Tag Archives: HBO

What was the past

It is something we all face, we see what we had and we miss it. Consider NCIS, an awesome series, and when we were introduced to Agent Fornell, I remembered Joe Spano, he was young innocent, wearing a bowtie and being the psychiatrist at Hill Street blues station. I miss that series at times. I know time moves on and we got Blue Bloods now, yet Hill Street Blues struck a chord in 1981, others did less so, it is hard to explain, because it sounds negative on the series that are out now, but the reality is that something got lost in TV series in the last 10 years. There are series that spring outside the equation, series like NCIS, the Magicians, Lucifer, Fortitude, American Horror Story, but the equation is very unbalanced. When you are trying to figure out how that happened, do not worry, it is simple. In 2019, the number of original scripted television series in the United States hit 532. It is almost 450% up from 1981. Hollywood is so much towards creating amount and less about creating quality, which is why the series I mentioned and a few more stand out. I keep n hearing mentions of Game of Thrones, but not much more, one show takes the cake and that used to be different. Discussions were going on regarding Hill Street Blues, Dallas, Dynasty, Bergerac, Tatort, and a few more. Yet nowadays, the amount of series crossing our eyes increases, yet it seems that nothing between the ear sticks. That tends to be quality, not quantity. There is a reason why a series like NCIS has been around for 18 seasons. Yet at times I still think of the old Hill Street blues station. And each nation had its own quality shows. Germany brought us Tatort and Derrick, the UK gave us Bergerac, the Avengers, Hammer house of horrors, and the list from other nations goes on. But now it seemingly needs to be American, whilst overall (with a few exceptions) the quality is not fantastic, not bad, just not great. And I do believe it is not the cast, not the team and not the writers. It seems to be the pressures to create on too limited a schedule with repetitive ideas again and again.

Why is that?
It is no secret, Hollywood is all about return on investment, but that circle becomes virtual and fictive when quality goes down. There is a need to make money and we get that, I am not against the idea of making money, but what do you think when 2019 had 532 series, all needing originality, all needing ideas and only so many writers with actual original ideas around. It didn’t require rocket science, it was a simple equation. So how long does it take for the Hollywoodians to figure out that there is a limit to quality series that can be produced? You might think that I am talking out of my (non-mouth), but the setting of Netflix handing over $18 billion in the last year for IP should get us to ask questions. Netflix’s 2019 costs to buy, produce and license content will be $15 billion. And when you considered they made a little over $20 billion in 2019, it seems that I am wrong, but am I? Consider how long this pattern can continue? No one denies that you have to spend to make money. Yet, how is the equation correct? And 

Netflix is merely one of several stations, so when this model implodes, we will see Netflix, HBO, Stan, Apple, Amazon and Disney, all spending billions, all whilst the people will have to make choices and we get that, as such some will survive, some will not, we all get that. Yet at that point, what happens to HBO, Stan, Disney, Apple, Amazon and Netflix? Where will you be? 

Differential
I need to set a separation here, we have the money side and the creation side. Yet the money side  will hinder, impair, and optionally drive the creation side, even though the negative sides are only looked at after things go wrong. I believe that continuation can only exist if the quality is of the highest caliber and I personally believe that this is not possible when you create 532 series in a year. At some point something has to give and that is before we consider that there are really good series out there and no one denies that they are good. Yet consider that in 2009 Joss Whedon created an amazing series called the Dollhouse, not merely a good series, it set the tone on serious matters and was cut off after two seasons. He also lost the tone on Firefly, yet that one is still around, after 17 years, now seen as a cult classic. Out of the 532 series, what else will we lose out on, because they are the silent victims, scrapped because the moment was wrong, the analyst did not get what mattered and as such the makers lose out. This setting is important, because with 532 titles that group will increase, too little time, too much to miss out on.

Creation cut short for reasons not within the stage of an audience. Streaming makes this a much smaller factor, but it still will not make it zero. Yes streaming will be important to give good series a larger chance, but in all that the numbers are not adding up, not when you consider what Netflix as one provider sets their cost at and all the other streamers with their own costs as well. Soon it will change again, yet not for the reasons you considered before. You see streamers have one larger station, and internet congestion will hit them too, especially in light of the issues hitting the internet. And we will see places all over the world get a earful of fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), and int he end we will rely on all kind of matters, but we forgot that streaming is not alone, there are PC’s for gaming, there are computers for FaceTime, there are computers for work from home, gamers and now with PS5 and the new Xbox it will increase, there are ‘digital editions’ consoles without 4K drives and they all have to download. And they will need to do so a lot more than before on the Xbox One and PS4. The stage is not on the gamers, but we have already seen the news on YouTube and Netflix throttling down, so how can the growth rate continue when the internet is clearly becoming the weakest chain in that link? In March the Guardian reported ‘Disney+ streaming service to launch in UK with lower bandwidth’, so there you are, your new 4K TV so that you can admire Baby Yoda in the Mandalorian, and the service can merely give you 1080 resolution. That is the reality and it is not getting any better until 2023, so can you consider the issues that streaming has and cannot deliver? It is not merely the amount of series, it is the stage where we cannot see their full potential and the UK is not alone, these elements are showing up all over the Commonwealth, al over the EU and the US is also not absent of issues. It was a stage I saw coming in 2018, yet they all declared me a fool, now they say it is a complex issue. Well it is not, it is the issue that was clearly out in the open, ignored by too many. Even now we see the blame game continue n other fields, how long has the PS5 been sold out? How long did we know that this was a setting of hundreds of thousands per nation and we get ‘The UK’s biggest game retailer blames PS5 size for launch delivery delays’, really? The size was known for months, the amount of systems were known for months. Too many people are reacting at the 11th hour, in systems, on the internet and with the ISP’s. Who will they blame when streaming is cut down again? When do the people get the next news from ISP’s that there are issues? Oh, wait, that moment passed already. When we are treated to “Possibly the most common form of buffering occurs when your internet speed is too slow to download the amount of data needed”, as well as “You need at least 25 Mbps for 4K streaming video on your computer or Ultra HD enabled devices”, yet on a global scale and especially outside of metropolitan area that issue is becoming an issue in streaming. So as Net Neutrality is back on the political table in the US, it becomes a massively larger issue to face. This all is not the fault of the streamers, lets be clear about that part, they are a factor, but not the cause, like the blame game couriers, here the ISP’s should have been ready to a much larger degree and we cannot blame them for the covid lockdowns, yet the setting of bandwidth limits has been known for some time, at least a year and that was also out in the open, as such the stage we see will be a larger issue and that I merely a fraction of the station that I see, the math does not add up, it was clear for a much longer time and so far too many parties are aligned to ignore that part. We see solution A, option B and everyone dances around the overwhelming lack of bandwidth.

