Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cats and the Commerce Clause

Last week, while law students around the country studied Commerce Clause cases for finals, a federal appeals court decided a case on my favorite related subject, feline law. More precisely the court expounded on legendary author Ernest Hemingway's cats--about 50 of them, all descendants of the author's six-toed polydactyl cat, Snowball--and their relation to federal power and the Commerce Clause. 

The cats live in and around the Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida.  You can read more about them and the case in this article (with video) from the Christian Science Monitor.  In short, after a visitor complained to the U.S. Department of Agriculture about how the cats were being cared for, the Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued demands that the Museum obtain an animal exhibitor's license and maintain the cats in specific types of enclosures.  The Museum then challenged the Department's jurisdiction to regulate it as an animal exhibit under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (7 U.S.C. Section 2131 et seq.).

In a unanimous opinion affirming the district court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit stated: "The exhibition of the Hemingway cats is integral to the Museum's commercial purpose, and thus, their exhibition affects interstate commerce. For these reasons, Congress has the power to regulate the Museum and the exhibition of the Hemingway cats via the AWA."  The opinion refers to this page on the Museum website as an example of the "purposeful marketing" of the cats.

Only one question remains.  Will there be an appeal? 

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Friday, December 14, 2012

Library hours next week and the break

For any of you who, for whatever reason, want to come prowl with me in the Library before the holidays, here is our schedule:

Mon. Dec. 17 - 8am-11:30pm (no swipe card access after 11:30pm)
Tues-Fri -  Dec 18-21 - 8am-5pm (no swipe card access)

Sat. Dec. 22 - Tues. Jan. 1, 2013 - LIBRARY CLOSED (no swipe card access)

Wed. Jan 2 - Fri. Jan. 4 - 8am-6pm
Sat-Sun - Jan 5-6 - 10am-6pm
Mon-Tues - Jan 7-8 - 8am-6pm

Regular hours resume Wed. Jan 9.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Weird Hotel Rooms

Are you planning to travel during Winter break? Are you also looking for an offbeat way to put interpleader and res ipsa loquitur temporarily out of your mind? If so, then take some inspiration, or at least some amusement, from Yahoo’s list of the world’s weirdest hotel rooms.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

National Library of Medicine: Open-I Project

The National Library of Medicine has a new image retrieval service.  "The Open-i project aims to provide next generation information retrieval services for biomedical articles from the full text collections such as PubMed Central. It is unique in its ability to index both the text and images in the articles. The article retrieval is powered by Essie (the search engine that supports

Open-i lets users retrieve not only the MEDLINE citation information, but also the outcome statements in the article and the most relevant figure from it. Further, it is possible to use the figure as a query component to find other relevant images or other visually similar images. Future stages aim to provide image region-of-interest (ROI) based querying. The initial number of images is projected to be around 600,000 and will scale to millions. The extensive image analysis and indexing and deep text analysis and indexing require distributed computing. At the request of the Board of Scientific Counselors, we intend to make the image computation services available as a NLM service."

Ernster, the Virtual Library cat

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Go Dark

Tired of studying and want to rest your eyes for a bit?  Try watching the earth spinning in the dark in this video.  Glimpses of illumination from space make for a bit of zen here on Flickr

This new feature of Google Maps can be found on their Earthbuilder site.  Read more about NASA's "Black Marble" video capture here.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, December 10, 2012

Watch Your Language

Lawyers are notorious for writing in "legal jargon" but most legal writing manuals also advocate a plain and simple style.  The "Watch Your Language" post at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog calls out corporate speak.

Hard to tell which is worse:  business speak or legal jargon.

The post does offer four useful tips:

Check out the post for the definitions of each.  Good to know that lawyers are not the only people who need to watch their language.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat