Disney Alleges Some Cast Are Not Decorous

September 11, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I spotted a story which may not be 100 percent on the money. If I were not 78, I would scour online resources to determine the veracity of “Furious Disney Bosses Call in Investigators after Disgruntled Employee Shares Shocking Clips of Beloved Characters.” For the purposes of this brief essay, let’s assume that the estimable Sun is writing the Truth According to Walt, who is allegedly frozen in a cryogenic chamber with machine generated images of Minnie Mouse doing interesting things at Disneyland.

9 3 twerking mascot

A mutant character finds its way to a football game in Orlando. The egg shaped mascot shouts, “Everybody now. Twerk twerk twerk.” The Orlando Pride faithful takes off their Orlando Solar Bear’s hats and puts on official Mickey Mouse ears. Twerk twerk twerk. Walt and Roy Disney look alikes joined the fund. Thanks, MidJourney. No red alerts on my prompt. Too bad reversing the gradient descent is going to be difficult. Twerk twerk twerk.

The write up reports as “real news”:

Disney chiefs are furious over leaked videos showing theme park characters twerking. Dancing staff are also seen provocatively removing their costumes in behind-the-scenes footage.

The well paid and really content “cast” members dancing in a suggestive manner and/or removing their clothes? Come on, Sunny. Disneyland is super clean. The trash is removed and carried away via underground service tunnels. I have heard that interesting activities have taken place in those service tunnels. But my source with a retired Orlando law enforcement officer who was not a fan of the Disney outfit. I assumed he had to watch Snow White too many times while raising his two children. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to jail we go or some similar refrain is lodged in my brain, and I saw Snow White only one time. That was sufficient, right, Dopey?

The write up adds:

They [the management team presiding over the smoking crater of Disney earnings] have called in a team of investigators in a bid to root out those involved in filming the footage and those posting it. A source said: “It looks silly, but for Disney protecting the integrity of those characters is absolutely paramount. “They’ve asked top investigators to shut down the feed and try to identify those responsible, who are in breach of their employment contracts. “The last thing Disney wants is decapitated Mickey and Minnie heads going viral online and, even worse, anything that looks at all risqué or adult.

I am not sure about the “last thing” assertion. I learned while preparing for an upcoming lecture about smart software generating interesting Disney clips for those who like their anime spicy. Smart software is merely a technological enabler. It takes a human to merge a Disney character with the mentality of a ComicCon Furry meet up.

And what about Disney’s streaming tactics? Charter Spectrum and some sports fans who leave ESPN on 24×7 are not happy with the Magic Kingdom.

Okay, cast, more training will be required. For those curious about the beloved characters antics, check out TikTok.

Stephen E Arnold, September 11, 2023

YouTube Content: Are There Dark Rabbit Holes in Which Evil Lurks? Come On Now!

September 1, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Google has become a cultural touchstone. The most recent evidence is a bit of moral outrage in Popular Science. Now the venerable magazine is PopSci.com, and the Google has irritated the technology explaining staff. Navigate to “YouTube’s Extremist Rabbit Holes Are Deep But Narrow.”

8 30 shout

Google, your algorithm is creating rabbit holes. Yes, that is a technical term,” says the PopSci technology expert. Thanks for a C+ image MidJourney.

The write up asserts:

… exposure to extremist and antagonistic content was largely focused on a much smaller subset of already predisposed users. Still, the team argues the platform “continues to play a key role in facilitating exposure to content from alternative and extremist channels among dedicated audiences.” Not only that, but engagement with this content still results in advertising profits.

I think the link with popular science is the “algorithm.” But the write up seems to be more a see-Google-is-bad essay. Science? No. Popular? Maybe?

The essay concludes with this statement:

While continued work on YouTube’s recommendation system is vital and admirable, the study’s researchers echoed that, “even low levels of algorithmic amplification can have damaging consequences when extrapolated over YouTube’s vast user base and across time.” Approximately 247 million Americans regularly use the platform, according to recent reports. YouTube representatives did not respond to PopSci at the time of writing.

I find the use of the word “admirable” interesting. Also, I like the assertion that algorithms can do damage. I recall seeing a report that explained social media is good and another study pitching the idea that bad digital content does not have a big impact. Sure, I believe these studies, just not too much.

Google has a number of buns in the oven. The firm’s approach to YouTube appears to be “emulate Elon.” Content moderation will be something with a lower priority than keeping tabs on Googlers who don’t come to the office or do much Google work. My suggestion for Popular Science is to do a bit more science, and a little less quasi-MBA type writing.

Stephen E Arnold, September 1, 2023

Software Marches On: Should Actors Be Worried?

