Friday, July 30, 2010

A Nugget of Wisdom

I find this article a bit annoying in the overall tone, but there is a nugget of wisdom in there.

It turns out that while we did indeed own more, we actually had less. Less purpose. Less time for personal relationships. Less joy. But plenty of stress, anxiety, debt, and irritating clutter.

You know...I don't have a ton of patience for privileged Americans whining about their lives having no purpose and having too many consumer products. On this issue - I'm a goddamn Reagan Republican - if you make a choice to become a yuppie, forgive me if I don't give a flying fucking shit if it makes you unhappy. Moreso, I don't want to read about it or be expected to believe it is some type of existential crisis. It's not as if there isn't enough evidence or reading out there suggesting hyperconsumption doesn't lead to happiness.
You Can Be Arrested For Being Yourself?!?

Snooki arrested for public drunkeness

Arresting Snooki for being drunk is like arresting me for blogging.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Looking Forward

To the new season of Jersey Shore with the new cast member.

The show poses an interesting question - how can a show that is enjoyable for being shitty be bad? Get interesting?
When In Doubt

Listen to Ben Franklin.

He wrote: "I have not indeed yet thought of a Remedy for Luxury. I am not sure that in a great State it is capable of a Remedy. Nor that the Evil is in itself always so great as it is represented."

Franklin, of course, is known for his counsel on frugality, but only as a self-imposed virtue, not by the force of the state. The luxurist may be unwise, but that need not mean his wealth needs regulating.

Good Reminder

The early jobs of CEOS.

Her recollections of being a McDonald's crew worker in 1977 were hardly glamorous. Fields was a 22-year-old mother on a mission to earn money for college courses while her husband served in the military. She worked the night shift. Her feet killed her. Her blue polyester uniform stank of grease. She earned exactly $2.65 an hour.

It was her first job.

"There were a lot of days I wanted to quit," she said. "But I learned never quit over one thing, one situation, one person. Come back, and the second day gets better."

It's true.
Cell Phones Too Big

On the increasing size of cell phones. I've always preferred small phones.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Does Not Impact My Life One Bit

However, the possibility that we may be in a black hole is still kind of fascinating.

I see the Chris Nolan movie already.
Feeling Unloved?

Blame you parents.
Affirmative Action Sucks

A good critique of affirmative action from the left.

They acknowledge AA doesn't really help, nor concern, those outside the upper middle class. Which, in and of itself, should demonstrate the uselessness of this policy.

Agreed a much better debate or discussion topic is early childhood education or a more robust discussion about how to improve public schools, ie decapitate the teacher's union.
Well Thank God For Obama

A paper making the rounds that Obama saved us from a second depression.

Up next, a paper on how the Bush Administration saved us from numerous terrorist attacks.

Thank god for these wonderful politicians. If it weren't for them, we'd be in real trouble.
Social Relationships Key

I guess we should all join Facebook.

Take Risks

Why it pays to hire a risky employee.

Just remember: you need the balls to fire someone if they suck. It isn't as easy as it sounds.
Bring It On, Bozos

AL QAEDA NO. 2 THREATENS MORE U.S. ATTACKS: Al Qaeda's second in command Ayman Al-Zawahiri has surfaced again, this time threatening more attacks against the U.S. and the West. "Oh American people. We offered you a peace plan, and mutual benefit; but your governments were proud and haughty, and so the attacks against you followed one after another, everywhere – from Indonesia to Times Square, by way of Madrid and London. And the attacks are ongoing, and more will come one after another," said Zawahiri, according to a transcript provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute, based in Washington, DC.

Although Bush received a lot of shit for his "bring it on" line, I actually didn't mind it. F these Al Queda pussies. As big a deal as 9/11 was for us, it is barely a scratch on our civilization. Whereas, we're eventually going to eradicate Al Queda and Islamic Fundamentalism like the virus it is. We're going to give them the Magic Johnson HIV special and cure that shit.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

So What?


France has declared war on al-Qaida, and matched its fighting words with a first attack on a base camp of the terror network's North African branch, after the terror network killed a French aid worker it took hostage in April.

The declaration and attack marked a shift in strategy for France, usually discrete about its behind-the-scenes battle against terrorism.

"We are at war with al-Qaida," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday, a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the death of 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau.

I'm sure Al Queda is quaking in their boots.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Breakout State

I can see how Iran may adopt this position.

In my previous discussions with General Hayden, he has always mentioned that his personal view is that Iran is “determined to have a weapon. If not a weapon, they intend to be in a permanent breakout state where they will have everything in place and will be able to create a weapon in a relatively short time. That may actually be their sweet spot.”

Such a position gives them cover within the dovish Western world and yet allows them to project power "as-if" they are a nuclear state. Clever.
Wikileaks - Duh

WHAT THE WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTS REALLY REVEAL: The whistleblower website WikiLeaks has disclosed nearly 92,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan, painting a grim image of the military effort. The top-secret files, released in conjunction with The New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel, show basic and unsustainable contradictions in U.S. policy, says Leslie H. Gelb. One of the revelations details how Pakistani military intelligence has been providing arms, money, and intelligence to the Afghan Taliban, who in turn has been killing American soldiers, confirming "informed" stories that have been floating around for years. It's now much more difficult to deny or dodge the truths that we've all be well aware of—and these leaked military intelligence documents underscore why the Obama administration needs to reconsider its Af-Pak policy, writes Gelb.

Wait a second...this is news!?! We've known for years the ISI has been helping the Taliban. Jezus.

Say what you will about her, but she does have an ability to draw attention to herself, even in jail.

And if you think that isn't is.

I hope my marriage doesn't end up like Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva. She seems really out of line.

