The Subtleties of Astophotography: Sorting out the noise of light and living

Don’t worry, my daughter is a concealed carry holder who routinely shoots in dangerous areas such as Over-the Rhine and in Chicago—so she knows how to handle dangerous situations.  In these following photographs I didn’t worry about her.  She did take her sister along on some of the shoots which was smart, but even though she knows the risks, she has enough experience to mitigate the impact of those risks with her knowledge of firearms.  The thing I worry about more is the legal mess a young woman would get into after having to shoot someone in self-defense.  She has the personal safety angle covered—the legal angle is the biggest concern for me.  However, I hardly ever get to see my kids anymore because they are always out doing things like this.  Professionally my oldest daughter Brooke has literally been booked for photo shoots every weekend and many week days lately and has a full schedule extending into 2019, and it keeps getting worse with bookings.  She’s become a very good photographer in a very competitive field and now she is turning up her comfort zone into the very difficult field of astrophotography.  As she shared her images obtained during the third week of July I knew she had done something very special and was headed in a direction that was putting a fine point on her professional uniqueness.   To hear from her personally click on the video below or read her article about how she captured these really phenomenal images of the Milky Way in the night sky.

For people who have become victims of our horrible education system and our generally destructive trend socially to highlight stupidity as some badge of honor so not to make stupid people feel bad about themselves, the Milky Way is the galaxy that we live within through the vastness of space.  We are loaded on a spiral arm of star clusters spinning around a massive black hole which is at the center of it.  So to capture the perspective of that arm in the night sky is quite an intense feat of light, focus and natural environmental conditions.  It is not an easy thing to do so it makes me very proud to see my daughter attempting to do just that.

My kid is not yet 30-years-old and while her peers are out making fools of themselves partying it up like a bunch of idiots—she’s out doing things like this in her spare time which  is increasingly happening after long days of professional endeavor between photo shoots.  If you watched the video you can understand why I couldn’t be prouder of her—listen to her speak.  It’s like listening to a fine symphony of music to hear her utter complete sentences and using a nice vocabulary coming out of the mouth of such a nice young lady. If she weren’t my daughter I’d be extremely impressed.  However, she is my daughter and I know what she has pushed herself through to arrive at this level of professionalism—but it’s still nice to take a moment to consider how magnificent she really is as a person.   She’s a pace setter and she’s emerging as a very unique photographer in a field of professionals who have been doing it for years and are quite good.  What’s giving her the advantage isn’t just the conceptual side—it’s the conceptual application that she naturally has mastered that is doing it.  There are a lot of people in the world who know how to take a nice photograph.  There are people professionally working in Hollywood as cinematographers who would greatly struggle with the light she was working with to capture these images.  But it is how she sniffs out a photo from nowhere that is setting her apart from the crowd.  In the world of tomorrow—which is literally getting nearer with every sunrise, Brooke is the photographer of her age to record the optimism of all that’s coming.  Her playfulness at living comes out in her photographs and that is something you can’t teach.  A person either develops this trait or it’s not there revealing only mechanical applications of a heartless artist.

Just as she said in her video, there is a lot of light noise in the night sky and so it is true as well in most professional fields.  It doesn’t matter if the profession is acting, being a musician, business tycoon, or housewife; you have to work really hard to separate yourself from the noise of our society.  Everyone is living their life and hopefully they all think of themselves as great and try to be the best that they can be every day.  But as nature has it, not everyone can be the best so to put yourself above the fray, you have to work really hard and make it so that you are continuously pushing yourself.   My daughter and I have had these long talks for many years so she understands what she needs to do, but it is always nice to see her doing it.  Just as she had to drive hours out of the way to capture these photographs at just the right time of year and at the correct time of day—so too in life—you have to go further than other people and be willing to always push for that extra bit to get there to arrive at the definitions of success—because there is a lot of noise from people who try to be good at things from the rolled down windows of their cars.

I’ve showed Brooke a lot of movies over the years and she is well read and has been exposed to the finer things in life—so she has context on the details of what makes things—good.  But I was surprised to learn that her favorite movie was Interstellar recently.   That was the Christopher Nolan film that I wrote about several years ago which I drug my family to on an opening night because I thought it would have an impact on their lives.  I’m glad it did, but it still surprised me that it was her favorite movie out of all the movies she’s been exposed to.  She told me that recently in one of those rare moments where she and her husband were able to come home and have some dinner and watch a collection of political speeches about NASA, that it was Interstellar that most touched her and I just think that’s magnificent.  You might have noticed that she inserted a song from the Hans Zimmer masterpiece musical score from that film on her article for context.  When the first space stations open up to the public and hotels start popping up on the moon in a few years, I have no doubts that Brooke will be one of the first to be there.  And that quite simply makes me very proud.

Most parents are proud of their kids—and that is mostly a selfish emotion.  After all, who wants to raise children only to think they are pieces of crap?  To think otherwise would be to concede to failure.  So it’s not unusual for parents to be proud of their children mostly out of the necessity of justifying all the hard work that goes into the job.  But when a child evolves into something that is uniquely defined and hungry for living life in their own endeavors it is something to celebrate. It just so happens that in Brooke’s case she is my kid and she has given me a lot to be proud of, and she’s just getting started.  It makes me very proud that she speaks so articulately, that she is running around at 11:30 PM looking for the right light in a night sky for a perfect picture not for some magazine or other paid endeavor—but because she has a natural passion to do so.  And it makes me proud that she’s not naive enough to do these things without being heavily armed to defend herself.  The results of all those elements are showing up in her artistic endeavors and whether or not she was related to me, it’s a beautiful thing to witness.

