Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Slow Down

I'm not promising anything, but it's looking more and more like a slow summer for blogging. Yes, my job that requires I sit in front of a computer and answer questions will have minimal hours and we will see a corresponding down shift in blog entries. I've come upon newer jobs that require - how should I say this - ACTUAL WORK. This may cut into my blogging time.

I'm sort of kidding about that, as my SPO job is one I quite like and think does require a certain set of skills and time at work, but it also affords ample time for blog entries, whereas it's looking more and more like these others won't.

It is also summer, which means I will be spending my free time less in front of a computer and more on the tennis court, on the road, or pretty much anywhere that's not a computer.

I'll still have time on Sunday AM and the occassional night time blog, but if I have any hope of writing AND working AND doing these productions...well....something's gotta give (head nod Bruce Bloch).

All of this being said, I had a realization today about liberals. It's not that I'm not liberal, which I am. I think I've just been exposed to too many liberals for too long and at a certain point you just grow tired of IT, no matter what IT is. Take for instance, El Pollo Loco. Good chicken. Like the mac and cheese. But if you have it every day - well, I don't want to even think about it. And in comparing liberals to El Pollo Loco, you think I'm being flippant, but I'm not entirely sure who has the right to be insulted - El Pollo Loco runs a hell of a business. Which is more than the whole "liberal" thing has become.

I just grow so tired of people telling me how wrong everything is, how everything in America is racist, and corrupt, and big business sucks, and the whole electoral system is broken, and the environment is getting ruined, and people are all such assholes waiting to take advantage of each other, and the war in iraq is a disaster, and the media and fox news are ruining the country, and entire midwest are a bunch of idiots, and foreign countries are so much better at everything from food to film to healthcare to language to election systems, and how things were so much better in some different place at some different time, and blah, blah fucking blah. Let's just say, as a thought experiment, all of this was Correct - who, of all the normal people out there who just want to do the right thing, have a nice job and a nice family, wants to listen to all this whining?

And I understand this same thing goes on in conservative country, with the talk radio shows ranting and raving about immigrants and terrorists and whatever it is they are whining about. I guessing if I lived there, I'd grow super sick and tired of them. But I don't. I live here and don't see oppressive racist or sexist conditions. I don't see a broken system. I've visited other countries and enjoyed my time there, but there isn't a single one where I've gone and felt remotely at home, the way I do when I come back to California. I like that feeling of coming home. I see big business and I think, shit, I'm glad I don't have to pump oil out of the ground myself to run my car and enjoy a McDonalds Number 3 meal every now and then - even though I'm still a closet liberal in that I distrust the overall, big term, business practices (shelving innovation in favor of market share, for instance).

I read about Iraq and think it's a mess. But I also read about Sudan and North Korea and Ivory Coast and Venezuela and Cuba and Haiti and Rwanda and Palestine and think, they too, are a mess. And I'm not sure what to do about any of it. What's frustrating is that I KNOW these messy places affect us, that the US is visible in these messy places, whether we want to be or not, and therefore are not a neutral presense. We are a node, a node which people can either rally around or rally against, whether we are physically, emotionally, politically, economically, present OR not. We are never neutral and we are not always the ones determining what is being done for or against our name. This is what happens in a mess.

So look, this started as a short entry, and turned into a rant. What a wonderful world.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Another Year

Birthdays have a tendency, these days, to make me a little blue. Another year goes by and I always feel a little...I don't know, unaccomplished. Part of this, I know, has to do with being 95% finished with graduate school, heading towards a career of uncertainty in the Entertainment Business. Part of has to do with other things, about being older and single, and not "successful," and worried about the future and just in general, not having much stability.

But then I think - fuck off, you wuss. Look at your group of friends, you lucky bastard. Look your immediate family who supports and cares about you. Look at what you spend your time doing, making movies and games. How dare you be blue?

And I realize that it isn't blueness which is my predominant internal state, but rather a thankful pride. I'm thankful and proud of my friends. As of where I'm from. And what I'm trying to do with my life.

And so I say to aging and status and ultimately death, to mix quotes from two men who don't really reflect my political values, "Bring it on, you damn dirty ape."

Yes, morals are important, but so is grubbing down. Sorry. Me gusta meat.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Friends With Money

Very good. This appears to be a good year for movies. There's already been several I quite like. Frances McDormand is laugh out loud funny in a bunch of parts. Holofcener makes full characters and great, small, honest situations.
This is New, Isn't It?

Max Boot
challenging Bush/Rumsfeld's handling of the war. More troops he says. I agree Baghdad needs to be under control. If it's true that more troops will be able to do that, then it's obviously a policy worth using...but remember the long term ramifications of more troops...
Obviously, They Read Public Musings

Because I've been suggesting this for years now.

We've entered the bizarro world.
It Still Doesn't Answer the Question, Though.

Michelle Malkin
has a fun vent which pokes fun of an Inconvenient Truth and Al Gore. She's pretty good and convincing, but eschews an important discussion topic being brought to the fore. I mean, isn't the environment an issue worth trying to figure out?

Update: All this buzz on Gore '08 - let me break down the two public examples Sullivan gives a) Nixon's return to politics. This wouldn't seem to me to be an endorsement. Nixon was the worst president in US history. Well, at least recent history. b) Arianna Huffington is beaming about Gore. This cannot be a good thing, both for his ability or his electability.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Heat are looking good. They've got a squad. Wade, Shaq, Jason Williams, Walker, Haslem are all good players. Gary Payton and Alonzo Mourning used to be good players and who knows, could be valuable.

I'd like to see a Suns-Heat final, just to see how in the world the Suns try to cover Shaq and how the Suns running matches up with Miami's slow game.

The East plays ugly. But they play smart. Riley has the Heat fouling Ben Wallace every time he touches the ball down low to get him on the free throw line. The guys shoots 30%. You can see Ben getting frustrated. Smart coaching. Ugly hoops.
There Something Wrong Here

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, marked a turning point in America, he said. "America had to deal with its ugly night side. For the first time, the vast majority of all Americans, of all colors, felt unsafe, unprotected, subject to unjustified violence, to hatred, just for who they are."

The experience has left our whole nation "niggarized," he said, because everyone now shares the experience that Black Americans have felt for years. "Does the nation have enough spiritual resources to deal with this?" he asked. "Will people learn by the formerly niggarized?"

This is an article about Cornell West, featured player of Matrix part II, and academic par excellence, recently booted from Harvard and picked up by Princeton, I believe.

I read today in ESPNs magazine preview of the World Cup that the US Team is the only team that will travel in a bus not donning our flag - for security reasons. This fact suggests to me, we are the most hated nation on earth. No other nation is hated like we are. Iran, North Korea, Syria, all awful humanistic disgraces do not garner hate from anyone - they are merely viewed as awful little tykes, of little significance. Only America is hated. And Israel, but they are not in the world cup.

The world should be ashamed of itself.

Onto other soccer metaphors - the best player on the other team is always subject to hard tackles and special attention. Maybe that's how we should view ourselves. But it is a shameful team that doesn't protect it's best player from abuse - and any good player learns early on how to protect himself from injury, by being tough and fighting back.

Onto other soccer news - Thierry Henry has begun a vocal campaign against racism in soccer, a ugly side none of us "worldly" people would like to talk about, as black players across Europe are subject to taunts and mockery by being called apes and monkey's and having banannas thrown at them. Of course, if this happened in America, it would be met with outrage here AND by all of our enemies overseas, using it as an excuse to point out how awful we are. Yet, in Europe it is all very public, and part of civic pride.

