Friday, October 31, 2008

Missing Out

Damn, have people been getting down and dirty at Obama rallies?
Hiring Iraqis

Another good sign. Yes, it will be cheaper to hire Iraqis as contractors. Also, it gives Iraqis good jobs, keeping them invested in the stability of their country.
Why I Hate Groups of People and How Democracy Doesn't Apply To Organizing A Sports Team

I'm trying to get on a weekday soccer team to force myself to play consistently. Last night, I went to this meetup to turn in my forms and get with a teams, etc.. The organizer, who I've played with in the past, isn't very good at organizing. He sends out too many emails, doesn't keep track of things like payments, tries to do too much - like organize coaching, happy hours, and multiple teams, even though he can barely manage one team.

So of course we're sitting around hemming and hawing. I'm thinking "can I just turn in my paperwork and leave?" For this league, I don't care about anything but having a place to consistently go play one day during the week - M-Th. Last time I signed up for a weekday team and the organizer could only get in a Friday Evening League. Who plays soccer on Friday evenings? I think I made it to two games total.

So I tell the guy - I'll play any team, any time, mens, coed, I don't care, I just can't play on Friday evenings because I'll miss most of the games.

But he and some other dude don't want to organize it that way. They want to organize by skill level. So they ask: "Can we divide into beginner, intermediate, and advanced?" One douche bag feels it necessary to say, "Don't say you're advanced if you aren't. Last year, our advanced team was the worst in the leage." (note: this was the team I was on and only played two games. To a degree, he was right. Only about 3 of the 10 players were advanced.)

A whiny girl says, "What do you mean by advanced? What you call advanced might be my intermediate?"

The two guys doing the talking are European. One starts talking about whether you have mastered skills on the ball, vision, etc. Clearly, this helps no one. Another starts describing some random European levels. Everyone looks on with confusion. People start scratching their chins and silently trying to figure out this huge dilemma. I hate talking at these kind of things, so finally I just say:

"If you played in college, then you're advanced. High school - intermediate. The rest are beginner."

My suggestion was met with howls of condemnation. "What about Junior college? What if you played in college, but are now out of shape? What about this, what about that."

I knew I made a mistake by speaking. For a moment, I thought to say, "Jesus, you idiots. If you played at some crap college and you know you suck and can play at a high school level - then play intermediate. If you were once good, and now are way out of shape - play down a level. If you were good enough to play college, but didn't for whatever reason, they play up a level! You want a freaking 30 page manual with criteria and exceptions to figure out what level soccer player you are? You want to administer a SAT test? Jesus, figure it out. Retards."

So the hemming and hawing continues. Finally, a sign up sheet is produced. I sign my name for a team that will play weeknights and give my paperwork to a guy who got bullied into managing the team. I say, "All right, I signed the sheet, you have my paperwork. See ya."

I understand the impulse to go John Galt.
No Right to Complain?

I never understood the logic - if you don't vote, you forfeit right to complain.

I've heard people say this my entire life. Why? People complain about things all the time they do little to improve. I don't see why voting should be any different. We always have the right to complain. It's just that no one is required to listen.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama Campaign Gaffe

I hope this doesn't come back to bite him.

Why isn't Obama spreading his wealth around?
Libertarian Paternalism

An argument for keeping gas prices high by adding a gas tax.

While both paternalism and libertarian have negative connotations to different sets of people, let's face some facts:

1) We need to increase tax revenue to pay down the deficit and to fund the WOT.

2) In the long run, oil is both running out and funds our enemies. It is in our long term interest to invest in alternative energy.

No one wants their taxes raised. No one wants payroll taxes raised. No one wants their social security cut. Removing earmarks are a nice idea, but let's be realistic - it isn't going to happen all at once and it won't be even a fraction of the amounts we're talking about. Neither will the gas tax. But a proposal like this might be the perfect mix of paternalism in it's best sense - encouraging behavior that is in the long tern interest of the country by a tweak of the "market." (I say "market" because oil is a cartel good anyway - see OPEC) - and libertarianism in it's best sense - creating market incentives for individuals and companies to profit by discovering new energy sources.

It's all about trade-offs. Once in awhile a trade presents itself that can benefit multiple parties. This may be one of them...

White Supremacists in favor of Obama.

“White people are faced with either a negro or a total nutter who happens to have a pale face. Personally I’d prefer the negro. National Socialists are not mindless haters. Here, I see a white man, who is almost dead, who declares he wants to fight endless wars around the globe to make the world safe for Judeo-capitalist exploitation, who supports the invasion of America by illegals -- basically a continuation of the last eight years of Emperor Bush. Then, we have a black man, who loves his own kind, belongs to a Black-Nationalist religion, is married to a black women -- when usually negroes who have ‘made it’ immediately land a white spouse as a kind of prize -- that’s the kind of negro that I can respect. Any time that a prominent person embraces their racial heritage in a positive manner, it’s good for all racially minded folks. Besides, America cares nothing for the interests of the white American worker, while having a love affair with just about every non-white on planet Earth. It’d be poetic justice to have a non-white as titular chief over this decaying modern Sodom and Gomorrah.”

If Obama is winning votes from White Supremacists, you know it's gonna be a blow out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Bradley Effect

Everyone tosses this around like it's common knowledge - that whites will lie about voting for a black person and then turn around and vote honky. If Obama wins will people stop talking about this phenomenon?

