Sunday, February 27, 2022

Beware the Limelight

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Limelight (also known as Drummond light or calcium light) is a type of stage lighting once used in theaters and music halls. Although it has long been replaced by electric lighting, the term has nonetheless survived, as someone in the public eye is still said to be "in the limelight". 

Ah, the Limelight. The center of public attention. The catbird seat, center stage, spotlight, top billing. 

Limelight is one of those words inspired by the theater. Upstage is another: you might think an actor trying to capture the audience's attention would move TOWARD, rather than away from, the front of the stage. But in theater, upstaging comes up when an actor moves to the BACK part of the stage before speaking their lines - thereby forcing the other actors on the stage to turn their backs to the audience, so that the speaker is the only character seen from the front.

Comedy of Errors is from William Shakespeare, from the 1500s. The phrase refers to any effort or event that is subject to a series of mishaps, whether dramatic or in real life.

Waiting in the Wings refers to the areas on each side of the stage, just out of sight from the audience, where an actor awaits the cue to enter the scene. Something that waits in the wings, therefore, is close at hand or readily available, or in a stage of planning or development. 

And when you Bring Down the House, you have audiences that express unbridled approval after a performance. It goes against common sense, that a large crowd's enthusiastic applause could be so thunderous that it cause structural damage to the building. 

A regular feature of classical Greek drama is the Greek Chorus, members who would sing or wail with commentary on the events of the play, particularly those with a moral angle. Think of the Oompa Loompas singing after each kid misbehaves in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Such commentary is often delivered directly to the audience. 

Ah, but let's look deeper. Limelights weren't originally meant for the theater. Thomas Drummond intended his invention, developed in 1816, to provide safety lighting for boats and ships traveling along dark coasts. That didn't work out practically, but the projection of an oxyhydrogen flame onto a cylinder of lime and then concentrated through a lens provided the right kind of direct illumination for playhouses. 

Tom? Where are you going...

Well, let's try to use them all, shall we? Donald Trump, "The Donald" has spent his entire life, trying to be in the limelight. His massive ego knows no bounds. The self-proclaimed Stable Genius. The "no one but me can fix it" guy. The Trump Presidency was a Comedy of Errors, with a Greek Chorus of GOP sycophants and "The MAGAs" who Bring Down the House when The Donald spins his web of lies. Vladimir Putin saw this useful idiot acting out for years - and - Putin was Waiting in the Wings to enter the scene! And now, Vlad is trying to upstage Donald as the world's nemesis of democracy! 

"The MAGAs"

Hero is another word from ancient theater. Myth, legend. A person of great strength and courage, favored by the gods. The central figure in any important event or period, honored for outstanding qualities. A role model. 

Sorry Donald, your time in the limelight is done. You have been recast. Also, the Department of Justice would like a word. 

 And Vlad, you screwed up - really bad this time. Your long and painful Greek Tragedy is coming to an end. America - I think the limelight is now clearly shining on a new hero on the world stage, don't you agree? With a little help from his friends. 

And, scene.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Rules for thee and not for me

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If you are a Star Trek fan, you know all about the Prime Directive. Also known as "Starfleet General Order 1" and the "non-interference directive" - it is the guiding principle of Starfleet that prohibits its members from interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations. It is supposed to protect unprepared civilizations from the dangerous tendency of well-intentioned starship crews to introduce advanced technology, knowledge, and values before they are ready. If you want to geek out, you can read all about it here

What about Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics?

First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 
Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. 

The original laws of robotics have been altered and elaborated by Asimov and others. In later science fiction where robots had taken responsibility for government of whole planets and human civilizations, Asimov also added a fourth, or zeroth law, to precede the others:

Zeroth Law: A robot may not harm humanity, or by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

The three laws, and the zeroth, have pervaded science fiction and are referred to in many books, films, and other media. They have affected thoughts on ethics of artificial intelligence as well. 

Where are you going with this, Tom?

Robots and artificial intelligences do not inherently contain or obey laws. Any laws. And we humans (aka Starfleet crews) much choose to program in such laws. The Prime Directive. Three Laws of Robotics. These rules (laws) only exist if and when HUMANS put them into place, and then continue to monitor their enforcement. You know, kinda how we humans all follow The Golden Rule all the time. Also this: for the first time ever, Facebook (Meta) is shrinking. 