Rich Hoffman

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Thinking Big, and Practically: A Hyperloop between New York and Washington D.C.

It wasn’t that surprising to me, because I’ve been talking about it for a while.  Do you remember dear reader all the stuff I’ve been saying about the Hyperloop?  Well, it’s happening too and only because Elon Musk is continuing to be one of America’s greatest outside the box thinkers who has the financial resources to act on those thoughts.  But the fact that we can even talk about the Hyperloop as a reality has only one person to thank, Donald J. Trump.  Without Trump in the White House a lot of bureaucrats would be looking for a way for Musk to grease the skids.  Now, with the swamp draining as we speak we are on a cultural trajectory to have Hyperloops all over the United States starting with the link between New York City and Washington D.C.  Can you imagine traveling that distance in under 30 minutes?  A lot of people suddenly became very excited to hear that news, and most of them were not Trump supporters.  This is what you get when you have people like Musk in your country with a supportive White House.  Just read Donald Trump’s books, How to Think Like s Billionaire along with Think Big and Kick Ass, and it will be very easy to understand what, why, and how Elon Musk put up this Tweet much to the surprise of the mayors of several of the included cities.

The swamp creatures of bureaucracy want their take, but Trump and Musk are moving well beyond the speed of those people and as we speak Trump is beating them in the public relations battle.  By the time the Boring Company presents its proposals for digging underneath cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and of course Washington D.C. Trump’s team will have destroyed and replaced many of the figures who would otherwise stand against this project—so you can mark it on your calendar, this will get done.

People need to understand that all this controversy in the media about Trump/Russia, and polling numbers and legislative stalls are not a problem for Trump.  It sounds noisy now, but he has the situation under control.  The bureaucrats are not going to win against a Trump White House.  They may stall.  They may try to delay the inevitable, but Trump just has too many resources and works too hard to apply them for him to fail.  Having Trump in the White House puts him in a position to speak to people like Musk and to be essentially the most powerful lobbyist in Washington D.C. which is what Musk needed from the beginning.  Before, Musk would have had to lobby congress and the White House to get some pin head to even understand how the Hyperloop is different from a typical train.  But Trump gets it and knows what to do with good information when it comes his way.

For way too long we have allowed unproductive know-nothings to stand between us and the future and things have just stalled out technologically.  The following link is interesting in how it shows over time how deregulation of the phone industry and the introduction of the Internet allowed for smart phones to evolve to where they are today.  A lot of people forget that it was only ten years ago that the iPhone first came on the scene—but all that occurred because technology happened faster than politicians could crush innovation with their top heavy lumbering bureaucracy.  Regulators can be a good thing to make an industry safer, but often the kind of people who perform those jobs are cowardly people by nature and they love to have control over dreamers like Elon Musk.  So digging massive holes under all these cities and building a new transportation system that goes over 700 MPH is something they’d love to stop because it gives them power over  genius.  Those are the type of people who presently hate the Trump presidency and are doing anything they can to stop the changes that are happening literally right now.

Anthony Scaramucci is now taking over in Trump’s White House as the top communications official.  Trump met with Scaramucci recently and liked him so much that he put him immediately into the job.  Sean Spicer resigned to give Scaramucci a clean plate and just like that our new White House will be moving into phase 2 right at the 6 month mark.  The first phase of course was typical of any business dealing.  Trump enters the White House and softens up everyone with aggression.  Then when everyone is reeling he offers them an olive branch—which is what Scaramucci is—that is the “art of the deal.”

They are then happy and responsive to what the White House provides to the public.  So as Trump and Musk talked about the Hyperloop they were talking about things that would happen in step 4 as if those things already happened.  It’s just that the rest of the world isn’t there yet.  They will be and before they know it there will be a Hyperloop between New York and D.C.  It’s a good deal; Musk needs to get the Hyperloop rolling in America so he can convince California to put one between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Trump needs to enhance America’s infrastructure with something that is more “Trumpian.’ It was in these kinds of things that provoked Trump to run for office in the first place—so he’s not going to let this die on the vine.

As much as the media hates Trump by watching these videos did you notice how quickly they suddenly became excited?  That’s how Trump will eventually leave office.  All these silly things talked about today will long be forgotten when people are getting daily news reports from places like the Moon and traveling across the country on Hyperloops at speeds over 700 MPH.  If left to the pin-heads in our bureaucratic culture something like the Hyperloop would take 50 years and cost trillions of dollars.  But if left to the private sector it will only take 5 years and only cost billions, which will be recovered by the technology of a new transportation industry and in the end that’s all people will really remember.

What’s different now than really at any point prior is that these characters are not ideologically political.  Musk obviously has many leftist leanings, but he is a capitalist by the nature of all his companies which are quite good and operate well.  Trump is a pretty hard lined conservative compared to Musk, but he’s good enough in business to be able to have relationships with people who are not like him ideologically.  Just as Scaramucci has more liberal leanings than a Midwest Republican he is an effective communicator and can sell a lot of the things that Trump wants to do so we are truly entering a new phase of American thinking and it’s very exciting.  Honestly I’m very happy about it.  I don’t care that people think the way I do about things as long as they are being productive and moving the ball of the human race forward—not with political philosophy, but in human achievement.  The political philosophy comes as an off-shoot of an emerging society.  We should not build an emerging society off a political philosophy then use regulation to preserve that philosophy.  Instead, what Musk and Trump are doing will shape our civilization with an optimism that can only come from a couple of dreamers who have the financial resources to think big and the political clout to make it happen.  And finally we have both in the White House and things will begin to happen rapidly—for a change!

