Friday, September 30, 2005

The Ecosystem

I'm not sure I understand the logic of truth laid bear ecosystem. Blogs are ranked by inbound links, ie who links to you. In this category, I currently am a Flippery Fish, 16,428 of all the blogs in the English speaking world. This is the result of 4 major links and a series of minor links.

The other measure of viewership is site traffic, these days it's at about 40 visits a day, which ranks 4,492 in the English speaking blog world.

My question is this: why are links privileged over traffic? Is it more important how many people read your postings or how many people link to your site?

I think it's a fairly decent question...Daily Kos gets 730,754 visitors a day whereas Instapundit gets 162,890. But Instapundit has 7581 links vs. Kos with 5391 links. To me, this means Instapundit is read by more bloggers, but Kos is read by more people. Hmmmm.
I Didn't Even Realize Margaret Thatcher was a B-List Celebrity

Dennis, are you at the gin again?
Which Annoying B-list Celebrity Are You?
Brought to you by Rum and Monkey.

What is worse: that I resemble Margaret Thatcher according to the test, or that I'm not ashamed of it? Shabot Shalom.
Goddammit, Cindy

Ruin the whole movie! Now that I know who the bad guys are in the new Flightplan film, I guess I won't be seeing it. Shucks.

I guess the flight attendents now know how the Arabs feel. What would Edward Said say?
At The Risk of Being Accused of Being Racist

It's become a custom, fallback joke amongst a group of my friends to accuse one another of racism for any comment that has anything to do with race. I find it funny.

The accusations towards Mr. Bennett's comments seem to fall within that category.

I don't think this guy should apologize for making his statement, which was a way of saying the ends don't justify the means. Isn't that something any rational person would agree with?

Here is the text of his statement:

"If you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose -- you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossibly ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."

How is this hurtful? Isn't this just making a fairly obvious point, that driving the crime rate down without concern for surrounding factors is stupid and ridiculous. Why are people going crazy over this? Can we not talk about race in this country without every douche-bag trying to claim the polically correct high ground. Do I need to be protected from hearing such things because it's too crass? What type of country do we live in? Do we want to live in a country where people can't talk candidly because we fear hurting people's feelings?

In the words of Mr. Hayden Church from Sideways, "I say fuck that shit too. What you need is to get your joint worked on."

On a related note, as much as I don't like Tom DeLay, I find these charges being brought against him pretty damn silly. Is he guilty of anything that most other House Reps who've been in a power awhile aren't? Ugh. I think DeLay is a thug and I'd gladly pick a verbal fight with him in a bar, but something about the accusations are so pathetic and embarassing. I think these Bennett charges are in the same category - I don't even know who the guy is and I already want to stand up for him.

Powerline has a theory on what's going on. It's a good thing it's testable - we'll see if the Dems filibuster the next Supreme Court candidate.

97.1 is my home in the morning because of Stern. When I get to my car in the afternoon, I can't help but hear the roaring voice of Leykis berating women and pussy-whipped men. I can't say I like Leykis, but I can listen to him. As much as I want to turn away the dial, there are too many commericials on the music stations and NPR is a crapshoot, half the time it's good, half the time it isn't.

Leykis is an interesting beast. His appeal isn't that he speaks the truthfully or perceptively, but rather that he tells a simple story about how men should behave and how they ought to treat women, in a bold and confident manner, backed up with circular logic. Any guy who's ever been hurt or wronged by a woman (and that's pretty much all of us whether we care to admit it or not) can be easily seduced by this angry voice of another man whose found a way never to be hurt by a woman again - treat 'em all like cum recepticles one no more important than another.

Anyhow, I'm betting Leykis is just one big fat ugly guy whose always wondered why chicks didn't dig him more. But he's figured out what a lot of right wing evangelicals and radical imam's have figured out - it's not content, but style - loudly, simply, candidly, with partial truths that help alleviate humiliation.

UPDATE: Google images prove me right, about the big fat ugly guy.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Fight Against Boredom

I see it in my own life. Overloaded with activities and responsibilities - why do I make such committments? Is it fear of boredom? I think it has something to do with it. But does this fear have a cost? Do I not concentrate on one skill enough and end up being jack of all trades, master of none...I hate this idea of not being as good as I can be at something - say directing or writing, because I get too bogged down producing, for instance. Or am I leveraging my bets, diversifying my investments, so I don't become too dependent on a single set of skills? Am I being flexible?

Did I waste three years consulting and working with databases for naught? Or is the database a vital part of understanding the electronic age? Will working in that environment inform what kind of stories I tell and what type of influence technology has on modern life, or what technology is capable of doing and achieving? Did it give me confidence I can make money? Did it give me a sense of how to succeed in business? Or did it I waste my time when I should have been learning filmmaking?

Is filmmaking a waste of time and money? Chill man, chill.
Not Surprising In the Least Bit

At least to this blogger, that the insurgency in Iraq is increasingly falling into Zarqawi's hands. For the last year plus everyone has been saying that the main insurgency is former Baathists, Saddamists, etc. I believed in because I read it, but it didn't make sense to me. Saddam is in jail, he ain't getting out. I find it hard to believe these guys would continue to fight. Rumor was that one of Saddam's daughters was funding the insurgency from Syria. Perhaps.

But now the word on the street is that Zarqawi is the horse the insurgents are riding. The money is going to him, not the Baathists. To me, this has always made more sense, Al Queda has a much better track record fighting us, I don't see why anyone would invest in the Baathists, whose ass we continually kick. Plus, the Al Queda guys seem a hell of a lot tougher.

Long ago, I thought the driving force of insurgency was Zarqawi and Al Queda in Iraq. I changed my mind due to what I read. Now it appears things have come around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I Got This Sense in SF

Back during the big protests in the run up to the Iraq war, I noticed an odd quality amongst the protesters, a hostility and anger and violence, where they craved anarchy and not political expression. This was reflected in the tactics of blocking buildings and people going to work, blocking off streets, violently getting in people's faces and insisting they listen....the road to totalitarianism, methinks.

Anyhow, Instapundit and C. Hitchens nail it, and I wish I had been able to articulate this way back then.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing has more about the two different camps of anti-war people.

The first camp is the most scary - the Down with America camp, not just apologists, but actual supporters of fascism, totalitarianism, and now jihadism.

The second camp is the more common camp - the Political Identity Camp, those who would support the war if Kerry or Hillary Clinton were waging it, but not G W Bush.

Sensing gives a nod to the Mennonites and Quakers - true pacificts, but argues these folks are nearly negligible population-wise. For arguments sake, I think he takes a decent position, but I think there are folks who take a practical opposition to the war, that it won't sufficiently hurt Al Queda, which is the immediate threat and that the potential can of worms it opens was too risky to engage in this critical moment. They would argue that our role should be to rally the worlds intelligence services together and work within the preestablished law enforcement and intelligence agencies. One could even argue that we shouldn't have invaded and occupied Afghanistan, that we should have just gone in and wiped out all of the terrorist camps and left. And then we should continue to do so for years to come.
The Big Mess

When I go out to breakfast, I often eat at Eat Well down the street. It's not even my favorite place foodwise on the street - there is this little place that has great, fresh food, but the people that work there make me feel a little uncomfortable. I like to go eat breakfast and read or plan my week, but they pay too much attention to me, so despite liking the food, I don't go that often.

At Eat Well, there is a big menu, always enough people around, so one doesn't attract too much attention. On a whim a couple weeks ago I ordered something new for breakfast - the Big Mess. Ever since that day, I've ordered nothing else. The big mess is exactly as it sounds, the leftovers of other dishes. They throw in a a bunch of potatoes, mushrooms, some scrambled eggs, onions, basil leaves, cheese, zucchini and spicy sausage. They mix it all together in a Big Mess and serve it up. Yum. It's like something I would make at home. I've never been able to finish it in one sitting, so I get 1/4-1/2 of it to take home and eat it the next day.

I like the food, but there is also something I like about the Big Mess philosophically, this idea of taking leftovers and putting them together to make some else altogether.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Tennis Club

Tonight I rallied with the best tennis player I've ever played against. The previously best was one of the top woman in my county who happened to be a friend of mine - she was pretty good, a scholarship player at UW.

During college, one of my close friends was a top youth tennis player and supposedly awesome and in all likelihood, probably better than even the guy tonight, but alas, we never hit - he had grown to hate tennis and I didn't play at all during college.

This guy hit the tennis ball like I kick the soccer ball with someone that can't kick. I could see that whatever I hit at him (and I can hit pretty well sometimes), he wouldn't even flinch and return it so easily that it made it seem as if I had just lobbed him a ball instead of smacking it as hard as I could. When hit the ball his hardest my racquet nearly popped out of my hand when I tried to return it. I'm not joking, it happened several times. The spin on his forehand was monsterous.

It turned out he was in grad school at USC and he played in college at UC Riverside. So that's a D1 player. He didn't look like a great athlete, but man, his strokes were wicked.

So while hitting, I did the only logical thing - asked him how he hit his forehard so goddamn hard. He showed me the technique - called the winshield wiper forehand, the forehand that Federer hits. Instead of taking a big sweeping back swing and hitting through the ball, one takes a half swing back and whips with your wrist and forearm over the top of the ball, throwing all your body through it. Apparently, it's borrowed from martial arts!?! It's fairly revolutionary, I think, because it's a lot faster than a regular forehard, and the results - well, they speak for themselves. The difficulty is that it requires very specific timing and it can't hit it right, the ball sails into the net a lot.

Learn something new everyday...

An admission I must make is although I'm all into "marriage," I have a big fascination with parenting. I know, it's pretty weird.

It's one of the reasons I like 11D. I notice myself when reading magazines, any article about parenting, I gobble up, ususally after articles about Islamic Terrorism, the Middle East, and movies. So you can see my priorities...

Anyhow, there's a book review in the Atlantic about "Unraveled," a story about a woman who leaves her family to pursue the single life. Mothering, seems to me, to be a pretty goddamn tough job and not all are suited for it. For instance, I know for a fact that a large percentage of my friend's mothers suffer some form of insomnia. I think after 18+ years of worrying about children, your mind tranforms into something I don't, nor ever will, understand. And mothering these days conflicts with so much else out there for women - careers, being sexy, playing tennis, you know...

It's not surprising then, that according to this book, mothers tend to be not happy. In fact, a weird little fact is that "the category of parents who typically report the most parenting satisfaction - who feel they're doing the best job - is divorced dads...many men today can cook or at least order takeout, and know where and how to hire domestic help, perhaps with refreshing clarity and less anxiety than ever-conflicted mothers."


Also in the same article is a quote I quite like, independent of any connection to parenting, "Life is difficult. This is a great truth*, one of the greatest truths. Most do not see this truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties, as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy. They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else upon their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others."

*The first of the "Four Noble Truths" which Buddha taught was "Life is suffering."

Sunday, September 25, 2005

If Irvin Kershner Says So...

Alice writes a critique on Sideways. Awesome. Alice has risen a few notches on in my accounting log book that I keep on everyone I know. No, seriously, she just went from a 7 to a 9, I'm adding two slashes right now.

A real screenwriter does a critique on each movie he/she sees, well, I try to do something like that, but I generally try to find something interesting to add, not just regurgitate the plot and tell whether I liked it. But in my crit studies class, we talk about art installations and describe three categories: Description, Interpretation, Evaluation. I think these categories might be useful for looking at movies.


Description: A film about a medical unit in Korea (but it might as well be Vietnam). The basic story is that a couple of hard drinking, lady loving surgeons come into a medical unit near the front lines of the war. They do their jobs, but don't take anything too seriously, notably the operating scenes, in which they joke around and act in Altman's words, "as if they were fixing a car." They find friends in the ineffectual commanding officer of the unit, a 16 year old Korean kid, and another surgeon who joins the squad later (Elliot Gould). Their rivals are Robert Duvall and Hot Lips, two rigid souls, intent on following the rules of the army and rules of the bible. Their shenanigans drive Duvall crazy and get him thrown out of the unit. The war continues and their adventures get wilder and wilder as they capitalize on an opportunity to go to Japan, arrange a football game with big stakes, and assist a man to convince himself he's not a fairy.

Interpretation: A war film with a similar tone to Catch-22, an irreverent look at how characters deal with a horrific reality, finding joy in friendship and doing the big things right. Obviously, a film about the confusing reality of Vietnam, it was made in 1970, when the verdict on the war wasn't quite decided yet. In hindsight, people talk about how MASH is an anti-war movie. I don't know. To me, it's an anti-dumbshit movie, with a big heart. Some authority figures are insane and dickheads, but others are hilarious, like the commanding officers of the units and the general only interested in the big football game. To me, the film is about people finding joy in an obviously sad situation.

Evaluation: This is the first of Altman's films of the 1970s, within the next 5 years he made in addition to MASH, McCabe, The Long Goodbye, California Split, and Nashville. Phil would argue this is the greatest work by any director in the history of cinema in such a timespan. I like to play devil's advocate, but I'd be hard pressed to take up that debate. It's fucking great, I mean, from a directing standpoint, he's casting mostly unknown actors (at the time) from a theater company, having them improvise scenes, making this joyous wonderous film - starting off the best decade of American filmmaking (in my opinion) with a bang and changing the way America watches movies. He's a beast, no wonder PTA is following him around on set like a puppy dog.

UPDATE: Okay, so the point of doing this isn't to suck Altman's dick. I need to find something from a screenwriting perspective that didn't work for me....well, first, a disclaimer - a lot was improvised, so I'll say nothing of the dialog, but I'll talk about the story construction. I think the beginning is a little confusing to pull you into the world. Too many characters are thrown at you and at first it's difficult to keep track of everyone. After watching the film, I watched the the beginning of the commentary, and already I'm seeing things that 2nd time around right at the beginning which make more sense the second time around. I guess that's the potential drawback of an ensamble cast. I think the Duvall and Hot Lips characters are too over the top ridiculous, but it's a satire, so in some ways it works, it just makes it a little too easy to hate them.

There are a couple of structure things which Altman does really well, though, I think the little interludes of the loudspeakers and each little segment have a nice feel, a sequence (from screenwriting), feel natural and make sense with the characters and so despite the lack of a narrative thread, you stay engaged because there are "wants" within each sequence. Also, they end had a big effect on me, the way they get the news of going home and it's tremendously sad, but he handles it in a very matter of fact way, the way you would if you had to leave your friends.

But all of this is just talk for the sake of talk, but maybe it'll help me be a better writer.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


A small metaphor for the Israel-Palestine situation. Israel pulls out of Gaza, which I don't think any liberal can argue isn't a step in the right direction...Europe, America, Israeli, and Palestinian (the right wing argues it is a)not desirable or b) won't help the situation). Hamas responds by declaring victory and launching 39 rockets into Israel.

What is the appropriate response by a liberal? Please, take a position....

Powerline talks about the Israeli response and subsequent reportage.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


You know you love a movie when a classmate criticizes the film and you immediate hate the person and create stories about their personal upbringing to explain why they didn't get the part of the movie.

A girl makes a comment about the Paul Giamatti - Virginia Madsen scene when he talks about Pinot and she talks about why she loves wine so much - basically the main scene in the movie and she says something like, "Yeah, Hollywood movies are too obvious and cheesy with their metaphors, blah, blah, fucking blah."

I'm sitting right behind her and almost interupt her "You think this is a Hollywood movie?" It wasn't a foreign film, sure, but to me, this was a humanist, independent film if there is such a thing anymore in America. Sure, it got distributed by Hollywood and was made by Warner's, but it has the independent spirit, unquestionably.

And, the scene didn't work for you, huh? Well, perhaps that's because you're a heartless cunt. Yes, that's right, I thought it - the c-word. It's entered my lexicon, and I know I'm going to use it sometime inappropriately soon, and I can't help it. Dammit. But if there was anyone deserved of the term, this girl, to me, at this moment, was a heartless cunt.

Then the teacher kinda agrees with her, like pussy democratic senator and someone else says something about why the scene sucks...and I'm flipping out and raise my hand, and say, "You're operating on the premise that this scene doesn't work, but think it's awesome - and the only point you're making is that you don't like it, that it's not your taste." Or something to that effect.

I could tell my comment didn't go over well or have any resonance with anyone. Maybe I was compensating for my too weak comment to a filmmaker last night when I meant to say, "You spent 100 mil on this Pink Panther bullshit, why didn't you get real soccer players to play soccer, you big pussy faggot?" Apparently it came out, "I liked this scene, but I was wondering if you used real soccer players?"

I wussed out.

Then other people start talking about the movie and what works and what doesn't work and I say to myself, "Well, you obviously don't get this film because it requires actually having had a sexual relationship with someone to understand what's going on, you celibate, film school wuss." Or "Well, it wasn't made for lesbians, so what can I say."

Hey, I liked the frigging movie. It has more soul in 5 minutes that most of the people talking about it will ever express in their whole frigging lives, so who the fuck are they to talk and be listened to. I say, silence the critics, take away free speech when it is outrageous and inappropriate!

**In finale, i will admit that Sideways is a movie for Californian men. It is a regional picture and I think that's why I love it so much. If you're some red state fuck who thinks Giamatti is a "bad person," go read your bible and your porn-self help Christian group and take another look at Passion of the Christ, I don't give a shit. Sideways got made for $16 mil, we don't need your could make a living in California alone. And for the women who don't really like it - fair enough, I don't like Sex and the City.

UPDATE: And regarding the comment on "pretentious" wine drinking...first off I assume pretentious because of the WAY the Paul G character drinks wine, not merely because it's wine (if it's the latter, that worries me on a different level). The Giamatti character clearly loves wine. He geeks out over it. Is it pretentious when computer nerds geek out over the Matrix or gun fanatics geek out over Commando? Watching someone obsess over something they love is one of the greatest accomplishments a film can achieve - because it touches that which is most precious to our own human existence...feeling love for something or someone. Plus, it's freaking funny as all hell. But again, what can I say, some people don't like Woody Allen. Is it worth talking about? Perhaps not.

UPDATE II: Regarding the political ideology of the film. I don't think this is a clear cut liberal movie, as Nate would argue. One of my favorite scenes is early in the film when Thomas Hayden Church confronts Giamatti about his depression. Church takes a traditional conservative position with respect to Giamatti's depression. He says, "Fuck therapy and xanax and all that other shit - what you need is to get your joint worked on." (paraphrase)

At this point in the film the audiences are loving the Church character because he's stating the simple truth, Giamatti needs to stop feeling sorry for himself and get back in the game, and get some pussy. It is a blatant critique of the victim or martyr complex.
SF Sucks

In the past week I've heard a couple of scathing indictments of San Francisco. Here's one from Nate's blog and the SF Weekly, an alt weekly paper which takes on the bullshit, limo-uber-liberal crowd of SF, who delightfully ignore important, big, issues that would concern a true liberal (like, say public schools, which the whites have all but abandoned) in favor of feel-good, yoga and volvo solutions to big time problems.

And the other day I saw an art installation that was a documentary voice over called "Virus" about the dot-comers coming into SF, driving the rents to outrageous prices, forcing artist communities to move from lofts b/c the dot com's wanted "hip" spaces to make their invisible and short-term money....

The thing about SF that no one wants to acknowledge is that it is an outrageously expensive place to live. This affects so much of life there, you have to either work a lot, work at a job you don't like because the money is good, live in a shitty apartment, go into debt, or not live the city lifestyle - sushi and all.

I hate to be a hater. I love the place deep down. But that's why I hate seeing it go down the tubes...everyone who doesn't know better "loves" San Francisco, but I know how the people live in that city, and it doesn't strike me as a wonderful place, for anyone but the super rich or insane-O hippies.

I feel I have suffered defeat at the hands of an inferior tennis player this evening. I will take this as a learning experience, but if it happens again, it will be a humiliation.

Game 1: My serve. It lasted 20 minutes. I can't count how many deuce points there were. My second serve is the weakest aspect of my game and I wasn't getting many first serves in this game. I should have, and eventually did, lose this game. It was at this point I assumed I would win the set because I played a shitty first game and still almost won.

Game 2: He got his serves in and won easily. He had a good first serve, not unreturnable, but challenging. I was down 2-0 and my confidence was shaky. I could break him, but it wouldn't be easy. He plays conservative, not many winners, but not many unforced errors. My strokes are better, his, more accurate. I'm faster, he's got better touch and much more match experience. I'm competitive, he's knowledgeable. He plays with strategy, I play recklessly.

Game 3: My serve. I hit my serves in, but he returns them. I make a series of unforced errors. Down 3-0, it's looking like a blow out, an embarassment, a "I'm not showing up at tennis club next week" match.

Game 4: He opens up with a double fault. I go up love-40. He wins a point, I win the game. Not shut out. Good.

Game 5: I dominate. 3-2.

Game 6: I go up 30-love. I anticipate how I will tell the story to Kevin, Alice, and Chuck of my great comeback. He starts getting his shots in and charging the net. I get greedy and try to make passing shots. They are going out. The game goes on and on. Good rallies. He finally wins. 4-2. Shit.

Game 7: My serve. I'm getting my first serve in. He's returning most of them. I'm making a bunch of unforced errors. I am a weak tennis player. 5-2. I feel defeated.

Game 8: He's assumed victory, which makes him play a little cocky, charging the net. With nothing to lose I start hitting my best shots of the day, passing him twice for winners. 5-3.

Game 9: My first serve isn't going in. He wins the game easily. 6-3.

I would put 75-25 odds on me next week.
You Know I'll Love This

Bigtime Hollywood meets the blogosphere: Serenity. I might just have to check this out.

Honestly, if they have the balls to do this, I think the movie will be pretty good.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Pretty Goddam Funny

Jet fakes emergency to watch soccer game.
Public Musings (idea borrowed from Me For President)

Katrina - Spend the money to rebuild the city and help residents reestablish themselves, but tell us where the money is coming from (ie higher taxes, cutting pork, etc.)

John Roberts - Confirm him already, for Chrissake.

NY Times - Is it stealing when I read cut and pasted op-ed articles?

Poker - Not just a game, a way of life.

Suicide Bombers - passe, very passe.

Oakland A's - first round losers in the playoffs.

USC Trojans - best college football offense ever assembled.

USC Cinema School - if we keep telling ourselves and everyone else we're the best - we're the best!

G. W. Bush - a lame president living in a lame time.

Cindy Sheenen - a lame mom living in a lame time.

Porn - thank you reality tv, you've paved the path for reality porn, which is awesome.

TV - getting better and better.

Movies - getting worse and worse.

Internet Dating - Do it once and that's it, you're an internet dater. Not that there's anything wrong with it.

Gay - all things considered, not the worst time to be a homosexual.

Digital Video - awesome.

Film - also awesome, but expensive.

Los Angeles - shithole of a city that I love.

Ice Cubes - why America is better than the rest of the world.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid - great movie

Iraq - the right thing to do in the long term, despite being tough in the short term.

Ipod Nano - "At last, after years of false hope and empty promises, I can finally shove 1,000 songs up my ass." (the onion)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My Name is Earl

Jason Lee, single camera show, lots of publicity...worth checking out, I suppose. Midway through the pilot right now - it's all right. Nothing great, nothing terrible. They are clearly trying to rip off Raising Arizona, which is a worthy and valient film to borrow from, but some of the jokes and acting is flatly stupid. Not the genius of Arrested Development...but they're trying, at least.
Now, This Is A National Shame

the mother fucker!

Monday, September 19, 2005

One of the Best Seinfeld Lines

(And that's saying a lot). Tim Watley has converted to Judism and Seinfeld thinks it's so he can make Jewish jokes. He reports it to Father _____, at Watley's old church. The Father responds, "And this offends you as a Jew?"

"No, it offends me as a comedian."
You Know This Contrarian Logic Is Going to Appeal to Me

How do we combat genocide? Arm people.

Studies show an armed populice is not a good target of those with genocidal ambitions, whereas genocidal movements often have movements to disarm populations. I would argue that the UN policies since WWII haven't been successful, thus far? Is it worth trying another approach?

Who am I kidding, I just want a handgun.
An Argument Worth Having

'As the French intellectual Henri-Levy put it, he is opposed to the war because it is "morally justifiable but politically unwise."'

I can certainly respect this position on the Iraq war. I think the Left in America did a shitty job of articulating this position, instead choosing to focus on "Bush's a liar," and "There is no Iraq-Al Queda connection." But just to say the Iraq war is politically unwise begs the question: what do we do about the Middle East, given that there is so much anti-American sentiment which fuels Islamic terrorism? Do we lessen our support of Israel? Do we publically denounce the Saudi Royal Family? Do we try to assassinate Assad? Do we become friends we the Iranians? Do we maintain the status quo relationships we had with countries prior to 9/11? These are the questions the anti-war position needs to answer - not merely to say, "The war in Iraq was wrong because of ___________" This is what Hitchens means when he says the anti-war crowd has the explaining to do.

"I think you are a bit dismissive of a leader's role in going to war. If you can't convince a majority of the population that the war is the right move, you probably shouldn't do it."

Well, not necessarily. I'm not advocating bullying ahead with unpopular and unwise decisions. I'm advocating what I would call, leading by example as opposed to leading by consensus. For the Iraq war, I would state my position and invite discourse, with the knowledge that at a certain point, one needs to make a decision and always with imperfect information.

The reason we have representative government is because we entrust decision making responsibility to our representatives. We don't take a popular vote on each policy decision, especially not when deciding to go to war.

