Monday, April 30, 2007

I Do Like Hitchens

He is still one of the staunch defenders of the Iraq policy. And I'm glad he exists because he's able to say what I feel a lot smarter than I.
Bad News or Good News?

So terrorism attacks have increased, but none of them have been against United States civilians.

A hard headed cynic might say this is good for the US. We're directing the violence elsewhere...sort of throwing it back to the Middle East where it came from originally.

Don't mean to be an asshole, but if I had a choice between:

A terrorist attack against the US or a two terrorist attacks against Iraq, I'd take the latter. Sorry.
As If I Needed Another Reason to Like Her

But Alyssa Milano is now blogging about baseball for MLB. Very hot.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Prehistoric Sex

It would've sucked to have trouble distinguishing between the sexes.

"Dammit - sorry, Charlie, I thought you were Lucille. My bad."
And Now My Criticism of Bush

Not enough imagination. The man was handed a moment in history where we could have really made some revolutionary changes in how our economy operates (the oil question) and how our foreign policy and relationships to other states work.

But he let stale organizations like the UN, the news media, and the oil oligarchy (saudis-oil companies-car manufacturers) befuttle him and cause him to try to hedge all of his bets.

9/11 offered an opportunity to change the Middle East and our relationship with it. We must:

a. Depend less on their oil.
b. Pay more attention to the oppressive situation of their citizens.
c. Recognize we have a signficant number of enemies in the region.

I'll give Bush credit for his boldness at the beginning. He recognized b and c and wasn't afraid to talk about it. I liked that. But as soon as Iraq started to get a little messy, he lost all his boldness and replaced it with stubborness. And he never recognized a...he gambled that making a friendly Iraq would help ensure stable oil, rather than trying to rethink oil altogether.

We need three or four pieces of action going on at the same time that will help solve our problems in the Middle East, and be able to adjust our resource allocation by seeing the relative progress. Instead, we tossed everything into Iraq as keystone issue.
If Anything Is Worth Fighting For

Spoke with my mom this weekend who brought up the subject of Iraq. She was always strongly against the war, even when most Democratic politicians were supporting it. But she believes a pullout right now would be stupid. "You don't fight a war on a timetable."

And it got me to revisit and rethink what we're doing there and in the Middle East in general. We're fighting against remnants of a Fascist, Nationalistic, Tribal regime and Sunni Jihadists. Sometimes we are in danger of fighting Shiia Islamicists with ideological ties to Iran.

All of these groups suck. The only reason they don't suck as much as the Nazis or Khmer Rouge is because they've never been powerful enough. They've always had counterweights in the region (including each other).

I get a sense many Americans are ashamed of this war. Ashamed that we got into it and ashamed we aren't winning it. But I don't see why we should be ashamed of fighting these enemies. None of them are partners of peace. Any peace with such groups is temporary, at best, and capitulation and weakness, at worst. So it turns out to be tougher than we thought. Well, so what? Does that mean it is wrong?

I hate to belittle the sacrifices made by Americans both in lives and wallets, but at the same time, the costs are minor compared to other large conflicts. I think the political class has done a poor job of explaining to the American people why this war is necessary and elevating the passion of the people to stay in and fight it for the long haul. They've failed to explain what kind of sacrifices will need to be made and why, and failed to gain popular support. I think a lot of this has to do with the partisanship that seems to have grown out of control and we don't have wise enough leaders to overcome the systemic problems.

But I'm also tired of American citizens who think there wasn't enough debate and keep wanting to Monday morning QB the entire thing. There was more debate about Iraq than any other event in my lifetime and yet you hear people on TV saying we needed to debate more. What they mean is they lost the debate. And then Americans who simply want to criticise the political class without knowing what they are talking about or the stakes of the conflict. They want wise leaders, but all they watch is cable news punditry and derive their opinions from the stupid sound bite culture they sometimes wrestle the energy to criticise.

We think narrowly about Iraq as if we could just get out of there, the world would return to the status quo. But what we don't want to acknowledge is that status quo we seem to think so highly of, was one where anti-Americanism was reaching fever-pitch status in the Middle East, combined with a ruthless new actor on the world stage - Al Queda, multiple rouge states seeking incredibly powerful weaponry, the CIA doing a horrible job of stopping Islamic terror organizations, and not to mention the creation of another lost generation of Arab-Muslims living in a quagmire of self pity and hatred in thuggish police states.

American students read 1984 and are horrified. We see it as a metaphor for our own political and capitalistic culture. We use it a warning to ourselves of what we could become. Yet, there are states and places in the world where it is truly 1984ish - not some gloomy fairytale of warning - but a true state of existence where other human being live in a mixture of terror and passivity. Afghanistan and Iraq were two of those places and to go in and try to fight against such tyranny seems to me not something to be ashamed of at all. In fact, the shame should come from living with freedoms handed to us and not be willing to sacrfice so that others may have the same.

Why are the democratic politicians putting all their eggs a timetable? It doesn't make sense to me. Even if we agreed and passed a timetable, if the situation on the ground changed, it would make the timetable irrelevant.

For instance, say we put a timetable of withdrawal as Decemeber 2007. In November, the violence spikes as a political settlement is forthcoming, delaying the possibility of a settlement until March. Wouldn't we just postpone the withdrawal?

