Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spellcheck

Al Queda released a video recently without mention of the Mumbai attacks, suggesting they had no foreknowledge of the plot. And they misspelled Lion in their translation. QC baby QC.

But in seriousness, these attacks should make clear we will be fighting Islamic radicalism for a long time to come regardless of what happens to Al Queda. Hopefully, the international community will continue to work together and collectively improve our intelligence capabilities against these assholes.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bush Underrated

I think this passage captures it.

Second, we will come, through the Obama prism, to see that Bush's sins were largely the absence of rhetorical skills, unfortunate shoot 'em braggadocio in 2003-4, the federal response to Katrina, and a certain administration haughtiness about the problems in Iraq between 2002-6, but not most of his policies that included prescription drugs, No Child Left Behind, AIDs relief in Africa, the removal of two odious regimes, and consensual governments in their places, a framework at home to stop 9/11-type terrorism, and good working partnerships with key allies abroad such as Britain, Germany, France, Italy, India, et al, and a pragmatism in handling rivals like Russia and China.
Real Consequences

Head of LA Film Festival quits over support of Prop 8.

Raddon's support for Proposition 8 has sparked debate within the gay community and Hollywood, as many publicly worry about punishing people for free speech, even speech they deemed hateful, and his departure already has provoked ambivalence.

"I'm personally saddened by the outcome," said Film Independent board member Bill Condon, the writer-director of "Dreamgirls." "Someone has lost his job and possibly his livelihood because of privately held religious beliefs. I think the organization was ready to tough this out, but Rich ultimately decided it wasn't worth the cost. I'm not sure he was right."


Am I wrong to say the message from "liberal" Hollywood is clear: we don't tolerate Mormans. Is anyone else worried about this?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Old Switcheroo

Obama decides to keep the Bush tax cuts while Bush is pleased with the Status of Forces Agreement - which is a timetable for US Troop Withdrawal.

Hmmm.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Because I Like Picking on Hardcore Prop 8 Supporters

Although I don't know this person or if any of it's true...that's the reality of the internet age....the interview with the African American Lesbian activist regarding her interaction with Prop 8 supporters:

They wanted to use the word marriage, and you suggested marriage wasn’t a word to use with the African-American community?

Correct. For me, personally, for ULOAH, I wanted us to showcase who was funding Prop 8, and really focus on that because we know how the black community responds to marriage. If we knew the Mormon Church was one of the top supporters of Prop 8 possibly (the African-American community) would have backed off, we would have said, “hmm, let’s here a little but more about this Prop 8 and who is actually behind the scenes.”

That was our strategy, was just to give light to who was in full support of Prop 8, who was funding it. And that approach, it didn’t phase them, it was like, “No, that’s not a direction we want to go in. We want to talk about marriage equal for all, we want to talk about civil rights, we want to we want to talk about what Blacks have gone through in the 50’s and 60’s and equate that to the experience we are currently in right now,” and that is not the route we wanted to take. So I would say there may have been some issues with the approach and the agenda…and we perhaps couldn’t come to a meeting of the minds on that.


It's not that the Prop 8 opponents were wrong, they were just stupid...or rather, ran a stupid campaign.
Add It To The List

Suggested reading about America and our defense budget. Wasn't the whole point of spending during the Cold War to save money once it was over? So why are we spending more on a huge conventional army? And why would we prepare for a war against China or Russia who ought to be our strongest future allies against the 4th generation warfare of failed states.

For a sample of something you might not expect, the following, from probably the most right-wing of all the authors in the book -- a man whose cubicle wall, in the Senate office building where he worked, was adorned with a poster of Mussolini when I met him in the early 1980s. He is discussing the overall balance between the US Navy and the Russian and Chinese fleets -- especially the looming Chinese "menace" that drives the need for new US ships:

Overwhelming any comparison of fleets is the fact that war with either Russia or China would represent a catastrophic failure of American strategy. Such wars would be disastrous for all parties, regardless of their outcomes. In a world where the most important strategic reality is a non-Marxist "withering away of the state," the United States needs both Russia and China to be strong, successful states. They need the United States to be the same. Defeat of any of the three global powers by another would likely yield a new, vast, stateless region, which is to say a great victory for the forces of the Fourth Generation. No American armed service should be designed for wars our most vital interest dictates we not fight.
Prop 8

Did it lose because they ran a dumb, contemptuous campaign?

Did anyone come and say, “Hey, we need to do outreach in the African-American community together?”

Absolutely not, in fact the message I got from a key person in the No on 8 campaign was that the black vote was really going to be insignificant.


Treat people as insignificant then get mad when they don't vote with you. Hmmm. Not the way to win an election, I'm guessing.
That's A Lot of Guns

America has A LOT of guns. 89 per 100 people. Way tops in the world.

It's just part of our culture, like hamburgers, apple pie, and cars.
Good Tips

My favorite new show is The Life and Times of Tim. A New Yorker article about the creator. Some good writing advice:

But mostly, Mr. Dildarian said, he enjoys putting Tim in impossible, unsolvable situations because he finds such scenes so easy to write. “It’s partly because I’m lazy, and partly because the work comes out better,” he said. “If anything’s hard to write, I don’t write it.”


For some reason, no one seems to like the show.

So far, several critics haven’t agreed: reviewing “Tim” in The Los Angeles Times, Robert Lloyd wrote, “I didn’t find much of it funny, but on a kind of purely analytical level I can see how the jokes are supposed to work.” And on Slate, Troy Patterson said “Tim” was not so much animated as “complacently sketched in a stab at slacker minimalism.”


The only other unabashed fan apparently is one of the 14 year old kids of one of our clients. Hmmm. Maybe that should tell me something.
Bailout Bubble

With all these bailouts and the rise in gas prices earlier this year, I was really worried about inflation...mostly because inflation would hurt me personally. Inflation obviously hurts everyone, but it particularly hurts those with fairly low fixed or salary style income. In my job, I can't get more hours and earn more money.

However, rather than inflation, we're seeing deflation right now. Explained here:

One thing to keep in mind about all of those dollars being created out of thin air by the Fed: This volume of this new “money” pales in comparison to the amount of wealth that has been destroyed over the past year, particularly since this past summer. There are fewer dollars chasing after goods, hence we are seeing deflation. Housing, energy, commodities… it’s all declining as wealth is evaporating. Things that don’t decline in price, like health care and education are heavily supported/subsidized/controlled by various governments. But these too will eventually be hit by deflation.


So I suppose, I should be cheerful about deflation, especially if I was previously worried about inflation. And sure, I like paying less for gas and if I hadn't gone to grad school, maybe I'd be able to think about buying a house right now.
A Win For the Good Guys

Canada's Orwellian Human Rights Commission is getting a beat down.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hilarious

Kevin Drum posts about how everyone is stupid!

As regular readers know, one of my pet peeves is the endless number of tests given to high school students and then trumpeted as evidence that kids today are abysmally ignorant. The standard headline is something like "80% of high school seniors can't find France on a map," but what I always wonder is: how many adults can find France on a map? Unfortunately, they never tell us that.

But ISI does. And the results are pretty simple: everyone is stupid. ISI themselves spin this as "Baby Boomers Do Best," but speaking ex cathedra for my generation, I really don't think that 52% vs. 47% (an average difference of less than two correct answers) says much about the awesomeness of boomer cultural literacy. Basically, the kids didn't do very well on ISI's test, but neither did the adults or the seniors, even though their average educational level is higher. This may be only a single fairly dubious data point, but it's still worth keeping in mind the next time you see one of those "Kids Are Stupid" headlines.


