Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Via the eyeball test, the Heat looked better. Even when the Mavs were ahead in the beginning. That said, Dallas missed a lot of easy shots. And the game was in Miami. Maybe Miami figured out Dirk is more dangerous falling away from the basket than going to the basket.

The Mavs look terrible on rebounding. That killed them. And missing the easy shots near the rim.

Miami looks very strong. James seemed like he didn't even need to exert full energy.

I don't understand why Dallas can't exploit their height difference. They ought to be pounding the paint the entire game and getting open 3s.

I think Miami will win the series, but I'm rooting for Dallas. Dirk will play better than he did tonight. And they'll shoot better from 3 range at home. But if they don't fix their defensive rebounding, it could be a short series.
Anti-3D Sentiment

Go Wall Street.

For the most part, 3D is an expensive gimmick and stupid. Who likes to wear those glasses? It rarely looks good. The only two movies that were interesting for the 3D were Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Avatar. You get some "neat" moments with animated 3D stuff, but overall, I don't see the appeal. Even Avatar and Cave, however, had their limits. Both were uneven in the visuals - Cave - whenever you were outside the Cave - was 50/50 - some shots were cool, but others were awful. The only amazing moments were in the cave itself. As for Avatar - the computer-animated creatures and forest were superior to the filming of the human characters. So what you've got with 3D is the ability to shoot the least interesting stuff when it comes to narrative filmmaking - cartoons and inanimate and unmoving objects. The best stuff - movement and the human face - suffer from the 3D process.

Also, I'm not sure I enjoy HD television shows - particularly dramas. Actually, sitcoms look fine in HD, but I watched Friday Night Lights at my parents house this weekend in HD and prefer the regular TV. Too clean. It lacks artistry. It reminds me the difference of reading a real book vs. a kindle. Just something about the kindle is less enjoyable.
Wrong Model

Some push back on the claim Iran does not seek nuclear weapons.

The question about rouge states gaining nuclear weapons centers around intelligence gathering and finding a smoking gun. Our instinct, especially because the intelligence was wrong about Iraq, is to try and prove that rouge regimes possess or are in the final stages of possessing a nuke before taking any radical action against it. This strikes me as foolish. The cost of being wrong - in the case of allowing rouge regimes to gain nukes - are immensely high. Much higher than letting a criminal go free. Not only for the possibility of the nuke being used by a rouge regime or terrorist proxies, but also in terms of global power and emboldening illegitimate regimes.

I'm not arguing we need to go in and conquer Iran, but it strikes me that we are using the wrong metric in terms of evaluating the cost/benefits of action vs. inaction.

Film: Midnight in Paris

TV: Game of Thrones, Treme, Friday Night Lights

Someone should put together a montage of every Woody Allen walking and talking scene between a male and female character in all of his movies. I imagine there would be a lot.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Why skyboxes are bad for American sports.

The rich have been lording it over the poor since Lazarus kicked the bucket at Dives's gate. Why should we expect Giants Stadium to be any different? Because it has been different. While professional sports have willingly contributed to some of society's most malignant evils (materialism, sexism, egomania), they have seldom been promulgators of pretension. And that traditional egalitarianism has never been more necessary than it is now, as America's delicate social balance becomes increasingly strained. As Kevin Phillips and other political watchers have shown so powerfully in recent years, it's not just that the gap between rich and poor grew wider in the eighties, but that the rich seemed less and less willing to acknowledge that the gap exists - while at the same time more and more willing to put themselves at a safe distance. It may seem far-fetched to suggest that mere games could connect the classes, but as long as there's been a team to root for, history has borne it out. In Chicago, L.A., and Boston, the very experience of watching a team could and did build cohesion among diverse racial, ethnic, and economic groups. That's an opportunity few of America's urban centers should overlook today. Unfortunately, nobody's looking.

The man makes a few good points. The rich wonder why Sarah Palin has a crass appeal to Americans...maybe they ought to sit in the bleachers at a baseball game once in awhile.

What makes me ill is that the skyboxes are essentially paid for by the tax payer. The costs are so expensive, only corporations buy them and then deduct them as business costs. Essentially, corporations look at the options - pay the money in tax or buy a skybox for our clients. This is the element of the American upper class that is completely uncouth - they don't even pay for things out their own pocket. Do they realize how expensive it is for a middle class person to take their family to a baseball game? You're looking at $200 for a family of 4 to buy decent tickets and food and maybe a shirt for one of kids. That is probably almost half a monthly entertainment budget for a middle class family. And then you have corporate folks making six-seven figures sitting above everyone else, not even paying for it out of their own pocket, and passing on the costs to the Federal Government by means of tax write-offs. What a joke.
Bring Them To Justice

If a congressman's twitter account was legitimately hacked and someone posing as the Congressman was reporting to be him, I say figure out who and press charges. This shit is serious.

People think things like these are pranks. Fine. Do a prank. Fess up. Everyone has a laugh. But when people don't fess up and the prank ceases to be funny and becomes malicious, you are talking about identity theft and libel. When it is used against a politician, this is particularly harmful as their reputation is everything.

Basically, this is someone getting an unpleasant picture of the guy and using it via twitter. It's fucked up.
On Medicine

Interesting graduation speech on the medical profession. Sounds like they need to import some successful GMs of sports franchises to get hospitals working like teams.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cognitive Bias Against LaBron

Interesting analysis.

Also, good digs at Kobe in here. Stats back it up: Kobe is not clutch.
To Read Pile

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Talib

The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

Books: Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons, McMafia by Misha Glenny

Read major sections of each...not the entire book.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Losing Libraries?

I've just rediscovered them. Now that I work from home, I'd estimate I go to the library once or twice a week. Usually to write, but also sometimes just to check out books. The Santa Monica library system is awesome. The main library is a great building (with a yummy cafe) and lots of little nooks to plop down and work. It has a great book and dvd selection and I'll often check things out just because I'm curious. I've gotten into this habit of kindling a sample chapter of a book (for free) to see if I want to read it and then going to the library and checking it out. Then there are a couple other branches, one very close to my house down on Ocean Park. It is tiny, but still, it has books I want to read. I just walk down there and pick them up. It gets me out of the house. It's an awesome rediscovery for me (and maybe a little bit of an internet protest) and it don't cost shit.

UPDATE: There are a lot of kids at the library and also a lot of homeless people at the main library. The homeless issue is probably the biggest problem. Weird dudes just sit there staring at the wall, doing nothing and creeping people out. I think if they just picked up a magazine or book they'd be almost charming. Self improvement and all.
A Thought

Is college tuition tax exempt? If colleges are considered non-profit organizations, it ought to be fully tax exempt. Not sure if it is. Parents?

Mark Zuckerberg only eats what he kills.

We sometimes forget we're handing over an unprecedented amount of personal marketing information to a 27-year old moron with too much money.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Entertainment People, Beware

I don't watch Glee, but this article correctly points out one of the great traps entertainers can fall into.

For some reason, once creators get successful, they oftentimes feel the need to become "relevant" and use their audience or "power" to promote social issues. The minute you start down this line, you are selling out - not for money, but for politics. You essentially become propaganda. And totally transparent. I hope to have this problem one day and to spit in it's face.

Rogelio Baena, the ex-husband of the housekeeper who had a child with Arnold, told Entertainment Tonight on Tuesday that he learned just “one week ago” that he was not the boy’s father. Baena said he was, “very, very angry. … Arnold Schwarzenegger, for me, was my hero. Now I feel betrayed.” Baena was originally listed as the father on the boy’s birth certificate but his ex-wife said they had no children together when she filed for divorce in 2008. If he could speak to the boy, Baena said he’d tell him, “I am your father. That’s all.”

I would have thought the gigantic muscles and Austrian accent on the kid would have been the giveaway...looking down at your child in the crib and seeing The Terminator. Imagine that.
Poor Bastard

You gotta kinda feel sorry for John Edwards. The justice department is bringing charges against the guy. His star has fallen very fast.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Wish It Weren't True

But I'm afraid it is.

