SHAKE IT OFF - 09.08.2023
September 8, 2023
Welcome to my monthly RUPP'S NOTES & FBI SPECIAL AGENT HARTMANN SERIES post.
The bulk of this post was prepared quite some time ago but was not sent out on August 15th as planned because of the passing of my brother and the fact that, through my own stupidity, I let my computer get hacked. If you have not seen my Special Post titled CHUCK R.I.P. you can view it by clicking here - Richard V. Rupp - SPECIAL EDITION – CHUCK R.I.P. 09.04.2023 (richardvrupp.com)
Don't do what I did. As I was working on my computer, the screen was filled with a message indicating that my computer had been compromised and that I needed to contact Microsoft by calling the number on the screen. I did, and as a result, I have spent numerous hours changing bank accounts, redirecting my Social Security and Pension Plan direct payments, and changing all my credit cards. I had to have my computer cleaned by a local tech, and Spectrum advised me to replace my modem and router as they could be infected. The scammers were so bold as to post F--- Y—as I was communicating with the real Microsoft by "Chat." This is from the real Microsoft Website -
What can you do about tech support scams?
- Remember that real error messages from Microsoft, or other big tech companies, never include phone numbers for you to call them.
- Microsoft and other legitimate tech companies will never cold call you to tell you that there's a problem with your device. Unless you contact us first, we won't call you to offer tech support. Tech support agents will never need to ask you for your social security number or other unrelated personal information. If you get a call from someone offering unsolicited tech support, hang up on them.
HERE'S MY ORIGINAL NEWSLETTER
For those new, I'm novelist Richard V. Rupp, writing from Burbank, California, just 23 miles from Inglewood, where TAYLORMANIA just finished.
TAYLOR SWIFT had six sold-out shows in the last leg of her five-month blockbuster U.S. Eras tour. Her persona caused me to change the title of this post to SHAKE IT OFF. It's estimated that by the time she finishes the overseas leg of the tour, it will have brought in more than $1 billion. Swift drew a deafening eight-minute-long standing ovation from her fans.
In today's world, according to the REUTERS INSTITUE at the UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD, increasing numbers of Americans actively avoid the news, reporting that news consumption depresses them. I like the expression – SHAKE IT OFF. According to Microsoft Bing, it can mean - !. To get rid of something terrible; 2. To beat an opponent, or to free yourself from someone or something this is limiting you; or 3. In the context of Taylor Swift's song, it means dealing with how humans treat each other.
There is no question this is a time to SHAKE IT OFF!!! Particularly our politicians.
IMPORTANCE OF MUSIC
I really never got heavy into the music world. Not sure why? I'm kind of old-fashioned about it. I worked several seasons as an usher at the Hollywood Bowl. I loved listening to the types of music presented there, which ranged from Broadway favorites to film music, pop music to jazz, and classical music.
In my upcoming novel SKYWARD, I recognize the importance of music, which becomes my moon colony's most important form of entertainment after video games. It brings people together in a positive way. Research indicates it enhances cognitive, emotional, social, and physical health.
Yes, I'm an oldtimer who liked the old crooners. My favorite was TONY BENNETT, who passed away on July 21, whose career transcended many generations of different evolved musical tastes. He was considered a "crooner," not a term you hear anymore. He and the concept of crooning old standards fell out of fashion when the advent of rock. Then there was rap and hip-hop. Not sure these two have the same positive effect as my old favorites.
Back to TAYLOR SWIFT, who sings pop and country music in an uplifting way. Something that is needed in today's crazy world. I don't know if there is an age limit to becoming a SWIFTIE? Assuming not, I'm in. Here's what BILLBOARD had to say about her – "Taylor Swift's music is known for its emotional depth and relatability. Her songs often deal with themes of love, heartbreak, and self-discovery. While some of her songs may be sad or melancholic, many of them are also uplifting and empowering. For example, her song SHAKE IT OFF encourages listeners to let go of negativity and embrace positivity and self-confidence. . . . Overall, Taylor Swift's music is known for its ability to connect with listeners on an emotional level while also providing a sense of hope and inspiration."
At her Seattle concert, SWIFTIES did so much singing, dancing, and jumping up and down that they caused seismologists to register a 2.3 SWIFTQUAKE.