Jeez, where are the nice girls at?
This is It

A weak NFC West. The Niners defense peaking. Settled at QB. One or two more years tops for Frank Gore. If the Niners are to make the playoffs in the near future, this is their best opportunity. It all hinges on Smith, unfortunately, not the guy you exactly want to hinge your season on. They could go 8-8 or could go 11-5. I actually believe it, if they figure out how to use the trifeca of Crabtree, Davis, and Gore. Remember, our defense almost single-handedly beat the Vikings last year and they almost went to the Super Bowl if Brett Favre didn't toss an interception at the end of the game in a totally crucial moment like he always does.

Oh yeah, football is coming back!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Good For Him

Blanc suspends entire French soccer team for next match.

I'm sure France have players that won't quit during the World Cup.
Russian Spies

Almost comedic. So far has the USSR fallen.

For the record, I had this idea nearly 10 years and incorporated into my first original tv show idea.

I should have copyrighted it. Actually who am I kidding?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Study shows women most attractive at age 31.


How the economy is affecting us.

Let me just say, at the end of the day, with my knee surgery co-pay cost and costs associated with physical therapy, even with some help from the you-know-who's, I'm still out a high percentage of my regular income plus some savings. Granted, I don't make much money, but I'm not exactly poor or destitute and I don't have a family. Part of the problem is living in Santa Monica and having a super good surgery center - something that might be a considered a good problem. But shit, one doesn't need to be Karl Marx to think what good is something if you can't really afford it.
Did I Mention I'm Not On Facebook?

Who isn't on facebook:

Sure, there are the people who just don't use computers. And everyone knows that one guy who can't wait for Facebook to come up in conversation, just so he can loudly and proudly announce he's not a part of the network.

Did I mention I'm not on facebook. Or on facebook. Not on facebook.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Inception Back Lash

A collection of Inception back lash. The toughest:

None of this prattling drivel adds up to one iota of cogent or convincing logic. You never know who anyone is, what their goals are, who they work for or what they're doing. Since there's nothing to act, the cast doesn't even bother. It's the easiest kind of movie to make, because all you have to do is strike poses and change expressions. It all culminates on skis in the middle of a blizzard, as Leo is pursued by machine-gun-equipped snowmobiles, but you don't even know who's driving them. I have no idea what the market is for this jabbering twaddle-probably people who fritter away their time playing video games, which I'm willing to bet pretty much describes Christopher Nolan. He labors over turning out arty horror films and sci-fi action thrillers with pretensions to alternate reality, but he's clueless about how to deal with reality, honest emotions or relevant issues.

Admittedly, I haven't thought about this movie much since I watched it and even forgot what happened in the first half of the movie right after seeing it.

A wise critic once said elaborate directorial "style" oftentimes is a mask for a lack of substance in films. Well, this has a lot of style.

I'm plugging my ears and yelling NAH, NAH, NAH anytime anyone brings up racism anymore.

You have the tea party calling the NAACP racist. You have the NAACP calling the tea party racist. You have reporters weighing in on the various shades.

Part of the reason I was excited about having a non-white President is that I thought it would make race a less-big-deal. And yes, I am happy with a non-white President the same way it pleases me that Eminem was a badass a rapper for a little while. Because I like shit stirred up.
Economy = Not Good

One need not be a racist or even conservative to be highly disappointed in Obama's economic policies. They certainly aren't working well. The best advocates of his policies argue, "it isn't as bad as it could have been." In The Loop has a moment when an assistant is late to a meeting because he was drunk and boning a girl the night before and after being scolded by his boss, tries to defend himself by saying, "being late wasn't the worst thing I could have done, at least I didn't puke in the meeting." The boss' best moment in the movie is his response when he goes on for about 3 minutes about whether he is supposed to congratulate the assistant for not whipping his dick out and peeing all over everyone and similarly absurd things that he didn't do. It was freaking awesome. And that sort of sums up the defense of Obama's economic plans, thus far. Well, at least he didn't inflate the currency like pre-war Germany. Or at least we didn't abandon the FDIC and cause a run on the banks. Are expectations so low that we are supposed to be thankful for "only" 10% unemployment now? Which, by the way, is an inflated number because of ps government jobs like census taking.

This graph alone is frightening. The average length of unemployment is double that of anytime in the past 50 years. Ugly.

Does anyone think Obama's extension of unemployment benefits has anything to do with the average length of unemployment? To suggest this to a liberal is offensive - how dare you say giving unemployment benefits makes someone look for work less!!! Uhhh...well...I don't know...human nature? Oh, and evidence.

So the Obama White House itself studied whether extended unemployment benefits have discouraged people from going back to work? What did they conclude? It's hard to believe that long-term unemployment benefits, however justified on humanitarian grounds, don't discourage people to settle for the jobs that are available. And if stimulus is what we care about--well, you'd think stimulus spending would be most effective if it didn't come in the form of benefits that required non-work. ...

P.S.: Here's a suggestive paragraph deep within a recent story on temporary jobs that the L.A. Times' editors somehow didn't highlight:

Single mother Marie Li works 22 hours a week as a teacher of English as a second language. She said she barely has enough money to buy food after paying for rent and her course credits at Cal State L.A. Friends tell her she should stay home and collect unemployment benefits rather than work part-time. But she says she likes teaching ... [E.A.]

Is "duh" an insensitive comment?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Food and Drink in the last days of post-war California. Despite it all, I do love this state.
Overpaid Public Servants

Yikes, a city manager getting paid $800,000 a year.

