Disney Officially Buys 21st Century Fox

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source– The Walt Disney Company said on Thursday that it had reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion.

While the agreement is subject to the approval of antitrust regulators — and the Justice Department recently moved to block a big media company from becoming even bigger — the once unthinkable acquisition promises to reshape Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It is the biggest counterattack from a traditional media company against the tech giants that have aggressively moved into the entertainment business.

Disney now has enough muscle to become a true competitor to Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook in the fast-growing realm of online video.

Big time news entertainment news today: Disney (don’t know if you’ve ever heard of them) reached an agreement to buy 21st Century Fox for the low, low price of $52.4 billion. Love finding a good bargain during the holiday season. But now that the Mouse has bought out one of its ostensible rivals in the big budget/comic book movie game, that can only mean one thing: we might finally get that Big Momma’s House/Howard the Duck crossover we’ve been waiting for.

The most immediate impact will most likely be the inclusion of the X-Men and Fantastic Four into the Marvel Universe, meaning they’ll have to re-establish a new X-Men continuity for the millionth time and reboot Fantastic Four for the third time. Good stuff. Disney also gets Fox’s share of streaming service Hulu, which they now essentially have full control of. Presumably, Hulu will now just become Disney’s personal streaming service, exorbitant monthly fee and all. Banner day for the free market in general. Disney, Amazon, and Netflix now have almost a complete monopoly on both the production and distribution of every movie that’s going to be made for at least 20 years. And you thought the Yankees were violating antitrust laws.

Personally, I’m fine with it. People will always complain when stuff like this happens- fair trade and all that. But I’m lazy. I like doing as little work as possible. And if all the Disney and Fox content is in one place, I’m happy. I’ll be fine when either Amazon or Disney buys out the other, because then literally every movie and show ever will be made by the same people. I’m all for monopolies. Fewer options are almost always better. Takes the stressful decision making process out of life. I’ll gladly be spoon-fed my nutrients and entertainment by the government if it means I never have to endlessly scroll through menus ever again.

This move also means that the only remaining independent entity in the entertainment industry is now http://www.briansden69.com. Honestly, it’s a lot of pressure. I have to speak not only for myself, but for all the mavericks out there who want to stand up to Big Mouse and its various constituents. I imagine I’ll some new viewers as the underground resistance grows. And to all the brave souls looking for a new, non-affiliated place to get their blazing hot takes, I promise you one thing: I vow to sell out the first chance I get. You can hold me to that. I will never put a sense of pride and a desire to accomplish something on my own get in the way of cold, hard cash. So, Disney, if you’re reading this, call me. I’m open for business.

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What’s the Deal with Microtransactions?

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Much like every other time I write about video games, I feel like I should offer a disclaimer that I’m about to put on my gaming nerd hat, and if you don’t play video games or couldn’t care less, I won’t be too offended if you skip this one.

As someone who’s pretty plugged into the gaming world, the main talking point I’ve seen for the last couple months is the rise of microtransactions. In-game purchases that  expedite the improvement of a character, give the player a competitive advantage, or just give the player some cool new gear. In games with an emphasis on online play and competitive matches, it can seem almost necessary to buy all the perks you can lest you get left behind by all the other people who did. The complaints are pretty simple- if I already paid for the full game, why should I be forced to pay even more after? Why does every game need them? In the case of DLC expansion missions, why not just release the entire game at once? Personally, I had never really gotten overly worked up about it. I usually avoid shooters (I’m very bad at them), and I thought the biggest culprits for microtransactions were phone games and shooters, particularly ones like Overwatch, whose loot box system is pretty much just another form of gambling. Then NBA 2K18 came out, whipping up a storm of controversy with the pretty clear encouragement to spend a lot of actual money in the game. And, again, I wasn’t all that upset. NBA 2K has been an important thing in my life for about a decade now, and there’s been microtransactions for at least six years. I figured the people who were upset had just never really played before. Then once I started playing, I found the presence of microtransactions to be pretty overwhelming. Within an hour of playtime,  my MyPlayer was already way behind everyone else. Then I realized that part of the reason I was unfazed by the reports of microtransactions in one of my games was that I had grown accustomed to them without even realizing it. Madden and Fifa have made buying points a necessity for completing in their various Ultimate Team modes for years. Star Wars Battlefront was one of the most heinous examples of sapping consumers dry of all time, and it doesn’t look like Battlefront 2 will be any different. Pretty much every game I buy has a special edition for $20 more that comes with special perks that you just have to have if you want the full experience. Even Shadow of War has them, and once the cold arm of capitalism comes for Middle Earth, I’m invested. But beyond just being kind of annoyed, I can’t really get too mad about it. For one, they kind of prop up the gaming industry as a whole. When companies have more money, they can hire better people and make more, better games. That’s no the worst thing. Secondly, I’m kind of just really lazy and have no willpower, so I’m usually inclined to take the easy way out.