Is the thing even accurate? Polls are notoriously wrong - there are tons of elections, big and small, that swing as the last minute. Why this one single mayoral election is considered evidence of race being a last minute factor - I don't understand. Plus, the US is not LA. Believe me, this place is weird and what applies here doesn't necessarily apply nation-wide.

Lastly, I still don't get the I won't vote black logic. You're telling me there is a significant portion of the population who are dumb enough to be racist and yet smart enough to lie about it and politically aware enough to vote. I don't buy it. Not in this day and age.

I agree with most everything Barkley says in this interview. My favorite part: "the fact of the matter is, the President doesn't affect people's day to day lives all that much." I love the interviewer's reaction, "we're talking about the most powerful man in the free world here?" Barkley's like, "Yeah." (as in, so what?) As if she's never heard anyone say this before. But I totally think Barkley is right. We make too big of a deal of the President. Obviously he matters, but the world is so big and complicated that his/her impact in the day to day is quite small. Furthermore, the President is constricted by things much larger than himself - systems - government institutions, rival parties, world events, economic trends and business cycles, other world leaders and nations, ideologies - just tons of shit all the time. I think people overvalue the impact a President has in the tremendously complicated world of 6 billion plus people...
Mark My Words: Inflation

All these "solutions" we're applying to the financial crisis have the potential to create inflation...this worries me right now. Everyone thought we had this issue tackled, but dumping money into the economy will lead to this in the medium term. I think.
Who's The Celebrity?

Early on the McCain campaign compared BOb to Britney and Paris Hilton. Which, I kinda get...even though it was highly criticized by the Obama campaign. But it seems to me, Palin fits the celebrity mold more than Obama.

Obama at least has the decency to be an elitist.
Gimme A Break

The MSM is the reason libertarians and conservatives are abandoning the GOP. How about expanding government, getting us in foreign entanglements, and promoting a culturally conservative values? Duh.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Is The War Over?

4 US wounded last week? What does that mean? Of 150,000 people, I figure 4 people could get wounded playing pick up basketball.

Strategy Page comes right out and says it.

Yes, Iraq is not - and may never be - a model country. It suffers from threats of political assassinations, bribes, corruption, and all the typical problems of a weak, 3rd world country.

Can we start bringing troops home now? Why wait? We've got our battlefield victory over Al Queda. It's as stable as it's gonna be. I see no point in going into more debt over there.

What say you General Patraeus?

UPDATE: Word on the street, Al Queda is telling all it's recruits to go to Pakistan. Obama says - let's follow them there. I agree.

OTHER IDEA: If we're talking w/ Iran, is it worth offering up more influence (ie us leaving) in the region - Iraq specifically - in exchange for halting their nuke program. What do we care if Iran has a hand in Iraqi affairs? They're going to anyway. They want us to leave, which we want to do anyway. If they pursue a nuke, it becomes more in our interest to stay, which they don't want. Plus, Israel will bomb them anyway. Everyone wins, right?
Infidelity Rising

And rising more with young women. This doesn't surprise me as an overall trend. Although the stereotype has always been that men are more likely to cheat...growing up, I'd say it was about 50/50 with guys and ladies who cheated on their significant others. Now that my generation is getting married, it makes sense infidelity is swinging both ways.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mel's Favorite Comment

From the pajama's media article about Americans and entitlement.


I am a Romanian who has just come back to his country from two years of Graduate School at East Tennessee State University, opportunity for which I am very thankful to the American tax-payers who have offered me a scholarship.

After reading your sublime article about the simplicity of the American Dream and the sense of entitlement more and more Americans feel these days, I cannot help but remember that Romanians have never had a shot at that dream. And also, cannot help but remember the sense of entitlement coming out from SOME of the classes I took at (incredibly)ETSU.

I am from an ex-communist country, where the marxist-leninist idiotic utopies have been well tested on my grandfather, whose land was taken and put into “collective property” and who was sent two years in jail for protesting; he came out almost deaf from the beatings, and on my father who (as late as 1987 was indicted and almost sent to prison for refusing to spy on his French guests).

My American friends, please don’t go there! Twenty years after communism fell, that feeling of entitlement is still crippling the spirit of some of my compatriots. Please, don’t let yourself fooled by the empty rhetoric of the quasi-socialist in your classrooms. They don’t know s**t about what that means when you put it in practice.

Romanians have always dreamt of going to America, the land of opportunity. Please, don’t dream of becoming the Socialist Republic of Romania!

After so much time of being lost in ideology Romanians are taking a stab at the American Dream. We have a flat income tax of 16 percent, regardless if you are a person or a business and Romania is flourishing with foreign investments pouring in from all sides and the economy growing through the roof. Unemployment is very low and only if you are lazy you cannot work. I don’t understand why you won’t have that. My marketing professor at ETSU, Dr. Ronald Weir said he could only dream for the U.S. to have a tax system like in Romania.

And one more thing. During a class at ETSU I just had to raise this question to the overwhelming opposition of American students. I asked them: “Why do you hate your country so much? I’ve always loved it and I’m not even American”
Empty Bluster or Time For A Change?

I like it. We'll see what happens. As intense as he is...we still need a pass rush, an oline, and a quarterback. Yelling doesn't add those things.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

American Dream or Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?

On what the American Dream means today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Denying Distribution

Ruining Al Queda's ability to communicate by hacking their distribution network?

Indy filmmakers know how annoying not being able to distribute their movies (message) can be.

To the hackers: keep it up.
Not Good for McCain

Some Al Queda dudes come out in favor of him.
Gay Marriage

Obama is against gay marriage. Why? Broadly speaking, there are two possible reasons:

1. Bad politics - ie - he's really for it, but doesn't want to alienate voters over a minor issue (relative to the economy and the WOT).

2. Bad policy - ie - he truly believes marriage is between man and a woman.

I suspect it's more of #2 - that Obama isn't quite as liberal as liberals hope. At least on this issue. I say this because he isn't talking much about the the anti-gay marriage amendment proposition in California. Which...he would come out pretty strongly against if it were #1.
Regardless of Obama

A valid, center-right argument that the Republicans deserve to lose and lose big.
What Do Hollywood Execs Do After They Get Laid Off?

Variety addresses the issue.

"You reach a certain age and you're not (Steven) Spielberg or George Lucas, and it passes you by," Schwartz says. "At some point you have to stop bullshitting yourself."


Then again, George Lucas really isn't George Lucas anymore...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good Old Hitchens

I miss the guy. I haven't been reading him much lately. I cleaned up my blog site and found his latest essays about supporting Obama. His reasons: He thinks McCain is losing his mind and Palin is a disgrace. Plus, he thinks Obama is coming around on foreign policy and acknowledges the surge as a success. Hey...I agree with the guy. Laura Ingram does not. And she hijacks her own interview, spouting off nonsense. My favorite line at the end, "I thought you'd never ask. Why don't you have me on more often and tell me what YOU think?"


See the thing you forget - even though liberals are stupid about many, many things, the fox news conservatives are very stupid about many, many more things.
Now This Is What I Would Call "Anti-Women"

If you scroll down a bit you can see a lively "discussion" on the Palin post about whether SPa is anti women (as Sher and Robyn contend) or a Republican (as I contend).

To me, this is what I would call "anti-women." It's entirely different ballgame than being pro-life.
Tony Blankley

Writes about Obama's shady election past and the press willfully ignoring it.

Blankley is one of my favorite conservative commentators.

With respect to Obama running a "clean" campaign and McCain running a "dirty" one...frankly, I don't care a lick.

In a hard fought soccer game last weekend I thought the other team was getting a lot of questionable calls in their favor (and normally, I'm not much of a stickler for those things). As a result, they kept playing hard and tackling hard and fouling in many cases. But I can't really fault them for fouling if the ref isn't calling it. I would do the same, if I thought I could get away with it.

Likewise with McCain - although it doesn't appear to be working. In any case, I've written before regarding the complaint that McCain is running a "dirty" campaign - it's like saying "How dare you try to win the election!"

Side note: I'd like to see a poll of Obama supporters who think it's all right to cheat election results to get him in office. To test Tony's theory.

San Fran is long overdue for a big quake
. They've been saying this my entire life. "Overdue" in geological terms can mean 10 or 100 years.

A big earthquake will happen, we just don't know when. Since I moved away from the bay area roughly five years ago, the place has undergone tremendous building changes - the gains from the tech boom and real estate boom did turn into cash for many Bay Area people and they turned around and reinvested in a good deal of infrastructure and building. I am struck going back there now and think: Jeez, this place feels RICH.

I hope all the fancy new buildings and homes are least as much as they can be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Afraid He's Right

On why the 49er organization has sucked recently.

We are very slow in adjusting to the era of free agency. We were fat in 1980s and early/mid 1990s. We didn't know some of the strengths we had in the post Steve Young era. We wanted only Super Bowls and it caused us to let go of Jeff Garcia and Steve Mariucci and T.O.

And we learned the hard way what other franchises already knew about busted number 1 picks and weak lines on both sides of the ball.

But...all is not lost. We've got some talent to build around and it's not to say all decisions in the past were bad - Mariucci was not a good play caller and it's not like T.O. or Jeff Garcia has led their teams to the holy land - although they are playoff caliber players.

You live and learn.
My New Jam

Life and Times of Tim. Simple. Funny. Could of been a webisode.

Suicides rising. Not good. The group accounting for the rise: middle aged white men.

I don't presume to know about any of this stuff - but I wonder if being the whipping boy for family and social problems can take it's toll.

49ers fire Nolan. I've been waiting for this for a long time. Some may worry about the midseason abruptness of the move. But Nolan has sucked for a long time and way overstayed his welcome. Sometimes it's better to get of the bad wood and let the chips fall as they may. In this case, I agree with the move.

Incidentally, for a similar reason, I was in favor of deposing Saddam Hussein.
Glibness vs. Intelligence

While I can agree with the point that Glibness (aka the ability to BS) doesn't equate with intelligence, I'm not sure being "unglib" - as this post argues both Palin and McCain are - is evidence of the opposite.
Obama on the Airwaves

Obama is getting a discounted rate to take over the network airwaves on October 29th to push through his message of change and get everyone who watches TV to vote for him.

Is there a problem with this? Is it okay for the candidate who can afford to purchase airtime be able to? Is it okay for the media's favorite candidate to purchase airtime at a discount? Is it right that Oprah should offer to produce the spot for free?