I'll be taking the test now and publishing the results if they make me look good.

UPDATE: Okay, so that test was a lot easier than I expected and I still got only 88% right. Some of the questions were worded pretty poorly, if you ask me, and others required either knowing precise history or came down to a 50/50 guess. Plus, I always make a careless mistake or two, which explains my long history of being an A- student.

My biggest bone is question #33:

33) If taxes equal government spending, then:

A. government debt is zero
B. printing money no longer causes inflation
C. government is not helping anybody
D. tax per person equals government spending per person
E. tax loopholes and special-interest spending are absent

None of these answers is correct, if you ask me. The test says D) is right, but D could be read as meaning - if Person A is taxed $1000, Person A receives $1000 of government spending...which is clearly wrong. They mean: Tax per person (total) = Spending per person (total), but I read it and don't think I'm totally wrong in doing so as Tax per person A = Govt spending per person A, which again, would make it wrong. I guessed A) was right because I thought the test was stupid and didn't know the difference between debt and deficit.

Precise history question -

8) In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared that important parts of the New Deal were unconstitutional. President Roosevelt responded by threatening to:
A. impeach several Supreme Court justices
B. eliminate the Supreme Court
C. appoint additional Supreme Court justices who shared his views
D. override the Supreme Court’s decisions by gaining three-quarter majorities in both houses of Congress

I knew it was C or D because those are the only Constitutionally possibilities. I know the Supreme Court expanded at some point and I know you amend the Constitution with some type of super majority of congress and I think state support...I'm vague on what's required (Gay Marriage opponents have talked about this). In hindsight, obviously I should have guessed C, but while taking the test it was a 50/50 toss up for me because I didn't have specific memory of FDR's New Deal mangereering.

My sloppy mistake was mixing up the Declaration of Independence and Constitution wording. What can I say, I haven't read either since high school. Call me an idiot.
Cool Comics Cruising

Looks pretty cool.
Plus, He's Doing A Good Job

Sullivan thinks keeping Gates is good political cover. Well, maybe...but it's only good political cover since he's actually doing a good job. The guy inherited a potentially huge foreign policy disaster - Iraq descending into Civil War and our army reaching it's break point and turned this thing around.
If So, I Long For 1960 Also

I'm just going to copy and paste.

You know what I miss? I miss 1960. Not the part about my face turning overnight into the world’s most productive zit farm. What I miss is the way the grown-ups acted about the Kennedy-Nixon race. Like the McCain-Obama race, that was a big historic deal that aroused strong feelings in the voters. This included my parents and their friends, who were fairly evenly divided, and very passionate. They’d have these major honking arguments at their cocktail parties. But unlike today, when people wear out their upper lips sneering at those who disagree with them, the 1960s grown-ups of my memory, whoever they voted for, continued to respect each other and remain good friends.

What was their secret? Gin. On any given Saturday night they consumed enough martinis to fuel an assault helicopter. But also they were capable of understanding a concept that we seem to have lost, which is that people who disagree with you politically are not necessarily evil or stupid. My parents and their friends took it for granted that most people were fundamentally decent and wanted the best for the country. So they argued by sincerely (if loudly) trying to persuade each other. They did not argue by calling each other names, which is pointless and childish, and which constitutes I would estimate 97 percent of what passes for political debate today.

The great thing is: we can actually do something about this...by you know, having opinions based upon knowledge (vs. feelings) and you know, treating those with differing political opinions with respect rather than contempt. Doesn't seem like such a tall order.
Looking At The Numbers

Are Iraqis better off because of the invasion?

Maybe we'll never really know.
TV Network Bail Out

The United States of Socialism is here. Under a Republican.
Hitchens on Clinton for Secretary of State

He doesn't like the choice.

In matters of foreign policy, it has been proved time and again, the Clintons are devoted to no interest other than their own. A president absolutely has to know of his chief foreign-policy executive that he or she has no other agenda than the one he has set. Who can say with a straight face that this is true of a woman whose personal ambition is without limit; whose second loyalty is to an impeached and disbarred and discredited former president; and who is ready at any moment, and on government time, to take a wheedling call from either of her bulbous brothers? This is also the unscrupulous female who until recently was willing to play the race card on President-elect Obama and (in spite of her own complete want of any foreign-policy qualifications) to ridicule him for lacking what she only knew about by way of sordid backstairs dealing. What may look like wound-healing and magnanimity to some looks like foolhardiness and masochism to me.


In case it isn't obvious - Obama's trying to be Lincoln - by bringing his political enemies into his Cabinet. A way of neutering them. Or maybe he's trying to be Michael Corleone.

In any case - how unserious is Hillary about her actual Senate position? She'd just be willing to bail on being a Senator to be Sec. of State? This woman...she is not for me.

Another side note - I listened to a bit of Obama's speech on the way to work today - and was rather disappointed. He basically repeated the same vague platitudes about hope and Americans coming together, etc, etc, regarding the financial crisis. Part of me was like - you know what, dude - we don't need a cheerleader to be President. We need someone who knows the least worst option of how to handle this mess. It reminded me of the Entourage episode last night when Vince explodes at Eric about being overly optimistic and he asks the question: what if things really aren't going to be all right? Just repeating it over and over doesn't make it so. Of course, Entourage cops out and makes a sugary ending...a much more interesting choice would have involved leaving the friendship and Vince's career up in the air.

What if things aren't going to be okay? Is everyone too afraid to ask this question? Is America so tired of the Bush administration, they just want to eat the red pill like Joe Joe Pantoliano in the Matrix part 1?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bring 'Em On

White extremists
are coming out of the woodwork because of Obama's election.

Add 'em to the long list of douche bags...
Stating the Obvious

Bullies derive pleasure from watching other people get hurt.

You need catscan measurements of brain activity to prove this?
Oh Yeah, This Also

1 in 5 employers check out employees Facebook pages. Great.
Facebook Bashing

A little esoteric for me, but I agree with anyone who'll bash facebook.

The entire post.

I really don't like Facebook - or any of this social networking linkin and goodreads or any of this stuff. They call it a social network, but it strikes me much more of a stalker network. The little I've glanced of it makes me feel repulsed with myself. Am I being too dramatic?

On Goodreads I got attacked by random people accusing me of trying to sabotage a lousy book I read. I started to respond, but then realized it would be a colossal waste of time to respond. I stopped using Goodreads. Linkedin is pointless. I haven't logged in for months. Recently, someone started a Facebook page for me as a prank. How lame is that? These social networking sites really have it out for me. They're like Skynet.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Who Are We Borrowing From?

Is it a little worrisome we're asking all these Persian Gulf states for loans. What are we giving them in return?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

With Obama now in office, we can start to focus on solving the serious problems.
I See No Evidence of This

Global warming causes more sex.
Bush Turns into Barak Obama

BUSH SIGNS BILL PROVIDING EXTRA JOBLESS BENEFITS: MOVE WILL KEEP AID CHECKS FLOWING TO JOBLESS THROUGH THE HOLIDAY SEASON: With no end in sight to economic bad news, President George W. Bush on Friday ensured that millions of laid-off workers will keep getting their unemployment checks as the year-end holidays approach. Bush signed an extension of jobless benefits into law just before 8 a.m., as he was preparing to leave the White House for a morning flight to Lima, Peru, to attend the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Thanks, Santa Claus. Add it the bill of the Iraq War and the bank and auto industry bailout.
I Can't Remember Whether I Predicted This?

