Monthly Archives: October 2006

Google Fights Genericide

Google™ fights to avoid genericide.

Genericide” is when your trademark becomes a synonym for a thing or activity. Asprin was a trademark once. Xerox™ and Kleenex™ live on the edge of genericide and spend big bucks to prevent it.

If “to Google” something were to come to mean to search for it online regardless of which search engine one used, google or “googling” would have become generic, destroying the trademark — and meaning that competitors could use it too. At present it still clangs a little to say “I googled him on Yahoo” so I think the brand is not yet generic.

But they sure are right to be worried.

Posted in Law: Trademark Law | Leave a comment

Chris Matthews Says GOP Campaign ‘Crosses the Line’

Even generally right-wing supporters of the GOP find its racist ad campaign to be too much to bear. Here’s Chris Matthews, an unreliably right-wing commentator (he has a contrarian streak he lets out now and then), commenting on the “race-baiting in Tennessee” as one of the “last tactics in a losing campaign“:

“I think it’s awful for America,” Matthews said.

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | Leave a comment

Notes from All Over

Posted in Linkorama | Leave a comment

Fighting Back

It’s been pretty depressing to see the slime tactics proliferating in this campaign. And while there’s no question that both sides are going negative, there’s one side that’s going ugly, and making stuff up. And that is our desperate GOP, the party that sees its monopoly on power possibly slipping from its grasp. In Tennessee, in Virginia, in Missouri, in many other places, it’s not at all pretty right now.

On the brink of what could be a power-shifting election, it is kitchen-sink time: Desperate candidates are throwing everything. While negative campaigning is a tradition in American politics, this year’s version in many races has an eccentric shade, filled with allegations of moral bankruptcy and sexual perversion.

At the same time, the growth of “independent expenditures” by national parties and other groups has allowed candidates to distance themselves from distasteful attacks on their opponents, while blogs and YouTube have provided free distribution networks for eye-catching hatchet jobs.

The result has been a carnival of ugly, especially on the GOP side, where operatives are trying to counter what polls show is a hostile political environment by casting opponents as fatally flawed characters. The National Republican Campaign Committee is spending more than 90 percent of its advertising budget on negative ads, according to GOP operatives, and the rest of the party seems to be following suit.

At least in Virginia, Jim Webb is fighting back against George Allen’s smears.

And Michael J. Fox responds to Limbaugh’s attack on Fox’s McCaskill commercial.

Overall, though, I think Democrats still haven’t fully adapted to the new realities of smear and jeer politics.

Race to the bottom? Or is there some way to struggle to the top?

Posted in Politics: US: 2006 Election | 1 Comment

David Letterman, Patriot

By his own defiant admission, David Letterman is not one of our nation’s intellectuals, nor is he going to be on anyone’s top-10 list of foreign policy thinkers.

Usually he’s just out to crack some jokes and give us a slightly goofy and sardonic good time. But darn it if the man’s not a patriot. It’s clear that the war in Iraq bothers him, casualties for no discernible purpose, and he’s willing to use his pulpit to show that angst.

Witness this clip of an eleven-minute (that’s long by TV standards) set-to with Bill O’Reilly, the serial fabricator from Fox, and poster child for Republican family values.

I’m not a great Letterman fan, but I think Letterman does himself, and the rest of us, proud here. It’s a long download, but worth it.

Incidentally, I was impressed to discover that Letterman is not just talk when it comes to worrying about the way our leaders treat the US military: according to the Wikipedia,

Letterman, along with bandleader Paul Shaffer and Late Show stage manager Biff Henderson, celebrated Christmas 2002 in Afghanistan with United States and international military forces stationed there. The three visited Iraq around Christmas in 2003 and 2004 as well.

Posted in Iraq | 6 Comments

Wes Clark Steps Up in the Invisible Primary

There are two elections going on simultaneously in the Connecticut Senate race. There’s Lamont v. Lieberman of course, but there’s also the first round in the invisible primary for the 2008 presidential election. The invisible primary is the one where would-be candidates compete for the love, energy and money of party activists who they hope will propel their candidacy forward before the rest of the world really starts to notice.

Wes Clark took a big step forward in that primary today by making this effective ad for Lamont:

Few of the other possible candidates have done much beyond a token appearance, and almost none have done any Lieberman-bashing, even though he refused to respect the result of the party primary. Wes Clark shows here not only that he’s tough, but that he’s a party player. The activists will like that.

Posted in Politics: US: 2006 Election, Politics: US: 2008 Elections | 1 Comment

Britons and Their Speed Cameras

I'm interested in surveillance and in privacy in public places. Here's an article about how Britons feel about one sort of public surveillance: they hate it. In addition to actually destroying a number of speed cameras, Britons are also trying to undermine them,

Cameras Catch Speeding Britons and Lots of Grief: Technology has moved on considerably since the 1990s, when the first speed cameras were installed in Britain. Now, in addition to the standard cameras that photograph the speeding cars’ license plates, there are cameras that can accurately photograph drivers’ faces — so that they cannot claim someone else was driving at the time — and cameras that work in teams, calculating average speeds along a stretch of road.

Of course, for every ingenious new camera, there is an ingenious new camera-thwarting device. These include constantly-updating G.P.S. equipment that alerts drivers to camera locations and a special material that, when sprayed on a license plate, is said to make it impervious to flash photographs.

There are also the low-tech methods of covering a license plate with mud or altering its letters with black electrical tape

Posted in Law: Privacy, UK | 1 Comment