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Tag Archives: article
Posted: February 22, 2017 at 4:43 am
Oregon is considering a bill that could allow the intentional taking of lives, if those lives fit into a particular category.
“Its intent,” Gayle Atteberry of Oregon Right to Life tells OneNewsNow, “is to allow Alzheimers, mentally ill, and dementia patients who are conscious and are able to eat and swallow, to be starved and dehydrated to death. It’s a horrifying bill. I’ve never seen one like it before.”
Alex Schadenberg with the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition makes similar arguments in a recent piece written for LifeNews.com.
According to Atteberry, individuals with those types of medical conditions aren’t capable of authorizing the withholding of their own care. Concerned that passage of Senate Bill 494 would legalize what society has considered murder, Atteberry contends insurance companies are behind the measure.
“… We can only imagine the amount of money that is saved if Alzheimers patients who are not terminal die [sooner],” she says. She is convinced it’s money behind the movement to legalize euthanasia.
Doctor-assisted suicide, legalized in Oregon 20 years ago, provides the means for a person to take his or her own life. For example, patients in Oregon have been refused expensive treatments for cancer but offered less expensive pills to kill themselves.
Atteberry contends the bill now being considered is one more step down the road to euthanasia of disabled and ailing patients the actual killing of innocent persons.
Her group maintains that the bill eliminates clear legal definitions that judges need when deciding a court case. “Ambiguity, which this bill creates in numerous ways, gives everyone involved in life-and-death matters clear reign to interpret situations as they want,” says the pro-life group.
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Posted: at 4:34 am
Hornbeck Offshore (NYSE:HOS) shares tanked following the company’s recent quarterly report. The numbers themselves were not surprising given the horrible market environment – the company reported a net loss of $0.53 per share on revenues of $41.9 million.
To get a quick picture of how bad things are, revenues declined by 52.8% since the fourth quarter of 2015 and by 19.3% since the third quarter of 2016. As a result of poor market conditions, the company had to stack 25 more vessels.
As I stated above, the results themselves are not a surprise at all. Perhaps, seeing actual numbers was a pain for Hornbeck Offshore investors, and this partially caused the post-earnings sell-off.
Also, the stock was elevated after the post-OPEC deal rally, although the deal changed nothing yet for the offshore drilling industry as was highlighted many times during this earnings season (read here, here and here).
However, the most important factor for any company is the outlook, and the outlook presented by Hornbeck Offshore management was just horrific.
Here’s what Hornbeck Offshore had to say:
“We project that even with the current depressed operating levels, cash generated from operations, together with cash on hand, should be sufficient to fund our operations and commitments at least through to our current guidance period ending December 31, 2018.
However, absent improved market conditions, we do not currently expect to have sufficient liquidity to repay our three tranches of funded unsecured debt outstanding that mature in fiscal years 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, as they come due, unless such debt is refinanced or restructured.
Refinancing in the current climate may not be achievable on terms that are in line with our historic cost of debt capital. We are fully aware of the challenges of current market conditions are presenting to all offshore oil and gas industry and continue to actively review our capital structure and assess our strategic options, as we consider plans to ensure the long-term viability of Hornbeck Offshore”.
In the previous report, the company warned investors that it was going to assess strategic options, but the language was softer. Now Hornbeck Offshore presented the big picture to investors – the company will have no money to pay debt in 2019 and will have to restructure its debt.
I would like to highlight that it does not even matter for Hornbeck Offshore if the industry rebounds by 2019 or not. The rationale for this statement is that Hornbeck Offshore management believes that it will be necessary to address the capital structure long before 2019. As always, concessions from lenders mean big concessions from shareholders.
Judging by Hornbeck Offshore comments, the company will try to push maturities as far as possible as it does not see any recovery coming soon:
“Earlier in this cycle, the industry mantra was lower for longer. The message we have recently been hearing from our customers, almost uniformly, is that they now see oil prices as lower forever. They no longer view this as a U-shape recovery, but an L-shaped recovery, or so we’re told 
Our customers are telling us, they’re not going to FID or sanction projects in deepwater. I mean, this is what they’re telling us, $40 a barrel. They’re going to have to justify $40 a barrel, not $50, but $40″.
Here’s what we see from this and what the market has so far failed to appreciate in both OSV and OSD stocks.
No matter what the current oil price is, the breakeven bar for projects is set low because oil producers don’t want to be trapped in capital-intensive endeavors if oil goes below $50.
Once again, I remind that it does not matter now if they are right or wrong in their evaluation, because they will act upon their views and this means little demand for OSD and OSV industries.
The year 2017 is going to be bad for the industry and for Hornbeck Offshore. The company will likely see its revolving credit line go from $200 million to $75 million as it plans to elect interest coverage holiday at some point during this year.
