Amidst 5,000+ pages of COVID Stimulus bill, a 10 year prison sentence for streaming piracy

The 1:24:13 mark in Airplane II: The Sequel features a fitting sign to this post

When people talk about long novels, War and Peace often comes up. War and Peace is 1,225 pages long.

Ha, that’s nothing compared to what follows. If’s not even 1/4 the size.

One of the biggest problems with the United States government is that nothing is ever simple like it should be. The second COVID Stimulus package can’t be simply about getting checks out to people in need, it must be — seriously — 5,000+ pages long and include completely unrelated legislation just to garner votes.

Everything in a bill is about pork. More pork = more votes. They can find all the ways to insult the American people by giving them less than they did in the last stimulus bill ($600 instead of $1,200) but they can find some way to give more to others, including legislation for streaming piracy.

For the record, we don’t care about the money for us personally. We are doing fine without any money from other American taxpayers. That is, after all, where any money from the government ultimately comes from.

Get Marty McFly’s Delorean, because this is robbery from the future to pay the present. When the trillions of debt blow up the value of the U.S dollar, well, that’s when the bill comes home to everybody living in America.

I doubt this will happen in our lifetime, but the debt clock continues to horrify (see: No, Taxpayers Should NOT Bail Out Cinemas, Sorry Patty Jenkins and Other Millionaire Hollywood Directors).

Don’t even want to update the debt clock two months later, but, sadly, here it is …

In October 2020 debt was at just over 27 trillion. We’ve added another 500 million in the last two months and this new stimulus bill will add another trillion.

Rand Paul is getting slayed for his comments on the Senate floor. It’s gone viral.

Rand Paul lampoons the “deficits don’t matter disaster”

He was one of a small few who voted against the mammoth stimulus bill, loaded with garbage and a $600 kicker for the American people just, well, because.

Yes, streaming piracy simply must be a major priority in America right now (major eyeroll).

The “Protecting Lawful Streaming Act,” which was introduced earlier this month by Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, doesn’t target casual internet users. The law specifies that it doesn’t apply to people who use illegal streaming services or “individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.” Rather, it’s focused on “commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services” that make money from illegally streaming copyrighted material.

10 years in prison for illegal streaming? It’s in the Covid-19 relief bill – CNN

We’re not condoning streaming piracy. We pay for all the streaming channels we have, but this issue is a very small priority right now. How it squirrels its way into a stimulus bill is disturbing at best.

No, the image at the top of this post is what it was. A sign from a comedy movie nearly 40 years ago is screaming “logic, people!” at us in 2020.

It’s no wonder many people despise politicians and the job they’re doing.

They should have had a stimulus bill passed months ago following the last one that addressed the people who truly needed the help. I liked the one that gave $2,000/month to people until the pandemic was over, because that seemed like actual, meaningful help directly to the American people. It would have been nice to see the American people for once be the recipients of help since debt is just fine to pile on for businesses galore. If we’re going to pile on the debt, then give the money to the people directly, not to more businesses and industries.

But no, the American people are worth half what we were six months ago. Sigh.

Washingtonians won’t be seeing any more 2020 movies in theaters as COVID-19 restrictions extended to Jan 4, 2021

Empty seats, empty screens in Washington State for the remainder of 2020, per Governor order

It’s official.

We’ve watched our last movie in theaters in 2020. In Washington State where live, anyway.

My wife actually delivered the bad news to me today that our Washington State governor has extended the current restriction on movie theaters and other indoor activities from December 14 to January 4, 2020.

Citing a high number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalized patients, Washington Governor Jay Inslee extended the state’s current restrictions on indoor dining, gyms and several other industries until Jan. 4, 2021.¬†

Washington’s COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining and gyms extended to Jan. 4 | king5.com

Wonder Woman 1984 is coming out on Christmas day and also on HBO Max where we’ll see and review it (sorry, no other choice available) and Monster Hunter comes out on December 30. We’ll miss both the weeks they are released, but there are other movies between now and then we’ll miss as well. I could list all of them, but no idea if any more will delay until 2021.

Our movie review coverage at this site will continue to focus primarily on streaming titles, because that’s the only place locally we can watch new movies. Our next vacation will likely be in March, maybe, if we even bother to go anywhere outside the state. Traveling in these times seems ill-advised.

Upon learning this new we immediately went to our AMC Stubs A-List account to make sure they wouldn’t charge us another monthly subscription fee. They charged us for this last month but we couldn’t see any movies in theaters making the program totally useless in our area. Their customer service line is closed because they don’t have anybody working to man the phone lines.

On a positive note, they show both our memberships changed to “pause” status, meaning, we think, we won’t be charged next week for another month.

The message says AMC will resume charging the monthly fee in March 2021 unless we resume it sooner. We are also members of Regal Unlimited, but that hasn’t charged us since February 2020, even when we returned to watching movies in theaters.

It’s not understated that this has been the worst year ever for cinema moviegoers. There have been some good movies that have come out, but — like it or not — streaming has been where the new movie action has been in 2020.

No, Taxpayers Should NOT Bail Out Cinemas, Sorry Patty Jenkins and Other Millionaire Hollywood Directors

The Wonder Woman director has a right to her wrong opinion

This is rich, and that’s a major play on words.

