Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm Not Holding My Breath

Some dude predicts a stock market super boom to $38,820 by 2025.
I Want to Read It

Script been floating around Hollywood for 75 years.

Giggle. Hat tip, Brooke.
Gladwell on Twitter and Facebook and How the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted

Another great Gladwell article. In summation:

The instruments of social media are well suited to making the existing social order more efficient. They are not a natural enemy of the status quo. If you are of the opinion that all the world needs is a little buffing around the edges, this should not trouble you. But if you think that there are still lunch counters out there that need integrating it ought to give you pause.

Shirky ends the story of the lost Sidekick by asking, portentously, “What happens next?”—no doubt imagining future waves of digital protesters. But he has already answered the question. What happens next is more of the same. A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls. Viva la revoluciĆ³n.

I'm at a strange nexus on this piece. On the one hand, I agree with his entire analysis of twitter/facebook and the "weak ties" it fosters. It emphasizes - to me - all that is UNIMPORTANT. There are books and evidence to suggest how weak ties help with stuff like finding jobs and dating. I'm dubious, but that's just from personal experience. I share his contempt for the Wall Streeter finding his cell phone. Wouldn't it just be easier to go to the AT&T store and buy a new one than track down some bratty teenager via the internet? It read like the plot of bad thriller.

On the other hand, Gladwell argues activism is rooted in "strong-ties." And he seems to imply we are in need of activism. I'm a bit more conservative. I don't see all that many more lunch counters - at least in the West in general. We need jobs and re-strengthening of the middle class, stronger public education, to get ourselves out of debt, and to fix problems related to poverty (which also may be the issue with public schools). But I don't see any broad social issues with a moral component - like segregation. In fact, I do think the Western world basically needs a "buffing around the edges." It is the rest of the world - particularly the Middle and Near East - that needs an overhaul. And I am very skeptical of our ability to affect change in those areas without oppressive cost. We can nudge. And we spent our capital in Iraq. That was our "play." So this idea of "revolution" and "social activism" Gladwell implies...I just have no idea what he is talking about. What does he think needs changing? If Gladwell really wants to assist his fellow man, he ought to toss us some of his New York pussy shrapnel. Just one of his rejects, I'm sure, would make me happy (ier).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gone Batshit Crazy

Andrew Sullivan's (actually, his reader's) suggestion for Palestinians.

If Palestinians want to strike fear into the hearts of Israelis they should (a) give up on violence as a tool of persuasion; (b) give up on the current round of negotiations; and (c) start holding demonstrations in which they ask for only one thing: the right to vote. Their argument would be simple: They live under Israeli rule, and Israel is a democracy, so why aren’t they part of it?

A truly peaceful movement with such elemental aspirations — think of Martin Luther King or Gandhi — would gain immediate international support. In Europe and the United States, leftists would agitate in growing numbers for economic and political pressure on Israel.

On what planet is this guy? What evidence is there to suggest Palestinians want to give up violence? What evidence is there they merely want the right to vote or live in peaceful coexistence with the Israelis? This option has been on the table since the beginning of the Israeli state - but the Palestinians are DEFINED by their opposition to it. They are defined as by their rejection of Israel's right to exist. Can he possibly think this idea hasn't been around before? This is a beyond dumb suggestion - not because the idea is bad - but because he treats it as if it hasn't been out there already. This is like someone coming along and saying - "you know, what the movie studios ought to do is adapt a comic book franchise into a really good movie."
Food Truck Night

Last night was the first Food Truck Night in the Victorian parking lot on Main Street, Santa Monica. From memory, there was about 7 food trucks - A Vietnamese Sandwich Truck, A Shrimp Truck, A Chinese Taco Truck, A Korean Truck, An Indian Food Truck, A Korean Taco Truck, and an Ice Cream Truck. I feel like I'm forgetting one. Anyhow, it was a pretty damn cool idea. The trucks were there from 5:30pm-10pm. The basement tavern was open for drinks, serving outside in the parking lot and also inside the Victorian upstairs in addition the the regular basement service. As usual, the Food Truck lines were long - not super long - but fairly long. The prices seemed to be a little higher than normal. I paid $8.75 for Korean fried chicken with rice. It was tasty, but not the greatest deal or largest of portions. You can feast on a lot more delicious Korean food and drink beer and pay for waiter service at Soot Bull Jeep for about $20-25. Or you can still get a ginormous, almost two-meals 1/2 chicken platter at Zankou for $10-11. Maybe the truck I visited wasn't the best deal or maybe the trucks needed to pay the Victorian for the space and bumped their prices.

It was a scene. A lot of young 20s-30s couples and people hanging out along with mothers with young children. Lines too long for convenience purposes, but for the social aspect, it is pretty fun. Great to see the adventurous and limited nature of the food. Vietnamese Sandwichs, Korean Pork Belly stir fry, Chinese pork tacos, all sorts of inventive food crammed together like a rolling food court. Really nice idea. Since the evening was so nice, I got a gin & tonic at the upstairs bars as an after dinner drink and relaxed. It was $7. So the night ended up being not the cheapest. You want to do it cheap - the way to go would be the Vietnamese Sandwich for $5 and Budweiser special for $3. That's a good deal. Or maybe a chinese taco combo for $5 and the Bud. Or bring a thing of water. Cokes were $2 - rip off.

Great neighborhood activity. Already spread the word to most everyone I know in the Main St. neighborhood. Could see going every Tuesday so long as they do it. Good to do neighborhoody things. Reminds me of the days before cell phones when you just ran into people and "bump ins" were more common. Soon, with geolocation and everyone voluntarily being tracked by their iphones, there will be no bumping into anyone at all, you'll know where everyone is at all times and everyone will know where you are at all times. It is the stalker's dream and the introverts nightmare.
California Gov'nr

Kaus doesn't like either Brown or Whitman.