Have you noticed that wherever what Walter Russell Mead calls the “blue state model” is applied, you get a crust of really rich people, jobs for some folks who service them, and then not much employment or opportunity for younger people?

The only way to "get ahead" in Los Angeles is to REALLY get ahead. By this I mean, people do not end up succeeding by just sticking their nose to the grindstone. So you get 10% or so reaching this and rest lagging way behind. Eventually, it'll turn into an hourglass economy as described in the Post article.

What I would give to see MJ in his prime go against LaBron 1 on 1. MJ isn't as quick as Rose and Rose can't get around him. Plus LaBron is longer and stronger than any defender I can remember. In the Simmons book of basketball, he says Jordan would light up Pippen if he put his mind to it in practice. And Pippen was the best defender at the time. But Pippen doesn't have the physical skills of LaBron.
Fair Enough

A decent point about Westbrook's play.

The primary defender on Westbrook has usually been Jason Kidd, who one would think is way too slow to chase Westbrook around. But Kidd does a brilliant job of funneling Westbrook into Dallas' help defense and uses Westbrook's shaky decision-making against him. The Mavericks' big men (Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood) do a great job of helping Kidd, and it all forces Westbrook into bad shots and turnovers.

It sounds a bit trite, but when analyzing Westbrook's struggles this series, the truth is the Mavericks deserve way more credit than they are getting. As erratic as Westbrook sometimes is, he doesn't struggle like this against any other team. He's not beating himself as much as the Mavericks' defense is beating him.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Dumb BBall

I switched over to watching Rio Bravo for a bit when OKC was up 15 tonight. By the time it got to commercial, I turned back and OKC was up by 3 with about a minute to play. Dallas ended up winning in OT. How?

I blame Westbrook. Even though I didn't watch most of it. There was one play towards then end that epitomizes Westbrook. A crazy loose ball fight and Jason Terry knocks it away towards OKC's hoop. Westbrook races him for the loose ball. He's so fast and so athletic, he gets around Terry in like 3 steps and makes this crazy attempt to keep the ball inbounds and fling it to a teammate running the basket. But in doing so, he steps out of bounds and turns it over. The play was both amazing and amazingly stupid. Maybe 4 guys in the NBA can make that play athletically - Rose, LaBron, Rondo, Westbrook. I can't think of any others. But the play made no sense. Just let the ball go out of bounds.

Later, when OKC needs points and 4 Dallas defenders are guarding Durant, Westbrook needs to get the ball, dribble around to create space and get the ball to Durant or drive to the basket. instead, he instinctively drives into the lane and dribbles himself into trouble prior to creating space. In contrast, Kidd and Terry do a very smart play on an inbounds with the lead, where Terry runs all the way into the backcourt, catching the inbounds pass, dribbling around and wasting 3 seconds before an OKC defender can grab and foul him. And Terry almost avoided him, like a game of tag, and could have taken off 3 more seconds. Westbrook probably could have avoided him - but he isn't smart enough to make plays like this in the first place.

And then there was an incredibly dumb/emotional play when he pulls up and takes an ill advised 3 and then jumps over the back of Marion trying to get an offensive rebound - giving Marion two free throws and an opportunity to tie the game. You gotta love Westbrook's effort at times. He keeps going after the ball and rebounds well for a guard. I see Dirk running away from his own basket every time he takes a shot rather than follow for the offensive rebound. The guy could easily have 3 more offensive rebounds a game just by following his shots - I have no idea why a 7 Footer doesn't do this. But Dirk is Dirk. He plays like a 3 man trapped in a 7 foot body. And his career will probably last 4 extra seasons because of it. He might win a couple late titles. I'd certainly say Dallas is the favorite right now. Because even as good defensively as Miami is playing right now, who can stop Dirk? Could LaBron? Actually, he might be able to, since he's so strong...I love how LaBron is turning into this defensive monster. Maybe we shouldn't be comparing him to Jordan. Maybe he is more suited to being Scottie Pippin, with Karl Malone's muscles. Anyhow...back to Westbrook...his effort, while commendable at times, needs to be balanced with some intelligence. He is a dumb player and makes dumb choices continually down the stretch. If I'm OKC, this is my biggest franchise worry. When you need points in the crunch time, they want to put the ball in Harden's hands because they know he'll make the smart basketball play. He'll drive to the hoop and take the points if they give it to him, or he'll find the open man. This isn't hard to do. It is point guarding 101. And Westbrook doesn't have it.

The prices of law school adjusted for inflation. Big question: why?
Speaking From Experience

Ray Lewis predicts a crime increase if the NFL goes on strike.

I imagine Ray Lewis alone could cause a significant uptick in crime if not allowed on the football field.
Late Lunch Thoughts

I ventured up to North Santa Monica (Montana Ave) for a late lunch today. It is like a different world up there. Basically, just moms and kids. It has the crazy energy of a back to school night. Kids are acting crazy and moms are walking around wrangling little groups and making sure they don't run into the street. There is also a vibe of money. Lots of money.

It occurred to me: this is a really good way to raise children. Moms all around. Kids feeling safe. Two things it seems American society hasn't quite figured out yet - how to replace the hidden benefits of wives not participating in the workplace. There are two large things:

1. Overqualified teachers. Used to be, super talented women, without many other professional options, would become teachers. The benefits to society are obvious. Better teachers=better education=better society.

2. Crime and community look out. I doubt there is much crime in North Santa Monica. And it's not because the police are set up on every corner. It helps to have hundreds of eyes watching all the groups of kids running around with easy access to cell phones.

Now, this is not to suggest our society was better off keeping women - especially mothers - out of the workplace. Further, and perhaps more importantly, there is no going back, even if we thought it desirable. However, this societal development has left a gap - a gap in community look out and a gap in overqualified teachers. Now, it seems as though kids spent more time indoors playing video games and public schools are much worse off. Especially in California. I imagine the better off people send their kids to fancy private school and fancy after-school activities. But what happens to the rest of the people? The rest of the kids? The 90-95%.

There doesn't seem to be an obvious solution...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Different Kind of Book

Bill Simmons' THE BOOK OF BASKETBALL is a fun and unique read. I don't know if he purposely wrote it this way, but it certainly is not designed to be read progressively from page 1 to 770 or whatever. I found myself reading 70 pages and then skipping ahead and reading 12 pages and then skipping ahead and reading 50 pages and then reading 5 pages and so on and so forth. There are enormous sections of boring ass statistical stuff and about players I know nothing about and care little about. Nevertheless, it is a cool book and very unique. It reminds me of David Thomson's NEW BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF FILM and not just in the way you read it out of order, but because both books are fundamentally what I would call fan non-fiction. They are unabashed in their love for their topic - basketball and film - and their gushing ridiculousness and obvious subjectivity are both the strength and weakness of the prose. And both don't claim much insider knowledge, ie access to players, but more of a comprehensive study of their respective topic (ie being huge fans) and a definitive POV of what basketball/film ought to be. Simmons lays it out explicitly - about team basketball, etc. Thomson, if I remember correctly, does not, but it is clear he favors a good old fashioned humanist take on what constitutes good cinema and isn't overly impressed with the technical or spectacle or rebellious aspect of film.

Here I can pay Simmons a major compliment - I rented the book from the library - went through and read everything I wanted to read in 1 weekend and will probably buy the book to put on my toilet. High praise.

First Bin Laden, now this guy is caught.

It's like we got Batman helping us out...
What To Make Of This

I've tried my best to ignore the rapture idiocy. But this is fairly interesting - tales of people saddened and bewildered by the lack of rapture, even though someone spent hundreds of millions promoting it.

Reading about these people makes it a bit more clear why the housing crisis and financial meltdown happened.

If it was his last week on Earth, he wanted to see parts of it he'd always heard about but missed, such as the Grand Canyon. With maxed-out credit cards and a growing mountain of bills, he said, the rapture would have been a relief.

Boy...I'm all for helping the disadvantaged...but it makes you wonder how much money goes to helping just the plain old stupid.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Phil Jackson

Reading Phil Jackson's book on the season he left the Lakers in 2004 - mostly to dig up dirt on Kobe. A short passage I found interesting was Jackson's observations about a young LeBron James. Jackson was impressed with the basketball skills of the 19 year old, but how he didn't think anyone that young ought to be playing in the NBA. He though years from now they'd look at these kids and see the immense psychological damage done to them by such high expectations and wealth given to them at too young an age. He noted their reliance on an entourage and friends and surmised men don't really become adults and in control and understanding of their emotions until about 28 years old.

Funny reading this now, especially in light of the "taking my talents to South Beach" last summer and LaBron being turned into the villain. Thinking about the straight to NBA from high school guys - Kobe, LaBron, Garnett, and then the one-year in college guys: Carmelo, Durant, Rose, Westbrook (2 years, maybe) - and remarkably few of these guys seem to have their head on their shoulders correctly. Durant seems like the only obvious one and Rose the second. But give them a few years and they might go LeBron on us. All of the rest strike me as bizarre dudes. I can't help but wonder if being thrust into the spotlight at 19 or 20 contributes to it.

And now...on to some dirt about Kobe...my favorite bit of gossip: there were rumors about Kobe's high school days that he would purposely sabotage games in order to make them close, so he could try and be the hero in the end. Not surprising.

Friday, May 20, 2011


On going from unemployed to self employed.

Note: this only works if you are good at what you do.
If Qaddafi Goes...

Obama said in his speech it was inevitable Qaddafi will leave...if this is the case, Obama will be able to claim that in his first term as President, he managed Qaddafi out of Libya, Mubarak out of Egypt, and killed Bin Laden. Can anyone name a President with a better Middle East track record?
Michael Jordan

I recently watched his much maligned Hall of Fame speech. I did not find it offensive and am puzzled with the hullabaloo surrounding it. Reading about Phil Jackson after the Lakers defeat and how he put to rest the question years ago about Kobe vs. Jordan by saying "there will never be another Michael," prompted me to want to watch it. Someone asked Phil about Jordan's hall of fame speech and he said, "that was Michael."

So I watched it. Basically, he talked about competitiveness. The central focus of his speech was on the competition throughout his life and what drove him to achieve such great heights. I found it rather interesting. And I like it all the more for Phil acknowledging that it was a true glimpse into Jordan's character. What would people have preferred? Some mealy-mouthed graciousness? Boring.

Personally, I never found Jordan all that compelling. I didn't like his style of basketball - the subjugation of the team to the will of the individual. But for some reason now, I'm finding him interesting and I want to read Halberstam's book about Jordan and his relentless competitive drive.
Happiness Overrated

I agree. Good analysis here.

There are things beyond happiness...and going back to my last post, I think the preoccupation with finding "happiness" is reflective of the narcissistic trend in American culture.
2001 and Mumblecore

Before 2001 last night, the Egyptian folks announced an upcoming events - a study of mumblecore movies. Quite a contrast - watching 2001 in 70mm followed by an announcement about mumblecore, pretty much the polar opposite in terms of cinema expression. 2001 asks fundamental questions about human existence and our relationship to the universe, time, evolution, etc, and it shot in a disciplined, epic fashion - befitting the subject matter. Mumblecore goes the opposite direction - the questions it asks are about the anxieties and insecurities of 20-something relationships and are shot in half-hazard, cheap, messy way, just a step up from home videos.

They are a reflection of different times. It makes our time seem regressive and petty and small and the late 60s as a time of wonder where people dared to ask big questions and tackle big ideas. I do not believe mumblecore constitutes any sort of youth movement or revolt or really has anything particularly interesting to say. I believe the films reflect the increasing narcissism of youngish Americans and a scary trend away from knowledge and curiosity about the world in favor of spending our time looking at ourselves in front of the mirror. In this way, mumblecore is an apt precursor to Facebook, where the preeminent focus of attention is on ourselves - and I mean that literally - the self as a subject of adoration and study and constant examination. This is as opposed to seeking truth - philosophic or scientific, knowledge, understanding of different cultures, tackling the great questions of human existence, creating families and strong civic culture, etc, etc.

Not that I loved 2001. It is epic and impressive and I'm glad it exists. But I don't love it the way I love Sideways, Chinatown, His Girl Friday, or The Professional...where you just feel at home with the film. The movie is awesome - it pretty much could be put in the dictionary next to the word.
Will They Take It Back?

When the rapture or whatever chaos doesn't happen, will all the idiots who were talking about it admit to their stupidity. Somehow I doubt it.
Liberals Got Some Explaining To Do...

Riddle me this...you hear as universal liberal talking points about American policy in the Middle East several truisms:

1. Al Queda was created by the United States in Afghanistan to fight the Russians

2. The Iranian revolution was a result of the United States supporting the Shah and intervening in the 1953 election

3. Terrorists hate and attack us because we blindly support Israel or blindly support the Royal family or whatever, something/somebody we back in power.

There are others, but these are the three biggest half-truths. They imply several things: US behavior has consequences in the region and often not the consequences we intended.

So...if all of the above are true...then how can we ignore arguably the biggest American policy decision in US-Middle East history and the effect it has had on the region: Iraq War 2. Whether we intended it or not, the Iraq War has prompted this Arab Spring. There is no way around it. The Iraq War freed one of the most powerful and wealthy countries of the region from the worst dictator in the region - then suffered through an ugly insurgency and survived - and now holds together as a fragile democracy. Now every dictator in the region is undergoing civil unrest.

This Arab Spring may turn out to be nothing. But I don't think so. It seems like they've passed a threshold in Tunisia and more importantly, Egypt, and there is no turning back. Syria and Iran may be able to hold back the masses...then again...if they collapsed a month from now it wouldn't come as a total shock.

Anyhow, I implore some liberals who like to point out all the "unintended consequences" of US meddling in the region to recognize the good with the bad. It strikes me as plainly obvious the Iraq War and aftermath has contributed and led to this Arab Spring. Why should this be controversial to admit? It doesn't necessarily justify the war itself, although it certainly may bear re-examining it.

UPDATE: I am not the first to make this point, as Christopher Hitchens said as much over a month ago. The link here is a criticism of the Hitchens/me point and I imagine it will be a sticking argument: People will argue the Arab Spring came about from people INSIDE their own countries rising up whereas what made the Iraq war illegal was that it was imposed by the outside (ie us)...the old democracy at the barrel of a gun argument. This point would be true to anyone ignorant of the particularly heinous nature of the Saddam regime and his mafia-like control over his own country. It is almost offensive for Americans and Westerns to suggest the only legitimate way for Iraq to enjoy self-government would be for every day Iraqis to rise up on their own and get rid of Saddam as if thousands hadn't already tried (and were greeted with the killing, torture, and rape of their entire families, or in the case of the Kurds, chemical weapons). Think about this logic for a moment and it is pretty sickening. Saddam wasn't going anywhere quietly or without violence. We - the Western World - had him pretty much in a box. That is true. He was not an existential threat to us. But he certainly was an existential threat to his own populace who suffered generation after generation of his brutal rule. Couple it with the possible ascendency of Al Queda (at the time) and it rejiggered the calculus.

Anyhow, what's done is done. Things strike me as better now than they were before.
Good Speech

Text of Obama's speech. Key points:

So we face an historic opportunity. We have embraced the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

As we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It is not America that put people into the streets of Tunis and Cairo – it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and must determine their outcome. Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short term interests do not align perfectly with our long term vision of the region. But we can – and will – speak out for a set of core principles – principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.

We support a set of universal rights. Those rights include free speech; the freedom of peaceful assembly; freedom of religion; equality for men and women under the rule of law; and the right to choose your own leaders – whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus; Sanaa or Tehran.

Freedom and Democracy over Stability. That was our shift post-9/11 and I say we stick with it. They used to call people with such an agenda neocons. Now I suppose we call them the President's foreign policy...

