Author Archive: Stephen Green

FLORIDA MAN FRIDAY [VIP]: His ‘Fast & Furious’ Reenactment Hysterically Failed. “It’s time for your much-needed break from the serious news, and this week we have the world’s punniest madame, how not to pull over for a rest stop, and Gaza’s very own Master Thespian.”

GEORGE MF WASHINGTON: The Era of the Joyless Blockbuster.

The root problem with the current era of blockbusters is that the movie studios, which were long ago subsumed by multi-national corporations which live and die by their stock prices, are focused on something other than great storytelling.

It’s a bit of a simplification, though not a big one, to say that if you wanted to make a movie in the 70’s, you only had to convince one man… Frank Yablans at Paramount, for instance, or Thom Mount at Universal. But here in the Era of the Joyless Blockbuster, before you can actually physically make a movie, you must convince what is called a studio “greenlight committee” to “greenlight” your movie.

The modern greenlight committee is composed of not just creative executives, but also executives from a bunch of other departments as well, including marketing, physical production, legal, consumer products and, of late, the local Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer. These “non-creative” folk will care whether or not the movie is “good” only up to a point… what they’ll care about most is that the movie is something they can easily sell to audiences, that it pushes the proper “messaging”, that it’s something they can make on a sensible budget, or that it can generate multiple streams of ancillary income… preferably all four.

Over time, creative executives trying to get big summer blockbusters made have learned to lean into what the greenlight committee wants… which is to say maximum profitability, maximum “representation” and the need to deliver a “four quadrant product.”

To a large extent, storytelling has become a secondary consideration.

Read the whole thing.

MATT MARGOLIS: I Finally Tried the Apple Vision Pro. “My gut says it would eventually enhance my productivity, I’m not convinced it would improve it enough to justify the price tag. But that could be because of the limited things I got to experience in the demo. I’d need a few weeks of using it and learning how to take full advantage of it to know for sure, and to fully grasp what long term usage is like. Can I research and write multiple articles on it daily? Could I research and write another book with it? All the superficial and fun stuff is great, but not enough to get me to buy it.”

My impression is that Vision Pro is certainly the nicest computer you can wear on your face but still not productive or light or inexpensive enough to want to.

I HAD BEEN ASSURED BY ALL THE SMARTEST PEOPLE THAT MAGA ATTENTION SPANS WERE TOO SHORT TO MAKE A BOYCOTT STICK: Bud Light boycott likely cost Anheuser-Busch InBev over $1 billion in lost sales.

The world’s largest brewer may have lost as much as $1.4 billion in sales because of the backlash to its brief partnership with a transgender influencer to promote Bud Light beer.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) reported record revenues for 2023 Thursday but said its “full growth potential was constrained” by its US business, where sales were hurt by a boycott of Bud Light over a sponsored Instagram post with Dylan Mulvaney.

One more time: the boycott wasn’t about Mulvaney nearly as much as it was about Bud Light’s sneering marketing exec who put the promotion together and was caught on tape sneering at Bud Light drinkers.

JOANNE JACOBS: If you want to climb a mountain, don’t go two steps and ask, ‘How do I feel?’

In her new book, Bad Therapy: Why the Kids Aren’t Growing Up, Shrier complains that social-emotional learning has gone far beyond teaching students how to disagree respectfully or “get a grip.” It’s become “a curricular juggernaut that devours billions in education spending each year.”

Teachers are encouraged to start the school day with an “emotions check-in.” At a conference for California teachers, counselor Natalie Sedano shared her check-in: “How are you feeling today? Are you daisy-bright, happy and friendly? Or am I a ladybug? Will I fly away if we get too close?”

Paying too much attention to feelings doesn’t help distressed children, psychologist told Shrier.

“I’d say: worry less. Ruminate less,” said Leif Kennair, an expert on the treatment of anxiety. “Try to verbalize everything you feel less. Try to self-monitor and be mindful of everything you do — less.”

The other thing we need a lot less of is education administrators who justify their existence with one worthless, non-education program after another.

KRUISER’S MORNING BRIEFING: Dem Denial Is Spiking in Unison With Illegal Immigrant Crime Spree. “We’ve now reached the stage that’s the surest sign that the Dems know they’re losing a grip on the narrative — the ‘Republicans are racist,’ stage, which is yet another permutation of denial. We’ve gotten here because of the rising incidences of violent illegal immigrant crime, which they’re also denying.”

