The Tribe Has Spoken

     I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by the news the other day – six people got voted off the island at once!
     You don’t see that in every episode.
     In case you didn’t tune in, the Department of Justice just announced that six Guantanamo prisoners are being transferred to the Republic of Palau – a country best known (at least to me) as the site of a recent season of Survivor.
     Apparently Palau will put up with almost anything.
     Either that or Palau thinks this is the next season of Survivor.
     My first reaction was that this was a brilliant concept: Guantanamo as a reality show. Television is missing a ratings blockbuster if it doesn’t jump on this immediately.
     Think about it.
     In each episode, you’d follow prisoners around the compound as they compete for coveted transfers to choice countries. There’d be petty bickering, alliances, maybe even a romance or two as survi… – er, prisoners – have to work together to complete challenges and convince the viewers at home of their peaceful intent.
     Naturally, there would be a panel of judges. I’m thinking Antonin Scalia as the mean, sarcastic one (or Judge Judy if Scalia is unavailable), Nelson Mandela as a more sympathetic presence with knowledge of prisoner issues (or maybe Robert Downey, Jr. if Mandela is unavailable), and Paula Abdul as the Paula Adbul one in the middle (or maybe any Housewife that’s been on Bravo if Abdul is unavailable).
     Each week America would be called upon to vote on whom to free and what country to send that person to. As an extra incentive, viewers would also be allowed to write in the names of politicians they’d like to see exported to other countries.
     I see ratings bonanza.
     By the way, I’m not suggesting this merely as a way to raise money for the government and the show’s producers, although this could wipe out a substantial hunk of the federal deficit. There’s a secondary benefit to a program like this one – it’s educational.
     How else could you get millions of otherwise disinterested Americans to listen to discussions of jihad and human rights? And think of the geography lessons as viewers ponder countries of exile. How many of you know where Palau is? How many of you think the place is fictional?
     Contact your cable operator and demand this programming.
     
     COMPUTER AGE LITIGATION. There may be hope for old forms of communication after all. An extremely odd dispute in Arizona may bring hope to the makers of pen and paper.
     The tale is told in an Arizona Supreme Court opinion called Lake v. City of Phoenix in which the city insisted that even though it had to turn over a public record, it didn’t have to turn over the public record’s “metadata.”
     Really. The city’s lawyers were arguing that the code showing the history of a document wasn’t actually part of the public record even though the document was. And this dispute went all the way to the state supreme court.
     Apparently no one was too concerned that this really looked like someone was trying to cover something up.
     The court thought this was silly, ruled against the city, and then offered an out for future coverups that old media lovers should appreciate: “That a public record currently exists in an electronic format, and is subject to disclosure in that format, does not itself determine whether there is a statutory obligation to preserve it electronically.”
     A lot of agencies and companies will be going back to pencils and erasers.

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