February 11, 2010
The Race Goes to the Swift (Or to the Team with the Best Lawyers)
We reported over a year ago about the legal wrangling that has become a necessary prelude to a running of the world's most prestigious yacht race, the Americas Cup. Well, the race is finally underway, sort of. As reported here on NJ.com, Race 1 of the best-of-three "Deed of Gift" match was scheduled for Monday but had to be postponed due to "unstable wind conditions." Yesterday's attempt at a race was rendered impossible by waves that averaged 1.3 meters (about four feet) and that could have reached a peak of 1.8 meters (less than six feet). If you are wondering what a "Deed of Gift" match is, I'm sorry to say that it would be easier to explain the plot of ABC's Lost than it would be to answer your query. Suffice it to say that in a Deed of Gift match, like in a 19th-century duel, there are only two competitors.
The 23-page Notice of Race which governs the competition provides that the next attempt to run the boats will occur on Friday, if it's not too windy or wavy, so long as there is enough wind and the water's not too cold and it's not raining and not a full moon and none of the principals of the race is needed for a conference call.
The two 90-foot multi-hulled yachts in the race are marvels of engineering, as described here in the New York Times. The question is whether or not the legal wrangling over the meaning of the relevant documents that set out the rules for the race -- the Notice of Race and the Deed of Gift -- leaves room for anything that resembles a sporting event, in this case a boat race. If you are looking forward to seeing heavily muscled men turning cranks and leaning over the edges of the boats to provide counterbalance, advances in technology have now rendered such feats of strength and athleticism quaint. In addition, these boats are built for speed and do not apparently maneuver like sailboats. There will be little or no jockeying for position. Rather, according to media reports, each boat will find its line and its wind and will attempt to travel from point A to point B and then back to A as quickly as possible with very little tacking.
As the New York Times reported, Ernesto Bertarelli, the owner of Alinghi, the current champion and holder of the Americas Cup trophy, has accused the challenger, owned by Larry Ellison of BMW/Oracle, of attempting to win the coveted trophy in court. Last month, the New York Supreme Court told the parties to go race, but it may be too late to prevent the outcome from being determined by the parties' differing interpretations of the governing documents. Although those documents look like regulations created by a neutral sports governing body, given that this race is really about Bertarelli and Ellison going mano a mano, those documents have a contractual feel to them and the entire competition seems to be as much about creative interperetation of contractual language as anything else.
February 10, 2010
Weekly Top Ten from the Social Science Research Network
February 9, 2010
Pizza Puffery? The best commercial ever.
What's puffery? The best commercial ever? Check it out:
[Meredith R. Miller h/t Isaac Samuels, best Research Assistant ever, and that's not puffery]
February 8, 2010
Inability to Suspend Disbelief about "Julie and Julia"
At left, we have Amy Adams as she first entered my consciousness. It is an image that I will not willingly relinquish. But now, a new Amy Adams, the Amy Adams of the profoundly disappointing Julie and Julia endeavors to displace her. How could this have happened? How could a movie about a blogger be boring?!? In part, I think the problem is that the story of Amy Adams' blog just is not believable in the movie -- perhaps it is more so in the book. I blame Nora Ephron, whose aptitude for character development lags well behind her talent for caricature development.
Amy Adams' character, Julie, is driven to the blog by her narcissistic, careerist sisters who only turn off their cell phones long enough to announce their latest triumphs and to condescend to Julie, who works in a cubicle. Of course, this aspect of the film is already dated. Today, they would be texting. Julie's unsupportive mother is really Woody Allen's mother. She reads Julie's blog just so that she can post comments about what a waste of time it is. The fact that the mother reads and comments on the blog is something of a surprise, since the first time we hear from the mother she is calling to belittle Julie and seems not to know what a blog is. Later in the movie, after the New York Times reports on Julie's blog, Julie's mother becomes Ira Glass's mother -- she now recognizes her daughter's virtues because they have been validated by The Old Grey Lady.
But Julie is determined to prepare all of the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook over the course of a year, and she is going to blog about it because, although she enjoys cooking, her real aspiration is to write. And that's all fine. I applaud her. I like the voice of Julie's blog -- why wouldn't I? It's Amy Adams' voice. I would read such a blog if I had time to read blogs about French cuisine.
But here is where I rebel. One day, Julie's blog starts getting comments. The next thing we know it is one of Salon.com's top blogs and Julie is contemplating setting up a PayPal link so that her readership can support her habit of French cooking. At the same time, Julie is living in a dumpy apartment in Queens, Queens!!! She has no contacts in the media world and she does not even seem to know how many page views her blog is getting. Sorry, but no.
I am perfectly willing to believe the world is full of brilliant teams of arch-villains who conspire to take over or destroy the world and that Bruce Willis/Kiefer Sutherland/Jackie Chan/Will Smith can single-handedly save both our lives and our souls. I don't know anything about criminal masterminds or about being an action hero, so such plots seem perfectly plausible to me. But I know blogging and I ain't buying what Julie and Julia is selling. I find Enchanted's Giselle a much more believable character than Julie and Julia's Julie.
Amy Adams, it's time to stop slumming with that phony baloney, Meryl Streep. Just be the princess you were always meant to be.