Saturday, January 14, 2006

A Virtual Path to Martin Luther King's World

With this Monday’s holiday in mind, your Virtual Library Cat has been nosing around computer screens hoping to peer into some authoritative and fascinating MLK web sites. The basics about the MLK Holiday (click on the word "here" at the bottom of this page) and how it came to be celebrated nationwide are provided by the King Center. Established in 1968 by the civil rights leader’s widow, Coretta Scott King, the King Center is the “living memorial and institutional guardian of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.” To discover Dr. King’s life and work through direct immersion in photos, letters, sermons, speeches, and links to information about nearly every person associated with him and his movement, there is no better online source than the King Papers Project. A cooperative venture of Stanford University, the Center, and the King Estate, the Project’s primary mission is to publish a definitive 14-volume edition of King’s written works, the Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Five volumes have already been completed, with digitized transcripts of many documents available online. Dynamic use of these documents is made in the site’s Major King Events Chronology and in the impressive King Biography and King Encyclopedia, with internal links to any major idea, activity or personality of the civil rights movement as well as to King’s own writings.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, January 13, 2006

Unitary Executive and Legislative History

This week's hearings on Judge Alito's confirmation has provided an interesting confluence between an issue in the news (the unitary executive theory) and legislative history research.

Several of the Democratic senators pressed Judge Alito on his view of this unitary executive philosophy, held by President Bush. Their concern arises from the fact that President Bush has, possibly over 100 times, expressed his intention to interpret Congressional legislation in light of this unitary executive viewpoint. How does all of this relate to legislative history research?

These expressions from President Bush are found in the Presidential signing statements (found in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents). When presidents sign bills passed by Congress into law, they frequently issue a statement. President Bush has adopted the practice of stating his interpretation of the law in those statements (a practice believed to have started with President Reagan.) This has become particularly controversial very recently in light of the passage of the "McCain amendment" regarding treatment of detainees. In his signing statement for that law , President Bush invokes the unitary executive notion and discusses, in some detail, how the executive branch will interpret the law. (See the discussion of Title X on p. 1919 for the President's statement regarding treatment of detainees.) There is considerable debate as to whether any President can affect the interpretation of laws in this fashion.

So, the next time you cringe when you have a legislative history project, remember it can have some very real, and fascinating "hot topic" implications.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Treaty Status On Thomas

A somewhat well-kept secret is the fact that information is available on Thomas regarding the status of treaties to which the U.S. is a party. Complete coverage begins with the 94th Congress (1995-96). Older treaties are included if they were pending in 1975 when the database was created. Users may search by Congress, by word/phrase, by treaty number, or even by treaty type. There are also links to GPO Access for those who require the full text of treaties from the 94th Congress forward.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Painting the Library

Starting this week, and continuing for at least through next week, the walls of the first floor of the Library are being painted. The work will be done during closed hours, but you will see pictures and signs being moved around as the painters do their work. We thank you for your patience during this time.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Legal Tech Trends

OK, so you are computer literate and may even be something of a techie guru. But, do you know how technology is used in law firms? As everywhere else the technology changes at law firms speeds ahead at a phenomenal rate. Predictions for 2006 maybe found at "Dennis Kennedy's Legal Technology Predictions for 2006: Small Steps for Most Firms, Giant Leaps for a Few Firms". He gives some big picture trends and makes 8 quick specific predictions. More information on law firm technology may be found at Dennis Kennedy's website that also links to his blog. Both his site and blog are worth looking at (IMHO).

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, January 09, 2006

New Postage Rates

On Sunday, January 8th, 2006, the U.S. postage rates increased. The price of a 1 oz. First class letter has risen from .37 to .39 and the price of a postcard from .23 to .24. For a list of all the rate changes see the USPS new rates and fees page. If you don't want to wait on line to buy new stamps you can purchase your stamps online through the The Postal Store. Since I had been caught unprepared for the change and had many .37 stamps left, I stocked up on the nice Navajo jewelry .02 stamps they are selling.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Google Video Store

Google has announced at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) plans for a new Google Video Store allowing video purchase and rental from Google Video. Content from about 40 providers will be initially available for purchase. In the near future, the program will open to any video producer wishing to charge per view of their video. Google's flexible pricing structure sets it apart from iTunes. Here, content suppliers can name their own price, from zero on up. The content owners who charge for video downloads must share 30 percent of the revenue with Google. Break out your video cameras!

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat