There are similar offers for two streaming services which I wanted to mention in case they're to anyone's attention here.
Both Hulu and Peacock TV are having Black Friday sales on their websites. The offers are for $1.99 a month for 12 months. (You can cancel at any time -- though for $1.99 a month, it's almost worth keeping it in case they end up having a movie or series later on that interests you.) Peacock TV has an additional offer -- $19.99 if you sign up for the full year. That's two months free, or the equivalent of $1.67 a month.
The one caveat is that these Black Friday offers are all for the ad-supported services.
I'll mention that I signed up for this same Hulu offer last year (I'm not eligible for it this year...), and was fine with the ad-supported plan. They only have a few ad breaks for each show and tend to be about 90 seconds to two minutes. Never longer, sometimes less. And they have a little clock counting down the time left in the ads, which I love. I keep a book by my chair and read during the break, knowing how much time I have -- or run some "errand" in another room.) For $1.99, I found it well-worth it. If I watched Hulu a lot, I don't know if I'd have gotten the ad-supported plan. But because I don't watch Hulu a lot, that's why I tried it out this way. (And it turned out that I found more things that I watched than I expected it.)
And that's why I never paid for Peacock TV before. They didn't have much that interested me. But there are about 4-5 movies I have on my "Peacock List" that I do want to see, and was going to sign up for a month to watch them all. However, that would cost $12 for a no-ads plan. So, for just eight dollars more, I'm getting it for the whole year, during which time they might have some more movies I want to see, or series. Plus they carry Big Ten sports (like my beloved Northwestern...), which includes things not on my standard Big Ten cable channel.
Anyway, that's the deal. Do with it what you will...
If you didn't see Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on Sunday, the Main Story was about -- of all unexpected things -- dollar stores. In particular, Dollar General and Dollar Tree chains. Compared to many of their stories, it's certainly far more lighthearted -- but...as they get into they story, the dark side of how these stories are managed is ghastly. And well-deserving of the Last Week Tonight eye. Happily, it's a story that lends itself to some wonderful humor -- including a terrific sketch at the end.
Side Note: the actor playing the corporate manager might look familar, especially if you watched the series Monk. That's because it's Tim Bagley, who played Monk's equally neurotic and competitive rival, 'Harold Crenshaw,' who battled one another for the attention of their mutual psychologist.
After watching and reading news accounts of Don Jr. and Eric Trump testifying in court, I had an observation. It may have nothing to do with reality, though I suspect it at the very least has a passing acquaintance with it.
The problem became apparent with Eric yelling at a prosecutor for having the gall to ask what was a basic question that he felt was obvious and thereby was insulting to have been asked. Never mind that this wasn’t a personal conversation, but testimony in court where often things are required to be asked in order to get them on the record.
But it was apparent throughout his testimony and his brother’s, as well. Denying things that were then presented to them as evidentiary proof of what they were denying. Passing blame on everyone else for everything. Getting testy with the prosecutor. Refusing to accept that facts (such as the size of the Trump apartment) had been presented incorrectly (three times the reality) and were therefore at best innocent mistakes that wildly inflated valuation – and at worst, intentional fraud.
What struck me is the sense that the Trump brothers live in a certain bubble. It’s a world where what they say – whatever they say – is accepted by employees at the Trump Organization and the vendors who do business with the company and by those who want to be in their social circle and by total strangers for whom they owe no responsibility and more. And if it’s not accepted, it doesn’t matter since anyone who doesn’t accept their words, accept their entitlement doesn’t matter to them. Such people are only out to get them. It’s political, a witch hunt, jealousy, a nothingburger. They can say what they want and get away with it, because they have their whole life.
The problem is – they’re in court. Testifying under oath. And I don’t get the sense that they quite realize it. The prosecutor asking him that question Eric thought was so insultingly stupid – to the brothers he’s a fool and someone you can yell at and tell off. Not recognizing that the prosecutor doesn’t matter – in fact the prosecutor probably loved being yelled at, so the judge could see that – because it’s the judge who is only person who matters. The judge is the person who is going to decide how much the Trump Organization is going to have to pay. The judge is who already has ruled that the Trump Organization committed fraud. The judge is who already has ruled that the sons’ father, their personal Zeus upon Mount Trump, was not a credible witness. The judge is who had the power and used it to impose a gag order on him.
