Tuesday, September 29, 2009

i just woke up from a nap - ijustine, 3-27-09

ijustine's Daily Booth

CopyrightLaw “Judge Rules Games Are ‘Expressive Works’”

Posted by Soulskill on Tuesday September 29, @01:05AM
from the decision-pending-on-wetness-of-water dept.
There has been an ongoing legal battle over the past few years about how and when game makers can use the likenesses of football players without their permission. Former college football player Samuel Keller filed a class action suit in May against Electronic Arts for the publisher's use of NCAA players' information — including things like jersey number, height, weight, skin tone and hair style, but not names — to recreate actual teams within sports games. An earlier suit filed by NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown brought up the fact that video games weren't even a consideration when contracts and licensing rights were negotiated in the '50s and '60s, yet many football players from that era (including Brown) are represented in the occasional sports game whether they like it or not. A ruling came down from a district court judge last Wednesday stating that video games are "expressive works, akin to an expressive painting that depicts celebrity athletes of past and present in a realistic sporting environment," and are thus protected under the First Amendment. Brown and fellow Hall-of-Famer Herb Adderley are now seeking to throw their support behind Keller's lawsuit.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

UN Speech - President Obama, Hypocrite In Chief - Karl Denninger

President Obama, Hypocrite In Chief

From the UN speech today (which, incidentally, got lots of press coverage while Geithner's dissembling in front of Congress got none):

Developing nations must root out the corruption that is an obstacle to progress – for opportunity cannot thrive where individuals are oppressed and business have to pay bribes. That's why we will support honest police and independent judges; civil society and a vibrant private sector.

How about developed nations? Let's run a short list right here:

Congressfolk who got "Friends of Angelo" mortgages - even the name of the program was a statement of special privilege - while Countrywide Financial literally looted the hopes and dreams of millions of Americans through intentional and willful blindness to anything that could reasonably be called a credit standard. Countrywide was subsequently forcibly merged into Bank of America and the homeowners involved lost their homes - and dreams.

Our former Treasury Secretary who came to the SEC in 2004 to ask (for a second time) for leverage limits to be removed from investment banks - backed by literal millions in campaign donations and lobbying over the previous years - and got it. The consequence? Detonation of both Lehman and Bear Stearns, neither of which would have blown up but for the leverage that they were legally forbidden to take on prior to 2004.

A banking system that has Congress so far in its pocket that it persuaded Congress to threaten FASB in open Congressional hearings this spring if they did not change accounting standards to effectively legalize accounting fraud through "mark to make-believe." This scam that Congress shoved down everyone's throat at the behest of the banking lobby continues to this day.

A banking system that has Congress, The SEC, OTS and OCC so far in its pocket that despite over eighty examples of hard proof of falsely-inflated asset valuations and willful misfeasance by OTS and OCC in seizing insolvent banks before they result in FDIC loss the willful blindness continues to this day, causing the FDIC to teeter on the edge of running out of cash and begging the obvious question: Are all the large banks as far beyond insolvent as these regional and local banks have been proved to be once seized?

A blatantly-corrupt OTS (banking regulatory body) that was caught conspiring with IndyMac to "backdate" deposits so as to falsely present a better financial picture than really existed at the time. The person at OTS involved had previously been caught doing the same thing during the S&L crisis BUT WAS NOT FIRED AND BARRED FROM FUTURE BANKING REGULATORY WORK! Nobody has been indicted in connection with this outrageous "in your face" fraud. Worse, the OIG's office said there were other examples - but refused to name them; are those institutions still operating?

A Federal Reserve that has openly threatened Congress with the destruction of the economy and the dollar, under oath, in open Congressional Hearings, should Congress pass and enforce an audit of The Fed's activities, and yet The Fed continues to enjoy authorization to run monetary policy.

A Federal Reserve Chair who denied under oath that The Fed would monetize the nation's debt - while it had and was doing exactly that. Isn't that the definition of perjury?

An SEC and Congress that is so embedded in the financial system via its revolving door policies that despite multiple reports both Stanford Financial and Bernie Madoff were permitted to continue to operate even after multiple reports of suspicions that they were outright frauds. Investors lost billions as a consequence of the purchased willful blindness of our regulators.

An international bank that was caught advising customers to smuggle diamonds in toothpaste tubes to illegally evade taxes, and was permitted to keep their banking charter even after this became known.

Over a dozen "in your face" examples of clearly illegal insider trading over the last two and a half years, including August 2007, the "shorting ban", Bear Stearns collapse and more. All are trivially visible in price and volume action before the announcements were made. None have been investigated or resulted in indictments.

