Tag: Entertainment

This is Not Surprised Face

I’m not:

Popular e-cigarette maker Juul intentionally and egregiously tailored its marketing to appeal to underage youth, according to a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey on February 12. The company’s early marketing in 2015 and 2016 purposefully used young, “cool” models in its launch campaign, recruited teen “influencers” on social media, and bought banner and video advertisements on numerous websites aimed at teens and children, including Cartoon Network’s cartoonnetwork.com and Nickelodeon’s sites Nick.com and NickJr.com. Juul even went so far as to give advice to underage consumers over email on how to get around age restrictions to make online purchases of the company’s e-cigarettes.

The lawsuit lands as public health officials across the nation are still grappling with an explosion in e-cigarette use by youth, which the Food and Drug Administration has referred to as an “epidemic.” Between 2011 and 2019, recent use of e-cigarettes by middle schoolers increased from 0.6 percent to 10.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For high schoolers, use increased from 1.5 percent to 27.5 percent in that timeframe. That means that by 2019, more than 1 in every 4 high school students said they had used e-cigarettes within the last 30-days from the time of the survey.

I really hope that there are criminal prosecutions int he future, but I doubt it.

They will just pay some fines, and it will be considered a cost of doing business.

I Have Changed My Mind on the Remake of The Princess Bride

I would absolutely watch a princess bride remake IF and only if it was a muppets remake and Andre the Giant was played by Sweetums. pic.twitter.com/fVyx0K90Oc

— Ed. Condon (@canonlawyered) September 21, 2019


I would not object to a Muppet remake of The Princess Bride.

If it were properly done, and yes that would include Sweetums, it could be an interesting and entertaining take on a classic.

I Am so Stoked about This

We now have reports that Gary Larson’s THE FAR SIDE Cartoon may be coming back in some form:

Gary Larson said goodbye to fans and the absurdist universe of The Far Side with his final comic on January 1, 1995, and since then the real world has done everything it can to live up to the inanity of his iconic comic strip. Unfortunately, the foolishness of 2019 isn’t nearly as enjoyable as sentient chickens and oversized suburban bugs. Now, the 21st century might be getting both of those creatures—along with aliens, cavemen, clever cows, and women with beehive hairdos—because for the first time in almost two decades, the cartoon’s official webpage has been updated. And unless this joke is on all of us, The Far Side will soon be returning.

After sitting dormant since 1999, The Far Side‘s webpage was updated suddenly and without warning (which we first learned about at The Daily Cartoonist). It features a new cartoon of an explorer using a blowtorch to melt some of the strip’s most iconic characters from a large block of ice. Below it reads, “Uncommon, unreal, and (soon-to-be) unfrozen. A new online era of The Far Side is coming!” Since the cartoon itself is signed by Larson, it certainly appears he will be returning with all new comics for the first time in almost 25 years.

For the love of God, please make this true.

Mom! Comcast is Being Comcast Again!

Comcast and several TV network owners have sued the state of Maine to stop a law that requires cable companies to offer à la carte access to TV channels. The complaint in US District Court in Maine was filed Friday by Comcast, Comcast subsidiary NBCUniversal, A&E Television Networks, C-Span, CBS Corp., Discovery, Disney, Fox Cable Network Services, New England Sports Network, and Viacom.

The companies claim the Maine law—titled “An Act To Expand Options for Consumers of Cable Television in Purchasing Individual Channels and Programs”—is preempted by the First Amendment and federal law. The Maine law is scheduled to take effect on September 19 and says that “a cable system operator shall offer subscribers the option of purchasing access to cable channels, or programs on cable channels, individually.” The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the law from being enforced.

With cable executives losing their sh%$ over the impact of cord cutters, one would think that a law which would improve both customer service and reduce the death grip that the various media companies have over their consumer offerings, one would think that they support this sort of equalizer.

Unfortunately, Comcast knows only how to f%$# their customers.

Rule 1 of Connectivity is that Phone and Cable Companies will F%$# You Like a Drunk Sorority Girl

Rule 2 is SEE RULE 1.

Case in point, AT&T lying to the court about the effects of its merger with Time Warner:

When AT&T acquired Time Warner last year for $85 billion, the companies said the deal would be great for consumers, who would benefit from lower prices and improved service.

The Justice Department said the opposite, predicting the merger would give AT&T so much market power that price hikes and channel blackouts were all but inevitable.

And now we know. The government was right.

AT&T wasted no time in raising the price of its DirecTV satellite-TV service by $5 a month. It then raised the price of its DirectTV Now streaming service by $10 a month. (The company said last week DirecTV Now is being renamed AT&T TV Now.)

More than 6.5 million of AT&T’s DirecTV and U-verse pay-TV customers are currently cut off from CBS channels because AT&T says CBS wants too much money for its programming.