Final Fantasy XV is a prime example for me. There are still a lot of things I haven’t accomplished, including the hardest dungeon, the secret post-game dungeon, and the secret hard mode of every dungeon. That’s an awful lot left for a game I loved playing and invested a lot of time into. So why the cold feet? Because even after a meticulous play through of the main story and like 95% of the side quests I’m still extremely underleveled. And I realized I’m just too old to level grind. I just can’t do it anymore. Unless it’s a transcendent game I literally can’t stop playing (any PokemonWitcher 3Persona 5, the Arkham games, etc.), I can’t sit there and fight the same enemies for days on end. There’s just too many other things I could be doing. What’s the payoff? Sure there’s bragging rights. But these days, you can find any part of any game ever on YouTube. It’s already how I solve any puzzle that befuddles me, anyway (if I’m stuck on a puzzle for more than 45 minutes, I’m looking up the answer). At the moment where I knew I was probably out, if the game gave me the option of paying however much to get a bunch of high level weapons and training boosts and all that, I probably would have paid (actually, I think there was the option to purchase various exp boosters, so score one for me for resisting!). As a Millennial, I’m used to being cast as the pantomime villain for the various problems with today’s society (yes, a lot of people my age are terrible people. A lot of old people are terrible people, too), but one thing I won’t really fight is the idea that we all have tiny attention spans and need to be doing a million things at once. Now, I have no problem devoting a long time to doing, watching, or playing one thing, but it takes something special to keep me from using two or three screens at once. And the more repetitive and monotonous the thing is, the more my attention is wont to wane. So if a game tells me if you want this sweet looking outfit you can either pay $5 or play for hours and hours and hours, I’ll start off trying to earn it organically, but I usually have a good sense of whether a game is good enough to keep playing forever, and, if it isn’t, I’m going to start justifying spending the money real fast. It’s just a fact. I don’t like it and I wish there wasn’t the option to spend even more money than I already do on video games, but it’s a fact.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we can get as upset as we want over microtransactions, but they’re not going anywhere. There’s just too much money involved, and, using myself as representation for the entirety of the gaming population, people are always going to wind up completing a microtransaction at least once. Maybe it’s only $1, but if a game sells 10 million copies and everyone spends $1 extra, now there’s $10 million more in profit than there would have been without the in game purchases. You can complain about it online to your heart’s content, but I highly doubt all these companies are suddenly going to develop a conscience overnight. The only thing that will stop microtransactions is a lack of profit, which won’t happen. Believe me, I’ve tried to hold off. I got one of the special editions of NBA 2K18 (Best Buy Gamers Club 20% off all games, boiiiiiiiii) and told myself that was enough. By my second week of play, I had no choice but to spend more money if I wanted to compete online, which is one of the reasons I get the games in the first place. It’s annoying and depressing and unfair, but it’s just the way games are these days. Every game will have their own marketplace soon if they don’t already. Every game will have some kind of loot system that you can pay to get around. Every game will EXCLUSIVE dlc that you can ONLY get by preordering the Gold Edition from Gamestop. It’s easy to say just don’t buy anything in-game, but it gets hard when the people you’re playing with or against are miles ahead of you because they took the shortcut. It’s pretty much become pay to win or don’t play at all. That’s a bummer for a lot of people, and the only real solution is for companies to eliminate microtransactions, and, barring some unexpected government interference, I doubt that’ll ever happen. So maybe go back and play some old games, maybe just wait until they release the edition that has the dlc built in (I got the Witcher 3 edition that included both major dlc expansions for $30, biggest steal of all time), maybe resist the transactions and embrace the grind again. Build up your character the old fashioned way and feel like you accomplished something. Fight the man with elbow grease, just like your grandpa did! And if you don’t feel like doing any of that, you’d better get ready to pony up.

