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#5 Wot, no bicycles?

If I were Sony management, I'd just leak the film. If you aren't going to make money on it, refuse to be terrorized and start winning some PR points. Let's see the DPRK blow up the bit torrents as it gets shared and replayed throughout the world.

I think the face-saving conspiracy theory du jour is that the film is so bad that the studio is glad North Korea gave them an excuse not to release it.

Although it would have to be pretty bad to suffer the full Jerry Lewis Holocaust Clown treatment.

Apparently early screening audiences enjoyed it enough:

You think some billionaire would buy the rights to the movie and release it under Creative Commons. How much would it cost? Sony's not going to make anything on it now, so certainly they'd sell it for $100 million. Think of all the good will someone like Mark Zuckerberg or Sheldon Adelson would garner for such a trivial amount.

"Leaking" the film or otherwise releasing it quietly (e.g., online, VOD, etc.) is not "refusing to be terrorized". The terrorists warned Sony not to release it in theaters so anything less than that is caving. The only way for Sony to redeem itself now is to show the movie in a very public, high profile, in-your-face manner. Have a public premier in Central Park or some other similarly high profile venue. After that, they can release it through the normal secondary channels like Netflix, PPV, VOD, etc.

While Clooney seems to be giving modern voice to old Shakespearean wisdom, I don't think lawyers can be blamed for corporate cowardice. Theater lawyers point out risk; management makes decisions.

Clooney is saying what Clooney always says: Other people should spend resources so me gets what me wants.

He is saying that the movie theater owners should disregard their personal self interest so that his beliefs are supported.

People could quibble and say that he is just suggesting that they should do that instead of telling them that they should do that, but it is a fine line.

#7 So what is the solution here? All online release options are short-sighted - you can't solve this problem by just dumping the movie theaters. If that worked they would have done it already, sans terrorism. As long as theaters would have liability in the event of an attack, then this can/will happen again and again. All talk of isolating Sony and revealing personal information is basically moot in view of the legal risk of showing the film. So is the only solution to exempt theaters from liability in the event of an actual attack/bombing? Does this require legislation? Any related precedent?

Legislation can't provide basic business sense. They are in the business of telling stories. Now everyone knows that if they tell a story they don't like you just have to threaten violence and they will swallow a tens of million dollar expense and not show it. There are enough barking mad people in feminist studies, evangelical churches, the gamut of political ethnic or religious movements that could take offense at any except the most anodyne and unwatchable movies.

So I guess making movies is one more job that Americans won't do. Along with manufacturing and innovation, creative output is simply going to happen elsewhere.

"There are enough barking mad people in ... evangelical churches, the gamut of ... religious movements": if I were guilty of such cowardice, I'd rather y'all called it "discretion".

I agree that this is a vexing problem.

The root problem is that many movies are fungible from a theater owner's perspective. Canceling The Interview costs them very little (perhaps nothing), so if there is even a small cost to presenting the movie then they should logically bail.

Perhaps the MPAA could require that all theaters carry some type of insurance (the cost of which, one way or another, would be shared by movie goers, the theaters, MPAA, the studios and the 'artists').

But I'm just spitballing here. I haven't really thought this through.

I'm no expert on this business but am pretty, pretty sure the theaters have commercial agreements to guarantee screens for big budget movies. That's how the movie industry works: the studio sales team pre-sells the theater chains on individual projects for a set number of screens. If a theater chain breaks the commercial agreement, there should be in theory a huge financial penalty paid by the theaters to the studio. But in this case Sony decided to let the theaters out of the agreements without penalty since Sony had their own worries.

I don't see that there is a general root problem, only a specific problem in this case where fear and cowardice spread throughout the business network like a virus.

Are theaters liable for terrorist attacks?

"Clooney is saying what Clooney always says:..."

Not in this case. Clooney is basically publicly questioning the manhood of everyone involved, from the theater owners that refused to show the film, to the Sony execs, to the other execs that wouldn't even sign his petition. (Yes, I realize that one of the Sony execs mentioned is a woman.)

The problem is actually not that vexing. It's not a legal problem. It's not an insurance problem. It's not an economic problem of movies being fungible. It's a cojones problem. Too many people are missing theirs.

I think you'll find Clooney isn't so self interested. Example of him spending his own 'resources' to help others:

Russian wealth is disproportionately dependant on natural resources. According to World Bank calculations, natural capital is 43% of overall wealth in Russia. In Australia, Canada, Norway, and New Zealand the ratio is between 8-13%.