I didn't like either one of these people coming into the debate. After the debate I like both of them less. I'm voting on structural grounds. After all, we Californians have now tried electing a Republican governor to tame the union-dominated Democratic legislature, in part by threatening to go over their heads and take initiatives directly to the voters. It didn't work--Arnold Schwarzenegger got his hat handed to him when he tried to go the initiative route--and there is not much reason to think it will work better for Whitman, who doesn't have Schwarzenegger's charisma. Better to put the whole mess in the Democrats' lap and give them no excuses.

But if I have to pick a winner it's Brown (narrowly). At least he seemed like a human being. ...

George Lucas

The man has gone batshit crazy - he is releasing all 6 Star Wars in 3-D.

Hat tip, Phil.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Good Sign

Another Al Queda #3 bites the dust.

That's three of them - at least. If I'm a jihadi, I'm not applying for that job.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Man make up becoming more popular than ever.

It is 111 degrees in Los Angeles right now. This might be the hottest day I've ever experienced.

UPDATE: It hit 113 downtown today - an all time record.

I guess this global warming thing is for real.
Online Wiretaps

OBAMA WANTS INTERNET WIRETAPS: Next year, President Obama plans to submit a bill to Congress that will seek to make it legal for the government to wiretap online communications—including encrypted BlackBerry email, Facebook, and Skype. Law-enforcement officials say the rise of online communication has rendered their ability to wiretap telephones less useful. “They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet,” said the vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology. “They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function.”

I don't know whether this is a good idea or not, but I know if GW Bush was doing it, people would flip out.

49ers fire their o-coordinator
- I guess they needed to do something.
Cost Benefit Analysis of College

Interesting analysis.

Of course, this approach ignores a vital aspect of college life — the incalculable value of knowledge for its own sake. Thankfully, there will always be a market for people who want to read Shakespeare, to reflect with Burke on the revolution in France, or to deconstruct fast-food commercials for evidence of patriarchy and hegemony (every culture needs its thinkers and critics), but this market by itself could never sustain our vast higher-education infrastructure. That infrastructure sustains itself largely by promising to be a gateway to a better economic life. Yet I’m not convinced that the bachelor’s degree, by itself, has much marginal value compared to the underlying work habits and character of the individual.

I've always believed in the intrinsic value of being educated and striving to be the best in your field - which requires education. The issue of cost is dubious - especially when it comes to grad school and film school in particular.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Consensus...What Consensus?

I really don't understand the argument that the TARP bailout and the combined Bush/Obama efforts avoided plunging us into a deep depression. Why does everyone take this at face value? If GW Bush claimed the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars prevented more terrorist attacks - many folks - especially on the left - would have challenged this claim because it is basically unprovable.

Here, the author the The Black Swan, argues the opposite:

“Obama did exactly the opposite of what should have been done,” Taleb said yesterday in Montreal in a speech as part of Canada’s Salon Speakers series. “He surrounded himself with people who exacerbated the problem. You have a person who has cancer and instead of removing the cancer, you give him tranquilizers. When you give tranquilizers to a cancer patient, they feel better but the cancer gets worse.”

Today, Taleb said, “total debt is higher than it was in 2008 and unemployment is worse.”


“Today there is a dependency on people who have never been able to forecast anything,” Taleb said. “What kind of system is insulated from forecasting errors? A system where debts are low and companies are allowed to die young when they are fragile. Companies always end up dying one day anyway.”


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Now I Know I'm Getting Old...But I Love This Poem

No Enemies?

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You've hit no traitor on the hip,
You've dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You've never turned the wrong to right,
You've been a coward in the fight.

~ Charles MacKay (l814-l889)
How to Survive A Layoff

Good tips, but it amazes me really how obvious all this financial advice is.

It's like - d'ya think it's a bad idea to go on a big trip right when you get laid off from work? Jeez.
Lone Star

I watched Lone Star last night. The buzz around town "great show, but disastrous ratings, about to be canceled."

So I watched. It was freaking terrible. Incredibly Smug. From the lead actor all the way down to the camera position. Smug, smug, smug. And dumb. And predictable. What I like to call "fake smart." There is nothing worse than fake smart things. Things like American Beauty or 500 Days of Summer. I hate fake smart. It's just one big bluff. Like you can tell the creatives went to some doucey liberal arts college and took all humanities classes their entire lives writing essays on books they didn't read and just bluffed it. And they get critics who did the same damn thing reviewing their show to accolades. Anyway, I'm just making up this shit, but it's my impression. And to write on your blog "pretty please, watch my show." Gimme a break. The stink of desperation.
Imagine Me Holding Up the Middle Finger

Is what the clown Ahmadinejad deserves.

And I also hold up the middle finger to any delegates at the UN who DIDN'T walk out on his remarks.

"Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack," Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly. He followed with the claim that the attacks were aimed at reversing "the declining American economy and its scripts on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world, agree with this view."

That appeared to be the last straw for many of the diplomats. Representatives from the United States, Britain, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Uruguay and Spain walked out while Ahmadinejad asserted that U.S. government was involved in the attacks or allowed them to happen as an excuse to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

If history has taught us nothing, it is that clowns like him, left to their own devises and not opposed militarily, eventually find ways to unjustly kill and maim a lot of frigging people. You gotta make distinctions between levels of evil and stupidity. Just read the dude's words. No Soviet nutjob leader would spiel this level of nonsense. Consider this when evaluating his ability to be deterred. What we are banking on is the more pragmatic of the Ayatollahs, the ones who supposedly wield power over him, and yet they've let him off the leash for the past 2 years...what does that tell us?
Jay Z and Warren Buffett

On success and giving back. Two guys worth listening to, methinks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I'm Moving

People in the Midwest are having the best sex.
Which Is It, I Wonder

You hear this kind of insider noise regarding Geitner and Summers:

My conclusion, which I think is pretty broadly accepted now, although maybe not, is that Geithner, not Summers, was the true architect of the plan that, as he himself likes to put it, "broke the back of the crisis" which was necessary for a recovery.

