Wednesday, April 29, 2020

I'm Pretty Sure I've Pledged Before to Never Run for Vice-President Again ...

But I'm doing it anyway, for REASONS. Wouldn't be much of a politician if I didn't lie now and again, would I?

Some people announce their political candidacies with tweets, but I aspire to a higher standard of professionalism. I announced my candidacy for the Libertarian Party's 2020 vice-presidential nomination in a Facebook post that's too boring to even bother linking to.

So far the only campaign promise I have made is to demand a recount if nominated.

I have expressly REFUSED to promise not to use mescaline while on duty if nominated and elected.

My campaign platform is Guns and Dope Party Position Paper #23.

Guinness Book of World Records busk: So far as I know, I'm the first person to seek the vice-presidential nominations of three different political parties (exclusively, as opposed to fusion propositions) in three different election cycles.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Folk Songs Evolve

In 1931, the Carter Family recorded "Can't Feel at Home":

Not finding any claim to the contrary on a quick search, I'm going to assume that this is one of A.P Carter's "found songs," a traditional hymn that was made famous by, but not written by, the Carters.

Close to a decade later, Woody Guthrie offered his take on the song, "Ain't Got No Home," on the Dust Bowl Ballads album:

It's been 80 years, so I'd say about time for an update! Same simple chord progression as its two predecessors. I might get around to recording it myself at some point, and if so I know the results will be as lo-fi as the preceding versions.

by Thomas L. Knapp
CC0 Public Domain Dedication, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be might good friends of ourn, cause we don't give a dern.

We've been ordered to stay in and to stop a-roamin' round
It's not like there's much open if we make it into town
Can't go to see a movie, a barber, or a whore,
No, we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

We've had to give up working except for the essential
Like busting up block parties or play-acting presidential
Turns out that unemployment is really quite a chore
But we can't leave our homes in this world anymore

When my hometown re-opens I'm heading for the bar
To suck down sudsy beverages and hear some folk guitar
The politicians say they saved our lives but I'm not sure
And I will not let them keep me in my home anymore

A Brief Platform Committee Update

Hey, everyone ...

I've lost track of what I've kept y'all informed of and what I haven't, BUT:

The big question at the moment is "will we even be having a convention this year, and if so will that convention take up platform committee proposals.

The Libertarian National Committee will meet on May 2nd to discuss options, which I'm given to believe include:

  1. Having the convention as scheduled, Memorial Day weekend, in Austin;
  2. Pushing the convention back to the 4th of July time frame, and possibly moving it (Vegas sounds like the strongest candidate for that option)
  3. Having a "virtual" convention of some kind; or
  4. Not having the convention at all -- the LNC picks a presidential ticket and its members serve until the 2022 convention (unless, as seems likely, some of them choose to resign and the body fills its own vacancies)
My preference is for #1; failing that, I support #4. We can talk about why in the comments if anyone is interested, but the short version is that #2 looks just as likely to get pranged as #1, and that an online convention with 1,046 delegates would be a technical nightmare, especially in the absence of bylaws written specifically to enable one. So my attitude is either "do it as planned if possible; otherwise, don't fuck around, just cancel."

A few days ago, my flight to Austin was canceled by the airline. It had already been bumped once and that bump would have caused me to miss the one physical meeting the platform committee had planned. If we do try to meet in Austin, I'll do my best to find a way there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Couple of Opinions About Movies

Opinion One: Movie theaters were dying before the COVID-19 panic, and they're probably dead now. I'm not happy about that, but I think it's true.

Opinion Two: Since Opinion One means streaming is going to be the new default release model, it's time to talk about prices. In my view, the highest reasonable price is $10 to rent a new release movie. I'm not saying that's what the market will settle on, just that I think it's what's reasonable.

Thus endeth the two opinions, but here's the TL:DR on my $10 price assertion:

The average price of a movie theater ticket as of mid-2019 was a little under $10.

The studio/theater split of ticket revenues is about 60/40.

I wasn't able to (easily) find a statistic on the average theater viewing group size, but I think two is a reasonable assumption. That is, there are some individuals who go to movies at a theater, and there are some families, school groups, etc., who go to movies at a theater, but on average, it's probably two people (married or dating couples, etc.) who go to see a movie together.

I also wasn't able to find any stats on the average streaming group size, but I'm going to assert that it's probably lower. Still lots of couples and a certain amount of family/friend-group streaming, but the the single-viewer component is probably higher.

So, if we want the studio to gross as much on a movie at home as it did at the theater, $12 sounds about right. That's the equivalent of two ticket sales.

BUT: There's probably a lot less overhead of various kinds with release-to-stream than with release-to-theater.

AND: If everything is direct to stream, there's a lot more competition. Instead of "there are 4/8/16 films playing here, which one do we want to watch?" it's "there are 50 new releases this week and the entire catalog of past releases to choose from, which one do we want to watch." And competition should drive prices down.

So I think $10 to rent a new release is about right.

What I've seen so far in the COVID-19 panic is studios renting new releases for $20 a pop when they normally sell for that three months after release. I don't think that's going to fly in the market for very long. People will just wait and spend the same $20 for a keeper instead of a loaner.

Friday, April 10, 2020

About That There Acumen for Predictions ...

Me on March 20th: "The number of dead [in the US from COVID-19] will be closer to 200 than to 200,000." I was responding to a guy who was predicting a minimum of 200,000 and possibly as many as 2 million. I think the discussion is pretty interesting.

In order for me to be correct, there would have to be fewer than 100,100 COVID-19 deaths.

Now, there's one easy way for me to be wrong on this, and that way is by assuming that the prediction is not limited in time. Which you're free to do, because I was not careful in stating the claim. And my guess is that COVID-19 will be killing people for years to come and eventually pass the 200k mark in the US.

In MOST places where I've discussed COVID-19 fatalities in the US, I have been more specific, and time-limited my predictions to the period between January 21, 2020 (the official "first case" finding) and December 31, 2020.

Anyway, the DC set have been substantially walking back their own predictions, while trying to take credit for the numbers being lower than their predictions. And as of today, the word is "Trump says US headed to death toll 'substantially below' 100k."

Note: I did make an early bet that the US death toll in that time frame would be less than 10k. I was obviously wrong on that one.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

As Surely as the Sun Rises in the East ...

... the politicians and bureaucrats who neither anticipated nor responded in a non-brain-damaged way to the COVID-19 pandemic will afterward congratulate themselves on how essential they are and assure us that given more money and power, they won't blow it nearly as badly next time.