Patty Jenkins, someone who has done some outstanding work on films like Monster and Wonder Woman and awaits the now Christmas release of the 80s timeline sequel (see: Wonder Woman 1984 Delayed Again Until Christmas Day 2020, Dune still December 18), is joining many other Hollywood directors trying to encourage the government to bail out the cinemas.

Jenkins is among dozens of top Hollywood directors appealing to the U.S. government to provide a financial lifeline to cinemas. Without it, she warned, the century-old tradition of going to the movies could disappear from American culture.

‘Wonder Woman’ director warns movie-going could become extinct

No, no, no, no. A thousand more nos. Horrible idea.

Here’s the thing, the government are people. All of us. We’re the taxpayers and we pay the taxes. So anything the government does, probably through printing money it doesn’t have since we’re multiple dozen trillions in debt, becomes a further burden on US taxpayers.

This image was taken from March 2020: $2 trillion deal stimulus package receives bipartisan support, movie theater chains likely included

Now look at the current debt clock taken from seconds ago, showing an increase of almost $4 trillion dollars.

US Debt as of 10/8/2020 — rising fast

We’re huge fans of watching movies at the theater, having paid for and watched over 100 movies in theaters the last year (see 2019 watched in theaters and 2020) — despite the pandemic wiping out most of the last six months.

If it comes down to a taxpayer bailout for cinemas to keep them from going out of business, then my answer at this point is blunt, but practical and necessary: let them go out of business. That wouldn’t be some major catastrophic failure. It’s not like the ozone layer depleted and life on earth as we know it will die. I believe that other savvy business people will rise up and seize the cinema experience, making some new, different experience. That’s America.

The whining about us not getting any or as many big budget movies? So what! (see: $100+ Million Movie Budgets Are¬†Stupid) Great movies have been created on very modest budgets by today’s standards. Hollywood elites threatening us from their million dollar mansions is neither compelling or convincing.

Movies will still be made. Good movies will still be financed and made. Hollywood doesn’t need taxpayer funding.

I am concerned about the tens of thousands of underpaid workers who can’t work in the cinema business while they remain closed. We should have had a second stimulus plan that would have helped these people directly, but our government is too possessed with arguing over who will be president the next four years to concern themselves with helping the unemployed.

Or maybe — and this is definitely just me thinking out loud — if there was a stimulus plan before the election, then it looks like the current government did their job, that would be helpful to the current political party in power. My guess is there will be a stimulus plan, miraculous as it will be passed not too long after the result of the presidential election. Just as the Supreme Court vacancy will be filled. Movie theaters will either reopen or die. Life will go on. An asteroid hasn’t struck the earth if Hollywood has to restructure the way it works.

Perspective in life isn’t something, it’s everything.

These are the things the political powers that be are consumed by, not movie theaters. Not the majority of unemployed taxpayers. Not the people. Not us.

That’s probably the source of what Jenkins and her director group are focusing on, but these people will get jobs in some other business sector and/or maybe work in the new cinemas that pop up if/when the big three theater chains go out of business. And if some of these directors lose their mansions and luxurious lifestyle, sorry. You earned those benefits off the backs of millions of middle and lower income people paying to see your movies for escapism and entertainment. If people can’t/won’t afford to go in as large numbers to finance your next mansion, again, sorry.

It’s not just a rich vs. middle income and poor discussion though. Going out of business — or severe disruption impacting business — happens sooner or later to virtually every type of business. The same could be said of taxi drivers being disrupted over Lyft and Uber and countless other businesses through time that have been disrupted due to changing times and business. This isn’t personal, it’s just the way it is.

Bailouts are a bad idea for the entertainment sector, period. A sector that may give many of us pleasure, but isn’t a necessity. It’s entertainment, people. Pleasure. That can and will be had in a variety of other places if it goes away — and just so it’s clear, I don’t believe it will ever completely go away.

Go back to working on your next project, Mrs. Jenkins. If we can afford it, we might be interested in that.

Three Senators vs. AT&T over zero-rating HBO Max

With Net Neutrality revoked by the Trump era FCC, AT&T has launched HBO Max with a feature that’s anti-competitive, according to three senators: not counting the bandwidth used when streaming HBO Max for AT&T subscribers.

This is called “zero rating” for those that didn’t know (don’t feel badly, I was one of them!).

Not counting the data used to watch HBO Max against an AT&T subscriber’s data cap would seem to benefit that subscriber. But the Senators point out that it can hinder competition instead since it would promote the use of HBO Max over other streaming apps that are not zero-rated; those apps would include streamers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. In their letter, the three Senators wrote, “This practice of allowing one arm of your company to ‘pay’ another arm of your company for preferential treatment attempts to mask its true impact…

Senators put AT&T on the hot seat over zero-rating of HBO Max – PhoneArena

I wonder though if this is a really that significant of a benefit to be a non-competitive practice? Think about how many different cell phone companies there are. T-Mobile, Verizon are just two other big names and there are a boatload of smaller ones. Will people really switch carriers to get with AT&T for zero rating of HBO Max? Some might, but we certainly wouldn’t.

We had AT&T once upon a time for cellular service and won’t ever be returning, so count us out. Amazon is doing just fine competing with this zero rating, according to a recent customer satisfaction survey Disney+ and Netflix are #1 and #2 respectively in customer satisfaction.

What do you think? No big deal? Unfair business practice? Attractive customer benefit?