Rich Hoffman

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Disney’s Fantasy Island: Where imagination intersects with reality to create mythology

I have been just a little enamored by all the news coming out of D23 in Anaheim, California over the weekend of 7/14–7/16.  I know many of my readers come here looking for political commentary, or uplifting insight into some complicated matter, but for anyone who knows me; the key to living that I find most valuable is mythology.  I credit the great Joseph Campbell as being the only teacher I ever really found valuable as I spent much of my youth digesting his vast work in the realm of mythology.  And in the modern sense, Star Wars is the greatest realization of modern myth that there is.  To the extent that Star Wars can expand the imagination of the human race is something I find infinitely valuable and is important if we look out beyond the limits of our present political entanglements. Even in the realm of education, Star Wars is changing the game and now under Disney’s guidance the results to me are mind bending—as was revealed by the entertainment company at their D23 Expo.

When I was a kid there was a popular television show called Fantasy Island that came on Saturday nights and I enjoyed it immensely. The premise was that whatever fantasy a visitor might have they could visit Fantasy Island and live it out only to learn some life lesson by the end of their trip that was important to their return to the regular world.  Well, Disney with all their resources are using the mythology of Star Wars to create their own version of a real “Fantasy Island” at Hollywood Studios with an exhibit they are calling now “Galaxy’s Edge” which is a fully immersive Star Wars land designed to take the theme park experience to the next level.  I wrote about that the other day, click here to review.  But in addition to that they are opening a Star Wars resort which is a completely immersive “fantasy island type of experience where you actually will be a part of a Star Wars story which I think is phenomenal on many levels as these videos will reveal.

Many years ago as I was one of the core members of The Joseph Campbell Foundation invited to Washington D.C. by Campbell’s wife Jean and a few other people who were very close to George Lucas who at that time was a board of director member—to review a very special Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  It was a big event and we had the VIP experience of getting there first before it was opened to the public.  So I took my kids because I knew it would be important in their lives.  And they never forgot it—and neither did I.  It was an experience that bonded us all very tightly—and that is what a good mythology can do.  You should never get lost in some fantasy and avoid living life, but I often say that Star Wars to me is like a vacation that I take in my mind.  I’m always thinking about very intense things and get myself into very stressful acts—and Star Wars in the form of some video game, book, or movie puts ideas onto a place where I can see them differently and usually solve problems by changing the perspective a bit.  For instance I’m currently very excited for the release of Battlefront II.  When it comes out I’ll probably spend a month playing it very diligently because it helps me manage very complex real life situations through the problem solving that you get while playing acting in battlefield strategies and war-time scenarios set in a Star Wars context.  I thought that these Battlefront games from Electronic Arts were the ultimate first person Star Wars experience.  Until this year’s D23—a Star Wars resort with a new land within Hollywood Studios called Galaxy’s Edge.  Compared to when I took my kids to the Star Wars exhibit at the Smithsonian in 1997 as a proud member of the Joseph Campbell Foundation from the perspective of a “mythology insider,” what Disney is doing is incredible, and I’m a big fan of it.

But that wasn’t all.  Over the past year I mentioned that I bought a Playstation VR device essentially so I could play the Battlefront Star Wars VR mission that came out on it over the previous Christmas.  It was to me a jaw-dropping experience and it has been a feature attraction to anybody who has come to my home over the last 6 months. The ability to fly an X-Wing Fighter into combat in and around a Star Destroyer was incredibly well done and if that was the extent of it I would be forever impressed.  But now a company called Lenovo has teamed up with Disney to create what is called an “augmented reality” experience meaning that you can see reality as you normally would only with a special headset new things can be introduced to it.  In this case you can embark on Jedi light saber training and play the Holo Chess that was so popular in the Star Wars films with this “augmented reality.”  That brings the experience of Star Wars and its mythology even more to the private world of the home environment.   Mythology is driving technology in ways that are then coming back to the personal experience of living the power of myth.   I will certainly be getting the new “augmented reality” headset by Lenovo as soon as it hits Best Buy likely this fall.

But this home technology only hints at what a company like Disney can do at these theme parks now to provide that truly Fantasy Island experience for their guests.  Star Wars is a powerful mythology.  On the surface it’s for kids, but the themes it contains are very primal and communicate with people in ways that nothing else currently does.   For adults Las Vegas has created some of that Fantasy Island mystic, but it doesn’t contain enough mythology to be a truly beneficial experience.  You get the sights and sounds of some fantasy thought, but not the problem solving that comes with experiencing an “augmented reality.”  I typically read a lot which works for me, but most people don’t take time for that kind of experience and the mind does get fatigued if it is not fed a steady dose of imagination.  A mind filled with imaginative elements whether from a fantasy situation or just from stimuli works better than a mind weighed down with the weights of reality.  Mythology helps people think bigger about things and that is a truly beneficial service.   But the ability to move directly into a mythic circumstance is truly revolutionary.  It is a real Fantasy Island type of experience and I think it will have vast importance over the coming decade culturally.

