Thursday, June 30, 2005

One Disagreement

I know what they are trying to say, but I would contend that Mr. Reynolds IS a major part of the modern media.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Style and Ideology

Mathew Yglesias has a pretty cool post about the different styles of liberal vs. conservative (or dovish vs. hawkish) blogs.

The basic gist is that conservative/hawkish blogs tend to be run by a single person (or small group) [Instapundit and Powerline] whereas liberal blogs tend to be more community and comment based. [Kos and Atrios]

He makes some interesting observations about this development, check out the link.

I'm curious if whether these stylistic differences influence ideology. I MUCH prefer reading single author sites. I actually find Kos tremendously confusing to read and have troube understanding who has posted what. Maybe I'm stupid. But I just generally prefer hearing a particular voice on issues, as opposed to some sort of community amalgum. We had this film forum set up for our 507 class, which I initially liked, but soon got annoyed with because I found it a bit choatic, like everyone started shouting at once. It quickly died out, I'm wondering whether it had to do with other people's similar sentiments, or whether people just got too busy. (*note, if something is community based, there is also a lack of ownership and therefore folks stop maintaining - see, our living room my sophomore year in college, and the fall of communism)

But I wonder if this little stylistic thing has contributed to my own swing slightly right. Or maybe it was 9/11.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tom Cruise Kills Oprah

See it here.

If the link doesn't work, cut and paste:
Goahead, What the Fuck?

Are you kidding me? These guys need to wait for a go ahead to get Bin Laden????? Are you freaking crazy? Would Al Queda wait for a go ahead to detonate a nuke in a US or British city? I would argue that if we get a chance to capture or kill OBL that we act swiftly and decisively, even if we risk taking large casualties and costing a lot of money. It's one of those major, major risks well worth taking.

Here is the CNN story on Porter Goss claiming he has a good idea where OBL is. Am I the only one who thinks all this weak link stuff is a bunch of bullshit? He's a wanted man and if we can capture him, we should get him asap. What the hell are we waiting for? The operational capacity? The will? This reeks of the bureaucratic bullshit that could cause us to lose the war on terror. Get BL and it takes the wind out of the's that simple. His boldness is a result of his successes, not his ideology. If we destroy his record of successes, and start having our own, we will win.
I Will Read

Haven't been reading like a lot lately, I blame Ian McEwan for boring me. This French writer, Michel Houellebecq, sounds awesome. One of his suggestions - dull, rich, western males should go to 3rd world countries where there are plenty of beautiful woman willing to marry a dullard if he provides a good living. Genius, almost sounds like something I would say at a dinner party just to get a reaction from my liberal friends.
Because I Must

V. Postrel writes on the Kelo case.

I imagine this case eroding the perceived legitimacy of the Court moreso than Bush-Gore.

The other notable case, to me, is the file sharing case, where the court ruled 9-0 against peer to peer networks. I can't say I disagree with the ruling, I just think the whole file-swap sharing issue is being handled the wrong way by the record companies. This is a problem requiring a business, not legal, solution.

Monday, June 27, 2005

The Big Fix

A decent blogger who gets links from Instapundit, Robert Simon, is a screenwriter in Hollywood. I checked his filmography and it turns out his first feature was the Big Fix, directed by none other than our own Jeremy Kagan. A potential movie night film...
Female Al Queda Operative

A long, strange, account of a possible women Al Queda operative with a degree from MIT and Brandais. She is currently missing. One theory is her identity was stolen, another theory is she was kidnapped and killed by ISI, another is that she is in hiding.

A quiet, devout, student, she is suspected as being a facilitator, helping Al Queda in the US. She knows English and may have been involved in a diamond smuggling operation that helped to fund Al Queda attacks in the US. Khalid Sheik Mohammed gave up her name to interogators, after her husband and her were already interviewed by the FBI. It is also theorized that she was a double agent for ISI and Al Queda and that she might have been a link to a high level ISI agent who is helping Al Queda - and was killed to hide his identity.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Broken Flowers

Really liked this film I saw as part of the LA Film Festival. The new Jarmusch film with Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Joan Allen, Jeffery Wright, Chloe Sevigny, and these two great young actresses - Pell James and Alexis Dziena. I enjoyed the film, a story about Murray going around trying to find the woman who wrote a mysterious letter to him about a potential 20 year old son he may have. Murray's performance was the most boring, he's doing the same version of himself he started with Wes Anderson's films and continued with in Lost in Translation, only he went even further with his American Male Malaise. The highlights were in a series of other performances, specifically by Jeffrey Wright, who as far as my film school friends I can could tell, was doing an impersonation of Vacham for the whole movie.

The movie is a travel film, Murray goes around to visit his old girlfriends to find clues to see whether they may have sent him the letter. It started off great, then went a bit downhill, but was a good movie overall.

On another note, as I have been writing on the economics of going to the movies. The film cost $10 as part of the festival - all right, doable, right. But then we discover upon getting there that we need to pay $6 additional to park. Outrageous. Apparently, they added the cost just for the film festival. Huh? So it costs $16 to see a movie, plus whatever concessions (I got popcorn). So I spent $20 to see a film. It's a good movie and all, but very, very small. Why would most people spend $20 to see a $5 million dollar film? $20 is the price for a ride, not a movie, so Hollywood tries to make it's money on films like Star Wars and Batman. And they are pricing out indy movies because why would an audience pay so much to see a regular-like film. It's very fucked up. I feel no guilt whatsoever for sneaking into double features, or bringing in food anymore. I feel like there should be all out rebellion against the outrageous prices of movies that are destroying one of the most beloved American institutions.
Can't Help It

As much as I don't really want to talk about Tom Cruise and as much as I don't like linking to sites that require viewing an ad or paying, there is a weird-ass funny article on Tom Cruise on the front page of Salon, with a fabulous picture.

The gist of the article - Tom Cruise's recent weirdo behaviour might have to do with being promoted into the upper echelons of the Church.
Coffee Changing the World

Well, okay, that's a bit much, it just help stir up the Enlightenment.
I Thought I Was A Liberal

But I read and tend to agree with most of the conservative or libertarian blogs. Hmmm.

