URLs du Jour

2011-12-13

  • [Amazon Link] Since our competent and talented elected representatives have finally managed to eliminate all problems in the government sector, it's only natural for them to offer their sage advice to businesses in their copious spare time.
    Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) blasted Internet retailer Amazon for its controversial plan to gather price data from local businesses, calling it "an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities."
    Wait, that doesn't sound like sage advice. Why, that sounds like a powerful politician attempting to browbeat a company into doing her will!

    The culprit here is Amazon's free Price Check App, available free for Android and iPhone. (Android users, just click over there! I'll get a cut of that $0.00!) It sounds neat: when browsing in a brick-and-mortar store, you can scan an item's barcode, or even take its picture, or say its name; Amazon will tell you how much the item costs through them, and (of course) allow you to buy. And—here's the even more controversial part— you can "share" the in-store price with Amazon "to help ensure our prices remain competitive for our customers."

    In short, it's a pro-consumer application, helping the market work more efficiently by decreasing the cost of obtaining price information.

    "Main Street businesses", of course, dislike that. They would prefer to keep customers in the dark on pricing. And—see above— they're not shy about getting their pals in government to help out with thinly-veiled threats. As many have pointed out: pro-business does not mean pro-freedom or pro-market. It would be nice if we could get more Republicans in favor of the latter two.

  • But Olympia Snowe is not the biggest idiot in the Senate.

  • These guys do the War on Christmas right:
    North Korea has warned South Korea of "unexpected consequences" if it lights up a Christmas tree-shaped tower near their tense border.
    Via Radley Balko.

  • I liked Jonah Goldberg on the minor controversy over the choice of villain in the new Muppets movie: an oil baron named Tex Richman. Is it due to a giant liberal conspiracy?
    The notion that Hollywood is a giant conspiracy to brainwash kids gives Hollywood way too much credit. The truth is more often that Hollywood is full of lazy writers — lazy liberal writers.
    Which reminds me: Iowahawk has gone pretty quiet over the past couple months. I have a recurring fantasy that some smart media mogul has given him a boatload of money to write for movies or TV.


Last Modified 2012-09-24 11:19 AM EDT

Boomerang!

[3.0 stars] Boomerang! (1947) on IMDb

[Amazon Link]

This 1947 movie is in the too-rare tradition of Airplane!, Help!, and Tora! Tora! Tora!; it's got an honest-to-goodness exclamation mark in its title. (There are web pages devoted to this: for example here, here, here, and here.) But seldom was a punctuation symbol less warranted.

Based on a true story. The movie opens with the cold-blooded murder of a beloved Episcopal priest on the main street of a small Connecticut city. (It was filmed in Stamford, but the real-world murder happened in Bridgeport.) The cops are stumped. As a result, the local paper muckrakes shamelessly against the city's government, and the pressure on the police investigators grows. Eventually they find a plausible perp, and browbeat him into a confession.

Enter Dana Andrews, playing the incorruptible fair-minded State's Attorney. He has his doubts about the guilt of the accused. Eventually it all comes down to courtroom dramatics. (So dramatic that I fell asleep, and needed to rewatch the next day.)

Jane Wyatt, Spock's mom, plays Mrs. State's Attorney. She's always great. Ed Begley's first movie. Directed by Elia Kazan, but he went on to do better movies.


Last Modified 2012-09-24 11:13 AM EDT