June 12, 2009
May We Have Your Autograph?
An American family has discovered its wholesome look was helping a Prague grocer sell his services. The Smiths (yes, that's their name) used a family photo (created by a third party) as their holiday card and then posted it on the Internet; grocery store owner Mario Bertuccio came across it and decided it to use it in his advertising. A friend of the Smiths spotted it during a visit to the Czech city and told the family about their European fame. Mr. Bertuccio says he won't use the photo any longer. Read more here and here. Check out the Smiths' reactions here. They're headed for the Early Show. (Isn't Mr. Bertuccio going to be interviewed, too? Maybe on a cooking show?)
The Big Switch
As the digital switchover hits, is everybody happy? NPR reports that, well, maybe not. Some cable subscribers are noting that some of their favorite channels are missing. Meanwhile,volunteers are helping those still in the dark, both literally and figuratively speaking.
June 11, 2009
Want To Get (Or Get More) Published?
Ellen Bauerle, manager of the acquisitions department for the University of Michigan Press, has suggestions for those who want to get their manuscripts noticed by monograph publishers. She says that, in her experience, women more than men have some difficulty getting their books looked at by editors. Here are some of her ideas: network more, stalk up your work (don't be so diffident), initiate conversations with acquisitions folks. Notes Ms. Bauerle,
Women are often stereotyped as more group-oriented, more sensitive to the needs of others. However, while I work in academic fields that have roughly equal numbers of women and men, on average it is more frequently the senior male scholars who introduce their students and colleagues to me. Those introductions are often the start of fruitful long-term relationships: Some contacts become authors, but just as important, others become referees, series editors, or disciplinary experts. They also have somewhat improved odds of being published, in that closer contact with presses means they will be likelier to know about new publishing opportunities (like new subject areas or series) or closed opportunities (discontinued series, departing editors) no longer worth chasing.
Read more here.
June 10, 2009
Sir Alan Sugar May Have To Choose, After All
Sir Alan Sugar is under pressure to choose between his position as host of the BBC's The Apprentice and a position in Gordon Brown's government. The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, said in a letter to Jeremy Hunt, part of the Shadow government, that Sir Alan "cannot play any direct role in formulating government policy. He should not accept a position in which it is his duty to promote or endorse government policy" while he is at the BBC, due to ethical considerations. Meanwhile, some members of the House of Lords have dubbed Sir Alan the "sorcerer's apprentice."
The Power of Mom
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is on the defensive after remarks he made about Australian television personality Tracy Grimshaw have raised hackles in her native country. Apparently, he compared her unfavorably to a pig. Ms. Grimshaw then shot back on her Monday night program, suggesting that his remark stemmed from pique because she doesn't find him attractive. Then the Australian Prime Minister intervened. According to Mr. Ramsay, though, what really caused his thorough apolog though, was his mother's phone call. Said Mr. Ramsay, "She was disgusted and she wanted to know what actually happened." Sometimes, the Prime Minister doesn't need to yell at you. Just Mom. Read more here and here.
Screen Actors Guild members have agreed to the new contract between SAG and AMPTP, ending a months-long battle over terms. Said the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, "The ratification vote by SAG members is good news for the entertainment industry. This concludes a two-year negotiating process that has resulted in agreements with all major Hollywood Guilds and Unions. We look forward to working with SAG members - and with everyone else in our industry - to emerge from today's significant economic challenges with a strong and growing business."
SAG announced, "[M]embers have voted overwhelmingly to approve its TV/Theatrical contracts by a vote of 78 percent to 22 percent.
The two-year successor agreement covers film and digital television programs, motion pictures and new media productions. The pact becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. June 10, 2009 and expires June 30, 2011.
The contracts provide more than $105 million in wages, increased pension contributions, and other gains and establishes a template for SAG coverage of new media formats."
The SAG website also provides comments from SAG members, including Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and Stephen Collins.
June 9, 2009
Update On the Soto Copyright Infringement Case
Newspaper, Athletic Association Battle Over Rights To Carry High School Games On Internet
The Appleton (Wisconsin) Post-Crescent and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association are defending their right to carry high school games live on the Internet against claims by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association that it has the right to regulate such broadcasts. Other athletics associations and media outlets are watching this litigation closely. Read more here.
Celebrity Impersonator Acquitted
Trina Johnson-Finn, a celebrity impersonator, has been acquitted by a Surinam court of attempting to defraud attendees at a concert who expected to see Toni Braxton. The judge said he wasn't sure that Ms. Johnson-Finn knew the people who paid over fifty dollars a ticket knew she was not the singer. Read more here.
Major British Legal News Reporting Service Suffering Financial Woes
The Guardian's Roy Greenslade reports that Strand News, which provides reports of the doings of the Royal Courts, needs financial assistance. According to its editor, James Brewster, it needs some cash to make it through the month. "All we need in order to survive this is just a little bit of help. We're not doing too badly." Adds Mr. Brewster, "If we were to disappear, we think that a very substantial hole would be left in the news coverage of almost every media outlet in the country." Mr. Greenslade agrees. "We already know that some courts around the regions are not being covered properly because agencies and/or newspapers can no longer fund the necessary journalism. This is a vital problem publishers have to solve. There is a public interest in the coverage of crime and punishment. To let that fall by the wayside would lead to justice, and injustice, being carried out in secret."
