Thank You for 2015 – Best Wishes for 2016

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This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays; spending time with family, friends and loved ones; bidding farewell to 2015; and looking forward to the New Year – 2016. A time when many of us pause to reflect on what has happened in the past year and wonder what the new year will bring. There are people who have touched us and some with whom we’ve gotten closer; some we have missed and many with whom we resolve to try and be better in the new year; and perhaps a few we might like to forget. We pause to remember those who are no longer with us and appreciate that by remembering them, we keep their spirit – all we have learned from them and all they have meant to us – alive. As 2015 comes to an end, we reflect on friendships and relationships, events and experiences. Many will use the opportunity to thank those who have helped us in tough times and those with whom we cherish sharing the good times.

For me it has always been a time to resolve to keep doing the good things I’ve done and to be better about trying to do those things I should have done. This time of year gives me an excuse to say thank you and express appreciation to everyone who has enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience – part of the fabric of my professional life and, like the threads of that fabric, you have helped me weave the patterns and textures you read in these digital pages and the thoughts and sensitivities that become imprinted in my mind. I am grateful for your readership and in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read and perhaps gain some insight, while also being a little entertained.

So let me take this the opportunity to wish each of you, your families, friends, loved ones and yes, even an enemy or two, a beautiful and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year, filled with wonder and magic, health and joy, challenge and opportunity, and prosperity and success. I especially want to thank a few people at Rimon like Kaitlin Southron, Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. These are the people you don’t see, but I do! They make Legal Bytes come alive. They are always amazing, consistently awesome and unbelievable under pressure. There are insufficient words to express my gratitude and appreciation – especially when they get my email that says “can we please post this ASAP.” Thank you. You make it look easy, you make me look good. I could not do this without you!

Continue reading “Thank You for 2015 – Best Wishes for 2016”

Looking Forward to 2014

As we say goodbye to 2013 . . . .

For those of you who are loyal readers and followers of Legal Bytes, you know this is the time of year when I break tradition and write a non-legal, more personal and philosophical post for Legal Bytes. I am figuring that if the ancient Babylonians, who celebrated the New Year upon seeing the first new moon after the vernal equinox, could start a tradition that lasted for about 4,000 years – the least I could do was to try to keep up. Although my tradition doesn’t date back nearly that far, this posting will contain no hypertext links to distract you; it will not have citations to provide you with reference or background information; nor will it dazzle you with factoids or intrigue you with today’s news – legal or otherwise. This is my one chance each year to philosophize and dispense my thoughts and opinions – with absolutely no credentials, qualifications or expertise to do so.

There are, however, two traditions I will continue to perpetuate even though I did not originate either one. First, let me take this the opportunity to wish each of you, your families, friends, loved ones and yes, even an enemy or two, an enchanting and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year, filled with enchantment and magic, health and joy, and prosperity and success. Second, as many of you know, for numerous years I have avoided a tradition of sending out mass mailings of cards and gifts – which are often lost in the flurry of the season, and delayed by the strain on the mail and package delivery services; and while we delude ourselves into believing it "personalizes" the warmth of the season – whether displayed for a few weeks and then put in a drawer, tossed in the trash bin immediately, or relegated to a closet filled with decades of Lucite, there was nothing really personal about that process. So as many of you may already know, I decided years ago to borrow a tradition an old friend told me about and I started making a contribution to a charitable organization for all the family, friends, loved ones, colleagues and acquaintances I want to honor, in memory of those we have lost this past year, near and far, and in recognition of those who have given me a reason to celebrate – clearly far too many to list. In that spirit, as I have done for a number of years, I have made a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My way – perhaps naively – of trying to help some children in need, benefit from the kindness of a stranger.

So now, won’t you please pull up a chair, put your other distractions away for just a moment, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy . . . and as always, thank you.