I knew when Universal Studios opened up that Harry Potter experience in their Florida parks that we were moving into a new kind of mythic experience.  And I knew that Disney would have an answer.  But I didn’t think it would be possible to be this cool.  What is happening is far exceeding my expectations and the possibilities are obvious.  I remember all too well how powerful Star Wars was to me and my family when these new options were not available.  What they will do to the mind of the up and coming to me is truly mind-blowing with benefits.  And I’m very excited to see more.  I was looking forward for quite a number of months to see what this year’s D23 would reveal.  What they showed was far more than I anticipated which is hard to do.  That leaves an astounding thought, what will be next?

Rich Hoffman

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The Beauty of a Long Goodbye: Institutional failure and a new kind of day


I think the best way to explain it is that we are now in a generation of people—mostly youth driven—who grew up entirely with The Simpsons, South Park, and The Daily Show.  Those people went to college, were fed large doses of Marxist influence, graduated from some form of journalism and are now working in the media and other culture shapers within our professional institutions.  Their cynicism and hatred of Donald Trump comes from some foreign place for sure.  For instance, we are now on over a week of the whole Russia, Donald Trump Jr. story—which is nothing yet the ferocity for which the media presents the information is truly amazing.  The subconscious message to the Trump family has been that they did not use the professional pundits, lawyers, and inside the box thinkers—and pay them accordingly during the presidential campaign, so they feel entitled to pounce on the Trumps for their inexperience.  But if a few controversies emerge from saving the kind of money Trump did during the election with just good ol’ fashion hard work, then why not.  That is the biggest difference between the parades of phonies that typically would act as a foreign representative to major events.  President Trump is doing a great job—and he’s doing it rather easily.  At the Bastille Day parade the newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife had a very sincere reaction to President Trump and Melania’s departure resulting in a long handshake that virtually everyone made fun of who presented it through the media.  I thought it was a beautiful thing—four people with very important jobs who are normally very fake with one another in similar circumstances were overflowing with positive emotion.  It showed me that Macron might be a guy who will actually do a decent job in socialist France—but to the media, they saw nothing but negativity and they pounced in a way that was clearly out-of-touch with the flow of modern observation.

When Trump was running for president and I was so vocally supportive it was fun to watch these establishment types squirm in dealing with Trump.  It is fascinating to me because it is a microcosm of a much more systemic problem and I always knew that if a sincere businessman as opposed to a person breed within the political institutions—a person from Harvard—the typical Skull and Bones initiate—a military guy, or a senator formed within the fraternity of Capital Hlll—or even a state governor who was at least a part of an association, ran for any politically powerful position that they would excel because business has a way of forcing people to deal with reality and they’d do a far more superior job.  So I knew Trump would be very effective and I wanted to see that change.  What is happening with the stock market having all the incredible gains it is producing and the global reaction to President Trump’s natural charisma was something I counted on.  Trump as a personality has always loved controversy and attention, but under it all he’s always been smart.  Just read a few of his books and its very obvious that Trump knows exactly what he’s doing, including the whole controversy of the Don Jr. story.  Trump isn’t the only one with these skills—most people who are good at business have similar abilities and they get them outside of the institutional systems that we have in America—but that was always the point.

Clearly Jeffery Zucker who is running things at CNN is deeply jealous of Donald Trump.  He wants to think that he made Trump through The Apprentice when he was head of NBC Universal.  Now he’s the president of CNN Worldwide and the evidence that it wasn’t him who was so successful, but was the talent around him has been a harsh reality.  He’s failing miserably because he has gone after Trump in a way to sink the President in a very personal way.  For a guy whom Trump spoke so highly of in the book Think like a Billionaire, Zucker hates Trump because the evidence within the circles of business is so obvious.   As they parted ways leaving Zucker to run CNN in 2013 and Trump to run for president in 2015 there was nobody for the former NBC head to hide behind.  Zucker fell from grace quickly as just another overpaid institutionalist while Trump no matter what anybody threw at him continued to succeed.  Nobody understood it at the time, but the situation was obvious.   People build the institutions, the institutions do not make people—that is a basic law that all successful people understand.  I knew that if someone who had always made things work behind the institutional façade that they’d be great in politics for a change—and that is what is going on with Trump.  He’s always been good at anything he does because he loves to work, he’s intellectually curious about the world around him, and he has a natural love of life that emerges from whatever he’s involved with.  Once people had a taste of that, they’d never go back to the old institutional model—but business people would from now on be the choice of every political office, from school board members to future presidents.  The mold has effectively been destroyed and now everyone involved can see that it was always people like Trump who made the Jeff Zucker’s in life, not the other way around.

Ayn Rand wrote about this phenomena many years ago, it was obvious to her how institutions fail and how it is individuals who constantly carry them as a value.  Without strong individuals institutions always fail.  They are only propped up by a kind of social ignorance which has always been used as a collective way to hide the truth from human beings.  Whether the institution was a church, a television network, or a political party their effectiveness is always a mask hiding the reality that there must always be a strong individual who is doing all the heavy lifting that makes the institutions successful.  It is never the collective whole that does it.  Trump will always be successful whether he’s working at NBC with Jeff Zucker or running the Republican Party as he his now—but Zucker cannot be successful on his own without someone to carry him.  Within just four years of running CNN Jeff Zucker has nearly destroyed that network.  It may not be so obvious now, but they’ll never recover from his terrible management where he went after a popular president in very personal ways just to prove that it was the institutions that made Trump, not the other way around.   The failure of The New York Times, CNN, and NBC to recognize the basic talents of Trump is proving to be their undoing—and these young people who grew up over the last twenty years watching The Simpsons and South Park have been taught to either trust institutions too much, or to make fun of them without offering solutions.   Virtually everyone has missed the point except for those who understand that individuals make institutions, institutions do not make individuals.  Pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into any institution, whether it be a college, a network or even a religion cannot make success.  Only individuals who have mastered basic elements of life can do that and that reality is essentially what people are upset about in Trump.

