Griffith Park: LA’s not-so-hidden treasure

Hiking is one of my absolute favorite things to do in LA, and Griffith Park is a great place to do it. There are miles and miles of trails just minutes from LA. Here are some photos that I took around the park.

Photos from the Smithsonian: A gemology Mecca!

It's no secret that I'm a Gemologist. As such, any chance I get to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is a very happy time. Here's a few photos I took last time I went.

A Thought on 9/11

It is easy to remember 9/11 for the tragedy this nation suffered, for the unimaginable horror that unfolded before all our eyes. But let us not forget how we all came together and truly were the United States. This being an election year, we are more polarized politically than ever. But today at the very least, let's reach across the aisle, accept our differences, and celebrate being one nation, truly indivisible.

UK Ambassador to the UN embraces “Responsibility to Protect”

Today, Michael Tatham, the UK Ambassador to the United Nations made a statement before the UN General Assembly saying that "[t]he United Kingdom is fully committed to implementing the Responsibility to Protect." Ambassador Tatham echoed R2P's themes of "prevention and response":

Firstly, it means that if our preventive action is effective, responsive action will be unnecessary. This is the situation we should all be striving for. . . . The United Kingdom believes that Responsibility to Protect should be a governing principle of all Member States' work across the conflict spectrum, as well as on human rights and development. Building good governance, the rule of law, inclusive and equal societies, and effective judicial and security sectors all contribute to building a preventive environment in which Responsibility to Protect crimes are less likely to take place. . . .

The second implication of the link between prevention and response is that if prevention fails, the international community must be able – and willing - to authorise action quickly and decisively if necessary. This does not and should not necessarily mean military action. As outlined in the Secretary-General’s report, collective response under pillar three includes a broad range of non-coercive and coercive measures that actors at national, regional, and international levels can use – from mediation to sanctions. . . .

"Responsibility to Protect" ("R2P") is the idea that a state has the duty to protect its citizens against human rights abuse and cannot hide behind the notion of "state sovereignty" when widespread abuses are occurring within its borders. Coupled with each state's duties, is also the broader duty of the international community of states to act if a state fails to fulfill its responsibility to protect its citizens. However, what "action" is necessary -- or even legal -- is a rather unclear issue.

Importantly, Ambassador Tatham says that such action "does not and should not necessarily mean military action." Indeed, after the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, many NATO allies surely do not have the stomach for further armed force responses. What is more, while R2P has received a decently warm reception, it is awkward fit -- if it fits at all -- with the United Nations Charter. Article 2(7) reflects the long-accepted idea of territorial integrity. The Security Council is given primary responsibility for making use-of-force decisions. However, one is probably well aware of the veto power the P5 states have. China and Russia have vetoed key resolutions on, for example, Syria, thus throwing a wrench into the cogs of the Security Council. How is one to reconcile R2P with the Charter?

If there one thing that is clear it is that R2P raises many important issues with no clear-cut answers. The UK's support of R2P is crucial to its international vitality given that the UK is a "P5" member of the Security Council. However, this is but one step on a much longer journey toward widespread acceptance. One need only but turn on the television to see that R2P, though of course not fully implemented, has not done much to assuage the widespread atrocities occurring in Syria. If there ever was a time to implement a solid plan for addressing the situation in Syria, it definitely is now.

The full statement can be read here: http://ukun.fco.gov.uk/en/news/?view=PressS&id=807108582.

Mobile Website

Well to all of the law students who daily swarm to my criminal procedure case briefs, welcome. Feel free to also navigate to www.JaredOlen.com on your mobile device for my cell-phone-friendly version of the site where the full content is also available.

For students in other courses, I plan on uploading the case briefs for several other courses this summer.

How to Do a Google Vanity Search

Well I was surprised to see that my site has flown to the top of Google search results for something I just mentioned in passing: Google vanity searches. Yes, I admit that I'm a frequent Google vanity searcher. It's quite interesting to see where one's name appears out on the wild wild web. One can also (electronically) meet their fellow name-sharers -- an interesting experience to say the least. Even more interesting is that there are quite a few posts on the web on how to do a Google vanity search. Well, I figured since Google thinks I'm an expert on the topic I'd post the definitive how-to guide. Here goes.

What is a Google vanity search?