The thing this whole financial mess has brought to the fore isn't that some folks earn a lot of money while others don't, it's that a lot of folks have gamed the system in their favor and their salaries aren't commensurate with their contribution to society. Thing is, if one has a brain and is educated and has a tiny bit of moral character, you know if you're over or under paid. My first job out of school college, I was useless for the first several months. I had no idea what I was doing. I sat around most the day doing little assignments. In hindsight, I was being trained, but at the time I needed to ask questions all the time and was more of a burden than a contributor. I remember at Christmas time the VP of the company pulls me into the office and hands me a $2000 bonus check for having worked there for 3 months. I was dumbfounded. I thought every day I was going to get fired because I couldn't imagine why anyone was paying me almost a grand a week and health benefits to sit around and fill in some excel spreadsheets and go eat fancy lunches at SF Restaurants. Later I found out they were billing my time out at $80 an hour. I was worth maybe $20. But someone was paying $80 and I was getting some. Nowadays, I work my ass off and contribute to a small business operations day in and day out. I see how my work matters and I see how hard it is to turn a buck. If I'm lucky I'd get a $2000 bonus for the year, and I'd have earned every cent.

Point is, if I'm feeling guilty about that $2000 way back when, how does some schlub city manager justify earning 800,000. I mean, is this guy serious? I hear on NPR driving after work the "from his POV," well, say the guy does a good job and keeps the city lights on, cleans up the streets, and so fucking forth. I wish I was on the radio, so I could laugh my ass off. How many people who get paid $30,000 per year do you think do a pretty damn good job? A lot, I'd guess. And I bet there's a hell of a lot more folks getting paid $80,000 a year who do a hell of a good job and whatever it is they do. I bet there are folks getting paid $80,000 who are ensuring folks homes are heated for the winter and EMTs and firemen and all sorts of people who actually save lives day in and day out. We're supposed to think to ourselves - holy shit - this guy manages to turn on a few street lights and cleans up a neighborhood or two and he deserves 800,000. The level is just ridiculous. I'm glad it has been brought to the public attention.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Why Entourage is the Worst

We're supposed to believe the director of My Sister's Keeper and The Notebook is some sort of tough guy?

Please Don't Tell My Mom

A new website: Date My Single Kid.
On Facebook and Loose Acquaintances

An argument on how Facebook helps manage "loose acquaintances" and the benefits of such.

A decades-old insight from a study of traditional social networks illuminates one of the most important aspects of today's online social networking. In 1973, sociologist Mark Granovetter showed how the loose acquaintances, or "weak ties", in our social network punch far above their weight in their influence over our behaviour and choices (American Journal of Sociology, vol 78, p 1360). Granovetter found that a significant percentage of people get their jobs as a result of information provided by a weak tie. Subsequent studies have revealed that weak ties benefit our health and happiness. Granovetter suggested that this is because these friends-of-friends aren't like you, yet they are likely to be similar enough in social outlook and personal interests to have a positive influence.

My biggest "turn off" with Facebook is the essential neediness of the site. Like the person in high school who really, really, really wants to be friends with everyone. Likewise, I hate the force-fed invites and overall pressure imposed by Facebook fanatics that you "have" to join facebook or you're going to be some sort of technological dinosaur.

Yet, the argument posed above is actually the smartest and most pragmatic reason for joining and participating in "social networking." Now perhaps it is a reflection of my fanatical opposition to facebook and internet dating and basically all forms of "social networking" that I don't find it convincing enough to actually sign up. One issue, unfactored, is time. I'm perfectly willing to believe Facebook assists with the loose connections. But would taking the Facebook time spent and instead spending it on phone calls or emails or going out networking or joining clubs or activities, also achieve the same goal? Would it be better? How could one measure it?

Either way, I'm going down with the ship on this one. Facebook people can threaten me with having no friends, no career, no life, no whatever. I don't care and I'll tell you why. Because certain things, once given away, cannot be retrieved. Once you give up a certain level of privacy, you don't get it back. Now, I'm not a constitutional scholar. I don't know or even care about the "right" of privacy. I'm not looking at it from a legal angle. I'm talking about the choice of privacy. I don't want my activities to be "seen" by everyone. What I want to be seen, gets put up on this blog. But I don't want to share what I did on Saturday with everyone. I just don't. And I don't want to even want to think about the effect of releasing one bit of information to whatever hundreds of "friends" are out there and how that information is taken. It isn't worth it. And won't ever be.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cat Out of the Bag

A cool new Santa Monica bar.

Stumbled upon this place with Phil the other night. Couldn't believe we didn't know about it. Asked the bartender how long it was open, he said "4 days." Didn't feel so bad.
Self Importance

I blame Facebook.

In their book, “The Narcissism Epidemic,” Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell cite data to suggest that at least since the 1970s, we have suffered from national self-esteem inflation. They cite my favorite piece of sociological data: In 1950, thousands of teenagers were asked if they considered themselves an “important person.” Twelve percent said yes. In the late 1980s, another few thousand were asked. This time, 80 percent of girls and 77 percent of boys said yes.

Fine, Facebook didn't exist in the 1980s when the data was collected. is a product of the attitude and worse, a multiplier.

**added note - what I like about running a blog is that it puts things into perspective. I cannot be delusional about my importance. On a good day, 20-25 people read my blog, and probably some of those are repeat visitors. I am happy with that number, but it also gives me no reason to believe I am "important."
Awesome Moving Watching Streak Continues

I'll probably jinx myself, but I've been on a pretty incredible streak of late. Last night watched Seven Men From Now, another Boetticher/Kennedy Western with Randolph Scott. Lee Marvin plays the bad guy and boy, if you are a Lee Marvin fan, this is the movie to see. I still like Ride Lonesome tops, but this is a close second.

To review, good movies I've watched recently: Seven Men From Now, In the Loop, Ride Lonesome, Comanche Station, Restrepo (doc), Animal Kingdom (indy), Cold Weather (indy), Ain't In It For My Health (doc).

The only recent hiccups are Book of Eli and The Escapist.

