Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Patent abuse, more on CNN's End Of World Video
April 21, 2015 2:26 AM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

This week: Vladimir Putin holds his yearly four-hour marathon Q&A session with the Russian public. Oklahoma volunteer deputy Robert Bates shoots black suspect Eric Harris. In preparation for Earth Day (it's in a week), they took a quick look at the plight of the polar bear; not only is their habitat shrinking, but pollution is threatening the species by weakening male polar bears' pelvic and penile bones. In studio we meet Marshmallow, the Polar Bear With A Broken Penis. And Now: The Most Patient Man On Television Endures The American Public. (That would be Steve Scully of C-SPAN's Washington Journal call-in show.) Main story: Abuses of the US Patent system. (YouTube 11m) And Now: The Continuing Adventures Of The Most Patient Man On Television. And finally, we return to CNN's infamous "end of world" video, with Last Week Tonight's own proposed version (YouTube 7m), narrated by Martin Sheen and featuring footage of an old-time Western saloon peopled by cats.
posted by JHarris (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Great episode. I enjoyed the back-to-back of the patent troll main story with the current storyline on Silicon Valley.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:01 AM on April 21, 2015

I found the patent troll segment kind of weak. He didn't really go over much that hadn't be covered by say, NPR's coverage of the patent troll issue. And he didn't really end with much of a call to action.

I also get the feeling that he and his staff didn't really understand the issues with the 2012 Innovation Act -- just that some "trial lawyers" didn't like it, which is kind of a cheap shot. "Trial lawyers" represent patent defendants too.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:37 AM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I liked this episode mostly because it wasn't nearly so heavy as a lot of episodes have been. (Polar bears excepted.) It's nice to have a week that's mostly laughs now and then. (I mean, calls to action on the other stuff are great, but if you're going to do something other than tweet, that takes time. I had a good talk with my city's chief of police about the fuck barrel this weekend, though we didn't use that phrase.)

I can't remember if the phrasing on the trial lawyers thing was a generic"trial lawyers" or one of the plaintiff attorney organizations that uses the phrase in their name (most of them do, or did.)

In conclusion, I can't decide whether I'm relieved or feel cheated that the last segment didn't lead up to a "keyboard cat, play us away" joke. Or that Martin Sheen didn't suggest that humanity might have been destroyed by the Reapers.
posted by asperity at 8:23 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm as well-read on the patent troll subject as your average NPR listener, and I was still surprised by some of the numbers and especially the image of the Samsung-branded ice skating rink outside that Texas courthouse. That's some bullshit right there.

The point would be that the Innovation Act would lessen entirely the number of lawsuits that could be brought, which is why trial lawyers would be fighting to stop it (whether they're lawyers for the defendant or plaintiff). "The trial lawyers don't want to stop the good steady business of tech lawsuits" is not a real good reason to allow patent trolls to continue to stifle tech innovation by pure extortion on the basis of vague patents.
posted by aabbbiee at 8:25 AM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

The Sheen role should have gone to someone with more oomph or gravitas, Samuel L Jackson or a v/o by James Earl Jones.

The polar bit was funny. For some reason it always surprises me that it's totally okay to show animals shagging. TV is weird.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2015

This is HBO. They also would not have a problem showing humans shagging.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:47 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

They also would not have a problem showing humans realistically pretending to shagging.

posted by localroger at 5:09 PM on April 21, 2015

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