Thursday, July 31, 2008


A conservative coffee house.

Behind the counter, owner Dave Beckham smiles proudly in a khaki T-shirt that reads "Zip It, Hippie." The shirt is for sale at the Crown Point, Ind., cafe, along with ones that say "Peace through Superior Firepower."


He prefers the Conservative Cafe, where red-white-and-blue bunting hangs outside the brick building and patrons can buy T-shirts that read, "Silly liberal. . . . Paychecks are for Workers."

"I like it here," he says. "I don't have to worry about listening to beatnik poetry or some political ideology that makes me want to vomit."


He didn't like piped-in folk music, specialty drinks with faux-Italian names or patrons who frittered the hours away on laptops or listening to iPods.
Downside of Email

Great article in the LA times today about email and how overwhelming it's getting.

Historically, dark ages have sometimes been periods of technical advancement, she explains, "but they're ultimately times of cultural decline. I think we're defining our own dark age by skimming along on the surface of life and relationships and thoughts. And it's certainly a dark age when we're faced with an ignorance born not out of a lack of information but out of an inability to create knowledge out of the information around us."


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are They Kidding?

The counter-argument to surge success is the levels of violence have merely lessened to the levels of 2005 before the insurgency heated up. Thus, to claim surge "success" is not only ludicrous, but also perverse.

But let's remember who the enemy is: Al Queda and the hardcore Islamicists. The enemy is not Sunni Iraqis. And what has happened is a separation of the Sunnis from Al Queda and Al Queda has suffered a battlefield humiliation. We cannot discount the importance of this.

A deliberate draw down based upon lower levels of violence and give Iraqi a chance to see if the center can hold. What else can we do?
Cool Project

Orwell as a blogger.
The Rockets

Landing Artest is a total coup
. For a team with chemistry but lacking toughness, he's the perfect addition. Prediction: all the McGrady haters won't have their "can't get out of the first round of the playoffs" retort next season.

Another irony - which allows me to get back to Kobe bashing - this is a much better fit for Artest than the Lakers. How does Artest fit into the Lakers? He's basically Kobe who can rebound and play a lot tougher, without the offensive skillz. He's redundant on the Lakers. The only thing good for the Lakers in signing Artest is he won't be covering Kobe.

And this is the problem with Kobe and the Lakers - they're aren't many players that "fit" with Kobe. If they're too good, he can't have them around, because he needs the spotlight. And if they happen to be pretty good, they also need to be soft to put up with Kobe's shit. Hence, you get Gasol and Odem, who down the stretch against a tough team can't get rebounds.

For Kobe to win he needs the following: a big man who can get easy buckets, rebound, and be intimidating on defense; he needs a mature, veteran player whom the younger players like and respect, he needs a couple of guys who can hit open jumpers and not have gaping holes in the rest of their game. And that's it. He's good enough that maybe he doesn't need the "trio" of awesome players to win. Although, a good trio will probably beat a great duo.

Problem is Gasol offers only one half of the package (although offensively he is exceptional)

MAYBE - if you combine Gasol with a tough inside player - a Kurt Thomas/Dikembe Mutumbo style center - and then you kept Farmer, Sasha, and Fisher - you could win. Although, I think you need a better shooter than the Laker's trio. You don't need Ray Allen, but at least a John Paxton.

This is going to be so bad...

The irony: if it's good, we're going to come out liking Bush more than we did coming in.

Another irony: this is the type of thing to piss off enough people that they might go vote Republican.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

More Beating Up Surge Opponents

Many mocked the surge - I remember, it was easy (and popular) to do. Some more thoughts from Hitchens.

If it is true, as yesterday's three-decker front-page headline in the New York Times had it, that "U.S. Considering Stepping Up Pace of Iraq Pullout/ Fall in Violence Cited/ More Troops Could Be Freed for Operations in Afghanistan," then this can only be because al-Qaida in Iraq has been subjected to a battlefield defeat at our hands—a military defeat accompanied by a political humiliation in which its fanatics have been angrily repudiated by the very people they falsely claimed to be fighting for. If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement, the situation would be the precise reverse: The Iraqi people would now be excruciatingly tyrannized by the gloating sadists of al-Qaida, who could further boast of having inflicted a battlefield defeat on the United States. I dare say the word of that would have spread to Afghanistan fast enough and, indeed, to other places where the enemy operates. Bear this in mind next time you hear any easy talk about "the hunt for the real enemy" or any loose babble that suggests that we can only confront our foes in one place at a time.

