17 August 2010

Tuesday Link Sausages Are Not Monday's Leftovers

Really. They're not. Trust me, not that USDA inspector over there.

  • It's not about art (most of the time). It's not about censorship (well, most of the time). It's about H'wood's antiquated business model, which has remarkable parallels with the problems facing print publishing (periodicals and otherwise) and music.

    The publicly traded companies that have the economic power to change models are not interested in doing so... and therefore continue to grasp the existing model. That's true whether we're talking about butts-in-seats cinema box office receipts or consignments (the returns system). The publicly traded companies continue to have that market power because they're (improperly) involved in both distribution and creation... particularly for display devices (not just e-readers, but the iPod/MP3 player, etc.). Oh, for the days of antitrust enforcement against excessive vertical integration that went out with the Reagan administration...

  • Just as there is no single, unified, overarching "publishing industry" or "film industry," though, there may be no single, overarching "economy". Economics is an example of the classic logical conundrum: a necessary condition that is not, in itself, sufficient... which leads directly back into Mr Kay's piece.
  • Lost behind all of the shenanigans in HP's boardroom over the last few years is something much more pleasant: HP's research group in Palo Alto has been well on its way to becoming the 21st century equivalent of mid-20th-century Bell Labs, doing critical basic research that will — in a few years — become parts of systems we can't do without. One of those areas is, naturally, mathematics. (You're surprised, given HP's venerable history with scientific instrumentation?) Now an HP lab researcher claims that P ≠ NP ... which, if his proof is validated, is going to have immense effects on digital communications, face- and object-recognition software design, and other implications I can't even begin to focus on (and not just due to my NDA, either).
  • Perhaps Lord Acton should have been a psychologist (if they'd had them then), rather than a witty politician: According to an item in the WSJ, power does corrupt. I will pause to allow laughter at and examination of the breathtaking irony of this piece appearing in a publication affiliated with Fox News.
  • From the department of "lawyers with too many unbillable hours on their hand still trying to make partner," there's the lawsuit filed by Buy More Best Buy against a priest over his "God Squad" sticker... which highlights one of the more idiotic parts of trademark law. Unlike copyright, trademark is a defend-it-or-lose-it right; that is, failure to defend a trademark against every potential infringement can lead not just to ridicule around the edges, but loss of the mark itself. The problem here is that some lawyers seeking to seem useful interpreted "defend" in an expansive manner when a letter to the priest congratulating him on his sense of humor and asking him to change the color scheme of the sticker to avoid any confusion would have been good enough. OK, I think I've just found the other problem: It assumes a sense of humor... both at Best Buy's management and in the legal profession. At least one of those assumptions is really, really dubious — even more than sausages generally are.