And now some kinda cool soccer news - Iranian mullah's tried to ban soccer several years ago, but the Iranian people went crazy and wouldn't allow it. Hmmm. Anyhow, they are in the World Cup and Amajihabad (spelling) wants to attend a match. Interesting.
A Reminder From Jean Pierre

On lazy Saturdays, I pick up books and read segments. Here is one from Jean Pierre, talking about one of Roman Polanski's student films:

Today that forty-year old student film begs us, with illuminating clarity, to look at our own society and carry on a similar investigation. Its modesty of means also puts to shame all those who, in film school, shoot 35mm productions with Dolby sound and spend in excess of $50,000 to do so. These films are produced in order to make their directors desirable in Hollywood's eyes. By doing so, these individuals have compromised their intregrity before even being approached. Is that what they really want? In the 1780s, there were also many apprentices willing to work for the French court's pastry chefs. They pleased Marie-Antoinette no end and made a nice living overall. In fact they were so busy whipping up creams and puffing up their lovely creations that they remained oblivious to the fact the country was running out of bread. In contrast, the young Polanski and his film make clear that, for the artist, there is no alternative. Indeed to compromise on these issues leads to creative impotence, to suffocating the very spirit that animates you in the first place. Identity is not given, Jean Paul Satre reminds us, it is only through acting in the world that we discover what we are made of. By engaging ourselves in specific situations, by choosing this way over that one, we literally create ourselves, we become this person rather than the other one, we literally free ourselves or we get mired in "bad faith."

Lofty talk. But true, isn't it? One question I've always had, but feels somehow beneath Jean Pierre is how to make a living? How does one devote their time to filmmaking without having means to pay the rent? Maybe his first advice is the wisest - leave los angeles. Live somewhere cheap, earn an honest living, and make cheap films on the side. Who knows? And am I the only one who distrusts this notion of an artist? Do artists view themselves as such? I know I don't. I view myself as a filmmaker. Did Van Gogh seem himself as an artist or a painter? When people refer to my pursuits as artistic, I cringe. I don't know why.

The other day I picked up Cavell's "Pursuits of Happiness," in the appendix he talks about Thoreau, who promised us one day "we might be able to become accomplished in any branch of labor we wished; to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, raise cattle in the evening, and criticize after dinner?" he relates it to his role or life in the university, "isn't a university the place in our culture that enables us now to teach one thing today and learn another tomorrow, to hunt for time to write in the morning, fish for a free projector in the afternoon, try to raise money for projects in the evening, and after a seminar read criticism? To some this will not seem a Utopian set of activities, but in the meantime, and for those with a taste for this particular disunity, why not have it?"

But Thoreau did not only promise this for the scholar, surely. This is the life I should like to lead, where I can bounce around from interest to interest. I just need to figure out how to earn money doing so....write movies in the morning, raise money for movies in the afternoon, play tennis or soccer in the late afternoon, read and blog in the evening, design games in the evening.
Don't Talk Shit About Teri Hatcher!

I'm not sure what it is, but I have a fondness for Teri Hatcher. Consequently, I don't like it when people make fun or her or talk shit about her. Even if she did leave her manager when she got breast cancer.

Come on, she's cute.

Elements of my generation make me want to puke.
A Sacrifice

Victor Davis Hanson writes a compelling story of Iraq for memorial day.

Friday, May 26, 2006

TNT Coverage of the Playoffs

These guys are developing an awesome style. The other night in game seven, Clippers v. Suns, they'd intersperced their game commentary with home/family pictures with cut out pictures of various Clipper and Suns players and Kenny Smith. Totally random, but hilarious. Then, tonight, they keep showing David Hasselhoff clips because the Knight Rider star was in the audience. My favorite was a still of Dirk Nowitzski taking a foul shot with a bubble coming out of his head thinking about Hasselhoff because Dirk missed some foul shots.

Plus, there's Barkley's commentary. It's part comedy, part bball coverage.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers

Great little book. I don't know how to write about books anymore. I laughed out loud many a times. The sheer hilarity of situations McMurtry comes up with are enough to put any would-be screenwriter (like myself) to shame.

Damn. I'm just going to remember and steal from him.

I also need to read more. Man, movies are great, but good books,'s just different.
So You Think You Can Dance

I can see why people watch Reality TV. Totally addicting, this show. I'd never heard of it or seen it before. It's totally derivative. It's American Idol with dancing.

But it's hilarious and sometimes exhilarating to see talented young people up there.

I'm watching it with my roommate and we're talking back and forth about it. It's like a social bonding experience.

Aren't these contestant shows pretty much the same thing as game shows?

Blogging been slow lately. Everything been slow lately.

I had some good blog post ideas, but I've been too lazy to write them. Here are tidbits.

The Last Waltz: There is a sequence when the Band performs "the Weight." Might be the most incredible 5 minutes of filmmaking I've ever seen. I don't really know how to describe it other than it's pretty close to perfect (and I hate saying lame things like that).

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Damn, I Missed It

Tommy Hilfiger takes swings at Axel Rose at Rosario Dawson's birthday party. Wish I could have been there.

Monday, May 22, 2006

An Interesting Point of View

Mark Steryn
talks about the vast numbers of Mexican's living in the US and sending money home, without a care in the world about being an American. This isn't immigration, in the traditional sense at all.

Interesting point. I'm all for assimilation. That's what America is about. It's a place where people can come and try to live in freedom and pursue the American dream.
Eh, Hem....

Well, I'm a democrat whose been saying this since 2003. Then again, no one's voting for me, or really listening.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Well, Not My Friend, At Least

The discovery of some new Saudi textbooks reminds me of two things: why we have Al Queda and other organization with Nazi-esque intolerant ideologies and why so many of their members are Saudi.

Drezner is right, this is going to generate a lot of "the Saudis aren't our friends," lines - and he is right that they are probably right.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Early Evening in Sunset Junction

Tired of being in my house, I decided to take an early evening stroll down the street to Sunset Junction, grab a coffee and read my book. There's something I love about the early evening in Los Angeles during the summer, I can wear short sleeves. The heat from the day lingers, it gets trapped in the asphalt, and warms the ground.

The first thing I notice as I hit Sunset is the new gelato store across the street. It took the place of at least three Mexican owned, trinket and cell phone accessory stores. I never understood how those stores survived. I think the $2.45 gelato cones and $3.25 French Drip coffees will do much better business.

Despite the temptation for gelato, I stick with the game plan and head towards Casbah. I pass a store that sells soap, they are having a party. I wanted to stop, but I did not have a tattoo, which seemed to be a prerequisite for attendance.

Inside Casbah was a line. A girl at table full of Silverlake types talked about how she admired her friend's older sister when she was younger - I believed she used the term, punk cool. I always find it weird when people older than 15 talk about how cool someone is. Cool. I think there's a good college thesis to be written on "Cool."

There's a beautiful Japanese girl sitting at a table with a guy, presumably her boyfriend. They were obviously visiting from Japan. They seemed to be having fun. I imagine it will be one of their fonder memories of Los Angeles, the discovery of a nice little coffee shop on Sunset Junction. Going out around Los Angeles, the beauty of women never ceases to impress me. I'm pretty sure the prettiest girls in the world hang out in L.A..

I get my coffee and a lemon bar and sit outside to read. L.A. isn't a great town to read in. It's noisy. San Francisco is a reading town. I read a couple of chapters and think to myself, I need to read more. I'm still reading Larry MucMurtry's All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers. Laugh out loud moments.

