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Rush Limbaugh’s “Ratner Moment”

Rush Limbaugh is a widely-listened, right-wing radio personality in the USA.

Wikipedia describes him as “an opinion leader in American conservatism”.

Recently, he took to attacking university student Sandra Fluke for her testimony before Congress on contraception and healthcare. Apparently he characterised her as a ‘slut’ and a ‘prostitute’. Of course, she’s no such thing.

Let’s leave to one aside the difference in the balance of free speech rights between the USA’s First Amendment and Europe’s Article 10. (Although, it seems to me that had a radio DJ in the UK done something similar, I would venture to suggest he might be receiving stiff letters from Messrs Sue Grabbit and Runne without any possibility of responding like Pressdram Limited, and by now Mr Limbaiugh might possibly be  having some mild difficulty in having to explain to a judge exactly why he shouldn’t pay a large libel award to Ms Fluke).

No, what is interesting about this case, is that this seems to be the ‘Gerald Ratner’ moment for Limbaugh, and perhaps the whole ‘right-wing shock-jock culture’ in the USA.

For those who aren’t from the UK, or are too young, Ratners was the most successful High St. jewelers in the British Isles until in an intendedly humorous speech to the prestigious Institute of Directors, its CEO Gerald Ratner jokingly  described his own company’s products as ‘total crap’ which resulted in the complete collapse of the business.

In my opinion, this is probably Limbaugh’s ‘Ratner moment‘.

Apparently, despite an apology (itself a remarkable course of action for Limbaugh) advertisers are deserting the former darling of the Right in droves

Rush, I feel for you. (Not!!).

And some of us do know total crap when we see (or hear it). Apparently the American public is beginning to, as well.







@TCompuMark said recently on Twitter that

“Some interesting/complicated #gTLD objections to come from when #brands are also generic terms.”

In the root, there’s nowhere to hide.

“Apple” is a trademark. But whose is it? In fact, as we all know, two very well know companies, one in computers and an older one, in the music industry have rights to ‘APPLE’ in the context of computers, and music respectively.

But what if I, say, wanted to start a register of producers of apples. Why should a computer manufacturer and a record company have a right to stop me. The answer is, in terms of fundamental rights, that they don’t.

Yet the ICANN club seems to be geared up to give brand holders prior rights over areas that their brand is not valid in.

Now suppose Apple Computer apply for .APPLE. Apple Records object, causing the application to fail. Mutally assured destruction.

What in fact needs to happen is that the two need to cooperate on a joint venter (say .APPLE Registry LLP in which they are equal partners), obtain the name, and work out for themselves how to issue the names under .APPLE.

Sensible? Of course.

Would it ever happen. Well, I will eat a pickled herring if it does!


I Shall Wear Midnight


Terry Pratchett

Cover of Terry Pratchett

Over a quarter of a century ago I started to read a story.

The story was set in a magical land, where there lived a particular wizard, who subsequently became one of fantastic literature’s favourite wizards, alongside Merlyn, Gandalf and young Mr Potter. It also had an unfortunate tourist, whose Luggage had legs and, apparently a mind of its own.

With four-dimensional distance, not to mention elasticated string, memory seems plays tricks on one.

I was convinced this story first appeared, prior to book publication, in the form of a novella in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. But now, with the benefit of search engines I determined to check my facts before writing that it. And you, know, I can’t verify it.

I can find no trace of any such magazine publication of the first reports of Rincewind and Twoflower when using Google. Does any one know?

Perhaps I bought it in paperback on spec. I  know I didn’t buy hardbacks in those days. (Having, to my surprise just been able to find it without looking, I discover that my slightly foxed copy appears to be a paperback first edition. Wonder if it has any value ….)

All that is of little consequence, of course, because the story was The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett as he then was. And it started a lifelong affection for Discworld and its motley cast.

I read the 38th book in the series yesterday.

Featuring the old-beyond-her-fifteen-summers Tiffany Aching this one has a different quality to it than all the others.

Oh, the characterisation is as delightfully ironic as ever. The (s)wordplay just as sharp. But there is an undercurrent of tristesse. Not sorrow, or even sadness, but a gentle, smiling tolerance of humanity in all its glorious weaknesses and strength. It has an elegiac and hauntingly austere quality about it.

Knowing the practical difficulties that Sir Terry faced in writing his most recent books, this book is even more remarkable for that.

It’s not the last book in the Discworld series. (I suspect that one has already been written and locked away in a safe). And I know that there’s at least one other (Snuff) due to come out this year. And hopefully more to come after that.

But if it had have been the last, it would have been a rare and fitting finish.

This one was very much than the usual clever puns and word-game for the amusement of the alert (you know the sort of thing . . . Medic-i => Vetinar-i).

You never think that at some point there will be no more Rumpole stories to read. The Victorians rose up  when they thought there’d be no more Holmes, so much so that Conan Doyle had to resurrect him until he ended his days growing roses.
(The exception here is Harry Potter. We’ve been Potter-ed into submission, and Rowling ended that tale so definitively that the only new Hogwarts stories could be set in the a generation prior or subsquent.)

But one day there shall be no more new Discworld stories.

I Shall Wear Midnight is one of those rare books which makes you sit back, and wonder at the wisdom and compassion of the mind that created it; which mind is, in real life, suffering from one of the cruellest things that could possibly happen to it, and even more, is so courageous that he proclaims it to the world.

This book is even the more remarkable for that.

Read it.


Name that tune?

(This is song was a big hit when originally released, and was showcased in an animated feature with a well-known cartoon character, but it’s actually a morality tale about the evils of drug abuse. The song reappeared in an iconic movie of the 1980s, sung by the original artist, re-introducing the musical genre to a new generation).

zoot suits

Image by istolethetv via Flickr

The song concerns a young lady who was a very attractive prostitute, as hard as women get, but she really was a nice person inside.  She was having an affair with a disreputable gentleman who she really loved despite the fact he was a cocaine user. They went out together in to the Chinese ghetto, where he introduced her to smoking opium. In her opiate-induced fantasies, she dreamed about being being part of upper-class society, having a lot of money and being given nice things. She then became a successful marijuana dealer but was never confident of her success.

Name that tune?

(As an extra bonus .. the extended lyrics of the song, not often heard of, continue her story …)

She and her boyfriend went on a binge, and got arrested. They were put in the back of a police van and taken to gaol. She gave the bail money to her boyfriend who kept it and disappeared, leaving her incarcerated. Whilst in prison, she was visited by a religious gentleman who preached moderation. In response she made suggestive pelvic movements, implying the offer of sexual congress.  So she was taken to the insane asylum, where she died, which was pretty much the
end of the matter.

Our protagonist was really a good girl, but was the unfortunate victim of circumstances.


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