Friday, May 15, 2009

My phone call with John Baez

Heads up. Hot Baez/Naschie news, and more coming.


Recently I've exchanged a couple of emails with John. And minutes ago I talked with him on the phone. I was trying to ascertain from him why (since he earlier said nobody representing El Naschie threatened him or even contacted him) he was afraid my n-category archive put him at legal risk. His answer: An El Naschie representative contacted his employer U.C. Riverside and said mean things about John. No, UCR didn't ask him to take the stuff down. Nobody did. He just didn't want to be next in line for sueing after Die Zeit and Nature. I asked whether he thought he was a likely target on account of UCR being an organization with pockets deep enough to make sueing an attractive option. He said no, because the blog is his, not the University's.

There's more about the emails and phone call coming soon, but I wanted to post at least this much in real time.
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6 comments:

  1. The emails from El Naschie's representative (Joan Morris) to UCR and the response from UCR were published by Baez in the comments on his blog (which are of course available on elnaschiewatch blog).

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  2. > I asked whether he thought he was a likely target on account of UCR
    > being an organization with pockets deep enough to make sueing an
    > attractive option. He said no, because the blog is his, not the
    > University's.

    Again, Baez is confused.
    His comments in this regard, even on a blog, result directly from his professional expertise as a mathematical physicist. If he is sued because of his actions in this professional capacity, then he is automatically indemnified by the university. (Just as he signed something that gives his university full patent rights to any of his inventions while employed by the university, even those that result from working in his garage on weekends -- it works both ways).

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  3. I don't think Baez is confused because that is also the position of UCR based on a legal advice. You can read about that in the n-category archive (linked above).

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  4. > I don't think Baez is confused because that is also the position of
    > UCR based on a legal advice. You can read about that in the n-
    > category archive (linked above).

    I see no such position in the above link, but it is difficult to wade through all of it. I see only
    "Eventually Elizabeth Lord replied. She pointed out that the blog is not run by UCR, and that the issues appear to relate to academic freedom rather than any breach of policy."

    This can be interpreted as a polite way of saying that UCR does not consider itself liable for comments made by others in Baez' blog. That is a non-issue in any event at this point since Baez is no longer hosting those comments in his blog (and Baez is not responsible for their current hosting on this site any more than he is responsible for any tasteless exercises in photoshopping).

    But the question of whether UCR will indemnify Baez for comments he himself has made in his blog is a slightly different one, and insofar as Baez' comments were his professional assessment of work in his field of expertise, his university would support him in a lawsuit, just as it would if he were sued for any other referee comments made public with or without his consent.

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  5. As I read it, the position of UCR is clear: it doesn't consider itself liable for Baez's blog at all. Consequently I don't see any confusion in Baez's answers.

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  6. Anonymous, surely you're not implying that there are "tastless photoshops" on this blog!? LOL

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