Consider that Saudi Arabia has a 5G internet that is 750% faster than anything the US has, did anyone consider the weird setting in that regard? And the interesting part is that no one is asking the questions that matters, how come that Saudi Arabia of all places has an internet is so much faster? It is a much larger setting and the people are seemingly kept blind, which is fine by me, but when you lose out on HD episodes of NCIS, American Horror Show season 10, Superman & Lois (2021), or A Discovery of Witches season 2 (2021)? When the throttling continues or increases, what happens to streaming? What happens to net neutrality? Did anyone consider that part of the equation when they saw the $15,000,000,000 bill that Netflix had for 2019? There was a reason why sacking Huawei was a really bad idea and others will soon catch up on that idea. I have no issues with an alternative being found, but none have the capabilities at present and they are unlikely to have them until 2022, should you doubt that? Take a look at how abysmal the USA has its 5G at present, look at how fast streaming is in rural USA, you see the US is a lot more than the 25 large cities and plenty of people live outside these places, should they not be able to stream at the max? When we see that discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, as is the streaming of rural versus metropolitans discrimination or not? Consider that for a moment. So let’s not wait until the 11th hour, let’s make sure that the right people look to the right places quickly, the term sooner rather than later cannot apply, we are already 2 years too late for that. It is the technology side, with the finance and creativity, too many forgot about the technology side of it and now it starts calling foul, it cannot deliver more.

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In light of projected greed

This is an odd phrase, projected greed is not the same as greed, it is not. Projected greed is about speculated revenue, but greed tends to be a driving motive here, no matter how you stage your response. The salesman states words like ‘pipeline’ because it gives him a handle on quarterly bonus, he’ll tell you that it is about the continuity of sales, but it is not, it really is not. The CEO uses all kinds of terms for the ‘saleslife of his quarter’, but the stage of the quarter and their extra monetary incomes are linked to it. So how do we see this in movies? For producers it tends to be about the above break even point, even as it tends to be disrupted by visibility, but good visibility is movie momentum that a producer can push onto his next project. 

As I made mention before in ‘What is unintended discrimination?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/02/07/what-is-unintended-discrimination/) we need to see that recognition of revenue and the missing of unadulterated vision and attention which drives down movie revenue, the stage of projected greed gets bitten by being the biter.

In the last few days we have seen all kinds of people critics, movie stars, directors and producers give voice to diversifying the Oscars and Baftas. 

Bafta

This is actually the simple one, the ‘mission’ of the Bafta is stated as “The stated charitable purpose of BAFTA is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners, and benefiting the public”“, all whilst the supported part is “Films must have been available to the UK public for the first time in the UK between 1 January 2019 & 31 January 2020. There is an exception for Films Not In The English Language (FNIEL) which are eligible if they have been made available to the UK public for the first time between 1 January 2019 & 28 February 2020” which we see at https://awards.bafta.org/sites/default/files/images/ee_british_academy_film_awards_1920_-_rules_and_guidelines_-_feature_categories_october_2019.pdf

As such a movie is eligible when it was available for watching in England, seems all very correct, does it not?

In 2019, a total of 786 movies were released in the United States and Canada, which implies that when we consider Bollywood and Nollywood that number goes up by a decent amount. At which stage can you diversify when we see that there are around 775 cinemas in the United Kingdom? Now we need to consider that some movies are in a cinema for weeks and that some movies are almost in every city for example, in 2019 Avengers: Endgame played in 682 cinema’s in the UK alone, as such when you see that there are 775 cinema’s, we see that ONE TITLE takes up a lot of space in the display area. As such there is no way that these 786 movies can be shown. And the British people want sensational movies (as do people in most nations), so tell me where does that leave a title like Lionheart?

 

Abacus

This was simple stuff that could have been figured out by a 5 year old on an abacus, it was not that hard and I like putting this out there as some critics requested the dismissal of HRH Prince Harry (or was that Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale?), ah well that person (the critic) will optionally fall over his on words of misinterpreted denial soon enough.

And I forgot about one part that was actually obvious and clearly out there, but just for jollies “Films are not eligible when they have been previously entered into the British Academy Film, Television, or Television Craft Awards“.

So in all this in 2019 when we consider Avenger: Endgame (Robert Downey Junior, Chris Hemsworth), 1917, Once Upon a time in Hollywood (Brad Pitt), Joker (Joaquin Phoenix),  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley), Bombshell (Charlize Theron), Jumanji: The Next Level (Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan), Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson) all movies in multiple cinemas for multiple weeks, it makes the remaining space not spacious, it is the drawback of more and more film releases. I left the Marvel movies and Cats alone for obvious and opposite reasons. I also have not even taken movies with Will Smith and Angelina Jolie into consideration. As such, when we see Steve McQueen (the director, not the actor) give us “BAFTAs risk becoming irrelevant“, we see an optional valid argument, but the stage to diversification is stale and now almost obsolete, the need for greed took care of that part. His view of “After a while you get a bit fed up with it. Because if the BAFTAs are not supporting British talent, if you’re not supporting the people who are making headway in the industry, then I don’t understand what you are there for. If (film-makers) are not recognised visually in our culture, well what’s the bloody point? It becomes irrelevant, redundant and of no interest or importance. End of“, when we consider the rules, we see that the deck is warped through the need for greed (producers call it getting their investment back), we can push to change the rules, yet the environment of being able to watch a movie is not in sync with the needs of those good enough to win. Lionhart was merely one example, there are plenty more and whilst the filling of cinemas is set around the release of Marvel movies (not a bad thing) we need to consider that time is also a factor, income is a factor. I went to the movies at least once a week when I was young, bills and payments have set this back to once a month and from there to 2-3 times a year, Also limits factors in movie revenue because each trip to the cinema is $25 at least and that is when I bring my own bottle of soda and a pack of lollies. As such can you deny that Netflix had become a gift from heaven to millions of people?

The final rule for Bafta that matters is “An entry can be made either to the Film Awards or to the Television and/or Television Craft Awards, not both“, as such how did the Irishman get in? It is a superb movie, yet which category did it get mixed in with? In addition when we see ‘Andy Serkis to receive top honour at BAFTA for ‘revolutionary’ contribution to cinema‘ and we see him getting all that well earned credit, yet we saw no mention of him being a cut throat mercenary in two Marvel movies, odd is it not? 😉

Oscar

Here we almost get a repetition of the Baftas, although what I did not know (never looked it up before “to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission“, as such we see a small bewilderment, he idea that the voice of America is based on ‘a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater‘, in light of this we see a larger issue, from what I am speculating (I could not get the numbers) we see that the Oscars are likely based on a much smaller sample size than the Baftas, with the previous arguments in sight, as well as “Voting on all achievements shall be restricted to active and life Academy members“, which we accept makes sense, yet as the movie industry goes on, as it intertwines with HBO, Netflix, Apple and Stan. How much time will a voter get? The rules could be found at https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/92aa_rules.pdf and even as it looks a little more ‘lawyeree’ than the Bafta rules, it is not unreadable. Yet in light of voters, how much time did they get (as well as interest) to watch 786 movies? Consider the personal diary of Adam Driver (or Tessa Thompson for that matter), how much time did they have to sit down and watch a movie they liked and a movie they thought had to checked out because the critics were raving about it? When we consider that, we see a shifting image and the movie list given earlier (we might think that Adam was biased seeing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), we need to consider a much larger stage. Oh and cutting down on Oscars and time on TV would not be a bad thing to consider either.

Yet how will that go over with the people cut from consideration? When we look back to the first Oscar, where the presentation ceremony lasted 15 minutes and had 12 winners, in this the most notable part is that Charles Chaplin lost out on three nominations, it is a big difference from the 92nd Oscars, is it not?

