Courts overloaded? Just freeze a bunch of criminal trials…

.. including, of course, one involving the Prime Minister (read Reuters report here): after all, it’s not a mafia trial, or one for crimes involving violence, workplace accidents or crimes carrying penalties of more than 10 years. It’s just a corruption trial.

It’s too bad that, instead of processing cases faster to get rid of the backlog in the Italian courts (and instead of resplicating the few success stories we have: read about Mario Barbuto in Turin in Abravanel’s Meritocrazia), the best solution our government seems to be able to find is to just put everything on the back burner, hoping that the statute of limitations will take care of things. Is this justice? If you’re an ordinary citizen and a victim of crime, how are you supposed to feel about this?

Let them wed

Teddy bears -Groom-groom coupleAmerica is an interesting place. California gets ready for same-sex marriages and will be the first US state to grant licenses to couples from any state; yet, in November Californians will vote on whether to amend the State constitution in order to define marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman. Governor Schwarzenegger, after vetoing twice legislation that would have legalized gay marriage, is now saying that, despite his personal views, he does not oppose the State Supreme Court ruling allowing it, and appears to view the wave of coming weddings as a much-needed shot in the arm for California’s economy.

California joins Massachussetts, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Spain and South Africa in the list of places where it is legal for same-sex couples to get married. None of these places had same-sex marriages as little as twelve years ago, when The Economist published its “Let Them Wed” cover story, arguing for marriage rights on grounds of the benefits to society.

(Image courtesy of Vermont Teddy Bear).

Yahoo: I was wrong

Months after Microsoft’s $44.6bn offer for Yahoo, things have taken a decidedly different turn from my initial hypothesis – i.e., that the offer was too good to refuse. On the contrary, the Yahoo board ran away from it as if it were a horse head in their bed. Yesterday, after confirming that it no longer was in a discussion with Microsoft of any sort, Yahoo announced the partnership with Google that they had been testing over the last couple of months.

Why did the deal with Microsoft lose its air of inevitability as fast as Hillary Clinton’s nomination? One reason has to do with facts; the other, perhaps, with corporate hubris. The factual reason is that putting together two weak search and advertising engines would not have produced a strong one. The other, that Yahoo’s pride as an Internet pioneer and innovator prevented the company from contemplating life as a non-independent entity.

Time will tell if the Google partnership is a better way. Hooked on life support to Google’s more powerful algorithms, Yahoo is going to be drained of its own lifeblood and survive as a husk of its former self. Also, notice that the deal only applies to the U.S. and Canada; Yahoo’s European market share is being left out to slide into irrelevance.

Industry observers debate whether Google’s dominance matters to the point that it has gelled the entire Internet into a shape that will be hard to change, or whether people should quit worrying about search and just think about the next big disruptive thing. Your ideas?

Italian blogger sued for Eur 400,000 by furniture store

You talk about a new, Web-enabled dialogue between consumers and companies. You talk about companies monitoring their brand health in online forums and discussion boards. You talk about customer support teams dispatched upon a twittered complaint.

You guys are living on a different planet.

Last March, Italian blogger and PHP developer Sergio Sarnari wrote about his negative experience with a furniture store based in Castelbellino, near Ancona, which since his large order in May 2007 still hadn’t managed to deliver his furniture (kitchen measurements seem to have been a particularly troublesome spot). The post was frustrated in tone, but largely factual.

Yesterday, Sergio woke up to a comment, supposedly written by the store’s CEO and general manager, announcing a €400,000 libel lawsuit against him.

Either this is a hoax, or it just goes to show that the new dialogue between companies and consumers is still a long way from Ancona.