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:: B A L A S U B R A M A N I A ' S M A N I A ::

Random Rantings of a 30-something, Single, 1st Generation Indian (American) Cat who (lives in Seattle and) practises law, Yoga and......
:: B A L A S U B R A M A N I A ' S M A N I A :: home | e-mail me ::
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[::..MARCH 25, 2003..::]
[::..WHAT'S UP..::]
How much longer will I be blogging?
Where is the blog headed?
Where is my life headed?
That right there, was what one of my friends jokingly calls a "man v. man" moment.
[::..MISCELLANEOUSLY..::]
My new *favorite blog*: Attorneys Suck, by IA. Dude's *on point*. That's all I can say.
[::..archive..::]

:: Friday, January 31, 2003 ::

CONDIT v. DUNNE revisited

Findlaw (John Dean) weighs in on the Condit v. Dunne litigation here. I think I agree with Mr. Dean.

Prediction: Judgment for Plaintiff (Mr. Condit).

BIG BROTHER

Business 2.0's Jeffrey Pfeffer makes the case against snooping on one's employees. I'm definitely not sold by Mr. Pfeffer's arguments. I'm no advocate of snooping but I think snooping will *undoubtedly* increase productivity. It's just more objectionable because of what it says about you and because it devalues the employee's privacy (and the employees are unable to do anything about it).

:: VICTOR 1/31/2003 06:06:42 PM [+] ::
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PIRATE RADIO??

Check out this wired online piece noting Don Henley (and others)'s disenchantment with the current state of the FM (and AM) dials. Could this not be more true? Unless one looks long and hard (see e.g., the Derek Newman Show which can be found at noon on saturdays at 1150 AM or via the web at the site (disclaimer: to which I'm obviously *biased*)) there's really nothing *new* out there. The whole idea of radio *formats* is dumb. Some holdover from media/TV advertising paradigm that is no longer valid.

Check out, for example, www.live365.com, where one can find a wealth of alternate channels and *formats* both from the US and from abroad (I'm currently tuning AmsterJammin Amsterdam which is *quite* refreshing). Also check out sites like Groovetech (Groovetech is a world unto itself), and finally check out XM and other sat radio---I think we truly need to get *beyond AM and FM*....

Prediction: I think we see a sea change in the radio world in the next 5 years. If Clear Channel does not get with the *program* they could well be OUT. Or maybe not, maybe wal mart consumers everywhere eat up the current standard formats???

Another fascinating question.

:: VICTOR 1/31/2003 12:01:12 PM [+] ::
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:: Thursday, January 30, 2003 ::

BLOG BIZ

Four posts is my limit for a day. But this guardian article re the burgeoning blog business is *quite* interesting. Who would want to advertise on my site I wonder??

:: VICTOR 1/30/2003 06:40:53 PM [+] ::
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TINA BROWN's NETWORKING RULES

NYPost blurbs here on Tina Brown (of the late Talk Magazine)'s ability to work a crowd. Brown procured a heavy hitting crowd at her "East Side maisonette" where she threw a party for Arianna Huffington's new book Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America. Of Brown's networking rules, number 4 is the funniest and probably the most helpful:

If you're stuck talking to someone uncomfortable, unfortunate or - worst of all - unimportant, grab a passer-by, introduce them and slip away while they get acquainted.
:: VICTOR 1/30/2003 06:36:32 PM [+] ::
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KING GOOGLE

Check out this Dahlia Lithwick piece (I can say that although I have not met her and know nothing about her I subscribe to the Dahlia is cool theory, which is interesting because in our appearance conscious society, coolness and attractiveness are very correlated and one is hard pressed to quickly find a picture of her on-line) on the Google v. Search King lawsuit. This is one *convoluted* lawsuit. It is taking me a while to understand---a *long* while. Ms. Lithwick points us to James Grimmelman's analysis (which you can access here). The analysis is of course, excellent, but I'm still not up to speed.

Here's what I understand: (1) Google has a page ranking system that ranks the *relevance* of a page based on references to a page by other pages and some home grown algorithm, (2) Search King somehow advertises to its clients that it will increase the *relevance* of the clients' web sites (both Lithwick's and Grimmelman's pieces are quite *sketchy* on this point, notwithstanding the proprietary nature of GOogle's ranking system), (3) Search King *artificially* increases the *relevance* of its and its clients' web sites and (4) in response, Google lowers the *relevance* ratings of Search King and the clients sites????

