01 April 2010

Not Entirely Foolish

I wish these were all April Fools' Day items.

  • The joke here is that it's such a surprise, and so long in coming: Simon Singh may actually present a defense of "opinion based on truth!" against libel charges in the UK. One of the absolute disgraces of the UK legal/social/communications system is that — unlike virtually every other cause of action — once a libel accusation is made, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. It's a pretty serious problem when even the judges think it's a crock. It's as if some redneck could yell "you lie!" at a speaker and legitimately shift the legal burden onto the speaker to prove the absolute, literal truth of everything the speaker said and implied. Wait a minute...
  • There's no joke here, though: Madisonville, Texas embraces ignorance as an educational model. This exposes the cultural meme underlying opposition to education in a rather interesting way. The wingnut embrace of "total local control of education" makes sense if, and only if, what those parents want for their children is exactly what those children already have... perhaps a bit more, but nothing different. In other words, it's a reification of the sixteenth century, when despite the legal freedom to move and to take up a different trade, over 95% of the population of England lived, worked, and died within ten miles of their place of birth. Just a hint, guys: This ain't your father's sixteenth century no more.

    Personally, I'd characterize this as institutionalized child abuse, but that all too accurately describes the entire pre-college education system in this country anyway...

  • There's no joke here, either: DoJ loses on unlawful "antiterrorism" wiretaps... of lawyers. Sorry, guys, but that displays Elmer Fudd's tactical acumen in the first place. Not only was it not duck season, but you were actually shooting at Taz. And missed. Wiretapping lawyers is an incredibly stupid idea because even your own lawyers will at least subconsciously recoil... if they're worth a damn in the first place.
  • Of course, the legal profession is simultaneously engaging in classic restraint of trade tactics in trying to perpetuate state regulation of attorneys in a national market for legal services. That way, the feds can't bust 'em for schemes that cross state lines... and the states won't care. Just like the present.
  • 3 Blind MooseOn the health front, the Three Blind Mooses might be a health menace, as rumors abound that they're blind because they couldn't tell the difference between methanol and ethanol. Spokespeople at the big house attempted to comment, but their speech was so slurred that nobody understood.
  • A bunch of stories about the misnamed "agency model" for e-book sales. The joke here is that the various idiots bloviating on this are serious... and don't understand that they're not talking about agency. At all.
  • They might be talking about authors who are entirely zombie-like (and not just due to their irregular hours and inability to afford food).
  • But not all is bad in the world of e-books: The upcoming Twilight novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, will be free on the 'net. Or maybe that is a bad thing... I can almost guarantee that the server at www.breetanner.com will be repeatedly crashed on 05 June, and probably well before then.
  • And my colleague Charlie Stross's new career path isn't as far from a joke as one might think... and neither is this other possible next book.