Obama would disappoint his supporters
. He's going to hire a CIA chief who supported Tenent and Bush and Cheny's policies in the WOT.
Allow Me to Be Glib For A Moment

On the subject of the right to get married - if we are to believe gays are labeled as "second class citizens" by being denied tax breaks, visitation rights, etc....in short, IF they are being denied a Civil Right...

What about single people?

What about the ugly, the unpleasant, the picky, the irritating, the annoying, the incompetent - all the other people who can't get married - not because of the state, but because no one in their right mind would marry them? What of all the single people who are not single by choice, but cannot find a mate? Are they being denied a Civil Right? Is marriage a Civil Right?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'll Always Hate the Yankees

But Mussina was a solid pitcher and solid dude.
Why In the World...

...would you sell stock right now? Per CNN, the Dow hits lowest point since '97 because of a massive sell off.

Maybe the grad school investment wasn't such a bad thing after all. If I had put all that money in the stock market, it'd be worth...nevermind...it's still greater than zero.
Bankrupt the Mullahs!

A lot of people complained Prez Bush didn't ask us to "sacrifice" anything after 9/11. Well, in the absence of Bush making the request, I will: drive less! Keep the demand for oil and gas low.

With oil falling WAAAY back down and gas prices slumping accordingly, it is tempting to go back to the same old ways of filling up SUVs and driving around everywhere. With oil prices low, it hurts the oil producing economies - it keeps money flowing into Iran, Saudi Arabian, Venezuela, Nigeria, and Russia. Less money, less ability to support destabilizing groups, less ability to resist internal change, etc.


Oh yeah, it's also good for the environment.

It'll be easy to fall back into old bad habits. What about a gas tax? Have the polluters and terrorist financiers pay for the auto industry bailout...
How Does It Do That?

A site that analyzes your blog. Mine:

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.


It turned it around immediately. How the hell does it do that?
Gmail Colors

Just today I'm able to personalize my gmail account with blogger-esque colors. Neat.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What I'm Eating

Bay Cities turkey and havarti with the works. What I like/love about Bay Cities is that no two sandwiches are the same. They're like snowflakes. Today's turkey/havarti was bigger and more dry than usual. Sometimes they make it spicy, other times they make it short and fat. Sometimes they make it wet. It all depends on the individual sandwich artist and believe me, they've got a bunch of different guys making them.

Ate an In and Out last night. Didn't feel guilty because I ran after work. But I got only the cheeseburger (as opposed to the double double)...in my older age at fast food places I'm more prone to smaller portions for some reason.

Luna Bar - ate like a midafternoon treat. Chocolate carmel flavor. Now I'm growing boobs. But seriously, what makes these bars for women anyway?

Chamomile tea. Someone brought it into the office and have been drinking every afternoon this week. Lovin' it. Mellow, mellow tea.
Auto Industry

One reason to bail out the auto industry - it is one industry that can be quickly altered to meet national security needs, as in WW2.

But who reasonably thinks we're going to be entering a large scale land war in the forseeable future?
At Least They're Asking the Question

I heard someone say the difference between an Indy movie and a Hollywood movie is thus - A Hollywood movie asks questions and gives answers whereas an Indy movie just asks questions.

The movie world is full of catachisms and this is merely another...but if we are to use it as a watermark, Entourage this season does pose a question without an answer: can Vince act?

I don't think the creators know the answer. Or they don't want to answer it.

At least they're asking the right question.
New Playoff System

A's owner proposes a 1 game playoff for round 1 of the playoffs. It would be exciting.

PS - I see why they signed Holliday. They keep him for 1 year and then get draft picks when he leaves for free agency. Smart? I don't know.
Oh Yeah, Al Queda is Totally Racist As Well

Zawahiri mocks Obama, calling him a house negro.

Don't forget, in addition to hating Shiia, secular Arabs, Saudi Royals, and Americans, AQ in Africa supports Arab Militias killing black Muslims because they find them inferior to Arab Muslims. See Sudan and Somalia. They also don't accept the Nation of Islam as "real" Muslims - despite the false praise he gives to Malcom X. There is no end to their intolerance.

And yet, "progressives" today spend their ire on Mormons and Sarah Palin. I've always found this puzzling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Falling Gas Prices

In theory, lower gas prices should help curb inflation since the cost of transpo drops.
A Good Idea

A govt website called small steps designed to improve health.
Good News is No News

Anyone else noticed gas prices are down near $2.50 (I've seen as low as $2.29) a gallon these days...pretty much back to where they were a couple years ago?

What happened?
Nice Idea

Let Exxon save GM. They're set up the same way movie theaters - lose money on the screening (car), make it back on the popcorn (gas).
Bank Bailout Working

Really? The guys who proposed the bank bailout tell the press they think it's working. Big surprise. This is roughly equivalent to Jonathan Demme saying Rachel Getting Married is a good movie.

Plus, you plug 700 billion into something of course it's going to work in the short term. Shit, gimme 700 billion and make you some goddamn good movies. The question is the long term - will nasty inflation happen? Will irresponsible owners get bailed out only to repeat the same type of bad behavior in the future? Same for banks.

It's like paying off a huge debt piled up by an addicted gambler and the guy holds off placing a new bet for 3 days and we start claiming success.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What I'm Eating

Went back to Masa in Echo Park this weekend, preordered the Chicago Style Pizza with sausage and green peppers. It wasn't as good as I remembered. Followed it up with bread pudding for desert. Still the best desert out there.

Starbucks breakfast sandwich - this too, has gotten worse, if you ask me. Or maybe it just can't compete with Panera.

Whole Foods salads - at the one on Lincoln, they had a pretty good spinach salad pre-made yesterday evening. Today, I made my own version of the vegan-crap chicken salad at Whole Foods downstairs from work. A bed of lettuce, red onion, cucumber, carrots, a little cheese, and some chicken. The balsamic vingerette was quite tasty, it must have had sesame oil or soy sauce or something because it gave it an asian flavor. A good lunch - cheap - and not very filling. I needed a salty snack this afternoon - the generic version of Chex snack mix they sell at Smart and Final. Very salty, but surprisingly tasty. Reminds me of something my grandparents would have at their house.

One nice thing about the Wild Oats to Whole Foods transition is the free samples. Today, there was great white cheddar and tasty edam out for sample.

Also tried the Gumbo at South. Not bad. Thus far, I'm not impressed with the food at South. Heavy, expensive, unhealthy. I miss the 6.95 bfast and bloody mary special at Ye Old Rustic Inn.
The Next Ideological Battle

Virginia Postrel is one of my favorite economic documentary writers - up there with Malcom Gladwell, Michael Lewis, and Steven Levitt. I'm not sure what to label these guys, but there stuff is great. She is a bit more theoretical than the others and more interested in aesthetics. Anyhow, I've linked to her before, but here are some meta-thoughts on her theory about Stasis vs. Dynamists.

