True Value

     This week’s theme is money. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.
     
     JUDGING SALARIES. Who’s more valuable – John G. Roberts or Judith Sheindlin?
     Come on. This is a no-brainer.
     If you’re a liberal, you can’t pick Roberts. No value there when he’s destroying America’s social safety net.
     If you’re a conservative, you can’t pick Roberts either.
     Why?
     You know the answer: the Chief Justice of the United States makes about $200,000 a year. The judge of a fake small claims court on TV makes about $25 million a year.
     Judge Judy wins!
     Clearly, this is a situation that calls for reform. We need our law schools to provide training in production values and on-camera performance.
     Law students must be better prepared for their careers.
     
     NEWS SOURCES. There’s been an awful lot of hand-wringing in print and elsewhere lately about the sources of our news. It seems that a lot of stories are generated by people who get paid by other people or institutions that have a stake in those stories.
     James Rainey, the media columnist for the Los Angeles Times, the other day noted that even the Consumer Attorneys of California – who used to be Trial Lawyers before they realized that name frightened people – have hired a long-time news guy to run a reporting operation.
     Apparently regular old news coverage isn’t good enough for lawyers and regular old news outlets can’t afford full staffs. The result: bought-and-paid-for news.
     Is this a bad thing?
     Maybe. But, then again, is it really any different from, say, the legal system? You get into a dispute and each side pays for lawyers to argue their case.
     Now we’ll get dueling news stories paid for by consumer lawyers and corporate lawyers.
     All we need is Judge Judy to decide who wins.
     
     REWRITING HISTORY. Maybe I’m crazy (and my doubt about this may underscore the problem), but it seems to me that a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles last week could solve California’s budget problems – and practically no one in what’s left of the media seems to have noticed it.
     Well, OK, it’s probably because a similar suit challenging the validity of 1978’s Prop. 13 and 1933’s Prop. 1 has been filed before by the same plaintiff and rejected. But it’s still an interesting concept.
     Hey, if the Legislature can miss deadlines and do the same thing year after year, there’s no reason why the rest of us can’t
     
     PROVING YOUR HUMANITY. If you’re really good at playing poker and want to make a living at it, does it make sense to play the game on the Internet?
     After all, you don’t really know what’s on the other end of that computer connection. And you sure can’t spot tells.
     So I was fascinated by a complaint filed in Los Angeles the other day by a pair of Internet poker players against Full Tilt Poker that claimed that not only was Full Tilt illegally using “robots” to play against humans but that their winnings were taken away after they were falsely accused of using robots themselves.
     Isaac Asimov would be appalled
     So did the plaintiffs stop playing?
     Nope.
     Said the suit: “To prove her skill, she has even used webcams to broadcast images of her playing live online.”
     Of course it didn’t help that she never changed expression.

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