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Film: 2001

Book: A Time to Betray by Reza Kahili

Also occurs to me - we need to demand a scalp from Pakistan. Someone in their government or intelligence service needs to take the fall for harboring Bin Laden. Someone knew. Someone high or someone medium. I don't care. I don't even care if we get the highest culprit. But we ought to get someone. If we can't take the Don, we'll take Sonny. They need to be outed. They forget we can always let the leash off India.

Listening to the radio today and the question occurred to me: why do we give foreign aid? It seems to backfire as much as it helps us. Plus, these countries want to be treated like equals, don't put their hand out and take our money. Otherwise they're dependents. Hear me, Pakistan? Egypt?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Miami Is Annoying

Watching the Heat...they are an annoying team...annoying in a different way than the Lakers are annoying. They have this awful habit where they start playing one-on-one basketball when they get in a slump or get towards the end of the quarter. LaBron will oftentimes not take the ball to the hoop when he can...which is anytime he's not double-teamed. They are a great fast break team. And have great individual talent. And play good defense. But they don't rebound well and have shitty half court offense. I still think they ought to beat Chicago, who can go big stretches without scoring, but who knows. That is certainly betting on talent over character and individual talent over teamwork. But in this case, I think Miami will come through.

Note - it is strange they can't find better players to support the Big 3. They really seem to have no one decent and no one with size. I guess those kind of good 4 and 5 men are rarer than one would think. I imagine every team ought to have equal 4 and 5 guys. I can see why the stars are at a premium, but I suppose it could be just as hard to get a good 4th and 5th starter as it is to get a good 1 or 2 starter. Maybe the talent pool isn't a pyramid, but more of a straight line.

Just saw a quintessential LeBron play. He steps in and steals a pass from Noah and gets onto the open floor running side-by-side with Derrick Rose. Rose is the MVP. An incredibly fast and strong player. One of the best athletes in the game. And he didn't have a chance. LeBron is just as a fast in the open floor (not as quick) and Rose tries to wrap him up and it's like a child wrestling with his father. Ridiculous.

I missed the game last night, but just seeing the stat line and it is almost too impressive to be believed. 12 of 15 and 24 for 24 for 48 points. Are you kidding me? 48 points on 15 shots? I didn't see the game, but this has got to be up there with one of the best performances ever in the Western Conference Finals. Kobe certainly never had a game like that in the playoffs. We're talking Jordan, Bird, Magic, Hakeem Olajuwon territory.

Film: The Long Good Friday. I still love this movie. And how stupid am I...this is the first time I realized the entire movie takes place on Good Friday and hence the title, which I never put together before. Duh.

TV: Game of Thrones
Maria Shriver

Listening to the radio yesterday, there was a lot of talk about Maria Shriver and Gov'ner Arnold and how sorry people are feeling for Maria. Really? Did I miss something? You marry a powerful man with a womanizing past and then he fathers a child with a house-sitter? Sorry, I don't feel sorry for Maria Shriver. You play with fire, you might get burned. You want to live the high-life, you take a risk and you ought to be prepared for the failures...as well as the successes. So, no, I don't feel sorry for Maria Shriver.

I'm not blaming her for Arnold's actions. But I don't feel sorry for her. On the other hand, I do feel sorry Elizabeth Edwards. She seems like an all around decent person who married a talented guy who let his success go to his head. She had no way of knowing this would happen with a guy like Edwards - when they met - he was a nobody. And I'm sure in part due to their strong marriage was able to rise to heights he never quite imagined. Then she got cancer and he let it go to his head. Terrible. Sad. Tragic. But Maria Shriver...gimme a break...she's a freaking Kennedy and had the pick of the litter and gambled on Arnold and it paid off for awhile. But please don't ask me to give a shit about her.
Do The Studios Know How to Make Movies?

Why is attendance down? Everyone points to new media and competition, etc. I would argue the studios do not know how to make good movies. They make trailers. Imagine releasing a Raiders of the Lost Ark or a Back to the Future. People would go see these movies, but the studios cannot make them. Instead, they rely on existing brands and sequels, etc and audiences are bored. This is why the numbers are down. When the choices are between tiny pretentious arty movies that and studio blockbusters that are mindless advertising for other brands (like Marvel), the audience will stay home. Even the half decent ones do well like Iron Man and X Men or a movie like the Wimpy Kid series. Not great movies, but audiences go and see them even if they are a little above average. Imagine if the studios got the balls to make ORIGINAL franchises and concentrated on making good movies rather than making movies by release date. Even Bridesmaids - not a great movie - but at least an original concept - will make good money. They used to think stars drove the business, now they think brands drive the business. They are wrong. Ideas and stories drive the business. But this is hard for the studios to understand because they have a corporate/consensus approach rather than the old fashioned studio boss who was a movie guy approach - someone who was able to judge a movie by their gut instinct. I was reading about how George Lucas chose Lawrence Kasdan to write Raiders and Empire. He read one script and got a "feeling about the guy." Kasdan was like - do you want to read my Raiders draft before hiring me to do Empire. Lucas was like - no - I got a good feeling about you. Name me one producer or studio who can make those kind of decisions today? Maybe Rudin. And guess what - he makes good movies. No one in power trusts their guts anymore. They just want to keep their jobs and live off dividends of past greats. Welcome to America 2011.

Monday, May 16, 2011


I can't even understand the very basics of the national debt. Linked is a chart where you can fiddle with spending and savings. Why don't we just get rid of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security completely if we can't afford them? Families will need to take care of each other again. Cut some defense. I don't know what to say about "other." I suppose we can cut that too.

All I know is that I don't use Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security but I pay for them. And I imagine I won't ever get to use them. I find the whole thing very confusing. If I can't afford to go to Hawaii, I don't go to Hawaii. If I can't afford health insurance, I don't get health insurance. It sucks, but I'll try to find a higher paying job.

I know this is juvenile and insensitive, but really, how else can we deal with these problems?

Film: Giant by George Stevens. Enjoyable. They don't make movies like this anymore. Gotta see these films in the theater.

Book: Red Harvest by Dashiel Hammett. Fun read. Too many plot twists and double crosses by the end, but worth it for the language alone.
I Have A Different Theory

Why 1 in 5 Americans don't believe Bin Laden is dead.

It's not for the mentioned reasons, it's because they are stupid.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


On the benefits of being wrong.

Film: Bridesmaids. I only liked it okay. It is the first of what I imagine will be many harder edged female-penned comedies both in TV and Film as I read a lot of scripts from young writers and this is a growing trend. I fear none of these, Bridesmaids included, will be as good as 30 Rock or Parks and Rec, however. Bridesmaids was superior to Sex and the City, but inferior to the Hangover and House Bunny and the aformentioned tv shows. It was worth seeing once and I doubt will merit a 2nd viewing for this guy.

TV: Friday Night Lights (final season) and Breaking Bad (ep 7-10 season 2). My two favorite teenage guy portrayals in TV or movies recently are in FNL and Breaking Bad. Luke Cafferty will not seduce the ladies like the hunky hearthrob Tim Riggins, but he is becoming my favorite male character in the history of the show (behind the coach). He is vulnerable yet confident, tough and polite, happy as number 2 to Vince...and vital to the team and to the show. Reminds me a bit of Sylvio's role in the Soprano family. Yeah, I pretty much love the character. The other great teenage male character is the handicapped son in Breaking Bad. He had one of the greatest moments of the show as an aftermath to the incredible season 2 scene where his father forces him to drink tequila shots him with Uncle Hank. His father apologizes to him about his behavior the next day and the son says, "But I kept up, didn't I?" The father, realizing something innate and tragic about the male species - himself included - cannot respond and just walks away. One of my favorite moments thus far in FNL's final season on the away trip and the coach happens to be overhearing four of the guys talking on porch late at night. They don't overplay the moment, but just seeing the coach listening to four young guys taking and becoming men, captures what they show has become about.

On why prison reform may get on the nation agenda.

THE legal scholar Derrick A. Bell foresaw that mass incarceration, like earlier systems of racial control, would continue to exist as long as it served the perceived interests of white elites.

Thirty years of civil rights litigation and advocacy have failed to slow the pace of a racially biased drug war or to prevent the emergence of a penal system of astonishing size. Yet a few short years of tight state budgets have inspired former “get tough” true believers to suddenly denounce the costs of imprisonment. “We’re wasting tax dollars on prisons,” they say. “It’s time to shift course.”

The drug war is strange indeed. I don't know what happens to young black men who get caught slinging. Do they really go to prison en masse? Do they have a felony on their permanent record? If so, then I can see how they get trapped into a criminal lifestyle and forever become a permanent member of the underclass. I do know what happens when upper middle class kids get caught slinging. Their parents are embarrassed and hire a pricey lawyer and they do community service, they don't have a felony on their record, and they likely stop slinging dope because they have other options. Is this racial? Or economic? Probably a little of both.

The prison statistics are scary. But then again, crime has dropped since the 1970s. I don't know what to say about these things...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Interesting Fellow

Mamet is an interesting dude.
Doesn't Make Me Think Less of Him

It wasn’t just plots to kill Americans that got a rise out of him. It turns out that terror titan Osama bin Laden had a stash of smut to liven up his lair. Investigators poring over the tons of files, computer drives and other recordings hauled out of bin Laden’s million-dollar bunker in Abbottabad, Pakistan, discovered a triple-X-rated porn collection “of modern, electronically recorded video” that is “fairly extensive,” it was reported yesterday. It may have been just what the terror chief needed to rev up for the three wives he lived within the hideaway that Navy SEALs stormed May 2, killing him with two shots.
Partition - A Mistake

Hindsight is often 20/20.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Okay With This

I.R.S. MOVES TO TAX GIFTS TO GROUPS ACTIVE IN POLITICS: Big donors like David H. Koch and George Soros could owe taxes on their millions of dollars in contributions to nonprofit advocacy groups that are playing an increasing role in American politics. Invoking a provision that had rarely, if ever, been enforced, the Internal Revenue Service said it had sent letters to five donors, who were not identified, informing them that their contributions may be subject to gift taxes depending on whether the donations exceeded limits under the tax laws.

It seems to me the non-profit game gets to fly under the radar. I'm not convinced of the usefulness of these groups and whether they play an important or vital role in our society. Like anything else, what starts out as a good idea eventually gets copied and manipulated over time.
Dead To Me

I can't make it through the latest episode of THE KILLING. The show is dead to me. Sorry, Soo.

...the lesson is, you should write screenplays.

Megan McCardle thinks Roth IRAs aren't safe from a desperate US government seeking tax revenue in the future. Tyler Cowen goes further:

In this case, the sorry truth is that our savings aren't worth as much as many of us think, and a rude awakening is coming. One way or another, some of our savings will be taxed away to make good on governmental commitments, like future Medicare benefits, which we currently are framing as personal free lunches.

He includes personal savings, treasury bonds, IRA - roth or regular - all of it will be up for grabs for future taxation. This apparently has happened in Ireland and Argentina where broke-ass governments seize money from savers.

So what to do? Write screenplays. I'm only partially joking. If your expertise is movies and screenwriting, writing a screenplay represents the creation of an intellectual property. Such property has potential future value and may be a worthy investment of time vs other labor which will be paid for and then ultimately taxed away. That isn't to say screenplay payment won't be taxed either - but once it is done - it is done - and requires no more labor and it is something you own and can sell. And it only costs paper and time.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Your Information

This is who you are giving your information to.
Why Rondo Is Stupid

When I saw Rondo return to game 3 and it was obvious he was playing one-handed, and all the announcers and pundits were applauding his bravery and character, all I could think about was the stupidity of the decision. All around. Watch the replay. The injury was horrific. The guy couldn't lift his arm. On a practical level, he wasn't going to be effective on the court. You can play with nicks and scratches and strains and sickness and through all sorts of things. And yet, there are many injuries you cannot play through at all - severe sprains, dislocations, tore ligaments, broken bones. Does being stupid mean you have character? All the pundits and sportscasters talking about bravery are a bunch of fucking assholes if you ask me. Why didn't anyone say, "Fellas, this is dumb. The guy is hurt, playing against the biggest, fastest, most physical players in the world, he's either going to hurt himself more or be ineffective. It's just a game." It says something about the male character that we need to lionize Rondo for playing when he clearly shouldn't and then on the flipside chastise guys like Gasol for playing "soft" all series. It is like a massive inferiority complex has infected the American male character. Who the fuck do these media types think they are? Who are they to judge Rondo and Gasol? Rondo ought to ask the hordes of ex-professional football players who played "bravely" throughout massive injuries and now can barely walk where those sportscasters and pundits are today pronouncing and applauding their "bravery." They don't give a shit about the players.

I wasn't inspired by Rondo. I was disappointed. Disappointed in a culture that celebrates physical abuse and stupidity and masks it as toughness. And for what? The Celtics still got beat. And Rondo was totally ineffective playing injured.

When I tore my ACL last year, I gimped off the field and then tried running up and down the sidelines thinking maybe I could go back into the game. Part of brain was wired to get back in, to shake it off, etc, etc. No doubt part of our sport culture that values toughness and bravery and all that shit. I felt dumb when I did side-to-sides and realized I had no stability in my knees and I later found out my ACL was completely torn. How is it possible that the thought even crossed my mind to go back into a stupid, inconsequential men's league soccer game? Is this what we expect of our men? It is idiocy, pure and simple. There are things such as bravery and sacrifice. But we go looking for such things in ridiculous petty dramas such as sport why? Why do we need to feel as if these things exist as some sort of metaphor about character and being?

Let's call what Rondo did what it was: dumb. Irresponsible. Self-destructive. We've watched Brett Favre do the same thing for years under the guise of toughness. What a bunch of bullshit, little-dick complexes coming to the surface. Just go buy a sports car, fellas.

UPDATE: And you know what else. Fuck Boston sports culture for putting the players under such scrutiny to act "tough" and "brave." What a bunch of massholes.
College Bubble Backlash

Backlash against the theory that the higher education bubble is the next to burst.
I'm Hanging Out With the Wrong Crowd

Because no one told me about the nude coffeehouses in Garden Grove and I'm only hearing about them when they get shut down.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Book: CAGE by Edward Jones. Unfinished. Stopped reading.

Film: A Bittersweet Life by Kim Ji-Woo. A good action-character study, Fast Five (see below)

TV: The Killing. Show is getting really tough to watch. Just found out they don't even plan on solving the murder this season. Jesus! Game of Thrones, Treme.
How Groupon Works

A good analysis.

I don't use it. I don't use any of this shit. It's all advertising and selling private info. I don't see any other money in it.
I Like How He Thinks

This guy is known for chastising grad school, but even better is this quip:

people complain that I’m bitter and angry and offer no alternative to graduate school.

Here’s the alternative: Admit that adult life is scary because there is no clear path to success. Grad school is not a quick fix for the fears of adulthood. Instead, be grateful for the chance to be lost – it means you’re living your own life, because no one can make choices in the exact same way you can, whether they are right or wrong.

So all there is for adult life is you, following your nose, trying to figure out what brings you joy. Each time I see someone who has done that, in some little way, I feel relief and hope for myself.

Because the commenters are in some ways right. When you're 22-25 years old the only jobs available to you are lame. You have no real world contacts or skills, so it is difficult to imagine trying to start your own business. You have no confidence or authority, nor should you. So grad school becomes an attractive offer. But it doesn't make it a good one, as he said. Sort of like when you're single, internet dating looks like a good idea.

Tough call...you need to factor in time as well. You can't really do grad school when you're older and have more responsibilities. And if you want to be a lawyer, well, there's only one way. I don't think it is as cut and dry as this guy argues although I certainly think too many people go to grad school.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pacino and DeNiro It Was Not

So I just witnessed the latest in the Fast and Furious pentalogy. There isn't too much to say about the movie. Crammed in a lot of characters. The filmmaker is a fan of Clear and Present Danger. The Rock is juicing. Vin Diesel has a nice cool ease with laconic dialog. The theater was surprisingly packed for a Tuesday evening. I'm puzzling who this movie is for. I can't decide whether it is a fusion of various American middle class sensibilities - blue collar labor, ethnic family bonds, an uncomplicated Catholicism, all under a hip-hop aesthetic or whether it is just a movie for teenage boys.

Vin Diesel and the Rock square off. It is not memorable and will be the butt of many lame stand up jokes, I imagine. I can't tell if I'm supposed to understand something about America in this film. There is something about this preposterous casting of each and every ethnic minority that reminds me of the way Barack Obama went about picking a Supreme Court justice. Ummm...let's add in a touch of Asian here to take the edge off the Blacks in the background...and here is an Israeli because none of these people would work with an Arab. I don't know. Is that ridiculous? Maybe so. Then again, maybe this is what Martin Luther King imagined. A multi-ethnic cast driving around the streets of Rio in old time American muscle cars dragging a huge safe with a drug dealers money.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The Future

Wow. 3 OT game. OKC vs. Memphis. It looked like the future of the NBA to me. Those two teams really slugged it out. OKC pulled it out but Westbrook and Durant were expending every last ounce of energy in the OTs. Those guys are going to be dead next game. I don't see how they aren't. Especially Westbrook. OKC has a problem. They don't play as a team. All their shots come off one-on-one dribble plays. And Westbrook looks like he's got the beginnings of a Kobe-syndrome (without the jump shot). He played great tonight when he drove to the basket and the Memphis D was totally concentrated on Durant. But still, he plays reckless and I think a little crazy. And he doesn't strengthen the guys around him. He needs to watch Chris Paul tapes. Or even Nash tapes. Just to see how those guys set other guys up. Sure, he's faster and stronger than both of those guys, but he doesn't see the floor. I can see Durant-Westbrook turning into a Kobe-Shaq like feud in the future.

Memphis. What can I say? They play awesome basketball. I guess they remind me a little of the Spurs in their workmanlike approach, but I find them much more fun to watch. They are versatile and move the ball on offense really well. They lack the athleticism of OKC, but man, they play well. Even OJ Mayo, who I never expected to be much more than just a big scorer on a shitty team, has turned into a really solid shot maker and a key component to their offense.

I honestly have no idea who is going to win this series.

Between conversation and writing by Hitchens.
Good Read

On a messy Mossad job killing a Hamas operative.

Sunday, May 08, 2011


How could one game possibly cast a shadow over the Phil Jackson legacy? This is getting close. 2 guys tossed already - Bynum and Odom. Ugly. No class. I don't root for the Lakers, but if I did, I'd be questioning it right now. Understand it is a game and tension and frustration gets to you, but these guys are champs supposedly. Leaving an ugly stain on things..shows their dysfunction. I blame Kobe.

Catching up...

Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams by Werner Herzog

Book: The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

TV: Breaking Bad Season 2, ep 4-7; 30 Rock, Parks and Rec

Wow. I don't wish this treatment to my worst enemies. Dallas has just bent the Lakers over the table. When Dirk takes a shot right now, I just assume it's going in. Somehow Peja and Jason Terry just caught fire today.
Cheney: Waterboarding Isn't Torture

We do it to our own people in training.

And it works. Tough call.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Sounds About Right

Warner Brothers buys Rotten Tomatoes.

Welcome to America 2011 where a movie studio owns the movie review website. No conflict of interest there. Look way, people. Look away!

Why does Kobe seem old and Dirk seem in his prime, yet they are both the same age: 32? In fact, Dirk looks better than I've ever seen him play. More confident, better shooter. Kobe can once in awhile summon that extra gear (like in the Charlotte series for one game), but he simply cannot get around players like he used to and needs to settle for jump shots. Jordan was like this towards the end as well. It'll happen to all mortals. I suppose there are two easy explanations:

1. Quickness matters more to Kobe's game/position. If Dirk loses a step, it doesn't really matter. His speed was never the key to his game away. It is size and shooting ability.

2. Kobe has more wear and tear. Despite their ages, it does seem like Kobe has played a lot more games and a lot more big games.

Some other possibilities - Kobe cannot improve his shot. They way Kobe shoots - without much arc - is basically maxed out. Kobe has always been a streak shooter and more will than skill. His game was a combo of being able to get to the hoop and hit shots from anywhere. Now he can't get to the hoop, so strong defenders can play right up on him, making his shot even more difficult to get off. And he can't improve his shot because he already has maxed it out. In contrast, Dirk seems to have become a better shooter. He's always been good, but these playoffs, he seems to be nailing an incredibly high number of jump shots. And his game isn't based on getting around guys. He needs about 1 inch of space and he shoots from behind his head and who on earth can block a 7 footer shooting from over his head? It looks to me like Dirk could play for 5 more years and be effective. Even if he slowed down - he could play 3, 4, or 5 position on any team. Peja gets minutes. That guy can't even run and I'd take Dirk in a 3point contest over Peja (although I doubt stats would bear that out). He just bangs his shoulder into someone and pulls a fadeaway.

Another interesting player to throw into this mix is Ray Allen. He's old. He plays Kobe's position. He seems to defy age. This clearly has to do with shooting. Ray is the best 3 point shooter of all time. And he gets his shot off quick. His shot isn't dependent on getting to the hoop. He gets to the hoop sometimes because people fear his jump shot.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The End

It felt like we just witnessed the end of the Lakers. It wasn't losing game 2. It was giving up in the final 1 minute 30 seconds down by 11 points. They just stopped playing. From the TV, you could literally hear the quiet at Staples. This was an ugly game. The Lakers just couldn't hit any shots. And it wasn't like Dallas played immaculate. They turned the ball over waaay too much. But Barea just totally broke them down and they can't stop Dirk from getting his shots. The Mavs have created all sorts of match up problems for the Lakers.

The Lakers are still tough down low. Bynum might be their best player right now. But Gasol and Kobe are both underperforming. Kobe can't take over games anymore. He hasn't carried the Lakers. Gasol - something is wrong with Gasol.

Is DeShawn Stephenson Ron Artest's little brother? The time I was most worried about the game was when Stephenson thought he got hot after banking in a 3 and started tossing up 3's the next couple times up the court.
Goal Was Never to Capture Bin Laden

A good article discussing how the Obama Administration never wanted to capture Bin Laden. They wanted him dead. Good for them. Bin Laden had 9-10 years to surrender. The Taliban had their chance to turn him in. I suspect the Pakistani's could have turned him in if they wanted as well. They chose not to. And Bin Laden chose to fight on. He declared war on us. Al Queda can surrender or sue for peace if they want. Until then, they have targets on their chests.

Sure, this presents a slippery slope argument. Here is an interesting factoid:

The White House has also sharply escalated its use of armed drones inside Pakistan, where the robotic planes are launching record numbers of missile strikes on suspected militants in the country's lawless tribal areas. The number of drone attacks has soared from 35 in 2008, the year before Obama's inauguration, to 117 last year. Bill Roggio of Long War Journal, a Web site that tracks the attacks, estimates that missiles fired by American drones have killed nearly 1,500 people inside Pakistan, mostly in the two years that Obama has overseen the undeclared war there. Few, if any, senior militants have been arrested by CIA operatives or U.S. commandos over that same time period.

Now, let's just point out the difference in strategies here between the Bush Admin and Obama Admin. Bush Admin captured a lot of Al Queda and Taliban fighters on the battlefield and then put them in prisons and interrogated them for information. They tortured some of them...I'm not sure how many...but from what I can recollect, it was under 100. In contrast (and granted the war has changed over the years), the Obama Admin has began using drones for effectively to target and kill Al Queda and Taliban people. And now, with the Bin Laden kill, we see we are also using Special Forces Assassination Squads. A large part of this change of strategy has to do with Pakistan's double game and with the development of the drone technology. Nevertheless, from a moral standpoint, is it obviously worse to be holding prisoners indefinitely and torturing the worst of the worst for more information about attacks or summarily executing guys who are likely Al Queda members from drones and with Special Forces teams and likely killing innocents in collateral damage?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

I'm Taking My Talents...

Everyone watching the NBA playoffs knows, so far, this has been one of the greatest NBA playoffs in recent memory. And can there be any doubt why? Because LeBron James went to Miami. LeBron's move changed the dynamic of the NBA. Teams interested in winning all needed to adjust. Get younger, get bigger, get faster, get stronger. The Celtics traded Perkins in anticipation of the Miami series. Perkins filled in a hole in OKC, making them a legitimate contender in the West. Dallas got Chandler. Chicago got Boozer and started playing with incredible character. The only team who didn't change were the champion Lakers, except for a few unimportant bench trades. But with the LeBron move, it signaled to the top teams, a convergence of talent and created a top tier of NBA teams, most of whom are still left in the playoffs. Then there have been some nice surprises to add subplots - the Grizzlies, Chris Paul's return, etc. But the excitement can all be traced back to LeBron.

Watching the Boston series so far...and man...I can't help but think back on the trade and how so many people got on LeBron's case. Probably foremost was Bill Simmons citing LeBron's decision of going to Miami as some sort of surrender to Wade and fear of being an alpha dog. But I can remember those Cleveland-Boston series where LeBron would score 45 points and still end up losing the game. Now, in these first two games, he plays well and then win by 10 easy. They're going to win the series. How can you call James a sell-out for going to a better team with a better chance of winning? How is this not different from what Garnett and Ray Allen did in '08, just earlier in his career? How was his not a smarter move?

I got on Kobe's case for breaking up a championship team over his ego to become the alpha-dog. He couldn't stand Shaq being the dominant player as a youngster and forced the drama, losing several years of his prime to being relegated to the middle of the pack. You have to remember those years - Phoenix would dominate the Lakers in the playoffs. It wasn't until they got Gasol did the Lakers become a contender. And this was fine for Kobe since Gasol posed no threat to be the alpha dog. And so in a way, you can say it all worked out for Kobe, although these are such a weird team, these Lakers. I don't even think die-hard Laker fans really like this team. They root for them, but they don't like them. Certainly don't love them. LeBron never had this chance as a young player. He never had a supporting cast or a savvy veteran. Look at any champ in the modern era - Magic had Kareem at first and later Worthy. Bird had McHale and Parish. Isiah had Joe Dumars, Bill Lambier, Dennis Rodman. Jordan had Pippen. Shaq had Kobe and then Kobe had Gasol. Pierce got Garnett and Allen.

NBA writers talk shit about players like Bernard King, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, etc, etc, the list goes on and on, about great players who never won a championship like it is some sort of curse on their career. LeBron saw this as his future in Cleveland - how could he not? Who was the best player LeBron had in his entire career with Cleveland? Z? Mo Williams? Varejao? Antawn Jamison? Are you kidding me?

And now you look at his other options - New York? Yeah, right. See Carmelo. Chicago? How is that situation significantly different from Cleveland with the rise of Rose?

Anyhow, it's not like James going to Miami makes them a team everyone wants to root for. I get it. They've become like the Yankees...a team that is buying a championship rather than growing one. But to blame James for Cleveland's inability to put the right pieces around him is a little nutty. To challenge his character to want to play with other good players...maybe James foresaw the future of the NBA moreso than anyone else and knew he had to teammate-up in order to contend. God...doesn't sound like such a terrible concept to me.

Salman Rushdie says Pakistan has some 'xplaining to do.

We need to cut these shitbirds off. They are fucking themselves. By playing both sides, they've lost our trust and if they go full into the Jihadi's arms, those guys will kill the current masters and seize power. Stupid. Very stupid. Driven by paranoia about India. They ought to fall into our orbit or at the very least, the Chinese. Not the Islamicists. Dumb.

UCLA geography class predicted Bin Laden's general location area with an 88.9% probability.

I need to read more about this, such as, how big a location area we're talking about...but still, intriguing.

TV: Friday Night Lights, The Killing, Breaking Bad (season 2 beginning), all the NBC comedies.

Watching too much TV these days. Thinking of stopping The Killing (too overwrought) and The Office (totally done). 30 Rock still makes me laugh. Kim Jong Il performing Glengary Glen Ross. "The leads are weak. YOU'RE WEAK." Oh boy. The talking bag. Genius. FNL is losing it, but still has it's moments. Breaking Bad is awesome. Overacted at times, but I love the boldness and actually the location and where it is shot is pretty awesome.
Ask and Ye Shall Find

A history of the U-S-A chant. And yes, it began with soccer.

Was compound in Pakistan built specifically for Bin Laden?

Bill Clinton always said he biggest mistake as President was not doing anything about the Rwandan genocide. I'd argue it was allowing Pakistan nuclear weapons on his watch (although to what degree a US President can influence such developments, I'm not sure).

Monday, May 02, 2011

Game 1

Wow. Surprising game there. Dallas really felt like they stole the game. I thought Jason Kidd played terrible from what parts of the game I watched. My blog entry was going to be about how they ought to either bench him or at least play Barea 50% of the time. But then he comes on at the end and plays tough defense on Kobe and gets the big steal to essentially win the game...although Kobe had an open 3 there at the end. Kobe fans are blind to the sheer number of misses and chokes this guy causes at the end of games. I swear he's under 50% for his career.

UPDATE: I agree with Barkley's analysis that Dirk essentially takes away the Lakers big length advantage. Neither Gasol or Bynum can cover him and so the Lakers best bet is Lamar Odom, who can kinda guard Dirk on defense and who can challenge him on offense by bringing him out to the perimeter.

The Mavs are an interesting team. They can put in offensive or defensive line-ups. Offensive line ups are Dirk plus 4 shooters, so you can punish the other team if they try and double. Defensive, they throw in Chandler and then they have two 7 footers, making easy baskets in the paint difficult.

Fair point. Seymour Hersh was calling Seal Team 6 an executive assassination squad during the Bush Admin. And now they are the guys who got Bin Laden.
Jihadi Reaction

Online Jihadi reaction to OBL's death. Hat tip, Naveen.

I'd like some footage of reaction from the Arab and the rest of the Muslim world too. Especially the places that were cheering on 9/11 in Pakistan and Palestine...and also from Egypt and Saudi Arabia and all these places that say they are our friends. I'd like to see their response to the death of this mass murderer. Their real response will be telling - I'm fine with sober recognition that the guy needed to go - I don't need jubilation in the streets - but I really, really hope there isn't hidden sadness and longing at his passing amongst mainstream Muslims - whatever that is.

TV: Treme and Game of Thrones

Not the best episode of either, but final scene of Game of Thrones was awesome. That little girl is taking over from the coach on Friday Night Lights as my favorite single TV character.
Eating and Price

Two interesting developments in eating...yesterday I went to Tacos Por Favor, probably my favorite Taco spot in LA and certainly on the West Side. They raised their prices significantly all around. Hardshell asada tacos were now 3.25 instead of 2.70. Chorizo and cheese tacos (what they are famous for) were now 2.50 rather than about 2. These are major bumps in price, not just the normal, sneak up on you 5-10 cent raise. Why, I wonder? Is this store specific? Or are we seeing a major bump in food prices combined with increased gas prices? Isn't this pure evidence of inflation?

Second...interesting lunch today at Sauce on Hampton. Felt like sitting down and reading, so I was grabbing lunch there. When the bill came, it had a note - they automatically added 15% tip and didn't expect (or leave a place for) additional tip when I paid with credit card. The note said something along the lines that there was a new trend in restauranting whereby tip was included and it went towards waiter wages and no additional tip is required or expected. I actually like this idea as the whole tipping thing doesn't actually make that much sense unless you are eating at a super high-end spot where service actually matters. I wonder if it takes off.
More Deets

A good Chicago Sun Times article on the raid that killed Bin Laden. Very good details.

Intelligence officials learned of the bin Laden compound in August thanks to one of bin Laden’s most trusted couriers.

The CIA had been hunting that courier for years, ever since terrorist detainees coughed up the courier’s nickname to interrogators and told them that he was so highly regarded that he might be living with bin Laden.

Sounds like smart, patient, intelligence work. I was beginning to worry about our capabilities. Also of note, it seems like we got the lead from the some of the guys we waterboarded. That detail won't work well with the narrative that torture doesn't work.
Story Unfolding Very Quickly

I'm completely surprised at how quickly we are getting details about the Bin Laden kill. Here is an Atlantic story with tons of operational details already.

It is becoming clear we were working around Pakistan and not with them. Also clear the orders were to kill, not capture Bin Laden. Interesting strategic choice. Also interesting they buried his body at sea. The more that comes out about this story, I'm continually more impressed with how the whole thing was done and handled.

It turns out the city where Osama was killed is basically a big, wealthy suburb where a lot of Pakistani Generals retire. How was he, or people close to he, familiar enough with the area to hide there secretly?

UPDATE: Watching a news feed this AM on troop reactions. Reporter basically said everyone in the intelligence community knows that at least elements of Pakistan's ISI have known where Osama is for the past 9 years. And on the flipside, the Pakistani army was just yesterday battling tough with Taliban and Al Queda forces in the Northwest, holding down border positions while the US attacked them. Someday someone is going to write a great book deciphering what exactly the logic of the Pakistani's has been over these past 10 years. Clearly, they are playing both sides. To what end, it isn't totally clear. I imagine they are confused themselves.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Ding Dong

The witch is dead.


It is being reported he was killed by a drone in Pakistan. It took longer than I thought it should, but nevertheless, we should give credit where credit is due to the intelligence communities and policies put in place by Bush Admin and continued by Obama Admin in the Af-Pak region to keep the pressure on AQ and Bin Laden and to put time onto our side in the fight against AQ.

UPDATE: Obama just spoke. He wasn't killed by a drone. He was killed by a team of special forces who went in and had a firefight with OBL's people in a mansion in Pakistan. They've been developing an intelligence lead since last August. Nice.

A random contrarian thought - I don't understand why the 9/11 Families get treated as if they are a special class of victim. 9/11 was a national tragedy and although it is felt more immediately by those victims families, I don't understand why whenever any newscaster or politician talks about 9/11, they separate out the families of victims. We don't talk about Vietnam veterans "families" or the families of the victims of Pearl Harbor. I just don't get it...

OTHER THOUGHTS: Is Zawahri the only one left from the brain trust behind the 9/11 attacks? I'd like to see a list of "where they are now" to see how many of men behind 9/11 have been brought to justice. Tick tock, Ayman, tick tock.

UPDATE 2: OBL was in a city of 80-90 thousand people in NW Pakistan hiding in a mansion at the time of his death. Guy on the news theorized the drones were worrying him and drove him from the mountains. He had been there at least since last August.

ABC NEWS: Again with the call in stuff with 9/11 victims families. Who are these people? It's like listening to random neighbors spout off their opinions about stuff. They are incredibly inexpert and shouldn't be treated as if they have special status or perspective.

UPDATE 3: We need a new chant. USA-USA-USA...I don't like it. I've never liked it. When did this develop? How? It is a stupid, aggressive, annoying chant. It makes me think of Sam's Army, the crew of US soccer fans who go around the world proud about our lame-ass soccer team. I don't need to demonstrate my patriotism bonafides, anyone reading this blog is well aware I'm not a self hating liberal. Nevertheless, this USA chant sucks my ass. I hate hearing it. It is the most inelegant dumbass frat-boy noise I can imagine.
Dumb Predictions

I hate making predictions, they always make me look stupid. But here goes since these NBA playoffs are so exciting:

Lakers-Dallas: Lakers in 6. Will enjoy watching this series, but Dallas does not have enough offensive weapons - they are too reliant on Dirk offensively.

Spoiler potential: If Barea plays out of his mind and punishes the Laker PGs or Butler somehow has an effect on the series, maybe Dallas can take to 7 games, but I just can't see them winning when the Lakers have 4 of the best 5 players on the court at all times.

Heat-Celtics: Heat in 6. Like I said before, this series depends on Rondo and whether he can play out of his mind. But what do you think is more likely: Rondo playing out of his mind for 4 games or Wade/Lebron taking turns and winning 2 games each on their own. Plus, Miami has home court advantage and that guy Jones can drill 3s on the home court, giving the Heat 4 offensive weapons and they seem to play tough D as well. Tough to see Boston winning here. Other factor: can Jeff Green provide LeBron relief? He was guarding him when he was in, I think that's why the Celts picked him up. Do you want to be the Celtics when your fate lies in whether Jeff Green can slow down LeBron? Methinks no.

OKC-Memphis. I might just be jumping on the bandwagon here after game 1, but I actually think Memphis is going to win the series in 6 games like they did against the Spurs. OKC has a lot of pieces, but I don't think Westbrook is playing well and I don't think Perkins is playing well and they don't seem to have the playoff toughness to win games in the paint. Perkins is either injured or not mentally into this team like he was with Boston, because I haven't seen him make any plays so far (granted I haven't watch OKC play a lot). Memphis is on tilt, like the SF Giants last year in baseball. Watch out.

Chicago-Atlanta. Chicago in 5. I don't see how Atlanta beats a team with the character Chicago has displayed all year. Only factor: Rose's injury. If it is a problem, Chicago is in trouble.

The winner of Boston-Miami is going to the finals. I don't think Chicago has enough size and scoring punch, especially with Boozer not looking like his normal self. Plus, Rondo will give Rose problems if it is Boston. I think Miami is going to the finals.

I have to bet on the Lakers beating Memphis. I can't picture Memphis beating the Spurs, OKC, and the Lakers. It is too improbable. But I think it takes the Lakers 7 games.

And then, the Heat beat the Lakers in the finals...a well-rested LeBron (because Wade carries them through the East) seizes the throne from a worn-down Kobe.
Playoff Thoughts

For the Celtics to win against the Heat, Rondo needs to play out of his mind. He played terrible today. I don't know if Wade was playing exceptional defense or what, but Rondo made incredibly bad decisions for most of the game. In the offseason, Rondo needs to develop a better shot because these defenders just play off of him. He needs to punish them. Funny thing is, even when they play off him, he can still drive to the basket and can play with top level guys. There was one drive play Rondo did towards the end of the game and scored a layup on Wade, where Wade afterwards literally threw up his hands in disbelief. That's what Rondo is capable of doing at times - making top 5 players shake their heads in disbelief and frustration. He is the key to the Celtics winning. If he can score 20 or get 15 assists, they'll win games, so he needs 4 games like that. If not, the Heat are winning the series and probably the East.

Wade played great today, but man, LeBron James is still the guy I'd want most on my team. You can't stop him going to the basket. Rondo and Allen tried to foul him once on a drive, they literally were not strong enough to prevent him from getting a 3 point play. Durant is a great scorer, Kobe is a great competitor, but James does things no one else can do. That play when he picked Rondo and tossed a 75 ft bounce pass to Wade for a lay in...maybe Chris Paul could make that play, maybe Larry Bird, maybe Magic Johnson, but that's about it. Those guys and LeBron.

The refs tossing Pierce was totally ridiculous. Pierce going head-to-head after the hard foul deserved a technical and then it should have been done. Instead, the ref tosses him in a stupid make up call on the next play. The refs completely favored Miami in this game...one of the worst officiated games I can remember seeing since that time they tossed A'mare in the Spurs-Suns series.

Didn't see much of the Memphis-OKC game, but I've been saying since I saw game 1 of the Spurs-Memphis, they are no joke. They are a well-built team. If the Lakers or Memphis get through to the finals, no matter who they play from the East, they are going to pound them down low and it will be tough for anyone - Chicago, Boston, Miami to win. Ironically, I think Miami might be the toughest teams out of the East for any of those teams just because of LeBron. LeBron, if he wanted to, could play down low and muscle with Gasol, Randolph, or any of the bigs on those teams. He is strong enough and athletic enough to do it. Wade would play Kobe straight up.

Question...if the Heat win the title, does everyone who got on LeBron's case about the decision, owe him a collective apology?