V6 (June)

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Occasional links & observations from
Steve Bogart

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3 June 2001

Inexcusable: Sony Pictures Entertainment has been including promotional quotes in its movie ads from a nonexistent reviewer concocted by its advertising department. This fails most any ethical standard one would care to apply...

  • The Reviewer Who Wasn't There [MSNBC]
    An unidentified Sony employee apparently concocted the Manning persona last July, using the name of a friend, and attributed fictional reviews to him. Supervisors using the quotes in movie ads didn't question Manning's legitimacy. "It was an incredibly foolish decision, and we're horrified," Sony spokeswoman Susan Tick said of the hoax.

I'm not terribly well versed in the California energy situation, but I do remember from my days in Microeconomics that prices will automatically find their ideal equilibrium level only when certain conditions hold, such as perfect information and competitive markets. When there's a limited number of suppliers or a monopoly, price caps... well, I'll let some real economists talk:

  • Econ 101: It's Right and It's Wrong [NY Times]
    In truly competitive markets, attempts to withhold supply to raise prices are fruitless. ... But the market for electricity, California style, is different. The complex rules have provided an unintended incentive for power companies to fool regulatory officials. By withholding electricity at the price offered in the morning of a typical day, the power companies can count on the officials to come back later in the day and plead for power at a substantially higher price.

    Once [price caps] are in place, prices can no longer rise. So power companies would have nothing to gain by withholding supply. They would sell more electricity, easing the shortage. The economists warn against setting price caps so low that power companies quit the industry. Instead, they call for setting caps somewhat above the actual costs of production -- which would allow companies to make a profit.
  • Watt Price Ideology? by Paul Krugman [NY Times]
    Nobody has proposed capping prices at a level that would prevent power producers from making extraordinarily high profits; why should this reduce the supply of power?

    Maybe Mr. Bush's advisers are knee-jerk ideologues who believe that the market is always right, even when textbook economics says it is wrong. Or maybe they are so close personally to energy industry executives that they believe that whatever is good for Enron is good for America.

    Whatever the real story, it's clear that this administration not only has no answers for California, it won't even listen to the question.

A site to watch: Spinsanity, a site devoted to picking apart current political propaganda of all kinds. I need to put it on my regular rounds...

If the daughter of a President breaks the law, I do expect it to be reported, but for pete's sake, there are bigger things to concern ourselves with. Slate's regular roundup of daily newspaper headlines made this sad observation:

  • Loopholy Ghosts by Scott Shuger [Slate]
    Incidentally, USA Today's piece [on Jenna Bush] runs 669 words. That's 80 more words than the paper's lead on the federal budget.

Which will have more impact on their readers' lives? Yeesh.

I have yet to see a review of Pearl Harbor that gives me any reason to want to see it. These are convincing to me in the other direction:

  • The Self-Made Critic: Pearl Harbor [Brunching Shuttlecocks]
    ...I couldn't help thinking that the entire movie belittled the actual experience by having two renegade Hollywood creations manage to single-handedly take down a bunch of Japanese fighters during the attack. They're the stars of the movie, so even though America is getting pounded into the Stone Age, our boys are still total studs. It's the Rambo syndrome, where one Hollywood character proves to be more efficient than the entirety of the American armed forces. If they wanted to be realistic, they should've had Ben Affleck blasted into smithereens in the harbor.
  • 'Pearl Harbor': War Is Hell, but Very Pretty by A. O. Scott [NY Times]
    The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II has inspired a splendid movie, full of vivid performances and unforgettable scenes, a movie that uses the coming of war as a backdrop for individual stories of love, ambition, heroism and betrayal. The name of that movie is From Here to Eternity.

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