Friday, November 16, 2018

I do not think it means what you think it means

I am sorry to see this. The Princess Bride, along with Rocky Horror Picture Show, shaped my life. Well, at least a little.

From William Goldman, Writer Behind 'Butch Cassidy,' 'Princess Bride,' Dies At 87 by Camila Domonoske.
Novelist and screenwriter William Goldman, who wrote the beloved cult classic The Princess Bride and won Oscars for writing All the President's Men and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, has died at 87.

Goldman's son-in-law, Mike Pavol, tells NPR that Goldman died Friday morning in New York City.

His legend was cemented in Hollywood, but Goldman himself was an avowed New Yorker. He was born in Chicago, went to Oberlin College in Ohio, served briefly in the military and got a master's in English from Columbia University in New York.

He launched a successful literary career immediately after graduating from Columbia with his first novel, The Temple of Gold. A series of well-received and sometimes best-selling novels followed.

Then, in 1965, Goldman started to shift into movie territory. He helped on the script for Masquerade (1965) and adapted Harper (1966). Then he wrote his first-ever original screenplay.

That beginner's stab at screenwriting was none other than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It sold for the then-record sum of $400,000 (some $3 million in 2018 dollars) and won Goldman an Oscar in 1970 for Best Original Screenplay.

That was just the start. Goldman went on to adapt The Stepford Wives, adapt All the President's Men — another Oscar-winning screenplay — and turn his own novels Marathon Man and Magic into films.

Ten screenplays later, Goldman still didn't see himself as a Hollywood man. "I'm not a screenwriter," he told The New York Times in 1979. "I'm a novelist who writes screenplays."

But he knew enough to write the definitive guide to screenwriting. Adventures in the Screen Trade was published in 1983 and became a best-seller. Screenwriting professor George Huang tells NPR's Neda Ulaby the book "was like the Bible in the industry" — and that the advice in it still holds up today.

And then there was The Princess Bride.

The 1987 film, which Goldman adapted from his own novel, performed modestly at the box office upon its initial release. But as the years passed, it found a passionate following. Lines from the movie have woven their way into the fabric of pop culture — "Inconceivable!" "Aaaaas youuuuu wiiiiiish." "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Can't believe they omitted the most famous line of all -
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Ohio by Neil Young

Ohio by Neil Young


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Malaguena by the Trashmen

Malaguena by the Trashmen


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House amongst Pines by Colin Bygrave

House amongst Pines by Colin Bygrave

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I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes

From an Adlai Stevenson speech in Indianapolis, Indiana (26 September 1952).
In America any boy may become President, and I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Faiyum Portrait 1

The remarkable portraiture on display with the Greco-Roman Faiyum Portraits. Nearly two thousand years old and so remarkably accessible. We see ourselves in them.

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Nocturne in Grey and Gold, Chelsea Snow

Nocturne in Grey and Gold, Chelsea Snow, 1876 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

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Southern Cross by Crosby Stills & Nash

Southern Cross by Crosby Stills & Nash


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Don't know nothin' about finance

Hmm. Meet the Press: Survey Evidence on Financial Journalists As Information Intermediaries by Andrew C. Call, Scott A. Emett, Eldar Maksymov, and Nathan Y. Sharp. From the Abstract:
Financial journalists play an important role as information intermediaries in capital markets. We survey 462 financial journalists and conduct 18 follow-up interviews to provide new insights into the inputs, incentives, and beliefs that shape their reporting. Our findings can be summarized in three important themes. First, financial journalists have stronger incentives to produce original information and analysis than to disseminate information already in the public domain, and they rely heavily on private communication with company management for information. Second, sell-side analysts play an important role in informing financial journalists, many of whom lack financial sophistication. Third, the incentives for sensationalism in the business press assumed in prior research are dominated by incentives for accurate, timely, in-depth, and informative reporting, while the quid pro quo incentives assumed in prior literature (e.g., putting a positive spin on company news to maintain access to inside sources) are substantial. We examine a wide range of other topics relevant to the literature on the business press, and our results provide multiple avenues for future research in this area.
America self-identifies very roughly as 30% liberal, 40% moderate, 30$ conservative. Financial journalists, in contrast are 58% liberal, 37% moderate and 4% conservative. America can claim that they don't see themselves reflected in the make-up of the mainstream media.

More critically, the key finding is that financial journalists don't know much about finance and finance journalists swap favorable coverage for access.

Which sounds like all of journalism to me. Back when we had competitive news organizations in cities, this was less of an issue. Once we allowed media collusion with the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, we also gave local government monopsony power as well. Most major cities also have some sort of Invest "City Name" Public Private Partnership for encouraging corporate relocations and/or facilitating the use of government money with (usually minimum) developer money to encourage city development. A city which also has the power of eminent domain to bulldoze the rights of citizens in favor of developers. Finally, every single city has had the same party in office for two or three generations.

Single newspapers, local government and business interest collusion, single political party dominance. It is a recipe for corruption and lack of media oversight. At the local beat level, the local paper knows that they have to stay on the side of the city government and the local business interests if they are to get access to sources of news. The irony is that all they are getting access to is polite narratives, not news in the sense of facts not known to the public.

Our city mayor and city council just green-lighted a 25 year subsidy of public money to a developer to the tune of some $2 billion dollars, with no tax or other benefits to the city. Citizens in opposition communicated and shared information via social media but there was not much coverage in the mainstream media and no investigations. Despite backroom negotiations, transparently bad terms and an overwhelming wreak of corruption.

The research above validates that our challenge is not political polarization but the oppressive governance of the Mandarin class (business government, mainstream media) all in cahoots against the interests and needs of the citizens.

Malibu Babylon by the Blue Stingrays

Malibu Babylon by the Blue Stingrays


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