Anyhow, I wish this was an overreaction of the part of conservatives, but sadly, I can only confirm that I've heard similar assasinate Bush talk - right after the election. Granted, it was only by one guy, but I was shocked how freely he felt speaking in such terms, with such anger and hatred.

A convert story. Again, very similar to me. Am I supposed to start worshiping Reagan or something? Dammit.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Iranians and Al Queda

I hope this is true. I'd rather deal with the Iranians than Al Queda.

We might have to pay a big cost to get them, but we should get these guys and prosecute all of them - showing the world who they are and who we are.

PS - I can barely listen to left, right, and center anymore because I find them all to be incredibly annoying, including USCs own Bob Shearer and certain Arianna Huffington and even that Tony guy pretty much sucks. It seems to me they never frame the arguments in a way that makes it interesting.
Total Mindfuck

This Kelo decision is a tad confusing to us judicially challenged folks, but I think I get the gist of it, and it's a total mindfuck. George Will does a pretty good job of explaining. Here is the NY Times article on the decision.

The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that local government was able to claim property from private owners if they were "justly compensated." That is, if a local government says, "we need to build roads or make public spaces that will benefit the community as a whole, we have the right to "pay off" private landowners." Sounds a little commie to me, but at the same time, the government has a right to make things better for the citizens of a community, if say, one crotchety person insists on making things worse...and it's not like land is stolen or seized, but rather compensated. This is also used for environmental regulations, empowering the local government to make sure private land is not harming the public good.

BUT, and here is where it gets interesting, is that in this particular case, the land that is justly compensated is not technically for "public use." Instead, it for pharmacutical giant Pfizer, who wants to build a plant that will employ thousands of folks from this depressed community. The local government is saying, we must have this land to build the plant to employ our citizens who are poor and hungry. a big company is forcing small home owners to sell their property to them to make a big factory? Doesn't this sound like the plot of a Western?

All right, so how do the traditional parties and ideologies interpret this one?

Conservatives, generally viewed as big business advocates AND proponents of judicial restraint, ought to side with Pfzier and the local government - because that would mean the court refuses to intervene with the legislature and big business interests are maintained.

Liberals, on the other hand, should be in favor of the little guy against the big corporation, and are in favor of judicial activism, should encourage the court to intervene and not allow these poor folks to have their property sold if they don't want to sell.

Right? Well, just the opposite occurred, for different reasons altogether.

Conservative justices, O'Conner, Scalia, Rehnquist, and Scalia dissented (I don't know all the details, but apparently O'Conner wrote a scathing dissent) that this law is an abuse of the Takings Clause and that the government cannot forcibly take land from a private individual, that this is a fundamental check on government power and against the framers "Original intention," a cornerstone of conservative jurisprudence. Furthermore, O'Conner worries that land will be seized by corporations and other powerful entities who have "influence" with local governments and encourages local governments to favor rich entities who can pay higher tax amounts.

On the other hand, the more Liberal justices were in favor of the law because it is the right of a local government to spur on development and empower the cities to act in the "public" interest. In this case, the city has determined that it is in the public interest to have a Pfizer plant.

This is tough, tough stuff that I think breaks down all sorts of party and ideological lines. Does this mean LA could pass a law requiring apartment owners to sell their places so Walmart can move in? I guess so. That's pretty wild stuff.

At the same time, in a crumbling, shitty city, the local government ought to be able to make a difference by finding ways to get jobs to the people.

I'd love comments on this one. (just saying that probably means I won't get any).

UPDATE: A forbes/cnn article on the subject. Daily Kos weighs in. I wish it weren't true, but I'm pretty sure the left forms opinions by looking at the right and then choosing the opposite. If the left had any sense of humor, it would see the similarities with George Costanza logic...
What's that Shakespeare Line?

He doth protest too much, or something.

"I'm happy, I swear, I'm really, really, REALLY happy."

I'm glad this is on the front page of the NY Times website, instead of say...this - a trial in South Florida where a Palestinian Professor is accused to being an Islamic Jihad mastermind and fundraiser. (thanks, Instapundit.

On a similar note, my father and I also spoke about the general downturn of big media sources, TV, movies, and newspapers. He reads the SF Chronicle and Wall Street Journal every day, out of habit, he says. But he's noticed, particularly with the Chronicle that it's gotten smaller. Less advertising because there's no money in it. They are always cutting back on staff. Clearly, sales are down. I don't read newspapers out of habit, I read blogs. But I guarantee I read more than 1 newspaper a day in blog articles (when I'm not in production). On TV, he says, he finds it very hard to get into and follow any of the shows. And movies, well, we've been discussing that a lot lately already on Public Musings.

I love how the big media, reacts, however - by making Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson the headlines, no wonder people go to alternative sources. And movies - make "sure bets" like Mr. and Mrs. Smith or Cinderella Man, because it's too risky to make F 9/11 or Passion of the Christ. That's real smart, prolong a nice, slow, steady decline. And TV, jesus, just go for the quick reality tv show buck, hope and pray to make the bottom line.
Evil Bureaucrats
At work today we discuss the issue of booze at Trojan Football games. People in favor of such lame-ass policies point to the rest of the Pac-10 - no booze at any stadiums. The Trojans are the exception.

Is this the world we want? Is it the world we imagine? Who decides these things?

Deep down, I'm pretty sure I know the answer. USC has some problems at football games with drunkards. Prissy, mealy mouthed, pussies complain about the problem, instead of dealing with the annoying drunkards face to face. Instead of figuring out a way to confront the a-holes who create drunken problems at the football games, the bureaucrats say, "let's eliminate serving booze and hopefully the problems will go away."

They don't even consider what it says about our lives and our attitude towards life when we make such rules. I've seen this consistantly with institutions my whole life. They punish everyone for a few bad apples because they're too damn lazy to figure out a way to make things better for everyone. The film school is the same way - we make a tremendous number of rules to cover our ass, creating a suffocating environment and nearly impossible to make making movies easy. Part of me wants to try to change things at SPO to make it easier on people, but another part of me is like - is it worth my time? Seriously. Why should I spend my own time trying to fix things, when I can float along, collect my stipend and make my own movies. Just follow along, don't ask questions, don't cause any trouble...

