Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys Could Make Tony Romo A June 1 Cut – But There's A Catch
Blogging The Boys (blog)
In principle, if an NFL player is cut before the end of his contract, the entire unamortized signing bonus money (the remaining prorated bonus money) accelerates immediately and counts against the current year's cap as "dead money". In Romo's case …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys Fans Must Say Goodbye To Tony Romo
Blogging The Boys (blog)
He's been the face of this franchise for the last decade, but alas – that is no more. We all knew it was coming, yet it is still a sad day as the Cowboys are set to release Tony Romo tomorrow. The numbers have been crunched, the writing has been on the …
ZergNet pitches itself as a higher-quality alternative to content recommendation widgets like Taboola and Outbrain. Now co-founder and CEO Reggie Renner is planning to become a bigger source of revenue for ZergNetpublishers with the launch of what thecompany is calling itsContent-Only Monetization Platform.
Before this launch, ZergNets main selling point to publishers was helping them grow their traffic theyd include links to other sites in the ZergNet network, then get readers back in return. However, Renner said hes hoping to convince publishers to at least consider giving up on competing, lower-quality widgets entirely. To do that, he needs to help those publishersmake money.
And yes, that means adding sponsored links to ZergNets recommendations. However, Renner said, We wanted to keep true to who we were as a business. Specifically, he said publishers can pay to promote their stories, but they have to be real content: We still do not allow any ads.
To ensure thats the case, the sponsored links will go through the same vetting process from ZergNets human editors as every other story in the network. As you can tell from the stories on ZergNets front page, its not exactlyin-depth, high-brow journalism that getshighlighted, but this process issupposed to keep things on topic so when you see ZergNet recommendations on gaming site IGN, they should all go to stories that are relevant to a gaming audience.
And with the sponsored links, Renner said the editors will help avoid links to thingsthat are just total crap the diet pills, the stuff thats disgusting or risqu.
Can this more high-minded approach make money? Well, even though ZergNet is only announcing the platform now, Renner said its already live and generating revenue for publishers.
ZergNet is also announcing that BuzzFeed President Greg Coleman has joined its board of directors.
I joined ZergNets board of directors because I strongly believe in the companys approach to providing high-quality content recommendations that people actually want to read, Coleman said in a statement. ZergNet is the only company in the space positioned to facilitate positive change.
The company said it works with more than 2,000 publishers, including AOL (which owns TechCrunch), Time Inc., CBS and News Corp.
Now that BuzzFeed has sufficiently memorialized the ’90s, it’s time to start incessantly whining about how totally flawless the 2000s were — starting with the movies. We had a Spider-Man series that was 66.6 percent not-shit, Peter Jackson wasn’t phoning in an all-CGI Middle Earth, and the Joker wasn’t spending thousands of burnable rake on sick nihilism tats. Not to mention that going to the theater didn’t equate to watching the same characters get blown and rebooted more times than a Super Nintendo.
So what in the balls happened? After some thoughtful digging (Googling box office numbers while drinking Black Velvet Cinnamon Rush), I’ve discovered the ground zero of this explosion of desperate spinoffs and remakes … and it’s the same culprit who taught a generation of Satanists that magic was real. That’s right: Harry Potter And The Gradually Diminishing Whimsy is to blame. Here’s how your favorite kid wizard cursed us to decades of crappy cinematic franchises.
If it’s not too much, take a gander at all the top-grossing films per year from 1988 to 1998:
It was a big decade for the “resourceful orphan kicks ass” genre.
Notice anything? Before 1999, we didn’t really have active franchises hitting it huge at the box office. For the most part, the highest-earning films came and went as single stories — eventually followed up with a sequel (or four) years later that never made as much money as the original. Then hit 1999, and this happened …
The only non-derivative movies are “Pixarized French storybook” and “every movie ever, but with blue cats.”
The aughts began an era in which sequels actually mattered. Star Wars, Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, Shrek, and Pirates emerged as top dogs, and other butt-destroying series like Lord Of The Rings, the Bournes, and The Matrix were not far behind. For one reason or another, the fantasy/sci-fi trilogy slowly began to engulf Hollywood. This made a seven-part book series like Harry Potter the Burrito Supreme of all money hogs. When the fairy dust cleared, Warner Bros. had made a nation-buying $7 billion in a decade from those itty snake-murdering scamps.
And they couldn’t spare a few hundred bucks for scar-removing surgery for the main actor? For shame.
