Blog Ipsa Loquitur

Mother Jones says “Study: All-White Juries More Likely To Convict Black Defendants” – citing researchers from Duke University:

The bad news is that, according to the study, which looked at 700 cases between 2000 and 2010, all-white juries are significantly more likely to convict black defendants than white ones. The good news is that a single black juror can alter that dynamic.

In cases with no blacks in the jury pool, blacks were convicted 81 percent of the time, and whites were convicted 66 percent of the time. The estimated difference in conviction rates rises to 16 percent when the authors controlled for the age and gender of the jury and the year and county in which the trial took place. When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites.

Remember, correlation doesn’t imply causation, but that is some pretty awful correlation. Read the full study at Duke’s web site.

Filed on under The News

Nilay Patel, writing for The Verge, on the just-filed ebook price-fixing case against Apple and the publishers:

The government alleges that the publishing industry openly colluded to raise ebook prices and end Amazon’s dominance, and that Apple was a willing participant in the scheme. What’s more, the alleged conspiracy sounds like it was actually quite a conspiracy, with secret CEO meetings in private New York dining rooms and promises made to bosses up and down the chain. It’s all quite juicy, so let’s dig in.

Although Apple is listed as the first defendant, the bulk of the case is really about the publishers involved: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. According to the government, these publishers greatly feared Amazon’s $9.99 Kindle book prices, which they called “wretched,” and worked for years on a scheme to raise prices and limit competition. They also feared that consumers would get used to paying $9.99 for bestsellers and ultimately decrease publishing profits.

And this breakdown goes on. As always, Patel has the most concise and cogent summary of the key legal issues at play. It really sounds like slimy business. The publishers felt like Amazon had too much leverage in the retail book market, and as such, they agreed to set prices with the new kid in the ebook market (Apple). Apple, for its part, was eager to get a foothold in a growing market, and was happy to not only acquiesce, but actively secure publishers for the price-fixing cartel.

Note that three of the seven publishers have already settled, and the lawsuit was only filed yesterday. So there are at least a few folks who’re pretty sure the complaint is accurate.

Read the excellent summary at The Verge.

Filed on under The Digital Age

Bump is a smartphone app that transfers a user’s contact information from one phone to another by fist-bumping. Over the years, Bump has added things like photo sharing to their program, and today they’ve let me do something I’ve always wanted.

Now I can fist-bump my computer to upload photos. I’m not even going to use it, I just love how inventive it is.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Once in a generation, a visionary creates something truly revolutionary. A product that upends whole sectors of the population. A service that brings grown men to gnash their teeth and women wail in sorrow, all because they had not thought of it first.

Or, sometimes, someone makes a web site with hilariously oversized text, and sticks a WHOIS search form at the bottom. This person also might call it “The Facebook of Websites.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you WhoDat.biz – the world’s first way to look up WHOIS data.

This is apparently the first product from Kanye West’s fabulous new design startup, DONDA. You might recall that time a couple months ago when Kanye went on a two hour non-stop Tweeting binge. Ideally, this isn’t what he was so excited about.

UPDATE: It’s a faaaaaaaake. Well played, clerks. Well played.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

You’ve all heard of Facebook, where everyone knows lots about you, regardless of whether you posted it or not.

You’ve probably heard of Twitter, where you connect with people with short updates and grow your network of online friends.

You might have heard about Path, where you can share your thoughts, places, photos and even your musical tastes with a close number of friends.

You probably haven’t heard about Pair – that’s okay, it’s new – where you can connect with your loved one (yep, just one) when you’re apart.

We think we’ve come up with a social networking platform that speaks to you – and only you – personally. It’s called Solo.

The problem with today’s social networks is that they spread your focus away from the most important person in your life: you. That’s a problem. You end up being connected with everyone else and you stop being connected with yourself. And there’s no way you can be truly connected to others without being connected to yourself first, right?

Read the rest of Introducing Solo: The Social Network That’s Just For You at Vardy.me

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant

From a former fellow at my old law school, who now writes for the Patent Law Practice Center:

From the high-five machine (US 5356330), to the kissing shield (US5727565), to the burial structure for human remains and significant memorabilia (US 6799399) whose resemblance to the Great Pyramids at Giza is uncanny. […] check out the drawing of the patent for the Interactive Life-Sized Bowl of Soup (US 6168531). That’s right, an interactive life-sized soup bowl not only exists, but there’s a patent for it.

I’m struggling to imagine who would (A) invent an interactive life-sized bowl of soup and subsequently (B) decide I gotta patent this before someone else rides this gravy train! I’m sure weirder things have happened.

The whole slideshow is worth a look, because there’s nothing quite like technical drawings of asinine things.

Filed on under Irreverently Irrelevant