I guess I really can't evaluate these guys knowing as little as I do about the financial crisis. I suppose they think of themselves as heroes. I find it pretty outrageous, however, that the so-called experts on the economy are themselves mesmerized by the complexity of all these stupid financial games and don't call bullshit on it all. If they're so smart, they ought to know that lay people - who are the people that drive the world economy through labor and spending - need simple/understandable/fair rules under which to operate...otherwise you cause this massive information gap and people start to do unpredictable and counterproductive things - like borrow 500,000 to pay for something worth 300,000.

Riddle me that, geniuses.
Law Student Bummed About Obama

Law student asks Obama whether the American Dream is dead for his/my generation.

I gotta stand up for Obama on this one. It isn't Obama's job to ensure that everyone gets a tony legal job out of law school. I fail to see how a guy who attends college at Princeton and then chooses to go to Law School and take out a tremendous amount of debt feels like he's entitled to the government help him achieve the "American Dream." Let's get real - this guy isn't interested in the American Dream. He wants to make a lot of money and have stability and the admiration of his peers and family and to drive a BMW. No one is or should be guaranteed a BMW and ski vacations. That isn't the American Dream. The American Dream is about having the freedom to pursue happiness. There is no promise of it. There is no promise that if you study hard and memorize all the answers to the test that you will get paid. No way. There is promise that if make and own something that it is yours and no one can take it from you. That you have the freedom to choose your own path. If this guy just wanted to be a lawyer - and that's all he ever wanted - there are ways to do it, I'm sure, without taking massive debt. State schools. Schools with financial aid packages. Or help from family. Or work during school. Or convince a company to help pay for you to attend school. And there are more than ample opportunities for law student grads - just like any other field. And obviously not everyone makes it. Who looks around anyway and says, jeez, I think we need more lawyers? We don't need more lawyers. We can always use more GOOD lawyers, of course. But I don't get the vibe off this interview at least, that this guy cares all that much about being a GOOD LAWYER. I certainly would not hire him for legal advice, if I needed it. So who the hell else would?

If I hear one more lawyer complain about not getting a six figure job out of law school, I'm going to puke.

Goddamn, this guy is a machine. He already has a book out on Obama at War.

And Bob's got the goods: Obama, who comes across as deeply skeptical about the war and overwhelmingly concerned with finding an "exit strategy" rather than winning, personally dictated a six-page "terms sheet" outlining the conditions under which he was sending the troops...

As if this wasn't obvious to the casual observer of Obama. But Woodward has documentation. Sending troops off to die for a cause he is skeptical about...well...this is what we get for electing career politicians to office - we get politicians and not statesmen. It could be said Obama surged in Afghanistan to create political cover for himself and the Democrats to prove they aren't soft on terror. Jeez louise.
Film School

I think you can apply this culinary school logic to film school.
Not A Huge Fan

I'm not a huge fan of this move: $60 Bil in Arms Sale to the Saudis.

What is surprising, however, is that this deal seems to represent a highly controversial shift in how the administration plans to deal with Iran: from what wonks call (borrowing language from the Cold War) rollback to what's known as containment.

In plain language, the difference is between a policy aimed at stopping Iran from getting nukes (rollback) and one aimed at stopping Iran from using them if, or when, it does (containment). A look at the nature of the weapons Washington is planning to sell Riyadh, which reportedly also include the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system and an upgrade to the Saudis' Patriot batteries, makes it clear that the package is meant to help one of Iran's largest neighbors (and a longtime target of Iranian provocation) cope with nuclear-armed and potentially more belligerent Persian state.

I am neither excited about the prospect of Washington preparing to live with a nuclear armed Iran nor excited about giving the Saudis $60 Bil in guns. Who wants to bet some of that is going to be used against us sometime in the future?

A lot of people talk about how eliminating Saddam was helping out the Saudis get rid of one of their regional threats. I always thought it was the first step towards de-leveraging the Saudis stranglehold on oil prices and that Iraq was the Tattaglia and the Saudis were Barzini.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Lawrence H. Summers, who heads the Obama administration’s National Economic Council, will leave that post to return to Harvard University at the end of the year, the White House announced Tuesday.

Former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers will resign from his high-level position in the Obama administration after the midterm elections,

The 55-year old Summers, who also served as President Bill Clinton’s Treasury Secretary, is currently director of the National Economic Council.

Obama officials are “eager” to name a woman as his replacement, the report said. Christina Romer resigned last month as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers.

It isn't lame that Summers is going. Who can argue the Obama economic team has gotten it right so far? The best that can be said, again, is "we avoided total catastrophe." Sort of like the 1-15 Rams celebrating not being the 0-16 Lions. Why do I have no confidence in the Obama administration? Because instead of focusing on what matters, ie finding a fucking genius to help restore confidence and credibility to the economy, they are "eager to hire a women." I'd be delighted for a woman to hold the position because she'd be great at the job, but clearly the Obama administration is searching for gender first and qualifications second. The reason for this is because they view race/gender/etc as ESSENTIAL to a person's character rather than how I view it, as INCIDENTAL to one's character. But hey, they are peddling the affirmative action industry whose raisan d'etat is to try and make the halls of power look like Benetton Advertisements.

I just wish folks who saw the world this way would stick to the fashion industry rather than you know - running the world economy and sending troops off to war.
Death of Communism

On Cuba's collapsing communism.

Consider this comment from a knowledgeable Cuban critic who was asked if the country's brand of socialism, created by Fidel Castro after his 1959 revolution, could be of use in other countries: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." That remark would have gotten him in trouble with authorities, if his name were not Fidel Castro.

A lot of people (moonbat liberals) like to point out how good cheap healthcare is in Cuba. Personally, I'd take a grocery store that carries food and a job that pays more than $20 a month before the "excellent" healthcare. But that's just me...

Denver Broncos receiver killed himself:

Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley has been found dead in his home. Sheriff Grayson Robinson says detectives are investigating the death.