And what’s more, Warner Bros. would also spend that decade making a king’s ransom on films that were also good, if not future classics. Directors like Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, the Wachowskis, and Alfonso Cuaron boosted WB to surpass $2 billion in overseas box office dinero by 2004. The Brothers Warner were more slick, high, and mighty than Dumbledore on a cocaine-fueled alpine slide. But much like all blow-related excursions, the comedown is a beast …
I know how much you guys love looking at numbers, so here’s a bunch more:
Aww, yeah. That’s the stuff.
That’s a list of Warner Brother’s top-grossing films of all time … which is almost exclusively Harry Potter or Batman films from that sweet spot between 2001 and 2012. Since then, these Animaniacs-harborers have completely run out of billion-dollar franchises. And while that sounds like nothing to cry about, considering all the money that was made from said billion-dollar franchises, remember that the studio system is one that constantly treads water when it comes to finance. It’s why we’ve had the same studios since the ’50s, and why the expected profit growth of the industry is at 0.6 percent. In other words: Making movies isn’t all that profitable, because of how hard the system is to sustain.
It’s like running a circus exclusively comprised of juggling elephants. Along with maintaining and feeding them, you have to hope that the public will never get sick of seeing your large mammals get debased for their entertainment. That means competing with all the other companies specializing in humiliating grassland beasts. Suddenly, you have to buy bigger and flashier elephant-sized juggling hats than everyone else — and so the growth becomes exponential.
In both cases, you’ll inevitably end up with some giant turds in your hands.
Let’s also pretend for a second that this act, which I will now call “Merry-Mammoth and the Madcap Masto-Funs,” becomes so world-famous that you pummel all the other circuses in town. Congratulations on swinging the biggest dick! Now continue to hire more employees, maintain your tortured animals, and try like hell to forget that your prized elephants will eventually die.
They’re down to a Warner Bro now.
Your Masto-Funs are in the ground, Warner Bros.! You’re now the Dirk Diggler of mammal entertainment (or, I guess, SeaWorld). Point is that once a studio is sustaining on a billion dollars a year, it’s hard to suddenly roll over to the competition … which is exactly what has happened to Warner Bros. in 2015, after Universal and Disney completely buried them with Age of Ultron and Jurassic World. Their biggest moneymaker was San Andreas, a movie destined to be forever watched with the TNT channel logo burned in the bottom-right corner.
And so, after years of studio expansions and shady accounting, Warner Bros. is receding their spending with cost cutting and layoffs while maintaining a hopeful future, even though they cannot stop dwelling on their past …
While the era of dark franchises like Harry Potter and The Dark Knight was winding down, something else happened in the late 2000s. It was a film called Iron Man, and its popularity and rise coincided with the silly cliche of the “gritty reboot” created by Christopher Nolan. Suddenly, Marvel was making more money than any superhero franchise — and doing it with charisma and lightheartedness.
Naturally, Warner Bros. got the message …
Oh wait. Shit.
… and cry-murdered that message like it was a sick cat. While the presence of Batman at least tonally justifies Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice‘s gloom, Man Of Steel has forever marred the series by giving us a Superman who opted to let people die in funereal tornado attacks rather than make rational decisions. I’m not talking about what you, the reader, personally think of the film, but rather the objective truth that this series is now popularly associated with literal overkill.
None of this is helped by the utterly tone-deaf justification from WB chief Kevin Tsujihara that future films about characters named Aquaman and Shazam are going to be “steeped in realism” and “edgier than Marvel’s movies.” All of this adds up to a company that can’t tell which way the wind is blowing — even after the giant flop of Fox’s gritty, un-fun Fantastic Four. And speaking of colossal dumps, if you want further proof of WB’s stagnation, check out the spoilerrific new trailer for Batman v. Superman:
This is what happens when you eat nothing but Reese’s Pieces.
What you’re seeing is supposed to be Doomsday, the monster who death-punched Superman back into relevance in the ’90s, who is either too steeped in realism to adhere to the laws of physics or riding some kind of diabolical Segway. If you haven’t noticed, he also looks exactly like the monsters from Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings (with some Incredible Hulk thrown in) …
That’s one orgy we’re all strangely curious to see.
