Thursday, June 30, 2011


How NoKo deals with athletic failure.
I Don't Give A Shit

If we don't increase the debt ceiling.

Interest rates SHOULD go up. I just looked into CDs and the rate is .3% or something. Are you kidding me? On what planet should the interest rate be zero? We're still trying to live on funny money.

I guess it'll be violent if we hit this August 2nd date and suddenly the government can't borrow money and pay people, etc, so that is bad. But hey, maybe it'll shock them into doing something right? You never know.
The Amazon Thing

Should we be worried about the State of California?

And the truth is, California legislators knew this would happen going in. They knew Amazon would kill the Associates program in the state, collect no income tax, and that the state would also be deprived of the income, and income tax, generated by the program. So why did they push this law through?

Did I mention that these people are leftists, greedheads, and wreckers? Let me add that they are also corrupt bribe-takers on a massive scale. They pushed this law through, and are more than happy to see the Amazon Associates program permanently shut down, because that is the goal the real backers of this law were after in the first place. It has nothing to do with sales tax collections. It is, in its entirety, designed to use the government as a club to shut down Amazon’s Associate Program in the biggest states in the country.

How so?

Big companies like Wal-Mart, (an out of state corporations itself) who have associate programs that are much less effective at driving sales than the Amazon Associate program is, can’t handle that competition head on by beefing up their own programs. Or at least they don’t want to. So what these sponsors were really after was not to collect additional sales tax for California, but to shut down the competition in the state. They got what they wanted. The politicians behind this bill will get what they want - more money and support (bribes) from companies like Wal-Mart. And the state will get nothing, in fact, will lose money.

Aging Athletes and Nations

How America is going the way of Derek Jeter.

The stumbling pattern of the aging athlete is reminiscent of the vacillation and weakness of today’s American leadership. The secret of success for those nations that are in their prime is that they do a few tasks confidently and well. They run a strong military to keep peace at home and to help stabilize matters abroad. They worry about the maintenance of a simple tax system with low rates, a system intended to create a certain and friendly environment that maximizes returns to capital and labor. They know the importance of the security of contractual transactions and the dangers that come from erratic efforts to jump-start an economy. They praise their inventors, authors, and innovators. They treat excellence as an imperative. They take care of their unfortunates, but do not easily accept excuses for poor performance.

Well put. How can one disagree with the above?
He Who Has Not Sinned...

To Catch A Predator's Chris Hanson caught cheating on his wife with hidden cameras.

Touche. I always hated that show, the way he self righteously humiliated these pathetic child molesters on live TV. Nothing shows a person's true character more than how they behave when they are in a position of power. He behaved like a self-righteous megalomaniac.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Book: Fooled By Randomness by Nassim Taleb

His more famous book is called Black Swan or something like that. I recommend this one. A fantastic book about how randomness influences our lives.

Film: Brief Encounter

It depends how you watch this could view it an exercise for the future filmmaker of Lawrence, Kwai, and Dr. Zhivago or the very must mumblecore movie ever made. I'm glad I watched it, but I doubt I'll just pop in from time to time to re-watch for fun or pleasure. One shot will always stick with me- when she goes back to the flat. A simple pan, but the objects in frame become like a prison for the character. Great. Compare it to the shot when Lawrence takes Akaba. Similar technique. Different story.
In His Defense

Sheen was playing a baseball player, so taking the 'roids was just getting into the role.

Letterman and Leno will be doing better jokes than's just way to easy.
Online Tax Law

Don't know if it is good or bad, but it'll mean business going elsewhere than CA.

Film: The Onion Field

In the past year, there are only two films that have blown my mind. The first was watching Burt Reynolds in White Lightning at the QT festival at the New Beverly. I think that movie could play alongside Badlands and hold its own. The second is The Onion Field, which I just watched on Netflix instant. The only movie I can remember structured in a similar way is Zodiac. The story revolves around a single incident in an onion field outside Bakersfield - a crime - and the aftermath and how the crime affects all the people involved - victims, families, the perpetrators, the system of justice. Just an amazing overall movie. Might be James Woods best performance as the creepy and smart low-level criminal. One of Harold Becker's first movies - the guy who directed Sea of Love, City Hall, and Malice. There is a movie of his called The Boost with James Woods that I will watch based upon how good this film was.

Part of me is saddened by only being blown away by older movies, but logically speaking, it makes sense. This year is competing against all the years before it minus the films I've already seen, which surely still amounts to vastly more films than new ones. I'm struggling to think of the last new movie that blew me away. It might still be No Country For Old Men. Is that possible? Game of Thrones blew me away. It is certainly the best new TV show.

Goes to show not all movies need to be constructed in the same way. For those who would focus on building through character want, this is an example about building around an incident. And the characters are so good, still.
They Realize He Isn't Shawn Ryan, Right?

Does Myspace think Justin Timberlake is actually the character he played in The Social Network?
Revealing True Colors

What Harvard did with it's money and what it is doing now that it is losing it.

That's because the real priority of elite higher education, as the receding tide of money has exposed, is the greater glory of elite higher education and the administrators and faculty members who work there. That's where all the money went, and that's where, now that some of the money turns out to have never existed in the first place, it needs to come from.


Gotta love the guy. He calls out politicians for their feigned small town folkiness.

Overall demographic impulses to one side, there is nothing about a bucolic upbringing that breeds the skills necessary to govern a complex society in an age of globalization and violent unease. We need candidates who know about laboratories, drones, trade cycles, and polychrome conurbations both here and overseas. Yet the media make us complicit in the myth—all politics is yokel?—that the fast-vanishing small-town life is the key to ancient virtues. Wasilla, Alaska, is only the most vivid recent demonstration of the severe limitations of this worldview. But still it goes on. Hence one's glee at the resulting helpings of custard.

and this priceless one:

Had John Edwards, who made John Mellencamp's song "Small Town" into his annoying campaign anthem, spent more quality time in the bright lights and the big city, he might not have fallen so abjectly for the first pickup line—"You are so hot"—tried on him by a desperate siren who was growing familiar when Jay McInerney was young.

Man, gonna miss this guy when the cancer takes him. There isn't another who thinks or writes like him.

A strange byproduct of abortion technology and societies who value sons.

Thus far, female empowerment often seems to have led to more sex selection, not less. In many communities, she writes, “women use their increased autonomy to select for sons,” because male offspring bring higher social status. In countries like India, sex selection began in “the urban, well-educated stratum of society,” before spreading down the income ladder.

Now there are 160 million more men than women. Scary.
Fake Facebook Friends

What a bunch of nonsense. It isn't a bug, it's a feature.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Film: T-Men

Anthony Mann noir about treasury agents infiltrating a counterfit ring. Not as good as it sounds. Shot well.
Supply and Demand

Two contrasting restaurant's treatment of dark and white meat chicken. At Aunt Kizzy's Patio in Marina Del Ray, white meat costs $2 extra for fried chicken. In contrast, at Savoy Kitchen in Alhambra, dark meat costs $2 extra for the Hainan Chicken dish. Chinese people like their dark meat. And the white and black folks seem to prefer white meat.
The Economy From The Ground Up

I saw some pictures this weekend taken with one of those fancy 5D or 7D Canon cameras. They are amazing. One could shoot a feature film with such technology and save millions of dollars in labor costs. This could also be translated to many future film crews having no work. It points to an ongoing theme about employment and technology that I like to explore and upholds my theory that we actually do not need people to labor anymore. Our society basically only needs 20% of our people to work and they can provide enough goods and services for everyone else to get by just fine. This presents a horrible social problem because employment is crucial to ones sense of self worth and well being and usefulness. Our current economic predicament is the early warning sign of this future disease - high unemployment is a mega-trend - something beyond cyclical or structural. And what's worse, no one wants to discuss this issue because it doesn't pay to. Politicians do not want to tackle a problem they cannot solve or blame the other party for political advantage. Citizens do not want to believe it because it is scary and puts many of their life long investments - career, savings, values - into question. But...instead of being such a naysayer and doomsdayist...I thought I'd try to look from the bottom up about ways we could find stuff for people to do.