In her seminal book, The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel writes about the real political divide — not left versus right, but what she calls stasists versus dynamists. The former fear change and want to use government power to minimize it, if not eliminate it. The latter accept that improvements in the human condition require change by definition, and understand that the best way to ensure it is to allow individuals the freedom to make choices, with consequences, both good and ill, to be borne by them.

By these definitions, both presidential candidates in this election were largely stasists. Barack Obama wanted, and wants, to avoid the “change” of having people lose their jobs. John McCain wanted homeowners — even homeowners who didn’t really “own” their home by any sensible definition of that word, in that they had no equity in it — to “stay in their homes” and avoid the change of having to move out and rent. Never mind that in many cases they made no down payment. Never mind that in many cases they could probably rent for less than the mortgage they cannot afford. Never mind that in not selling or foreclosing, the day at which the market prices of the homes are determined, and the point at which we can discover the value of the paper that is based on them, is put off further into the future, delaying the bottom of the market and the resolution of the financial crisis. No, they must stay in “their” homes and not have to undergo “change.”


Ouch.
A Vast Conspiracy of Shit

Rachel Getting Married sucked in a similar way to Before the Devil Knows You're Dead last year - a brilliant old filmmaker tries to do something "innovative" (or in the case of Rachel - mimicking the better Dogme films) and ends up revealing how far removed from "real" people you become after living a life as an acclaimed artist. I went to 4 weddings last year and in none of them do I remember big group discussions of seating arrangements in front of all, or five guys running around at all times with instruments playing, or the wedding deciding to do an Indian costume theme. These are big, bold, phony choices if you ask me - choices which would be mocked or at the very least questioned by the attendees. Rachel irrationally flips out over the color of her Sari - when it would make much more sense for her to irrationally flip out over the fact that she is wearing a Sari - when they're supposed to be Jews from Conneticut!

What is offensive - as discussed with Phil after the film - is not the film itself but the systemic breakdown of rooting this crap out and calling it what it is - immature writing - one could call it writing-as-catharsis - the type of stuff you read in a college freshman creative writing class coupled with SUPER indulgent acting and lazy, cheap filmmaking. But here is Ebert's positive "review" of the film and if the rumors are correct, I'm sure Hathaway will win an award for uglying herself up and letting camera record her going pee.

But you can't fool me. Especially with all this verite - actors and directors like this raw look and feel because the camera catches so much - it can really get up in there and you can shoot fast and keep going and really let loose. But what you forget is that cinema is artifice and we don't go to see "the real." Because the "real," in this case, reveals too much. Hathaway is no addict. Her smooth, pretty face, hasn't suffered years of drug abuse and the pain of manslaughter. No, that is a face pampered with the most expensive herbal moisturizer and the best spa treatments Hollywood can afford its young starlet. And her "father" in the movie is clearly gay. No father I know shakes his hands and starts crying at the first sign of his daughters yelling at one another. Sorry, buster.

The saving grace of the movie is Rachel, an actress named Dewitt, who is fascinating to watch and throughout the film I found myself going over the rolodex in my brain trying to place her. I couldn't tell if I had seen her in some other movie or I actually knew her in real life. But let me say one thing about casting - Sidney and Rachel are not a couple. They do not look the part. Save the stupid liberal comment - it's not because of race - I'm a goddamn mutt child myself. But I know couples and couples look "right" together. Couples are not a political formula or some vision of an integrated post-racial America. Couples are still couples - and they tend to sync up visually. These two did not. If I took nine pictures of real couples and tossed in a picture of Sydney and Rachel from this movie and offered up real money to people who could identify the fake couple...I'd bet real people could pick them out 75% of the time. But I doubt if any real movie reviewer would say such a thing - they have jobs and reputation to think about - and the only thing as harmful as actually being racist or bigoted, is giving others the ammunition to accuse you of it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Welcome to the United States of European and Canadian Socialism

An article in the SF Chronicle that questions why someone ought to pay their mortgage. By "helping" those who were victimized by predatory lenders, is the government creating incentives for people to NOT pay their mortgage? Are they creating incentives for people to work less to qualify for assistance? Note - this isn't the Wall Street Journal asking the question - it's the San Francisco Chronicle, not exactly the bastion of unfettered free market capitalism.

Let me get all of this straight - we bail out homeowners who bought something they couldn't afford. We bail out mortgage companies and the banks who backed them for making irresponsible lending choices and now we're going to bail out car companies for making cars no one wants to drive so that auto workers can continue to work.

Meanwhile, me and my generation is never going to be able to afford to buy homes because of inflated real estate prices brought on by the mad rush to purchase homes. We're going to be burdened by increased taxes for the short and medium future to pay for 1) Social Security 2) War on Terror 3) To bail out failed industries like autoworkers 4) Bail out irresponsible borrowers and irresponsible lenders and 5) A likely attempt to create Universal Healthcare in the next 8 years

Furthermore, if we were just a little bit responsible and tucked away money in stocks or mutual funds in these past 10 years or so, we can probably assume those are in the tank...since all these companies seemed to think it was a good idea to leverage our money and pay themselves out in year end bonuses.

Great.

UPDATE - The job prospects in the film industry are bad. Predatory film schools encouraged students to take out loans, attend school, spend lots of money on films, and incur debt. Why can't the taxpayers bail us out? Why don't the taxpayers bail out Warner Brothers for Speedracer?

ANOTHER NOTE - Now that I'm thinking about it - you always hear about movie studios "screwing" over artists about money they owe them on the back end. Most recently, the big one was New Line not paying Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. You always hear about it in the news. But I got to thinking - why don't the "artists" then owe the studios money when they make a big bomb? Studios lose tons of money on crappy big films like The Golden Compass. They don't ask Chris Weitz for their money back. Yet, if the film is successful, Weitz would probably be suing right now asking for more back end. Basically, the success of Lord of the Rings pays for the failures like The Golden Compass. It can't work any other way - because of the nature of the product - you can't know a movie will be a success until after it's made and the investment cost is sunk.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Moment of Genius

A few episodes ago in the Office, Michael went on a road trip with Holly to drop her off at the location of her new job. It wasn't a very good office episode overall, but there was one absolutely brilliant moment that the office does better than any show...where the humor somehow transcends and becomes super emotional. When they are driving suddenly "Life is a Highway" comes onto the radio and predictably, Michael wants to turn it UP. He and Holly are singing along and Daryl, who is driving, glances over and resists his instinct to give them his "you guys are real dorks," look. Because they are on a road trip and the rules of life on a road trip are a bit different than the real world, Daryl starts bobbing his head in the background and sings along as well. It's a brilliant moment and somewhat easy to miss because it all happens in the background.

Then, they add another great shot where Daryl adds a little flavor to the song and Holly goes crazy on the drums in the background. Awesome!
When Did American Capitalism Become About This?

Michael Lewis - one of my favorite writers - reflects on his time on Wall Street.

I’d never taken an accounting course, never run a business, never even had savings of my own to manage. I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later, someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.


I've never understood I banking or what those people do. Nor, when it comes down to it, do I much care...except now that it's messing with my stocks and savings.
Upside Blowback

I was wondering when someone was going to bring up the connection between righteous Hollywood anger towards Prop 8 passing and the Sundance Film Festival. Turns out there's a connection.