I'll be watching Inception this weekend, so hopefully the streak will continue.
The Iraq Tragedy

Andrew Sullivan on the Iraq Tragedy:

What has neoconservatism achieved? In Afghanistan, the best possible option is a country dominated by an increasingly Islamist and nuclear-armed Pakistan. In Iraq, the best possible option is a country dominated by Shiites far more aligned with Iran than many Sunni Arab states. And so the upshot of the Bush-Cheney years is an empowerment of both Iran and Pakistan, the two Muslim countries either with or close to nuclear capacity. That is the end result of a policy designed above all to prevent WMDs getting into the hands of terrorists. I mean: you couldn't make this up.

He fails to mention that he supported both policies when it mattered. As did I.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Stimulus Failure?

A scathing article.

Why has the President’s $862 billion stimulus failed by 7.4 million jobs? Because government spending does not stimulate economic growth. All it does is move resources away from one sector of the economy to another. And government has a horrible track record at efficiently allocating resources. All that really happens is that, on net, jobs get destroyed in the transfer process.

That brings us back to Holland, Michigan. Maybe this new battery plant is worth investing millions of dollars in. Maybe it will eventually turn a profit. But maybe not. The issue is, “Why is this any of the government’s business?” We used to be a capitalist country. We’re supposed to have vibrant capital markets that make these decisions using market principles. Instead we have the Obama administration acting as a venture capital fund picking winners and losers not based on economics, but on political priorities (in this case global warming).

Ouch. By this measure, Obama's stimulus policy is similar to the technique I used to employ to get away with not eating my veggies: spread them around the plate, creating space, so it looked like I ate them.
Facebook Movie

I've gotten a ton of emails today about awesomeness of The Social Network trailer.

This movie will really be a test of my mettle. On the one hand, I hold David Fincher in high regard and from all reports, the script "is awesome." Great director and great script - in my opinion - difficult to screw up the movie.

On the other hand, there is the "idea" of the movie. While it is easy to make a bad or subpar movie out of a great idea, it is nearly impossible make a good movie about a bad idea*.

Most would argue, the facebook origin story is a good idea. They are all wrong. I loathe facebook and all it stands for in our culture. I cannot take a film seriously about an unserious subject.

*There are so many caveats to this, I can barely start. Of course no one thinks their movie is a bad idea, so there is subjectivity involved here. The one movie that comes to mind is The Queen. At first I thought - seriously? A movie about Queen Elizabeth and Diana and Tony Blair. That, in my opinion, is a bad idea. But it was a great movie - because Stephen Frears made it thematically about a certain generation of British women - women like his mother, I imagine, a eulogy for a type of very specific type of person who is dying out and becoming extinct. In that way, it was almost like a Western.

So what you have is a question - what is the core element of filmmaking? The idea** or the director?

Bad or uneven filmmakers have made good movies. Great filmmakers have made bad movies. This is an ongoing dilemma and I doubt it will ever be resolved.

**idea can also mean "story," but it means a little more than that because I would say it also incorporates theme and style.

Terminator Salvation was a good "idea." Make a war movie out of the Terminator franchise. And I liked the first half of the movie, but ultimately, it was still a McG movie.

Tough questions, these.
Good Lord

Luck coming to HBO
. Milch, Mann, horse racing. 'Nough said.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Me Too, T.O.

T.O. tired of being treated unfairly.

I feel ya, T.O. I feel, ya.
He Does Have A Point

Megan McArdle is making fun of pick up artists. My favorite bit, however, is this earnest commenter:

Megan et. al.: I asked in the last thread, and got only deafening silence, so I'll ask again: For heterosexual men who lack the skill set required to attract a woman-- which is surely a non-trivial segment of the male population, given the demand for pickup artist services, sex workers, and the like-- do you have a better suggestion on where they should seek the information and training they need to succeed at what is traditionally considered a vital part of the human condition, or is this solely a case of mocking the only avenue of help available to a segment of the population that's suffering? If a man has tried "being himself" and "liking himself for who he is" and all the other hoary advice offered to men so situated, only to continue to fail with no reason to think things are going to get better, what would you suggest he do if not seek the advice of the pickup artist community? If the choice is to get help from the only game in town, prostitution, or indefinite celibacy, then I'm hard-pressed to see how getting help from an admittedly cheesy outfit is anything other than the best of three bad choices.

The man has a point and at least he's being honest. As George Constanza said (I'm paraphrasing), "They don't want me, they want someone with hair, a job, and who makes more money."
I Write Like

Kinda a cool tool - you paste your writing and see who you write like.

I write like George Orwell. To test the accuracy of the link, I cut and pasted some F. Scott Fitzgerald and it turns out he writes like Stephen King. So then I cut and pasted some Stephen King and he too, writes like Stephen King.
The Box Office Bomb

Longing of the good old days of box office bombs.

I miss the time when we let these things die. Because I am a sicko with an overdeveloped sense of schadenfreude, yes, but also because I think that failures can be just as revealing as successes, maybe more so. One From the Heart is one of my favorite Coppola movies, as beautiful and intricate as a Faberge egg, and I'm a big fan of the bomb buried deep inside Apocalypse Now: That film's proximity to pretentiousness is exactly what makes it such a thrill. I think that Hudson Hawk is not a bad movie. I'm not so certain that Ishtar is a good movie, but it evokes the friendship between Hoffman and Beatty at a high point in both men's careers; there is something lustrous and familiar to their tomfoolery, like old friends who cannot leave a joke alone. Until Waterworld beaches itself on that supertanker with Dennis Hopper, the movie is possessed of a salty, wind-in-your-hair sense of adventure: Costner looks good against an aquamarine backdrop.

I do too. I think it is a revealing trend about our culture today - we don't want to accept failure. Especially public failure. The "trophy kid" generation are adults now. And so are the parents who raised them with the practice of everyone getting equal-sized trophies at the end of sports seasons to make everyone's self esteem equal. This is our world.
Nonsense Beyond Nonsense

The cost of depression:

The total cost of depression in the United States is estimated to be $44 billion each year: $12 billion in direct costs of treatment, $8 billion in premature death and $24 billion in absenteeism and reduced productivity at work. These do not include out-of-pocket family expenses, costs of minor and untreated depression, excessive hospitalization, general medical services, and diagnostic tests.

Jeez, so we could just pay for the bail out and all the wars we're fighting by being happy instead of depressed? $44 Bil means a lot of people are incentivized to promote depression...I just wonder what the hunters and gathers did...
Thoughts on Conflict

*Prelude - Had two recent British films from Blockbuster, the prison escape movie THE ESCAPIST and the comedy about the Iraq War build up IN THE LOOP last night. I started THE ESCAPIST and turned it off, it was so boring. IN THE LOOP was one of the best comedies I've seen in awhile. I'm also thinking about the two Boetticher/Kennedy Westerns I watched this past weekend - RIDE LONESOME and COMANCHE STATION - both awesome movies...

What the Boetticher/Kennedy films and IN THE LOOP had in common, that inferior movies often miss, is the use of conflict between allies. Every filmmaker/writer knows they need conflict in the script/movie. They set up a protagonist and an antagonist with competing goals and so forth. But what makes a movie special is when there is inter-conflict or micro-conflict within this super structure of conflict. IN THE LOOP is excellent at using this constant rate of conflict between every single last character, screaming and shouting and yelling and getting angry at each other, each trying to get some little edge over one another, all trying to get the other person to do something a little different, a little more, or a little less. It is a battlefield. IN THE LOOP is hilarious. But the comedy is built upon dramatic foundation. The most impressive element of the movie, is that it felt realistic, despite being over-the-top. I imagine it captured the insiderness of political staffers much more so than say WAG THE DOG or WEST WING.

The Boetticher/Kennedy films could be studied for a number of things, but foremost, writing. There is outside conflict in each film which brings together a group of temporary allies to ride together - but within this group of allies - each set has different goals that converge and diverge at different points in the movie. This really ramps up the excitement and dialog and meaning in the movies.
Final Words on LeBachelor

Good Rolling Stone article. Wassup with Rolling Stone? Bringing it back...

It's the prototype for all future news coverage — one or two dominant news networks pushing sensational fairy-tale versions of reality in a race for ad revenue, competing with a few scattered hacks on the Internet covering the much less important parallel "real story," i.e. the truth. In order for the networks to push their version most effectively, they have to genuinely believe that what they're spinning is real. Which is why you see them starting to mistake fake drama for real drama from time to time — they're beginning to drown in their own bullshit.

Oh boy. At least this future will give me something to write about.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't Do Drugs

If need further incentive to not try heroin.
Drinking or Cheese

I sometimes wonder if I had to give up one or the other for the rest of my life, which one I'd choose. Really tough call.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Scourge of Affirmative Action

A very worthwhile article.

While almost all college administrators and college admissions officers at the most elite institutions think in racial balancing and racial quota-like terms when they assemble their student body, they almost always deny this publically in a blizzard of rhetoric about a more far-flung "diversity." Indeed, there is probably no other area where college administrators are more likely to lie or conceal the truth of what they are doing than in the area of admissions and race.

Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class "white ethnics," social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice "diversity" on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the "underrepresented" racial minority groups.

What's worse, notice the actual effect --

Distressing as many might consider this to be -- since the same institutions that give no special consideration to poor white applicants boast about their commitment to "diversity" and give enormous admissions breaks to blacks, even to those from relatively affluent homes -- Espenshade and Radford in their survey found the actual situation to be much more troubling. At the private institutions in their study whites from lower-class backgrounds incurred a huge admissions disadvantage not only in comparison to lower-class minority students, but compared to whites from middle-class and upper-middle-class backgrounds as well. The lower-class whites proved to be all-around losers. When equally matched for background factors (including SAT scores and high school GPAs), the better-off whites were more than three times as likely to be accepted as the poorest whites (.28 vs. .08 admissions probability). Having money in the family greatly improved a white applicant's admissions chances, lack of money greatly reduced it. The opposite class trend was seen among non-whites, where the poorer the applicant the greater the probability of acceptance when all other factors are taken into account. Class-based affirmative action does exist within the three non-white ethno-racial groupings, but among the whites the groups advanced are those with money.

When lower-class whites are matched with lower-class blacks and other non-whites the degree of the non-white advantage becomes astronomical: lower-class Asian applicants are seven times as likely to be accepted to the competitive private institutions as similarly qualified whites, lower-class Hispanic applicants eight times as likely, and lower-class blacks ten times as likely.

It doesn't pay to be poor and white if you want to get into an elite private school.
The Kade Scale of Hotness

The 1-10 generally works, although Kade suffers a bit from only deigning to rate the hottest of the hot. Sort of like the grade inflation at Harvard. His rating of a 7 and 6 sums up his flawed choices:

7-Above average, keep as a friend

She may be cute and somewhat sexy, but not someone that I would date on a regular scale. Many 7’s will come off fake and not genuine because they realize they aren’t as good as the top tier, and this makes them even less attractive because they act like they are trying too hard. They can have just as many “bad days” as “good days”, and they lack sexuality and consistency.

Example: Charlize Theron, Jessica Biel, Kerry Washington, Cameron Diaz, Bar Refaeli, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Beyonce, Julia Roberts, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Lopez

6 and under-Don’t bother

Not worth listing or discussing. Not even friend or date worthy.

