Sunday, February 29, 2004

Oscar Thoughts

My only thoughts on the Oscars are that I wished the winners talked more about the creative process than giving thanks. They ought to treat the moment like film festivals, where the directors and actors get to say a few words about the story behind the film, themselves, their inspiration, something along those lines. For some bizarre reason, it's become this thank-fest and is completely boring. It's too bad Hollywood is so pride-driven that the assistants and managers for the stars need to be thanked for political reasons. In the past couple of years a few folks had good speeches, Soderbergh had a good one, I actually though Sofia Coppola had a good one this year. But for the most part, it just ain't any fun listening to thanks - they could talk for longer about something interesting and we'd stay with them.

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Spying on Hans

Hans Blix thinks the US was spying on him. It seems to me entirely plausible, but without evidence, this is a reckless charge. It gives substance to the suspicion and conspiracy theories, the exact type of thing we all need less of - in the US, in Europe, and especially in the middle east.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Work, Work, Work

Interesting day at work today. First, for anyone who knows me, they would find my work environment hilarious. I work in a USC Alumni travel office. It is basically a one person outfit, run by a competent lady obsessed with USC, who organizes trips for rich USC alumni all around the world. The rest of the office is volunteers, all old ladies with grandchildren. I work there with one other student, a freshman undergrad. I am the only guy.

So today I was surrounded by the volunteers as I came in, figuring there was a computer problem, which is usually why they surround me - not sophisticated one's mind you, one's involving getting a document to print and setting favorites on the internet, etc....but apparently they had heard I saw Passion of the Christ and wanted a review from a film student. I told them how violent it was and it seemed to me entirely about Jesus' physical suffering. It didn't take me long to realize, though, that this was a Christian group of ladies and they had already concluded, before seeing it, that it was an fairly accurrate docu-drama (not documentary) version of the gospels. Not being knowledgeable about gospels, I couldn't much argue, but did express my concern with the violence of the film. I told them flat out that anyone who enjoyed the film was a sicko - it is not meant to be judged that way.

The other interesting conversation I had was with my boss, a nice lady whose personal friendships with the volunteers helps her get around the many, many sloppy mistakes in the office. She started to rail into John Kerry, the Kennedy's, political correctness, racial profiling, and the hollywood crowd for Bush-bashing.

These two events, coupled with the generation gap, probably deserve some majoring snickering -- and I have to admit, going into my bosses office and looking at half naked pictures of the USC football team is a bit weird. But I realized something about myself while listening to these ladies and my boss, that having this positions I always have found a bit goofy and weird, didn't anger me in the least bit. I felt they were wrong about many things, but not in a malicious way. And while I disagree with all of them on many things politically, there nice people and frankly, pretty pleasant to work with. They are completely flexible and let me get away with anything, so long as I get my work done quickly and help them out with the computers.

Anyhow, I didn't really think about this much before writing, it's just on my head.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Visit Monroe and Vermont and Sunday to test this Thesis

This is bound to stir up some controversy. Hispanic immigration a major threat to American identity. Normally, I'd dismiss such a thesis as xenophobia, but Sam Huntington isn't a hack blogger, like myself. I do know think bilingual education is a bad idea, but I'm not sure I'd go this far. I'll look more into it and keep it updated. Oh, interesting bio on Sam from Atlantic Monthly via Dan Drezner.
FCC vs Howard Stern

Instapundit has some links on Howard Stern getting fired from several syndicated markets.

I think the links are on the right track in that any company has the right to fire or remove a broadcaster from the airwaves for any number of reaons, if they aren't meeting ratings, the show is politically incorrect, the boss doesn't like the broadcast, it is racist, it is sexist, it is boring, it is stupid. The first amendment does not offer job security to those lucky enough to have a radio show.

The issue with Stern is that he thinks the FCC is responsible for getting his showed pulled. His show is offensive. That's what everyone loves about it. It offends all the annoying people in America who are looking around for things to find offensive. The company broadcasting his show has every right to be offended and pull the show off the air. But the FCC should not be strong arming companies to pull the show off the air - that would be censorship. Nor should Clear Channel push the responsibility onto the FCC. If they want to pull Howard, they should say, "We don't like your content. We don't care about the ratingz, we aren't interested in syndicating you. So there." It's their right. But if the FCC is strong-arming them, they should fight it.

I'm a big Howard Stern fan, so I think Clear Channel is stupid for pulling his show. And if they are pulling it because of the FCC, well, then they're stupid and wusses.

The same goes for Limbaugh. He got canned by his employer for being an idiot and in my opinion, deservedly so.
I posted earlier about Stuttering John being seduced away from Howard Stern as a good sign, a public recognition of Howard's skills. But on the show the last couple of days, Howard has been relentless calling Jay Leno a homo, thief, and hack for stealing his man. Fair enough. I'm not really going to miss John all that much, and clearly Leno just hopes getting a link from Stern is enough to get some viewers.

But Howard is pissed because Leno keeps stealing his material and now his people. I can understand his feeling, but in a way, he ought to be flattered.

Howard's also been railing against some new FCC restrictions. And then there's this.

Has censorship ever worked? Don't all censors end up looking like idiots ten years later?
Josh has a post up about campaign finance reform. His proposal seems to be a mix of the Steve Forbes flax tax and the McCain-Feingold bill.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I think Josh's wish is already starting to come true with the Howard Dean campaign raising big money over the internet from small donors, enough to exceed Kerry and his corporate contributions.

I'd like to see Josh address the proposal on a 1st Amendment basis - the prevailing argument is that money=speech. If I'm a corporation or a rich individual, I can spend my money any way I want. That's the whole point of living in a free country, I can do whatever I want with what's mine, so long as it doesn't harm anyone else. An argument could be made that gross overspending by few silences the masses - in some sense, the same status of speech as heckling someone (ie not allowing them to speak).
Psychology of Outsourcing

Chuck writes about outsourcing and jobs.

Here's a great article by Virginia Postrel, pointing out how the "outsourcing" problem is supported by faulty numbers and an inability to record new independent contractor type jobs.

I agree with all the economic arguments of comparative advantage, but we ought to also address the psychological as well. I used to consult for PG&E, a gigantic company plagued with union rules and unhappy, but protectionist employees. Some employees would purposefully make their jobs ten times more difficult than they needed to be, ignore technological advances, and refuse to train others simply to maintain their own importance. This cult of protectionism within the company severely damaged their ability to provide electricity and uphold contracts to current and new customers. It is one reason they were succeptible to bankrupty. My father said to me it sounded like fundamentally a management problem, which I think is true, but when the sentiment amongst a certain generation is that the company owes to them a job and a living because they've devoted their lives to that company, it's tough to stay competitive.

As for candidates cowtowing to protectionist job folks - a bunch of wusses. They know the long term benefits and are too afraid to say to a group of factory workers - get off your ass and learn a new trade. Why people think they are entitled to any job is beyond me. You earn it, you create a temporary business relationship between parties that dissolves when it is no longer necessary. Save your money for a rainy day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

THe pAssion

I dropped the ball by not posting earlier on the Passion of the Christ, which I saw last night at midnight. Chuck already got on my case for not blogging about it. I have not read any reviews or analysis of the film, but I will after I write my own.

Regarding the film - it is all about Jesus' suffering, mostly physical. I turned away several times from particularly brutal scenes. It is one of the goriest, nastiest, violent films I've seen. This violence isn't cartoony a la Kill Bill, but meant to feel gruesomely authentic. The entire movie is subtitled because the actors speak in Aramaic and Latin, and I think, Hebrew, which I was quite an accomplishment. I enjoyed the language in the film, it gave a sense of atmosphere and time period and how often do you get to hear people speaking Latin or Aramaic? That's the kind of thing a movie can offer. And me, not a cunning linguist, was able to tell the difference - by the combination of sound and who was speaking.

Cinematography was brilliant at moments. The beginning scenes especially, in a blue hazy night. Tons and I mean tons, of close ups, and slow, dramatic motion.

Regarding the alleged anti-semitism - I didn't find it particularly offensive. Everyone is guilty in this film, the Romans, his disciples, and the Jews. The Jews were costumed in a funny way, wearing large black robes and carrying long canes, heads covered. They pressure the Roman leader into cruficying Jesus, so one might say they were the worst group in the movie...Judas being the worst human and well, satan being the arch antagonist. But again, everyone is bad, so it's a bit of a stretch.

In the end, I don't have anything brilliant or interesting to say about this film. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. It reflects a particularly flagellalistic and conservative retelling of Jesus' suffering. The point of this story is to emphasize the martyr aspect of Jesus', nothing new, nothing complicated.

The most interesting part of the Passion of the Christ experience is the marking and buzz, showing it to Church groups, etc, trying to get it to the pope, etc, instead of focusing on the critics.

The New Yorker review. Obviously more in-depth and insightful than my take...but all this business about historical accurracy is hogwash. It's a MOVIE. I love James Ellroy books, Oliver Stone movies, and historical truth ain't got nothing to do with it. Same goes here....and no, it's not different because it comes from the religious right as opposed to Oliver Stone. An interesting note mentioned in the New Yorker article is the string of torturous scenes associated with Mel Gibson either acting, directing, or both. Clearly, Passion has the strongest, but remember the end of Braveheart? How about Lethal Weapon I and II, each feature scene's of Mel being tortured, electroshock treatment, and being bound in chains and dropped into the ocean whereby he escapes by dislocating his own shoulder. Something's going here (with Mel and not some cult of death like the Palestinians, which Denby seems to suggest) whereby he identifies strongly with extreme physical suffering at the hands of evil men.

And again regarding the anti-semitism...I'm not really buying it. If a film depicts the US government as corrupt, is it anti-American? Are the Soprano's anti-Italian? Is any antagonist anti-something? Agreed, the Jews are bad in this film, but what about the brutal Roman's? I dunno, there's so much real anti-semitism out there, I don't think we need to go around branding borderline hey, what do I know? Nick LaSalle agrees, but on another front - all the characters, less bad to real bad, other than the Roman's are Jewish. Read the full link.

I grow less and less interested in Roger Ebert, but here's his review. I agree with the last part, this should be NC-17.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Robitussin of Republican Economic Policy

Tonight after screenwriting class, I was seduced by free food at an on-campus caucus. I still do not fully understand what was supposed to occur at this event - the undergrad girl at the door seemed more interested in checking out cute Republican guys than being able to explain to me what the event WAS. In any case, it seemed students speaking on behalf of presidential candidates were put in charge of voicing the positions of each of the candidates. When I first sat down, cheesecake in hand, it took me about 10 minutes to figure out which candidate the student was speaking for. (Chuck would love this)

Finally, it became clear, only through democrat-bashing, that the student was speaking on behalf of Bush. I couldn't stay long because I owed a couple phone calls and needed to meet my editor to start editing the Math Tutor, but one student asked the brilliant question I've been waiting for a Republican to answer for the past 15 years: "Why do you justify tax cuts when we have a budget surplus by giving back money to the people and at the same time justify tax cuts as an economic stimulus when the economy is down?" Perfect. It's completely true. Republican fiscal policy, as far as I can tell, is cut taxes. That's it. The rest, all the supply side garbage they try to sell, is merely justification. (It's not that I doubt supply side as a theory, I just don't think the theory is why the Republican party favors the policy - it is because they can sell tax cuts easily to the public). He of course, couldn't answer the question, except with the regular responses - it stimulates the economy, and so on. Right.