There is no cash crunch as the company had $217 million at the end of 2016, but this number will trend down as the year progresses.
The deal with creditors won’t be easy to reach as highlighted by the problems of Hornbeck Offshore’s peer, Tidewater (NYSE:TDW).
Tidewater’s shareholders are already on the verge of a wipeout. The situation for Hornbeck Offshore shareholders is better, as the company did not ran into any covenant and does not depend on lenders’ good will.
Anyway, proactive attempts to deal with debt mean nothing good for shareholders unless the company can suddenly gain access to capital markets.
At the end of 2016 – beginning of 2017, a group of offshore drillers, namely Transocean (NYSE:RIG), Rowan (NYSE:RDC), Noble Corp. (NYSE:NE), Ensco (NYSE:ESV) and Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW) were able to raise money through debt and equity.
The window of opportunity was opened by the OPEC/non-OPEC deal, but I believe that it has already shut down as no tangible evidence of any improvements on the offshore drilling front materialized after the deal.
Also, players with financial problems like Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL) or Ocean Rig (NASDAQ:ORIG) were not able to raise money during this fortunate period. Yes, Seadrill is in restructuring negotiations right now, but even its founder is not willing to inject money via equity. So, for weaker industry players like Hornbeck Offshore or Tidewater the market was never really opened.
All in all, Hornbeck Offshore still has time to review its strategic options and I expect that the company will not hurry.
Any negotiations with creditors will take long as evidenced by Tidewater and Seadrill restructuring negotiations. Given the uncertainty, the stock will be highly volatile and present trading opportunities on both long and short sides.
However, the general direction will be to the downside as the OSV industry is the last one in the supply chain to benefit from rising oil prices, and current oil prices are not sufficient enough to bail out the OSD industry, the client of the OSV industry.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a short position in HOS over the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Editor’s Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.
Originally posted here:
Posted: at 4:30 am
Intrepid travelers could fly to space from a UK space port as soon as 2020 under new laws.
Commercial flights for people willing to go to infinity and beyond could be available in just three years.
Space travel has long been a dream for people hoping to explore the area outside our planet.
Richard Bransons Virgin Galactic and Dutch-founded Xcor are among those that could take passengers up to the final frontier when services go live.
In Virgin Galactics plans, astronauts would cost $250,000 for the flight into the Earths atmosphere.
SpaceX is also offering trips to the International Space Station after it made history in 2012 when it became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the space station.
Sunday night its Falcon 9 rocket launched on a mission to resupply the space station.
Under new powers unveiled this week, scientists will blast into space to conduct zero-gravity experiments in a bid to find cures for deadly bugs like MRSA and salmonella.
The laws allowing commercial flights to take off from UK space ports by 2020 will also permit researchers to carry out tests on potential new antibiotics in orbit.
The powers in the spaceflight bill will be revealed in Parliament this week.
It means a rocket spaceflight could take off from a space port in Britain before a new runway is built at Heathrow.
Science Minister Jo Johnson said the new powers would cement the UKs position as a world leader in an emerging market worth up to $26 billion (25 billion) over the next 20 years.
Space ports could be set up and satellites launched from regions across the UK under the plans.
Newquay in Cornwall; Llanbedr in Snowdonia; and three Scottish sites, Glasgow Prestwick, Campbeltown, and Stornaway in the Western Isles have all been shortlisted as potential space port sites.
Because of Britains position far from the equator, its likely space planes would take off from a horizontal runway rather than a rocket launch pad.
They will transport satellites up into orbit or take paying space tourists although its thought space tourism would only make up around 10 percent of the industry.
NASA scientists have been carrying out scientific research in space for the last five years.
This week US scientists sent the lethal MRSA bug up to the International Space Station for astronauts to study how the superbug becomes resistant to antibiotics.
Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad said the ambition was to launch a space flight from the UK as soon as possible.
He said: Our ambition is to allow for safe and competitive access to space from the UK, so we remain at the forefront of a new commercial space age.
Johnson added: From the launch of Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, to Tim Peakes six months on the International Space Station, the UKs space sector has achieved phenomenal things in orbit and beyond.
With this weeks spaceflight bill launch, we will cement the UKs position as a world leader in this emerging market, giving us an opportunity to build on existing strengths in research and innovation.
This article originally appeared on The Sun.
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Posted: at 4:25 am
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Inside a series of nondescript buildings in the driest desert in North America, an entrepreneurial enclave is chasing the next frontier of commerce. Explosions are routine. The science is complex. Brain power and ambition are high, as is danger. This cluster of 17 young companies at the Mojave Air and Space Port, 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles, is shooting for the moonand beyond.
