Some Recent WSJ Headlines That Intrigued Me

I used to think that all actors and actresses wanted to see themselves on the screen as soon as they were shown.

Apparently that is not so, and one apparently had never seen herself even 20 years after starring in an epic series.

That would be Meadow Soprano.

I mentioned in a past post that for screenwriting, the first decade of the 2000’s was an amazing time. Most of the great shows were on cable TV.
The Sopranos was about a typical New Jersey middle class family, with one exception.

The father was a Mafia crime boss.

When the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of Americans to shelter at home in March, Jamie-Lynn Sigler chose to do something she had avoided for decades: watch herself in her most famous role on television.

“I was actually way better than I thought,” Ms. Sigler said after viewing the 1999 pilot of “The Sopranos,” the hit HBO series in which she plays Meadow Soprano, the teenage daughter of mobster Tony Soprano. She said she’s now watching an episode of the 86-part show every week or so.

For many actors, the idea of seeing themselves perform is flat-out unbearable. They have an aversion that industry observers say is due to a mix of obsessive self-criticism and fear of losing the confidence required to pull it off in future roles.

“You lose precious innocence when you watch yourself,” said Lisa Pelikan, an acting teacher at New York’s HB Studio.

Some will go to great lengths to avoid being exposed to their work.

This coronavirus is apparently changing a lot of habits.

There are some actors whose entire career is in easily-forgettable roles, and Jamie-Lynn starred in a series that will be remembered for years.


How do you manage a country that was a founding member of OPEC, whose quality of crude oil was considered to be the best in the world, has 20% of the world’s reserves, and whose production has ground almost to a halt?

Just add socialism.

Hugo Chavez came to power promising much to Venezuela’s poor. And he fulfilled that process by taking the profits from their oil. Profits that should have been used in part for the maintenance of their facilities. In paying their highly-skilled workforce. In 2003, when 9,000 of these workers, unhappy with socialism, vowed to strike, Chavez fired them and replaced them with party hacks.

I read somewhere that many of these workers found work up north, in the Canadian oil fields.

So the result of all this was having an asset that wasn’t maintained run by people who didn’t know what they were doing.

The old Soviet Union was rich in oil and gas but they never could exploit it. After the fall of communism, with the help of the West, those fields were developed to the point that the late Senator John McCain said thatRussia is a gas station masquerading as a country“.

Caracas was once known as the jewel of South America. Today it is collapsing under hyperinflation, crime, and poverty.

Venezuela has greater oil stores than any other country. But after years of corruption, mismanagement and more recently U.S. sanctions, its oil output has dropped to a tenth of what it was two decades ago.

From Lake Maracaibo in the west to the Orinoco oil belt in the east, abandoned wells rust in the sun as looters scavenge the metal. The last drilling rig still working in Venezuela shut down in August. The country is on course, by the end of this year, to be pumping little more oil than the state of Wyoming.

“Twenty percent of the world’s oil is in Venezuela, but what good is it if we can’t monetize it?” said Carlos Mendoza, an ambassador under the late socialist president Hugo Chávez, who enjoyed an oil bonanza when prices were high but starved the industry of investment and maintenance funds.

“We’re entering a post-oil era,” Mr. Mendoza said.

I have been amazed recently at how politicians have considered their power more important that the long term health of their countries, due to financial mismanagement – taking from tomorrow to fulfill their promises today.

Including us with our massive debts and deficits. With politicians “paying for votes”.


Imagine that you have created a software game app that has become wildly successful, both because of its creativity and because of the distribution channel, through it’s App Store, of Apple computer.

Wildly successful to the tune of $600 million in sales.

“Fortnite” has been downloaded almost 130 million times since being added to the App Store in 2018, according to Apple. Epic has earned more than $600 million from its relationship with Apple, according to court records.

Epic Chief Executive Tim Sweeney in late June emailed Apple executives, including CEO Tim Cook, asking for a special agreement exempting his company from existing contractual obligations, including the App Store payments, according to Apple’s filing. The tech giant rejected that demand.

Then on Aug. 3, Epic sent to the App Store an update of “Fortnite” that the game company described as a “hotfix” but that Apple claimed was a Trojan horse allowing it to bypass Apple’s review process and payment system.

At around 2 a.m. Aug. 3, Mr. Sweeney emailed Apple again. “Epic will no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions,” he wrote, according to the filing. Mr. Sweeney declined comment on Apple’s latest filing.

A few hours later, Apple said, Epic activated the external payment workaround that cut Apple out of its share of sales. “Epic sought to enjoy all of the benefits of Apple’s iOS platform and related services while its “hotfix’ lined Epic’s pockets at Apple’s expense,” Apple said in its filing.

Apple, not caring for the effort Epic made in circumventing their payment agreement, took Fortnite out of the App Store. Epic is suing Apple to put them back in.

…Epic said last week that it remains committed to the legal fight but that its business has been harmed in recent weeks. The company said daily active players using Apple’s mobile operating system, or iOS, of “Fortnite”—which Epic said has more than 350 million registered users—has plummeted since the dispute began and its reputation with consumers has been harmed.

Epic objects to the 30% commission it must pay Apple. Of the $600 million in sales, they paid Apple $200 million.

And they are having a similar issue with Google and its Android system.

Epic sued Apple as well as Google last month after the tech giants yanked the popular “Fortnite” videogame from their app marketplaces, calling the power both companies hold over developers monopolistic. Apple and Google removed the game after Epic introduced an in-app payment system in violation of their rules that would cut out both companies from receiving a 30% cut of users’ spending.

Here’s the way I see it. They signed up with Apple hoping that their power of distribution would help to propel their game to success. They achieved wild success, to the tune of $600 million in sales. Now that they have succeeded, they object to the 30% commission paid that helped to propel that success.

Modifying their program to accept in-house payments in an effort to circumvent the agreement they made with Apple is not the way to foster good will with your business partner.

Your opinion?


09-21-20 as a self described “burned out programmer“, I am intrigued by how Apple found this Trojan horse

On the account that a sophisticated gaming program like this would have at least a couple of hundred thousand lines of code

And you know they did their best to hide this from Apple, putting in the payment system circumventing Apple’s commission

Apple would never reveal the “how“ but I am sure they have their own auditing software that can root this stuff out. I doubt that there is some poor programmer going over their code line by line. And for that matter, do the companies submitting their apps to Apple give them the source code? (the code that the programmers actually use to write – which goes through a compiler – converting it to the machine code the computer understands). However Apple found the subterfuge, it had to be pretty sophisticated.

BTW A modern operating system such as iOS probably has over a couple of million lines of code. All of this of course running on your little iPhone. Amazing times aren’t they?

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