August 25, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

How AI Is Bringing Film Stars Back from the Dead” is going to raise hackles of some professionals in Hollywood. I wonder how many people alive today remember James Dean. Car enthusiasts may know about his driving skills, but not too much about his dramaturgical abilities. I must confess that I know zippo about Jimmy other than he was a driver prone to miscalculations.

8 20 angry writer

An angry human actor — recycled and improved by smart software — snarls, “I didn’t go to acting school to be replaced by software. I have a craft, and it deserves respect.” MidJourney, I only had to describe what I wanted one time. Keep on improving or recursing or whatever it is you do.

The Beeb reports:

The digital cloning of Dean also represents a significant shift in what is possible. Not only will his AI avatar be able to play a flat-screen role in Back to Eden and a series of subsequent films, but also to engage with audiences in interactive platforms including augmented reality, virtual reality and gaming. The technology goes far beyond passive digital reconstruction or deepfake technology that overlays one person’s face over someone else’s body. It raises the prospect of actors – or anyone else for that matter – achieving a kind of immortality that would have been otherwise impossible, with careers that go on long after their lives have ended.

The write up does not reference the IBM study suggesting that 40 percent of workers will require reskilling. I am not sure that a reskilled actor will be able to do. I polled my team and it came up with some Hollywood possibilities:

  1. Become an AI adept with a mastery of python, Java, and C. Code software replacing studio executives with a product called DorkMBA
  2. Channel the anger into a co-ed game of baseball and discuss enthusiastically with the umpire corrective lenses
  3. Start an anger management podcast and, like a certain Stanford professor, admit the indiscretions of one’s childhood
  4. Use MidJourney and ChatGPT to write a manga for Amazon
  5. Become a street person.

I am not sure these ideas will be acceptable to those annoyed by the BBC write up. I want to point out that smart software can do some interesting things. My hunch is that software can do endless versions of classic hits with old-time stars quickly and more economically than humanoid involved professionals.

I am not Bogarting you.

Stephen E Arnold, August 25, 2023

Young People Are Getting News from Sources I Do Not Find Helpful. Sigh.

July 28, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

TikTok Is the Most Popular News Source for 12 to 15-Year-Olds, Says Ofcom” presents some interesting data. First, however, let’s answer the question, “What’s an Ofcom?” It is a UK government agency regulates communication in the UK. From mobile to mail, Ofcom is there. Like most government entities, it does surveys.

Now what did the Ofcom research discover? Here are three items:

7 20 confused student

“You mean people used to hold this grimy paper thing and actually look at it to get information?” asks one young person. The other says, “Yes, I think it is called a maga-bean or maga-zeen or maga-been, something like that.” Thanks for this wonderful depiction of bafflement, MidJourney.

  1. In the UK, those 12 to 15 get their news from TikTok.
  2. The second most popular source of news is the Zuckbook’s Instagram.
  3. Those aged from 16 to 24 are mired in the past, relying on social media and mobile phones.

Interesting, but I was surprised that a traditional printed newspaper did not offer more information about the impact of this potentially significant trend on newspapers, printed books, and printed magazines.

Assuming the data are correct, as those 12 to 15 age, their behavior patterns may suggest that today’s dark days for traditional media were a bright, sunny afternoon.

Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2023

TikTok: Ever Innovative and Classy Too

July 21, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I have no idea if the write up is accurate. Without doing any deep thinking or even cursory research, the story seems so appropriate for our media environment. (I almost typed medio ambiente. Yikes. The dinobaby is really old on this hot Friday afternoon.)

7 14 entrepreneur in money

“Of course, I share money from videos of destitute people crying in inclement weather. It is the least I can do. I am working on a feature film now,” says the brilliant innovator who has his finger on the pulse of the TikTok viewer. The image of this paragon popped out of the MidJourney microwave quickly.

Here’s the title: “People on TikTok Are Paying Elderly Women to Sit in Stagnant Mud for Hours and Cry.” Yes, that’s the story. The write up states as actual factual:

Over hours, sympathetic viewers send “coins” and gifts that can be exchanged for cash, amounting to several hundred dollars per stream, says Sultan Akhyar, the man credited with inventing the trend. Emojis of gifts, roses, and well-wishes float up gently from the bottom of the live feed. The viral phenomenon known as mandi lumpur, or “mud baths,” gained notoriety in January when several livestreams were posted from Setanggor village …

Three quick observations:

  1. The classy vehicle for this entertainment is TikTok.
  2. Money is involved and shared immediately. Yep, immediately.
  3. Live video, the entertainment of the here-and-now.

I am waiting for the next innovation that takes crying in the mud to another level.

Stephen E Arnold, July 21, 2023

TikTok Interface: Ignoring the Big Questions

July 10, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I read “TikTok Is Confusing by Design.” That’s correct. But the write up does not focus on the big questions. However, the article tiptoes up to the $64 question and then goes for a mocha latte. Very modern.

