Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Costa Concordia

# How do they serve alcoholic drinks on Italian cruise ships? - On the rocks

# What vegetables do you get with dinner on Italian cruise ships? - Leeks

# What's the fastest way to get off an Italian cruise ship? - Follow the captain

# When the captain of the ill fated Costa Concordia was asked if he knew where he was going he replied "off course."

# So the captain of the Costa Concordia will soon be in the dock. That's more than can be said for his ship.

# The Costa Concordia is probably the most expensive thing to go down in Italy since Berlusconi's last hooker.

# What does the Italian economy and the stricken cruise liner Costa Concordia have in common?

Nothing - The bottoms dropped out of both.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Betty Boop and Minnie the Moocher

Cab Calloway is hands down my favorite artist of all time. Most people only know him from the Blues Brother's movie...one forgets that he was the voice of a generation. He wore Zoot Suits, and sang in the Cotton Club in what is now New York. Calloway promoted himself tirelessly, making use of cutting edge technology such as movies, and recordings, virtually inventing the recording industry as we recognize it today. Not the greatest jazz man of all time (that would be Dizzie Gillespie) but he was smart enough to hire Gilespie and Sachmo, and a hundred others who have all passed away from us by now.
Cab Calloway performed until he was 86...doing movies such as the Blues Brother's movie, and even a guest judge at the World Wrestling Federation. Which goes to show the guy never quit.

This clip from 1932 features Cab Calloway as the ghostly dancing walrus, and the cutest 'toon in the world, Betty Boop. Please take a moment, turn up the volume, and enjoy music from a world which is not much different from today.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Libel Reform

The court is not supposed to be a place where the rich guy can pay a lawyer to shut the little guy up. Yet, it is. The libel laws in the UK, and by extension, here in Canada AND the US are designed to prevent people from "hurting" another person with a published word. This must be balanced of course with "free speech" and "free press". We have all seen people destroyed by the "court of public opinion", and the libel laws are designed to prevent that.

They usually do exactly that. The Rupert Murdochs of the world need something to keep them on the straight and narrow (as if the fear of a libel suit ever stopped him!) I don't think they are working.

However, what do you do when a reporter or a scientist stands up and says..."you know, that guy over there if taking money fraudulently by stating that his product works and I can show you right here that it does not work at all!" The snake oil salesman who has plenty of cash in his pocket sues the scientist or reporter personally for "loss of business", the amount of the settlement determined by how much money the snake oil salesman "could have made" if somebody had not called him out on it. Interestingly enough, the law does not care who is right...the snake oil salesman really did suffer a "loss" of income, and so therefore really does have a case.
I personally believe that this results in limitation on freedom of speech.

Apparently, such laws are only in England...France, Italy, Greece and other European countries seem to not have such laws on their books....only English speaking countries like Canada, the US, India, and of course, the UK. Not being a lawyer, I don't know about that, but it would not be the first time that the Napoleonic code of law proved superior to English Common Law.

There is a movement afoot which is trying to get the libel laws of English speaking nations reformed so that whistle blowers will not be sued into poverty by people who are content to feed you untested medicine or magnetic bracelets or useless Swiss vitamines. It will also allow people who are fighting the "man" against, say water floridation or flue shots or whatever (very controvercial subjects you have to admit) some protection against lawsuits by men in suits.

Therefore I am publishing a letter from a group supporting Simon Singh (google him) who was fighting a lawsuit which threatened to impoverish him, for simply exercising his right to free speech. Any blogger MUST take this seriously. As a blogger, you are also a publisher. And subject to the law like any publisher.

As usual, your comments are welcome. The links are to UK sites. But don't think for a moment that the problem is confined to the UK. When the great magician James Randi called out the spoon bender Uri Geller, proved he was a fraud, Randi ended up losing a fortune in legal fees EVEN THOUGH HE WAS RIGHT. Lawyers cost a LOT of money. That happened right in the US. (google Randi, lawsuit).

This goes along with my previous post about clear thinking. A different facet to the jewel of crystal clear thought.

So what can you do? Well, to begin with, familiarize yourself with the facts, the problem. Spend a few minutes on the internet to find out if it is a problem where you are. Determine if an action plan is actually needed. And be prepared to write a letter if you think it could be an issue in your jurisdiction.

Dear Friends

Firstly, thank you to the over 3,000 of you who wrote to your MPs over Christmas urging them to get libel reform into the next Queen’s Speech. If you haven’t already, you can still write to your MP here http://www.libelreform.org/news/515-all-we-want-for-christmas-is-our-mps-to-back-libel-reform-in-the-queens-speech

The next step towards libel reform is the Government’s report on the draft Defamation Bill, which we have been told to expect any day now.

This report is the Government’s response to scrutiny of the draft Bill by MPs and Peers and its response to the public consultation many of you took part in last Summer. The Government will publish a new Defamation Bill if libel reform is in the Queen’s Speech in May; this report is important because it will set out the Government’s thinking on what should be in a Bill.

As you know, we urged the Government to strengthen the draft Bill to protect NGOs, scientists, bloggers and authors writing in the public interest; to introduce a strict test to ensure that bullying libel claims get thrown out early; to tackle the problem of corporations using the laws to silence criticism and to bring the law up to date for the internet age. If the Government’s report doesn’t go far enough on these issues, we will have to take action.

We will be in touch again soon when we know more. Please do continue to get friends to sign up to the campaign and help us by donating here http://www.justgiving.com/libelreformappeal2011.