24 March 2004


This is not an excessively exciting day in the news. In fact, it hasn't been a very exciting week.
  • Dept. of Good Riddance Jack Valenti, the myopic head of the MPAA, is making even firmer noises about retirement. From everything that I've seen, it can't come too soon. The MPAA has had an opportunity to be proactive on so many things, but has instead chosen to be an ostrich. This ranges from industry accounting practices to piracy to shareholder rights to… never mind.
  • First Barbie, now GI Joe. Leaving aside the dubious artistic merit—more years ago than I care to admit to, a university classmate tried to do something similar, and it was truly awful—one must question whether it's the dolls/action figures themselves, or the marketing machinery, or the people who purchase them, that are the target of these sorts of parodies. Only the first of the three targets could even conceivably support a trademark or copyright infringement action. Ralph Nader's recent lawsuit demonstrates the futility of the second theory, and the advertiser would have no standing to contest the third.
  • Poor computer security design and implementation doesn't cause loss of privacy. Overenthustiastic teenagers cause loss of privacy. Just ask Kevin Mitnick.
  • In a development that should not surprise even a tadpole, a British publisher has cancelled a book detailing the purported (I have to say "purported" because I do not have first-hand knowledge or supporting documentation) links between the Bush family and the House of Saud. It should not surprise anyone that the publisher in question is a division of Random House UK, which is in turn a subsidiary of Bertelsmann, the closely held German media conglomerate that has its own historical skeletons no longer in the closet and greatly desires even less vigorous antitrust enforcement.
  • Disney's latest example of sheer stupidity involves its "feature film" The Alamo. Assume for the moment that the Alamo had been settlers in the Western US holding out against an onslaught of angry Native Americans. Could (or should) that film be made? And, if not, why does perpetuating racist revisionist history that targets an even larger ethnic group (Mexicans) as the "bad guys" in even more dubious circumstances (there wasn't even a US government decree allowing the Texians to claim territory within the US) fare any better, from either an ethics/intellectual honesty or artistic point of view?