10 March 2010


This is a multilingual household. But our first language is not English:

Shoe, 10 Mar 2010

  • I've long grumbled about dead-hand control of one's social and economic potential... and it appears that the UK and the US reify such dead-hand control more than do other developed countries, as reflected in an OECD report on social mobility compared to parental income. In this instance, the dead-hand control picture in the US is almost certainly skewed on the bottom end by the considerably higher proportion of immigrants from non-developed countries, compared to the remainder of the developed world... and on the top end by the efforts by the Heffalumps since the 1980s to remove barriers to intergenerational wealth transfers (once you've seen Paris, etc.).

    reprinted in the Grauniad, 10 Mar 2010, from OECD Going for Growth report, http://www.oecd.org/document/51/0,3343,en_2649_34117_44566259_1_1_1_1,00.html   There's another term for this sort of thing: non-real-property feodality; and it's inimical to the longterm health of representative forms of government. That, however, is an argument for another time...

  • You know that meme "there's no such thing as bad publicity"? Here are some claims that Variety "duped" a film into an expensive Oscar campaign, then trashed the film in its review. BTW, Variety just finally canned another longtime reviewer's sorry ass, so I expect an employment discrimination suit out of that to arise... when perhaps — just perhaps — Mr McCarthy's three-decade-long demonstration of his lack of critical acumen and/or appreciation for facts and cultural artifacts that don't have a Hollywood or Century City zipcode thoroughly justified his dismissal. (Remember what my first language is, as noted at the top?) Actually, though, that would be a first at Variety — that is, paying attention to what is actually said, rather than who it makes happy/unhappy — so maybe McCarthy might have a valid claim for interference with settled business expectations... which would be ironically appropriate, as his reviews were simultaneously selectively praising based on how historically cooperative the producers had been with Variety and on the whole nowhere near negative enough.
  • When you hear a bank robber object that closing a library is worse than robbing a bank, you expect to be at said robber's parole hearing... not at a public hearing on the future of the Boston public library system. What I found most disturbing is that nobody, apparently questioned why a public library needs to hold any antiquities; a public library is for circulating works and for publicly accessible reference works. Antiquities belong in museums, even when they're rare books; and the irony that one of the antiquities in question is a Gutenberg bible, in Boston, just boggles.
  • Ken Fisher at Ars Technica makes the case against ad blockers. On one hand, he has a point. On the other, he's flat wrong on one aspect. The reason that I and so many others — basically, anyone who gives a rat's ass about their privacy or, in some instances, security — use ad blockers is not that we object to the ads per se. What we object to is hijacking our machines by the advertisers in a way that just doesn't happen with print ads, or even those stupid PUAs on DVDs. Ever tried to do a quick news update in an airport, with a dying laptop battery, while the page won't load solely due to an advertiser's kewl flash animation (and none of the rest of the page uses flash)? How about finding cookies three years later from a site you visited once, that the advertising aggregator put on your machine as "hidden/system," and discovering that other advertisers are still querying those cookies?

    Bluntly, Mr Fisher, the problem isn't advertising. It's the technology used to deliver and track it. For that reason alone, you're wrong... because the delivery and the content of internet-based advertising have been made inseparable. And don't get me started on how the most annoying, privacy-invading, insecure aspects of advertising are due solely to incompetent and/or lazy programmers at the aggregators who are freeriding on the system by offloading data collection onto the receiver, not the transmitter. I'm looking at you, notoriously-inept-and-invasive-subsidiary-of-Google. I expect a lot more sensitivity to tech issues from Ars Technica.

  • Then there's the goofiness of the Filegate lawsuits (PDF) (the over/under on announcing an appeal by the losers is 11 days at my hypothetical Vegas bookie), which were ultimately dismissed when the judge agreed that over 400 FBI files of Reagan and Bush I appointees were requested by the Clinton administration due to "bureaucratic bungling" — after well over a decade of litigation and the spawning of several characters and B-plots on The West Wing.