It’s not always easy to see but the reaction that foreign leaders have in Trump whether it’s Russia, Saudi Arabia, China or the newly elected president of France, displays clearly the skills of a person at the top of his game in communication.   That’s because Donald Trump is a real person—a star of his own making.  The institutions tried to keep him at NBC working on a television show, but as a self-made person not really interested in millions of dollars for hosting a popular show, he wanted to apply his skills at the highest level and he walked away from the money.  Money is usually used to soften up individuals so that they never challenge the supremacy of the institutional controls that are used to mask the individual contributions of their talent.   Trump stepped away from one institution to another—one that had previously been forbidden.  He won and is now doing such a marvelous job and the institutions themselves have no other means of correcting the situation except for resorting to an infantile rejection of the behavior.  But the results can’t be ignored and the evidence was on full display between Macaron and Trump.  The French President didn’t want Trump to leave—that much was obvious.  Institutions can be scary because in them are a lot of little people like Jeffery Zucker who want to take credit for what good individuals do—but when someone like Trump comes along, things aren’t nearly so scary because it’s obvious that he’s the source of success and people want to be close to it, including the French president.   The truth has been revealed and all the institutions can do in defense of themselves is to use their young employees to verbally assault Trump hoping to protect themselves from further embarrassments.  But it’s too late.

Rich Hoffman

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D23 Reveals the new Star Wars Land: Where science and technology meets mythology and imagination

I’ve been saying it for quite a long time and for fun you should go back and read what I first said about this topic way back in October of 2012—but this year at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California Disney finally unveiled their elaborate plans for Star Wars Land.  The immense impact that I think this has on the human race is incalculable.  It’s not just another revenue stream for Disney’s massive media company, it is a launching point for new ways in thinking about mankind’s role in the cosmos and it is a jaw dropping culmination of imagination, engineering and philosophical debate all splashed down into a reality created from myth to be shaped by minds into an actual future.  What they revealed to me at D23 exceeded my expectations by a lot and it is certainly worth talking about.

I remember when I was a kid what it was like to ride the submarine at Disney World way back in the early 80s for the 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea exhibit.  It was I thought really well done.  I loved that Jules Verne classic both in novelization and the Disney film and it was very fascinating to me as a young pre-teen to see that ship in some scale that represented reality.  To be up close to it, to touch it, to ride inside it as it went slightly under water was something I’ll never forget.   And that was the case for much of Disney World back then, I had seen all these movies and at the early days of the Disney World’s Magic Kingdom before even the Epcot Center was built really launched me into adult pursuits mixed with adventure, a very detailed love of engineering, entrepreneurship, and literacy.   Even though I knew the exhibits were not real it always fascinated me to the level that Disney Imagineering was able to simulate what the imagination could create and apply real engineering marvel to those creations taking our minds from conception to reality.

I’ve always loved Star Wars maybe more because of how the movies were made than in what the stories actually said.  Most of my youth I watched and read of how my favorite movies were made and Star Wars filled my mind with technical details of how simple things were made into big things to make those films appear to be set in a galaxy far, far away a long time ago.  Largely, Star Wars was shaped by the Imagineering at Disney World because what they were able to do early on at Disney was carried directly into the production of Star Wars so the enormous market potential created by Disney Imagineering is really incalculable.  It is extremely difficult to know how deeply our modern society has been affected by just the very rudimentary exposure that we’ve seen in technology from 1970 until the present.   So by applying the same trajectory of thought, what they have been exploring in “Imagineering” at Disney over just the last decade is truly uncharted ground.  There are literally millions of young people inspired into the sciences by their experiences at these amusement parks.

When Universal Studios did their multipark Harry Potter experience I knew that we were unlocking a whole new theme park experience.    If Disney World set the stage for how these theme parks took movie magic and made them into a reality then Universal Studios took things to the next level and what they did in Orlando at Universal Studios with the literature of Harry Potter, first from the books then to the movie experience was just phenomenal, and it continues to be.   A visit to Universal Studios in Orlando is a trip into the imaginary worlds that Jules Verne and H.G. Wells could have never comprehended as a reality for young people.  And if you visit the NASA complex at the Kennedy Space Center you’ll quickly see how much reverence they have for the author Jules Verne.  The book From the Earth to the Moon framed early engineers and scientists at NASA and the rocket program before the space agency was created, into flying to the moon.   The human imagination is a very powerful tool and many of the products we see today are a direct result of our ability to think then make those imaginings into some sort of reality.

Well, Star Wars went several steps further in what had previously been done with imaginative thinking and once Disney acquired the property I had a feeling they would do something with Star Wars that would put it on a grand scale.  And now, at D23, they have shown us the model of what they are building—a 14 acre deep dive into the depths of extreme imagination.  The Disney Imagineers have been given a free hand to create something with Lucasfilm that will take visitors not only into the films that are so popular, but into a story they can then invest in themselves.   These Disney people weren’t just trying to duplicate some memorable events from the movies but they are going several steps further—and what they are coming up with will have explosive results on our human population.  I can only imagine what impact it will have on young minds visiting these Star Wars Lands in both Anaheim, and Orlando by having their minds ignited toward careers spawned from that experience.

