Thursday, November 22, 2007

Red Hot Chili Peppers likely to lose to cannier Showtime?

The Red Hot Chili Peppers recently launched a lawsuit against Showtime's show "Californication" claiming that they had lifted the title, a character name and some dialogue. The Register notes some possible icebergs on the horizon:
Showtime Networks is expected to argue that the band did not coin the word, a portmanteau of California and fornication. It first appeared in print in Time Magazine in 1972, in an article called The Great Wild Californicated West.

Time reporter Sandra Burton wrote: "Legislators, scientists and citizens are now openly concerned about the threat of 'Californication' - the haphazard, mindless development that has already gobbled up most of Southern California."

Kim Walker, head of intellectual property at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said the band should have registered Californication as a trademark. Instead, the only trademark application was filed in April in the US, by Showtime Networks. The mark has not yet been registered.

"Successful songs, albums and movies can become brands in themselves. What's really surprising is how few songs and albums are properly protected," said Walker. "The Chili Peppers could almost certainly have registered a trademark for 'Californication', notwithstanding Time's article. They made the word famous, but it doesn't automatically follow that they can stop its use in a TV show.

"If they had registered the title as a trademark covering entertainment services, I very much doubt we'd have seen a lawsuit. The TV show would have been called something else," he said. "As it is, the band faces an uphill struggle."
Couldn't happen to nicer hypocrites, not least when you recall Tom Petty's assertions of musical plagiarism against them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Soldiers with guns, in our schools, in our city... should we make this up?

I am grateful to Bob Tarantino for directing me to John Lorinc's feature, "Deadly Lesson" in this month's Toronto Life.

It points out the central problem with some Toronto schools - that political considerations have led to some of Toronto's schools being largely uncontrolled and that students with serious behavioural problems are being left in those environments with foreseeable consequences to their peers. Shuffling problems from place to place didn't work for paedophile priests and it doesn't work for disturbed and criminal teenagers either. To be in control of a school you must know who is on the premises and be able to quickly eject interlopers. It's not enough to have conduct standards - they have to be taken seriously, enforced and action taken when they are breached.

I can't help but think that the "progressive educators" who refuse to admit that leadership and security are the cornerstones of winning back our troubled campuses should be brought face to face with someone who will give them Trudeau's October Crisis routine. Kathleen Wynne sure as hell won't do it.

Unfortunately the union backed lobby groups mostly ensure human lettuces get elected as trustees, who only want to see problems kept quiet enough for their run for Councillor or MPP to come up. Teachers who try and stem the tide are undercut by their fellow educators, their supervisors and those elected to run the school system. Is it any wonder that the public school system is so ill-regarded, and that so many non-Catholics choose Catholic schools because of a perception of better discipline?

As for Bob's suggestion that proposed separate schools for violent students be patrolled by ninjas, I am waiting for Jack Layton to propose returning our troops from Afghanistan to provide security, given that he was a city councillor when Mel Lastman got them to shovel our snow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New York slang - it's the Micks' fault

The New York Times have an article on "How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads" by Daniel Cassidy regarding how many American slang words appear to originate either phonetically or via translation from Irish. (Hat-tip Slugger)
The word “gimmick” seemed to come from “camag,” meaning trick or deceit, or a hook or crooked stick.

Could “scam” have derived from the expression “’S cam é,” meaning a trick or a deception? Similarly, “slum” seemed similar to an expression meaning “It is poverty.” “Dork” resembled “dorc,” which Mr. Cassidy’s dictionary called “a small lumpish person.” As for “twerp,” the Irish word for dwarf is “duirb.”

I think a few of those listed in the NYT are a stretch but still aren't as bad as "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where Gus explains the Greek roots of the word "kimono".

Well said, your Majesty

Found this from Paul Wells' blog.

While I fully subscribe to the failings generally inherent in a hereditary monarchy, there is no question that the King of Spain has brought his country successfully through a potentially disastrous post-Franco transition to democracy, and that he would know a fascist if he saw one. The advantage of not having to worry about election cycles means you can face down bullies in a human rather than calculated, nuanced, triangulated way.

Here he is in Santiago, Chile, telling the ludicrous, anti-democratic, puffed up on his sulphur laden petroleum leader of Venezuela to "just shut up". Chavez, having accused the recent prime minister of Spain, Aznar, being a "fascist", continued to rant with his microphone off as Prime Minister Zapatero reminded him that he was in a democratic forum and that some respect wouldn't go amiss.

¿Por qué no te callas?

Sadly the following day Nicaragua's Ortega gave some of his time to back up Chavez prompting the King to leave the summit in protest - no doubt a tanker was dispatched to Managua by morning in payment.

This at a summit which will provide millions to South American countries by remitting social security contributions paid by migrant workers in Spain and Portugal. If this is how you treat your friends, your enemies have no incentive to meet you half way Mr. Chavez.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Google Reader gets a blogroll... sort of.

When I switched from Bloglines from Google Reader I decided to remove the Bloglines roll rather than maintain two sets of feeds or mess around with OPML. The addition of "shared items" was something but didn't substitute.

Today I happened across this post on the Official Google Reader Blog announcing that a roll feature was available, and as you can see from the mess on the right I have tried to implement it. Unfortunately the roll seems to not work sometimes and I have temporarily subdivided it, and not all blogs I read and would like to share are listed (I also read some comment feeds which would be a redundency to add). I'll poke at it some more anon and hopefully it will be refined and look a bit nicer over time.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

"We're going the wrong way!"

The teaser for Battlestar season 4.0 is on youtube...

Hopefully the deferral of the start of the season to April 2008 means that when it does come it will run as a proper season and not "half-seasons" as before.