Google's lawyer finds a case on all fours, holding *roughly* that a credit rating agency's rating is protected speech (i.e., an agency can't be sued for lowering a credit rating). The questions in my mind, is how has Google injured Search King's rights? If so, what next. I *guess* Google injured Search King by lowering its rating and the ratings of its clients' sites, causing Search King (and clients) pecuniary harm. This is sort of like an analyst downgrading a stock. I don't see the cause of action. I guess Search King would have to argue some product *libel/defamation* type theory?? Keep in mind that this is separate and distinct from the abstract issue of whether Google should be held to some measure of consistency in measuring and ranking sites. This is a stretch but the theory goes that if Google is shining light on the map of the information superhighway then maybe Google should be subject to some public accountability? Even if this were the case, the public accountability argument is more of a general policy argument (i.e., something the public and not Search King individually should bring up) and does not bear particularly on Search King's claims.

Most people are focusing on the fact vs. opinion First Amendment issue. This *insightful* analysis on supportforums.org partially explores this issue. Regardless of whether Google's relevance ranking is fact or opinion, I'm not sure that Google has done something actionable in 'downgrading' the page relevance of Search King. Or have they? Is this like Nielsen giving a bad Nielsen rating to a TV show (i.e., publishing wrong numbers) in retaliation for some studio action?

Finally, in determining whether Google's ranking system offers fact or opinion, people tend to focus on the description of the ranking system on the Google site, or terms of use. This focus is *terribly misplaced*. No one other than the lawyers who drafted the terms of use, ever read the terms of use. The key is what people perceive? Do people (or advertisers) perceive the ranking system as precise and black and white or some grey arbitrary ranking system? In all of the papers, one *critical fact* is left out. What is the relationship between the search results displayed by Google and the rank given to a particular result?????
:: VICTOR 1/30/2003 02:34:52 AM [+] ::
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SIMS OFFLINE

CNET reports that EA's Sims online is off to a *slow start*. Sims is touted "as the ultimate test of whether online gaming, currently dominated by fantasy role-playing games, can attract a mass-market audience." For me personally the jury is OUT. I am somewhat skeptical of Sims' ability to capture more of the market than it currenty does. Maybe EA can work some interesting celebrity marketing or product placement into the mix (e.g., celebrity characters or celebrity interactions as part of goals/prizes)???? (but see this report of an *impressive*89% increase in EA's earnings)

HOGTIED

Salon reports on the smoking gun story on Sarah Kozer, Joe Millionaire finalist (and apparently bondage star)'s acting resume, which includes movies such as 'Novices in Knots' and 'Hogtied,' and the foot-fetish masterpiece 'Dirty Soled Dolls.' " This news is rapidly making its way acrosss the web. Two quick comments, (1) what's the low down on smoking gun's potential liability (see the Condit v. Dunne post) and (2) a Hogtied acting credit IMO definitely spices up the old resume.....

:: VICTOR 1/30/2003 02:04:39 AM [+] ::
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:: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 ::

LENNON v. McCARTNEY REVISITED and other quick bits

One of my *many* loyal readers (thank you!) points me in the direction of this slate story which explores the question of "what unremarkable artists the Beatles turned out to be when set free from the corporate collective." The article also cites to Sir Paul's "sneaky attemp" at rebilling certain Fab Four songs. Sir Paul seems to take the brunt of David Samuels' beating:

Is McCartney insecure? Is he jealous of Lennon? Is there money involved? All of these questions are more interesting than Back in the U.S., an album that provides listeners with a rough idea of what it would be like to have Paul McCartney play your wedding.

AMAZON

Amazon tries to weasel out of its having to honor unbelievable prices on 36 inch TVs. Check out the PI story here. Definite thumbs down to that decision. I mean Amazon is THE company for customer service, logistics and Internet process. The reasonable person should be *entitled to believe* whatever is on Amazon's web site and in Bezos' e-mails.....(those are annoying aren't they)???

GW FOLLOW UP

For the record I am *not* a fan of GW.

The State of the Union seemed to elicit a mixed reaction. I myself did not watch it, thinking it wiser to check out the 7:15 Yoga class (and I think I made the right decision here). I think the economy is doing poorly. It just seems out of step. I don't think a war in Iraq, no matter how efficient, is going to help the economy. In the end, Saddam and GW's bully pulpit will be a blip (or a pothole, depending on how lucky the Democrats are) on the Dow's (and consequently on middle class America's) radar screen. I tried to pick up some commentary to see what the pundits were saying but got so confused by table talk (which is billed as "an e-mail conversation about the news of the day" and which you can access here) that I gave up. How much of an insider do you have to be to understand what they are saying???