7 6 ignore red light

A number of articles ignore flashing red lights. William James called this “a certain blindness.” Thanks, MidJourney to a wonderful illustration crafted from who knows what.

Note these snippets from the essay:

  • a controlled experience that’s optimized to know or decide what we want and then deliver it to us.
  • You don’t get to choose from a list of related content, nor is there any real order to whatever you’ll get.
  • It’s a comfortable space to be in when you don’t have to make choices.
  • TikTok’s approach has become the new standard. Part of that standard is aggressively pushing content at you that the app has decided you want to see.

So what are the big questions? The article shoves them to the end of the essay. Will people persist and ponder them? Don’t big questions warrant a more compelling presentation?

Here’s a big question:

“Who gets to control what you are seeing of reality?”

The answer is obvious in the case of TikTok: Entities in some way linked to the Chinese government.

And what about online services working overtime to duplicate the TikTok model? Who is in control of the content, its context, and its concepts?

The answer is, “An outfit that will have unprecedented amount of influence over users’ thoughts and actions.” If those users — digital addicts, perhaps — are not able to recognize manipulation or simply choose to say, “Hey, no big deal”, TikTok-type content systems will be driving folks down the Information Highway. Riders may have no choice. Riders may have to pay to driven around. Riders may not be in control of their behaviors, ideas, and time.

I like the idea of TikTok as an interface. I don’t like touching on big questions and then sidestepping them.

Net net: I won’t pay for access to Vox.

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2023

Learning Means Effort, Attention, and Discipline. No, We Have AI, or AI Has Us

July 4, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

My newsfeed of headlines produced a three-year young essay titled “How to Learn Better in the Digital Age.” The date on the document is November 2020. (Have you noticed how rare a specific date on a document appears?)

7 4 student doing homework

MidJourney provided this illustration of me doing math homework with both hands in 1952. I was fatter and definitely uglier than the representation in the picture. I want to point out: [a] no mobile phone, [b] no calculator, [c] no radio or TV, [d] no computer, and [e] no mathy father breathing down my neck. (He was busy handling the finances of a weapons manufacturer which dabbled in metal coat hangers.) Was homework hard? Nope, just part of the routine in Campinas, Brazil, and the thrilling Calvert Course.

The write up contains a simile which does not speak to me; namely, the functioning of the human brain is emulated to some degree in smart software. I am not in that dog fight. I don’t care because I am a dinobaby.

For me the important statement in the essay, in my opinion, is this one:

… we need to engage with what we encounter if we wish to absorb it long term. In a smartphone-driven society, real engagement, beyond the share or like or retweet, got fundamentally difficult – or, put another way, not engaging got fundamentally easier. Passive browsing is addictive: the whole information supply chain is optimized for time spent in-app, not for retention and proactivity.

I marvel at the examples of a failure to learn. United Airlines strands people. The CEO has a fix: Take a private jet. Clerks in convenience stores cannot make change even when the cash register displays the amount to return to the customer. Yeah, figuring out pennies, dimes, and quarters is a tough one. New and expensive autos near where I live sit on the side of the road awaiting a tow truck from the Land Rover- or Maserati-type dealer. The local hospital has been unable to verify appointments and allegedly find some X-ray images eight weeks after a cyber attack on an insecure system. Hip, HIPPA hooray, Hip HIPPA hooray. I have a basket of other examples, and I would wager $1.00US you may have one or two to contribute. But why? The impact of poor thinking, reading, math, and writing skills are abundant.


  1. AI will take over routine functions because humans are less intelligent and diligent than when I was a fat, slow learning student. AI is fast and good enough.
  2. People today will not be able to identify or find information to validate or invalidate an output from a smart system; therefore, those who are intellectually elite will have their hands on machines that direct behavior, money, and power.
  3. Institutions — staffed by employees who look forward to a coffee break more than working hard — will gladly license smart workflow revolution.

Exciting times coming. I am delighted I a dinobaby and not a third-grade student juggling a mobile, an Xbox, an iPad, and a new M2 Air. I was okay with a paper and pencil. I just wanted to finish my homework and get the best grade I could.

