And so it begins

 The NFL opener was reported to be “down about 12 percent” last night:

In the latest TV ratings, NBC Sunday Night Football‘s Thursday-night NFL kickoff game between the Chiefs and Titans Texans averaged 17.1 million total viewers and a 5.5 demo rating in fast nationals, down about 12 percent from the preliminary numbers for last year’s season opener.

They’ve also changed the rating system this year, so it’s entirely possible that the 4.9 million decline in viewers from last year is worse than reported.

Despite an ugly, penalty-filled game, the Green Bay Packers’ 10-3 win over the Chicago Bears averaged 22 million viewers in the finals, a 16 percent boost over the 18.98 million who tuned in last year. Streaming on NBC and NFL digital properties averaged 627,000 viewers, an all-time high for NBC’s primetime NFL package. NBC’s telecast scored a preliminary 15.3 household rating in overnight metered markets. That’s up 14 percent from a 13.4 in the overnights for the 2018 season opener, and also bests the 14.6 for the first game of the 2017 season.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t a drop from 22 million to 17.1 be a 22.3 percent decline? Perhaps they’ll find another 2.26 million viewers in time for the final ratings. Outkick claims the decline is more like 16 percent.

In early numbers, the Chiefs win scored a 5.2 among adults 18-49 and 16.4 million viewers between 8-11 p.m. ET. While the number will adjust some upward later to 11:30 p.m., right now it’s a 16.1{fb585635b9f6189e33442b25caac15ec2544d7054f182b4f92840c6cee65accd} drop. In fast affiliates, last night fell the same 16.1{fb585635b9f6189e33442b25caac15ec2544d7054f182b4f92840c6cee65accd}.

A 12 percent decline would be massive. Remember, this is a league with economics built on the assumption of revenues increasing by $2.3 billion every year. The very real possibility of losing one-quarter of the fans would be a nightmare.


The players have power

But Mike Florio and the rest of the sports media is ignoring the fact that the fans have even more:

The next test comes when millions of fans who haven’t been paying attention to every twist and turn of NFL news witness for the first time the renewed anthem protests, the messages in the end zone, the names on the helmet bumpers, and react negatively to these gestures with insults and worse. The league needs to be ready to show the players that the league truly has their backs when the inevitable blowback comes.

The league can’t and won’t make everyone happy. It needs to be very concerned about making the players happy, because the players’ power includes boycotting games.

Technically, it would be an illegal wildcat strike. As a practical matter, the league would risk horrible P.R. and employee relations by taking the union to court to force players back to work and/or to recover compensation for money lost by scrapped games. Indeed, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent already has said that the players have the “right” to skip games over social justice matters.

And so the challenge for the league will be to convince teams like the Dolphins that it’s not just talk, and that the league and the owners are truly on board with them. There’s no middle ground, no fence to ride, no needle to thread. If the league isn’t with the players on this, the league necessarily is against them. Unlike ever before, the players realize that they do something about it far more tangible than protest during the anthem.

They can walk out.

Sure they can. But the fans can walk out too. Tens of millions already have. And unlike the players, when a fan walks out, his exit is infinitely sustainable. And no feeble attempts to shame the fans who are rejecting the convergence of the league is going to put one single dollar back in the NFL’s coffers.

It made no sense to boo. It wasn’t political in any way. But even an expression of unity has become political in this upside-down era of ours, because apparently everything must be viewed through a political lens, in the eyes of those who tolerate political viewpoints that mesh with their own but chafe in the face of any political viewpoints different than theirs as an invasion on their “escape” from having to deal with things that make them uncomfortable. So what about a plea for unity makes someone uncomfortable? And if someone is made uncomfortable by an expression of unity, doesn’t that say more about them than about the people striving for something so basic and fundamental? 

