Thursday, 21 June 2018

The OBAMAS' 250,000M Netflix gig: new POWER BASE?

Obama's coming to town.


When the Obamas signed up with  Netflix for a wad of doe, my pals in the US and I bad-mouthed the couple for cashing in. The SHARK had a  different idea. She thought they might be setting themselves up for a new political base. They are both smart and must know that the Democratic party needs help. Hillary is a spent force. She can't stop blaming others for her loss. And Bill C. ain't much help. While touting his new book, The President is Missing (co-author James Patterson), he bungled questions about his affair with Monica Lewinsky.  And finally walked out.

The Obamas are the only Democratic Big Names who have the clout and the popularity, at least for now, to be de-facto leaders of the party. But the pompous, above-it-all name of their new production company, 'Higher Ground' is a wimpy first shot. Trump's vulgar, in-your-face, down-and-dirty bully-tactics are gaining. And now he's pulled off the ultimate media coup: hugging up to the world's Dictator-in-chief, who promises (word-of-honor), to de-nuclearize. Trump's famous takeaway from the tryst: ''I trust Kim'. But that just a throwaway. Only one rule counts: Dominate the media. King ME*. 

Still, the Shark may be on to something. The Obamas have been quiet since exiting office in 2017.  But they stayed in Washington D.C., unusual for an ex-pres.  The Netflix gig gives them a huge communication network. And it sounds like they have carte blanche to do what they want. Maybe a Dem version of Fox & Fiends? Amazon's founder and owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos (on Trump's enemies list), is building a house in the same poshWash D. C. neighborhood as the Obamas.

Netflix, the liberal Post and the liberal New York Times* (both newspapers are good at sniffing outTrump & Co. skullduggery) would make a powerhouse backup trio for the Obamas. The 2018  midterm election should have been a slam-dunk for the Dems to win a majority, at least in the house. With less than five months till the voting day the Republicans, now known as the Trump party, are creeping up in the polls. Eki didn't think T would last out his term. I'm afraid he's on his way to a second. Unless the cavalry, led by Bobby Three Sticks (Robert Mueller III) rides to the rescue. Or the Obamas pull a rabbit out a hat.

*King ME: in case you missed last week's TIME magazine, the cover was a hoot. Trump looking in the mirror at himself in a royal robe and crown.

*New York Times: 'Fourth Estate', a four-part series about a year covering President Trump. Directed b Liz Garbus.   Produced by Showtime. Airing on the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

Sources: the Shark, CNN, Time Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post


PS: Eki and Riikka are celebrating a century 50/50. Cheers!

Littlemrgieblog will be on vacation until 15 August 2018


Notes: The idea of Obamas producing content sounds interesting. As a Netflix subscriber, i'll definitely give the shows a watch.

 I haven't seen that original Clinton interview, but i did see his comments on the Late Night show - which don't seem that unreasonable to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5vcgT-Ud4c

I still do not think Trump will last the first term. He will be impeached, if not else, as soon as the Dems get the majority - which might well happen in the midterms. He may also get jailed if the Mueller investigation's results are what i suspect them to be. There's already a lot in that front the investigation has accomplished (Trump's campaign manager already in prison and so on), and more is to come. Interesting times.

Oh, and as The Shark told you, Obama will come to Finland soon, to give a talk on a business forum.


Finally, thanks for the Cheers - it's actually a 110 party: 50+50 for our ages, and +10 extra years for the length of our wedlock so far. If stars align correctly, we will actually hold the party on our anniversary day.

- Eki

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Drowning in the YOUTBE ocean


When we finished 'ABE LINCON TWEETS' we watched it over and over. Then Eki did what he always does: posted it on YOUTUBE. And I said what I always say, 'Maybe this one will go viral'. Eki poked a hole in my balloon. 'If it does, it has to do it in the first thirty minutes.'  It didn't. What a contrast. Abe's common sense is like a cool glass of cool water on a blisteringly hot day. Compared to the Tweeter-in-chief.  Abe was cool under fire, in spite of having a crazy wife, scheming advisers and a war that cost more than 600,000 lives.

