Friday News Roundup

Sigh… the world really *is* going to hell, isn’t it?

In a brief filed by the MPAA in the Jammie Thomas file-sharing trial, the motion picture industry’s trade group said that “[i]ntellectual-property holders should have the right to collect up to $150,000 per violation without having to actually prove copyright infringement” (emphasis mine). In other words, the MPAA thinks that they should be able to sue me for $150,000, without having a single shred of proof that I’ve done anything illegal. What I want to know is… why aren’t more people up in arms about this? Of course, many people don’t download movies off the Internet, and many people only download a movies once or twice a year and don’t consider themselves “true pirates”. But come on people – this affects you too! Do you have teenagers? It’s entirely possible that they’re downloading movies and you don’t even know it. And it’s entirely possible that MediaSentry (or some other investigative company) could get your IP address by accident… what then? This scheme smacks of extortion on a massive basis… and no one seems to care.

The UK continues its slide towards Oceania with this story from The Telegraph. Apparently the UK’s National Children’s Bureau, a charity which receives almost £12 million a year from the British government, has released a guide which states that employees should be on the lookout for “racist behavior” in children. According to the guide, this includes children as young as three turning their noses up to curry and other exotic dishes. So if you have a three year-old boy in a British day care center, he is apparently a dirty racist if he says “yuk!” to Tikki Masala. Incredibly, the guide even says that babies should be monitored for racist behavior! Why, Britain, why? I swear, for a country that once ruled 25% of the entire world, you guys sure have lacked balls in the past 40 years!

Rejoice, Charlotteans! Our local monopoly airline – US Airways – announced this week that they will stop showing movies on domestic flights. This will lighten up each airplane by 500 pounds and will save an estimated $10 million a year in fuel. The airline says that no one watches movies on flights any more (thanks to portable DVD players and handheld video devices) and that the few that do watch the films usually bring their own headphones these days (which cuts off the $5 per headset fee the airline used to get). Good Lord, people! What’s next? Will US Air put in pay toilets? Will they charge a $15 “seatbelt rental fee”? You know, Lisa and I normally prefer taking “more, smaller” vacations a year to nearby places like Charleston or Isle of Palms. We think it’s nicer to go to the beach 2-3 times a year instead of saving up for one big (expensive) vacation. But news like this isn’t helping. We could go to New York City or Chicago, but to do that, we’d have to fly. And crap like this makes Charleston and Isle of Palms look better and better!

And, in the last bit of “bad business” news… Charter Cable ran a “World’s Greatest Dad” contest on their website, where children submitted stories about why their dad was the best dad in the world. Mike Lewis’ daughter submitted the winning entry, and the family was supposed to win a 65-inch TV. As Charter marketing wizard Jeff Hatcher began to to process the Lewis’ W-9 (the form the Lewis family needs for taxes), he noticed that  65″ TV was “too expensive for his marketing budget”. So he sent the family a 19-inch TV instead. Classy!

I bet you didn’t know this, but Microsoft still sells Windows 3.11! Or at least they will… until November 1, 2008. Although consumers have long since moved on to Windows 9x or XP\Vista, Windows 3.11 was still incredibly popular with the “embedded devices” crowd. “Embedded devices” are computers that perform specific tasks, like ATMs, cash registers and information kiosks. Although most of the embedded devices average consumers use have been running Windows XP or Windows CE for ages, there are millions of embedded devices running Windows 3.11 in businesses all over the country. There is a Charlotte business that I know that uses a Windows 3.11 machine to control a sheet metal cutter, for example.

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