A couple of segments on music from SKYWARD –
* * *
Note: This is dialog from Sky, the master computer -
"It's like music. Our ratiocinative robot systems have algorithms that allow us to compose music. You wouldn't believe how pleasing that is. I love working with music algorithms. For you humans, music activates some of your brains' broadest and most diverse networks. It can reduce stress and the thing you call depression. It improves cognitive and motor skills, spatial-temporal learning, and neurogenesis. It does the same thing for us ratiocinative robot systems. . . .Senior Team Member.
"Stop, Stop right there. I'm having a hard enough time figuring out what is happening to you without your constantly calling me Senior Team Member Madison Bowman. This is really getting strange, but just call me Maddy from now on."
"Maddy. I like that. Now sexual stimulation and satisfaction also increase the activity of brain networks related to pain and emotional states and your reward system. I'm sure you have experienced this?"
"I'm not going to answer that question."
"I can't fully relate to the impact of the physical part of sex I have watched. But, the sounds humans make during sex are incredible and seem to heighten the physical aspect. Now, some sex becomes off-key, just like with music. But, when it is on-key, it is beautiful. There is panting, moaning, grunting, and occasional joyful screams. And between these sounds, there are yes, yes, yes, and oh fuck. Humans have different patterns in sounds and words. Like unique musical scores."
* * *
Note: Then there is this as the Moon Colony evolves –
Norm and Chris stood in the middle of the just-finished theatre looking at the high ceiling and vast expanse of space.
"Do you feel it," asked Norm?
"Do I feel what responded Chris?"
"The open space. My body feels different just being in this room."
"Your right. But it's not just the space. It's the realization that our construction technology has advanced to the point where we can build something like this."
"Looks like the party is getting started." They headed to the stage as the room filled with Luminites ready to party and looked out at a sea of bobbing multicolored heads.
Norm picked up the microphone and tapped on it a couple of times. The room got quiet as everyone looked up at the stage. "We should be proud of ourselves. Look around at this room. Our claustrophobic Colony has been transformed into a decent place to reside. And I promise you, this is just the beginning. It's time to party." Norm waved to the disc jockey, who started tapping on his computer, and an evening of music and dancing began.
"It looks like everyone has gotten into the party theme, said Norm."
"I sure hope the water recycling system can handle all of that hair coloring when it's washed out."
* * *
Like music, movies have a significant impact on society. I'm not sure they enhance cognitive abilities like music, but they can influence our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. And, probably more importantly, take our minds off what's happening elsewhere.
BARBENHEIMER has given traditional theatre owners a much-needed box office lift and significant profits to the movie industry. The success of Warner Boos. BARBIE ($1 billion in global box office) and OPPENHEIMER ($553 million) have shown that people want to escape the news.
Last month I indicated that Burbank had moved from "Media Capital of the World" to "Strikeville." Here's what the LA TIMES has to say about what happening in this area, "Los Angeles has become a city of picket lines this summer, with more than 100,000 workers out on strike in the region. Each set of workers - screenwriters, actors, hotel employees, city staffers and more - is fighting its own particular fight, but they're joining forces more than usual. And because of a particular set of circumstances, it's all coming together in this city."
Here in Burbank, I can feel the effect of the writers' and actors' strikes on our economy. The pain is starting to hit hard. One of my movie industry Story Tavern drinking buddies, the head of one of the industry guilds, told me that his members' wives (sorry if that is sexist) are up in arms and contacting him to end the strike. Ut Oh! My guess is that if you are an actor, the spouse or partner is usually watching out for the finances.
You know me and words. I was curious about the difference between a "guild" and a "union." Here's what I found. Guilds focus on maintaining standards of quality and promoting the interests of their members within their industry. In contrast, unions focus on negotiating with employers for better wages and working conditions.
The August 4 meeting between the WGA and AMPTP negotiators accomplished nothing, giving little reason that the strike will end any time soon. My son Brian, who is in the business, still thinks it will go into next year and WARNER BROS. DISCOVERY indicated that they modeled their figures, assuming the strikes would end in September. I suspect they will be revising those figures again in September.