In that spirit, I thought we start by looking at what I, a 33 year old single male living in Los Angeles, spends money on. This will show where there is room for economic growth and improvement (the dumbest thing we can do - but what we waste our time doing - is thinking about what our "passion" is or what we like to do for work as it that possibly translates to money or growth).

Without further ado

Yearly expenses:

Taxes (including car registration, etc)
Debt Service (including mortgage, car loan, student loan, etc)
Gas and Electricity
Cable and Internet
Car Insurance
Health Insurance
Additional Health Expenses: Copays, Contacts, etc
Entertainment - non-movies - drinks, etc
Car Repairs and washes, maintain
Rare Big Purchases - one time things: Computer, Car, Bed, Furniture, Record Player, TV Set, etc.
Office Supplies and random business expenses
Exercise Facilities, ie soccer league, yoga, gym, etc
Donations and Gifts

I don't spend much on anything else outside of these categories. I'm sure people with different needs spend on a few other things, especially things like childcare and school expenses, but the idea is still the same. In order to suss out where we might find some growth, we need to break down these categories and see where improvements can be made in the things we buy. I will do this bit by bit over the next week or so.
Bankrupt of Ideas

It is pretty surreal they are about to release a Mission Impossible 4. This remake series was tired after the first one, which was released...checking the 1996. Good lord. It could be the Godfather 2 of remake, reboot, sequels and still unwatchable for the sheer lack of imagination. But hey, I guess the studio is letting Brad Bird teach himself how to direct live action.

TV: Arrested Development Season 3

The least good overall season, but still mighty fun. Got a little too referential for me re: the show dying, etc. The title of the show works incredibly well, both being a description of the state of these characters who haven't reached adulthood, but also, a reference to the building business.

Film: Repo Man

Very strange movie. Effortlessly breaks all the rules and remains enjoyable. Not a good movie to try and copy from, but obviously many try.
They Can Have 'Em

Iran woos US Allies.

Iran is moving to cement ties with the leaders of three key American allies—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—highlighting Tehran's efforts to take a greater role in the region as the U.S. military pulls out troops.

They deserve each other.
The Male Biological Clock


It just happens a little later. We've got an extra 10 years, basically.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Is College Worth It?

The answer is pretty obvious: it's going to be worth it to good students and not worth it for bad students.
Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Why are we using it?

President Obama is releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, despite the absence of a global embargo or horrific natural disaster — and despite a litany of assertions from 2008 that drilling and increased supply might only have a marginal effect on prices.

Higher gas prices don't seem to be a good reason to tap into strategic reserves to me.
Detail of Visual Story Telling

For some reason, a strange detail of visual story telling struck me during last night's episode of Treme. Melissa Leo asks David Morse to look at some homicide files to see if there is anything sketchy about the investigations. A few scenes later, we see him in his office reading a few files late at night when no one is around. We can't tell what he discovers. A few scenes later, he arrives at her house and tells her he found nothing, they all look good. Then, towards the end of the episode, he is talking with someone else (is she internal affairs? another homicide cop?) about the incomplete nature of the files.

It is a good little sequence. We suspect there is something wrong due to prior information we know about the murders, but aren't sure how it is going to be discovered. What interests me is the scene of David Morse looking at the files at night in the police station. Why do we include this scene? Say it was removed, we still get all the same information...

Melissa Leo asks for information. Later, Morse comes to her with the information. Then, later, we discover he was lying to her for some unexplained reason (as he has been forthcoming with her in the past). This is a leaner way of getting across the same information, but it doesn't work as well. Why? I am not sure. On one basic level - we like watching action more than we like getting exposition. But is looking at files action? It is, but it is not visually spectacular action. We get the sense of this guy going out of his way because it is late at night, etc, and no one is around. Is that why the scene is valuable? Or is there something intrinsic in seeing people doing something for a reason we know about that compels our narrative attention?
One More Reason I'm Skeptical of Money-Making On The Web

For awhile, it seemed as though the internet had figured out pop-up ads and spam. Remember in the days when email finally caught on there was this period where spam became basically out of control? I had to close 2 early hotmail accounts because of it. For the past several years, we basically fixed the spam email problem with filters, although it is still a minor problem. At one point there was a problem with pop ups and other stuff on internet explorer and netscape and then by the time Firefox came around, it seemed as though that problem was solved as well.

No more.

Today, I notice more and more pop up ads on the internet and many more on established sites like newspapers, etc. You cannot avoid them, even with Macs.

Herein lies the rub: there just aren't that many ways to make money off the internet. Everyone talks about ad revenue, ad revenue, etc. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Kramer tells Jerry the corporations just "write it off." And Jerry calls him out and says, "You don't even know what a write-off is, do you?" Kramer responds, "No. But they do. And they're the ones writing it off."

And so is this idea of ad revenue via the internet. I don't think there is as much money to be made out there. And I'll tell you why - the more ads that I'm forced to look at directly impacts in a negative way - how much time I spend looking at the internet. That is to say, the more ad revenue, the less I'll look, and the less incentive there is for ads to be put up. It strikes me as a doomed endeavor. Or at least a lot more limited than we think.

TV: Treme
Port of Long Beach

How it helped build Los Angeles and is possibly on the decline.
Gold Cup Loss

An article on why it was good the US.

I agree we need to go younger, but more importantly to look for more creative, risk-taking, special players. We will only go so far with players I define as "solid." The best you can hope for with the teams we construct is upset counter-attack victories. Perhaps the best example being the Portugal World Cup match in 2002. Even Germany, the best counter-attack team in the world, changed their style of play the last World Cup. You just cannot consistently win playing that style. You end up with a team who mostly loses in "close games" and it allows everyone to sit around and say - oh, we were close, if just this-and-that happened, it would have been a different story. Well...of course...if everything went perfectly we "could of" won certain games. Fact is, things rarely go perfectly.

You obviously have to play with the players you have. That is to say, if we don't have a Messi, we cannot just plays "as if" we had one. But it strikes me there is something terribly wrong with either how we develop players or spot talent that a country as large and as healthy and as rich as the United States cannot find a couple of these type of players. Sure...some of them will end up Ronaldihno - brilliant for a short span - and then turn into a weirdo, but that is life. How can we not find a Diego Forlon? A Chicarito or Dos Santos? A Michael Essian? A Drogba? Some of these guys come from countries the size of Los Angeles. Believe me, they aren't all playing basketball or baseball or football, we're still large enough to have some mistakes. To find our soccer playing Hakeem Olajuwon. Only then, will we compete on an international level - where we are able to find these type of guys somewhat consistently and then surround them with the solid dudes. Also, we need more speed. Adu looked good. I think Donvan, Dempsy, and Bradley look world class. Everyone else is expendable if you ask me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Only Thing to Fear...

On raising happy children and how it can be doing more harm than good.

We can try to protect them from nasty classmates and bad grades and all kinds of rejection and their own limitations, but eventually they will bump up against these things anyway. In fact, by trying so hard to provide the perfectly happy childhood, we’re just making it harder for our kids to actually grow up.

Ah, Irony

Founders of myspace no longer use myspace.

Mark Zuckerberg will tire of facebook, despite having 50 billion incentives to not do so.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


TV: Friday Night Lights

Riggins returns and stands around doing nothing and looking "hot." Can't believe they missed the obvious conflict with Riggins being locked up for 10 months and wanting some action and trying to throw himself on Becky, who is now happy with Luke.

Okay, I'm embarrassed I just wrote all that. I sound like a 5th grade girl.

Rough review on Inside Job.

I finally watched “Inside Job” this weekend. It was an excellent documentary for people who don’t want to understand the financial crisis but want to believe they would’ve seen it coming.

I guess I won't be watching it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reputation as Currency

The value of reputation.

For lack of a better term: duh. Of course reputation is currency. Why do people pay attention to some people and not others? Why do we see certain movies and not others? Why do we read some books and not others? Why do we go to certain restaurants? All reputation.
Things To Do In Denver When You're Dead

Not a good movie, very much an example of the post-Pulp Fiction, trying too hard with the dialog. That said, there are a few lines. My favorite:

-You in that yet? Bitin' the pillow?
-You will. It's a liberal thing. One day you're saving the rain forest, the next, you're chuggin' cock. Am I wrong?