I Went to Saratoga this Weekend and am Starting to Set up My New Life with All the Money I Won

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As the title says, yesterday I went to Saratoga Race Course to bet on some ponies. I usually go once a year, and despite this vast well of experience, my betting history typically oscillates between bad and blind luck. Still, it’s always a good time. Horse racing tracks are really odd places in that they’re one of the few places where the socially elite can readily intermingle with the common folk. The poors sit out in the picnic area and watch the races on the big screen, while the rich people sit up in the V.I.P. stands. And though there is a clear theoretical divide in place, anyone can still go pretty much anywhere at any time, so some random dude from Ballston Spa, New York could rub elbows with, say, the founder of the popular website http://www.briansden69.com. And I actually was planning on making a video about the experience. I was going to walk around the track, film myself betting and reacting, then I would sneak into the V.I.P. area and start asking for money because I lost all of mine. Sadly, security wasn’t happy with me. They wouldn’t even let me walk on the horse path, let alone weasel my way into the Forbidden Section. It’s like they didn’t know that my Brazilian Soccer post has over 200 views. So I had to scrap the video idea pretty early, and let’s say it wasn’t good karma.

Going into my final race of the day, I hadn’t won once. In fact, I didn’t win anything last year, either. And, come to think of it, I might not have won anything the year before. I was on a massive losing streak. Considering my storied pedigree of winning, it was a nasty black mark on my record. Knowing how desperately I needed a win, I mustered all of my courage and resolve and placed my remaining money ($10, to be specific) (yes, I am a high roller. I won’t apologize for it) on a little known horse named Black Tide. He finished betting at 8-1 odds, and, surprising all in attendance, he won. I willed myself back into the winners’ circle, and left the track shortly after collecting my bountiful pay day (if you’re wondering why I didn’t just withdraw more money, well, I’m not mentally weak, that’s why). I couldn’t help but think back to my first ever trip to Saratoga, when, in a nearly identical scenario, I won over $400 on a 36-1 longshot named Poseidon’s Warrior with the leftover scraps of money I had in my pocket. The symbolism of the names is not lost on me. I’m not a Horse Racing Guy, I don’t care about stats and what have you. All I look at are the names, and now it’s clear that I need to exclusively bet on horses with water-based names from here on out. No matter how big of a stretch, any horse whose name can somehow be tied back to water gets the official Brian’s Den Seal of Approval.

Now, the obvious question is what to do with the money? If you actually look at how much money I spent throughout the day, I don’t think I really gained anything. But that’s the lame way to think. I’ve $80 free dollars burning a hole in my pocket, and my mind is spinning. I’m thinking it’s probably enough to start a new life in the Caribbean. It might be a hard life, but it would be a new life all the same. I know I could become the richest man in Africa, which is tempting. To instantly be in control of the world’s biggest continent is nothing to shake a stick at. But I don’t know if I want to deal with all the baggage that would come along with it. You know, white people, and all that. And I’m lazy. So if I rule out moving, what else is there to do? I could open a Swiss Bank Account and deposit it for safe keeping. I could invest all of it, but I wouldn’t know where to turn. I’d probably just wind up buying as much Taco Bell stock as possible, and I don’t know how lucrative that would become. Maybe I could buy a square inch of land in like, Scotland or something and become Lord Brian. I’ll probably wind up just buying something stupid at the mall. Who’s to say? Either way, I’m riding high (get it?) and feeling good.

