Saturday, December 12, 2015

12 Days to Holly Season ~ Star Wars: Game of skill, or game of chance?

“...When you die, the energy that kept you alive filters into the people you loved. Did you know that? It's like a fire you've tended all your life, and the sparks are all scattered into the wind.... That's why we survive as long as we do, because the people who loved us keep us going.”
Kevin Brockmeier, The View from the Seventh Layer

12 Stray of Christmas and political sparks Alex Ellinghausen photographing Antipodean Politicians

Game of skill, or game of chance? “The [class-action] suit, filed in Manhattan federal court on behalf of FanDuel and DraftKings players nationwide, accuses Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other defendants of participating in a racketeering scheme to facilitate illegal gambling operations.” [Alison Frankel, Reuters]

A firm representing Lucasfilm/Disney sent takedown notices to force removal from social media of photos of a newly issued Star Wars figurine that an unnamed fan had walked into a Wal-Mart and purchased in the usual manner. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

Luke Skywalker as terrorist
Syd Gernstein (Bloomberg BNA), We Have Taxes to Thank For Star Wars:
Before there could be a clone war, a Skywalker losing some limbs in a light saber duel, a Death Star, a Death Star blowing up, another Skywalker losing a limb in a light saber duel and another Death Star blowing up, there was—and, believe me, the Star Wars fan in me wishes I was making this up—a tax controversy. ...
This first episode of Star Wars started with a tax dispute. The “trade federation” did not like the fact that the republic had imposed a tax on its trade routes, and protested the tax by staging a blockade, and ultimately an invasion, of the peaceful planet of Naboo.

On Tuesday, the Times published “Is it Wookie or Wookiee? The Times’ definitive ‘Star Wars’ style guide.” Hennon, assistant copy chief, begins with a little about how he got the task of compiling this guide, which is more than 8,000 words long via Poynter ...

After more than 20 years, the Force is still with us. “Star Wars” is everywhere. Among the journalists we know, none is more knowledgeable about the creative legacy of “Star Wars” than Jason Fry. As an independent author, Jason has written more than 30 “Star Wars” books and short stories. He is also the author of his own space adventure series, “Jupiter Pirates,” published by HarperCollins. Before his literary journeys into space, Jason spent 13 years at the Wall Street Journal online as a reporter, editor, columnist, and blogger. He has been a frequent contributor to Poynter, serving as a writer, editor and visiting teacher. I interviewed Jason because I thought he could teach me some things about “Star Wars” and the writing craft. Read more

Harrison Ford, as Han Solo of “Star Wars” with Carrie Fisher in the filming of the CBS-TV special “The Star Wars Holiday” Nov. 13, 1978. Ford says he leaves the singing in the special to Carrie, who is the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The film will also feature many special effects not seen on the original movie. (AP Photo/George Brich)
Harrison Ford, as Han Solo of “Star Wars” with Carrie Fisher in the filming of the CBS-TV special “The Star Wars Holiday” Nov. 13, 1978. Ford says he leaves the singing in the special to Carrie, who is the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The film will also feature many special effects not seen on the original movie. (AP Photo/George Brich)

It’s a Trap: Emperor Palpatine’s Poison Pill:
"In this paper we study the financial repercussions of the destruction of two fully armed and operational moon-sized battle stations (“Death Stars”) in a 4-year period and the dissolution of the galactic government in Star Wars."
Emperor Palpatine, the Death Star, and systematic risk 

Washington Post – Cybersecurity – A Special Report
Of course it does. State Wants Its Share Of The Sharing Economy (Peter Reilly) “This appears to be one of the rare instances where I am providing you breaking news on a matter otherwise neglected by the tax blogosphere.”  Vrbo / is not linked to Vrbov - Au contraire, Pierre Peter!

Stop the presses. Donald Trump Tweeted Something About Tax Shelters (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).

