Television 2015: With 25 Ways To Watch TV, Does The House Always Win?

Television 2015 Facebook Twitter Flipboard Email Enlarge this image iStockphoto iStockphoto This is one in a series of essays running this week and next about the state of television in 2015. The series is based on developments at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., where broadcast and cable networks, along with streaming services like Netflix, presented new and existing shows to TV critics and reporters. It is a secret only intermittently discussed that the anointed Golden Age Of Television is also very often The Golden Age Of Nobody Knowing What The Frosted Flakes Is Going On, and one of the reasons for that is that nobody even knows for sure what it means to watch television anymore. Let's take a quick romp through an existential crisis on which we touched previously: What even is television? (If you said "a vast wasteland," you may be watching the television of many years ago and I'd like to borrow your time machine and take a mulligan on a certain sixth-grade dance.) Consider a regular episode of a regular show that runs on a regular channel like HBO or CBS or SyFy. Let's run down the number of ways a person might watch that episode. No show is going to be available in every one of these ways, of course, but there are shows where lots and lots of them are possible, and while some of them are similar, they actually all can raise slightly different challenges when you're making, monetizing, and marketing television, not to mention measuring its audience. [A side point: "Monetize" is a terrible word; it is only human that it should make your blood turn briefly to acid and your body tense and your teeth vibrate as if the high-pitched squeal of malfunctioning audio equipment is accompanying you everywhere you go. But it's also a handy way to pull in the many, many ways in which people try to make money from television, which include subscriptions to cable, subscriptions to online services, Continue Reading

What’s Luke Skywalker’s Plan in ‘Return of the Jedi’? To Kill Jabba, Of Course

Why the opening of the 1983 film (probably) makes perfect sense Phil Hornshaw and Ross A. Lincoln, provided by Published 12:32 pm, Wednesday, March 7, 2018 Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 What’s Luke Skywalker’s Plan in ‘Return of the Jedi’? To Kill Jabba, Of Course 1 / 1 Back to Gallery As every “Star Wars” fan knows, “Return of the Jedi” begins with a heist: Luke Skywalker and friends’ rescue of Han Solo, frozen in carbonite at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back,” from Jabba the Hutt. Whatever one thinks about the rest of the film, there’s a growing sense that the heist sequence is… stupid. In a post last week, Uproxx’s Mike Ryan concluded that the scheme is a messy disaster. His headline reads: “We Dare You To Explain Luke’s Plan To Rescue Han In ‘Return of the Jedi.'” Cool. We humbly accept. It’s true that the heist appears to consist mainly of spectacular fails that get everyone captured, then succeeds only at the last moment, when the heroes rally, turn the tables on Jabba, and escape by the skin of their teeth. But here’s the thing: All the “Jedi” haters are wrong. And we’re happy to explain why. Recommended Video: Now Playing: The earliest box office predictions for Star Wars: The Last Jedi have the anticipated sequel pegged for $215 million in its first three days, which would be the second-highest opening weekend of all-time. Unsurprisingly, the big screen revival of the galaxy far, far away has proven to be quite lucrative for Lucasfilm, with both Episode VII and spinoff Rogue One crossing the coveted $1 billion mark worldwide. Media: Wochit (Sidenote: we’ll assume the plan is Luke’s but we’d like to note that Leia outranks him in the rebellion hierarchy. It’s just as likely all of it was her idea.) To understand the heist, Continue Reading