I do optionally not disagree with the ‘So White’ part of the outcry, but as I see it, there is a limiting factor in place that makes it hard to get distinguished here and in the 2020 Oscars we get to see Parasite, a South Korean movie (the distinction of South is important here) ending up with 4 wins and two nominations is pretty amazing. How excellent must this movie be to get that many awards (I did not see it yet), it is also amazing that it is the first non-English picture to ever win best picture. 

So until we change the premise of who is allowed to win, we will get a grey collection of movies that are in the running. In all this Parasite and Joker are already a larger step towards exceptional movies that are less mainstream than what mostly takes the slices of the cakes. And in light of all this, there is still the factor of projected greed; it is not the continuation of getting your money back. Avengers: endgame, cost 365 million, revenue 2,800 million. Then there is the real life Lion King with a cost of 260 million and a revenue of 1,700 million, two movies that took up exactly how many theatre rooms in Los Angeles County? That is part of the premise as well, because as they run, other excellent movies could not be set to the rules of being a nominee. Now I am not blaming these two movies, yet the premise of the Oscars is most easily seen when you consider that part of the equation. Projected greed might be the most dangerous part in all this, first of all because it is not actual greed, but it is closely related to its awful brother, and movies have become too much about projected revenues, in this, which studio exactly used to rely on ‘Ars gratia artis‘ (Art for art’s sake) before they (and all others) seem to have transferred it into ‘Ars pro reditus‘ (art for the sake of revenue)? It seems unfair on the directors, actors and actresses, yet they too are linked to their careers and they need to be the person who grows the income of the producer if they want to stay employed, in this I reckon both the Bafta and Oscar get to draw the short straw.

 

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Uber driving facts

It seems that people do not like Dara Khosrowshahi that much, it all started with Jamal Khashoggi and now ever the Guardian staff member Edward Helmore adds to this with: “Khashoggi, a Saudi national resident in the US, and a severe critic of the Saudi regime who wrote for the Washington Post, was murdered in Istanbul last year after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate there. His body was dismembered and disposed of“, it is the part ‘His body was dismembered and disposed of‘, that part cannot be proven and in light of that we also have ‘was murdered in Istanbul last year after visiting the Saudi Arabian consulate there‘, at best we can use these sentenced with the added word of ‘alleged‘. That is the foundation, anything else is a joke, we have laws and we seemingly (at least the media) uses the law to hopefully get better interviews by incorporating slander (as I personally see it), by using the name of Aggy Calamari, UN essay writer the writer thinks he can just marginally add the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia into this mix by stating: “His death has been described by Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, as a “deliberate, premeditated execution” that warrants further investigation into the responsibility of the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman“, you see, there is no evidence of killings. I am not digressing; I believe that a bad fate has befallen Jamal Khashoggi, although one can argue that he is 97% more known after than before is long term absentee. When we in what is (laughingly) called the free west, can we claim that part when we just apply laws on a mediocre level? By the way, the article is (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/11/uber-jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-mistake-dara-khosrowshahi)

And the part where Aggy makes a jump from Istanbul to a Saudi Crown prince with “warrants further investigation into the responsibility of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman“, even as the article did not reminiscent on it, the truth is that the report is using: “The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, the Washington Post has reported. The Post said US officials expressed high confidence in the CIA assessment, which contradicts Saudi government assertions that he was not involved.” something a collection of papers have been using since that report was given freedom to fly anywhere. You see, I have an issue with “US officials expressed high confidence in the CIA assessment“, now we can bid high and low with the CIA, but they are the people who instigated the silver briefcase tour with Colin Powell, at least they had graphics in that assessment, can anyone tell me where those Iraqi WMD’s were? And why was it by some laughingly referred to as Operation Whatever? So before we give any level of certainty to the CIA, we better be sure that the right people are looking at that data.

All issues that Aggy Calamari should have been aware of, yet her report was laden with CIA elements.

And now we get to the attack on Dara Khosrowshahi “In an interview with Axios on HBO, broadcast on Sunday, Khosrowshahi was asked about the Uber board member Yasir al-Rumayyan, a director of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is the company’s fifth-biggest investor“, which is followed by another assumption “He was seized, killed and dismembered by a Saudi hit squad“, we cannot prove any of that, and why is that? There is no body, all matters are subject to supposition, the Guardian refused to follow supposition when it came to Grenfell, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), you know that building where ‘Grenfell Tower blogger threatened with legal action by council after writing about safety concerns‘, coming from a warning letter from solicitor, Vimal Sama, dated 25 July 2013 and addressed to Francis O’Connor, accusing him of “defamatory behaviour” and “harassment.”, I reckon that the entire matter is off hand as the building looks a nice charcoal black, you know that building in North Kensington, yet when it comes to one journalist, and one the bulk of the planet does not give a hoot about, we see supposition on top of supposition.

One could even argue that HBO, after the finale of Game of Thrones, HBO needed a new channel for emotions, and Axios seemingly provided. My point of position I clear, I do not know who did what, because Jamal Khashoggi was never found, we can assume that he was killed, at present he is merely missing (murdered requires additional evidence) but we cannot prove any of it. In case of Axios, there is a simpler situation, the setting was loaded before the interview and Dara Khosrowshahi has handed a curveball that he tried to ‘laugh off’ or diminish. It was his interview on HIS Company, on this there was mention of one of his board members, a Saudi individual named Yasir al-Rumayyan, director for the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The entire article that was on the interview of Dara Khosrowshahi was washed into another article (trying to) slap the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia around, I think that the articles writer Edward Helmore made a few mistakes, getting into Journalism might be one of them. So whilst we reminisced on ‘American intelligence agencies concluded that it was ordered by Prince Mohammed‘ my request becomes simple ‘Can we please see that evidence?‘, because not unlike the entire WMD issue that was apparently happening in Iraq, I will be able to punch holes into this issue as well.

Oh, and I was not talking about that flimsy piece we saw in Aggy’s essay, I want to see all the raw data available, perhaps I will be turned around, more likely than not, we see the need for turning heads away from other matters, we have seen it before, but I am willing to investigate the evidence (curiosity killed this cat, miaow).

The fact that makes this entire matter so interesting is that this one cat Jamal Khashoggi gets all the capture and the 231 journalists have been arrested after July 15, 2016 in Turkey get ZERO words from pretty much ANY newspaper around the world. Whilst Mehmet Akif Öztürk was jailed for 8 years and nine months in February this year, his colleague Turgut Usul (presenter) has been jailed since January 2018 pending trial. Oh and perhaps someone can find out what crimes Nazlı Ilıcak did, he was sentenced to life in prison with solitary confinement. I wonder how many journalists are out there what crime a publisher/journalist has to undertake to find himself in a lifetime of solitary confinement. Perhaps Axios could look into that, they seemingly need an emotional side in there broadcasts now that HBO has ended its game of thrones.

I wonder how long it takes form the people to wake up shouting some stupid slogan involving Jamal Khashoggi whilst there are issues out there that are a lot worse and in light of the diminished value of journalists, the entire mass is getting crazy shouting: ‘A pigeon is pooping on the street‘ whilst one corner from that place someone is shooting pigeons left, right and centre. I wonder if the who is shouting the claim so that no one is watching the one shooting all the pigeon’s one street further.

