Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Income Inequality

A really interesting post on income inequality. It's not that the rich are getting richer. It's the UBER rich are getting UBER richer.

The other economics are interesting...looking at consumption and leisure instead of income to determine well-being. Hmmmm.
Reiner Knizia

For those who haven't heard of him, he is like the badass godfather of german aka designer boardgames.

Anyhow, while he worked at a bank for seven years on developing math models for making money, he awoke at 5am and designed games for several hours each day. He made games, was rejected, went to work at the bank, then woke up the next day and did the same thing over again.

Eventually he made a game that sold and since then has become known as one of the most prolific game designers ever. Of the top 100 games - board and computer ranked all time, he has 16. That's like a filmmaker with 16 films in the top 100 of all time. Unheard of.

Anyhow, I love the spirit behind this guy. It seems like this is what it takes to become the best at what you do. It's hard to summon that dedication.
Give Me a Pen

I'll sign it. In fact, we should all sign it.
Wow Is Right

Say what you will about Al Jazeera, but the thing about a free, independent press is the incentives it has to show conflict and opposing views.

And while media sources are generally biased, and in the case of Al Jazeera, greatly biased AGAINST us, it is still a step in the right direction, away from state-controlled media that no one in the Arab world trusts (and rightfully so).

So watching this Arab American lady from Los Angeles go ballastic on an Algerian jihadist makes me feel like maybe things will be all right after all.

In the long run, debates such as these on television will benefit the free world way more than the jihadists.

More from A Sullivan, on the economic progress of Northern Iraq, which Saddam wasn't able to wreck for the past ten years because of a no-fly zone.
Funny Comment In Class Today

We were discussing a classmates script and someone asks the question, "So do the Vampires come from another planet?" which I found to be a reasonable question given the circumstances.

The student defends his work, "No way. That would be ridiculous - vampires don't come from other planets."

Apparently not.
Homeowner Shoots Ninja Who Attacks Wife

I could never come up with a headline better than that. And yes, this really happened in San Fran, it's not an onion article.

When I was little, I would have thought the ninja could defeat a homeowner with a .357. I now think differently.
Bill to the Rescue

Not a bad idea, methinks.

Clinton would go for the chance to be in the spotlight and a solve a huge problem. It would be good for Iraq and good for America. The only question is whether Bush would ask him. Probably not. Maybe that's why his approval is 34%.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Running Out of Money

What does it feel like to be dependent on the charity of the EU, US, and other states? They are even dependent upon Israel to collect taxes.

The fundamental problem with Palestine is the idea. The idea of Palestine is based upon a past grievance and not a forward-thinking positive idea. I do not see how a country can be built this way.
Rather Interesting Dilemma

A former Taliban spokesman is now attending Yale. Hmmm.

Is this the guy that spoke at USC and whose transcript was up on the MSA website until last year? I believe so.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Gaza Pullout

I haven't seen anything written on this...but did the Gaza pullout help Hamas win the elections? It's such an obvious point and from the Palestinian perspective, I think, makes a lot of sense.

Hamas claimed victory in Gaza. Hamas in headquartered in Gaza. The PA is weaker in Gaza than the West Bank. Palestinians vote with the strong horse.

Odd. Most everyone reasonable seems to think the Gaza pullout was the right thing to do. But shouldn't we acknowledge this negative result?

**PS I'm not convinced that in the long run the Hamas victory is a complete negative. As I said before it clarifies things - Palestinians do not and have never wanted peace with Israel.
So Is That A Bad or a Good Thing?

"The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty," he said. "That's what's happened."

I was at Harvard last summer for a graduation and was struck how frigging huge that place is. I thought - if this is elite, there sure are a lot of them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Maybe I'm Just a Neocon

This is pretty much how I felt, and continue to feel, about the Iraq War. Money quote:

I would summarize my position as follows: all alternatives in these situations (prewar Iraq, for example) are fraught with danger and possible chaos. But we must nevertheless choose the course that looks best given all the knowledge we have at the time, knowing that it might lead to failure. That's the risk one must take.

In fact, it's impossible not to take a risk. Because don't think you can avoid making a decision by simply choosing to do nothing. That has consequences, too, although they are easier to deny. And, since we don't have a variety of worlds in which we can try out all the different actions as a sort of scientific experiment, we have to make all decisions with very imperfect knowledge, making it up as we go along, never quite knowing whether we were correct or not--even ex post facto.

If you just sit around in poker and never bet, you'll eventually lose your money and you can argue - I didn't make any bad bets. Well, yeah, not betting was a bad idea.
Shaking it Up

I've been thinking about the psychological war against Al Queda. Driving them out of Afghanistan was obviously the right thing to do. According to this document it has borne fruit, as internal correspondence suggests Al Queda members were questioning OBL's leadership ability and the mandate from Allah.

But I had other, tactical ideas as well.

Why not send 10,000 fake jihadi's to sign up for the war against the west? That would throw a huge wrench into recruiting for jihad because they would start to suspect spies everywhere. It would be a big psychological blow. I guess it would be hard to find 10,000 Muslims willing to do this - but would it really? Would it cost that much more than an extra battalion in Iraq? And who cares if we couldn't trust everyone who was working for us? We give them all limited information and tell them we may call upon them for information. The point would be to radically disrupt recruiting practices, drowning the Jihadists in beauracracy.

Why not go on the market and start selling black market nukes and radiological materials. Shit, we could hire real weapons traders to do it. Everyone who tries to buy a black market nuke gets killed. That would make it awfully risky to buy black market bombs.

Organize protests outside known radical mosques. Encourage peaceful, moderate protests against mosques with known radical factions, exposing them for the violent cesspools they are.
Things I'm Tired Of

1. The Middle East
2. Movies - thinking about, talking about, writing, making, watching
3. Rules/Procedures
4. Eggs
5. Water
6. Blogging
7. My clothes
8. gmail chat
9. candy in the spo jar
10. breakfast places around where i live
11. lunch places around school
12. short films
13. otis
14. other stuff not fit to blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


"We have some 150,000 soldiers in two Islamic countries at the moment. The last thing we need is to get involved in a mess that will make things even harder for the guys over there. We do stand behind Denmark, but pragmatism dictates that we not take a boldly public stance right now."

Maybe. But it seems to me that by standing quiet we are empowering our enemies and silencing our friends. There are people in the Muslim world who favor free speech, even at the expense of the Prophet's depiction. Satire has a long history that is not exclusive to the West.

By standing silent on the issue, we are saying to the moderates, we will not stand with you on issues, so long as the fanatics are willing to go crazy. Is this our criteria? Are these our principles?

Maybe it'll make the soldiers job tougher. But our soldiers must say, "look, we don't hate Islam or Mohammed, but we have the right to poke fun. We think this is important."

Someone who can't handle that doesn't need to be coddled or respected - they need to change.

The easiest thing to do isn't always the right thing.
I Might Just Have to Watch

Looking forward to Altman's speech and now this:

Memphis rappers Three Six Mafia have been confirmed as performers at the Academy Awards in March, and they're set to make a little show biz history. The group will take the stage for their nominated song, "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp" from the soundtrack of "Hustle and Flow" – which will be the first time a rap song has ever been performed at the Academy Awards.


Well worth reading (hat tip Hatley). Money Quotes:

It's not only his enemies that Cimino is angry with. "I'm not revisiting the past, like Francis Coppola," he said, "recutting Apocalypse Now 29 times. Why do you think Francis is recutting Apocalypse? He's dried up. I'm going forward; he's going backward."

As for Oliver Stone, with whom he co-wrote The Year of the Dragon, "Oliver thinks he's the greatest thing since chopped liver. He's a great guy, a great writer. We have a great working relationship and I love him. But he's a better writer than director," Cimino said. "He's incredibly, insanely jealous about the fact that I published a novel. He's always wanted to be the next Hemingway. He didn't want to be a director."

Cimino is still vexed that editor Peter Zinner won an Academy Award for editing The Deer Hunter. "He was a moron," Cimino said. "I cut Deer Hunter myself." Cimino contested screenwriter Deric Washburn's sole credit on the script for the Writers Guild of America Awards: "In their Nazi wisdom, [they] didn't give me the credit because I would be producer, director and writer," he said.

As for Vilmos Zsigmond, whose lush cinematography in both The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate earned accolades, Cimino said: "Vilmos and all those guys have built themselves up to be bigger than directors. It's bullshit. Does anyone remember who shot Kubrick's movies? Do you remember who shot David Lean's movies? No one remembers who shot Dr Strangelove or Barry Lyndon."

Gotta say I agree with all of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

He Write Good

Hitchens thinks we ought to stand by Denmark. I agree.

When did we become such wusses?
I Used to Think...

I wrote about what Instapundit wrote about. Now, I'm thinking, maybe he writes what I'm writing about....

His TSC column today is essentially what I wrote yesterday.

I'm sure that the blogosphere of 2009 will be at least as different from the blogosphere of 2006 as today's is from that of 2003. But the real problem with these questions is something I've observed in numerous interviews with journalists -- the tendency to focus on the biggest, or the richest, or the most popular, as if that's the story. Sometimes it is, of course. But in today's more diverse media environment, and especially in the probably much more diverse environment of 2009, we'd be wise to pay more attention to what Chris Anderson calls the "Long Tail," the huge aggregate impact of the small-but-networked. He's got a book on the subject coming out, entitled, The Long Tail: The Radical New Shape of Culture and Commerce, but the argument is clear enough: The future won't be so much about the biggest or the richest or the most popular, but about the millions of niche-market entries prospering in their own fields.

Even if the biggest, richest, and most popular blogs are hugely successful financially -- and more importantly, even if they're not -- there will be millions of people out their generating and publishing their own content. Regardless of what happens, the vast majority will be doing it without being paid (they already are) and they'll be doing it because, as I noted last week, it's fun. Which is what should really worry the Big Media people, because it's something that doesn't change with the financial markets. From four years ago comes this advice: "Beware the people who are having fun competing with you!" Because it's hard to put them out of business, so long as it stays fun.

Here. Here.
Now I'm Completely Paranoid

I knew I shouldn't have written my opinions on short films I'm screening for the FUN OF IT. I also shouldn't have contacted a director whose film I liked. I can only assume that I will shortly be fired as a screener. Since they aren't paying me, and I don't like driving over to the office on Monday, I won't mind.

Anyhow, someone else has seen AO and disagrees that it has shittier dialog and found it cool. My elaboration:

The references to Wizard of Oz and A. Now were obvious thoughout the movie. I did not know that EVERY line was from one movie or the other. That being said, it doesn't make the dialog EQUAL. Dialog exists beyond simply saying the exact words. It is tone, innuendo, and context, and those are just off the top of my head.

You could mix and match selected musical notes from While My Guitar Gentley Weeps and Seven Nation Army and it does not guarantee, nor even suggest the resultant song will be any good. That is my point about AO.

And as far as the story structure similarities, well, there are about 20 (or is it 40) different plots in the entire history of Hollywood filmmaking....so the similarities didn't really strike me.

But all this being said, if you dig the movie, you dig it and that's fine. I didn't.

Additionally, I didn't find the movie relevent today because I don't find Vietnam an appropriate narrative template to apply to the Iraq war. Not because such an analogy is anti-American, but because I think it is intellectually lazy and incorrect.

And I think re-makes in general are due to a bankrupty of ideas and that if you were to do a re-make, pick something obscure or less well known. What's the point of re-making two of the most popular movies of all time on a mini-budget?

It's not the work of a writer or a director. It is a work of a semi-clever producer. So forgive me for not being all that interested in what they have to say.

The Show of the Century

The greatest reality TV show in the history of the world is yet to made, despite the material readily available. The protagonist: Saddam Hussein. We should be following his trial and probable execution/murder/release whatever may become of him. We incorporate his insane antics in the courtroom; he only responds to being called "The President," he will not respond to "the defendent." He is currently on a hunger strike. One of his co-defendents only attends the trial in pyjamas. Another codefendent lost a procedural ruling and sat with his back to the courtroom the entire day.

You can't make stuff like this up.

Then, we incorporate re-enactments of Saddam's rule, secret meetings with advisors about avoiding the UN weapons inspectors, etc. They could all be based upon the hundreds of hours of tapes that have been recovered. Imagine this scene:

One of the most dramatic moments in the 12 hours of recordings comes when Saddam predicts — during a meeting in the mid-1990s — a terrorist attack on the United States. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before Aug. 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam goes on to say such attacks would be difficult to stop. "In the future, what would prevent a booby-trapped car causing a nuclear explosion in Washington or a germ or a chemical one?" But he adds that Iraq would never do such a thing. "This is coming, this story is coming but not from Iraq."

Also at the meeting was Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who said Iraq was being wrongly accused of terrorism. "Sir, the biological is very easy to make. It's so simple that any biologist can make a bottle of germs and drop it into a water tower and kill 100,000. This is not done by a state. No need to accuse a state. An individual can do it."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Why Israel Exists

Via Europundits,

contrary to what the optimistic thought, that is, that the creation of Israel would help the Jews to find a normalized place in the world, the Jewish state was actually created in order to face contingencies like the current ones.

The normalization of Jewish life is not and has never been the Jews’ task, simply because it does not depend on them. If the non-Jewish majority of mankind had really decided to fight anti-Semitism and protect the Jews, a Jewish state wouldn’t be needed. It’s existence, however, is predicated on the fact that for the foreseeable future there will be those who want to exterminate them and that Jews stand a better chance of surviving if they have their own country, army etc.

The fair-minded of the world decided the only was to ensure Jewish existence in times of danger was through a state of Israel whereby the Jews could protect themselves. In the wars of 1948 and 1967, it did just that.

Can you say that without Israel Jews would be safe in the Middle East? No. Not by a long shot.

But at what expense, you say? Well, you tell me...

Larry Flynt on the Danish Cartoons, "Freedom of speech is only important if you're gonna offend someone; if you're not gonna offend someone, you don't need free speech."

Yes. Indeed.

People associate glory with sports. But for those who have played a lot, we know glory is rare. In the NCAA tourament, 63 of the 64 teams lose their final game. There is no glory in this.

Last night, I subbed for a softball team, and we had glory in our sights. Taking on the three time championship squad, with an understaffed team, we led for most of the game. In the bottom of the last inning, we had a three run lead with one out. A two run lead with two outs. Our opponents tied the game and it looked as though we would need our final at bat. We could not score.

Extra inning. We held our opponents to no runs, a testament to the strength of our team. This was not a mere fluke, it was an even matched game.

Our final shot at glory. I'm batting 4th this inning. I'm hoping - just get one runner on and I'll drive him in. I hadn't been hitting well all day, little dinkers, but I was still able to get on base each time.

I was confident that I was due to hit the ball well, and so long as I didn't fly out, they weren't going to make a play.

First pitch - ball 2. Second pitch hits the plate - strike 2. Next pitch - way off the plate, but I am worried with 2 strikes. I swing. I miss. No glory. We tied the game. Unbelievable.
Let's Not Kid Ourselves

When people discuss Hamas, they often feel it necessary to point out the social services Hamas provides - schools, medical care, etc, to help "understand" the organization and not see them exclusively as a terrorist group. Hamas, prior to being elected, spent between $40-$70 million a year to supply basic needs to Palestinians in Gaza. They are also known for being strict and uncorrupt (vs the PA, who are a bunch of grifters).

But we should not kid ourselves into thinking the social services provided by Hamas are why Palestinians voted for them. Relatively few Palestinians, numerically speaking, are personally helped by the Hamas charity wing. Fundamentally, the vote for Hamas was two things: a) a rejection of the PA and b) a firmly held belief in Palestine that Israel does not have a right to exist.

We should not kid ourselves into thinking that Hamas' charter, demanding the destruction of Israel by any means necessary, is not a fundamental reason why they won the election.
Blogs, Blogs, Blogs

A series of articles about the decline of the blogosphere.

Their points a) There's no money in blogging. DUH! b) It's parasitic. UHHH, so is reading, right?

Whatever. If you like blogging, you do it. If you don't, you don't. What's the big deal? It's just a big online conversation. Conversation isn't "ending." Jesus. I think it's the same people who snear at the blogosphere at first, then make too much of it when it gets hip, and then are the first to decry it's decline. Meanwhile, I still like reading and writing and that's really it.
Too Many Reports From Too Many Sources

The issue of prisoner abuse, to me, is not the biggest one facing the United States today. It is not even one of largest problems with the misnamed war on terror. It is, however, a fuck up on the part of this administration to allow whatever degree of prisoner abuse it has allowed. I don't see how when the reports of this first surfaced, the administration didn't go into fix-the-problem mode. Did they think Americans would stand for abusing detainees? I hardly know any American who thinks we ought to torture or even treat prisoners cruelly as a matter of course.

At the same time, most Americans would agree that if there were a huge imminent threat, torture would be permissible. There does not, however, seem to be a single known case where this step has proven useful, save an episode of 24.

Drezner points to a conservative judge who wrote a series of memos on the issue within the administration.
God Bless Hitler

Yeah, it's not a joke, but rather a sign carried around by protesters in Islamabad.

In English, too. Hmmm.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Everyone has their panties in a wad over Google and Yahoo in China. They love the hypocracy of the companies cowtowing to the Beijing line...but where's the libertarian voices in dealing with oil companies who routinely do business with countries with worse human rights practices than China, for instance, Saudi Arabia.
Cartoon Bounty

Well, someone is now offering 11 million dollars and suggesting the cartoonist be beheaded. This is after some fairly mild cartoons that were mixed with other, more offensive ones that were never printed, but drawn.

What is the appropriate response to intolerant speech? They always say more speech. So to me, we should have a million cartoonists drawing progressively more offensive cartoons. We'll bankrupt the radical Islamists, they'll have to pay endless terrorists. Good plan, huh?
What Do They Expect?

Does Hamas expect Israel to give them "aid" or help them receive tax income? Who are they kidding? Their first move taking over the government is to condemn all treaties formerly made with Israel because they do not recognize it as a state.

This is a "country" who survives off of aid. I can understand using power to thrust ideology if you are a country providing an important resource to the world. I just don't understand how if your main export is suicide bombing your neighbor, how you expect to eat.

Great article on Altman and his honorary Oscar in the NY Times.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Ahhh, Movies

Firewall is so incredibly stupid I can't understand how it got made. The movie wasn't written or directed, it was just produced. It felt like eating easy-cheese. Scratch that, I like easy-cheese. It felt like eating raw hot dogs.

Nothing decent has been showing at the Grove for the past 3 weeks. I have the discounted tickets from USC and haven't been able to use them...so today, I was in the neighborhood and I just went. Firewall was the result. I decided I must watch something else to get the nasty taste out of my mouth. So I watched the second half of 8 below. That's right, the Disney-Paul Walker movie about sled dogs. It was better than Firewall. Of course, that means nothing.

Then I re-watched Brokeback. Better the 2nd time for me. Seeing it alone is a different experience and outside of all the hype of the first week.

To me, the most powerful aspect of the film is still the Innis character. The way the world wears on him, morality, love, money, family...he's really one of best characters put up on screen in a long time. It deserves best picture and Ledger deserves best actor.

UPDATE: Interesting timing, but McMurty, the co-writer on Brokeback talks about the "point" of the film: Life isn't for sissies.

"You need strength; love is not easy," says McMurtry. "It's not easy if you find (it), it's not easy if you don't find it. It's not easy if you find it but it doesn't work out. It merely says the strong survive, but not everybody is strong."
Hey, That Was My Idea

When I proposed a gas tax, no one listens, but when Jimmy Carter says so...typical.

I remember the retarded response on my 546 set: a gas tax would disproportionately affect poor people. HA! If that were the criterea for legitimacy, we shouldn't buy, sell, or trade anything because any of those actions disproportionately affect poor people. Solid logic.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Now That's What I Call Homophobia

In Russia today, a Gay Pride parade was cancelled because a Muslim leader in Russia warned they would be "bashed" if they walked the streets. This wasn't Al Queda, but a "mainstream" Muslim organization.

On another note, a cleric in Pakistan has offered a prize of 1 million dollars to the one who kills the Danish cartoonist.

An Italian government rep wore a tee-shirt with the cartoon on it and they went crazy protesting in Libya and 11 people died.

I think we should pull the cartoons from all publications, punish everyone responsible for printing them, and hand the cartoonist over to the Pakistani mosque. Then we should consult Islamic organizations to approve any statements or jokes made in public about Islam before doing so. We should also not let gay people have parades - it may offend Muslims and it will also block traffic.

By taking these simple steps, we will demonstrate to the Muslim world how respectful we can be and the world will be a much more peaceful and happy place.

I'm attracted to issues surrounding the loner, but I'm not really sure whether I'm a loner or not. Maybe I'm a phony-loner.
Right and Left

Rather interesting dissection of the right vs. the left in America and the various religiosity of the two.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan weighs in with his own opinion.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Both Really Smart and Oddly Dumb

I finally took advantage of USC guest speakers they have come to campus and talk about interesting topics such as Radical Evil in Liberal Democracies. All right, I guess I should say, interesting to me.

Marth Nussbaum
was the speaker and she had a really cool basic point about practicing democracy and liberalism and freedom and how it cannot be thought of only as a government practice, that sustaining a democracy that respects difference must also be practiced and given emotional support by poets. Her examples were Walt Whitman and MLK. So, when my mom asks me, "how are you going to reconcile your deep interest in politics with making movies," I now have an smart-ass answer.

Anyhow, Nussbaum knows a lot about and lot and speaks eloquently about the "I Have a Dream Speech" to Whitman, to Rawls, to Locke, to Kant, and to Rousseau - whom she dismissed, but I rather liked.

Sadly and predictably, she talked about the awful ways in which American treats minorities and how ignorant the West in general is about Islam, yet she couldn't, during a 1 plus hour talk manage a single word about Radical Islam.

I find it amazing she is able to accuse the Hindu right in India of genocide against Muslims (which to me, implies we ought to go to war to stop it) but she can't even muster the words - Radical Islam - when she is talking about RADICAL EVIL today. She reserves it for Hindu nationalists and those in the US doing horrible things to Muslims (no one specific of course).

So she was asked a question to a) specify what she means by poets and b) how to reconcile that poetry is best when ironic and therefore anathema to the public sphere. Her poetry definition is broad, including poets, but artists of all sorts, architects, etc. She also acknowledged that poets operate best when on the edge, being out there, testing, and so forth. She talked a bit about humor and how important it is to the practice of tolerant democracy. She cited the greek comedies, which made me think she must be humorless (I would've talked about Chris Rock and Chappelle).

But anyhow, finally we got to an interesting question at the end when a guy posed the question over the Danish cartoons - how do you define tolerance? What if, as in the case of the cartoons, what one group finds intolerant and the other group finds their intolerance intolerant? How do you deal with that?

She basically said that from a legal perspective, you can regulate certain hate speech, but that the cartoons probably didn't fall within that category (esp in the US). But from a social perspective the cartoons ought to be viewed like bad behavior in school, if someone was making fun of someone else's religion, the teacher ought to scold them.

I wanted to jump out of my seat and yell, "What about Humor? You made such a point to mention humor's role in a functioning tolerant democractic state, and yet you want to curb the attempt at poking fun? Do you know nothing of the artistic process? The process of making humor? Humor, at it's root, is taking the piss out of someone. It is making fun of someone, perhaps yourself, but often others. Don't let anyone fool you. There is nothing NICE or respectful about humor. Humor has one criteria and one criterea only - is it funny. And what I love about that criteria is that it often coincides with that which is true. I mean to say, it's funny because it's true."

She went on to make a point about how ignorant the West is about Muslim society by saying that most Westerners don't even know the three most states with the most Muslims - Indonesia, India, and Pakistan. Despite the fact that I would have probably gotten the question right, what the fuck does that have to do with ANYTHING? Can you name the three states with the most Catholics? Who frigging knows? Is it Brazil? Russia? The US? I don't frigging know. Who cares? What does this demonstrate? She was trying to make a point about how the West does not separate Arab from Muslim...but who the fuck are we kidding? Islam was born in Saudi Arabia and the heart remains there. As Roman-Catholic as South America is, we all know the heart and soul of it is in the Vatican. Saudi Arabia funds a large percentage of large mosques around the world. Their influence is evident. So I don't know who she thinks she is fooling, by trying to use the veil of Western "ignorance" into avoiding dealing with a major (if not THE major) problem of the early 21st century, the issue of Radical Islam. And radical Islam is not born in Pakistan, Indonesia, or India. It is born out of Saudi Arabia and Egypt - and we see cells of it in Indonesia and Pakistan (no doubt influenced and funded by Wahhabist Saudis).

Let's be honest, some dude in Indonesia could give a flying fuck about Palestinians. Do you know how far Palestine is from Indonesia? Freaking far. They might as well care about the native Hawaiians. But no, they care about Palestine. Why? Because of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabists, who could never defeat Israeli in a real war, and have used and spread the Palestinian "issue" to evoke hatred towards Israel for the past 40 plus years. Hamas is simply a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Queda is a mix of a radical faction that split from the Muslim Brotherhood and a radical faction from the Saudi-funded Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

But no, not one mention of all of this. Off, way off.
Post-Humonously Impeach Al Gore

Can you publically strike Al Gore's vice presidency from him? I know if a president were to be impeached, he would lose his pension. I say we take it away from him. The more I think about what he's done, it seems to me borderline treason. Here's another thing altogether, but frankly, just as disgusting.

The suggestion is that Gore and Clinton did a political maneuver to naturalize citizens en mass to help them win reelection. The charge is Gore undermined the INS, forcing them to approve large numbers of citizenship applications, without going through their standard processes.

Who knows?
Sticking With It

Today I was driving and thinking about tacos. Nowadays, tacos are so much simplier than I remember them growing up. Today, often you get a taco, in the "authentic" roach coaches around L.A., you'll just get a tortilla with meat in it. That's it. Just a tortilla and meat. You can generally throw on onion and cilantro and salsa and lime juice, these things are true. But it's still really simple.

When I think back upon tacos when I was little, they seemed like a big, fancy production. I loved tacos, perhaps that's why, I figured, they were so good - they must be complicated. My mother would take us to Lucinda's, the most authentic Mexican lunch spot in Tiburon, we'd get tacos that would come with mouth watering shredded beef, cheddar cheese, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa.

Come to think of it, even looking back, tacos were never that complicated. It just seemed that way when you were a kid.

This is how I feel about filmmaking. It seems difficult and hard after a couple of years of making pretty crappy movies and then seeing peers movies falling short of expectations, and so on. And then there's the "what do I do after film school?" question.

So, hopefully, filmmaking is like tacos, seemingly complicated at first, but ultimately just meat in a tortilla.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tony Blankley

I was going to post about Tony last week when I was listening to Left, Right, and Center because he continually makes Arianna Huffington sound like the doofus she is.

I sometimes think the whole Iraq war and my support it was a collossal mistake - mostly because how much time and money it is ultimately going to cost and whether it is worth it. But then I listen to the arguments against the war offered by Arianna Huffington, and I'm pretty sure the opposite of whatever she thinks is right. And then I feel better.

Anyhow, in Left, Right, and Center last week they were talking about the Cartoon business and Tony summed things up very well: The problem with the West and the Islamic world is that everytime we take a proactive position with respect to the Islamic World, we risk enflaming the passions and causing more extremists.

This is undoubtedly true. When we went into Afghanistan, we enflamed the passions of radical Muslims (and probably even some unradical) by invading a Muslim country. But this was obviously worth it because we dismantled the training camps and got rid of the Taliban.

In Iraq, it's a similar situation, but the jury is still out on whether the process was worth it.

Now with the cartoons, we need to ask ourselves, is it worth enflaming Islamic passions to say "look, there's no right to not be offended."

In a separate matter, he takes the White House Press Corps to task in this article. They deserve it.
Weekened Reading

I've found a new website that will provide enough reading material for the weekend.
Game Idea: Trade War

Logline: Get the goods.

2 Players. One is China, One is the US.

China starts with 6 cards: 3 "Cheap Labor", 3 "Huge Unregulated Market"

US starts with 6 cards: 3 "High Technology", 3 "Hollywood Movies"

There are 2 other sets of cards: "Oil" and "Food".

Each card "type" has a total of 4 in the entire deck - so there are 6 x 4 = 24 total cards.

All non-starting cards remain in the DRAW pile.

Players begin the game by HIDING 3 of their card and making the other 3 cards PUBLIC.

On your turn, a player is able to:

A) Swap one of their PUBLIC cards for an enemy PUBLIC card.
B) Swap one of their HIDDEN cards for an enemy HIDDEN card.
C) Draw a card from the DRAW pile and replace one of their PUBLIC cards (it goes to the discard pile)
D) Swap one of their PUBLIC cards with one of their own HIDDEN cards.

The first player to complete their trading needs wins.

China needs: 2 x Hollywood Movies; 2 x High Technology; 1 x Oil, 1 x Food.
US needs: 2 x Cheap Labor; 2 x Huge Unregulated Market; 1 x Oil, 1 x Food.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

To Be Pissed Or Not To Be Pissed

Thing that pisses me off that should piss me off: Our State Department, press, and President won't stand up and say we stand with the Dutch cartoonists right to offend. This is cowardice and nothing else.

Thing that pisses me off that shouldn't piss me off: The press getting up in arms about Dick Cheney not telling them quickly enough about shooting his hunting partner. This story is funny and that's it. There's no cover up, nothing the American people NEED to know, no grand hidden agenda. The dude shot his friend on accident. He doesn't need to apologize to anyone, except perhaps his friend, but that's between them and has nothing to do with anyone else. I wish the MSM would demand such "accountability" when it comes to freedom of expression being threatened all across the globe over the cartoon affair. But of course not, it's easy to yell at Cheney, but requires some balls to stand up to the Islamic Fascists, posing as sensitive religious figures.

Thing that should piss me off that doesn't: I spent my Valentine's day in a Game Design Workshop playtesting and learning about games with 30 undergrads, mostly all hardcore gamers (nerds), only one of whom is female.

Thing that doesn't piss me off that shouldn't piss me off: The Olympics.

Monday, February 13, 2006

That's What I'm Talking About!

Batman vs. Al Queda. I hope Hollywood remains too pussy to do a movie with Al Queda as a bad guy until I get my script finished.
I Take It Back

I mistakenly voted for Nadar in 2000. I should have voted for Bush. I can't believe Gore would say this.

Gore said Arabs had been "indiscriminately rounded up" and held in "unforgivable" conditions. The former vice president said the Bush administration was playing into al-Qaida's hands by routinely blocking Saudi visa applications.

He's getting paid enormous amounts by Saudis to come speak to them about America. If Gore had any balls whatsoever he would've marched right into the heart of the Kingdom and said the truth - Muslims living in the United States have more freedom and rights than in the Kingdom you backwards, xenophobic fuck faces.
Terrorist Financining

One of the themes in my Michael Mann feature is terrorist financing, and there's a link in here to a detailed essay on the subject - for future reference.

I just watched my favorite short called Lil' Star. The first scene, I was like, "Oh no, this is going to suck, another mock documentary." But then I get going and I can't help but laugh a couple of times and then I start to notice, man, this acting is pretty damn good. I'm surprised by the low quality of the image - obviously DV, maybe even 1 chip. By the end I've laughed pretty hard a couple of times - the movie is about a children's beauty contest and a little girl is walking down the aisle and they say who their favorite actor is and this one little girl's favorite is Webster. I loved it.

Anyhow, I look up one of the actresses because I swore I recognized her from somewhere (like an audition or from school or something) and it turns out this actress was in Roseanne as the neighbor and the Last Boy Scout and a bunch of other things. And I'm thinking - how did this director get this quality of an actress and then I look up the director and she's this child actress as well and then it all makes sense, the child's beauty contest, getting the quality actors, etc. I like these girls attitude, so maybe I'll keep track to see what types of movies they try to make.

What's up with these spoofs? I just watched Apocalypse Oz and now Waiting For Godot on the Edge of Chinatown. This is what people come up with? Are they thinking "I'm going to take some of the greatest movies/plays ever made and and re-cast them with generally crappy actors (maybe one or two with some talent, but undeveloped), give them shittier dialog and stupid references, spend a lot of money on chase scenes?"

I find myself incredibly bored in these movies.

I think there are interesting reasons for spoofs and remakes, especially if you're using a template of a film to say something interesting about the present...but these are simply substitutes for coming up with an original idea.

UPDATE: Now I'm watching a nearly exact Chris Marker rip-off, a La Jette. I mean reference it, but I don't see why make it with the exact style, it's so obvious. But I'll say this, it's more enjoyable than the other two. I almost wish a friend had made this so we could talk about it....I think the editing is WAY too quick and the digital manipulation of the photos with in-post zooms, etc, too much. And the fades? What's up with them? Anyhow...

UPDATE 2: So I'm reminded how awesome the end of La Jette is...and the end of this film was awesome, too, but it's pure derivative, a complete rip off. And then in the credits there is no reference to Marker. Bastards. I'm giving it a 3.5.

UPDATE 3: A lot of the films I'm watching were made by woman directors.
This Is Really Funny

A man was shot, but it's still pretty damn funny. Only in America, right. Or maybe in Saddam's Iraq.

For chrissake the headline should read: Dick Cheney Shoots A Man.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Soccer Lesson

Even when playing against good soccer players it amazes me how few forwards are good as possessing the ball up top. There is something about the teaching of soccer in the US, because I notice a trend in nearly ever game I see, forwards get the ball and get rid of it too quickly, not allowing the other players to catch up.

You notice it because when you play with or against a forward who can possess the ball, allow the team to catch up, and then can distribute it, the offense is so much more potent. The irony is that this is not some sort of secret, everyone knows it, but hardly anyone can put it into practice. I think it is a habit, we are taught, especially on defense to release the ball if there is any question. Playing up front, the opposite is true. It is advisable to keep possession of the ball if there is any question.

On a side note, a good center mid is hard to come by as well, but for entirely different reasons. A good center mid has eyes like a quarterback - they need to see the entire field and get in the right position to collect the ball and spread it out into space. It's a weird position because no other position is supposed to collect the ball with their back to where they are more often than not supposed to get the ball to. So a good center mid creates space for himself to turn and distribute the ball. Every other position is NOT supposed to do that on a regular basis...in fact it is conventional wisdom for coaches to yell, "Play the way you're facing." or if you're British, "Play you're facing," short for the same thing. Most often, when players try to turn, they end up in trouble and lose the ball to the opponent.

Interesting things...
Poker Lesson

There are three strategies for playing a poker hand/game.

1. Play your cards. This sounds simple, but is not. It requires understanding the math behind each hand, what your chances of having the best hand based upon the cards on the table and playing against the amount it will cost you to stay in a hand, irrespective of what you think the other players may have. One could be a fantastic poker player by simply playing the correct odds on your hand each time. Under this strategy, it is smart to stay in hands when you are behind, if the bets are low enough, because the percentage chance of catching up outweighs the cost of staying in. Phil Helmuth plays this way. It is a "conservative" way of playing and can get you in trouble if you play it too predictably, but in amatuer poker, a player can play this way and win more than he/she loses.

2. Play your opponents cards. This is an entirely different strategy, where you "read" you opponent and by his bets and past bets and facial gestures, etc, you determine what he/she has. Under this strategy, if you sense your opponent is weak and you are weak, you can win hands by making big bets you know they won't match. If you sense your opponent is strong, you fold, etc. Mike Mattasao plays this way.

3. Trick your opponents into misreading your hand. This is a clever way of playing, but no better than one or the other. By representing certain cards that you do not have, you may entice a player to misplay his/her own hand. A common example of this is slow playing a good hand.

All of these strategies are solid if used in the right situation. It is advisable to play different strategies on different hands, never getting into a rhythm that you think your opponents can pick up upon.
A Love Story

Forbidden love. Sounds awesome.

My head hurts. In the soccer game I just played, I went up for a 1 on 1 with a goalie. Always a painful proposition. I used to not go for these balls because it's almost a no win - rarely do you beat the goalie and often you get clobbered. And I'm not very tall, so it's tough to get up above a goalie's arms. But this play I decided to go for it, it was a tie game, I had hit a couple of sweet headers recently and I thought I had a chance. Anyhow, predictably, I got clobbered by this goalie twice my size. I felt like I got punched in the face, but the adreneline was so high it didn't hurt until right now. Anyhow, this punk ass goalie stands up and walks after me like he just punked my ass and I nearly flew off the handle. What kind of ass freaking nails someone in an easy play for him and a ballsy play by me and acts like he's some sort of tough guy. They guy should've had respect for the play, but nooooo...he acts like he did something tough. I'm yelling, he's yelling, the other team is yelling. The very next play, the ball is bouncing around in the box and they have three guys and me and I got after the ball super hard, pissing all three of them off and the goalie charges after me, just to get a BIG two-fisted shot on me. Luckily I'm falling backwards already as he's trying to punch me and I get my legs up and can push him off me with two legs into his chest.

Then the ref, this fucking idiot, gives me a yellow card because he thinks I'm retaliating for the earlier play. This is insane. A guy comes after me and fails and I get a yellow card. Anyhow, I was so pissed I started mouthing off to the other team how I'm going to score on the butterfingers goalie - and I was sure I was going to do it, and then I didn't and we tied. Bastards.

Per Chuck's request, I've loaded the cartoon up. I didn't do it earlier, frankly, because I was too lazy and thought I still need to download Hello to get pictures up on the blog. But thanks to Chuck's prodding, I figured out the new, easier way to do it simply using the new blogger template. I guess this post wasn't quite enough.

Anyhow, Chuck is referring to an incident last night as we were leaving a party and a crazed guy his huddling with his crying girlfriend in a small alley on the side of an apartment building. We were being loud and noticed them and the guy started yelling, "What are you looking at!" and other such things. My reaction was, uhhh, there's certainly no point in prodding this along. Chuck mused, "there's three of us, we can take him." I said, "Fighting gets you nowhere." Chuck and Kevin seemed to find this ironic, given my hawkish views on Islamic Radicalism, as if somehow these two issues were conflateable. Fairly ridiculous, I think.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


My favorite picture at the bottom of this series is: freedom of expression is terrorism. Uhhh, not really.

Also notice the hardcore veiled women cutting and burning Valentine's day stuff because they find it offensive. Do they not realize that I find a woman wearing a veil completely and utterly offensive and dehumanizing? I find it repugnant. It makes we want to vomit.

I've seen the veil in person, in Los Angeles, at an event for Muslims I crashed. There they were, six or some woman in the back wearing veils with only slips for they're eyes. It's the same type of pity you feel for someone when they cut themselves - WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF.
I'm Not A Big Fan Either

I don't care much for Valentine's day, either, but this is a bit ridiculous. If they ever come after Thanksgiving, that's fucking it, I'm joining the Navy Seals.
Artistic Bravery

I agree that it takes no balls to mock the establishment.

Watching shorts for the FUN. Initial thoughts: the movies should be shorter. I cringe when I see 19min. People should make comedies, because these serious ones make me almost want to puke - even when they're done well. But then again, the one I saw that attempted comedy was probably the worst one I've watched. Do people who aren't funny know they aren't funny?

Update: I can keep myself interested for about 4 minutes, but something exciting needs to happen within that time, something to pique my interest. Some intrigue, something. Why do filmmakers expect the audience to stay with them? High production value alone doesn't account for shit when watching a lot of shorts. And it's not that the p value is even that high, they're just "sort of" high, like when people purchase an old BMW just to have a BMW.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Blackmail Is Right

Some people on the left are beginning to come around...a quote from Andrew Sullivan's readers.

"What the Islamic world has succeeded in doing is forcing me to decide whether I'm going to side with a US policy which I think is often dirty but is nevertheless open to public scrutiny or an almost medieval, bloodthirsty and closed religious dogma whose intention - and partial achievement - is to undermine my way of life."

I figured this out four and a half years ago.
Badass Writer

Chris Hitchens is a badass writer. This is a great article on the cartoon fiasco. My favorite exerpts below:

1. Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.

I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive." ( By the way, hasn't the word "offensive" become really offensive lately?)

2. The question of "offensiveness" is easy to decide. First: Suppose that we all agreed to comport ourselves in order to avoid offending the believers? How could we ever be sure that we had taken enough precautions? On Saturday, I appeared on CNN, which was so terrified of reprisal that it "pixilated" the very cartoons that its viewers needed to see. And this ignoble fear in Atlanta, Ga., arose because of an illustration in a small Scandinavian newspaper of which nobody had ever heard before! Is it not clear, then, that those who are determined to be "offended" will discover a provocation somewhere? We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt.

3. I went on Crossfire at one point, to debate some spokesman for outraged faith, and said that we on our side would happily debate the propriety of using holy writ for literary and artistic purposes. But that we would not exchange a word until the person on the other side of the podium had put away his gun. (The menacing Muslim bigmouth on the other side refused to forswear state-sponsored suborning of assassination, and was of course backed up by the Catholic bigot Pat Buchanan.) The same point holds for international relations: There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.
Good Read

An article about Al Queda today - a really good, reasonable one that talks about how Al Queda, as we previously knew it, no longer really exists. Al Queda was essentially a training and planning organization and was destroyed when we invaded Afghanistan. All of the follow up terrorism has been done on behalf of Al Queda, but were not planned by Al Queda itself. Al Queda is now essentially an ideological movement - morphed back into the Salafi jihad movement that existed prior to Bin Laden and Zawahari merging their organizations.

The challenge, according to this article, is not tracking down terrorist groups, which isn't particularly difficult if we devote the resources to it, but rather to win the war of ideas so we don't see another generation of islamic terrorists grow up.
Good Read

An article about Al Queda today - a really good, reasonable one that talks about how Al Queda, as we previously knew it, no longer really exists. Al Queda was essentially a training and planning organization and was destroyed when we invaded Afghanistan. All of the follow up terrorism has been done on behalf of Al Queda, but were not planned by Al Queda itself. Al Queda is now essentially an ideological movement - morphed back into the Salafi jihad movement that existed prior to Bin Laden and Zawahari merging their organizations.

The challenge, according to this article, is not tracking down terrorist groups, which isn't particularly difficult if we devote the resources to it, but rather to win the war of ideas so we don't see another generation of islamic terrorists grow up.
Now That's Drunk!

I remember trying to check my email last night when I got home and thinking - "Damn, I can't figure out this new gmail interface. This morning go to check it and my internet history says: wwww.gmaill.com. Idiot.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

James Bond

The Living Daylights is an underrated James Bond film...I always liked it. It's on TV right now. Note the sequence involving an Afghani resistence fighter - a rather positive media representation of Osama Bin Laden - before we knew who he was.
Film Business

Some really good information on film distribution, etc. For future reference.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


What happens when someday in our lifetime some group of radical muslims declare a fellow radical to be the Caliphate? By their reasoning, this guy will be the holy ruler over Islam and all subjects loyal to him. I imagine this will pose problems for sovereignty and our whole nation-state system.

And this is really what this entire Islamic Fundamentalist movement is all about, isn't it? They're just prepping for the day to restore power to one central, Islamic body, which will rule over all Muslims. Will non-radical muslims recognize this person? Will they be subjects? I see a movie.
I'll Be There

A discussion of radical evil in liberal democracies at USC. Sounds fun!
Well, I Think It's An Interesting Thought

A survey on the "popularity" of various countries around the world, ie whether people think the countries are doing good or doing bad, so forth. Perceptions, you know...

Well, it turns out, Iran is widely seen as problematic. Of course, so is the US, although not quite as much.

Here's my theory: Truly problematic people/regimes, etc, are widely understood to be so. For instance - the biggest asshole in school is almost always known as the biggest asshole. BUT, and this is important, the most popular people/regimes, etc, are usually the biggest phonies and have sold out principles in order to be well liked. That is why popularity is a good gauge for the extreme negative, but not a good gauge for a weak or strong positive.

Alice points to the immaturity of an Iranian paper having a holocaust cartoon contest.

This type of condescension (imagining fascists as little children in need of a time out) encapsulates how the West dealt poorly with Islamic Fascism prior to 9/11. We treated it as something to be mocked or ignored. Some still think of it this way. And while condescension might prove to be a clever way to take down an enemy during a book club discussion over Dave Eggers, it has little effect on the Mullah's and Ayatollah's, and radical clerics preaching hatred across the world.

It is a mistake to think we can shame these folks into better behavior, or give them constructive criticism, or that condsecending will have any effect. I imagine a legion of coffeshop urbanites in the streets of Ramallah snidely mocking a mob with guns and knifes, "This is just sooooo trite."
Good For Them

The editorial newstaff quit their jobs because their publishers wouldn't publish the Danish cartoons.
It Sounded Crazy to Me At First

Paranoia around the cartoon controversy over at Europundit is starting to make some sense, in light of the development that an Iranian newspaper is now holding a holocaust cartoon contest.

It really doesn't seem to make much sense that these Muslim cartoons were actually published a year ago and now the whole thing became a big issue. It does lend itself to a theory that some force is behind making it into a big issue.

Uhhhh, and what again does the Iranian newspaper expect the West to do? Republish their holocaust cartoons? Why should we do that? What would that prove? Or do they expect that we'll close down their newspaper? We don't understand radical Islam, but I think they REALLY don't understand us.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One of the Most Important People In the World

I find Ayaan Hirsi Ali to be one of the most important voices in the world today. I agree with everything she says in this interview.

This is a particularly good section:

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

It is true, I think, when Islamists preach hate, our gut response is "freedom of expression," yet when the cartoon issue comes up, our first response is, "That's offensive." There is something deeply perverted about this world view.
He Said It, Not Me

"Zerbisias condemns those Westerners who "claim to be morally superior." Well that is absolute horseshit. I am tired of being told not to judge other cultures through my "American lens" because I don’t understand their circumstances. I believe in equal rights without regard to race, religion, color, gender or country or origin. I believe in the freedom of homosexuals to marry and live freely in society. I believe in freedom of expression, and speech, and the free exchange of ideas. I believe in kindness, compassion, consideration, and that dogs make life better. I don’t "claim to be morally superior" to those ass-hat murderers; I am morally superior."

Regarding the dogs issue...my first "run-in" with Islamic Extremism occurred in Washington D.C. in the summmer of 1998. I was interning that summer and a friend of mine had this old friend of his from grade school, an Egyptian girl, quite pretty, and quite mad. We all hung out and she was into pretty radical Islamic ideas. At the time, I thought it was kind of interesting, as I'd never really heard anyone talk this way seriously. She was hot, so it made it easier to listen to, although I quickly grew tired of her humorlessness, as I would tease her beliefs (because they are cuckoo) and she didn't like it. So one time we were at my friend's house and his dog is chilling with us and she starts going off on how dogs are filthy and she can't be around it and won't touch it, and so forth. I had had enough. I said to myself, "don't talk shit about the dog, you stupid slut," and then I proceeded to actually say, "this makes me want to throw the dog on you," so I tried to coax the dog into getting near her.

She flipped out and started screaming at me and left. My friend told me I was being kind of a jerk and insensitive. I think he was just trying to get some action.

Anyhow, I totally forgot about this girl until a couple of days after 9/11...

Monday, February 06, 2006

Short Movie Titles

No, You Retard We Close at Ten.

Shut Up, You Douche-Bag

I Have No Clue What A Bonobo Is

more to follow.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Thought on Movies

Best Short Film Festival: The Superbowl commericals.
The Downfall of the West

Mark Steryn's big operating hypothesis is that we are witnessing the decline of the West, all by our own doing. I'm not sure if he's going overboard, but I think it would be a bad thing for Western civilization go down the tubes, or even gain less influence.
Attacking Embassy's

Am I the only one who thinks attacking an embassy is an act of war? Denmark's government rightfully cannot tell their press what to print, but they can rightfully react to attacks against their countries that are being egged on by authorities in various countries - namely, Syria. What kind of message does it send when mobs attack an embassy and the countries don't react brutally? What kind of world is it that when we are attacked many of first instincts are to think - "Jeez, we must have done something awful." Wrong, wrong, wrong. Any attackers should expect to get hit back hard.

How cool would it be if Denmark went to war with Syria and kicked the shit out of them. Send Lars Von Trier to the front line!
An Old Post

But scarily prescient, on the topic of Iranian nuclear weapons. One great thing about blogs - you can easily look back and see how right and wrong you were, given that time and date are the organizing elements.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Enemy

If you want a look at your enemy, look no further.

I feel a Christopher Moltisanti is appropriate, "This ain't negotiation time. This is Scarface, final scene, f**kin' bazookas under each arm."

Be Chill, Everyone...

...i'm on it. After this semester I'll have a draft of my terrorist spy movie. Seismic shifts in Hollywood to follow.
Nerdiest Thing I've Ever Did

Hopefully someday someone will ask me, "What's the nerdiest thing you ever did?" Because I now have a good answer. "When I was in my last year of grad school I was in a game class. Each week we are assigned a group to play a game with, and describe the formal, dramatic, and dynamic elements of the game. This one particular week, I opted to be in the group that played Shadows over Camelot, a collaborate game where each player is a different knight who goes on quests and does battle with dark forces. The group playing the game try to defeat the dark forces and win the game as a group.

The rules are complex, and we slowly figure it out. We play with the most simple rules, not using the possibility that one of the knights is a traitor (which is an added element that complicates things), and almost win the game. We were working together well, but got tremendously unlucky at the end of the game and game defeated us, as the dark forces bombed our castle.

It was devestating. We were all sad - that is, me, a 27 production MFA student who fancies himself as fairly cool, and three 18-19 year old undergrad game design majors, sitting in Leavy Library at 8:30pm on Friday night. So what do we do? Well, we played another game and kick the living shit out of the dark forces. Fuck yeah!

The odds of any one of us players getting laid this evening was reduced to a negative number the moment we agreed to that second game.
Constructive Criticism

I still find the idea of constructive criticism for Islamo-Fascist radicals amusing, as if we were in an introduction to filmmaking class. Ummmm...Mr. Zarqawi, I was just thinking maybe you'd get your point across better if you didn't cut off the guys head, and maybe instead only a finger or something. Just a thought. On the other hand, you are doing a rather good job at hiding, GOOD JOB.


Anyhow, the reason I find it so hypocritical is the left has zero tolerance towards, say the Ku-Klux-Klan, homophobic hate crimes, race discrimination, etc (all of which I agree with), but then it comes to Islamo-radicalism and all of sudden, it's like "Let's listen to their point of view. Who can blame them? It's no wonder why they become suicide bombers," especially because so many upper middle class Saudi young men are affected by the Palestinian sitution. Riiiight.

Now we have this cartoon situation. There's a lot of different POVs here. Powerline has a good summary.

US Military is pissed off about the re-printing of the cartoons because they are alienating the moderate Muslims who don't like the radicals, but don't like being mocked either...thus, making the soldiers jobs tougher.

European Newspapers are outraged that Islamic radicals are threatening kidnapping and using general thuggary to protest freedom of speech and are responding by not "bowing" to the threats, but rather, re-printing the cartoons over and over.

American Newspapers, thus far, have opted not to reprint the cartoons. It is unclear whether it is out of respect for Muslims who would be offended, or because they lack any backbone and afraid of criticisms and fatwas. Or both.

Hugh Hewitt, a conservative Christian blogger and talk show host, thinks the Islamic thugs should obviously be condemned, but that the cartoonists shouldn't be celebrated - that in fact, they are idiots themselves, making unsympathetic, even racist cartoons, the likes of which would be heavily criticised in the West if they were about Jews or Christians.

Interesting perspectives, all. I myself, am a jerk, and even more of a jerk on my blog, according to my friends, and so I say, cartoon and reprint away! If people are offended - SO FUCKING WHAT!!! Cartoons, to me, fall into the humor category. And what I love about humor is that there is only one criteria for judgement: IS IT FUNNY?

The only appropriate criticism of the Islamic cartoons or ANY cartoon is whether it is funny or not. I don't think I'd find racist cartoons funny, unless of course, they were. But the fact remains, that some racist and offensive things are funny - mighty funny. And I want to live in a world where we can say idiodic things that might be funny. I don't see why we should privilege humorless souls, who out of respect or whatever, don't think we should offend.

