05 February 2008

Two by Tuesday

I'm sitting in a coffee shop near campus, watching the cockroaches from a nearby fast-food place line up two by two in the face of this city's gross incompetence at providing drainage (a classic "free rider" problem, although "free swimmer" might be more accurate at the moment — and certainly is for those cockroaches). The streets are averaging about 30cm of water. Cars look like they're surfing on South Neil under the streetlights. And some diligent surfing of my own has uncovered...

  • One of the purported themes of the Reagan Revolution was a "return" to the concept of "that government governs best that governs least." This is, at best, a vast oversimplification. I'd rather have a (relatively) accountable government to smack in the face when it oversteps its bounds in suppressing criticism than an uncontrollable corporate entity engaged in union-busting. I suspect that former Professor Blakey hasn't caught on to the irony that he is simultaneously emulating both Robert Kennedy (remember Jimmy Hoffa, et al.?) and various state Attorneys General (particularly in coal country prior to the Clayton Act) who tried to bust unions... but he's doing it as a private attorney general. Then, on the other hand, there's the sheer arrogance of the Bush Administration's attempts to evade the effects of a judicial ruling that the Navy must comply with environmental laws. There's no "national security emergency" here; as Judge Cooper said, "The Navy's current 'emergency' is simply a creature of its own making, i.e., its failure to prepare adequate environmental documents in a timely fashion..." This administration believes that nobody else can get in its business, in the face of Article III's requirement that "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." The last time I checked, this wasn't just advice...
  • Speaking of "union busting," some elements of the corporate-owned media are trying to respin the WGA strike and claim that the industry, and everyone else, will now be "hostile" to the writers. Of course, as I've remarked previously, Michael Cieply isn't exactly the most objective reporter on the WGA strike. What's that? Liberal MSM? Riiiiiiight.
  • On a somewhat lighter note, authors should learn how to avoid "truthiness" scandals. It's actually pretty easy: Verify. Document your sources (and that means you, too, Dan Brown). And tell the truth as you know it... and if you don't know the truth, get help from someone other than a publicist at a NewsCorp imprint.
  • Speaking of accuracy, perhaps accurate attribution of authorship matters. Does the word "trademark" not mean anything to anyone? Or, perhaps, is this just another version of the Muskie "Canuck letter"?
  • Wow. I have another opportunity to bash the work-for-hire doctrine in US copyright law, thanks to an article on comic-book IP rights litigation. What part of "author" means "patron, as Michelangelo — or Macchiavelli — would have understood the term"?
  • Finally, without comment other than a note of amusement: At least some linguists and anthropologists seem to be adopting a punctuated-equilibrium model for language.