Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday thoughts

If I recall correctly, "Black Friday" got its name for being the day each year that retailers finally make it into the black (become profitable.)

It's always been controversial, a symbol of runaway consumerism. This year, the 20th anniversary of "Buy Nothing Day", may have set a new low, as a California shopper who wanted an Xbox 360 used pepper spray to disperse dozens of other shoppers (details here.)

Occupy Wall Street protesters intended to deny profits to the 1% with "Occupy Black Friday", which apparently inspired a Philadelphia group affiliated with the Tea party movement to support Black Friday with a competing "BUYcott". Personally, I cannot imagine any Tea partisan thinking deficit spending is any wiser for individuals and households than for Congress and the President.

For me, Black Friday was a beautiful sunny cool 30 mile bicycle ride with our local bicycle club for a light lunch, followed by another shorter tandem ride with the Middlewife. I've always tried to avoid shopping on Black Friday as a spiritual discipline, but did forget and reorder some supplies we're about out of from Sodastream this evening. (For anyone who likes carbonated drinks, Sodastream is a wonderfully economical and ecological alternative to hauling them home from a grocery store -- but you might want to wait until tomorrow before placing an order.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Free Mickey Mouse!

There has been a lot of anger lately against evil corporations raking in undeserved money, but somehow none of that anger seems to have landed at the door of big entertainment companies. Perhaps the height of hypocrisy recently was watching Michael Moore supporting Occupy Wall Street while refusing to admit that he himself is in their hated One Percent.

Democrats seem very sure we need to raise taxes on the very rich to solve our national debt problem, yet at the same time, a new PROTECT IP bill in the U.S. Senate and a new S.T.O.P. bill in the house seem designed primarily to safeguard ever more riches for the entertainment industry, many of whose members already make salaries among the most obscenely high anywhere in our society.

What I don't understand is why any Republican or Independent would think Hollywood needs further riches? What has Hollywood ever done to further their beliefs? Yet, at least one Republican has sponsored the S.T.O.P. bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to this article, "Music, movie industries giving to Rep. pushing for copyright enforcement." As Instapundit has suggested, we should be finding ways to tax Hollywood, not reward it further.

One very specific sign of this problem is that the Mickey Mouse cartoon character remains copyrighted, decades after the death of Walt Disney. Copyright law makes sense as a way of ensuring the creator of an idea profits from it throughout their remaining life, and perhaps that of their immediate dependents. However, to me it makes NO sense as a way to permanently reward vast corporate empires equal in size and reach to those now being protested by Occupy Wall Street.

As I fought with a DVD checked out of our local library last night, trying in vain to get to the actual start of a movie I wanted to view, and instead being forced to endure ten minutes of ads and warnings, the furthest thing from my mind was giving those responsible any more control over my viewing habits. Free Mickey Mouse!