When I thought about this year’s "philosophical" posting, my first inclination was to offer my humble opinions about the woeful state of intellectual property law and the challenges faced with the onslaught of digital technology. I thought about data breaches and wondered if what people really care about is privacy or data protection, or rather the inability to control information about us so that we can actually get a benefit from sharing information about ourselves. After all, I don’t really care if anyone knows I like popcorn, but at least give me a discount coupon for sharing that information with someone I don’t know! So many legal challenges – but then I thought, wait, this isn’t supposed to be a "legal" posting . . .

So I remembered just recently someone told me that everyone should listen to the Michael Jackson song "Man in the Mirror" at least once every month. I thought about what that meant – really listen to the words. Coincidentally, I keep hearing the John Lennon song "Imagine" playing at surprisingly frequent intervals this time of year. It occurred to me the entire season has a genre of music dedicated to the holiday spirit and the new year. Since I promised no hypertext links, I will resist – but did you ever wonder about the universal power of music that transcends culture, ethnic background, race, religion and all the things we believe separate and segregate us. Why is it that music can have such a powerful and magical effect on us – no matter what age or part of the world we are from.

Although no one asserts that music arose or was derived from the study of mathematics, mathematics is ultimately the basis of sound, being rooted in the frequency of vibration that is audible to the human auditory senses. Tone and pitch all can be expressed as mathematical frequencies. This is hardly new – ancient Chinese and Egyptians studied the mathematical properties of sound, and one of the earliest Greek mathematicians and philosophers, Pythagoras, actually correlated the length of the string to the vibrational frequency, and even expressed musical scales in terms of numerical ratios. In Plato’s time, one of the key branches of physics was "harmony," and early studies in India and China sought to show that mathematical laws of harmonics and rhythms were fundamental to our understanding of the world, as well as to our well-being. This time of the year, my interest in music is not in its mathematical properties, but rather in its ability to bring harmony to the world – one musical composition at a time.

Every culture on the planet has folk songs, musical instruments and rhythms, whether or not they include song or dance. Indeed, we launch music into space with explanatory mathematical symbols and algorithms in the belief that if there is life out there, they will view us as friendly and harmonious because of our music, rather than because of our unmanned space craft smashing into their planet!

Consider how important music is in almost every aspect of our lives. Although there are obvious examples of music put to nefarious uses – remember the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film, "A Clockwork Orange" – in most cases, music sets the mood, captivates us, and engages us in ways both explicit and implicit. If memory serves, the only television programming since the beginning of time that doesn’t have a theme song is the news program "60 Minutes" – announced only with a ticking clock (unless you consider that music). When the theme song to our favorite program announces the beginning of the program, everyone comes running to the screen (for years I thought the words "Hi Ho Silver" were actually part of the "William Tell Overture"). Who does not remember a wide variety of jingles and catchy tunes advertising products in advertisements of all kinds – from being stuck on Band Aids, to "loving it" at McDonald’s (which replaced "you deserve a break today").

Certainly in motion pictures, music has introduced us to aliens ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind"), has been the background for our investigation of the cycle of life and birth and the mysteries of the universe (witness Strauss and Wagner in "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Who doesn’t remember the stirring music from "The Magnificent Seven" or instantly recognize the introduction to every James Bond movie. Think about all the different types of music from around the world. Type "musical genres" into Wikipedia and you will get a listing of literally hundreds of types and styles of music. Every major (and some minor) city, town and village has a musical group – marching bands, barbershop quartets, street minstrels, symphony orchestras, rock groups and school recitals. Ever wonder why?

I’m happy to send you the link (not here) but one day, take a look at the clip on YouTube of a homeless young man making the audience (and the judges) cry on "Korea’s Got Talent," or 6-year-old Connie singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on "Britain’s Got Talent," and making even Simon Cowell melt. Take a peek at the clip from the Andre Rieu concert at Parkstad Stadium in the Netherlands as he introduces 3-year-old violinist Akim, or a YouTube video of Ryan, only 11 years old, playing Chopin like a master.

