This and That
November 23, 2016
I have collected a lot of string since last I posted. In July, when the shape of the future was dimmer, I received this email from my friend John Ruley. I guess I am violating Godwin’s law, but it does provide some historical perspective:
On your Brexit Correction - according to William Shirer, in Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Chapters 6 and 7), Hitler was first appointed as chancellor after the Nazis failed to win a clear majority in the 1932 elections - but after he became chancellor, in what Shirer calls "the last relatively free election Germany was to have" - received 44% of the total vote, which while not a majority far outpaced that of competing parties. Hitler formed a coalition with the nationalist party, and that gave him the majority he needed to pass the "enabling laws" that gave him absolute power, among other things outlawing all other political parties, including his erstwhile nationalist allies. So, while Hitler was not personally brought to power in a free election, he in fact gained power legally - as he often said - as a result of free elections. Strange, but true!
Long-time reader Stephen Coquet (one of the few who came to this column organically, rather than through pre-existing friendship with me) suggested this article about Hillary’s email server, back when it still might have done some good if placed before a wider readership. I feel like I let our side down. He also sent me this article from the Guardian about Baltimore police surveillance, and added,
The key statement is, “Police spokesperson TJ Smith insisted that the privately funded agreement between Persistent Surveillance Systems and city police 'was not a secret surveillance program.' " They just thought better if they didn’t tell anyone.
Dan Grobstein mentioned something I had vaguely heard about: A hip, cuddly and cunningly sadistic musical adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray movie has opened in London. It is scheduled for the August Wilson Theatre on Broadway starting on April 17, 2017 Dan also passed along Ang Lee Is Embracing a Faster Film Format. Can Theaters Keep Up? There are exactly two U.S. theaters showing Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at 120 fps; one is the Cinerama Dome in LA, where I plan to see it soon. The other is in New York City. Dan also tipped me to the race to preserve old celluloid.
Kevin Sullivan has a book tip:
Looking at your book list, I was reminded by your love of film that I recently enjoyed reading - a) "Adventures in the Screen Trade" by William Goldman, and then for fun, the actual book by him of "The Princess Bride". Both were informative and enjoyable.
This from my friend and former colleague Jerry Pournelle (the article is behind the paywall)
We’re All Cord Cutters Now
At one chain, the top 100 movie titles accounted for 85% of the DVDs rented in-store. But online, the top titles make up only 35% of rentals.
By Frank Rose
Sept. 6, 2016 7:18 p.m. ET
Does the internet pose a threat to established entertainment companies? Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang lead a class at Carnegie Mellon University in which a student recently put that question to a visiting executive. He pooh-poohed the idea: “The original players in this industry have been around for the last 100 years, and there’s a reason for that.” As co-heads of CMU’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics, Messrs. Smith and Telang aim to counter this line of thought, and in “Streaming, Sharing, Stealing” they do just that, explaining gently yet firmly exactly how the internet threatens established ways and what can and cannot be done about it. Their book should be required for anyone who wishes to believe that nothing much has changed.
That such thinking still exists, at a time when Apple and Alphabet (that is, Google) are by far the world’s most valuable corporations, is testament to the power of self-delusion. Whether in music or movies or television or books, digital technology has given artists the tools to strike out on their own, enabled audiences to avoid paying for anything they don’t want to pay for and denied media companies the ability to control audience behavior. No longer can executives in New York or Los Angeles force music fans to buy an entire album instead of a single song; or movie buffs to line up at the box office for something they’d rather watch at home free; or television audiences to rush home and endure a barrage of ads in order to see their favorite shows.