Friday, August 31, 2007


Now here is a really smart point about American Foreign Policy.

The biggest threat to American safety is failed states and not totalitarian states. Al Queda has a symbiotic relationship with failed states and not with totalitarian states. Iraq was clearly a totalitarian state and has almost turned into a failed state with our intervention. Hence, we've screwed ourselves.

Point - anti-war folks.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

If You're Serious Only

Because of it's length, this article will discourage those who merely want a sound byte opinion on Iraq.

But if you're serious, the article is incredibly interesting because it details how the Tribal "uprising" is affecting the security situation in it started, how Tribal society works, and how it had little to do with the Coalition or the Surge. It is both both remarkable and makes complete sense that the change is happening at the grass roots and not because of top-down political or security policies.

IF this turn is permanent and continues the direction it is heading...those "for the war" before they became "against the war" folks (uh hem, Nate and Andrew Sullivan) are going to have some explaining to exactly would more troops have helped achieve the desired political outcome? Could more troops have tipped the balance against the current tribal "uprising?"

It's way too soon to celebrate and certainly way too soon to gloat, but then again, that didn't stop many, many war supporters from decrying incompetance and acting as if they had been personally betrayed by tactical decision making in Iraq both by the Coalition and the Iraqi government. I'm just wondering if they would want to wind back the clock and undo all the mistakes and progress that has been made and try it their way. Do you think it would've worked better? Honestly?

They don't tell you it, but speed is huge in the workplace...because time is money, baby!

You get a task. To do the best job you can, you need time. But there is a window when the information is useful and once that window is closed, it becomes useless.

Can this apply to movie making? Script writing?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Now I Understand

A subway map that explains what Miss South Carolina was saying.

In case you missed it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Best Case Against Iraq

Here is a short summary of the best case against Iraq.

The argument is: we all agree Saddam sucks and the Arab world and the US would be better off without him. But let's take it one step at a time and concentrate on rebuilding Afghanistan so as to avoid creating a terrorist safe haven again and killing Bin Laden and AQ headquarters. Then, we'll look at Iraq.

It's simple, practical, and smart.

Sadly, most of the anti-war arguments have been differing degrees of stupid...from accusing Bush of doing it to make his friends rich to the varying degrees of tactical disagreement - too many troops, too few troops, etc, etc... basically waiting to see what didn't work and then criticizing it.
I'm Not Sure What She's Saying, But I Know I Disagree

Steph responds to my post about The Veil.

The gist of her argument is that females don't decide what they wear, men do...whether it be the veil or slutty clothes. I couldn't agree less. While there may be instances where men force women to wear the veil, particularly children, or when husbands force their wives to wear slutty clothes, those are not the instances I was talking about.

To retort simply to Steph - who decides what you wear in the morning? Is it a complicated cabal of men who own fashion magazines secretly figuring out ways to get women to show maximum cleavage? Or when it comes down to it - isn't really just you picking clothes at a store from a variety of options and then deciding on what you feel like wearing that day? I mean, come up, let's not kid ourselves.

As for the veil, many women choose to wear it, particularly in primitive (and yes I used primitive to be offensive) Muslim societies. Many people in Germany wore swastikas as symbols of their political affiliation both prior to and during WWII. They chose to do it. The swastika is a hateful symbol. And I feel similarly about the veil. I know it's cheap and lazy to make Nazi comparisons, but I'm feeling cheap and lazy right now.
Can You Manufacture Diversity?

This article is about African Americans leaving San Francisco, a city that takes great pride in its diversity. I am highly skeptical of attempts to try to manufacture diversity and culture...I think we all know great culture when we see it and the description of the Fillmore district in the 60s as being a West Coast Harlem with all the big jazz greats coming through is a pretty apt parents lived in SF in the 60s and 70s and I get the impression the city bumped way back it fits the description as becoming a place only for the upper middle class.

Despite good intentions, I doubt the attempt to manufacture diversity and culture will work. All that stuff take a lot of little factors to come together...we can assist it in the margins by both public and private actions, but to be honest, I don't sense San Francisco - at least in my experience there - is ripe for it. It is too rich, too enchanted with it's own beauty, and too detached from what's going on in the rest of America and the world to become a culturally influential place like it once was...or at least pretended to be. It's happy to be a tourist spot with great food. And believe me, it's a good life up there, but a good relaxed place devoid of the hustle and starvation that comes with people and artists really trying to do something.
I'm Old Greg!

The Brett Farve of Blogging

Brett Farve is the most overrated quarterback of our generation...probably ever. If he isn't already, he certainly will be the career interception leader.

Mickey Kaus is the Brett Farve of blogging. The guy's blog is tremendously hard to read. Mickey benefits from being in LA, like Farve benefits from being a Packer...Green Bay being a romantic small city owned franchise...and LA being close to Hollywood and people just generally more interested in LA in general and Green Bay for football.

He writes - if you scoll through and can figure it out - that United 93 was an anti-US films only after he watched Bourne 3 and realized that deep down Greengrass was anti-US. Huhn? Talk about an ad hominem. United 93 was hardly an anti-US film. It was a brilliant story about civilian bravery. How Bourne 3 makes United 93 something it wasn't prior is one of the more absurd things I've ever heard written about a film...

It's like saying The Godfather is anti-US because Coppola made Apocalypse Now. One doesn't have to do with's like saying Rumsfeld was pro-Iraq before being anti-Iraq, as if one can simply a person into being pro-US or anti-US or pro-Iraq or anti-Iraq. It just doesn't make any sense.

