29 June 2017

Pre-Holiday-Barbecue Link Sausage Platter

To keep the vegetarian from crawling out of the marinade for my usual (last year, obviously, was an exception!) "vegetarian barbecue" on Give the King the Finger (Instead of Celebrating Actual Victory) Day, I've made up this tasty platter of link sausages.

OK, "tasty" might be false advertising. If, that is, this blawg counts as advertising, which leads directly into the first sausage:

  • This blawg's only feline friend the IPKat (no, cats are not ordinarily welcome at my barbecues; they tend to be trip hazards around the open flames) notes that "lack of borders" works both ways for Google search results, at least in Canada. And at least founded on a prior judgment and evidence of fraudulent intent. This has a couple of implications that nobody will really like… but they are perhaps-inevitable consequences of "the entire world is not the Internet, no matter what entrepreneurs would prefer."

    Perhaps most oozing-fatty-barbecueishly delicious, this is another instance of petard-hoisting. Google — not to mention its allies, both formal and otherwise — has long run a global business, obtaining revenue globally and funneling it (or not, depending upon the tax consequences!) to Itself, which is in turn a Frankenstein's jurisdictional monster. However, Google has also long attempted to evade the consequences of entering other markets; not just those taxes mentioned in the preceding sentence, either. Here, there's a specific court judgment (with, admittedly, the flaw that the defendant abandoned the defense, resulting in what US practice would call a "default judgment") regarding a specific misuse of information with a limited remedy that Google attempted to evade on purely territorial-jurisdiction grounds: That a judgment related to conduct in British Columbia — or even more broadly in Canada — could not justify a worldwide removal of search results. This isn't just a desire to have one's cake and eat it too; it is an arrogant claim that the baker is entitled to the flour without paying for it in the first place, in order to bake the damned cake without engaging in appropriate health practices (whether "required by regulations" or otherwise). In short, Google's position is that it's entitled to the benefits of a worldwide reach without any consequences whatsoever… except, perhaps, to its own market share.

    There is, of course, a significant danger here: the Ehrenfeld problem. It is not really raised in this case; although I am troubled by the fact that it's based upon undefended allegations, those allegations appear both prima facie and factually valid and sound, leaving only possible abstract defenses of "justification" and "improper claim of ownership." It is, nonetheless, an uninvited guest at the barbecue, because relying upon a final legal position presumes due process in a disturbing way… and, more to the point, presumes the practicalities (such as paying for counsel, let alone finding available counsel) implied by "final legal position," and not just for obvious circumstances like defamation and infringement of intellectual property.

    I'm not going to pretend that this is an easily evaded conundrum. The whole point is that it is a conundrum that doesn't have easy, entrepreneurially-friendly, ideologically-simple analysis or resolution. Life is nearly as hard as that bit of last summer's potato salad under the grill lid.

  • Which, in the broader sense, leads to the propriety of publishing depending on, well, something that's supposedly better when hard: a portion of the male anatomy. Of course, that region has no grey cells in it, so thinking with it is contraindicated in the first place…
  • … but is perhaps better than thinking solely with one's wallet concerning the most-profitable part of publishing. Leaving aside that anything associated with Robert Maxwell needs at least as much skepticism as anything associated with Sauron and his minions, it remains fascinating (and frustrating) to me that "publishing" continues to be treated as a single monolithic structure despite being composed of thirteen distinct industries. "Publishing" is no more monolithic than "self-propelled wheeled vehicles" (ranging from motorcycles and automobiles through carnival rides, construction equipment, and fire trucks, to armored cars) is, and almost certainly less so.

    One might ponder just how this sausage is connected to the preceding one:

  • But perhaps that might be too frustrating if one actually reads anything, let alone what is on offer from commercial publishers. Frankly, about two-thirds of the names in that graphic (across several categories) don't qualify as "intellectuals" in any sense of the term; "has done bachelor's degree" doesn't make one an intellectual! Neither does "has bachelor's (or even graduate) degree leading to Speaking From Authority on unrelated subjects," as is uniformly the case with the individuals identified in the graphic as "Right," "Explainers," and "newer lights from Silicon Valley."

    It's not that a bachelor's degree (or graduate degree) is a prerequisite to "clear thinking" — it's that the definition of "intellectual" implicit in the entire article is simultaneously both condescending (and sneering, not to mention argument from authority) and the worship of formal qualifications and/or entrepreneurial nonfailure rates, most of which are parental-social-class-selective in form (and too often in substance). Not to mention the irony of both the source of this article and the preceding link sausage as forms of the Argument From Authority in and of themselves.