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August 3, 2003 Odds and Ends

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Item 1: German Politicians Have their Brains Sucked Dry
Bad Feng Shui Blamed for German MPs Lacking Ideas

Sat Aug 2, 7:02 AM ET
BERLIN (Reuters) - If German politicians lack ideas for reforming the country's struggling healthcare and pensions systems, they can now blame an adverse flow of energy in their workplace.
The German parliament's glass dome, a Berlin landmark, makes for bad feng shui, according to an expert in the Chinese art of positioning objects, buildings and furniture.
"The energy is downright sucked out of MPs' heads by the glass dome," feng shui adviser Wilhelm Wuschko told the mass-circulation daily Bild on Saturday.

To keep the energy inside, the dome should be coated with a protective foil, he said.
Bild said the office of parliament president Wolfgang Thierse would not comment on the suggestion.
Item 2: Theories Can Be Tested
Typing Monkeys Don't Write Shakespeare
By Jill Lawless, Associated Press Writer   9 May 2003
LONDON - Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare.
Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will produce a mess.
Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.
"They pressed a lot of S's," researcher Mike Phillips said Friday. "Obviously, English isn't their first language."
This week I came across this.  It is a digital monkey, typing.  Actually a programmer has created a text that is continuously generated by a pseudo-random number generator.  Can one generate literature randomly?  One can stare at this for hours and wait for a bit of Shakespeare to appear.  Or not.  Click here: http://www.megalink.net/~ccs/monkey.htm

Item 3: Why Are They Not Suing the Monty Python Folks?
Hormel Fights to Defend Spam Name
Associated Press 30 July 2003 AUSTIN, Minn. -
Hormel Foods has a message for a Seattle software company: Stop, in the name of Spam!

The canned-meat company filed two legal challenges with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to try to stop SpamArrest from using the decades-old name Spam, for which it holds the trademark.

SpamArrest, which specializes in blocking junk e-mail or "spam," filed papers to trademark its corporate name early this year. Hormel then sent the company a warning to drop the word "Spam." SpamArrest refused.

"If you ask most people on the street, they're going to say junk e-mail as opposed to the luncheon meat as their first description of what spam is. I think they're overstepping their bounds," said Brian Cartmell, SpamArrest's chief executive.

Cartmell says his company's use of the word has nothing to do with Hormel's product, first produced in 1937. Hormel officials disagree, arguing that the company has carefully protected and invested in the brand name, and that the public could confuse the meat product with the technology company. It filed its challenges in late June.

Hormel acknowledges that its brand name has taken on new meaning, and it outlines on its Web site what it considers acceptable uses of the word.

It says it doesn't object when "spam" is used to describe unsolicited commercial e-mail, but it does object when pictures of its product are used in association with the e-mail term.

Douglas Wood, who practices intellectual property law in New York, estimates Hormel has only a 50-50 chance of prevailing. He points to a recent case involving Victoria's Secret and a male adult novelty shop called Victor's Secret. Victoria's Secret sued, using the trademark infringement argument. But Wood says ultimately the company lost in court.

"The court in that case was saying, even though they may have a famous mark, Victoria's Secret, and may have a particular association as soon as you hear it, Victor's Secret was not enough - the confusion or potential damage to their mark - to constitute infringement," Wood said.

The case will be heard by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Court in Washington, D.C., probably next year.