Monday, August 27, 2007


This is a pretty incredible map detailing where all the singles live. In LA and SF there are 40,000+ more single women living in each city. In NY and Chicago, the opposite, 40,000+ more women.

Assuming every time a hook up occurs it involves a guy and a girl...a fairly safe assumption, it is clear the girls on the West Coast are getting a whole hell of a lot more action than the guys, simply because there are fewer of them to go around.

Why to answer Phil's question, are there not groups of cool single girls at the bars in LA? Because there aren't a whole hell of a lot of cool single girls in least not compared to New York or Chicago. So the answer, from a simple demographic perspective to improving your love life (if you are a guy on the West Coast) is to move east. You'll have three times as many options.
Which Is It?

By big problem with "liberals" when it comes to foreign policy is that they tend to base their decisions on party platform and personalities as opposed to policies themselves. For instance, liberals proudly criticise US policies during the Cold War when we tacitly (or actively) supported awful dictators in strategic places, such as Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

But now things are turned around. In Iraq, we've gone against our Cold War policies of supporting dictators for regional stability and opted to remove an awful dictator who was out of compliance with UN resolutions. Instead, we are choosing to support a more democratic, more liberal, albeit weak, government in Iraq. Except liberals are the most forceful detractors of the Iraq policy as well.

So which one is it?

I know the devil is in the details...and so one could conceivably support the "idea" behind Iraq or the "idea" behind "realist" foreign policy without agreeing with how it has been implemented. Of course, that is sort of like supporting the "idea" of communism against the reality of capitalism and to me amounts to an intellectual dodge.

And to be fair, conservatives aren't exactly off the hook on this issue either. Most of them used to support a more isolationist, realist approach to foreign policy and even went so far as to criticise Clinton for going after Bin Laden in Sudan. But all of a sudden a Republican gets in office and the Republicans turn into Woodrow Wilson democracy advocates and become the worldwide do-gooders they used to mock the liberals for...

I guess when it comes down to it, I sort of shamlessly support most of the decisions that were made both during the Cold War and post 9/11. In hindsight, Vietnam seems like a pretty gigantic does the decision to no longer support the South Vietnamese after we pulled out. Of course I wasn't born yet, so I feel somewhat stupid talking about it. In my lifetime, it seems like we should have gone after Bin Laden more vigorously in the 1990s and probably should have dealt with Saddam after gulf war 1. But yeah, hindsight is 20/20 and I remember neither of these positions were at all popular at the time. I venture to say, most people would've considered both positions tremendously stupid. I can imagine campus protests if we invaded Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The Vietnam analogy would've been made. Weird how the world is...

The NY Times is starting to read like a college newspaper.

"Fans who tolerate the repetitiveness and ideological bankruptcy of the “Rush Hour” franchise, for example, may be testaments to the power of hope and a need for familiarity at a time when the Iraq war continues unabated, pensions and polar ice disappear, and Al Qaeda videos enjoy wider distribution than Sundance winners."

Huh?!? I don't like Brett Ratner...but I'd much rather have lunch with him than this critic any day.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Casbah is Pissed and Why I Trust a Filipino Tailor

Yesterday AM my goal was to get two suits tailored and try this new coffee shop in Sunset Junction.

Finding a tailor was a pain in the ass because I bought this nice new suit and I didn't want to pay the egregious Barney's prices (nor wait a month), but at the same time I didn't want to fuck up an expensive suit by going to a shitty tailor. What a dilemma. So I google and find a Filipino tailor ranked "the best" by Cityseach. It happens to be 5 min from my house on Fountain, so I go there and say flat out to the lady - look this is a really nice suit - do you guys specialize in suits, cause I can take it somewhere else. The reason I was curt was the entire store is filled with Filipino dresses and tacky if this store supplies all the Filipinos quinceanera parties (is there such a thing).

She says yes, they do it and gets her husband or bpartner and he comes out and confidently says he does suits all the time. He was fast and to the point and suddenly I become incredibly confident in his ability. After all, they are ranked #1 on Citysearch. So I hope into my old suit (which is still nice). I think I've had it since high school - can you believe it? But it is a classic dark gray suit and that just doesn't go out of style. But believe it or not, my waist isn't what it was in high school and I couldn't even put the pants on. So he took a look, liked how the jacket fit and said he could take out an inch in the waist and hips. Excellent.

Next on goes the Burberry suit I got at Barney's warehouse sale. It's pretty badass. He takes a quick look, checks out the jacket and pants, makes a few marks, asks whether I want folded over bottoms on the pants, thinks I should take a tiny bit in the back on the suit and maybe a little in on the waist. I ask him to keep the waist a bit loose, as I want to tuck in a shirt, I like it a bit loose, and I figure I might be putting on a few more pounds in the next couple years.

Anyhow, he says it'll be done next week...and right now, I feel good about it.

Next stop: Insomnia Cafe. The hot new spot in Sunset Junction. What do they sell? Coffee and only a few muffins. I wait in line. Where is the menu, I think? I want a muffin or a croissant or some other bite to eat. But no...they are out. Strike 1. When I finally get to the front I ask for coffee. They direct me to an entirely different line. I order a cup of coffee. $2. A man stirs with a whisker in this machine. He wipes away bean grounds with a squeegee. Amazing, from this contraption comes a single cup of coffee. It tastes fine. No better than Starbucks or McDonalds, frankly.