To me, I don't see the substance of having a timetable, it seems mostly like a political move....which is sort of my problem with the democratic party in general. What does these folks stand for? I really, truly, cannot tell.
Phoenix Suns

I think it's their year. The last couple years I think they were surprised how good they were, since their style of play is so different from the rest of the NBA for the past 15 years or so. It's as if they felt like they were an experiment in fun, energetic basketball. This year, they have that look of a veteran team with patience...and most importantly, they are going to play a high level game every single night. They will not have a big letdown and hand another team a game. The other teams that have that quality are Dallas, Detroit, and San Antonio. Detroit looks old and I think they're going to have a really tough time with Chicago. SA will beat Denver and then square off against Phoenix. I predict 4-2 Phoenix because SA also looks old to me. Frankly, I think Dallas will be lucky at this point to get out of the first round. The Warriors are not getting lucky and Dallas isn't play bad, they are literally outplaying them with hustle and athleticism and energy - a more chaotic version of Phoenix basketball.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I just laughed harder than I've ever laughed at a commercial - the Barkley-Dwayne Wade commercial where Barkley is showing Wade old clips of himself playing basketball. Awesome. Barkley is a seriously watchable personality. I see a movie or a political career.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Smoothie Man

I got a blender and bookshelf for Christmas, but wasn't able to add it to my house until my sisters drove them down this weekend. I finally opened the blender. Nice. Very nice. For an after work out snack I mixed some strawberries, banana, vanilla yogurt, and a bit of milk. Good.

Next time I'll add a little ice, maybe start using different flavored yogurts. I see a whole new Greg.
And Why Not?

If Imus gets fired for his racist remark, why not these guys. And why not all the others who have offended.

Whose afraid of government censorship anymore? I'm not. I'm more afraid of the tyranny of the politically correct.
Losing Strategy

Wall Street Journal thinks Democrats are taking ownership of defeat.

Baldwin is considering quitting acting!

Good God, this would be a tragedy.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Trying to figure out who is to blame for the VTech shootings is a fool's game. Frankly, in our open society, it amazes me that things like don't happen more often given how technically easy it is to do.

John August on how to introduce a character.
On Colleges

Victor Davis Hanson has a interesting take on all the college-related news out there from the Duke case, to loathing Wolfowitz in academia, to self-protection.

I'm afraid he's right on many accounts. A quote I fear is true:

Barrack Obama’s recent speech linking mass murder at Virginia Tech to everything from Darfur to outsourcing and Imus was about as pathetic an exegesis as one could imagine. And his calls to do something in Darfur were surreal, akin to the Democrats’ demands that we “get Osama bin Laden” as if invading or bombing nuclear Islamic Pakistan were a real option.

But we know both would be difficult, and the Democrats’ past record, from October 2002 to the present, would give us the script: vote for invasion, back peddle when things got rough (and they would in the Pakistani borderlands or the killing fields of the Sudan), and then blame others for brain-washing them. Five years from now I could imagine Mr. Obama assuring everyone that he was given faulty information about Darfur and thus, Kerry-like, was for the invasion before he was against it.

Ouch. But we all kinda sorta know it's true.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Worst and Best

Today I saw both the worst and best movies of my Netflix career.

The best: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. The best because I love this film and coming into work and having it pop into your lap....well, it would sort of be like going to a bar and having Emmanuelle Chriqui (Sloan from Entourage) hit on me.

The worst: December. I had just watched Stand by Me the other day and frankly, was willing to watch Will Wheaton in just about anything. December turned that all around. It was worse than Stand by Me is good. The movie is about 4 prep school kids talking about whether to go fight in WWII the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed. Not a terrible premise, just terribly executed. Not one joke. Everyone yells at each other the whole time. It makes one wonder what kind of life the director must have lived where he thinks people communicate by shouting real dumb things at one another for 1.5 hours like "People die in war!" and "Why don't you want to serve your country?" And other stuff like that.... "My dad was a hero and I'll never be like HIM!"


Then I saw a documentary called Black and Blue: The Legends of the Hip Hop Cop. Here is an example of what not to do in a documentary. The worst thing one can do when making a documentary is to try to expose some sort of evil. You can't do it. If there is something hidden or evil, no one is going to open themselves up to the camera. What's worse, is this documentary tries to expose something that really does not seem like a big deal.

In a reaction to the violence associated with hip hop duels (Biggy and Tupac, etc) and concerts, the NYPD started collecting information on hip hop artists with criminal records. A cop who knew a lot about hip hop become the resident expert on who was hating on who, etc, as a means to try to prevent violence from happening. His nickname was the Hip Hop Cop. Anyhow, he put together a binder of information about rappers and their entourage with criminal records and shared it with other officers and the Miami PD who was worried about some incident happening at an upcoming concert.

Clearly, the documentary filmmakers thought of this as a crime and a violation of these rappers civil liberties. They interviewed rappers, the ACLU, Al Sharpten, and a host of guilty-conscioused white people about the evils of profiling and having this binder.

But the irony is that the same people who chastised the binder were the ones most upset that the police can't solve hip hip crimes, especially the Biggy and Tupac murders. So I'm sitting there watching thinking - wait, so do you want the police to be collecting intelligence or not? Because I presume the intelligence would be helpful in both preventing and catching criminals. I suppose the question is whether you think it's an infringement on civil liberties. But the binder was more or less public knowledge, and the documentary filmmakers showed it to rappers who were getting a kick out looking themselves up.