These are obvious musical "tear jerkers" – sympathetic or extraordinarily young people with amazing talent. But my belief is that music and its universal appeal are deeply rooted in our human DNA and that music – a universal language that has transcended and often defied borders for centuries – has the unique ability to cross artificial boundaries and barriers that far too often seem to separate us and perhaps, bring us together. We humans, all of us, love music. I have no scientific evidence, but music is important. The power of music is too ubiquitous, has been around far too long and is simply too amazing to ignore. We associate life events with music that was playing at the moment. We love concerts, and while musical groups and styles may wax and wane, the one constant is that music in one form or another continues to fill stadia, concert halls and our lives. Music can make us calm or can call us to action; it can stir us and make us smile or melancholy. Its rich contours and seemingly endless complexity can make us feel happy when we are blue, and smile, even when we are walking in the rain.

In recent days, smart mobs around the world (sometimes referred to as "flash mobs" when they gather for seemingly random and pointless activities, only to disperse as quickly as they appear), have grown increasingly popular as expressive outlets for music of all kinds – from symphonic pieces to hip hop and recreation of theatrical production numbers. While the first modern-day, non-musical "flash mob" was the invention of Bill Wasik, a senior editor at Harper’s Magazine who, in June 2003, surreptitiously arranged for more than 100 people to gather on the 9th floor of Macy’s surrounding an expensive rug – everyone was told to tell the advances sales help that they were a group shopping for a "love rug," that they made purchases as a group and that they all lived together in a warehouse just outside New York City. Imitators soon popped up, but the most recent trend has been around music – sometimes accompanied by dance, marriage proposals, reunions and celebrations – but always celebrations of life.

I admit to being mesmerized by the coordination and harmonious talent of these seemingly unconnected people, even though I realize someone has coordinated (and often rehearsed) the effort. While I am happy to send you links (not here) if you don’t believe it, I have vicariously collected musical memories of a crowd in a food court singing Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus," to a crowd singing Michael Jackson songs in Bucharest, Romania; from a flash mob in Central Station, Sydney, performing Riverdance on St. Patrick’s Day, to the a flash mob in Springfield, Illinois, performing Les Misérables; from a Bollywood performance on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to a Greek festival flash mob in Ottawa, Canada; and yes, a medley of ABBA songs from "Mama Mia" performed on an Israeli beach, to Norwegian Soldiers dancing to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller."

I want to take this opportunity to wish family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, clients and adversaries, those who know me far too well and even those who don’t have a clue how they got on this email list, health, peace, comfort and joy this holiday season and in the year ahead. May those who love you come closer and those who dislike you forget why. Most of all, I wish all of you the extraordinary feelings of joy and harmony that come with music, whether sitting alone with your headphones or next to someone on a park bench, perhaps through music we can change the world . . . one noisy note at a time.

So as 2013 comes to an end, I will break my own rule and share a link in this column – or perhaps not a link, but a gift. The gift of music. I leave you with the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Instantly recognizable, incorporating the words of the poet Friedrich Schiller: Alle Menschen werden Brüder, Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt (All men shall become brothers, wherever your gentle wings hover). Take five minutes out of your busy day because, just as the lyrics of "Man in the Mirror" suggest, "no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that Change!"

Warm regards for the holidays and best wishes for the new year. Sincerely – Joe Rosenbaum
 

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Thank You For 2013 – Best Wishes for 2014

At this time of year, many of us are celebrating holidays and spending time with family, friends and loved ones. Getting ready to bid farewell to 2013 and looking forward to the coming of 2014 – a new year. Some of us even hope we can keep those new year resolutions that might last longer than a week or two.

Although we shouldn’t take it for granted at any time of year, this is one of those seasons we seem to use to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we are going. We think of those who have touched us; those we missed and some we would prefer to forget. We remember those no longer with us and marvel at the miracle of each life born into the world this year. We reflect on friendships through which we have grown, and appreciate those who have helped us on our journey through 2013. This time of year also gives me an excuse to say thank you and to express appreciation to those who have enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience – part of the fabric of my professional life; and like the threads of that fabric, I am grateful for your readership and, in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read, hopefully gain some insight, and perhaps be a little entertained.