Going Down

Ahmadinjad thinks big nations "going down."

Hmmm. I'd bet on the mullahs burning and crashing long before us. But that's just me.
Earthquake, blah, blah...

I was sitting at my desk and it shook. Felt nice.

Law and Order has become like an actor's workshop where mid-level dudes get to come in and goof around for a couple years. Next is Jeff Goldblum.

In a way, this should be a comfort to actors...a known quantity, steady work, money enough to live in the big city...
Dare We Say It?

I'm just going to cut excerpts from VDH - but let's be clear: the surge worked. The invasion as a whole...well, that one is still up for debate.


"So what happened in the last twelve months to cause such a radical turn-about in Iraq and here at home? The surge added some needed troops, but more importantly sent the symbolic message that the United States was not leaving, but determined—militarily—to defeat terrorists and give the Iraqi government critical time to consolidate its authority."


Nothing New

None of this volatility is new in American military history. The American Revolutionary War ebbed and flowed for nine years, variously pronounced won, lost, and won again. The Union thought it had won, then had lost, and finally won the Civil War during the last 16 months of the conflict. The Philippine insurrection, in various phases, lasted 14 years, often praised as won and condemned as lost. No war was more mercurial than the Korean between 1950-53, in which the American public was convinced the war was hopeless before it ended in1953 with the preservation of South Korea.

In most of these struggles, the efforts of just a few rare individuals—a Washington, Grant, Sherman, Ridgway—proved crucial. We remember their names, not the thousands of pundits who declared them incompetent and their wars lost. Long after a Seymour Hersh,, Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, Harry Reid and others are forgotten, Americans will still remember what David Petraeus did for our country. Amen to that!

Monday, July 28, 2008


Sullivan critiques "condition-based" withdrawal from Iraq.

"Tying withdrawal to conditions in Iraq places U.S. policy at the mercy of the worst elements in Iraq, which gives these elements every incentive to persist in trying to sow discord and engage in spectacular acts of violence. "

of course, the same critique, slightly modified can be applied to a timetable...violent elements can coordinate their attacks with the withdrawal to make it appear "as though" America was retreating.

Me...I'm coming to terms with a timeline, not because I've finally seen the light from the Dems perspective, but because we aren't going to stay forever and the conditions seem good enough and headed in the right direction and we can draw down.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Office Webisodes

Interesting stuff. These would be incredibly easy to make.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Man

Havel is the man.

What the hell is Brett Farve doing?

He's like the uninvited uncle showing up drunk to the wedding and delivering an awful toast.
Not A Terrible Idea

A restaurant without food.

I would consider going to a place where I could bring my own food to cook, under the following conditions:

1. The space/kitchen provided had better tools than my own.

2. I didn't need to clean up.

3. The space/kitchen provided had simple supplies such as salt, pepper, olive oil, etc, all the accessory crap that I don't always have at my house.

4. A nice social atmosphere.
Outsourcing Mommy Tasks

I was getting my breakfast sandwich from Panera this morning and noticed a curious scene I imagine being unique to Santa Monica.

Two hispanic women were chilling with strollers holding young children. One stroller had two seats for two young children, the other stroller had one seat for one child. The kids were super young - could say a few words - and were basically just sitting there with blank looks on their faces.

The two nanny-moms were chatting it up in Spanish like I imagine suburban moms are doing all over the US at 10ish in the morning at parks and coffee shops. I was looking at these ladies and thinking - are these their kids? Then I one of the kids said "Mama," I noticed the pretty fancy strollers, and not-so-nice clothes the women were wearing, and since the kids looked white and their rudimentary utterings sounded English, I concluded with fair certainty, these were nannies taking the kids out on a stroll.

The one kid started to complain and one nanny handed him part of a pretzel to shut up. Then her blackberry beeped. Yes - that's right - her blackberry and she decided she had to get going.

I suppose this is to be expected - what are working women to do? And these ladies seemed to know what they were doing. But something about it struck me as odd. How much of our work/lives should we be delegating to others? And what were the kids of these nannies doing?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Aronofsky to Direct Next Robocop

I'll see it.