The government's CPI and other statistics are intentional lies promoted by the banking, finance and credit industries to support their issuance of debt which they know cannot be paid back.

ALL OF THIS and much more (there are well north of 1,000 posts here documenting it all) has been undertaken for one singular purpose - to intentionally misrepresent to consumers, businesses and investors worldwide that the level of debt in the economy was supportable when in fact it was not.

This in turn allowed these financial entities to issue credit that they knew full well could never be paid back by the debtors, syndicate it, slice it, dice it, and sell it to suckers worldwide, extracting their fees from the process and guaranteeing that those who bought this garbage would suffer enormous losses.

Our government conspired with these people in allowing and enabling this fraud, and when it started to unravel government was then bribed (or was it blackmailed?) into attempting to offload all of the remaining undistributed trash to the US Taxpayer via transferring it to "sovereign credit" - that is, Federal Debt. This attempt is still ongoing, with Ben Bernanke buying hundreds of billions of dollars of likely-impaired (if not worthless) mortgage-backed paper from two companies that in fact went bankrupt (and were "taken into conservatorship") last year - Fannie and Freddie. But for the nearly $100 billion dollars that Taxpayers have forked over thus far to prevent their collapse this paper would have been discounted and sold into the market at its recovery value - a process that has been intentionally hidden from view by the actions of The Fed and Treasury.

President Obama, you're a hypocrite of the highest order and have absolutely no right to lecture any third-world banana republic while your administration practices every form of public and private corruption seen in such back waters of humanity - plus dozens they aren't sophisticated enough to figure out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

California - GOP's 'leverage' is tantamount to extortion

GOP's 'leverage' is tantamount to extortion
Senate Republicans are abusing the two-thirds vote requirement for passage of many bills to try to get Democrats to cave in on unrelated demands.George Skelton
Capitol Journal
September 17, 2009
From Sacramento

In his former life, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the action-thriller "Collateral Damage." Last week, he had only a bit role in the collateral damage inflicted by fellow Republicans in the state Senate.

In the flick, victims included his wife and son. In the Senate, they include millions of battered wives, children, home-buyers, taxpayers. . . .

On screen, Schwarzenegger played "Gordon Brewer," a Los Angeles firefighter who saw his family blown up by terrorists and was out for revenge.

In Sacramento, the closest thing to a Gordy Brewer is Democratic state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, who witnessed a favorite bill being snuffed by Senate Republicans.

"This is the pro-business, the fiscally responsible party -- or at least that's what they keep telling us," Lockyer says. "And it's getting annoying. It's irresponsible and it's ridiculous."

The bill advocated by Lockyer was little-noticed and noncontroversial, but vital. It would have given the treasurer more wiggle room to renegotiate so-called letters of credit that are about to expire with banks. Without the legislation, he says, the state could end up paying banks an extra $850 million over the next two years.

"It got all botched up with a temper tantrum," Lockyer says. "What's pretty clear now is this: Senate Republicans will abandon domestic violence victims, cops, firefighters and taxpayers to do the bidding of corporate interests."

Republicans say it's more about an internal spat with Democrats.

"In order for us to achieve bipartisan agreements . . . we have to establish and maintain a level of trust that a deal is a deal," Senate Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta said in a written statement. "It's not one, two or three items that we're negotiating over. It's one big item: trust."

Hollingsworth contended that "the Democratic leadership did not uphold their previous budget agreements."

But the minority leader wasn't available to discuss exactly which agreements he thought had been broken, and his staff said it didn't know.

Whatever the beef, there could be wide, unintended damage to noncombatants. The Republican weapon was blatant abuse of the two-thirds majority vote requirement for passage of many bills.

The two-thirds rule is not used merely to protect taxpayers from politicians trying to reach deeper into their pockets. It's used by special interests -- mainly big business -- to game the system; a tool handy for legislative leverage, or extortion. If you don't give us what we want, we'll withhold the votes needed for the two-thirds.

It's about buying and selling. Last Friday, at the all-night windup of this year's regular legislative session, Democrats weren't in a buying mood.

This is what happened, according to Democrats, and Republicans aren't exactly denying it: The Senate GOP blocked more than 20 bills requiring a two-thirds vote because Democrats wouldn't cave on three unrelated demands.

One demand was the elimination of a program, called ReadyReturn, that allows low-income earners to have the state do their tax returns free. Intuit wants these people to buy its software product, TurboTax. Since 2005, the company has donated to the political coffers of three-fourths of the Senate, The Times reported Tuesday.

Another GOP insistence was that a big corporate tax break enacted as part of the February budget deal be tweaked to help more businesses, especially Chevron.

The third demand was that Republican Sen. Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield be made the lead author of a bill to provide $10,000 tax credits for people buying newly constructed homes. In February, after he agreed to vote for a tax increase, Democrats gave Ashburn a bill setting aside $100 million for such credits. But because of state accounting rules, only $70 million has been claimed. The new bill would allow the other $30 million to be used for tax credits.

Here, I suspect, we get into pure partisanship as well as pride. The author of the new housing credit bill is Democratic Assemblywoman Anna Caballero of Salinas, who intends next year to run for an open Senate seat now held by a Republican. The GOP would rather that she not be the successful sponsor of a popular bill.

The housing credit bill was one of the Republican victims.

Other casualties included bills to keep dozens of domestic-violence shelters from closing, to help cities and counties borrow while the state raids their treasuries, to distribute federal money to counties for swine flu treatment, and to implement a new hospital fee that would qualify the state for $2 billion in federal money.

No problem, Hollingsworth asserted. Assuming that the governor soon calls a special session on water, "that will be the time to take up all these measures and fulfill the commitments made earlier in the year."

Ashburn candidly defends blocking the legislation: "This was an opportunity for Republicans to have some leverage." Concerning the merits of measures buried in the fallout: "The subject matter of bills at that point was secondary to what the [GOP] caucus had decided to do with them."

"I was embarrassed," says Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, the only Republican to cross party lines and vote for the bills. "I said, 'I'm here to govern.' They wanted all three things or nothing.

"The two-thirds vote is a good tool when put in the hands of people who are reasonable, pragmatic and open-minded. But partisans use the two-thirds as a tool to hold up the Legislature."

Schwarzenegger's bit role was vowing to veto all bills until the Legislature passes water, prison and energy measures he likes. Republicans may have taken a cue from that.

In the movie, Schwarzenegger threw a firefighter's ax at the terrorist leader, and that solved the problem. Governing is trickier.

Watkins Glen Racing T-shirt, Lee Petty sidewalk stone

If triangles could think, their God would be eminently triangular.

If triangles could think, their God would be eminently triangular.
— Baruch Spinoza (17th century philosopher)
Tweet courtesy of katConfidential

Artistic lakeside pics at Watkins Glen, 8-17-2004



Depth of Seneca Lake in feet

Magnetic North Revisited - Watkins Glen Aug. 17, 2004

Chess in the Cemetery - May 22, 2004

Last Chance Texaco - Rickie Lee Jones, live

April 16, 2004 - My Discarded Car Brakes, pt 2


April 16, 2004 - My Discarded Car Brakes


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Windows 7 is reduced to rainbows and unicorns

Windows 7 is reduced to rainbows and unicorns
Microsoft's new ad offers convincing evidence that the software giant has no shame left.

Dan Neil

September 15, 2009

It's official. Microsoft has no shame. None. They should just stop paying rent on that storage unit where they keep their shame because they, as I said, have none.

The new TV ad campaign for Windows 7 (Crispin Porter & Bogusky) kicked off this week with a masterpiece of emotional manipulation that brings back Kylie, the precocious 4-year-old girl from the "I'm a PC" series. The slightly lispy Kylie -- who pronounces the product as "Windows Theben" -- is sitting at a table in front of a PC. "My name's Kylie, and I found these happy words all over my dad's computer. . . ." (Uh-oh, I hope dad's been behaving himself with his PC.) The "happy words" are rave reviews for Windows 7 from tech magazines, which Kylie then puts into a slideshow with images of a unicorn, a kitten in marshmallows, a bunny in a straw hat. "Happy words need happy pictures." Uh-huh. We can only assume as the campaign rolls out to the Windows 7 launch date of Oct. 22 that we'll see baby penguins and water-skiing squirrels hawking for the Redmond, Wash., software giant.

"I'm a PC and more happy is coming," Kylie says, with a sweetness that makes my teeth want to fall out.

I have many reactions here. First, I love the fact that the Death Star of software has been so beaten up in the computer ad wars that it would countenance the use of adorable children and rainbow-saddled unicorns in its advertising.

This is advertising as hostage situation: Buy Windows 7 or the little kid gets it.