What a load of shit.
Reality TV Is Here to Stay

Why? Because no writer could ever write a transcript this brilliant:

Daughter from Friday Night Lights: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the US on a map. Why do you think this is?"

Mrs. South Carolina: "I personally believe...that...US Americans are unable to do so because..uhhh..some people out there in our nation don't HAVE maps and..uhh..I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like as such as. And I believe that they should...our education over here in the US should help the us...or should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future. For..."

Slater: "Thank you very much South Carolina."

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Good Lord


This is old, but I happened upon it again...Clinton losing it on Fox News about a pretty legitimate question about why he didn't do more about Bin Laden. I've long stated that everyone gets a pass pre-9/11 (although I'm not sure the CIA deserves one), but the normally cool Clinton comes off as a conspiratorial nutjob and Chris Wallace comes across as a fair reporter.
Tony Blankley...

...said it right on Left Right and Center the other week. I'm paraphrasing: while war supporters are unable to outline an endgame strategy war opponents are unwilling to discuss the costs of withdrawal.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Veil

Good question - elaborate on why the veil is a symbol of hate.

I'll start with my personal experience. I was researching a student documentary I wanted to do on Muslims in Los Angeles. I hadn't figured out a story, but I found it fascinating that the Muslim Student Association (MSA) had actually started at USC in 1960s and historically had been quite radical in their political views...essentially being funded by the Muslim Brotherhood...the same mothership organization behind Hamas and Egyptian Islamic Jihad (who later merged with Al Queda). Not only that - the USC MSA had sponsored an official Taliban spokesman to visit and speak to students in 2000. The transcript was online into 2003 and it was this awful, snarky transcript mocking questioners who asked about the destruction of Buddhist shrines in Afghanistan and that some of the audience members asked.

Long story short, I found myself at an event with an Imam who had a posse of ex-cons following him around talking about hadiths, etc. I was sitting in the room listening to really simplistic stupid little rules about how to behave. What was weird was that most of the Muslim students I met were quite smart, graduate students in engineering, etc, yet here they were listening to this barely educated douche bag talk about boring ass stuff. Anyhow, it was all men - a mixture of American ex-cons and mostly Muslims from Pakistan attending USC. At one point I turned to the back and noticed three veiled women sitting in the back corner. The first time I had ever seen anything like that and something in my stomach churned. How can a person, here in Los Angeles, voluntarily cover her entire body and face with only a slight slit to see? Why would she voluntarily sit in the back corner and voluntarily pray in an entirely different room?

It is the same answer as to why blacks in the south "allowed" themselves to be slaves...

...seeing the veil in person I realized what it is. Far from being "humble," in front of God or Allah or whatever, the veil is violent. It says - I will not show my face. A person's face. Think about that. It is saying: I am not a human being, but a mysterious, sinful temptation. You cannot see what I think, or that I think at all...worse than any dystopian imaged by Margaret Atwood, it is total subjugation, a cultural lobotamization - it is 1000 years after the end of 1984 and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest...when generations of women are enslaved. It is the symbol of dehumanization and happens to be one the most awful things I've ever seen in person.
I Don't Miss Film School

During work today, in the courtyard below our office, they are shooting on the DVX 100 the When Harry Met Sally fake orgasm scene...with two black actors ebonicizing the language. It's embarrassing.

Saddam's number 2 wants peace. He is the supposed leader of the non-Wahhabist, Sunni Insurgency.

Is it bullshit? Who knows? Let's sign him up let him prove...through actions...that he's down. Hey, the fact is, if these guys want to surrender, that's fine with me...and we should treat them not graciously, but fair. It will shows that it pays much more to be our friend than our enemy. One of America's great historical accomplishment is how we have been able to convert former enemies to friends. First, the British, then the Southern states, later Germany and Japan. Iraq can follow that model, if we are both wise, tough, and generous.

On a totally other side note re: Iraq...and why it still puzzles me...liberals tend to view "others" (ie Iraqis) as potential friends and fundamentally decent people. If we are to believe in that premise, that Iraqis are essentially good and friendly people who want nothing more than to live peaceably and be friends with us and their neighbors...we should stay until that presumably real possibility becomes true.

And it tends to be the conservative premise that "others" are threats to be managed, that our interest in Iraq should simply be keeping them in line...and hence a strongman is fine so long as it is the most cost-effective way to keep our interests.

Now...I'm talking about where we are now...the liberals seem to take the position that Iraqis are fundamentally a tribal culture, unwilling to be at peace with either their neighbors or themselves, and that we, by being there, are simply pawns in their own civil conflict. In short, they are not our friends, they do not want peace the way we understand it, they don't want friendship with us or their neighors...that while there might be enlightened exceptions, most Iraqis simply want power for their tribe. Our presense only excerbates the fundamentally tribal problem and further, costs Americans a great deal of money and blood.

Ironically, it is many conservatives who want to stay...but I don't think it has so much to do with their basic faith in Iraqis. It has to do with the idea of honor and duty and to see the job through. It also has to do with "winning" and proving the other side (on the one hand, AQ and the insurgency, and on the other hand the anti-war folks) was wrong.

While I recognize that my support of the Iraq war has not always been for the same reasons as Bush and company, I haven't been able to push myself over to the "liberal" side. I cannot become invested in an American defeat, and especially not when fighting against various forms of fascism - religious and secular. My position is certainly open to criticism and even naivete for supporting a project whose stated reasons were different from my own. But between the two options I supported the war b/c I thought it was worth a shot and now that we're there have enough reasons to think we can win the peace.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wear It...

...but don't expect me to like it.


On the hijab. I don't think it's cool to make fun of someone or call them a terrorist for wearing the hijab. It's tacky. But then again, so are all these Pinkberry's popping up.

To me, wearing the hijab is no different from a guy wearing a shirt with the confederate flag. Of course it should be legal, I wouldn't personally make a comment about it, or let it offend me that much...and many people have different reasons for doing can wear it ironically, or because you feel is represents something about you, or you simply subscribe to the belief system behind the symbol. But I wouldn't do it. Nor is it something I'm particularly attracted to, like halter tops, clear heels, or a Frank Gore jersey.

On a semi-related topic...the veil. I hate the veil. HATE IT. The same way I hate Ku Klux Klan white robes and Nazi tattoos on people's faces. They are symbols of hate, each hateful in their own unique way. I don't think people should be arrested for donning these items...but they are symbols to scare people and I hate that attempt and am only not scared of them because they aren't powerful or en vogue where I reside...I feel comtempt for these items. And not thinly disguised.
Arrested Development

9.7 out of 10. That's incredibly high. I rewatched some episodes last night and was laughing out loud at jokes I missed the first time viewing. Man, this show is at an entirely different level from everything else out there. Whereas Seinfeld has a brilliant, unique, and hilarious POV of the world and Sopranos expertly mixes high drama with high comedy and contemporary middle class pathos with gangster folklore...Arrested Development is almost pure high aburdist comedy craft, where nearly every word and line has two-three meanings and alternative references. It is the James Joyce of the sitcom.
What A Hollywood Assistant Does

From what I hear, one can spend an entire morning exchanging phone calls about setting a lunch, fix a printer, make coffee, and send out a package only to have the lunch cancelled, the print out unread, the coffee go stale, and the package get lost in the mail and need to be resent.

Life in LA. Wouldn't trade it...
We Can Win

We can win if we play it smart. The question is - and always has been - are we capable of doing it. I think so. Bush has done his best to prove otherwise.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Affirmative Action For Sports

How is it fair that some people are born naturally gifted athletically? It isn't. Hence, certain performance enhancing drugs should be allowed.

More unfair than being born without athletic prowess or intellectual aptitude, however, is being born unsuave with the opposite (or I should say, desired) sex. It is patently unfair that some guys get to have sex with hot chicks and others don't. Same for girls. Fat girls don't get hit on by cool guys. It sucks, I imagine.

Not only that, I'm positive sexual frustration is a lot more painful and damaging than not getting into an Ivy League college. Given a choice between Harvard and Jessica Alba...well, let's not kid ourselves folks. Hence, I've come around to a position - a position I believe consistent with progressive, liberal values of fairness and equality of opportunity - sexual affirmative action.

I know you think it's crazy...but imagine the benefits - you get to sleep with someone totally out of your league. And yes, the downside is that you need to give it up to someone way below your league. But hey, those white folks in the South probably preferred the front of the bus, too...but let's be honest, it wasn't fair. And neither is hogging all the hot chicks.

So that's my platform for the 2016 Presidential election, the first election where I'll be eligible.
Do I Believe in Global Warming?

Sure. They tell me we're fucking shit up, I have no reason to believe they're wrong. Instapundit does have a good point, though.

"I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who say it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

Can go for a lot more things other than global warming...

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Now the question those on the left think Cheney and Scowcroft were right and then Cheney became unhinged after 9/11. Unfortunately...NO. They thought Cheney was wrong long before 9/11.
Is It Possible?

That Newt Gingrich has been the consistently most wise voice with respect to Iraq. Newt in 2003.
I've Always Wondered About That

Why we yawn when others do. Because of empathy.

Okay...but I'm not sure that really answers the question.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm Late on Bill Simmons

But this guy is a hell of a lot of fun to read. Somehow, I managed to read this entire article.

So many funny bits, they aren't even worth listing out, you just gotta read...but on a somewhat serious note,

Just for the record, here are 10 more "Guy Rules" (if you stick by these, you're all set):

1. Don't operate the remote control at someone else's house, unless they give it to you.

2. Don't ask to borrow a porn movie under any circumstances.

3. Don't even think about hooking up with a friend's ex-girlfriend or sister.

4. When you're sharing a bed with another guy, sleep as far away from him as possible.

5. Don't use somebody's towel when you're using the same shower, unless there's absolutely no recourse.

6. Don't drink the last premium beer in someone's fridge, unless they give you the OK first.

7. Don't ask to borrow a DVD, unless it's someone you see at least two or three times a month.

8. Don't call to make fun of them after their sports team suffers a tough loss.

9. Don't let your friends keep buying rounds without stepping up to the plate yourself.

10. Don't order a seven-course breakfast when everyone else is eating bagels, then say "Let's just split the check evenly" when the bill comes.
Different Types of Celebrity

There are celebrities that the world needs and ones the world doesn't. One type is shaped by the world, the other type shaped by will.

Celebrities created by the world:

Britney Spears - the world needed a bright young pop star for young girls to worship.

Barak Obama - America needs a charming political leader of African American dissent that white people feel safe about.

Celebrities created by themselves:

David Lynch - We do not need a David Lynch. And yet, he exists.

Steve Nash - Who needed a slow, short, Canadian point guard? Exactly.

And then there are the mixed nuts...Celebrities we once needed, but made themselves into something more when we no longer needed them...and forced us to still pay attention:

Madonna - The 80s need the material girl. But she's 50 years plus and still struts. Damn. In fight to the death between her and Mick Jagger...who would you choose?

Arnold Schwarzenegger - I respect the fact we needed a huge muscular movie hero, but did we need this guy to be Governor of Collyfornia?

Andre Agassi - Sure, tennis needed a bad boy, but did we need his career to last until he was nearly forty? This guy was famous for being a top tennis player before Sampras, during Sampras, and after Sampras.
Do You Think?

We win, they lose?
Is it that simple?
In the Scheme of Things

From an Atlantic Monthly article, "Both parties achieved some of their highest goals. Democrats got civil rights, women's rights, the New Deal, and recognition of the need for cleaner environment. Republicans got the defeat of the Soviet Union, less violent crime, lower tax rates, and welfare reform. So the issues now become: How do you deal with the terrorist threat? How do you deal with the retirement of the Baby Boomers? How do you deliver health care with people changing jobs? How do you make sure American retains its economic strength with the rise of China and India?"

Good questions.

Friday, August 17, 2007

He's Having Fun

Sean Connery delivering dialog in the there a role with more good one liners?

"Here's how you get Capone..he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the grave. That's the Chicago way."

"That's all you need, one thieving wop on the team!"
-What's that you said?
"I said that you're a lyin' member of a no-good race."

"How do you think he feels know? Better...or worse?"

And that's just in the 2nd sequence...
Long Week

It's been a long week. I started a new job and even thought it's been slow, just getting acclimated has taken all my energy. Plus the commute to Santa Monica and my efforts to circumvent rush hour traffic have contributed to a lack of blogging. It's been exacerbated by the discomfort of my new computer and the fact we have Safari, which makes hyperlinking you will see later in this post.

So...things have still happened:

I'd give my left nut to develop this story into a screenplay.

Patti Smith sang a shit gang load of covers last night at the Santa Monica Pier.

In Iraq it looks like the surge is working to quell violence, but there are little to no signs of political progress being made. See Instapundit and Kevin Drum for details.

American Born Chinese is a great little graphic novel.

Beckham's free kick. I highly suggest pausing and rewatching from the behind him POV where you get to see how the ball moves. It is way crazier than the best MLB curve ball.

The Treatment: My long commute gave me excuse and reason to buy the car ipod converter, so now I listen to back episode of the Treatment with Elvis Mitchell. What an incredible show. A few of guests aren't up to Elvis' intellect and those are fairly painful to listen you hear me, Adrian Grenier? What was that about? A last minute replacement because of heavy traffic on the 10?

Wild Oats - the hippy Santa Monica version of Whole Foods. They have a great faux chicken's like chicken meatloaf parm with sundried tomato paste. Really tasty.

My new job - answering phones, making coffee, scheduling stuff...yes...but already learning a lot. I hope it's useful. Reading, too. Lots of reading.

Sunset Junction - this weekend, got free tix for being a neighbor. Great!?! Except it's the last thing I want to do...

Tennis - need to find a Santa Monica partner who will like to play every day at 6pm until the traffic dies racket is restrung, new balls, and the itch.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Symbolism Gone Wrong

Victory in Afghanistan and Iraq were going to be other words, it was going to show that Muslim countries could choose an option other than Islamic Fundamentalism or secular dictatorship...but rather a tolerant, fair, democratic society that over time would be friends with their neighbors and the world. With the help from the most powerful nation on earth, the US, these forsaken lands could be held up as examples of a potential future for other countries who had it rough.

Afghanistan should always have been our first priority. I will own up to letting my own eye slip off the ball because it seemed like our work was finished....a better President would have never allowed Afghanistan to fall off the radar or the news cycle.

But let me be clear - we can't blame it all on Bush, any Senator, able reporter, or anyone with a substantial voice could have been following Afghanistan closely and made recommendations - specific recommendations, mind you...

It will probably be the most confusing event of our lifetime. I still can't totally make heads or tails over the whole thing. I listened to Left, Right, and Center on podcast today and for the first time, Bob Scheer made a lot of sense. He said, "Look, we invaded a country run by a thug who had no connection to those who attacked us on 9/11 and no ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. On the other hand, we made friends with a thug in Pakistan who runs a country where the 9/11 terrorists are currently hiding out safely, who we know has nuclear weapons, and who has distributed such nuclear technology to North Korea and Iran."

He's right. And yet, we're making military progress in Iraq. Granted, it might be only short term...but with the surge we've been able to quell the violence, turn Sunni tribes against Al Queda, and gain some sort of trust amongst the Iraqis for US Troops being honest brokers.

On the other hand, Iraq does not appear close to a political solution, nor can it function as a country on it's own...the people and politicians don't seem to have liberal, democratic impulses...their tribal affiliations seem to matter more to the majority. So maybe it is a totally lost cause no matter what we do.

But then there's another question - was it always a lost cause? Or did American ineptitude mixed with Iraqi intransigence make it a lost cause?

Was it an honest, but failed attempt at making us and the rest of the world safer?

Was it a great opportunity that we bungled? Was it all about imperial vanity? Was it a vision of a cabal of a few men who hoodwinked the rest of the country? Or does our country simply not possess the patience to see something difficult through?

