UC Berkeley NewsCenter

Greece tabMexico tabChina tabCalifornia tab

Fighting for an oppressed ethnic group

Dealing with some frustrating technical and ethical difficulties

BUDAPEST - Howdy, all. I haven't been so talkative of late for a few reasons, but there are two big ones. One: my laptop is officially dead as far as the Internet is concerned.

As long as the thing is not plugged into a LAN, it is fine and stable as a rock. However, as soon as it is plugged in, regardless if I have a browser open, it will randomly give me the Blue Screen of Death. It is irritating as all hell. Sometimes this happens while I am working, some times I am not even touching the computer and it just decides to give up and die on me. If the LAN is not plugged in, then everything is as kosher as a bucket of rabbis. I and the tech folk are fairly sure that it is a hardware issue. This is a big problem, because laptops are rare out here, and getting anyone who knows enough to fix the hardware is an issue.

This has caused a few serious problems. The type of work I was doing before was very much Internet-based. As I have written in previous dispatches, I was reviewing constitutions, examining decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, and perusing fancy things by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination , the United Nations, and so forth so I can scare French mayors. However, without the Internet, I am not so useful to the ERRC (see About the Project). The ERRC is unfortunately a very underfunded non-governmental organization with no money for neat computers or even extra ones. Some of the lawyers here are working on Pentiums. Not Pentium IIs or Pentium IIIs, but the ones right after the jump from 486 chips to Pentiums. That's OK because the only thing that we really do here is read online material and word-processing, so we don't need anything more. But when an intern who is not working on anything overly vital can't get online, no one really panics. Still, they have been keeping me busy.

The second reason I haven't been filing much lately is that I learned that some of the things I was working on were inappropriate to discuss on a public forum. As in, they either deal with a specific person who has suffered in some way, shape or form, or they will reveal some of the legal strategy that the ERRC has been or will be applying.

It's no secret that I am working for the ERRC, so I am simply unable to write about some things at all in case an "opposing" intern with Google stumbles across my dispatches here. This is really frustrating in a certain way, but on the other hand it is a real lesson as to what lawyers really do.

-Mike