Pretty funny, no?
Getting Paid For A Date

Isn't this prostitution?

I mean...suppose the date goes well. What is one paying for? And being paid for? Not that there's anything wrong with it.
The Problem With Many Non-Fiction Books

They don't really need to be full books. This sounds good, for instance: Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong.

Good topic, right? But I look at the book: $18 and 300 pages. Really? It strikes me as more of a long-article topic. It gets me has started selling these long articles and short stories for $2-$4. I actually think this is a nice little sweet spot for writers and journalism and non-fiction (I doubt I'd buy a short story unless it was amazing, like Brokeback). I can imagine this topic being a nice 30 page article and I'd pay $2 for it. But a hardcover book? No thanks...

Thursday, June 23, 2011


There is a character in Lawrence of Arabia who doesn't allow his photograph to be taken. "It will steal his virtue," someone else says. You generally first hear about people like this as child, and they sound crazy. Similar when you hear about the Amish, not using certain modern tools, and so forth. Our attitudes as young people are - "those folks are crazy - why not make life as easy as possible? Why avoid modern realities?"

But I'm beginning to understand these attitudes more the older I get. Not in a crazy, I'm not letting people take my picture, or going to go live in a cave, or start sending bombs through the mail, but more, I'm understanding how technology can erode one's sense of self. My particular beef is with Facebook, as readers well know. Zadie Smith puts it better than I can:

When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears. It reminds me that those of us who turn in disgust from what we consider an overinflated liberal-bourgeois sense of self should be careful what we wish for: our denuded networked selves don’t look more free, they just look more owned.

She is right. And I can only think back to 1914 and how an Arab tribesman thinks of himself. He doesn't view himself as an image, but as something much more - probably something to do with his tribe, his family, his name, his achievements/reputation. But the photo reduces this image. We don't question it because we were raised with it. It is all we know. And we pose for it and dress for it and understand in Andre Agassi's words, "Image is everything." The more we do, the more we accomplish, the more we are proud of in our lives, the more the image reduces it. To someone who is vacant, the image is everything. But to someone who lived their entire lives dedicated to a certain set of principles, whether it be religious or otherwise, like the Arab tribesman, sees himself as represented by something else - a name, perhaps - and not an image. The imagine tarnishes who he is.

Point being - you'll be seeing less pictures of me.

Film: Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead

Not exactly worth dragging the VCR out of the closet (yes, only on DVD). Altman says he learned as much from watching bad movies as good ones. We'll see...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Film: Road to Perdition, The Searchers

TV: Treme, Game of Thrones (final episode), Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development Season 2
Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl

The other day, I wanted some ice cream. Maybe it was because I have been watching Arrested Development. Maybe because my stomach was a bit upset. I don't know. I went. First of all, ice cream is surprisingly expensive nowadays - $4 for a scoop. I suppose latte's cost that much as well, but whatever. Still seems pricey. I went the following day as well. And now I'm craving another Ben and Jerry's. Maybe I will buy a carton.
Japan's Affluence

Interesting pov from an economist in Japan. I've never been, so I cannot attest. But growth as the sole indicator of economic well being for a country could certainly be off. Since I lived in LA for the past 7-8 years and only visit the Bay Area 2-3 times a year, I get a different perspective from the place I grew up and lived after college. It is most definitely more wealthy and affluent than I can ever remember, even post-tech boom. However, I interpret a lot of this "wealth" to speculation and mostly in real estate, and although those prices have gone down, they haven't gone down a lot. People I know looking to buy places in the Bay Area cannot dream of affording a real house. Part of the reason is the houses are so damn nice and expensive. Strange times. Both rich and poor.

Megan McArdle says our unemployment might be structural rather than cyclical.

Uhhhh...yeah...I think that's pretty obvious. Doesn't anyone who's ever worked at an office realize this? 20% of the employees do 80% of the work. We don't need people, people. This is the long term problem.

Nash is really in a different class than the rest of them.

"Maybe I'm old school," Nash told in January, "but I signed a contract to play here and I want to honor it. I feel like I owe it to my teammates and the city and everybody to keep battling until they tell me it's time to go."

One of the great tragedies of this NBA generation is Nash's Suns serial bad luck in the playoffs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Deli

Huffington post claim that Los Angeles deli's are better than New York.

Now, I'm all on board to celebrate any aspect of Los Angeles that is superior to New York (it is, a better city if you ask me), but I hate deli articles that focus only on Jewish Deli's. I agree with the author's general point about New York Deli's and New York in general - it often feels like a tourist trap. Maybe it is because I've never lived there, but New York, to me, feels like one big tourist trap. It feels unlivable. It feels overcrowded and dirty and energy-sapping. And most importantly: totally overpriced. Like, way, way, way, ridiculously overpriced.

But onto deli's, the real subject...Jewish deli's are so obviously inferior to Italian deli's, I cannot comprehend why more gets written about Jewish deli's. I can be objective on this subject as I am neither Jewish nor Italian and love deli's with all my heart. They are probably my favorite eating establishments on the planet. I want to own a deli one day.

I've never been to a great New York Italian deli, although by any common sense, there ought to be good ones. Could they be better than Bay Cities or East Side Market? I doubt it. That is a lay down the law challenge.
Alternative WW2

Interesting theory on what would have happened in WW2 if Poland had not resisted Germany and it became a contained conflict between Poland, Germany, and Japan on one side versus Russia.

Monday, June 20, 2011

So You Didn't Like It?

Bill Simmons discusses the season finale of The Killing.

Because I have mysterious inside information and I stopped watching the show weeks ago, I knew they weren't going to solve the murder in the final episode. Every person I told (prefaced with "do you want to know what happens at the end?" -- telling fact that no one cared and were all like "yeah, fine, I don't care.") had the same reaction:

WHHHAAAT? You're fucking kidding me.

So I can imagine anyone who invested 13 hours and commercials and everything to get to it must've had a much worse reaction.

In contrast, last night I missed the Game of Thrones finale and did not even check the internet until I had watched it on demand because I didn't want any spoilers. Yes, HBO with Game of Thrones, Treme and Luck coming up is taking back the crown from AMC. This is without a doubt.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Can Agree With That

Libertarian plea for America:

“Though rhetorically and theoretically at odds with one another, the two parties have managed to create a mostly unbroken set of policies and governance structures that benefit well-connected groups at the expense of the individual.”

Re-watching Lawrence of Arabia, reminded me many of the problems we discovered during the Iraq invasion existed long before 2005-2006 when the country went to hell. Tribal rivalries, insurgent road side bomb as tactic, inability of providing basic government functions...amazing...the White House and Pentagon ought to have had a screening of the movie prior to the invasion and discussed how to avoid such problems.
Small, Yet Revealing Point

About America losing her way.

In schools these days, there is a big component on teaching “service”. Kids go and hand out soup at soup kitchens to the homeless. They work with little kids, developmentally disabled kids, disabled kids, paint fences and clean up playgrounds. Many people think that they are teaching the kids a valuable lesson. I think it’s bull.

All those things are nice. But what we really ought to be doing is teaching our kids entrepreneurship. We ought to be encouraging them to run little businesses. They have great ideas, and from some of them real businesses could spring. One organization dedicated to making that happen is Lemonade Day.

It’s a step in the right direction.

Friday, June 17, 2011


Film: Lawrence of Arabia

Re-watching the movie vaults it up much higher on my all time list. This is truly a great film.
Don't Get Cocky

Just after a big article on Netflix's powerful position in the Atlantic, Sony pulls all of their movies.

The struggle continues.
To My Credit

I spotted the problem with The Killing very early on. Now all the critics are beating it to shit.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Non Fiction Books

List of 100 of the greatest non-fiction books. Strange note: I've read almost none of these books, except for the ones in the Politics category, where I've read about 75% of them.

This list is silly, though, I'd almost rather someone just write a list of 100 non-fiction books they read and liked. I'd find it more interesting and less watered down. It's like "Interpretation of Dreams"...thanks dude, really? If I wanted to read Freud, I would've read Freud.