70-90 year old bloggers talking shit and blogging on my space. Two words: Bad Ass.

So let me get this straight - we spend 400,000 G's to stop a cockfight and for about 500,000 G's OBL is able to blow up the twin towers and the pentagon.

Rumor has it there was a USC documentary project about cockfighting several years ago that abhorred the faculty - for moral reasons of course. I'd like to see it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Nate's Well Earned Response

Nate has been writing and commenting a lot lately on the carelessness of the Bush administrations handling of the Iraq war effort.

I agree that some specific war-decisions have been made that in hindsight, do not appear wise, and have strengthened the insurgency. I am most angry about the operation in Afghanistan that we subcontracted to warlords when we had OBL in our sights and failed to make the best effort to get him.

In hindsight, I think the more boots on the ground theory may have worked better. However, I try to avoid Monday morning quarterbacking, coulda, shoulda, woulda reasoning. Iraq is a tough job, no doubt about it, and I think there are a couple kind of mistakes that were made and will continue to be made. The first kind of mistake is a "reaction mistake." These are calls that were made in reaction to a particular circumstance that I think were bad calls. The Afghan warlord call was an instance of this. Hummer vehicles not immediately being better armed against roadside bombs are another. Abu Gharib also falls into this category.

Each mistake merits a specific type of response, depending on the situation. First, we ought to correct the mistake - get the vehicles armored. Sometimes we cannot correct the mistake, like Abu Gharib or OBL in Afghanistan, we can only learn and not continue to make the same type of mistakes. That is step one. Step two is to determine whether the mistakes were egregious enough that someone ought to be fired. In the Afghan situation, I think someone who made the call ought to be fired. Same with Abu Gharib. In some cases, someone ought to be prosecuted for gross misconduct. Abu Gharib falls into this category.

I think we've been slow to react to a few of these "reactionary" mistakes, but have generally handled them well. People get upset abou Abu Gharib, but I feel like it has been handled appropriately - people fired and prosecuted. What else should we do?

Another type of mistake is what I would call a "systemic mistake." An example of a systemic mistake, to me, is something like the drinking age being 21 instead of 18 - which is a useless law for a couple reasons: no one follows it and it is unjust. Consequently, there are all sorts of inefficiencies and practices of arbitrary justice - locking up parents who serve kids alcohol, creating a market niche for fake IDs, excessive "underground" alcohol consumption and lies by college kids about alcohol consumption, etc.

What Nate is arguing is that the handling of the post-war Iraq situation is a "systemic" mistake, whereby the Bush admin negligently didn't plan for "how to handle the peace." I argue that it was more of a "reactionary" mistake, we always have been operating under the premise that the future of Iraq was up to the Iraqis - that is, it would largely be about how well we were able to help Iraq develop its own security forces as opposed to a British style imperialism with overwhelming number of Americans in Iraq creating a surrogate government, with American precepts handling government operations. That was never our goal.

I think this premise was pretty well articulated prior to the war, as well, that we would be sending troops over to liberate Iraq and not as a permanent occupying force. I don't remember Zakaria, Friedman, or Sullivan calling at the time of the Iraq invasion for more troops and a more permanent occupation because the only thing that mattered in Iraq was security. Security matters in Iraq, but it also matters how Iraq is secured. Saddam created a "secure" Iraq via terror. I don't think a "secure" Iraq as a US protectorate is desirable.

On another note, there are other elements of part of the Iraq strategy as a part of the war on terror that aren't about liberating Iraqis. One element was "the flypaper on the wall theory," that we would rather fight terrorists in Baghdad than New York. I prefer our troops fighting all the crazies over there, instead of letting them hide incognito in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Pakistan while we sit around trying to pass UN resolutions and they get to ponder about how, whether, and if they are going to release a chemical weapon attack on US soil.

The other element is the Saudi question. How the fuck are we supposed to deal with country? This is a country that would popularly elect Osama Bin Laden. They are in the same spot as Europe in the 16th century with respect to the mindset of the people. They also have the most oil in the world and the only country with reliable reserves to react to any type of oil crisis. Further, they preach hatred of the US through the mosques, yet put a friendly face with the Royal family. They have us in a shitty, twisted position. Should anything happen in Saudi Arabia, the Islamicists take over, or just if they try to destroy the oil, we have 100,000 troops right next door. We also have the opportunity, if we are able to transform Iraq into a west friendly, economically able country, the oil reliance on Saudi Arabia can be lessoned. This will be a good thing.

So any discussion of mistakes in Iraq ought to focus of what type of mistake, how it should have been prevented, the ramifications of the mistake, and how this matters in the larger context of the mission.

UPDATE: Smarter people have written on the same topic here and here.
Does it Concern the Left

When OBL quotes Michael Moore and the headline of this Al Jezeera article?

Reading the whole article, it actually ain't that bad, it's just the headline that stirs emotions.
My Dad

Had some good talks with my dad last night, which are always smart, but make me feel good about the world at the same time, which is a pretty magnificant combination. Anyhow, we talked about Cinderella Man and the state of the movies and he said something pretty damn wise - "If you were a 13 year old boy, would you pay $10 to see Cinderella man?" That's why the box office is down 10%.
Top 100 Movie Quotes

It's lame fun. I'll say one thing - I don't think we'll ever quote video games this way.

My personal favorite: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti."

UPDATE: Missing quotes...nearly anything from Pulp Fiction ought to be included - in particular:

"This's your birthright."

"Sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know, cause I'd never eat the filthy mother fucker."

"It ain't no fuckin' ballpark either. Now look, maybe your method of massage differs from mine, but touchin' his wife's feet, and stickin' your tongue in her holyiest of holies, ain't the same ballpark, it ain't the same league, it ain't even the same fuckin' sport. Foot massages don't mean shit."

"So pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the fucking car."
End Game

I forgot what a good blog Europundits is(was), and sadly I re-looked at it the other day and discovered it is not longer functioning.

