A Pain in the RSS


Obamabilia – What protection for an exposed president?
January 19, 2009, 11:06 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

After Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States late last year, naturally enough, one supposes, speculation and discussion turned to the significant task Obama’s security detail had ahead of them in keeping the “first black President” safe.

In a blog post at The Guardian, Daniel Nasaw writes about one aspect of protecting Obama that is considerably less life threatening than the sorts of things the secret service might be concerned with, but far more interesting to those curious about IP: unofficial ‘Obamabilia’ – the flags, mugs, t-shirts, advent calendars, mousepads, even g-strings that enterprising American businesspeople have flooded the market with to service the demand of a US public who can’t get enough of the next King Arthur to enter Camelot.

Georgetown University Law School Professor Rebecca Tushnet, who is quoted in the story, suggests that despite the fact that a right to publicity is protected in most of the United States, which would afford Obama the right to control what items feature his image and by whom they are made or sold, the political reality of public life means this is an area of that publicity law which is largely untested. Tushnet speculates that a tension exists between the right to publicity on the one hand and the right to free speech under the US Constitution’s first amendment, on the other.

In Australia, the Trade Practices Act would afford protection to politicians facing this problem, preventing unscrupulous traders from engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, but again the political reality of taking action under that act might actually preclude it.

Still, it’s interesting to speculate on whether the market appeal of Kevin Rudd g-strings would be as strong as that for Barack Obama?

PS: Greetings to the secret service bot that will inevitably find this story…

Original story: Buy the Obama inauguration thong | World news | guardian.co.uk




A Tastier Way to Consume Schubert’s Trout…
January 3, 2009, 3:03 pm
Filed under: music | Tags: , , , ,

Like many young singers, my introduction to lied came via the works of Schubert, in particular Die Forelle (The Trout). For my sins, I’ve sat through countless renditions of The Trout, most of them horrible, and more often than not performed by small, tubby boys who’ve been cajoled by their mothers into singing lessons and, ultimately, public humiliation at local eisteddfodau.

As the article in Harper’s Magazine (linked below) suggests, the lyrics are deceptive in their simplicity. What a joy it is to finally divine new meaning from a piece of music which has become so devoid of it for me.

Armed with this knowledge, enduring changing voice renditions of Schubert just became infinitely more endurable, if not enjoyable.

Schubart’s Defiant Trout (Harper’s Magazine)




Thoughts after reading: ‘The Unknown Terrorist’ by Richard Flanagan
January 1, 2009, 4:43 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: , , ,

Book: The Unknown Terrorist
Author: Richard Flanagan
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2006

Having recently seen an Australian Story documentary about Richard Flanagan and, to my shame, knowing nothing about him, I set about to remedy this lacuna in my knowldege of Australian literature and read ‘The Unknown Terrorist’.

Had I not been given the impression that Flanagan was (perhaps is) a sometime enfant terrible of the Australian (world, discuss?) literary scene, my expectations of this novel might have been different. In that case, I’d merely have accepted ‘The Unknown Terrorist’ as a pulp crime thriller (in the ilk of Michael Connelly) and taken it for what it is. Unfortunately, Flanagan’s pedigree (Rhodes scholar no less) combined with the opening passages of the book, which quote Nietzsche, lead one to expect much, much more than this novel delivers.

Flanagan was obviously inspired by the circumstances of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, the Australians who were famously imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, and their trial by media in Australia, while not by court in the USA.

The plot is far fetched although not totally beyond the realms of believability, but the characters are superficial and, as a reader, I did not really care for the protagonist, the Doll. Was it Flanagan’s intention that the reader should meander through the book with a sense of being slightly detached from the action? Perhaps that’s the genius of it, but if it was, it was a genius largely wasted on me as a reader.

On the whole an acceptable read, but not something I’d breathlessly compel friends to commit to. Despite that, I’m seeking out other novels by Flanagan in the hope I’ll come to understand what the fuss is all about.




Schadenfreude? You Bet!
June 13, 2008, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized




Happy Birthday, Hugo
October 22, 2007, 3:47 am
Filed under: News

My Son, Hugo, turns 3 today. He continues to be an eternal source of delight, wonder, awe, surprise, concern, education and frustration. It’s hard not to feel totally inadequate for the task of parenting when you consider the magnitude of the responsibility… but with each day you get another chance of doing a better job of it than you did the day before.

His Mum amazed me with her strength and beauty on the evening he was born. She still does today…. on a day which is as much hers as it is his.

Happy Birthday, Hugo!

Just. One. More…

Tags: ,



Who Needs a Record Company?
October 22, 2007, 2:11 am
Filed under: Innovation, Music News

The music “industry” gets more and more interesting every week. In a nation like Australia where the tyranny of distance has always given record companies an edge by sheer fact of their providing distribution logistics, the internet is now turning all that on its head.

A YOUNG Australian heavy-metal band that has had no airplay on mainstream radio stations has sent shockwaves through the music industry by making it into the Top 10 of the ARIA charts. [via Sydney Morning Herald]

Of course these kinds of stories never apply to artists who appeal to grown ups, but the young punks of today are the bored middle-aged people of tomorrow. Makes me glad I don’t have shares in a record company!

Tags: , ,



The Amazing Stephen Wiltshire
November 5, 2006, 11:45 am
Filed under: cool stuff, Odd, Social, Weird

Stephen Wiltshire draws Rome from memory

What an incredible, mysterious gift it is to be born an autistic savant.




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