The startups there are building the components, engines, materials, and rockets that are dispatching a new generation of cell-phone-size satellites and more into space. These so-called NewSpace companies have sprung up around a former military base in the California desert. The remoteness of Mojave and the permissive attitude toward, say, detonation and flamesthe airports slogan: We eat explosions for breakfastmake it the ideal location for companies aiming to reach the heavens.
Mojave is the Silicon Valley of space exploration, says Mark Bnger, who follows the sector at Lux Research. Mojave isnt alone, as galactic entrepreneurship is also burgeoning in Seattle, Tucson, and Silicon Valley itself. Says Sunil Nagaraj of Bessemer Ventures: 2017 will be the year that NewSpace startups will hit their stride.
It used to be that space projects were so daunting and expensive that only governments and their massive corporate partners could take them on. Then, in the past decade or so, a cadre of billionairesthink Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Bransonentered the arena with what first seemed like eccentric pet projects. Today, in the wake of their successes, theres a third generation: minnows that service those private companies and leverage the growing economies of scale such that a startup without extraordinary resources can now contemplate a voyage to another planet.
Plenty of factors are making space missions cheaper and more feasible: the miniaturization of electronics, the development of stronger and lighter materials, better engineering, and new standards that make it easier to build mini-satellites and send them up as hitchhikers on a larger launch. A traditional low-earth-orbit satellite, for instance, weighs three tons, stands two-stories tall, and costs tens of millions of dollars to build. Today there are microsatellites between 22 and 220 pounds and even nanosatellites under 22 pounds. A so-called cubesat, for example, weighs around two pounds, is about the size of a fist, and costs less than $100,000 to build. Some 60 companies now sell them, allowing small governments and companies to put a tiny probe into orbit for precision agriculture, oil spill monitoring, or security systems.
Of the 115 space-related companies started in the past decade and backed by investors, 84 focus on satellites, according to the Tauri Group, which tracks space investments. Just last year, those companies launched 100 microsatellites, up from 25 in 2011. Tauri projects that 2,400 nano- and microsatellites will launch between 2017 and 2023.
Investment is starting to take off. Venture capitalists have put $8.2 billion into space companies over the past five years, according to Tauri, most of it into rockets and satellites.
Mojave has become an oasis of billionaires, scientists, vendors, and service providers. Bransons Virgin Galactic has 500 people there building and testing propulsion systems and a suborbital spaceship, according to CEO George Whitesides. Paul Allens Vulcan Aerospace is nearing completion of its massive Stratolaunch airplane. NASA officials scout Mojave for technology and commercial space partners, and rockets are launched by small companies like XCOR and Masten Space Systems, which are assembling light, reusable launch vehicles to drastically reduce the cost of spaceflight. All that activity has drawn even smaller operations, including a school for test pilots and tiny vendors that provide everything from industrial coatings to ancillary offerings like financial services and a gym.
The biggest driver has been the deep pockets and confidence of Musk, Bezos, and others, including dotcom entrepreneur Naveen Jain and hotel mogul Robert Bigelow, who have been funding startups through venture investments and contests like the Google XPrize. Musks SpaceX slashed tens of millions of dollars from rocket prices, helping land the company a $1.6 billion deal with NASA to fly 12 cargo missions to the International Space Station. Musk and Bezos are now, separately, planning missions to Mars. They were the primer to the pump for this new resurgence, says Jay Gibson, CEO of XCOR.
Moon Express, funded by Jain, plans its maiden voyage to the moon later this year, vying for the Google Lunar XPrize, a $20 million award to the first company to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon and accomplish several technical challenges. Once there, Moon Express plans to extract iron ore, water, minerals, and precious metals, as well as nitrogen, hydrogen, and more. Ultimately, Jain thinks, the moon could become a fuel depot where spacecraft can stop before continuing longer journeys. Entrepreneurs have the potential to change the trajectory of how humanity lives, he says, where the moon becomes the eighth continent and a great place to live.
Needless to say, the challenges remain immense. I sound like a curmudgeon, but people always say this will be the year, says Gary Hudson, an industry veteran and the president of the Space Studies Institute. Everything costs more and takes longer than you think, and people die if you screw up.
The difficulty hasnt curbed enthusiasm at Interorbital Systems, a 12-person operation in Mojave. Cofounders Roderick and Randa Milliron started their business two decades ago with a goal of eventually living on the moon. Interorbital sells satellite kits and says it will launch 137 satellites in 2017 and 2018 with its modular rocket, whose size can be adjusted depending on the mission. The revenue from satellite and launch sales, space-testing missions, and more should help it reach its goal of using its rocket to get to the moon this year, as part of a team competing for the Lunar XPrize.