I wonder if Jamal Khashoggi realises that his value allegedly dead is seemingly 1000 times higher than when he was still writing some column in the Washington Post.

 

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Pushers of media value

We all heard of the name ‘pusher’, usually it is seen in the drugs community. People who prey on children and weak students with: ‘try this, makes you feel good‘. Knowing that as their customer base increases, he can continue his lifestyle of booze and bitches, because that is his only priority, to feel good and to live like a rock star at the expense of everyone and anyone else. So when I saw ‘Alarm for Netflix as shares plummet on worse-than-expected subscriber growth‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jul/16/netflix-subscribers-numbers-forecasts-wall-street) and was confronted with both “But it also warned that subscriber growth in the current third quarter would likely be around 5 million, again below analysts’ expectations of 6.3 million“, as well as “spooked investors and suggested the company’s explosive subscriber growth may now be slowing. Netflix shares fell 14% to $346.05 in after-hours trading in New York. For the second quarter, Netflix reported a profit of $384.3m, or 85 cents a share, up from $65.6m, or 15 cents a share, a year earlier“, I wondered what the analyst had to offer that gave rise to the situation.

In a world where we see that the quality of life is down, where we are struggling to merely pay the rent in some places, in that world where we learn that “Netflix has almost reached the 100 million mark for streaming subscribers, thereby more than doubling its subscriber numbers from the start of 2014“, so the numbers are showing us an almost 25% year on year growth, that is pretty amazing in many settings.

In this day and age, getting over 10% growth is pretty well done. We all recognise that 100 million users might not be that much on one side, yet the entire business is set against a facade where there is more to the picture. Still, in this the entire setting a 14% drop seems a little extreme. It is set against what I regard to be the pushers of the world (also known as analysts). I have had issues with these analysts before; they are like the drug pushers of Wall Street. They might not see it in this way, but I do. In this setting when we see “that subscriber growth in the current third quarter would likely be around 5 million, again below analysts’ expectations of 6.3 million“, so explain to me where they got that 6.3 million new subscriber issue? Where is the evidence that expected 15 people from Hoboken New Jersey decided not to become a member? Sickness, getting laid off, hospital cost, daughter getting married, all optional reasons where 15 people decided on not becoming a member, now set that number in EVERY zip code in the United States. We can go on with the thousands of additional cases in the US alone, yet the wisdom of some person telling us that a mathematical model should have produced another 1.3 million uses cannot be vetted is merely the setting of a person giving a speculative result and that speculator is the cause of a 14% drop in value?

Now, we do understand that Netflix has responsibilities and with their expected growth is of course linked to the content they can afford to buy. So when I see “Netflix is expected to invest as much as $12bn on content this year, but could face growing competition in the streaming market. Apple is upping its spending on original content in video, music and publishing to $4.2bn by 2022 from $1bn this year. Amazon is expected to almost double its spending on original content from $4.5bn to $8.3bn“, there are two issues. The first is that if we quadruple the quarter and consider the 1.53 billion in profits (or expected profits) for 2018, how come that this year the acquired spending is $12 billion? We get that content is a long term pay off and all the movies acquired now will fuel the customer base for a long time, yet the fact that the profits merely represent 7.5% of the annual content spend is very unbalanced. It also gives us the additional setting that the 1.3 million additional members would not have made a dent there. The setting is fishy and it does not add up. Now, we can all agree that such services are perhaps a lot more complex, but the value long term is also setting the pace that something does not seem to add up. To see that picture we need to realise that Netflix realised well over $11.5 billion in revenue last year alone, so by giving you this, the $20 billion is not only no longer a stretch, it implies that Netflix still ends with $1.5 billion of pure profits, that is nothing to be sneered at, and in that light the spooking of the shareholders make less and less sense and in this, the entire analyst setting comes to the foreground once more, especially when we also add the one small fact that Netflix has $19 billion in assets. It is even more puzzling when we add the NY Times findings with “The company also saw its net income rise to $130 million, well over last year’s third quarter total of $52 million but short of the $143 million that Wall Street expected“, again the analysts now imploding, or is that setting back the market, whilst the records are still showing enormous growth, we see that dark cloud called Wall Street stating that it should have been better. There is nothing that shows evidence of the numbers that Wall Street holds others accountable to. In a system that is unrealistic, punishing realistic growth is not merely dangerous, it tends to be counterproductive in the end.

An additional part seen in the NY Times is now giving another light. They gave “Netflix already outspends its rivals, including HBO, FX and CBS, while Apple has recently signalled to Hollywood it would spend more than $1 billion on original content“, whilst the Guardian treats us to “Apple is upping its spending on original content in video, music and publishing to $4.2bn by 2022 from $1bn this year. Amazon is expected to almost double its spending on original content from $4.5bn to $8.3bn“, so the other two players are also spending billions in a market that is short of resources creating a bubble and bubbles are never good, so then the question becomes, is Wall Street intentionally creating bubbles to overinflate the mess and then short sell the cycle to make it implode in the future?

The fact that three players will represent close to $4 billion a year, each year is already a signal that the big screen, through internet or big screen itself is still flourishing, as the IP is brought through different ways, the only way will be up. So when we consider Australia who gives us “Netflix Australia starts from $9.99 per month for the entry-level, single-stream standard definition package, all the way up to $17.99 for the deluxe, 4K quality, four-stream package“, we see the simple selling point that a month of maximised streaming is close to a mere cinema ticket. That is the simplest of selling points and when we consider that, when we consider that this is not merely on that level, but that the setting also needs to fit the bandwidth that people sign on for, some will not charge Netflix, some do. That is also an influence. So there is more than one player that impacts the Netflix subscriber, all elements in that equation and some we can predict to some extent, but we remains in a setting where the analysts all claim that predictions were outclassing achievement in a place where growth is pretty sweet, it does not add up and that might just be me.

Yet this is where we get the Washington Post with ‘Netflix’s subscriber growth slows, panicking Wall Street‘, this is where we get to the golden egg, the part that Americans never understood, not in 1994 when some made claims on ‘saturation is a myth’, giving us an example with an elastic band, showing that 20% stretch again and again is possible and not today when we see that especially in Australia where housing prices in the big cities are through the roof, where we see that making a budget work is to cut out all extra excesses. In that setting many people can’t merely afford the $18 a month extra. That is supported with: “Professor Muir said it was important to realise that not all of those who live in poverty were unemployed. “One in three people who are living in poverty actually have wages, so we have challenges not just about how we make sure people have jobs, but we also want people to have stable jobs,” she said“. So we have an Australian setting where 1/3 is in poverty and a chunk of that has an actual income. So at that point, who of those people will have Netflix? Will they be willing to sacrifice two meals just to have Netflix? This is not a setting that is only seen in Australia. In America the UC Davis center for Poverty treats us to the setting of a few important characteristics of the 50% percent of minimum-wage earners with an age that is 25 or higher, 50% has a part time job. They have an average family income of $42,500 per year. At this stage it comes down to 20%-25% that live in poverty, when you consider that in 2016  around 43 million Americans were living in poverty, how much of an influence does that stop others from spending sprees outside of the Christmas season? When you see the hardship of anyone in your street, a person who works, fights and does whatever he can to feed his family, often both working, still not making the bills go away. How long until others start to save for the rainy day? I believe that these people are set to the economy as missing values. They do not matter, but they are still part of the total count. I personally believe that there is intent.