I don't see why not.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Figured It Out

Sarah Palin. The name alone induces cringes from the females I know. They don't disagree with her. They don't dislike her. They HATE her. They find her utterly despicable. They don't like anything about her. It's not a rational distaste, it is a full throttled, passionate, face gets red even thinking about it anger...

And it's been puzzling me these last couple months. Just one of those things I've noticed from a handful of different women I talk to, many of whom are some of the smartest and most leveled headed people I know. Something about Sarah Palin drives them up the wall!

Insert clips from SNL last weekend. For those who haven't seen it.

When I ask my womenfolk friend and family: Why? Why do you hate Sarah Palin so? I get the usual litany of answers ranging from her conservative political beliefs to her inexperience and unworthiness of the nomination to her anti-feminist credentials. Most of the reasons cited are pretty much gender-neutral. And I counter: but I know many men who don't like her for all those reasons, but steam doesn't come out of their ears when they say it and they aren't squeezing a stress ball and grinding their teeth. Why are you doing those things?

Because she doesn't represent ME! They say. They say she doesn't represent women.

Hmmmm....I'm thinking to myself. All these women know other women and know there is no such thing as a monolithic woman and no one women who could possibly represent "woman." It just doesn't explain the anger and especially anger by the normally level headed.

And suddenly, when I was describing the Palin Saturday Night Live video to my friend who hadn't watch it yet, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It's the oldest of all reasons. It's simple....but it's true.

Sarah Palin is the hot girl.

She isn't the cute girl. She isn't the nice girl. She's the hot girl. And other girls HATE....HAAAAATTTTTE the hot girl.

She doesn't do much in the SNL rap video but bob her head. But in those few simple head bobs, you can tell, indisputably - Sarah Palin is hot. And girls know this. Somewhere deep down they are programmed to recognize a hot girl and while they are mature and smart enough to know it doesn't matter all that much - guys care about more than hotness and furthermore, they too are hot, and good people also, and blah, blah, blah.... This is the element, the Palin element, that explains why it's not just a matter of political disagreement, but an issue of this new hot chick just came to my high school and I caught the boy I've had a crush on for two years and I'm just starting to make some progress in that department look at her and I knew he'd sleep with her - I can just tell because I know those kind of things and I freaking HATE HER!

Thank you. I know I will get abuse for this post if my female readers made it this far.
Let's Be Realistic For A Moment

Could Iran win an asymmetric naval war against us?

I am 100% sure a cocky, unprepared, bloated army can lose to a dedicated, fast, smart army in a limited war. Positive. But let's not blow Iran's military might out of proportion, okay? This is a country who fought to a stalemate against Saddam's Iraq from 1980-1988. In two wars against Saddam, we drove him out of Kuwait in under a month and then, 10 years later, deposed his entire regime in 3 weeks. We whooped Saddam's army and this is the army Iran couldn't defeat in 8 years of fighting. During it, they conscripted children to either fight or search for mines. I know they've gotten more sophisticated since then and you should never underestimate an enemy...but you also shouldn't overestimate an enemy. Wars have nearly been lost because of it - see the Civil War.

And don't think I'm underestimating the insurgency. I don't consider the insurgency Saddam's army since it never was in his control. I don't underestimate Bin Laden or Al Queda or the use of asymmetric warfare by non-state actors - these guys are serious fighters and we need to take them seriously. Maybe states will adopt their tactics effectively - but also let's be clear about this as well - since 9/11, they haven't been able to deal us a blow. They drove us out of a few places in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, but we've gotten most of the Iraq places back.

Speaking of interview with a biographer of Warren Buffett.

Best section:

CNN: Is he a gambler?

Schroeder: No, he's a handicapper -- big difference. A handicapper is somebody who understands odds-making. A gambler is somebody who bets but may not even understand the odds. Warren believes in a margin of safety, he doesn't bet unless the odds are overwhelmingly in his favor. When he goes to Vegas he does not gamble, he goes to see the shows.

CNN: What are his flaws?

Schroeder: He is somebody who can be very tough in business and very impersonal, including with people he likes. And in personal relationships, he negotiates as if it were a business relationship

When he was putting Berkshire Hathaway together, as [his business partner] Charlie Munger puts it, he was an implacable acquirer. The book refers to him, in my words, as a great white shark, and the book describes the battle between his avarice and his higher principles. At times, his avarice won.

And over his lifetime, it's been essentially a progress during which his higher principles have increasingly had the upper hand. But when he was in junior high, he was a shoplifter. He was a juvenile delinquent. He sold his sister's bicycle. It's been pretty much uphill from there, but it hasn't been a straight line.
Why Andy Hasn't Been Discovered Yet

Malcolm Gladwell consistently writes entertaining contrarian articles and books. This one is about "late blooming genius." It contrasts Picasso and Cezanne. He tries to undermine the concept of genius as being associated with precocity.

