The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Blawgosphere
Welcome to Blawg Review #42, the answer to life, the universe and everything! In his memory, the theme for Blawg Review #42 revolves around the most famous work of the sorely missed Douglas Adams. [1952-2001].
Douglas Adams loved computers. He once said that they completely changed the way he wrote — he went from avoiding writing by finding food to eat, to avoiding writing by reconfiguring his Macintosh’s operating system. Hitchhiker’s has been many things, from a radio serial, a series of books [a trilogy in five books], a TV series, now a movie, but it was also a wildly successful computer game back in the text adventure days. As a kid, I spent many hours figuring out how to hold “Tea” and “No Tea” at the same time. 🙂 In addition to his science fiction humor writing, Douglas was an outstanding naturalist. His book Last Chance to See is about our disappearing endangered species. In his memory, contributions can still be made to the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and Save the Rhino.
About the Guide
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a small electronic book that contains the authoritative reference material on the galaxy. I’m not going to give away the entire plot of the books, but essentially an Englishman named Arthur Dent discovers that his best friend, Ford Prefect, is really a space alien from Betelgeuse. Ford’s been sent to Earth to edit the Guide’s entry for Earth. Arthur is disturbed to discover that it merely reads “Harmless.” Ford advises him that space in the guide is at a premium, but he did manage to get his editor to change the listing in the next version. It now reads as “Mostly Harmless.” Arthur discovers this while the Earth is being destroyed by the Vogon Constructor Fleet to make way for an interstellar bypass. Arthur’s adventures have only just begun…
The hero, Arthur Dent, is an everyday man who does his best to deal with having his house, his planet, and his view of his place in the universe all destroyed in a matter of about 15 minutes. Dressed only in his pajamas and bathrobe, he sets forth with his towel on a quest to find some tea. Normal readers of this blog are familiar with Internet issues, so keeping with the theme I’ve put interesting posts on computer and internet law issues here.
The most common problem in Science Fiction is how to get everybody to speak the same language? Douglas’ solution was, shall we say, unique. A fish called the Babel Fish goes into your ear and it translates for you. It’s such an endearing tribute to Douglas that Alta Vista’s free translation service is still called Babel Fish. Turning now to language in the Blawgosphere, there has been a great debate by linguists over the use of the word “Blawg” to describe a legal blog.
Marvin the Paranoid Android
Marvin is the ship’s robot from the Heart of Gold. Despite his name, he isn’t paranoid, he’s really just depressed and bored. Really, really depressed. Marvin has some of the best lines in the books, and certainly is a very popular character. Google is a company that depends on its robots, or bots, to carry out its searching. These bots scour the web for changes in web sites. In the last week, Google has received lots of press, some of it over its bots.
Last Chance to See
As mentioned above, although he joked about destroying the world, Douglas was a naturalist. He’d be interested, though, over the fight J. Craig Williams discussed in his post regarding cell phone towers disguised as trees. (Douglas’s interest would likely be in how to make a good joke out of it.) The city of La Cañada Flintridge in California disapproved some cell phone towers because of their lack of aesthetics. The 9th Circuit reversed, holding that the state law does not allow aesthetics to be taken into account.
Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster
According to the Guide, the best drink in existence is the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, the effect of which is “like having your brain smashed out with a slice of lemon… wrapped ’round a large gold brick.” Speaking of drinks, I was hoping this week to find out more details about Lexthink’s next event, a “Salon in a Saloon,” as Matt Homann has hinted at here. As a happy attendee of Blawgthink 2005, I’m curious to see what’s up next for them.
In the Hitchhikers universe, a good example of branding is the planet Magrathea. Everybody has heard of it, but nobody knows where to find it. Accordingly, I’ve put posts dealing with marketing, client development, and customer service here.
Douglas liked to poke fun at management and bureaucracy wherever he could. The Vogons were a race of the ultimate bureaucrats, refusing to do anything unless the orders were signed in triplicate, cross referenced, returned three times for corrections, and so forth. Oh, and a word of advice – avoid their poetry whenever possible. Keeping with the theme, I’ve put posts relating to management here. Keep in mind that the category name may be silly, but these are seriously great articles.
“Why do law firms find it so hard to understand that a feudal warlord system forcing everyone to work harder is not the height of mankind’s achievement in civilization? I have spent twenty years trying to say all professions look similar and can learn from each other, but I’m finally prepared to concede that lawyers are different – and it has nothing to do with economics.”