Tax cuts are the Robitussin of Republican fiscal policy.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

We finished shooting The Math Tutor today! Woo hoo! I had a fantastic cast on this film, Alex, playing Davie, was great to work with, always on time, willing to take suggestions/direction. Wedil, playing seductive Mrs. Sanchez played it straight, got the role, stepped in, and did it without need for direction or anything. Star Blue played indy rock Kim Sanchez and Jon Equis, energetic as always played Jon Waters, the famous film director and money man behind stealing SAT mauals. What fun. I'll be sad when this project is complete.

Well, now I look like an idiot. Last night at a cocktail party I was spouting off why Nader won't run. Goes to show how much I know.

But seriously, I don't really get this. We're not in the pre-9/11 world where our largest concern was a disenchantment with the corpo-political elites....and Nader provided a good frustration/protest vote option. People voted for Nader because Gore ran a bad campaign.

Post 9-11, our concerns aren't so heavily geared towards the cronyism, but more towards security and economics (although a reasonable argument can be made connecting cronyism and the job market). Where does Nader fit in here? I guess he can do the same thing as 2000, taking votes from Kerry for being a Republican-lite. But I don't think the mood of the country is the same, and Dean picked up the 2000 Nadar energy and transformed it into something way larger than Nadar. But look where that ended up - people rallying around Kerry.

If anything, maybe the Greens get some votes and make it easier for candidates to get on the ballot in the future. But if this is the goal, why Nader? Aren't there some other Greens that could run? Matt Gonzales nearly won the mayor race in SF. Peter Camejo? Why not run Dean as a Green Candidate? Or some other type of independent, with the support of the Greens.

I don't think a Green candidate will be as successful or meaningful as 2000, nor do I think Nadar is the best Green candidate in 2004.

UPDATE: Well, now I look like even a bigger IDIOT. If I had read closer, Nader isn't running as a Green, but as an independent. This makes more sense to me - now the Green's don't look dumb, just Nader.

Meanwhile, Chuck weighs in "I think I might have to vote for Nader again. I'm fed up. I was just listening to talk of congressional redistricting which has taken place over the last many years. It's really despicable what these politicians have done - create a system in which they're all but guaranteed to be reelected. There are only a handful of congressional seats in which it looks like a competitive election might occur. We've got a class of professional politicians and they've spent their time insulating their positions, more or less finding ways to subvert the democratic process. Add to that the corporate/money control of exerted over these people and this system and it's a fucking bleak picture.

Iraq and the UN are isolated incidents, products of the system. The voter redistricting and corporate control of our government are endemic problems which are only getting worse, consolidating power in the hands of the few. These are the problems which created the system which led us into Iraq based on the assertions of a few men in power (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld), assertions which turned out to be completely wrong.

Voting for Nader is both a personal protest against the system and a beginning. That is, there needs to be some movement towards options other than Democrat or Republican. They're all part of the same corrupt system and I only see things getting worse."

I agree with Chuck's sentiments, but disagree with his conclusions. I compare the US government to other governments around the world and governments of different times, and always end up feeling pretty good - see anywhere in the middle east. But yes, when you compare the US government in reality to the US government in the ideal, we are all let down.

So, although I agree that there are elements of the system that are corrupt, it does not follow that all actions from that system are necessary corrupt. Furthermore, the question isn't whether corruption exists, because in any big system of government or corporations or any type of large bureaucracies, corruption is inherent. The choice therefore, is always between a lesser of two evils. In the case of a post-9/11 world, I fear Islamic fascism more than the corpo-elites that run our country. and with respect to Islam-fascism, it does not function in a vacuum, but for two basic reason 1) the immediate terrorists, ie Al queda, financiers, osama and 2) because of the shitty conditions in the middle east - the primary reason for those shitty conditions are the autocrats running the countries over there - the worst being Saddam, but closely followed by the saudi's, the Ayatollah in Iran, etc, etc.

I think we went to Iraq for idealist reasons - and perhaps those will in time, prove to be wrong. I'm not a conspiracy theorist to believe that we went into Iraq merely for business interests, which I think is a grossly oversimplified and lazy position to take. I have a long post on this in my archives from December.

With respect to redistricting and gerrymandering, it's been going on forever and my basic feeling about it is: So What? I always thought that gerrymandering didn't make much sense, that by trying to shape and carve out districts around pockets of political support, that the parties were trying to be too clever for their own good. The ideal gerrymandering situation is when a single party can shape the districts so that they barely win each district and lump all of the other party into a single district, so in an ostensibly evenly split state, they win 4 seats to 1, or something along those lines. Attempting such a feat seems to me bound to eventual failure. It might work once or twice, but it seems to me just as likely not to work.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Gay vs. Married

Compliments to Jared for sending an in depth gay marriage post by Donald Sensing.

In an old blog, I advocated a similar position:

Got this from I feel like I'm missing something from this entire gay-marriage/civil union issue. It seems so simple: government recognizes contracts. The church sanctions a marriage. When the government recognizes a marriage, the benefits are legal. Call it gay marriage, call it a civil union, call it whatever you want, but allow homosexual couples the same right to enter into a contract that straight couples are able to. That's fair. Let the church do whatever it wants, recognize the marriage, not recognize the marriage, cover up sex with little children, who cares? I guess Lauryn Hill does.

While I appreciate her opinion, I'd respect it WAY more if she came out with another album just 1/2 as good as Miseducation....yeah MTV Unplugged didn't cut it.

