Posts Tagged ‘Tim Armstrong’

Letter From New York 05 12 15 In a world of choices and not so many choices…

May 12, 2015

Once again, when I went to sleep last night, I expected rain today. When I woke it was cloudy but rain was not in the forecast. It’s sunny and warm and summery in the city. I am working from the office of Broderville Pictures, founded by my friend Todd and I’m doing some work for him.

Another friend is helping organize a documentary film festival in China in December and I’ve recommended a few people to him and will see if I can come up with others.

It’s been an interesting week. I’ve been networking with lots of friends and catching up with people. It’s been good. I had lunch yesterday with Ty West, who is producing “Charlie Rose: The Week” for PBS. He is a good friend; another one I met on the train between New York and Hudson.

Today I had my eyes examined and am just beginning to see again after having had my eyes dilated. My eyes have changed a fair amount in the last two years. My left eye is weaker. My right eye is stronger and now I need to go through the painful [for me] process of choosing new glasses.

I am lucky. I live in a world of choices. Too many people must feel like they have no choices when they are living in places like Yemen and Nepal.

Beleaguered Nepal suffered another massive earthquake, killing more, shaking down more buildings, and frightening the population even more. An American helicopter, involved in aid work, seems to have gone down there. The newest quake will make it even more difficult to get the aid to remote villages. Some roads that had been cleared are now filled again with rubble.

Today a ceasefire is to begin in Yemen. In the hours leading up to the ceasefire, the Saudi led coalition bombed Sana’a relentlessly. An Iranian cargo ship is headed there, convoyed by Iranian naval vessels. The UN is suggesting they deliver the aid to a distribution center in Djibouti, an African nation directly across from Yemen. The Iranian convey has everyone nervous. The Saudis are supporting the Sunni side and the Iranians the Shia side. The new UN envoy to Yemen is saying that fighting will solve nothing but that’s what they seem intent upon doing.

No longer having any choices whatever is Ananta Bijoy Das, a secular blogger in Pakistan who was hacked to death on his way to his day job at a bank in Sylhet, in the northeastern part of Bangladesh. He is the third secular blogger hacked to death in that country.

Tomorrow is the day when John Kerry is supposed to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, site of the last Winter Olympics. Putin is supposed to be there; that’s why Kerry is en-route but today the Russians said Putin was yet to be confirmed. Last time Kerry saw him, Putin was three hours late for the meeting.

For the last five years the El Nino effect has been quiet. Now it is rearing its head again with unpredictable results. British forecasters are suggesting it might mean record snow next year in the UK, Australians are saying there might be severe drought in northern Australia. It could mean heavy rains on the US West Coast and its Gulf Coast but may be not enough or soon enough to ease the drought in California. The Australians think it is going to be severe and meteorologists in Canada and the US are suspecting it will be moderate. Wait and see. Weak or strong, it’s coming.

My friend, Lionel, just move to Baltimore to be Vice President of Ad Technology for AOL. Today I woke to the news that AOL had been purchased for $4.4 billion by Verizon, mostly for their ad technology. One business pundit said something like that was pocket change for Verizon and another said it was another bad move by Verizon in the Internet space while others thought it was a very smart move. Time will tell, as they always say.

In the long ago and far away days when I was working in Los Angeles for an Internet start-up, one of my very good friends was dating Sandra Lee, the TV food star.   Later I was best man in his wedding to another woman but during their tenure, I met Sandra a few times. She is now living with Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York. Today she announced she had breast cancer. I wish her well.

The day is beginning to come to a close. I am going up to the Café du Soleil tonight for a bite and then home to read a book.

Letter From New York 04 22 15 From robotics to singing in the rain…

April 22, 2015

Last night, on a balmy New York spring night, I went at 5:00 to Junior’s Deli on 45th Street in the heart of New York’s theater district and met Cathy, my middle niece, her husband and their two daughters, Clare and Isabel, for a pre-theater dinner. They were off to see “Matilda” and I was off to see “It’s Only A Play.”

Cathy and Michael live in Portland and my brother is there watching after their two sons who had just accompanied he and his wife to Machu Picchu. I don’t get to see Cathy and her family very often so it was a cheery visit and then we went off to our respective performances.

Amazingly, after the performance, as I threaded my way through a hideously congested Times Square, I ran into them on the corner of 44th and Broadway. We laughed and hugged and then moved on.

I curled up in bed and started to read a Peter Wimsey mystery but soon feel asleep, Kindle in hand, only to wake later to turn out the lights.

This morning I had breakfast with David McKillop, who recently stepped down as GM of A&E and stepped into the role of Chief Creative Officer at a new production company called Propagate, which is being funded by A&E. He’s partnered with Howard Owens who used to run Nat Geo.

It was a glorious spring morning and we walked around Union Square for a while after breakfast, strolling past all the vendors that form the Union Square Farmer’s Market, then walked over to 7th Avenue where we parted. He off to a meeting and me to day of talks called “Imagination,” being held in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival.

The morning was devoted to robotics. While Elon Musk is terrified of intelligent machines, all these speakers were gung-ho enthusiasts of artificial intelligence and robots, as long as every one followed Asimov’s Three Rules of Robotics.

It was fascinating. The demonstration of Watson, IBM’s Supercomputer, was impressive. The video they showed reminded me of “Star Trek.”

Tim Armstrong, CEO of AOL, spoke in the afternoon about the technology advances they are making in serving ads and video content to their 250,000,000 users and that was impressive, too.

After the 3-D printing talk “Eating Your Way Into 3D Printing” I had to leave to go view a cut of a sizzle reel my friend Todd’s company is working on.

While I was involved in all these fun and rather joyful activities, the world ticked on.

Yesterday the Saudis said they’d stop bombing Yemen but this morning bombs were still falling there, with the country lurching toward a humanitarian crisis as supplies are floating out at sea because of the Saudi embargo.

When I was in India there was lots of news about a land development law that the Modi government is attempting to pass. It would ease the government’s ability to expropriate land belonging to farmers for other uses. It is hugely controversial and hotly debated and stridently opposed by the Congress Party, the opposition to Modi’s BJP.

Today there was a rally in Delhi protesting the bill. At it, an Indian farmer committed suicide, hanging himself from a tree. He left behind a suicide note saying the recent extraordinary rains and hailstorms had ruined him. Rahul Gandhi raced to the hospital and the PM, Modi, is said to be “shattered” by the incident but probably not so much that he will withdraw the law.

Britain, which is facing elections on May 7th, is working overtime to figure out what is going to happen if the Tories lose. If the Scots become the power brokers in the formation of a new government, there is a concern about the results. “Constitutional crisis” is on the lips of a few.

Thousands of Ethiopians have taken to the streets to march in protest against IS’s killing of thirty of their countrymen for being Christian.

Prime Minister Abe of Japan paid slight attention to Japan’s wartime responsibility in a speech in Jakarta, which raised the ire of Japan’s neighbors but not so much that Xi of China wouldn’t meet with Abe. The two had a thirty-minute meeting and stressed their determination to continue working on their relationship. It almost sounded like an estranged couple continuing their therapy sessions.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis would stop in Cuba while en route to the US for his visit here. Cuba will probably go mad for the Pontiff.

The bright spring morning turned to afternoon clouds and rain, which has now stopped though the grey continues. I am off to dinner tonight with my friends David and Annette Fox, celebrating my return from India with take out from Indus Valley, our favorite neighborhood Indian restaurant. Will be a good time.