04 February 2013

The Glue Factory

Just a few leftover link sausages after a Brazilian barbecue in LA...

  • The truthfulness/falsity of Lance Armstrong's "memoir" has been in the news of late. I think the lawsuits are going to rightly fail, for a very simple reason: What Armstrong said in his book cannot reasonably be taken as instructions for conducting oneself that depend upon the false information alleged. As it happens, I'm no fan of WADA or "zero tolerance" policies that are not tailored to the particular sport and particular athlete; I'm also no fan of the kind of chain reaction these bicycling stories have created, which exceed even that of a certain poor corrupt Vichy French official when confronted with gambling in Rick's casino. Get over it and move on to something that matters, like culpability for lies in a political memoir — a much harder question, particularly in light of potential war crimes prosecutions.
  • A different king whose legacy has been maligned after the end of his reign has been unearthed and identified under a car park in Leicester: Richard III. He needed not a horse (or bicycle) to maintain his kingdom so much as a spin doctor. Or a few generations of spin doctors.
  • But then, not every alternative to tyranny is actually anything more than a substitution of one tyrant for another. Just as Henry VII was not exactly an improvement on Richard III, neither would nonlawyer investment in law firms result in a legal paradise. The problem is not with the form, but with state-level regulation in an era in which almost no matter or client that would be a good match for a firm large enough to require/benefit from outside, nonlawyer investment is restricted to a single state, its laws, and its courts anyway. Instead, this is an assertion of baronial privilege against the king...
  • Everything old is new again — Wikipedia follows the 17th/18th century model of accretion by obsessives, and vanity presses are making a comeback as the default method of publishing. Next we'll find out that music downloading sites are supported by corporate ads, that the Easter Bunny is a myth, and that honest politicians aren't.
  • My colleague Charlie Stross was a lone voice of the actual creator of copyrightable expression recently at a conference on copyright and new business models in the information economy. He had six minutes to make the case for the actual creators — which is more than is usually devoted to their points of view at conferences over here. Picking on a nearby law school for the moment, just examine this list of presenters and find one who is, or even who is directly loyal to, the actual people who create copyrightable expression. I'll wait... but I won't hold my breath. It's contemporaneous revisionist history by suppressing a discrete interest group. Sometimes you do need to deemphasize the nutcases — but this is active suppression of the very people who are the behavioral-modification target of copyright.
  • Last, and far from least, is a bit of amusement in LA. After a morning business meeting at a coffee shop in Studio City, we ran over for a bookstore break to clear our heads in advance of the next meeting. We saw a fascinating "lost dog" poster for a chihuahua-boxer mix. The picture was cute enough, but the mind boggles at the concept of which of those two breeds was the mother — and of the prelude... But then, it was LA and H'wood, so unusual sexual practices shouldn't be too unexpected.