And give me a break about a Constitutional Amendment. What do we have, like 20 of those over the past 225 years? We should save it for something more significant that "defense of marriage," don't ya think?

Beyond that, where are all these "defenders of marriage" when young couples are getting married...aren't these the couples responsible for the 50% divorce rate? Isn't divorce a greater societal problem than having a bunch of homosexuals running around with wedding rings and jointly filing taxes?

Sensing makes some super strong points that I agree with: 1) The roots of marriage are prehistory, as a social contract between man and women to propogate the species. Therefore, marriage does not exist because of a government contract. Legitimate government molds itself to accept the marriage contract and to encourage it. The same goes for religious instutions. 2) The value of the marriage contract shifted with the advent of the pill. Women no longer fear being pregnant and alone, the primary reason for withholding sex, in exchange for marriage (ie be taken care of financially etc.)

"Marriage" as defined by the state (or by a religious institution) therefore, needs to have a shifting definition as technological and sociological changes occur. Sensing argues that "marriage" as defined by the state and church went out "40 years ago," with the pill. No longer did marital vows mean the same thing. Homosexual marriage hightlights what has already occurred, the need to redefine marriage in the age of sexual liberation. One suggestion is to ban "marriage" as defined by the state altogether - make everything a civil union - for tax and property purposes. Sounds good to me. The other suggestion, by Sensing is that religion gets out of the marriage business and leaves it to the state. Sounds fine to me also. The state can still call it marriage, but the true meaning is essentially the same as a civil union.

The private aspect of marriage will always be that...private, two people sharing their lives together. The public aspect of marriage, these days, is basically a big expensive party and a contractual financial relationship. Any adult, straight or gay, ought to be able to have a big expensive party, jointly file taxes, and bequeth their books and furniture to whomever they want - shoot, they don't even need to be sexual partners as far as I'm concerned, they can simply be roommates...which probably is the case for a lot of married couples.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Commie Propaganda

On the way home from school today I listened to 90.7 KPFK and was amazed at the argument I heard by a featured guest. This guy argued, among other things, that the US Embassy's all around the world were doing a disservice to countries when they were involved in building schools, wells for water, or other type of infrastructure projects to help assist the countries development. He argued that while on a small scale, these projects helped, in the long run, they distracted talented citizens from making structural reforms. The projects enlist the young intelligencia of the home countries, keep them occupied and focused on short-term projects, instead of looking at larger structural problems (IE: The United States) and making reforms. WHAT?!?

Apparently, he thinks the only worthwhile occupation for a young smart person is to be an anti-American, anti-globalization, anti-modernization activist. Why should someone waste their talent and energy making sure their community has clean water, decent textbooks, a community center, or paved roads? God forbid.

And since when is the US Embassy hiring all the intelligent folks in a single country? I'd like to see some numbers, but somehow I imagine there are intelligent, talented folks in every single country around the world that don't work as "puppets" of the US Embassy or government. Just a guess.

The left wing agenda has been hijacked by absurdists. To me, the basic difference between the right and left is this: the left believes that WE, meaning Americans (and one can extend it to the whole world), have more in common than we do in opposition....meaning that all people, regardless of race, class, gender, fundamentally have similar wants and needs. We need safety. We want fairness and justice and opportunity.

The right, on the other hand, thinks we are all fundamentally different. In order to safeguard our differences, we must protect ourselves and our interests and expect everyone to do the same. We don't shoot guns at other people because we will either be arrested or shot back.

Now I like to believe in the left, but I think the right has something valuable to offer when dealing with tyrants and bully's. The hijacked left does not understand that...and so much so, that not only does it not recognize a threat when it is right in the face (ie terrorism) but it goes so far as to find an alternative bully/threat that is at worst a big clumbsy buearacracy subject to manipulation as are all buearacracies- the US government. I cannot fathom what the world would look like without the United States. I don't understand why people think in absense of US power, the world would suddenly sink into a delightful harmony without any injustice, without any reason to crave power, or desire to murder thy neighbor. The US played "isolationist" from it's inception - what happened around the rest of the world? The French Revolution, including the reign of terror. Napolean tried to conquer Europe. Fast forward to the 20th century and Europe nearly tried to kill itself in WWI. The Turks committed the Armenian genocide. WWII featured the Nazi's-nough said and the Japanese raping and pillaging China and Korea and the Phillipines. Stalinist Russia. Pol Pot. Idi Amin. Mussolini. Saddam Hussein. I wish I knew more history, but it seems to me the world is not a delightful place and I hardly think that building wells in other countries qualifies as a transgression of an imperial power seeking Empire.....(and remind me what's so wrong with an Empire anyway? If it brings peace, prosperity, freedom, and opportunity...isn't that better than nationalism? Am I crazy about this?)

The knee jerk reaction from the hijackers of the left are: look at all the horrible things America has done, killed the Native Americans, enslaved the African Americans, Japanese Internments, HUAC, etc etc... and these are all truly bad things. But I think the major difference is that while America gets it wrong sometimes, we try to correct it. And this is not a left or right thing, we all, as American's have a sense of fairness and justice. We were wrong about slavery and we abolished it. Not only that, but racism persisted and we've nearly licked that problem - just look at the progress in 50 years. Look at the diversity of our best Universities. No other country has our diversity and our acceptance of other cultures. Little is said about inter-African slavery, which still exists. Little is said about the caste system in India that existed before the British, little is said about Korean comfort women for the Japanese.

