The Jury Talks Back


Members of the academy…

Filed under: Uncategorized — aunursa @ 8:40 pm

The New York Times reports that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is concerned about the relative lack of interest in the upcoming Academy Awards show.  Last year’s broadcast drew a record low 32 million viewers, and the Times notes that the five contenders for best picture “together have accumulated less than half the box office of ‘The Dark Knight,’ which was snubbed.”  Frantic producers are considering various ways to liven up the show in a desperate attempt to increase viewership.

I sympathize with the academy, which, according to the Times, “depends almost entirely on the success of the Oscars for its roughly $70 million in annual revenue.”  I would like to offer a few ideas that would entice lost viewers to return to the show.

1.  Include the public in selecting the nominations.  Major League Baseball has used this gimmick for decades to promote the All Star Game.  I realize that the academy would not want to relinquish your control and would be concerned that unpopular films would have no chance.  But there are two easy solutions.  You could proportion the voting.  For instance, academy votes could count for 50%, with the votes of moviegoers counting for the remaining 50%.  That would still give each academy member a million times more influence than each of your customers.  Alternately, the academy could select two or three nominations for each of the major categories, and the public vote would determine the other two or three.

2. Nominate movies that conservatives like.  Each year most or all of the nominees have politically-correct premises.  This year’s crop is no different, with “Frost/Nixon,” “Milk,” and “The Reader” all promoting liberal or morally-equivalent themes.  I notice that you didn’t nominate “Gran Torino,” which was highly rated at conservative websites like National Review, Hot Air, and Debbie Schlussel.  (The highest-grossing movie of Clint Eastwood’s career, “Gran Torino” also received high marks from the New York Times film critic.)  You want to increase viewership?  Toss a bone to the large number of your customers who share Sarah Palin’s values.  (Then again, you could try something truly revolutionary — actually seek out more films with conservative appeal.)

3.  Nix the political speeches.  Because I like you, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Nobody cares what actors, directors, and producers think about any political issue!  We would rather you just shut up and do your job.  It may be trite, but it’s true.  And when you geniuses expose your moral decay throughout the year with intellectual gems like these…

Sean Penn: I am not disturbed by Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s.  You know, there’s not a lot of cleaner pictures of karma in the world.

Sally Field: If mothers ruled the world, there would be no *** ****** wars in the first place!

Tom Hanks: A lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the church to make Prop 8 happen… [T]hat is un-American.

… don’t complain when nobody wants to watch you lecture us and rant on about your pet causes.  And don’t display any silly political symbols either.  Just give your stupid thank-you’s and be done with it.  Better yet, get rid of the speeches entirely — just accept your award and get off the stage.  If you enforced this rule, you might actually retain viewers’ interest for the entire show (which would fit into a 2-hour time slot, rather than the typically unbearable 3 1/2 to 4 hours.)

I guarantee that if you took these suggestions, you would breathe new life into the Academy Awards show.  But don’t worry — I won’t hold my breath.

Wave of the Future: The Newspaper On Your Computer!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 5:46 pm

h/t: Luke Ford’s Your Moral Leader:

Wait until the anchor gets to the bit about how much this new-fangled service will cost.

Police State?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 4:21 pm

Some perspective, please.

My father is doing a bit of work in Russia. Out in the provinces. Apparently, the prototypical provinces. Nothing military, defense, or intelligence related.  He has been detained by the police (Your papers, please) for driving past the local home of the KGB twice in one afternoon. He was also questioned for trying to take a picture, for his blog, of the ATM he uses.

Lack of perspective is what makes these people crazy:

Your New Federal Building

Filed under: Uncategorized — JRM @ 4:19 pm

I was thinking the other day about the federal buildings, and how they need to be more energy efficient, and how we could improve society with more and better federal buildings. There are, if I have my numbers right, 1,500 government-owned federal buildings in the United States. Some are very small. But they need improvement.

So, let’s burn them all down and spend an average of, oh, $2 million per replacement building. That way, they will be maximally energy efficient. And shinier.