I visit ABE LINCOLN a lot. Sometimes to watch the video, but mostly to check the number of hits he's got: 110 by the last count, with one 'like' ('by contrast 'Abe Lincoln Mean Tweet' has 43,944).  With most of our videos we post them and go on to the next project. But I can't stop checking up on Abe. Youtube keeps track of my visits and tells me 'you've visited this page many times'. They note the last date. It's creepy. But Googles over-the-top 'Do No Evil' reassures me. Sort of.

I wonder what the percentage is of trash to good stuff in the YOUTUBE ocean. If it's anything like the rest of the oceans it is full of junk mixed up with some gems and treasure. If your brain is fried from junk- overload checkout what @abelincolnsez. And no matter how much google tracks me, I will keep visiting ABE. He 's like a well-worn, highly-polished pair of boots handed down from your grandfather.  Versus TRUMP, who claims to be the greatest president after Lincoln is the crystal-covered-plastic CROCS that were the shock-rage a couple of years back. The new hot must-have shoe is the ugly ZCOL.  Batten down the hatches, it could mean rough seas ahead.

News, views, boos
Next week: The OBAMAS' new gig: NETFLIX

Note to Eki: Well you were half right. But that other half...Thanks for the quick retraction so readers won't think I'm a complete idiot.

Note: Well, perhaps not in the first thirty minutes... but in a day or so perhaps. There's just SO much stuff that gets uploaded there. Some say, an hour's worth of new videos every second. If the thing does not catch attention right away, changes are, it never will. It's very cool that everyone has a worldwide platform for publishing video content now, free to use. The problem is just that everyone will thus compete with everyone else in the world for the 15 minutes of fame there. You indeed are more likely to drown than float in this ocean of media. It's a lottery of sorts. Your video is just one in billions (yes, literally), and every hit you get is a win.

- Eki

Saturday, 26 May 2018

HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT

Helsinki today. Literally. (at the time of publishing this)


Getting there VS Getting on

HOT The city's fantastic network of buses, trams, and metros take you practically anywhere you want to go. They are clean, safe and efficient. I love Helsinki, especially in summer. Not only for its famous architecture, but because it's easy to visit the city's museums, restaurants, small boutiques, and just bum around. But wonder how they'll cope with the new ticketing system this summer(see below).

NOT Conductors will kick you off the tram or bus without a ticket. You have to have a 'pay' app in your smartphone or buy a ticket from R-Kioski, or some other place, before you board. A 17 ride card will set you back 30 euros. It will be a tourist nightmare this summer unless the city hires kids to sell tickets around town. And I wonder how many riders try to beat the system. The machines are so hard to use, they all have to be changed. Why can't the conductor sell few tickets? Human to human contact is good for people.

Talking VS Texting

HOT: LUNGI on Korkeavuorenkatu is a great place to hang out. A big leather couch and chairs in the window are an invitation to come in have a drink or something to eat and meet people. It's one of my go-to places in the city. I was having a glass of wine when a guy walked in with a cute dog under his arm. I asked him what breed it was. We talked a while and he asked If I wanted to have another glass of wine. His friend joined us. It was fun to meet a couple of Finnish guys spontaneously. Lungi is that kind of place.

NOT: In pre-texting days waiting to board a plane, or to pass the time in the air, you talked to strangers. Sometimes you even fell in love - I met my husband on a train between Nice and Paris. The Shark gave us the idea to make a cell phone video gottaGETinTOUCH. I shot people with their phone in four countries, on and off, for a year. After that, I went cold turkey. Now I read going cell phone-less is the new status symbol. User alert: your body and brain might freak out. Worse. You might miss the love of your life.

Authentic VS Trendy NOT

HOT Strindberg: This restaurant feels like it's been operating (with updates) since Gustav III. I never look at the menu. I always order the meatballs, they're the best in Helsinki. Lunch with a pal usually lasts till four, sometimes five or six o'clock. When we call it a day with a glass of champagne. Elegant without being stuffy, (green and white gingham tablecloths, wide, old wooden plank floors) or too serious. The menu is predictable. And I know that meatballs will always on it. The service is terrific but not fussy. Reservations essential.