What's Your High School Stereotype?
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Drama nerd




Ghetto gangsta


No Mo' Fast Food

I guess this should be an outrage, but the fact is - I don't go to South LA - so I don't give a shit.

Hat tip, Hatley.
I Suspect This Is True

Europeans will fall out of love with Obama.

I'm truly looking forward to an Obama presidency. Partially for historical reasons - it will be truly remarkable that American elects a black president, given our history. And yes, I don't mind patting ourselves on the back about it.

But second, I hope it will shut the dumb pie holes of Eurotrash-America bashing and the anti-war left in our own country. Maybe we can get back to reasonable discourse and once again allow the right to be the dumbasses railing on all the talk shows, etc.

A very good idea. I long suspected there was a way to do this - but apparently not until now...the ability to call into someone's voicemail directly, bypassing the possibility of an actual call.

The key, of course, is the recipient should not be able to tell a sly call was made.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What Rumsfeld Got Right

Pretty interesting article.
Don't Fuck With A Leopard

This is crazy shit.
Doesn't Get My Blood Boiling

Three black girls get accused of shoplifting and held for 1.5 hours. Then they were released. This is the front page on CNN. Is this an outrage? No - it isn't.

Teenagers of all colors get pulled over by cops and accused of shoplifting all the time. Is this wrong - yes. Is it a big deal - no. These woman are mad because no one apologized to them.

Now...I can understand this being annoying, inconvenient, and if it happened everyday: unjust. But come on, folks, bottom line - who gives a shit? This isn't news any more than the time I was accused of being stoned and wasn't let into Cha, Cha, Cha - totally unjustly - because I wasn't stoned. And also - since when do bars not let in stoned people?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why I Hate the Beach

I am reminded today of why I hate the beach. When I reach into my jeans pocket this morning, I find sand. Sand goddamit. Sand from laying on the sand at the Glow event this past Saturday. Grrrr. I hate the beach.
More Dark Knight

A good movie review describing the film.

I guess the film deserves props for trying to transcend the superhero genre - although it doesn't quite succeed.

Not all great movies are perfect, by any stretch. But I distinguish between mortal sins and venal sins in films...and The Dark Knight, while containing superb parts, commits huge plotting sins - which to me, are mortal.
This Truth Could Really Hurt

"I am convinced that we are paying for both sides of the Iraqi war,"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Generation Kill

Got MUCH better last night. Incredible speech by the Godfather at the end. No one can write a speech like David Simon. I'm reminded of the speech given about McNulty at the end of season 5 of the Wire. "He was the black sheep, the ultimate pariah. He asked no quarter from the bosses and none was given..." I can already tell my rewriting is way worse that what was on screen.

Simon is back.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Dark Knight

It's good, but it isn't great. And I was hoping for great. I thought - by the preview - and the look crafted for the Joker, maybe this was going to be something special. There are elements - Heath Ledger is as good as they say he is - but the script and pacing of the movie doesn't match him or the ethos he expounds.

His violence is primitive and chaotic - and the movie isn't. It is full of technical stunts and ridiculous plotting devices where the Joker is 30 steps ahead of everyone else. His most terrifying moments are when he wields a small knife and lies to victims about the way he became "scarred." Those parts are awesome.

But why the reliance on frantic pacing? Are they afraid we'll get bored with something more thoughtful and menacing? Why the silly plots? Why not keep it simple? The Joker has great lines - "look at what I can accomplish with a few bullets and a little gasoline." I like this idea. Why not delve into it - why not restrict the Joker for the entire movie - why make him so powerful and with a collection of people behind him? Why not be one guy with a gun, a few knives, a some cans of gas...and just the naked will do go crazy?

I thought this would be a Dogme-inspired Batman movie. Or at the least, a crime movie and not a super hero movie. It started out as if it were a crime film - but the bus crashing through the wall, let the cat out of the bag. The system can't help itself - it can't make anything but a super hero movie, even though the audience longs for something much more exciting - movies about characters vs. an amusement park ride.

Lastly - the filmmakers clearly "get" the mayhem and anarchy of the Joker. They capture it brilliantly. But what they lack is a response to it. There is a philosophy in the mayhem, but no philosophy about Batman and what he represents. Sure, there is something in there about being a knight and an anti-hero, maybe philosophy is the wrong word. There's no poetry about it. Nothing new. Nothing interesting. Nothing really human.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

He Should Work on Film Sets

"Gimme free coffee!"