Pretty much no matter what happens, I will never quite understand it and the forces it unleashed...I can't tell if I'm on the wrong or right side of not supporting the overthrow of a fascist thug am I on that side of history who once apologized for slavery and genocidal rampages for the sake of stability? Or did I support the lynch pin moment of American hubris, when we stepped over that line powerful nations are wont to do...when they impose their will on people who resist.

Was it a misplayed poker hand or the most brilliant move ever sabotaged by self-hating, politically correct apologists?

It is all very confusing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

If You Were A Terrorist

Freakonomics now has a home at the NYTimes Site.

The first post was about terrorism and trying to guess at terrorist activity. Apparently it generated hate mail from stupid people.
History Whitewashed

OJ finds killer.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Racket Doctor

I've written before about the Racket Doctor, but the story behind the store is fascinating.

Trust in business...I buy all my tennis stuff from the Racket Doctor. Strings, rackets, balls, shoes, shorts, literally everything. I don't price squabble, I don't question a thing. I know that whatever I'm buying is a fair price. I learned this over didn't take long. All it took was creating trust between the consumer and the store. All my tennis purchases are incredibly efficient.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Militant Christianity

Let me say this now...should Militant Christianity pose more of a threat to the civilized world than militant Islam in the later half of the 21st Century, I'll be in favor of taking the fight to them just as much as I'm in favor of taking the fight to Islamicists. It's just that today, I don't see militant christian groups organizing guerrilla wars against multiple states and sending suicide bombers against civilians. Thems is just the facts.
Subprime Lending

Are politicians partially responsible.

I remember reading an article around 1998 when Clinton was touting that home ownership was the highest it had ever been in the US. The article cited lower down payments as giving more people the option to purchase a home. Traditional wisdom is that you put 20% down, but in the late 90s, people were putting 10% down because of the perception that owning your own home led to paying a mortgage instead of rent you were gaining equity.

I remember thinking back then - these numbers are being artificially inflated by putting less money down. What a bunch of crap. And now, here we are 10 years later, the slippery slope having slid down a lot more...people now putting 1% down and owning more on the house than the house is worth...and we're in this mortgage crisis.

So are politicians to blame? Sure.
But What About Truth?

First off, let's welcome Nate back to the commenting fold. He argues the term Islamic Terrorist isn't useful. Hmmmm. What shall we call these obviously related groups from AQ to Hamas to Hezbollah to JI to PIJ to EIJ and all of their theoretical and political allies - Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, etc. What can we call this movement other than what it is? The term Islamic Terrorist is useful because it accurately defines what we know to exist better than any other single term for the same thing.

Terrorism alone is not our problem. The IRA does not attack us. Basque Separatists do not have an issue with us. We should not support these groups, but we don't need to actively fight them.

On the other hand, Islamic Terrorism IS our problem. These groups are at war with us, or our allies, or our friends, and always our interests.

We need Muslims on our side, but more importantly, they need us our their side. Islamic Terrorism threatens them the most. We are of secondary concern to them.

Thus, I would argue two-fold, that Islamic Terrorist is a) accurate, which trumps usefulness but is also b) useful.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Knowing Your Limitations

It is just a thought, but I think there is a simple genius and elegance to knowing one's own limitations. Our culture is wrapped up in a very can-do ethos right now. I'm not sure it's totally healthy. I'm trying to learn...

I'm with this article. Maybe it's a testament to getting older that I'm becoming less opinionated about things...and maybe it starts with Bonds. The other day someone asked Obama if he would invite Bonds to the White House. What a tricky question. I don't know how I'd answer it. I can't condone using steriods. It's damn tricky.

But I hate to neglect greatness. I've watched baseball all my life and there's never been a guy in the batting box as terrifying and electrifying as Bonds in his prime. His surley personality...I don't care...I don't eat dinner with Bonds, I don't watch his post game interviews, I don't play with him, nor do I care. I care what he does in the batting box. And take all the myths of Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle...and if you had to pick one guy to step up into the plate in the 9th inning with the game on the line against the best closer in baseball you'd be a fool not to seriously consider Bonds with his eye, his swing, his strength, and his bat speed.
On The Surge And So Forth

Interesting take on how we lost Iraq and how we need to re-win it.

Was the war itself too easy?
The Way Things Work, Air Conditioning, and Quantum Leap

Scott Bakula has been thrust into the deep South as a lawyer and they do a good job emphasizing the heat by using sweat and fans. (slight note - they use an academic building at Pomona College as the general, Quantum Leap and Sliders are great fun to spot LA locations doubling as different worlds or different times. They've already used USC a lot in both shows)

But it got me thinking about air conditioning and jealousy and John Rawls. Rawls political theory is the cornerstone of modern liberal thinging, the core idea being the mostest for the leasted. The only justifiable distribution of wealth is the one that maximizes the benefit to the least off in society.

In watching this show it is clear even the wealthiest don't have air conditioning in the South around 1957. But soon, air conditioning will be invented and only the wealthy will be able to afford it.

Now, I imagine many present day liberals, in looking back at this era would say, "Big deal. If only the wealthy can afford it, what good is it to the lay person." It hardly indicates "progress" or "justice." Maybe they are right.

But the wealthiest, in buying and affording the air conditioning, enable the companies making air conditioning units to be innovative and take risks and invent air conditioning. And once the wealthiest have the units and the technology exits, then the companies have economic incentives to make cheaper units so the middle class can afford it.

The second round of air conditioning then goes to the middle class. The poor are still screwed, however, and liberals mock the idea that air conditioning has helped the least off and our society remains unjust. In fact, what they demand is that air conditioning be distributed equally and the wealthy should be taxed more so that everyone can afford air conditioning.

Now the problem here is that the companies who make the air conditioning have no incentive anymore to innovate or lower their costs. So in this model, the poor can never really afford air conditioning. They might be able to get their hands on it because the rich buy it for them, or rather, are forced to buy it for them.

The liberal goals is for everyone to have air conditioning. A good intention. But on a practical side, the best way for everyone to get air conditioning is for everyone to be able to afford air conditioning. If those conditions don't exist we're better off helping people to get richer and creating market incentives for air conditioning to become cheaper than simply buying air conditioning for everyone merely because our society could conceivably afford it.

Computers are a great model. First, only the super rich companies and government could afford super computers. Next, only the super wealthy, then the middle class, and now, they are in practically every classroom throughout America. Soon, the entire world. And yet, some would complain that it only increases the gap in opportunity for those less off. Maybe their ignoring the truth - everyone is better off. Soon, and poor alike...will have access to all the porn in the world.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Solution to Health Care

TPM Cafe has some suggestions. I don't understand the industry, so I can't comment on where the wasted money doctors, to pharmaceutical companies, to salesmen. But I am a consumer and I know cost effective ways to stay healthy - eat right and exercise.

Proposal Number 1: P.E. Remember P.E.? My favorite subject in school. Run around, play kickball, freeze tag, hand ball, volleyball, soccer, basketball, wrestling. It was awesome. Now I recognize we can't force adults to participate in P.E.. But what we could do is offer a health care discount to people who participate in organized soccer leagues or yoga or attend the gym a certain amount. I'm sure we could figure out a system that nudges people and gives them one extra excuse to join that Thai Chi class. Plus, it would be fun!

Proposal Number 2: Discount food packages for delivery. I don't like going to the grocery store. It's too busy and I always forget to buy things. What if there was a grocery store delivery service that delivered "packages" of food. You make your own package and each item has a health rating. If you get a certain amount of health points per person, you get a tax write off. Maybe this is a tad complicated...

...but the idea is to create simple ways to make it easier for people to live healthier, better, and more productive lives that don't need to be big partisan battles over the grand mechanics of the industry itself.

If American's knew and understood the groups we are dealing with, I imagine we would be much more militant that we are.

Hamas made careful plans to derail the Palestinian-Israel Oslo peace process.

Do you see how it works? Political groups stage Arab grievances or block them from being resolved. Corrupt governments help this cause, causing more Arab grievances. Then terrorist groups exploit the grievances for money and manpower.

You gotta give 'em credit - it works.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Morons Are Writing for the Atlantic

Quick...Atlantic editors...Andrew Sullivan is letting morons write on his blog with your endorsement. Why? I don't get it.

It is a discussion about how to evaluate the worst President ever.

Quote, "My feeling is that the Hiroshima bomb was clearly justified and I think Truman was right to use it. But I have always had problems with the Nagasaki bomb, especially since it came so soon after the first bomb. I think a strong case can be made this bomb constituted unnecessary overkill. Therefore, one might reasonably say that Truman killed 74,000 Japanese unnecessarily.

I hate people that say things like this. First off, it's rooted in stupidity. The guy didn't bother to read about why Truman decided to drop the 2nd bomb. The logic was that if we dropped another bomb the Japanese would think we had more, when we in fact, only had two. If we dropped only the Hiroshima bomb, the Japanese might've stuck with their calculation that if they simply never surrendered, we would eventually give up. But this guy "feels" like in hindsight (60+) years later that he might've not done what Truman did even though he doesn't even quite know how Truman came to his decision. And then the say Truman was responsible for 74,000 unncessary Japanese deaths.

...but what's worse is that history has proved Truman RIGHT. The Japanese surrendered, saving perhaps 1 million American lives by not needing to invade. And yet here we have a writer for the Atlantic seconding guessing a 60 year old decision. WTF?

This is the equivalent of saying, I never agreed with Tommy LaSorda pitch hitting Kirk Gibson in game 1. The man couldn't even run. Maybe they would've still won the game without him.

Sometimes I long for premodern times when it was simple - if you won in war, you got glory and that was all that mattered. None of this revisionist hindsight bullshit.

Do they ever give a reason why they never slide into a world where people never evolved? Doesn't it seem more logical that parallel universes wouldn't have human beings?

ps Kari Wuher is very hot.
Islamic Terrorists

One other point on the last link...Rudy G points out that in four debates not a single Democrat used the term Islamic Terrorist. I've noticed that Democrats and "Liberals" tend to treat anything Muslim or Islamic like it's some sort of term they shouldn't use because that it is somehow offensive or...I'm not actually sure what. I guess that's the whole problem I have with the Dems is that I don't actually think they know what they think. Basically, the party line is "we don't condone terrorism of any kind."

Although I'm tempted think it's because Dems are foreign policy wusses, or afraid of agreeing with Republicans, or afraid of offending people, I actually think none of those points tell the full story. In fact, I think it mostly stems from being ignorant on the nature of how the Islamicists utilize terrorism and religion to further political goals. I don't think many lay democrats understand the foe we face. To be fair, I'm not sure Republicans quite understand it either, but Republicans tend to look for enemies more than the Dems and on this issue, they happen to be right.

What continually confuses me, however, is how
Gimme a Break

All these fools talking smack about Obama are making me like him more. From Jane Fonda to Dr. Strangelove? Jesus, talk about hyperbole.