Chinese Government Orders New PCs To Come Equipped With Blocking Software
The People's Republic of China is requiring PC makers to install blocking software inside all hard drives beginning in 30 days. Currently the Chinese government can block access to external Internet sites; such software would give it the ability to block internal Internet sites as well. The computer makers have a list of sites that the software must block. All sites currently on the list seem to be associated with pornography. Read more here.
BBC Settles With Plaintiff Physician; Defamation Suit Cost One Million Pounds
The BBC is settling with successful fertility doctor Mohamed Taranissi over statements made during a program broadcast in January of 2007. Dr. Taranissi sued for defamation in April of 2007, citing a "biased and irresponsible" report into his clinics. At that time one observer noted that the final costs to the BBC to defend the suit might well be into one million pounds, a prediction that seems to be accurate.
Last fall the network was ordered to pay the plaintiff half a million pounds; by now the costs for the litigation have doubled. Everyone had expected the case to continue but the parties suddenly issued statements that indicated the suit is over. Read more here.
June 8, 2009
L.A. Mayor, Reporter, Dating; Reporter Off Political Beat
Media are reporting that the Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, is now dating L.A. reporter Lu Parker, a former Miss U.S.A., whose beat includes local politics. This is the second time in two years that the mayor has been linked to a reporter assigned to cover City Hall. In 2007, he was involved with then local reporter Mirthala Salinas, who worked for tv station KVEA-TV Channel 52. Ms. Parker, who works for station KTLA, is now covering other stories, according to station management, which says "it does not see a conflict" in the relationship between Mr. Villaraigosa and Ms. Parker now that it is public. Read more here and here.
Fixing Those Entries
The New York Times on the unseen battles behind those Wikipedia entries.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Access To Government Information
Can sections 2(b) and 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms be interpreted to protect a constitutional right of access to government information? The author argues that the constitutional principle of democracy provides a foundation for judicial recognition of such a constitutional right of access even though the inclusion of an explicit right to access to government information was rejected during the process of drafting the Charter. Given that the Supreme Court of Canada's section 2(b) and 3 jurisprudence has been informed by the principle of democracy, the application of the principle may now guide the Court to include protection of access to government information in its evolving interpretation of those Charter rights. Finally, a hypothetical case is considered in order to outline ways in which a constitutional right to access may be justifiably limited.Download the article from SSRN here.
What the First Amendment Protects
In contrast to other countries, in the United States the nearly absolute protection of political speech under the First Amendment prevents the government from imposing similar punishments on Holocaust deniers. Recognizing the fact that First Amendment doctrine leads to this result is uncontroversial; discerning the reason why the First Amendment doctrine leads to this result is much more problematic. The problem is that the usual explanations for why the First Amendment protects the expression of radical ideas do not easily explain why the First Amendment should protect the public assertion of facts that are both socially worthless (or worse - socially harmful) and demonstrably untrue. I will suggest in this Article that the source of this problem is our persistent reliance on an individual-rights conception of the First Amendment. I will also suggest that it is easier to explain the First Amendment’s protection of speakers who disseminate socially worthless untruths with an appeal to the structural function of the First Amendment within a broader concept of constitutional democracy. Under this conception, the First Amendment is not, in the end, primarily about protecting the individual’s right to speak; rather, the First Amendment is primarily about constraining the collective authority of temporary political majorities to exercise their power by determining for everyone what is true and false, as well as what is right and wrong.Download the article from SSRN here.
Looking at Women Through the First Amendment
In this Article, I attempt to solve a First Amendment puzzle by turning to a surprising source. Here is the First Amendment puzzle: why would the Supreme Court offer robust First Amendment protection to non-obscene pornographic film, while relegating live erotic dance, far less sexually explicit, to the very "perimeter" of First Amendment protection? I suggest that one way to understand this puzzle can be found in the ancient myth of Medusa, the monster Freud interpreted as standing for the castrated female genitals. A direct confrontation with Medusa's stare was deadly. But Perseus slayed Medusa by outsmarting her: he looked at her only in the reflection of his shield, thereby transforming her into the passive object of his gaze. I interpret Perseus's shield as a precursor of pornographic film. In my view, live erotic performance, in which the dancer interacts with the audience and claims her own role as a First Amendment speaker, conjures up some of the threat of the unmediated stare of Medusa. In contrast, pornographic film, like Perseus's shield, tames the monstrous threat of the woman's direct stare. Thus, I read the Court's puzzling distinction as bound up in anxieties about castration, the female gaze, and the possibility of female agency and speech that the gaze symbolizes. Ultimately, my goal in this article is to show how longstanding, indeed mythic, cultural assumptions about gender, sexuality and representation penetrate the Court's doctrinal analysis.
Download the Article from SSRN here.
Current TV Journalists Sentenced To Twelve Years In Prison
From CNN: A North Korean court has sentenced two U.S. journalists working for Current TV to twelve years in prison following a four day trial. CNN and other media indicate that the White House is working through many avenues to secure the journalists' release. Both Al Gore, who heads Current TV, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, have been mentioned as possible intermediaries between the U.S. government and the government of North Korea.
June 7, 2009
Slumdog Millionaire Actress Writing Life Story
Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali, who's nine, is writing her autobiography. Transworld is publishing it; it's set for stores in July.
His Brilliant Careers
According to the Tories, Sir Alan Sugar, who hosts the British version of The Apprentice, should choose between his tv career and any government position in Gordon Brown's Cabinet. But any position as "Enterprise Czar," Sir Alan says, would be a politically neutral appointment. Meanwhile, Sir Alan seems to be on the fast track for a title in order to enable him to take the position as a Member of the House of Lords.