NOT Le Brasserie Basque is one of those impossible-to-get-a-reservation in-places. But that's where the Bes and Wannabes wanna be. We did too. My sister-in-law finally landed a time: 7:30 – 9:30 on a Wednesday (there are three sittings starting at 5:30). It was empty when we arrived but filled up quickly. The music was loud and so was the crowd. The service slow and the food so-so (the polenta citron looked like a bowl of morning porridge). The main course (cod) was good but minuscule. We were running late and asked the owner if we could stay a little longer. He gave us 15 extra minutes. The 9:30 to 11:30 gang was waiting to be seated.

Nice surprise VS BIG disappointment

HOT Maxim cinema finally opened after what seemed like a forever renovation. Always upscale it has kicked it up a notch. On the second floor is a small bar with drinks and snacks. But it's the big comfortable individual chairs with attached tables that tell you this is the next best thing to having your own private screening room. The Shark and I saw a double feature: like being kids again. Only better. Instead of popcorn, we had wine with our movies.

NOT Academic Bookstore was not only a national treasure, it was one of the best bookstores in Europe. The first place my husband took me when I came to Finland. It made most bookstores look like amateur hour. Jut the books in English and the choice of magazines and newspapers made me want live there. And in an Alvar Aalto building to boot. When they installed Cafe Aalto the whole set-up was perfect. It still looks about the same, except a Starbucks is where the newspapers and magazines use to be. When I asked for two books: Umberto Eco's Chronicle of a Liquid Society and Phillip Pullman's Daemons Voice they come up empty. It made me sad for the good old days. And when I talk to friends about the Academic bookstore, it's like someone close to us has died. Amazon here I come. But not willingly.


Source: personal perspective

news, views, boos

Next week: DAY of the DEAD by l. Ron Chappell: big admiration spiked with a bit of envy



NOTE!! Ahhem... you didn't come to think of the obvious did ya? Like, buy tickets from the driver?? Because you can, you know, both on buses and trams ;-)

You are probably thinking about the trains. They got rid of conductors on the short commute train routes where the city area bus tickets are valid, and you indeed need to buy the ticket beforehand. The same goes for the Metro, you need to have a ticket before entering the station. But, as said, not buses or trams, which also haven't had conductors, well, ever. They did have separate cashiers though, but that was many decades ago.

PS: Maggy, i guess you recognize the bike in the photo? Yes, i'm still using it. Thank you!

--Eki

Hey, you have to add something to the blog:  I DID GET KICKED OFF THE TRAM. The driver told me I had to go to an RKIOSKI.  It happened twice. The last time because my 30 euro ticket ran out. True Story.

- Maggy

Sounds to me like like a communications failure. Yes, you need to go to the R-kioski (which can be found almost everywhere), if you want to have more credit/time on your travel card, the driver can't do that. BUT he/she could have sold you a single ticket for that one ride. 

EDIT: I checked, and dang, you are right!! They stopped selling tickets on trams in February. Bus drivers still sell them though.

All this said, i highly recommend the phone app for the occasional traveler - that's what i use too. If you have your phone, you have a ticket.

--Eki

Thursday, 3 May 2018

New project: ABE LINCOLN TWEETS

Spacewhale's Music Corner

When Erkki and I have a project ready to edit we go to his studio on Vattuniemenkatu 19 (translation: Raspberry Cape's Street 19). I love SPACEWHALE. It's like going into the belly of the beast – different than the regular world. It's a guy place that's friendly to women.  In one corner there's a hanging out place with couches, coffee table, frig, coffee maker.

The studio has a high ceiling and a green screen for shoots. At one end is a bunch of musical instruments. When Erkki and his pals have the time they come here and blast away. When we're working and Erkki needs a pause, he bangs away on his drums.  Against one wall are a couple of editing machines. They're old and take time to warm up. While we wait Erkki brags about the super-computer he uses in his home-office.

