Thursday, December 30, 2010


What is the difference between Jonathan Franzen and Noah Baumbach? The question is relevant to the long readers of Public Musings who know my long standing one-sided feud with Baumbach. Here we have a novel that superficially explores the exact themes Baumbach explores in his films: the overriding anxiety and cruelness of self hating privileged coastal liberals who are mostly white and usually some Jew. Why is it that Baumbach sucks and Franzen just wrote the best book I've read in a long time. What makes it different?

Maybe it is just depth, I don't know. It is as if Baumbach explores only the external, ie petty and cruel and self-hating behavior, whereas Franzen connects it internally to psychology and competitiveness and family and political leanings and history. Maybe it is the privilege of the novelist to go inside and the disability of the filmmaker to be suck outside. Could it be that simple? Or is it something else? Is Franzen a greater explorer of the human experience, understanding and making connections between family and "freedom" and behavior and goodness, whereas Baumbach is only a superficial chronicler of tastes and behavior of a particularly odious set of privileged self-hating liberal arts graduates?

Franzen digs in. He goes damn deep and finds ugliness and some very difficult truths. I hesitate to say I love his new book, although I picked it up Christmas morning and finished it's nearly 600 pages in 4 days. I bought and paid for the book happily. I would recommend it to all my reading friends. I would say it is better than any movie I've seen this year. And yet there is something missing. Call me old fashioned and silly, but if I'm on a desert island and I have to choose from the best McMurtry or Steinbeck or James Jones vs. Franzen, I think I'm going to pick the former. Cause I'm still a sap and believe in human greatness. I don't think we'll all just these weak, petty, and ultimately small people. Sure, my life experience is much closer to the characters in a Franzen book than those in a McMurtry book or a Steinbeck book, but I still want to believe in human greatness and heroism and stupid old aspirational myths. The other road leads to a self-loathing beyond imagination. A wholly weak and unredemptive end. A cultural and economic suicide. It is right there in Walter's discussion of overpopulation. His admiration for the Chinese old-child rule. His insistence that human beings and our imprint is going to ruin the planet and other species. That this is the ultimate issue to Franzen and Walter. Franzen, I think, has the balls to admit he isn't being satirical here. He means it. Or at least his character does and I know it isn't the same. Because, yes, I'm talking about Franzen the work since I know nothing of Franzen the person.

That's enough for now. The book is great. Sophisticated and admirable in the drawing of connections between past and family and behavior and choices and trying to provide a little guide of the core question of the novel: how does one live? I don't suppose a novel can aspire to much more these days.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ben Hecht

Robert Ebert attributes some fine quotes to the great man:

Charmaine (Lucy Punch), who is an "actress" and reminds me of Ben Hecht’s definition of actress: "any woman under 30 who is not actively employed in a brothel, with many exceptions." (His definition of actor: "a waiter.")
Thank You

Finally, the 49ers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and I will no longer be subject to the torture of watching their games.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Fascinating Issue

Over Thanksgiving I noticed an extra sales tax at San Francisco restaurants. I asked my friends, "What's that about?" They rolled their eyes, "Newsom added a tax so all restaurants pay for their workers health insurance. Here is a link to an article from the San Francisco magazine titled: Is San Francisco Killing Its Restaurants?

But stories like these haven’t been heard so often these last couple of years. Opening a restaurant in San Francisco is becoming prohibitively expensive, and it’s tougher than ever for untested talent to strike out on its own. Even well-established chefs are beginning to question their future here. A widening rift between city hall and the local restaurant community has pitted two of San Francisco’s most cherished institutions—its culinary soul and its social conscience—against each other, and more and more restaurateurs are feeling like they’re losing the battle.

Watch this issue if you care about progressivism at all. Herein lies the fundamental progressive irony. In order to provide for all, you end up punishing the most productive. You end up cannibalizing your greatest strengths as a community. And this is not theoretical. Read the article. Each restaurant listed are gems of the San Francisco restaurant scene. The owners of Delfina take in $200,000 per year. After paying for the new healthcare law, they take home $100,000. What is that incentivizing? Do you think it makes them want to work more? Be more productive?

I'm going to call out progressives here. Most progressives are progressive in theory only. Most people in favor of universal healthcare are not at the same time willing to pay for it for others. Most progressive ideology, when you boil it down to business, amounts to: compelling others to pay for it. They naturally target the rich - and by rich - they often mean people who make high incomes. Versus, people with wealth. This is total side issue - but why not tax wealth vs. income anyway? Why do progressives not argue for this? I'm not a progressive, so I understand why I don't support it. But I wonder why no one talks about this...

...separate note, a true progressive ought to practice what they preach. And by that I mean, pay for other people's healthcare themselves. See how it feels. See how difficult it is. Try it. Start a small business and hire people and pay for all their healthcare and retirement, etc. See how much it costs. See how you balance it with the incoming money. And if you are somehow savvy enough to survive in this brutal world, treat all your employees humanely, and turn a profit. And when you do all this - and you retain your progressive ideals and it mirrors your own business practices - then you earn the right to be listened to.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


A businessman accidentally brings a snub nosed glock onto the a plane.

And he wasn't caught by security. Once, security found a Swiss Army knife in a side pocket of my dop kit. It was on the return it go by security on the first leg of my flight.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

But of Course He Was...

Julian Assange's internet dating profiles from 2006.

It is impossible to make an internet dating profile without sounding like a creepy bastard. Which is one reason not to do it.

There is an irony to Assange - the guy is getting exactly what he wished for - the type of world where no information is private, so now everyone will know every last little strange thing about the guy. I can't imagine that can sit well with him.
Sandwich Recipes


At the time, I thought Seinfeld came across as defensive. Looking back, he gave him what Larry King deserves. The guy is a star fucker and a bore. I didn't watch him, so I won't miss him.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sounds Good

HBO documentary of Vince Lombardi.
Thank God We Have Gates

What a quote: Saudis want to fight Iran to the last American.

I'm not totally convinced we are on the right side in the Arab/Persian conflict. It seems to me, the Persians are more natural allies to the US than the Arabs. The problem with Iran are the Ayatollah's. The problem with the Arabs are the Arabs. Arab democracy would be Islamicist and racist and dally in fascism. Arab monarchies and autocrats are basically gangsters. There is zero evidence of any better alternatives. What we see in Iraq and Lebanon are the options - one where American gets involved, and one where America doesn't get involved. Both suck. One costs us money and prestige. The other is moral negligence and will end up on our shores eventually.
Good Line

Megan McCardle talking about economic liberty and single payer and the commerce clause:

This doesn't seem to be a question that interests progressives; they just aren't very excited about economic liberty beyond maybe the freedom to operate a food truck.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Called Gold Digging

And they're ain't nothing wrong with it.

Last year, Jill Berry, the then president of The Girls’ Schools Association, publicly said what many of us women in our late 30s and early 40s have come to realise.

She said that combining a high-powered career and motherhood and doing both well is impossible. It’s time we stopped feeding girls the fairy tale that they can do it all — and I agree.

But, more than that, I think most women — if given a truly free choice — would choose to stay at home and look after their children in their infancy.

When you're right, you're right.
My Kind of Girl

Winona Ryder does not use the internet.

For now, Ryder would rather spend her time pursuing other interests, like making movies, finding a nice guy, and hopefully, having kids.

Ehhh, hem.
Julian Assange

This guy is a bond villain.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


The nearly seven month drought is over. I played teams sports tonight. Pick up basketball. My handles were terrible. I couldn't hit a jumper. My team got their ass kicked three times. I needed to wear an ACL brace. And it was totally awesome.

Let me explain. I had ACL surgery six and half months ago. The only exercise I do is go to the gym and do various cardio and strengthening exercises, ride a bike, go hiking, or run. I enjoying hiking and biking. But neither one of them compares to the simple joy of pick up basketball, much less an organized soccer league.

I don't know what it is exactly. Partially social. Partially competition. Partially creativity - I've come to understand in later years. I can't put my finger on it. But you don't realize how great sports are until you don't do them for awhile.