I'd love to see the blowhard anti-prop 8 homoaphiles go toe-to-toe with the industrial film market posing as a film festival Sundance has become. I hope they wear each other out.
What I'm Eating

Inspired by Jonathan Gold's 99 essential places to eat in LA, I'll try my bestest to chronicle my culinary adventures. Surely, they will never rival Gold's passion - I have neither the time, pocketbook, or expertise - but I will be more focused on the Santa Monica area and the price range of most of my blog readers.

Recent New Place: Cora's Coffee Shop. I'd been meaning to try it for awhile, and used the recommendation from Gold as an excuse. The inside is tiny - two tables and a counter. Most people sit out on the patio. I ate breakfast - prosciutto and cheese omelette with coffee. The coffee was good. Not as good as the Omelette Parlour, but serviceable. The omelette was medium sized, solid, and better tasting than the Omlette Parlour. The bread served with the bfast was great - a toasted white bread - reminded me of challa. They also included half a baked potato - actually it felt like it was half baked, half fried. Not bad. Overall cost - $15 with tip and tax. Overpriced, if you ask me. It won't become a regular bfast spot for me, although I want to try the burger sometime.

New Food: Greek Style Yogurt. Delicious! I picked it up as a lunch request for someone at work a couple weeks back and got one for myself to try. I don't like yogurt very much, but in these fru-fru grocery stores on the westside like whole foods and wild oats they have an abundance of greek-style yogurt. I like plain vanilla - which is sometimes flavored with orange cinnamon or the honey flavor. The texture is thicker - almost cream like - and without too much suger - it's a very nice little breakfast with fruit.

Bay Cities: Yes, I still always go there. Recently I tried a little variation on the traditional meatball and got Mozzarella cheese on the sandwich (in addition to the sprinkled parmesan). Yeah, it was awesome.

Insomnia Cafe: This organic place I avoid like the plague below my office. All vegan crap and overpriced. One day I was feeling a salad and whole foods was grossing me out, so I went and tried the Indian chicken salad. Basically a bed of fancy greens with some diced chicken and a few little tomatoes. I feel like a douche paying $11 for this thing I could make with may ass cheeks. Sure, it's healthy, I guess...but $11 for lettuce and some cut up chicken? What has society come to?

Holy Guacamole: I don't really like this burrito spot on Main Street. Having previously navigated in the USC - Silver Lake - Los Feliz area and being accustomed to the Yucca's, Machos Tacos, and La Taquiza triumvirate of burrito treats - my Westside burrito spots are a considerable downgrade - Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Holy Gaucamole, and Tacos Por Favor. However, the bean and cheese at Holy Gaucamole was surprisingly perfect for my food mood last night - something small, yet filling, and I was delighted at the free chips and good salsa. I may return.

Out of favor food: Chipotle. I need a nice long break.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Suck At Picking Stocks

I should probably not invest in stocks as it seems the last 3-4 I've picked all go in the shitter. First it was Pfizer, then Home Depot, and now GE.

My only tiny consolation are the dividends - but even those are in danger according to the article.
Blogging At It's Best

Wow. This is one of my favorite blog posts ever - partially because of content - but mostly because of form.

She starts on the topic of the auto industry bailout and makes her point through personal, anecdotal experience. This is what's best about blogging and differentiates it from reporting - the intermixing of the personal with the news and the world. It's engaging and rich and when people deride blogging as mere unexpert blab...I'll will now refer them to this article.
A Defense of Economic Liberty

Good stuff
...

Item: The president-elect has also proposed refundable tax credits that represent direct cash grants from the federal government. As Daniel Henninger has noted, the Obama plan would "place some 48% of Americans ... out of the income tax system."

This would fundamentally alter the nature of citizenship itself. Almost half of all Americans would, in effect, have been made the recipients of a vast new entitlement. As that proportion grows, the nation would approach a tipping point.



I hate taxes as much as the next guy, but if almost half of americans aren't paying them, we're in real trouble.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Another Good Idea

Obama calls to revamp the hunt for Bin Laden. Some fresh ideas in this small CNN piece:

You cannot tame the people in the North-West Frontier Province and on the border in Pakistan and Afghanistan," said Dalton Fury, the commander of special operations at Tora Bora.

"The only army that has been successful has been Genghis Khan and his Mongol horde. They cut off heads and killed everyone in the villages, and since we have self-imposed rules of warfare, we are not going to do what they did."

On Bin Laden:

"I think it's important to understand that bin Laden had his chance at martyrdom. He was in the mountains of Tora Bora, he ran away. In my opinion, I think we ought to promote this," Fury said.

He believes taunting the al Qaeda leader may force him to prove he's relevant and, in the process, lead the United States right to him.
And He Smoked, Too

Obama and drug use.

Let's face it: the last three Presidents and probably every President we're going to have from here on out will have experimented with drugs. I'd almost be more worried about someone who hasn't taken at least a toke.
Zaki Gordan Podcasts

One of the coolest events at USC Film School was the Zaki Gordan Speaker series. Now they are podcasting.

Cool.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun

Yesterday as I was grabbing my lunch at the grocery store downstairs and the famous Cindy Lauper song came on. That is what I call a "hit." The song is not my style. I'm not the "audience" for the song. And yet, I can't help but like it, on a molecular level. To confirm my opinion, I look over at the mentally handicapped bagger who works at the store - who I see almost every time I enter - and he's bouncing around and dancing. That right there is the sign - the mentally handicapped guy hears the first few beats and lyrics and he can't help but dance. Tell me that isn't something special.
Should The Government Bailout GM?

Friedman has a suggestion.

This monolith has been going down for years. The only thing keeping it alive is the goodwill felt towards the autoworkers.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The KKK

They really aren't as well run as they used to be.

Idiots.
Torture : One Question

The assumption by most educated folks is that torture doesn't work, ie it doesn't yield good information, it turns potential friends against us, is morally wrong, and makes our enemies more likely to treat ours badly.

But what if torture did work for information? And what if winning the war against AQ was hastened by it's use?

I don't merely ask to be provocative. There are certainly elements of the intelligence community who believe torture yields results.

I have a feeling this debate will continue for the next four years.
What Bush Regrets

Interesting. A few reflections from an unreflective man.
Always Worth Listening To

David Chase
talking about the Sopranos.

DAVID CHASE: People used to ask me all the time, 'How do you feel about the way The Sopranos has changed network television'? And I'd say, I don't think it has at all. But now I feel there is one [sign of] influence, and that's Mad Men. And that's not because Matt [Weiner] worked for me, or 'cause we're friends. It's the content of the show.

EW: How so?

DAVID CHASE: [longish pause] Because it's not about punishing criminals, or making political points, or pretending to have a debate about American society, or looking through a microscope and finding clues in the carpet, or trying out a new surgery. It's about the actual moment-to-moment job of being alive. And being an adult in America.


