17 August 2008

Last of the Summer Sausages

It's getting weird around here...

  • First, just a couple of observations of the surroundings here on the Silicon Prairie. Given the new and (not surprisingly) awful Star Wars cartoon's appearance this weekend, I shouldn't have been too surprised to see a Prius with the license place YAVIN 4 on the road this morning. But seeing a bald man driving ENGAGE 6 was a bit much, especially when the elder remora wondered aloud if it had a KLI sticker around where we couldn't see it.
  • Speaking of film relationships, here's a ridiculous article proclaiming the refutation of many box office truisms. First, it's in Variety; I know of no industry trade publication in any industry that is as self-censoring as is Variety. Second, no matter what refutation one offers, it's simply impossible to overcome the "conventional wisdom" and "not invented here" attitudes in the entertainment industry's leadership. That's not just in Hollyweed, either; publishing and online music are just a couple of other examples. Third, and perhaps most important, it has already been directly contradicted by Warner's delay of HP6 to next summer, excused as caused by the writer's strike (that's right, blame the people you screwed for objecting!), and will never overcome the relentless brainlessness of the all-time (adjusted) blockbusters.
  • Speaking of brains: big braaaaaaains.
  • And trustworthy anchors. Dan Rather wanted to be the "new Walter Cronkite," but failed; maybe we've found him on a different CBS affiliate?
  • The UN attacked UK libel laws as inconsistent with basic human rights, and continued with a smackdown on the Official Secrets Act and misuse in the so-called "war on terrorism"... which really makes one question the whole "terrorist"/"freedom fighter" dichotomy. (Maybe Nancy Reagan is still a Sandinista.) What is really most interesting, though, is that I have been unable to find the report itself, even on the UN's own website, which seems a rather bizarre irony.
  • Not a lot of litigation news to report on in the miscellany. Here's a sadly amusing legal fee dispute, accompanied (here, anyway — Cognitive Dissonance R Us!) by this cybersex patent dispute. I'll have more comments on the open-source license case later in the week; it means both more and less than has been proclaimed.
  • Last for the day, a bit of a preview of some academia. Friday's WaPo included an article decrying the drying up of "easy money" in India. The article is accurate enough as it goes... but it completely neglects the linguistic cause of the problem. It's a very simple cause, but with profound effects throughout modern political economy: The redefinition of "risk" as "variability of return" in financial instruments. This seemingly irrelevant bit of linguistic legerdemain — which, in the end, comes from attempts to numericize securities markets to reduce real "risk" in the 1940s through 1970s — has infected the way that credit is priced, extended, foreclosed, etc. to a surprising extent. In turn, this devalues game-theoretical concepts of risk (like "least favorable excursion" and "catastrophe") in favor of dimensionless measurements of return as proxies for risk... a form of cultural imperialism that nobody is acknowledging.

    This really does matter, especially in intellectual property. But, like I said, this is merely a preview of some academia.