Of course it made sense. The players’ action was political. The fans understand perfectly well that the “expression of unity” was just another lie, just another thinly disguised assault on America, Western civilization and White people. And what that very public rejection by the fans who haven’t walked away from the NFL already says is that they are beginning to understand they are in a war on their culture, their society, and their civilization. Even shameless SJWs like Florio know they are in the minority; it’s not an accident that PFT is keeping the comments closed on every post that touches upon the social justice convergence of the NFL.

I didn’t watch one single moment of the Chiefs-Texans game. I didn’t watch a single moment of NFL-related opinion and analysis. I haven’t even read the box score or a single article on the actual game itself. It’s the first time in 45 seasons that is the case. And given what I have read about the game and the importance the media is placing on the crowd’s reaction to the political demonstration by the two teams, I’m very glad to have turned my back on the NFL. 

I am very far from the only one. And the sports media knows it, which is why at least one Sports Illustrated writer is worried about what the backlash they know perfectly well is coming will do to the league:

Today is when the blowback starts. Today is when owners tune in to their morning opinion channel of choice and ingest the inevitable and ridiculous response to Thursday night and how it is somehow, unquestionably un-American. What happens now? What happens if the boos persist? What happens if the polls shift? What happens when the wind changes? 

What happens is the league will eventually submit to its angry fans and ban all political expression by the players. The only question is whether it happens soon enough to prevent the 50 percent decline in TV ratings that is already underway.


Next time it will be fire

Flying the Rainbow flag always struck me as foolishly daring God to do something about human wickedness. But all He ever promised was not to drown the world again. The rainbow isn’t just a promise, it’s also a warning: the next time it will be fire.

CALIFORNIA: The staggering scale of California’s wildfires in 2020 continues to grow. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says as of Thursday wildfires have scorched nearly 4,844 square miles (12,545 square kilometers) so far this year. Six of the top 20 largest fires in state history have occurred this year as well.

OREGON: Authorities in Oregon now say more than 500,000 people statewide have been forced to evacuate because of wildfires. The latest figures from Thursday evening come from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s over 10{fb585635b9f6189e33442b25caac15ec2544d7054f182b4f92840c6cee65accd} of the state’s 4.2 million population. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said more than 900,000 acres have burned across the state in the last several days – nearly double the amount of land that usually burns in a typical year.

WASHINGTON: Wildfires have scorched nearly 937 square miles (2,426 kilometers) in Washington state this week, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday as he toured the devastated remains of the town of Malden.

Some will say that it is “ironic” that concerns over air quality have led to the burning of these Promethean-run states. But it is the rejection of God that is the beginning of blindness.


It is good to hate the Packers

 Even Packers fans now have cause to hate the Green Bay Packers.

I am very proud of our players and support their right to peacefully protest as they try to bring about meaningful change in our society. When players kneel, they are not disrespecting the flag or the country, but bringing attention to systemic racism and police brutality. Black Lives Matter is not a terrorist or Marxist organization, and I know that they are trying to bring an end to racial inequality. The NFL has decided to play “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (commonly referred to as the Black national anthem) as part of the broadcasts for all games in the first weekend.

– Mark Murphy, President and CEO, Green Bay Packers

As it turns out, BLM is, quite literally, an overtly Marxist organization founded by two Marxists.

The first thing, I think, is that we actually do have an ideological frame. Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories. And I think that what we really tried to do is build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.

– Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors

And even if you try to tune it all out, the sports media has no intention of letting you pretend it’s just a game or escape the social justice propaganda.

Stephanie Druley, executive vice president for event and studio production, said ESPN’s policy is to cover the anthem when it is newsworthy, and that the crew will not shy away from covering protests about social justice. “We don’t see the social justice movement as political; it’s social justice,” Druley said.

That’s all right, you say. I’ll just watch college football instead, you say. Yeah, so, about that:

The Big 12 is set to debut its 2020 fall football social justice campaign and commissioner Bob Bowlsby says that campaign will consist of players possibly on the field for the national anthem, public service announcements to run on stadium scoreboards and a social justice message on jerseys. According to ESPN, Big 12 players “will be wearing a social justice message on the front left of their uniforms, as well as a black Big 12-branded unity sticker on the back of their helmets.” 