When we look at Wiki for a quick explanation, we get the optional view of an economic bubble with the text: “One possible cause of bubbles is excessive monetary liquidity in the financial system, inducing lax or inappropriate lending standards by the banks, which make markets vulnerable to volatile asset price inflation caused by short-term, leveraged speculation“. Yet what happens when it is not the ‘financial system‘? What happens when a bubble is pushed through analysts on the places like Netflix, creating friction with investors that apparently get spooked when a company still reports an optional 1.5 billion annual profit? So what happens when we see ‘volatile asset price inflation caused by short-term, leveraged speculation‘? Now take the leveraged speculation, asset price inflation (due to Apple and Amazon in the market) and it all suddenly implodes as all the analysts stated that Netflix could have easily gotten a million more subscribers that quarter. I hope that you get the drift now!

I am no Netflix fan (I have nothing against Netflix either). I always preferred to watch the big screen whenever I could afford it. I prefer to buy the season DVD/Blu-ray of a TV series I enjoy, that’s how I roll. Some prefer Netflix and that is fine by me too, whatever loads their canon, I say.

So when we see the Washington Post treating us to “they could validate investors’ fears of a company in slowdown mode for the first time in years. Wall Street has already been watching closely as Disney ramps up its subscription-content efforts and HBO, under incoming owner AT&T, is adopting a new strategy to compete“, we are treated to the setting of Pluto and two other dogs competing for the same bone, it is called market saturation and I have had the impression for the longest of times (around two and a half decades) that Americans either do not comprehend that part of business, or they merely do not care and ignore it. Now, we understand that at such points, the stock value of Netflix slows or even halts, yet to see a 14% drop is equally weird, which leaves me to think that Wall Street and all their analysts are in a bubble creating setting, which I believe has been going on for the longest of times. Do I need to remind you of Moody’s and S&P regarding the 2008 events? In the end they paid a fine, but compared to the damage done, it was miniscule. So when we take a step towards FLETC and the ‘Economic Crimes Investigation and Analysis‘ parts. They seem to be all up in arms for investigators, auditors, analysts and individuals serving as direct law enforcement support personnel who provide a foundation for fraud and financial investigations. Yet, when we look closely, how much effort has been done to investigate the Wall Street Analysts and other analysts who seem to be tweaking the expectations?

So when we look at the FLETC syllabus and see: “Successful completion of the ECIA will enable students to:
(1) identify various investigative techniques that may be used to investigate economic crimes;
(2) identify evidentiary documents that may be used to prove the source and disposition of monies;
(3) demonstrate how computer software may be used to organize, analyze, and present information;
(4) identify various ways that an accounting system may be used to conceal the true nature of fraudulent transactions;
(5) demonstrate how indirect methods may be used to identify illegal income; and
(6) demonstrate how effectively present investigative findings

Yet as I see it, in all this the global analysts who are spiking the expectations are all considered not a factor and have the privilege of remaining outside of the scope of all this. That also gives us that unless a 2008 version disaster happens; they and their overpaid asses quite literally get to walk away.

So how does that make sense in any universe, especially when we see the damage others faced over a decade?

Which gets us to the last quote in the Post with “Hastings did acknowledge the second quarter has historically been rough for Netflix, noting another under performance in 2016. “We never did find the explanation [for that],” he said“. In this we need to ask, was this merely a real under performance, or was it all based on a flawed algorithm, one that all the analysts using them will happily silence away?

A group of people never scrutinised, whilst a company making a clean billion plus a year is axed by 14%. Some will say it is all logical and that my lack of an economic degree makes it all my ignorance issue. Yet the Margin Call quote “2 and 2 no longer makes 4” gives the indication that it was not math and according to the math involved the 14% cut is optionally wrong, yet the reality of bubbles and the intentional creation of them is set on greed and that is the one thing that Wall Street thrives on and I wonder how closely some of its players are actually watched, more importantly, once proven, will the events actually be acted on, or will they merely receive a $401K fine in the mail?

 

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Your GCC resume

Qatar remains in the news, some are looking at the $5.9 billion deal in Italian dinghy’s, others look at the cancelled deal to become an American Airlines stake holder and others like me are focussing towards the GCC futures. According to the Defence minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah this setting is not in an increasing danger. The problem is not merely the GCC in itself, it is what you will not see in many newspapers, it is the overhanging impact on OPEC. The news given by Oilprice.com is “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts. Doha will be able to sabotage the current 6+3 production cut agreement between OPEC and non-OPEC members. If Doha decides to join the ranks of Iran and Iraq, OPEC’s future will be in doubt” it is at the very end of the article (at http://oilprice.com/Geopolitics/International/Clash-Between-Qatar-And-The-Saudis-Could-Threaten-OPEC-Deal.html), yet that in itself is not the bacon maker, or if pork is taboo, it is the lamb to the slaughter. When we see: “The Arab criticism may have been less harsh if U.S. officials would not have put oil on the fire. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis openly warned Qatar that it should change its support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mattis also stated that U.S. president Trump is considering classifying the Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization, which could have a very negative impact on the U.S.-Qatar economic-military cooperation in the coming months“, this reflects right back to the pressures that the American players where trying to establish through pressuring the WTO issues as written yesterday (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2017/08/02/a-big-tree-in-the-desert/). Another source (Leaprate.com) gives us the links to Iran and re-elected Hassan Rouhani. Here we see “America’s new-found protectionist outlook and open contempt for the JCPOA, has put a question mark against its future, while Iran’s ties with Qatar, currently the subject of embargos by many neighbouring states, is a further concern for investors“, this is the part that most do not get informed about. Partially the US has a valid point as the previous president of Iran was openly waging war towards the US and against the state of Israel. The dangers as I gave them years ago, especially in the light of the nuclear treaties is not how good or how reforming the newly elected President Hassan Rouhani was, it is the issue about the next person, who will get the presidential trophy in 2021 and what happens then? This is the long term worry, most will agree that one extreme leader on the edge of insanity is good enough and keeping that person in North Korea is for now the best place.

Yet, that was not what this is about, when we consider that the JCPOA (also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), we see the given by Ali Akbar Salehi with ““After JCPOA, our oil production has soared from 1 million barrels per day to 3.9 million bpd,” IRNA quoted Salehi as saying on Sunday, two days after the two-year anniversary of the action plan. This marks a success for Iran’s oil-based economy in reclaiming its market share lost over the years of sanctions“, the issue is that this directly opposes OPEC with “All GCC countries depend on stability in the oil and gas markets, which is evident from the recent OPEC deal. A full-fledged confrontation will, without any doubt, put pressure on the current compliance rate of OPEC members to production cuts” for the UAE and Saudi Arabia that is a problem, as Iran has increased its production by nearly 3 million barrels a day, the other players have to decrease even more, which means that they are hurting well $150 million a day or we will see the pressures shift all over the Middle East, which is not good for America (or the UK for that matter), because that impacts what Saudi Arabia can buy, and the monthly $4.5 billion is partially for the hardware delivered and expected before December 2017, so as these sales paths are impacted, we will see a level of hurt all over the weapons of mass consumer requirements market.