Whatever. I don't want to be associated with people who are so deluded to think the US government is the cause of most of the world problems. For some reason, they've taken what started as a healthy dose of self-examination and self-criticism and turned it into a self-hatred and condescention towards other Americans and the rest of the responsible world. It's too bad they've taken a good thing (the left) and morphed it into something so utterly wrong and pathetic.
The $ of the 1st Amendment

My friend and classmate, Chuck sent me a link for In Chuck's words, "(the) main idea is that corporations should not be perceived as "individuals" with constitutional rights as this leads to all kinds of corporate abuse. Probably the most obvious example is corporations claiming that their right to free speech is being impinged upon if the government limits their campaign contribution amounts."

Before I wrote my senior thesis on Irony and Politics, a case study on Seinfeld, I actually wrote a prospectus on a thesis entitled Corporate Control of the 1st Amendment. I remember thinking the US legal system has a good understanding of free speech, breaking speech into different categories: 1) Political Speech 2) Advertising Speech 3) Hate Speech and so on...I'll put up a link to Cass Sunstein or some other Con Law expert on this later. But the general idea is certain speech has full protection, ie Political and Artistic - see Skokie - the case of the neo-Nazi's marching versus say, advertising speech, which does not have full protection because of the potential misleading harms associated with false advertising. Example: false advertising for over the counter drugs. And then we have the examples of hate speech or directly harmful speech, best exemplified by crying "fire" in a crowded theatre having no constitutional protection at all.

But what Chuck raises is the truer, real world problem which no laws can adequately solve- the issue of money=speech. The right to free speech is not the right to be listened to - and those individuals or corporations with money and access to channels of speech, TV, Radio, Movies, Newspapers, etc, etc, can and will drown out the voice of the smaller man with an original thought or two. As I mentioned in an earlier post regarding music sharing, the ultimate solution will be a business solution, whereby the channels of speech become cheap to the point where one will not need to own a TV station or theatre to show films...and nor will someone need to own a newspaper to print. And you can guess by how you are reading this, how I imagine this will happen....and in fact, has already started to happen - the internet.

I should follow more closely what is happening in Iran right now, where the mullah's are trying to crack down on internet publishing and usage so Iranians cannot congregate in a free environment and share ideas. The battle should help us analyze what tactics will be used in the future to try to tame and control and profit the use of the internet in this country - and the clever ways Iranians will get around it.

But if you want your own newspaper to espouse opinions or report impartially, all you need is a weblog and a digital camera and some time and some diligence and you can speak all you want. The only challenge is still getting someone to listen, but I don't think it takes mega-money, just having something interesting to say and learning how to say it.

And one more note regarding campaign contributions - see Howard Dean. I know he just dropped out of the race, but he raised (and misspent) more money than any other Democratic candidate, not by corporate donors, but through the internet. Like I said, the answers aren't in more laws, but more freedom, freedom to develop ideas, technology, and business models.
NICE. Howard Stern is gaining a lot of popularity post-9/11...he and his people are becoming more and more relevant as a political and social voice. His 9/11 show still is one of the most amazing accounts I've ever heard on radio.
Although this is nice to see, a legal counter-sue of the record companies, ultimately this will be solved in the business sphere, whereby someone (perhaps Apple and Itunes) figures out how to profit from Web based music.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Watched Blackboard Jungle (1955) today in class, a "social problem" film about a new teacher in a rough school who brings out the good in the ruffians. Sidney Poitier plays a tough, but decent kid, who's nearly given up on learning. His acting talent is unquestionable. But also impressive was Vic Morrow, who stood out as the bad kid, a vagrant, biting his nails and mumbling with a bronx accent, doing anything to subvert the possibility of a decent learning environment.

We've been learning interesting things in this American Sound Cinemna class - I didn't know that prior to HUAC Hollywood in general had been middle of the road Republican. After HUAC, Hollywood felt betrayed and swung to the far left, where it has stayed.

During the same period, censorship boards, from Churches to states, to cities, used to team up against reviewers and artists on controversial pictures. Subjects such as abortion, rape, miscengenation, were taboo. Ironically, the issue over the Passion of the Christ, the Mel Gibson movie soon to come out pits religious groups and artists (Mel) together, against movie reviewers and pro-Jewish groups. Talk about shift in dynamic.
Some thoughts on blogging from Glenn Reynolds, courtesy of Jared.
This would make a bad movie.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

I just watched a discovery channel show on the Israel fence/wall being built in and around the West Bank. The host of the documentary was Tom Friedman. The most memorable part of the show was when Tom met with several young Palestinian men, all of whom offered the party line, "Life's not much worth living in the West Bank, being constantly humiliated and caged in, why not become a martyr?"

One young man was saying that all Palestinian children were being bred to become martyrs. As he spoke he quivered. He was a scared boy - but at the same time, a tragic day away from blowing up a bus.

The Palestinian's remind me of someone you want to care about, but who keep hurting themself, so caring for them ends up hurting. It makes you want to care less.

I don't think all these people in Israel and Palestine are crazy, I just think they get the details wrong time and time again. These details add up and accummulate and over time allow cancers, like terrorism to fester and grow. The soldier who makes a young man strip in front of girls, the parent who does not denounce a suicide bomber, the strategic military planner who structures the fence around "Palestinian" land, the Palestinian politician who won't stand up to terrorist leaders, the Arab kid who throws stones at Jewish kids, the Jewish settler who cites the word of God for giving him the right to be in ancient Judea. These people are all culpable and partially responsible for the mess.

I firmly believe that the world functions by many people getting the details right. Making sure others get a fair shake, a decent opportunity, and so on. I guess the job of a social and political system is to maximize the reward to individuals for doing these details right and to not reward skimping on those details.

Monday, February 16, 2004

After barely moving to school on the 110 on Sunday - that's right, major traffic on SUNDAY, I had an idea for legislation: Impose mandatory carpools. This would cure dual problems in LA - friendliness with neighbors and traffic. If you want to go to the beach, you would be required to go with someone else. Or to lunch. Or wherever people were going. I think we'd be better off.