The one upside of not playing hard sports for 6 months - by toe nails grew back and were almost 100% healed. They haven't been normal since high school. That went out the window tonight as well - I jammed my toe, it is totally black and blue, I'll lose the nail in a week or so.

It's good to be back.
Fox Suing

Fox is suing to stop script leaking.

This is a similar issue to Wikileaks. Obviously, it isn't good for anyone - filmmakers, fans, etc - for early drafts of scripts to get out and make the rounds. Ruins all the fun of the movies.
Good Point, Lou Holtz

On sports radio this morning Lou Holtz was talking about Urban Meyer. Apparently, Urban and a lot of other coaches who know Holtz, call him up for advice. Back when Urban was getting started, he asked Holtz to recommend him for a job at Bowling Green, which he did. When Urban got the job he told Holtz he was going to turn it down because "it wasn't a very good job." Holtz told him - "of course it isn't a good job. If it was a good job, they wouldn't be hiring. No one leaves a good job. There are only bad jobs -- you gotta make it into a good job." Meyer took the job. 2 years later he was at Utah. 2 years after that, Florida.

I think this advise extends way beyond college football and into any career. No one leaves good jobs. No one takes fliers on people without experience for good jobs. Meyer was coming off being a WR coach at Notre Dame. You don't get hired to coach Florida or Notre Dame, no matter how charming and cool you are. (one counter-example: Obama). You get the cool jobs after you have a shit job and make it cool.
The Case Against Being A Political Wife

Yes, it is a sad story. Made all the sadder by the public nature of it.

I think sorrow is better served alone. But I'm not sure.
Of All The Places

I rarely go to Bristol Farms. It strikes me as an older-LA version of Whole Foods. Just as overpriced, but perhaps not as fresh.

But yesterday I was in Beverly Hills needing to grab a quick breakfast. It isn't easy to find a quick, easy breakfast place in Beverly Hills. Dropped into Bristol Farms knowing the BH location had a little cafe. They have this deal: eggs, bacon, toast, potatoes, fruit, and a coffee for $3.99. It was pretty good. Not excellent, but pretty good. What a deal, though. I couldn't believe it. I go to a place like Huckleberry and spent $7-8 to get a coffee and prosciutto croissant.

Sometimes you find things in strange places.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Fake Facebook

Fake facebook pages are welcoming incoming college freshman. See...this doesn't seem newsworthy to me. I just assume everything on Facebook is fake. Which it is.

And this is not true:

A Facebook spokesman, Simon Axten, said that the social network “prohibits the use of fake names and false identities.” Mr. Axten said Facebook was “investigating” Mr. Gaither’s endeavors.

How can they prohibit "false identities"? They didn't prohibit mine.
Jeter Pissed

Jeter is upset how his negotiations with the Yankees went.

The conundrum is this: the value of one's labor is inconsistent with one's value as a person. It is in many ways, fundamentally dehumanizing. This why men in their mid 50s get laid off from their corporate VP jobs - they are getting paid too much and don't provide enough value to their companies. So what do they do? They can't go out and get other jobs - they have too much pride, too much experience, too much money to make it worth their while to do jobs they are qualified for. These are men with families. Men put stock and value in what they do for a living and whether they are able to provide. You take that away - and whether it ought to or not - it can crush a soul.

Now any reasonable person would be stupid to feel sorry for Jeter. The man just got a deal that will pay him more than most any normal person will make in his/her life. He's banged more hot chicks than me and all my friends COMBINED. He's marrying Lyla Garrity for chrissake. But his pride is hurting because his value to the Yankees now is not consistent with how he views himself. Look at his stats last year:

Jeter had a .270 batting average with 10 homers this past season, down from a .334 average and 18 homers the previous season. Although his RBIs increased by one to 67, his on-base percentage fell from .406 to .340, and his slugging average dropped from .465 to .370.

And he's 38 years old. If this guy was on my team, I'd tell him to take a hike. I can pay a promising triple A player to get those kind of stats the league minimum or hire a journeyman veteran like Mark Ellis for $3-5 mil a year, I bet. But who wants to face such things? Not even Jeter. To see yourself the way the market sees you - that'll crush a man - eventually.
The Best Every Day Breakfast

Developed over years of testing, I have found the perfect every day breakfast.

Jalapeno cheese bagel purchased from the bread truck at the Santa Monica farmer's market. $1 each (note - a Jalapeno cheese bagel costs the same as a plain bagel - both $1)*

Beefstock Tomato - $2 for a big one

Cream Cheese

Salt and Pepper

Toast Bagel. Put on cream cheese. Put on generous pieces of the tomato. Salt and Pepper the Tomato. Eat either as a sandwich or open faced (open faced is better, but if space is an issue, the sandwich works as well)

Although the beefstock tomato seems indulgent, it is the key. Yes, they are priced higher than regular tomatoes, but the flavor of a beefstock mixed with the spice of the jalepeno and cheese. Really delicious. Salt and Pepper on the tomato is key. Brings over the flavor more. It really is the perfect bfast.

*I also recently learned it does not cost extra to get your fries "animal style" at In and Out. At corner bakery, you order a bagel and cream cheese with tomato and it costs the same as just ordering bagel and cream cheese. I find it interesting when places price things the same, even though it seems like they could add a premium. I wonder why? It might have to do with the system set up with the registers and training employees, etc, that is is simply easier and more cost effective to give away items as opposed to having a system where they can charge for it.
A Word

I doubt there is a word for the overwhelming urge to play Yahtzee, but there should be.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Oh Boy

Heard on the radio today the Dems and Republicans are in talks about a budget deal that will, get this -- extend the Bush Era tax cuts to the top 2% AND extend unemployment benefits.

And we wonder why the tea party is so popular. This is why. Americans are rightfully worried about the debt. Just like they are worried about carrying credit card balances. We understand for every dollar borrowed, we are paying $1.20 to $1.40 in the future. Are deficits the end of the world? No. But we're so overextended right now and weren't tight when we had money, so now we're in a shit position. We are in danger of taking on waaaay too much.

I can't stand the Democrats who call out Republicans and Tea Partiers for being hypocrites because there was a lot of spending during the Bush Admin. Do they forget that we had a fiscal crisis in 2008 that totally changed the way we need to think about how we run our economy? It's as if that factor didn't matter. And extending the Bush Era tax cuts and worrying about the debt at the same time? I mean, jesus, you gotta pick a side if you're a conservative. What it is: tax cuts or cut the debt. One or the other. Make a choice.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wikileaks Founder

From his blog archive.

Welcome to the future. Where the idiots and nonsense rule.
That's LA For You

A description of the apartment building where the hitman who shot the hollywood publicist lived.

Beginning to sound a bit too familiar.

A study shows that.


Freakonomics argues Russian and Qatar are the losers in winning the World Cup bid. Huh?

There are limits to contrarian thought. It is called common sense. Someone has to host the World Cup. And by Freakonomics analysis, because of the structure of the "prize," the winner is always going to be the loser. Huh? Makes no sense. Maybe Qatar overpaid or whatever. But they don't really define how or why Qatar overpaid.

I see the World Cup as a country equivalent to an individual buying a new car. Invariably, it will partially be about good old fashioned status. And fun. This is why not everyone drives a Honda or sensible cars. People like big ass SUVs and cool as shit Audis. And if you work yourself into a position where you can afford to splurge, there are things worth splurging on. I'd say a nice splurge for a country is to host the World Cup.

And it is embarrassing for the US to go after a bid and lose to Qatar. A freaking country with 1.4 million people. Are you kidding me? Until one of my roommates moved there a couple years ago, I didn't even know a city in Qatar (Doha). They might as well as had Santa Monica host the World Cup.

An examination of Japan's lack of economic growth. Is it a bad thing?

Global headlines describe Japan as a sluggish basket case. But as Europe comes to grips with a common currency and fractured fiscal policies and the United States faces its own excesses, one has to wonder whether Japan may not have quietly, possibly even unintentionally, discovered a new way to manage its economy: a low-inflation system that sacrifices dynamism for steadiness.

Star of David on Iran's National Airline roof. No one noticed until google earth.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Wikileaks totally shut down.

