Sunday, 16 November 2003

Humorist hammers hapless hamburger house, heralds hermeneutic heroes

McDonald's reaction to Merriam-Webster's inclusion of McJob in the new edition of its Collegiate Dictionary sparked a wave of commentary and discussion on trademark law. (See my own blog entries: 1, 2; and a few others' comments: LawMeme, The Importance Of, and Moore's Law.) The award for the funniest commentary goes to Randy Cassingham, the publisher of several high-quality electronic publications.

For those not familiar with This Is True (Randy's flagship publication) he summarizes several news stories each week and appends a tagline to each one. Here is his entry on the McJob affair (reprinted with permission):

McANGER: The McDonald's restaurant chain has sent a letter of protest to Merriam-Webster, complaining that its new edition of the Collegiate Dictionary defines "McJob" as "low paying and dead-end work." McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo calls the definition "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and "a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women" who work in the field. (AP) ...What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit is that, anyway?

Watch out Randy — Disney knows where you live!

This is off-topic for my blog, but I cannot resist using this space to plug Randy's publications. I will be in good company, though: his subscriber list has grown to more than 119,000 readers in 197 countries — due almost entirely to word-of-mouth publicity. And for good reason. Randy relentlessly highlights humor, satires stupidity, boggles at bloopers, and groans at gaffes and goofs around the globe. Although humor is True's bread and butter, he also writes serious stories — but always in an entertaining way that makes us shake our heads or say, "Hmmm...." The best part? True is free! (If you like it, try the premium edition — with more stories each week for a pittance of a price.)

Randy also publishes another newsletter, True Stella Awards (TSA), that will interest many readers of this blog. Inspired by the case of Stella Liebeck (the once-famous "McDonald's coffee plaintiff"), emails began circulating in 1992 that conferred "Stella Awards" upon people who filed frivolous lawsuits. The problem? Most of the cases reported in these circulars were apocryphal — they either never happened, or the facts were seriously misrepresented. (Randy gives a few examples on his web site.) This angered Randy because our justice system does have real problems to address, and these bogus stories were taking attention away from them. Instead of complaining, though, he did something about it. He launched True Stella Awards to comment on true cases that highlight the true problems. As a lawyer, I initially thought TSA would bother me, but I found myself agreeing with 90% of it. Randy is rigorously scrupulous with his facts, and his commentary is always thought-out and well argued, even when I disagree with it.

I thought I had finished this post when I felt guilty about not at least mentioning Randy's other baby, Heroic Stories. I have less to say on this one, though, so I will let its web site speak for itself.

Posted at 8:43:11 PM | Permalink

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