I think he is largely right to separate and discuss different ways genius develops. But I also get this twinge of a thought...what's such the big deal with genius anyway? I like a good book, song, or work of art as much as the next guy. What's the worth in identifying genius? I haven't read any Jonathan Safron Foer, so perhaps I ought to temper what I say here, but this seems like a pretty low bar for calling someone a genius. All these Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, post modern hipster authors, to me, don't quite feel like geniuses. Maybe I don't understand the meaning of the word. Maybe I don't care enough.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Headshots Matter

Postrel on the Newsweek photo of Palin and other related thoughts.
When You're Right, You're Right

I thought Colin Powell was done. His UN presentation of WMD evidence, in hindsight, was one of the saddest parts of the whole Iraq War II decision. At the time, Powell was one of the most trusted men in America, and for people like me - middle of the road, educated, not strongly partisan, rational thinkers - lended legitimacy to the WMD argument. Colin Powell, combined with Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Tony Blair's support of the war definitely influenced my thinking. I always suspected the WMD argument wasn't the best approach, but having Powell up there at the UN providing evidence, made me think: all right, maybe this is the issue.

Now we know there were no WMDs...but worse than that...we know our highest levels of government and intelligence people were hudsuckered by false memos and phony connections. The level of incompetence or downright falsehoods would not be tolerated in almost any decent professional environment. A lawyer THAT wrong should of been fired. A doctor THAT wrong should be fired. A businessman THAT wrong should be fired.

Colin Powell went out there with his reputation on the line and sold the war. He failed to convince the UN. But he helped convinced enough of America to support the project. And I know he regrets it now.

I thought he was done. But watch this video - maybe the man isn't done. Americans love a comeback. How about Secretary of State or Defense in an Obama Administration?

I like the sound of it.

Side note: Instapundit calls Powell's endorsement "hardly an act of political courage." I don't know that courage is always the most important factor. I'd rather be right than least right now. And fine, maybe Powell just swings the way of the weather...supporting an initially popular war and now supporting the front runner for the presidency. But hey, I happen to agree with the guy, so like I said - I'd rather someone be right than brave.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

McCain on Letterman

I stopped paying attention to the election for the past couple weeks, but it seems to me, McCain has gotten better. I think he does a decent job of articulating positions and his decision making here on Letterman.

Still not voting for him...

Is it possible Obama benefitted from the long drawn out primary with Clinton - making him sharper and stronger (and richer) coming into the main campaign? Like a hot team in the playoffs?
Where Is This Guy?

Barak would have a real tough time beating this McCain. As lame as political jokes usually are, his Hillary line got me to buckle over laughing.
Counter Intuitive Thoughts on the Surge

I supported the surge and am happy to see it succeed to both prove myself right and bring peace to Iraq (in that order). However, it is also clear a great deal of the reduced violence in Anbar was the result of the Sunni Awakening and other on-the-ground mechanics that started long before the so called "surge."

Suppose Bush had caved to the overwhelming consensus that Iraq was a "lost cause," and the troops were part of the problem and not the solution. If we started pulling troops back we probably would have witnessed some on the ground reduction of violence as the effects of the Sunni Awakening take hold.

I don't think this scenario was entirely implausible. I don't think the US Army would have spurned the Sunni Awakening, even if we were drawing down troops. I'm sure we would have still supported it. Right now, the Democrats would be jumping for joy saying "ha! we were right all along - the troops were part of the problem. All we needed was to pull back sooner and the Iraqis would have worked it out themselves."

As it is, the surge went through and now gets credit for the success. It's tough to tell whether the surge helped multiply the success or simply happened to be at the right place at the right time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Obama's Cool

Interesting take on how Obama's coolness throws off his political opponents.

Drezner on how Obama comes across as thoughtful even if he's wrong on the issue.

I'm holding onto my position that Obama will win this election by a sizable margin and will disappoint all of his supporters when governing.
Not Good

I'm bored, but not this bored.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

$5 Food

Citysearch lists $5 fill up foods you can get near public transportation in Los Angeles. I don't know about you, dear reader, but I find this almost totally useless. For one, I don't use these public transportation outlets and therefore, wouldn't go out of my way to find $5 meals. Going out of your way means extra cost. I'd rather eat something convenient for $7. You know what I'm saying? So I thought I'd do an alternative - since we're entering recession and everyone is trying to save dough - ten $6 meal options in Santa Monica.

1. Panera Breakfast Sandwich and a coffee. $5.29 total. It's breakfast, so you're right not to be too impressed. But it is a good and filling breakfast - I like the bacon, egg, and cheese. They use Vermont Cheddar. Yum. If you get make coffee at the office, like I do, it'll only cost you $4. Maybe add an orange for health.

2. Black Bean Soup plus an apple from Whole Foods. $5.75. It's not a huge lunch, but if you're not too hungry, the "Black Bean Soup" really should be called Black Bean Chili. Toss a little cheddar from the salad bar and add an apple, it's a decent lunch.

3. Small Poor Boy with the works from Bay Cities. $4.35. You can't beat this deal. It's a decent sandwich for a pittance. Toss in a soda or chips and you're still under $6.

4. Small Turkey and cheese from Bay Cities. $5.75. A small with the works is only $6.10 and is definitely a good lunch - but unfortunately, doesn't quite make the cut. So cut out the works and you're still eating a good quality, fresh, and simple sandwich.

5. Spaghetti with Sausage or Meatball from Bay Cities. $5. A small pile of Spagehetti with a Sausage or Meatball and a Dinner Roll. Not a huge meal, but tasty, quick, and cheap.