One could argue the most unpopular war in American History was the Civil War, but it was also probably the most justified. Likewise, Gulf War I was a super popular war that I believe we mishandled because no one wanted to get rid of Saddam in 1991. Bush I, if he were wise, would have understood that guys like Saddam don't become better, that we should have gotten rid of him then and there. But this was not what the Arab league agreed to, nor what the UN sactioned. Granted the US people would probably have rallied behind it....wait a second, this sounds like Gulf War II, doesn't it? Hmmmmm.
Now That's Just Funny

I don't like O'Reilly, but wishing the hurricane flooded the UN building alone - and saying he wouldn't have rescued them. That's actually a little bit funny, isn't it?

I know once you've started explaining humor, it's no longer funny, but I'd venture to say his claim is what we call absurd.
The Far Left

I've thought it for a long time...the moonbat far left are not friends of true liberals. Zell Miller expressed something similar when he said, "I didn't leave the Democrats, the Democrats left me."

Now Cindy Sheenan is attacking Hillary Clinton. Who's next?

**What they don't seem to understand is that someone can have a principled stance on a position that they do not share. They think anyone in favor of the war is a liar or a political opportunist. They cannot imagine people support it for logical, intelligent reasons. It is a sad day for liberals, because we have been hijacked by angry children, uninterested in reasonable political discourse.

UPDATE: Maybe there is hope for the left after all, if we listen to the likes of Michael Totten and cease recognizing G. Galloway, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Arianna Huffington, and These people are embarassing apologists for fascism and don't have any meaningful contribution to responsible political discourse.
I Don't See a Downside

To North Korea agreeing to give up nuclear weapon ambitions. I guess I just don't really believe them, but so long as it's on paper, it gives us who believe that NK shouldn't have nukes some leverage when they try to cheat.
Times Select

Now it will cost $50 a year to read the wonderful op-ed team at the New York times - Friedman, Krugman, Dowd, et al. Don't think I'll be subscribing.

Howard Kurtz lambasts the media for hurricane coverage, pointing to the hypocracy of jumping on the Bush admin for the "national shame," yet prior to the hurricane, consistently catering stories to suburban, wealthy readers. Quotes:

"This is not a story, like whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that was difficult to get at. But journalists rarely venture into impoverished neighborhoods these days, except for quick-hit features. When a woman from one of these communities goes missing, it doesn't attain the status of a Natalee Holloway drama."

"Apparently none of these ace reporters has ever set foot in Washington's Anacostia district, or South Central Los Angeles, or the trailer parks of rural Arkansas," writes Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks.

"The media have had a fine old time ridiculing Michael Brown, who quit last week as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as a former Arabian horse expert with no background for the job. And as The Post reported, five of the agency's top eight officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters. But why did journalists never get around to pointing this out in the past? Why are agencies such as FEMA never covered until disaster strikes? A database search found only one story and an editorial about Brown's 2003 nomination as FEMA chief. Both were in the Denver Post -- Brown is from Colorado -- and both described him as experienced because of his tenure as the agency's No. 2 official."

Confused Times

I attended the USC-Arkansas game at the LA Colisuem on Sat nite, the most serious college football I've witnessed. I grew up on Stanford, which is considerably less serious than USC, then attended a small liberal arts college, so I'm pretty devoid experientially from big time college football. There were parts I enjoyed, USC's offense, perhaps the best ever assembled in college football, the huge stadium, the great cheap seats for students. There were parts I disliked as well, the near stampede to get in and the Nuremburg rally-eque two fingered arm movement to support the trojans.

There was a moment before the game, while people were still in the crazy mood, cheering for the trojans (it was the first home game of the year), when the announcer started to make an annoucement about ROTC and supporting trojans who had participated in the war. The crowd cheered quietly, and hesitantly. I could almost feel the tension that someone may one did, but people weren't cheering loud either. It was a weird moment, as if people didn't know how to react or how they were supposed to react. We live in confusing times...
Bush's Iraq War and My Iraq War

Nate makes an interesting comment that me and Chris Hitchens are supporting a fundamentally different war than Bush sold to the American people. I've never thought Bush articulated the reasons for the Iraq war well, I found Tony Blair's arguments much more persuasive.

What I appreciate about Nate's POV on this topic is that despite going back and forth on "support" for the war, he goes back and forth for legitimate reasons, adjusting his position based upon research and reading and the situation as he understands it.

That being said, I support the Iraq war for different reasons than Bush has articulated - but those reasons are not SO different, that I cannot support the mission as it is being handled (versus, says, how I would've handled it if I were president - now that's a really scary thought!)

The whole WMD thang. From the beginning, I think this was an overemphasized claim - not because I didn't think Saddam had weapons - I thought he did (as did, incidentally, most anti-war folks) - but because it was what I call a "fear tactic." Bush tried to scare the American public into think we needed to go into war. I think this was the wrong approach. I think the war was the right strategic, geo-polical move for the US, not something we HAD to do, or else NYC was going to get nuked by terrorists. I'm not sure how popular such an argument would have been accepted, especially in the short term, but I think a good president would have argued this position and taken the country to war EVEN if it didn't have popular support - and run risk losing the reelection. That what Presidents are elected to do - make decisions on the Federal level for the rest of us. But, back to the WMD thang, just because we didn't find any weapons, doesn't mean we didn't succeed. To me, the evidence was clear, Saddam had tried many times to get weapons in the past - and we never had good intelligence on it. After Gulf War I, we discovered he was a lot closer to developing nukes than we thought. Where were all the cries about intelligence reform and not trusting our government back then? Why do people comfortably say "Bush lied" when he was wrong about Saddam in Gulf War II, but no one seems to claim Bush I lied with respect to our intelligence on Saddam being shoddy before Gulf War I?

My point is similar to one Chris Hitchens made in his debate against Galloway - it is not the "pro-war" position who should have to explain why deposing a mad tyrant like Saddam is desirable or beneficial to America and the rest of the world in a post-9/11 world. It is, in fact, the "anti-war" position that should describe why allowing a psychotic thug who runs a terrorized country, with a desire to acquire WMDs, who frolicks with terrorist organizations, hates the United States, and is centered in a region that has become a cesspool of murderous anti-semitism and anti-Western sentiment, should be allowed to carry on, when we have the means to get rid of him.

I think the whole WMD thing was the only argument Bush thought he could use to win support from the UN - and perhaps that was correct thinking, because I'm convinced France and Germany decided on their own that they were happy with the status quo and weren't willing to see the US get rid of Saddam. The argument didn't work and so we went in anyway, replaying the scenario of Gary Cooper in High Noon, a film that I thought was okay. Incidentally, Howard Hawks found Cooper's character in High Noon unbelievable, saying, if he could do the job all by himself, all along, why did he ask for any help to begin with....hence Rio Bravo, for me, a much better film. So maybe, what we should have done, is never asked the UN for help at all, just gone ahead and done the right thing because we thought it was the right thing to do and let the chips fall as they may. Maybe that is the lesson to learn from all this.

As for all the post-war follies....I have trouble differentiating inevitable fucks ups versus preventable fuck ups. Most who cites "no post war plan," as far as I can tell, really mean, "I never supported this war in the first place, and see how it's going to fail." In short, I don't trust their analysis.

And I think we forget that our foe is pretty fucking brutal, and militarily has learned some lessons about how to fight the US. After Gulf War I, the entire world realized we cannot be defeated conventionally. No army will ever fight the US conventionally again. But terrorism, urban warfare, and civilian attacks work against the US. How did they learn this - by experience - WTC in 1993, Cole Bombings, Somolia, 9/11, and what is going on in Iraq now. We need to figure out how to fight these urban conflicts, because this is how war is going to be until we learn to defeat it.

Anyhow, those are enough thoughts for now. To be continued.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ouch, More Evidence of Embarassing Overreactions to Katrina

No rapes, no victims of foul play, huh? The stories of anarchy, were they wrong? Did the media try to cause racial and social panic? Are reporters reducing themselves to reality TV show producers?

I guess the question is: What is more likely, chaos and anarchy out of a John Carpenter film breaking out in the streets after a disaster or the media untruthfully depicting chaos and anarchy from a John Carpenter film after a disaster?

I'm not sure which one is more scary.
Best Time of the Year For Sports

Although it's a tough call against the NCAA Tourney, this time of the year is the best for sports - College Football, Pro Football, and post-season baseball. It doesn't get better than that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ahhh, Old Video Games

In case you were, like me, wondering the order of Mike Tyson's punch out villians.
Honour Killings

Do staunch Western feminists who continually cite the lack of women in the Senate, as CEOs, and as filmmakers feel like a bunch of whiners when the read about this?
Younger Generation of Bush's

I find it amusing how often the Bush kids get in trouble. It almost makes me like them more.

Maybe some of these captures will lead to information about Zarqawi. I wonder if Galloway would defend him?
I Guess the Powerline Guys Aren't Sex Pistol Fans

Nor, do I suppose did they see Sid and Nancy, a fine Alex Cox film. Here they critique the comparison between Sid Blumenthal and Hugh Hewitt. Whatever. But they point to Sid's nickname being Vicious (see #7), a rather clever reference, if you ask me.
What Do You Call This?

There should be a term for the act of blaming wrong doing on someone not responsible for it, absolving the actual wrong doer, and shifting the blame upside down.

This type of logic I find reprehensible.

Friday, September 16, 2005


Watching the Galloway and Hitchens debate, missing Last Days because of it...

Galloway (and the left in general) strikes me as taking two contradictory positions:

1. The reason autocratic governments in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world are in power are because of US support. Lefties argue the only reason Saddam was in power was because of US support and the only reason the Taliban were in power was because of US support.

2. At the same time, the argument against the war in Iraq is that the US government isn't capable of installing a democratic regime in Iraq. We are incapable of "spreading democracy," around the world, even if such a goal were desirable. We are incapable of securing Afghanistan, and incapable of transforming these places into amiable countries.

How can both of these premises be true? How can the US be the reason the Saudi Royal family rules Arabia (as Bin Laden argues), but not be powerful enough to install a democratic government in Iraq?
A Damn Fine Post

Sometimes I persuse the blogs that show up on my site register as referring URLS. Sometimes these blogs are in Spanish, which doesn't make sense to me....but regardless, I found this post on one of them that I quite liked.

One of the biggest problems I have with the left is that it willing to apologize for those who stand against everything the left finds important: woman's rights, freedom on religion, gay rights. The left finds it easier to argue against the right, instead of against Islamic Fascism. The perverse thing about this situation, to me, is that the reason the left feels comfortable arguing against the right is that the right will actually listen to them. The left thinks it can change minds by arguing and proving their points, ie that Iraq is a disaster, that GW Bush is a disaster, etc, etc.

It is because the Islamic Fascists won't listen to any argument is what makes them so dangerous. The left refuses to acknowledge this immense problem by trying to heap the blame on American policies and so forth.

Kevin argued last night that I lambast the left for secreting pining for disaster in Iraq and high body counts in Katrina, so they can have proof the GW is fucking up the country, but I neglect the fact that the right takes a certain glee in getting to "take the fight to the terrorists," that people on the right secretly "get off" on fighting these guys.

Kevin's point is partially accurate. I believe there is about 20% of this country that would blindly support any war the US participated in - if we were to invade Mexico to steal burrito recipes, there would be a scary amount of American's who would support the endevour - "Just look at those Mexican's eating their big burritos, I know they're plotting something..." Most of these people tend to be right wing. (Although, some of the scariest right wing folks to me are the ultra isoloationists, who just want to erect walls around the country and not be involved with the rest of the world at all)

But there is another element to Kevin's argument, which Nate has also made on his blog about some fantasy enemy and how we long to be heroic (I'm combining similar, but not the same, arguments together here.)

I think they are on to something, but I'm not sure if it's as malicious as they argue. Growing up in the 1990s, it was en vouge to see the world as Ritter from Clear and Present Danger when he lambasts Jack Ryan, "the world isn't black and white, Jack, it's grey..."

In a grey, confusing, relative, world, it is a contrarian and reactionary position to long for something else, as Jack says, "Not black and white, right and wrong."

One of my good friends from home, when we were 19-20, playing golf during the summer told me once, "I wish there was like a war I could go fight in, to give me purpose." He wasn't "conservative," or malicious, just lost...

I think something changed for a lot of people on 9/11, we shifted from a grey world to a world that had a renewed sense of right and wrong. 9/11 was wrong, utterly wrong. And I can comfortably say that without apology, rationalization, or justification - and importantly, without a hint of irony.

Kevin seems to think that wanting to fight the terrorists is about violence. I don't think the right views it that way. The right may take a certain glee from a reaffirmation of "right vs. wrong," but I don't necessary see that as a bad thing.

If we look at the 1990s, we see what a "grey" world yields - ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, genocide in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Iraq, suicide bombing across Israel and in the US and Europe, the rise of Fascism across the Islamic world, the reaffirmation of autocracies across the Arab world. We would argue these things are undesirable, but would not have the moral sense to say they are wrong. I think 9/11 changed that for a lot of Americans and Westerners, and I think it that is a good thing. That is what we mean when we say 9/11 was a wake up call.**

So for all the condemnation of heroism and chest beating Churchillian rhetoric - we long for these things because they encapsulate a moral statement - this is right and this is wrong.

Some on the left will argue - who are we to judge what is right and wrong? This, to me, is cowardice, childish refusal to accept oneself as a moral agent, capable of making decision that affects oneself and others. It is also unjust to not grant this same agency to other individuals - to hold people accountable for their actions - good and bad. In the West, we believe in certain principles, most importantly, JS Mill's harm principle - "Do whatever you want so long as you don't fuck with anyone else." (paraphrase).

And then the question becomes: How do we deal with people who fuck with others? Lock 'em up. Fight 'em. Because if we don't, then we don't really believe in fighting or earning freedom, we just believe in consuming it. And to me, that's bullshit, like a rich kid inheriting a bunch of money and spending it willy nilly.

**One leftist argument is that 9/11 was merely an aberration, overexaggerated, etc, etc. I don't know what to say to this, other than I think that it is wishful thinking...they said the same about Hitler in 1933. Goddamit, I used a Hitler comparison - so lazy and cheap.
An Al Queda Summary

Jessica Stern gives a good update on Al Queda today.

UPDATE: Another good link from Winds of Change regarding the status of Al Queda today. This article nicely outlines competing interpretations of defining what Al Queda is.

There are essentially two different views of present day Al Queda:

1. Al Queda is a less of an organization, and more of an idea, or inspiration. BL created an ideological hub for like minded extremist groups from around the world to coalesce around and find inspiration from. This view argues that capturing BL and Zawahiri are of minimal importance to fighting Al Queda.

2. Al Queda is an organization that provides operational support to groups interested in large scale terrorist attacks. This argument argues that while there are small groups that find inspiration from Al Queda, that the larger attacks, like 9/11, 3/11, and the July 7 British bombings are the result of the organization Al Queda, not just the ideology. Under this POV, capturing BL and Zawahir and other members of the pre-9/11 Al Queda leadership is vital to struggle against the organization.

I tend to lean towards the second view of Al Queda, however, even if the first view were proven to be more true, I would argue that capturing BL and Zawahiri is still extrememly important for the retributive. They deserve to be caught for what they did, it is vital to our sense of justice to capture or kill them.
Antonioni, Marsha, and Nicholson

This event sounds unbelievable...I'd love to see a dual between Marsha Kinder and Jack Nicholson. Goddam Los Angeles - too many good things to do on a given night - Tennis Club, Writing Group, and Poker vs. Antonioni evening with this crowd. I'm guessing it was sold out anyhow.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Katrina Death Counts

I really wanted to hold off and not say anything about the death counts of Katrina, but I think it's safe to say that the predicted 10,000+ is not going to materialize. Daily Kos has an accounting that I'm sure no one can understand - I think it is meant to repeat over and over the same numbers to make the death count appear as high and as unreadable as possible to highlight how George Bush has American blood on his hands.

There was chaos and anarchy in New Orleans for a couple of days. Order has been restored. America will recover. America has endured much more horrific anarchy and chaos and survived much greater hardship - see the Civil War, see the Great Depression. Is there any reason to think we can't handle this situation? Yet, everyone, fueled the media, seems to be "getting off" on how American can't handle itself - that we descended into a third world country, etc, etc. This whole line of logic is nutso. Does anyone truly believe this? I think not. But what I find interesting is WHY do people WANT to believe this? Would the world be a better place if America were like a third world country? Would anyone, including people living in the "third world" be better off? People are crazy, people are crazy.

I generally like Tom Friedman, and I credit him with writing a tremendous book, from Beruit to Jerusalem, which was basically my introduction to the modern middle east and particularly, the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But Powerline crunches him here.

"Friedman's column strikes me as the latest manifestation of a bargain he made long ago. Friedman gets to talk to, and drop the names of, fancy foreign officials and intellectuals in exchange for swallowing and regurgitating their line."

Wasn't it Singapore just a couple of years ago who wanted to cane an American traveler for littering? And we should be more like them???
Something About Cheese

Being in film school, I still haven't figured out why some cheese works and why some doesn't. Why did I like MacGyver, Saved By the Bell, and Happy Days when I was little? And why today, when MacGyver is on TV in the AM, am I remotely excited? By the way, for other MacGyver fans out there - what was MacGyver's job? I never really understood that.