A Google vanity search, also called "egosurfing," is when one searches for his or her own name on Google to view the pages from across the web that contain that name. Google vanity searches presumably include the word "vanity" because one may say that it is narcissistic to think that there are websites around the web that really are interested in using one's name and publishing posts about a particular, non-celebrity person. Well, one would be surprised at what's out there in the electronic jungle.

Why perform a Google vanity search?

Because it's fun! Besides a way to cure boredom, Google vanity searches do serve an important purpose. They're a great way for people to evaluate their online presence and determine in what areas they are the most popular. For example, an upcoming actor may want to see if she or he has been reviewed by critics or had their works mentioned in blog and other news posts. I have personally used vanity searches to determine where my name or business is being painted in negative way or if my content is being used without my permission or proper citation. I then contact the poster or the website and get the issue resolved. It works! Vanity search results can be scary though; who knows how and where your name might be used. And once your name is posted somewhere on the web, it's next to impossible to get it removed (or at least to get it removed quickly).

How to perform a Google vanity search

  1. Navigate your internet browser to www.google.com (sure, any other search engine will work here too).
  2. In the search box type your name in quotes (e.g., "Jared Olen"). Quotes mean that Google will return search results first that contain the words exactly as they appear between the quotes. Thus in my example, results for "Olen Jared" would not appear (or at least not near the top of the results). Also note that if you use your middle name or middle initial a lot like I do then you'll have to do another search with that initial.
  3. Click "Search."
  4. Browse the search results. If you're not too familiar with reading search results you might not be able to easily differentiate between important hits and unimportant ones. What I mean is that some strange-looking URLs will show up in the results, but these websites are really just compiling content or mashing content from other sites together. Look at the URLs (the website addresses) and only pay attention to the ones that look like they came from a real website (usually because they're .com's, .org's, etc.).
  5. Enjoy. Or not. If you find some "bad press," don't hesitate to try to resolve the issue with the poster of the information or the website owner. It's your name after all.

Sharing a Name

I just did a Google vanity search (come on, you know you do it too!) and stumbled across a "Share Your Story" page on the March of Dimes website. Apparently back in 2008 a mother began posting about her son's struggle to survive after being born with various health problems. So what's so special about this little guy? Well, he and I share a name -- two names to be exact. Jared Olen and I both have the exact same name. I've never met or heard about anyone before that had the same exact name as me. This is quite a different experience.

I just commented on one of the posts on the page, so I hope to hear back from Jared's mother. I will definitely update if/when I hear something. You can see the posts at http://www.shareyourstory.org/webx/Jaredsjourney12308/. I hope he's doing well. I will channel some strong Jared Olen energy to my fellow name-sharer!

Going Beyond the Grading Report

As a gemologist and diamond salesperson, one of the most common mistakes I find clients making when shopping for diamonds is that they compare diamonds on the basis of the certificate ("cert"; grading report) alone.  I tell my clients that, as cliche as it sounds, a diamond is more than the sum of its parts.  Grading reports are a great assurance to the consumer of the quality and authenticity of the diamond that they are purchasing, but they are limited in their use.

Imagine for a moment that you are in a diamond showroom and the salesperson brings out ten diamonds of the same color and clarity and all with grading reports from the same laboratory.  The carat weights are all quite similar, varying in only a few points, and all of them received Excellent cut grades.  Each grading report you read seems to look like a copy of the last one that you saw.  How are you going to choose which diamond is best buy for you when you cannot base your decision solely on the reports?  You look at the diamonds laid out in front of you, and you see that they strike you differently.  The store's gemologist shows you each stone under a gemological microscope and you see that although each is VS1-clarity, their internal characteristics look quite different.  Some seem to have brighter, more white flashes and others are very fiery and colorful.  What you have done now is you are looking into the heart of each diamond.  You are buying based on which diamonds speak most to you.  You have gone beyond the grading report.

Well, what does this mean for you, the consumer?  It means that although there are many outlets for you to see scores of diamonds ranked by the details of their grading reports alone, you are missing the true visual element of each stone.  Use those outlets to narrow your quality parameters to best match your price range.  Decide on what approximate carat weights are most affordable for you.  Then, bring this information to your trusted jeweler, and go beyond the grading report and into the beauty of the diamond.  After all, when a woman wears her stunning new piece of diamond jewelry, it is this beauty you see, not the grading report.

Originally posted by me to LibertyDiamonds.com on 3/9/2010.