I especially want to thank the people at Rimon who support my efforts – people like Erin Bailey, Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. You don’t see them; but I do. They help make Legal Bytes come alive. They are amazing professionals and awesome people. Thank you so much. You make it look easy and I could not do this without you!

I would also like to thank Carolyn Boyle at the International Law Office (ILO) – the force behind motivating me to push content into the U.S. Media and Entertainment Newsletter; and while I can take credit for the substance and for nagging my colleagues to contribute, without her, thousands of readers who enjoy the links and insights would be waiting far too long for Legal Bytes content. Thank you.

So as 2013 comes to a close, please accept my appreciation and gratitude to each of you – staff, support, contributors and, most of all, the readers of Legal Bytes. My best wishes to each of you, your families, friends and loved ones, for a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year, filled with health, happiness and success.

2012 Thank You 2013

This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays, spending time with family, friends and loved ones, bidding farewell to the end of 2012, and celebrating the coming of a New Year – 2013. A time when many of us take a moment to reflect on the year gone by and perhaps wonder what the New Year will bring. There are people who have touched us and with whom we’ve gotten closer; those who we have missed and resolve to try to be better than we were this past year; and perhaps a few we might like to forget. We also pause to remember some who are no longer with us and take comfort in knowing that by remembering them, we keep their spirit – all we have learned from them and all they have meant to us – alive. As 2012 comes to an end, we all should reflect on the friendships and experiences that helped us grow, and take a moment to thank those who have helped us get through tough times, and those who have shared the joys of good ones.

For me it’s a time to resolve to keep doing some of the good things I’ve done this past year, and to try to do some things better next year. As the year draws to a close, it also gives me an excuse to say thank you and express appreciation to all those who have enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience, part of the fabric of my professional life; and like the threads of that fabric, you have helped me weave the patterns and textures you read in these digital pages. I am grateful for your readership and in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read and maybe gain some insight, while being a little entertained. Thank you.

I especially want to thank a few people at Rimon like Erin Bailey and Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. These are the people you don’t see, but I do – they help make Legal Bytes come alive. They are awesome and amazing, and there aren’t sufficient words to express how grateful I am – especially when they get my email that says "please can we get this posted ASAP." Thank you so much. You make it look easy and I could not do this without you!

I would also like to thank Carolyn Boyle at the International Law Office (ILO) – the force behind motivating me to push content into the U.S. Media and Entertainment Newsletter; and while I can take credit for the substance and nagging my colleagues to contribute, without her, the thousands of readers who enjoy the links and insights would be waiting far too long. Thank you.

So as the year comes to a close and we look forward to the next, let me express my appreciation and gratitude to each of you. You motivate me to keep this interesting and exciting – even when I get lazy about posting. My best wishes to each of you, your families, friends and loved ones, for a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year, filled with health, happiness and success.

2012 Season’s Greetings & Happy New Year 2013

This is the time of year when season’s greetings, holiday and new year’s wishes, regardless of religion, culture, ethnic background or heritage, fill the air. A period when we spend lots of time and attention on cards, gifts, attending or hosting parties, dinners and otherwise gaining the 10 pounds we resolve to lose in the new year. I don’t want to ruin those traditions, so among the flurry of well-wishers, holiday revelers, frosty noses and smiling faces, let me join with others and wish you an enchanting and joyous holiday season, and a healthy, happy new year filled with wonder, challenge and excitement.

As many of you know, in years past I use to agonize over gifts to clients, colleagues, family and friends. A number of years ago, rather than sending people trinkets they never want or need; rather than feeling guilty I’ve forgotten someone or perhaps given the same thing I gave last year or, worse – gave you the gift you gave me!!! – I started my own tradition of sending a personalized note and making a contribution to a charitable organization of my choice in honor of family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, and in memory of those we have lost. In that spirit, as I have done for some, I have made a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and this year it seems somehow to be even more meaningful. Perhaps it is my way – my attempt – to find ways to let our children know there is more good than evil in the world. That good people don’t give up; won’t give up. That the battle may never end, but we will never resign ourselves to the way it is; never stop believing it can and will be better. At a time when so many of us might feel helpless to comfort each other.