Luckily I didn't need to watch the whole movie because of technical problems, but of particular annoyance to me was the ACLU guy who was totally bullying the cop by shoving angry questions at this cop.

PS - Being pointed out the lyrics of some of these songs, obviously everyone knows about Fuck the Police and Cop Killer, but there was another song called I Shot Rudi in reference to Rudy G and so the cops arrested one of the rappers because he had an outstanding warrant. The ACLU guy said "So you arrested the guy for rapping." The cop said, "No, we arrested him because he had an outstanding warrant." "But you wouldn't have arrested him if he didn't rap about killing the mayor." "Probably not." Well, no shit. Welcome to the real world, you terd.

Anyhow, I fail to see how Imus and Michael Richards speech can be considered more hateful than rappers threatening to kill cops and mayors in lyrics. In fact, it's pretty clear that rap lyrics are considerably worse. Yet the Al Sharptens and other grief mongers want free speech for one group and to throw the book at the other group. Don't see how you can explain that rationally.
But On the Upside...

In watching the news (which I generally don't do), I caught a glimpse of the "next at 10pm," preview segment. The is a lady on trial for murder who testified today that she shot and killed her preacher husband on accident. She also felt it important to tell the court her husband forced her to watch porn and dress like a slut.

It could've been an onion segment. The delivery was impeccable.

Can't get away from it today...every news channel has a special. Phil called it right away - before anyone knew about the shooter at all - just the news that 30+ people had been shot at V-Tech, Phil said, "Some guy couldn't get chicks."

Well, it turns out he was right. The guy was stalking two girls at different times. Obviously, this wasn't the only problem (99.9% of dudes would turn homocidal at one point or another if it was), but getting laid probably would have stopped the guy - or at least moreso than stricter gun control laws or less strict gun control laws (other students packing heat).

I am being an asshole or does it appear like the news folks really get off on reporting this kind of shit? I saw this one guy with a big booming voice actually talk to the camera as if it were the Cho character and said something to the effect, "You thought you were killing rich, spoiled, trust fund kids, well you weren't. You were killing sons and daughters and brothers and sisters...." I changed the channel. But thanks, tough guy, I needed the news guy to make me feel morally righteous in anger over the event.

One interesting thing about his multimedia packet he provided to NBC (why NBC I wonder...was he a 30 Rock fan?), is that he makes reference to Dylan and Eric, the two Columbine shooters. I guess he felt some sort of camraderie. What ever happened to good ole fashioned serial killers who went out and killed one or two at a time and tried to hide from the cops? These guys seem to have a different pattern - going out in a blaze of glory and then kill themselves. Why not just kill yourself? Why take everyone out? Or why not just kill a bunch of people and then go into hiding to see the results?

Anyways, I actually don't find all this shit that interesting, more just annoying. And yet I can't escape it...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Well, thanks to the internet we can read a couple of the plays written by the young man who killed all those people at Virginia Tech.

There isn't much to say about these things other than they really suck.
Can I Get Another Amen

Muslim moderates are the key to winning any sort of war on terror. They always have been.

They need to step up. And we need to recognize them when the do.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Some colleges are boycotting the US News and World Report rankings. Good idea. I admit to reading these like anyone else. But I do believe our culture has become obsessed with things like rank and a general, goal-oriented mindset. I don't see how it is healthy to think you need to attend an Ivy League college or make a brilliant film before 30 or earn a million bucks before 40 or be married by 27 to have a successful and/or happy life.

The smart flip side is that goals are made not because they need to be met, but because they increase "performance." But still, I think we'd all benefit from focusing more on what works for you individually rather than trying to measure ourselves against some arbitrary mean.
Blacks in Baseball

A pretty interesting post on the declining numbers of African American baseball players from an economic perspective.

Basically, a young black athlete has a better shot at a D-1 scholarship or a lucrative NBA contract playing bball or football than baseball.

However in my experience as an athlete and a sports fan, I find the economic incentives of sport rather small.

When you are young, I think passion for the game drives your decision making more than the potential for financial success. Granted, this might be because I was a) not a good enough athlete and b) knew I was going to college, whereas many more African American young men a) excel at sports at a much higher level than me and b) don't necessarily have the same opportunities for college.

But, in my case, as a youngster I excelled at soccer, basketball, and baseball. But my favorite game to play was always baseball. I loved it. And while I strongly suspected I was a much more talented soccer player, it wasn't obvious because my baseball teams were always good and I was always batting lead off, scoring lots of runs, stealing lots of bases and playing solid defense at 2nd or 3rd base.

When high school came around, however, the ground started to shift. It became clear that I was a much better soccer player player than baseball, I was getting offers to play on older, prestigious club teams, and to my big surprise, I wasn't a starter on my baseball team freshman year.

I played hoops as a freshman and probably could have stuck with it, but I'm no fool and saw how big the players were getting and it was also the hardest work of all the I gave it up. 3 sports had really killed me that year and I knew I couldn't sustain it.

The smart economic choice at this point would've been to concentrate on soccer and go for the scholarship or recruitment to a good college. I was smart enough, even then, to recognize this as a long shot because there are a lot of good players and few soccer scholarships....but even so, I knew playing baseball didn't help my soccer chances and there was no shot at me playing baseball anywhere significant.

But I didn't. I didn't because I couldn't give up baseball. It was such a big part of my life and I had friends who would've killed for the opportunity to keep playing baseball through high school and here I was thinking about giving up a sport I loved growing up. Further, I got noticed by the varsity coach my freshman year because they need pinch runners for the playoffs and he thought I was going to be his second baseman of the future. I pictured it in my head - 2 sport varsity athlete as a sophomore. Badass. Delusions of granduer.

So I stuck with baseball. Not only sophomore year, but all four years. I had a great sophomore year in soccer. After baseball tryouts the coach said I could be on the team, but I wouldn't be a starter. So I played JV and we had an awesome year. I hit .488 or something ridiculous and thought I was going to have an awesome varsity career. I didn't. I started my junior and senior year, we won the league both years, but I didn't play well. I hit either 1st, 8th, or 9th. I couldn't hit curve balls well, I didn't enjoy the guys on the team - they were all baseball obsessed. By the end of senior year, I was done with baseball. Totally done.

Since then, I started to grow to love soccer more and more. My college coach, while not a great coach, loved the game and showed us tapes of all the English Premier league games. I always loved my soccer teammates, both in high school and in college, I was close with the boys....and it continued after college, playing on teams in the Bay Area with players who devoted their lives to soccer even though they were never going to play pro. They loved the game.

And I still play soccer and pretty much get as excited to play a good game as I ever did. It's been THE longest and most enduring activities of my life and I am very much still a soccer player....and am now only a baseball fan.

I started playing sports and it became a habit, but then it grows into a love and then the love either sustains or goes away. My first love was baseball, but my enduring love is soccer. I've flirted with basketball and tennis and skiing...but I'll play soccer until I'm 50 barring injury. Maybe that's a dumb thing to predict, but I have been playing 23 years already. What's 22 more?

Young men don't make sporting choices based upon economic opportunities. They are smart enough to know the small chance of success at any level of sport, no matter how good you are....too many awesome people before have come up short, either by getting hurt, not finding the right place, or not being good enough.

Young African American men fell in love with the game of basketball and football. A few love baseball, but it's clear that love has translated to both fandom and to the players themselves. Little Leagues in the innner cities have suffered, like many things in the inner cities, from a lack of care. The structure that drove my baseball love was the existence of a community. Every Saturday, everyone I knew was at Little League games. Dads were coaches, everyone played. With soccer, there was a similar atmosphere, but no one knew the game - we had an imported British expert, but the Dads and moms didn't know the first thing about soccer. They were happy to see their kids run around and score goals, but they didn't know the first thing about technique. We had Little League coaches who had coached for 20 years, would teach kids how to steal 2nd with a man on third, when to suicide squeeze, how to pick a runner off 3rd, how to turn a double play, how to fake out a runner that you lost a ball. I didn't even learn how to do an overlap or a stepover until high school.

Communities create an atmosphere that supports passion, love, and elevates performance. That is what has driven down the African American baseball player....Gary Sheffield and Doc Gooden both won the Little League World Series when they were young.
Aint it Cool Douche Bags

They're friends with the filmmakers. They're shills, not critics. They love movies, I'll give 'em that, but the website sucks and I find it really tough to read.

Anyhow, this review needs to answer one question: Would you like Death Proof if it wasn't made by Tarantino?

The answer is no and the douche bag knows it.
Baby Clothes For Eliot

I highly recommend these baby tee shirts for Alice and Kevin.

My favorite: all daddy wanted was a blowjob
The Last Word on Imus

Mark Steyn pretty much says it all.


It's a good rule of thumb in American scandals that, no matter how big an idiot someone is, the outrage over him will always be more idiotic.

Needless to say, Moonves fired Imus after first meeting with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton. I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where a white guy can be fired for racist remarks without his employers having to prostrate themselves before clapped out professional grievance mongers and shakedown artists.

"Here are these tough women on top of the world and they are so fragile that a remark knocks them down. Hey, why wouldn't they have said 'F--- you? Who the heck is this fool Imus? We are queens of national basketball and there is no stopping us now. We can be and do anything we choose to be or do. . . . We don't need Al Sharpton to protect us. . . . ' But no, they look devastated and say they are damaged irreparably.''

Only in America: a team of champions who think they're victims, an old white fool who talks like a gangsta rapper and multi-millionaires grown rich on race-baiting who promote themselves as guardians of civility. Good thing there are no real problems to worry about.
The Best and Worst

The worst: Waking up at 7:30am on Sunday morning.

The best: Being on a sunny soccer field at 8am on Sunday morning.
So Last Year

A bad review of Little Miss Sunshine. Shit - what's next, a good review of Star Wars.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


All right, I caught up with the entire first half of season three in less than 24 hours (bear in mind this is with a job that entails watching movies for a living).

My thoughts:

1. I reiterate the funniest character is Johnny Drama with his references to old TV guest spots and his subconscious flirting with homosexuality. I love that guy.

2. My favorite new relationship that developed is between Ari and Lloyd. They really grow on you.

3. Favorite cut - to Billy Walsh at the dog races. Second place - canted angle of Johnny Drama after leaving the hotel room with the mausseur in Vegas.

4. This show is like candy, so easy and fun to watch....and they love LA.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Actions vs. Words

Why does it worry old white men? It has nothing to do with old white men. I'm neither old or a white man. It has to do with the fact that I don't want to live in a mealy mouthed country where I have to walk on eggshells when I speak, nor do I imagine what Imus says has any affect on me whatsoever.

If I were a woman on Rutgers, I wouldn't demand an apology. I wouldn't have even noticed what he said. I wouldn't care. My response would've been, "Imus, who?"

If "decent" people had their way, we'd have no porn, violence in movies, Howard Stern, or Eminem. And I like all those things. While I can enjoy "The King and I," as much as the next dork, I also want to see Commando, Brokeback Mountain, listen to Eminem and Howard Stern. I'm wary of anyone who errs on the side of political correctness when it comes to issues of speech. What we need to learn is how to toughen up and get smarter and wittier, not more sensitive.
Could Our Country Win WWII Now?

I'm pretty sure we couldn't and it's a good thing we don't have a true rival for power at the moment. One of the liberal foreign policy comments I hate the most is that we empowered Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan, implying that we caused all this harm on ourselves. This is of course, total foolishness in that we also helped modernize Japan both economically and militarily during the Meiji Restoration....and they still attacked us at Pearl Harbor. Should we not have responded? What the logic assumes is moral perfection - a perfection that never has and never will exist. It is utopian at best, purposeful half-truth at worst.
Imus, The Human Sacrifice to the Vultures

To be honest, before all this, I didn't even know who Don Imus was. Some old style shock jock. Who cares? It seemed like the first week all the guy did was apologize and apologize and everyone just ganged up on him, heaping their scorn and criticism. Yesterday, the guy had enough and shot back at a few people, including Harold Ford.

Any and all lame-ass pundits come out of the closet at events like this, using it as a forum to talk about pop culture decency and sensitivity, etc. Has it ever been demonstrated how a crass pop culture actually causes anyone harm?

In this case, everyone seems to agree Imus is not racist, just insensitive...but he needs to pay anyway.

If I'm ever in his position - mark my words - I make one apology and that's it. And then every vulture who tries to come in and make some cheap political or social profit from eating my carcass will get nothing but spiteful verbal vengence. Jesse Jackson. For chrissake, when is that guy just going to retire and stop embarrassing himself.

But for the record, I don't give two shits whether the guy gets fired or not. You're the boss, you don't like what the guy stands for anymore, you can fire him. That's life. What disturbs me is all the vultures who demand for his head like they should have any say over the issue whatsoever.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Rape Case

Finally all the charges are dropped. There are several losers in this whole ordeal.

First, Duke University proves that political correctness has gone too far in that they actually punished innocent people for the perception that they needed to "do something about it."

Second, the overzealous prosecuter acted exactly how you might imagine an overzealous prosecutor would act and is rightfully embarassed.

But third, and most interesting to me, is how odd the African American community responded. I got clued into while listening to caller on the radio today, an obviously smart, well spoken black man who called in trying to point out how the accused men should have been put on trial for X, Y, and Z reasons. He was calm, rational, and totally wrong. What became clear to me in this moment is that many well educated, smart African American people, against all logic implicity side with a a liar simply because her story taps into a cultural nightmare of privileged white men getting away with crimes against African Americans. The woman clearly lied, regardless of what historical injustices her ancestors lived with, and regardless of her underprivileged background. It is not shocking to me that she lied, but it is shocking to me that people who know better are willing to believe silly conspiracy theories.

The parallel to this is of course, the OJ trial, where you have the African American community cheering when a murderer is found not-guilty. And we're not talking just about people in the ghetto used to getting treated like shit by the LAPD, we're talking about Black college students who in all likelihood were raised in middle class homes. I don't know how to explain this.

In some sense I guess it is similar to how I don't understand Muslim anger towards Israel. Why do kids in Pakistan care about Israel? The two countries have nothing to do with one another. It's absurd. Why don't the Pakistanis care about the Taiwanese or the North Koreans or the Kurds or the fricking Quebequios, or the Navajo?

Anyhow, the rape case should've been about the crime, instead people made it about race. It makes no sense to me...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Writing About History

Reading this great book off and on called "Coast of Dreams," a history of California from 1990-2003. It's a thorough book and talks about in great detail the story of California of this decade plus including the LA riots, the OJ trial, the Rodney King beating, the SF tech boom, the homeless problems, the rise of San Diego, the drug epidemics, the gangs, the LAPD, the surf culture, Santa Barbara and Palm Springs differing Celebrity culture, the hippy religiousity of Bolinas, the political culture in Sacramento. I love the book because I know exactly what he is talking about most of the time, all the players and the environments....say what you will about me, but I do know about California having been raised in Marin County, spending time in Berkeley attending Summer School, living and working in San Francisco, attending college in the Inland Empire, attending graduate school in Downtown Los Angeles, living in Silverlake, spending my senior week in San Diego, traveling around the state to PGE offices, visiting Fresno several times, relatives living in Belmont and Willows and at different times in Chinatown, SF and Diamond Heights....not to mention friends spread out in San Francisco from the Marina to the Mission to Pac Heights to the Sunset with friends in Los Angeles from Santa Monica to Glendale.

I'm a true Californian and as such notice a few errors in the history as written. The first one that really stood out was the discussion of the 1995 Superbowl between the Chargers and the 49ers. He was talking about it in the context of a growing San Diego that made too big a financial committment to their sports teams, but that initially it looked like a success because San Diego barely lost to the 49ers in the Superbowl....uh wait a second....I thought to myself - that Superbowl was known as a huge blowout, 55-10, I think that was the monkey off Steve Young's back. The big game that year was the NFC Championship against Dallas. The Superbowl back then was an afterthought since the AFC had been so weak (they lost like 13 years in a row or something). How this historian could skew this well publicized and known fact to support claims he was making about San Diego's growth seemed a bit sloppy to me.

