Thursday, February 28, 2008

Let's Hope

Is there potential for an Iraqi political realignment away from sectarian divisions?
Victor Davis Hansen

Say what you will about his muscular, god-fearing conservatism, the man is interesting to read.
Just Doing My Job!

Casting director fired because she was looking for "inbred" looking children.

What's the world coming to?
The Last True Conservative

LA Times Op-Ed on Buckley.

In all the things I've listened to on the radio, etc re: Buckley, people all seem to report he was a great friend and possessed an affable temperament.

Apparently, he was slow on de-segregation and wrong on McCarthyism...

...but who hasn't been wrong - right?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bookshelf Etiquette

An article on what you display on your bookshelf.

In the whole books you've read vs. books you like to represent yourself argument...what about simply the books you own?

Shit, a lot of the books I own were gifts that I might read someday, some are obviously books I've read, and some are books I picked up with the intention of reading someday. This article is more or less why I'm not an academic.
What's There to Debate?

I didn't watch too much of the debate, because, well - what is there to debate? The nuance of health care plans? How they voted on Iraq in 2002? Are these topics that need to be discussed anymore?

Instapundit doesn't like any of it.

I don't watch because there isn't much substantive/philosophical difference between Obama and Clinton. The difference is in temperament and personality. And I like Obama more, trust his temperament and decision making ability over hers. So why watch a debate? What more can I learn about the two?

I'd much rather have a beer and chat, but I haven't been invited.

The article title says it all: Automated killer robots 'threat to humanity': expert.

Hat tip, Naveen.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Good Reminder

That BSing and doing things "useless" activities might, indeed, have a purpose.
Bitch Is The New Black

Why? Because Tina Fey said so.

And finally, the most important Women’s News item there is, we have our first serious female presidential candidate in Hillary Clinton. And yet, women have come so far as feminists, that they don’t feel obligated to vote for a candidate just because she’s a woman. Women today feel perfectly free to make whatever choice Oprah tells them to.
Tired of Cheap Talk?

A website that makes you put your money where your mouth is.

What's up with accusations of plagiarism these days? Plus, can you plagiarize a recipe anyway?

All sounds like middle school to me.
Sounds Familiar

Isn't this the plot of Scream 2?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Holy Shit!

Old Miami Vice episodes available on Genius.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Movie Article

Pretty good article on the Oscars.

The most intensely competitive category is Best Supporting Actor. I haven't seen Assassination, but everyone raves about Casey Affleck's performance. He's got the "young guy no one knew was THIS good" vibe about him. Plus, in the back of everyone's head is how he did in Gone Baby Gone. This matters.

Javier Bardem is the obvious choice. You knew it when you saw his haircut - this spelled Oscar.

But then there's Hal Holbrook's performance in INTO THE WILD. I swear if you don't almost cry during the scene in the car, you must be the Tin Man or something.

Oh...but then there is Philip Seymour Hoffman...the definition of "Best Supporting Actor." Seriously. The guy is not a leading man. But he's easily the Best Supporting Actor of his generation. And he's incredible in Charlie Wilson's War. Without Bardem or Hollbrook, his haircut would've won it for him.

The weakest of the bunch is Tom Wilkinson - and he's great in Michael Clayton. The scene when he's carrying the bread. Don't try acting like that at home. It goes from being the funniest part of the movie to an unbelievable moment when you realize "holy shit, this guy isn't crazy, he's the best damn litigator in the law firm." A fine scene - actors should study the performance, how he switches beats and gets from A to B. Really tremendous.

I wish all categories were this strong. I couldn't honestly be disappointed with any of the selections. It's the equivalent of Hillary-Barak-McCain.
Well That Sums Up My Blog

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self."
Atonement Sucks!

Be forewarned. I went in expecting this year's version of The Queen...a boring premise executed with grace. But starts of quite interesting with different points of view and going back and forth in time. But then the movie completely falls apart and can best be described as irritating. Every time I think studios and filmmakers ought to take more storytelling risks, I see a movie like this and long for good old fashioned narratives.

UPDATE: NY Times nails it.

PS - How in the world did this film get nominated for an Oscar? I must be missing something because I'd never expect the O's to nominate something like this...and it seems to be on a lot of top ten lists. Please, readership, help me out of this one...
Blu Ray

I'm late on this, but it's fairly remarkable how quickly the HD-BluRay battle got settled.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Men Treated Badly

Article on male bashing. Nothing brilliant here, but a good point:

"The media is singularly focused on the damage that society inflicts upon the feminine psyche and form but pays no attention to the unending attack on the psychology of the male gender. So why fight it? Apathy is much easier than fighting a losing battle and it is, indeed, a losing battle when most of the world is against you. So why fight? If women want the responsibility of running the world, then you can have it. I’m a good husband, a hard worker, and a good friend. And that’s all that I need to be. I don’t blame any of my hardships on anyone other than myself, but I will not abuse myself and dwell in these stereotypes and dim modes of thought."

I don't fully agree with this sentiment because I'm a punk...and I like to fight. Especially losing battles...
Mad At US

Serbs are attacking the US Embassy. They hate us because we stopped them from mass murdering minorities in their own country. We're such bastards.

Welcome to the 21st century. If the first 7 years are any indication, there is going to be a lot of hatred of America for doing the either the wrong or the right thing.
Who Cares?

McCain might of shagged a lobbyist.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I've Often Wondered This...

How much power does the President actually have over the economy?

And for that matter, anything seems to me the world has a way of shaping the man as much as the man (or woman) shapes the world. You know? I mean Bush ran on the idea of leaving foreign entanglements to themselves and the notion of compassionate conservatism. Instead, he becomes one of the worlds most divisive characters (with heavy competition too - Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, Putin) and becomes entangled with international matters just as heartily as Lyndon Johnson. Explain that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Good Question

What would it take to alarm you?
The Beard

Is done.

I wonder what percentage of the world would like Cuba to remain a communist dictatorship. I'd guess about 5-10%.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oscar Thoughts

I explained my overall beef with the Oscars last year.

This year, I'm simply baffled how America Gangster didn't get nominated for best Cinematography. The lighting in that movie stands out. Very odd.

As for the Best Picture...I can't make predictions because I'm always wrong. I can talk about how I would vote, however...

Easily, the movie I've talked about most with a pretty impressive variety of different people is No Country For Old Men. A month ago, this would have been my easy choice for best picture. There Will Be Blood has a similar appeal to many filmgoers, but the moral/ethical questions raised by No Country, to me, far surpass the those in TWBB. The filmmaking, in both movies, is heavy-duty work by some of the finest filmmakers of our generation.

That being said, the film I've THOUGHT most about is Michael Clayton. I don't talk about it a lot. In fact, I wasn't entirely excited about seeing the movie. It seemed a rehash of themes Soderbergh explored years ago. Yet, I heard it was good, and overheard a cocktail party discussion where some women were complaining about how the Tilda Swinton character behaved. The movie sticks with me and I saw it again last night.

There are all sorts of things I love about Michael Clayton. I'm going to list them because I don't know if I can compose a narrative.

-The character, Michael Clayton - a fixer, bagman, a man in between. Great.

-Simple camera work

-Sydney Pollack's performance

-The time when scenes take place. I realized this only on my second viewing, scenes tend to take place "in between." We start late night at the law firm when everyone ought to be asleep. The big explosion takes place in early morning - at dawn. When auctioning his restaurant off, it takes place around 11am when no one is at a restaurant.

-The final shot, the opening sequence

-use of out of focus

-the color palette...desaturated and blue

-the narrative pacing. Not too fast and not too slow. Good for a thriller.

I just like the movie and am favoring it now because I'm surprised by how much I think about it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Good Headline

CNN: When Your Spouse Announces He Is Gay.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Recruiting Crazy People

To carry out suicide bombings in Iraq. Way to go Al Queda, as if you weren't already the scum of the earth. If these bad guys were written in a movie, it would almost be too over the top. That's how frigging silly they are.
Iraq Political Progress?

Well, the NY Times thinks so, anyway.
Vince Flynn

Never heard of this author before today, but he sold his entire spy thriller franchise to CBS Films. He's a bestselling author, basically a new type of spy thriller in the Bourne, mass market paperback vein.

The guy lives and works in St. Paul, MN and decided to give up a career in real estate to become an author.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Imad Mughniyeh

A tactical influence on Bin Laden, a mega-terrorist of the 1980s back when terrorists were more cartoon characters and not serious adversaries. This guy was to John Ford as Bin Laden is to Daryl Zanuck.

Okay, that's a bad analogy, but the point is - it's good this guy got dead.

She mine now.
I Agree

I like the Shaq trade. Bill Simmons agrees.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Strike Ending

Work has already picked up again. Shoot. Had gotten into the habit of blogging a lot.

Probably good, though, for you know, staying in business, etc.
Evidence of the World Getting Better

Just bought a white out and instead of the bristle brush, it is now small sponge like blotter. Much better. Those damn bristles use to stick together and make a yucky, chunky mess on the paper. Sponge=simple and better.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Got on tip on this blog at work...interesting. I like this style of blog for one time reading, but probably not everyday checking.
Ending the War

Is McCain the most likely candidate to end the Iraq war?

If so, would anti-war Dems vote for him?

ps - this was what I recommended for McCain a couple weeks ago - to run on the strategy of winning Iraq.
Does Welfare Help Terrorism Thrive?

Kaus asks the question.
Death Penalty

Pentagon seeking death penalty for AQ guys who planned and orchestrated 9/11.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

An Old Article

But one I still find strangely relevant when just the other day I spoke with someone who "believed 9/11 was an event the Bush administration allowed to his words, like Pearl Harbor."

Yeah. Right. Whatever. I don't talk to people like this because there is nothing to say. It's like telling a baby about the plot of the movie you watched last night. They just aren't going to get it...makes me think democracy isn't such a great idea because someone this stupid really doesn't deserve to vote. Seriously. By a stroke of irony and luck, they generally don't.

Oh yeah, the article is about Fahrenheit 9/11. Here is a paragraph which sums the whole thing up:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
Legit Question

With AQI reeling, it brings us to a legit question. What happens if we leave Iraq now?

Will Iraq be able to stand on it's own, as a post-Saddam, post insurgency, post Al Queda state?

See proponents of leaving Iraq (and never being there in the first place) are in a sticky position...because, if they argue that leaving isn't going to be a catastrophe, then aren't they arguing "Mission Accomplished?"
Shifting Al Queda Tactics

A Washington Post report on AQI trying to get their act back together.

I never think we should underestimate these guys, so I figure, keep the pressure up and the the prizes for siding with America and the Iraqi government high. Get them some of the damn oil money and threaten to take it away should they veer back to AQI.

My favorite bits:

-- "Al-Qaeda is almost done and finished. It no longer scares anyone," he said. "It is like an old man on the verge of his grave."


-- The emir cited Muhammad, a 6-foot-3 computer major born in a Western European country, who crossed the Syrian border about a year ago with dreams of carrying out a suicide bombing in Iraq.

But when he arrived in Anbar, there was no mission for him.

Poor baby.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Old Sentimental Irish Bastard

Saw "Young Mr. Lincoln" and "Prisoner of Shark Island" last night. A quite enjoyable double bill. Henry Fonda is an incredible young Abe Lincoln...he has this wonderful, lanky physicality in the film and his hair and make up are fabulous. A couple of awesome scenes and some ridiculously sentimental moments which date the films terribly. But Young Mr. Lincoln demonstrates how a great performance stands the test of time...also serves as a reminder of the mythos of a good and decent America which I much prefer to the mythos of an imperial aggressive and conspiratorial America of today.
An Argument For Settling

A refreshing article in the newest Atlantic arguing women are better off settling for a less-than-ideal spouse.

An interesting point towards the end:

"My friend Gabe points out that this allows men to be the true romantics; when a man breaks up with a perfectly acceptable woman because he’s “just not feeling it,” there’s none of the ambivalence a woman with a deadline feels. “Women are the least romantic,” Gabe said. “They think, ‘I can do that.’ For a lot of women, it becomes less about love and more about what they can live with.”"

All of this stuff is tricky to talk about, because people differ so much...but this is a good read from a woman longing for a family. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Friday, February 08, 2008


I think I like him more than his movies. I listened to him on the Treatment and at the DGA event and loved how he very practically breaks down the process of making a film and how he develops ideas, the process he went through with writing "There Will Be Blood." He speaks as if he is a student of filmmaking and the filmmaking process. I love how he is fascinated by California. But his movies have never hit home with me...and I suppose that's fine. It's okay to like and not love, right?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Compelling Plea For Morality

And how moral power is vital to fighting our enemies.

After a really great NFL season (minus of the course, the awful 49ers), it's looking to be an exciting second half to the NBA season with the Suns and Lakers picking up Shaq and Gasol, Boston with Garnett, etc.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More 30 Rock

"She wants to tax us all to death and make it legal for a man to marry his own dog."
Hurt By The Strike

The rumor is the strike will be officially over this Saturday.

Last night I was watching this strike shortened season of 30 Rock (AGAIN). I've seen every episode at least twice, if not four or five times. I'm so lame and pathetic.

But anyhow, they were on a real roll this year. Every episode has some incredibly funny moments. Baldwin portraying Tracy's family, Lemon thinking her next door neighbor is a terrorist, "Little Chechyna," Baldwin ruining "Top Chef," Greenzo, I could go on and on. It was a fantastic 6 episodes.

It reminds me of the Jerry Rice 1987 strike shortened season where he caught 22 touchdown passes in 12 games. That was an NFL record until this year when Randy Moss caught 23 TDs in the most prolific offense in the history of the NFL. Yeah, wrap that around your head. 12 games - 22 TDs. The guy could've caught 30.

Rice was still good after that, and I have confidence 30 Rock could be good for at least 2 more seasons. But they hit a roll this year and momentum is hard to account for and manufacture. When you get it, you just need to take it and ride it...because it doesn't happen often.

Hillary kicked Obama's ass here. 52-42. Apparently, all the Hispanics, Asians, Gays, and Elderly voted for Hillary. The White men, young folks, and Blacks voted for Obama. Interesting dynamic. Can't really explain it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Difference

Some Israeli soldiers moon Arabs and they get punished by the army. In the Arab world, the families of suicide bombers get rewarded with money and martyrdom posters.

I'd characterize it as different....

...all right, I'm writing this and already retracting. I'm sure the Jordanian or Egyptian armies would not reward suicide bombing. But Saddam did. As does the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and other powerful Arab entities.

Oh...yeah...these are the pictures of Muhammed they want removed from the site.

Just in case if my position was unclear.
Go Wikipedia!

Wikipedia refuses to remove pictures of Muhammed from their site even though some online petition site with 90,000 signatures asked them to.

Here's the deal: I respect the fact their right to petition PEACEFULLY to remove the picture. And I ask in return to peacefully respect the answer: NO.
Stupid Liberals, Please Be Quiet

To all stupid liberals: please put away the agit-prop Obama teeshirts and posters that make him look like Che Guevara, cease with the mass forward emails and songs. I honestly don't care how Common or Scarlett Johansson are voting.

Don't make me regret supporting Obama...please jump over to the Ron Paul ship, work on your 9/11 conspiracy documentaries, support Kucinich, or immigrate to some communist country where you can freely worship a revolutionary leader. Because you're a turn off, the political equivalent of a teacher with bad breath.
And Now, An Answer to My Question

Why Vote?

Not everything one does comes down to a rational-choice, game theory matrix...or maybe it does, and my prior analysis simply wasn't sophisticated enough. I can answer the question to why vote, with a question: why blog?

I get no money from blogging. In fact, it could easily be considered a giant waste of time. If my employers got wind of how much or often I blog, I probably would be warned against it. Blogging hasn't made my life better in any way shape or form. It is probably best described as a compulsion, more closely related to looking at internet porn or drinking large amounts of coffee than anything else.

And yet, I do it. It has something to do with writing and as Madonna said, "Expressing myself." I like blogging because I don't put people to sleep by talking too much or fill up inboxes with long diatribes on things I'm thinking about. I write it on my blog and there it is for people to read or not to read.

With respect to voting, there is a similar compulsion to express oneself, to be able to state: "Yes, I voted." There is also something in there about not being asshole, too. I mean, who wants to be the cynical asshole or the lazy, stupid, ignoramus who doesn't vote?

I mean, after all, why read? What is the utility? Maybe voting is simply a luxury good we purchase with our free time.
Why Vote At All?

Very interesting post on Freakonomics on the irrationality of voting from a game-theory perspective. Not only to the vast majority of elections not come down to a close race, but in the few elections that do get close, end up being decided by alternative means than a super detailed recount - ie, see election 2000 or the super delegate procedure in primaries.

In fact, it is pretty much as close to a truthful statement as one can make, that your single vote will not, cannot, and never will make a difference.

And yet, I drove all the way to Silver Lake and back this AM to vote (since I recently moved and hadn't changed my voter registration).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Would America Vote For A Crazy Man?

A lot emphasis has been put on the question: would America vote for a black man. Or, would America vote for a woman? But an equally valid question, not often posed, is:

Would America vote for a crazy man?

Make no mistake, John McCain is a little crazy. I just saw a BBC news clip of him talking to supporters and, I swear this is verbatim, he vowed to go to the "gates of hell" to find Osama Bin Laden. And you know what? I totally believed him. He was shaking a little bit, clutching a pen in one hand, his old leathery face suggesting a reserve of anger and brute power. I got this picture of Bin Laden wandering by himself towards hell, trying to sneak in, as if it were an after hours club and McCain storming up wearing an old school 1980s-style US Army uniform (like Richard Crenna in Rambo) and grabbing him by the hair, dragging him back to the good ole USA, tossing him into a jail cell and then, by god, treating him decent - so long as he was locked up.

See...I happen to like the subtle craziness in McCain. His type of crazy is to maybe punch the Speaker of the House in the face if he/she was being an idiot...not the launch thermonuclear weapons on the entire Arab world, Ariel Sharon-type of craziness. His kind of crazy is actually kind of useful in foreign relations, politics, and I imagine, surviving a North Vietnamese prison camp. It probably wouldn't be too good for being a Hollywood assistant, running a day care center, or being a brain surgeon.

In any case, it's a good sign of the times when our leading candidates our a women, a black man, and an old crazy bastard.
Details, Details

Michael Totten visits Falluja.

These are the raw details of the war. It's hard to make heads or tails of it all.
The Wire

I don't know if it was the drama of the last five minutes of the Superbowl or the subsequent dog biting incident, but the Wire left me very unsatisfied last night.

I thought it was very poorly directed. The scene with Bunk and Amy Adams in uber close up mode? What the hell was the guy thinking? The handheld scenes didn't work for me...and then a writing moment when all of a sudden one the characters turns into Batman. What the?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Who To Root For?

The other weekend I was part of a big conversation about whether children who speak English as a second language ought to be taught English as their primary language in school. The predominant position was YES, they need to learn English. Some felt this way as a practical matter, that kids need to learn English to be successful in America, even if it was tough and caused initial difficulty in school. Others, like myself, in addition to the practical reasoning, also felt it was important to American culture and sense of community to have a single, shared, national language. In short, we believe in assimilation.