Facebook's total number of users has declined - a first for the social media platform that has experienced seemingly never-ending growth since it debuted 17 years ago. 

Social Media and Technology companies (any/all) are now powered by AI, powered by algorithms. You know, Robots

Fictional TV / Movie series Star Trek saw it all coming for years. Asimov's Laws of Robotics were first introduced in his 1942 short story "Runaround" and in I, Robot. 

Land the plane, Tom.

Hey Mark, Hey Rupert, Hey Jeff, Hey (fill in name of greedy media technology bastard here) pay attention: 

The NEW Zeroth Law: Media and Technology companies powered by AI and algorithms and robots shall not harm humanity, or by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

Guys, you are not in compliance. 

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Hedging Super Brawl Sunday

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2/13/2022: Super Bowl Sunday. Can you feel it? The excitement! The biggest media event of the year! Game time is set for 6:30 pm EST but coverage looks like it will begin at noon. Ya gotta have time to run all of the amazing Super Bowl ads, more than once, right? 

Check it out: you can find all of the non-car ads here, and all of the car ads right here

A thirty second ad this year costs $7M plus the cost of MAKING the commercial. I forget how many years ago it happened, but I remember when you HAD to WATCH the GAME to see the ads. You HAD to WATCH the GAME (LIVE) to see the Super Bowl Commercials, or you would miss out.

Viewership for NBC's coverage of the Beijing Winter Olympics is down. WAY DOWN. Why? 

Well, there is a general decline in TV viewing, period. Also a 13 hour time difference between Beijing and the East Coast, a controversy over China's human rights record, fewer fans attending due to COVID-19 restrictions, and potential view fatigue with a second Olympics just six months after the summer games.

Today's Super Bowl is projected to reach a record audience of 117 million viewers. And betting on the big game could surpass $7 billion. That's up from the $3.3 billion wagered last year when the Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the Chiefs. 

I think it would be a "safe bet" that you already knew that you could bet on the Super Bowl. The American Gaming Association says that 31.4 million Americans will bet on the Bengals-Rams game. The AGA estimates that 55% of gamblers will bet on the Rams winning Super Bowl 56, while 45% are betting on the Bengals. 

Some guy named Jim McIngvale, better known as "Mattress Mack" bet $4.5 million on the Bengals to win. Sports betting is now legal in 30 states and New York set a record for $1.6 billion in wagers. 

I think it is ALSO a safe bet that you DID NOT KNOW that you could bet on the Olympics. I did not know that you could bet on the Olympics. The Beijing Olympics marks the second year that millions of Americans will be able to legally place bets on their favorite country or athlete from their mobile phones. 

FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, they are all expanding. Most professional betters typically don't take the Olympics too seriously. There are too many unpredictable elements to the Olympic Games. Here is the take home: people who bet on the Super Bowl love football. People who bet on the Olympics, love gambling

Amazing how you can bet on just about anything these days. As of this blog, the Las Vegas odds that Russia crosses the Ukrainian border: 60% chance for a peaceful compromise, 30% probability for a limited military incursion, and a 10% risk of a full scale invasion. 

I won't be making any bets today. I just want today's Super Bowl to be a good game. In other news: I also hope that Putin has hedged his bet, and is willing to NOT invade Ukraine. 

In life, when someone hedges a situation they are limiting their exposure to the downside. Hedging a bet is an advanced strategy to reduce the risk of a wager or to guarantee a profit of some kind from a wager. Allowing people to watch Super Bowl ads anytime - before, during and AFTER the game - feels like the advertisers are hedging on their $7 million 30 second investments, right? 

Olympics. Super Bowls. Invasions. Commercials and Advertising. In day-to-day life, it seems like a good idea to hedge your bets. Hedging is a way to guarantee at least some kind of win. 

GM Hedging on Climate Change

Sunday, February 6, 2022

Is that still a thing?

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Is anyone watching the Winter Olympics this year? NBC Sports says 16 million viewers tuned in to watch the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, an all-time low. That is a 55.53% difference down from the 28.3 million viewers that watched in February 2018. 

Do you know the name Joe Rogan? How about the name Howard Stern? It was back in 2004 that Howard Stern signed a five-year deal with Sirius XM worth $500 million. In December 2020, Stern signed a new deal with Sirius XM to extend his deal for his show for another five years. The terms of the deal have not been revealed but it is thought to be in excess of $100 million per year. 

