November 3, 2012

Contract law and brown M&Ms

Filed under: Business, Law, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:40

What is it about Van Halen and their notorious demand for non-brown M&Ms in their contracts? It’s actually rather clever:

Take Van Halen, for example. On the surface, the group is famous not only for its music but also for stunts such as trashing green rooms over the presence of brown M&Ms, and it’s easy to write off such behavior as simply being symptomatic of a 1980’s rock diva mentality. In reality, however, the brown M&Ms served an important purpose from a contracting perspective.

Think about it- wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy way to observe whether your counterparty has paid attention to all of the details of a complicated contract? As it turns out, the brown M&Ms served exactly this function. [. . .]

Since Van Halen’s (long) tour rider stipulated M&Ms with the brown ones taken out, the group knew that they needed to double check a lot of safety items for the show if they saw brown M&Ms (or no M&Ms, for that matter) in the backstage area. They also knew that they could feel comfortable that the contract provisions had been fulfilled if they saw a bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed. (I’m pretty sure that trashing stuff was for some combined purpose of making the incident memorable and entertaining one’s self.) This is pretty smart, since it’s far more efficient to use this as a signal (the canary in the coal mine, in a way) rather than go around and check everything at each show. It’s even smarter that the signal was crafted in the fashion of typical rock star douchebaggery so as to not arouse suspicion.

Firefly references on Castle

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:29

Remembering the ill-starred Darien expedition

Filed under: Americas, Britain, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:18

History Today notes that the Darien Colony was founded by Scottish would-be colonists in what is now Panama on November 3, 1698:

On July 12th, 1698 five ships carrying 1,200 eager colonists left the Port of Leith in Scotland to a rapturous send-off. Most of the ill-fated emigrants did not know where they were going and did not find out until the sealed orders were opened at Madeira, but they were brimming with enthusiasm anyway.

A voyage of three months took them across the Atlantic to a harbour on the mangrove-studded Caribbean coast of Panama. On November 3rd, they took formal possession of their new territory, confidently naming it Caledonia and laying the foundations of the settlement of New Edinburgh. But it all went horribly wrong. Hundreds died of fever and dysentery before the colony was abandoned.

[. . .]

Scotland blamed the whole fiasco on the English. Paterson himself was bankrupt, but still believed in his scheme and tried vainly to revive it. Meanwhile, the Darien disaster seems to have persuaded hard-headed Scotsmen that their country could not prosper by itself, but needed access to England’s empire, and it helped to pave the way for the Act of Union between the two countries in 1707. Under the Act the investors in the Darien scheme were quietly compensated for their losses at taxpayers’ expense.

Not your ordinary religious decision

Filed under: Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:12

I’m not sure how other religious organizations might handle a request like this one:

A transsexual living in Mersin who underwent surgery to become a woman has requested a change in regulations so that she can return to being a man by having a penis reattached to her body.

D.K., a 34-year-old originally from the eastern province of Van who describes herself as a believing Muslim, asked the Directorate of Religious Affairs whether it was religiously permissible to receive a penis transplant from a cadaver, but religious officials said it was impermissible unless the penis originally belonged to the transplant recipient.

H/T to Blazing Cat Fur for the link.

Context matters

Filed under: Cancon, Humour, WW2 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:05

Queen’s University may eventually have to consider apologizing for their ham-fisted treatment of Professor Michael Mason:

“If I were to continue teaching I would feel that there was somebody up on the stage with me making shorthand notes — a phantom censor,” he said. After the complaint was filed, the university said he could only continue teaching if the department chair sat in on lectures from time to time. He wouldn’t comply. Classes were cancelled and Mr. Mason was “banned,” as he puts it. He was never formally let go or asked to leave — health problems eventually had him sidelined.

Mr. Mason never disputed what was said, but the complaint didn’t divulge the context, he said.

The words “f—ing rag head,” “towel head,” “japs” and “little yellow sons of bitches,” did indeed cross his lips, he said, but he was quoting from books and articles on racism in that era.

[. . .]

Mr. Mason says he feels anything but supported by the school, which did not acknowledge the context of his statements nor let him explain himself, he said.

“I didn’t do it, I’m not guilty of it, they screwed up. The administration screwed up, mishandled it. They should have done it much more openly and honestly and fairly and they didn’t. And now they’re just saying ‘go away, we’re not going to deal with it.’”

He maintains that only one teaching assistant from the faculty of gender studies made the complaint, but the university and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 901, which represents the TAs, say there were complaints from TAs and students.

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