… because Warner Bros. can’t stop reminding us of the days when it was making films we wanted to see. This devotion to habit also explains why they compulsively hire the Wachowskis to make potential franchise-launchers, even though the Wachowskis haven’t made a profitable film since The Matrix, and by all accounts are in fact costing the studio money at this point. But it’s not exactly like they have any other option either, considering how …
Capital FM Kenya (press release) (blog)
The Business Of Men's Fashion – Capital Campus
Capital FM Kenya (press release) (blog)
A more recent trend has been the resurgences of the fashionista. Now, men who love fashion are not afraid to ask for their piece of the pie. One such ambitious …
Why Blogging May Be Right for Your Pharmacy Business
Perhaps you've stumbled upon this article as you think through the pros and cons of launching a blog for your pharmacy or perhaps you clicked the link randomly while reading through the weekly newsletter, whatever the case, you are taking the time to …
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration wants to spend $2 billion testing new approaches to fighting poverty, with a particular focus on catching people before they fall into crisis rather than trying to put them back on their feet afterward.
The president’s budget, which will be officially released in early February, calls for creating a new Emergency Aid and Service Connection. The main goal would be to find ways of helping families who face immediate, potentially crippling financial crises — like a car breaking down with no money for repairs or an extended absence from work because of illness.
Instead of waiting for these people to exhaust all resources, certifying their poverty with extensive paperwork and then providing them with assistance through programs like food stamps, the idea would be to assist them with quick short-term aid — before one crisis leads to many others — or connect them with programs that, over the long term, can help stabilize their incomes.
The Emergency Aid and Service Connection would make money available to states and nonprofits interested in trying such approaches — and then evaluate how those programs worked, in hopes of hitting upon a few truly effective methods. “We want to work with state and local communities … that could then customize exactly that kind of response,” Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said on Wednesday. “Nobody has a monopoly on the best ideas.”
Donovan made his remarks during an event held at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University and moderated by sociology professor Kathryn Edin. That was no coincidence. A senior administration official told The Huffington Post that a major inspiration for the president’s initiative was the “groundbreaking” research that Edin conducted with H. Luke Shaefer, a social scientist at the University of Michigan. Their 2015 book, Two Dollars a Day, focused on the extremely poor — a group whose ranks have been increasing — and the ways that short-term financial crises can unravel lives.
Most of the extremely poor people they talked to “had been working — and wanted to work — but because of the instability in their jobs and the instability in their family lives, they had lost a job and things had spiraled out of control from there,” Shaefer told HuffPost last fall.
A mother with kids might move in with other family members after losing a job, Shaefer explained, only to have a relative borrow her car and wreck it or, worse, commit some kind of abuse. “We found a lot of examples where these people had turned to families and friends for help, and it turned out really badly,” Shaefer said.
One reason these Americans are struggling, Edin and Shaefer found, is that the safety net for poor families has become a shadow of its former self. Welfare reform, passed in 1996, has drastically shrunk the percentage of poor families who receive cash benefits.
The prospects for new anti-poverty spending might seem grim, given that President Barack Obama is in his final year of office and Republicans, who generally oppose new spending, control Congress. But some prominent Republicans, most notably House Speaker Paul Ryan, have spoken frequently and conspicuously about their interest in finding innovative approaches to fighting poverty. A one-time expenditure of $2 billion is not a huge sum in the context of a nearly $4 trillion federal budget, and finding at least some money for testing out promising programs might be possible.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, Obama went out of his way to praise Ryan’s attention to poverty. “America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support,” Obama said.
Blogging The Boys (blog)
The Latest Rumors On Tony Romo's 2017 Destination Includes Five Teams
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Where will Tony Romo land? That is the question that everybody keeps talking about, and the time for an answer is likely drawing closer. While the Cowboys technically don't have any deadlines to make this decision, other teams will force their hand in …
Blogging The Boys (blog)
Cowboys Free Agent Rumors: Barry Church Reportedly Targeted By Panthers
Blogging The Boys (blog)
According to sources, the Panthers are expected to make a run at Barry Church, who will become a free agent when the new league year opens Thursday afternoon. Church, who's spent the first seven years of his career in Dallas, is one of nine Cowboys' …
Yes, Jay Gould was a bad guy. But at least he helped build societal wealth. Not so our Silicon Valley overlords. And they have our politicians in their pockets.”>
A decade ago these guysand they are mostly guyswere folk heroes, and for many people, they remain so. They represented everything traditional business, from Wall Street and Hollywood to the auto industry, in their pursuit of sure profits and golden parachutes, was nothip, daring, risk-taking folk seeking to change the world for the better.
Now from San Francisco to Washington and Brussels, the tech oligarchs are something less attractive: a fearsome threat whose ambitions to control our future politics, media, and commerce seem without limits. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber may be improving our lives in many ways, but they also are disrupting old industriesand the lives of the many thousands of people employed by them. And as the tech boom has expanded, these individuals and companies have gathered economic resources to match their ambitions.