I’m so Sick of how We Handle Players Leaving in Free Agency

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Unless you’re totally unplugged to the NBA world, you know Gordon Hayward just signed with the Celtics. If you’ve ever read this site before, you know I am a Celtics fan and have somewhat wary about some of these win-now moves the Celtics might do. You’re also probably wondering why I hadn’t addressed it yet. Well, because it all happened on July 4th and I didn’t feel like doing anything, I decided to wait until his introductory press conference to give my thoughts on the move. And I’ll probably still do that. While I’m excited to have a player of Hayward’s caliber join the Celtics, this creates a lot of issues in the short term, the chief of which is they now have way too many players. But that’s not what I want to talk about today. What forced my hand into finally talking about Gordon Hayward is the concept of loyalty.

Search #betrayward on Twitter and you’ll find hundreds of these. Judging by the reactions, you’d think Gordon Hayward just assassinated every member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. That he’s a fugitive from justice who said Joseph Smith was a crackpot. Like, what did this guy do? Oh, he just decided he wanted to work somewhere else? That’s it? I’m so sick of this stupid idea that players need to be “loyal” to their teams. So just because a team drafted you you have to spend your entire life there? It doesn’t matter if they hate it or whatever, they drafted you so you have to be miserable living there forever. Sorry, man! The teams have no loyalty to the player. Unless you’re a Kobe-level megastar, which Hayward isn’t, 99% of teams will dump you the second you’re no longer worth the investment. The entire point of free agency was to give the players some choice and control over their careers. Do people not understand that? Literally every time someone leaves a team now he becomes public enemy number one. LeBron. Durant. Wade. Ray Allen. LaMarcus Aldridge. Jason Heyward got destroyed on Twitter when he left the Cardinals. The jersey burning, the bitching online, the booing, the death threats, it’s all just so stupid. These people aren’t robots. You can’t just assume the first team they play for is their dream scenario. Unless Gordon Hayward repeatedly said something like “I’m going to run for Congress in Utah I love it so much,” why should he be forced to stay? Utah has some great national parks. You also can’t drink or do anything after like, 10 p.m. And come on, do Jazz fans really think their team has any future whatsoever in the Western Conference? Utah stinks. How are they totally blindsided by this? How were the people of Oklahoma City blindsided by the fact that a professional athlete would rather live in San Francisco than OKC? How the HELL did the people of Cleveland think it’s more appealing to live there than MIAMI? Have some self awareness, people. Your city probably stinks, your team probably stinks, and the player who dares to leave the warm embrace of your psychotic fans probably has legitimate reasons to leave. Maybe he has a brain and saw that, since 90% of the good players in the NBA are now out West, maybe going East would be a good idea? Maybe he liked his time in college better than his time in the NBA (gasp!) and wanted to recapture some of the magic with his old coach. Maybe they have friends, or family, or just want to change things up. Maybe when, the last time he was a free agent, he took note of the fact that his current team decided not to give him the fifth year and the max and decided that they clearly didn’t want him that much?

How many of you hate your job? Be it your boss, the commute, you think it’s boring, the pay isn’t right, whatever. How many of you would leave your job, if you could? You could pick the city, the company, the perfect house, everything. You could literally have your dream life, all you had to do was leave your current job. How many of you would do that? 100%? I know I would. But it’s bad when pro athletes do it because…..why exactly? They make more money than you? Well, maybe if you weren’t so invested in sports and didn’t watch or go to games then the leagues wouldn’t have all this money to give out. Because they drafted him? So no other team (besides, of course, Portland) would have wanted Kevin Durant? He was a diamond in the rough that only Oklahoma City believed in? Because they decided they had a better chance to win somewhere else? Is that not what everyone who changes companies because they can get a better position does? Are people that hypocritical? “I don’t like the team he signed with so it’s okay if I burn his jersey and tell him I’ll kill his family!” Makes sense. I know all those people in Utah don’t get to experience the outside world much so they’re probably pretty emotionally stunted, but acting like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum probably isn’t going to make Hayward regret his decision. Grow up. I’m sorry your team isn’t in Florida or California, but the world needs ditch diggers, too. Everyone, including pro athletes, has a right to decide where they work. Whining about it on Twitter isn’t going to change that anytime soon.

Peter Thiel is Funding an Effort to Revive the Wooly Mammoth

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source– PayPal billionaire and Gawker war-wager Peter Thiel has invested $100,000 in a research effort to resurrect the woolly mammoth.