UPDATE: Information is too easy to find with the internet - MacGyver's job was a "consultant" for the Phoenix Foundation, a think tank devoted to righting wrongs and chasing bad guys around the world. Even at 10, I was wise enough to be suspicious of this organization.
A Must See

It sounds to me like I must watch this debate although I know it's going to make my skin crawl doing so.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Alain Resnais

A short biography.
Warning: All Bloggers

At one time I assumed it was safe to publish whatever the fuck I wanted on my blog because, well, it was my blog and nobody was going to read this crap anyway. Stupid logic, inviting disaster, I realize.

The warning is thus: Assume everything you write will be found by the last person you would want to find it. Don't use names. People with those names will find your scribbles because people are attention whores and google themselves out of some weird perverse satisfaction from seeing their name in text....I don't have the luxury because my name is so goddamn popular, so I'm really just jealous.

Now that you've made yourself safe for hurtin feelings, your writing will probably take a downwards spiral towards sucking ass.
A Scathing Indictment

Of the British media apologizing for Holocaust denial and other Jew-hatred across the Muslim/Arab world.
Iran Takes Notice of Hurricane Katrina Response

Iran notices of the kind devastation that can throw the US into chaos, suggesting that they could give us a good blow if they needed to. Since they're being so candid, why don't they acknowledge how we (the US) could annihilate the entire country of Iran in an escalated war.

Any country who overtly attacks the US would be crazy not to expect a massive retaliation. Ask Yamamoto...

Of course, what would really happen is that Iran would order such attacks against the US, deny they had anything to do with them, but try to take credit at home. We would find out and retaliate, and many on the Left would take the Iranian "word" for it that they had nothing to do with it. Basically what's been happening in Palestine-Israel for the past 20 years. And we'd be stuck fighting a two front war - one against moral enemies and another in the "battle of ideas."

Note: We should also let the Iranians and North Koreans know that they will be held partially responsible for any nuke detonated in the US. In short, expect retaliation if a terrorist group succeeds in setting off a nuke.
Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid

Watched it again the other night. Man, what a movie. I sometimes forget that films, rather than just being fun or "artistic" or entertaining are often about cheesy, sentimental things of great import: friendship, morality, loyalty...this film is so simple...times are changing, two old friends are adjusting, no judgement by one or the other, just two friends making moral choices that conflict. Classic tragedy. My favorite part is the beginning when Garrett tracks down Billy and Billy gives up:

"Some poor company you riding with, Pat."

"Yeah, but I'm still alive."

"So am I."
Gas Demand Fall

Well, no shit. For all those interested in conservation and conversion to alternative energy fuels, the way to make those alternatives viable is for gas prices to increase. I think it is unfortunate that it required a hurricane and market factors to force this change - we should have taxed gas at a much higher rate after 9/11 to drive down consumption.

I remember suggesting this at a film set filled with supposedly liberal minded cast and crew and the overwhelming response - "that would be unfair because it will disproportionately affect poor people." To me, that translates to, "I want alternative energy fuels to exist, but I'm not willing to pay for it"
Attacks Across Iraq

Goddamn, these guys are persistant. You would think that after awhile, they would run out of suicide bombers. It's as if there is an endless supply. They are also clever, discovering new, clever ways to kill people in a way that will disturb the average citizen...the day laborer van offering to hire people and then exploding. It's a death cult, folks, and if anything is worth fighting against - this is it.

Anyone want to make a bet about what runs out first: oil or suicide bombers?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Pakistan kicks some Al Queda ass.
Hate Crimes

No one seems to care about the hate crimes in Gaza right now. As I've said before, I support the pullout, but don't think it'll work.

There comes a certain point you reach with friends or people you know to be self-destructive. Maybe you try to help for awhile, but eventually it becomes both pointless and terribly depressing. They start to resent even your help...well, how can one not feel the same thing about Palestine? How can you want to give aid and help to this place, while it descends into chaos, anger, and hatred?

Interesting comparison - see the NY Times article on the pullout. The "anarchy" section is left to the end, and there seems to be no mention of the synogogue burning.

Imagine if the Jews were burning mosques? Remember Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount? What an outrage.

UPDATE: And what to make of this. As a filmmaker, I think "Wow, clever." As a human being, I'm horrified.

UPDATE II: NPR has a piece on the Gaza pullout.

Okay, so I'm listening to the NPR piece and not suprisingly, it's more mild mannered than Powerline. No one calls the synogogue burning a hate crime...they point out the fact that the Israeli government agreed to destroy all buildings not "of use" to the Palestinians. This included a bunch of homes that were destroyed because everyone felt their would be violence over the homes. Sounds retarded to me, but they are looting piles of rubble and greenhouses which were supposed to employ Palestinians, so I guess the decision was smart. But at the last minute, Israel decided not to take down the's not explained why, I guess the implication is that Israel meant to provoke the Palestinians by not taking them down..? The synogogues, one would argue, are representative of Israeli occupation and therefore legitimate targets of hate and anger...

Then again this line of argument is applied to all of Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both of whose flags fly over Gaza now, both of whom the US government considers terrorist organizations, and both of whom would drive Israel into the sea, if they could.
How Can One Not Find This Intriguing?

A lost soul fighting in Iraq, writes a blog, it becomes a hit, he gets a book deal. The secret, he says, is not to try.

Monday, September 12, 2005

I'd Really Like to Kick This Guys Ass

Adam Gahdahan
, the goat farming LA tool turned Al Queda spokesperson. Yeah, I'd really like to kick his ass.
Eeee-Gawd, This Sounds Terrible

The new Leo-Scorcese movie about, get this: Teddy Roosevelt. Yeah, I'm looking forward to that one. Snooze.

Hang 'em up Marty.
Hopes and Fears

I'm in screenwriting class, so I'm thinking in these terms. When I read stories that Palestinians are burning synogogues to celebrate Israeli withdrawal, unstoppable by the Palestinian security forces...well, I hope it's an isolated incident, but I fear it's an expression of what we will see more of in the future.

If this happened in America, the Left would feel outrage. Since it happens in Gaza, the Left feels a twinge of satisfaction - the Jews had it coming didn't they? There's a word for a society like this: horror.

I wasn't able to post anything on 9/11. But Mark Steryn writes an interesting article on how the war on terror is being won, but the debate at home is being lost. I agree.

9/11 will be the defining moment of our least I hope so, because if it's not, it'll be something much, much worse.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


In the next five years there will be several movies that come out, shot on digital, that are mother fucking good. Many film students will be sitting around with their dicks in their hands thinking - I could have produced that...

If only we spent our time on IDEAS.

UPDATE: Word on the street it has already happened here. Shit, well, it already happend with the Celebration and 28 Days Later. I guess my prediction is a) It'll be from a previously unknown director and b) It'll be a hit on the Napolean Dynomite scale.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Democracy Will Not Stop Terrorism

Foreign Affairs has a long article about how there is no empircal evidence that democracy leads to a reduction in terrorism. In fact, the article surmises that democracy in the Middle East will only lead to more Islamicist rule in these countries.

I have a couple of comments. 1) I don't think this argument coincides with the American Left anti-war position, which mostly had to do with the UN opposition to the war, and not the movement towards democracy (which most anti-war folks would probably embrace) in the middle east. To me, there is a major difference between these two positions.

2) That being said, this is one of the more convincing reasons for arguing against the Iraq war, that doing so will not make the US any safer, and backing it up with evidence.

3) This "security" argument can also be coupled with the fact that invading Iraq gives incentive for Iran and North Korea to develop nukes - which they are both doing. This is very concerning.

4) Despite these legitimate concerns, there are a couple of legimitate counterpoints.

a) I don't think Islamicists gain power through legitimate elections is inherently a problem for the United States. I think we could deal with a modern Islamicist state better than a secular autocracy like Hussein's Iraq. The problem is most Islamicist states tend towards authoritarianism, but the history of the Islamicist movement has not always been so radical.

b) Autocrats are a major reason for turning towards extremism - because there is no space for the individual to have or exercise liberty. Just read about how Arafat ran Palestine - 30% of Foreign Aid went to his and his crony's bank accounts. Another 30% went to "security," the rest to the infrastructure of the country, ministries, jobs, etc. Twenty years of corruption, during which time a state could have been built, schools, roads, businesses. Arafat was known as being "generous" because if people asked him for money, he would give it to them, to attend school, medical care, return, he was known as "father" to many Palestinians. He treated his people like they were children and they consequently behave as such, refusing to take responsibility for their own lives and believing in lies about their land being stolen, and perpetrating conspiracies about Israel and the Jews and so forth. This is what happens under Middle Eastern autocrats, and because there is another rich tradition in the region, that of Islam, people turn towards the alternative, and sadly it often takes the radical form. How can a young Arab man have pride in himself? By begging men like Arafat for money to send their kids to school? Or by joining a prideful, successful group like Hamas or Al Queda. You tell me.

c) The point of democracy in the region isn't that it will necessarily curb acts of terrorism, but I think it will empower individual Arabs to take more control and responsibility over their lives. If this were to occur, I would suspect that we will enlist millions who will seek to stop terrorism with us, instead of the passive Arabs who distrust America, Israel, their own governments so much that they don't care to make a stand against terrorists - because the alternatives are no better. We would see writers, businessmen, teachers, lawyers, doctors emerge as alternatives to beggers and terrorists - and yes, there would still be terrorists, maybe even more, but there would also be more formidable opponents of terrorists in the region. And that is when Islamic terrorism won't just lesson in frequency but be eliminated.
We Should Think About This More

In film school there is a bias towards shooting film because of the "look," and the aura and the connection to the past. I can respect that. But at the same time, I think it is stupid and expensive and rooted partially in fear of what others will think rather than any true aesthetic sentiment. If film school cinematographers spent their time developing creative ways to light and shoot digitally, they would be on the cutting edge of technology and in demand right out of film school to work on digital projects. Instead, USC teaches us how to light scenes on huge stages so we can hopefully get a union gig as a best boy electric on Miss Congeniality 3.

Here is an article on what Hollywood fears - filmmakers making movies without permission and without restraint that might be awesome. As students, we can be on the cutting edge of this because we study filmmaking. We will make better movies by becoming experts on the medium, on the history, on the language. We won't become experts by turning in precise daily production reports.

I'm not going to argue that blogs are revolutionizing media...but five years ago no one considered the possibility of weblogs even pecking away at the massive power of big media. Now I hear a cacophony of voices challenging big media each and every day for content and most importantly EXPERTISE.

The revolution won't be'll be on the internet.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Who Needs Film School?

When you have Critereon Collection and the website. A big look at Voice over.
I Have to See This Film - Thumbsucker

The writer-director has a blog. He could be speaking for me in this quote from the Salon article (yeah, you need to watch the ad).

"American Beauty" I completely hate. I find it a really reprehensible movie because it's making fun of people that live there. I don't respond to "Donnie Darko" at all, because its quirkiness overtakes any sense of reality. But "Ordinary People" I watched a lot. "Ice Storm" I watched a lot. Those are two suburban movies I would embrace. And while mine has certain visual gags, I guess, I'm more in that camp.

I get compared to "Donnie Darko" every frickin' day. That and "Garden State," another movie I hate. I'm not going to argue with the audience. But my take on suburbia is that I have no interest in picking on people, or saying they're "dysfunctional." I hate that phrase. As if there's a family that's functional, you know? It's a very George Bush way to be looking at family: Evil is to be killed, and good will go to heaven.

I grew up in a 1910 Spanish colonial house, but I walked home every day through developments like that, and had this projection that there was all this happiness and togetherness that I didn't feel like I had. So I'm a little bit like the Lars von Trier of America: It's this imaginary thing. But it's very real, and it's still very hard for me to look at the suburbs and understand that it's not as perfect or as well integrated as it seems. That's a 6-year-old's problem, but it's still in me.

Badass, muthafucker. He gets it.
Fired For Being Too Good Looking

I'd be willing to bet this decade, 2000-2010, will be the nuttiest, most memorable decade of my life. So much crazy-ass, end of the world, shift your view point, backwards shit has already happened - and we're only halfway through. Hold on to your pants...

Evidence: A woman fired for being too hot. I suppose there's some sort of weird, multiple levels of irony happening here. I'll console her.
The Future

Maybe, just maybe, something good will come of all of this.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

That Explains Suha

A great article in the Atlantic this month about Arafat from interviews with people close to him - bodyguards, business associates, etc. The article suggests Arafat may have died of AIDS. Anyone who saw pictures of him towards the end knew he had some type of terrible disease. I thought cancer, but AIDS was a possibility. Apparently, AIDs is a big problem among the homosexual population in the West Bank, and there is a rumor amongst those "in-the-know" that the soft spoken, humble Arafat may have been a gay...he was apparently close with many of his bodyguards.

And does anyone remember the days after his death, seeing his widow (who lived in France) on TV. Ugliest girl I've ever seen.

Normally I don't like to spread gay rumors about guys - more often than not they are attempts to undermining the subject, rather than something accurrate, relevant, or interesting. Same thing applies to rumors about girls being sluts. We all know the truth - all guys are gay and all girls are sluts!

But the fact is, I have no problem undermining Arafat and the homophobic society he "led."

UPDATE: I guess I'm not the only one spreading "rumors" as Powerline brings up the same issue today:

Arafat will be happy to see KRT resolutely standing by his side protecting him from the vile, filthy rumors, that he always stood against his entire life.

I guess it's a reflection of shallow political ideology on whether one believes it more likely that Arafat died of AIDS or Israeli poisoning. I imagine that KRT would have no problem with the "rumors" in Arafatistan that the Israelis had poisoned Arafat.
An Alliance

Perhaps an alliance will form between those of the hardcore left that hate the US and State governments and the libertarians who basically hate ANY form of government. Guns will undoubtedly be involved.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Maybe Dropping Out of College Wasn't Such A Good Idea

I propose that "I see dead people," is officially replaced with "George Bush hates black people" in the upcoming Criterion Collection release of the Sixth Sense.

You tell me: Real Telethon or a Saturday Night Live Skit.
Modern, Cool Nerd
69 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 17% Dork

That's me according to the test.

I Hate to Be a Jerk

But Sean Penn trying to save the world is pretty funny. It's almost as funny as him going to Iraq to try to resolve the WMD issue. He should stick to directing - love The Pledge.
New Skills

I'm a big proponent of learning new skills. I think it is worthwhile to make a point of becoming proficient at something new each 6 months...or at least every year.

Last year it was poker. The next 6 months will be tennis. After that, fishing is looking like a good possibility. Other possible future skills: foreign language, playing an instrument, learning html code, carpentry, shooting a handgun, fixing cars, advanced mathematics.
When People Ask...

Why didn't the Germans do anything about Hitler in the early 1930s? Or how do people allow totalitarianism to take control over their lives? Or how do they not recognize hate when the see it right in front of them and do nothing about it?

I've been forwarded an email with the following text. It is long, but worth reading to try to understand a particular slice of an ideology who views us as "the enemy."

"Statement of Arab and Anti-Imperialist Organizations Regarding the Katrina Disaster."

Note: Please distribute widely. Although this statement was written up by a group of American, Arab, and Arab-American activists, it’s open to all groups who agree with its contents.

“A man-made disaster” is how the New York Times, the flagship of American imperialist and Zionist propaganda, described the catastrophe on the American Gulf Coast. Not even the mainstream US media try to deny the fact that neglect of the New Orleans levees and the gutting of funding for preparedness for such repeatedly predicted disasters were the result of the US government’s systematic plunder of the country’s resources for the purpose of its wars around the world, spearheaded by the Zionist Neo-Conservative clique at the helm in Washington.

The legacy of cuts in social spending, the subversion of the Social Security system, the tax bonanzas for the wealthy are only one side of the US imperial picture – the other side being the so-called “war on terror” – the war of American terror that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union and is aimed at seizing uncontested control of the entire globe.

For days following the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005, hundreds of thousands of poor families, especially Afro-Americans and other minority groups, in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were left to die of hunger and lack of medical attention as the US administration continued in its mode of social indifference at home, coupled with military offensive abroad.

Lashed by a hurricane, then flooded out of their homes and abandoned with no food, drinking water, shelter, or medical attention, the people of the American Gulf Coast died, probably by the thousands – victims of the imperial war machine just as surely as if they had been bombed in al-Fallujah or rocketed in Gaza.

Shocked and amazed at the indifference of the American administration to the plight of victims in its own country, leaders around the world stepped forward to offer help. Even presidents of countries targeted by the regime in Washington for destabilization and assassination, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, offered to send in doctors, medicine, oil and supplies for the victims of US government indifference while Bush offered little more than suggestions that private charities fill the breach left by the imperial war deficit.

Shamed before the entire world, the Bush administration then reversed course and within a couple of days smoothly evacuated half a million people – whom it was earlier prepared to leave to drown like some rats in a sewer.

