it was kenner--it was fun

My mom never throws anything out.

This is usually a bad thing. Occasionally, it is a good thing.This post reflects on one of the rare latter times.

I discovered over the weekend that she had lovingly preserved my girlhood Spirograph, still in its original box. The three smallest gears are missing, and of course the original pens are long gone, but the beautiful spirals this clever toy faithfully still generates hold their fascination for me. We all learned as children, of course, that if the radius of fixed circle is R, the radius of moving circle is r, and the offset of the pen point in the moving circle is O, then the equation of the resulting curve is defined by:

x = (R+r)*cos(t) - (r+O)*cos(((R+r)/r)*t)

y = (R+r)*sin(t) - (r+O)*sin(((R+r)/r)*t)

Now, Kenner, the original distributor of the Spirograph in the US, has a corporate history like those so deftly sent up in Toy Story, with Hasbro, the final surviving corporate toy entity, finally putting the Kenner name to sleep when it closed Cincinnati operations in 2000.

Hasbro now manufactures a box of flimsy plastic with the Spirograph name on the box, one of which I bought because my mom won't give me my original Spirograph back. I suspect her of playing with it when I'm not there.

After spending yesterday evening playing with my new Spirograph, er, conducting historical and sociological research for my website using my kids' new Spirograph, that is, I must report that Hasbro has not improved on the original product.

It is possible, however, to make spirograph doodles on your computer now.

I find this more satisfactory than the flimsy new version but not quite as much fun as taking pen in hand.

An inspired poster to Halfbakery proposed the creation of a Food Spirograph, which has a lot of late night appeal.

What's the connection with lawyers and technology here? Oh, it's just as flimsy as my new Spirograph, I guess, just a cautionary reminder that as in toys, so in technology, newer is not always better unless sufficient thought is put into the new product.


replevin countdown: day 26

My last post cleverly snuck in a reference to Fuentes v. Shevin, which y'all must remember from law school was a due process case about replevin which is making my job to retrieve the eighteen-wheeler much harder. Damned 14th amendment.

I love the fact that my Fuentes link will send you to the website for the National Pawnbrokers Association. Not the most conventional research site but hey, they had a copy of the case and a marginally adequate summary there, and this is only a blog and not a brief to SCOTUS. I was charmed to learn from the National Pawnbrokers Association, by the way, that "Working with law enforcement has always been an important part of operating a pawnshop" and "[w]hen visiting a pawnshop you're likely to find bright, sophisticated lighting and modern merchandising programs to rival the major discount stores."

As I have said before, who needs parody?

a mystifying gap

A document such as the Hague Convention of 1 March 1954 on Civil Procedure is just the sort of thing that ought to be available on the Internet in all sorts of languages.

That is what I thought. But I was wrong.

The most recent English translation of this particular Hague Convention is apparently the Journal du Droit international (Clunet), 1960, p. 590, back before Al Gore was even a typist in Saigon.

My conclusion from this, since civil procedure has certainly evolved in the US of A since 1952--class, can you say Fuentes v. Shevin?--is that this particular convention is probably fairly useless, unlike the Hague Convention on Service Abroad, which our very own State Department has thoughtfully provided for us. In fact, State's web site is pretty good, though it won't win any prizes for its looks. The Hague people should take a leaf from State's book, although the Hague Conventions are drafted as far as I know by mysterious and shifting committees that do not stick around long enough to erect websites. I think that's another research project for another evening.


replevin countdown: day 27

As a refreshing break from my life on the cutting edge of using technology in law, I am working on getting a writ of replevin (hence my nom de guerre). Of course there have been interesting technical wrinkles along the way, such as: getting the $120 filing fee waived for my client, per a state Supreme Court case that I literally took in hand and waved at the commissioner to get his attention on this issue, and getting permission to serve the defendant by certified mail after demonstrating that he could not be found (probably because of the warrant out for his arrest). I did search for him over the 'Net but the fellow is keeping a very low profile.

In less than a month I get to see whether I can talk my way into the issuance of the writ based solely on notice to the last known address by certified mail. Now, I did attach a condo once--it was pretty fun--but this time I am hoping to replevy an 18-wheel snub-nose cab.


steal this link!

Whatever you do, Don't Link To Us! I love it. Another reason I think the Web is more anarchic than Larry Lessig fears.