the British attacked Baltimore, bombarding Fort McHenry. When dawn came, Key saw the resilient American flag waving above the fort. He wrote a poem later set to music that became the Star-Spangled Banner, America’s national anthem.

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It means something. It’s not just a bunch of words or a catchy tune. Our young nation was at war, invaded by the mightiest army in the world. A month earlier, in August 1814, the British had set fire to the White House, forcing President James Madison and his wife Dolley to flee the presidential residence, never to return. The capitol had also been set afire, and for the first time since the American Revolution, a foreign power had captured and occupied Washington, DC, the American capital. The Battle of Baltimore could have signaled the end of the American Experience… But “by the dawn's early light” the “broad stripes and bright stars” of an oversized American flag were “gallantly streaming” over Fort McHenry, having replaced the smaller, tattered storm flag that had waved defiantly through the 25-hour “perilous fight”. I wanted the little boy next to me to know that.

The slideshow sped past an image of the plaque on the Statue of Liberty. The neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor representing the Roman goddess of freedom was a gift from France. It was a magnificent gift, but it was quite large and needed a pedestal on which to be placed. A fundraising effort was started to procure money to construct a pedestal. Jewish poet Emma Lazarus donated a sonnet entitled “The New Colossus” to be auctioned off. In 1903, her poem was inscribed on a bronze plaque on the pedestal’s inner wall. This child of immigrants described the statue: “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome…”

The most famous words of Lazarus’ sonnet are: “"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…” Could any words be more meaningful and significant to a room full of immigrants moments away from being granted full citizenship? I wanted to pause the slideshow on that image of the plaque and read the entire sonnet so the little boy next to me, and everyone else, could appreciate the enormity of the sentiment expressed so eloquently by Emma Lazarus.


But the image passed in a fleeting moment, having appeared on the screen before us for only the briefest of instances, in keeping with modern America’s impatient, fast food, finger-on-the-remote-control, limited attention span culture. Each year, Americans celebrate their freedom on the Fourth of July with fireworks and barbecues, seldom pausing to reflect on the origins and meaning of the iconic symbols representing the holiday. Perhaps this year, all Americans, new or as Bruce put it, “Born in the USA”, might ruminate on their significance.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

“Hold My Crown”

Revealing how it would defeat the deadly scourge that has plagued it for so long, the West unveiled its secret weapon against terrorism this week: a 91-year-old woman dressed in blue.

At the start of WWII, King George V and Queen Elizabeth I sent their daughters, Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) and Princess Margaret to sanctuary at Windsor Castle, 30 miles from London. Princess Elizabeth, 13 at the time, did not want to go but obviously had no say in the matter. When the Nazis began their daily bombardment of London during the Blitz, the king and queen refused to flee London, despite Buckingham Palace being hit on nine occasions. Many said London had become too dangerous for them, but they would not leave. As the bombs fell all around them, they chose to remain and stand with their people. It was a terrifying time to be a civilian living in London, never knowing when the next air raid siren might sound or when a bomb would explode nearby. But the populace responded to the terror as did their royal leaders and refused to give in to terror or those who perpetrated it upon them.

At the height of the war, in 1942, Princess Elizabeth wanted to volunteer as a nurse in bombed-out areas of London, but the king forbade her because he thought it too dangerous. So instead, the determined 16-year-old signed up at a labor exchange and learned to drive and repair trucks for the war effort. The future queen of England became a mechanic alongside other girls her age to fight against the Nazi terror.

So her actions this week, 75 years later, come as no surprise. When a fire destroyed a high-rise apartment building in London on June 14, killing 79 residents and injuring countless more, it recalled scenes of buildings destroyed and people killed in that same city during the Blitz. But this time, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May declined to visit the site to meet with victims and survivors. Cabinet member Tobias Ellwood explained her decision was based on “security concerns” for the prime minister’s personal safety. Days later, 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II and her grandson Prince William showed up at the scene of the Grenfell Tower fire and met with victims, survivors, and aid workers. As Adam@thegaymeradam so succinctly summed it up on Twitter:

Theresa May : “I couldn't speak to residents of Grenfell Tower because of security concerns”
The Queen : “Hold my crown…

The once plucky princess showed her grandson, her nation, and the world how it’s done. Leaders must lead by example. They cannot lead from behind. They cannot allow themselves to be paralyzed by fear, no matter how valid the threat may be. At 91, Queen Elizabeth II showed the same intrepid spirit she did at 16. It is that spirit the terrorists wish to break. The goal of terrorism is not to kill people. The violence and death resulting from terrorism are a means to an end. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and terror. When we give in to that fear; and when we change our behavior, our laws, or the very nature of our free society, then we are conceding victory to the terrorists.

