Wednesday, September 27th, 2023


Oh, It’s On!

The last thing I want to do with my evenings is to get trapped in a quiet moment that could allow thoughts about my actual life to seep in and awaken me from the bliss of my mindless zombie state. I need content to fill the void, otherwise reality will. Obviously, these days, the evening news provides no respite. The internet isn't what it used to be. I need TV. And with the writers' strike dragging on, I was quickly running out of decent content (I already ran out of the high quality stuff). My back was against the wall. My unconscious was revving up its negative, self-defeating engines in anticipation of my impending, involuntary meditative moments. My prestige TV defense mechanism was lost between the couch cushions (along with several AppleTV remotes) and I was being dragged from an unprecedented age of TV, with a cornucopia of content at my fingertips, to taking a one-way trip to the Walden Pond region of my psyche, where self-loathing roams free. A seventh round of reruns of The Office would be no match for what was coming. Panic had set in. Seriously, do you know what it's like to eat a TV dinner in front of a blank wall? Shows once considered guilty pleasures or background watches had moved to the top of my queue. I watched bad documentaries on topics about which I had no interest. I attempted to connect with random, inaccessible episodes from every corner of the globe. Subtitles on or off, it made no difference. Gimme the content, I need, I need. Holy hell, I even started watching shows with commercials—during which I wondered more than once, "Do I really want to live in a world where Taylor Sheridan is not typing out five new shows at once?" Thankfully, I won't have to answer that question. The pencils are being sharpened, the laptops are being charged, and the TV writers are back to work. As of 12:01am on Wednesday, The Writers Strike Is Over. (Which means Sheridan's probably hammered out 10-12 episodes of something by now.)

+ The Hollywood Reporter: How the Writers Deal Got Done: Inside the Room. (Candidly, the blow by blow isn't nearly as exciting as watching a show, but if you're caught up on your scripted show substitutes like Love is Blind, Below Deck, and The Real Housewives of Holy Shit There's Nothing On, then it's worth a read.)

+ "Historic raises and guarantees on AI use will have major ramifications in Hollywood, but the new transparency in streaming data means Netflix and Disney Plus will have to change how they work." The new WGA contract will change how Hollywood work.

+ This is emerging as the year of the strike in America, so it's especially notable that the writers got a lot of what they wanted. Vox: The Hollywood writers' strike is over — and they won big. (Congrats, congrats. Now, type!)

+ Of course, the actors are still on strike. So we'll have to wait for new episodes to be shot, but I have a feeling it won't be long. I need it to not be long. In the meantime, the talkshows will be the first things back. Late-night TV shows announce their return after Hollywood writers strike ends.

+ While we're waiting for more content, we're likely to get more strikes. Las Vegas hospitality workers overwhelmingly permit union to call strike against hotels, casinos.


Vhat Did I Tell You!?

For decades, my dad told me that Donald Trump's wildly leveraged business was built on bad loans. He also predicted nearly everything else about the Trump era, including the fact that he'd refuse to accept the results of the election. So this one's for his memory, and for every other old real estate guy that is nodding knowingly right now. Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks and insurers while building real estate empire.

+ "The surprise is not that Trump and his co-defendants, including his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, committed fraud. What is surprising is that he could finally be punished for it—and quite harshly. The scheme that New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged last year was simple. When Trump wanted to lower his taxes, he'd claim a low valuation for a property. When he wanted to get cheap loans, he would inflate the valuation. This allowed him to inflate his claimed net worth each year, which let him obtain loans on better terms by personally guaranteeing them." The Atlantic (Gift Article): The End of Trump Inc.

+ Just how much was Trump over-inflating things? Put in your own property price to get an idea. WaPo (Gift Article): How much would your house be worth if the Trump Organization owned it?

+ "Trump and his lawyers have repeatedly denied that his valuations were fraudulent, instead claiming that he was a 'visionary' who saw value beyond what non-visionaries could see." (Given the way he valued his properties, he's more like a double-visionary.) Will the Trumps lose their homes? NY judge who dissolved Trump Org is cryptic at a tense hearing.


For a Few Dollars More

"Over the past year, that relief came in many forms. It helped Moore settle long-standing debts. But it also affected her life in quieter ways, moments harder to quantify. Like the week with her sister. Or the elation of her children on Christmas morning. Even the extra time and money she spent at the hair salon getting intricate braids to mark the start of spring. Those pauses are what Moore cherishes most. They are what she'll hold on to long after the experiment's end." Chicago Magazine with an interesting look at a guaranteed income experiment and how it impacted a mother who works three jobs. What $500 Means to Zinida Moore.


Being There (and Everywhere)

My daughter left recently her phone in my car and the sound of the nonstop notifications make it feel like I was getting an MRI. What's it like being a teenage girl with non-stop social media? Jessica Bennett in the NYT (Gift Article): Being 13.


Extra, Extra

System Shutdown: "As the Senate marches ahead with a bipartisan approach to prevent a government shutdown, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is back to square one — asking his hard-right Republicans to do what they have said they would never do: approve their own temporary House measure to keep the government open."

+ Soldier of Fortune: Remember the strange story of the Army private who seemingly strolled across the border into North Korea? Well, he's been deported, or released, or something. American soldier Travis King is en route to the US after being freed by North Korea.

+ The Conspiracy Against America: Bloomberg: "McKinsey & Co. is poised to pay $230 million in its latest settlement of lawsuits blaming the company for its role advising opioid manufacturers in their sales of the painkillers." You really can't overstate the extent to which the opioid crisis destroyed Americans' trust in institutions and companies. Even when the crisis got totally out of hand, no one said stop. Everyone wanted a piece of the action.

+ Expanding the Strike Zone: Bruce Springsteen postpones all 2023 tour dates until 2024 as he recovers from peptic ulcer disease. (This news is giving me an ulcer. Get well, Boss.)


Bottom of the News

Dog Day Afternoon, Morning, and Evening: "The German shepherd is known to have bitten several agents a total of 10 times between October 2022 and January 2023." Commander bites again: Biden's dog has nipped another Secret Service officer. Holy crap, this boy is a menace. Get a beagle. Their howl is worse than their bite.

+ An Irish university to offer degree in influencing.