Perhaps the ultimate evidence that space technology is catching on is that it is even filtering down to hobbyists. A hacker space called Mojave Makers allows individuals to, say, build their own 3D-printed rocket motors. Says Bessemers Nagaraj: You now have people tinkering with space just as the previous generation tinkered with computers.
A version of this article appears in the March 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “Rocket Boom in the Desert.”
Posted: at 4:22 am
This article starts with some homework. I want you to watch this video:
If you have been a devoted reader of my Buddhism pieces, you have already seen this, so don’t give the punchline away to the rest of the class.
Most all of you seeing this naively — not aware of what is going to happen — will have seen the little basketball exercise, and very few of you will have seen the moonwalking bear. Hell, I know what is happening and without consciously doing the Zen thing I still get sucked in. The point is that perception is altered by our thinking. One of the goals of Buddhist meditation is to make us aware of this — not stop it, because we can’t, that’s the way we’re built, but to be aware of it.
The furor about the Trump presidency has gotten to the point that people are literally (and I don’t mean figuratively literally, I mean literally literally) seeing and hearing things that aren’t there, just as in the video.
The truly glaring example this week was the succession of articles about Trump “lying” about a terrorist attack in Sweden. It’s been widely reported, even on the one paragon of truth in American politics, PJ Media.
There’s only one problem.
It didn’t happen.
Posted: at 4:15 am
You know that PewDiePie guy youve been hearing about lately? I have a funny story about him.
I made this YouTube video back in 2012, wherein a bunch of us mocked PewDiePie using a satirical version of The Fine Bros. React videos. I made the centerpiece the fact that, back then, PewDiePie tended to use the word rape quite a bit.
Please note, as many get wrong, I dont think he was making rape jokes at all; it was just yelling the word more than anything. The video blew up a little and prompted him to make a specific apology video to his viewers.
PewDiePie has since actually turned over a new leaf. He had a video called Old vs. New PewDiePie in which he watched his old content and appeared to be a little surprised at his original self. In fact, he contacted me and we had a very cool email exchange, in which he said that my video led to him thinking more about the things he said and re-examine the kind of jokes he was making.
Wow! My trolly little video where I made trouble for a really big YouTuber although not quite the biggest, back then had inadvertently caused some self-reflection and ultimately some good in the world. Not a bad deal!
Well, thats my story. It was a little short for a Polygon article, but alls well that ends well and there has never been, nor will there ever be, any new developments there. Im positive of this fact. Not even gonna Google it.
Now to read my favorite newspaper, The Wall Street Journal …
Well, instead of just deleting the previous few paragraphs, what say we just go ahead and write a whole article about this?
I go by slowbeef, and Ive been doing Lets Plays and related content since about 2007. Im certainly not rich off of, or successful from my videos, but I run in those circles because Ive been doing it for so long in addition to my day job. Some people even consider me a progenitor of it. I talk to a lot of the A-Listers the people whose names you know rather often and I have some insight into that world. I have one foot in the door, and see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes.
PewDiePie isnt remotely the only e-celebrity to have this sort of scandal, though most controversies tend to be a bit smaller in scope.
Did you ever hear about the streamer who got drunk and told her fans that kids getting cancer was just natural selection? Or the two YouTubers who conveniently forgot to tell their fans they were getting paid for their Ryse gameplay? Or that guy who got caught masturbating on camera during his pre-show? This stuff happens with regularity.
Allow me to extrapolate on a meme those kids today are using: Dude, you had one job. And it looked like a really easy one. Lets Players, streamers or content creators, whatever you like, get to play video games and make jokes while doing so. It seems like a dream gig, so why even risk these sort of gaffes? Why do people risk their jobs for jokes or mistakes that seem easy to avoid?
Well, its complicated. But there are three reasons this keeps happening.
Lets play (ha) a game you cant win. In the comments below, tell me how to get your videos featured, get your subscribers to watch videos or get your related videos in the related videos sidebar as opposed to some other person on YouTube.
Im not joking, go down and do this right now. The rest of the story will be here when you get back.
I can bet that some of you got it right, but the problem is that your answer will become wrong in the next month or so. Content producers get frustrated with the system because the rules keep changing; it always seems like the site is keen to promote someone else, and it can feel impossible to keep up.
For example: subscriber burn, which is a nefarious little side effect of not uploading a new video for a couple of weeks. The term was popularized by the Game Theory channel in 2014; your subscribers stop getting notified of your videos if they stop watching or you stop uploading. Going on vacation? Lets hope you got a backlog, because youll see a big drop in views if you take a week or two off. And they might not come back.