Yet there they are, the petulant, entitled Trump sons yelling at prosecutors, denying physical evidence, blaming others for actions they were in charge of, ignoring reality, ignoring that there’s actual video of their sworn depositions – because that’s what they do in normal conversations of everyday life – and appear to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that when they swore to tell the truth, that actually had legal meaning, and have blocked out that there is an actual judge judging everything they say and everything they do and how they do it and how they say it in order to help him make his judgement, because that’s what judges do.
I know it’s hard to miss the judge when you’re testifying in court – after all, he’s sitting right next to you at your elbow when you’re in the witness stand. But living inside a vacuum-sealed bubble and having Mr. Magoo myopia can screw up one’s awareness of the real world that exists just outside your protective, invisible defense shield -- most especially when you are the entirety of your world.
A world which, in turn, is nothing more than a small, circling orbit of their father’s soul-sucking universe.
Imagine for a moment that you own a property which you know -- absolutely know, without question -- was worth, let's say, $10 million when you bought it. And the reason that you know with total certainty it’s worth $10 million is because, like pretty much everyone in the world, before buying it you checked similar property in the neighborhood and nearby before making an offer, in order to get the best deal and a fair price.
So, you know the property is worth $10 million.
You know it.
But then, after having bought it for the price you know was proper -- because you carefully checked first and did due diligence and compared prices -- one day your realtor said, no, the property you bought for $10 million was actually worth $60 million!
Needless-to-say, you'd be thrilled, though admittedly surprised, and even probably at least just a little bit concerned, too, for such a substantial difference, but still you nonetheless relied on that new information -- without checking anything. Without finding out if other similar property nearby had also increased in value so massively, perhaps worth even more than yours, or maybe less. Without double-checking even though this meant your property taxes would be skyrocketing through the roof. You just totally relied on the word of the experts, because that’s why you hired them, after all what do you know?, they’re the experts, and you’re not, you just pay for the property, so why would you check out any of that, however much the real estate world had drastically changed surrounding your neighborhood and however much more you now would hugely owe in taxes?
But now imagine, too, that – on top of all this highly-surprising news, discovering your $10 million real estate property was really, all of a sudden, worth $60 million now -- it turns out that your actual job is, in fact, in real estate, and your brother and sister’s job is also in real estate, and your father’s job is in real estate, and your grandfather’s job was in real estate, and your great-grandfather’s job was in real estate, and indeed your family has been in real estate for 132 years, and the real estate company your family owns for which you are Executive Vice-President has been in existence for 96 years, and your specific job is overseeing the buying and construction and leasing of skyscrapers and golf resorts and multi-hundred million dollar properties around the world – though, as it happens, you don’t personally consider yourself an expert in real estate and instead always rely out of total, blind, unquestioning ignorance in your real estate profession on the advice of others for their skill to make your real estate valuation decisions for you. And so, if they – who are actual experts, after all – tell you that your property is suddenly worth six times what you knew it was worth, that’s perfectly fine with you because you’re not an expert in your family’s business of 132 years, just the Executive Vice-President, so where is the paper to sign?, because they’re experts in your field, and you know nothing, so why ask anyone else? Like your brother, or sister, or father? Or the accountants? Or at least look it up on Zillow?
And now...imagine that you’re telling this under oath to a judge who only the week before ruled that your father, the former president of the United States and most powerful man in the world and head of your company – a company the judge has already ruled committed fraud -- was “not credible.”
(Today's Reminder: This trial is not to determine guilt or innocence. Guilt has already been determined. This is the penalty phase -- and only the penalty phase -- to decide how much money the company owes. So, trying to shift blame others for the fraud you've been found guilty of not only has no meaning, but risks seriously backfiring.)
Still, that’s the plan you’re going into court with. Under oath. That you knew nothing. And as Executive Vice-President relied entirely without questioning on others, because they were experts, not you. And you knew…well, y’know, nothing.
We're going to take a bit of a respite this morning from Trump and politics, and instead head over to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. And if you missed it, the Main Story was about chocolate. Which is far easier to digest.
That said, it's a serious story and takes a U-turn when it delves into cocoa bean farming. It's very interesting and problematic, though given the general subject, there's a lot of room -- a lot -- for humor.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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