The second big thing I noticed wrong was even worse. In a section called 9/11 he came to the story of John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban, raised in Marin County. Pete Carroll was raised there also, just so you know, and Johnny Mosley and Robin Williams, it's not all weird. But anyway, he pointed out that John Walker Lindh was an only child. But this simply wasn't true because his older brother, Connell Lindh, was in my high school class at Redwood and I remember him clearly. Not only that, all of it is published in news sources around the country after they found the American Taliban. How he could get this wrong as well?

Anyhow, the book is still a fun read, but it does make me wonder how accurrate these histories are...especially ones about times long ago when I and no one else for that matter, are really there to remember it.
Movies Watched Recently

1. Grindhouse. I should write a big thing on this, but don't really have the energy or time. Rodriguez - pretty exciting and fun. His best movie. Tarantino - his worst movie. Terrible. No care put into it. I was so bored, I wanted to leave. For all his un-pretension with respect to low-brow movies and love of movies versus "film," he sure makes a pretentious piece of shit grindhouse movie. Can either of these guys, though, explain to me why they need to spend $67 mil to make "Grindhouse" movies. Why didn't they give themselves a real challenge and make $2 million dollar movies?

2. The King and I. I can only watch movies like this on my job. I'd fall asleep or turn it off if I rented it, but quite enjoy watching it for....well, money. This movie fits perfectly into Casper's description of post-Classical Hollywood cinema, with the bruised male protagonist coping with a changing, post WW2 America (in the case of the movie, the King of Siam trying to deal with a changing, scientific world). The music is okay and reminds me of my mother who used to sing some of the songs when I was growing up.... The production of the Siamese version of Uncle Tom's Cabin was pretty awesome.

3. The New York Hat. An early DW Griffith movie. Again, I would have fallen asleep had I rented it, but in watching it for work rather enjoyed the fun they were having back then when Hollywood was in New Jersey.

4. The Magic Ring. Another silent movie shot in NJ in 1909 or so, not by Griffith, but still had a similar flair for humor, dramatic irony, cross cutting etc. It deals with a screw off son of a rich Earl who falls in love with a poor girl after being kicked out of college. It's easy to forget how fun it is to watch people lying.
Sports Update/Thoughts

The A's are off to a not-so-hot start. Moreso than almost any other team, though, this doesn't matter much to the A's because they are a streaky team and baseball is a streaky game. But as one might've been able to predict, their offense is sluggish and pitching looking pretty good. I like their chances to win 85+ games barring big injuries and who knows whether that'll be good enough to get into the playoffs. The thing is...their line up could be good. Kendall is an okay lead off hitter, some combination of Stewart, Bradley, Crosby, Piazza, Chavez, and Swisher as the 2-7 hitters ain't bad and then if you have Ellis and Kotsay or Johnson in as 8-9, they have a fairly strong overall line-up. Problem is, Swisher isn't as good as his numbers last year, Chavez still hasn't had an all star hitting year yet, Piazza is old and will unlikely fill Frank Thomas' shoes. Crosby is injury prone, Stewart is old and pretty mediocre. Bradley, I think, is the best hitter on the team but lacks power and really isn't that big of a threat compared to the average #3 hitter on a major league team. They basically all need to be playing top notch to have a potent line up and I don't think that is likely. Or they'll need someone to have a break out year like Thomas had last year to carry the whole team. I don't think that is likely, either.

Caught some of the Laker-Nugget game last night. Neither of these squads are very good. Carmello is an incredible offensive player. Iverson I like a lot for his energy, drive, ability to create havoc defensively, and his scoring ability. But the Nuggets look flat on offense - basically give it to Iverson to drive and shoot/dish or give to Carmello to score. That's it. It's a two man offense. But it's a pretty good two man offense...not good enough, however, to make up for a sorry looking defense. Marcus Camby can block shots and get rebounds, but how is he going to guard Duncan, Shaq, Nowitski, or Yao? Naraja? He's okay, I guess.

Kobe, for all the dick sucking about what a great player he is, he just isn't a good teammate. Sure, he might get in one of his moods and go for 60 points and carry the Lakers to a victory. But he might also get in one of his moods and score 6 points and try to break an assist record. Without Shaq, what has Kobe accomplished? One playoff series victory? Shit, Dikimbe Mutumbo has led a team to a round 1 playoff upset.

Iverson led a nobody team to the finals and took a game from the Lakers (granted in a weak Eastern Conference). If Kobe can lead his team of nobody's to the Western Conference Finals, I'll take all of it back...but in my player matrix, he's not much more valuable to a team than Tracy McGrady.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Readable on the Huffington Post

A thoughtful post on Iraq on the Huff post.

This whole lack of clarity thing and ambivalence, etc, I think is pretty right on.

But take all this a step further - why do Americans get so angry with this administrations incompetence versus say, anger towards the insurgency who in it's best form are Iraqi nationalists trying to restore minority rule by terror and in it's worst form are Jihadists trying to install a theocratic government ruled by extreme terror.

Why do we blame America for the horrors of these murderous thugs? Do we blame Britain and France being too tough on Germany post WWI for the rise of Nazism?