How would it be enforced? With an iron fist.
I love it when SF is front page CNN. And for what else? Gay marriage. I never understood the problem with civil unions. It keeps up the illusion of marriage as some sort of sacred, long standing tradition between a man and a woman and allows gay couples to have the same rights as straight couples. Compromise-everyone should be happy, except for the crazies on the right and the screamers on the left, which I prefer to leave unhappy.

If I were gay, I wouldn't need affirmation from the state to tell me my relationship is legitimate - but the legal rights, that's what I would be after. So in that sense, a civil union and a gay marriage would be the selfsame thing. But that's just me. Maybe I'd feel differently if I was a) married or b) wanted to be married or c) actually gay.

I guess the difference between being "married" vs having a civil union, is the overt acceptance in the eyes of society - the public acknowledgement that it is normal for some people to be gay.

I can see how this would matter to people, and if I had to pick a side - the side that needs public acknowledgement vs. the side that wants to dictate what free adults can do with their own lives, I think it's pretty obvious with whom I'd stand....

....but here's another idea, what about banning marriage all together??? The tradition itself is rooted in primitive ideas of gender and relationships. Why are single people punished for being single, with our laws and social customs imposing undue pressure and financial incentives towards getting married? Why not argue that the very institution of marriage causes undue harm to families broken by infidelity- perhaps a natural occurrence, the attraction to multitudes of people.

Ask a single 25-35 year old what they spend time stressing about and I guarantee marriage comes up. Is this a necessary or useful stress?
I just got a $200 check from the State of California after Gov Arnold repealed the Vehicle License Fee. Hmmmm. I am certainly going to cash it....
I'm reading From Here to Eternity and loving it completely. The class I'm reading it for, American Sound Cinema is taught by the highest paid professor in America, Drew Casper, so I'm told. He's a great lecturer/performer, pacing, beating and proclaiming, "A film is meant to watched in a theatre--in a COMMUNITY! Not at home on a VCR!"

He theorizes that the post-Classical era of Hollywood, 1946-1962, witnessed among many things, the fall of the America male, who has never recovered. Men are broken, bruised, and battered post WWII and FHTE demonstrates it like films of the period. Prew, stubborn and young, unwilling to conform, will undoubtedly be broken by the end of the novel--as will all of them once they engage in WWII.

It reminds me of Rio Bravo, the bruised and broken men, the Dean Martin character, but also Wayne and certainly Walter Brennen, the cripple. And Ricki Nelsen who will soon have his cockiness beaten out of him with age...

And how that applies to now, the present, the broken American male? to be cont
Got this interview from Jeff Jarvis via Instapundit. The buruea chief of Foxnews Germany is correct about blogging, the voices tend to be more conservative and libertarian. The appeal of these voices is that they supply a diversity of ideas that big media lacks. I was sick of reading superficial liberal articles about 9/11 and Iraq up in San Fran while I was living there. I started reading Foreign Affairs and Weblogs to get more quality information and interesting perspectives. It's the best reading I've found in years.

The left, of which I've been a member for nearly all my life, has become a haven for small minded preachers, espousing one perspective and insulting all others as position rooted in stupidity and/or selfish personal gain. The left, although correct about many things, is deeply flawed in its paranoid view of the right. And I cannot understand why they the left has so much contempt for most American's whom they feel are stupid and need to be told what to do and how to think. Why they insist on thinking the supporters of the Iraq war were just swept up in National pride and would follow Bush in whatever he wanted? Where are these Americans? Who are these Americans? Because the Americans I know, rich, poor, white, black, brown, yellow, green, tend not to be stupid. At least no more stupid than any other people.....

Sunday, February 15, 2004

We finished principal shooting on the Math Tutor this weekend. My DP and I are working well together and the movie should be a lot of fun. I had a case of PSD, post-shooting-depression this afternoon, this huge emotional drop after finishing an aspect of the project you've put so much time an energy into...I slept for three hours.

We've still got to do sound, edit, and do a few pick up shots, but the large, administrative and organizational aspect to shooting is complete.
I just typed Public Musings into google and my blog came up third. Pretty cool. I haven't figured out my site tracker, yet to see if I have any real traffic.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Some good advice on getting a readership.
Al Queda spy in the national guard with past ties to militant groups in US....a copy cat Kip Kinkle (killed his parents and took the gun to school to shoot classmates) this guy was stopped before going to an elementary school near his house, but was not arrested. Why the hell not? There has to be a law about bringing a gun around a school....

After absorbing 9/11, I kept thinking about Columbine...the perpetrators, seem to me to be cut from the same cloth - middle class frustration and hatred towards the world. Michael Moore draws the same connection in Bowling for Columbine.

What I wish the Muslim world would understand is that it has NOTHING to do with Islam, this hatred, this urge to murder. Why can they not address the problem in Palestine, in Saudi Arabia, in Pakistan, or in Iran? At least we try to address it here and make no excuses for the perpetrators, the Tim McVeigh's and Dylan Klebolds. Clearly we are not all that successful - Columbine, Kip K, Oklahoma City happened. But we are yet to export this violence to other countries. And we recognize that the sane people of the world, Atheists, Christian, Muslims, Jews, whatever, should be fighting this together.

I guess part of the problem is, I have no idea THIS is, what drives the anger in these kids.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

This does not surprise me. Good news doesn't sell. That's the bullet network news stations bit once they became profitable. Next time I hear anyone talk about how movies encourage violence in a drawn out study on adolescent behaviour, I'm going to point out how news stations directly encourage terrorism by reporting it so disproportionately.
"An unusual and intriguing film night..." -my film prof.