So we have valid and greed driven concerns regarding Iran, in this the Qatar issue does not help and the play that the US is making as we see it should not be considered as a beneficial path. No matter how valid the present situation is as we see it given through the Russian Academy of Sciences, Stanislav Ivanov is giving a present truth with “The main line of Tehran’s policy is to get out of sanctions and gradually restore its economic and financial potential“, we do not deny this, yet the past decades was about setting the pressures to Iran as the western nations had to deal with extremism, in addition to the funding that Iran gave Hamas as it kept on attacking the State of Israel, there are ample issues in all this as the strategic setting before 2021 (Iranian general elections) could face the US, Israel and Western Europe with an economic revitalised Iran, which will be pushing the players back to square one if that seat will become the sitting arrangement for another Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which is not out of the question.

When that happens, those with a GCC resume, with or without references to OPEC might wonder where their employability resides. Now, if they have been smitten with a 7 figure annual income, they might not care, yet those without that part for at least 4 years might need to scrape by, having to live on $40K a month for the rest of their lives. I can advise these people that it can be done, if they shed the 4 luxury cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Bentley), give up their membership in the Yas Links Golf Club, Almouj Golf and The Majlis, Emirates Golf Club as well as their 4 bedroom apartment in Riyadh and they are already half way there. So how serious is this? Well, it is actually a lot more serious than most people realise. When we consider that the GCC is a realistic target for cyber-attacks and cyber terrorists, Raytheon is setting up technological barriers to thwart to some degree these plans. the issue is not what the presentations give, whilst we do not oppose of attack the stance that CEO Thomas Kennedy has, the quote (source: Raytheon) “It has since reinforced its cybersecurity capacity with the purchase of 14 companies. In 2015, it acquired a company called Forcepoint (previously known as Websense and Raytheon|Websense) to enhance its commercial presence. This is now the world’s second-largest privately-held cybersecurity firm. Raytheon recently secured a five-year, $1bn contract for the US Department of Homeland Security to help defend “.gov” websites from cyber-attacks. Now the goal is to bring that working knowledge to the Gulf” is merely showing a deficit in the technology. Acquisition is a partial solution to any cyber given industry, the given premise to survive is not what can be bought today, but what must be developed for tomorrow. You see the firms that have that focus tend not to be for sale in the first place. Whilst Raytheon’s focus is very valid to catch up, it is much less a solution for those who are arming themselves for tomorrow, their own missile system department can teach them that part. It is not merely about the technology, it is the development of new systems in cloud and non-repudiation that will give the GCC and other gulf places the edge to be ahead of the cyber-attack curve. A partial issue is found with “We have one of the best data-leakage protection systems in the entire cybersecurity field, and we combine this with our insider-threat behaviour system, which detects suspicious activity and ensures IP and data is not compromised“, which might be non-false, yet the events as Sony has seen shows that the reflective comments are from a behind the wave assessment, with HBO being an example as they were hacked a few days ago. The one provider that relies on cyber security as it sells its value through Netflix is now giving Vanity Fair “When Netflix was hacked earlier this year, the cyber-criminals behind the attack demanded a ransom. But there was no such demand in the hack that struck HBO over the weekend, and the sheer amount of compromised data has led some to believe that video footage, internal documents, or e-mails could be leaked next. The premium-cable giant is working with the F.B.I. and cyber-security firm Mandiant to investigate the breach, in which hackers claimed to have stolen 1.5 terabytes’ worth of data“. This is what Raytheon is up against, not some access issue, but stopping the drain of terabytes, basically every part of the GCC removed in mere hours, whilst the cyber minders were in the dark until after the event and the quote that follows (at https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/08/hbo-hack-seven-times-larger-sony) “A traditional business-grade D.S.L. link would take about two weeks at full blast to exfiltrate that much data,” Farsight Security C.E.O. Paul Vixie told T.H.R. “If not for video and sound, a corporation the size of HBO might fit [entirely] in a terabyte, including all the e-mail and spreadsheets ever written or stored.” Another expert added that the entire Library of Congress contains an estimate of 10 terabytes of print material—so it is almost certain that video and/or audio were stolen“, this directly reflects on Raytheon. It is not what we know it is what others have figured out that is the issue. Whether it was through frame leaking, through cloud replication, there are issues that remain non-secure, even as security is at the top of the salespersons mind. There is a need for a new designed system no longer merely on access, but on ‘bio wired’ non-repudiation that is driving the need for evolution and these sales forces have remained in denial as it is something that they cannot offer at present, so they reflect on it as being a non-solution, a non-reality. They stick to the solutions that they can sell now and that is where the GCC finds itself, the lack of visionary evolution of data systems.

So when Raytheon gives their next presentation and someone at the GCC asks “How can we assure that the Bolero electronic Bills of Lading are not stolen or corrupted?” what happens then? Will that person at GCC need to write his resume tout suite, or will his superiors realise that the question was valid and that this situation is an immediate threat to the GCC members? Because in this day and age where extremists are all about the attack on infrastructures, the Bolero Title Registry, the repository and application that manages the transfer of title of the eBL is a clear weak point. Ones the recipients are scrapped and the cargo gets locked down, the ship will have two issues. The first being that the ownership cannot be transferred, you might think that this could be solved in a few days, and that would be right. The direct consequence is that the transfer of oil stop would cost an additional $578,000 in port charges, twice the amount in addition for pilots and towage fees. And as they are moved around additional costs will be incurred, that is apart from the issue that the delays bring and when a visionary does find the way to reset ownership, the delivery of 1 million barrels comes down to a nice $50 million fee, that optionally went somewhere else.