And as their fortunes have ballooned, so has their hubris. They see themselves as somehow better than the scum of Wall Street or the trolls in Houston or Detroit. Its their intelligence, not just their money, that makes them the proper global rulers. In their contempt for the less cognitively gifted, they are waging what The Atlantic recently called a war on stupid people.
I had friends of mine who attended MIT back in the 1970s tell me they used to call themselves tools, which told us us something about how they regarded themselves and were regarded. Technologists were clearly bright people whom others used to solve problems or make money. Divorced from any mystical value, their technical innovations, in the words of the French sociologist Marcel Mauss, constituted a traditional action made effective. Their skills could be applied to agriculture, metallurgy, commerce, and energy.
In recent years, like Skynet in the Terminator, the tools have achieved consciousness, imbuing themselves with something of a society-altering mission. To a large extent, they have created what the sociologist Alvin Gouldner called the new class of highly educated professionals who would remake society. Initially they made life bettermaking spaceflight possible, creating advanced medical devices and improving communications (the internet); they built machines that were more efficient and created great research tools for both business and individuals. Yet they did not seek to disrupt all industriessuch as energy, food, automobilesthat still employed millions of people. They remained tools rather than rulers.
With the massive wealth they have now acquired, the tools at the top now aim to dominate those they used to serve. Netflix is gradually undermining Hollywood, just as iTunes essentially murdered the music industry. Uber is wiping out the old order of cabbies, and Google, Facebook, and the social media people are gradually supplanting newspapers. Amazon has already undermined the book industry and is seeking to do the same to apparel, supermarkets, and electronics.
Past economic revolutionsfrom the steam engine to the jet engine and the internetcreated in their wake a productivity revolution. To be sure, as brute force or slower technologies lost out, so did some companies and classes of people. But generally the economy got stronger and more productive. People got places sooner, information flows quickened, and new jobs were created, many of them paying middle- and working-class people a living wage.
This is largely not the case today. As numerous scholars including Robert Gordon have pointed out, the new social-media based technologies have had little positive impact on economic productivity, now growing at far lower rates than during past industrial booms, including the 1990s internet revolution.
Much of the problem, notes MIT Technology Review editor David Rotman, is that most information investment no longer serves primarily the basic industries that still drive most of the economy, providing a wide array of jobs for middle- and working-class Americans. This slowdown in productivity, notes Chad Syverson, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has decreased gross domestic product by $2.7 trillion in 2015about $8,400 for every American. If you think Silicon Valley is going to fuel growing prosperity, you are likely to be disappointed, suggests Rotman.
One reason may be the nature of social media, which is largely a replacement for technology that already exists, or in many cases, is simply a diversion, even a source of time-wasting addiction for many. Having millions of millennials spend endless hours on Facebook is no more valuable than binging on television shows, except that TV actually employs people.
At their best, the social media firms have supplanted the old advertising model, essentially undermining the old agencies and archaic forms like newspapers, books, and magazines. But overall information employment has barely increased. Its up 70,000 jobs since 2010, but this is after losing 700,000 jobs in the first decade of the 21st century.
Tech firms had once been prodigious employers of American workers. But now, many depend on either workers abroad of imported under H-1B visa program. These are essentially indentured servants whom they can hire for cheap and prevent from switching jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs in Silicon Valley, and many corporate IT departments elsewhere, rent these technocoolies, often replacing longstanding U.S. workers.
Expanding H-1Bs, not surprisingly, has become a priority issue for oligarchs such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and a host of tech firms, including Yahoo, Cisco Systems, NetApp, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel, firms that in some cases have been laying off thousands of American workers. Most of the bought-and-paid-for GOP presidential contenders, as well as the money-grubbing Hillary Clinton, embrace the program, with some advocating expansion. The only opposition came from two candidates disdained by the oligarchs, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Now cab drivers, retail clerks, and even food service workers face technology-driven extinction. Some of this may be positive in the long run, certainly in the case of Uber and Lyft, to the benefit of consumers. But losing the single mom waitress at Dennys to an iPad does not seem to be a major advance toward social justice or a civilized societynor much of a boost for our societys economic competitiveness. Wiping out cab drivers, many of them immigrants, for part-time workers driving Ubers provides opportunity for some, but it does threaten what has long been one of the traditional ladders to upward mobility.
