Monday, October 16, 2017

Magic Mirror

Mr Librarian
Many moons ago when I was young(er), I loved to watch Romper Room.  OK, I liked to watch Wonderrama, too, and I just knew I could win those great prizes if only my folks would take me to be on the show.  Never happened.  Anyway, there was this one part on Romper Room where the lady whips out this mirror that was magic.  Well, it had to be magic because when she looked in it it got all funky swirly and then it went clear and doggone it if she couldn't see kids from all over the world and actually talk to them.  Dang but she must have been a Librarian.  I mean she wouldn't just say their name but she'd tell them stuff that they should (and shouldn't) be doing.  Yep, she must have been a Librarian because she knew so much.

The thing is I can really relate to the woman on Romper Room because I know lots of stuff, too.  As an omnipresent Law Librarian, I, too, know what you need and how to help you (or when to back off).  In fact, Librarians know so much because we work with people day in and day out solving their problems.  

Take, for example the guy who was looking to sue his doctor. Seems doctor had prescribed Xanax (an anti-anxiety drug). Seems doctor had given guy the wrong dose and now guy was hooked beyond compare.  Guy was now looking to sue doctor for malpractice so I walked him over to:
Then there was the the young mother whose kid was getting beat up at school.  Always an advocate for the underdog, I led young mother over to the education section to look at:
Finally, we have a middle-aged guy who was looking to protect his family.  Seems middle-aged guy had had a house built.  Seems the construction company let the wood frame get pretty wet because after guy's family moved in, the kids started getting sick and wife was cranky all the time (well, wife was probably cranky before but what with litigation and all, might as well lump it all together).  So, guy had an "expert" come into his home and "expert" finds mold ALL over the place.  No wonder kids are sick.  Anyway, guy flies into the law library looking for information on "how to nail those son of a #$!^%!@$%" and in no time, I had middle-aged guy perusing 
Yep, you have the questions, we have the answers.  So head on over to your local county law library so we can start with helping you because just like Burger King - special orders don't upset us.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Watch out, Lara Croft!

Be the best archaeologist you can be!
Have you ever been sitting in your cubicle and thought that there has to be more to life than just sitting here in my cubicle?  Have you ever wondered how Indiana Jones or Lara Croft got their start as archaeologists (or tomb raiders, as the case may be)?  Have you ever thought that you were meant for more that doing whatever you are doing right now?!?

So, picture it.  You’re helping your dog dig in the backyard looking for a bone when you come across a 14-foot long thigh bone of the dreaded Cratarackatus from the late Crustacean Period.  How do you preserve your find?  More to the point, how do cash in with your find and protect yourself at the same time?  

Well, you are in luck, my friend.  See, not 10 minutes ago I was lost in the jungles of our federal collection and just when I was about to shoot up a flare for help, I came across our copy of Archaeology, Relics, and the Law.  

The thing is, this is not just your ordinary work of fiction.  No, this book actually helps the budding archaeologist protect his finds with helpful tips and laws and cases from both state and federal jurisdictions.  

The first chapter covers Discovery and Acquisition of Artifacts and touches on defining everyone from the Amateur finder and collector to commercial hunters, looters, dealers and exhibitors.  Chapter 1 then goes on to talk about property rights (who owns what is found), and cites a number of cases that address that concept.

Chapter Two continues with Protection and Control of Artifacts.  See, the question is not so much whether you want to make money on your find (of course you do), the questions is whether you can even sell your find.  That's where chapter 2 comes in dealing with restrictions on interstate commerce, restrictions on the sale and possession of relics, regulatory protection of private sites (like the backyard of your home), and custody and curation of artifacts.

Chapter 3 is a doozy in that it covers Recovery and Repatriation of Relics.  I mean, how do you know that someone didn't steal that 14-foot long thigh bone of the dreaded Cratarackatus from the late Crustacean Period from the National Museum of Ubackastand and just last week buried it in your backyard for safe keeping?  You know they're going to be reading Archaeology, Relics, and the Law to know how to get it back (and keep you from profiting from your find).

Finally, Chapter 4 deals with the Protection and Custody of Human Remains (which is fine since the Crataracktatus is not human and, thus, doesn't fall under the protections of this chapter).  If, however, the dreaded Crataracktatus were suddenly classified as human, you could read up on such information as Protection and custody of the body, protection and the place of deposition (i.e. where the thing is buried), disinterment and relocation of human regains, custody, transfer, and repatriation of human remains, and, museum collection of skeletal materials and artifacts.

Yep, if you want to be an Archaeologist of the likes of Lara Croft or Indiana Jones or even, dare I say...Carmen Santiago...then you are going to want to run to your local county law library and demand to read their copy of Archaeology, Relics, and the Law, poste haste!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Word of the Month for October 2017: Novelty

Building a better mousetrapPicture it.  You've been dreaming of a contraption for years and having just received a B.S. degree in engineering, you finally understand that that contraption is a new mousetrap.  A mousetrap? Really!?! Well, some people dream of mousetraps, some dream of flying.  Tomato, tomaaaaato.

So, you build the mousetrap and submit for a new patent. Yeah, that's what you do - because you need to protect your dream.  Turns out, your dream mousetrap isn't so dreamy since the patent office declines your patent request because it wasn't novel enough.