I feel a Brian DePalma night.
I've Been Saying This

Major Leaguers vote Derek Jeter as the most overrated player in the league. This is very obvious to me.
Regarding Innocents

There's a discussion of innocents in one of the below posts. I noticed this CNN article, Israel has bombed one of the leaders of PIJ and killed him, along with several innocents who were with him, including children.

Is this justified? Yes. Not only is it justified, but in moral terms, it is the responsibility of those who hide behind "innocents" and walk among them, while waging war who bear the responsibility. Therefore, it is Israel who bears responsibility for killing the PIJ leader, but it is him, who bears the responsibility for the collateral damage.

We in the West pay a lot of lip service to this premise and most everyone agrees in principle, yet questions it when it comes to the real life situation. This is a good sign, reflective of our compassion and mercy. But it can also be destructive in that if we hedge our bets and start to believe the sophistry that we are somehow responsible for the innocent deaths, it merely encourages those who are actually responsible, to continue to use these tactics and to find ways to exploit it more to their advantage.
A Good Bet

In 2003 we made a bet on the Iraqi people, that if we got rid of Saddam, they would prove us wise by forming a government both they and the world could be proud of. Today, they took another step in that direction.

Here's an article that's been circulating the blogosphere, written by Amir Taheri, who recently spent time in Iraq. The whole article is well worth reading, but here are they money excerpts.

"Spending time in the United States after a tour of Iraq can be a disorienting experience these days. Within hours of arriving here, as I can attest from a recent visit, one is confronted with an image of Iraq that is unrecognizable. It is created in several overlapping ways: through television footage showing the charred remains of vehicles used in suicide attacks, surrounded by wailing women in black and grim-looking men carrying coffins; by armchair strategists and political gurus predicting further doom or pontificating about how the war should have been fought in the first place; by authors of instant-history books making their rounds to dissect the various fundamental mistakes committed by the Bush administration; and by reporters, cocooned in hotels in Baghdad, explaining the carnage and chaos in the streets as signs of the countrys impending or undeclared civil war."

"Since my first encounter with Iraq almost 40 years ago, I have relied on several broad measures of social and economic health to assess the countrys condition. Through good times and bad, these signs have proved remarkably accurateas accurate, that is, as is possible in human affairs. For some time now, all have been pointing in an unequivocally positive direction.

The first sign is refugees. When things have been truly desperate in Iraqin 1959, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1980, 1988, and 1990long queues of Iraqis have formed at the Turkish and Iranian frontiers, hoping to escape. In 1973, for example, when Saddam Hussein decided to expel all those whose ancestors had not been Ottoman citizens before Iraqs creation as a state, some 1.2 million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks. This was not the temporary exile of a small group of middle-class professionals and intellectuals, which is a common enough phenomenon in most Arab countries. Rather, it was a departure en masse, affecting people both in small villages and in big cities, and it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam Hussein.

Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we have not seen on our television setsand we can be sure that we would be seeing it if it were there to be shown. To the contrary, Iraqis, far from fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark. Many of the camps set up for fleeing Iraqis in Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia since 1959 have now closed down. The oldest such center, at Ashrafiayh in southwest Iran, was formally shut when its last Iraqi guests returned home in 2004.

A second dependable sign likewise concerns human movement, but of a different kind. This is the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely. From 1991 (when Saddam Hussein massacred Shiites involved in a revolt against him) to 2003, there were scarcely any pilgrims to these cities. Since Saddams fall, they have been flooded with visitors. In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina.

Over 3,000 Iraqi clerics have also returned from exile, and Shiite seminaries, which just a few years ago held no more than a few dozen pupils, now boast over 15,000 from 40 different countries. This is because Najaf, the oldest center of Shiite scholarship, is once again able to offer an alternative to Qom, the Iranian holy city where a radical and highly politicized version of Shiism is taught. Those wishing to pursue the study of more traditional and quietist forms of Shiism now go to Iraq where, unlike in Iran, the seminaries are not controlled by the government and its secret police.

A third sign, this one of the hard economic variety, is the value of the Iraqi dinar, especially as compared with the regions other major currencies. In the final years of Saddam Husseins rule, the Iraqi dinar was in free fall; after 1995, it was no longer even traded in Iran and Kuwait. By contrast, the new dinar, introduced early in 2004, is doing well against both the Kuwaiti dinar and the Iranian rial, having risen by 17 percent against the former and by 23 percent against the latter. Although it is still impossible to fix its value against a basket of international currencies, the new Iraqi dinar has done well against the U.S. dollar, increasing in value by almost 18 percent between August 2004 and August 2005. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, and millions of Iranians and Kuwaitis, now treat it as a safe and solid medium of exchange

My fourth time-tested sign is the level of activity by small and medium-sized businesses. In the past, whenever things have gone downhill in Iraq, large numbers of such enterprises have simply closed down, with the countrys most capable entrepreneurs decamping to Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states, Turkey, Iran, and even Europe and North America. Since liberation, however, Iraq has witnessed a private-sector boom, especially among small and medium-sized businesses."

Then, again, Andrew Sullivan finds reason to still be worried. Which, I suppose will last until Rumsfeld is gone, in his eyes.
Pigheaded Asshole

Don't act like this is a bad thing - who in the hell wants a movie business business that bends over for the Catholic church.

What is it people? Is America a fanatically religious country - Passion of the Christ or is it a Catholic-hating, anti-religious country - the Da Vinci Code. Sorry, don't think you can argue out of both sides of your mouths.

One thing that continually irks me about social ideologues and politico punditry is they use and value movies to the extent they fit into their silly little ideological borders they've drawn for themselves. They aren't open to movies, in fact, they are closed and want things to either plop in or plot out. This is why when I left DC I never went back and why I never went into to Politics and working on the hill or whatever other young political science people do. In the end, they become partisan gang members, unable to think for themselves or outside the constructs of Washington and it's power structures.

Who gives a flying shit about the Da Vinci Code? It's a best seller, a throwaway, in the category of Jurrassic Park or the Firm, and the movie getting made is so frigging obvious, don't think it has anything to do with Hollywood and it's prejudices. The market speaks for itself. But as for whether its a good movie, well, that MAY be worth talking about, but I could tell from the book and from the early reviews, the chances of it being good are unlikely. But why do people make it into more than it is? An attack on Catholicism. Yeah right. If you think people are stupid enough to believe in the "truth" of the Da Vinci code, it's sort of like talking about the people who thought the Blair Witch Project was real. Come on, man.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Innocent, I Doubt It

Kevin thinks 90% of Gitmo prisoners were probably innocent. Am I remembering this conversation correctly? I'd say it's way less than that.

These guys are the bad of the bad. I'm not losing sleep.

What's worse - pandering to xenophobic "nativists" or politicizing non English speakers to gain political favor?

I stand pretty firmly on this one - English should be the official language of the United States. I know, I know, I'm getting in bed with the xenophobes, but the only people that bilingual education and other similar measures that discourage adapting to English speaking ends up hurting are those who don't learn English as a result.

This place is a supposed to be a melting pot.

Yes, they are fun to mock. But let's be honest, next to the British they are our best friends and closest allies. We shouldn't forget it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


For the record, I feel guilty for the last post. But lets not confuse things. I think it's important to be a moral person. I'm not necessarily sure why. It's become even more important to me the older I get. Again, I'm not really sure why. I don't think it's because of church or anything. Maybe it's just the way I was raised. Who frigging knows. But like I said, religious folks want to push the chips into the table - as both the Christians and Muslims seem to want to do these days, and they want to get nasty and self righteous and try to woo everyone around them with their faith - I don't think us secular humanists ought to be shaking or even worried. I can be as, if not more, self-righteous about right and wrong, than any Jesus loving Christian out there. And that, to me, isn't a sign of moral weakness, but of strength. I'm going to try to the right thing regardless if it means the prize of heaven or not, and whatever personal faith questions I have, I'll keep to myself, or at the very most, my blog readership.

The only thing making a bigger comeback than Steve Jobs has got to be religion. Wasn't religion so passe, just even a couple a decades ago. I mean, seriously...religion. But goddamn (pardon) if it hasn't come back recently - and I mean with a vengence. First, there's the evangelical movement, then the islamic fundamentalists, and now all this Passion of the Christ lovers/Da Vinci Code haters. What is going on?

Anyhow, it's something to talk about, and here is a C.S. Lewis point that really pushes the chips into the table:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him (Jesus): 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Sorry Mom, and all you serious folks, if want to get down and play nasty poker, you got it: I vote madman.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Andrew Sullivan has a series of good articles/notes on fundamentalism. This first post is about the obscenity of far right wing book titles. These guys are truly nuts.

The second is about the cult of multiculturalism and the abstract devil, "institutional racism."

All these people suck.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I Don't Disagree

So I'm catching up here, trying to read some Kevin Drum, since he seems to be the organizer of this socal blogging get together and basically, a respectable left wing blogger. He's right that the Republicans actively search out for an enemy - China for awhile and now Islamic Fundamentalists.

I've acknowledged this for a long time and recognized it for a long time. The only thing that's changed is that I agree with the Republicans that the Islamic Fundamentalists are our enemies. They happen to be right in this case. Whereas, I think my current quote (which won't be up there much longer) applies: "A liberal is too broad minded to take his own side in a quarrel."

Anyhow, of note is the blog address, the Washington Monthly, a magazine I used to read when I lived in DC and liked a lot, but lost track of it, because well, it wasn't really to be found out here. I didn't realize it then, but it appears to be a bastion of liberal thought - but a really smart one - sort of the liberal version of Foreign Affairs or AEI.
My Style

A blogger get together at the Farmer's Market Sunday afternoon. Yipes. That sounds like a good idea. I'm a little scared to go. Who would I talk to? I'm sure I don't read any of their blogs.

But this is my style - bloggers, farmers market, sunday afternoon. What more could one ask for? Fine, other than sex.
Good Points

First off, I've noticed in the past couple of months an ease of use of internet podcasting and video, particularly the video/listening that simply requires clicking on the image to get it going - no download or wait. Maybe this has been around, but I've just started noticing it and using it. Anyhow, I listened today to a blogger round table discussion about the news of the week. Basically the format was similar to Left, Right, and Center. I found the dicussion to be smarter and more engaging, but less entertaining than LRC. Mostly because all the commentators were libertarian leaning conservatives, I think. Anyhow, they had some pretty good thoughts. I particularly like Glenn Reynolds discussion on Iran - he said, and I'm paraphrasing, that we should be less concerned with reacting to what the Iranians are going to do, and they should be more concerned with what we are going to do.

His point, is that we need to start acting a little crazy. We are all so concerned with how to deal with Iran - some say, we need to deal with them. Some say, we can't deal with them because they are obviously nuts. Reynolds said that we ought to be going after them where they are weak - seize the mullah's personal money. Blow up their oil fields, harass diplomats, etc.

In poker, sometimes it's beneficial to make bold, irrational plays, so it throws your opponents off. It was going to work for me last night, cause I had Alice all suckered into a hand in which I had 2 Aces because I had played "crazy" before, calling hands I should have had no reason to call. But then she got lucky on the river and pulled a flush long after all the money was in the pot. Total bollacks, but them's the breaks.

I didn't even know about this feature - blogsearch.
What A Bio

More on Ali, here. She's only 35 but has led a remarkable life. I'd make the second movie with her in a second.

Can we imagine the scope of her project? She is proposing a reformation of Islam. I compared her to Martin Luther King before - that's wrong - she's more like Martin Luther.

Her premise: Islam, currently about submission to God (and for women, to men), should reform and become about a dialog with God. This is why people want to kill her. This is like a replay of the 17th century. A section:

An interesting indication of the extent to which Hirsi Ali needles people are the lurid epithets and insults she draws from across the political spectrum. While internet extremists lent her a quasi-legendary status as the "Wicked Infidel Mortadda," even a figure from the Dutch liberal left such as Geert Mak will reach for phrases such as "Somali princess" and "Joan of Arc" to explain her unsettling charisma. From a free-market perspective, the Economist rather oddly defines her as a cultural ideologue of the new right. Other commentators have dismissed her as a politician of rage, a self-hating orientalist, a liberal jihadist, and an enlightenment fundamentalist.

While the name-calling tends to reveal more about Hirsi Ali's critics than it does about her, there is a more subtly personal line of attack that genuinely galls her. This is the idea that what she thinks and says is somehow born of the scars of a traumatised background. "Why are journalists obsessed with personal history?" she asks in her quiet, Africa-lilted English (one of six languages she speaks, including Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili and Dutch). "From my background, being an individual is not something you take for granted. Here it is all you, me, I. There it is we, we, we. I come from a world where the word 'trauma' doesn't exist, because we are too poor. I didn't have an easy life compared to the average European. But compared to the average African, it wasn't all that bad. I know that to some people I am traumatised, that there is something wrong with me. But that just allows them not to hear what I say."

The first biographical detail that those who have painted Hirsi Ali as a trauma victim point to is her extremely premature birth, shortly after the Somali government had been overthrown by Siad Barre. Her father had been jailed, and the family believed that the shock of this brought on the birth. Hirsi Ali was expected to die. "But I didn't die," she smiles. "I kept on living and crying. I got sick, and started crying, and I got sick again, and I started crying again - that's the story my mother told me.

More on Ali, here.


Before being elected to parliament, she worked as a translator and social worker among immigrant women who are treated as sexual chattel—or as the object of "honor killings"—by their menfolk, and she has case histories that will freeze your blood. These, however, are in some ways less depressing than the excuses made by qualified liberals for their continuation. At all costs, it seems, others must be allowed "their culture" and—what is more—must be allowed the freedom not to be offended by the smallest criticism of it. If they do feel offended, their very first resort is to violence and intimidation, sometimes with the support of the embassies of foreign states. (How interesting it is that the two European states most recently attacked in this way—Holland and Denmark—should be the ones that have made the greatest effort to be welcoming to immigrants.) Considering that this book is written by a woman who was circumcised against her will at a young age and then very nearly handed over as a bargain with a stranger, it is written with quite astonishing humor and restraint.

But here is the grave and sad news. After being forced into hiding by fascist killers, Ayaan Hirsi Ali found that the Dutch government and people were slightly embarrassed to have such a prominent "Third World" spokeswoman in their midst. She was first kept as a virtual prisoner, which made it almost impossible for her to do her job as an elected representative. When she complained in the press, she was eventually found an apartment in a protected building. Then the other residents of the block filed suit and complained that her presence exposed them to risk. In spite of testimony from the Dutch police, who assured the court that the building was now one of the safest in all Holland, a court has upheld the demand from her neighbors and fellow citizens that she be evicted from her home. In these circumstances, she is considering resigning from parliament and perhaps leaving her adopted country altogether. This is not the only example that I know of a supposedly liberal society collaborating in its own destruction, but I hope at least that it will shame us all into making The Caged Virgin a best seller.
She Needs Us, But the World Needs Her

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now in negotiations with the State Department to become an American citizen.