The terrorists' goal is to terrorize us. The way to defeat terrorists is by not letting them achieve their goal. When a nation’s leader cowers in the face of potential danger, the terrorists have won. But when a 91-year-old woman displays the audacity to go boldly where she is needed by her nation without any regard to the ever-present threat of terrorism, she chalks up a victory against it. You can hear the air hissing out of the balloon. The terrorists’ real weapons aren’t bombs and bullets; they are fear and terror. Deprive them of that and they are defeated. They no longer have a raison d'être to exist, or to kill or maim, if doing so will not achieve the desired result of a terrified public and leadership.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Pre-Order Your Copy of Issues in Internet Law!

Now available as an electronic download to your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Android devices, Chromebook, and other e-readers! Save up to $10! Download the 11th edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law from VitalSource !

The 11th edition of Issues In Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law has been updated for 2017 with the latest cases and trends in Internet Law. Of particular note are major changes in the areas of online privacy, and the European Union.

Topics include:

Privacy: Invasion of Privacy, Public Records, Workplace Privacy, Employer & ISP Monitoring, Data Collection, Data Retention, Data Breaches, the Right to be Forgotten, E-Mail & Chat Room Privacy, Web Site Privacy Policies, Behavioral Marketing, Flash Cookies, Device Fingerprinting, Privacy & Children, Metadata, Border Searches, FISA & the USA PATRIOT Act, the NSA, FISA Court, PRISM, XKeyscore, EU Privacy Directives;

Free Speech: Defamation, SLAPPs, Gripe Sites, Revenge Porn Sites, Mugshot Sites, Blogs & Vlogs, Obscenity & Pornography, Harassment & Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Repression, Student Speech, CDA, Anonymous Speech, Commercial Speech, Expressive Conduct; "Fake News";

Social Media: Misuse, Ownership, Coerced Access, the Courts;

Cybercrimes: Spam, Phishing, Identity Theft, Spyware & Malware, Cyberstalking, Cyberbullying, Computer Trespass, Wardriving, Virtual Crime;

Intellectual Property: Copyright, Trademark, Patent, Trade Secrets, Creative Commons, Linking, Framing, File-Sharing, Fair Use, Public Domain, Work-Made-For-Hire, DMCA, VARA, Domain Name Disputes, Keyword Advertising, America Invents Act;

Business & the Internet: Internet Taxation, Internet Interstate Commerce, Web Contracts, e-Discovery, Corporate Securities, Crowdfunding, Reg A, Reg D;

European Union: Directives and Regulations; the General Data Protection Regulation; the Police and Criminal Justice Data Protection Directive; the Privacy Shield;

Also:Cloud Computing; Digital Currency; Right of Publicity; the Internet of Things; Web Accessibility; Net Neutrality; Online Reputation Management; Social Media Monitoring; Podcasts; Geofiltering; Digital Journalism; Hyper Local Web Sites, Digital Estate Planning; Sexting; Facial Recognition; E-Books and many more subjects.

Concisely written and covering a broad range of topics, this is the most current book of its kind!


Reviews:

“Concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)

“Although it deals with the complex legal issues surrounding the Internet, it is written in layman’s terms and illustrated with ‘ripped from the headlines’ court cases.” (Amazon)

“The concepts and issues are presented in a way that is sufficiently rigorous but very easy to read, making the book one I can recommend.” (Computing Reviews) * “A valuable resource, well-researched and well presented.”

“I want a copy on my bookshelf always within arm’s reach.”

“The anecdotal nature made it easy to understand the underlying legal concepts.”

“It is imperative that schools adopt this book in a way which would help young students gain knowledge about the various issues involving the Internet.” (Indian Journal of Intellectual Property Law)

“Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law will be a welcome addition in both academic and public law libraries… It should be acquired by libraries for its concise overview of Internet-related legal issues.” (Law Library Journal)