So on this one anyway, I'm with the Eurotrash (see - not funny.)

UPDATE: CNN actually has a really good article on the cartoons.

Of all the players, I actually like Ayatollah's Sistani's comments the best:

Al-Sistani, who wields enormous influence over Iraq's majority Shiites, suggested militant Muslims were partly to blame. He referred to "misguided and oppressive" segments of the Muslim community and said their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."

-These segments worry me, "Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up," protesters in Ramallah chanted." AND "If they want a war of religions, we are ready," Hassan Sharaf, an imam in Nablus, said in his sermon.

FYI, these are places in Palestine.
Nuke The Moon

He crazy, he crazy! F-ing funny, though.
Google Search

If you type in: "lauren sanchez" breasts

My blog will show up on the 2nd page of hits. I've made it to the big time!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Movie 2005

A pretty good blog talking about movies this past year. My favorite section:

WHAT I LEARNED FROM SYRIANA: Big oil calls the shots in our foreign policy (I thought it was the pharmaceuticals). The U.S. Government can kill anyone in the world it wants to, at any time. Poverty causes terrorism (which explains all the terror in South America and Africa). If we’d just leave the Middle East alone, it would become an oasis of democracy. Best of all, Milton Friedman supports corruption.
I Am a Communist About Some Things

Despite being generally libertarian, with hints of liberal hawkishness, I do have some communist beliefs.

1. All cheap pens are community property. I believe pens are for sharing because they are so financially cheap and important tools for intellectul advancement.

2. Craft services. Yes, they are for a certain productions and someone is paying for it, but if I'm hungry and there's a big table of snacks, well, I'm swiping some grub.

Today I was presented with a moral dilemma. Due to the evil beauracrats who have banned coffee sales from the carts, I am coffee-less in the AM during my SPO shift. I am forced to opt for latte or other espresso based drinks. As I walk to the Annenberg Cart, there is a big craft service production, with huge vats of Starbucks coffee, muffins, OJ, yogurt. YUM!

The food is for a big conference on poverty. Normally, I would waltz up like I belong, and jack a cup of joe. But there were a lot of people around, I had that moment of hesitation and then thought to myself, "I'm about to steal a cup of coffee from a poverty conference."
Cellular Automata

We discussed this in Game Design class this week. The basic idea is that certain simple mathematical rules when applied to certain simple set ups can generate incredibly complex results over generations.

It applies to Game Design because the idea with games is to have simple, easy to follow rules that generate interesting and complicated game play. The classic example is chess, with it's straight forward rules and infinite possibilities of game play.

How it applies to movies? Who knows? Who cares? It's just badass math shit. See it here. You may have to download a plugin.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Move Over Seinfeld

I've got a new favorite show. That's right, UPN channel 13 news at 11pm. Lauren Sanchez is HOT. May I repeat - HOT. Good lord. I watch the news because of tje hostess.

BUT, she is also funny. One of the stories tonight - Joaquin Phoenix apparently flipped his car in Laurel Canyon and was saved by none other than German filmmaker - Wern Herzog. That's right - she called him Wern Herzog.

You can't make up shit this funny.

UPDATE: But of course, she went to USC.

UPDATE 2: This is so fabulous, I can hardly contain myself. First the bad news - she's married, to talent agent Patrick Whitsell. Damn that man. But he's getting sloppy seconds (yes, i'm embarassed I just used that term) from Tony Gonzalez, the former Cal hoops and football star. According to wikipedia, she is famous for mispronouncing names and apparently has been outed as never graduating from USC, despite claiming it. Incidently, the ratings for UPN have gone up in the male 18-39 demographic, since she's become anchor.

Older People Doing Shit

I like the title of the article: law school at 40, babies at 50. I just wish they'd talk about what they did in their 20s and 30s...
Can't Really Say I Agree

...with Curious M's response...whereas democracy often yields illiberal results in any democratic society, ie majorities strive to take away rights (I guess I should have capitalized Liberty) from minorities and so forth, I don't think it is a stretch to point towards Muslim countries particular illiberal attitudes towards say, freedom of expression (no depictions of Mohammed, the fatwa on Rushie, etc), rights of women (can't vote, can't drive, must wear humiliating clothing), rights of minorities (non-Muslims not being able to own property), and so forth. Trying to confuse the issue by pointing to other countries own wrestlings, is nothing more than a ploy to escape talking directly about the excessive problem in the Muslim world. That being said, I am a proponent of democracy (even with it's illiberal results) only because I think it is the least worst of options and at least will provide more transparency than the autocratic government we are used to seeing run countries in the Middle East.

And I'm not sure what to make of the rest of the post. Is Curious M arguing it is a good thing Hamas has been elected? Does Curious M believe Israel does not have a right to exist? Does Curious M believe in the "Palestinian right of return?"

And if the issue is growing up in a refugee camp, whose fault is that? Is it Israel (and the West's complicity), as every Arab newspaper and folktale would have you believe? Or does it have to do with Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, all of whom refused to accept Palestinians as citizens into their own countries - instead opting to keep a miserable refugee population to fight a proxy war against Israel for the past 50 years. Or does it have to do with the Palestinians themselves refusing the option of statehood and instead opting for infitada?

I wonder what it is about the Palestinian cause that has so many in the West criticizing Israel's aggression and occupation? Not a peep about the Kurds (a bigger stateless population) living in Northern Iraq, Iran, and Turkey for so long with limited rights. Nothing about the Shi'ite in Saddam's Iraq. Nothing about African Christians in Sudan. Nothing about the Christian population in Egypt that has all but left. Nothing about Tibet. Nothing about the Tutsis in Rwanda.

It's always about the Palestinians or the Native Americans or the African Americans in America. Why is that?

If you position is that Israel is an illegitimate country without a right to exist and therefore any opposition to it is justifiable, then take that position, but don't expect many people to agree with you and certainly don't expect that such a position is a peaceful one.
Islamic Cartoons

Here is a link to the Dutch Islamic Cartoons. Bring on the fatwa!
The Oscars

Well, here's a rather unpleasant post regarding the Oscar nominations.

While I agree that this year's Oscar nomination are rather weak, it would be an awful tragedy if we came to think that popularity meant quality. Dumbass people constantly point to how much money a movie makes as a marker of it's quality - this is both in Hollywood and outside Hollywood. Generally, it is little more than an excuse to celebrate their own taste vs. the taste of the Oscar committee. Frankly, I distrust both.

Does this dumbshit think Chronicles of Narnia deserves best picture? Well, then make that argument from a filmmaking standpoint, not based upon how much money the damn film made.
One of the Best

One of the finest bloggers I've come across stopped writing for a year. He is now back. Nelson Archer, the author of Europundits has a great short entry on the Hamas victory.

He notes the upside of the Hamas victory: it clarifies the situation. The Palestinian people will not accept Israel - they have created an anti-semetic culture that has chosen hate, and refused to acknowledge the rights of their neighbors. We have been dancing around this issue for years, hoping that perhaps it was an issue of corruption or time and that somehow, the Palestinians would eventually come aroud and prove themselves to be fair minded. We now know, it was never to be, that as much as we would hope and think that the Palestinian people can be liberal minded - they aren't. And this is the fundamental issue the Western world needs to face in the 21st century - that democracy in the Muslim world clashes directly with liberty. It is a mind fuck.

The downside, is of course, Hamas is bloody and capable, and will be richer and more powerful than before, and will use that power to punish Israel.

Israel will hit back and the West will stand by and watch, not ever restraining Israel again. Why should we?