Pretty damn stupid comments from wikileaks supporters on twitter - such as -

"If Amazon are so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books," it read.

Jeez...I didn't know the first amendment meant everyone could read and listen to everyone else's every word. Privacy people! This Facebook and internet world is really dangerous in terms disclosure of information. Ezra Klein via Yglesias weighs in:

Assange isn’t whistleblowing or leaking. Both of those are targeted acts focused on an identified wrongdoing or event. He’s simply taking the private and making it public, with relatively little in the way of discrimination. If he’s really effective, the likely outcome won’t be that people know more, but that they know less, as major institutions — both public and private — will stop sharing their information so widely internally and stop writing so much of it down. That means decision-makers will know less, bureaucrats and managers will know less, reporters will know less, historians will know less, and so on. Assange may think his target is the U.S. government, or Goldman Sachs. But at the end of the day, there will still be governments and there will still be banks. What Assange is really doing is turning them against electronic text, file storage and large internal networks.

Wikileaks and BofA

Big investors step in to buy BofA as the stock plunges on Wikileak information.

Well, this Wikileak stuff is getting mighty nasty. Anyone with a grudge can tank companies and government information by just copying files up to the internet.

A couple of forces converging here -

1. Technology of copying and how easily everything can be copied and disbursed these days.

2. Grievance-mongering and the culture of indulging every single little petty grievance

3. Piracy and the overall erosion of intellectual property value

I remember a couple of years ago being at a New Years Party in San Francisco and getting into a big 'ole argument with some dude about how all movies and music ought to be free over the internet. I'm no stooge of the movie studios or the music studios - but I was like - obviously someone needs to be paid for their work - otherwise no one would make movies or tv. He argued people would still make it. I was like - yeah - but it would suck. I mean, do you watch Youtube? That's what the whole world of entertainment would become - Youtube and Facebook.

Fact is, most young people have never created anything of actual value. And so they don't really have any idea about the sheer amount of work that goes into these things. And they don't want to pay for it because they don't have much money. This is obviously short sited and can be ascribed to a folly of youth. The greater problem is this youthful naivete is lasting longer and longer and being indulged into middle age. This cycle is problematic. You get older people behaving like teenagers - entitled, selfish, etc. There are no jobs for our 20-30 set, so they have no money, no responsibility, and like teenagers, are reliant on largess from parents or government or loans or something other than their own sweat to get by. So perhaps it should not be a surprise that piracy and grievance-mongering is more widespread. Couple this with the EASE of it -- and yeah -- now we have national security leakage and Bank of America stocks tanking.

So what would a smart person do? Buy the stock.

Why animals put up with bullying.

What's more, well-connected marmots lived longer and reproduced more, even if their social connections put them on the receiving end of aggression. "Interacting with others is valuable, even if the interactions are nasty," Blumstein says.

Actually, this makes sense.

And then this:

Blumstein thinks researchers have focused too much on friendly interactions when they study how groups evolved. "We need to think more about the role of aggression," he says.


When I was younger and would get in trouble for picking on my younger sisters, my defense was often "I'm toughening them up for the real world." Although clearly this was oftentimes a clever excuse for the sadistic pleasures of bugging siblings...there may be some truth in it.

Last night I had an hour to watch some TV, so I automatically checked HBO on demand. I've already watched Eastbound and Down season 2 and didn't like it all that much. Nothing caught my eye. I zoned out of Boardwalk Empire midway through episode 3. So I switched over to AMC. Rubicon, Walking Dead, and Mad Men...all shows I'd at least check out.

If it wasn't for LUCK coming soon, I'd consider canceling HBO. What is worth watching anymore? Even the shows I watch - Entourage, Treme are each a little bit of a stretch and no where near the level of Sopranos or the Wire.

I have a theory that the stock market bumps up at the beginning of each month because there is an influx of people adding to their retirement accounts on automatic deductions from their paychecks or otherwise scheduled stock purchases. Someone should look at that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Angelina Jolie

Bosnian rape victims call her ignorant

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is no longer a disorder.

I'm not expert, but there seem to be more than enough disoders, we could use some contraction.

Here a link to the site. If I had nothing else to do, I'd read it.

Somebody at the CIA ought to do an analysis what data they collect and whether it is more useful and accurate than what I can find over the internet any hour of the day.

Monday, November 29, 2010


On the two distinct literary cultures in the US.

Beware - it's a mega article - but very interesting. Has some parallels to the film school. A scathing point:

MFA programs themselves are so lax and laissez-faire as to have a shockingly small impact on students' work—especially shocking if you're the student and paying $80,000 for the privilege. Staffed by writer-professors preoccupied with their own work or their failure to produce any; freed from pedagogical urgency by the tenuousness of the link between fiction writing and employment; and populated by ever younger, often immediately postcollegiate students, MFA programs today serve less as hotbeds of fierce stylistic inculcation, or finishing schools for almost-ready writers (in the way of, say, Iowa in the '70s), and more as an ingenious partial solution to an eminent American problem: how to extend our already protracted adolescence past 22 and toward 30, in order to cope with an oversupplied labor market.

Not much of the article addresses it - but is the dirty little secret of the Western world with America at the center - that technology has gotten to the point where our human labor simply isn't needed? Sad fact: we don't have shit to do? Can our society run on basically only 10-20% of the top people performing functions and the rest just being consumers? Oh boy.
Pay Freeze For Federal Employees

Ouch. We must be really hurting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

30 Rock

Still brings it. The show makes me laugh out loud (LOL) three or four times per episode. Can't even think of a recent movie that does the same.
Is Nothing A Bad Policy?

According to the White House, anything people are upset about (ie TSA, healthcare) is the result of bad press.

Couldn't have anything to do with the policy.
Coming Around on Wikipedia

At one time I was skeptical of the information on Wikipedia. The very concept of anyone being able to edit entries and the bogus information I used to find on it would annoy me. But now, I find it pretty useful for finding casual information. For instance:

What some portray as authentic black culture is actually a carryover from a highly dysfunctional white southern redneck culture.
Main article: Black Rednecks and White Liberals

According to Sowell, in his 2005 Black Rednecks and White Liberals, what many see as pathologies of contemporary black culture actually derive from a dysfunctional historical white-southern “cracker” culture.

What the [white] rednecks or crackers brought with them across the ocean was a whole constellation of attitudes, values, and behavior patterns that might have made sense in the world in which they had lived for centuries, but which would prove to be counterproductive in the world to which they were going — and counterproductive to the blacks who would live in their midst for centuries before emerging into freedom and migrating to the great urban centers of the United States, taking with them similar values.

The cultural values and social patterns prevalent among Southern whites included an aversion to work, proneness to violence, neglect of education, sexual promiscuity, improvidence, drunkenness, lack of entrepreneurship, reckless searches for excitement, a lively music and dance, and a style of religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, unbridled emotions, and flamboyant imagery. This oratorical style carried over into the political oratory of the region in both the Jim Crow era and the civil rights era, and has continued on into our own times among black politicians, preachers, and activists. Touchy pride, vanity, and boastful self-dramatization were also part of this redneck culture among people from regions of Britain where the civilization was the least developed.[25]

Several scholars support Sowell’s observations. Grady McWhiney’s Cracker Culture (1988) is a thorough historical study of the values and behavioral patterns of white Southerners, and is backed by many other scholarly studies which have turned up very similar patterns even when they differed in some ways as to the causes. Scholar Hackett Fischer’s Albions Seed,(1989) for example, eschews the Celtic theory advanced by McWhiney, but shows many of the same cultural patterns for the whites, both in Britain and the American South.[26]

What is different about the current era, Sowell claims, is that better educated, more productive whites are no longer as willing to challenge or condemn the counterproductive behaviors deriving from the holdovers of white cracker culture among blacks. This stands in sharp contrast to the white northern educators that went to educate ex-slaves in the post-Civil War South, who insisted on strong discipline and work, and helped lay the foundations for black education.[27] Instead, Sowell contends, today’s white liberals too often justify, glorify, and subsidize these negatives as the “authentic expression” and behavior of the black masses. Sowell holds that the backward behavior pattern of southern whites has carried over to a generation of negative “blacknecks” who are in no way representative of the authenticity of the black community over its long, difficult climb from slavery and discrimination to freedom and equality in the United States.[28]

A Worthy Goal

How The American was a cool movie.