Trailer is up. I very much doubt this movie captures any truth, but it looks like a heart warmer. I'll definitely be seeing it.
Dreams, Dirk, and Why It Matters to Movies

I don't like 3D. I can't articulate exactly why...but I just don't care for it at all. The other night I was talking to some friends about dreams and it occurred to me - dreams look like movies. I wonder if people in the early 1800s dreamed in images the same way we do. That is to say - are dreams influenced by movies OR is our attraction to movies because they resemble dreams? I am sure Bazin and other early film writers must have written about this. I am too lazy to look it up. I suspect it is the latter: we have an instinctual attraction to movies because of their resemblance to dreams and memories.

And this is where 3D gets it wrong. 3D is an attempt to try and resemble more closely real life. To give us depth, etc. Now, I realize these are probably similar arguments made by fans of silent cinema around advent of sound and color and so forth. Although, I imagine we always dreamed in color and sound has proven very much to enhance cinema. Also, silent movies were never really silent at all, they were played with music, so the advent of sound was really more about the synching of sound to picture and widening the options over time. The advent of sound did nothing to the image. But 3D is about the image.

When it boils down to it, I believe 3D is mostly a business gimmick to get people to the theater. That is to say, it is not a lasting technology that will stand on it's own. There will occasionally be an Avatar like film, but it strikes me these will be few and far between and be saved for certain kind of epics. Sort of like 70mm prints of films like 2001 and Lawrence of Arabia.

I was thinking this morning about Soderbergh's decision to retire because he feels he is not bringing anything new to movies. Very well. I am all for re-invention and originality, this is why we go to films...but I also started thinking about Dirk and his incredible playoff run. Now, Dirk wasn't exactly reinventing basketball or reinventing himself this year. He just became more precise. He worked on the little details about his game and moved closer toward perfection (obviously never achievable). Now why isn't that a satisfactory enough goal with filmmaking? Why wouldn't Soderbergh be happy improving his "crime movie" for instance and try to make a better one than Out of Sight? Just got me thinking about how big our goals really need to be...and how Dirk didn't change anything fundamental, just got closer to perfection at a few small things.

Film: The Trip

One of my favorite sub-genres is the dudes-on-a-roadtrip. Generally speaking, I am more forgiving of these films than others. Likewise action movies. I enjoyed The Trip quite a lot. I can't recommend for everyone, but it has a good 3rd act and some nice laughs.

Gotta appreciate the guy being candid on his plans to retire.

"I'm not better at things that I've been trying to get at and I find it frustrating," he said. Asked what he's trying to discover, he said, "A new grammar, maybe. I haven't quite figured out what it is. In lieu of some gigantic epiphany I might feel when I see this new thing I imagine is out there, I feel like I am out of ideas. I find myself saying, I've done this shot before. Or, I've solved this problem before by doing the same thing I'm doing now. I don't like that feeling of, 'I've done this.' If you are dealing within the confines of traditional narrative filmmaking, it's hard not to feel like you're in a box after awhile."

I wonder why he isn't interested in telling one last great story. Maybe he isn't interested in film on that level. In other words, why not write something?
Defense of Netflix

And why content isn't king.

In theory, I still don't understand how media studios couldn't develop their own internal systems for streaming video (technology can't be too hard) and then group and package together and profit split if they wanted to shoo Netflix out of the business. But hey, consumer products companies sell their shit at Walmart at worse deals just to get it in the stores...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Film: Le Doulos

Into Melville right now, what can I say. His endings are fantastic.
Basketball Thoughts

Some random thoughts on what teams ought to do for next year:

1. Mavs. Keep the team together, get Butler back, and go for the repeat. Even if Kidd retires, they still have a lot of guards. They had such wonderful chemistry this year, better not to mess with it. I'm sure Cuban will pay for it. Dirk looks like he has some years left in him. Ride the wave. Give Carlisle whatever he wants. That guy coached the hell out of the playoffs.

2. Lakers. The talks shows etc are talking about a big trade for Dwight Howard. Or wait a year for free agency. The tough thing for the Lakers is they isn't much they can do other than blow up the team, but that pretty much would put an end to the Kobe era. If I were the Lakers, I'd upgrade at point guard and pray Bynum can play and go for it one last time with the three big guys, Kobe, and an improved PG. What is your other choice? Make a blockbuster deal for Howard and rebuild your team around a Kobe-Howard thing...but how many years do you get out this? 1-3 and knowing Kobe, it will take awhile for it to settle in. I think the smarter option is to pick up PG, sign an outside shooter, and wait on Howard to be a free agent if you want to go after him.

3. Heat. I think one needs to look at this year and say it was a success overall. They completely changed their team, suffered major injuries to two starters: Haslem and Miller and still came within 2 wins of the NBA finals. It is easy to overreact to the media hype with James, but they owe it to themselves to have another go at it. They discovered a couple things: Bosh is good, Chalmers can play, Haslem can play, Miller can play, and maybe LeBron doesn't have it in him to be "the man." So what? They have Wade. What other team doesn't need to be worried about their best player being a psychological mess? They could use one or two other guys and to get LeBron a sports psychologist, but other than that, there is no need to panic or overreact from an organizational standpoint.

4. Celtics. A tough one. Sort of like the Lakers in that there is nothing they can do without blowing up the team. They obviously need someone down low to play with Garnett - the post left neglected by Perkins. I'd sign someone big and tough who can score an occasional basket - someone like Ibaka or Bynum - and insist Rondo work on his outside shooting all summer and then go for it with the Big 3 one last time. (other idea: trade for Duncan?)

5. OKC. You have to be happy with the season overall. They took the champs to 6 games and won some playoff series, including one against a very tough Memphis team. The biggest worry is Westbrook, so I'd just force the guy to watch video of himself and write down all the shots he takes and mark green for the ones he makes and red for the ones he misses and he will come to the conclusion: I ought to only take shots when I'm driving to the basket. Then, take freeze frames all the red shots and look around to see if other guys are open (I bet they are). Hopefully he can learn from that.

6. Memphis. Do nothing. You have forged an identity as a blue collar, pound it inside team. Stay with it. Ride the Randolph/Gasol train. Could always use knock-down 3 point shooters. Will win 3-4 times out of 10 against OKC - could be the Duncan Spurs to Kobe Lakers with OKC in the future.

7. Chicago. If I were Chicago, I'd go for Howard. Imagine Howard, Rose, Noah? Good lord. They might beat Miami on toughness alone. They need size. Rose and Noah ought to go to Howard's house and say "you want to win 1 with Kobe or 3 with us?" Oh man, how exciting would the Eastern Conference finals be for the next 4 years if Howard went to Chicago. I have no idea whether this is possible from a practical perspective.

8. Spurs. I'm afraid Duncan era is over and it is time to move on. I don't think there are any pieces worth keeping. Could see Tony Parker as a Laker. They could use a guy like him. You can't build a team around Parker, but he is a winner and the Lakers need a PG with speed. If Chicago can't get Howard, could you imagine Duncan going there for 1 year? Admit - not a bad idea. Ginobli is old and injury prone. Could see him go to a team like Orlando or Memphis for 1 year to see if he could push them over the top as a 6 man. Be the Terry of this year's Mavs.

9. Hawks. Who knows? They can't compete with the powers in the East, but they finally seemed to play well in the playoffs.

10. Orlando. Howard wants out, so what can they do? Nothing really other than try and get something for him. Don't think they can beat Chicago, Miami, in the East. Aren't strong enough all around. Could they sign a guy like Ginobli for 1 year and take a crack at it with Howard?

11. Knicks. Team is doomed, despite the talent. If I were them, I'd try to sign Nash for 2 years and see if he has some magic left in him. They are team without an identity. Failing that, they ought to go for Chris Paul. Don't know if they have the money for all this. How can you win with Carmelo? It is a tough question...I'd maybe look at him like a similar case to Rasheed Wallace...where you need a guy like Chauncy Billups to take over leadership. Oh wait a second, they tried that in Denver. But I think the principle still makes sense. So how do find a 2004 Chauncy - bearing in mind the East is way stronger than it was back then?

Can't think of any other interesting teams I know much about...