So basically there is nothing much to the economy except oil and diamonds. It is like Nigeria but with nuclear weapons.

It does raise the obvious question of what 150 million people do all day.

Drink vodka!

All wealth is ultimately dependent on natural resources.

Most societies manage to do more with their raw materials than sell them cheap to the Chinese.

Day of the Oprichnik would give you an idea.

I guess Russia should just get more debt. I thought there was no downside. (snark.)

The story about the lizard in #6 is interesting, but almost 6 years old. How did you come to post it now?

It’s not a lizard.

#5 "She acknowledged her boyfriend isn’t thrilled."
I wonder why ?

#7: New appreciation for George Clooney.

Not so much appreciation here. Clooney just woke up and realized that caving to the threat of terrorism sounds the death knell of free speech. Compare and contrast the reaction of folks like him to the publication of the Mohammed cartoons. It's just that it's his ox being gored now.

Yes, more like a 'free speech for me' complaint.

If George Clooney doesn't have free speech, do you? I suppose yes as long as you don't say some things.

Folks like him were very much opposed to censoring the Muhammad cartoons. Read a f**king book, dude.

Yes. He said of the film the Innocence of Muslims: ”It made me mad and I’m not Muslim,” he said. “It made me mad for the quality of film that it was, more than anything. But the simple truth is that in order to make [democracy] work, the idiots get to have their say, too. And that’s unfortunate.” The pro-forma free speech defence. Just because some people, who share some other political opinions with GC, were more craven doesn't make him guilty.

If there's no gas in it, what's wrong with a chainsaw? Nobody's ever taken over an airplane with a chainsaw.

Same thing for an unloaded antique cannon. The worst thing you can do with that is hit someone over the head with it.

Ah, but an electric chainsaw with an extension cord...

8. My mother's childhood (and life-long) friend was a Navy pilot in WWII, and shot down more enemy aircraft than any Navy pilot, ever, and any pilot who survived the War. His feats are beyond belief. He credited his experiences as a competitive diver (In high school and while at Annapolis) for his success as a pilot (both require the courage to "dive"). I thought about him as I read the piece about Ms. Hillenbrand. What experience makes a great pilot? What experience makes a great writer? The answer is often surprising.

Dick Bong was America's top ace (40 planes confirmed), and technically survived the war in the sense that he wasn't killed in action, but was sent home and retired from fighter duty. He died just before the war ended while testing the P-80. Erich Hartmann was the top ace of both WW2 and of all time, and also survived the war (352 aircraft claimed).

I assume you're talking about David McCampbell, who was America's top Naval ace with 34 planes to his credit, who was indeed an extraordinary man. Many of the fighter aces of WW2 had fascinating histories.

Hey Dude, no fair. The Germans had the toughest regulations for awarding kills of any combatant. You needed at least one other officer to witness the shooting down.

Americans on the other hand awarded part points to people who contributed, some places gave them kills for planes shot up on the ground, and mostly they just relied on people's words. There are major differences between what all countries claimed to shoot down and what the records of their enemies show they actually shot down.

So if Hartmann was credited with 352 (plus a regiment of tanks and the odd battleship) he certainly shot down 352 planes. It is not fair to use confirmed for Bong and not for Hartmann.

There is something to what you say, but actual brave air force vets of actual wars (I have known a few, to say the least) never ever ever, as Taylor Swift ( not a vet ), would say, treat these sorts of arguments as anything but (fill in best English word you can think of for disrespectful to some uninformed about others ungrateful to many although minimally ok because interested in the subject while nevertheless being more or less random). Also, unfortunately, there is nothing interesting about most great writers' lives. From the world's point of view, they are just losers who spent much of their lives dealing with words rather than dealing with the essences of those words.

@difficult - wtf? You're difficult to understand because you don't think through what you are saying, relying on emotion. Hemingway was a great writer and a great war combatant, not a loser as you imply writers are. And what SMFS days is true: lots of war stories are invented after the fact, especially 'lost at sea' stories where the people are dehydrated, which cases hallucinations. As for Hillenbrand, she looks physically healthy, but mentally unstable, since the article mentions "vertigo" and also her supposed chronic fatigue syndrome (shorthand for mental illness?) came "suddenly", which is not the way most non-traumatic illnesses that are not fatal occur. She's a kook, albeit a gifted writer apparently (I've not read her works).