I like this project and come prepared. By mining movies in the public domain, I found one directed by the father of American cinema: D. W. Griffith. My jaw dropped. 'Abraham Lincoln' made in 1930 was in the public domain. I watched the movie six times and the Shark helped plan the story.  Also which scenes we thought would be good. It was Trump who gave us the idea. He said Lincoln was the greatest president and he, Trump, was the 2nd greatest.Whoa. Erkki and I decide to declare a tweet war. Pitch Abe's words of wisdom against Trump's trash.

We decided to update Lincoln to the 21st C. His quotes make as much sense today as they did in the 19th C. We downloaded the footage and went to lunch while we waited. Then Erkki designed the twitter bird and the opening. He had to concentrate so I had to shut up. But it was fun to watch the bird come to life. We chose the scenes from the footage and put them in the right order, then the music. We used the Civil War music (in public domain) from the film and Erkki laid different tracks over it. Lots of thump-thump percussion. We looked at it over and over and corrected anything we didn't like. We started at 10:00 am and finished at 9:00 pm. My brain was fried. But we both said, 'that was fun.' Check out 'Abe Lincoln Tweets'.




PS: D. W. Griffith's 'Abraham Lincoln' was voted one of the 50 worst films, but the crowd scenes are fantastic. And the production values, especially for the 1930s, are excellent.

Source: youtube films in public domain

News/Views/Boos
Next week: HELSINKI: what's HOT, what's NOT




Note: This was a fun project, it's also been a while since i've made any loop-based music - quite refreshing. Also, i agree on the relevance of Abe's quotes.

One thing to mention, Maggy is the only client i let sit with me when i edit. That used to be the norm in the olden days when editing was done from tape to tape, and making changes to edits after the session was very, very complicated. Add to that the pretty steep cost of the editing hours (those tape machines cost a Mercedes Benz each), and every client wanted to supervise the edit, breathing on my neck.  Had enough of that back then. Nowadays i have an editing / 3D animation / audio workstation at my home office. All feedback from clients is done online - usually, i edit a full version of the project, which then goes to the clients as a simple link to a file on Google Drive, for evaluation and revision notes. Rinse and repeat. I prefer the modern way, but there was something very appealing in the old linear process - you needed to be committed in a completely different level when making edits, and what you have after the editing session was pretty much the final product because A) the client was there all the time to approve stuff as we went on and B) changes were so expensive and slow to make.


Finally, about the computer at the studio - it indeed is old. But back in it's hayday, it was the hottest thing in town. Also, was not cheap. 8 CPU cores, 16 GB of ram, SSD drive, and a Raid 0 array as the media drive, the best NVIDIA GPU of the time. Not bad for 2006 - and not that shabby even today, over ten years later. Which is like two or three eternities in computer speak. The hotness i have at home (16 cores, 64 GB ram, dual GeForce TITANS etc.) isn't that new anymore either, i recall i bought this machine in 2013 or 2014. It won't be THAT long until this one will go to the studio, and i will have yet another five-grand toy at home. The thing with this kind of higher end machines is - you really can use them professionally for years. And when it's time to retire them from the daily crunch, they still have a few more years of life in them as decent "normal" computers.


PS: Writing that last paragraph was fun - i enjoy thinking of Maggy reading the semi-jargon, trying to decipher what the heck i mean ;-)

- Eki

Sunday, 1 April 2018

ARCTIVSTI MANIFESTO: MARX &ENGELS updated for the 21C

A cartoon by Eki
Not some red-blooded communist but two true-blue capitalists asked themselves, what would Marx and Engels write today? They went back to the original Communist Manifesto and had a surprise.

About 73% or the original was relevant today. If the Financial Times is correct,1% of the world's population owns as much wealth as the remaining 99%. Inequality, especially in the US, has gone off the rails. The two author-archivists; Rupert Younger and Frank Partnoy, updated the other 27%. Marx and Engels packed quite a lot into a 37-page pamphlet. A friend in the US bought Activist Manifesto on Amazon for seven dollars A bargain.