They know you hate what they’re doing. Making you accept what they’re doing is the whole point. 


Mailvox: those aren’t chickens…

 An observant reader notes the source of the Color Revolution currently taking place in the USA.

You probably already know this, but if not, Michael McFaul has surfaced again. He’s the Stanford professor who was Obama’s ambassador to Russia and the creator of that idiotic “reset” policy, but before that, he was considered an expert on revolution, especially the Color Revolutions. According to McFaul, the seven factors necessary for a successful revolution are:

  •     A semi-autocratic rather that fully autocratic regime
  •     An unpopular incumbent
  •     A united and organized opposition
  •     An ability to quickly drive home the point that voting results were falsified
  •     Enough independent media to inform citizens about the falsified vote
  •     A political opposition capable of mobilizing tens of thousands or more demonstrators to protest electoral fraud
  •     Divisions among the regime’s coercive forces

What I didn’t know is that the State Department under Hillary Clinton turned these factors into a program and exported it, using it to destabilize and overthrow governments all over the Arab and former-Soviet world, especially in Ukraine.

Hench Ukraine’s interest in keeping an eye on McFaul’s activities. Better still:

“But it was McFaul’s role in the U.S. interference in the Russian 2012 election that put in motion everything that followed. Perception makes its own reality, and the Russian perception is that McFaul and the Obama administration purposefully put their thumb on the scale of Russia’s presidential election to keep Putin from winning. McFaul has been banned from traveling to Russia, and in 2018 Putin approached Trump for permission to have Russian intelligence officers question McFaul about alleged illegal activities conducted while he was ambassador. While the Russian claims are unsubstantiated allegations, and their request facially absurd, the fact remains that when it comes to apportioning blame for the sorry state of U.S.-Russian relations today, one need look no further than Michael McFaul and his decades-long effort to create Russian “democracy” from whole cloth as laying the foundation for failure.”

In 2014, having made a thorough botch of trying to install American-style democracy all over the Arab and post-Soviet world, McFaul resigned and slunk back to Stanford, to resume teaching… until this past weekend, when he reemerged as a quotable expert on foreign relations: “Trump has lost the Intelligence Community. He has lost the State Department. He has lost the military. How can he continue to serve as our Commander in Chief?”

I keep thinking about McFaul’s seven prerequisites for a successful revolution. It looks to me as if we’re in Step 7 of the plan now: creating divisions among the regime’s coercive forces, to make it impossible for them to present a coordinated response to the riots in the streets. Having failed to install democracy everywhere else in the world, it looks as if McFaul and his ilk have decided to bring the revolution back home.

Is it just me, or do you hear it too? It sounds like … chickens … coming home to roost.

Not that the situation isn’t serious, but I can’t help being amused by the appropriate nature of the man’s name. McFoul indeed. What we’re seeing here is not about “liberals” or “the Left”, it’s actually the neocon’s World Trotskyite Revolution attempting to reestablish their control over the USA now that they’ve lost Russia.


The three types of adversaries

 This is an interesting article on the strategy of conflict with antifragile adversaries by a Czech student of military history. While I don’t agree with all of Antifragile Adversaries: How to Defeat Them, particularly his dismissal of the strategic significance of the distinction between state and non-state actors, and I suspect his attempt to work back from metaphor to application will not provide him with the answers he admittedly does not have, he does offer an admirable clarity of analysis that is very useful to anyone involved in any form of conflict:

The spectrum from fragility, to resilience to antifragility captures how strategic performance affects the three basic types of adversaries. The first ideal type is the fragile adversary. In this case, the strategist’s performance degrades the adversary’s military capabilities. Fragile adversaries are arguably the most common types across strategic history. The Greek king Pyrrhus and the Carthaginian general Hannibal in their respective wars against Rome come close to the ideal type of fragile adversaries. Roman strategic performance, though often flawed or even disastrous, gradually degraded military capabilities of both adversaries. More modern examples include the Swedish king Charles XII during his war against Russians and the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Both the Russian and the Union’s strategic performance destroyed their adversaries’ military capabilities despite suffering initial setbacks. The logic of defeating fragile adversaries is straightforward. If the strategist is less fragile than the adversary, he has a high chance to succeed with any strategy. Indeed, as the examples above illustrate, the strategist can even suffer a string of defeats and still be successful in the long term. Fragile adversaries do not pose any unique challenge for strategists.

The second ideal type is the resilient adversary. Strategic performance does not affect the capabilities of this adversary in either way. Actors who have access to large pools of military resources and adequate mobilization procedures fall into this category. Typical examples include the Roman republic or the Russians (Soviets), especially in the 20th century. The Romans suffered many defeats in their countless wars but they were always able to recover and deploy fresh troops to replace their losses. The Russians were able to recover from the initial shocks of the German impetus and to field overwhelming numbers of forces throughout the Second World War, first stopping and then reversing the German advance into their territory. Nonetheless, the logic of defeating the resilient adversary does not differ significantly from the previous case. Ultimately, military means are always a finite resource. Therefore, the strategist can defeat resilient adversaries by becoming more resilient himself. If he possesses more resources than the adversary, then in the end he will prevail through the simple process of attrition. Of course, not every strategist has easy access to additional military resources. For this reason, resilient adversaries may pose a considerable challenge for most strategists.

The third ideal type is the antifragile adversary. For this one, strategic performance serves as a stimulus for the growth in his military capabilities. This happens when the adversary with antifragile predispositions faces regular challenges appropriate to his current capabilities. Of course, what is “regular” and “appropriate” is context dependent. Antifragile adversaries are less common in strategic history. This is so because they manifest themselves only in instances when their predispositions match with the favourable character of the strategist’s attacks. One historical example that comes close to the ideal type were the Thebans in their wars against the Spartans (395-362 B.C.). The two polities fought each other regularly during the first half of the fourth century. The continual engagement in strategic performance made Theban forces stronger from one major battle to another. Though first suffering a defeat at Nemea (394 B.C.), Thebans fought Spartans to a standstill at Coronea (394 B.C.), routed them at Tegyra (375 B.C.), and slaughtered them at Leuctra (371 B.C.) and Mantinea (362 B.C.).[vi] Over the course of the wars, Thebans enjoyed gradually increasing morale, explored innovative echelon tactics and developed new kinds of military units. Therefore, by their own efforts as well by the repeated violent interaction with the Spartans, the Thebans fulfilled their anti-fragile potential. Seeing this development in practice, one Spartan sarcastically congratulated his own king that by the repeated attacks against Thebes, he had taught his adversary how to fight.[vii] Antifragile adversaries are not an artefact of a distant past. In fact, as David Betz and Hugo Stanford-Tuck argue in their recent piece, even the contemporary West has often pursued a way of war “which through one’s own efforts leaves the enemy stronger at the end than at the beginning.[viii]” Antifragile adversaries are universal and so is the unique challenge they pose.

The main challenge in facing antifragile adversaries is that what does not kill them makes them stronger. This is a bit of exaggeration, but in general it does apply. To start with, most strategies seeking to attrite that adversary do not work. Worse, these strategies work for the antifragile adversaries. Actively seeking out the antifragile adversary and trying to attrite his military capabilities by frequent engagements is a reliable receipt for making him stronger. This may not seem like a big deal when the other strategies are available. The problem is, most of the other strategies eventually turn into some sort of attrition contest as well. Strategists too often envision quick and decisive wars of annihilation and get prolonged wars of attrition instead. Others, who start out with terrorist attacks and guerrilla raids, turn to attrition once they develop sufficient military capabilities to have a reasonable chance of success. Not all the strategic options lead to attrition but too many of them do. It follows that most options for dealing with the antifragile adversaries convey high risks of failure.