It's like a professor giving only A's and B's. It's grade inflation. Not to mention, Beyonce, Salma Hayek, JoLo. You gotta be kidding me. 7s? This guy's an idiot. And neglectful. A more accurate accounting:

10 - Too hot to be believed. Movie stars, models, girls who give a physical reaction to being seen for the first time by both men and women. The reason slow motion is used in movies. Bond girls. Very few in this category. Normal people like me will likely never know or actually speak with a 10 in my life, as they have likely a whole different world they inhabit. You find these girls in major metropolitan areas only like New York, London, and nuevo/rich/borderline criminal places like Moscow. They don't work for a living.

9 - Super hot, the hottest girl in a cool bar or club. The hottest girl at your high school. The hottest girl you've ever hung out with or talked to and you remember it. But in being honest with what you know about the world, doesn't have that extra special, one in a million charisma. Most guys will never date or hook up with a 9.

8 - Think of the hottest couple of chicks that inhabit your world. These are 8s. Guys are lucky to date an 8. Dudes who marry an 8 are considered winners. These are the hottest girls at your work, in your class, at the party you went to last weekend, at your trivia night, etc. There is no debate an 8 is hot.

7 - Hot, but flawed. Maybe not a face to match the body or vice versa. These are girls you're still stoked to hook up with and date and are perfectly suitable. Girlfriend hot. But...there is some debate amongst guys as to whether a 7 is hot or not. Stingy, annoying dudes, may insist she isn't. Nevertheless, 7s need to put a little work in, whereas 8, 9, and 10 really don't.

6 - Attractive and you'd hook up with her, but something holds you back from dating. (note: like the bell curve, most girls fall within the 6, 5, 4 category and so the actual difference between a 6, 5, and 4 is the most subtle)

5 - You'd hook up with her if you're drunk.

4 - You'd hook up with when drunk and lonely, but never admit it.

3 - Would not hook up with no matter what.

2 - Difficult to talk to because they are so ugly.

1 - Difficult to be in same room with because they are so ugly. On the same level as a 10, but the opposite. You will likely need to go to some weird state or country to find a 1, like where there was nuclear reactor leaks or they don't know about hygiene. Places in America - Reno, Primm, probably in the deep South, Eastern Washington, inland Florida, Appalachia, you get the idea.
A Review of Taken

Can I get an Amen
How Open Minded

IRANIAN JUDGE DELAYS WOMAN'S STONING: An international outcry appears to have bought Iranian mother Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani more time: According to an Iranian news agency, Iran's judiciary chief has temporarily halted the death by stoning of Ashtiani. Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the judiciary head in East Azerbaijan province said, "The verdict has been halted due to humanitarian reservations and upon the order of the honorable judiciary chief [Sadeq Larijani] and it will not be carried out for the moment." According to Sharifi the execution will happen eventually, but only when the chief decides, saying "Whenever the judiciary chief deems it expedient, the verdict will be carried out regardless of Western media propaganda." Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two pleaded guilty to adultery in 2006 and was lashed 99 times; however, her lawyer contends that she did not understand the court proceedings—she is Azerbaijani and speaks Turkish, not Farsi.

It Was A Torture

Ruud Gullit's summary of the World Cup Final. Sure, it wasn't the most beautiful game, the Dutch had many nasty tackles and there wasn't the scoring or offensive flair of some of the other games. But final games are often like this...remember Lakers/Celtics game 7.

I still enjoyed it. The best team won. Both sides missed opportunities. I will miss the Cup.

Friday, July 09, 2010

A few good moments.

Bosh, Wade, and LeBron all should get matching red Volkswagen Cabriolets.
What the World Is Coming To

It is a strange thing to be witness to the effects of excessive praise to several previously admired individuals. It has been a strange year for both LeBron James and Barak Obama. A year ago, Obama was the most admired politician of his era and LeBron the most admired athlete in America. Now, both look like ridiculous narcissists. Check this quote from Obama.

During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that “some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion.”

Of course! It couldn’t be that they have substantive disagreements with your policies, Barry. They just can’t get past the name.

As Ace of Spades puts it:

It’s kind of amazing that every single criticism of, or lack of proper enthusiasm for, Barack Obama is rooted in some sort of bitter, clingy ignorance and malice. Apparently not a single critique of him is well-founded, or founded upon anything at all, really, except hatred and mental retardation.

Beware of flattery...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Is Ron Paul Right?

I never took Ron Paul seriously because he wanted to pull out of Iraq and I thought the costs of it would be catastrophic. Now that Iraq has been somewhat resolved (for debatable reasons, either we won because of the surge or the two sides ethnically cleansed one another and hence stopped fighting). But he is running again in 2012 and I think he basically has the right position on the two most important issues - the economy and Afghanistan:

His advocacy of limited government, disdain for the Federal Reserve and belief that the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan has attracted an eclectic following of young people, anti-war activists and those wary of government intrusion.
More Evidence of Bureaucratic Overreach

From VDH.

What are we to make of our current NASA chief, the distinguished retired Marine Corps major general and astronaut, Charles Bolden, who, in an interview with al Jazeera, listed a “foremost” NASA objective as finding “a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”?

All of this, Bolden adds, expands the Obama “Cairo initiative,” those lofty revisionisms that the president offered to the Muslim world last summer in Cairo.

Surely, there is some mistake? Did a right-wing satirist hijack the transcript and insert “to help them feel good”?


OK—if it is a correct transcription, here are four or five off-the-top-of-the-head problems with this nonsense:

1) NASA is supposed to launch rockets and other craft, study space, and travel above the atmosphere. Its duties, especially at a time of budget restraints, are not to make any one “feel good,” much less “the Muslim world.” (e.g., why not “the Latin American world” or “African world”?).