This is why cable tv is doing higher quality work than the movies right now. Clearly, I'm not going out on a limb in saying this...thinking about last year...my favorite movie, just straight up movie, as in I've watched it over four times was Michael Clayton. I know MC isn't as cinematically brilliant as No Country, but I'm talking my favorite, I'm lonely on Sunday night and I want to watch a movie, movie of last year. Furthermore, MC was nominated for best picture. But let's put this in perspective. MC is not better than an AVERAGE episode of the Wire or the Sopranos. And from what I hear about Mad Men, I'm guessing it's about on par in terms of sophistication of character and storytelling. Certainly the Wire and the Sopranos should be considered exceptions. I can't see tv shows ever being that good again. But throw in Mad Men and it reeks of a trend and not just a few exceptional shows.
Good Presidential Decision Number 2

Obama leaning towards Gates.
A Daily Run

Inspired by a biography of General Petraeus, I've decided to do a short run every morning. I hear the jeering laughter of my readers. But wait. How hard is it to get up 1/2 earlier each day and do a quick jog around the neighborhood? I did it this morning. I feel great. Just a little bit of exercise helps to relieve tension that builds up. I get sore sitting in a chair most of the day and find myself needing to get up and stretch a lot. I do real exercise 3 days a week - bball or soccer or a real run - but I like the idea of getting in the habit of doing a quick jog every morning.

Granted, Petraeus does 5 miles, but he's a higher achiever than myself.

Monday, November 10, 2008

That Was A Touchdown

Frank Gore's run at the end of the Monday Night Football game was a touchdown. No way the play can be considered a tackle. Despite it, the Niners had many opportunities to win the game and didn't come away with a victory. At least it was close. That's where I'm at today. Ten years ago, if we weren't in the Super Bowl I was calling for a overhaul of the entire team. Shit, when we were in the Super Bowl, I wouldn't get off Steve Young's case. Safe to say, my expectations are lowered.
First Good Move

Obama wants Lieberman to remain in Democratic Congress.

I have no opinion on the Rahm Emmanuel appointment.

Obama's next great move: keep Gates as Defense Secretary. It may take convincing, as I suspect Gates wants to retire from a thankless situation...all the reason we need the guy to stay.
When You're Right, You're Right

I watched part of the Eagles-Giants game last night. I kept hoping Philadelphia was going to win or at least put up a good fight. I like McNabb, I like Westbrook, I like the aggressive style of D they play. But for the some reasons, the Eagles are never as good as they should be. Simmons sums it up perfectly:

The one team I definitively have figured out for gambling purposes: Take the Eagles over every bad team, home or away, no matter the spread; go against them any time they're facing a good team. Got it? Got it. Poor coaching, a crappy short-yardage game and a tendency to give up big plays will bite you in the bizzum every time.


They made the same stupid mistake they did against the Bears to lose the game. 4th and 1. Playing against a strong up front D. Hand the ball to Westbrook over tackle. This move works against shitty teams. It fails against good team. They tried it twice now against good teams and failed - ending each game.

The announcer during the game was right: use McNabb!!! Roll him out - he'll either run or pass. That play works 75% of the time. Over tackle works 35% of the time. What are they thinking?
Boycott Utah

Some calls for boycotting the "hate state."

Hmmm. Are these people aware homosexuality is punishable by death in many Middle Eastern countries? What do they propose: nuking them?

Plus - have this guy been Utah? I doubt he's ever skiied Alta or Snowbird...Utah will need to a do a hell of a lot worse before I boycott some of the best snow in the world.

Sunday, November 09, 2008



An old bit with Hitchens on Bill Maher. Some money quotes:

1. Anyone can make George Bush IQ jokes.

2. George Bush IQ jokes are now the jokes dumb people laugh at.

3. No one in the audience who is laughing and mocking George Bush is actually smarter than him.

He's probably right.
More Prop 8 Thoughts

A pretty good article on divisions. Money quotes:

"There will be equality between gays and straights; let's try not to burn too many bridges on our way there."

"It's kind of hard to argue credibly for "tolerance" if you cannot tolerate disagreements. Or "closets.""

And a LA times article about the protests. Money quote:

"The No on 8 people didn't want us to use the word 'bigots.' But that's what they are, bigots, bigots, bigots," Tyler said, bringing a round of cheers from the growing crowd. "We will never be made invisible again. Never again will we let them define who we are."

Probably the wrong approach.
Bush Writing A Book

The reason a Bush book would be so much more interesting than a Clinton book is that he ran the country during much more trying and interesting times.
Blame the Referees

Losers tend to blame the refs for bad calls when they lose. In the case of Prop 8, the losers are blaming the bigots. Maybe they just ran a shitty campaign.
Be Careful

The Prop 8 rally this weekend in Silver Lake was organized by the ANSWER Coalition. ANSWER stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. It is an organization started right after Sept 11th attacks to preemptively protest America's reaction to 9/11. I actually attended an ANSWER Coalition meeting in 2003 and was completely repulsed by the people and organization - a mix of various socialists, Islamicists, "progressives," pro-Palestinian groups, etc.

Among other things, ANSWER stands for:

1. Opposition to the War in Afghanistan
2. Opposition to the War in Iraq
3. Opposition to the State of Israel
4. Support of Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate resistance movements, as opposed to terrorist organizations.
5. Was started by members of the World Worker Party, an offshoot of the world communist party.
6. Includes the Muslim Students Association - a student organization which supported the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
7. Advocates full amnesty for all illegal immigrants in the United States

On the website for the Prop 8 protest, a direct quote:

"The LGBT movement and its allies won same-sex marriage rights and only a militant movement will ultimately prevail."

I strongly caution those of us who favor marriage rights for gay people to think about who they get in bed with. These guys burn Israeli flags at rallies. And they are trying to exploit grievance for their own ends...how can an organization both support marriage rights for gays and the Taliban government?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Civil Rights Issue

See...when it becomes a civil rights issue, it starts to justify any and all behavior.

It was like being at a klan rally except the klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks. YOU NIGGER, one man shouted at men. If your people want to call me a FAGGOT, I will call you a nigger. Someone else said same thing to me on the next block near the temple...me and my friend were walking, he is also gay but Korean, and a young WeHo clone said after last night the niggers better not come to West Hollywood if they knew what was BEST for them.


And then there's the protest of the Mormon church. At first, the idea of protesting the church seemed clever to me, since Prop 8 was funded by Mormons. But then I thought: what if Mormons went to West Hollywood and protested being gay. How would I feel about that?

And while you're at it: why not protest Catholics as well.

What's the best end line: "Can't we all just get along?" or "Time For A Change." Either works for me.
Must See

The Japanese are remaking Sideways.

"May you live in interesting times."

-Proverb
Ashamed of Our State - Prop 8

I keep hearing people talk about how ashamed they are of California, how our state has become dumb and bigoted, etc.

In case everyone has forgot - gay marriage has been pretty much taboo for most of human history - and certainly for 99% of modern Western history. Beyond that, just 8 years ago, California passed a similar proposition by a whopping 23%.

I'm not ashamed of California. I disagree with the majority. There's big difference. And somehow, every time the left loses the debate on an issue, they resort to making strictly moral arguments and denigrating the character of their opponents.

I think California is pretty much the coolest place on the planet - a flawed and beautiful place which is also one of the most progressive, diverse, and creative. And I'm not just talking about the cities - I love the smaller places - the mountains and their towns, the central valley and the farming cities, the rural northern areas, the desert. I love this state. I love it's character. I have confidence in time, gays will again get marriage rights. Do I lose sleep over this issue? Not a lick, to be honest. It's small potatoes, if you ask me. Right now, it's mostly serving as a rallying point for self-righteous lefties and nosey mormons. Come to think of it: why not let the mormons and cultural conservatives and the self righteous lefties all move to Nevada and have a no holds bar culture war and just leave the rest of us out of it? Now there's a good idea.