An amazing article about the End Game with Islamo-Fascism. Great analysis here, particularly on why 9/11 was so haunting. He hypothesizes that is has to do with silence - the silence of the perpetrators, who still to this day, have never claimed responsibility. The horror of their rationale are left to our imagination. A clever little trick, clearly borrowed from Sophia Coppola.

There are tons of other posts worth perusing - about his home city of San Paulo and the transformation into a hell hole, hundreds of times more dangerous that Haifa and Jerusalem during the Infitada every day, and the post on European Leftists, whose root anger directed against America has to do with an eerie case of power-envy impotence, and also a post on housing options and lifestyles and the impact on political ideology. Really amazing stuff. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Watched this film yesterday. I remeber thinking when the first frame of the film comes up - damn these are good looking people.

So this isn't really an action film. Instead it falls into the category defined by Clavell in his Pursuits of Happiness book the Hollywood comedy of remarriage, where the premise is to get two characters back together. This is different from the traditional romance stories - either from the man or woman's point of view, which generally involves them getting together.

Anyhow, a pretty good film. Brad Pitt is funny. Angelina is not. But she is super hot.
Hollwood Dissed

Roger Simon discusses Hollywood's box office downturn from a political context - that Hollywood refuses to weigh in on the post 9/11 condition.

He also points out that 17 year old boys are playing video games instead of seeing movies. Hmmmm...

Also, the LA Times has another article about the box office being down from last year.

Reading these two articles is there any wonder why folks read blogs?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mark Steryn

Has sort of become the most vocal and articulate person against Sen. Durbin's comments. Here is an article via Instapundit. How does the left respond to this quote - "In the hermetically sealed echo chamber between the Dem leadership, the mainstream US media, Hollywood, Ivy League “intellectuals” and European sophisticates, the gulag cracks are utterly unexceptional. But, for a political party that keeps losing elections because it has less and less appeal outside a few coastal enclaves, Durbin’s remarks are devastating."

I know this left quite well, I was raised this way, nearly all my friends all liberal, my college, my career, everything valorizes the values of the NY Times, Ivy League Intellectuals, Euro-sophisticates, Hollywood, etc. And I've often been discouraged by the lack of intellectual inquiry - never the intelligence, but more the curiosity of the folks in my environment. These are smart folks, but also folks who have grown accustomed to being validated instead of challenged, supported instead of attacked. This is a recipe for weakness and I'm not surprised we have the party we do, and perhaps deserve.

I find it utterly embarassing to watch liberals quiver with anger when conservatives bash our positions and make fun of our sensitivity. We whine, "they're bullying us. They're making politics ugly." We use these pathetic whimpers to justify anger and hatred and lack of rational, clear thought, like a battered child.

As Don Corleone says to Johnnie Fontane, "be a fucking man!"

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Oh, That's What a Torture Chamber Looks Like

A real torture chamber discovered by Marines bears little resemblence to Abu Gharib or Guantanamo. (Hat tip NY Times) Big suprise. As Powerline mentions, in real torture chambers, people die. At this one, at least one person per day, versus say Abu Gharib or Guantanamo where no one has died.

According to leftist logic, we are creating more terrorists by Abu Gharib, invading Iraq, etc.

By that same logic wouldn't these torture chambers lead to intense rebellion against "the insurgency?"

Just checking.
I Can't Believe I'm Saying It

But I agree with Newt Gingrich.

The list of the Forbes top 100 most powerful Celebrities. It's so pathetic it almost makes one not want to be famous. I find surprisingly few of these people interesting and if I could change shoes with many of them, I wouldn't.
My First Act as Dictator

Will be to lower the drinking age to 18 and reduce an penalties related to minors drinking.

This is utterly ricockulous, 8 years sentence for serving booze to 16 year olds.

This first move as dictator would solidify my popularity amongst the youth base who I would later use as the Cultural Revolutionary Guard. I will use them to rat out their parents the moment they critique my regime.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Life Progress

The thesis film production of 27,000 Days received three interns a couple of days prior to shooting. One lasted one day, the other lasted two days, but the third was around for most of the shoot. Ever since interning (and watching the Intern episode of Seinfeld), I've wanted an intern of my own to mold into bigger badder version of myself. This was a test run. I'm posting on Mandy.

Life story of Wonkette. I like her story, I hope mine will be half as good.

Dick Durbin's comparison of the US Army to Nazi Germany is being blogged about all over. He has insufficiently apologized. Sadly, I think Powerline hits the nail on the head.

Finally, Durbin tells us that he has just now learned that comparing our soldiers to Nazis, Communists, and Pol Pot-type crazies "can be misused and misunderstood." Misused? What does that mean? By whom? Presumably Durbin means that al Jazeera et al. can "misuse" his statements to trumpet the claim that high-ranking American officials have conceded that the U.S. is just as bad as Nazi Germany. I'm not sure that's a "misuse"--it is what Durbin said--but if he has just now figured out that his statements can be used as propaganda by the enemy, he is much too stupid to be a United States Senator.

Finally, Durbin "sincerely regrets" if what he has said has "caused anyone to misunderstand his true feelings." I think, on the contrary, that what Durbin regrets is that he inadvertently expressed his true feelings for his constituents to see.

Update: Boston Herald says Durbin should resign. Can't say that I disagree.
What's Wrong with Using the Term "Gulag"

This WaPo article sums it up pretty damn well why it's wrong. One major component: it delegitimizes serious criticism.
Sunshine Policy

Do South Korean's really think a sunshine policy will work with people that run camps like this?

Friday, June 17, 2005


Crazy chicks.
China and Microsoft

I've been late commenting on this because there isn't much to say that hasn't been said. But it looks like there will be a little run around going on with Chinese bloggers switching to different software. Good.
The War Effort

Another link from Instapundit, Austin Bay talks about how regular Americans want to be able to do their part for the war (a-frigging men), but don't have an opportunity to do so.