:: VICTOR 1/29/2003 03:51:56 PM [+] ::
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:: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 ::

CONDIT v. DUNNE

NYT reports here on the upcoming showdown between Congressman Condit and Dominick Dunne, arising out of Dunne's remarks re Chandra Levy's disappearance and Condit's potential involvement in the disappearance, on Laura Ingraham and Larry King's talk shows.

I am not a big Dominick Dunne fan, maybe owing to my impression that he pals around with Mark Fuhrman (nor is his Vanity Fair column particularly thrilling, insightful or thought provoking for that matter). The case does not seem to me to necessarily break new legal ground but I do find myself wondering how much of Mr. Dunne's perceived insider access can form a reasonable listerner (i.e., jury)'s impression that Mr. Dunne purported to tell the truth? Do people disclaim what they hear in the media or in talk shows in particular as a matter of course? Would the believability factor be different if the remarks were made or repeated in print?? Setting aside the existing legal test, is Condit a *public figure* in the same way that Michael Jackson or Madonna is? These are some of the questions swirling around in my mind.

Michael Kinsley, former editor of Slate, notes that "talk radio and talk television are media where everything is a first draft." However, Mr. Kinsley further notes that "there [is] a line, and Mr. Dunne's remarks 'were on the wrong side of the line.' "

:: VICTOR 1/28/2003 12:27:17 PM [+] ::
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LENNON-McCARTNEY or McCARTNEY-LENNON

You can access this salon piece detailing the ongoing feud between Sir Paul McCartney and the late John Lennon's wife here using either the Salon premium pass or a day pass from Salon sponsor Mercedez Benz. The article details McCartney's efforts to reverse the trend of his public perception as the hanger on to John Lennon's songwriting genius.

McCartney has fought an uphill battle to assert his place in history, often finding himself dismissed as a shallow hack, a Salieri to Lennon's Mozart, as Lennon's widow Yoko Ono cruelly put it.

The article also describes the flimsy moral ground Yoko Ono stands on, detailing her many credit misappropriations. In 1972, she (along with Lennon) released four live tracks recorded live with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. "One track, the Mothers' standard 'King Kong,' was retitled 'Jamrag' by John and Yoko, who inexplicably took full songwriting credit. Zappa remained miffed for years, telling Rolling Stone in 1988: 'I can't imagine that album really sold a lot; anyway, it's the principle of the thing, you know?' " Where does Yoko Ono come off busting Sir Paul McCartney's chops for reversing the order of credit. I always thought she was thought of as the *ultimate hanger on*.


:: VICTOR 1/28/2003 11:39:35 AM [+] ::
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:: VICTOR 1/28/2003 01:35:40 AM [+] ::
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:: Monday, January 27, 2003 ::

REAL PROFITS?

I have always been a total RealNetworks skeptic. Who would ever pay to consume webcasts? Consequently, who would ever pay to broadcast the webcasts???? As I logged on to espn.com a few times yesterday during the Super Bowl, however, I thought to myself that an on-going webcast of the highlights would be pretty cool. In fact, companies would probably clamor to sponsor it. You can check out a report of RealNetworks' current and future webcasting plans here.

"Still, few argue that Webcasting will replace broadcasting and cablecasting any time soon. Rather, the most common use of Internet video is to get access to services that are not available any other way. The $5.45-a-month Surfing Live, a service offered with RealNetworks, shows classic surfing videos and live Webcasts of the waves at Banzai Pipeline and other beaches in Hawaii. More popular are broadcasts of sports games for fans who do not live near their favorite teams."

:: VICTOR 1/27/2003 08:51:25 AM [+] ::
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GW = REAGAN?

NYT Magazine reports here on the many similarities between Presidents Reagan and Bush and the possible influences of the former on the latter.

Bush's seeming invincibility to bad news may be exasperating to Democrats, but it was no surprise to Michael Deaver, the [Karl Rove of the Reagan Presidency] . . . . [t]o Deaver there was nothing mysterious about it, no Teflon. It was just the relentless discipline of a president who consistently defies the expectations of people who think they are smarter than he is.

That's pretty high praise coming from NYT. Bill Keller in the article subtlely acknowledges something that *I have been saying all along*. Opponents of GW who bash his lack of intelligence and who can often be found passing along Internet photographs ridiculing the President's lack of brain power (e.g., the photo with him holding the book upside down or the binoculars backwards, which popular wisdom holds are altered) may themelves be the fools.

:: VICTOR 1/27/2003 08:41:29 AM [+] ::
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