Authorities were called to McKinley’s home in Centennial on Monday afternoon and found his body. McKinley was a second-year professional who was on the team’s injured reserve list. He played in eight games as a rookie in 2009 with seven kick returns for 158 yards. The Broncos released a statement from coach Josh McDaniels, who described McKinley’s death as “a tragic loss.”

I'd say there is at least a 50% chance this guy had some minor brain damage due to playing football. These brain injuries lead to stuff like early Alzheimer's and depression. The concussion issue is not going away. And look, no one lives forever, but the effects of playing pro football are clearly damaging to these guys long term health.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dick Around Abroad

Compliments of the onion:

"Taking time to go fuck around abroad has become essential to a well-rounded education," said New York University dean of student affairs Christina White. "We urge all our students to pick a program that's right for them, whether it's six weeks dicking around in the Spanish countryside, or six months sticking your thumb as far up your ass as you possibly can in Japan or South Korea."

I really screwed up in my study abroad semester - I actually studied and worked really hard and had a challenging academic experience. Part of this was because the Brits were so goddamn lame to kick it with, I had nothing else to do but study. Also, we had these one-on-one sessions with teachers, so you kind had to do all the reading and know what you were talking about.
Recession = Over

According to someone.

Doesn't feel like it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Born on Third

Sher forwarded me an interesting article inspired by the NFL Players showing union support prior to the opening night Thursday game between the Vikings and Saints and the subsequent outrage on talk radio about anything "pro-union."

That kind of thinking is spreading, because our pop culture priests have succeeded in filling the population with shame and nervous self-loathing to the point where they think of anyone who isn't an employer as a parasite, and anyone who isn't rich and famous, or trying to be, as a loser. People even think of themselves this way, which is why there are so many down-and-out people voting to give tax breaks to the same bankers who've been robbing them for years, and booing when the mere concept of unions shows up for a few seconds in a football game. It's sad, and a lot of it's the fault of mean little assholes like Cowherd. Shame on him.

Now I hate overblown and backward-thinking unions as much as the next guy. The type of working environment where one is encouraged to work less because you make the rest of the folks look bad. Almost nothing repulses me more. But the one thing that does is the person who is born on third base and thinks he/she hit a triple. The type of people who win the lottery and think it's because they picked the smart numbers. This kind of smugness about "success" and contempt for "failure" is classless.

The wider issue is balancing the fact that not everyone is equal. Some are more talented and valuable than others. Those people ought to be rewarded more. Overly egalitarian ideas of distribution are crippling to an economy and the spirit and creativity of people. That said, I don't think anyone wants to live in a brutal "winner-take-all" society like a lot of Latin American countries. A country of lords and peasants where the winners have everything the peasants have nothing. Unions and other such organizations, I think, can help us re-find or remain a country that values and protects the middle class. A middle class is key. It has been the key to American prosperity and political stability throughout the 20th century. And frankly, the extreme wealth of a lot of talented individuals are built on the shoulders of a lot folks before them and a lot folks who collaborate with them. Just finding the right balance is tough.

Friday, September 17, 2010

250,000 Ain't What It Used to Be

On the lifestyle of the "super rich."

The problem with the president’s plan is that the super rich don’t pay taxes – they hide in the Cayman Islands or use fancy investment vehicles to shelter their income. We aren’t rich enough to afford this – I use Turbo Tax. But we are rich enough to be hurt by the president’s plan. The next time the president comes home to Chicago, he has a standing invitation to come to my house (two blocks from his) and judge for himself whether the Hendersons are as rich as he thinks.

I'm not going to blame Obama on the tax loophole issue, that long predated him. But this article reminds me of a practice I witness at work everyday that illustrates how the better off protect themselves financially and the worse off get screwed. And yes, I'm breaking one of my rules: no blogging about work. But alas, here I go.

Our clients (writers) get paid by companies. Some writers are paid as individuals. When paid as an individual for performing "services" (as opposed to rights payments), taxes are withheld at a rate commensurate with what the government thinks the federal tax rate ought to be for their income. For instance, if a writer gets paid $1,000 per week, the government will withhold about 35% of the income as that is the estimated tax rate for someone making $52,000 per year. (these numbers are completely made up). Normally, it doesn't quite work this way - in fact - it is usually worse for the writer who doesn't get paid weekly, but instead in "steps." They might get a $10,000 commencement payment one month and then four months later a $40,000 payment for a delivery of first draft. Of course, the government has no idea how to withhold in these cases and will withhold the maximum amount allowable under the assumption the writer will make this rate of money for the rest of the year (they may or may not). That writer may get nearly 50% of the money withheld, even though that is the only money they'll make in the entire year. Granted, come tax time, the writer will get the money back if they fill out their taxes correctly, however, it is pretty discouraging for a writer to make $50,000 and see $10,000 go to agents fees and $20,000 to taxes only to be reimbursed maybe $5,000 in April and living on the $25,000 for the year. But all that is what it is, right?

Not exactly. See, there is another "class" of writer who doesn't pay any withholding tax. It is the writer who does not get paid as an individual, but rather, as a "loan out" company. Basically, the writer starts a corporation of which he/she is the president and only employee. You pay quarterly corporation fees and presumably some sort of tax rate (I have no idea), but the general rule is you need to make $250,000 or more to make this investment worthwhile. Point is this: you make over $250,000 a year and you are paying a lower tax rate than writer making $50,000 a year. You don't need to be a moonbat liberal to find this deeply unfair. And what's worse, at the highest end, we're talking about the biggest gap. A writer who makes $2,000,000 a year is paying a much lower rate than the writer making $100,000. Who thinks this can be a good way to tax people? What kind of twisted logic is this? I can see 90% of people saying - anyone making $100,000 or $200,000 per year ought to be happy - but really - should they?

Anyhow, now I might as well go off and visit a prostitute as long as I'm breaking my rules I've set up for myself.

Home Depot executive blasts Obama administration for "a collection of tenured dilettantes who have never had to meet a payroll in their lives."

Is he wrong?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Baseball Tossing Around Replay

An article in favor of replay in baseball.