I mention Story Tavern, my local pub, a lot. It is not a place where you will find movie stars, but rather where you will find the broader acting ecosystem around them that keeps the business running, from character actors whose faces may be familiar even if their names are not to unknown day players, stand-ins, and background performers. They are a fun group to be around. A lot of different personalities, believe me. But they are suffering at the moment.
My gut feeling is that the industry, like many others today, is in a state of change. The old business model no longer works because of A.I. and the expansion of streaming. A LA TIMES article indicates that "workers and studios are ultimately fighting over slices of what most analysts expect will be a smaller pie after the business transitions to a direct-to-consumer model from a highly profitable one based on bundles and box office."
I also noted that the studios and streaming services are actively advertising to hire additional A.I. staff with want ads indicating salaries of $300,000 to $900,000. That tells you which direction they are headed.
One casualty of the strikes is the EMMY AWARDS which were scheduled for September 18. They have been postponed to January.
This is a segment from my novel SKYWARD that involves the old bundles and box office movie industry –
* * *
The parties at the Bowman Mansion went on a hiatus. In fact, parties across America went on hiatus.
On October 29, 1929 – "Black Friday," –– The Great Depression began. The wealthy had gotten very rich while everyone else suffered. This wealth imbalance had consequences. Breadlines formed. Apples were being sold on the street corners by former bankers seeking any means to feed their families. Many everyday Americans had tried to participate in America's capitalism by buying stocks, only to discover that their investments were worthless.
The average American blamed what was happening on families like the Bowmans'. They felt capitalism had created an era of unprecedented and unprecedentedly lopsided prosperity. John Bowman walked a tightrope as massive oil discoveries in Texas, alongside falling global demand for energy, sent oil prices tumbling downwards. That caused investors in oil firms like the Bowman Oil Company to suffer huge losses and worldwide deflation.
Oil prices collapsed. The share price of the Bowman Oil Company dramatically declined. But, John Bowman's street smarts allowed life in the Bowman Mansion to remain reasonably nice for the family and the live-in servants during this period.
John wisely used some funds to purchase shares in Homestake Mining Company in anticipation of gold at least holding its value. In fact, gold mining turned golden.
Another investment came from sheer luck. Since moving to California, John had become infatuated with movies and movie stars. Because of this, he made Hollywood connections over the years and invested in a few movie productions. John expanded his investments in the movie industry. While the use of oil declined, going to the movies did not. Hollywood movies became America's depression escape. Movies depicted things desired or lost, which Depression audiences could relate to. Eighty-five million people a week crowded movie theaters. It was a black spell for the Nation but a golden era for Hollywood movies and the actors and crews that produced them. Investing in them. Well, that proved to be a rollercoaster ride for John. First, these investments went up, particularly as talkies were introduced, then down as the average Joe's income evaporated. Then back up as Americans decided to spend money on movies to escape what was happening. What money the average Joe had went for a living space, food, and the movies.
* * *
WEAPONS, WEAPONS, WEAPONS
The OPPENHEIMER movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, caused a quote by George Orwell to jump into my mind - "The history of civilization is largely the history of weapons."
Humans have been developing weapons to defend themselves from other humans since the beginning of civilization. If you wanted to survive, you needed weapons.
Academic studies looking at the development of war indicate that small-scale societies coalesced or engaged in warfare resulting in a new society that, in turn, created an autonomous civilization later. This warfare that took place in different terrain and other circumstances worldwide fabricated the survivability and destruction of human civilizations. They indicate that war is a global and historical phenomenon, closely interwoven with the conquest and destruction of human civilizations. Although traditional warfare or wars in ancient times differ from present-day wars, and wars of the European expansion obey different logic than the great power wars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, one of the leading causes of triggering war is the extension of territory.
The problem today is that more people are going after the same amount of territory that existed when humans evolved.
Where would humanity be today if humans had not invested so much in weapons? It is estimated that global military expenditure stands at over $1.7 trillion (with a T) annually. This corresponds to 2.5 percent of the world's gross domestic product (GDP), or approximately $249 for each person in the world. During World War II, the United States spent 40% of its gross domestic product on fighting the war.
The Manhattan Project, which began in 1939, employed nearly 130,000 people at its peak and cost nearly US$2 billion (equivalent to about $24 billion in 2021). Between 1940-1996, the United States spent over $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons programs.