One can take the same principal, however, and apply it to cities and specifically, sports teams. What does it mean to be a resident of a city? What kind of community would exist in a city where everyone rooted for a different team?

Living in LA, I am confronted with this void. I am from the Bay Area and still root for the 49ers and Oakland A's. I cannot imagine doing otherwise. I'd rather slit my wrists than root for the Dodgers (Kirk Gibson's game 1 home run is the single worst moment of my fan life). Most of my friends are LA transplants and still root for their hometown teams and their college alma maters. Cable channels with every imaginable game and ESPN's 24/7 sports coverage affords this possibility.

But I live in LA and am not leaving. I am not moving back to the Bay Area. LA is my home, now. And yet, this doesn't square up with how I value assimilation as important to a community. How dare I suggest the Balkanization of fan-dom in a city? Could you imagine Boston split with Yankee fans, Mets fans, Red Sox fans, and Giant fans? It sounds awful to me.

LA fits this description perfectly. LA is an incredibly disloyal place. Everyone is out for themselves. This is the deal you make when you live in LA. You aren't going to change it. You want solidarity, go to New York, Green Bay, Dallas, or Chicago. You ain't getting it here.

So my opponents, those who'd like to teach Spanish as a primary language in Los Angeles schools, might have a point. They might just say to me...I'll learn English when you start rooting for the Dodgers.

Oh man.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I like the guy, here he talks about not stumping for Obama because it might hurt him. He also plugs his efforts on Darfur.

The thing I don't get re: Darfur. How does supporting an end to Darfur's tragedies differ, in any fundamental way, than ending Saddam controlled or post-Saddam efforts by Sunni extremists to control Iraq. If one is interested in being proactive towards ending genocide in Darfur how can one be against what we're trying to achieve in Iraq? It's the same thing, except Iraq is important from a geo-political standpoint, whereas Darfur is not. It makes no sense.

I can understand not wanting to get overly involved in un-winnable foreign entanglements. But why is Darfur "winnable" and Iraq not?
More Health

Got somehow stuck on the NY Times health pages today. I like the intro sentence to this article:

The midlife crisis, a time of self-doubt and turmoil familiar to many in their 40s and 50s, is often viewed as a phenomenon of Western culture. But new research suggests that people all over the world are miserable in middle age.

Keys to Exercise and Not Aging

Really good and interesting article.

Good tips:

“One of the major determinants of endurance performance is oxygen consumption,” Dr. Tanaka said. “You have to make training as intense as you can.”

When you have to choose between hard and often, choose hard, said Steven Hawkins, an exercise physiologist at the University of Southern California.

“High performance is really determined more by intensity than volume,” he added. “Sometimes, when you’re older, something has to give. You can’t have both so you have to cut back on the volume. You need more rest days.”

Dr. Hawkins, who says he no longer runs competitively, adds that he tries to put his findings into practice. “I run a couple of times a week and I try to make it as fast as I can,” he said. “I’m not plodding along.”
Super Bowl Prediction

A Patriot-centric Super Bowl prediction.

I picked 35-24 Pats when pressed to make a pick. In my experience, the only Super blowouts are the ones you expect to be Super blowouts beforehand. This one does not bear the signs of a blowout because the Giant's are playing seriously well and the Pats are the Pats.
Weird Thing I Did (Yesterday)

In addition to searching for mopeds, I went crazy on Itunes last night. I bought a ton of Steve Earle songs. How have I not discovered this guy before? He's AWESOME!
And Even If We Weren't Winning

There's still an argument (a liberal one, incidentally) to be made we should be there anyway to keep the crazies from taking over.

CNN reports militants strapped two mentally retarded women with explosives and sent them into a market to murder innocent civilians. Are you kidding me?

For those of you who don't know...I have a special affinity for the mentally handicapped and an irrational hatred of terrorists, so you can imagine I really hate this story.