20 December 2022

Coal-Fired Link Sausage Platter

OK, so I emptied out my solstice-holiday stocking early (too bad I'm an athiest), and I'm burning what was in it.

  • Hey, lady, go talk to the hand. Really: Just how narcissistic — and frankly stooooopid — does one need to be to try to steal holiday presents from Mr Bickle?
  • Half of CNN's headline on a certain recently-arrested cryptobro makes sense: This is an old story. In relatively recent history, just think about junk bonds as investments (the main proponent of which rhetorically and academically proclaimed that it was founded on proper diversification but in practice was anything but diversified). Hell, one can name at least one newfangled magician's-assistant-to-old-fashioned-fraud scheme every decade back to the founding of the Royal Exchange… in 1571. (Before that, it was just slightly slower.)

    Where the article goes grievously wrong, though, is in presuming that any mere legal or regulatory regime can do better than random chance in dealing with these persons. The real issue is that these people will at most admit to having made some mistakes that, with the benefit of hindsight, they might have handled better. (That's the one thing about darling Sam for which he gets 0.01 credits: He hasn't, at least at this stage of the proceedings, gone full spin-mode — and that's going to matter, because what convinced Judge Wood to make Milken's statutory-maximum sentences consecutive and not concurrent was Milken's non-remorse.) Like villains throughout history — and especially like Bond villains — major "financial innovators" just don't believe they've done anything wrong. Their motives and methods are pure; any suboptimal result is due to circumstances and the failures of others, not any moral and/or intellectual shortcomings in their schemes.

  • Which leads into one of the more-disturbing aspects of American history. The Black population did learn from history and has longstanding mistrust of White-administered Big Medicine. (That so much of White-administered Big Medicine umm, flows directly from the work of a Black man who, although not directly refused treatment in North Carolina, was on that route between DC and Alabama because there were no gas stations between Atlanta and Richmond that would serve a Black driver on the main highway.) So: What is it going to take to get the Black population to trust White-administered Big Medicine this time? Or next time? Or, more to the point, trust White-controlled-insurance-company-administered Big Medicine… ever…
  • There's a fascinating case presently seeking Supreme Court review that asks the following question:

    Does the Copyright Act’s preemption clause allow a business to invoke traditional state-law contract remedies to enforce a promise not to copy and use its content?

    (I applaud counsel for stating the "question presented for review" in the form of a question.) This is interesting enough in its basic context. ML Genius, which provides song lyrics online (which is an interesting copyright issue in itself), has as part of its TOS a prohibition on copying and using those lyrics for "commercial purposes." Google — entirely consistent with its innovative business model — has breached the TOS by copying and using the material on MLGenius's site for commercial purposes. MLGenius sued under a contract theory, which was rejected.

    So far, so good. So abstract. So meaningless in the real world…

    Until one reads the lending restrictions emblazoned on DVDs, and embedded in e-books from all of the major commercial publishers and many smaller ones, and tries (and fails) to find such a right in the Copyright Act, and ponders the parallel effect on public libraries (not to mention on software, although that's a much messier situation because the source of the IP rights is not just the Copyright Act… although the Copyright Act does not grant the copyright holder the right to declare that a transfer of a copy that is otherwise-lawful is merely a "license" and not a "sale," either). Interestingly, the major publishers have relied heavily — not exclusively, but heavily — upon Copyright Act preemption in responding to state laws that demand comparable terms, including prices, be offered to libraries and consumers. So if the Court takes up MLGenius — which it should, if only due to the uncertainty — there will be interesting implications however it rules.

  • Congrats to Brasil's noisy neighbors, who just about deserved to win the World Cup. However, I'm saving this last lump of coal for those who proclaim Messi — a truly great forward — to be the greatest footballer of all time, though. To be the GOAT, one must also play defense, even as limited to a forward's role; he… doesn't. Pele did; Puskas did; Eusebio did (when he wasn't being trampled); Beckenbauer, as a centerback, sure as hell did; Zidane did (when he wasn't being ejected for headbutting an opponent); even Cruyff could be counted on to accurately mark up on corners and free kicks. Which is by no means a criticism of what Messi does do for his team, but his… nonparticipation in integrated team defense rather takes him out of this conversation, just as it did Matthews and Messi's compatriot Maradona.