The one place where cyber security was essential is as given in indications running behind and not catching up; the only way to do that is to get ahead of it all. Now, as stated, this is not an attack on Raytheon, this is merely the direct issue on the business need to set serious cash into evolving the new systems to be ahead of the curve and be in a state where the hackers learn that it is not merely about access, the nice part of adding a new ‘language‘ to the plot is not to delay their invasion, it become to take away their comprehension of what they see (hopefully for longer than short term). You see, I have loved Cisco solutions, but they all talk the same language and their precise documentation have been a real assist on those with no-good intentions, we merely need to ask Google ‘what does a cisco frame look like?‘ and we get so much information, enough for too many to get to the heart of the matter and in the early stages of the internet that was a really good thing, we need to move beyond certain settings and push towards dedicated systems that have additional layers of protection, now that might be a mere delay, yet consider what is being protected. How willing are you to keep data safe? Not merely oil data of ownership, in the age of Netflix whilst hackers are streaming the episodes by the dozen, depriving places like Sony and HBO from valid revenue, revenue they invested in, the game needs to be changed. We have seen the uselessness of some governments as they were facilitating towards the communication sellers on bandwidth; we need to change the game regardless of those players. One way to do that is remove their existence to impact. Google did that to some extent, but not to the extent needed. As we realise that providers are 15 dimes to the dollar, we need to set a different scope, not merely in the cloud, but in the need for dedicated non-repudiation. Only then can we make a first effort to push the boundary towards a safer zone. And perhaps Raytheon will bring that to the table, the fact is that we do not know the player that delivers the need of tomorrow today, we merely know that it will not be Beaker bringing it (a Muppet Show reference). In this the ‘evidence’ can be seen when we realise that Raytheon gives us John D Harris II and his view on how forward thinking Talon laser guided rockets are. Yes John this was really the need for Cyber safety! As we consider the issue beyond point-to-point communication. In addition the $100m development program reads sexy for your bonus, yet the issue is data, both at rest and in transit. There are the issues, not in the rocket man shooting by a member of the UAE air force. So as we moved from certain parts of the GCC, via Iran to other providers, we need to see and comprehend that there are several players, all with their own agenda, a perfectly sound and valid situation, yet when we see that stability is centre in all this, destabilisation will impact both the GCC members, the OPEC members and when the overlap is shown (those in both), we need to realise that Iran and Iraq will not care about the needs of the GCC, they are not part of that, which ties hands of the six GCC players and in that Qatar is the centre of the seesaw that the 6 members prefer to have in some level of balance, yet the issues as we are seeing them escalate will impact all the given needs for all the players having their ‘own’ needs to satisfy. None of that is likely to happen any day soon. We could see the US and both their needs towards JCPOA and the WTO as an opposing issue, one that is not beneficial to the GCC or the Qatar issues as they are playing. I cannot say what the GCC members should do next, but it seems to me resolving some parts and creating a new initial balance is the best way forward. This gets me back to the question phrase yesterday. If each of the 4 members could phrase one issue to resolve by Qatar, what would that be? If Qatar can get the conversation started on that, as merely a first show of good will, yet from my point of view, if they Promise to have a good look at Al-Jazeera and do some immediate reforms there as a first step of good will towards the four opposing parties, it might just be enough to reduce tensions and give time for non-escalations to settle and as such forward momentum in resolving issues will be found. In my view it would leave Qatar in a much better view by all other players and global non players. It will open the doors and perhaps that is a good beginning, merely a good beginning, but more than we have now.

And none of this, none of my views were set to painting any of the players as the bad people, merely a path to find the track towards profit and growth, profit for all the players and economic growth for all of them. In all this the one question that is forming in my mind is that Oman has been the one GCC member that is outside of the equation to some extent, could they be a mediating party in all this? I actually do not know the answer; I am merely voicing the question that I have not seen in the news. You see when you realise that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been the driving force behind Vision 2030, the economic diversification strategy. Is that something that a nation like Oman could see benefits in, when we consider diversification, when we realise that this impacts range of products as well as field of operation. Would it not be interesting how this view could be beneficial to the Middle East as a whole? In all this, as the driving force surpasses boundaries, is that not a field of economic diplomacy to see it grow? To push forward momentum is to find a place and subject of discussion, in my view it would be to find a topic many can agree on, a topic that is always a hard sell in most occasions and it seems to me that oil dependency is always a good option for those realising that it is the only thing they offer, by adding more options, any nation connected is merely opening paths to more stability and more opportunities, especially when these paths can be sold to nations seeking more than oil, which is close to every nation on the planet. Finding a place of stabile growth is the best product any player is ever likely to sell. In this stability is a lot more sexy than quick gain, especially on Wall Street and they are having too often too much to say on that matter. As we need a different language in the cyber world, it is clear that outside of that world a common language is the only solution. The question becomes what language and how to start the conversation, even those setting up their GCC resume right now. That is a fact as it is a resume that they want everyone to read, a comprehensible common ground is the first step in this.

 

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A rare moment in time

I have been watching the news in several places, the papers (online), newscasts and other media. I saw how we see articles with issues that I predicted over a year ago. Now, let’s be honest, that what I predicted and that what now is not one and the same. I might have been lucky, that happens, yet that gave me the impulse to take a look into my mind (with some external support) and I got a revelation (odd how that happens).

There are moments in time that are chiselled to be with us forever, that part happens, a set of circumstances so unique that it passes the stress test of time.

It was 1976, I was in high school and I saw on TV something so unique that it would remain with me for all time; it is likely I will take the images into my grave. Even then there was a need for the direct in our eyes. This series delivered! I still regard it as the best Drama ever to be made. The series was called I Claudius and the fact that it is drenched in history and filled with flexible morals is what seems to catch us. Yet, is that enough? If we see TV series like Dexter, Trueblood and a few more HBO series. They seem to have the trademark on directness, so why did they not surpass a series made 38 years ago?

I believe that this is because that there is a lot more to the achievement. I think it was more than just timing. Derek Jacobi as Claudius, Brian Blessed as Augustus, George Baker as Tiberius, Patrick Steward as Sejanus, John Hurt as Caligula, Bernard Hill as Gratus, Ian Ogilvy as Drusus and who will ever forget Siân Phillips as Livia. It is not just the group of actors, but the fact that these actors would set new boundaries; some are even today regarded as the top of drama. I think that timing brought these people together and that part caused the effect that this was not a series with one or two diamonds in the rough, but we ended up with a series holding over a dozen exquisitely cut diamonds. A TV-series, which through timing has remained close to unmatchable.

I must of course mention that the book was an amazing piece of work, yet that is one factor we have all seen before, the fact that a book had been turned into such a vision by cast and crew was and has for the most remained a unique experience in TV series. It is ‘I Claudius’ that makes me appreciate how rare such moments are and hoping on regular repetitions such achievements are a waste of time.

When we see how productions are made nowadays, we see a shift from what was insightful towards what is to be expected. Now, the second part is not necessarily a bad thing as we avoid blunders, failures and flops, yet the opposite is also true, the chance of that 99.4% rated production becomes equally impossible. So do we set ourselves up for mediocrity? That is at the heart of the question, as we see movies, games and other forms of entertainment set into a matrix of ‘certain’ non-failures, we get just that, a non-failure, yet when we do that, we will endure a level of ‘entertainment’ that is not out there, that does not shift borders and that will not leave us in awe. Yes, we will get to some extent levels of originality. Waves of TV shows, like Gotham and a few others in the new millennia of comic book representation of TV shows, and some will prove to be good, expanding and even will become successes, yet, they will not get to the level that we got when someone had a vision, found the people and ‘I Claudius’ became a reality. Even the HBO version ‘Rome’, which shows life in those days, falls short. Spartacus, which was regarded as excellent and had a strong cast, but none gave the shine like Andy Whitfield, when he was lost to family and audience because of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, we got the cold reality of how large a jewel he was in that series. Lucy Lawless and John Hannah as well as a league of others showed an amazing performance, but the absence of Andy Whitfield became just too noticeable.

The link is the rarity, when we see series holding the New Zealand Actor Kevin Smith (as Ares in Hercules and Xena) and Andy Whitfield, we see that these rare treasures of charisma have a lasting effect on a series, losing them will hurt whatever series they are working on, which makes the overwhelming list of ‘I Claudius’ even more rare then we consider possible.