But this talk of shame and embarrassment about being Californian reminds me of a similar pose taken by the far left during the Bush Administration with respect to being American. Is the love of this country or this state contingent upon adherence to a specific political agenda? Since when? Are you a political ideology first and a citizen of this state and/or country second? Because I'm not. I think of myself as American first and liberal second and because of this, many liberals mistake this for conservatism. I admit to having some conservative beliefs and maybe even a conservative temperament. But hey, what can I say, I'm a human being and not a political ideology.

The recently rallies and gatherings I heard about are in places like Silver Lake and West Hollywood. Really folks? Do you think you need to convince those folks to vote against Prop 8? Why not go down to Crenshaw and stage a protest or start talking to the rural communities throughout the state? How does preaching to the choir change anything? Maybe it feels good and you get to fraternize with the like minded and it certainly makes the drive to the protest shorter, but come on, I thought the issue mattered.

Maybe I'm getting too bent out of shape. Maybe I'm taking the claims of shame and embarrassment too personally. Anyhow, writing this got it out of me. I'm over it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Loyal Opposition

I read in a column the other day about the concept of the loyal opposition in British politics - philosophically deeply opposed to the government in power, yet fiercely loyal to the country and the shared core principals. I like the concept. I can't say the left performed particularly well these past 8 years.

VDH thoughts on the election.
Hillary on the War Path

She resumes her attacks on Obama. Meanwhile, Facebook groups are organizing Obama impeachment groups. Yeah, I really need to join Facebook. Sounds like a great way to spend my time.
Sound Like A Bunch of Idiots

Plot to kill Obama stopped. I imagine we're going to read on the front pages about a lot of half-baked plots to kill Obama.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Agree

An interesting article in the WSJ entitled: The Treatment of Bush Has Been a Disgrace

Money quotes:

1. According to recent Gallup polls, the president's average approval rating is below 30% -- down from his 90% approval in the wake of 9/11. Mr. Bush has endured relentless attacks from the left while facing abandonment from the right.

This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

2. Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.


It gets repeated over and over again: Bush is the worst President. Bush is a liar. The sheer amount of repetion in the media and amongst the American and European literati has made it "true" in the eyes of many around the world.

But let's just take one slice - foreign policy - and look at the scorecard between Bush and Clinton, whom the same group of people seem to have little problem:

Clinton

The good: Leading the UN Bosnian mission and stopping the genocide

The so so: Trying really hard to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal but failing, kicking the ball down the road with North Korean nukes.

The bad: Failure to stop genocide in Rwanda, allowing Al Queda to grow unabated, allowing Pakistan to develop a nuke, overseeing failed sanction regime in Iraq.

Bush

The good: sticking to his guns on the surge and salvaging a fragile peace in Iraq, removing the Taliban from power and disrupting Al Queda's base of operations, preventing more widespread follow up terrorist attacks after 9/11, successfully discouraging Libya from pursuing WMDs.

The so so: Initial invasion of Iraq - the jury will be out on this for years to come, North Korean testing nukes and then agreeing to dismantle them.

The bad: Inability to leverage the Iraq War with allies in the UN, failure from 04-06 to identify and slow/stop the insurgency, not capturing or killing the top Al Queda leadership, empowering Iran in the region and kicking the issue of Iranian nukes to the next President, inability to alienate radical leftist leaders in South America such as Morales in Bolivia and Chavez in Venezuela, overly trusting Putin and not getting anything in return.

The left has treated Bush like shit since day 1. They accused him of stealing the election and like a bunch of stubborn children refused to support any policy he tried to push forward. It's tough to work that way. And even when faced with the biggest and most important issue of our day - the potentially existential threat of a small dedicated terrorist group getting their hands on WMDs - the left, for the most part, was concerned more with proving Bush a liar than pondering how the hell we're going to prevent this from happening. I just hope the right doesn't treat Obama with the same level of disdain.
That's Us!

The creative class coming to powa'

To be honest, I'm not sure I want it.

He mentions Hollywood, which despite the liberal politics, has got to be a huge polluter. I mean, we use TONS of paper and transpo in our productions, we gotta be seriously contributing to global warming.
Sack Up

I'll give a little amen to Sullivan here...one of his readers writes:

The approval of Proposition 8 is a terrible blow to us. For the first time in so many years I feel pushed back into the psychosis and depression of the closet.


Sullivan writes:

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Know that your love is real; cherish it; hold your spouses closer; build your families; take care of your kids; live your dream.


People can be stupid, idiotic, and mean. That's the main lesson of middle school. So what? Sack up. Move on. Chin up.
Greg Oden

A great article about the guy. Why Simmons thinks we need him:

And not just because Oden pushes a fun Blazers team to another level. The league needs him. He could be a wonderful, thoughtful personality along the lines of Bill Bradley, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Bill Walton—an original, someone who defies every unfair stereotype of NBA players.

Oden told Portland GM Kevin Pritchard, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," after finding out he needed knee surgery. He played piano for JT at the ESPYs. He messes with reporters during interviews by seeing how many questions he can answer in a monotone. He's such a nice person, I guarantee he will never throw a punch in a game. He never takes himself seriously. He's legitimately funny and self-aware, wise beyond his years, intuitive almost to a fault.


Too bad the world doesn't work that way. As Marlo says in season 4 when the security guard confronts about stealing a lollipop and the guard makes a passionate plea about being a man:

"You want it one way."
"Why you keep saying that?"
"You want it one way. But it's the other."


McCain's silver lining.
The Numbers

Honestly, I thought Obama would win by a larger margin, particularly in the popular vote. He got 52%. I thought he'd get 55%. But I just looked back on some stats and even when Bush beat Dukakis in 1988 - a total blowout, the popular vote was 53%-45%. To think Obama could get 55% was a little naive, I guess.

It's interesting - McCain got 46% of the vote. When Bush beat Gore he got 48% and when Clinton beat Dole he got 47%. When Clinton beat Bush I he only got 43% (because of Perot). For McCain to pull 46% of the popular vote suggests people like McCain better than they let on. Combine a couple of factors - 1) McCain was a heavy underdog going in, so rational voters went in thinking - I'll vote for this guy, even though he's probably going to lose 2) He ran against a very adept opponent 3) He ran a pretty bad campaign and the Palin pick clearly backfired in the end 4) The economy went to shit and this always hurts the incumbent party and 5) He had to run away from a terribly unpopular incumbent President.

And despite all this, he still got 46%.

Some theories and stats on the election. An interesting bit:

-- Sarah Palin. Polling shows that she drove some voters away from Sen. McCain and to Barack Obama. Voters judged her to be too inexperienced to be president. Also, instead of appealing to independents, she became a polarizing figure. ALSO -- her persona highlighted McCain's age and health since she could have taken over. ALSO -- her selection killed the "inexperience" argument against Obama.


I think the last point is right on. McCain went for the equalizing element - by trying to steal the cultural phenomena/historical figure steam from Obama. A clever idea - especially after seeing how Clinton got beat in the primary. And it worked - Palin became a phenom too and stole a lot of media attention and thunder from Obama. McCain went after Obama's strength, but in hindsight, maybe he should of gone after his weakness: experience and judgment. Clinton tried it and it failed, so McCain went a different route. But maybe this was a big tactical mistake - he might of been better off sticking to his core message: experience, security, etc, and just built upon Clinton's message (which was working at the end of the Dem primary and probably would have worked better in Republican circles). Instead, Obama ended up stealing McCain's thunder by picking Biden and coming across as more a center-left, responsible decision maker.
Good Way To Think About Racism

I've struggled to understand what the term racism means today. This article entitled "The End of Racism," lays it out pretty well.