7 Ways to Avoid a Tax Audit

There are lots of things that scare many people: snakes, public speaking, needles, trips to the dentist... and the thought of having your tax return audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). When it comes to tax audits, there's good news and even better news: The odds of getting audited are quite low -- and you can make your odds of being audited even lower. Here's a look at your likelihood of getting audited and seven ways to avoid a tax audit. Image source: Getty Images. An IRS tax audit: The odds are very low How often do people get audited? Here's some information from the horse's mouth: According to the 2016 IRS data book, there were about 148 million individual tax returns filed in 2015. Of those, a sizable 1.2 million ended up "examined" -- i.e. audited. In other words, less than 1% -- a mere 0.8% -- of the returns were audited. Your odds are likely to get even better without your ever doing anything, too. That's because Congress has been cutting the IRS's budget repeatedly over many years. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen noted that the agency has had its headcount reduced by more than 5,000 people since 2010, noting that those are the people "who audit returns and perform collection activities, as well as... investigate stolen identity refund fraud and other tax-related crimes." He added: As you might imagine, these staffing losses have translated into a steady decline in the number of individual audits over the past six years. Last year, in fact, we completed the fewest audits in a decade.... That trend line of fewer audits will continue this year. Don't be too quick to applaud IRS budget cuts, though, because the agency generates far more money than it uses, so fewer audits mean fewer dollars collected that were due to the government. Koskinen observed that, "... historical collection results suggest that the government is forgoing more than $5 billion a year in enforcement revenue, just to achieve budget savings of a few hundred Continue Reading

Are Online Mortgage Lenders the Best Way to Buy a Home? A Reality Check

Online mortgage lenders are a tempting option for home buyers, but have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons. Daniel Bortz, provided by Published 5:30 am, Friday, January 12, 2018 Photo: Cnythzl/iStock Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Photo: Cnythzl/iStock Are Online Mortgage Lenders the Best Way to Buy a Home? A Reality Check 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Online mortgage lenders such as LendingTree and Quicken Loan's Rocket Mortgage allow home buyers to complete the entire mortgage application on their laptop or phone, rather than heading to a bank to submit all that paperwork in person. Online mortgages are growing in popularity, particularly for younger home buyers: One recent survey by NerdWallet found that a full 64% of millennial mortgage applicants would prefer to get it all done digitally. While it's hard to beat online mortgages in terms of convenience, home buyers should know that there are both advantages and disadvantages to financing a home purchase in this manner. Here are the pros and cons—and how to decide whether an online mortgage lender is right for you. Pro: It's easier to comparison shop Let's face it, comparison shopping is far easier to do online versus trekking from store to store—and this is certainly true with mortgages, too. Home & Real Estate Channel Now Playing: Now Playing Peek Inside Jackie Kennedy’s $49.5 Million Childhood Home JW Player Homeless man returns found $10K cheque - and gets big surprise Euronews President Trump raised over $10 million for re-election bid Wibbitz London House Prices Fall For The First Time This Decade Wochit What's Next for "Shahs of Sunset" Real Estate Mogul Mercedes Javid Cheddar TV Page 6 for 2.1 Fox7 REAL ESTATE Continue Reading

How to get money for your entrepreneurial dream

The failure rate for businesses has dropped by more than 30% since 1977, according to a report from Case Western. That’s good news, but more than 50% of all new businesses still fail within their first year, and by 10 years, more than 96% will have failed.The fact remains: Starting a company is hard. Really hard. Most people with an idea do nothing more than talk about it, and even entrepreneurs who pursue their passion usually fail.Businesses almost always fail for the same reason: They run out of money.Day jobs are easy. If you have one, you might want to think twice before leaving to start your own business. But if you do leave, make sure you have more than enough money to finance your family and your business. The general rule of homebuilding also applies to company building: Make a budget, double it, then double it again — that is roughly half the amount you need.The vast majority of business owners started their companies because they loved their industry and believed they could provide a great product or service. Passion is important and sexy, but boring financing is equally important. Businesses need working capital to grow and to cover cash flow fluctuations. The problem is most entrepreneurs I know hate raising money. It can be frustrating, and the consequences of making a wrong choice are severe.It doesn’t have to be this way. Here are a few things I’ve learned as an entrepreneur and investor that can help you find the right financial partner to get the capital you need: 1. Make sure you are all in. Your best financial partner is staring at you every time you brush your teeth in the morning. I have received a lot of push back on this, but I still firmly believe you shouldn’t take a penny of someone else’s money until you have put every penny you can afford into your business. Building a new company should be about putting in absolutely everything. And by that, I mean not just blood, Continue Reading

Food basket: Raise a glass to the Franklin Food Bank

Great news, beer lovers – BeerFest is back!The Franklin Food Bank will host its third annual festival from noon to 5 p.m. April 1 at Suydam Farms in Somerset. The event, which will take place in the farm’s greenhouse, will feature craft beer and wine, plus lunch and live music from Screamin’ Rebel Angels, Crash Gordon and Debra Dynamite, and Kevin Hill.Tickets, which cost $35 per person in advance and $40 at the door, include lunch, beer, wine, and entertainment. All proceeds will benefit the food bank, which last year fed more than 1,800 Franklin families.Suydam Farms is at 49 Skillmans Lane in Somerset. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit READ: Rahway resident's baking creations bring him to Food Network win READ: 22 West Tap and Grill - Tap into a tasty experience in Bridgewater READ: South Asian eats in Central Jersey Hindu and Sikh templesSpring is officially here, and Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar is celebrating with a farm-to-table dinner.On March 31, Chef Bobby Varua will prepare a four-course dinner featuring Terlato wines: M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf de Pape, Le Bernardine, Gaja Ca’Marcanda Magari, Super-Tuscan, and David Bruce Chardonnay, Russian River.Dinner will be served at 7 p.m. The cost is $99 per person and reservations are required by March 28.Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar is at 2 Whippany Road. For more information or to make a reservation, call 973-451-2619It all started in 1993, when the South Bound Brook Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary thought a fish dinner might be a good way to raise money.Fast forward 25 years, and they are still cooking.“They were Joanne Capalbo, Mary Ann Kelly and Suzie Tomasetto” reads a news release. “They approached one of the firefighters, Donald Kazar, to help them with their idea of a fish dinner because he ran a catering business. The first dinner was actually a served sit-down meal. Since then, they have been Continue Reading

36 ways to help others this holiday season

Giving thanks can take on many shapes and forms. Family, festivities, fun in the kitchen are a few that fill up this season, but for many, giving thanks also includes giving to others.Here are 36 ways that you can open yourself to making someone else's season brighter, starting off with Thanksgiving.Central Jerseyans typically comes through for others in abundance and show why they are the heart of New Jersey. Many organizations and businesses offer an assortment of activities and services to aid, assist, support and entertain. There also are many opportunities for giving and volunteering.For nearly a decade, Gladstone Tavern Chef/Owner Tom Carlin, his family and staff have hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for dozens of formerly homeless veterans who don’t have family to feast with. The veterans reside at Community Hope’s Hope for Veterans Transitional Housing Program and Valley Brook Village, based at the nearby Lyons VA campus in Bernards.“We are thankful to have the opportunity to serve a memorable Thanksgiving feast to the Community Hope Veterans who have served our country,” said Carlin, whose historic restaurant serves a seasonal American cuisine. “The Gladstone Tavern family looks forward each year to offer these 40 veterans a memorable dining experience.”But, it's not just restaurants around Central Jersey that will be busy this holiday season. READ: Mount Saint Mary Academy community to celebrate spiritual Thanksgiving READ: With intention and perspective, the holidays can be stress-freeStephanie Salardino of East Brunswick is running her annual "Night of Giving" Toy Drives at local bars and there are a variety of interfaith services, adopt-a-family programs, Thanksgiving feasts for those in need and turkey drives run by towns, Realtors, restaurants and organizations such as Samaritan Homeless Interim Prograom (S.H.I.P.)., Gladstone, Bernards and Continue Reading