Cool is a committed style. Cool is a discipline. Cool embraces both content and all the elements of execution. In a cool movie, everything other than cool is truly secondary, and ideally non-existent. Cool movies thrive on an existential protagonist. Cool is about the sustain and not the flash.

I didn't like The American, but yes, it was going for cool. Cool is tough. Incredibly easy to fuck it up. But without a doubt, a worthy goal. I always thought a study of cool would make a good basis of a college senior thesis. Also, a senior thesis on nicknames.

North Korea fires artillery at South Korea.
A Cruel Joke

The "high level" talks with the Taliban turn out to be fake. Super fake. The Taliban representative turns out to be an imposter.

Can I get a refund on this war?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Less is More

Incredibly smart analysis of the economy and Obama. Watching this and catching Fareed Zakaria on tv this Sunday AM - lest we forget - we have really, really smart, capable people amongst us. America is a strange place in that it seems like we are incredibly wasteful and not operating at full capacity simultaneously. On the one hand, we over compensate in ridiculous ways by spending ungodly amounts of money on military and intelligence spending for what? To commit to a draw with a half baked force like the Taliban? On TSA security procedures? To pay billions in shit like unemployment and mortgage interest tax deductions and other totally unproductive programs?

On the flip side, I think we have incredible assets who are ought there thinking and understanding the world we live in and speaking plainly about it - and if we'd just listen - we'd probably get right back on track in no time. Instead, we're seduced by a bunch of know-nothing ideologues on both sides and get suckered into supporting the least worst solutions instead of something that could actually work.

His analysis of Obama is striking - he remembers him from UChicago and basically calls him out as being intellectually vague and protectionist. Unwilling to get into the trenches and test his ideas against other rigorous competing ideas - he stands aloof and apart and plays a game of "intellectual poker." This is a good lesson for anyone in any field - you got to get into the game and mix it up and challenge yourself. Otherwise, you get all weird are resort to narcissism and ego to uphold faulty ideas. We have a glamorous President, but he mistakenly thinks because he's smart, he must be right. A dangerous mistake.
Don't Touch My Junk

Why is the TSA now upping the security procedures? I very much doubt it has to do with terrorism (has the TSA intercepted one single terrorist?), but rather, an introduction of a new technology someone spent a lot of money developing.
The End of "Diversity"

When I've bothered to analyze the concept of "diversity," I honestly end up scratching my head.

everyone knows that the entire apparatus of the security line is a national homage to political correctness. Nowhere do more people meekly acquiesce to more useless inconvenience and needless indignity for less purpose. Wizened seniors strain to untie their shoes; beltless salesmen struggle comically to hold up their pants; three-year-olds scream while being searched insanely for explosives, when everyone -- everyone -- knows that none of these people is a threat.

We pass all passengers through the same, cumbersome screening because we want to pretend that all Americans are equally likely to be security threats. In short, we do it to avoid profiling. The effort does credit to the tolerance of American soceity. On the other hand, tolerance is not the only good. There are limits.


Friday, November 19, 2010


I bitch about politics. I question the motives of most professional politicians. But the truth is, the alternative for deciding who wields power is warlordism and gansterism, so I suppose narcissistic self serving careerists are preferable to the Tony Sopranos and Saddam Husseins of the world.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You Hath No Enemies, The Boast Is Poor

Why Bin Laden is focusing on France.

If the French Special Forces kill Bin Laden, I'd be impressed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Because Dogs Have Personality

And personality goes a long way

In case people forgot, QT ended the debate on why we eat pigs and not dogs.

Reading this piece, I now realize I have eaten dog before. I attended a Korean soccer tournament right after college up in Seattle (when the opposing team saw I could play, they banned me from the 2nd game because of my half Asian and not even Korean half Asianess) during which we were served a stew -- a stew with very similar properties to the stew described in the linked article. My friend's father told us it was dog stew. It was delicious and we figured he was just messing with us. Part of us didn't want to think it was possible to be eating dog in the United States - but let me add this - if anyone was eating dog in the entire US on that day - it was this Korean community gathering for a soccer tournament in butt fuck Seattle.

In any case, I ate dog and it was good.
Facebook Email

For the record, anyone who adopts a facebook email will not be receiving email from me at that address.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Victory "Unnecessary"

A British general says a victory over Al Queda is unnecessary. We just need to contain them.

I'm listening.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Most Radical Idea of All - Do Nothing

I'm still thinking about the TARP bailout. All the rational folks seem to agree it was a good idea. And for some reason, I'm still skeptical, and I'll tell you why: the explanations don't make sense to me. I can almost understand it intellectually, but on a very gut level, I can't see how it would have totally shut down the American economy. I get that if a series of big banks failed all at once, corporations couldn't get their short term loans to make payroll and pay their creditors. But would this have happened? And then, so what if it did? Wouldn't the less exposed banks simply buy up the more exposed banks before total meltdown occurred? Or couldn't some non-banker with huge reserves of cash come in and purchase a bank? Couldn't the bank be owned by creditors? I guess what I don't understand is what the big banks provide that is so special? They just borrow money at rate X and loan money at rate X+ some percent and make money. That's all it is or should be on a fundamental level. It's a good business.

But say the total meltdown occurred. A lot of people would have lost jobs and been out of work. The banks would have failed. Maybe America even loses it's position in the world economy. So what? Is it the government's job to ensure people have work? Is it the government's job to preserve American economic power? Or is it the government's job to protect property rights and individual rights and provide public goods?

If the TARP bailout didn't occur, I imagine there would have been a massive redistribution of wealth from those who were leveraged to those who weren't leveraged. It would have been radical. It would have hurt a lot of people. But so what? As it stands, the government opted to preserve the wealth of a class of people who were connected at the expense of future taxpayers. I can't see why that is a preferable solution.

Look...I can say this...I don't have a family that would have starved if I lost my job and I don't know the in's and out's of the banking mess. But my gut instinct is that we were blackmailed. And you don't cave to blackmail because it encourages more of the same behavior. We shouldn't be living so close to the edge. People should have reserve money where they can survive if they lose a job. Banks should have reserve currency to back up defaulting borrowers. We don't have these things and so when the shit hits the fan, you pay and you learn.

What ever happened to failure? People who play close to the edge should fail. That's the only way we learn. Now...the system we have puts an incredibly high percentage of this country - both rich and poor - in hoc to future generations and Chinese communists. We have entire classes of people subsisting on future taxes and on the backs of the deflated cost of Chinese labor.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quantitative Easing

Just the term makes my head spin a little bit. It isn't exactly news the Fed is pouring $600 Bil into the economy to guess what? Lower interest rates. I didn't know there was a number lower than 0. At some point maybe they'll start charging people to save money.

My suspicion is the more complex we make this thing, the less likely we get out of it. No one understands what is going on - not Obama, not Palin. If I were boss, I'd propose radical simplification of everything - the tax code, healthcare, etc. I suspect we'd find a lot of savings initially and it would ultimately lead to to productivity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Car Maintenance Costs

Why car maintenance costs so much.

Easily my two biggest random expenses are car maintenance and health care. Discover a car problem or injure myself and I know I'm looking at a minimum bill of $1000 these days. As a non-rich adult, these costs can sting, especially because I'm hit with them multiple times per year. Or at least have been the last two years.

The popular mechanics article makes clear the increased car costs are basically all related to emission standards. Which makes sense because I just paid $1300 for a new carburetor. So for all this talk of carbon taxes and other forms of environmental taxes, the fact is, we're already paying for it.

It is pretty obvious to me, as a working single dude, that an ideology that demands healthcare for everyone and the most strict of environmental standards is not affordable. If, for instance, they wanted to maximize healthcare availability and maximize emissions standards, they would need to charge people like me more for healthcare (to pay for others) AND increase the cost of driving either via fuel or car complexity.