Barack Obama's victory is a lesson in how the word racism has drifted beyond its core meaning into something more calisthenic than proactive.

It was one thing when legalized segregation and disenfranchisement were outlawed in the mid-60s. This was a massive undertaking, but people devoted their lives--sometimes literally--to making it happen.

It was something else when, in the wake of this, racism became socially taboo in most segments of American society. Sure, there are lapses. But anyone who thinks there has been anything short of a seismic shift in America's racial relations since the 60s should take a look at Mad Men. The very fact that it is news that there remain people who wouldn't vote for a black man shows that we live in a different world than 40 years ago.

The new frontier, however, is apparently people's individual psychologies: Not only must we not legislate racism or socially condone it, but no one is to even privately feel it.


The conclusion of the article makes a solid point:

America has problems and our new president knows it. However, is America's main problem still "the color line" as W.E.B. DuBois put it 105 years ago? The very fact that the president is now black is a clear sign that it is no longer our main problem, and that we can, even as morally informed and socially concerned citizens, admit it.
The Irony

Prop 8 narrowly didn't pass. The rural folks voted for it (you know, the people that grow all the great California food) and the city folks voted against it. The swing population, it turns out, was the black vote - they came out en masse for Obama - and voted in favor of Prop 8. [Side note: does this mean California is a red state, blue state split?]

And let's face it: Obama didn't campaign for Prop 8 - he tossed it under the bus like a smart politician. You gotta pick your battles.

Advice to those in favor of gay marriage: relax. Gays will have the right to get married in time. The demographics are in your favor. Young people don't give a rats ass about "traditional" marriage. And please, don't act like this is the "Civil Rights Issue of Our Time" and you're marching in Selma. Don't call your opponents bigots and racists - it's not the way to win them over. Take the tact: who gives a shit if gay people get married? I guarantee, even amongst those who fear the liberals teaching their kids to be gay in school, when it comes down to it and they discuss the issue at the dinner table and someone in their family says - honestly, who gives a shit? They'll eventually come around. Or at least 60% of them.

In any case, these propositions are annoying ways to make laws. What ever happened to the regular way of making laws - you know, introduce in one house of congress, pass the other, get signed by the govner? And by the way, shouldn't amending a state constitution require a little more work than simply getting a popular majority or a proposition?

I'm not gay.
And Now What?

I heard part of McCain's speech on the radio. In my opinion, the man made it way farther than he deserved in this life, but nonetheless displayed honor and integrity. I have no beef with the man.

Obama's speech was great. He conjures up images of ourselves we want to believe. At least for tonight, I'm going to lay off...because for crissake...America just elected a black president. Come on now, people, that's pretty remarkable.

Now...onto other matters...here's my concern. Summed up by the party I attended this evening in Los Angeles:

video

I'm a mixed race muthafucker, so if anyone likes this idea I should. But I don't. Because a man is still a man...as Marlo explains in season 5 of the Wire: my name is my name. See. Do you get it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Drunk Blogging

If I weren't going out tonight - I'd be joining the ranks of drunk bloggers.
Overstatement

This election will "change the world."

Oh Jesus. Don't make me regret voting for for ya, BOb, by saying stupid ass shit like this: “Let’s go change the world.”

Sigh.

In other neat news: Andrew Sullivan is running a series of voter's experiences around the nation. Here a reader writes from Santa Monica - from the place where I voted this morning.
What A Creep

A drunken Chinese party official tries to force himself on an 11 year old.

The dad should of taken the guys money and shoved up his ass.
Sentimental

It's a sentimental article, but none the less, one I agree with.


If Obama was white - he'd be a nerd.

If McCain were black - he'd be in a homeless shelter.

Okay, so this is the premise of a stand up bit I thought would be funny. Imagine a black McCain on the streets shaking and yelling about bringing Bin Laden back from the gates of hell. The police would pick him up and take him to the crazy shop. In the vice versa, imagine Obama as a white-boy wearing a polo chatting it up at a cocktail party about bringing hope and change to America. I'd want to punch the nerd in the face.

I feel like this could be a funny bit, if handled right. If not, of course it comes across as offensive and racist.
I Voted

It took about 45 minutes. I wasn't as educated on the propositions and city council and all the local as I should of been. The 45 minute wait was by far the longest I've ever waited to vote. But I went at the worst time - 8am - when everyone stops by before work.

Anyhow, I love voting. It's one of the few things that makes me feel connected to the better part of our country's history. And it always reminds me we live in a pretty remarkable place.

DELETED the other thing.
Massive Turnout

The real news of this election might be massive turn out. That could change electoral politics for a generation.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Voter Fraud and Corruption

Seeing the inside of how Hollywood works and with all these financial industry shenanigans, I've grown pretty distrustful of people keeping their own shops tidy. If I was involved with administering elections, I'd work my ass off on cleaning it up before the house comes crumbling down.
Quiet Monday

Today is the quietest Monday I can remember. Everyone seems to be waiting with baited breath for the big day tomorrow. Yes, I think this will be an election to remember, an election that will be talked about for years to come. I will be very surprised if Obama does not win.

Predictably, Andrew Sullivan writes a passionate plea for Obama.

I will vote for Obama tomorrow and for tomorrow night, should he win, feign excitement at the possibility for hope and change and all the rest of the empty sloganeering.

But the world is the world and the day after tomorrow the insoluble problems we face will still be insoluble. Iran will still pursue nukes. The loons in Pakistan will inch closer to seizing power. Al Queda Central will still plot attacks against us. Iraq and the rest of the Middle East will be a mess. Our economy will be troubled for years to come. We may see inflation. We may see higher unemployment. And individual troubles and miseries and misfortune will continue.

Likewise, good things may happen. We might find ourselves extricating our army from Iraq with a fragile ally in power. Americans might curb our insatiable debt spending as opportunities for cheap credit dries up. Shady bankers and irresponsible lenders may go out of business. Maybe we'll discover alternative fuels should gas prices remain high. And maybe, Al Queda Central will wear down after years of being hunted, get sloppy, and be brought to justice for 9/11.

Less likely, but still possibly, the world will start to like us a little bit better.

All these things - good and bad - may happen because or despite Obama (should he win).

Am I cynical about Obama? Yes. To have so many people ascribing so hope to the guy...it makes me uneasy. Who looks to political figures to change their lives? Not me. I lived through the 1990s - an era of good feelings. And as I look back, I feel like a fool. Because the mess the world is in right now (if I am to believe everything I read) is in large part attributable to forces gathering during that time. So forgive me for not drinking the koolaid.

The Republicans deserve to lose. Sullivan is right about the torture. The torture is inexcusable. It is inexcusable from all levels - the people who did it should have refused, their bosses should have been fired, people should have resigned in shame.

It would be silly to say the election doesn't matter. My malaise could easily be interpreted as nihilistic. I know. The election matters. We just don't know how much or in what way yet. Al Gore made a smart point at the Democratic convention - many thought in 2000 that the two parties were the same - that there was no difference between them. Looking back, had Gore won those 537 votes in Florida, the world would be a lot different today. Maybe better, maybe worse - we can't know.