Stephen E Arnold, July

Old School Book Reviewers, BookTok Is Eating Your Lunch Now

June 7, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Perhaps to counter recent aspersions on its character, TikTok seems eager to transfer prestige from one of its popular forums to itself. Mashable reports, “TikTok Is Launching its Own Book Awards.” The BookTok community has grown so influential it apparently boosts book sales and inspires TV and movie producers. Writer Meera Navlakha reports:

“TikTok knows the power of this community, and is expanding on it. First, a TikTok Book Club was launched on the platform in July 2022; a partnership with Penguin Random House followed in September. Now, the app is officially launching the TikTok Book Awards: a first-of-its-kind celebration of the BookTok community, specifically in the UK and Ireland. The 2023 TikTok Book Awards will honour favourite authors, books, and creators across nine categories. These range ‘Creator of the Year’ to ‘Best BookTok Revival’ to ‘Best Book I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time’. Those within the BookTok ecosystem, including creators and fans, will help curate the nominees, using the hashtag #TikTokBookAwards. The long-list will then be judged by experts, including author Candice Brathwaite, creators Coco and Ben, and Trâm-Anh Doan, the head of social media at Bloomsbury Publishing. Finally, the TikTok community within the UK and Ireland will vote on the short-list in July, through an in-app hub.”

What an efficient plan. This single, geographically limited initiative may not be enough to outweigh concerns about TikTok’s security. But if the platform can appropriate more of its communities’ deliberations, perhaps it can gain the prestige of a digital newspaper of record. All with nearly no effort on its part.

Cynthia Murrell, June 7, 2023

Digital Addiction Game Plan: Get Those Kiddies When Young

April 6, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumbNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

I enjoy research which provides roadmaps for confused digital Hummer drivers. The Hummer weighs more than four tons and costs about the same as one GMLRS rocket. Digital weapons are more effective and less expensive. One does give up a bit of shock and awe, however. Life is full of trade offs.

The information in “Teens on Screens: Life Online for Children and Young Adults Revealed” is interesting. The analytics wizards have figure out how to hook a young person on zippy new media. I noted this insight:

Children are gravitating to ‘dramatic’ online videos which appear designed to maximize stimulation but require minimal effort and focus…

How does one craft a magnetic video:

Gossip, conflict, controversy, extreme challenges and high stakes – often involving large sums of money – are recurring themes. ‘Commentary’ and ‘reaction’ video formats, particularly those stirring up rivalry between influencers while encouraging viewers to pick sides, were also appealing to participants. These videos, popularized by the likes of Mr Beast, Infinite and JackSucksAtStuff, are often short-form, with a distinct, stimulating, editing style, designed to create maximum dramatic effect. This involves heavy use of choppy, ‘jump-cut’ edits, rapidly changing camera angles, special effects, animations and fast-paced speech.

One interesting item in the article’s summary of the research concerned “split screening.” The term means that one watches more than one short-form video at the same time. (As a dinobaby, I have to work hard to get one thing done. Two things simultaneously. Ho ho ho.)

What can an enterprising person interested in weaponizing information do? Here are some ideas:

  • Undermine certain values
  • Present shaped information
  • Take time from less exciting pursuits like homework and reading books
  • Having self-esteem building experiences.

Who cares? Advertisers, those hostile to the interests of the US, groomers, and probably several other cohorts.

I have to stop now. I need to watch multiple TikToks.

Stephen E Arnold, April 6, 2023

Junkee Asks a Good Question. Pause, Please.

March 3, 2023

I had never before heard of the Web site junkee.com. I spotted a link with the title “Why Are People Talking About The Millennial Pause?” and wanted to know the answer to the question.

The article addresses the topic of millennials growing up or maturing. In the article’s lingo, this idea was stated this way about millennial behavior:

Specifically, mannerisms displayed by millennials on TikTok that Gen Z TikTokers make fun of. These tics include random zoom-ins to emphasize talking points, a way of talking termed the “BuzzFeed accent,” using random filters, using phrases popularized on Twitter and Instagram like “doggo” and “I can’t even” and “adulting” and the latest crime… the millennial pause.

I think the reasoning is that one should not or no longer displays “tics.” I am not sure what a “random zoom-in” is, but it sounds dreadful. The Buzzfeed accent is a mystery to me. And, “adulting”? I love this word because many of those younger than I act as if there were high school students at a chaotic science club meeting when the teacher supervisory stepped out of the room. The millennial pause is similar to my using a fax machine. The pause indicates an oldie habit design to deal with ancient video technology. [Pause] Sigh.

The write up added:

University of Sydney Associate Professor of Online and Convergent Media Discipline, Fiona Martin, says, “some millennials who use social media for comms work will follow cultural trends, and those that don’t won’t. Mocking them for being dated is a social differentiation tactic”.

I like being mocked. I try to be mockable. I engage in mocking certain actions of large Sillycon Valley outfits. I am into mocking.

I know I am out of step. The article offered:

As an example of how different ethnic groups within the same generation use social media, Martin pointed to the research in Bronwyn Carlson and Ryan Frazer’s book, Indigenous Digital Life. “Many Indigenous Australians are aware of being surveilled online, and so tend to circulate positive inspiring content in response,” she explains.

Yep, that’s me. inspiring content.

Who knew a pause conveyed so much. [Pause] Sigh.

Stephen E Arnold, March 3, 2023

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