January 6th, 2003


It's not just a lie, it's free speech!

I read an interesting article about a case that may significantly change life in the U.S.

Short synopsis -
  1. In 1997, reporters discovered Nike's horrendous sweatshop labor practices overseas.
  2. Nike, through PR and ads, made obviously false statements about their labor practices. These include whoppers such as: their workers were paid twice the minimum wage, received free meals and health care, complied with all local labor laws, were protected from physical and sexual abuse, etc.
  3. A Californian named Marc Kasky decided to sue Nike on behalf of the general public for violating restrictions on commercial speech that is false or misleading.
  4. Nike defends itself by claiming that they had "freedom of speech" rights to lie. The local court agrees with Nike, but the California Supreme Court declares Nike's statements to be commercial, non-protected speech, and overturns the decision. The case may soon be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue here is not about the trampling of free speech, as Nike would like the public to believe. It is first whether companies have the same right to free speech as individuals (to the point that they can knowingly lie), and, if so, whether these rights apply evenly to both commercial and non-commercial speech. Along the way, the court may also need to decide how to distinguish between commercial and non-commercial speech -- especially when that speech comes from a multinational corportation.

Frankly, I don't see how you can make a distinction between commercial and non-commercial speech for businesses -- practically all company speech is inherently commercial. That leads me to believe that what is ultimately at risk is our right to pass laws that prevent companies from lying to us.

It's worth noting that the next company that lies to us may not be Nike -- it might be the company that makes your medicine or your child's toys, telling you that they're perfectly safe -- and if they're lying and they know it, well... that's just business.

On the plus side, I hear that if this decision does get overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, we'll see the return of those healthy cigarettes people used to smoke back in the '50s...

Quest for search and contemplating the unnecessary...

manifestress posted a wishlist to her journal recently, asking for the ability to search her journal... so, knowing generally who is really good at what when it comes to designing LiveJournal pages, I pointed her towards msram, who has used search features on LJ for ages and has obviously done the footwork in finding a good solution.

Mahesh uses FreeFind. Mahesh is very bright, but not an egghead... therefore, he finds solutions that are both technically apt *AND* usable. He doesn't gravitate towards solutions that only a programmer could love. Ergo, I not only recommended FreeFind to Karlita, I bit the bullet and I now have a little, innocuous search box on my journal page.

... of course, now the issue is how to configure it to index my site properly. It took time to complete the first indexing of 3000+ pages, largely because I didn't restrict the indexing as much as I should have. However, it didn't index comments. Frankly, that's where a lot of the action is. So, I reconfigured all the settings to take another swipe at the site, and, with any luck, FreeFind's spiders will soon be choking on about 6,000 comments... I hope.

Chances are, I will have to go through several iterations in order to come up with search results that I really like, but once I have it sussed, I will post a how-to that will make it painless for anyone else who wants to take the plunge.

Really, I have been meaning to add search functionality to my journal for ages, but never did, because It Doesn't Really Matter. I could dye my journal a new shade of purple too, but again... IDRM!

Maybe it's a bad habit of getting older -- when things don't really matter, you tend not to do them as often out of habit. After all, some would argue that everything matters. They would *also* be correct.

Once basic needs are met, people gravitate towards the unnecessary. Therefore, the goal of innovation is to create the unnecessary. The goal of business is to make the unnecessary vital.

F*cking me makes you smarter...

Wanna grow some brain cells?!
CALGARY -- A hormone stimulated by sex may be used to repair brain damage caused by strokes, suggests breakthrough research at the University of Calgary published today in the prestigious journal Science.

A team of researchers, led by Samuel Weiss with James Cross at the Faculty of Medicine, studied female mice who had recently mated and found the hormone prolactin stimulates the production of new brain cells, called neurogenesis, in a part of the brain responsible for the sense of smell.

The mice didn't have to become pregnant for there to be a surge of prolactin and male mice given the hormone also showed an increased production of new brain cells.

Researchers are exploring if neurogenesis stimulated in one part of the brain can be rerouted to damaged parts to treat stroke victims and those with other brain injuries.


This could lead to some *very* unorthodox treatment methods for the elderly...