Thiel, who believes that viewing death as inevitable is a sign of “complacency of the western world”, gave the money to Harvard University genomics professor George Church, whose laboratory is attempting to revive the extinct pachyderm.

The donation, detailed for the first time in a new book by Ben Mezrich called Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures, was made in 2015.

The de-extinction approach taken by Church and his team will sound familiar to Jurassic Park fans: they are taking DNA extracted from frozen mammoths and using it to genetically modify elephant cells. So far, according to the book, the team has managed to get mammoth fur to grow from the side of a mouse grafted with some elephant cells. The results have yet to be published in any scientific papers.

I have a couple of thoughts about all of this. The chief one is that I hope this works. Wooly Mammoths are awesome and I’d love to see one in real life. Plus, it would open the door up to bringing dinosaurs back. It may sound scary to some, but I’d be all for it. If the last thing I ever saw was the gaping maw of some massive dino looking for an afternoon snack, I wouldn’t be all that upset. At my funeral everyone would just be talking about how I was eaten by a dinosaur and how it’s a badass way to go out. I’d finally have that street cred I so desperately crave.

My second thought kind of piggybacks off of that, but I hate Peter Thiel. And not for any political reason or anything like that. Politics have no place in the Brian’s Den. I’m talking about this:

It’s not entirely surprising Thiel wants to bring a mammal back from the dead. According to several interviews, Thiel sees death as a terrible inconvenience that needs disrupting.

“Almost every human being who has ever lived is dead. Solving this problem is the most natural, humane, and important thing we could possibly do,” he is quoted as saying on the website of the SENS Foundation, a charity Thiel funds that approaches aging as a disease in need of a cure.

In 2015 he continued on his warpath against human fragility.

“I’ve always had this really strong sense that death was a terrible, terrible thing,” he told the Washington Post, “Most people end up compartmentalizing, and they are in some weird mode of denial and acceptance about death, but they both have the result of making you very passive. I prefer to fight it.”

Thiel’s “fight” involves investing millions in biotechnology and artificial intelligence in what he has called “the immortality project”. His investment firm Thiel Capital has, according to Inc, expressed an interest in a company called Ambrosia, which is running a trial where individuals can pay $8,000 to receive a blood transfusion from a teenager in the hope that it will restore some youthful vigour. According to the company Thiel is not a client. Yet.

He has also signed up with cryogenics company Alcor to be deep-frozen at the time of his death in the hope that he too can be resurrected.

Say what? You want to cure death? Count me out. Who the hell wants to live forever? What would be the point of ever doing anything if death wasn’t always looming on the horizon? Not to mention the boredom. I haven’t even come close to hitting 30 yet and I’m kind of ready to start wrapping things up. This isn’t Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there’s no elixir of life. This cure for death doesn’t say anything about staying young, just regaining some vitality. You’d just be an old person forever. Has he even put any thought into this? Has he never seen a movie or show? How has he never once heard about the curse of immortality? This is the worst idea ever, and I’m glad he’s out on an island with this.

My last thought is that this is exactly the kind of stuff I’d do if when I’m a billionaire. Just pay anything into existence. Oh, you want wooly mammoths back? Okay. What’s that? You want a yacht that’s more valuable than most countries’ GDP? Sure thing. Want to buy an entire town and turn it into your personal playhouse? I’m in. I just wouldn’t be a pussy about like Thiel, though. Like, $100,000 dude? You’re a billionaire, that’s not gonna get it done. You think $100,000 is going to cure death? Seriously? Like, if I make multiple billions of dollars, I’d be pretty confident I could make another billion at some point. So, if I really, really, really wanted the wooly mammoth back, I’d throw a billi at it. I’d make the mammoth an offer it couldn’t refuse. It’d be left with no choice but to come back. And then, as the guy that brought wooly mammoths back, I’d just start making money with that. I’d go on tour, I’d sell shirts, I’d charge admission to the petting zoo I created in my backyard. I’d trademark the wooly mammoth so fast it would make your head spin. I don’t know why Peter Thiel is afraid of success, but I guess he’s too busy worrying about not dying.