Cameron Barr, national editor at The Washington Post, has been promoted to managing editor in charge of news and features, Executive Editor Martin Baron announced:

"All of you know Cameron as a driven, focused, and super-smart journalist. During his nearly three years as national editor, and in his previous positions at The Post, Cameron has directed coverage of some of our biggest and most challenging stories, always with intelligence and a deep reservoir of energy.  He encourages and supports ambition in imagining our journalistic possibilities. He is resourceful in assuring that we deliver on what we set out to accomplish. He displays quick, competitive reflexes in responding to news. And he is a rigorous and elegant editor of copy."

Team building in the cafeteria, Harvard Business Review, December 2015, p24-25. Research shows that eating together enhances group performance TeamBuildingInTheCafeteria20151203.pdf

'Nobody wins': Give public servants power, says Centre for Policy Development report
Canberra Times, 2/12/15. A think tank has warned "nobody wins" if public servants are reduced to nothing more than contract managers and has used the Department of Employment as a cautionary tale.
Report -  
Grand Alibis: How Declining Public Sector Capability Affects Services for the Disadvantaged

Rijksmuseum encourages sketching over flash photography; it might not last you longer but it'll be a far richer experience.... Put away the phone. Stow your camera. Lose the selfie stick. If you want to experience masterpieces by Hals, Vermeer, or Rembrandt, try drawing them instead. That's the idea behind the #startdrawing campaign at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which asks visitors to look at art in a different way—by trying to reproduce it. Imrich, Vermeer, or Rembrandt

“Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos put it more clearly than most last year when he noted that books are no longer competing only against other books: ‘You’re competing against Candy Crush and everything else.’ The real battle isn’t between screen and paper editions, or even between Amazon and Hachette: it’s between one person trying to conjure a world in words, and another inviting me to match coloured shapes in lines until my eyes glaze into darkness.” Aeon 

“As accessing information becomes less challenging for most of the world, new problems emerge. Discovering, evaluating, and most importantly, connecting relevant knowledge is overwhelming.
There hasn’t been a way to bridge the chasm between isolated communities with their specific knowledge base and the rest of us – until now! launched a mission driven coalition: “annotating all knowledge” and SSRN is proud to be one of the founding members. Their recent blog post states the coalition members “realize that a robust and interoperable conversation layer can transform scholarship, enabling personal note taking, peer review, copy editing, post publication discussion, journal clubs, classroom uses, automated classification, deep linking, and much more… was created to build a layer of conversation over any online content. They are only one of the players in this movement (and very intentionally so). The conversations can be broad or extremely granular but they focus on the content itself instead of the system or tool being used to view and manipulate it. This means and other platform users are not limited by the functionality, resources, or breadth of a single provider.”

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” It provides long-term funding for transportation projects, including new highways, over a period of ten years. And as you would expect in a bill targeting highways and infrastructure, it also requires Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to use private debt collection companies. Wait? You didn’t expect that? Of course not. Because tax policy has no business being stuffed into an already bloated bill (1,300+ pages) ostensibly focused on highways. But when has that ever stopped Congress before?
But there it is, at Section 32102: Reform of rules relating to qualified tax collection contracts. Historically, farming out collection hasn’t worked out for IRS.

Forbes:  IRS Private Debt Collectors Are Now Legal: 10 Things You Should Know, by Robert W. Wood

 Annual State of the Commons Report highlights global cultural and policy impact of free and open content – “Creative Commons, the global nonprofit that makes it easier for creators to share their work under simple copyright terms, announced a major milestone in the release of its 2015 State of the Commons Report today: over 1 billion works have been licensed using Creative Commons since the organization was founded. This milestone was announced along with other significant data points in its State of the Commons report, which covers the growth of CC content on platforms, the globalization of CC tools, and cultural trends in the digitization of creative works." The State of the Commons report can be viewed at

It's run by two painfully young Aussie billionaires, its mottos are "we're for teams" and "don't #@!% the customer", and it just made a spectacular debut on the NASDAQ. But what does Atlassian actually do? Atlassian is a Software Provider that Builts Great Platforms for Great Media Dragons

*Four-day marathon public reading of War and Peace begins in Russia Guardian. Margarita: “OMG, if only the world would do more of this.”