But is this just about casting? No, I think that the vision of the director is too often downplayed, as is the work the writers put into place. Should you doubt the latter, consider the massive success the West Wing was and the strength that the Newsroom and House of Cards are showing. In the name of the director, the scriptwriter and the players that are, we announce this series {insert fictive name here} to be a non-failure. It sounds almost deceptively mundane. You see, many of these series are ‘powered’ by what America considers and regards, so slow sales will get a series cancelled too fast. Star Trek, the original series is one of the strongest pieces of evidence, what was regarded as failure (and therefor cancelled), is still regarded as one of the strongest visions of originality ever to grace the TV screens. In that light we see similar issues regarding Firefly, what could have become a game changer was dropped before its time. Here too the trinity is almost a given. Joss Whedon is shown to be the new Steven Spielberg (a shared place with JJ Abrams) and he had a strong support cast. Nathan Fillion might be the number one player, yet the support Alan Tudyk, Gina Torres, Morena Baccarin and Jewel Staite are undeniable. A series shut down before its time to shine. It is not the only time that this happened. The same reception was given to Doll House, what is at the foundation a mind shifting cyberpunk story was again cut short by that what the American audience did not understand.

Here is where we see the failure: yes it is true that America, catered to Americans, yet at present it seems that these deciders are forgetting that the European population is twice the size of America, the EEC alone is 50% larger than the USA, now consider that The Commonwealth consists of a few more nations all looking at these American series. This is taken into another direction as we see that HBO seems to address those needs almost perfectly and they are gaining strength, whilst British drama is actually a little on the decline. It seems that these deciders need to take new looks at how series are continued or dropped. Doll House is less than 4 years ago.

So where is this going?

It seems to me that the deciders of ‘where to leave the coins’ are looking at prognoses and not at the places where real visionaries come from. This has always been true, yet most true and very much most visible in the entertainment industry. It is shown as we see the game Test Drive a year late, yet, the verdict is a mere mediocre (at http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/driveclub-review/1900-6415900/). Is it a fair verdict? Hard to say, I am not much of a racing fan, but I consider the rating of Forza (an XBox one game) at 88% well deserved, a game that was very playable and looked extremely good. So as we see more PS4 games end up with mediocre ratings, the question now becomes will it affect the console war? Sony seems strong here, but in the end, consoles will not survive without really good games, and at present exclusive games on the XB1 are (I am sorry to report) better than the exclusive PS4 games, and at present Microsoft has a few more exclusive releases upcoming. Yet it does not end there, we see new levels of mediocrity by Ubisoft as they locked Assassins Creed both at 900p, so 20% below the PS4 maximum. I wonder what will happen when the gamers are treated to a failing AI in 6 weeks. Is that a given? No! It is not, yet the quote “because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise, and we realised it was going to be pretty hard. It’s not the number of polygons that affect the framerate. We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second” (source: eurogamer.net), yet when we see (if this happens) another AC game with iterated glitches as we have seen since AC2, then what will the audience cry? This will be at the heart of what will come next. We will know in a few weeks, yet the questions are rising all over the internet by gamers of all size and creed. They expect that a game will show the game at the maximum of possibilities of the console they chose, not what we at present regard to be some excuse of ‘parity’, time will tell how it is received.

I have accused Ubisoft before on the lack of vision, it is not all deserved as Watchdogs, even though not as great as expected did open new doors, not unlike the very first Assassins Creed and it must be said a few more are expected to come, showing that Ubisoft has vision, but these titles are yet to be released.

True vision, it is a rare moment in time when we face it, yet in this age of need, why do we not see more of it?

 

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FACT on piracy?

There is a newscast that got to me in the middle of the night (at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25575298).

Now, let me start that I am not in favour of digital piracy in any way. I have had a fortunate live, so for the most, I could go to the cinema and enjoy the big screen. At times I got to buy a DVD/Blu-ray, so I could enjoy the quality of the movie at home.

What gets to me is this quote “A spokesperson for the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) said that piracy puts jobs in the entertainment industry at risk and prevented future investment in entertainment.

This spokesperson needs to take a hard look at himself/herself in the mirror in regards to the ‘BS’ (as I personally see it) that is proclaimed by said spokesperson! Why?

The 25 most profitable movies represented in the US alone $5.2 billion dollars. At the top is Iron Man 3 which did $400 million in the US, but did an awesome $1.2 billion worldwide. So, there is no future danger to investments, there is a truckload of money to be made there and greed is trump. An additional interesting fact is that the second Hobbit movie is on that top 25 too. It made over 200 million in one week, so lighten up FACT!

Perhaps FACT needs to take a new look at the message they are proclaiming. What angers me is that this is pretty much the same BS Sony ‘voiced’ gave when all that music was shared in the early 90’s (when the US had similar poverty numbers) on how much damage they had.

These people do not realise that a large portion of the US and the EEC is in such a recession that the people cannot afford the luxury of going to the cinema (or buying a DVD for that matter). In the US the poverty line now hits 1 for every 7 Americans, so it is time for FACT to wake up! In the UK things are slightly better, but only 1.1% better, making it 1 in 7 as well. So, perhaps FACT would like to take that into consideration before blaming dangers to piracy?

Who downloads movies?

Well, the main group here in my view remains the student population (who can hardly make ends meet as school fees go up and up). In addition I must state that this does not OK the transgression, but consider that these people have little options to see anything. Prices go up, yet students end up with less and less. The second group is the poverty group, who likely have no internet, but rely on a friendly neighbour to burn them a DVD. I am not saying that this is good, legal or acceptable! I am just saying that perhaps setting the right dimension might help ‘comprehension’ for those who cannot afford any of it anyway.

the second quote that the BBC gave “Piracy threatens the livelihoods of over 1.5 million people whose jobs rely on the continued success of films, TV programmes and other forms of entertainment that are created in the UK.” reads a little better, but I fear that this is slightly disjointed. We dealt with films, but we did not deal with TV programs. There we see that the big ‘winner’ is Game of Thrones (HBO) the quote that another site gave me “It also seems that those involved in Game of Thrones are not too worried by the levels of piracy around their show.

This does not make it OK, but consider that these series can only be watched with a subscription and that in the UK and the US 1 in 7 is below the poverty line. The financial situation in many European countries is not that much better, then perhaps those involved should realise that they, for the most are not doing that bad. Forbes showed an additional side to the HBO dilemma (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2012/05/10/international-audiences-have-few-choices-to-legally-watch-hbos-game-of-thrones/). Consider that the three pirated TV series that truly jump out are all HBO series. Can FACT explain how these poverty driven families can shell out $50 a month for cable? And, even those making minimum wage (which is only marginally better than poverty) can often not afford any of the choices FACT would deem acceptable.

So, and your truly (meaning me!), did I ever watch an illegal movie version? (I never downloaded it!) Yes, I did once. It was Star Wars Episode One and I only watched it because the Movie was launched 4 months later in the Dutch cinema then in the US (an unacceptable time-lag for such a movie). I still watched it in the cinema, I bought the DVD and later the Blu-Ray and so they got more than their money’s worth!

So, is there a real issue?

Depends on how you look at it. From my point of view, the bulk of those downloading the movies and/or TV series cannot afford them in any way, which means that there would never have been a sale to begin with. Those who are above that mark are a decreasing population. As TV series and movies are offered via iTunes, consoles and other digital media for just a few dollars, getting the series (or movie) in that way would be preferable to many viewers, especially as those versions tend to be of better quality. The growth in sales as claimed by some (an increase of 40% in digital sales), means that the tide is shifting. The biggest group that remains has no way of buying it ever under the economic pressures they face.

Yes, you might have a case against these people, but consider how movies claim to make so many billions. Do they really want to go on a hunt for those who live below poverty? Has it truly come to this?

How about we use all that effort to get these people a ‘decent’ income?

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