I agree that this is a big fuck up of the Bush admin. And also note, it is linked to the ideas expressed in the earlier post with respect to films - do people want to veg out or geek out. I don't think Americans are lazy sacks of shit wanting only to sit and watch this war on TV or watch crappy movies and be overwhelmed. People want to be engaged and feel involved, I know it to be true when I see the excitement of a crowd watching an engaging film...
To: Future Movie Makers

A challenge put forth - geek out versus veg out. Indeed.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

This is Gayest Link I've Ever Made

Luckily it's about marriage, but in a really gay way.

I think marriage is like casting for a film - you set out with this idea of a person for the role and you search and search and search, your feelings on potential cast range from dissatisfied to mildly pleased to pretty damn excited, but it is rare to find that perfect match. Eventually the time comes when you just have to cast and make the damn movie and that's when you choose to settle down.

(note: I know how juvenile this makes me seem)
An Economics Blog

This is supposed to be a must read for economics-heads, Nouriel Roubini's blog.

Another econ related issue: a housing bubble? More like a housing froth or suds, from this perspective.
America, Fuck Yeah!

Top Zarqawi aid caught in Iraq. I'm glad we're getting these fuckers.
Palm Beach Story

I showed Fireman's Ball for my Cinema Parlour selection, but my original intention was to show Palm Beach Story. Unfortunately, I didn't get it from Netflix in time and my video store didn't have it. I finally got a chance to watch it, and I must say, it would have been an excellent selection. Preston Sturges' films hold up today better than anyone else from his generation, except perhaps Howard Hawks. The whole movie is about a poor couple trying to makes ends meet and the women decides to divorce her husband so she can marry rich and hopefully get him a break to build his airport. He's an engineer. The dialog is clever, fast, and fun, the characters amusing and fun to spend time with. I could watch any of his films made at Paramount.
A Sort of Addendum to the Last Entry

I'd be much more inclined to sympathize with the anti-war position if I thought the anti-war folks properly understood or cared about the horror of the Saddam regime.

The only evidence to me that the war has been unsuccessful is the security situation. The political process and governing counsel and general openess of Iraqis to the US overthrowing Saddam all seems to be working itself out well. The effects in the greater Middle East are favorable as well, Libya and Lebannon, being the prime examples.

The security situation sucks, but it mostly sucks because in Saddam's Iraq there was not an effective police force that played by our normal rules of procedure and police work. They kept "peace" through terror. Corruption was the rule. Saddam kept the Islamicists in line through torture and threats of torture, he promoted thugs and kept everything together by a code of terror for twenty years. This is not easily dismantled.

I might be more sympathetic to the anti-war position if it were something along the lines of "it's so broken, it'll be impossible to fix." But where is the humanity in that position? Where is the liberal hope? Instead, I got the sense the anti-war position was more about anti-US agression, rather than proposing a way to dismantle and heal a terror regime. And I think that was and still is, a more important issue.

Notes: A separate issue is our treatment of prisoners, which has gotten bad press, but I don't link that specifically to Iraq, since it has occurred both with Guantanomo and Abu Gharib, and in the Florida and Texas prison systems (yet no one seems to be too up in arms about those places).

There is also the issue of the Iranian regime escalating their nuclear program as a direct result of the Iraq war. They've been tryin to do this for a long time and yes, Iraq threatens them, so it's become more of a forefront issue. This issue was coming regardless of Iraq or not, but I will grant that Iraq may had sped up the process. Same with North Korea.
Conservative Propaganda?

A whopping 74% of Iranians say US presense in Iraq will increase the possibility of democracy in their own country.


I suppose it's a little bit of a loaded question, however, since it's fairly obvious that without the US in Iraq, there is more incentive for democracy around the region. I think the real question is whether democracy is desireable and possible in the region.
Batman Begins

First off, I think this will be the hit of the summer. A great film. Totally enjoyable action sequences, great acting from all the male actors, a scary-ass villian, and a pretty cool plot. I'm tired and can't write too much. It's good, that's all you need to know.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Onion is Smarter

About a whole number of things, than the MSM. This is funny.
The Cemetery

One of the best events in LA has suddenly become lame...the Hollywood Forever Cemetary screenings were great fun last summer, but they've oversaturated themselves, playing a movie every single goddamn week and the choices are quite a bit less attractive than last summer. I mean, I like Billy Wilder and all, but could you pick something a little, I dunno, less obvious.
Student Loan Consolidation

It's annoying to deal with, but those of us still in school with student loans ought to take advantage of consolidating at a low interest rate.

The upside: You lock into a 2.875 interest rate for repayment (lowest in 40 years). The rate will jump to 4.7 on July 1st and will start accruing at that rate in a couple of weeks.

The downside: You potentially lose a grace period, normally 6 months after one graduates from school. However, some lenders will let you defer anyway, if you request this can be resolved. Other downside: you will not be able to consolidate it's a gamble that the student loan rates won't drop below 2.875 in the forseeable future. I think it's a good gamble.
Michael Jackson Verdict

Mathew Yglesias, who I have never linked from before, writes about the wasted public funds on the Michael Jackson verdict. I disagree. I'm willing to pitch in my two cents for the entertainment value alone. Just having something funny and weird to talk about - it's cheaper than a movie and can be viewed as a "public good." It's a perverse way to look at things, but it's amazing what an interesting angle you get on real world events when viewing them through the lens of entertainment. Why else did the army gather prominent folks from the entertainment industry (including, mysteriously, Pablo Frasconi) to discuss plausible terrorist plots in the wake of 9/11.

One paragraph, from Micheal Jackson to 9/11. That's minorly impressive, right.
Army Recruitment

Once again, Virginia Postrel writes a thoughtful little piece on the Army not meeting recruiting needs. "It's not a crisis," she says, "but a normal market reaction to better alternative possibilities." No shit, as they say. Raise the mutha fucking pay, and more folks will go.

A nice little thump to doves as well. I somewhat favor a draft for different reasons altogether, but I'd be inclided to defer to the wisdom of folks like Postrel who know way more than me.
Anti-Lynching Apology

Here's an interesting take. Not sure I agree with all of it, but the sentiment is there...