I like Charlie Manuel's point:

"I like the fact that baseball has a human element in it," Charlie Manuel said. "And I think it's good that every time a call gets made, you've got two sides to it and people second-guess it and talk about it. I think that's what the game is about. I like that part the way it is, because there's always a conversation piece."

But the writer of the article goes here:

Obviously, we don't know how MLB would do it. But we do know how the Little League World Series did it last month when it tested a manager-challenge system. Each manager was given one challenge per game -- but if he challenged a call and got it right, he kept his challenge. If he got it wrong, he was done challenging for the day.

So how'd that one work out? In 32 games, there were only 16 calls reviewed. Half those calls turned out to be wrong. The average review took a whopping 52 seconds. And the average total delay -- from the moment the manager requested a review until the decision was announced -- was only 1 minute, 50 seconds. So you can't say that system slowed any games to a Molina-esque crawl, either. Can you?

Let me say this - people who argue in favor of over-regulation in ANYTHING - always make this point initially. They always say, "it won't be a big deal, it won't take very much extra time, you guys are overstating the problem." Cut to: five years down the line - watch an NFL game. What gets put into place isn't just a "rule," it is a "logic." If the "logic" of "getting it right" goes into place, then baby steps keep piling on to "get it right, get it right, get it right." It is never ending. Look at California right now with our smoking laws. At first, they said "no smoking" in bars. People resisted because it is paternalistic. But we voted it in. And it helped. Bars are better now. People are healthier. So advocates take it a step further - no smoking in public areas in apartment complexes or within 20 feet of certain things. Eventually, it will be no smoking in your home, because after all the "logic" is already in place. How long will it be before universal healthcare advocates point to the excessive cost to taxpayers of treating folks with smoking-related diseases? Then how long is it before we ban smoking altogether?

Look also at drunken driving laws. Advocates of such laws have stiffened the penalties way out of proportion to the crime. Nowadays it is common to have "drunken driving" checkpoints. What are we, Palestinians living under Israeli occupation? Who wants to live in a society like this, where soon we won't be able to smoke or drink or eat fast food or watch a manager yell at an umpire in baseball? Not me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Deal

We were closer to capturing Bin Laden in 2003-2004 than was reported to the press.

Big deal. I almost banged a super hot girl once. Neither of these close calls matter a lick.
WSJ Employer Rankings

WSJ did a report on schools employers are most happy with their employees. Nearly all are from top public universities.

Recruiters say graduates of top public universities are often among the most prepared and well-rounded academically, and companies have found they fit well into their corporate cultures and over time have the best track record in their firms. employers don't like entitled Ivy League and Liberal Arts snobs who think they're too good for their entry level jobs? The nerve of them.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Instant Replay

Maybe the NFL ought to keep instant replay, so when the sport becomes obsolete in a few years when they learn the full extent of brain injuries to these players, it won't be such a bummer.
The Return of No-Money Down

Jesus, this is beyond stupid.

They go on to debate the how this version of no-money down might not be as dangerous as the old adjustable-rate mortgages. Who are they kidding? Adjustable rate basically just guarantees default whereas a fixed rate with no money down is just living paycheck to paycheck risky.

But either way, having negative equity is very, very dangerous. And that's what a no-money-down borrower has in this market, because prices aren't rising much, and they need to find thousands of dollars to pay broker commissions and closing costs if they want to sell.

What truly boggles the mind is that the government still thinks that it's somehow a good idea to help push people with basically no savings into homeownership. Do they want to make sure that a whole new class of financially marginal people can enjoy the benefits of foreclosure?

Have we learned nothing? How can one even call this homeownership? This is bank ownership. I'd counsel selling stocks in any company involved with these type of loans.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Does NFL Replay, George Lucas, and The Dude Who Built A Sex Doll of His Ex-Girlfriend All Have in Common?

They all wastefully strive for precision. George Lucas has spent the past 20 years trying "perfect" his Star Wars movies and he basically ended up defacing them. Literally. He's added in all these stupid digital creatures to his original trilogy and by making the prequels, totally bastardized and cheapened the brand. Fine, he made a ton of money. Who cares? You don't take it with you. He already had more money than he or his children or his children's children would ever know what to do with.

Last week, I linked to this funny story about a guy who designed a sex doll like his ex-girlfriend, except she had bigger boobs. Same idea. Guy is delusional.

And the NFL is doing the equivalent with instant replay. Taking something really really good - ie Star War, a hot girlfriend and trying to make it perfect (see Phantom Menace and digitally enhanced Star Wars original and sex doll replica with bigger boobs) and in the process totally destroying the whole thing.
Facebook Ghosts

Using Facebook to get personal information. This is corporate espionage.

And from The Atlantic, a Facebook reckoning.

Because, let's be clear, Facebook is philosophically run by people who are extremists about information sharing. Though I choose to talk about my politics, or my identity, or my medical history or my personal relationships, I can do so primarily because I have the privilege to do so thanks to my social standing, wealth, and the arbitrary fact of being born in the United States. I also have an identity that isn't considered offensive or off-putting enough to face serious repercussions.

Facebook brings out the worst in us. We are not meant to be profiles. Our lives are not meant to be viewed, they are meant to be lived.
Over Ruled

After wasting most of my day watching NFL yesterday...I need to cut myself off. The end of the Bears-Lions game left a bitter taste in my mouth. It was a metaphor for the problem with America today. Calvin Johnson catches what is an obvious game-winning touchdown. But per the "rules," a receiver must "maintain control of the ball after he touches the ground, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete."

To watch the game it was an obvious touchdown. He catches the ball, has both feet on the ground, is in the endzone, and falls down. As he falls, he puts an arm out to break the fall and palms the ball in his other hand where it hits the ground and squirts loose. CJ thought he had a touchdown and was celebrating. Everyone in the bar I watch the game with thought it was a touchdown. The refs called it a touchdown on the field. Common sense says "touchdown." But instead, we watch 6 minutes of replay and the referee comes out and overturns the call. Sure, he can cite the rule. Sure, both coaches after the game don't blame the refs or the rules. That isn't the point. The point is - we've sucked the life out of the moment. We've sucked the life from the game. We've ruined what is beautiful for what is precise. We treat scoring a last minute touchdown as if it were a legal brief or engineering problem. We review, review, review, losing all sorts of momentum, all sorts of enjoyment, all the pleasure of watching sport in real time. And we slow it down to a frame-by-frame analysis, we need to refer to the "rule-book" and waste our Sunday afternoon and lives under a bureaucratic mess of contradictory rules that don't correlate with common sense.

Everyone complained during the World Cup about the mistakes made by refs that computers and replays wouldn't have made. My answer: so fucking what? Mistakes get made. This is life. This is sport. Live with it. You don't get to go back in time and correct all the things you did wrong in life. Who would want to? Who wants to live so goddamn precisely? Who cares? There is no respect or understanding of time in this whole debate. Doesn't time and pace matter to anyone? The enjoyment of sport is in the speed and the real-time drama. If I wanted to edit a goddamn movie or a goddamn legal brief, I'd spend my Sunday afternoon as a movie editor or a law clerk and not watching NFL.

It is a metaphor for American society - we've all consented to being overlawyered and over-ruled because everyone is so caught up trying to get a good grade in glass and seek approval from one another. It's fucking pathetic. Everyone wants excessive regulation to prevent bad things from happening, as if it will do anything at all. Every time something goes wrong, someone is to blame - the government or someone else. If only there were more rules in place, if only someone had paid more attention or done something else. Guess what? That's the world. That's the universe. That's life. Shit happens. Life's messy, imperfect, sloppy. But there is beauty in it. There is rhythm. There is a way to live it right. And choosing precision is for all the nerdy kids in school who raise their hands "but teacher, teacher, I need to know the correct multiple choice answer." And the answer these people want is A, B, C, or D. They don't seek the knowledge. They seek validation. Fuck those people.
Am I Crazy?

ON SEPT. 11 ANNIVERSARY, RIFTS AMID MOURNING: The ninth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was marked on Saturday by the memorials and prayer services of the past, but also by events hard to envision just a year ago — heated demonstrations blocks from ground zero, political and religious tensions and an unmistakable sense that a once-unifying day was now replete with division. The names of nearly 3,000 victims were read under crisp blue skies in Lower Manhattan after the bells of the city’s houses of worship tolled at the exact moment — 8:46 a.m. — that the first plane struck the north tower of the World Trade Center. At the Pentagon, President Obama called for tolerance and said, “As Americans we are not — and never will be — at war with Islam.”

It is just my imagination or have the promises of Obama being a unifyer and a game-changer gone totally unfulfilled? I obviously can't blame Obama for the Koran-burning and all this stuff, but it gets at this false campaign idea of "hope and change." What hope and change? What is different now? How are we morally superior now than four years ago? How are we more unified? I just don't see any evidence of "progress." I see more anxiety. More stupidity. More rules. More nonsense.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010


On the way to work today, I caught some live Q&A thing with Obama on the radio. I was a happy to listen to the President because I've been pretty disappointed with him so far and thought to myself - gosh - maybe I've been too tough on the guy and should listen to him more than just his critics, etc, etc. It didn't last. When he got into talking about the KSM trial and other trials of Guantanamo inmates, I just about lost it.

The question posed: why haven't we tried KSM yet? Do you still believe he ought to be tried in civilian court? Why haven't we closed Guantanamo?

His roundabout answer sounded something like this: the US shouldn't be "afraid" of trying KSM in civilian court. He said he had "faith" in the US justice system that we could convict this murderer of 3,000 Americans. My reaction - Huh? Is this guy totally clueless? Then he goes on to say that there are Al Queda members we picked up in Afghanistan still in Guantanamo who are terrorists and guilty, but for whom we don't have a proper trail of evidence for a civilian court and for whom a military tribunal court is more appropriate.

So I'm sitting here thinking - Obama's premise is that we should put on trial in civilian courts the people for whom we have enough evidence to convict and put into military court those people who we don't have enough evidence to convict. I can't think of a less principled stance to take. He both undermines the civilian AND military tribunal process by taking this approach.

The question of KSM does not boil down to whether we are "afraid" to try him in civilian court. The question is whether 9/11 was an act of war or an act of mass murder. I believe it was an act of war. The Bush administration understood it as an act of war. Therefore, the perpetrators ought to be tried in a military court of justice. It has nothing to do with "faith" in the American justice system. These people aren't Americans. They problem we are facing with Islamic Terrorism is not an issue of crime. It is an issue of a transnational group who doesn't believe in the sovereignty of states and who openly declared war on US civilians. Why they ought to be treated to the evidentiary standards of US Citizens who commit crimes like murder or bank robbery is totally beyond me. War is different than crime.

Obama keeps claiming to be a game-changer and to be playing the long-game. Maybe he sees something I don't. But as far as I can tell, the biggest issue of his presidency thus far is the economy and we're 2 years into the worst recession of my lifetime. The best argument for his policies thus far is that "things aren't worse" and "it isn't my fault." He has introduced MORE uncertainty into the business environment with inconsistent government meddling in forms of regulation and stimulus along with the ambitious healthcare proposal. It seems to me he mis-prioritized healthcare and spent all his political capital on an issue that became relatively less important once the economic crisis hit. He was making big old Ford Sedans when everyone needed a Honda. And I think he backed himself into an awkward position in the War on Terror by campaigning on the premise that he would fight a smarter WOT and disengage from Iraq and ramp up Afghanistan. He is sending more troops into a war that has little consequence to our security or strategic importance. He is taking credit for an Iraq drawdown that he largely inherited from Bush. On the flipside, he blames Bush for the economic crisis he inherited. The whole thing is strange.

I like Obama's positions on education and I like how he is coming around to some new ideas about stimulating the economy. But I think he is slow. I think he is off on a lot of things. I think he misunderstands and mischaracterizes conservative arguments against his policies. I don't think he is tough - he takes criticisms personally and he overcompensates in strange ways. I don't think he is sending the country into the shitter, but I do think he is delaying the fixes necessary to economic prosperity and pursuing unwise foreign policy steps - ie Afghanistan and the Israel-Palestine peace talks. I have a feeling he'll be getting better as President, but ultimately won't be viewed as very effective.

RE: Israel-Palestine. The elephant in the room here is that the Palestinian Authority only really represents half of Palestinians anymore. Hamas isn't even involved, so even if some type of "peace" is achieved, it doesn't represent peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Jersey Shore

Is genius. I can't think of a better examination of the perils of modern day male-female relationships. The whole show is about it. Sure, it is set in the hyper-real world of east coast guidos - but the universal theme of the show is male-female relationships. This show puts mumblecore and the whole romantic comedy genre to shame. The range of emotion is extraordinary. Primitive emotions bubble to the surface, characters do foolish, inconsistent behaviors, they explore the nature of random bar/club hook ups vs. the friends with benefits vs. the long distance relationship and the pluses and minuses both emotionally and physically of each. There is status, there is jealously, there is humiliation, there is the group vs. the individual, the larger group threatening private relationships and subgroups, there are passive-aggressive behaviors undermining relationships, there are weaker people exacting revenge against stronger people, there are stronger people bullying the weak, there are hypocrites, and there are attempts at doing the right thing, guilt for mistreating one another, unexpected consequences, myopic choices, there is longing, there is lust, there is loyalty, there are competing loyalties, there is shame, there is discovery, there is hope. This show is good, man. No joke.

Analysis of JWoww and Snookie writing the note to Sammy Sweatheart: I can't figure it out. Were they trying to be good friends or trying to undermine Sam and Ronnie's relationship? A little of both? Why didn't JWoww come clean at some point? Doesn't she realize everyone knows? Is JWoww secretly manipulating Snookie as her minion? Ronnie calling his "hometown honey" was a moment of pure genius. No one could write that. It wouldn't work on the page. The unbelievable stupidity and pathetic nature of the gesture was simply too funny. A parallel was the Situation inviting over two sets of girls to the house the episode before. It was both awesome and pathetic. Both these gestures reveals something about the condition of the modern American male - these grand gestures of sexual vitality - of appearing to be a "pimp" or a "stud" - but are so clearly laced with the most pathetic and unmanly and reactionary behavior of a young child -- this fear of Girl A rejection and lining up Girl B as back up. Oh man, tragic genius, man. Tragic genius.
Hard Knocks

Boy...watching this show makes me miss playing team sports, but doesn't make me want to be an NFL player. Rough. When the GM calls in Laveranues Coles and cuts him - basically because he is too old - at 32. Man. Rough. Almost worse was Kyle Clemons who gets pulled in and told he needs to take a major pay cut, otherwise they'll cut him and take a different guy as the 3rd stringer. Makes you wonder the value of these contracts. If they can at any moment cut you because you're too expensive...what's the point of a contract at all? Makes me more sympathetic with players who hold out. If the team could cut their pay, they would. So when they have leverage, they need to take advantage of it. And by the time they turn 30-32, these teams will dump them at the drop of the hat. Not to mention the life-long injuries sustained by these guys. I love football, but I wonder if it'll be around in 20 years knowing what we know about the medical issues.
Burning Koran's in Florida

A Florida church plans to burn Koran's on 9/11. Stupid idea.

The issue, of course, is parallel with the building of the mosque on ground zero. Sure...a church in Florida has A RIGHT to burn Koran's. Just like they have a right to burn the flag or burn their own books or burn their own bbq chicken. But just because they have a right to it, doesn't make it a good idea. Neither burning Koran's or building a mosque on ground zero are good ideas. They are both designed to be provocative and escalate tensions between the already touchy relationship between the West and the Islamic World.

UPDATE: Petraeus warns the book burning could harm troops. I'm not such a fan of this argument. Fighting a war "harms" our troops. The question is whether it is worth it. In any case, this appeal bespeaks an overemphasis on troop protection - both on a war front and on a domestic front...sort of the equivalent of resting players before a the playoffs because of injury fears.

UPDATE 2: Andrew Sullivan's minions agree with me on the Petraeus book burning statement and put it better than me:

I just don't think that in a democracy people in uniform are the proper arbiters of what constitutes appropriate free expression, even when it's an event with fascist overtones as obvious as a public book burning.

But I don't get this, either:

That is is being enabled by a party that claims to take national security seriously is an indication of just how farcical and dangerous the GOP now is.

I don't see the GOP organizing the Koran burning. It is a weirdo church. How he draws this link is bizarre.
Yes, Bad Idea

On why WW2 like spending is not a good idea right now.

The reason we rebounded after WW2 so well was that we were the only industrialized country not completely ravaged by the war. Not because we spent a ton of money. Jeez, that just seems obvious...

Friday, September 03, 2010

I Suppose We Ought to Celebrate This For Free Speech

A well-known Australian Muslim cleric has called for the beheading of Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders, a newspaper said on Friday.

Wilders’ Freedom Party scored the biggest gains in June 9 polls and is currently negotiating to form a new minority government with the Liberals and Christian Democrats. Polls show Wilders would win a new election if one were called now.

Wilders demanded to know why he had learnt about the threat from the newspaper and not from Dutch authorities who are guarding him after a film and remarks he made angered Muslims around the world.

De Telegraaf, the Netherlands’ largest newspaper, led its front page on Friday with a story on the speech by Feiz Muhammad.

I find the following disconcerting:

Many liberals passionately defend the building of the mosque on ground zero as an act of tolerance. Yet, the same liberals didn't want the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed printed in newspapers and magazines because it would "needlessly offend Muslims." How does this make sense other than a reactionary defense of a perceived persecuted group? If you insist on "rights" and tolerance, isn't Free Speech pretty goddamn important? So why - at the threat of both violence and offense - ought newspapers pull those cartoons? Likewise, no one argues against the "right" to build a mosque on ground zero - but how can one not see how such a statement is purposefully provocative, unnecessary, and will serve as propaganda to extremists in the Muslim world.

If there is any question on where I stand on the issue -

Bring on the Fatwah!

In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give A Shit?
Car Insurance Discount

I just found out you get a car insurance discount if you are a "degreed artist or writer." At least with 21st century. It saved me $60-70 on a six month premium. Pretty good. That MFA is staring to pay off.

Longing for Bush?

Americans would prefer to be in a foxhole with George Bush, who would swagger and announce as decider-in-chief at H-hour, “OK, pard, we’re going over the top together on this one.” They wouldn’t want to be with Obama, who would stutter and give a long-drawn out exegesis why race and class had condemned us to such an unfair predicament, whose only solution is to go into a fetal position and condemn “them” who did this awful thing to us.

I actually think most Americans would prefer just not to think about being in a foxhole. Because they aren't.
They Gotta Fight

How can they not arrange a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight? Jesus. HBO needs to cancel Bored to Death and concentrate their resources in putting this together.

Now that Mayweather has gone on a racist tirade against Pacquiao - let me make one point - had a white dude said similar things about a black athlete - the public would be crying for his head and I imagine the guy might be banned from professional sport. And Barack Obama would weigh in on the issue. But given that it was a black athlete talking about an Asian athlete, well, we'll just see what, if anything, happens.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


One of my favorite Simmons columns - rating the NFL QBs and grouping them by war movies.

He gets SF fans right, but I don't get the Doc Rivers reference:

San Fran fans feel confident they can steal a decrepit NFC West, but every time they think about Alex Smith coming through, they feel like Doc Rivers Googling his daughter's boyfriend.

Funniest moment:

Will we ever figure out why Leinart didn't make it? I keep going back to that "Punk'd" episode in 2006 when they pretended to arrest Leinart and his buddy for soliciting a prostitute, then a panicked Leinart convinced his buddy to take the rap for him before a giggling Ashton Kutcher jumped out of a van. That's a leader? Would Brees or Brady have ever done that? We should have written him off then and there.


Re: another USC alum - Mark Sanchez. Does everyone forget this guy threw 12 TDs and 20 INT last year? The Jets threw on the training wheels and basically let him throw slants and swing passes - despite this guy having an absolute gun. No doubt about his arm. You could tell the first time he chucked a pass in college. Now last year he went to the AFC Championship, fair enough. But let's not kid ourselves, the Jets D was pretty awesome and I'm just now understanding (via Hard Knocks and reading) how good Darrelle Revis is and how valuable he was to that team.

I'm looking forward to football in other words.
Man Replaces Girlfriend With Sex Doll

Whatever it takes to get over heartbreak -- some people write poems -- some people create life sized sex dolls that replicate their ex-girlfriend, but with bigger boobs.

To each their own.
Movie Marketing

On how they marketed Inception.

This process explains why movies sucks - thinking about marking too early and you are putting the cart before the horse.

If you are what you eat, this week I am Chipotle.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

She Should Have Used Facebook

I'm going to come out and suggest she should have used Facebook to stalk instead. God...I'm going to hell for my posts today.
Has This Ever Worked?

A local politician whips out his johnson and tries to solicit sex from a lady he gave a ride home to.

You hear about men doing this not completely infrequently. Now my prudish mind thinks "that move won't ever work in a million years," yet the mere fact that men try the maneuver suggests it must have worked at one time or another.
Hard Knocks

Holy shit, this show is awesome. Funniest line in the second episode - some coaches and players are talking about Joe McKnight, how he played at USC, and why he sometimes seems out of it - one player quips "He's bummed about the pay cut."
Oh My God

I suppose it is pretty low to talk about woman losing their looks in their old age, but jeezus-h-christ.

Nuts is Nuts

The Discovery Channel gunman, it is being reported, was an environmental nut.

Lee said he then felt an "awakening," watched former Vice President Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," and decided he had been doing too little to protect the environment.

Let it be said, I'll be the last to blame Al Gore and Davis Guggenheim for this tragedy -- however, let it also be said if the guy was "awakened" by a violent video game or a movie -- you'd hear hollers from the nanny-staters on both the left and right for censorship.
Date A Harvard Man

A website devoted to finding Harvard Men for women.

'Nuff said.
Discovery Channel Hostages

Live blog on CNN.

His rumored manifesto - it looks like he is an environmental nutjob.

All this is unconfirmed.
A Stand Up Dude

Tony Blair is basically my favorite politician.

Interesting stuff to say on Bush and Clinton:

On Bush - "I was asked recently which of the political leaders I had met had most integrity. I listed George near the top. He had genuine integrity and as much political courage as any leader I ever met," he writes.

On Clinton - Blair also suggests Clinton's affair with Lewinsky may have arisen in part from his "inordinate interest in and curiosity about people."

"In respect of men, it was expressed in friendship; in respect of women, there was potentially a sexual element. And in that, I doubt he is much different from most of the male population."

Forgotten Detail

One major detail not often discussed in the whole healthcare debate is the fact that we are living A LOT longer - and healthier.

So's expensive...but preferable to the alternative.

Good details in the article about re-thinking the idea of "career."

But changing that picture means exchanging today’s architectural metaphor, “building a career,” for another one: adaptive reuse. This is the human-capital equivalent of turning industrial lofts into apartments, factories into medical schools, power plants into art museums, or saw mills into shopping centers. Your original career may be economically obsolete, or you may just want a change, but your knowledge and experience still have their charms. Instead of equating success with a steady progression of better-paying jobs, each related to the previous one, this model emphasizes taking on new challenges and making new contributions, even if that means going back to school, taking a pay cut, or starting as a trainee when you’re middle-aged.

I fully intend to have a 15 year screenwriter career followed by owning a deli. Not sure yet how one informs the other, but I'm sure there is something.