Meanwhile, more than 12 million Dish Network and Sling TV subscribers have lost access to AT&T’s HBO and Cinemax channels because, according to Dish, AT&T wants too much money for its own programming.

Put more succinctly, AT&T, after raising subscriber costs, wants to pay as little as possible for channels included on its pay-TV services. But it wants as much as possible from other pay-TV services for its own channels.

And it’s willing to hold consumers hostage to get what it wants.

“When you start seeing blackouts, it’s obvious you’re looking at a merger that’s not serving consumers very well,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the nation’s top antitrust authorities.


U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon ruled last year — and was subsequently upheld by an appellate court — that the government was mistaken when it warned of consumers being harmed by the merger.

Leon said it would be counter-productive for a merged AT&T/Time Warner to withhold its own channels from competing pay-TV providers or black out competitors’ channels, and thus the likelihood of this happening was low.

“The evidence of his being wrong is bordering on the absurd,” said Christopher Sagers, a professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.


“Plain and simple, the merger created for AT&T immense power over consumers,” Andy LeCuyer, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, said in a statement.

“AT&T no longer has incentive to come to an agreement on behalf of consumer choice,” he said. “Instead, it’s been given the power to grab more money or steal away customers.”


Einer Elhauge, a professor at Harvard Law School, said the current circumstances “seem to be precisely what the Department of Justice predicted would happen after the merger of AT&T and Time Warner, and precisely what AT&T successfully persuaded the trial court was implausible for it to ever do post-merger.”

His verdict? “It looks like the court just got it wrong.”

If so, what if anything can be done?

There was once a time when regulators decided AT&T had too much power over the phone industry and decided to break up the company.

I wonder if the same case now can be made for AT&T’s power over the TV industry.


The antitrust experts I spoke with said AT&T’s post-merger behavior makes a strong case for separating pay-TV and programming companies — but it may be too late to fix the problem.

I hope that it’s not too late, but once again, Robert Bork’s laissez faire theories of monopolies and competition are shown to be wrong.

In fact they are not just wrong, they are delusional, and I would argue deeply hypocritical.

Also, Proctological Exams and IRS Audits Far Exceed Cable in Customer Satisfaction

Not a surprise. I would have higher consumer satisfaction ratings that cable companies if I sold people radioactive asbestos kale salads:

There’s just something about terrible customer service, high prices, and sketchy quality product that consumers oddly don’t like. American consumers’ dislike of traditional cable TV providers was once again made clear this week in a study by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which, as its name implies, tracks US consumer approval of companies on a 100 point scale. As has long been the case, the full report shows most traditional cable TV, satellite, or IPTV providers languishing somewhere in the mid 60s — scores that are bested by a long line of industries and government agencies (including the IRS).

Not too surprisingly, the report shows that American consumers far prefer streaming video alternatives, which provide them with lower costs and greater package flexibility. According to the ACSI, streaming services scored significantly higher than traditional TV, phone, broadband, video on demand, and wireless providers:

People hate their cable companies, and they do so with good reason.

It’s not for nothing that Comcast had to rebrand itself as Xfinity.

Dealing with cable company customer service is less pleasant than Dick Cheney scat porn.  (Not seen, not gonna see, not gonna Google it.)

I Think that This is Intentional

I just noticed that there is a lot of physical similarity between anti-alien bigot Ben Lockwood/Agent Liberty (played by actor Sam Witwer, right) on Supergirl, and Alt-Right bigot Ben Shapiro (played by useless sphincter Ben Shapiro, left).

The story arc of Supergirl, prominently features an anti-alien movement in the United States.

This arc is unequivocally an allegory for the anti-immigrant movement in general, and the Alt Right in particular, in the United States.

I am thinking that this was an deliberate decision by the producers, and I wholeheartedly approve.

Bait & Switch

Remember when I noted Charter Communications, the people who make ComCast look good, were threatened with the loss of their permits to operate in the state of New York over their refusal to invest in infrastructure and expand broadband access.
Their behavior is not a surprise: The business model is leveraging monopoly power, not providing good, or reasonably priced, services.

Unfortunately, the regulator blinked, so once again, Charter has agreed to sin no more, and we’ll discover that they lied in a few years, and what they offer will be limited and overpriced:

Charter Communications won’t be kicked out of New York after all.

Nine months after a New York government agency ordered Charter to leave the state over its alleged failure to comply with merger conditions, state officials have announced a settlement that will let Charter stay in New York in exchange for further broadband expansions. The settlement will enforce a new version of the original merger conditions and require a $12 million payment, about half of which could help other ISPs deploy broadband.

So, $6 million, could, but won’t go to competitors, which is about enough to cover a single housing development.