The controversy surrounding the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show led to the government's crackdown on indecency in radio and television following a surge in audience complaints. The situation prompted tighter control over content by station managers which made Howard Stern feel "dead" creatively. Subscription-based satellite radio service, exempt from the FCC's broadcast regulations made the Howard Stern move to Sirius XM a very, very big deal. 

Back to the Olympics....

I am not going to watch the Winter Olympics this year. Not at all. None of it. If something "big" happens, I can watch a clip on YouTube or such. Maybe (maybe) if I really feel the need, I can find it on one of the streaming services. But the Olympics has earned zero minutes of my live eyeball time this year. Are you watching? If yes (or no) do you know......why?

Back to the Super Bowl....

I WILL watch the Super Bowl this year. I will turn on the TV (live) at around 3:00 PM EST for the pre-pre game show, and watch the pre-game show, and then watch the game. Live. I'll set a reminder on my calendar to make sure that I am home, with lots of snacks, ready for THE BIG GAME. Ah, yes, THE BIG GAME. The Super Bowl is still...... the BIG GAME, right? Heck, maybe it is just THE GAME. As in, "Where are you going to watch THE game?" 

Back to Joe Rogan / Howard Stern......

In May 2020, Stern admonished all of the Trump supporters that listened to his Sirius XM show, saying that "President Trump despised his own supporters." FYI, Howard Stern KNOWS Donald Trump. As in, really (really) knows all about THE DONALD. Ahem

In response to Stern's criticism of Trump, Donald Trump Jr. then tweeted out a 1993 video of Stern in blackface repeatedly using the N-word and other racial slurs that parodied Ted Danson's Friars Club appearance. Stern admitted, "The *hit I did was *ucking crazy" and that he has since toned down his show, crediting years in psychotherapy for his evolution. By the way, Ted Danson's career seems to have done just fine after that very poor taste, not funny incident. 

Back to the Super Bowl......

Last year's Super Bowl was the most livestreamed Super Bowl in history. The game delivered an average per-minute livestreaming audience of 3.4 million, up 30% over the previous year. It is predicted that this year's Super Bowl will once again set a record for total eyeballs captured across all media formats. 

During the normal NFL season, I watch the NFL RedZone. I don't watch the "games live" but I watch RedZone from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM or until the last afternoon window game ends. The RedZone "whip around coverage" shows me EVERY GAME being played in real-time, and EVERY TOUCHDOWN of the day, as a final Touchdown montage. RedZone operates as a commercial-free service. 

Joe Rogan. Howard Stern. Ted Danson. Sirius XM. Spotify. COVID-19 misinformation. The N-word. If the controversy around the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show never happened, I am not sure that Howard Stern would have made the move to satellite radio for $500 million. I think that Howard Stern paved the way for Joe Rogan's $100 million contract - and also today's Spotify stock price disaster. 

Revenue from advertising creates Billionaires. Fox News, Fox Sports, Facebook, Amazon. And now, revenue from subscription services like Spotify, Sirius XM and NFL RedZone makes the same Billionaires even more Billions. 

OK..... Land the plane Tom.......

Why is Joe Rogan "in the barrel" but not Howard Stern? Just think about the time and money that Spotify is spending right now, combing through past Joe Rogan podcasts, to figure out which ones they need to delete and remove. Just think about the BILLIONS of dollars that are spent on things that will not, do not, and will never - make our society - better

Why are Super Bowl crazy ratings crazy good, but the ratings for the Olympics are terrible? Why are Fox News, Facebook, Spotify boycotts causing their stock prices to crater, but not Sirius XM? 

Why do I know EXACTLY where I will be on February 13th, 2022 at 6:30 PM EST and I cannot say the same thing about just about ANYTHING else? And how is it that I know that the halftime show of this year's Super Bowl will have Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar? 

THIS JUST IN: Four days after former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 teams, Commissioner Roger Goodell basically says that "We need to do better." That was it. We need to do better. Ah, Roger, Colin Kaepernick would like a word. 

For some reason, I am predicting that people will NOT boycott the Super Bowl on NBC - nor will they be boycotting any of NBC's paid advertisers of this year's Super Bowl. Unless of course, one of those paid advertisers is Spotify

What do you think? 

Roger "We need to do better" Goodell