You have to remember dear reader that while all this Star Wars stuff is going on at Disney, in new movies, theme park worlds and video games, NASA has been given the green light to return to space working with the private industry.   President Trump literally wants to return to the moon just a year after Disney opens up this new Star Wars Land—so space is going to be on everyone’s minds very soon.  I can say that I’m presently looking at what role I can play in this new space race as a grown adult.  There will be opportunities to build hotels and factories in space, on the Moon and on Mars over the next twenty years so for me as an adult it will be very fun, and stimulating to visit Star Wars Land and bridge reality to what the imagination has come up with there.  The idea of space ports interacting with many different species coming together over a vast galaxy is a strong philosophic concept that must be reconciled before actual science takes us to those places—and as the news of these phenomenal events begin to fill our basic reality soon, these fantastic theme parks are literally going to inspire us in ways that From the Earth to the Moon couldn’t.  I don’t think these Star Wars Lands are just for fun and excess—I think they will actually advance our technology and science by inspiring young people in ways that we’ve never experienced as a species thus far in our evolution.

I always enjoy the news that comes out of D23 and other science and fantasy conventions whether the topics are theme parks or from Fantasy Flight Games where our imaginations are stretched out for comprehension of new ideas massaged in brand new ways.  But this year is quite different.  If you combine the science and imagination of what Disney has been planning now for over five years—from when I first wrote about this story—with the optimism of the Trump presidency—we are talking about some very special days ahead for us all.  Even those who don’t think much of the Star Wars movies will find that the basic spill over of that fantasy will flow directly into our science of tomorrow—and THAT is a very exciting prospect that leaves me hungry for each new day and what might be revealed yet to come.

Rich Hoffman

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Donald Trump’s Tomorrowland: Making “Failure’s Not An Option” great again!

I kept looking for it but have yet to see any news really covering what Donald Trump’s administration has been doing in regard to American space exploration.  It was only just before July 4th 2017 that Trump signed an executive order reactivating the National Space Council at NASA and  making Mike Pence the is the chairman of the board.  Then just a few days after that great American Holiday Mike Pence was giving a speech at the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center announcing that the first meeting of the new council would before summer ended.  It was a big speech with grand national appeal but it was eclipsed behind Trump’s G20 visit and the first face to face meeting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.  The news media was completely consumed with the news of this oversea visit and the antics of Trump’s combat with the various news organizations—so they missed the announcements about America’s new role in space that sounded much more spectacular than when Kennedy gave in his famous challenge ahead of the Apollo program in the 60s.  Trump was thinking bigger—much bigger and Mike Pence is about to make his mark as a very strong VP in the vastness of space.

As Trump and Pence were unleashing space once again the Wall Street Journal had a very interesting article which was quite familiar to me, that “smart medicine” was in fact the wave of the future and ultimate cure to illness on earth.  And to what effect?  We don’t need to get sick as humans and die of old age—we can fix all that now and until very, very recently–publications like the Wall Street Journal were not covering those regenerative technologies.   I bring it up here because space exploration takes time and the best way to embark on such an adventure is to live the amount of time that Noah did from the Bible, to see many years of development to and from the vastness of space and to colonize the once unthinkable.  We’ll want every human being and more available today for such adventures. There were so many magnificent quotes given in Trump’s speech then Pence’s speech at the Kennedy Space Center to be played back to history for many years.  I thought many of those quotes were better than when Kennedy made his famous challenge to the American people when he announced that he intended to put man on the moon within a decade.   In case you haven’t heard, Trump wants to do that by 2020.  Trump then wants to be on Mars by 2024.  Those are ambitious goals for a space agency that has literally been turned off to study climate science and Islamic contributions to science.  Trump’s commitment to space is actually astonishing and will carry with it a new era in adventure, science, philosophy and politics.

I haven’t been down to our family retreat at Cape Canaveral for a few years now.  I have often spoken glowingly about my visits there to my favorite beach in the world, Cocoa Beach and the many famous landmarks that evolved in the wake of the space program at NASA.  From our condo we can see the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.  My kids are especially in love with the place and have watched several launches from that four story balcony.  They were there to see the last Space Shuttle mission return home under the Obama administration and they have recently seen the Space X rocket tests and have been enthusiastic about it still.  But they don’t know it like I do—where Space Shuttles seemed to take off every month and we were on a fast track to life outside of earth.  I love the optimism of space, the promise not only of adventure but of new discoveries and opportunities, such as mining Helium-3 off the moon for real nuclear power.   There is great talk now of going to Mars in weeks not just months which of course would allow us to mine the moons of Jupiter and even Saturn realistically and carry our civilization toward a Type 1 classification—where we master our solar system for resources to advance our technology.  Having that promise ripped away by the Obama administration and other previous presidents has been extremely disheartening.