These, in turn, would diminish my saving and if taken far enough, bankrupt me. And I'm a person with low expenses. When this happens, I'd end up a dependent in one way or another of a wealthier relative or government subsidies and therefore would be taking money out of the pocket of someone else. How many deep pockets do we have?
30 Years

Dave Meggett was once a badass third down back and kick returner. And now he is headed to jail for 30 years.
Spike Lee and Absolut Vodka

Well, selling Vodka is easier than making movies, I imagine.

Lee likes to portray himself as an enemy of gentrification and a defender of the traditional, Brooklyn vernacular. Instead, he's become a tool in the borough's commodification and the worst enemy of everything he once stood for.

Ouch. A little rough, if you ask me.

Alcohol is worse than heroin?

Who wants to grab a needle tonight?

For speaking ill of their supervisor on Facebook.

Less than 1/2 of American Muslims don't support the Ground Zero Mosque.

“This tells us two things. Opposition to the project isn’t based on mere bigotry. And American Muslims are not a monolith.”


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Growing Old

One sign I know I'm growing old: I visibly cringe every time I read something about 20-somethings because it invariably deals with some bullshit about not really knowing what they want to do with their lives. Guess what? I could give a shit. Live a little. Make a choice. Live with the consequences. Quit whining. Quit thinking your angst is important or worth writing about.

I'm not looking back fondly on the 20s right now. As for ages go, it really is an obnoxious time. Social Network is evidence of it.
Why Would That Be A Bad Thing?

If the government was out of the mortgage business, housing prices would be less.

The whole argument for government being involved with housing is that it is good for society for people to own their own homes. I'm pretty sure In and Out Burger is good for society, but it doesn't mean the government needs to subsidize it. What they really mean is government involvement with the mortgage business helps prop up existing home prices so landowners can be more secure in their investment. And the negative externality are the speculators (both banks and individuals) who profit from the propped up prices.

From instapundit:

If — as I think we should — we return to a situation where 20% down is the norm, it’ll be less, too. though not as much less. But the value of a house in a funny-money economy isn’t sustainable, which means that it’ll be less, too, eventually. Reality bites.

Makes sense to me.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Peak Oil/Peak Debt

Years ago it became fashionable to worry about Peak Oil Theory amongst uber-liberals. They don't seem to be too concerned with Peak Debt, ie massive government spending plus the looming Medicare and Social Security disasters.

My question: why not? It is much closer and much more obvious.
The Food Police Are Here

For anyone who thought government take-over of health care wouldn't lead to more government control over our personal lives, may I introduce you to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors:

Last week, the San Francisco board of supervisors voted to hose the Happy Meal. No longer would McDonald's (or any other restaurant) be allowed to provide a free toy with a meal that exceeds specified amounts of fat, sugar, and calories. If the folks at the Golden Arches want to offer a Batman action figure, it will have to be flanked by fruits and vegetables...

...San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar speaks in more grandiose terms. He said the Happy Meal ordinance addresses "a survival issue," and proclaimed, "We're part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice." Food justice?

Now, there are many places where the government ought to be: between a citizen and a mugger, between the polluter and the sky, between us all and al-Qaida. But the space between a diner's hand and a diner's mouth is not one of them.

What's next? Forced exercise?

Friday, November 05, 2010

Recession Not Over

When you examine the real numbers.

Here's a little nugget in the article I didn't know:

Government checks of one form or another are about 20% of total personal income in the U.S. Will the lame-duck Congress extend those benefits? Will they extend the Bush tax cuts? I recently spoke to with Suze Orman. She said she thinks they should raise the limit to $500,000 or $1 million. That higher number would be a reasonable compromise, in my humble opinion. Will the Republican Congress agree when they come back?

Yikes. It does not strike me as either fair or sustainable if 20% of income in the US is supplied by the Government. Or does this include government employees? I suppose that makes more sense.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Welcome, Stagflation

Commodities are spiking in price - sugar, corn, cotton. So basically everything is going to start costing more: all food, all clothes, all corn based alcohol.

So, it'll by like the 70s all over again, growth in the economy, no jobs, and inflation will be going up. On the upside, the movies might get better.
Ground Zero Mosque

A Saudi Prince weighs in.

"I am against putting the mosque in that particular place. And I'll tell you why. For two reasons: first of all, those people behind the mosque have to respect, have to appreciate and have to defer to the people of New York, and not try to agitate the wound by saying 'we need to put the mosque next to the 9/11 site'"

Not that I give a flying shit what any Saudi Prince thinks, but when you're right, you're right.

Social Security Scam Robs Elderly By Convincing Them They Are Dead

A reader urges people to live a little.

I agree. Enjoy a McRib. One point with which I disagree - watching Seinfeld re-runs doesn't sound like a waste of life to me.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Do The Tea Parties Deserve Props?

Interesting opinion piece.

Allegedly, the Tea Party movement has been violent, angry, intent to incite fear and hate among the populace. These narratives weren’t true — tonight’s vote has proven them caricatures laid out by journalists with short wordcounts and shorter attention spans.

Violent movements do not do these things. They don’t show up at the polls and overwhelm the establishment in favor of a minority candidate, as in the case of Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, R-Fla. They also don’t lose so badly, as in the case of Christine O’Donnell. They don’t take on, and nearly defeat, the leader of the majority party in the Senate, at the same time as he colludes with casinos in a potentially illegal scheme to get out the vote in his favor. They don’t settle for a more liberal candidate in Illinois just because he’s the most electable.

True enough. How much can you really bash the tea partiers - they disagreed with what the government was doing and they organized to vote them out. Democracy in action. No one's found a better system.
The Dark Side of Female Friendships

I'm glad I'm not a girl.
Prop 19 Fails

Apparently it is difficult to motivate potheads to go to the polls. Who wouldda thought?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

By The Way...

Criticism will be good for Obama. The guy clearly suffers from an excess of praise. It would hard not to be, with the heaps of it piled on him. The guy got a g-d Nobel prize for just showing up to work. Many geniuses work in obscurity for years and and don't get notice for most of their lifetimes and then, if they are lucky, their work gets noticed before they die and they win the prize. Obama jumps into a campaign to get his name on the national ballot and takes off like Pinkberry and suddenly a year later is winning the Nobel Peace Prize for taking an utterly uncontroversial position as an Iraq war opponent from a liberal State Senate seat. The PC gods really smiled upon him.

I hope he doesn't take the Brett Favre route. Farve basically started believing in his own hype as a gunslinger hero and since 1998 has a 4-7 playoff record and is putting himself into the position of having a Joe Dimaggio like untouchable record of interceptions thrown. He also might be the first man to commit hari-kari on the football field by taking off his football helmet while three linebackers are about to crush him to prove his toughness. This is rather know...just tossing a swing pass to Adrian Peterson and let him run.

Anyhow, enough of that little rant, it'll just be nice to see how Obama handles this beat-down. Whether he dusts himself off and figures out how to fix things. Or whether he gets and loony and like Randy Moss stops talking to the media or like LeBron makes weirdo, defensive Nike Ads.
What Will Obama Do?

Watching some CNN, it looks like the Republicans are taking the House and the Democrats are holding the Senate because Barbara Boxer eeked out a victory in Norcal. Interesting. Boxer is not well liked amongst the people I know who know her (she hails from Marin). But she clearly has a loyal base and is always able to raise big Hollywood and Marin money. She is a crafty politician and a bit of a moonbat liberal. In any case, she beat Fiorina who seemed like a pretty weak candidate. Can't the Republicans find anyone better than Fiorina or Whitman in all of California? I mean, do they honestly think California is going to vote for someone who is anti-abortion? Stupid. Especially because Boxer was vulnerable. Her support amongst tacit Democrats was clearly weak. A better candidate than Fiorina would have won, methinks. They ought to have found some moderate Latino or other minority on the younger side - like a Bobby Jindal - they might have won. But this hypothetical person probably doesn't exit.

It looks like Brown crushed Whitman. Maybe not all the votes were in - I thought it was supposed to be a closer race. I think people looked and listened to Whitman and they reminded her of all the shitty bosses they ever had and preferred Jerry Brown who reminded them of their crazy drunk uncles at Fourth of July BBQs and decided they'd rather listen to the drunk uncle for the next four years than hear about TPS reports and staff meetings. Chalk this up to the evidence in Freakonomics that money DOES NOT win elections - but rather - money flows to viable candidates. Whitman spent $140 million. The folks on CNN were making fun of her. Eliot Spitzer had the best line, he said "I could have lost that election for $80 million."

So how will Obama take it? Will he pull a Bill Clinton and reevaluate his policies and triangulate? Will he run against Congress? It will be interesting to see politically, but almost more interesting policy-wise. Obama has been sticking to his premise that the reason there is backlash against the Democrats (and him) is because he isn't explaining his policies correctly and how the Republicans are bad-mouthing whatever he tries to do. He's wrong, of course. He hasn't done enough about jobs. It really is that simple. However one views the stimulus - because there are arguments both ways - the fact is - it hasn't led to more jobs. Perhaps it stopped a total drop off. It doesn't matter. People are hurting. And promises for healthcare in a couple years for folks who are hurting...doesn't exactly inspire confidence. And by the way, it doesn't inspire confidence in those WHO ARE working either - because they have no idea how much healthcare is going to cost. If they are a small business or thinking about starting a small business - they have no idea what the new health care proposal will cost. If they are a taxpayer, they too, don't know how much their taxes will increase. So there is this weird uncertainty all around. And the only ones who seem to subscribe to Obama's plan are liberal elites who remain economically immune to the problems of middle and lower middle class folks, but who believe generally in his ideological mission. Or perhaps the person who currently has a shitty job with shitty healthcare who looks down the line a couple years and doesn't seem him or herself in a better place...maybe that person figures Obama's healthcare proposal will help their existence. But to me and to most Americans, I think that type of life sounds pretty damn lousy anyway.

So what will he do? I guess that's the thing about Obama - we don't really know. I still believe the guy has a head on his shoulders and has the aptitude to learn on the job. It is basically why I voted for him. Although I didn't like all his positions on things, he seemed to reason through positions and come to independent conclusions. And I suppose his general outlook reflected my own moreso than McCain. I've been disappointed so far - but don't think it is impossible to turn things around. I think he got dealt a shitty hand, but guess what: that's what being President is all about. Bush was dealt a shitty hand too. He handled some things well and others not so well.

If Obama is clever, he'll co-opt Republican ideas about tax cuts as another attempt to kick-start the economy. Then they won't have a way around him and who knows, maybe it'll work. I don't know if he can pull off another stimulus, but if he does, for godsake, make it visible and make it loud. Build a goddamn Golden Gate Bridge. Think big. Don't invest in ideological fluff. Don't toss good money after bad to crappy companies. That's my advise.

And don't let Iran get the bomb. That's basically it.
In The Land of Santa Monica

During the Obama election, I had to wait in a long line to vote. Today...I walked right up. There was no one voting. The idea is that Republicans really motivated their base to get out and vote and the Democrats were unable to. Evidence: Santa Monica. The Blue-ist of Blue cities and no one was voting. At least at my polling place compared to the 2008 election.

No Obama poon tang this year.

I hope the Yankees re-sign Jeter. It'll make them less competitive. The guy has been overrated for years.

When asked how they beat the Yankees, one of the Rangers coaches quipped "they're old and slow." True 'dat.

LeBron is apparently miffed at this video. must admit the video is pretty damn funny. And Anthony Tolliver - I would have never known who you were. Who knew the NBA had such comedic talent?

Monday, November 01, 2010


It is probably the most important race in the country tomorrow. A typically blue state running a moderate Republican against a career politician with an independent streak in an election where Republicans are going to take a lot of House Seats back from the Democrats because of frustration with Obama's inability to fix the economy.

Tough call. I watched a debate on Youtube tonight. On the one hand, I think California needs to get out of the morass of public employee unions and state bureaucrats and intuitively, it would seem like an outsider like Whitman would have the better chance a fixing things. You look at Brown and think - jeez - when this guy got into politics - California was the model state - and now it barely functions. You could place the blame for the state of our state on him and other career politicians like him.

But Meg Whitman sounds like a fucking robot. And the woman didn't even vote. I mean, I almost can't take her seriously. What reason do we have to believe she is running for Governor other than vanity? Is she competent? I honestly don't know. I suppose you need to be competent to make 100 Billion dollars or whatever she has. Or did she just get into Silicon Valley at the right time? It's not like she's a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or someone who invented some product. She was a business lady who got put in charge of Ebay. I don't even use Ebay.

Plus, wasn't voting in Arnold Schwarzenegger supposed to be the "outsider" who could fix this state? Obviously, that hasn't worked out as planned. And he is entirely more charismatic than Whitman.

It is a very tough call. Brown is a likable guy, I have to admit. He is laugh out loud funny and unlike McCain, seems pretty damn vigorous and healthy for his age. I think Whitman is right - he is beholden to the Unions and I don't like his "green job" ideas for stimulating the economy. But then again, maybe the way to negotiate with the Unions to get someone friendly with them to get them to give up concessions...I mean, they can't keep going at this pace, it'll bankrupt he state.

But let's face it, Republicans are all talk. They yammer on about tax breaks and what not and yet, the tax code is endlessly complicated. When they get into office, they run up against interests and everything else and rarely reform anything. At least Brown seems to have his head on his shoulders and understands how the system works. And he loves California. Whitman is phony. I can read that in 5 minutes. The only question is whether she can be an effective phony. Maybe or maybe not -- but I'd bet on a person instead.
Why The SF Giants Are Inspiring

The Giants are one of the first Cinderella teams to win the World Series in a very long time. It is difficult for me to remember another. Beyond being a Cinderella, there was a character to this Giant's team -- very few stars, tough pitching, grind out close victories, old fashioned National League baseball that was a pleasure to watch. And I'm not even a National League fan. I like the American League. I like the DH. But I can appreciate good National League baseball when I see it. And the Giant's played it during this postseason. They were the perfect antidote to the steroid era.

The steroid era leaves an ugly taste. It reflected America at the time - everyone cheating - everyone know it and looking the other way - overpaying stars - just an overbloated, dishonest, make you feel embarrassed to be a part of it time. The most expensive player on this Giant's team - Barry Zito - didn't even make the post-season roster. They have good young pitching, got clutch hitting from savvy veterans, and a tough, consistent bullpen. Kudos to them.

Maybe they'll provide an inspirational model for Americans - how we just need to get back to the basics - hard work, discipline, being a good teammate, family member, community member - all that trite nonsense. Maybe it is that simple. Maybe we made it all too complicated and tried to out hustle and over manufacture "success."
Mom Kills Baby

While playing Facebook.

One more reason not to join Facebook. Or have babies, I suppose.

She really nails the Left to the wall:

Leftist leaders attract and control their constituencies with two fundamental ideas, both of which have their foundation in hopelessness and passivity, attitudes that have the bonus powers of making it easy to control anyone who buys into them. The first fundamental idea of Leftism is that particular identity/grievance groups are members of a permanent underclass, which entitles them to pity and unearned privileges and money. This idea has been particularly attractive to black Americans and led to the Great Society welfare state, the destruction of marriage and the black family, the rise of race hucksterism and racial protection rackets and a holocaust of ambition, talent and genius in the black community because welfare rules punish these traits ruthlessly.

The second fundamental idea of Leftism is that there is a privileged overclass who owe their pity and earned privileges and money to an ever-expanding list of identity/grievance groups in the permanent underclass.

Good For Ron Howard

I'm not a huge fan of his work, but gay groups are pressuring him to remove a gay joke form his newest film:

"I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as strongly as I do the right for that joke to be in a film," Howard said. "But if storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong-armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought."

Make no mistake, these types of demands from politically correct groups are the enemies of art and free expression. If the joke doesn't play, it doesn't play. That is the test. Removing all jokes that may offend a minority or persecuted group is the path to creative disaster.

Should college be the best four years of your life?

Friday, October 29, 2010


Randy Quaid seeking refugee status in Canada:

Mr. Quaid said he has been embezzled of everything to the tune of $40-million in earnings over the course of a 40-year career that has included parts in Independence Day, The Last Detail - for which he was nominated for a supporting actor Oscar - and Brokeback Mountain by a “monstrous ring” of estate planners and lawyers trying to “murder me” to assume control of his royalties, stating that he is better off dead to for these gangsters.

This is why you don't start using drugs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Easy way to check if you are registered in Los Angeles and where you vote.
Brilliant Interview

Michael Totten with Martin Kramer on If Iran Gets the Bomb. Good point here re: The Gulf:

Iran wants to create uncertainty there because oil is the only thing it has. Iran has nothing else — some carpets and pistachio nuts, and that’s it. Their population continues to grow, their needs continue to grow, and their grand ambitions continue to grow. So this, I think, is the first thing they would do with it. All it takes is to create a crisis or a succession of crises.

Iran knows it can’t wrest sole hegemony in the Gulf from the United States, but it wants to create a kind of dual hegemony shared with the United States. Nobody knows where the lines would run, but they wouldn’t run just five to ten miles off the coast of Iran into the waters of the Persian Gulf. Iran would like to see its share extend to both sides of the Gulf, to effectively create a kind of push and shove between the United States and Iran.

Terrorism is a tool used by weak states against stronger states to wrestle away resources. Similar to the aggressiveness of a poker player with a small stack and a half decent hand.

The article talks about how Gulf stability relies on the US for security. Iran gaining the bomb would obviously undermine this stability. Likewise, Israel bombing Iran would also undermine the stability. He lays down the gauntlet on Obama:

It would be an astonishing lapse if a man who promised to roll back nuclear proliferation watched proliferation develop in one of the least stable parts of the world, a place where the United States has only been able to maintain even a modicum of stability by a massive projection of its own forces. The region is of prime interest to the entire world for its energy resources. If it becomes nuclearized, it will be the one thing for which Barack Obama would always be remembered by history, and he would be remembered by history as a failure.


Would would want to be President - dealing with this kind of shit?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Japanese Guys Turning Into Hipsters

A study on the new generation of Japanese men.

Look, guys searching for more well rounded lives and less focused on work, work, work, or in prior generations, raping and pillaging all of Asia is probably a good development. The problem is - with this pussification of men - is the fact that Mongol hordes or Fascist Stormtroopers will rise again from some backwater civilization and stomp all over our wealthy, debaucherous, progressive, former powers such as Japan and the United States. If not literally, at least metaphorically.

Running one can be bad for your heart.

No part of me wants nor feels the need to run a marathon.
Storming Off

Sometimes I wish liberals weren't such fricking sissies.

But if you’re any kind of liberal at all, even in the softest and most non-political possible sense, it’s basically an indefensible thing to do. Fox News wants liberalism to perish from the face of the earth. Going on their air on a regular basis and lending your name and reputation to their ideological razzle-dazzle is like agreeing to be the regular kulak guest columnist at Pravda in 1929. For “balance.”

Jesus Christ. You don't win arguments by refusing to talk to the other side. You win by making better arguments. Problem with liberals, they think they're right without needing to defend themselves. Problem with conservatives, they think they're right and will twist the facts to support their views.

Watched this 6 hour movie at the Egyptian on Saturday about the famous Venezuelan terrorist from the 70s known as Carlos "the Jackel." I enjoyed the experience overall as a sort of anti-Avatar epic. Plus, I'm a sucker for political intrigue, terrorism, spy, kind of stuff. The biggest takeaway from a subject matter standpoint was how much these terrorist organizations were puppets in the greater Cold War. They were tools of various organizations - radical offshoots of the PLO, the Syrians, later the Iraqis, who in turn were being used by the Russians to counter-balance American and Israeli power. The best sequence was an airline hijacking gone awry when his state supporters abandon him and the Saudis use their diplomatic muscle to force Carlos to "sell out." It really goes to show how terrorist organizations need sponsorship - a place to kick back and relax and plan. A way to eat and get weapons. A way to meet and train with like minded people.

It still surprises me that we can't roll up Al Queda. It means they still have supporters and sponsors. What I don't understand is how we don't know who these supporters and sponsors are. Why they aren't named. We know tens of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia go to training these dudes in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. How can we not figure out a way to stop it?

It has to do with leverage. Clearly, the spy services all over the Middle East and Muslim world have ties and are linked with these terrorist organizations. They don't always have full control, but they know what is going on. And they don't a reason to roll them up, only to keep them in a box, and unleash them "just in case."

Call me paranoid, but some of these fuck-faces we call allies knew about 9/11 and kept their mouths shut. Or looked the other way. Or, I suppose it is possible, they tried to warn us, but we ignored them or didn't have a way for the information to get to the right places. It is pretty impossible to believe that a terrorist organization can operate without some state support or at the very least, states choosing to ignore.

Monday, October 25, 2010


From Mark Steyn:

So we’re not facing “decline”. We’re already in it. What comes next is the “fall” – sudden, devastating, off the cliff.

Read the whole thing.
Overlawyered Morons

The NFL officials defend the Miami-Pittsburgh call. Maybe they followed the rules, but the rules are stupid and contradictory and don't make common sense. I hate the NFL. I'm cutting myself off.
Michael Mann

What filmmaker other than Michael Mann is able to pull off an interview in the Financial Times.

What's next: Foreign Affairs?
And Don't Forget Me

Kaus on how did Obama lose Moe Tucker, the Velvet Underground drummer.

I'm serious. Was it really necessary to piss people like her off? Tucker's almost a perfect Obama voter. She's a single grandmom. Not rich. Famously worked at Wal-Mart (after being a rock star) and complained about it. A lifelong Democrat—until now. Was what Obama felt he had to do—save Detroit, save Wall Street, jumpstart the economy, pass health care reform—inevitably incompatible with her world view? Was a huge rebellion of people like her simply what you get when you "impose a liberal agenda" on a "center-right country," as Charles Krauthammer argues? Or did Obama gratuitiously fail to reassure her that her not unreasonable fears (e.g. "How the hell will this utopian dream land be paid for?") were unfounded?

Good points, all. One of my biggest beefs with the stimulus wasn't that it was tried, but how it was tried. It all seemed so phony from the get-go. Census workers. Really? Green jobs? Come on. FDR built the Golden Gate Bridge. Obama paid some people part time wages to go around and count households (plus, was this really additional anyway, wouldn't we have done census taking with or without the recession?).

If I were Obama, I'd point out how this was an opportunity to get labor on the cheap. A sale, essentially. Now we could build an awesome new tunnel underneath Los Angeles that runs from Santa Monica to downtown - and the cost would be 75% of what it would cost during a boom time because the labor would be cheap. It would solve the traffic problem in LA. Unclog the 10. And just as importantly - it would be symbolic. Something we can see and understand. People would see others laboring and working at building something useful. Cool idea, right? I'm sure other cities have cool ideas, too.

What we got with the Obama stimulus was a bail out of the auto companies -- leaving us thinking -- fine, it keeps jobs, but I still won't buy their cars. Whereas with the tunnel, I'd be like - fuck yeah - now I can drive on the 10 during the week without crazy ass traffic. With the census - it feels like nothing significant - with funding "Green Jobs" it just feels like politically correct nonsense and I can't see and understand who is being funded and for what purpose. Maybe if someone put a solar panel on the roof of my office and now all of sudden our energy bills dropped or something like that - but I don't see that happening. These "Green" projects don't seem ready to go. I don't feel like taxpayer money ought to go towards a bunch of hippies sitting around "thinking" about Green Energy solutions and in absence of alternative evidence, it seems like that is what funding Green solutions amounts to. If not, it is the job of the Green community to demonstrate otherwise.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Hate the NFL

Watching Miami-Pittsburgh game (because I can no longer bear to watch the 49ers) and there was a play that makes no sense whatsoever. Roethlisberger dives on a QB sneak towards the endzone and the ball is knocked loose for a fumble. But the ruling on the field is touchdown because they think he crossed the plane before fumbling. On a similar play earlier this year, Calvin Johnson catches a ball at the end of the game for a touchdown, but the ball comes loose at the end of the play and the rule says in order for it to be a touchdown, the player must "complete the play," ie in the CJ case, come down with full possession. How do these rules make any sense? On one play, all that matters is that he crosses the plane with possession. On the other play, he must "complete the play," and not just have possession for a moment in the endzone? These are totally contradictory and defy common sense.