The Netherlands is losing her because, officially, she lied on a visa application. Unofficially, her tough stances against Islamism has not won her a lot of support in her home country, where she is viewed as an agitator, with her harsh rhetoric and short films. Well, an agitator is what Islam needs, and if the Euros can't or won't protect her from the fatwas and her voice isn't welcome, there is, as there has been for the past 230 years, another place she can go.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

More of These Guys

Task Force 145
, the unit assigned to capturing/killing Zarqawi in Iraq sounds like a good organization. They will catch this guy at some point, I think, by the description of their tactics vs. his.

What's interesting to me is the elimination of nearly all foreign fighters working in the first tier for Zarqawi as a result of this task force...Zarqawi has been forced to promote Iraqis to do the job. I think this is a good development, I imagine the less influence of Al Queda and other foreign elements in Iraq, the better it is for the Iraqis and us.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Liberals Protesting Liberals

I hope people appreciate the irony of Unions protesting UC Berkeley for labor practices...the steamy-molten core of American liberal thought - UC Berkeley - also the victim of labor unrest. Gotta love it.
Perhaps Neil Young Needs to Look a Little Closer

In his new song, "Looking for Leader," Neil Young surmises that our country needs a leader and he openly believes he/she is walking amongst us, but just hasn't stepped forward yet. We've had great leaders in our history that have stepped forward during trying times - George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and many others.

But in the 21st Century, in a globalized community, maybe the great leader Neil Young seeks isn't supposed to be American at all. The only crises in America today are the self made ones. Within our borders and amongst reasonable people, there isn't much disagreement. We all believe in fiscal responsibility, we all believe we need better, more fair immigration policies, we all believe in equality of opportunity, and we all believe in eradicating terrorism. How we go about these things, yes, there are differences of opinion, and these differences are often exploited to political advantage, often separating us and differentiating us more than we really are.

But it is clear to me the Muslim world is in crisis and because of the globalized nature of the 21st Century, that crisis has already spilled onto our shores. It is not America that is in dire need of a leader - it is the Muslim world that needs leaders. And there is one, if anyone cares to pay attention, her name is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a Muslim and is a member of Dutch Parliment.

She is the closest thing to Martin Luther King of today, she talks about massive cultural subjugation of women in Islam. But she does not stop there. The crisis in Islam isn't just about how women are treated, but how all "unbelievers" are treated - how they are begrudgingly tolerated, but not believed to be true equals in any way. And it is this backwards, intolerant point of view that has given rise to the radical islamicists - those who attacked NYC and Washington on 9/11 and those who murdered Theo Van Gogh, those who bombed the trains in Madrid and the subways of London, the nightclubs in Bali, and on down to the people who fight in Chechnya, Palestine, and Kashmir.

We have a leader right in front of our eyes - a world leader - a young woman who knows because she's been there and is out there speaking a truth so clear and so obvious, it is threatening to all...not just radical muslims, but to all of those too cowardly to see it for themselves. It is arrogant to think what America and the world need is an American leader. That is precisely not the point. What the world needs is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, we need to protect her and listen to her and to follow her lead.
Get the Fuck Outta Here

I'm seeing it three times, I bet.

ps: it feels like a good year for movies. last year was weak. this year, i've already been impressed with inside man and united 93. mv is going to rule. and i've got a sneaking suspicion the new bond might even be good. don't hold me to that, though. i haven't seen friends with money or art school confidential, but i'm guessing they are both quality. and we're just getting started.

UPDATE: I fixed the link, but there seems to be a sound problem on the website now.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I've Been Saying the Same Thing for a Long Time

If the Islamo-crazies were running around trying to find girls, they wouldn't have the time or creativity trying to blow us up.
Headlines are Always Better than the Articles

On the onion.
Al Queda Thinks It's Losing Iraq

This is a little bit of old news now, but captured Al Queda documents fear they are losing control in Iraq. Oddly, the only front in which they feel they are making continuous progress is in influencing the American media to get down on the war. These guys really are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Their numbers in Iraq are relatively few - they say only 110 in Baghdad...probably in the thousands in the country. Yet, they still have influence....
Laptops in Classrooms

I noticed it in my writing class this semester, students who didn't do their writing or reading of other people's scripts, would fire up their laptops and search the web.

I myself have yet to use wireless in cafe's or at school. I'm too lazy and get too frustrated trying to set it up on my old Sony Laptop. If it just worked magically like Apple seems to be able to do, perhaps I'd be more inclined.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

So Let Me Get This Straight

The premise is GW Bush lied. He knew there were no WMD. But he said there were, so he could send American troops over to Iraq to kick Saddams ass to compensate for not being able to catch Osama Bin Laden. Or perhaps, Bush doesn't even want to catch Bin Laden, so he can keep America in a state of fear. He wants this makes him and the Republicans more powerful....because if Republicans are more powerful, he can push all sorts of crazy anti-abortion stuff through Congress. Is that the big master plan? Have I been suckered? Is the so called "War on Terror" a big trick to banning abortion. Holy shit!

Or is it not Bush at all? Is it Cheney, using Bush as a puppet? Or is it Rove AND Cheney, combined, secretly lying to Americans, so they can become more uber powerful, optimus prime-style. And they want to send Americans off to die for their own pleasure because they like mayham and destruction and death because it gives them purpose.

Did the Republicans make up Al Queda just as an excuse to let fascism reign over the country. Ahhh, we've all been blinded. Where is the outrage, the anger? I mean for chrissake they lied! Liars! Bastards. Liars! Liars!

Is this the premise you want me to buy? You want me to seriously believe these guys are a cabal set up to fool the American people and to trick thousands of young men into service in order to get their buddies cheap oil contracts and/or rebuilding contracts? Shit, I know really good people that wouldn't hardly drive out to Manhattan Beach for their friends bday dinner, but you want me to believe that evil Bush and Cheney are willing to put their public popularity on the line so their friends get good contracts. Riiight.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On Second Thought...

After reading the Amadinejad letter, I think we just need to topple the regime. This guy is completely off his rocker.

This is a country with a long history of secret police, kidapping and torturing dissenters and he's got the nerve to bring up Guantanomo Bay? Are you kidding me? These are the ramblings of a two-bit academic hack who would be barely qualified to teach high school in the US. Yipes.
Greg's Open Letter to President Bush

Apparently Ahmadinejad has sent a private love letter to GW Bush discussing nonsense about philosophy and history.

Here's my plan: We point our guns toward Iran. Overtly. Forget sanctions forget the UN and all the bullshit. We point our guns toward Iran and we tell Israel to get ready.

And then Bush makes a Nixon to China move. He goes an visits Tehran for one-on-one negotiation with the regime. The deal we offer:

1. Give up enrichment. The Russians will enrich for you, you will get the energy.

2. In exchange, we will publically end our policy of "regime change" and publically recognize the Mullah regime.

3. But all of this is contingent on the "behind the scene" deal - you must help us secure peace in Iraq - that means transition to a Constitutional government. Iran will help us quash the insurgency.


This will pave the way for future relations which will also be carrot and stick:

a) Bilateral trade agreements for Iran if they cease funding Hizbollah and Hamas.


The deal is this - we recognize the Mullah regime in Iran, we even help stabilize it, and make them feel secure, in exchange for their help securing stability in Iraq.

Reasons why this is better than alternatives - Yes, Iran is bad - but they aren't AS bad - yet - as Al Queda and other Salafist/Wahhabist Islamicists. Plus, we can't handle all this shit at once, so let's do it one at a time.


Why Iran will go for it? I have a feeling when threatened with the existence of the regime, the Iranians are a little more saavy than Saddam. First, they know we'll go through with it, which Saddam had reason to doubt. Second, we can go into Iran kill as many mullahs as possible, and just leave.

It'll be a mess and a cluster fuck for us - but you know what - it'll be a much bigger cluster fuck for them. Plus, they asked for it.
George Cloony, You're My Hero

It's quite widespread, now, George Cloony's pronouncement that we ought to really do something about Darfur. (note: he appears to be carrying a DVX 100 in the video)

Austin Bay has a really great link discussing this issue - the most interesting bits, to me, are his absolute dismantling of the hardcore lefty commentors who come across as knowing nothing on the issues at hand.

Mark Steyn disses on Cloony for being a hypocrite because if you actually were to look at the issues in Darfur and those in Iraq, the striking similarities. Yet, where was Cloony in 2003, when he could've stood up and led liberal Hollywood to support the war?

But let's not miss the point here - a) Cloony cares and is not a fool and b) He is becoming more and more politically active and c) This guy is a leader.

I could be an ass and a meanie and assign all sort of ulterior motives to his Darfur speech. Perhaps he envisions a political career. Perhaps he wants to appear tough. Perhaps he's a phony and says - we really ought to do something about Darfur, but isn't really willing to see the logic through - the logic that knows the UN will do nothing about Darfur, like it did nothing in Rwanda or Bosnia - and the inevitable conclusion that if anything is to be done about Darfur, it will be from the Anglosphere (US, Britian, Australia, and Canada) and it will incite more anti-American hatred in the Muslim world. Sound familiar?

I like Cloony. How can you not? But if he's going out and talking foreign policy, he ought to be pressed - what Darfur and not Iraq? What is the difference? And what should our policy be other than asking nicely for them to stop killing people.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Retarded Regimes

Europundits writes about the confusing behavior of thuggish/terror regimes, such as Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

I'm going to use a soccer analogy here. Sometimes teams that play rough are doing so strategically, because they are big guys and it's to their advantage to intimidate opponents. They realize by baiting a softer, more talented team, they can put themselves at a greater advantage to win. This is a smart way to play.

However, there are other teams, who play rough because they don't really know what they are doing. They are confused on the field, don't know how to play, and think that it gives them an advantage, OR, sometimes they don't even realize they are playing dirty or cheap - because they don't even understand the rules. Sometimes they cannot control banging into the other team because they are uncoordinated. I actually see this a lot. These types of games are unpleasant for everyone. Both teams get angry, because the retarded team doesn't think it's doing anything wrong and the normal team gets pissed at the rough play, then the retarded team thinks the normal team is making up claims of dirty play and is either cheap themselves or a bunch of pussies. Either way, it encourages more dirty play. This lack of strategy, however, NEVER benefits the retarded team. They are retarded and almost always lose, but they make it as unpleasurable a game and loss and possible. This is how I see the state actors, Iran, Saddam, Mullah Omar, etc, behaving - like a retarded soccer team that doesn't even know how to play right, even when they want to. And because of this ineptitude, we get pissed at them, they get pissed at us, and tit for tat it goes on.

All you can do on the soccer field is win handily, because if nothing else, they understand the scoreboard. The worst thing you can do is let them stay in the game, thinking they have a shot, because it emboldens them.

With respect to Saddam, some of his mania appears to be logic based. He wanted the citizens of his country to believe he had WMDs and would use them if they ever rose up against him. At the same time, he wanted the UN and the US not to invade his country because of the WMDs. So here he has a tricky game - if he lets the inspectors come and see everything, he figures that anti-Saddam elements within Iraq might get some ideas. His logic, therefore, was to buy off the Russians and the French with lucrative contracts, hoping they could discourage the US from acting alone, while he maintained the illusion of having WMDs, so he could remain in power.

Some of his top military men were surprised when there were no WMDs - which to me, signifies our intelligence failures, while still bad, aren't completely without basis. When dealing with a madman, it's hard to ask someone to predict his behavior. And that is sort of the whole point, isn't it?
A Soft Side To the White House

Why do I not find this hard to believe.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Hardest Position in Soccer

One of the things it took me a long time to figure out in soccer is the different ways to play each position. So much emphasis is put on tackling hard, finding triangles, covering your man, etc, it is as if any position could be interchanged with one another - at least in the way I was coached for much of my life. But as I've gotten older, and played nearly every position for an extensive amount of time, I've come to understand what makes a good center midfielder, different types of forwards, how to play a good marking back and so forth.

I guess I'd make one caveat to these statements, playing forward is always given special treatment and skills, mostly related to finishing. But to me, there are several sets of values important in a forward. One, being able to collect and possess the ball up top. A good forward who can possess the ball and drop it back to an open midfielder is as valuable as a good point guard to the offense. I've played on teams with such forwards and the offense is always more potent. Two, being able to finish. Some players have a knack - they know how to drill shots and get in the right position for headers. It's a skill that can be learned, but I've seen very few great finishers in all my years of playing, so I imagine it has a lot to do with some natural talent. Three, break away speed. There are two types of speed that are valuable in soccer: quickness/anticipatory and breakaway. I am quick. It helps a lot in the midfield and on defense, because you can beat your man to the ball and get a foot in. But to be a great forward, you need the breakaway speed, when you can keep and sustain a fast pace 5-7 strides past a defender. See Michael Owen play and you'll understand. Guys that are gone once they get past a defense are beautiful to watch play.

Midfield. It's hard to understand a great central midfielder until you see one play. But the essential qualities for a good central mid, to me, are having eyes in the back of your head. The key is to be able to collect the ball from one side of the field, be able to turn it and distribute to the other side of the field. Sounds easy, but it's very rare, a player that is able to do it. It's like a good quarterback, being able to analyse the entire field and play it to either the player or space that is most dangerous. A center mid that can score is like having another forward and a center mid that wins balls in the middle is the key to controlling possession - which many feel wins the game.

Wings. You need speed, endurance, and to be able to beat a man one-on-one. If you have all of that and can make nice crosses, you're set.

Marking Back. A lot people think of marking back as a thug position, a position to intimidate the forward, knock him around a bit. I actually think of it the opposite. I think it's a finesse position that requires toughness, not thuggary. It's similar to a cornerback in football, if you ask me. I also think it's a psychological game you play with the forward. You need to figure out how the forward likes to play and disrupt that play. Forwards that are big and like to use their body - you play off of them and make them dribble you one on one. Forwards that like to run into space, you play the space before they can run into it. Forwards that don't like getting kicked, you kick them - a lot.

Sweeper. I like sweepers that tackle really hard and play very safe. I hate sweepers with flair, who try to dribble and get fancy. I love wings with flair. I love forwards with flair. Sweepers with flair are annoying. Sweeper requires wisdom, how to mark, how to clear it, how to coach the defense and be in the right positions and angles, so the other team doesn't get good scoring opportunities.