It was my fault; back when my kids were getting more home school from my wife and I than anything they learned in ten years of school I took my children on a very special trip to Florida to visit the Kennedy Space Center then directly to Disney’s Epcot center.  The entire trip was focused on science and technology showing them the possibilities that were in front of their lives.  That was in 2003, George W. Bush was in the White House and I really thought he was serious about returning America back to the moon.   So I took my kids to the family condo at Cape Canaveral and let them meet astronauts at the Space Center and literally turned their imaginations loose.   Since then there really hasn’t been any ambition for space by virtually anybody.  This has been reflected in a few very forward-looking movies, like Tomorrowland based on the Disney attraction at Magic Kingdom and the very good Christopher Nolan movie, Intersteller.   I was very surprised to learn from my oldest daughter that her favorite movie so far in her life is Intersteller.  It made me a little sad because it was I who planted those seeds so long ago and in her life nothing had so far came from it.  So many kids in her generation have had their minds turned off and now they look at the world inwardly instead of outwardly.  Their vision is small because they have their faces pressed into the feces of their own existence and that folly is literally destroying mankind with remarkable swiftness.  And bright thinkers like my daughters—ignited by an overly optimistic dad have seen little to match that zeal from their generation.  When Trump said that in the vastness of space many of our problems would seem small—he’s right.  The solution to much that sickens us as a species will be solved in space and in the journey of mastering it.

It was during that trip that I bought a t-shirt from the NASA shop stating “Failure is not an option” which was the classic line from the Apollo 13 mission that was made into a movie by the great movie director, Ron Howard.  I wore it everywhere because it matched my optimism for everything.  Anyone who deals with me knows that this is my basic philosophy.  Failure is never an option for me—and never has been.  It is kind of an innate instinct that I have always had, but the space program in America framed the spirit in a way I have always fed from.   It was quite remarkable to wear that shirt to Epcot Center the next day with my kids asking questions and taking them to Tomorrowland to see all the optimism contained there for our future.   Even though my kids were impressed, I was frustrated because I felt we could be doing so much more as a country—but from the very top—in the White House we lacked vision and the great dreamers had been grounded, seemingly on purpose.

If you’ve ever been through a NADCAP audit dear reader you’ll understand what I’m talking about.  For many decades now government has imposed so many rules and regulations onto the aerospace industry that we’ve stifled creativity and brave innovations with so much bureaucratic red tape that the love for adventure that used to be present even in engineers has been stuffed into a bottle and sealed up tight.  The days where World War II fighter pilots were the test pilots and advisors for NASA are over—they have been replaced by pin headed politicians and paper pushers whose only adventure in life is to decide who will make the coffee run to Starbucks.  The industry bureaucrats have replaced the type of horse sense innovation that actually invented space travel with static manufacturing plans designed to take the thinking away from production leaving us all with a cold—dead work environment of people disconnected from the passion that can be garnered from being a part of the industry.   Aerospace today from the top to the bottom look for reasons not to do things than in how to do them because the regulatory zeal placed upon it by government has crushed the desire to achieve things.  The good news of Trump’s commitment to space means so much more than just going back to the moon—it means uncovering that American spirit that put us there in the first place and going back to what worked—and allowing young people to dream of a work culture that stated “Failure is Not an Option” and spent every last breath of their lives articulating that type of thinking.

It was as if there were a cloud of negativity that has taken over the world and until Trump unleashed his big ideas that cloud has been in full rebellion.  It doesn’t want Trump to succeed in these quests and it has been so thick that even the magnanimity of the two speeches done after the 4th of July 2017 by first the President then the Vice President down at Kennedy Space Center that nobody heard about these events.  They were probably the most important news stories of the week, yet nobody covered them—not even Fox News.  Even supporters of Trump’s administration like Jessie Watters and Eric Boiling didn’t make a mention of these bold speeches on their coverage that I could see watching them through the following weekend—the news was all about CNN’s fake news coverage and the G20 Summit.  Nothing about America’s new commitment to space or the wonderful science that will come from it—we are talking about a new dawn for the human race while the attention is on keeping our heads in the waste of our lives by cowardly bureaucrats who want to keep our feet firmly in concrete sealed to the shallow history of European stagnation.

Everyone should have seen this coming, after all Trump is all about thinking big, and by the time he is done our previous visits to space will seem like distant history—not to be forgotten, but certainly not the focus of future visits of people to the Kennedy Space Center. Based on what Mike Pence said, Cape Canaveral is poised to be a true space port where private sector and government truly work properly toward the goal of expanding mankind into the vast cosmos above our heads. Instead of saying “remember that” we will be making t-shirts of what was just said in a board room off in the corner of the Vehicle Assembly Building as some engineering problem revealed major headaches for everyone.   It is in the thrill of overcoming those obstacles that the adventure of space happens—not from the losers who throw their hands up in because the word “the” is placed in the wrong place in a manufacturing plan.

But that those plans will be written once more as discovery happens and innovation dictates light feet and an indomitable spirit.  Yes, Trump’s commitment to space is the best thing to happen in America over many years and I am proud once again of our space program.  It won’t take long to see the results even though at this point very few people are talking about it.  Soon however, that won’t be the case.  It will prove to be one of the biggest things to have ever happened to the human race and its happening right now. And not a moment too soon!  We’ve needed this, and now Donald Trump is starting that train of successes in science moving again and the results will be positive for every single human being on planet earth—and that’s not an understatement.

Rich Hoffman

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Hollywood Down 8% in 2017: Trading politics for profit to destroy an industry

This is far more important than most people think—the movie box office for July of 2017 was down 8% from the same period a year ago.  Additionally Disney has lost around 4 million subscribers to its Disney Channels over the past three years as kids turn to other forms of entertainment.  More and more homes are cutting their cable service as it’s just too expensive for what people get,  and theater owners are struggling to survive with Hollywood giving them very little to work with to justify the big investment that a movie ticket costs these days.  That same home theater market is keeping people home more rather than go to the theater to see movies that could otherwise just be seen on Netflix.  If you couple all that with the Donald Trump versus the media battle—which will hurt traditional media extensively, the entertainment industry is in big trouble—which I have been saying for a long time.  All the stocks are down for the theater owners—which I feel sorry for.  The distributors have let them down by pushing a product that was just too liberal for mainstream American audiences and now they’ve all been hung out to dry.