Ford is Arthur’s best friend who happens to be from the planet Betelgeuse. He serves as Arthur’s guide to the wacky universe around him. In that vein, there are two great posts by Charley Foster at The State of the Beehive in which he discusses and explains the fourth and the ninth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast of Traal
The Ravenous Bug Blatter Beast of Traal is the most ferocious carnivore in the galaxy, but it’s also the stupidest animal around. It thinks if you can’t see it, then it can’t see you, which is why the smartest hitchhikers carry a towel to wrap around their heads just in case they come across the beast. Our fellow bloggers have found some outstanding examples of stupidity in action this week.
Zaphod Beeblebrox is the coolest, slickest dude in the galaxy. He’s got two heads, three arms, and his title is President of the Galaxy until he steals the ship the Heart of Gold with its infinite improbability drive. He can sweet talk anybody out of anything. Speaking of mouths, the Greatest American Lawyer brags that he can speak faster than he can type in his post called “Leveraging a Lawyers Greatest Asset, Their Mouth.” By his logic, Zaphod would make the ultimate lawyer because he’s got twice as many mouths!
Trillian is the really smart woman that Arthur once met at a costume party, but lost to a mysterious slick talking stranger with a birdcage on one shoulder. (Zaphod’s idea of a good costume.) Arthur is reunited with her on the Heart of Gold. She’s the only one who really understands how to work the ship and its infinite improbability drive.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
A restaurant that can only be visited by means of time travel, guests can watch the universe ending all around them as they finish their meal. Bills are paid by depositing one penny in the diner’s real time, by the time of the meal compound interest will be enough to pay the extremely large bill. Speaking of endings, some miscellaneous entries are listed here as we finish our Review.
Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.
Thanks for reading! So long, and thanks for all the fish!
15 thoughts on “Blawg Review #42”
Hello, Kevin. Thank you for pointing to my post blaming Google for all the unsavory and inadvertent visitors to my weblog. You’ve joined a long list of prominent webloggers who have misspelled my surname — Grandpa Giacalone is rolling over once again in his grave, and thus may be right-side-up this time. (Which reminds me, thanks for putting f/k/a on your short weblogroll!)
Blawbel Fish: As I am one of the prime movers in the “make the word ‘blawg’ obsolete” movement — see http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/stories/storyReader$5803 — I wanted to point out how urban legends and false trends are spread on the internet. Dennis Kennedy, doing some spinning, wrote “Interestingly, I noticed in the post that legal blogs are apparently being called ‘blawgs’ around the world.” Upping the ante, you then paraphrase Dennis above, saying “he notes that the term ‘blawg has taken hold there, so the genie may be out of the bottle.”
I’m not sure if Dennis will allow the Comment I left at Between Lawyers past his manual filter, so please let me repeat it here:
Hi, Dennis. It seems to me that Edwin Jacobs shows very good taste in his post on European lawyer weblogs. He really only uses the term “blawg” to explain it (prudently doing that twice) and when it appears in the name of some entity he is citing. Otherwise, he says “lawyer blogs” or “law-related blogs”. I think Jacobs has voted with his brain and his fingers on this issue.
Let’s be honest, “blawg” doesn’t translate very well, as law is “Gesetz” in German, “Droit” in French, “ley” in Spanish [a bleyg on all your houses!].
The anti-trivialization league hasn’t given up the fight yet to get that skunk word back in its sack, doing our part to sway public opinion and make the word “blawg” obsolete.
p.s. Love those French, with their “Droit-blogs” and “juristes blogueurs.”
No worries, David. I don’t delete comments here, unless they’re hawking mortgage refinance, etc. I fixed your name, too. You’ve been on my blogroll for quite a while.
Good response back, I don’t think the debate is over by any means.
First, thanks for the comments on the article.
Indeed, I prefer to use the term “blawg” to explain it and when it appears in the name of some site/blog I am citing. Otherwise, I use “lawyer blogs” or “law-related blogs”. The reason is that it better says what it really is, I think, i.e. a blog related to law or made by a lawyer in his capacity of a lawyer, e.g. not about his pet or hobby or whatever. I think it’s a simple matter of communication with the target audience and I don’t make a big issue about it. I don’t care which word is used, as long as it is clear what person A is communicating to person B. But I think in communicating with non-lawyers , or with non-tech savvy lawyers for that matter, it just makes more sense to talk about a “law related website, lawblog, …” instead of “blawg”. Frankly, even using the word “blog” is often complicating things. So, use whatever you want, but “keep it simple” for your target audience ;-))
Edwin, thanks for your comments. There is room for both usages, in my opinion, depending on the context. I view the term “blawg” as more of an insider joke than the proper name. I write a legal blog, but I do not normally use the term “Blawg” outside of conversations with other legal bloggers.