To help, we need to find ways to make a difference – one step at a time. I know we can’t all change the world. But we might just be able to change a life or two or three. Yes, it’s corny. So what? We are already cool and so hip. We speak to each other in "tweets" and text messages, in language that accommodates the limitations of the technology – OMG that is sew kewl! So for the record, I’m OK with being traditional. Perhaps a little old-fashioned. We talk about random acts of kindness as if it were only a bumper sticker. Why be kind? Why help others? Why give? Not just this time of year, but as a part of who we are. Part of who we should be. Part of who we need to be to change the world.

Sure, maybe the homeless man will spend it on a beer – but maybe not. Yes, it’s true that someone may be embezzling money from the battered women’s shelter – but maybe they are not. What if – yes what if, each of us shows a little faith and kindness to others less fortunate – those who have so little. What if taking a moment to care pays more dividends than we care to believe; more than we know. The real inconvenient truth is that we often use failure as an excuse not to give or to help others who have less. Think about every person we honor because of their selfless dedication to helping others. We admire them not because they gave; we honor them because they never gave up. They don’t seek rewards or even recognition. They keep going, even when it seems impossible to make a difference. Our heroes often have little themselves, yet they give unselfishly to others. Adversity. Challenge. Humiliation. Their belief in helping others is steadfast. Beat them down, they get up and go on.

This year, we have been confronted by unspeakable images of horror – man’s inhumanity to man. I feel helpless to comprehend the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Helpless against unimaginable sorrow. But we have also seen people caring for each other. As a community. The prayer vigils and outpouring of love and support in the hearts and minds of so many across the nation and the globe continues unabated. Don’t stop. When the cameras leave and the news coverage moves on – there are people who will still need your help, your love and support. We have seen or heard about natural disasters with unparalleled fury. But we have also seen the firefighters, ambulance personnel, emergency medical services, and so many others routinely risk their lives, no matter what the conditions, to rescue and save the lives of others – far too often at the risk of their own. And then there are the small acts of kindness, caught on camera unbeknownst to the good Samaritan – the image of a New York City police officer, giving shoes to a homeless man, shoes bought with his own hard-earned money.

Each of us should make a little more of an effort to help others. To give to those who are less fortunate, the thoughtfulness and help we would hope someone might give us if we needed it. Yes, even if we are not sure they will use it wisely or turn their lives around. Yes, even if we are disappointed or skeptical. Even if we are sure they won’t appreciate it. Have a little faith – this isn’t about religion. It is about tolerance and understanding and a willingness to accept that we may not know why some people are what they are, but we can help nonetheless. I don’t pretend to be a paradigm of virtue. I have walked past my share of homeless people, huddled in corrugated cardboard boxes, pretending to look the other way – avoiding their eyes so I’m not shamed into giving them a few dollars. But as I realized last year and each year that goes by, I spend more on a newspaper subscription or Starbucks or the new smart phone, than I am willing to give someone who is hungry or cold or alone . . . . . and I feel terrible. So now I’ve started to go back to those homeless, often helpless people – maybe not often enough, but when I do I feel better. It feels right. I like that feeling. Stupid me, I still don’t do it often enough. My father did, rest his soul. I should have learned from him. Hopefully it’s not too late. So I’m starting to pay more attention to what he never said, but always did. I’ve gotten better – but only a little. In this age of digital miracles, when communicating across the globe is as simple as the push of a few buttons, let’s not forget the miracles that happen face to face, person to person. The gift of kindness and compassion; of charity and community; of helping the needy and giving hope to the hopeless. This coming year, I will try again to be better. I will keep trying. I will also try to keep in touch in a more meaningful way and take the time that you need. Time is a precious gift. Something I value when it is given to me.

