I did get my recycle done yesterday, I must say the new recycle machine at Market of Choice is sleek and efficient. Instead of the bank of 4 machines, its now one all inclusive machine, and it took all of my bottles, cans and plastics. I spent my refund on some turkey pumpkin enchiladas in the deli section. Saw Eldest Niece, gave her the cute stuffed elephant and card for VDay and asked her to pick a day and a place to observe her birthday next month.
Got the trash done and to the curb too.
Today, despite the sunlight, its still cold and rainy outside... so inside and focus on finding the missing items on my list and cleaning.
There has been a Crooked Timber seminar on my Thessaly books. The main post, with links to all the essays everyone wrote on it (some of them brilliant), can be found here, and there's also a link to my response post, a dialogue in which Socrates and Apollo disagree about spoilers, while Maia and Crocus also make their opinions known.
There are no spoilers for Necessity, but there are spoilers for The Just City and The Philosopher Kings.
In the course of my work with Writer Beware, I see a lot of publishing contracts (for the most part, these are from small presses). One of the red flags I'm encountering more often these days is early termination fees: a penalty that must paid by the author if s/he wants to get out of a contract early.
A few examples of early termination clauses, taken from contracts in my possession:
The Author may terminate this agreement before the end of the term by means of a contract buyout....The Author will pay to the Publisher the sum of $500.00 (five hundred dollars) to exercise this contract buyout option. This fee must be paid to the Publisher by the Author at notification of intent to exercise the buyout option. The Author will be responsible for full payment of damages and customary legal fees as a result of legal action stemming from failure to pay this buyout clause.
The Author may petition the Publisher to terminate the Publishing Agreement at any time during the term of the Publishing Agreement, but it will cost the Author $350 fee for editing services and $100 fee for cover art services, formatting time and publishing costs, making the total fee Four Hundred Fifty dollars ($450.00).
Once a work has gone into editing and forward and the Author wishes to terminate this contract prematurely, a penalty shall be charged to the Author to cover costs of staff and artists for work already performed. This fee shall be at a minimum of $50.00 to a maximum of $1000.00 to be determined by the time spent on preparing the work for publication and money recovered from sales of the work.
Why are termination fees a red flag? Obviously they are onerous for authors, who might have good reason to want to end a contract early, and can't do so without opening up their wallets.
Of more concern is the fact that publishers may employ them abusively, holding them over the heads of unhappy writers, attempting to use them as an extra income source by offering to jettison dissatisfied authors at the slightest provocation (one publisher I know of even provides an annual "get out of jail free" period where writers can request an invoice), or terminating the contracts of writers who've pissed them off and demanding the fee even though termination wasn't the writer's decision.
I've gotten complaints about all of these. For instance, last year I heard from an author who was quoted an early release fee in the low four figures, described as a reimbursement for production costs--despite the fact that the book had been in circulation for some time and the publisher had likely made back its investment.
EPIC, an association for epublished authors, identifies termination or kill fees as a red flag contract clause--one that authors should absolutely avoid:
Most of these clauses refer to pulling a book during the middle of the contract, but some even require a kill fee paid to the publisher by the author for failing to renew the contract at its natural end. This last requirement isn't acceptable.
But termination fees aren't just bad for authors. They're bad for publishers, too.
Sure, from an honest small publisher's perspective--a publisher that isn't planning on browbeating its authors with termination fees, or using the fees to try and make an extra buck--a termination fee may seem to make good business sense. "We don't want to hold onto an unhappy author," the publisher might reason. "But we invest a lot of work in editing, designing, marketing, etc. So if we can't maximize our investment by selling the author's book for the full contract term, it's only fair that we should get some reimbursement if she decides to leave early."
Problem is, if the unhappy author can't afford the fee, the publisher is stuck with her anyway--along with, possibly, the extra resentment produced by the author's knowledge that she could have escaped if only she'd had the cash. (I've gotten many, many complaints from writers in exactly this situation.) Alternatively, if the author can afford the fee, he may see it as an easy exit, and jump ship without giving the publisher the chance to address whatever problems the author has identified--thus losing the publisher a book it might have retained if it had been able to work things out.