Burned bush pilot raising money to bring IU doctors to Kenya

His story sounds too epic to be true.The bush pilot soared the skies, searching for signs of elephant poachers in a wildlife preserve in his native Kenya. On the ground, he helped start a coconut oil business to provide a source of income for farmers in his hometown. In his spare time, he ran marathons, including a grueling five-day, 230-kilometer race in Peru, to raise money to support wildlife rangers in Africa.Then, a fiery plane crash, survived by running five miles through the savanna and fording a river known for its population of nasty crocodiles, all with burns over 45 percent of his body.Five months later comes the next plot twist for Harry Dyer: helping Indiana University School of Medicine doctors build a center so that burn victims like himself will not have to travel out of country to receive life-saving treatment.“I figured this would be a good way to give back to a place that has a massive need,” said Dyer, who turns 25 on June 2. What was that fluid leaking from his ear?: Man suffers from increasingly common brain drain Doing good and looking good:: More than a purse: A way to help refugees Thousands of miles away, long before the fateful plane accident, Dr. Rajiv Sood, medical director of the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Eskenazi Health, had a similar dream. In 2009, the Eskenazi Health Foundation had provided funding for Sood and others to open the 12-bed pediatric Meehan Family Burn Center in San Salvador. Every year since, the burn center has sent its staff there on a mission trip.Sood and others had talked about doing something similar in Eldoret, Kenya, where Indiana University has had a partnership with the Moi University School of Medicine. But it took Dyer’s experience — and his friendship with a philanthropic Indianapolis family — to help fuel that effort.Go back six years when Trey Fehsenfeld, a 2010 Park Tudor graduate, moved to Kenya to work in elephant conservation. After half a Continue Reading

AT ISSUE: Top 10 ways to slash property taxes

The “Tax Crisis” series that ran daily in the Asbury Park Press during the past week did nothing if not expose the negligence of public officials, past and present, in failing to address the property tax problem.Today, New Jersey property taxes are less affordable than ever. And, it’s not because of any shortage of ideas on how to control them. The problem is a shortage of public officials with the backbone to act on the ideas — and the failure of New Jersey citizens to put enough pressure on them to force them to act. It’s time to fight back.We have been offering our own suggested solutions for more than a decade. So have various study groups, property tax commissions, think tanks and public policy experts. The net result: property taxes in New Jersey continue to be the highest in the nation. They continue to rise far faster than the rate of inflation and the rate of income growth.It is crystal clear at this point that nothing will change unless citizens put the proverbial gun to their elected officials’ heads and demand that they act on any number of potential solutions to the problem.It would be easy to compile a list of 50 or more ways to reduce property taxes. There were at least that many suggested in our tax series, in our tax forum Thursday night, in our editorial board meetings over the past few weeks with Assembly candidates and in letters to the editors and story comments on our website.If you are going to demand change, you need to be specific about what you want. We have whittled our long list of suggestions down to those 10 we believe can produce the greatest reduction in property taxes most quickly.All of them involve either reducing the dependence on the property tax or reducing state spending. Both are essential. Expanding the tax base through economic growth also would ease the tax burden, but it would be foolish to bank on that as the answer given recent history and modest projections for the rest of the Continue Reading

Wes Moss: 5 ways to fight inflation

From Wall Street to Main Street, there’s been an enormous amount of talk regarding our government’s spending, continuous money printing, and this policy of “quantitative easing.” The message coming out of a lot of these conversations: Americans can already smell inflation lurking around the corner. It is clear that the US is issuing massive amounts of treasury bonds to raise funds for deficit spending. In essence, they are: “printing money.” And basic economics tells us that dumping large amounts of new dollars into the financial system dilutes the power of existing dollars. This flood of supply could bring the value of the US dollar down significantly, causing prices to rise in order to compensate for goods and services being offered in the now weaker dollars. So the problem is really two-fold: 1. traditional “inflation” and, 2. a “weak US dollar” relative to other global currencies. If these situations play out, and there’s a real “if” here, there are a several investments that could protect against it. Here are five ways to fight inflation (besides US stocks):1. Oil and Commodities: The world trades oil in US dollars. As the US dollar weakens, like we saw in the summer of 2008, oil producing countries and OPEC will drive up prices to compensate for the lower “per dollar” value. If we see inflation, and the dollar continues to be weak, owning oil related stocks and ETFs/ETNs will be one of the most direct ways to hedge against this. Also, if we do see inflation, chances are that we will be experiencing some economic growth here in the US. That would benefit commodities such as aluminum, nickel, zinc, and copper.2. Non-US Currencies. If the US dollar does lose value relative to other currencies it will be beneficial to have a portion of your investments in those foreign currencies. This can be accomplished by owning the actual currency itself in a brokerage account, or Continue Reading