He's right about, in theory, about Pakistan or any country harboring Al Queda. American commandoes should be allowed to go in and get them if the host country refuses. Why is that hard to understand? If a Pakistani mass murderer was holed up in NYC, we'd arrest him and extradite him to Pakistan. If they want to burn flags over that - fuck 'em and their nuclear weapons. We have them too. So does India. Of course it's stupid to provoke a restless country. Of course it's not worth going to nuclear war over one man...but jesus, this one is obvious, if we have actionable intelligence on OBL, we go after him. Period. I'm not making fun of Obama for being right.
Great Line

Watching Sliders at Netflix. Never really watched this show growing up, but I know lots of people quite liked it. It's about this group that "Slides" into parallel worlds...if you're familiar with the show you'll know the Professor character who responds perfectly:

"Why you disrespecting me bro?"
"I am not your sibling, thank god."

Okay, I like - not love - the Borne movies. This last one is good as well. I'm not sure any of the three can be considered a standout.

In spy movies, there are two overriding subgenres based mostly around the type of spy protagonist. It can best be defined by James Bond vs. George Smiley. Bond is obviously the Ian Fleming gentlemanly super spy and George Smiley is the John LeCarre humble, thrifty wisened spy.

Bourne falls more into the James Bond category, but without the cartoonish elements...selling itself as the smarter and more realistic (relatively, of course) James Bond. On that level it works well.

I personally prefer the LeCarre protagonist, thoughtful, realistic, morally gray.

The spy story has several eras. The first era developed around the time of the "Great Game," where European nations battled for control over the world. Spies were used by Russia, Britain, France, and all the players to establish networks of information. Kipling's Kim and Conrad's the Secret Agent are the most notable.

Then there is the WWI and WWII spy era, again involving mostly Europe and the bad guy Boshevicks and Nazis...I don't know much about this era of fiction, many of the true to life stories are great, though.

Then came the richest period, the Cold War. Most the spy stories and films I watch and like are cold war spy stories. Again, this is where the LeCarre and Bond dichotomy rose.

Then there is the post cold war era, between 1991-2001 that I call the tech-spy era...I think of it in terms of movies mostly, Enemy of the State and Sneakers, where the concentration moved toward electronic spying and uber control. I do not like this era of spy stories.

Bourne is a cold war character placed in a tech-spy era. It is a movie with an ethos of pre 9/11/

We are yet to see a great post 9/11 spy movie. We are ripe to get one at some point...a post 9/11 spy movie would eschew the tech-spy genre and revert back to a more LeCarre, human int style of conflict. It would also find a ripe new bad guy: Islamic Fundamentalists to play the role of Russian spymaster from the Cold War era. But there is a crucial difference in this new type of spy movie that mustn't be neglected. It will be asymmetric, as in the Islamicists will not have as many resources as the Americans (note: Bourne does a great job of showing asymmetry b/c the CIA has all the resources available and they can't get Bourne...he does what they do but faster, simpler, and cheaper). It will also have to highlight American spying failures...because it is clear the myth of the all powerful CIA was shattered on the day nineteen douche bags were able to launch a devastating attack on American soil. That being said, there is still good and evil and good people doing shady things...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Maybe A Good Franchise Model

Do a medium sized action picture (Borne Identity) with sequel potential, see if the star and material click with a good director...then hire a better director to make parts 2 and 3 with moderately larger budgets.
Actually, It's Not

Funny, that is.

One of the bigger mistakes I'm prone to make, I think, is the mistake that a humorous home video matters to the public at large. Some things have the ability to transcend...The Up series, some Chris Marker's film essays, but for the most part, funny things to a group of friends or family isn't funny at all.

I can't even understand what he is saying.
Ed-Die, Ed-Die

What have you done for me lately?

Scary Spice? Come on Eddie, you can do better than that...
Warning: Writers!

Laptops can reduce sperm count.

Friday, August 03, 2007

I Change My Mind

Fuck it. Obama wants to increase the pressure to capture and kill OBL. Got for it. You have my blessing. As far as I'm concerned that guy has a permanent fatwa and our number 1 priority post 9/11 should've been to blow his brains out like Barzini and the rest of the heads of the five families.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The United States often gets accused from within and without for being imperialist. Of course, this distorts US History and the entire notion of we use the term cultural imperialism, which means opening McDonalds and showing Hollywood movies...bear in mind these are products people willingly buy and pay for, not a foreign occupying army who supports a puppet government...

...and yet the truest imperial movement gets a pass: the Jihadist movement, which openly states their goals - even here in the United States. The only reason they are not successful is because they are not powerful.
An Idea

Do candidates have websites where they can simply and concisely lay out their positions on issues? Why don't they do that? Why aren't they requried to do that?

It's like their pitching movie projects without a script. I want to read the script. Leads please.
Obama and Hillary Are Both Not Stupid

It is why they are now both talking about "withdrawal" from Iraq, but leaving behind a certain number of forces to train and others to fight terrorist cells. How many? They don't name a number, it depends on the situation on the ground...but I think I heard somewhere Hillary talking 50,000. 50,000? Can that be considered withdrawing from Iraq?

And then there's Obama's invasion of Pakistan plan. I pretty much agree with VDH on this one. I would've supported this idea during Tora Bora and when it came up - we should get license from Pakistan to attack AQ whenever and wherever we want. But for Obama to be saying it now seems a bit...I don't know, poseurish.