It doesn't sound that fun to me anyway...solve the social security problem by raising the retirement age. Not a bad idea.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I've snobbishly been to very few Walmarts in my life. I just found out yesterday there is one on Crenshaw close to USC - more or less the heart of South Central. I was getting stuff for our film yesterday....I noticed the crowd there, all African American, and all presumably lower to lower middle class. I mean, it's Walmart. And it struck me that everyone who complains about Walmart are the people that can afford to shop elsewhere. The people who actually benefit from Walmart are poorer folks because they can buy two boxes of Pringles for $2. That's a freaking good deal! If I were trying to feed a family, I'd probably have to do bulk shopping there (or quit film school and get a real job), just so everyone could eat.
Double Feature

My next free day will involve a double feature of Batman Begins and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Oh yes.

**Note: Add in Cinderella Man, perhaps, as a third installment, time and energy permitting.
Dinner with Bush

Man, everything interesting in politics these days is happening with the Republican's. Wouldn't you rather be at this event than anything the Democrats can put together?

This is a super smart move for Carey - I like what she is doing, whether she knows it or not, she's forcing the Republican party to reveal itself - either it is inclusive, libertarian, pro-business or whether the religious, evangelical side holds greater sway.

We shall see....
Vivid Dreams

I know arm chair psychologists like to analyze dreams...teeth mean you're stressed out, water means sex, falling means anxiety, etc, etc.

Normally, I don't remember dreams that well, but last night I had a super vivid dream of awesome sex. I wonder what that means?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I Hope We Have a Team

Of badass dudes who are on call just waiting for the discovery of Al Queda strongholds who can swoop in during the night and wipe those fuckers out like in Patriot Games.
The Right to Bear Arms?

I've never been too sympathetic for the right to bear arms, but the more I've been reading the libertarian blogs, I must admit I've moved a little bit towards the fence. Here is a lengthy, lengthy post about the universal right to bear arms and how it can provide a good way to protect against genocides - which we've seen happen as a result of a minority (or majority) of citizens unable to protect themselves, while the international community stands by and twiddles our thumbs, hoping it won't cost us too much money or make anyone dislike us.

I've become so cynical and distrustful of the left with respect to foreign policy, I can barely listen to their critique of the Iraq war. Amnesty international is willing to compare Guantanomo Bay to a "gulag" while not saying or doing anything in response to Mugabe's clear policy of starving his political opponents or the mass rape and killing of African's in the Sudan.

The premise of the left is this: America is the problem or capitalism is the problem. They start with this premise and factor it out to explain every world development. People are starving in Zimbabwe? It is because we don't give enough aid. There is now clear evidence to the contrary, that Mugabe, as a result of both stupid and malicious policy, created a condition in his country where he uses food as a weapon and is starving his political opponents.

Guantanomo Bay has 540 prisoners who are technically prisoners of war. I'm not sure how I feel about them not being charged with crimes. Perhaps history will view this similar to the Japanese internment. But we ought to acknowledge the differences, they are not American citizens, for one. For two, many of them took up arms against the United States and are clearly prisoners of war. Three, Al Queda purposefully hides amongst the civilian population, making it nearly impossible to avoid detaining potentially innocent people. I mean, draw up a game plan about how to defeat Al Queda and you'll come to several conclusions. Either 1) they are impossible to defeat (which many of the left like to say) or 2) We can beat them, but it will require detaining some innocent folks, doing some shady interrogation techniques, and so forth. I know where I come out.

And with respect to a gulag - one important difference: 40 million people have not been killed. In fact, as far as I know, no one has been summarily executed. The worst thing that has happened is a Koran was flushed down a toilet. Opps, actually that didn't happen. The worst thing that happened was a Koran might have been pissed on. Get the fuck over yourself, a gulag.

And lastly, Iraq. I feel guilty sometimes supporting the war because I think I may be blinding myself to a big time tragedy while I try to support the troops AND the mission (which I do). But what did I expect? Democracy is a process, not an event. We all knew it would be tough and a big time gamble. My feeling is that it HAS to work. If it doesn't work, we are in a big pile of shit. If our attitude is that failed states and terror are impossible to solve, or mistakenly think they can be solved by scolding people at the UN, then I'm pretty sure that civilization will be less decent and erode over time. What happened to the Greeks and Romans that led to medevil times? Maybe I ought to read and study this...

But I distrust the left so much that I am cynical about the reporting and subtle happiness I sense when things are going bad over there. Like they are somehow pleased that "an insurgency" has developed. BTW, insurgency is a loaded term...a term that implies legitimacy, whereas the "insurgents" in Iraq are a combination of terrorists and gangsters, disinterested in any type of peace or fair government - they are interested in chaos or terror states where they can rule. These are not insurgents...but I digress.

A long pointless, blog entry.
Deadly Serious

We should subsidize Hugh Heffner to release a Muslim Playboy in the Middle East. It'll drive the fanatics crazy and get potential terrorists thinking about chicks instead of how to blow us up.
The New Conservatives?

Gays and women. What's next? Hispanics and blacks?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Early Flight

I should be asleep because I have an early flight to Boston to see my sister graduate grad school - she beat me to it! But I couldn't help but watch the Celebration again on IFC. Man, what a great movie. There are certain films that make you want to make films - Masculine Feminine the other night, the Celebration, Tarantino's movies. This one made me want to go out to butt fuck no where and make a feature.

The thing about the Celebration is that it could only be made in Europe. It shares traits with a film like Rules of the Game, the servant/aristocrat dynamic, large, wealthy family. American films aren't like that because we don't have that long traditional -- although maybe in the South, but still, it ain't the same thing.

Anyhow, fuck yeah.
Humpty Dumpty

Film Production. Goddamn, it feels like a military operation. Not that I would really know, but...It's always all about to come apart and then somehow, all of a sudden, a day before shooting, this one at least, has magically come together. That is, until it comes apart again. We were talking about how there are so many critical points that can hamper and pause the entire production. Someone forgets the film. Someone forgets the keys for locks on the grip truck. Someone forgets the permit. Someone forgets the water. We forget to order a piece of equipment. We forget a wrench to put on the dolly wheels. We forget a garbage bag to cover the camera. It's freaking endless, the possible points which cause disaster.

