02 July 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Link Sausage

... and the ingredients were blending their flavours as teh internets churned themselves from chopped striated muscle of castrated young steer, and of pig that had never seen daylight, and of turkey that was so stupid it wouldn't recognize daylight — and, not incidentally but not officially, the stray fingertips of illegal immigrants staffing the processing plant somewhere in Iowa — and stuffed themselves into the cleaned intestinal linings of Clarice Starling's pets, appropriately spiced and lovingly garnished with sawdust; and meanwhile, Dr Lector contemplated a self-drawn cityscape of Venice — a city that, if the government had its way, he would never see — while waiting for his dinner to walk in...

  • The 2009 "winners" of the Bulwer–Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced. As usual, they're better written than the vast majority of legal writing... despite the objective being bad writing. Compare

    Towards the dragon's lair the fellowship marched — a noble human prince, a fair elf, a surly dwarf, and a disheveled copyright attorney who was frantically trying to find a way to differentiate this story from Lord of the Rings.

    (typography corrected) to

    Whether NFLPA, the NFL, and the teams functioned as a "single entity" when granting the company an exclusive headwear license and therefore could not violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, which requires proof of collective action involving "separate entities."

    and tell me which one is bad on purpose... and which one is just bad.

  • What is bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than the gross national product of a reasonably sized underdeveloped nation? How about the amount lost through illegal downloading?
  • An item in New Scientist is going to be taken as "proof" that some form of racial discrimination is hard-wired into our brains, but it means both more and less than that. First, this is a chicken-and-egg situation, and one not amenable to the simple experiment structure described there: Identifying someone as "Chinese" begs the question of whether they mean Han, or whatever... and whether the experimental subjects would agree with the experiment designers' identifications. (The less said about "Jewish noses", etc., the better.) Second, and more critically, response to someone else's pain is only one aspect; had it included response to someone else's apparent joy, or mere despair, or another nonextreme but discernable emotional state, it might be possible to draw other inferences... particularly since responding to pain is also a social construct.

    Contrast that with the weak form of the Whorf hypothesis: language strongly influences perceptions of reality. Remember, race and ethnicity are at least as much linguistic constructs as they are geno/phenotypical.

  • In the department of defending Nazis' rights to free speech, the Fox reporter who reviewed Wolverine early off a pirated copy is suing Fox for being fired. There are multiple levels of ick! in this, but ultimately I have to come down on the reporter's side. As much as I disdain copyright piracy; as much as I disdain incompetent critics; hell, as much as I disdain "gossip columnists," let alone NewsCorp's corporate definition of "news" — one need only change the substance of what was "disclosed" to see why the firing was wrongful. Had it been a pirated audiotape of a conference between Bernie Madoff and his accountant(s) in 2002 — even better, a pirated unlawful wiretape recording — we'd be presenting Mr Friedman with the Pulitzer Prize... and anyone who thinks that the acquisition of information by Woodward and Bernstein was "more lawful" is more than a bit self-deceptive.

    No, the problem here is that NewsCorp also has an entertainment operation that is deathly afraid of the same thing happening to it. Imagine, if you will, the same thing happening not to a Warner/DC film, but to the astoundingly bad Alien v. Predator (a Fox film), and the reporter in question was Keith Olberman. I'm sure that Fox's executives had at least that much imagination: After all, they green-lit Alien v. Predator.

  • In the department of unintentional irony, Sarah Jessica Parker will be "hosting" a "reality series" centered on contemporary fine art(ists). If I have to explain why this is ironic, it won't be ironic anymore, will it?
  • Note to wingnuts: Please take a moment to remember that your hero was a fucking cigarette salesman before you begin bitching about an alumnus of SNL making the Senate a joke... or at least more of a joke than any purportedly deliberative body that proudly included Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond as not just backbenchers, but members of the leadership, already is.