There are such things as psychosomatic illnesses, multiple chemical sensitivity clearly being one, but although a psychosomatic component may be part of the process of developing and sustaining CFS, something more than that appears to being going on. The pioneering neurologist S. Weir-Mitchell described in detail cases he encountered during the Civil War that would squarely fit the modern definition of CFS -- this condition has probably been around forever and it has stereotyped characteristics that suggest specific neural and/or biochemical pathways are being recruited to sustain the condition. This isn't something easily cured through psychiatric drugs or electroshock.

R. L. - Hemingway was almost a genius, but that is near to meaningless praise. There have been close to zero real geniuses in our literary tradition in the last thousand years. If you or any of your cohorts in whatever Filipino college faculty you hail from have children, for the love of God, pray that they do not waste their lives, like Hemingway, in pretending to be geniuses and in wasting their energy in descending "artistic" relationships with women who they do not really love and who at the end decide that a rude shotgun in the mouth is better than a polite few more months with cancer. We are given one chance to live in this world and deciding to be a popular sub-Flaubertian is not a good use of this chance. I am not being judgmental, just giving friendly advice. Mark T. - good comment. We need better doctors. I often feel bad that I have not spent more time on this subject.

Wait, the author of A Farewell to Arms wasted his life? What have you done today?

"Hemingway was a great writer and a great war combatant, not a loser ": you might have mentioned that he was a KGB man too.

I have a photograph in my den of my parents (and several of their friends) and McCampbell on the deck of his (he was the Commander) aircraft carrier taken not long after the War, and he most definitely does not look like one of those pilots from the movie Top Gun. He visited our home many times in the 1950s and early 1960s. I knew he had served in the War, but almost every adult I knew had served in the War, so I was never particularly impressed with the man my brother and I called "Captain". On the other hand, another of my mother's childhood (and life-long) friends managed in the major leagues. One year, when he was in the Yankees organization, he arranged for my brother and I to meet our heroes (Mantle, Maris, Berra, Ford) during Spring training in St. Petersburg (at the time the Yankees trained in St. Petersburg). We were far more impressed with this friend than with the Captain. Because of her illness, Ms. Hillenbrand does not get out much. She gets the ideas for her books and the feel for the time of their setting (her strength as a writer) by reading old newspapers, hundreds of them, from the era (because she suffers vertigo, she can't view microfiche), every page, every story, even the ads and classifieds. By reading those old newspapers, she is transported back to the time and place. Hemingway may have written from direct, personal experience, but Ms. Hillenbrand has the gift of being able to transport herself to a different time and place while never leaving her house, a gift made possible because of her illness.

#3: Yogi Berra again proves his future-proofed insight...

...two-thirds of respondents in a recent survey conducted by the Qatar government "cited 'the spread of paid fans' as a 'significant reason'" that attendance was low at soccer matches in the country.

The US central bank supposedly holds 8,133.5 tonnes of gold, the Germans 3,384.2 and the Russkies a paltry 1,149.8. Why? These countries aren't on the gold standard, their fiat currencies aren't tied to gold, why do they own and store vast amounts of that element rather than stuff of more utility; wool, oil, plywood, toothpaste, condoms, etc? Could it possibly be that in the back of the central bankers' minds there lurks the thought that at some point their paper notes could become valueless and gold would once more be a universally accepted medium of exchange? If these guys expect us to take their fiat bills seriously they should turn that gold into statues of Stephanie Powers in her prime or simple fishing sinkers and boat anchors.

@chuck martel--I dare you to say that over at Scott Sumner's blog, hehe. If you don't toe the line the author himself will single you out for special treatment, and his rabid fanboys will pile on. But at least--to his credit--he does not moderate his blog like Krugman does and DeLong used to.

Even this blog is moderated sometimes, you know.

That's interesting, is that based on on knowledge or observation. I have noticed some pretty ugly comments from time to time but I don't remember comments simply vanishing, as they do at many news sites. Maybe if you threaten to kill someone ?

I've been saying for quite sometime there is a conspiracy theory here for someone to discover. Dig deeper and find enlightenment.

Yes, there is a cabal that tries to sow distrust of fiat currencies so they can profit from a panicked return to the gold standard. Someone should expose them!

Sony should reverse policy release the film and shame the theaters who claim to be afraid to screen it and people who are afraid to be in a theater which shows it.

There are small theaters all over the country independent of the major chains. I'm sure they'd love to be the only places to see this movie. Of course, they might need to upgrade their projectors to digital -- or Sony could reactivate what's left of the 35/70 mm supply chain and release it on film.

More likely, the hackers are holding back some really hot stuff that could result in major lawsuits against Sony. That's what I'd do in their position. So Sony pretty much has to do what the hackers want.

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