Now, I know what you are saying. You are saying, “But, JRM, how will we know they are new and shiny unless ‘Federal Building’ is listed on the building in 24-karat gold-plated letters?” That’s a great question, and I have no answer. So, we’ll add 20 pounds of pure gold for the lettering on each building.

Another problem with these buildings is that people of different wealth levels work there. I have a colleague in my county building who has a brand new Lexus. This can lead to all kinds of problems; either there is resentment, or there are attempts to blow the car up by hooking the sparkplug to the gas line directly, but those are unsuccessful because there’s not enough oxygen and then the police talk to you about how your fingerprints got on the gas line. Or so I’ve heard.

So, I suggest five brand new tricked-out Lexuses or Vipers or other cool cars per building for federal business so people don’t have to use their own crappy cars.

And a five-carat diamond for every office, because, um, I’ve run out of ways to spend the money.

My plan gets us to less than two-thirds of the $7.7 billion allotted to federal buildings in Title VI of the stimulus package. Now, the plan calls for the money to spent for “projects that will create the greatest impact on energy efficiency and conservation,” so it’s unclear if the plan just isn’t to burn the money to keep warm.

And then consider that the stimulus package, in total, is more than 100 times the $7.7 billion allotted for federal buildings. (Luckily, there’s about $250 million to audit it, so it’s time to get into accounting.) Just try to spend that. Fortunately, President Obama has an unprecedented pledge to avoid and prevent waste, so it will all be spent well.

So, here’s your challenge: Spend the $3 billion or so we have left on the federal buildings for energy efficiency and conservation. If you want to try for the other $800+ billion, feel free to suggest ways to spend it. If you say, “Lexuses for Lawyers,” I think that’s something we can all get behind. Remember, no cutting the brake lines. That’s not environmentally friendly.


Nasty Fake Virus Alert

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kevin M @ 3:16 pm

There’s a nasty trojan program going around that tries to convince  users that they have a virus on their computer, and to buy some malware to “remove” the infection.  When in fact the “warning” is from the infecting malware, and the new software is more malware.

I’ve seen this on several machines in the last week, and it seems to be going around.  Others have seen it as well.  Most folks are calling it the “Security Center Alert Trojan.”  For some reason, my virus tools don’t find it because it isn’t really a virus, it’s just an annoying application that tries to fool people into giving money to the purveyors.

I’ve removed it now from two machines, starting with instructions I found here.

What happens is that every time you open a Google page, you get a popup “Security Center” warning about some “virus.”  The virus name differs, but the upshot is that you are given a link to get removal software, generally for a fee.  The offered software is, at best, useless, and at worst installs more malware.

Example messages:

Security Center Alert
To help protect your computer, Windows Firewall has blocked activity of harmful software.
Do you want to block this suspicious software?
Name: Spyware.ISpynow
Risk Level: High
Description: iSpynow is a Spyware program that records keystrokes and takes screen shots of the computer, stealing personal financial information.

Security center alert
To help protect your computer, Windows firewall has blocked some features of this program.
Do you want to block this suspicious software?
Name: win32.zafi.b
Risk Level: High

Be warned.

There is a game. This is the way some people play it.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 2:05 pm

From the February 9, 2009 edition of National Review, from the “The Week”column:

Some employees are simply irreplaceable. Take Michelle Obama, for example. The University of Chicago Medical Center hired her in 2002 to run “programs for community relations, neighborhood outreach, volunteer recruitment, staff diversity, and minority contracting.” In 2005 the hospital raised her salary from $120,000 to $317,000 — nearly twice what her husband made as a U.S. senator. Oh, did we mention that he had just become a U.S. senator? He sure had. Requested a $1 million earmark for the UC Medical Center, in fact. Way to network, Michelle! But now that Mrs. Obama has resigned, the hospital says her position will remain unfilled. How can that be, if the work she did was vital enough to be worth $317,000? We can think of only one explanation: Roland Burris’s wife wasn’t interested. 

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