Monthly Archives: November 2010

Waking the dead

“The adage that dead men tell no tales has long been disproved by archaeology…

So begins a fascinating article in the magazine Science Daily – Teeth Of Columbus’ Crew Flesh Out Tale Of New World Discovery 20th March, 2009

We are all familiar with television cold case programmes, such as Waking the Dead  where Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston dig up and investigate unsolved cases from the past. This article tells of a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who are extracting the chemical details of life history from the teeth of dead sailors left behind on the island of Hispaniola after Columbus’ second voyage to the Americas in 1493-4.

You may read the article in full if you are interested but I can tell you that the team may have already discovered that there were more people of African origin accompanying Columbus than previously thought, thus raising the possibility that Africans were in the Indies some considerable time before historians had estimated.

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Vox stellarum

The party season is upon us already. Having concluded a week of festivities celebrating my birthday recently and fresh, if that is the right word in the circumstances, from the Millnet 15th birthday party at the top of the Millbank Tower with fireworks courtesy of the Mayor of London (thanks Boris!), my thoughts are increasingly turning to Christmas.

I can well imagine that many of you will groan at the thought of Christmas when it is only early November and I must admit that I agree with you whole heartedly. When I worked in Spain in the 1990s public displays of Christmas decorations and trees were reserved for the two and a half weeks leading up to Christmas Day itself following the double public holiday celebrating Constitution Day and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the beginning of December. There was no question of Christmas trees displayed in public places in September (I really did see one in a hotel reception in September a few years ago!) nor carols wailing out from tinny sounding speakers at all the weary shoppers in the malls.

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Seventh heaven on cloud nine

What have the following in common?

  • A 1987 album track by George Harrison
  • A song by Bryan Adams
  • A 1969 album by the Temptations
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • A mobile phone company based in the Isle of Man
  • A crime novel by James M Cain
  • A skyscraper and shopping mall in Shanghai

The answer is that all of them use the concept of Cloud Nine in their name or title! Where does this expression come from?  The International Cloud Atlas produced in 1896 defined ten types of cloud. The ninth cloud was the cumulo-nimbus rising to a height of over 10 kilometres which is as high as a cloud can be. Others have suggested the origin lies in sources as diverse as Dante’s Divine Comedy or Buddhist and Christian folklore whereas the American Dictionary of Slang published in 1969 suggests that the term cloud seven was in use rather before the now generally accepted cloud nine was defined as a state of blissful happiness.

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Data protection

I am occasionally asked about EU data privacy laws and how they impact on the discoverability of European documents in US litigation.

Denise Backhouse, associate in the eData group at US law firm, Morgan Lewis & Bockius, has written an article on this very subject for Guidance Software (who provide EnCase e-discovery software for her firm):  Master European Data Privacy Laws, Guidance Software blog, 18th October 2010.

The piece was also featured in Ernst & Young’s international e-Discovery blog, BONG!

The article is full of useful links to EU directives, opinions and FAQs and even has a plug for our old friend Chris Dale! It is none the worse for that and may prove to be a handy reference point for research on this subject.