Which brings us to the point of my entry - THE HARDEST POSITION IN SOCCER - if you ask me, is Stopper. The man who plays in the middle, in front of the sweeper and behind the center mid. The stopper has a rough job. On the one hand, he is supposed to be the enforcer, the thug in the middle who wins all the 50/50 balls up in the air on goal kicks and free kicks. He marks forwards when they sneak into the middle, but he also marks the center mids when they make a run through the middle. Now, he's supposed to win balls, but he also shouldn't foul people very much, since he's almost always in a dangerous position for the defense. He's also supposed to be available to collect passes from the back and drop passes from the midfield - but he collects those passes in the middle, near the back, almost always the most dangerous place to receive a ball. He can make runs up, but also needs to get back to help anchor the defense. A good stopper wins all the balls in the middle, doesn't foul, and doesn't lose the ball in the most dangerous part of the field. It's the hardest position to play right and play well and there's never any glory to it.
A Movie?

Why not a movie about the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran. There probably is one.
We Can't Escape Ideology

Interesting LA Times article about how Hollywood needs to be making pro-American movies. I have to say I agree.

Academics argue that we cannot escape ideology. There is no truth with capital T. If that is the case, the only question is what ideology we espouse.

I dunno. I need someone smarter than me to explain the relation between ideology and truth. I go back and forth with different understandings.
More on United 93

I'm not sure whether it's anyone's civic duty to see the film, but I like the JFK quote that someone wrote on Amazon, "We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth."

Friday, May 05, 2006

Euston Manifesto

An update on several posts that I've written about a new direction for the left to take. A statement on what they believe. I've been waiting for something like this.
Is There A Movement Abrest?

Chris Hitchens writes about some on the left taking a new stance, away from the loony base.



In May last year about 20 disgruntled leftists met in a pub near Euston station in London. Journalists, academics, bloggers and students, they were united in feeling at odds with the anti-war movement and the blanket anti-American/anti-Blair sentiments it inspired. They felt that the left had lost touch with its core values, its muddled sympathies now falling in with terrorists in its rush to condemn its own government


The manifesto appeared on the internet, arguing the time has come for “egalitarian liberals” to reassess their behaviour and allegiances. Members include Norman Geras, Nick Cohen and Brian Brivati


# A rejection of the idea that the left should “indulgently ‘understand’ reactionary regimes and movements for which democracy is a hated enemy”

# That members will condemn any abuse of human rights, and not see Guantanamo or rendition as being somehow worse than equivalent actions by non-democracies

# That without incitement, people should be free to criticise others’ religious beliefs

# That the duty of the left is to concentrate on seeing democracy triumph in Iraq and not ceaselessly to harp on about the justice of the initial intervention


Because, its authors believe, it will lead to a return to common sense and put an end to so-called liberals supporting gruesome regimes for political gain back home.

It has won support from John Lloyd, Paul Berman, Anthony Julius and Francis Wheen. There are now more than 200,000 mentions of it online

More at
Maybe It Won't Happen

Maybe Iran won't make good on it's promise to wipe Israel off the map when they acquire nukes. The question is whether it's worth the risk.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Casino Royale

Doesn't look bad. And it goes without saying, the new bond girl is HOT.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned on this blog how much I love cheese. I love cheese. I've always loved cheese. I will always love cheese. In a no holds barred match between nearly any food or drink pleasure, cheese is going to be not only in the final four, but a frontrunner for victory. That includes wine, steak, and beer.

That is why it is surprising how little I go to the Cheeseshop in Silverlake, right down the street from my house. It is a good cheese shop. Pricey, as most good cheese shops are, but hey, a little pricey cheese now and again goes a long way.

I don't know much about cheese, however. I don't know names of brands or how to define what kind of animal most of the cheeses come from....but maybe one day, as my life fails to amount to anything substantial and I look to become another version of Paul Giamatti's character from Sideways, it will be cheese that I specialize in, instead of wine.

And although I have a stated public policy of wanting to live a really long life, cause as shitty as it is sometimes, let's be honest, life is a pretty cool thing, I will sacrfice the risk of heart disease to enjoy copious amounts of cheese.
So He's A Soccer Fan

Ahmadinezhad is a big soccer fan. I wonder if he plays? I can say this, if we were in a men's league game, I'd take a yellow out on him, just for pleasure.
A New Party?

Time magazine article by a woman, more liberal than me, who feels rejected from the Democratic party. Money quote:

The Democrats made a huge tactical error a few decades ago. In the middle of doing the great work of the '60s--civil rights, women's liberation, gay inclusion--we decided to stigmatize the white male. The union dues--paying, churchgoing, beer-drinking family man got nothing but ridicule and venom from us. So he dumped us. And he took the wife and kids with him.

And now here we are, living in a country with a political and economic agenda we deplore, losing election after election and wondering why.

It's the contempt, stupid.

I wonder how many of us are out there? A lot, I imagine.

Two issues:

1) The democratic party is so pathetic, we can't even beat a moron like George Bush for two elections. There are two conclusions one can draw from this: a) America is stupid and backwards or b) We have no message and no candidates and have ostracized the people we ought to represent. The democrats opt for a), when the fact is, b) is closer to the truth.

We wonder why the Republicans get away with calling liberals unpatriotic? It's because there's an element on the left that does hate America, and instead of countering them and criticizing them, we let them speak on our behalf.

2) The this same problem is hurting us worldwide. How is it possible that the civilized world cannot get together enough to squash a pathetic ideology like radical Islam? The ideology is so stupid and false, it makes some of us underestimate it, but yet it lingers on, survives, and continues to gain status. This movement should not exist, yet all we do is complain back and forth amongst ourselves, allowing this thing to fester. It's truly pathetic. It make me feel disgusting and think the world is going to hell.

The Muslim world allows these fanatics to speak on their behalf, when they should be the ones crushing it. So we're left to fill the void and we're not good at it.
Andrew Sullivan Agrees with Me

High price of oil is a good thing for America in the long run.
Worse Than It's Ever Been

Last night I met an Iraqi guy whose lived most of his life in Canada and the US. But he has family in Baghdad, and he told me it's worse there than it's ever been. Although, I must say, people have been saying that same thing for the past 3 years, so it's hard to tell what's true. He also thought that the country would definitely split up in the long run, that the state ties are not as strong in the region as sectarian ties, the Shi'ia and so forth. He said we maybe be able to cobble together a government for the next ten years or so, but that long run, there's going to be a lot of dead people.

Well, that sucks!

On another note, I don't like the US Media and Army boasting of being able to catch Zarqawi. (also here) I hate this kind of talk, especially because it's happened so many times before and it's been let down after let down. Just let us know when it happens. I'd prefer if they killed him, to be honest, to avoid this whole Moussaoi thing or the kangaroo court that is the Saddam trial.

And PS - we don't need to show a bumbling Zarqawi on ABC news. We need it on Al Jazeera.
Ah, Yes

Voyuer worried about neighbors sex life.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'd Of Killed Him

And not lost a blink of sleep about it. This analysis is right. The Moussaoui trial misses the point. The terrorists have outflanked us on the issue of death. They've accepted their own, because to us, death is sacred and permanent. They've poked a hole in our system of thought. But let me say this, if we're going down, like they say, I say we take a whole of them with us.

UPDATE: Peggy Noonan seems to agree with me, albeit, a little more gracefully. Look, I don't think of myself as bloodthirsty. In fact, I had pretty much came to the conclusion that we should ban the death penalty because of the arbitrary nature in which it is employed (based upon the strength of your attorney). But then 9/11 happened and I realized all these fuckers who plotted and planned it deserved to die. And they don't deserve to die because it furthers society, or because it would deter others.