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials. Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Okay, maybe this is an overreaction, but my gut instinct is to blow to pieces the ISI headquarters. You have got to be kidding me. At the very least, we should cut off all their money. And I mean all of it. We should send it Seal Team Six to break those folks out of prison and set them up in LA and let them bang movie actresses.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Man, what a great topic for a long form sports essay: Ichiro and what a horrible execution. Grantland - this was a swing and a miss. I don't even know what the guy is talking about half the time. Herein lies the problem with Simmons-esque reporting. There are no boundaries. It is a delicate thing to be loose and unstructured and incorporate fandom into essay writing and when you're a lame-o academic-y writer, it becomes insufferable. Further confirms to me race is the most boring of all topics. Nevertheless, he is still talking about Ichiro, one of the most interesting and watchable players out our time.

I was at this game:

In an April game in Oakland, he unleashed a throw from right field that traveled at a seemingly impossible low and accurate trajectory to nail a stunned Terrence Long at third base. After the game, a bewildered Long told reporters, "I'm not the fastest guy in the world, but that's got to be the best throw I've ever seen."

I thought it was opening day. I can't remember. But I remember being excited to watch Ichiro play - hit mostly - and this play happened early on in the game. There are very few amazing plays I've witness in fact...this may be the only one. I remember watching and being in shock. It had the - wait a second...did that just happen? feel to it.

Film: Bob the Gambler. One of JP Melville's early movies. Very good. Could be considered the first French New Wave film - should be studied by the mumblecore people for how to use genre. Worth it for the end alone. Must consider it was made in like 1955 for no money.
Funny Headline

Boehner says Weiner should step down.

Hat tip, tracking board.

Sounds like a racket to me.

A diagnosis of a more and more common patient:

Imagine a bright, attractive 20-something woman with strong friendships, a close family, and a deep sense of emptiness. She had come in, she told me, because she was “just not happy.” And what was so upsetting, she continued, was that she felt she had nothing to be unhappy about. She reported that she had “awesome” parents, two fabulous siblings, supportive friends, an excellent education, a cool job, good health, and a nice apartment. She had no family history of depression or anxiety. So why did she have trouble sleeping at night? Why was she so indecisive, afraid of making a mistake, unable to trust her instincts and stick to her choices? Why did she feel “less amazing” than her parents had always told her she was? Why did she feel “like there’s this hole inside” her? Why did she describe herself as feeling “adrift”?

The whole thing is overlong, but worth reading. An important point:

Meanwhile, rates of anxiety and depression have also risen in tandem with self-esteem. Why is this? “Narcissists are happy when they’re younger, because they’re the center of the universe,” Twenge explains. “Their parents act like their servants, shuttling them to any activity they choose and catering to their every desire. Parents are constantly telling their children how special and talented they are. This gives them an inflated view of their specialness compared to other human beings. Instead of feeling good about themselves, they feel better than everyone else.”

In early adulthood, this becomes a big problem. “People who feel like they’re unusually special end up alienating those around them,” Twenge says. “They don’t know how to work on teams as well or deal with limits. They get into the workplace and expect to be stimulated all the time, because their worlds were so structured with activities. They don’t like being told by a boss that their work might need improvement, and they feel insecure if they don’t get a constant stream of praise. They grew up in a culture where everyone gets a trophy just for participating, which is ludicrous and makes no sense when you apply it to actual sports games or work performance. Who would watch an NBA game with no winners or losers? Should everyone get paid the same amount, or get promoted, when some people have superior performance? They grew up in a bubble, so they get out into the real world and they start to feel lost and helpless. Kids who always have problems solved for them believe that they don’t know how to solve problems. And they’re right—they don’t.”

Yep. Facebook is the technical side of this trend.

Film: Super 8

Eh. Whatever. Decent enough overall idea. Very unimaginative execution of story. Ultimately, childish and boring and lesser than the Spielberg movies it tried to emulate, and I'm not even much of a fan of those. Not for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Very Strange Dude

I like Andrew Sullivan, but man, his Palin rants make zero sense to me.

So she is either a self-serving drama queen who didn't realize her story would imply she put her child - and many others on the planes - at great risk and then winged it to make her story more plausible; or she is a fantastic hoaxer and liar at a world class meshugana level that, at some point, will make Weinergate look like a damp squib.

Maybe I don't understand enough about pregnancy, but is being 6 months pregnant and flying in a plane a problem? I honestly don't see the story in this entire Palin pregnancy thing.
Palin Emails

The media troll through her emails and find nothing incriminating.

How do we not call this what it is: a witchhunt?

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Film: Once A Thief, John Woo. Turned off 3/4 through.

TV: Game of Thrones

Books: The Whole Equation (read only parts)

Well, the refs tried to hand the game to the Heat, but they couldn't hit free throws and LeBron again played hot potato with the ball towards the end. Very strange. I suspect the poor guy is surrounded by people who aren't able to pick him up or help him cope with the emotional toll of the whole circus. The guy looks lost and without confidence.

Dallas played great throughout the entire playoffs. A joyful team to watch.
Horrible Refereeing

Thus far in game 6 they've made about 6 bad calls already in the first half. Ridiculous. I guess ABC is paying them a percentage of a game 7 gross to get Miami to win and the refs keep making dumb calls to try and make it seem as though they aren't.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

More Nonsense

Affordable house=less valuable houses.

Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens echoed the sentiment: “We still need to be able to make affordable mortgages that don’t just go to the wealthy, who can afford the biggest down payments and who have the most positive credit ratings.”

He might as well be saying: we're going to loan money to people who can't afford to pay it back and then expect the wealthy to pay for it when it becomes a crisis.

I didn't understand why the House Dems were calling for his resignation, but it is now coming out that Weiner was a totally ineffective legislator and more a media star. Now it makes more sense why his own party no longer sees him as useful.
Low Interest Rates Trouble

Interest rates are unhealthily low. I looked into the rates for a CD at my bank. The last time I did this, the options were up near 3-4%. Now the rate is .6%. What is one supposed to do with money? Just let it sit and depreciate? Inflation is going up. There is not way it can't with all the money added into the system and with the gas and food prices rising.

Stark said low interest rates over too long a period foster an under-pricing of risk, inducing excessive risk-taking. Low interest rates also delay and ultimately prevent the necessary repair of balance sheets, he said.

"In the end, this turns low interest rates into a curse," he added. "It does not only hinder strong and sustainable economic growth but also compromises price stability over the medium term."

It seems to me, low interest rates got us into this financial mess and so it is counter-intuitive to think low interest rates plus spending will get us out. But that appears to be what we are doing.

Why is the media trolling through Palin's emails?

Did she do something illegal? I hope we realize that by dragging what at the time is considered private messages into the public eye will decrease the ease with which we communicate at work, etc.
It Keeps Getting Worse, If You Ask Me

Facebook now uses facial recognition software to identify your photos. Why?

I hope not being on facebook, means my photos are not tagged of me. In fact, I urge anyone who has a photo of me up on facebook to please take it down.

It just keeps getting creepier and people are just going along with it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Getting Out

White House wants out of Afghanistan, the military doesn't.

Allow me to make a politically incorrect rant: something is wrong with our military if we can't defeat the Taliban and Al Queda. I'm sorry - we're spending about a billion times as much money as they are - we should be able to win decisively. This would be like the Miami Heat losing to a division 3 school in a playoff series. Everyone talks about how impossible it is to defeat the Taliban and Al Queda or how the politicians don't support the troops enough, or they don't have enough soldiers, etc. Bullshit. If the Taliban and Al Queda are so tough, how come they can barely hold onto a slab of shitty land? None of them have defeated a single army in the world and have no decisive victories. The Taliban, at best, beat back several other tribal factions in Afghanistan to win temporarily part of the country. We've spent an ungodly amount of time and money and lives over there and our Generals haven't figured out how to bring home a decisive victory nor have brought us Mullah Omar and Zahwari's heads? Something is wrong with this scenario. Lincoln fired who knows how many Generals in order to get Grant and Sherman to finally beat the South. It strikes me we are being awfully easy on the military.

David Simon responds to Eric Holder's remarks on making another season of the Wire.

"The Attorney-General's kind remarks are noted and appreciated," he wrote. "I've spoken to Ed Burns and we are prepared to go to work on season six of The Wire if the Department of Justice is equally ready to reconsider and address its continuing prosecution of our misguided, destructive and dehumanising drug prohibition."