This is important for everything from Qanon and the Antifa/BLM color revolution to the current conflict with Patreon. The problem that every responsible strategist is trying to solve is how to make a resilient adversary less resilient and how to make an antifragile adversary more fragile.

To provide one non-military example of attacking antifragility, Patreon tried to get consumer arbitrants declared not-consumer, then tried to convince the arbitrators to rule that the consumer protection laws and arbitration rules did not apply. They also tried – with limited success – to expand the battleground from arbitration to the courts in order to put pressure on their opponents’ resources. That this particular expansion turned out to be a serious tactical blunder that has already backfired doesn’t change the fact that their strategic instinct in the situation was correct. In strategy, it’s not at all uncommon to do the wrong thing for the right reasons; there is no perfect strategy since timing, execution, and Sun Tzu’s “Heaven” principle always matter.

Anyhow, it’s an intriguing article and I’ll put up another post later reviewing his proposed approaches to finding the answers to defeating antifragility. However, the fact that he cites Echevarria and not Van Creveld doesn’t tend to bode well for success in that regard.


Not down with Madden

I was an early Madden’s player. I remember buying the original 1990 version as well as Joe Montana Football for the Sega Genesis and playing them both until 3 AM. I had “Down with Madden since 1992” as a tagline in my bio; I’d actually been playing it longer, of course, but it was good line from the 2000 theme song by Ludacris.

I was so good at it that whenever I was challenged by someone who thought he was good – a teenage friend of the family, an Italian Army captain – I didn’t just beat them, I usually destroyed them with scores in the 63-0 range. But I gradually lost interest in the annual updates around 2006, as the 2005 version was the last one I remember playing much on the then-new machines before switching back to my favored version of 2003 on the PS/2. All the improved graphics on the newer machines were essentially lost on me, as the advances in graphics seemingly came at the cost of gameplay and gimmick features.

So, I’m glad I dropped out of Team Madden before this latest SJW abomination, which is so much of a woke joke that the current players almost unanimously hate it.

Colin Kaepernick’s Overall rating 

2016: 74

2020: 81

It’s fascinating to see how not playing for four years can improve a quarterback’s performance. On the other hand, as one wag put it, why shouldn’t EA reward him for not having another four-INT game since the last game of the 2016 season.


Tolkien and Time Travel

 

Episode 7 of The Forge of Tolkien, TIME TRAVEL TOSS-UP, is now live on Unauthorized.

Frustrated that no one was writing the kinds of stories they liked to read, Tolkien and his friend C.S. Lewis did a toss-up: Lewis agreed to write a space-travel story, and Tolkien agreed to write a time-travel story. Lewis went on to write—and publish—his Space Trilogy, but Tolkien got lost…wandering along the Lost Road with Bliss-friend and Elf-friend. In this episode, Professor Rachel Fulton Brown reads the first chapter of what was supposed to be Tolkien’s time-travel story for what it tells us about Tolkien’s own autobiography as an author.

If you’re having trouble logging in to Unauthorized, just hold tight. The recent security certificate update may require a minor database migration. The tech guys are working on it.


Social Justice comes for the Hellmouth

 And even the wokest of the woke actors and actresses are not at all happy about the new requirements for the Academy Awards:

To be eligible for Best Picture, films must meet any TWO of the following FOUR criteria. 