For about 20 years I bounced around with tentative meetings within Hollywood.  For me it was more than a treasure hunt, I really wanted to make movies and to contribute to the library of wonderful movies that I had grown up with.  The business end was something I didn’t have much patience for since most of the people running the industry were radically more liberal than I was.  So I’d get a project floating around out there but it would go cold.  The money guys were also liberal so the project proposals I suggested were either heavily scrutinized with extensive re-writes to soften them up, or they just weren’t getting off the ground.  In a few cases I was offered positions in the industry, but my wife didn’t want to move to California—and without living in such a way that you could network in that town, it was pretty much impossible to get any project off the ground.  I went to several film festivals, won a few screenwriting awards and ended up doing a few bull whip stunts for legitimate studios but the last time I flew back from Hollywood in 2008 I knew that the industry was in trouble from a business perspective.   They weren’t going to make it which made me sad, because I liked traditional Hollywood—I always liked Howard Hughes, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Albert Hitchcock, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  These new filmmakers in Hollywood were too political and I was from a flyover state so things just weren’t going to work out.  After that last trip I put my focus into other business opportunities and waited for the inevitable which is now upon us.

Movies cost too much to make, the labor unions which represent all the industry people has forced them all to think too collectively to stay in touch with the American people.  Reading with great interest how the Han Solo movie fell apart at Lucasfilm it’s obvious that the new generation is just too soft and manipulated by their director’s guilds—into liberal politics which the movie going audiences can’t stand.   Even though I warned of all this years ago, and have written extensively about it since, it still hurts to see an entire industry collapsing on itself.  The Hollywood product is now on life support with only a few big Disney releases carrying most of the industry.  Warner Bros. has done well with Wonder Woman, and Marvel had their usual hits with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.   Small films like Baby Driver did respectable business, but big films like Pirates of the Caribbean 5 were down a quarter from the previous installment worldwide and that isn’t good news.   Critics have been hard on these new movies as they have an extreme political slant to most reviews and once the Rotten Tomatoes scores hit online people are so turned off they just don’t go see these films and that cycle is worsening.

Hollywood is about more than just the movies themselves—it’s about an entire industry from print media like Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, to the television shows Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight.   Critics for the big newspapers have national audiences in some cases and they have abused their relationships and let that stardom go to their heads giving themselves the power to sink or swim a picture—so essentially they have cut off their own noses to spite their faces.  I remember a very specific day in Glendale, California where several day time television programs were set up on the same street to shoot exteriors and I was having lunch with some people who worked the trade publications who were full of themselves way too dangerously.  I tried to make them aware of the fragile eco system that was on full display and they had the kind of attitude that the gravy train was going to go on forever.  Well, within two years every one of those people was out of a job and their publications had folded.   They should have listened, but of course they didn’t.  Most of those big name trade publications won’t be around much longer because nobody really cares what they have to say. The media stars they talk about are today far more political than they used to be and they have aligned themselves against Trump who is set to be a very popular and successful president, and now there just aren’t enough fans of their material to carry them into the next decade.

There are going to be a lot of bankruptcies—and even the Disney Company will feel the squeeze.  While I continue to be very impressed with what Disney is doing at their parks and with the Star Wars movies as one giant mythology spanning many platforms—computer games, etc—they still rely too much on theater owners to distribute their core products and those theater owners need more than just Disney to stay afloat.   They need every weekend to have people wanting to go to the theaters to buy over-priced popcorn and soda to watch a movie they don’t want to wait for release on the home market where likely the televisions they have at home is far better than what is offered at the theater.  I will have to add that when my wife and I went to see The Book of Henry that the Regal Cinemas we went to had adjusted their prices down for popcorn and pop to a very reasonable level.  The theater owners out there are doing their jobs and adjusting to the marketplace, but Hollywood hasn’t.  They keep making the same crap and trying to repackage it instead of turning loose people with great ideas to constantly keep material fresh.  I know I wasn’t the only one trying to get new ideas to production companies—it was mainly a cultural problem.   Studio execs were too interested in getting laid at the multiple parties around town by telling chicks that they were for this liberal cause or that—so they were making decisions at the executive level in producing products that American audiences did not want to see.   Once they got their blow job they had already committed their studio to ten films for production the next year which nobody would want to see because of their overly liberalized political overtones.   Sure the chick who was giving blow jobs at the party liked the Matt Damon movie about fracking—but nobody in America wanted to see it and the budget was blown.

So the industry is toast—it won’t recover in its present form.  Of course there will be investment opportunities in new styles of media, but the Hollywood game is over.  The industry just hasn’t come to terms with it yet.  There are a few $1 billion dollar earners yet to be released in 2017 but it won’t be enough.  By the end of the year the gains will be so far down that they won’t even be worth discussing.   And life outside of Hollywood will go on.   All I can say to those people who were so haughty 10 years ago is that I sincerely tried to tell you this would happen, but you didn’t listen.  I wish you had.  So now it’s time to pay—and it will be painful.  But you people did it to yourselves.   America will be great again and Hollywood has removed itself from being a part of it—and that’s a damn shame.

Rich Hoffman

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