Gee, that Reflections of Evil looks awesome, too bad it was on the 26th of Jan. I'll have to track it down.
This is cute Fresh air re: LA. Despite it's reputation, LA does have a good alterna-crowd...led by KCRW and the east of hollywood scene - these arty types make it happen and end up being relevant as well...Sophia and Spike in Los Feliz, Quentin T penning R-Dogs in house of pies. It happens out here. It's not all Michael Bay and Britney Spears.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Affirmative Action bake sale. Linked from Glenn Reynolds.

This must be a nationwide thing because today at USC I walked by a bake sale by a women's group selling cookies for $0.75 for women and $1.00 to men - to point out wage inequality. I was with three film school classmates, 2 guys and a girl. The guys reaction: get the over yourselves. A bunch of upper middle class women whining about lower wages? Give me a break. Of all the people in the world with a legitmate gripe, the women at USC don't have much to complain about - and certainly no less than the men at USC.

If anything, overweight, ugly people ought to be getting cheaper cookies. They have a rougher time getting jobs than good looking folks, men or women.

I guess the bake sale tactic is catching on with different groups with different agendas.
My first unsolicited response!

"I read.  Yours (still waiting for some really incendiary comments) and Sweaty Palms' (just to see if she writes any more shit).  So there."

-From Erin Montanes, my former coworker

Not much in terms of commentary, but response none the less. I'll take it! Regarding Sweaty Palms...this was Erin's former roommate with some type of glandular problem. When I first met Erin's roommate at an Celerity happy hour, she refused to shake my hand, which I took as a rude affront. Erin told me about her affliction, which seemed to me a bullshit excuse, but at least a creative one. Later, I discovered she in did in fact have a sweaty palms problem, not to mention a host of others....I don't think Erin ever forwarded her my suggestion that she carry around gymnist chalk in her pockets - which would have been WAY cool.

In any case, I heard an advertisement on the radio the other day for the sweaty palm problem...I'm surprised it took me 24 years to ever hear about this thing.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Here's the lineup for coachella. I can't get it off the internet, but somehow they know I've been going the last couple of years and sent me an email. Sorry, it's not all that readable. This is the best event I've been going beats the hell out of Sundance, which I've ditched the last two years, even though I think it's generally a great time. Every year at coachella I learn a ton about music. The new music I hear there tends to last me throughout the terms of bands worth exploring and checking out. That's coming from someone who doesn't pride himself on being a huge music buff. Highlighted are bands I'm currently interested in. I'm sure some of the others are majorly cool and I've just not heard them yet...

Saturday, May 1st
The Pixies
The (International) Noise Conspiracy
The Rapture
Desert Sessions
Future Sound of London
And you will know us by The Trail of Dead
Death Cab for Cutie
Laurent Garnier
LCD Soundsystem
Living Legends
Sander Kleinenberg
Black Keys
The Sounds
Howie Day
Junior Senior
Mark Farina
Moving Units
Sahara Hotnights
Electric Six
The Stills
Seb Fontaine
Juana Molina
Phantom Planet
Q and not U
Erase Errata
The Section Quartet
DJ Icon

Sunday May 2nd:
The Cure
The Flaming Lips
Belle & Sebastian
Basement Jaxx
Paul Van Dyk
Bright Eyes
Le Tigre
The Crystal Method
Dizzee Rascal
Adam Freeland
2many Dj's
Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra
The Thrills
Broken Social Scene
The Sleepy Jackson
Ferry Corsten
Prefuse 73
The Cooper Temple Clause
Sage Francis
T. Raumschmiere
The Killers
Home Town Hero
The Section Quartet

Opt Out of Goldenvoice emails
I haven't posted much on the primaries, because I haven't been too opinionated on the whole thing. I liked Clark for awhile, but I think it was mostly because I didn't like anyone else. I guess it's down to Kerry and Edwards. I've got no deep problems with either one, but neither are really inspiring. Of course, the most interesting thing is the fall of Dean. It's bizarre how the world hoists these people up so high, only to bring them crashing back to earth so quickly.

People are mean. They love front runners and hate people who are floundering and struggling. I'm the opposite - distrust frontrunners (or more accurately, the credit they are given) and tend to root for the underdog. I don't think I'm a better person for this, it's probably Freud's narcissistic origin of compassion...I give credit to the failure, because I hope people would do the same for me if in the position. I probably like to bring down the frontrunner because I'm jealous.
Because I'm sort of an idiot and can't figure out how to have a "favorite blogs" sidebar, I'm doing a post as a blog link. I'll figure it out sometime...

Here's a friend from college, Jared.

Here's another college friend, Eric which is more of a personal journal.

Here's my film school friends posting board, which no one uses anymore since our 508 semester started. (Everyone is shooting a 16MM film with a partner - it's a time consuming semester). Oh by the way, you can't post on this site, or it'll be too many people. If you REALLY want to respond to something, email it to me and I'll get it up there. Since no one reads my blog and responds, I'll venture to guess this situation will NEVER arise - meaning someone reads my blog (not happening) and links to my recommended blog (unlikely) and then feels the urge to post to a group of pretentious film schoolers (even more unlikely). But, stranger things have happened, and like I said, send it to me and it'll get up.

Among the popular blogs, my favorites are: Instapundit and Dan Drezner

Update: A friend of a friend has a blog.

UPDATE: Chuck started a blog.
This ought to be interesting.

My basic feeling about infidelity is that it sucks, but not quite as much as everyone makes it out to...

A couple of examples: This girl I knew in college was dating a guy. She's was a smart girl, sexually 'advanced' I'd say, and she made out with another guy to "Test how she and her boyfriend felt about each other." At first, it sounded bizarre and like a bullshit excuse to act selfishly, but in hindsight it makes sense in a weird way.

