Wandering Eye: Under Armour sues Skechers, Google aims to compete with Uber, and more

City Paper

Google is planning to compete with Uber, Bloomberg News reported on Feb. 2. The company is invested in Uber but has bigger dreams—Google CEO Larry Page wants to push driverless cars as a way to make "cities operate more efficiently," according to the story. That a person as powerful as Page is working on this problem means that something is likely to happen sooner rather than later, and the story is all about how Uber is worried, but consider: Is "inefficiency" the biggest problem facing cities right now? And is that inefficiency tied so closely to single-occupancy private vehicles that driverless cars are the best and most efficient way forward? How a problem gets defined is the first step before resources can be brought to bear on it. Today, problems are most often defined by very large, for-profit companies, who then move to "solve" (or exploit) them in order to profit further. On the long list of problems besetting cities, where does "inefficiency," as Page defines it, fall? (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Baltimore-based sports-apparel giant Under Armour's commercial "Protect this House. I Will."  shows sweaty athletes in desolate gyms working out with pegboards, heavy ropes, hurdles, and boxing gloves, set to punchy, percussive rhythms. So does a recently distributed commercial by one of its competitors, Skechers. No wonder, then, that yesterday Under Armour (which rigorously defends its trademarks) filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against Skechers in Maryland federal court over the California company's apparent direct rip, saying it "slavishly copies the look and feel of Under Armour's highly promoted, successful, and recognized" commercial and quotes a 2001 Forbes article that says Skechers uses founder Robert Greenberg's "skill as a practiced knock-off artist to full effect." Protect this house, indeed. (Van Smith)

 

Sometimes journalistic writing can be beautiful and other times it can be important and perhaps change the world—it's pretty rare to have both. But Baltimore's own Wil Hylton (who, for full disclosure, is a friend), managed to do both of these in this weekend's New York Times Magazine where his story about "The Shame of America's Detention Camps" reports on the women and children detained in horrible conditions at a prisonlike camp in Artesia, New Mexico, in heartbreakingly vivid writing that may actually do something to change our policy toward the children who flee dangerous situations in Central America with their mothers, only to be endlessly imprisoned on this side of the border. This is the kind of story that should infuriate us all. (Baynard Woods)

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