Heres another fun one. If you manage your YouTube settings as a viewer, youll see the selected default option is occasionally notify me of videos and activities from my subscriptions. Occasionally. A lot of viewers dont know this, but YouTube doesnt default to always showing you new videos from their favorite channels.
Youll frequently see uploaders complain that users suddenly get unsubscribed, certain videos no longer appear, or you have to explicitly check a whole new notification setting for some reason. As of this writing, theres a little bell icon next to the subscribe button. The button itself isnt enough to see videos of people to subscribe to, you need to hit the bell and tell YouTube to always send you notifications, the notifications they default you to only sometimes getting.
If this doesnt make much sense to you, you see what we deal with. Its constantly changing. Now, imagine your business hinges on all these random changes.
Most uploaders begin to believe they have to flood the site with videos for a chance one goes viral or to reach subscribers who arent notified or to make up for losing them. And the numbers do go up when you start to do that, leaving many to believe its the only reliable way to keep relevant.
You need ad revenue if you want to make a living talking over video games, which means views and that means uploads. Or at the very least, you need brand deals which means you need clout, which means you need subscribers, which means views, which again means uploads. Most pros create at least one video a day, and its a punishing schedule. Some create as many as three videos a day.
Protip: You can oversaturate your audience, so dont read this as, its good to upload 10 videos a day.
None of this is good for your mental health if you want to do this job or even come up with a standard workflow, which creates the next big problem.
Theres an apparent double standard, right? Comedians tell AIDS jokes, Holocaust jokes, 9/11 jokes and much more. When a popular YouTuber does it, its suddenly being reported by the media (and, cough, other YouTubers). Didnt George Carlin once say no topic is off limits?
Yeah. But like most comedians, he also spent a lot of his time writing those jokes, refining them, trying them in smaller clubs before his big venues, commiserating with his peers, etc. A secret of successful comedians is you dont just spit out jokes that come to you. You develop bits, callbacks, sets, etc. There are legit reasons that Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, and Jim Jefferies get away with questionable jokes and JohnnySephiroth315 doesnt.
Many YouTubers do some of this work, mind, but they also have to prep footage, record it, process it, do editing, transcode it, upload it, schedule it… there are many steps to take before the audience sees the content. And this has to happen, for most, at least once a day. On a platform that changes its rules on the fly, all the time.
Come on, you say. How much work can it be to make a ten-minute video? Try it. Speak about a topic you care about, and then edit out all the pauses and awkward moments but keep your flow. Aim for five minutes, if you like. If you want it to look good, you might have had to do a couple of takes, re-read your outline (you wrote one, right?), mull over editing decisions and make sure the sound is just as good as the video.
Its different for everyone, but there is no process in which you can do this well that doesnt eat up a lot of time and energy. Its a grueling job, especially when positivity is so often tied to success.
There isnt much time to mull over a joke, consult with colleagues, rewrite it, see how smaller audiences take it, and then tailor accordingly. Again, many of us want to have new content every day. The chance youre going to misread your audience and be punished for it goes up with every video you release in this environment. Watch the video below, and imagine having to do this for every joke, on every video for every day of your life.
PewDiePies now infamous sketch? Bit? You know, where he pays a couple of Indian kids on Fiverr … eh, Im sure youve heard of it. There really is a joke there somewhere at Fiverrs expense, and I think thats what he was going for.
The parts are there, loosely, if you cock your head and squint a bit. Theres an air of exploitation (on Fiverrs part, but also often claimed to be on PewDiePies part) but it was a rush job. Seinfeld, in contrast, maps out goofy jokes about Pop Tarts down to the syllable.
PewDiePie ends up looking like the villain because he uses the old South Park haha anti-Semitism! routine, but the whole joke is malformed. People are quick to dismiss it as merely an edgy throwaway when it couldve been meant as a commentary on paid online services. But who can blame them? As it stands, the joke is really hard to read. It doesnt land cleanly at all.
You can actually imagine, if you like, PewDiePie doing a stand-up set and having comedian friends tell him at the bar that man, youve been leaning on the Nazi stuff a bit lately. Or an audience groaning at a smaller venue, which signals to him its time to do a rewrite. Thats why there are workshops, writing sessions and smaller venues and drinks with fellow comedians. You have to fail often when the stakes are low to learn how to get the big wins. Its a process.
Online personalities cant really know that theyve lost the goodwill of the audience, or that the material will gain mainstream anger if theyre famous, until its too late. Theyre already forming tomorrows video without even seeing the storm thats coming.
Even worse is that there is this air of everyone gets sooo offended and, while thats a whole different conversation, some people use the reverse-outrage to mask the fact that they fucked up a joke and have to pay a price. Or they blame others for pointing it out.