A police officer is fired because he shook down starbucks managers for free coffee.
What the F?

I don't understand what the A's are doing. They've now traded another starter. Who exactly is going to pitch for them?

Blanton had a shitty record, but he was technically our number 1 starter. Well, at least he was the opening day #1.
Getting on a Sinking Ship

Is the movie industry a sinking ship?

Lehman Brothers think so as it lowered the credit ratings of several major studios last month.

They are predicting a music-business like plunge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Menial Jobs

I tend to agree with the sentiment here.

Snobbish disdain for such menial but productive activities could scarcely be more clearly implied than by the writer above; and it is precisely this disdain, rather than anything intrinsic in the task, that renders it humiliating.

I really find it terribly distasteful when people have contempt for certain types of work. What's wrong with flipping burgers? I like burgers! I'm glad someone flips them. And I'm especially glad when they do it well.

Incompetence bugs me much any field. The cleaning people at my office suck ass. Every Monday we come in with half cleaned dishes and the coffee machine with old coffee sitting in it. It drives me up the wall. At the same time, we get query letter from people who can barely construct a sentence. Why in God's name do these people want to write when they CAN'T write!!! Why do these cleaning people clean when they can't clean???

Find a different job! I read a query letter today and yelled out: "Get a job unpacking oranges for Chrissake. Be useful to society."

Anyway, that was my reaction.
Jonathan Gold

I can't stop reading this guy lately.

A sample:


Here's a small sampling of Jonathan Gold's favorite Los Angeles area restaurants.

Providence: Gold raves about this high-end eatery's fish, saying it “befits Los Angeles as a major international port city.” 5955 Melrose Ave., Hancock Park; (323) 460-4170.

Europane: This bakery specializes in European pastries, including “croissants (that) could be mistaken for France's best in a police lineup,” Gold wrote. 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 577-1828.

Mozza: Gold recommends showing up at about 3:30 p.m. to get a table at this tiny pizzeria with celebrity chefs who have “completely reinvented what a pizza is.” 641 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 297-0101.

Chung King: This authentic Sichuan restaurant serves food so spicy that Gold wrote, “Some of the dishes here may challenge your threshold of pain.” 1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel; ***(626) 286-0298.

La Casita Mexicana: Chefs Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu are celebrities in the local Spanish-language media. Gold says “their pan-Mexican food is absolutely delicious.” 4030 E. Gage Ave., Bell, (323) 773-1898.

Lou: Gold wrote that this “tiny, wonderful wine bar” also features artisanal cheeses, specialized meats and an elusive snack known as “pig candy.” 724 N. Vine Street, Hollywood; (323) 962-6369.
Is the War Over?

A question posed by Commentary magazine.

Sure, shit might flare up again in Iraq...but one might be able to declare the original insurgency (as a mix of former Baathists trying to reinstate a Sunni-run state mixed with foreign fighters trying to vying for a sectarian civil war and Islamicist state) over.

The hot war against Saddam and his sons ended the day they were killed and captured, respectively.

The aftermath - the insurgency - which has flared for four years - seems to me on the brink of being over. You would think this constitutes big news.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hat's Off

One of the best soccer "field" players the US ever produced retired today.

My hat's off to Claudio Reyna.

To reiterate a previous post...I'm not really sure McCain's idea to "surge" in Afghanistan is a good one.

I understand the theory - apply lessons of Iraq to Afghanistan. But is our goal (and should our goal in Afghanistan) be to bring about Democracy or some semblance of it? And Afghanistan is a much different country than Iraq - not important from a geopolitical standpoint and doesn't have a particularly educated populace.

Plus - is AQ even in Afghanistan?
Strong Point

Kevin Drum questions the standard liberal assumption (and Obama's position) that we should be using the troops in Iraq to be fighting AQ central in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

His view: Afghanistan is a trap.
Obama Hubris

It might be the guy's biggest problem...

"#1: Announcement Speech: But really, it's not like he didn't warn us. Anyone rubbing their eyes and asking if maybe, just maybe, this guy is a little too full of himself wasn't paying attention when he made the formal announcement of his candidacy in February last year (not to mention his 2004 convention speech but space does not allow...). Speaking in front of the building where Abraham Lincoln began his political career, Obama referred to that "tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer", in such a blatant attempt to steal Lincoln's mantle that he may as well have been wearing a false beard and breeches. Let's think about that. Lincoln's CV: ended slavery, led the country through a civil war. Obama's: passed Illinois's first earned-income tax credit. Now, that is what I call audacious."

I'll Testify

To the veracity of the claim that living in Santa Monica can feel like you're trapped behind a moat.

Residents claim it has to do with out of control commercial development. I would argue constant road construction contributes.

Sometimes it can be tougher to get down Lincoln than to drive on the 405.

Monday, July 14, 2008

So Weird

Barry Bonds - man, if I were an opposing team, I still wouldn't want the guy in the batters box. But no one will take him. Odd.

No One in Group Admits Girls' Night Out A Colossal Failure.

Would I laugh without the Onion?
When Did Our Country Get So Dumb?

This whole uproar about the Obama New Yorker cover is dumb. Every single angle is dumb.

The people who think Obama is a Muslim are dumb. The people offended by the cover are dumb. The whole thing is dumb. I feel dumb writing about it.
Generation Kill

Sadly, this nails it on the head.

I'll watch the rest because HBO and David Simon have earned it through previous work, but last night was certainly disappointing.

I still don't get how he shot this.

Friday, July 11, 2008

LA - Still A Mystery To Me

Yesterday I took a long bike ride after work - from Downtown Santa Monica down to the Strand all along Santa Monica and Venice Beach, around the Marina and to the continuation of the Strand towards Dockweiler Beach and LAX. I turned around before hitting Manhattan/Hermosa, etc, as it was getting dark.

But in this simple ride, looking at the all the people and topography I developed some thoughts on Los Angeles.

What makes Los Angeles a challenging place to live is the constant confrontation with what you aren't. Along the beach you are confronted with beauty, youth, money, incredible fitness - and it is thrust in your face. This confrontation is not limited to the physical - in the realm of the movie business - everyone wants to be something else - the assistant wants to be an agent, the agent wants to be a producer, the producer wants to be a writer, the writer wants to be a director, the director wants to be an actor, the actor wants to be a star, and the star wants to be L. Ron Hubbard.

This "grass is always greener" phenomenon is not unique to Los Angeles - but it is more pronounced. In high school, it is certainly natural to be a tad jealous of the prom queen or the football star. But in Los Angeles, the streets are lined with literally hundreds of women who are all ten times hotter than your high school prom queen. And the stars aren't provincial small town football studs whose glory will be over after their senior year - they are real, bonafide movie stars, music stars, sports stars. But what Los Angeles also offers, that other places cannot, is a delicate whisper into to your ear..."you might get some of this..."

Every week there is some new hot person - you see it in the newspapers - a new star every week. Or an old star making a comeback. On the smaller level, this friend of a friend who was a waitress sold their script, this friend of a friend is directing their first feature film, got signed by CAA, and so on and so forth.

This - to borrow from Nas - is the "LA state of mind." A psychological duality - on the one hand the constant, incessant reminder of what you are NOT with the seductive whisper, "but you might be someday..."

I cite the movie business because that's my world. But I think it comes from somewhere deeper in the geography of Los Angeles...I think it applies to the millions of immigrants who make their way to Los Angeles, from Mexico, Central America, Korea, Japan...Los Angeles promises something more and at the same time, through her huge billboards and highways, via Beverly Hills, fancy restaurants, designer clothes makes you feel, well, not quite part of it.

It probably applies to the gangs as well, the Mexican Mafia, and the Bloods and the Crips, young men all attracted to the possibility of rising up in that world knowing that percentage wise, you're more likely to be dead or in jail than at the top.

A lot of people hate Los Angeles. I suspect this is part of the reason. They don't like to be reminded of what they are not or what they don't have. I'm sure this is a healthy choice for many people. I don't see much use for it - psychologically speaking?

The psychological tug-o-war between what you are not vs. what you may be stimulates, I think, a lot of the behavior which is negatively associated with Los Angeles. The false bravado, the despair, the not calling back, the waiting in line for clubs and bars.

