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The Empire Strikes Back

February 3, 2010

This is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Funded by the Defense Department (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) , Boston Dynamics BigDog robot looks like a prototype for an Imperial Walker. The AT-AT walker is only a few years away it looks like.

(note: watch this with the sound off, the noises tend to be annoying)

Boston Dynamics received $10 Million grant from DARPA to develop this incredible robot.The BigDog can now carry 340 pounds. It is intended to be used for carrying troop supplies in the near future.

– JDR

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Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Go to the BCS Championship

January 30, 2010

The Canadian Press (ironic I know) is reporting that the US Justice Department is looking into the legality of the BCS:

The Justice Department says the Obama administration is considering a number of steps that would look into the legality of the controversial Bowl Championship Series.

Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote in a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch on Friday that the department will determine whether to open an investigation into whether the BCS violates antitrust laws.

ESPN.com, in discussing Assistant Attorney General Weich’s comments reports:

“Importantly, and in addition, the administration also is exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football postseason,” Weich wrote, including asking the Federal Trade Commission to review the legality of the BCS under consumer protection laws.

Weich noted that several undefeated teams have not had a chance to play for the national championship, including TCU and Boise State this year and Utah last year.

“This seemingly discriminatory action with regard to revenues and access have raised questions regarding whether the BCS potentially runs afoul of the nation’s antitrust laws,” he wrote.

This would be a great step for the Bowl Championship Series and NCAA Football in general, as it would bring us one step closer to a playoff system. When undefeated teams are not even considered, the National Championship is hardly a decisive title game. The BCS remains defiant, as BCS Commissioner Bill Hancock said, in a statement released earlier today “”This letter is nothing new and if the Justice Department thought there was a case to be made, they likely would have made it already.”

The dispairity in the BCS system has been evident for years, and the exclusion of Boisie State (or even TCU who I feel is the better of the two) from a CHANCE at the national title game is ridiculous. You cannot claim that the winner of the BCS Championship is truly the best team in the nation without giving every team in FBS a competitive Chance. Consider that since 1999 Oklahoma has appeared in four BCS title games, Florida State and Ohio in three and Florida State while Miami (Fla.), USC, Texas, Florida and LSU made two appearances each. While these teams continued to play in BCS Title Games, “unbeaten Auburn and Utah (2005), Boise State (2007), Hawaii (2008), Utah (2009) and Cincinnati, TCU and Boise State (2009) all finished their respective regular seasons undefeated.”

The only way to change the BCS and move to a playoff would be a move as drastic as antitrust legislation directed at the BCS. Don’t believe me? BCS commissioner Bill Hancock told reporters the first week of January, “The fact is what we have right now works. Who would you ask not to be a part of this?” The problem is that teams ARE asking to be “a part of this” and are being kept out.

Groups like Playoff PAC, founded by 2007 Truman Scholar Bryson Morgan is directed at making a College Football playoff a reality. Hopefully with the Justice Department’s help, Playoff PAC will be successful. For the sake of college football fans everywhere, we need a playoff!

– JDR

Google Maps is the Best!

January 29, 2010

True that, double true! The 3rd District Court of Appeals has decided to take up the case of two Pennsylvania residents who sued Google claiming that a Google employee trespassed on their land and took pictures of their house and pool for Google Maps “Street View” feature. I’ve spent the better part of the day looking for the Plaintiff’s house on street view to no avail. Law.com reports:

Aaron and Christine Boring claim that their 1,000-foot private drive is clearly marked with a “No Trespassing” sign, but that a Google driver “disregarded” the sign and entered their property in a vehicle equipped with a panoramic camera.

“Privacy and seclusion,” the Borings claim, was a “major component” in their decision to purchase the property, and Google’s “taking photographs that were published worldwide, was highly offensive and a disregard of the Borings’ privacy interests.”

The suit, filed in Allegheny County and removed to federal court by Google, alleged claims of invasion of privacy, negligence, unjust enrichment and trespass.

You can read the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Here

This is the first case in the US against Google for their “street view” feature on Google Maps. Should be interesting to see how this plays out as Google’s stock price has been on a slight down turn the past 3 months.

– JDR

Using Data to Win the Whitehouse

January 29, 2010

This video is pretty cool, albeit long. The video is a lecture by Dan Siroker, who quit working at Google to work on the Obama Presidential Campaign in 2007 . His lecture details how he used analytics and data to help Obama win the White House

Welcome

January 29, 2010

I’m a law student. This is my life. These are my opinions. Enjoy.

– JDR