The fact is, most Americans both on the left and right are more angry at Bush than at these assholes perpetrating the civil war, acts of terrorism, or whatever you want to call it. Why is that?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Created for Me

A combination of a casual game, Kill-Fuck-Marry, and 30 Rock. Holy shit, you say, that's perfect for Greg. It's everything I care about in this world except foreign policy, soccer, and movies. Anyhow, it's not all that great, which maybe suggests I should reorder my priorities.
Gee, Thank Ya Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mista, Sir...

What to conclude from the Iranian hostage taking? While everyone, I'm sure, is glad the Brits are home all the whole episode really proved is what an ass-backwards government we're dealing with. To take the hostage case as an example of the Iranian reasonableness is a form of Stockholm syndrome.
A Phone

Looking into new phones. LG CU 400 looks good and cheap.

A man with ideas.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Here they are - plain as day, burning movies and music.
Coming Out of the Closet

Ehhhh....I think I might be in love with Tina Fey. Why? See the latest 30 Rock.

Lovable bits:

1. Eating hot dogs.
2. Secretly voting for John McCain.
3. Will Arnett.
4. Recognizing Tootsie as a well crafted movie.
5. Hot dog stand guy's line in the cold open.

And so much more...

UPDATE: More details

a. "What's the special occasion?" "I felt like a hot dog."
b. "You guys...are the real heroes."
c. Note - really well crafted scene - the Tracy Jordan scene when he gets served.
d. "Science is....whatever we want it to be."
e. The short robe.
f. "I'm gay and I want your job." "I'm straighter than you are gay and I leave guys like you in my dust."
g. Little historical detail regarding the Civil War - there were many blacks who fought for the South in the Civil War because they too objected to Northerners coming down and telling them how to live. History is always more interesting than we could even imagine it. And Tina Fey knows it. :).
h. Her legs falling asleep.

Dammit man, what's wrong with you?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Somebody Did Something Right

And the Brits are coming home. I'd take one of those suits - they don't look half bad.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

War On Terror Status Update

In order of importance (in my view) post 9/11

1. Prevention of Al Queda (or other Islamicist inspired) terror attacks against the US and our allies. Grade: A-

Obviously no attacks on US soil. The attacks against Britain and Spain were bad, but it appears that our defensive measures are working fairly well given the string of attacks prior to 9/11.

2. Elimination of Al Queda training facilities. Grade: A-.

Got rid of the camps in Afghanistan and haven't allowed another safe haven to crop up, although areas of Iraq are giving them (and us) battleground training and areas of Waziristan have become Al Queda sanctuaries.

3. Cut off the money to Islamic terrorist organizations. Grade: C.

It is not clear to me we've stopped the flow of money at all. Hezbollah, Hamas, and insurgent groups in Iraq seem to have no money troubles at all.

4. Deny Al Queda (and like minded groups) access to WMDs. Grade: B-.

This is a really tough one because it's all about knowing what we don't know. We don't know how close they've been or how close they currently are to getting their hands on something. On the one hand, we now know Saddam isn't going to hand one over, on the other hand, Iran now has nuclear arms as their number one strategic goal. Pakistan still is in major danger of being taken over by an Islamic regime.

5. Get Muslims to fight Al Queda with us. Grade: B.

Initially, it looked like the Northern Alliance and Pakistan were becoming good allies in the WOT fight. At times, Sunnia and Shiia tribes in Iraq have been out killing Al Queda. But overall, the momentum in this category never really got going and it appears in Pakistan they signed a truce for Waziristan and in Iraq, the Sunni insurgents have decided to work with Al Queda against the occupation. Not to mention Iran's dubious relationship with some of Al Queda's former leadership in house arrest in Iran and supplying them with arms in Iraq. Also, at times it seemed like the Saudis and Jordanians were helping, but it's only really been when it suited them.

6. Retributive Justice against the leadership and everyone who had anything to do with 9/11. Grade: C-.

Bin Laden is not captured or confirmed dead. But for a megalomaniac like him to not be heard from in what...1.5-2 years, it does seem like a 50/50 chance that he is dead. Zawahri, on the other hand, is clearly alive and kicking. Mullah Omar is still around. It would be nice to see them meet justice sooner rather than later.

But we did get a lot of the second and third tier guys.

7. Reform Conditions in Middle East to prevent future generations of terrorists. Grade: C.

This is what Iraq was all about. And I do think, even if we leave and a more full scale civil war breaks out, there will be some long term benefits to the US. Just undoing the malignant stagnation of the Saddam era Middle East will at least change the calculations made by the actors over there - evidence being Khadaffy's surrender of WMDs. Who knows what future dictator will think twice about thumbing their nose at the world (and the US, in particular) knowing the fate Saddam and his sons eventually faced. Hitler - remember - when questioned about whether he could actually get away with the "Final Solution," pointed to the Armenian genocide and said, "No one remembers the Armenians." Well, maybe not, but now at least there is a counter example to any future would-be Arab strong man.

8. Lower Anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. Grade: C.

I would give this even a lower grade, but I think it's such a difficult task... Basically, whatever we do, they hate us. They hate us because they're miserable and behind and poor and uneducated and live in unfair, unjust, and corrupt societies. Their best and brightest have few options. They hate us because we have the American Dream and they do not. They see us supporting their hated leaders because we're scared (and rightfully so) of the alternative. They are sensitive about cultural pride and "respect" because that's all they really have. Their societies are split and factionalized. All of our criticisms are met with hurt and our compliments are met with cries of hypocracy. Our actions are interpreted as aggression, our inaction as weakness. Basically, we're stuck dealing with a bunch of immature crybabies with a lot of small arms. And it sucks.