The inequality Fixers should look to Scandinavia for ideas. Yes. There are rich people in these northern countries, but most would be considered small fry in the US. Forbes magazine's 'list of the world's richest people' will tell you who they are. But Finland, one of the most egalitarian countries on earth, was named the happiest country in a UN report. The skeptical Finns I know laughed and asked, 'Who, and where, are these people?'

Inequality is not the only big issue that needs fixing. The kids from Parkland, Florida, who watched their friends get shot and murdered while in school, decided to take on gun control. In less than five weeks they organized 'March For Our Lives' in 800 cities around the world. And they are just getting started. 

We wannabe activists should be inspired them and buy Activists Manifesto to read what Marx, Engels, Younger, and Partnoy have to say. We might also check out Fair Shot by Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook. He thinks that everyone below a certain income level should receive a base income and tax on the rich to pay for it. A friend in Helsinki told me Finland was already experimenting with this idea. The Shark thinks retirees should become activists. She's right. We have time and experience. And guess what, it might be fun.


Sources: Financial Times Weekend, the Guardian, CNN

Next month (littlemargie blog is on the road in April): NEW PROJECT: Erkki and Maggy make a political video

Note to Erkki: I saw 'The Post' and like it. But...got tired of the low-lighting which seems to be the mode du jour. I would have liked more context. For instance, Nixon's aides, H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were perfect villains. They must have been scrambling to do damage control. And how about a few more Washington D. locations. I wanted a little more show and a little less tell. But cheered when the good guys won.


Note: The current government here in Finland is the worst ever, or at least worst i can recall. It's Trump white house lite, really. If not worse. They are tearing down the social security, regulations, education and environmental protections built over decades. Slashing every public program they can, getting rid of every public employee they can - and when they can't they make laws to cut wages. And unemployment benefits. All this while attempting to privatize everything from health care to social security, disregarding our constitution and the advice of the relevant experts. They are doing a frighteningly efficient job at destroying our little Scandinavian paradise. And a scary high percentage of the population is blissfully ignorant and may well vote for the same disaster to continue in the next elections. 

The illustrations on this blog are different from usual, they are actually cartoons i made (just for fun) and posted on a closed forum group, on a discussion about our government's actions. These are now published for the audience at large for the first time, translated into English for your convenience. The first one (on top) was to counter the idea that employees that demand a livable salary are greedy, sucking the life out of the poor, job-creating company owners. The second one (below) is about our current government's "Community Agreement" (that's the sort of newspeak they use, BTW). When the labor unions declined the "agreement" to reduce salaries by 5%, the government just wrote it into law, among with some additional asskicking for the workers, like shortened vacations, as a punishment for not making a deal. It's a madhouse here, i tell ya!

-- Eki

Another cartoon by Eki



Sunday, 25 March 2018

WOODY ALLEN bakes a turkey, and it's not even Thanksgiving

Poor Woody. He's lost the plot. Some critics say his personal life has spilled over into his movies. Well, whatever. WONDERWHEEL lurches along from one cliche' to the next. Tedious is too mild a word. Kate Winslett, married to a schlump (Jim Belushi) should have won an Oscar for over-acting. Justin Timberlake at the hunky lifeguard floats through his part as her picked-up-on-the-beach lover. The rest of the cast is ho-hum. But the plot...

Wonder Wheel, New York (Wikipedia)
Older women married to a shlump falls for a hunky lifeguard. Shlump's unloved and unwanted daughter comes back to the family nest after escaping from gangster ex-husband. He shows up and wants her back. Schlump's ten-year-old kid is an arsonist who sets fires all over the place, including his shrine's outer office. Lifeguard meets sexy daughter and falls in love.  He wants to dump older woman. She ain't happy and gets revenge. She alerts gangster to ex-wife's whereabouts. The action takes place in a saturated-colored Coney Island. It never looked so sad.

But for some reason, we stick with Woody. Every year he makes a movie and every year a lot of his fans go. 'Wonderwheel looked like it was made on the cheap. Sill, it made me nostalgic for the old Woody. Especially 'Manhattan Murder Mystery'. When Diane Keaton and Alan Alda sat in the car and did a stake-out on their suspect, I wanted to jump in with them and get in the game. Well, those days are gone.  WHAAAAA.