Wait, not novel?  What does it mean that a thing is "novel?" Well, as it turns out, according to Black's Law Dictionary, NOVELTY is defined as:
Trade secrets.  The newness of information that is generally unused or unknown and that gives its owner a competitive advantage in a business field. Patents. Newness of an invention both in form and in function of performance; the strict statutory requirement that this originality be demonstrated before an invention is patentable. 35 USCA 102
Oh, well, back to the drawing board, right?  The thing with mousetraps is that there are lots of designs.  In fact, there are over 4400 patents filed for different kinds of mousetraps that all do the same thing - kill mice. So, as it goes with mousetraps, there isn't a whole lot of novel ideas if they all do the same thing, right?

Such was the discussion I had with an enterprising person who came to our library.  Seems person was looking to develop a new type of fuel intake for a car and needed to know the law on patents and the process of getting a patent. Notwithstanding the millions of patents on car parts on file in the patent office, person was determined to plow ahead.  So I lead him over to our intellectual property section to show him:

While Emerson may have never actually said, "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door," if you ever do come up with something novel, don't hesitate to unleash it on the world (who will then try to copy you and steal your ideas.  Yeah, humans are pretty funky that way.)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Get it together

All politicians are corrupt - but that's just my opinion
Once upon a time there was a mayor named Marion Barry. Marion was a nice enough fellow except for the fact that he had a rather nasty drug habit.  In fact, while in office, Marion was arrested for possession of cocaine following an investigation by the FBI and the D.C. police. Subsequently, Marion was found guilty and was sentenced to 6 months in prison

After his release in 1992, he was promptly elected to the D.C. Council and in 1994 he was re-elected mayor. So, to recap: convicted of drug possession (and subsequent use of illegal drugs), womanizer and still permitted to run for public office. 

Fast forward a few years and move to the west (left) coast and we read how ex-Palm Springs mayor is being charged with bribery.  Yep, Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin held a news conference and revealed that John Wessman and Richard Meaney (both developers) paid former mayor Stephen Pougnet $375,000 in bribes in exchange for his vote on city council approved land projects.  If convicted, ex-mayor Pougnet could be barred for life from holding public office.

Wait a second.  Barred for life?!  A conviction for drug possession (and violation of public trust) warrants a mere 6 months in prison but bribery (and violation of public trust) can get you barred for life from public office?!?  Looking at Marion's political career, you'd think he was being rewarded for being prosecuted/convicted.

The problem is that the courts are sending mixed messages when it comes to politicians. The message courts should be sending every time is if you are an elected "public servant" and you are convicted of anything (misdemeanor or felony or anything that "violates the public trust"), that you should be barred from ever holding public office in the future (state, federal, local, HOA - I don't care, you're done). 

Anyway, enough with my ranting opinion. I now return you to your regular programming.

Monday, September 18, 2017

And another politician bites the dust

Politicians and fraud walk hand in handTypically, when I read the newspaper, I skip right to the comics section because they're (mostly) funny and free from political deceit.  Then there was the front page story about Ref Rodriguez that caught my eye (and prevented my reading of the comics). 

Seems Ref (yeah, that's his real name and he's not even a referee) had been arrested and charged with three felony counts of conspiracy, perjury and procuring and offering a false or forged instrument not to mention the other 25 misdemeanor counts of assumed-name contributions. 

Seems Ref took little over $24,000 of his "own money" and donated it to his "own" campaign fund in his run to be elected as the Board President of the Los Angeles School District.  On its face, it doesn't sound like much but what actually happened is that instead of saying that he was donating his "own" money, he made it sound like 24 other people were actually submitting donations.

Why would someone do that?  Did he need to warp the statistics to make it sound like more people were donating to his campaign.  Why did you think you had to lie about who paid for your campaign?  It was Ref's money, wasn't it?  Why lie about who paid for your campaign?!   Heck, what it sounds like is that Ref laundered the money for someone else. That's what it sounds like.

Then, instead of dealing with all that, Ref goes and tells the press:
As the product of a immigrant family, nobody has more respect for the integrity of the American justice system than I do... 
What is Ref really saying here?  Is he saying that because he is the product of an immigrant family that has more integrity everyone else?  Or is Ref saying that because he is the product of an immigrant family, he knows how best to play the system.  What being a consummate politician, I'm guessing it's the latter.  See, it's that word "integrity."  Why bring it up at all - unless you're being sarcastic - in which case, you have no integrity.

Fact is, pal, EVERYONE who lives in America is the product of immigration.  Everyone. Whether you are white, black, brown, purple, or green, everyone came from somewhere. America was built on the backs of immigrants.  

But just because you're an immigrant, it does not mean you have an edge on the integrity market suggesting that Ref is a system player.  I mean, if being an immigrant meant you had integrity, there would be no scofflaws.  As it turns out, some of us came to America legally and some chose to...well, they chose to come here (or were brought here) illegally and are now players of the system.

Seems that there are not a few persons who are unclear on difference between legal and illegal immigration. If you are unclear on the concept, might I suggest you head over to your local county law library and take a look at:
What is funny is that when politicians get in trouble, they try to obfuscate the issues instead of dealing with the problem(s) at hand.  What is sad is that this guy really showed promise.  Upstanding, good track record, no obvious record of corruption (well, not yet anyway), and then he got tripped up.  Well, I guess even the best fall.  Maybe his status as an immigrant will save him.  Not the best argument but if that's all he's got, then I say run with it.