LeBron Theory

Okay, clearly something is wrong with LeBron. My theory: it is emotional. A year of being hated has worn on him. He is a fundamentally a good guy and wants to be liked. And I think the emotional toll of becoming a heel and being hated has gotten to him. That is my theory. Sure, he has the most ridiculous amount of talent in the world, but we can't forget the guy is still a 26 year old dude who was raised by a single mother who had him when she was 16 with an ex-convict father. No one since Jordan has had as much pressure or a spotlight on him - and Jordan was 28 before he won rings and came from a solid upper middle class family and had 3 years of college at a really good school and basketball program. He was as prepared as one can be for such pressure. LeBron doesn't have the same emotional toolbox. And people are harder today than they were when Jordan was playing. I feel bad for the dude.
I'm Moving

Pics from New York heat wave.

Film: Tree of Life

Question: If this movie was made by anyone but Malick, would anyone see it? The answer is self evidently no. What does this suggest? At the very least - there are probably a few other folks out there capable of making this kind of movie - and - those movies will never be seen. Is this a tragedy for human kind? I would say no. Now...what does that say about Tree of Life?

To make the opposite point, in 1973, I doubt if there was another human on the planet who could make Badlands. In fact, I'm not convinced there is another human from 1970-today who could make Badlands.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Reserved Seating Sucks

I just saw the Grove is now reserved seating. I hate this trend in movies. I can stand it for certain select theaters - like the Arclight. I don't like it, but I get it. I also "get" the advantage of not needlessly waiting in long lines if you pre-bought tickets. However, I hate the symbolism of it. I hate the pretentiousness. I hate treating movies like theater or opera. Movies are a popular media. Always have been, always should be. When they become rarefied is they day they die.
Well Put

Requiem on Weinergate.

Can we accentuate the positive and celebrate the fact that he failed miserably? The story concludes with the ultimate exposure of a bad apple. But do we have any compelling grounds to believe that the bulk of the barrel is not just as rotten? More importantly, the Weiner affair illustrates a national weakness much broader than merely dissipation or hubris or other inherent flaws widely prevalent in the human race.

As a society, we conditioned Anthony Weiner to believe normal rules of human behavior did not apply to him. Like a star athlete or Hollywood icon whose serial misconduct finally breaks through the exasperatingly capricious threshold of public consciousness, Weiner pathetically struggled to grasp the seriousness of his dire circumstances. Like so many others before him, our prolonged indifference left him unable to understand his suddenly precarious position because he had gotten away with so much for so long.

Congressman Weiner felt secure in abusing the public trust, wielding political power in pursuit of self aggrandizement, squandering federal resources in pursuit of prurient thrills all for one reason: he knew that no one was minding the store. His assumption of impunity, in our current state, was actually the much more logical risk analysis.

We cannot go on like this. If American self-government is to survive another century in a hostile world, we must embrace once again the role of citizen participants in the determination of our own future. Quite frankly, we entrust our fate to the good offices of Anthony Weiner and company at our own peril. The remarkable period in which we could indulge such foolishness without serious consequences is fast coming to a close.

I've been saying this for awhile now...we need to bring back shame in a major way.
It's Not About You

The best graduation advice, from David Brooks of all people.

I would cut and paste the best part, but really the whole thing is worth reading. How he describes the problem and the solution. Really wish someone had told me this when I took me awhile to figure it out on my own.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Barkley On LeBron

Everyone is beating up on LaBron for a shitty performance. The worst is Simmons.

Barkley has another theory: LaBron is tired from chasing around Rose and Terry the last two series. He's playing major minutes, chases the fastest guy on the other team and weighs 265 lbs.

It makes as much sense to me as this idea that LaBron shrinks in the spotlight, which stats prove differently and only works when you are constantly matching him up against Jordan...

Young adults get self esteem boost from debt.
Arrested Development

Finished rewatching the entire season 1. The show holds up incredibly well. In fact, post-financial crisis, the entire main plot becomes all the more prescient as the Bluth Family was essentially building the homes that begot the financial crisis. Also, some nice little acting appearances as Amy Poehler and Jane Lynch had small roles and then of course, have since gone on to bigger and better things - Parks and Rec and Glee. Well, fine, not better...but bigger anyway.

There are so many levels on which to enjoy the show. I love the transportation.

From Fooled By Randomness:

Things are always obvious after the fact. ....When you look at the past, the past will always be deterministic, since only one single observation took place. Our mind will interpret most events not with the preceding ones in mind, but the following ones. Imagine taking a test knowing the answer. While we know that history flows forward, it is difficult to realize that we envision it backward. Why? Here is a possible explanation: Our minds are not quite designed to understand how the world works, but, rather, to get out trouble rapidly and have progeny.

He goes into more details in the book...

Hitchens lays into Pakistan.

Again to quote myself from 2001, if Pakistan were a person, he (and it would have to be a he) would have to be completely humorless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offense, and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity, and self-hatred. That last triptych of vices is intimately connected. The self-righteousness comes from the claim to represent a religion: the very name “Pakistan” is an acronym of Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so forth, the resulting word in the Urdu language meaning “Land of the Pure.” The self-pity derives from the sad fact that the country has almost nothing else to be proud of: virtually barren of achievements and historically based on the amputation and mutilation of India in 1947 and its own self-mutilation in Bangladesh. The self-hatred is the consequence of being pathetically, permanently mendicant: an abject begging-bowl country that is nonetheless run by a super-rich and hyper-corrupt Punjabi elite. As for paranoia: This not so hypothetical Pakistani would also be a hardened anti-Semite, moaning with pleasure at the butchery of Daniel Pearl and addicted to blaming his self-inflicted woes on the all-powerful Jews.

Tell us how you really feel.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Is The Best Story?

There are several notable meltdowns and stories of this favorite is now Weinergate. The other nominees:

1. Charlie Sheen's multi-day meltdown-palooza.

2. Lars Von Trier's press conference about understanding Hitler

3. Arnold Schwarzenegger's love child with his maid.

4. DSK rape

5. Weinergate

Are there other nominees? Here is my case for Weinergate...via process of elimination...

DSK story is the weakest because honestly...who gives a shit? The guy is either innocent or guilty and there isn't much more dimension to the story. Also, does anyone outside France know who this guy is? Or care? He is either a creepy old French rapist or some old powerful lothario who is getting screwed over. Again, neither very interesting.

Arnold story is second weakest because there is nothing unexpected about it. The only interesting element is how the guy was able to keep it secret for so long. But now that the secret is out...what more intriguing angle is there?

Lars Von Trier's meltdown was funny to watch and the surreal reaction very entertaining. Here you have this one-two week period of Cannes film festival where the world partially pays attention to the most arty and avante garde element of the film industry and wacky people like Von Trier get center stage. The outcry and banning of Von Trier from Cannes is fantastic. The most noticeable element is the impotence of the entire gesture. In the one cares. No one cares what Von Trier said. It isn't even really very offensive given what one can find on the internet any time of the day. No one will see the movie. No one will notice Von Trier being banned from Cannes, least of all, Von Trier. This is the great part of the story...all these people circling around and talking and banning and taking righteous, meaningless stands. What genius.

Charlie Sheen. It seems like an old story now, but it was so amazing and surreal at the time. We cannot forget this guy dominated the talk shows for a week with interviews that were more like performance art and he introduced new terms into our language like "winning" and "tiger blood." The guy called out Keith Richards and did in real life what regular men fantasize about times 1000. But ultimately, what makes this story weaker than Weinergate, is there is no lasting impact and the issue of whether Sheen would be on 2 1/2 Men again is essentially a non-issue. I know they say people watch this television show, but I have yet to meet a single one of these people.

Weinergate. At first, the only interest I took in this story was the idea that someone hacked into a Congressman's twitter account and posted pictures of a penis claiming to be his. Which is a real issue - identity theft and libel. But the story gets better and more revealing about the times we live each day. Secondly, it became about partisan politics. Liberals rushed to his defense and conservatives were eager to point out "if-this-had-been-a-conservative-he-would-have-been-treated-differently-by-the-press" blah blah blah. Then, Weiner's denials were strange and started smelling funny to anyone who was paying attention, so it stayed in the news. People interested in the truth kept sniffing around and asking Weiner questions. And here is where it gets interesting: he starts hectoring and lecturing and getting self righteous and trying to deflect the attention elsewhere. It becomes a story about the press being vultures and looking to bring people down and keep people looking at the news.

Then suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a surreal press conference erupts. Andrew Breitbart, the hated conservative blogger, gives a 15 minute preamble about the story demanding an apology for everyone who called him a liar before Weiner comes out and admits he did in fact twitter send his penis picture to a college girl. Story breakthrough! Now the story is about the strangeness of social media, it is about a creepy old congressmen, it is about a certain generation's comfortableness with technology and the other generation using it awkwardly.

Now...the story twist...because of the internet and recent memory, you able to go back a few days and watch Weiner's denials. And I would guess more people (myself included) only started paying attention to the story after he admitted to the lies...and so we didn't see the denials in real time, but rather in reverse order. So now, we know the guy is lying and his denials come across as the work of a total sociopath and liar and the story becomes about our political class and the people we elect to office. It is very clear, visual evidence of what we all suspect: these guys are freaking nuts and inhuman.

And then the coda...the similar ending to "The Social Network"...when we hear the story of this other girl from Texas about her online relationship with Weiner and the clumsy, awkward, guy trying to reach out and flirt with some stranger a million miles away and why? It is both pathetic and all-too human, how in this internet age we seek to make these bizarro connections via this networks and end up sending these pathetic pictures of ourselves...I mean it is like the saddest thing in the world...a perfect expression of how man is truly his own worst enemy.

I'm hooked on this story like Game of Thrones. It's soooooo weird.

I can't tell the difference between The Onion and regular news anymore. Do you think the producer on the show was like, "you know should chew gum during this interview?"
100% Estate Tax

Megan McArdle asks why we don't have 100% estate tax. In my junior and senior year of high school at the peak of my liberalness, I had two ideas to create a more egalitarian society: 100% estate tax and ban all private schools. My logic was that without inheritance, we would become more of a meritocracy and there would be more equality of opportunity. If we banned private schools, it would be the same thing, and I thought, people would demand more of public schools if there were no alternatives.

As I've gotten older, I've realized a couple things: both rules are impossible to enforce and we probably wouldn't want to anyway. Parents - I suppose - are able to decide how their kids are educated. (note: although we do require kids to be sent to some type of school).

With inheritance, if it were 100% taxed there would be all sorts of chaos. People on their deathbeds would be gifting cash all over the place to relatives and nearly everyone would try to cheat. Plus, I'm not sure we want the government to have an interest in citizens dying to collect money. That seems creepy. Also, it also goes back to a question of money and who it belongs to - and especially after it has already been taxed when it was income. Doesn't our money belong to us? We consent to be governed/taxed so long as the government is elected legitimately, etc. The money does not belong to the government and they get to "allow" us to do what we will with it.

Anyhow, it seems most logical to have a super progressive scale for inheritance, but not tax it at 100%.

Watching Weiner on ABC lecturing and hectoring the reporter for asking him questions about the photo.

Is our only option creeps and sociopaths? Man...these politicians are so unreal it almost defies explanation. How awesome would it be if the guy was just like...shit...ya caught me. I shouldn't have done that. My bad. Or better yet, just "my bad."

Monday, June 06, 2011


NCAA strips USC of their 2004 National Title.

No one cares. They punish the incoming football players for sins of the past. What a joke. This would be like firing the guy who succeeded Bernie Madoff.

Can someone please show me an example of when it's benefited someone to record their phone conversations or take pictures of their weiner and send it over the internet?
One Wonders

Here is Andrew Sullivan's line on Weinergate.

The country is facing potential default, the leader of the GOP is a delusional maniac, the Middle East remains on a knife edge ... and the question in the headline above is still ringing in my ears.

Weiner has not resigned and, frankly, I see little reason why he should. No one, so far as I can tell, was harrassed, no one was abused, no actual sex even took place at all. I'm not sure one can even find any hypocrisy here. Moreover, if online flirting is unforgivable, why isn't off-line flirting unforgivable? And what really is the difference? Apart from pictures that can be used to humiliate - and even blackmail.

Really? This is the same guy who has been trying to prove for the past two years that Sarah Palin's retarded baby belongs to her daughter. Now he thinks minimizing the weiner story is the right approach. Jeez.

I'm no Palin fan, but who cares if the baby belongs to Bristol? Isn't that kind of thing common - teenage mother gives baby to parents to raise? I fail to see why this constitutes a big deal, especially because it constitutes a harmless lie and is obviously designed for the kid to be raised in a healthy manner.

Sending unsolicited boner-pics to college students, while not exactly harmful, does not strike me as a thing worth covering up. is basically impossible to write about this thing without double entendres coming up everywhere (see what I mean).

Just add it to the vast number of surreal stories this year.

The Congressman twittered his weiner on accident to a 21 year old girl he met over the internet. I have so many questions. Did he take the photo, download it, and in a rush to send, accidentally upload it to his public twitter account? Or, more interestingly, does he have a stash of weiner photos on his harddrive that he can quickly grab and send via email to people he meets on facebook and linked in and twitter?

Man, I feel like a douche for believing the "I-got-hacked" story because it seems too implausible that a congressman would twitter a weiner shot to some random girl. It makes me wonder if I've been approaching the opposite sex all wrong.
LeBron Can't Win

An article on why LeBron can't win, even when he wins.

Definitely a reflection of a perverse media culture when a guy like LeBron comes off as a heel.
If You Don't Want to Read the Book

Sunday, June 05, 2011


Film: Parts of The Italian Job (original), parts of Charley Varrick (both re-watch)

TV: Arrested Development Season 1 (re-watch), Game of Thrones, Treme
Ya Think?

ANGER IN AMERICA: As unemployment hits 9.1 percent, Americans are losing their cool. A Newsweek/Daily Beast poll finds rising anger levels affecting everything from work to sex drive. Gas and grocery prices are soaring, the housing market is crashing to new lows, and yet another dismal jobs report has confirmed a stubbornly high unemployment rate, The Daily Beast’s Douglas Schoen reports. Three-quarters of respondents think the country is on the wrong track. A majority say the anxiety wrought by this recession has caused relationship problems and sleep deficiency. Two-thirds even report being angry at God.

What happened to the hope and change? I guess this is it.

Although it's tempting to try and blame Obama on this...these economic problems stem from much broader issues. And the voters are culpable of buying into the hope and change bullshit because we are wishful thinkers. There aren't easy answers to this stuff and Americans should be the political class for lying to us (or telling us what we want to hear), at the connected robbing the country blind, at the world for constantly patronizing and taking advantage of us while lambasting us behind closed doors for our "arrogance," ie power. And lastly at ourselves, for being suckered into various delusions about our own wealth and power and not demanding better. Because at the end of the day, we are still a democracy and a country who belongs to its citizens. The tea party is the first political movement to grasp this, but I fear they don't understand the depth of the issue any more than the connected political classes. Will we figure it out? I think so. But it's going to take 10-20 years, not 6 months...and it isn't going to be a top down solution with another stimulus, or another foreign adventure, or a major tax cut or a huge expenditure on entitlements like healthcare, or voting in a new president, etc. I believe it will come as a result of a lot of small things...from everyday Americans exploring business opportunities and creating new ideas - whether it be business or technology or books - it will come from small people making sensible political reforms such as redistricting or lessoning major interest groups power in politics, it will come in dividends from things like killing Bin Laden and crippling those who would do us harm, it will come by making the tax code much simpler and everyone paying something, it will come when movie studios stop making gimmicky 3D movies and start trying to get back to the basics and tell good stories, it will come when someone figures out how to make healthcare a more efficient and easy product for Americans to use and buy, it will come as a result of people in their industries and their lives making the small things around them better and more sensible and more affordable. And it will also come when we are harder on the bullshiters and the charletons and the crooks...and bring back some shame into the people who do the small things poorly.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

I Missed This

The CIA used screenwriters to brainstorm what to do with Bin Laden if they captured him.

What this says about me, I'm not sure, but I'd rank that as the coolest gigs on the planet.

Book: The Hunter by Richard Stark

The book on which Point Blank and Payback were based. Fantastic book. Will read others in the Parker series.

Megan McArdle asks why no one has signed up for the high-risk insurance pools.

The high-risk pools, which were meant to tide people over until 2013, have signed up just 18,000 people as of March.

There were supposed to be millions of people who were uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions. We heard lengthy testimony about their terrible plight. I don't think it's too strong to say that this fear--that you could get sick and no one would insure you, that's right, you, Mr. & Mrs. Middle-Class Voter--was one of the main reasons offered for the health care overhaul.

Eeek. What happened to the other 95% of people who badly need insurance?

Note: Proposition 13 passed in California in 1978 to make property tax increases small. This of course set off a wave of Propositions and underfunded the CA public schools as this is where the money used to go. CA used to have the best public schools in the country and in one generation dropped to last so property owners didn't have to pay too much tax. But the crazy story is that not a single Californian had lost their home due to property tax increases. Californians were super afraid about the increasing taxes, yet we overreacted and gutted our schools as a result. Point is this: we overreact to certain fears, particular fears that conjure up emotions, ie not covering folks with pre-existing conditions and losing our houses.

Yikes. Half of the jobs last month came from a single employer: McDonalds.

I don't imagine these constitute career type jobs exactly...
The Future Is Not Bright

Tyler's Cowen's THE GREAT STAGNATION is a nifty little kindle read. His basic premise: we've tapped all the long hanging fruit that made us prosperous for the last 300 years and now we're in for a period of low or no economic growth. What does this mean? We will make less money than our parents. Our relative status and power vis-a-vis the rest of the world will shrink. Our politics will get increasingly nasty and disingenuous. Employment will be high.

Nice, huh?

Here's the dirty secret - we aren't needed. We are well on our way to a society that can run on 20% of the people working and the rest searching the internet. This is a scary prospect as many Americans - culturally and biologically - define themselves or at the very least, take pride in their work and labor. What happens when you take this away?

Sure, we will always use and need pizza delivery boys, cooks, plumbers, landlords, government officials, lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, filmmakers, basketball players, etc, etc...and the jockying and lobbying for these jobs and protection of these jobs will increase and become more competitive and less lucrative than ever before.

Okay. We all agree. This'll suck. It already sucks. So what can we do? Tyler Cowen suggests investing in science. Ummm...okay. The internet and green technology won't save us. Let me say that again - the internet and green technology WON'T save us. Twitter only employs 300 people. These industries are not employment heavy. They cannot feed entire cities like GM did with Detroit once upon a time. Green technology is a joke. Here's a test - how many people can you name who work in the industry? Just casually. Here's a guess: zero. I know one person who is studying to be a green engineer. One person. No, this does not sound like the future economic juggernaut lefties hope for.

I don't have the answers. But I say we admit the issues and problems in a straight forward manner rather than stick to lame-ass political platitudes about cutting taxes or adding benefits as if either of those address the real issue. Protecting unions and benefits and entitlements WILL NOT save us. It will only hasten the decline as it basically amounts to transferring wealth not CREATING any wealth. Liberals and Conservatives are both making the same mistake - they think we are rich. We are not. We are living on dividends of past generations. And they are shrinking every day unless we figure out how to make some new shit that the rest of the world will buy. And hopefully that shit will take a lot of people to build and only Americans are qualified to do the building. Otherwise, the Chinese will build it cheaper and better.

And one last thing - what we are talking about here is the collapse of the American Dream. What happens then? What motivates people to excel once this thing we've all bought into goes away? What happens when we have 30-40% of young, college educated people unable to find any sort of meaningful work?

One of the Democrats favorite talking points is the Republicans can't be taken seriously about the debt because when they were in power, they spent like no one's business. This is true. But you also gotta recognize, they were in power pre-financial crisis and the debt wasn't the hugest priority. So I find this logic a bit disingenuous. It would be like someone discovering they had skin cancer and saying they couldn't go to the beach anymore and then retorting - fuck you, you used to go to the beach all the time before.

Books: Playing For Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made by David Halberstam; The Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

Great read. Halberstam is one of the greats. I still need to read Best and the Brightest and the one about the '77 Portland Trailblazers.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Tech Companies

Reading Tyler Cowen's THE GREAT STAGFLATION. He makes a good point about tech companies - he likes their products - but as different from past technological inventions - their products do not produce high employment numbers. Twitter, for instance, only has 300 employees. Many movies employ more people. So while these products might be "cool" (I am dubious, other than blogger), they don't exactly help the economy churn and earn people money to feed their families.

How did Dallas win that game? Amazing. Miami took about 3 bad shots and Dallas switched up the style of offense they were running and just nailed every shot.

I still think Miami is better, but they showed a lack of grit in game 2. Letting Dallas back in was stupid. Older, tougher players would not have allowed it. Still...Dallas need to play better inside. They can get so many shots near the rim and they've been missing a lot of them. Maybe they'll drop at home. Secretly, Dallas' best player tonight was Shawn Marion. He kept them alive. This'll make a more interesting finals, I'm glad Dallas won.

I like what they're doing with their rotation and mixing it up against Miami. That said, without Dirk in the game midway during the 1st, they looked way overmatched. Peja shouldn't play. The guy can't guard anyone and doesn't bring anything offensively except the open 3.

They need to pound it inside. Haywood and Chandler should both score 10 points and have 10 rebounds. I know it isn't their natural game, but they need to exploit Miami's lack of height. Once they do this, it'll open the rest of the game up for their shooters - Terry, Dirk, Barea, Kidd, Peja can all get going and get open jumpers if they start going low. I like how they're using Marion. Just put him one-on-one with LaBron. Work LaBron on both ends of the floor. Obviously LaBron will win the match up, but it makes the assignment simple and if Marion can just do half of what LaBron does, hopefully his teammates can back him up. Keep making Wade work for his shots and beat him up when he goes to the rim. They can win, but Miami is better.
But It Got Me Thinking

What a show.
A Revealing Joke

The Attorney General orders David Simon to make another season of the Wire. Huh?

Fine, I get that he is joking and it's cool he finds the Wire good and socially useful and all that. But what lies underneath this is a fundamental misunderstanding of how things (such as TV shows or jobs or revolutions) are created that often come from people in or around the Obama Administration. Anyone with a half-a-brain knows you couldn't up and restart The Wire, nor would you want to. Beyond just the practicalities of scheduling, there is also a time and place for things and when the time passes, it is gone and cannot be replicated. Quentin Tarantino could not go out and make Pulp Fiction today anymore than Jerry Seinfeld could go out and start making Seinfeld episodes again. It would not be the same. Most likely, it would be some awful mish mash, kind of like watching Magic Johnson and Larry Bird lace up their converse and playing a basketball game against the Heat. It would be ugly.

Beyond that, however, who the f is the Attorney General to tell David Simon what to do? This is the thing that bugs me about the Obama Administration. They have a tendency to poke their noses into all sorts of things they shouldn't...what TV shows should be made...whether there ought to be a college football summit for a wronged care...general for clunkers...all these type of things, some big, some small, but not fundamentally part of the role of the United States government. And yet, ironically, when it comes to things like oh-you-know standing up for nascent democracies and people longing for it, like the Iranian protestors, Tunsian protestors, Libyan protestors, or Egyptian protestors, their first reaction is always to sit back and wait and see what happens and be all...well...that's none of our business, really, but if you happen to maybe win, then we'll back you.

And so we wonder why this administration hasn't helped bring back the jobs. It's because their ideas are as stupid as bringing back the Wire for another season. For those in entertainment, we can understand why this wouldn't work and why it is a dumb idea that wishful thinking college freshman would come up with. It doesn't give me any faith that the stimulus was a smart move or the bailouts were thought-through. I'm just imagining a tv slate made by the Obama Administration, forcing all the best and most politically correct shows to reair and parceling out - a black show here, a white show here, an old folks show here, a hispanic show here. Ugh. Making me sick just thinking about it. Although, it still might be better than CBS and ABC.

All that said, he still got Bin Laden.