Its one of the cons of being an entertainer. But it all adds up to a firestorm thats always a spark away, no matter where you fall on the ultimate outcome. Come to think of it where was Disney and Maker and YouTube in all this? What the hell are they doing to manage their most popular asset?
One time, a much more successful friend, someone with over 500,000 subscribers, was going to be interviewed by a major television network. He spoke with me about it beforehand.
I warned him off the situation; it sounded like he was going to be sandbagged. He was adamant about the opportunity, and I turned out to be wrong. It also turned out I was one of the only people who were trying to offer an opinion on it.
This guy had tons of views and made a bunch of money; didnt anyone at his Multi-Channel Network, or MCN, know or care that he was gonna do this interview? Did they offer advice or prep him for challenging questions? Was there a conversation about avoiding sound bites that can be taken out of context?
MCNs are agencies that partner with you, Maker Studios was PewDiePies MCN, and if youre someone big enough to be worth their time youll get brand deals and opportunities to work with others and increase your audience and revenue. They handle a lot of the backend stuff that most people dont think about when it comes to big entertainers.
The chance youre going to misread your audience and be punished for it goes up with every video you release in this environment
But if someone asks why they should give an MCN 10 percent of their revenue and theyre not a managed partner that means youre in a special relationship because youre big enough for them to really care there may not be much of an answer.
My MCN is typically pretty nice and in touch, but Im not managed and if I decide to do an interview or write this article a PR person wont notice or care. Im completely on my own when it comes to thinking about how my audience views me, for better or worse. I dont have a manager to call for advice, guidance or media training.
Surprisingly, this is also true of some of the biggest names in the business. I dont want to make it sound like MCNs do nothing, they are valuable business partners that make it easier to pay the bills, but they definitely dont curate your content. They dont tell their big talent to lay off the political posting, or dial it back on the hard stuff for a bit. Its all business, no grooming or advice.
I dont think this is due to apathy or greed. Im not sure they know how to handle these things either. I mean, even if youve worked in Hollywood or television, here comes a bunch of kids who get tons of ad revenue for screaming over video games. And heres another batch who pantomime being cartoonishly scared of the games. And heres a channel that comments on their commentary! Its baffling to people who dont like or understand it, so I think most business people dont want to touch the golden goose for fear itll stop laying eggs. They just know people are paying attention, and thats worth money.
PewDiePie is a bit anomalous among even the A-Listers, and consider this: part of his contract was that he retained full editorial control (in retrospect: maybe not a win), and Disney agreed to those terms.
Jesus, do these italics slant any farther over? Disney! There is almost no other company more protective of its intellectual property or image, and they let a guy in his twenties with one of the largest audiences in the world say and do whatever he wanted under their umbrella. If you combine that with a contract that likely gave Disney a lot of easy ways to drop him if things went south, and you have a creator who is in a bad situation without any guidance from people who can help manage the situation.
Thats huge, and its also telling. It feels like Disney was thinking, Were not exactly sure what you do, or how it makes money, but it does, so lets partner and leave shit alone and hope it keeps making us money. But when you get in trouble, well, bye.
I think most business people dont want to touch the golden goose for fear itll stop laying eggs
Theres always someone else with a funny screen name and a million subscribers who can reach the same audience. But youd think this whole situation couldve been avoided if there were somebody checking in when the first few issues with the content begun. This controversy didnt happen all at once, there were plenty of chances for someone to step in and try to cool things down or provide help or advice when the media got involved.
Yes, real celebrities do mess up. But there are publicists and agencies that try to prevent this from happening and then help with damage control. YouTubers start their careers doing everything solo, get into the Ill take care of it all myself mentality, and MCNs dont seem super equipped to deal with the downsides to some of that.
So you end up with very famous and very rich (and often, very young) personalities with no one to help manage genuine crises. Which means the bad decisions continue.
On the surface, humor seems easy and I think people make the mistake of thinking it just comes naturally. People think Lets Play is just I get paid to play video games and talk?!
But creativity takes time and reflection and refinement and work. Content creators are in this system where theyre incentivized to pump it out faster and faster, which means a lot of jokes come out half-baked and rushed. Short-term controversies cause everyone to rush to make their own reaction video, which is the YouTube version of the hot take, or thinkpiece.
Eager to compete with each other, you get misleading titles and custom thumbnails its kinda clickbaity, really. Hell, even PewDiePie uploads daily despite the fact that hes on top and every publication in the world wont stop telling me how much he makes.
I dont think this system will be improved any time soon, but I would like to end on a positive note. If there is someone whos making the stuff you enjoy (and maybe that still is PewDiePie), find ways to contribute. If they have alternate payment systems like merchandise or Patreon, consider it so they dont have to play the ad revenue works in volume game. Support the people you like and boost their signal. Get them out of the realm where they need to make a video a day.