For publishers willing to let their unhappy authors go, it's far simpler--and far more author-friendly--simply to allow authors to terminate the contract at will, without the potential complications and bad feelings of a termination fee. To protect its investment, the publisher might impose a waiting period, such as one year, before the termination option can be invoked. Or, if the publisher prefers to try to resolve any problems, just don't include an early termination provision at all (though authors take note: if the contract is life-of-copyright and not limited-term, you should always be able to revert your rights once sales fall below a stated minimum).
Following rumors Apple is planning to create original television content like Netflix and Amazon, news has leaked about the company's first prospective TV show courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter. The series, called Vital Signs, is described as a dark semi-autobiographical drama that stars Beats co-founder and Apple executive Dr. Dre.
Sources who have seen scripts and descriptions of the show have described it as being very dark, reflecting at least in part on the life of Dr. Dre. Each episode is said to focus on a "different emotion" and the way Dre's character handles it.
While technically a half-hour, the show is not a comedy. Instead, it is described as a dark drama with no shortage of violence and sex. In fact, an episode filming Monday and Tuesday this week featured an extended orgy scene. Sources tell THR naked extras simulated sex in a mansion in the Bird Streets neighborhood of Los Angeles' Hollywood Hills. (Dre's wife Nicole Threatt Young was on set to witness the shenanigans, one insider says.)
News that Apple was exploring the possibility of original television programming first surfaced last summer, ahead of when it shelved its streaming television plans. At the time, it was speculated the content could be provided through a rumored streaming service, but with Apple having ended development on that project at the current time, distribution will come through more traditional means.
The Hollywood Reporter believes the series is likely to be distributed through Apple Music, which was born out of the Beats Music service created by Dre. It may also be available through iTunes or distributed through other channels, but the details on that are not yet clear. As with Netflix shows, all episodes of the series will be released at once.
Dr. Dre is the executive producer on the series, and it's being funded by Apple. The series will also star Sam Rockwell, known for movies like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Galaxy Quest, and Moon, along with Mo McRae, known for his role in Sons of Anarchy. It will be directed by Paul Hunter.
The USB 3 capable Lightning port on Apple's iPad Pro could use an incoming charge of up to 29 watts, matching the abilities of Apple's 12-inch MacBook. But without any USB 3 Lightning cables yet available on the market, this power remains untapped for now.
If you look at a Democratic delegate tracker like this one from The New York Times, you’ll find that Hillary Clinton has a massive 394-44 delegate lead over Bernie Sanders so far, despite having been walloped by Sanders in New Hampshire and only essentially having tied him in Iowa. While Sanders does have a modest 36-32 lead among elected delegates — those that are bound to the candidates based on the results of voting in primaries and caucuses — Clinton leads 362-8 among superdelegates, who are Democratic elected officials and other party insiders allowed to support whichever candidate they like.
If you’re a Sanders supporter, you might think this seems profoundly unfair. And you’d be right: It’s profoundly unfair. Superdelegates were created in part to give Democratic party elites the opportunity to put their finger on the scale and prevent nominations like those of George McGovern in 1972 or Jimmy Carter in 1976, which displeased party insiders.
Here’s the consolation, however. Unlike elected delegates, superdelegates are unbound to any candidate even on the first ballot. They can switch whenever they like, and some of them probably will switch to Sanders if he extends his winning streak into more diverse states and eventually appears to have more of a mandate than Clinton among Democratic voters.
Clinton knows this all too well; it’s exactly what happened to her in 2008 during her loss to Barack Obama. According to the website Democratic Convention Watch,2 Clinton began with a substantial advantage in superdelegates, leading Obama 154 to 50 when New Hampshire voted on Jan. 8, 2008. Obama narrowed his deficit in February and March, however, and overtook Clinton in superdelegates in mid-May. By the time Clinton ended her campaign on June 7, 2008, Obama had nearly a 2-to-1 superdelegate advantage over her.