PRIVACY: Retailers including Amazon and Walmart are selling unsafe knockoff video doorbells, report finds.

Eken and Tuck are not well-known brands in the video doorbell market, yet they are relatively strong sellers online. The doorbells appeared in multiple listings on Amazon, with more than 4,200 sold in January alone. Both brands are often touted as “Amazon’s Choice: Overall Pick,” CR stated.

“These video doorbells from little known manufacturers have serious security and privacy vulnerabilities, and now they’ve found their way onto major digital marketplaces such as Amazon and Walmart,” stated Justin Brookman, director of tech policy at Consumer Reports. “Both the manufacturers and platforms that sell the doorbells have a responsibility to ensure that these products are not putting consumers in harm’s way.”

The troubles uncovered by CR researchers include:

Exposure of a user’s home IP addresses and WiFi network names to the internet without encryption, potentially opening a user’s home network to malicious activity.

Ability of potential bad actors to take over the device by downloading the Aiwit smartphone app and entering the doorbell into pairing mode, allowing them to take ownership of the device, view camera footage and lock out the owner of the device.

Remote access to still images from the video feed and other information without authentication, by acquiring the serial number of the doorbell.

Lack of a registration code that must be visible on this class of product, under Federal Communications Commission regulations.

New rules are needed to hold online retailers accountable for vetting sellers and the product sold by their platforms, according to CR. It called on the Federal Trade Commission to stop the online sales of the doorbell cameras and on retailers to do more to ensure the quality of the products they sell.

I doubt if regulators can be trusted to protect our privacy but the real concern is how little concern consumers have for their own privacy. They’ll put up a lot of abuse just to get something cheaper.

BIDENOMICS IS WORKING: Key Fed Inflation Rate Confirms Bad News For Rate Cuts. “On a three-month annualized basis, the Fed’s primary core inflation rate picked up to 2.6% from an upwardly revised 1.6% in December. On a six-month annualized basis, core inflation ran at a 2.5% rate, up from a tame 1.9% in December.”

HMM: NASA monitoring increased leak in Russian ISS module. “The leak is in a vestibule known as PrK between the docking port and the rest of the module. That section can be sealed off to minimize the loss of air from the rest of the station.”

AND THEY JUST MIGHT: Hamas Is Losing Every Battle in Gaza. It Still Thinks It Could Win the War.

Hamas’s fighters, the Al-Qassam Brigades, were doing fine, the upbeat message said. The militants were ready for Israel’s expected assault on Rafah, a city on Gaza’s southern edge. High civilian casualties would add to the worldwide pressure on Israel to stop the war, Sinwar’s message said, according to people informed about the meeting.

Hamas’s military wing in Gaza is waging an unequal fight with the strongest military in the Middle East—a war brought on by the U.S.-designated terrorist group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel. But Sinwar, the mastermind of that attack and one of Israel’s prime targets, is playing a different game. His goal is for Hamas to emerge from the rubble of Gaza after the war, declare a historic victory by outlasting Israel’s firepower, and claim the leadership of the Palestinian national cause.

The militants, commanded day-to-day by Sinwar’s brother Mohammed, have changed their tactics since a short cease-fire in November. Hamas fighters are now trying to avoid large firefights and instead use small-scale ambushes—using tools ranging from rocket-propelled grenades to recorded voices of hostages to lure Israeli troops into traps.

The ambushes have little chance of holding territory against Israel’s armored maneuvers. But they’re tailored to Hamas’s limited capabilities, and to Sinwar’s war aim.

“It’s a very sound tactical logic,” said Eyal Berelovich, a civilian analyst for Israel’s armed forces and a military historian at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University. “Their strategic goal is to survive.”

That’s exactly what will happen, if the antisemites embedded in the Biden Administration and throughout the American Left get their way.

MEANWHILE, OVER AT VODKAPUNDIT: The Biden Conundrum.

It’s a problem as old as marketing: how do you get the public to see your product the way you want them to see it instead of the way they already do?

The classic example of how to do it right was after the Tylenol poisonings of 1982. Future business classes might someday teach that the classic example of how to do it wrong is Presidentish Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.

Much more at the link.

THEY KEEP TELLING ME THE ECONOMY IS ROARING BUT I KEEP FINDING STORIES LIKE THIS ONE:

“Growth” under Biden has been bought with unsustainable debt.