YouTube has a speed and quantity problem, and it affects all aspects of the business. If you are a content creator, take a little time with controversial stuff. It really is fun to make things, but irreverent, boundary-breaking stuff is high-risk/high-reward. Dont just spit it out: run things by friends and people not in the business. Test the tone before you go live. Sleep on it. That way, you too can be a successful celebrity with a long, stalwart career like Mel Gibson or Michael Richards, only with video games involved, somehow.
Sorry to end this early, but I have a video to upload. Later!
Michael Sawyer goes by the alias “slowbeef” and has been doing Let’s Plays since 2005, despite being incredibly unsuccessful at them. He is a self-described video game humorist and is officially way too old to being doing that. You can find him on Twitter, Twitch or YouTube.
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Posted: at 3:56 am
This post is also available in: Spanish
Did you really think that the European Union would protect your privacy? Dont be so naive.
The US-EU Privacy Shield program is supposed to give EU citizens greater data protections. As I wrote previously, the Privacy Shield program has several legal loopholes, which makes it looka bit like a block of Swiss cheese.
To add insult to injury, not only does the Privacy Shield fail to protect peoples private data, even NSA contractors are invited to join the party! The Privacy Shield program gives these NSA contractors the ability to transfer personal data stored in the EU to the US. From watching international news over the past few years, you may remember how Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the NSAs mass surveillance programs. Snowden exposed how the US government had access to read your emails and to listen in on your phone calls.
Including NSA contractors on the list of Privacy Shield is a bit like letting the fox guard your henhouse. While some of the NSA contractors are signed up only to share human resources data, their inclusion in the program does nothing to improve Privacy Shields already dismal public image. The companies on the list are allowed to submit a self-assessment to ensure their compliance with Privacy Shield. In practice, this means that these companies have little or no independent oversight.
The followingNSA contractors have joined the Privacy Shield program: BAE Systems, Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.
With the inclusion of NSA contractors in the Privacy Shield program, it is rather obvious that the US government cares nothing for data protection. While Europeans are lulled into a false sense of security with Privacy Shield, the US continues to build its surveillance state.
In 2013, BAE Systems won a multi-year contract with the NSA for high performance computing. The contract is valued at $127 million. A leaked top-secret document outlines the NSAs surveillance priorities for 2012-2016. One of the NSAs stated goals is to use high performance computing to crack encryption. As a goal, the document states that the NSA plans to Dynamically integrate endpoint, midpoint, industrial-enabled, and cryptanalytic capabilities to reach previously inaccessible targets in support of exploitation, cyber defense, and cyber operations. In other words, the NSA plans to use its high performance computing program to broaden its surveillance capabilities, and BAE Systems is helping.
The American telecom, AT&T, built a secret room in one of its centers to facilitate NSA spying. In 2006, an AT&T technician blew the whistle and revealed the NSAs massive spying operations. The NSA used a device to sift through massive amounts of data from the internets backbone. The device was made by a company called Narus. In 2010, Boeing acquired Narus.
In 2008, Boeing acquired Digital Receiver Technology (DRT). The NSA used DRT equipment to track peoples locations by their cellphone signals. Some DRT devices also have the ability to listen in on cellphone conversations and jam cellphone signals. Several DRT devices appear in the NSAs surveillance catalog.
In 2014, the Intercept revealed that the NSA was recording virtually every phone call in the Bahamas. The program is called SOMALGET, which is part of a broader surveillance program called MYSTIC. The broader surveillance program, MYSTIC, collects phone call metadata from several countries including Mexico, Kenya, and the Phillipines. General Dynamics had an 8 year contract valued at $51 million to process data for the MYSTIC program.
In 1988, Margaret Newsham, a software engineer for Lockheed Martin, blew the whistle on a massive NSA spying program. The NSA was intercepting phone calls and electronic data in a surveillance program called ECHELON. While working for Lockheed Martin, Newsham was helping to create software that ran the ECHELON program. Newsham also revealed that the NSA was listening to phone calls of a US Congressman.
The US militarys research arm, DARPA, awarded contracts for the Total Information Awareness (TIA) program. The TIA program would collect massive amounts of data and use a predictive policing model. In other words, TIA used automated analysis to identify people as potential terrorists. In a very eery sense, it was the film Minority Report becomingreality. DARPA gave Lockheed Martin 23 contracts valued at $27 million for the TIA program. Several branches of the US government were involved in the TIA program, including the NSA. In 2012, the New York Times revealed that the NSA was running a program very similar to the TIA. The full extent of the TIAs legacy would not be revealed until the Snowden leaks in 2013.