The NFL sucks. The players are too fast and too 'roided up. The league knows the long term damage it is doing to the players - and not just the head injuries. It's all fucked up. The games are awful to watch - too long - too many reviews - to many commercials. There's too much pressure on these teams. They all play nervous and are all worried about being cut or fired every moment. I'm about ready to swear off the whole league. It reminds me of a hot chick you keep hooking up with despite knowing it is headed no where good, but you can't pry yourself away because she has a hot body and it beats doing nothing on Sunday. Every minute I spend watching football, I hate myself afterward for wasting the time and money.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Kaus gets a prize for being one of the O.B. (Original Bloggers - I count him, Andrew Sullivan, Drudge, Instapundit...maybe I'm missing someone) and running against Boxer and being harshly critical of Democrats as a Democrat and having super good bits. But he also gets the prize for sloppiest and most difficult to read blog format. He reminds me of a dude I went to school with who was super smart but a total slob and would come into class like that Peanuts character with dirt surrounding him, just a total mess and slop trying to find his homework in an overstuffed backpack full of loose papers. Anyhow, here is the good bit.

Update: Peter Thiel emails:

One critical point, that I have perhaps not stressed enough: We have a runaway debt bubble in education, and the costs of servicing these debts makes it much harder for students to take a number of lower-paying salaries (in non-profits, in start-ups, and indeed in a range of intangibly rewarding jobs). Effectively, our education system is steering people away from the high-risk careers that will take our civilization to its next level. This is a relatively recent change, and I don't think the debt levels were so daunting in the 1970s or 1980s.


The left and right blogosphere seem to agree NPR overstepped in their firing of Williams. Kaus makes a funny bit.

National Public Radio CEO Vivian Schiller has now apologized for a "thoughtless" remark about Juan Williams, whom she fired as an analyst for admitting that he gets "worried" when he's flying and sees people in "Muslim garb" on the plane. Schiller had told an Atlanta crowd that Williams should take his feelings up with "his psychiatrist or his publicist."

Will Schiller now fire herself? NPR officials seem to have a free-floating hair trigger oversensitivity, even about their own thoughts. This wouldn't seem to make for exciting, or even honest, radio. It's clear from this interview, for example, that Williams' firing was in part delayed punishment for him saying that Michelle Obama had "this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going on." I guess that was a colorful line. Can't have that . . .

They were wrong and overreacted. Better to fess up quick rather than string it out.
If Liberal PC Monsters Get Their Way

All public language will be neutered and we'll all soon talk like politicians for fear of being called racist or otherwise not subscribing to the party line.
Political Correctness Backlash

Good to hear journalists on the Left and Right are coming to Juan Williams defense on being fired for his harmless remarks.

Sad that in America today you can be fired for speaking a truthful, if perhaps unenlightened, opinion. Contrast this with the fact that NO ONE has gone to jail for the entire financial mess, no one at the Fed or Treasury department was fired, no one was fired for the intelligence failure of 9/11 or the WMD situation in Iraq. No one gets fired for any of these absolutely massive breakdowns and failures -- and a journalist gets fired for being asked his opinion and stating it.

You wonder why the mood in this country is low. Because of bullshit like this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Elect Fareed Zakaria Already

Can we just elect this guy President or something already? Or can Obama just do what Zakaria says? The dude comes correct.

Here is a smart point about the present state of the economy:

And yet something feels different this time. Technology and globalization are working together at warp speed, creating a powerful new reality. Many more goods and services can now be produced anywhere on the globe. China and India have added literally hundreds of millions of new workers to the global labor pool, producing the same goods and services as Western workers at a fraction of the price. Far from being basket-case economies and banana republics, many developing economies are now stable and well managed, and companies can do business in them with ease. At some point, all these differences add up to mean that global competition is having quite a new impact on life in the U.S.

Two weeks ago, for example, I sat in a Nano, the revolutionary car being produced by Tata Motors in India. It's a nice, comfortable midgetmobile, much like Mercedes-Benz's Smart car, except that rather than costing $22,000, it costs about $2,400. Tata plans to bring it to the U.S. in two to three years. Properly equipped with air bags and other safety features, it will retail at $7,000. Leave aside the car itself, whose price will surely put a downward pressure on U.S. carmakers. Just think about car parts. Every part in the Nano is made to global standards but manufactured in India at about a tenth of what it would cost in America. When Ford orders its next set of car parts, will they be made in Michigan or Mumbai?

The math is simple. Easy jobs can be done for cheaper overseas. Managing those easy jobs can be done cheaper overseas. Our cost of living is too expensive to be competitive for most manufactured goods. To justify our cost of living, we need to be producing shit that no one else can produce - examples - Hollywood movies, world wide pop stars, Apple ipods (although I bet they are built elsewhere), and other cool shit. If you ain't building that shit or doing shit that needs to be done local - teaching, police, fireman, etc, you're losing your job to Indians or Mexicans or Chinese eventually.

Why didn't anyone see this coming? What have economists been doing the past 30 years? How did we get into this ridiculous, unsustainable cycle where economic growth was based upon two falsities that propped each other up: inflated house prices, ie wealth and easy/cheap credit.

Now the chickens have come home to roost on this spin back loop of nonsense. It was as if a book author got paid to write a book, then wrote an anonymous positive review of the book for the newspaper to get some people to buy his book, and then bought more copies of the book with the money he was paid for book to further demonstrate he was a bankable author. Then he did it over and over for 30 years with the same cycle and finally someone who actually knows something said, maybe I ought to read this guy - he's published 30 books and then says "Shit, this book sucks why did all those reviewers and other people like the book so much? Just as the house of cards is about to collapse, we have other authors - who did the same thing as the first author - rush to the first authors defense and swear it is a good book and all his books are good (this is the bailout and stimulus). So the question is - when will it all stop? And are any of these dudes good authors?
I'll Believe It When I See It

Maybe Facebook will produce more entrepreneurs.

All these futurists, if you ask me, are rain making us. They predict rain. Then when it rains, they say "see, I predicted it." And when it doesn't, the say, "global warming" or some other "unanticipated" excuse.

Show me the entrepreneurs.
I Get Where She Is Coming From

Sharron Angle claims she is Asian.

I'm blacker than she is Asian. And we're both right. I'm more half asian than her, though. A lot more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Call It

A stupid New York Times article about all the one-liners disappearing from movies.

The obvious thing is that it takes some time for one-liners to be solidified into the verbal lexicon. But just off the top of my head, "Are you afraid of violence?" "I'm a fiend for mojitos," and "We can get down if the play calls for it." And that's just one movie, sucka.

And much as I love Chinatown - "Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown" isn't exactly quoted very often.

Lame, NY Times, lame.

It is mildly scary to read things like this:

CIA WAS WARNED OF ATTACK: A blistering CIA report outlines the mistakes the spy agency made which should have prevented an attack that claimed the lives of seven agents at a U.S. base in Afghanistan in December 2009. The CIA was warned that the assailant was a double agent. In spite of this, it failed to take necessary security precautions that could have prevented the attack by the double agent from Jordanian intelligence, suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawj. “He had confirmed access within extremist circles, making a covert relationship with him—if he was acting in good faith—potentially very productive,” CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote agency employees. “But he had not rejected his terrorist roots. He was, in fact, a brutal murderer.”

Judging by the amount of money we spend on the CIA and the relative poverty of our foes, I'd say their track record is pretty unimpressive. My gut instinct is that the CIA is bloated and stupid like most large corporations, which is why shifty cells of terrorists are basically able to run circles around them. They're set up to protect themselves from KGB infiltration and to wear down other large spy services, not deal with these run and gun terrorist groups. NY City PD would probably be better at their job than they are.