I think the same applies to a military operation. At a certain point you just have to trust other folks will do their jobs. It's a sad moment, giving up control, and being totally beholden to all sorts of people, some of whom you barely know and yet it feels as though your fate is in their hands. It is one of the reasons I have sympathy for the folks in the war. The portrayal of war as a bumbling diaster is how these things go, and if you scurtinize a film production like the media scrutinizes the war, you will see mismanaged money, dumbass shit that people do, even malicious and bad things, and lazy things, and all the little details of human beings come out. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. And there is also something heroic that gets accomplished - just making a goddamn movie thesis movie is heroic. At the end of every film shoot it always feels like, "How the hell did we do that?"

At the same time, how the movie turns out is another question all together. I'm not sure that they are tied together. That is, there is the smoothness of the production and then there's the movie....and truth be told, I don't think they are all that related, which is a sad thing to say, especially as a student producer, whose job is basically to make sure the movie comes together.

In the end, like in Black Hawk Down, it's about the people you work with. I think that's why one does what he/she does. Simple obligation to others. From a production standpoint.

From a content standpoint, however, it's a different thing. An aesthic. Is it worth making THIS movie? Is it worth going into THIS war? Tough decisions, because they production of it all will always be on the brink of disaster.
Too Many Choices

Goddamn, if V Postrel isn't my favorite blogger. Here is a great link/article on the problem with too many choices - causing unhappiness for folks living in liberal democracies. With respect to filmmaking, we solve this with giving ourselves a restriction, or a rule that forces ourselves into making a movie a certain way. Hitchcock was famous for using this. I love the idea, and it's fun coming up with a clever restriction.

Now if only I could find some sensible restrictions for life. Religion, maybe? HA!
Lame, But Funny

I think it's rather funny, but is the implication here that because Kerry got bad grades, he isn't a qualified president? I thought grades didn't matter in the real world.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Calm Before the Storm

A moment of peace a night before pick ups and production and all hell breaks loose. It's like the day before a big battle.

Sunday, June 05, 2005


This morning there was an odd guy talking about the Iraq war and snidely remarking about the Koran abuse scandel, about how the army released new info about someone kicking a Koran and various other "abusive" things on Friday night, so as to avoid the news cycle.

Is it just me or is the real issue not about whether there was Koran abuse, but why it upsets certain Muslims so much that they think killing is an appropriate response? I mean, I'm for respecting other cultures and religions, but let's be real, the Koran is a published book. I understand that for Muslims, they believe the Koran is the word of God...but, they have to be able to distinguish between the words of God and the way the book was actually made and what the book symbolizes. These are all different things and to cojoin them together is a primitive and backwards (un-PC words) way of understanding the world.

What gets me is that folks on left are so frigging cynical about the army and the war, they make desecrating the Koran a big offensive issue...YET, it is the same left that thinks we ought to be able to burn flags and burn bibles if we want to - that this is some type of test of liberty. It makes no frigging sense.

The fact is this: people don't give a shit about whether we are desecrating the Koran or abusing terrorists as prisoners. In fact, if they were in the same position of guarding these guys, they would probably do the exact same thing. And to me, this starts to get at the crux of things, the left who purports to express horror at prisoner abuse would NEVER even consider being a prisoner guard or a soldier battling against terrorists or actually having to deal with Islamic Fundamentalists or Bathists. As Vincent Gallo says about Hollywood, "they wouldn't lower themselves to spend a moment of time in the room with the people the purport to care about."

The left likes to whine about how cruel the adminstration and the army are because they feel safe doing so. Yet they don't even want to address dealing with a much larger and horrific issue of how to deal with Fascists who would sooner kill you than listen to your point of view.
A Draft

Uh, I'd say this is pretty accurate.

UPDATE: We ought to have a draft. It would eliminate (at least partially) the class factor in the army, it would force Americans to interact with one another. Remember the Civil Rights movement? Born out of the integration of the military...all of sudden blacks and whites worked together and figured out, shit we CAN get a long. Red State/Blue State issues, toss all of us into a draft together and we'll see some esprit de corps.

Plus, it'll make us think long and hard about war and make the costs more real. And the funny thing is, the left would like to think that the war would be less popular if more people were affected by it. I think the opposite - more people would see the compelling need for us being in Iraq. I bet the war is more popular amongst folks in the military than folks not in the military in the same age demographic.

I also think if we had a few more college-bound folks in the military doing the work, we'd see less of the Abu Gharib type of thing and also a greater sense of accountability with respect to such things as prisoner abuse, etc. Shit, we'd have future law school students in the military double checking the policies of prisoner treatment by being the folks carrying out the orders. As of right now, I doubt many Yale, Harvard, and Stanford Law folks are the ones getting out the the military...let's have a draft and force them to. Same goes for USC film students.
Masculine and Feminine

Alright, so now I know why everyone gets their panties in a bunch about Godard. This film is unbelievable and shatters a lot of the type of filmmaking encouraged at USC. Godard doesn't seem to care about smoothness or glossiness, he is after something much larger, pure expression, pure emotion, through character. There is no plot in this film, which is it's major drawback in that 5/6 of the way through, the audience has run out of steam. I felt like, "All right, what the hell can happen now?" And then it rather quickly ends after that. But it's amazing how long you can watch this plotless film with pure enjoyment. It follows Paul, a 21 year old just out of the army, running around trying to fall in love. The best scenes are super long scenes between a male and female characters just going back and forth trying to seduce one another. It's not snappy, like Hawks, but innocent and earnest, yet tremendously funny. The woman in this film are irresistable - where does he find them? Are they actors?

It's very funny this film and makes filmmaking feel accessible. I can see why Tarantino loves him.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Corruption and AID

Yes, we should give more aid to 3rd world countries, particularly in Africa, where we generally do not give enough. Problem is, even if we did give more aid, it wouldn't do much good.

The World Bank estimates that $1.5 trillion (yes - that's trillion) dollars are spent in bribery each year. That'a bigger than the porn industry.

It is estimated that from 1970-1996, 80% of aid given to Africa flowed back to the West in "capital flight," ie fear from being stolen or devalued.

