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Daily Archives: March 11, 2019

Taking Laughter Seriously at the Supreme Court

Jacobi, Tonja and Sag, Matthew, Taking Laughter Seriously at the Supreme Court (March 9, 2019). Vanderbilt Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

“Laughter in Supreme Court oral arguments has been misunderstood, treated as either a lighthearted distraction from the Court’s serious work, or interpreted as an equalizing force in an otherwise hierarchical environment. Examining the more than 9000 instances of laughter witnessed at the Court since 1955, this Article shows that the justices of the Supreme Court use courtroom humor as a tool of advocacy and as a signal of their power and status. As the justices have taken on a greater advocacy role in the modern era, they have also provoked an increasing level of laughter.The performative nature of courtroom humor is apparent from the uneven distribution of judicial jokes, jests, and jibes. The justices overwhelmingly direct their most humorous comments at the advocates who they disagree with, the advocates who are losing, and at novice advocates. Building on prior work, we show that laughter in the courtroom is yet another aspect of judicial behavior that can be used to predict cases before justices have even voted. Many laughs occur in response to humorous comments, but that should not distract from the serious and strategic work being done by that humor. To fully understand oral argument, Court observers would be wise to take laughter seriously.”

Identity theft: 7 ways to protect yourself from cybercriminals

USAToday: “Cybercriminals will steal an estimated 33 billion records by 2023, according to Juniper Research, a firm that forecasts digital tech trends. Half of all data breaches globally will occur in the U.S. alone, Juniper says…Here are seven ways to protect your digital assets online…. Use strong, unique passwords Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) Freeze your… Continue Reading

EPIC – FOIA Gallery 2019

“EPIC’s FOIA litigation over the past year has resulted in disclosure of critical information about the activities of the government. EPIC’s litigation has also generated case law that benefits the FOIA requesters and the open government community across the country.” [h/t Pete Weiss] Introduction to the Freedom of Information Act | EPIC Obtains Communications Between… Continue Reading

John Oliver fights robocalls by robocalling Ajit Pai and the FCC

ars technica – Pai has helped robocallers by failing to issue strict rules, Oliver argues — [NSFW]:”..In a 17-minute segment on March 10, 2019] on HBO’s Last Week Tonight, Oliver described the scourge of robocalls and blamed Pai for not doing more to stop them. Oliver ended the segment by announcing that he and his… Continue Reading

US Government Will Be Scanning Your Face At 20 Top Airports

BuzzFeedNews: “In March 2017, President Trump issued an executive order expediting the deployment of biometric verification of the identities of all travelers crossing US borders. That mandate stipulates facial recognition identification for “100 percent of all international passengers,” including American citizens, in the top 20 US airports by 2021. Now, the United States Department of… Continue Reading

CDC is launching its first investigation into e-scooter injuries

CNBC: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched the first-ever study of electric scooter accidents at the request of Austin Public Health and the Austin Transportation Department. “We want to identify the risk factors for those who get injured, how severe the injuries are and why they’re getting hurt,” said Jeff Taylor, manager… Continue Reading

How Elizabeth Hargrave turned a passion for ornithology and spreadsheets into a popular game about birds

The New York Times – She invented a board game with scientific integrity, and now it is taking off: “..Elizabeth Hargrave, a health-policy consultant in Silver Spring, Md., is an avid birder, and her favorite local winter birding spot is the Lake Artemesia Natural Area. Fringed with woods, the lake is artificial, excavated during the… Continue Reading

How open is your government? Find out.

Muckrock: “Each state has its own laws about making documents, data and other records accessible to the public. There are also separate public records laws for the federal agencies, the District of Columbia, and territories such as Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. MuckRock tracks how states impose exemptions that allow them to withhold… Continue Reading

Top Universities Join to Push ‘Public Interest Technology’

The New York Times: “As technology becomes increasingly pervasive in American life, universities across the United States have been devising ways to teach students how to grapple with the consequences on society. Now, 21 leading universities are banding together to promote their various programs. On Monday, the schools announced that they had formed a new… Continue Reading

Microsoft launches AI Business School a free, non-technical, online course

Neowin: “Microsoft’s positive approach toward harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) has been accentuated multiple times in recent months. In January, Microsoft joined the SciKit-learn consortium to help make AI accessible to all. Then, last month, the tech giant collaborated with Accenture, initiating the Microsoft Business Group to empower enterprises through Azure services. Today,… Continue Reading