For the most part, these superdelegates had not previously been linked with a candidate when they pledged their support to Obama, but there were also several dozen superdelegates who switched from Clinton to Obama, including some high-profile ones such as Rep. John Lewis of Georgia and former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Back to bad news for Sanders supporters: Clinton begins with a far larger superdelegate lead over Sanders than she ever had over Obama. It’s easy to imagine why they might resist switching, furthermore. Unlike Obama, who was perhaps roughly as “electable” as Clinton, Sanders is a 74-year-old self-described socialist. Unlike Obama, who had the chance to become the first black president, Sanders is another old white guy (although he would be the first Jewish president). Sanders wasn’t even officially a Democrat until last year. I’m not saying these are necessarily great arguments, but they’re the sorts of arguments that Clinton-supporting superdelegates will make to themselves and one another, in part because the superdelegate system was created precisely to help nominate candidates considered more electable by party leaders.
But how close would the outcome have to be for superdelegates to tip the nomination to Clinton? You can find that calculation in the table below.
IF A CANDIDATE HAS THIS PERCENTAGE OF ELECTED DELEGATES …
… SHE NEEDS THIS PERCENTAGE OF SUPERDELEGATES TO WIN THE NOMINATION
How far can superdelegates get you?
Superdelegates are mathematically relevant when a candidate has 41.2 percent to 58.8 percent of elected delegates. Below that range, a candidate couldn’t win a first-ballot majority even with the votes of every superdelegate; above that range, the superdelegates’ help wouldn’t be necessary to clinch the nomination.
That’s still a fairly wide range, however. In theory, for example, a candidate could lose elected delegates 58 percent to 42 percent — equivalent3 to losing the average state by 16 percentage points — and still win the nomination through superdelegates.
My guess, especially given what we saw in 2008, is that superdelegates wouldn’t feel comfortable weighing in anywhere near that much on Clinton’s behalf. In the case where she’s won only 42 percent of elected delegates, she’ll have lost to Sanders all over the map, and any conceivable “electability” gains from nominating Clinton would be outweighed by alienating at least half of the Democratic base.
If it’s closer, however, superdelegates could make a difference. Suppose that Clinton wins 47.5 percent of elected delegates to Sanders’s 52.5 percent — equivalent to her losing the average state by 5 percentage points. According to our formula, Clinton would then need only about 64 percent of superdelegates to win the nomination, a figure that seems realistic.
What you’re likely to see in close cases like these is competing claims to legitimacy, with Democratic party elites showing their bias by interpreting the evidence in favor of Clinton. Suppose, for instance, that Sanders is slightly ahead in elected delegates but slightly behind in the overall popular vote, which could happen if he overperforms in caucus states.4 Clinton supporters will argue that popular votes are the truer measure of support. More exotic options might include citing national polls (if Clinton is still ahead in them by June) or the number of states she’s won (if she’s won more than Sanders). If Clinton starts out well behind Sanders but then narrows her deficit, the elites may argue that momentum was in her favor.
It’s hard to know the exact point at which such claims go from laughable to credible, but my guess is that it’s somewhere around the 5 percentage point gap that I mentioned earlier. So superdelegates do provide some advantage to Clinton: They’ll break a true tie in her favor, and perhaps anything that can reasonably be described as a tie in her favor also. It’s just not the massive advantage implied by the delegate count so far.
I’ve been noodling around with this idea for awhile. Especially two months after The Force Awakens, and watching how the fanfic, the memes, the theories, and the love show no sign of slowing down. Especially after grappling with my own difficulties in figuring out how to approach reviewing the movie. How can I possibly separate my love of the world and judge the movie simply as a movie? And now, there’s an amazing fever pitch surrounding the release of Deadpool. All the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies of the last couple of years have had this immense hype and love around them, and as I mentioned in my review of Ant-Man, I’ve pretty much given up approaching these movies with any kind of objective detachment. Moreover, the movies don’t actually care about being considered as movies. They don’t really stand alone. They’re chock full of inside jokes and easter eggs. They have a laser focus on their audience, and in giving that audience what it wants: a really good time in the worlds that they love.