1. ON-SCREEN REPRESENTATION

This standard can be met by fulfilling any ONE of these:

  • Lead actor or significant supporting actor from an ethnic minority group
  • At least 30 per cent of smaller roles are played by women, LGBT people, disabled people or ethnic minorities 
  • The main storyline is centered on an under-represented group

2. CREATIVE LEADERSHIP

This standard can be met by fulfilling any ONE of these: 

  •  At least two senior creative posts, such as casting director, make-up artist or producer, are from an under-represented group including women
  • At least six smaller roles in the crew are filled by ethnic minorities
  • At least 30 per cent of the film’s total crew is from an under-represented group 

3. INDUSTRY ACCESS

This standard can be met by fulfilling BOTH of these: 

  • Studios and distributors must have paid interns or apprentices who are women or come from minority groups
  • Training opportunities must be offered to under-represented groups in production, distribution and financing

4. AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT 

This standard can be met by fulfilling this ONE requirement:

  •  Multiple senior executives in publicity, marketing and distribution are women or minority groups 

I doubt they’re particularly concerned about the Best Picture requirements as such, but rather the way the diversity rules are inevitably going to filter down until even the likes of Sharknado vs Predator II are subject to them. Needless to say, Viral Films Media will be not hesitate to violate all of them with unabashed impunity. 


Officially out

Yesterday, for the first time in 30 years, my fantasy football league drafted without me. They also drafted without the reigning league champion. 20 percent of the fantasy league left because we simply aren’t watching enough NFL football or paying enough attention to the rosters to be able to reasonably compete in the league anymore. Last year, I dropped my NFL GamePass subscription. This year, I don’t even know if I will watch a single game from start to finish because the politics have finally gotten too much for me to stand. And I am very, very far from alone in this regard.

The BLM cheerleaders in the sports media are talking bravely, as they usually do before the reports of declining ratings begin to appear. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk in particular is trying to talk himself into the idea that the NFL and BLM can stand up to President Trump and the widespread disapproval on the part of white football fans.

The NFL can’t simply wander into this crowded minefield without a plan for handling the inevitable explosions. Frankly, the plan needs to be to fight back. Supporting the players means more than simply saying, “We support the players.” Supporting the players means standing up to anyone and everyone who will try to bully or attack them.

At a time when some owners are trying to thread the needle regarding support for player protests while also hoping that they choose to stand for the anthem, the more awkward needle to be threaded with a big, fat camel relates to the broader notion of having their players’ backs while simultaneously cramming money into the President’s front pockets. The latest Trump (son) tweet reconfirms that support for players and support for the President cannot be reconciled.

If the NFL once again stands silent in the fact of a torrent of tweets and other attacks, the disconnect will become even more glaring.

Of course, despite the posturing, Florio appears to have a pretty good idea that NFL Week One is going to be a catastrophe. He shut down his comments on that post after only six had been posted. The NBA’s TV ratings are currently down 40 percent from just two years ago, so it’s not at all impossible that the NFL will soon find itself on a similar downward trajectory. In Corporate Cancer I noted that 2/20 and 10/50 appear to be the year/percent ratio pattern once an organization becomes fully converged.

Now, I have no sympathies for, and nothing in common with, the clumsy gammas who hate all “sportsball” because it reminds them of their low social status. It’s not at all good that America’s sports have been stolen from the very nation that created them; this is a sign of cultural defeat. But submission to and acceptance of that defeat is even worse, which is why it will be encouraging to see more and more NFL fans refusing to accept the SJW-NFL wearing the skinsuit of the sport that it once was.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn’t leave the NFL, the NFL left me.

UPDATE: It could be worse than anyone imagines, as this letter to Outkick indicates:

I’ve been part of a fantasy football league for the past 20 years with the same 9 guys. Fantasy Draft Day is the most fun day of the year – we all get together, away from the wives, drink, eat, and re-live the glory days. Needless to say, we’re all huge NFL fans. I recently sent an email, like I do each year, alerting the guys to the date and time of the upcoming fantasy draft. Much to my surprise, 7 of the guys are dropping out of the league and all of them cited the SAME reason – they’re tired of the NFL’s embrace of politics.

If you’re driving away 70 percent of your most hardcore fans, you’re in serious trouble.