Second, to the extent that the PC wars come down to a weird analog of identity politics -- Mac users are smarter/cooler/hipper, PC users are dumber and work-driven -- this ad does nothing to allay the impression that PC somehow means "remedial." Yes, Kylie can now make crummy slideshows. As one online wag said, "This ad will be very popular with the ugly-font church flyer crowd."

As an aside: I'm a computer bisexual -- I use a Mac at home and a PC at work -- and my impression is that you actually have to be a little more on your game, tech-wise, to use a PC. My Macs drive themselves. PC users are the clever ones. That said, the Windows 7 reviews have been extraordinarily effusive and suggest that, on a feature-for-feature, ease-of-use basis, perhaps Microsoft has caught up with Mac.

That wouldn't suggest a way forward for Microsoft's advertising, would it? Maybe, but let's give 'em more kittens, just to be safe.

Third, this ad feels like capitulation. Apple's share of the U.S. home computer market has tripled in the last five years, to 8.7% in the second quarter of 2009. That includes a 5.5% year-over-year increase against a 1.2% retreat in the home computer market overall. Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign (TBWA/Chiat/Day) starring actors John Hodgman (as the allegorical PC) and Justin Long (Mac), has in three years become pop culture bedrock. Apple pounded these commercials into our collective consciousness with a TV ad buy of more than a quarter-billion dollars in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. In the first two quarters of 2009, Microsoft belatedly, lumberingly responded with a jumbo TV ad buy of its own valued at $169 million.

And yet, on the creative battlefield, Microsoft is still getting its large head handed to it. Apple recently launched a riposte to the "PC Hunters" ad in which a redheaded Lauren look-alike (Lauren is the character in the Microsoft ad who buys a PC for under $1,000) is persuaded to buy a Mac instead. In the spot PC introduces "Top of the Line PC" (played by Patrick Warburton, the actor who played David Puddy on "Seinfeld"). Warburton's oily smooth reassurances falter: "Look, Lady, any PC you get is going to have those problems. . . ." Just like that, Microsoft's Lauren character has been abducted and reprogrammed like an errant cultist.

With the Kylie ad, I sense Microsoft turning away from the tete-a-tete, mano a mano ad wars with Apple. That's smart. Microsoft has only legitimized the critiques leveled against it by Apple, and it is getting outflanked in every skirmish. Forget Mac. The Windows 7 campaign had better tell people what's cooler and more fun about the operating system and why it transcends the buggy, virus-prone allegations of the past.

Meanwhile, take a breath and appreciate the raw power of creativity and the impotence of mere budget. The Mac ads are two actors, sometimes three, on a white background, and they kill, simply crush the PC ads. It reminds me that the best production of "Hamlet" I ever saw was a bare-stage rendering in London, while the stalest and most fretful was Kenneth Branagh's price-no-object film spectacle.

Kanye West Vs. Taylor Swift? Try YouTube Users Vs. Viacom

Kanye West Vs. Taylor Swift? Try YouTube Users Vs. Viacom
By Brian Stelter

MTV wants Sunday’s conflict between Kanye West and Taylor Swift to be viewed in only two places: on its TV channel and on its Web site.

At the network’s Video Music Awards, Mr. West, who has a history of televised outbursts, “once again took umbrage when the awards process didn’t go the way he wanted it to,” as the Associated Press put it. When Ms. Swift accepted the award for Best Female Video, Mr. Kanye jumped on stage and told the audience, “Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and I’m gonna let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time.” Ms. Swift looked stunned; the crowd began to boo. “The television broadcast cut away to a wide shot of the stage, and then to a taped segment featuring the comedian Tracy Morgan,” Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times says.

But what about the viewers who didn’t catch the moment live on MTV? Many went to YouTube, the world’s largest video sharing Web site, where they tried to find copies of the video clip. But MTV’s parent company Viacom — which is embroiled in a long-running $1 billion lawsuit with YouTube — engaged in a game of media whack-a-mole, flagging illicit copies of the videos almost as soon as they appeared.

According to the Twitter account for Hill Holliday, a communications and marketing agency, a single video of Mr. West’s outburst registered 500,000 viewers and “got pulled by Viacom within 20 minutes.” Hill Holliday credited Twitter for spreading word of the incident so swiftly.

Viacom is not alone in using YouTube’s technology to flag (and sometimes remove) clips of its copyrighted materials. NBC Universal used the same technology during the Olympics last year, for instance. Media companies would prefer that people watch the clips on TV or on their own Web sites. MTV.com makes it easy to view and embed a clip of the outburst, as seen below.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009