Then there is the extraordinary geographical concentration of the new tech wave. Previous waves were much more highly dispersed. But not now. Social media and search, the drivers of the current tech boom, are heavily concentrated in the Bay Area, which has a remarkable 40 percent of all jobs in the software publishing and search field. In contrast, previous tech waves created jobs in numerous locales.
This concentration has been two-edged sword, even in its Bay Area heartland. The massive infusions of wealth and new jobs has created enormous tensions in San Francisco and its environs. Many San Franciscans, for example, feel like second class citizens in their own city. Others oppose tax measures in San Francisco that are favorable to tech companies like Twitter. There is now a movement on to reverse course and apply tech taxes on these firms, in part to fund affordable housing and homeless services. Further down in the Valley, there is also widespread opposition to plans to increase the density of the largely suburban areas in order to house the tech workforce. Rather than being happy with the tech boom, many in the Bay Area see their quality of life slipping and upwards of a third are now considering a move elsewhere.
Once, we hoped that the technology revolution would create ever more dispersion of wealth and power. This dream has been squashed. Rather than an effusion of start-ups we see the downturn in new businesses. Information Technology, notes The Economist, is now the most heavily concentrated of all large economic sectors, with four firms accounting for close to 50 percent of all revenues. Although the tech boom has created some very good jobs for skilled workers, half of all jobs being created today are in low-wage services like retail and restaurantsat least until they are replaced by iPads and robots.
What kind of world do these disrupters see for us? One vision, from Singularity University, co-founded by Googles genius technologist Ray Kurzweil, envisions robots running everything; humans, outside the programmers, would become somewhat irrelevant. I saw this mentality for myself at a Wall Street Journal conference on the environment when a prominent venture capitalist did not see any problem with diminishing birthrates among middle-class Americans since the Valley planned to make the hoi polloi redundant.
Once somewhat inept about politics, the oligarchs now know how to press their agenda. Much of the Valleys eliteventure capitalist John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins, Vinod Khosla, and Googleroutinely use the political system to cash in on subsidies, particularly for renewable energy, including such dodgy projects as Californias Ivanpah solar energy plant. Arguably the most visionary of the oligarchs, Elon Musk, has built his business empire largely through subsidies and grants.
Musk also has allegedly skirted labor laws to fill out his expanded car factory in Fremont, with $5-an-hour Eastern European labor; even when blue-collar opportunities do arise, rarely enough, the oligarchs seem ready to fill them with foreigners, either abroad or under dodgy visa schemes. Progressive rhetoric once used to attack oil or agribusiness firms does not seem to work against the tech elite. They can exploit labor laws and engage in monopoly practices with little threat of investigation by progressive Obama regulators.
In the short term, the oligarchs can expect an even more pliable regime under our likely next president, Hillary Clinton. The fundraiser extraordinaire has been raising money from the oligarchs like Musk and companies such as Facebook. Each may vie to supplant Google, the company with the best access to the Obama administration, over the past seven years.
What can we expect from the next tech-dominated administration? We can expect moves, backed also by corporate Republicans, to expand H-1B visas, and increased mandates and subsidies for favored sectors like electric cars and renewable energy. Little will be done to protect our privacyfirms like Facebook are determined to limit restrictions on their profitable sharing of personal information. But with regard to efforts to break down encryption systems key to corporate sovereignty, they will defend privacy, as seen in Apples resistance to sharing information on terrorist iPhones. Not cooperating against murderers of Americans is something of fashion now among the entire hoodie-wearing programmer culture.
One can certainly make the case that tech firms are upping the national game; certain cab companies have failed by being less efficient and responsive as well as more costly. Not so, however, the decision of the oligarchsdesperate to appease their progressive constituentsto periodically censor and curate information flows, as we have seen at Twitter and Facebook. Much of this has been directed against politically incorrect conservatives, such as the sometimes outrageous gay provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.
There is a rising tide of concern, including from such progressive icons as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, about the extraordinary market, political, and culture power of the tech oligarchy. But so far, the oligarchs have played a brilliant double game. They have bought off the progressives with contributions and by endorsing their social liberal and environmental agenda. As for the establishment right, they are too accustomed to genuflecting at mammon to push back against anyone with a 10-digit net worth. This has left much of the opposition at the extremes of right and left, greatly weakening it.
Yet over time grassroots Americans may lose their childish awe of the tech establishment. They could recognize that, without some restrictions, they are signing away control of their culture, politics, and economic prospects to the empowered tools. They might understand that technology itself is no panacea; it is either a tool to be used to benefit society, increase opportunity, and expand human freedom, or it is nothing more than a new means of oppression.