Exactly. Since f---ing when is it America's "responsibility" to make ANYONE feel good about themselves. It isn't NASA or anyone in our government's job to make own citizens feel good about themselves, much less, the rest of the world. Who fucking cares how anyone fucking feels? Jesus Christ.

Read the whole damn thing.
Are They Reading Public Musings?

At the Aspen Idea festival?

“The curse of longterm unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time,” Ferguson said. “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”

Ferguson was joined in his harsh attack by billionaire real estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. Both lambasted Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit spending program—in the name of economic stimulus to cushion the impact of the 2008 financial meltdown—as fiscally ruinous, potentially turning America into a second-rate power.

“We are, without question, in a period of decline, particularly in the business world,” Zuckerman said. “The real problem we have…are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

Zuckerman added that he detects in the Obama White House “hostility to the very kinds of [business] culture that have made this the great country that it is and was. I think we have to find some way of dealing with that or else we will do great damage to this country with a public policy that could ruin everything.”

Do we have any reason to think they are wrong? Just because Obama is a likable guy? We are running into a problem with our professional politicians - and Obama exemplifies it - these guys have never done anything but run for political office. Obama has never once run a business or made money for anybody. I don't think he believes in his bones in wealth creation. He touted his experience as a community organizer, as if this functions serves society. Sure, being a community organizer is a nice-guy thing to do - it "helps" poor people. I personally think it is nonsense. How could a society of community organizers possibly function? The whole premise is guilting those with money to give up some of it to those that don't. Am I wrong here? And now that is exactly what the federal government is doing for financial reform - bailing out the connected in exchange for their money and support for redistributive programs. Both horrible ideas.
Oh Jesus, What a Joke

New financial regulations are going to require quotas for women and minorities.

Each office would have its own director and staff to develop policies promoting equal employment opportunities and racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of not just the agency’s workforce, but also the workforces of its contractors and sub-contractors.

Not a good idea. Can we please throw affirmative action into the dustbin where it belongs? It is a disgusting, dated, abused idea. It helps no one but already privileged "minorities." It replaces the concept of merit with gamesmenship and it leaves everyone involved from the winners and losers of the system corrupted and cynical. We should no longer spend one idiota of energy on the concept and instead focus on improving under-privileged public schools and other community strengthening programs.
I May Not Watch NBA Next Year

This LeBron and company free agent cotillion is the gayest saga ever concocted. And I can't believe the degree to which all these sports reporters, etc have fallen into it. This is like the scenario Philip Seymour Hoffman warns the kid in Almost Famous about. These guys aren't your friends. An hour long tv special to announce what team he is going to? This is while the World Cup (aka best sporting event ever and only debate is with the NCAA tournament) is going on...what a frigging joke.

F--- all these guys for turning a great sport into a gay melodrama, part TMZ, part Sex in the City and part Real World NBA.
World Cup - Semi Finals - What the US Can Learn

Watching the two semi final games, Uruguay-Netherlands and Spain-Germany ought to be a humbling experience for US Soccer. There is much we could take away from observing these teams play.

Spain is outright ridiculous. I just watched the game and they completely handled Germany. How many shots did Germany get in the game? 2? The skill level of Spain across the board is shocking. Do we realize Spain doesn't start two players - Torres and Fàbregas - who if they were on the US team, would be our best field player, without question. Perhaps Fàbregas is hurt and Torres is not in great form, but both players would easily replace Donovan as our top playmaker. That is downright scary.

Germany. Despite getting handled by Spain, this German team was a wonder to watch in the tournament, especially the outpouring of counterattack goals against England and Argentina. The England game would have been different had they gotten Lampard's goal correct, nevertheless, what is most striking and scary about this German team is the core of young players - in particular Ozil and Mueller. I don't think Mueller being out of the game against Spain changes the outcome (obviously, you never know), but he is a dangerous and smart player. Ozil is spectacular. He didn't play great against Spain, but he is a smooth dude and would easily be on my All-Tournament team. Other than Bradley, the US Youth movement does not look promising and is way below the level of the young Germans and even the young Ghanaians. And it wouldn't surprise me if Brazil and Argentina have players we didn't even see - second teamers - that are be better than our young guys.

Uruguay - My favorite team of the tournament who played with incredible heart in that quarterfinal game. They play with defensive discipline (pay attention US players) and then had the twin goal scoring threat of Forlan and Suarez - two dangerous and creative attackers. Forlan is on a different level. There is an argument to be made for him being the player of the tournament. Now bear in mind Uruguay is a country of 3.5 million people, basically the size of the Westside of Los Angeles. This demographic fact should make US Soccer red. The reason we stink at soccer and are not in the top 10 in the world has nothing to do with our best athletes playing other sports (as many US commentators would have us believe). We have a structural problem at identifying the best players and tactical problems with our play. We play a "blue collar" style of soccer and over-emphasize athleticism over skill. It is a similar mistake baseball scouts make when evaluating baseball players - and was chronicled in Michael Lewis' MONEYBALL. The difference, however, between US Soccer and US Baseball is that in baseball, every father and coach around the country from Little League to high school to college to triple A to the pros is pretty goddamn knowledgeable about the game and can teach good young baseball players how to bunt, steal bases, tag up, turn a double play, hit to the opposite field, move the runner along, throw a change up, locate a pitch -- all the technical elements required of becoming a good baseball players. Hardly any soccer coaches in the US all the way up to the college level know how to teach teams to possess in triangles, make overlapping runs, teach stepovers, how to strike the ball with laces, how to defend corner kicks, how to play a flat back four, how to draw a foul, how to take a first touch. And it is much worse at the youth level where coaches don't even know offsides rules or the entire concept of possession or even the most basic elements of strategy. But what's worse, is these soccer moms and dads THINK they know. I would be willing to bet, if we brought in the soccer brains of England or Netherlands or Germany to a mediums sized state like Ohio or Florida and just let them run a little soccer fiefdom, in 10 years that national team of Ohio or Florida would beat the US National Team 7 out of 10 games.