6. Bean, cheese and guacamole burrito from Baja Fresh. $5.35. It comes with free chips and some of the best salsa in town if you ask for the dark red stuff they carry behind the counter. This fills you up no questions asked. But Baja Fresh is borderline fast food.

7. Two slices of cheese pizza from Dagwoods. (or one slice and a garden salad). $5.75ish. You may be able to throw on one topping and keep it under $6. Either way, the slices are huge, good, thin crust style. I know it's nearly impossible to eat pizza without soda, but it'll put you over because one slice isn't enough to fill up a grown male.

8. Lucy's Lunchbox grilled cheese with tomato. $5-6. I think they throw in a side of potato salad or pickles. It's a small lunch, but they make it well.

9. Panera Asiago Bagel with cream cheese and tomato. $3. Great small breakfast and you can add on fruit and coffee and still make it under $6. Oh wait, tomato is a fruit. PS - Panera doesn't charge for the tomato. I don't know why, they just don't.

10. Double double plus fries from In and Out is still under $6 as far as I know. It's as good as ever.

11. Chipotle. Enough said.
Not A Good Idea

Army creating technology to create email or voice mail and send it by thought alone.
Many Signs of the Apocalypse

With a worldwide financial crisis, a confusing election, a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a general malaise throughout the country, a borderline recession, a Ridley Scott-Russell Crowe - Leonardo DiCaprio bomb at the box office, weird weather, fires, deaths, everything right now feels genuinely surreal including all the little details. People are on edge, saying and doing weird things. I'm confused and a tad worried.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What the F*** Is Going On?

These last two Entourage episodes have left me utterly confused. I watched the Joshua Tree episode and thought it was awful. Then, I watched it a second time and found some joy in a few of the parts - Eric Roberts asking Ari to punch him in the stomach, the gays in the pool, and one of Eric Roberts line at the end that I cannot remember. I hated all the drug stuff.

I just watched last weeks. What the f*** was that? I was dumbstruck by how uncoordinated the episode felt. I felt like I was watching a retarded guy play basketball. Phil Mickelson is in the entire episode as a background actor? With one line: "Hi, I'm Phil...Mickelson." The little beat twists at the end - totally confusing - and annoying. Just the whole thing felt off, until the last line: "Is it?"

Which got at something. This show is really messing with my head.

Side note: Saw Body of Lies. It's okay.
I Agree

So what if Obama were a Muslim?

It is treated like a slur. I wish McCain would say: he's not a Muslim, but so what if he was?

He doesn't have balls that big.
Movie Star Stock Down?

Can movie stars no longer open movies?

I've always thought it a bit naive to think the only reason people go to movies are because of the stars. It's always a combo of factors, but if I could invest, I would buy up stock of stories and sell my stock in movie stars. That's not to say stars aren't important - they are - but they're simply overpriced.
Heavy Duty McCain Article

Rolling Stone has a nasty, but informative article on McCain.

The most interesting (and true) quote:

Even those in the military who celebrate McCain's patriotism and sacrifice question why his POW experience has been elevated as his top qualification to be commander in chief. "It took guts to go through that and to come out reasonably intact and able to pick up the pieces of your life and move on," says Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, who has known McCain since the 1980s. "It is unquestionably a demonstration of the character of the man. But I don't think that it is a special qualification for being president of the United States. In some respects, I'm not sure that's the kind of character I want sitting in the Oval Office. I'm not sure that much time in a prisoner-of-war status doesn't do something to you. Doesn't do something to you psychologically, doesn't do something to you that might make you a little more volatile, a little less apt to listen to reason, a little more inclined to be volcanic in your temperament."

I was a bit afraid to say it myself, but now that someone else has come out and said it, I agree.

Look - the issue with community organizing (with respect to Obama) is that it reeks to me of total bullshit. What the hell is a community organizer? And as Robyn asked tonight: who pays for it? I find this to be the dirty secret of Obama's bio and it's right out in front of everyone's faces to see and examine. I don't begrudge the man's intentions to get out there and do good for the world. (okay, fine, I do begrudge those intentions) But seriously, the issue I have is with the vacuousness of the work, not the man.

And the dirty secret about McCain is also right out there in the open: how does spending five years in a Vietcong prison camp qualify you to be president? I know McCain would call me an ungrateful little piece of shit right now. And probably try to choke me. But I don't imagine he'd be able to grab me. And I wouldn't fight the guy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Being Mean

Liberals are getting up in arms about the nastiness of the McCain campaign. Sullivan cites some signs as creating a moral equivalence to Bin Laden.

But to be fair, many on the left make the exact same type of hateful comments about McCain-Palin. And certainly, many on the left were calling a Bush a terrorist for a long time while the rest of the left stood by and nodded silently.

If you're against hate speech or mean campaigning, it seems to me you ought to be upset with your side, not the other side. If you're only upset with the other side, you're just acting as a partisan. Which is the way...but I don't think one ought to try to disguise a partisan attack as an objective anger about mean campaigning.
Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

I hate the "French,' but kinda love the French. Any country that can produce Brie and Zidane is okay by me.

And I suspect they feel the same about America.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Are They This Competent?

Radical circles in OPEC assisted hurting the US economy.

North Korea removed from terrorist list. I'd say "good," except we've been in this position before and it never seems to stick.

I've heard a lot of disdain about how McCain is running his campaign by my liberal friends. Maybe I should just say friends. I don't get it - are they faulting him for trying to win the election?