Source: personal opinion

After watching those kids march for their lives, and hearing their sad stories, next week's post will be: ACTIVIST MANIFESTO: MARX & ENGELS updated for the 21C

Note on Erkki's comments last week about saturated fats: He'll be happy to know my go-to medical advice, site, MAYO CLINIC, agrees. And here's another bit of good news. A friend and I were having lunch with wine. She dropped a bomb: she said she'd read in a reliable source, that one daily glass of wine was enough to raise the risk of accelerating certain cancers. AAAAARRRRRGGHH.


Note: I must admit I haven't seen any of the late Allen movies. Perhaps I should, if not else, just to have something to argue with Maggy ;-)

-Eki

Monday, 12 March 2018

HYPOCHONDRIACS UNITE: we have nothing to fear but AI and the NRT

Who could guess that asparagus, or at least the compound, asparagine, that give it its name could help spread cancer? At least that's what a plant-based scientist at Cambridge University claims. Not everyone is on the same page. Other scientists have found that asparagine, and other foods with an amino acid, helps to slow the spread of breast cancer. It seems a lot of the food we eat is dangerous to our health. French fries, for instance, pack a triple whammy: 1. potatoes are BAD for people with high blood-pressure; 2. cooking in oil at high temperatures is a NO-NO. 3. the overdose of salt. That goes for chips too. Sugar is verboten – it causes the insulin to shoot out of the pancreas at an accelerated rate. It is now being compared to tobacco in terms of dangerous. Happy to report that butter, cream, cheese have been taken off the 'AVOID' list. It's been revealed that the research was bogus.

Heart Attack Grill (Photo: http://www.theburgerreview.com)
AI I am being touted as being the answer to the answer to health care.  People of a certain age talk about getting a robot caregiver when they are really old.  Don't count on it. They sometimes crap out. And who wants a 400 pound, 5-foot hulking bot stalking around the house. And besides, experts such at as Sherry Turkle, media prof at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), wrote at the end of her book 'Reclaiming Conversation', that AI is the next big threat to us humans.

ALPHABET, the omnipresent tech-giant has got into healthcare with CALICO (an acronym for California Life Company). Its mission: health, well-being and longevity. It's connected with several research groups including, the University of Texas Medical school and the Broad Institute at MIT.

According to their site they are using their core values to guide them on their journey.  Well, good luck. But then there's THERANOS, whose founder is Elizabeth Holmes.  A Stanford University student, she left before she graduated to start her revolutionary nano-blood-testing company. Instead of having to take vials of precious fluid it would only take a pin-prick to get a complete blood profile. Walgreens, the giant drugstore chain, sighed up. Her board consisted of rich guys, including Henry Kissinger, Warren Buffet and Elizabeth. Both the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal wrote scathing article s about her and her secretive company.. Walgreens backed out.

So fellow Hypochondriac, my advice is do not go online to check your symptoms – you will find a dozen or more fatal disease that fit. And do not buy Merck's Manual of Symptoms – it scarier than any horror book.  But if you cannot resist checking, I recommend the Mayo Clinic site. It has a lot of common sense solutions. And be happy if you don't live in the US where they run medical commercials on TV 24/7. Cheery visuals show happy healthy looking people who must take some serious meds to stay looking that way. A soothing voice tells you how fantastic they are. Then POW. A dead serious voiceover tells all the bad side affects that could occur. They usually end with the disclaimer: in case of (whatever the side affect) or death call the company. Cheers.

Sources: the Net, Wall Street journal, the New Yorker, TV, personal experience

Next week: WOODY ALLEN bakes a turkey and it's not even thanksgiving
Note: poor Woody.  He got forgotten for a couple of weeks, but his last movie deserves to be trashed.


Note: If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Unfortunately, as far as I know, butter, cream, cheese and other saturated fats are not off the hook. Delicious as they are, they are still bad for you, increasing cholesterol and the risk of heart diseases. The research was NOT bogus. The science still stands, despite what you may have read somewhere, or worse yet, seen on the telly.  

https://healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart/articles/saturated-fats

- Eki