I'm reminded of all this on my bike ride because it was like a ride through completely different worlds all right next to one another sharing a similar theme.

Santa Monica is crowded with cars - fancy cars - pretty rich woman, tourists streaming from the nice hotels, bridge and tunnel crowds visiting the promonade, Mexicans traveling on the bus to work. You get down to the beach front and it is young people running around, young families, single people playing vollyball, bad soccer players playing pick up, couples biking, dorks get past Santa Monica and the Pier and you hit Venice, with the goofiest homeless people strewn about, the dirty hippies, the basketball players, the immigrant kids playing handball, a few very wealthy beachfront property owners taking an evening stroll, lousy artists painting or playing get into the Marina area and it's a different group - the boaters or the young couples walking, people who need a little more space until you get down to Dockweiler where they allow fires on the beach and you have little gangs or tribes of teenagers out sneaking booze in the summer, or lower middle class blacks, whites, and latinos in big groups drinking beer and tossing the football, you ride past a trailer park and there are people/families out grilling and hanging out, two dads who like to drink beer sneaking away from their families to chat, young girls giggling together, a group of thugs taking up the whole walkway daring someone to utter a complaint. In the background are smoke stacks, oil rigs, and airplanes at LAX. It's the beach, but it's industrial - and the furthest thing from the private beaches of Malibu one can imagine...yet you could bike there in a couple of hours or so.

On my way home I stopped at Chipotle, which is delicious.
Packers Are Smart

They want to let Farve go.
More on Syria

"The Syrian Riddle."

Is Syria trying to move more in concert with the West? Will they sign a peace with Israel? Will they cut the balls off Hezbollah? Will this further isolate Iran?

Something is afloat...

They are 5 games out and have a three game series against the Angel's this week. Any reasonable person knows the A's don't have much of a shot against the Angel's in the long run. Yet, a sweep going into the All Star break would bring them within 2 games, certainly not a bad spot to be in.

A dominant starting pitching performance is their best shot at winning these games. Did they trade Harden a few weeks early?
Good Thing I Don't Plan to Stop

Moderate drinking is healthy...but quitting moderate drinking may be troublesome.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Nation of Whiners

This probably won't help McCain get elected, but goofy outbursts with a kernel of truth would help win my single vote.
Far From Heaven

How I missed this movie, I don't know. Very good. Tight storytelling. Emotional. Impressive in the restraint by the filmmaker and actors.

Patricia Clarkson was standout - both the performance and character. Damn.

Going back to an old theory of mine - the idea that there is such a thing as an "objectively" good movie. It isn't merely "taste" or popularity that determines whether a movie is good or not. There is some objective criteria. There is such a thing as good acting and bad acting, good writing and bad writing, good transitions, good framing, good choices of music, etc.

Ultimately, however, what makes a good movie is whether the story is well told. There are lots of good stories, lots of good/solid performance, good shot choices, etc. However, if you're looking for a single criteria to distinguish a good film from a bad film or even a mediocre has to do with HOW the story is told.

On a side note, over the 4th of July weekend I watched two movies: Mongol and Starship Troopers. Mongol is a somewhat new movie made out of Russia about Genghis Khan. Starship Troopers - this was probably the 4th time I've seen the film. What stood out between the two movies - transitions. Mongol was full of clumsy transitions - both from a filmmaking and storytelling standpoint. At one point Genghis Khan escapes from prison and next he has an entire mongol army following him. How the hell did that happen? There were many others, but that was the most egregious example. In contrast, Starship Troopers, with all it's camp and "bad" 50s movie feel, has incredibly adept transitions between scenes and story beats - reflective of a sure handed filmmaker like Verhoeven.
Pay Close Attention

In the headlines over the next several weeks, we might see something along the lines of - Peace in the Middle East? And it may not be a complete joke.

Stratfor explains why.

Outline of present issues (details in article):

Syria and Israel are talking about a peace deal.

Iran and the US are working together on Iraq and seeing progress.

Traditionally disruptive great powers - such as Russia and China - are preoccupied with other concerns for the moment.

Israel has made peace deals with Egypt and Jordan and truce with Hamas.

Iran's pursuit of nukes and long range missiles might be a counterweight to the tackling of Hezbollah by Syria, per a peace deal with Israel.

I know it's not worth getting one's hopes up...yet...
AC Green

On the favorite archive articles on

This would actually make a fairly interesting movie.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Harden Trade

It pains me to see the A's let Harden go, since on any given night when he's healthy, he's as a good a pitcher as anyone in the league (and he's young!).

But this is how the A's compete...even though they are only 6 games out this year, they know come down the stretch it's going to be super tough to compete against the absolutely stacked Angels. Plus, the A's keep adding guys to the IR. They don't see themselves making it to the playoffs this year and are trying to cash in their most uncertain prize - Harden - to maximize the benefit.

All around, it looks like a wise trade. Both teams will win out in most scenarios. Certainly, it gives the Cubs the bonafides to win the whole thing. If Harden starts 10 games and pitches in the playoffs for the Cubs - they will definitely get their money's worth - cause the guy is damn good. For the A's - they get a young starter they can develop (and afford) and 3 prospects.

The way the A's lose out - if Harden stays healthy for the next year and half. He's never done this yet in his career, so I imagine there is about a 25% likelihood this will happen. There's pretty much no way the guys they got can match the value of 1.5 healthy Harden years. *caveat is that the A's don't necessarily lose if any of the prospects from the trade turn into a star.

The way the Cubs lose out - simple. Harden gets injured this year and can't pitch. Then the A's robbed them.
Let's Go

US troops are down to pre-surge levels. Maliki is making sounds about getting US troops out of Iraq. With the insurgency basically broken and the government seeming to function...getting outta there seems like a good possibility.

I'm open to arguments in favor of a limited US troop presence in Iraq similar to the troops we have in Germany, Japan, or Korea. Obviously, this would need to come with the consent of the Iraqi government. But if the Iraqi government thinks they can handle things on their own and think the US troops will only encourage more insurrection and violence (at this point), then shucks, we should leave and spend our dough developing wind power.

Why aren't liberals celebrating? Isn't this the moment they've been waiting for? And yet, no one seems very excited about it. They were way more excited about anti-war protests and the Iraq Study Group.

The problem has always been: liberals (on a whole, not all) were more concerned with humiliating Bush than seeing Iraq succeed. In fact - they got invested as using Iraq as the means to humiliate Bush. I always thought this was a bad position to get into, much as I'm not a Bush fan myself.

It commonly assumed Bush is going down as one of the worst Presidents in modern history. I won't assess this claim...but only say that his presidency will be considered historical significant (for good or ill) moreso than Clinton, his father, Carter, and probably the next President or two.

Re-doing Red Dawn? Does Hollywood know the Cold War is over?

Who could possibly invade the US? China? The Islamic Hordes? Are you kidding me? Do these countries even have navies to ship infantry here?

Russia invading the US was far fetched at the time. Asking us to believe in this possibility now is an even farther stretch.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wind Power

Could reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 1/3 in 10 years. Sounds good to me. No surprise the idea is coming from an oil man - whom I'm guessing knows a little about energy.

Monday, July 07, 2008

This Makes Me Feel A Little Better

Milton Freidman's advice to young people: don't save too much.
Somewhat Interesting

A substantial number of terrorists captured in Afghanistan and Iraq, once fingerprinted, are discovered to have arrest records either in the US or Europen

The nexus of terrorism and crime...
Sweet Irony

The Packers don't want Farve back...for good reason - they have a promising young QB - Aaron Rogers and a crop of great receivers. They KNOW Farve's great season last year had a lot to do with their great young receivers and yards after the catch. They also know, they have a good future without Farve.

My solution - the Bears sign Farve. He can't be worse than Grossman or whoever else they throw out there and it will annoy many Packer's fans. Also, it will give me personal pleasure to watch Farve toss interceptions as Phil defends him as the greatest QB of all time.

Many old school conservatives are supporting Obama...

My gut instinct: this election will end up being a blowout akin to game 6 of the Lakers-Celtics. McCain is having trouble raising money - the surest sign people aren't truly committed to his campaign or think he's unelectable. Plus, with Obama coolly moving to the center on Iraq...and the Republican party practically dismantling itself in the aftermath of Bush abandoning the libertarian and fiscal conservatives - and McCain prone to "talking crazy," it seems to me everyone in their right mind is going to vote for Obama. This will probably equal 60+ percent of the popular vote.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

I'm No Fool

Which means I recognize greatness when I see it - and that Wimbledon final was great. Two great players meeting...Federer, not in his top form, but revealing an extraordinary amount of guts against the up and comer, the clay court master, Nadal, with his improved backhand taking down the reigning champion.

By the end, I didn't care who won. Too much heart and grace to root against either of the guys. I can't remember seeing a better tennis match.

Greatness is when the form doesn't do the subject justice...when human will transcends the medium. You know it when you see it...because the reaction is: wow - this is bigger than tennis. And it was.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Warriors and Brand

Hmmmm. Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Biedrins, Azubuike Elton Brand.

If Brand was healthy would you want to play those guys? Still...missing a point guard.
Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers

I'd heard of this, but...jesus. It must come with a side of heart attack.
Good God, Man!

Farve (AGAIN) talking about coming out of retirement. I guess he feels he hasn't tossed enough interceptions.

Not very bold prediction: Packers would be better this year without Farve at QB.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pot is Legal

A rather stunning thing has happened over the course of the past two years. Pot has become defacto legal in California. I don't smoke pot. But of all the people I know who do smoke pot - almost all get it exclusively from medical marijuana stores. None of these people have glaucoma or cancer. They were all pot smokers before it was "defacto legal" and found some type of medical excuse to get weed.

To truly test my theory, I'd like to hear from some drug dealers who are being put out of business.
In Santa Monica

Where are the kids?

I'm telling you - they're all around Santa Monica - all ages, skateboarding, running around, in the convenience stores, in Baja Fresh, at the bus stops. EVERYWHERE. Kids abound.
Why Are Oil Prices Rising?

A good, clear explanation.
I Agree With This Guy

In the business, everyone's heard about Mark Gill's recent pronouncements about the impending death of indy film. Some tidbits:

1. Here's how bad the odds are: of the 5000 films submitted to Sundance each year-- generally with budgets under $10 million--maybe 100 of them got a US theatrical release three years ago. And it used to be that 20 of those would make money. Now maybe five do. That's one-tenth of one percent.

Put another way, if you decide to make a movie budgeted under $10 million on your own tomorrow, you have a 99.9% chance of failure.

2. If you want to survive in this brutal climate, you're going to have to work a lot harder, be a lot smarter, know a lot more, move a lot faster, sell a lot better, pay attention to the data, be a little nicer (ok, a lot nicer), trust your gut, read everything and never, ever give up.
Quick Movie Update

Encounters at the End of the World: Not my favorite Herzog doc...I'll paraphrase an email I sent to a friend after watching it: Herzog comes dangerously close to parodying himself with this film. It is one of his funniest movies, but funny in the way a joke is funny, or the way one can be funny by being self deprecating. It also lacks a main character and becomes essentially an essay on the scientists and nature in Antarctica. Still, some amazing images and to listen to Herzog's poetic voice over is a treat always worth the price of admission.

Sex and the City: If there was any doubt, I'm am now absolutely, positive I'm not gay. This movie sucks my ass. I looked at my watch 4 times and couldn't believe how long it was. Jeezus. The movie doesn't care about people, it cares about dresses and shoes. The whole movie is a fashion catalog. People are accessories...Mr. Big isn't a character - he's a description from a self-help article in a woman's magazine. The little Chinese baby - I'm going to become a jackass liberal for a moment and call that offensive. She might as well have been a Samantha doll with her little dresses and have a string to pull out of her back to say funny lines. All the men in the show are gay. Even the straight men are gay. Shit, the women in the movie are gay men. Many plot points make no sense whatsoever. SJP is a decent actor, but Kristen Davis? Are you kidding me. I kept hoping, praying, she would just take her goddamn top off. Instead, we get a crotch shot at the end of the movie by the ridiculous neighbor Dante. Thanks, had I known the movie was going to turn into a gay porn, maybe I would've dropped in to Love Guru for a few minutes.

At some point, I felt like yelling out - get off the screen you ugly old hags! I'd rather watch reality porn - because honestly, what is Sex and the City when it comes down to it? It's fashion porn propagating dumbass romance novel myths with UGLY woman who have been dressed up by gay dudes. In short, if there were two options for the future of the world -

1. Sex and the City
2. Taliban-esque Islamic Fundamentalist State

I would need to seriously ponder my vote.