Star Wars, the MCU, Harry Potter, maybe a couple of others but those are the ones that stand out for me: these aren’t really movies anymore. They’re communities. The movies have become the periodic rituals that these communities celebrate.
There are lots of media fandoms and fannish communities. The phenomenon’s been going on since at least the first Star Trek conventions in the early 70’s. And in most cases the communities persist even if no more movies or episodes are forthcoming. (Captain Power is 25+ years gone but there’s still a small group of us who can’t stop talking about it.)
But this is something else. Something different. Something spawned and fueled by the internet, huge and pervasive. These franchises seem to have reached a tipping point where these aren’t just movies that we’re excited to see. They’re events. The anticipation is part of the experience. We’re not just looking for entertainment, we’re looking for new information to add to what we know, to fuel more fan theories and musings that will go on long after the film is out of theaters. It helps that so far these movies have generally been good by most standards. But I’d argue: they don’t stand alone, really. They wouldn’t exist without the fervent devotion of these tremendous communities.
And it’s a feedback loop: the communities support the movies; the movies fuel the communities. That loop generates power.
There’s more thinking to be done with this idea, but for me it’s helping provide a framework for why my critical approaches to Star Wars and the MCU have been changing, becoming different than my approach to other movies. I love these worlds and characters, I consider myself part of the communities that are bound by them, and that changes my thinking about them.
Apple is likely to wait until 2017 and the "iPhone 7s" to introduce noise-canceling headphones, according to a Barclays analyst report posted today. In the report, analysts Blayne Curtis and Christopher Hemmelgarn believe that 2016's iPhone 7 will include a Lightning-equipped headphone accessory, with the "potential" for a dynamic noise-canceling system to be introduced next year.
The analysts believe Apple will use a basic digital codec in 2016, allowing the company to introduce Lightning-connected headphones later in the year. This move will prepare Apple for the possibility of including Cirrus Logic's (an Apple audio supplier) more advanced noise-cancellation smart codec in 2017, which requires a digital codec to be installed in the first place.
We still believe there is potential for AAPL to add ANC in the IP7S but believe AAPL is including just the digital headphone in the IP7 this year. Recent speculation surrounding the elimination of the headphone jack in the IP7 is consistent with this move as AAPL will need to provide a digital headset inbox but likely was not willing to spend the extra cost for the ANC functionality.
Rumors surrounding the exclusion of a 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7 began earlier in the year, although it was unclear whether the accessory would ship in the box or be sold as a separate purchase under the Beats by Dre brand. According to the analysts in today's report, the 3.5mm headphone jack will be replaced by another speaker thanks to an additional amp also provided by Cirrus Logic.
Other rumors have suggested that Apple is preparing a Bluetooth solution for an upcoming iPhone line, similar in vein to the Bragi Dash headphones, which are finally beginning to ship out to early pre-order customers after over a year of waiting. The headphones would be completely wireless, with two separate pods that require regular charging.
Although the smartphone and tablet processor markets actually declined year-over-year in 2015, Apple managed to capture large shares of both in 2015 simply manufacturing for its own devices, Strategy Analytics said in data released on Friday.
All singing! All dancing! All 40+ minutes of my feature-film-in-progress, Seder-Masochism! This is not the finished movie, but the core musical scenes animated in Flash. While I take a production break to learn new software to make the rest of the film, let’s watch all these crazy scenes together in a theater. Featuring:
Unsubtle phallic imagery!
$5 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds. FREE MATZOH!
Athletic apparel company ASICS today acquired popular running app Runkeeper for an undisclosed amount of money. Runkeeper founder Jason Jacobs announced the news in a blog post on Medium, in which he promised that the merger of a "digital fitness platform and world class physical products" will be one that should benefit fans of both companies.