In any case - some evidence of decency.

He just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist..."

"No, no ma'am," he interrupted. "He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."

Friday, October 10, 2008


This article describes how GE makes money and how it manages profit. It paints a somewhat gloomy picture of the current state of the company - which moreso than any other - reflects the US economy itself.

Thing of it is - they still plan on making 20 bil this year.
Not Cool

Did Obama talk with the Iraqi government
about stymieing a long-term agreement Bush was trying to make re: troops?

I've said privately I have concerns with Obama's foreign policy bonafides...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Done With Debates

I watched last night. No fireworks. Same old information. I actually got a bit bored. They tend to talk about the issues in a real dumbed-down way and without much humor or irony. Imagine Winston Churchill debating these guys with a top hat and cane, mocking their positions...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Financial Mess: How Did It Happen?

I found this article incredibly helpful in how to understand the current financial mess.

I think a lot of the insights from what happened with the financial situation can be applied across-field - in my situation - to the film business.

On a side note - I got caught up watching Charlie Rose interview Warren Buffet last night. He made some really insightful points. One which stuck out to me: the only way a smart investor can lose money is by leveraging, i.e. borrowing. A smart investor will make money over time so long as he/she doesn't leverage. The issue with leverage is that you can make a smart bets, but if something goes sour, your losses aren't restricted to that single bet. Yes, you can multiply your money quicker and feel like a genius, but you can also get caught with your pants down. Like now.
Suicide Squeeze Play

The Angels tried a suicide squeeze in the top of the tenth inning last night that failed. They went on to lose the game in the following inning. Obviously, it is Monday morning quarterbacking to criticize the failed play now. But I was immediately struck by the failure as an example of "over-managing."

Had it worked and the Angels gone on to win the series after being down 2-0, Scioscia would have been hailed as "the best manager in baseball." In some quarters, he is already considered the best manager. But as it failed....

Here's the thing with the suicide squeeze: it's all or nothing and always a risky play because of the exact thing that happened: Aybar doesn't get the bunt down. This happens all the time if you watch baseball. Most players generally aren't great bunters - I don't know if Aybar is or not - but even so - it's not as easy as it sounds under any circumstance. Pitchers make bad pitches, you over think the play trying to hide it, etc. The A's pulled it off several years ago against the Yanks in a playoff series and it work brilliantly, partially because it was so unexpected - the A's play long ball, not small ball, and the infield was back, it was by a hitter NOT known as a bunter, etc. And it worked!

There are factors I don't know - the Sox had a middle reliever pitching who I don't think was a strikeout pitcher. Had it been Papelbon, I would understand the fear of a strike out. Does Aybar stike out a lot? I doubt it. All Aybar needs to do is put the ball in play and there's going to a good chance the guy scores. A sharp grounder right at an infielder or a pop-up are the only way the runner doesn't score. With the 2-1 count, it's still a hitter's count...just something about the scenario I don't like. On 2-0 or even 3-0 I can see it being a better option.

Anyhow, sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something. I think Scioscia tried finesse when he didn't need it.

The financial crisis is hitting Europe and Germany isn't willing to put up the sacrificial cash to help European institutions.


Monday, October 06, 2008

More of Taliban-AQ Split

I started to write a post on economic woes with respect to stock prices dipping, but realized talking about personal finances on a blog probably isn't a good idea. I'll say this - stocks were great investments for the past 60 years because of America's postwar prosperity. It is not clear to me they will be as good investments over the next 30-40 years (my personal time frame) because of increased world competition and over speculation and the fact that EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT IT. In the past, not so many people were invested in the stock market. Now, everyone has a piece, whether they know it or not...getting financial're getting a piece of the stock market, getting a 401k, a pension, any of this stuff is stock market based.

In any case, I don't know why the Al Queda - Taliban split/negotiations isn't getting more press or blogging. This seems to me big news. Dan Drenzer has something, but there were only 4 comments. I added a 5th. What the hell? This is important. We're in a war with these guys and everyone is just worried about the election and the economy.
Bring Us the Head

Well, if the Taliban are breaking ties with Al Queda, as is being reported at CNN with Saudi brokered peace talks - they know the deal - Bin Laden and Zawahri. It's the same deal that was offered in '01.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Foreclosure Suicide Attempt

A 90 year old woman tried to shoot herself when her house was being foreclosed.

While sad, it's not clear to me the situation is directly to do with the current mortgage crisis. She was borrowing money against her home many years before the crisis hit. The more general problem is old people living a long time but not being able to provide for themselves. They need family support or a large pension or a large retirement plan. I personally think we should try to find jobs for old folks - like the Amish do - to give them something to do and a sense of purpose. Also, I think old folks have something to offer the workplace, which tends to be filled by younger folks running around like chicken's with their heads cut off. They could offer perspective and wisdom, I would think.

Obviously, this is a general statement, but in general our society is very segregated by age. At least in the cities. I wish I had more interaction w/ different generations, I love hearing their perspective on things.
Partisans Make More

This doesn't surprise me.
Republican Idiocy

Yipes...Instapundit readers are dumb!

In a poll, 74% think the democrats are trying to bring down the economy. Are they joking?