These statistics, from an article in Foreign Affairs, are mind boggling. Maybe we are selfish bastards, and that is the true psychological reason for not providing more aid to foreign countries. But it is awfully tough to justify giving money you know is going down the toilet, mostly back to corrupt folks. Wouldn't we be doing the world a better service by helping devise a system to encourage transparency and signficantly lower corruption? It wouldn't even cost money, just smart people figuring it's been done in the US to decent effect, credit scores, ratings, etc. Why can't it work elsewhere?

Friday, June 03, 2005


Maybe it's worth looking into abandoning a real politik approach to foreign policy and looking into a new, humanitarian approach, where policy is rooted in certain humanistic codes, like the bill of rights, etc.

I mean, this shit does not end, and a more comprehensive, humanistic approach would account for nearly all our major problems - human slavery, terrorism, starvation, disease, hunger, etc.

But in the end, it is the issue of colonialism, Conrad's heart of darkness.

The truth is that human history is a tale of suffering, nasty, brutish, short. The West is the execption, not the rule. When we dabble, we do not cure, we stain ourselves. The only answer is Empire and we all know that Empire will eventually come crashing down from Hubris and resentment. The question is whether it is worth the try...

Chappelle is back and dropped in a few improv comedy clubs. Roots, baby, roots!

Is it weird to me that Chappelle is only 4 years older than me and making $50 mil a year. Yes, it is.
I'm Guilty of This

Everyone is Hitler. This is pretty freaking funny.
Big News

Thank god for a free press, what would we do without it?
Worth Seriously Thinking About

I'm a liberal. But I'm also a contrarian, which makes any commitment to a specific political philosophy difficult. (I might add that it makes all sorts of other kind of commitments difficult as well). But to think about what has occurred in Zimbabwe makes me seriously angry, angry about the way we narrativize the world and tell ourselves stories about how the world works. Here is the link that got me thinking, via Instapundit. It fundamentally undermines all sorts of liberal assumptions one makes about this specific situation. But here is the liberal and then the liberal contrarian point of view:

1. The Mugabe government reclaims “black” land from white farmers to correct historical wrongs whereby the whites got a disproportionate amount of black land.

2. Zimbabwe has a shortage of food (because of fewer trained farmers, duh). Therefore, the international community ought to provide food. This is a short term fix because once the black farmers have time to “catch up,” they will be every bit as good as the white farmers and able to provide just as much food.

3. We will give the food to the Mugabe government to fairly distribute.

4. Mugabe does not distribute the food fairly, he feeds his followers and starves his opponents, of which he has many. The UN asks him to distribute the food properly. He does not, because it isn’t in his interest to do so.

5. “Hawks” suggest that we arm the rebels. Liberals say we shouldn’t involve ourselves in other countries affairs – see what happened in Latin America and the Middle East when we become involved. It builds resentment and hatred and we can’t be trusted.

6. FINE. We won’t arm the rebels, but in order to not support Mugabe, we should use sanctions.

7. Sanctions cause even more people to not have food, building resentment against both Mugabe and the West for standing by while people are starving. We should be helping them.

8. The UN decides we should give food back to the government of Zimbabwe.

9. The US says we won’t support giving food to Mugabe, that we should make an official policy to overthrow the Mugabe regime.

10. The UN opposes such aggressive US behavior and says, look at how much money the US has and look at how poor and starving folks are in Zimbabwe – the US should give more money to help.

And so it goes on. See how selfish the US is, and how selfish conservatives don't want to help anyone but themselves. Now the liberal contrarian point of view.

1. Mugabe uses past historical injustices to justify stealing land from “white” farmers.

2. Zimbabwe has a shortage of food because Mugabe trashed his own countries resources.

3. Because people are starving, we should provide food, even if it's Mugabe's fault.

4. Mugabe uses the food to feed his supporters and starve his opponents, so that he will eventually quell any potential revolution against him and his regime.

5. Mugabe should go, we say publically. Mugabe cries in self-pity that the US is pushing him around. He gains support by doves and those with financial interests in his regime.

6. The angry people in Zimbabwe complain and Mugabe denounces the world community for standing by while his people starve. It’s their fault – look how much they have and how little you have.

Kinda easy to see how terrorism might thrive in failed states and how autocratic governments and the principal cause of dissatisfaction, which in some regions leads to terrorism.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

War Crimes

Here is an exerpt describing war crimes in Iraq, but it also has the official geneva convention.

What if, instead of fighting the war on terror the way our currently fighting it, we argued that terrorist acts were war crimes and must go punished in accord with the Geneva Convention. That would have been an elegant approach to building a worldwide consensus to ruthlessly attack terrorists. Any state refusing to do so would be in violation of Geneva and subject to harsh and legal punishment.

Ex Steely Dan rocker finds a new career as a defense consultant for the DoD, Navy, etc. Man, it would be awesome to have a film career and then transition into another, totally different career later in life.

A truly sad and tragic article about the departing Israeli defense minister. He seems to be sadly right about a lot of things. It seems to me one spends most of their life trying to believe in something only to come to the end and view it as an essential tragedy. A few snippits:

Asked for his views on the general concept of two states for two peoples, he said: "In the present reality, I see difficulty in producing a stable situation of end-of-conflict within that paradigm." A two-state solution, he continued, is simply "not relevant. It is a story that the Western world tells with Western eyes. And that story does not comprehend the scale of the gap and the scale of the problem. We, too, are sweeping it under the carpet."

Asked whether he fears for Israel's existence, Ya'alon responded: "A combination of terrorism and demography, with question marks among us about the rightness of our way, are a recipe for a situation in which there will not be a Jewish state here in the end."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


I should be writing about Deep Throat or the EU or something, but alas, I'm not in the mood and want to consider ringtones. V Postrel links to an article about the personality of ringtones.

I tend to be lazy and use blogger templates and the standard ringtones, maybe some day I'll take aesthetics more seriously. My two favorite ringtones are vibrate (lo-pro) and old time phone ring (obnoxious and ironic). That's pretty much how I'd describe myself.