I also value the diversity of wonderful people I’ve come to know and care about over the years and throughout the world – you know who you are, and if you aren’t among those I’ve met, just send a signal and say "hello" – please. There is so much I still have to learn from each of you and so much we have to share with each other. So to family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, clients and adversaries, those who know me far too well and those who don’t have a clue how they got on this email list, let me close by wishing each of you health, peace, comfort and joy this holiday season and in the year ahead. May those who love you come closer and those who dislike you forget why. Most of all, I wish all of you the extraordinary feelings of inner warmth and goodness that come with helping another . . . maybe changing another person’s life for the better . . . a person to whom you owe nothing and who expects nothing from you. Think what the world would be like if we all did that.

Warm regards for the holidays and best wishes for the new year. Sincerely,

– Joe Rosenbaum

Happy New Year Wishes for 2011

 

About 4,000 years ago, the ancient Babylonians celebrated the New Year upon seeing the first new moon after the vernal equinox. Today, festivities in New York’s Times Square are televised around the world. Although my traditions don’t date back nearly as far as either of these, each year at this time I try to create a Legal Bytes piece intended to be more thoughtful and philosophical. So this posting will contain no hypertext links to distract you; it will not have citations to offer more information about a snippet; nor will it dazzle you with factoids or intrigue you with today’s news. It’s just me philosophizing, about where we’ve been and where we’re going. My one chance during the year to simply ramble about where we’ve been and where I think we might be headed – without any credentials, qualifications or expertise to do so.

So, loyal Legal Bytes’ readers, just pull up an easy chair, put away your other distractions for a moment, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy . . . and again, thank you.

Much has been written about social media. Whether it’s the Facebook phenomenon, now with 1 billion “friends” in sight, or the Twitter tweets that either rock or knock the world – everyone’s talking about it. I just read an interesting blurb from a powerhouse of a social media strategist I follow on Twitter, describing the social media and corporate world as an example of “orthogonal bliss,” and I thought, that’s interesting, but not quite right. Why, you ask? (You did ask, right?) Hang on.

Much has also been written about privacy and data protection. Online behavioral advertising, geo-targeting and location-based services, tracking, identity theft, the buzz words go on and on. I keep reading how advertisers capable of more accurately determining my preferences represent a massive invasion of my privacy and my rights. Wait a minute. That’s not quite right either. Why, you ask? (You did ask again, right?)

Well, let’s put these in perspective, because all of these inter-relate with cloud computing and mobile and wireless technology and, yes, drive-up windows! When Henry Ford introduced mass-production assembly lines in the early 1900s, prices of automobiles dropped, making personal transportation more affordable. Closed body construction, first available on General Motors’ Cadillac Model Thirty in 1910, as well as the first use of an electric starting motor (invented by Charles Kettering), also in the Cadillac sold in 1912, made the automobile easy for anyone to start and capable of being used in all sorts of weather.

More than just trivia, society as we know it in the industrial age has largely been based on the rapid increase in personal transportation: Drive-up windows, shopping malls, suburbs, gasoline/petrol stations, rumble seats, not to mention paved roads, interstate highways and so much more. Try to imagine not just the vehicles themselves, but also the lifestyles that have changed, the culture and society that has arisen around personalized transportation. The airplane has shrunk the globe, and the automobile has enabled us to go where and when we like on it!

Thirty years ago, computers were largely mainframe monoliths, connected to dumb terminals requiring rocket scientists with punch cards and a working knowledge of Boolean algebra to do anything. Raised floors for cabling, sophisticated air conditioning cooling systems – 1 megabyte of memory in 1978 cost more than $30,000. Why would anyone ever need more than 64K!

Today, personal information systems are transforming our society and our culture as well: Everything from how we work, play, game, learn, research, find things and, yes, interact with each other and the world around us. Rapidly. Our appetite for personalized capabilities has created successful companies that have learned the skills of “mass customization” – yes, there’s an app for that! Devices become smaller and more powerful. I can take my toolkit, my work, my school books, my roadmap, my address book, my email and my phone with me wherever I go. I can keep in touch and shop with one device. “Clouds” and wireless devices proliferate – in the next year or so, estimates indicate there will be more than 5 billion active mobile phone contracts, most Web enabled and most with GPS tracking capability.

Continue reading “Happy New Year Wishes for 2011”