The more I think about Obama and Biden - the more I think they might be running an incredibly smart campaign. They just need to give the Republicans enough rope to hang themselves on. Let these guys come across as the dumb partisans they are and win the election...
Biden Win By Decision

A pretty smart post on the Biden performance.

Dems are up 3-1 in a soccer game and just need to play it safe from here on out. What that means is not being too aggressive, but if the Republicans come out super aggressive, punish them with counterattacks. It's not just about running out the clock.
Debate Thoughts

I watched half the debate in the office and the second half down at Renee's with the waitresses. Yeah!

Palin did fine. I didn't have super low expectations. I've come around to the fact that she probably hasn't gotten to where she is being a moron. And like I mentioned before, I actually watched whole excerpts of the Couric interview, as opposed to just the gaffes and she was generally coherent. I just don't agree with her on a lot of things.

Biden did fine as well. You can tell he is really passionate and knowledgeable about foreign affairs, whereas Palin just spouts off platitudes. To me, it was clear she was out of her league, but she did a decent job of covering it up.

The weirdest moment of the debate was the gay marriage part. They both agreed, yet felt like they needed to plug their positions like they were selling vacuum cleaners.

Biden: "Yes, we both agree same sex couples should have all the constitutional and contractual protections than traditionally married couples have."

Palin: "Yes, we agree that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Ugh okay.

Mel texted me during the debate and I laughed out loud - "Does it seem like Biden and Palin want to have sex with one another?"

Palin does have that hot-teacher-cougar look going on. Maybe if the VP thing doesn't work out, she can have a future in internet porn. Okay, that's just mean. But is it funny?

Let's be honest. The Dems are going to win. If Obama doesn't screw everything up - and even if he does - he'll probably serve for 8 years. Palin will be 52 by then and probably running for President. So if you don't like either Barak or Palin, I suggest getting used to them, because I suspect they'll be around. And by the way, they'll be the people my/our generation will one day seizing power from. Just keep that in the back of your mind.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Driving Down

Americans are driving less for the ninth straight month. Not bad.
Biden Practices For His Palin Debate

Very clever design.
100 Things A Man Should Be Able To Do

I haven't gone through this, but I'm not looking forward to the results.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Guess Who?

Jason Alexander

Watching a very old episode of Seinfeld last night and noticed something about Jason Alexander's performance as George....first of all, much is talked about George being Larry David's alter-ego and how he is the genius behind the character. Little is talked about what Jason Alexander, actor, brought to the table.

We now have the ability to compare Seinfeld and Curb and suss out the difference. George has a magnanimous element to his character that Larry does not. There is a touch of nobility about some of George's gestures and his plights. I am reminded of this when George fools the woman in the subway into thinking he is a rich stockbroker. Of course, she ultimately discovers he is a loser with a mere $9 in his wallet when she takes him up to a hotel room and he has an incredible coda when she walks out on him - "Can I call you?" All of which is pure Larry David. But what Jason pulls off, that Larry in Curb never could, is the ability to fool the woman in the first place. When George talks about how the "big brokerage houses killed my father...and how he isn't about making money...he's about PEOPLE." For a moment there - we almost believe in George, that maybe George actually does have it in him, somewhere to be successful and bright and sturdy. It is this element of the George character that allows us to watch his inevitable downfalls and feel so all the more pain (and humor).
Ron Paul

I never paid much real attention to Ron Paul. I used him as a punchline to a joke a couple of times. But here is a CNN interview with the guy about the financial bailout situation. He doesn't seem like an idiot to me. In fact, what he says makes some sense.
Conservative Against Palin

George Will thinks Palin is unqualified to be VP.

I sure as hell hope whoever gets elected can convince him to stay on as Secretary of Defense.
Palin Props

She did say this in the Couric interview I saw last night. She does deserve props for as progressive as it gets for a Republican on gay issues.
Harlan Coben

Ended up at his website today because I'm curious about the guy. Need to read some of his books. I don't know what's up with me right now, but I've gotten into the habit of starting books, getting a good chunk in, and then starting another book. It's very weird, because I'm enjoying the books. I've heard of people who like to read multiple books at a time, just never been one myself.

Right now, I'm reading the autobiography of Ulysses S. Grant. It's old fashioned, but still interesting. This one is around 800 pages, so I understand my need to take a break and read something short and sweet.

Also started Richard Price's LUSH LIFE. Also started Rex Pickett's SIDEWAYS to see how the movie-book adaption went. So far, there's basically five lines of dialog from the book in the movie and the plot backbone, but almost all of the important details are different. Quite interesting.

Anyhow, some good FAQ answers from Harlan Coben. What a cool name, too.

Q14: Do you outline? Do you know the ending before you begin?


I don’t outline. I usually know the ending before I start. I know very little about what happens in between. It’s like driving from New Jersey to California. I may go Route 80, I may go via the Straits of Magellan or stopover in Tokyo… but I’ll end up in California.

Q16: How do I get published?


My advice would be to NOT try to market or sell your novel until it is done. I mean, completely done, done done, fully-finished and ready to go, and a few other redundant phrases like that. Sorry, for obvious reasons, I can’t read manuscripts or recommend an agent. I do suggest that you find an agent. There are many sources for that (the Writer’s Market is one). Then write the agents a fabulous one-page query letter that reads like the greatest flap copy in history. Make them hunger for more.