The other example is a personal one. I was "seeing" a girl whom I found out "hooked up" with another guy. We weren't too serious, but it pissed me off immensely - not just the pride fucking with you pissed off - but a genuine hurt bordering on betrayal. It forced me to confront the issue: that I LIKED this girl - and we had an all out yelling match, laying MOST of the cards on the table regarding the relationship - things neither of us had much courage to say before. It still is one of the most honest and best conversations I've had with a girl in my life...and I remember it both partially because of the girl, but also because I'm proud of myself for being honest with one. It's not all that easy.

Now I realize these relationships don't necessarily correlate to the special relationship that is marriage. "Dating" someone by definition, allows for seeing other people, whereas marriage by definition, does not - boyfriend, girlfriend being the middle ground. However, these lessons we learn from dating and having significant others are the groundwork lessons we will later apply to marriage. As much as I distrust the cheating, lying, bastard boyfriend, I don't find the overly possessive, pity-struck, pussy boyfriend much better. See A Place in the Sun and tell me who's more of an asshole - Montgomery Clift or Shelley Winters.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Shot my second weekend of my film, "The Math Tutor" today. I planned on 30 shots, which my producer repeated to one of my classmates. His response: "Thirty?!?" Anyway, needless to say, we got 18 done and I was happy with the shoot overall. We have to go back to Whittier next weekend to shoot at my dad's cousin's house - who has been nice enough to let us completely take over and use her house as a set. My partner and I are becoming known as the "one-shot wonders" for our minimal use of film and going with the first take. I dunno, it seems to work for me - being a cheap bastard, that is.

Friday, February 06, 2004

So I made a point of watching Bill Mahar tonight since I read Andrew Sullivan was going to be on. I wanted to see this blogger rock star in person (the only I guy I'd be more interested in seeing is Glenn Reynolds). I expected a young, small guy, real quick, snappy, cogent and not obviously homosexual dude. Don't ask me why, it's just what I expected, from his writing.

Instead, I was suprized to see a middle aged, rather stocky, bearded man, clearly possessing the homosexual gene (ie not a phoney homo -- you meet a lot of these in California - guys who really aren't gay, they just rock the gay lifestyle for whatever reason, can't get girls, like to party, need some love, etc, etc.) He had the full on homo lisp, which affects how his argument sounds vs. how he writes. Also picked up on a Britishness (unrelated to the homo lisp...okay, bad joke) in his voice, checked and confirmed that he is, in fact, British.

By end of the show, I though he did well. At the beginning, he seemed rather uncomfortable and not all that cool. He was dressed very averagely, didn't appear done up compared to the other guests...Rob Schnider and Carol Mosley Braun...and especially not as much as Mahar. But that's LA and Washington vs. journalists/academics, I guess. TV programs and audiences still have these leftover expectations of smooth, effortless performances, of people laughing it up, comfortable as can be, not taking things seriously, which still pervades programming. Mahar has it nailed down. Sullivan does not. Sullivan looked a little angry, a little perturbed, a little uncool. Those things work well for him writing - his writing is exciting, opinionated, curt, and to the point. These things don't look as good on TV, I guess. Irreverence and jokiness play better.

It's interesting, Sullivan knows his shit. If I had to read a paragraph on practically anything in the world from Mahar, Schnider, Mosley Braun, or Sullivan, I'd read Sullivan in a heartbeat - I'd probably read Sullivan's four times rather than read his + the other three. But you ask me to watch TV and Mahar is a whole lot more fun to see up there spouting his mouth's smooth, and funny, and digestable.

It just goes to show we need people of all shapes, sizes, and talents to help teach and inform each other, to smooth out the voices of each other, to make our positions appealing, and to find common ground. The end of the show was great, I saw Rob S leaning over, really digging on Sullivan talking about gay marriage. Sullivan was cracking up at Mahar's top 10 things Democrat's say to their wives. It was cool to see.
I've been trying to articulate this for awhile, but TCS does in so much more depth and insight than I'm capable of.

To me, it all starts with the right and left in American politics right seems to be completely backwards - the Right having the progressive policies and the Left arguing for the conservative status quo, particularly on the Iraq War. But it can be extended further, much further and this article does that quite effectively. This libertarian vs. communitarian is an old debate, though, stemming from intepretations of the constitution - Liberty vs. Equality. Which is a prerequisite for which?

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I just came up with a hypothetical situation with my roommate which I rather liked. We agree on most things politically, with the MAJOR glaring exception being the Iraq war, which I was in favor of and he vehemently opposed. But here's the sitution:

You have an American Al Queda sympathizer with lots of resources. He has publically stated his support of 9/11 and Al Queda. He admitedly would commit a suicide attack if given the chance. He has not, however, broken any laws. He has never taken any steps to contact anyone that would help him commit a terrorist act or offered his help. He has no bombs, no ability to carry out the suicide bombing, yet. We also know that we cannot track everything he does. He has too many resources to be able to keep 100% watch on. What do we do?

His argument is that we can't do anything. In the absense of having broken any laws, we have to err on the side of caution and justice.

I'm not sure. I don't feel comfortable having a guy like that running around. My inclination is to lock him up and say, look dude, "I'm sorry, this ain't exactly fair, but I can't run the risk.

This is basically a debate between viewing terrorists as enemies(war) or criminals. I think pre-9/11 we mistakenly treated them as criminals.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

It's embarrassing, I haven't blogged in so long. I didn't have much of a readership, so I doubt if I alienated anyone. In any case, I'd like to continue. Starting with something random....a couple of websites that list EMOTIONS (Aristole's and Wikipedia). These are of course, important to filmmaking.