But even if the Bush administration has for the moment removed itself from the hot spotlight of international condemnation, the economy of the US has been dealt a blow that will put before the United States a critical choice – to continue its campaign of world conquest or to tend to the deteriorating social and economic conditions at home, where the most dynamic region of the country is now burdened with the same refugees and ruin that US imperialism has been rampantly inflicting on the rest of the world for decades.

At this critical time, all possible pressure must be brought to bear on the US imperial and Zionist leadership. As Americans demand explanations and investigations into why thousands perished needlessly on their Gulf Coast, the reality that imperialist war is waged at the expense of the masses – both at home and abroad – can only become clearer.

Popular demands for immediate relief for the hundreds of thousands of victims of the storm and for the millions of casualties of the impending economic recession must be widened to include a demand for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq, for cutting off aid to ‘Israel’, and for an end of the mad drive for global control that operates under the signboard of a “war on terror.”

The winds of Katrina have swept away the camouflage hiding the fact that the young men and women of America’s working classes who put on American uniforms serve only the narrow interests of a greedy elite. It is a matter of supreme indifference to that elite whether the working people and their families drown at home or blow up in the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan so long as the economic and geo-strategic interests of imperialism and Zionism are advanced.

No more! The imperialist and neo-Conservative Zionist elite in Washington must be driven into a corner by the united power of all their victims.

Using all the appropriate means at our disposal – from the guns and rockets of the Iraqi Resistance fighters, to the protests and strikes of displaced and exploited American workers – we must join hands to form a world-wide front.

Together, in every theater of the struggle, we must escalate our common fight for an end to the global imperial adventure and its world of man-made disasters!

The Editorial Board of the Free Arab Voice (FAV)

North American Committee Against Zionism and Imperialism (NACAZAI)

In case you can't see it, there is a hidden glee within this email that the diaster occurred...and you ask how totalitarianism takes hold, how it happens, it happens when enough people stand by and read something like this and say, "I think they have a point."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Offers a much more interesting perspective than most of the rest of the times writers with respect to Katrina and Bush and all that lost jazz.
The Onion Is Better Than Me

Goddamn, I was writing a piece on racial profiling, but the Onion sums it up better in one sentence:

"Racial profiling just makes sense. But it's also wrong, so I'm torn."
Crit Studies

"According to Brian Rotman in his 1987 book Signifying Nothing: The Semiotics of Zero, three parallel developments in Western Culture changed our relation to reality beginning in the 13th century: the use of zero as the "sign of nothing," the emergence of paper or virtual money, and the use of the vanishing point in representation. All three developments allowed us to conceptualize the relativity and artificiality of the world we create for ourselves. They disentangled the reality of human creation - tied as it remains to both our mortality and our rational pursuit of a controllable realm of experience - from the infinite, the unknowable, and the unreal. God and man became separate in a productive manner."

How would I relate this to today - right now, this moment? I'd talk about the hurricane and the different "interpretations" of what occurred. All, except the fanatics, will agree that the hurricane itself was outside of the "controllable realm" of human experience.

Some assert the chaos and anarchy, the aftermath of the hurricane, was not part of the uncontrollable, but rather a mismanaged reality, something we humans could have, given the proper preparation, done something substantial about. Some go farther, implying within this line of reasoning that the reason or at least a factor in the insufficient response has to do with the victims being poor and/or black.

Others see the chaos and aftermath differently, as part in parcel of the "uncontrollable realm" of experience, that shit happens and it is obvious that the poor that will suffer most because they have the least amount of resources and know-how to respond. The fact that the victims are mostly black reflects the reality of the demographics in the south.

And then there all the different gradations in between...some local ineptitude plus some federal ineptitude, and is it "to be expected, human fallacy" ineptitude? Or "cognizant, lazy, and negligent" ineptitude? Or worst, racist, malicious, purposeful "ineptitude?"

The final factor and topic of an entirely different story, I imagine, is the media representation of the hurricane and what ideology is embedded. I must admit that I have not watched much coverage, but it is clear the media is driven by profit and with the high production costs of celebrity journalists and world wide distribution and money for access, one thing is clear - they need viewers. What is the first thing we learn that you need to capture the audience: Conflict. And there is no conflict in the idea that all of this was uncontrollable....

But don't forget the REACTION as well...which will hide as arguing for the "uncontrollable," but is another form of conflict. *one might argue that this post is reaction and probably be right.

On a somewhat related note, I would like to watch Grizzly Man because I think Herzog deals with the idea of man and nature and their relationship. The main character in Grizzly Man goes up to Alaska to live with bears and prove that nature is indeed harmonious and sweet, if only we weren't so pesky and aggressive, all the nice little animals could live together happily...Herzog disagrees, he thinks nature is murderous, chaotic, and cruel. And he shows in Grizzly Man what he thinks happens to the naive, the childish, the fools who don't agree. They get eaten.
I'll See It

A movie on Palestinian suicide bombers.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Constant Gardener

I wonder whose idea this film was...I suspect it may have been a producer and to me, this was a wonderfully produced film - combining a slew of elements together to make a solid and relevant picture. Meirelles was an inspired choice to direct a Le Carre novel...the only one I imagine might do better is Michael Mann. This movie is the Insider meets Ali with a Le Carre love story. Le Carre must have a wonderful woman in his life because all of his stories, to me, are romantic reaffirmations of love hidden within spy films. They work so well because two subjects have so many overlapping themes - loyalty, truth, confusion, misinterpretation. This is a film I would have liked to make.

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Dennis Quaid calls and leaves me a message at 11:30pm - "I spoke with Joe Wallenstein at USC and he recommended you for a directing job. Come to set tomorrow morning, it pays $175 per day and 15% of the gross."

Isn't $175 per day a bit low for directing a Dennis Quaid movie? Can I get a copy of the script?
"Liberals" - Yeah Right

Give me a fucking break. Can anyone read this, left or right and not want to puke? This is not rational political discussion, this is shit slinging, childish nonsense, like a baby banging on a table. Samantha Burns does a good job of breaking it down.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


An 18 year just grabbed a bus and drove it filled with a hundred people from New Orleans to The Astrodome. Badass.
Worth Repeating

I've already linked to this Chris Hitchens article via Powerline, but it's well worth reading the entire text. I think it especially important for anti-war folks to read and be able to articulate a response.
Thanks, Maureen

Maureen Dowd writes a scathing indictment of the Bush admins handling of the hurricane.

What an ugly display of immature finger pointing. I don't remember Maureen using her power as a reporter to warn all the readers of the NY Times of the dangers of the levee. Sheesh.

Friday, September 02, 2005

As Predicated

Man, this is a pretty scary factoid.

Before 9/11 the Federal Emergency Management Agency listed the three most likely catastrophic disasters facing America: a terrorist attack on New York, a major earthquake in San Francisco and a hurricane strike on New Orleans . . .

The factoid is interesting, but I'm annoyed by Krugman's article. See my earlier post.
Seinfeld Thesis - A Retort

My senior thesis in college was basically a defense of Irony, which was put under attack by Jedediah Purdy in his book, For Common Things. In the book, he cites Seinfeld, as irony incarnate, the example of what we have embraced, a detached, avoiding of the world...a refusal to hope or to be sincere. I defended Irony and Seinfeld, suggesting that far from a refusal, that Irony was a way to engage the world, to understand our surroundings, to connect with one another - not something that leaves us lonely...perhaps it's the thing that saves us from lonliness - and what we need is more, not less, irony.

Anyhow, that was the gist of it. I just read a passage from a book I still carry around unfinished, The Elementary Particles:

People often say that the English are very cold fish, very reserved, that they have a way of looking at things - even tragedy - with a sense of irony. There's some truth in it; it's pretty stupid of them, though. Humor won't save you; it doesn't really do anything at all. You can look at life ironically for years, maybe decades; there are people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end, life always breaks your heart. Doesn't matter how brave you are, or how reserved, or how mcuh you've developed a sense of humor, you still end up with your heart broken. That's when you stop laughing. In the end there's just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. In the end there's only death.


Update: One big point I borrowed from Rorty is the idea of the private vs. public and how irony functions between the two. Rorty's idea is that irony is important for the private sphere, but has no place in public discourse, where people are supposed to be clear about what they mean and say. Purdy blurs the public-private distinction, that our private lives need to include something "common," that the idea a great society must be about what is shared - values, etc.

This quote pertains to irony's failure in the PRIVATE sphere - that our lives are no better off as a result. But I look at troubling political movements today - namely Islamic Fascism and what worries me is their utter LACK of irony. It is the lack of humor which scares me about the far LEFT in America - and the far RIGHT. Politics without irony methinks leads to totalitarianism.