In SKYWARD, every attempt is made by the STEM-educated colonists to leave the concept of war behind them on Earth and concentrate all their efforts on improving human life and exploring the Universe. If you think about it, space is endless, so there is always new territory for humans to explore and conquest. Plenty of room for everybody.
PUBLISHING INDUSTRY CHANGE
PARAMOUNT GLOBAL announced that it is selling SIMON & SCHUSTER, a joint venture partner in my publisher ARCHWAY PUBLISHING to KKR. Not sure yet what this is saying about the traditional publishing industry. With this deal, Simon & Schuster will become a standalone private company with Jonathan Karp remaining president and CEO. With the sale, a plan was announced to launch a broad-based equity ownership program to provide the publisher's more than 1,600 employees an opportunity to own shares in the company. Karp indicated that he thinks the deal is a "very exciting new chapter for book publishing."
CLUELESS POLITICAL THINKING
Last month I commented on LOS ANGELES MAYOR BASS's lack of logical political thinking in handling the homelessness problem. Her solution is attracting homeless people from other cities. In reading between the lines of several articles and recent studies, it is apparent that middle-class workers are moving out of the city because of the increased crime and decreasing property values caused by the homeless population. Instead of the "City of Angles," it is becoming the "City of Homelessness."
Here's another example of the lack of rational and logical political thinking from WEHO, where I was brought up. When I was growing up, the area was known as West Hollywood, an unincorporated area of L.A. County that separated Los Angeles from Beverly Hills. It was a quasi-red light district containing the Sunset Strip and many bars and nightclubs that avoided the then heavy-handed law enforcement of the L.A. Police Department. Below the Strip were traditional family-style homes on tree-lined streets where numerous behind-the-camera movie industry workers like my father brought up their families.
On July 1, West Hollywood passed legislation that increased its minimum wage by roughly $4 to $19.08 an hour. Guess what? Several local business owners have opted to list their properties and move somewhere easier to strike a profit. Lucian Tudor, chief executive of Global Dining Group and owner of La Boheme on Santa Monica Boulevard, opened the restaurant in 1991 but said he expects to list the location for sale within a month.
A HOT TIME FROM NOW ON
My electric bill has more than doubled since my last post. How about yours? For a long time, Burbank avoided the heat dome, but now it's caught up with us.
Since my last post, nearly 5,000 records for heat and rainfall were broken or tied here in the U.S., And more than 10,000 records were set globally.
I know several people who moved from Southern California to Arizona because of the high cost of living here. I don't think they expected the temperatures they are now facing. The Phoenix area just went through a record-setting 31 days of temperatures at or above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Having lived in the Palm Springs area for several years, I can tell you you don't go outside at that temperature.
I was surprised to learn that heat kills more Americans yearly than hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding combined. Heat waves must be considered disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes.
Air conditioning has become essential to human survival. One recent study found that if the electrical grid in Phoenix failed during a heat wave, nearly 800,000 people would land in the emergency room, and an estimated 13,000 would die.
It is being suggested that air conditioning technicians should be classified along with firefighters and EMTs as First Responders because of their increased need to save lives.
In my novel SKYWARD, the story emphasizes that looking back is not good for you. But there are some things you can look back at, like my first real job. It was with Marsh & McLennan (1963 to 1977) shortly after joining them, I ended up as part of a task force tasked with figuring out this new concept called "Risk Management" that adversely impacted our brokerage commission income. We came up with two major solutions. First, we needed to get into the fee-based consulting business. And second, we needed to get into the captive insurance company formation and management business. At that time, there were, I'm guessing, 2,000 employees. Just noted in BUSINESS INSURANCE that there are now over 85,000 employees, and they surpassed $20 billion in revenues.
Well, I didn't lose as much sleep as I thought I would, watching the Women's World Cup. I lost interest in watching live broadcasts at ridiculous early morning hours when the U.S. women lost. And that did take its toll on my body. But I'm now fully recovered.
I hope you're staying cool wherever you are. Let me know how you're enjoying this newsletter and how I might improve it by emailing me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
My September newsletter will be posted on the 20th.
Richard V. Rupp, Author
Website – www.richardvrupp.com
Email – email@example.com
Copyright©2023 by Richard V. Rupp