Respect or Capitulation?

You tell me.
The Problem with the UN

"Strike the words from the record..." yep, that's what these people want to do with history. Forget, forget, forget.

Monday, April 02, 2007

And Hell

Since my email rant has seen some public consumption, here it is for all:

Title: On the Bomb

i get heated and upset and argumentative about issues regarding moral equivalence. it saddens and disgusts me when our generation sort of shrugs our shoulders about the past and is unwilling to be proud of people who made enormously difficult decisions and sacrifices that essentially helped free a good portion of the world. not only that, but this notion of moral equivalence suggesting no side was more right or more wrong or that it is somehow impossible to know is totally simple minded. for one, the world is neither black or white, both sides have points of view in any war or conflict....but that alone doesn't prove that no side is right - what it proves is that it is incredibly difficult to see, in haze of reality what the right thing is. the allies did incredibly awful, even evil things during WWII. but they did so because the alternative - living with powerful fascists neighbors was a much greater evil. i admire the resolve of the allied leadership, particularly churhill, fdr, and truman who made incredibly difficult choices, asked for enormous sacrifice, and were able to rally the free world to defend what we now take for granted.

many britons wanted to make a peace with nazi germany in 1940 after they steamrolled france. in their eyes, they could have prevented what lead to essentialy the complete destruction of the european continent. but can you imagine what the world would now look like if that had happened? hitler would have had more time and opportunity to complete his vision of the world and who knows how successful he may have been. churchill understood that the nature of nazi evil was not something that could be compromised with, or negotiated with, and he was willing to fight the nazis until the bitter end. i don't think that choice should be written off as something we can't judge or as just "one point of view." the choice was above all else, courageous and certainly not inevitable.

with respect to the bomb....there are so many issues, some known then and some known only now. there was the strategic choice made by the allies that they would only accept unconditional surrender from japan and germany. what this meant, of course, was an enormous death toll. it meant fire bombing civilian cities and essentially turning both countries into rubble. it was scorched earth warfare. it lead to many of the 50 million deaths of WWII....but it was a choice based upon the outcome of WWI - an armistice - that clearly clearly did not lead to a lasting peace. the allies knew they needed unconditional surrender and complete humiliation of both japan and germany, otherwise the existential threat would continue.

so how was america to get this surrender from a foe who wouldn't quit? japan had clearly lost the war. they were done. but they refused to surrender. they were willing to "make it a generational war," meaning they were willing to sacrifice their entire race - to fight until the last man - because they felt in doing so, they could wipe out a generation of American men - a cost they calculated the Americans would never make. this was their logic and how they planned to preserve the emperor's power and their code of honor.

secondarily, the soviet union was already proving to be trouble...they had the fierced army in the world and were using it to install puppet governments all around eastern europe. they were killing german pows, raping (upwards of 100,000) german women, killing off cossacks and other opponents to communist rule, killing off political opposition in satellite countries. the allies weren't all nice - but were obviously nothing compared to stalin's work camps. it is why many soviet dissidents killed themselves rather than go to the camps. they were using their military might and resolve to retrieve the spoils of war which had taken such an enormous toll on the country.

but with the bomb, America had a tool that made the japanese calculation of a generational war unnecessary. we could annihilate their country and race without the cost to america. it also proved to the soviets that we had resolve (which is something all dictatorships question about democracies and count upon as democracies weakness).

so basically we had three options - 1) invade japan. lose up to 1mil american lives and kill every last japanese resister 2) sue for a peace and try to contain imperial japan 3) use the bomb to see if japan will surrender. to me, it's pretty obvious, given the context of WWII, option 3 was the best. and it did work.

the problem with using the bomb wasn't so much the destruction (had we invaded the death and destruction of japan would have been just as bad, if not worse). the problem was the precedent it set, that a weapon of this magnitude could be used. it is a weapon that is impossible to defend against. a weapon that could not only annihilate countries, but the entire human race. it's like we opened pandora's box and since then every thug and dictator has dreamed of having atomic power, and each year it becomes more and more likely the wrong people will get their hands on one.

today, we see OBL pointing to the US use of the bomb as an example of how evil america is - using the bomb on a civilian population. it's pure propaganda, sure. it's a form of revisionist history. and it's weird to me why so many smart people buy into revisionist history with a clear ideological bent - the ideology of moral equivalence.

the kind of hemming and hawing, well, i see both sides of it, i mean put yourself in the shoes of a japanese civilian, blah, blah, blah. it's bullshit. utter and complete bullshit. because what it does is take smart choices made by courageous people and tries to morph them into something pedestrian. it's the same way i feel when a brilliant movie comes out and some idiot says, "it was boring, or i didn't get it," and tries to bring down something great that someone else has accomplished. it's particularly awful if the person bringing it down recognizes it's great or at least on another plane and tries to bring it down anyway.

all right, i just went a little mad there. i'll stop.
Monday Morning QB

I hate to be one, but hell, I agree with this.

The Brits should've blown them out of the water.

Good 'ole Churhill:

"If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a small chance of survival. There may even be a worse case: You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."