Partnering with ASICS to fulfill this vision together makes a ton of sense. We both have deep roots in and focus on running as a core component of the fitness experience. There is strong alignment between our brands and core values. And from people using our Shoe Tracker feature in the app, we know that ASICS shoes are by far the ones that Runkeeper users run in the most!
Jacobs promised that Runkeeper users won't see many changes to the core app experience due to the acquisition, but thanks to ASICS' resources, the app should be able to expand and grow at a faster rate. The specifics of the integration into physical products for the two companies has not yet been disclosed, but an automatic run-tracking shoe seems to be in the cards with Runkeeper's mentioning of the popularity of ASICS shoes among its users.
Runkeeper offers a free experience, but power users can spend $9.95 on a more premium version of the service. Last summer, Runkeeper announced that it cut 30 percent of its staff to shift focus "from purely attracting lots of users to wringing more revenue from those users," which ASICS' acquisition should help contribute to as well.
Fitness clothing companies have been making acquisitions in the digital space for a while now, in the last year alone Under Armour purchased MyFitnessPal and Adidas purchased Runtastic. One of the first technical integrations of digital fitness into a wearable was the Nike+ step counter, which you could insert into a tennis shoe to sync with the company's running app.
The limited time offer requires both smartphones to be purchased on AT&T Next with a qualifying plan. The first device can be a new line or an upgrade, while the second device must be a new line and purchased on AT&T Next 24.
After three bill cycles or less, AT&T said customers will start to receive up to $650 in bill credits spread out over 30 monthly payments. The first payment will be a lump sum of any AT&T Next payments to that date. Tax is still due on both smartphones, which must be from the same manufacturer, upon purchase.
Last month, T-Mobile announced a similar "BOGO" promotion that offers qualifying Simple Choice customers half off all iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models, or any iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with the purchase of another iPhone of equal or greater value. The savings are applied instantly at the point of sale.
AT&T has announced that it will begin trialing 5G wireless technologies this year, including lab tests in the second quarter and outdoor tests over the summer. The carrier anticipates 5G speeds to be 10-100 times faster than today's average 4G LTE connections, with reduced latency.
Customers will see speeds measured in gigabits per second, not megabits. For reference, at one gigabit per second, you can download a TV show in less than 3 seconds. Customers will also see much lower latency with 5G. Latency, for example, is how long it takes after you press play on a video app for the video to start streaming on your device. We expect 5G latency in the range of 1 to 5 milliseconds.
Worldwide standards are still lacking for 5G technologies, but the 3GPP group aims to complete the first phase of that process in 2018. The widespread rollout of AT&T's 5G network will likely take until 2020, but the carrier plans to provide wireless connectivity to fixed locations in Austin before the end of this year. The carrier joins Verizon, who will also be field testing 5G solutions this year.
AT&T's 5G network will be based on technologies such as millimeter waves, network function virtualization (NFV), and software-defined networking (SDN). The carrier has already migrated 14 million wireless customers to its virtualized network, and it says millions more will be added this year. AT&T plans to virtualize 75% of its network over the next four years in the lead up to 5G.
It remains too early to predict Apple's roadmap for 5G connectivity. Apple was quick to support LTE-Advanced, a faster standard of 4G LTE, on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus or later, but 3G and LTE wireless technologies were both available for years before Apple adopted them. Based on AT&T's and 3GPP's timelines, a 5G iPhone may not be released for at least three to four years.
An email from my friend Jeremy Johnson, who made Totes MaGoats and Rory: So this isn’t as random as the London shot, but I saw this at a local bar tonight. Gotta love the Game of Thrones reference! (Photo is … Continue reading →
This week on the AppleInsider podcast, Neil and Mikey look at new evidence pointing to work on a so-called "Apple Car," forecast the future of iPhone and Apple Watch, discuss Neil's iPad Pro keyboard comparison and much more.