Maybe it could be considered retributive justice, but I think it might even be more simple than that. They've announced loudly and clearly, that they are our mortal enemies. And we have two choices - wait for them to kill us, or kill them first. It's pretty much the logic of the Terminator, but it's hard to argue it isn't true.

UPDATE 2: Regarding discussion of Moussaoi's sad childhood. Who gives a flying fuck? Is the correct answer.
4th Generation Warfare

A crazy article about the coming new generation of warfare.

Some major points:

1. Attacks will bypass militaries completely and directly attack cultures. An example of this is some ideological elements in South America viewing drugs as their ICBM, as a way to undermine North American society from within. The goal will be to collapse the enemy from within, as opposed to engaging him directly.

2. Attacking a country through manipulation of the television news. Military "successes," ie hitting targets, can actually be counterproductive, if the images help to collapse support for the war at home. We see that happening already, first in Vietnam, now in Iraq and also in the Palestinian territories.

3. The judo technique of using the opponents strengths against them. Terrorists are already using our own strengths against us. Internet technology, freedoms and openess, our system of legal protections, etc.

4. A battlefield of disorder. Warfare has gotten increasingly disorderly since the time of Napolean. Yet, will still have uniforms and formal command structures. Terrorists, on the other hand, have loose command structures, no uniforms and adapt quite well to "disorder." Stealth bombers cost $500 million. They use car bombs as stealth bombers.

Anyhow, there's lots of interesting thoughts in the article, well worth reading.

It's her blog, so she can publish anything she wants, but I must say, I'm disappointed Alice took down the extended comments on her post. A little heat is fun and gets you thinking and sharpens your thoughts. Cutting off rants doesn't really get anywhere, either, it just makes the conversation a little bit boring, if you ask me.
Where the Extra Gas Money Goes

Max Boot writes that the higher gas and oil prices basically line the pockets of dictators around the world, because most of the oil exporting nations are undemocratic.

What to do about such a situation? We heavily rely on oil. And this heavy reliance funds some of the most awful regimes in the world. No doubt this money also finds it's way to terrorists. F--- up system.

Maybe Iraq is really about oil after all. The question is: is that a bad thing?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Communists Making A Come-Back

In Bolivia, they nationalized the oil fields. Back in 1953, the British staged a coup for doing that. That was in Iran. We helped.

If I were an oil company, I'd be pisssed. And I wouldn't be going back to Bolivia.

Instapundit is right:

"ANOTHER UPDATE: People are talking about backlash, and how these rallies are counterproductive. That's probably right, but I think that's what the A.N.S.W.E.R. folks are hoping for. Right now you have lots of immigrants who want to be part of America. The A.N.S.W.E.R. people have been stoking these demonstrations not because they want to help illegal immigrants, but because they hope to provoke a backlash that will make them angry at America instead. They don't have short-term ameliorative political goals -- they want shock troops for the revolution."

Monday, May 01, 2006

How The Immigrant Rallies Affected Me

I was in charge of ordering Togos food for the guest speakers this evening at school. Togos couldn't deliver the food because they were short staffed as a result of the immigrant protest. Which meant I had to go pick it up. Dammit.

I went to Togos and felt bad for the four employees who were "holding down the fort."

I also listened to the radio and there seems to be a big gulf in the hispanic business community about protesting by not working. It seems like a lot people feel like it sends the wrong message.

I'd be worried less about sending the wrong message than the realization that if all these people stopped working, it really wouldn't make that big of a difference. That's the sad truth about the world, that one person or group isn't all that important to making it run. The world moves on.

Just like Togos. They had several people working harder and more. If all the other employees quit tomorrow, Togos would still survive. They would find other workers. If they couldn't, they would pay more, and then charge more for sandwiches. In short, they would adjust and figure it out.

This exact type of thing happened at my old job. There was a project that was totally disorganized and messy, poorly run, oddly staffed, just a weird set up. I was asked to shift over to the project to help change things up. I immediately recognized how unmanagable the process was, things were a mess, there was no order, and the client only knew about half of it. One day, for some reason, about 4 members of a 10 member team weren't in the office, they were out for training or something. Somehow, with only a 7 person team (versus an 11 person team) everything was calm, we were able to get things organized and our productivity was just as good. I told this to my boss and within a couple of weeks we had shrunk and were doing a much better job.

I just don't advise betting big with a low hand.
Protests in LA

There was a great debate on NPR about the protests scheduled for today in New York and Los Angeles. There were three speakers, one a calm, well spoken, hispanic lady representing immigrant rights. The second, a USC prof from Annenberg and a writer from the Nation, who was basically "the liberal," and a third, some insider from Washington, who was the conservative.

When the listening got good was when the liberal of the group was pushed by the host on an article he wrote last week, stating that the protests were ill timed because basically, they've won. The immigration bill passed by the House died when it hit the Senate and the President of the United States has asked for a guest worker program, and for the moment, the momentum is completely in favor of the de-criminalizing the illegal immigrants. So what's the point in boycotting and protesting, it can only elicit a negative reaction. Fair point, I thought.

The conservative was up next and also had an interesting point. He said the idea that illegal immigrants have a right to protest for rights is absurd. It is the equivalent of someone breaking into your house and suggesting how to rearrange the furniture (rather catchy, albeit condescending). He argued that the protest movement has ensured that no viable legislation will be passed this year to deal with the immigrant issue.

The hispanic lady responded calling the conservative position hypocritical. She argued that immigrants were not breaking into anyone's house, in fact, they were being let in, even invited in, to do work and are being told implicity, that is okay for them to be here, so long as they remain invisible. This is a violation of their civil rights. These are people that help to run the American economy.

The conservative responded, illegal immigrants do not have civil rights. They have human rights, to be treated humanely when they are deported back to their own country, but are not entitled to civil rights as Americans, because, well, they aren't American. He argued that we went through this exact situation in 1986 when the US granted amnesty to illigal immigrants living and working in the US. The idea was to grant people who are already here, legal status, but get tougher on the border because the US simply cannot sustain an indefinite number of immigrants into our social systems. He argued that sure it would be bad for the economy if all the illegal immigrants left tomorrow in the short term, but in the long run, the economy would do fine, even better, because low wage workers wouldn't be pushed out of their jobs and industries that rely on cheap labor would be forced to innovate as opposed to depending on cheap labor. He also went on to argue that these reforms from 1986 have been undercut by a cabal of business interests and racial interest groups, both of whom want illegal labor for their own narrow purposes.

The liberal on the panel called the conservative position economically ridiculous and disingenuous. He argued that during the Civil Rights movement, many felt what African Americans were doing what was considered "illegal" at the time as well, because their rights as Americans were limited.

The conservative disagreed, saying comparing illegal immigrants to African Americans is an insult to the Civil Rights movement, which was a patriotic movement, which made claims based upon rights promised to African Americans in the Constitution. There are no rights for illegal immigrants in the Constitution.

Interesting points, all. I don't believe that the illegal immigrant workers rights movement cares at all about stemming or even controlling the flow of immigrants across the border. In ten years, they'll ask for another amnesty for illegals that come across tomorrow. At the same time, I don't believe people living amongst us should feel hidden or invisible, particularly if they are law abiding, tax paying citizens.

I don't know the solution, but I suggest a real cut down on illegal immigrants will only come if businesses who hire them are punished commeasurate with the external costs of illegal immigration on society.
Good For Her

Go Anna Nicole.