30 April 2008

$832 million

That's a lot of cash. That's a lot of net cash. That's taking one hundred thousand people and giving them each US$8,320 (as of today, €5,263.32; UK£4,227.54; CHÆ’8,619.52; CAN$8,427.74; etc.).

That's net profit. That's after bills and expenses. That's an enormous chunk of change that goes in the figurative pocket of just one multinational corporation. Just one.

That's pharoah money. That's emperor money. Is that unfathomable or do i just not think big enough?

That's taking eight hundred and thirty-two of yr closest friends and family and giving them each one million dollars.

I remember when i was little, Mr Joseph Arco, god rest his soul, telling me that you could bank $1,000,000 and live off the interest for the rest of your life. I wonder if that's still true. I'm pretty sure it hasn't changed much even if we are talking 35 years later.

How much does one person need to live comfortably? Every one has a different comfort level, you say. Well, i'm against the “lowest common denominator.” I'm for the highest common denominator.

I say per person annually three million US dollars -- last i looked, still the monetary yardstick. They're still pricing petroleum in US$. I say an annual three million dollars of net income in yr pocket after all expenses, taxes, investments and whatnot have been paid is “enough.” “Enough” to feed yr family, enough to pay all yr bills annually, “enough” to keep the Ferrari running smoothly, “enough” to burn yr fucking brains out with all the cocaine and heroin you could do...basically “enough” for anything. A personal jet? A 100-room estate in Seychelles? Well, hell, with an annual net income of $3,000,000, who'd ever decline your loan?

That's (as of today) €1,924,743.00, UK£1,524,353.92, ¥311,610,008.24, HK$23,382,599.83...you get the picture.

Is there still someone out there who doesn't agree? Is there someone who actually thinks that this “communist” line of thinking would stifle competition and research and development? After all, there's no incentive to do anything if you can't net more than three million dollars annually!

Would there actually be somebody who says that three million dollars net annually isn't enough? Would there actually be someone who would want US$3,000,001?

Bigger question: let's pretend that the $3 million ceiling is alright. What to do with the surplus money? Or more specifically, where does it go and how is it managed while it's waiting to end world hunger forever, fund teletransportation research, etc.? I'm still working on that one.

28 April 2008

Bugs, Bugs, BUGS!!!...and Banners

HEY, I'M BACK! Yeah, yeah...

The latest trend on italian television is promo banners during programs. Everywhere in the world, i imagine, you pay for television either in the form of advertising interruptions, license fees, cable/satellite service or a combination thereof.

This is an example of any program on any TV station years ago...

Example 1: the transmitted picture and only the transmitted picture.

...exactly that: an image. A transmitted image. It probably would have been in black and white as well, but that's beside the point.

A cathode-ray tube TV screen "eats" an amount of the outer picture (anywhere up to ten percent). I say "anywhere up to ten percent" because, unlike paper with a bleed margin, no two television monitors trim the image exactly the same. Pay attention the next time you're in an appliance store with their wall of TVs. No two TVs are pixel-identical. So effectively you are seeing only this much of the transmitted image...

Example 2: normal 10% picture loss.

For some years now viewers have experienced this type of graphic called a bug on their TV screens (in the lower right corner in this example)...

Example 3: a "bug" in the lower right corner of the picture. Note that the bug
is placed INSIDE the safely trasmitted area which is known as "action safe".

This bug was invented to identify the channel being watched at a glance, among other reasons of varying degrees of legitimacy. And most bugs are relatively unobtrusive when they are semitransparent.

In the next example, you see that we are losing even more of the transmitted 4:3 picture thanks to purely stylistic uses of "letterboxing"...

Example 4: fake 16:9 letterboxing.
While i usually believe "less is more" , here "less is...LESS!"

It's honestly been a while since i've had the...opportunity...to view other countries' programming but here in Italy, normal PAL programs and commercials add letterboxes, presumably to give the product a cinematic look. I'm sorry...i personally call "bullshit". Who is gonna buy that the perfume ad you are watching was really shot in Panavision? Oh, is this pseudo-news program really in 16:9? Especially, as in the next example, when a second bug is added in the letterbox!

Example 5: Working so hard to create a cinematic look
that's fooling no one and then sticking a clown's bowtie on it.

The whole letterbox idea is to present a cinematic work of a widescreen format in television's 4:3 context without having to pan and scan, losing significant portions of the shot. If you start taking advantage of that space, you're just trying to pull a two-bit con. And you probably wear white tube socks to a formal engagement. And the above example is tame tame tame. I've seen commercials with letterboxing, product logo as a bug and even a supermarket-style burst expousing "50% off" or some other life-changing message. Or even a programming block with channel bug, block bug and program bug, sometimes even ANIMATED. A regular "cazzotto nell'occhio."

But WAIT! It gets worse! The latest trend is to interrupt the viewer with an inline promo! Example, please...

Nice, huh. This is your standard scroll taken to ludicrous lows, no matter how nice the graphic is. And it's animated. Boy, is it animated! There is no way a viewer is gonna miss that blooming and booming across the lower third of the screen during a program. As if commercial interruption wasn't enough (especially US broadcast TV but that is for another rant). As if your cable/satellite bill wasn't enough. As if the license fee isn't enough. As if the combination of those three wasn't enough to assure you a relatively tranquil viewing of a program that interests you. It's not enough that we are losing more picture content every day with cheap gimmicks like this.

It's never enough.

Television flowflow.