The State Public Service Commission (PSC) had voted in July 2018 to revoke its approval of Charter’s 2016 purchase of Time Warner Cable (TWC), saying Charter failed to meet interim deadlines for broadband-expansion requirements. The order, which came just a month after a $2 million fine, would have required Charter to sell the TWC system to another provider. But the PSC never enforced the merger revocation order as it repeatedly granted deadline extensions to Charter while the sides held settlement talks.

The result is a proposed settlement between Charter and the state Department of Public Service (DPS) that was announced Friday.

“Pursuant to the agreement, Charter would expand its network to provide high-speed broadband service to 145,000 residences and businesses entirely in Upstate New York; the network expansion would be completed by September 30, 2021 in accordance with a schedule providing frequent interim enforceable milestone requirements; and Charter will pay $12 million to expand broadband service to additional unserved and underserved premises,” a DPS statement said.


The settlement needs approval from the PSC, which is taking public comments on the settlement for 60 days before making a final decision. The proposed settlement “does not constitute a finding or admission of any violation by Charter nor does it constitute a penalty or forfeiture under the New York State Public Service Law,” Charter and the DPS said in a joint letter to the PSC. The settlement “allows the parties to move forward with the critical work of expanding access to broadband, by resolving their disagreements without the need for costly litigation,” the letter said.

No admission of wrong doing, and as near as I can tell, more toothless declarations from the regulator if Charter ignores its obligations, and. trust me, it will ignore its obligations.

F%$# Charter, F%$# the DPS, and F%$# the PSC if they approve this bogus deal.

The Scum of the Earth: No, This Is Not Comcast Edition

As soon as a particularly gullible judges signed off in its merger with Time Warner, AT&T raised its prices, the exact opposite of what it claimed:

In light of AT&T’s decision to raise the prices on DirecTV Now subscribers by $10/month, and to drop channels like MTV, Comedy Central, BET, and BBC America (while adding more AT&T-owned content to the bundle), it’s worth reviewing some of what the telecom giant claimed during the recent trial over its merger with Time Warner:

[C]onsumer prices will not go up.

Modern antitrust law recognizes that mergers between suppliers, such as Time Warner, and distributors, such as AT&T, almost always create efficiencies and synergies that lead to lower consumer prices and greater innovation.

Vertical integration raises antitrust concerns only in the rare case where the government can prove that the merger will hobble rivals’ ability to check the merged firm’s pricing conduct, thereby allowing the merged firm to raise its own prices above competitive levels.

[T]his merger is likely to enhance competition substantially, because it will enable the merged company to reduce prices.

You can read more for yourself here and here. The rest of AT&T’s arguments were just about as (in)accurate, and it’s not the first time AT&T’s rosy claims have been proved false.

The current standards for antitrust in the US are way too lax.

This Sh%$ Is Getting REALLY Old

A man named Volodymyr Zelensky is currently leading the polls to be the next President of the Ukraine.

Some guy with an unpronounceable name running for President in a former Soviet Republic would normally not be worth of a comment, except for the fact that he is a comedian who plays the Ukrainian President on TV:

A comedian who plays Ukraine’s president on TV is running for president in the country and led in two polls conducted earlier this month.

Volodymyr Zelensky, 41, stars in “Servant of the People,” a TV show where he plays a history teacher who is elected president of Ukraine after his anti-corruption rant goes viral, NBC News reported.

Zelensky, who has no political experience, had the largest share of support among respondents in a poll conducted earlier this month by Ukraine’s Razumkov Center, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency said. The country’s presidential election is set for March 31.

Zelensky, also a lawyer and businessman, has a unique approach to campaigning. NBC News said he doesn’t hold rallies but sells tickets to comedy gigs in which he parodies his competition and shares “behind-the-scenes campaign videos” on Facebook and YouTube.

If he is elected president, Zelensky will face ongoing tensions with Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014, as well as a crumbling economy and widespread corruption, NBC News reported. Zelensky has also said he would speak directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the war in eastern Ukraine.

Enough already.

At the rate this is going, I expect an animated TV character to become the President of Belgium.

For Once, I Admin Regret for Missing an Awards Ceremony


At the Golden Globes, the first, and generally the most trival, of awards ceremony of the season, Christian Bale thanked Satan for being his inspiration in playing Dick Cheney:

Poor right-wing Twitter snowflakes couldn’t handle it when an actor made a joke about…

…Dick Cheney?

Christian Bale won a Golden Globe Sunday for his role playing Dick Cheney in “Vice.” Given that Dick Cheney isn’t exactly “Mr. Personality,” Bale thanked Satan for being an acting inspiration.


“I will be cornering the market on charisma-free as$holes,” he said. “What do you think, Mitch McConnell next? That would be good, wouldn’t it?”

