The Laboratorium
October 2005

Best Spam Sender Name Ever


I just got email from one “Relaxation J. Dissonance.” Now that’s a name.

Magical Thinking, Part Umpteen


I got my car my car inspected today; I put the new plates on over the weekend. I could almost swear that it’s running better.

While that’s obviously ridiculous, it does seem quite plausible that now that the various legal requirements are out of the way, I’m worrying less about how the car is running. If so, then it’s definitely true that my average impression of how it’s doing has improved.

Any Classicists in the House?


What’s the pural of “ethos?” It’s “ethoi,” right?

UPDATE: No! It’s a neuter noun, despite ending in “os.” That means the plural is “ethea.” Thanks, Seth!

UPUPDATE: No again! The plural is “ithi,” according to an actual speaker of modern Greek, who assures me that the form is the same in classical Greek, as well. I think “ethe” is also a plausible English transliteration. Here’s the morphological analysis. Seth appears to have found an archaic variant used by Homer.

The State of Play is Strong


Just back from State of Play III, the best so far. Some of the excellent people there included:

  • Sir Richard of MUD, the grumpy old man of the conference and a grandmaster at making panelists feel comfortable while he asked uncomfortable questions. It’s always great fun to see him, now that I’m past the initial fanboy terror. (This year’s fanboy terror moment was reseved for the gracious Jessica Mulligan.)
  • Beth Noveck is a pushover as a negotiator, but she put together an amazing conference. She was also far too kind in her introductions. I’m in her debt three or four times over now.
  • I also need to have a word with Linden’s Cory Ondrejka about setting the bar too high with his introductions. He’s always a solid presence and fun to seek out.
  • Greg Boyd, I had a good dinner with a few weeks ago, so we didn’t spend as long getting acquainted at State of Play as we might have. But it was good to sit down with Brian Green (no, not the physicist).
  • Greg Lastowka put me in touch with Joshua Fairfield recently. They were both there, and it was good. So was Dan Hunter, who spent much of the conference, I swear, fishing. (Talk about your MMOG addiction.)
  • Jerry Paffendorf looks disturbingly like another guy I know. But he was also wonderfully generous to me, and his “little” side convention was a very classy affair, too.
  • Michael Froomkin, sadly absent from the previous one, was back in force. For real—his wife, Caroline Bradley, was there, and they brought their sons along. The family that games together, becomes drolly articulate together, or something like that.
  • The Froomkin-Bradley alliance introduced me to Ann Bartow, who also looks disturbingly like someone else I know. I’ve been a long-time listener, but this was my first time as a caller.
  • Susan Crawford’s ears must always be buzzing. A mutual acquaintance said wonderful things about her recently. I mentioned to Susan that I’d met said acquaintance, and the favor was returned. I learn something every time I hear her speak, even when I can guess in advance roughly what her talk is going to say.
  • Tim Wu is very very smart. This I remembered. But I forgot how soft-spokenly unprepossessing he is. His voice sounds disturbingly like that of someone else I know. Need I add that the other guy is also quiet, nice, and scary-smart?
  • Liz Goodman and I were supposed to meet, oh, say, ten years ago. No, really. We’ve just kept on managing not quite to be in the same place at the same time and know about it. Until now.
  • The Yalies, Jack Balkin and Eddan Katz, were showing the flag. Things in New Haven sound quite exciting this year; the ISP is bubbling over with important projects. I hear very good things about a conference they’re planning.
  • David Johnson has the enthusiasm of a ten-year-old and the generosity of the nicest ten-year-old you’ve ever met.
  • Ed Felten, I wasn’t expecting. Very pleasant surprise.
  • Susie Lindsay was one of the many great Berkmanites in attendance. Plummy Canadian accent, neat research agenda.
  • Ren Reynolds is the exact opposite of Reynold. Every party should have one, ideally more. Every panel, too.
  • Babylona should have been in the digital property workshop, because she absolutely destroyed the consensus that the participants in the workshop thought we’d achieved. Note to future State of Play organizers: put more players on panels. Further note: start with her.
  • I had high expectations for Aaron Delwiche’s moderation, and he came through. I suppose some of the interesting data his panelists had gathered helped, but his “good teacher” vibe did too.
  • Not that I really understand what Michael Rand was doing at State of Play, but I’m glad he came.
  • Kevin Werbach is a gamer? Who knew?
  • Richard Sherwin was telling me about the use of narrative in legal argument. So I said, you know whom you’d enjoy talking to? Jim Goodman, that’s who. At which point, Professor Sherwin did a double-take—turns out the two of them had met the previous weekend and immediately hit it off. Small academic world. Christina Spiesel was at the table with us, but I didn’t get to spend as long talking with her.

I’m pretty tired now. But that was a good conference. And you know what makes for a good conference? Good people.

(With my apologies to anyone I forgot to include.)

Said In Chambers


You keep citing that case. I do not think it stands for what you think it stands for.