Netherlands - There is lots to talk about with respect to the Netherlands, but I will focus on Robben. We need to find players like Robben. Robben has very apparent weaknesses - absolutely no right foot. A right foot that is an embarrassment for a professional player, much less an international star. He flops like a maniac, which suggests low character. He is injury prone. However...the man puts the fear of god into the man marking him. I've never seen the Brazilians so flustered by a single player. Brazil seemed to have more skill at most positions than the Netherlands, save for that one match up on the left wing and that one match up alone shifted the balance of the 2nd half in Netherlands favor. We have some good players on the US. Donovan has world class speed and can finish. But opponents aren't scared of him. They may respect him, but he doesn't put top level players on their heels. Robben puts his man on his heels. His man knows he is going to cut in and go left and make a move or two and go left again. And he still can't stop it. It is freaky. Dempsey is a really skilled all around players - smart, creative, tough - but he isn't at the athletic level of Robben. He doesn't have that extra little turbo or what we used to call "magic." Robben has magic. Zidane had magic. Forlan has magic. No one on the US team has any magic. Altidore is physical speciman, but I doubt will develop into world class player. Charlie Davies had potential, we'll see if he recovers, he had that turbo boost of speed and those thick-ass legs. I don't know about anyone else.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I Know the Feeling

Headline tells the whole story.

Wait a second!!!
Is Obama Doing A Terrible Job?

Let me first qualify that I am not a racist. At least I don't think I am. Also, I voted for him. I supported him over Hillary early on. I undoubtedly have some white liberal guilt, even though I'm not white. Or liberal.

But I am a blogger and a contrarian, so I must ask questions such as these: Is Obama doing a terrible job?

Let's get one thing out of the way - the idea that Obama inherited all these problems from his predecessor, George Bush. Whether or not this is true, all Presidents inherit problems from their predecessors. Bush inherited the Al Queda problem, the Iraq problem (he did not create Saddam Hussein), and the infrastructure problems in New Orleans. But we do not let Bush off the hook for how he handled these problems, despite the fact that they in many ways, were all inherited or put upon him by other outside circumstances. We should therefore not be too kind or full of excuses for Obama. Yes, he inherited an economy in shambles and troublesome insurgencies. So what? The question is how he is handling those problems.

First, and most important, the economy. In many ways, Obama has captured the worst of both worlds. He has created enough private sector uncertainty with his ambitious healthcare proposal, unclear regulatory ideas, and all but certain tax increases, that he is further killing private sector growth. His "fundamental reorganization" of how America does business and does politics is concerning for all the folks who actually know what they are doing. These are the producers and the people we need to help steer us out of recession. It gives "hope" to the people who don't know shit about how to run a business or create wealth, the wishful thinkers and the dreamers and the frauds, because hell, they think anything is better than the current situation. And for them, maybe they are right. After all, misery loves company.

On the flipside, Obama has not increased public sector growth enough to compensate for private sector loss. For that, the stimulus was too small. Working for two months as a census taker really doesn't provide any long term promise for those employed. It certainly doesn't help the economy back on track. The stimulus helped stop the bleeding. But it didn't kick-start anything in the way the New Deal public works projects (or WW2) did. We extended unemployment benefits, bailed out banks without any meaningful new regulations to prevent "too big to fail," and kept the unemployment rate hovering around 10% instead of allowing it to dip to 15%. We didn't stimulate any growth. It should have been called "the band aid."

So...what we have is the worst of both worlds - debt and no growth. This is the whole problem with the "third way" Democrats post-Clinton. They think we can have our cake and eat it to. They think there is a "third way" where everyone can be happy, the banks, the homeowners, the business owners, the unemployed, etc. They think we don't need to make hard, painful choices. They think you can be married, respectable, loved, and get blow jobs from interns. You can't. You either believe that government's fundamental job is to secure property rights and freedom and that economic growth will be driven by the free market and sensible, easy to understand regulation or you believe government's job is to promote stability and equality amongst the citizenry and wealth ought to be redistributed along "fair" guidelines. But there are pills to swallow on both options. If you believe in free markets, you must allow for pain. You must allow for chaos and lack of stability. You must accept that you will not be bailed out when you take a risk. If you believe in equality and redistribution, you must be willing to sacrifice innovation, wealth, and unfairly burden the most productive in society. You will be Europe, in short.

The same essential issue applies to how we are fighting this WOT right now. But I cannot write any more at the moment.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Army

Just returning from vacation. Was thinking of writing a blog post about my visiting French Canada. Am not going to. I read an interesting article I had put on my kindle ages ago written by a Military guy who was heavily critical of the US Military's fighting ability. He argued that ever since WW2 our military has grown into an unruly behemoth that is best at self preservation, self justification, and self promotion -- and quite bad at winning wars.

Bam. Ouch. But upon reading, he made some very good points:

1. The military blames nearly everyone else for "losing" Vietnam other than itself. They blame the politicians for forcing them to fight with "one hand behind their back," by the American public for not supporting the war long enough, etc. In short, it was someone else's fault...

2. Although the US Military has never lost a "conventional" war, it hasn't been able to win an unconventional war in nearly 100 years.

3. We are either being beaten or playing for a tie against what we are told is an unpopular and not very troop heavy or armor heavy opponent in Afghanistan - the Taliban. How is it that we are spending in excess of $3 Billion dollars an unable to defeat these clowns? Bear in mind, the Taliban wasn't even in full control of Afghanistan prior to 9/11. This is by no means an undefeatable foe. The Northern Alliance was able to go mano-to-mano against them.

Food for thought.