In 2000, the NSA launched the Trailblazer project. The aim of Trailblazer was to update the old Cold War era interception technology employed by the NSA. The Trailblazer project was mired in scandal. The NSA had wasted over a billion dollars for a program that did not work. Northrop Grumman was one of the contractors working on the failed Trailblazer project.
The Trailblazer project was terminated in 2006. The next year, the NSA awarded Northrop Grumman a $220 million contract. The contract was to help the NSA manage the vast amounts of data it collected from its surveillance programs.
In 2009, the NSA founded the US Cyber Command. The new command center would focus on defensive as well as offensive cyber warfare. Raytheon posted job advertisements for cyber warriors to work at locations near known NSA sites.
In 2010, the NSA awarded Raytheon a classified $100 million contract for the Perfect Citizen program. The program would place sensors, to detect cyber attacks, in the backbone infrastructure of public utilities. A Raytheon employee criticized the program with the following words in an email: Perfect Citizen is Big Brother. The NSA rather comically claimed that Perfect Citizen would not be used for spying; however, privacy advocates were worried that the program would be used for domestic surveillance.
The text of this article is released into the public domain. You are free to translate and republishthe text of this article. Featured pictureis CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 Flicker user jrothphotos. Secondary picture CC by EFF.
Printouts from PrivacyShield.gov website, link.
Originally part of the Occupy protests, Rachael is an advocate for transparency in government and digital civil liberties.
This post is also available in: SpanishDid you really think that the European Union would protect your privacy? Dont be so naive. The US-EU Privacy Shield program is supposed to…
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NSA Contractors Join Privacy Shield – Pirate Times
Posted: at 3:54 am
Monday on his nationally syndicated radio show, conservative talker Rush Limbaugh said the reaction of the media to President Donald Trumps tweet labeling them an enemy of the American people was because some journalists believe the First Amendment gives them immunity from criticism.
I want to thank F. Chuck Todd of NBC for opening my eyes to this. For the longest time Ive been genuinely curious why it is that media people think that they cannot be criticized.
And they really do. They really think they can go out and research people and they can dig up dirt from anybody they want, their pasts, and they can broadcast it all over. And if somebodys life, somebodys marriage, somebodys relationship, somebodys kid gets destroyed or ruined, fine and dandy.
They can do all of that they want, but you turn it around and you start investigating your favorite journalist to find out how many illegitimate kids he or she might have had in college or how many DUIs they had, you know, or how many communist sympathizer meetings they went to, then all hell breaks loose and they start squealing like stuck pigs, You cant do that! Were journalists!
I said, Where does this come from? Its more than just hubris. I finally found out. You know what it is, Mr. Snerdley? These clowns actually believe that since they are recognized in the First Amendment that they have constitutional immunity.
Criticizing them is attacking the First Amendment. They really believe this. Criticizing them is akin to attacking the Constitution, and thats un-American, and thats why you hear these journalists say. Its un-American to criticize. Its un-American for Trump to be destabilizing. Its un-American for Trump to be going out there and trying to do damage to the media. Weve got First Amendment protection.
Well, so does the president, and the president happens to be mentioned in the Constitution before the media. The presidents mentioned in Article 2. The media doesnt make it til the First Amendment. But yet the media thinks theres nothing bad about running around and trying to attack political figures and destroying them.
This is what it is, folks. They are so far gone, they really think that they are the last line of defense between freedom and democracy and tyranny. And attacking them and challenging their reputation is no more and no less than attacking the Constitution and trying to destroy America and democracy. Thats what they think. That explains why you cant go after them.
Anyhow, lets take another brief break here.
Look, the only thing the First Amendment does for the press is the same thing it gives everybody else. They can say what they want to say. Thats essentially what the First Amendment says for the press like it says it for you and me. It singles them out and references them in terms of their importance, a free and unintimidated, whatever, unattached media. And nobody objects to that, but it does not grant them immunity from criticism. It does not grant them freedom to be disagreed with. It does not grant them freedom from opposition.
They seem to think that it does. And I think it all falls under the notion of how really poorly constitutional education, American history educations been for decades in this country. Not to mention the kind of poison thats injected into the young skulls full of mush populating journalism schools all over the United States. But really, folks, its the one thing that, as far as the medias concerned, justifies what theyre doing.
Now, as I say, you wont even get them to admit what theyre doing. You wont even get them to admit theyre trying to destroy Trump. They come up with some, No, no, no, no. It is the job of the media to hold powerful people accountable. Yeah. Right. Why doesnt that apply to powerful Democrats? And dont tell me that it does, because everybody knows you give em a pass. Each and every time something comes up with em, you cover for em. Its a joke.
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN