The C-word and other things that bother me

joniernstI’m not a big fan of Joni Ernst, the recently-elected US Senator from Iowa, who gave the Republican response to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. IMNSHO, she has some wacky ideas, and is a bit of a hypocrite.

Still, I got extremely irritated when I saw her referred to online as a “stupid c@#!”. The “stupid” part, frankly, didn’t bother me all that much, but the reduction of a woman to a body part, using a term not historically used in civil conversation, really got me enraged.

And I see it a lot, when some comment about women whose views they don’t share: former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R-AK), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former Presidential contender Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), or Holly Hobby Lobby, among others.

It’s not dissimilar to saying of a black person, whose ideas that you disagree with, is a “stupid n@#$%!”, suggesting the stupidity comes from his or her blackness. But the C-word infuriates me more because, while most decent people will call out obvious racism, some (comedian Bill Maher, I’m talking about YOU) seem to justify their sexism because they’re “comedians” or “commentators” or some other BS.

An obituary for COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a piece of work. “Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”

Speaking of condescending: US Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) shushes CNBC reporter Kelly Evans during an interview. If he decides to run for President, his opponents should run this clip repeatedly.

Female veteran finds a nasty note on her car after parking in ‘reserved for veterans’ spot, because only men go to war these days.

Male professors are brilliant, awesome, and knowledgeable. Women are bossy and annoying, and beautiful or ugly.

The best thing about the SONY hack – Exposing the pay gap between male and female stars.

The War On Women 2015 in the US. Of course, it could be worse: No Pardon – Young Woman To Serve 30 Years For Miscarriage in El Salvador. Oh, wait: Indiana Convicts Its First Pregnant Person of ‘Feticide’.

Hack attack!

THE INTERVIEW Teaser PosterGiven the fact that I had, and still have, no interest in seeing the SONY picture The Interview, I am nevertheless saddened to see its theatrical release scuttled. As you probably heard, the film is about a couple of “tabloid TV show” journalists…

When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. As Dave and Aaron prepare to travel to Pyongyang, their plans change when the CIA recruits them, perhaps the two least-qualified men imaginable, to assassinate Kim.

SONY pictures’ computers have been hacked by cyberbullies believed to be tied to North Korea. Or maybe not. A load of internal data was released – more anon – but the most serious action was a threat that suggested people stay away from the theaters showing the film, lest some Sept. 11, 2001-type attack befall them.

The riffraff on the Internet who think that SONY created the threat as a way to boost buzz for the Interview I find odd The conspiracy theorists are tiresome; it spent $30 million on the film, and tens of millions on the promotion. In any case, the alert got several of the largest movie theater chains to decide not to show the film, scheduled to open on Christmas Day. SONY then decided to pull the film from release.

Naturally, the politicians have weighed in. Mitt Romney, the once and perhaps future Presidential nominee suggests that SONY stream it for free. The incumbent, Barack Obama, suggested that we continue to go to the movies, and told SONY that it made a mistake shelving the flick.

A small part of me is actually thinking that the hoary cliche, We’re letting the terrorists win, seems appropriate here. As the George Clooney petition, which NO one in Hollywood signed, there’s a lot of cowardice in Tinsel Town. On the other hand, as Mark Evanier noted: “We cancel airline flights if there’s even a vague threat. We evacuate buildings if there are suspicious packages. In a sense, the terrorists/hackers have already won this one.”

Some of the data breaches of SONY have turned out to be everything from merely embarrassing to so problematic that lawsuits are threatened; it has been very costly for the company, both fiscally and on a trust level. Some of the issues revealed:
The script for an upcoming James Bond film
Tom Hanks used to check-in hotels under the name Johnny Madrid.
Alex Trebek considered quitting JEOPARDY! over a recent Kids’ Week kerfuffle
*Denzel Washington blacklist?

The journalism website Poynter has addressed the ethics of hacked email and otherwise ill-gotten information. It suggests:
Do additional reporting to verify the details. You must be sure it is accurate before you pass it along
Avoid distortion and instead ensure appropriate tone. This means watching your headlines, adjectives, and all the other details that give a particular piece of information a certain tone. When you add flavor to information, it needs to be appropriate.
*Add context, by seeking additional input or rebuttal from the relevant stakeholders. Context makes information more accurate.

Disney/Marvel, SONY and copyright overreach

I vigorously oppose the proposed “Six Strike” copyright punishment system, in which ISPs voluntarily agree to penalize their customers if the entertainment industry ACCUSES them of piracy. Entertainment media have been known to claim copyright for items they do not actually own.

I’ve long been concerned about the expanding length and reach of copyright protection in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. The US Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, empowers Congress to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” [Emphasis mine.]

These ever-increasing terms have the effect that media conglomerates have developed a sense of entitlement towards intellectual property, even when it’s not warranted.

Back in the 1980s, when I used to buy and sell comic books, Marvel Comics had this lovely line called EPIC. It was a place that creator-owned work, comic art NOT owned by Marvel Comics, as well as selected other items, could be published.

One of the products was called Starstruck, created by Michael William Kaluta and Elaine Lee, based on Lee’s 1980 play. Starstruck the comic book, which I used to collect, was subsequently published by other comic book companies.

This fall, Marvel’s parent company, Disney, sent Lee and Kaluta a cease and desist letter regarding Starstruck, which Marvel DID NOT and DOES NOT OWN. Fortunately, Kaluta had all the pertinent paperwork from nearly three decades ago. Possibly because of the bad publicity, on Facebook, at the Bleeding Cool forum, and elsewhere, Disney quickly recanted on its legal claim, acknowledging Lee and Kaluta’s ownership.

This is just one reason I vigorously oppose the proposed “Six Strike” copyright punishment system, in which ISPs, acting as cops, “voluntarily agree to penalize their customers if the entertainment industry ACCUSES them of piracy. As shown, entertainment media have been known to claim copyright for items they do not actually own.

The Starstruck incident scare tactics may have arisen because the work is now over 30 yrs old. There is a way for people who created “work for hire” to reclaim copyright after 35 years.

Does Sony Pictures own your art portfolio? Good question; apparently so. The agreement one signs “states that Sony takes ownership of your portfolio material when you apply for the job. If you are submitting samples of work you have done for other companies, Sony wants you to assign the rights to them. You clearly don’t have the authority to do that for work you don’t own, so that means that you are not legally allowed to show Sony the work you’ve done for other companies… What’s clearly disturbing though, is that any original work in your portfolio becomes their property. This does not depend on whether they hire you or not, they get ownership because you applied.”
In another bit of corporate excess: Why Are Dead People Liking Stuff On Facebook?

(Thanks to Stephen Bissette’s Facebook page, which contained some of these links.)

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