It wasn’t a comparison between Cheney and Satan, but rather a contrasting. Satan is interesting.

Still, conservatives can’t let him go.

I use the right flying monkey crowd’s tears to flavor my Slivovitz.

Think of as a vengeful Balkan Margarita.

This Exceeds My Collection of Face Palm Icons

Nope, not enough

The keynote speaker at the The 15th International Conference on Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology is Steve Bannon.

Yes, that guy, the poster child for drinking yourself to death.

That racist former member of the Trump administration will keynote ACE 2018.

What the f%$# were they thinking?

It’s like inviting Vox Day to keynote a Worldcon.

This will not end well.

Buh Bye Megyn

It looks like Megyn Kelly’s long history of racism has finally caught up with her:

Megyn Kelly is expected to wind down her 9 a.m. ‘Today‘ show hour by the end of the season, THR reported late Wednesday.

Megyn Kelly Today will be airing reruns in wake of the NBC News host’s controversial comments about wearing blackface and amid an uncertain future surrounding her place at the network.


The host is expected to end her show on the 9 a.m. hour of Today by the end of the season, a source told THR. Kelly was set to meet with executives to work out the future of her role at the network. During meetings held before the eruption from her blackface remarks, Kelly had expressed a desire to cover more news and politics and move away from the lighter fare she often covers on her morning show. Now, backlash from the remarks seem to have only exacerbated the conversation about the future of both Megyn Kelly Today and Kelly at NBC. It’s unclear what NBC News would put in place of Kelly’s show.

I don’t understand how NBC can be surprised by this.

Kelly spent a decade giving racist dog whistles, when she wasn’t blowing a racist tuba, at Fox News.

Even in my Coffee

I’m having coffee at work, and I glance at the lit of the can of coffee, and I see that:

I don’t expect a whole bunch out of my work coffee.  I’m not one of those folks who demand fresh ground coffee with foam, etc.

I just want that orange rat-f%$# to stay the f%$# away from my f%$#ing coffee.

I don’t f%$#ing think that this is too f%$#ing much to f%$#ing ask.

I also know that it’s kind of petty to complain about this, after all, my employer is paying for my the maintenance of my caffeine dependence problem, but I would prefer that my coffee not remind me that Donald John Trump exists, and used to be a crappy reality show host.

The New Doctor

I saw the premier of the latest season of Dr. Who, with a new Doctor.

I was not immediately impressed, but typically, the first show with a new doctor tends to be a bit weak, because both the writers, and the actor, are trying to find the character.

This is further complicated because they are also adding a whole new batch of companions.

That being said, I rather like that she has a northern (Yorkshire) accent rather than the received pronunciation (BBC), and I like that this actually Jodi Whittaker’s native accent.

I do kind of wish that there wasn’t so much hype over this, but I do understand why this is the case.

How do you spell RICO?

That part is not a surprise, but the specifics, that they colluded with ticket scalpers in order to raise the price of the tickets:

Music fans’ ire toward Ticketmaster for expensive concert tickets may be somewhat justified, according to a fiery investigation by CBC News and the Toronto Star on Wednesday detailing a secret scalping scheme run by the ticket sales company itself. The two outlets sent journalists undercover as scalpers to a live entertainment convention this summer, where Ticketmaster reportedly pitched them on its underground professional resale program, through which it takes a cut of profits.

Ticketmaster, which is owned by live entertainment juggernaut Live Nation, enlists resellers to grab batches of tickets from its site and then flip them for higher prices on a Ticketmaster-owned, invite-only platform called TradeDesk (touted by the company as “The most powerful ticket sales tool. Ever”), according to the report. Ticketmaster gets extra fees from the pricier resale tickets on top of its fees from selling the original ticket. CBC and Toronto Star journalists were told that despite the existence of a Ticketmaster “buyer abuse” division that looks for suspicious online activity in ticket sales, the company turns a blind eye to its TradeDesk users. A sales representative told one of the undercover journalists that there are brokers with “literally a couple of hundred accounts” on TradeDesk, and that it’s “not something that we look at or report.”

Ticketmaster has sued groups in the past for using bots to grab up live events tickets from its site, which prompted counterclaims that Ticketmaster was itself supplying scalpers with bot software — which, per this week’s investigation, TradeDesk appears to be doing. “This is going to be a public relations nightmare,” popular Canadian radio program host Alan Cross told CBC upon seeing the findings, noting of previous “whispers of this in the ticket-selling community, but it’s never been outlined quite like this before.”

I knew that Ticketmaster sucked, but this sucks like a thousand hoovers all running at once.

Seriously, if someone at the DoJ’s antitrust division wants to hit some low-hanging fruit, this kind of crap is clearly out of line, even by the standards of the, “Strict Constructionist,” judges who hate antitrust enforcement.