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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hail to the chief

So this week I had several column ideas that I thought were interesting and relevant to college folks and was totally unable to choose between them. Below, separated by well-placed boldface type, are the bare bones of each.

Who thought this was a good idea?

The recent New York Post cartoon causing a lot of hubbub represents one of the worst (as in morally indefensible) decisions a newspaper or tabloid can make. The editorial explaining the cartoon put forth an excuse technically plausible and yet completely unbelievable. The number of people involved in the decision-making process that thought it was okay to run is depressing. Even other political cartoonists are shaking their heads at the Post.

Kevin Kallaugher, an editorial cartoonist for The Economist, said the editorial excusing the cartoon was “sad.” Most professional cartoonists seem to be of the opinion that the phrase “sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon” is particularly out of touch; no political cartoonist is that out of touch. There is power in imagery. Look how much press this is generating for the Post; there’s no way they didn’t anticipate a reaction like this.

As the next generation, we should take note of issues like this when they arise; will we call entities like the Post to question, or will we simply gloss over their mistakes? Based on the activism and determination I’ve seen on this campus, I don’t think we’re in great danger of anyone pulling the wool over our eyes.

Competence!

As many of you may know, the founders of the BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay (TPB) are on trial for providing torrents of movies, music, video games, you name it. Turns out it’s frowned upon to provide material protected by copyright for free to nearly 25 million active users. The interesting aspect of this case, which is expected to last approximately three weeks, is that the prosecutors aren’t making a lot of progress. The two founders are pleading ignorance about a number of facets of the website’s organizational structure, flummoxing prosecutors. Some of the charges against the defendants were even dropped because the prosecution was, apparently, unfamiliar with the technology involved.

The charges relating to the website copying files of copyrighted material have been dropped; TPB merely makes matches between users of the website and filesharers (making it the match.com of piracy?).

Hypothesis: If I am the lead prosecutor in the most major case against a BitTorrent or peer to peer filesharing website to date, I will make damn sure I know what I’m talking about. I’m sure Warner Bros., MGM, Fox, Sony, etc., are all thrilled to have such a crack legal team representing their interests.

A photo finish (unless you were TGIF)

The recent ASUCD elections are indicative that there is still some hope left for the student body! With the second highest voter turnout (6,142) since ASUCD started recording voter turnouts, it shows that either the elections committee has really turned a corner, candidates did a great job of campaigning, people read this column or people really disliked the TGIF ballot initiative (which lost by like a million votes).

The executive race was incredibly close, with Joe Chatham and Chris Dietrich winning by a mere 13 votes, 2,839 to 2,826 over Lula Ahmed-Falol and Rebecca Schwartz. Those numbers are accurate reflectors of the excellent quality of both tickets. It is a shame that only one ticket could win.

Remind us again why we’re paying you

Does anyone remember the legal dispute between Mark Zuckerburg, founder of Facebook, and some of his Harvard classmates? Basically three of his “friends” sued him, claiming that he stole their idea slash code slash potential zillions of dollars. Their case was strong enough to merit a confidential out of court settlement.

Well, in theory it was confidential. The law firm let slip in their January newsletter the terms of the deal ($20 million plus an additional $45 million of Facebook stock).

So now that we’re all up to speed, let me ask you this: If your law firm had just let the entire world know that you were approximately $65 million richer from a supposedly confidential settlement, how inclined would you be to pay their requested $13 million in legal fees? Not very, would be my guess.

 

RICHARD PROCTER doesn’t have room to thank people this week. Express your outrage in the general direction of rhprocter@ucdavis.edu.

 

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