Wednesday, November 30, 2011


A discussion about how Obama doesn't like his job.

They surmise Obama actually doesn't like exercising power. One of the more interesting points, I wished they delved into further, however gets cut off. One of the ladies says, "Well, who would?" The guy next to her gets all bullying and lists people who love politics - like LBJ, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan - and makes the point, great leaders love what they do. Perhaps. But not all people love what they do - and plenty of solid professionals don't like significant portions of their jobs. I'm certain lots of doctors don't enjoy dealing with insurance companies, many lawyers don't like dealing with other lawyers, and many football players hate certain Sundays (Rex Grossman). I'm not sure a love/passion test is vital. But who knows...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Will The Believers... their words when Tebow inevitably becomes a joke? I doubt it. But at least we'll have the internet to remember stupid justifications for his terribleness.

Tebow believers remind me of the people who predict the world will end on a certain date.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Good Idea

Professor forces students to bring snacks to class.

Parrott said that considerable research shows that students learn more if they develop the skills to work in teams, to assume responsibility for projects, and get to know their fellow students. Team members need to count on one another, he said, and his students learned Thursday that if someone fails at a task for the team, there are consequences. "They need to learn to check on one another and clearly they didn't get that done," he said. "This was an important lesson."

This kind of falls in my requirement for graduating college that you must throw at least one party.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jerk Off

I'm late on this, but reading that Salman Rushdie calls Game of Thrones garbage and The Wire "just a police procedural," would be fine for a pretentious, unreadable author, except that he lists Entourage as his favorite comedy. Stick to the uber-literary circles, Salman, don't bring that bullshit up over here.

Keep our eyes on Damascus.
Like A Wagner Opera

Breaking Dawn causes some male moviegoers to have seizures.
Interesting Idea

Micro jobs. Really, if you break down what a "job" is, it is all micro jobs.
Interesting Point

On books attacking consumption -

One of the running themes of the economist Robin Hanson's excellent blog is that arguments like the ones found in these books are actually an elite-status proxy war. They denigrate the one measure of high-visibility achievement—income—that public intellectuals don't do very well on. Reading "Shiny Objects," you get the feeling that he is onto something.

Consider the matter of status competition. Mr. Roberts, like so many before him, argues that conspicuous consumption is an unhappy zero-sum game. But this is of course true of most forms of competition: Most academics I know can rank-order everyone in the room at a professional conference with the speed and precision of a courtier at Versailles. Any competition, from looks to money to academic credentialing, both consumes a lot of resources and makes many of the participants feel bad about themselves. Why, then, does the literature on status competition always tell us that we should redistribute capital gains or inheritances and never tell us that we should redistribute academic chairs or book contracts?

Serial killer uses craigslist to lure victims.

Good Thinking

Looking at house-to-income and house-to-rent ratios. According to these charts, American homes are undervalued and hence good to buy.

Too bad this applies on a macro and not a micro level. I'm guessing most of the undervalued homes are in specific areas overbuilt during the housing bubble - like Vegas, Phoenix, etc. It doesn't seem to apply to Santa Monica yet, especially if you are in rent control.
Niners Defeat

Thursday night at Baltimore was a clear defeat. The Ravens defense was on fire. The biggest worry is obviously our pass protection. One of our guards was injured in the 2nd quarter, but it was a combination of factors - falling behind, Smith taking bad sacks, injuries, play design -- the whole thing. But this was a good game. And there was a crucial stretch where weak penalties went against us on a long TD pass and an interception. Those plays go our way and it's a different game. But regardless, it gives the team a taste of what the playoffs will be like. Plus, it was a Thanksgiving away game on a short week against the best defense in the league. By no means a terrible loss. Other concern right now: 1) Gore and our running attack. Gore hasn't been the same in awhile and I cannot figure out if he is injured and this Adam Snyder injury is worrisome. 2) Braylon Edwards is injured and not getting open 3) Our secondary and pass rush -- we never seem to rush more than 4 players and get sacks -- but still, we hold teams under 20 points, so I can't complain too much about defense. What I'm strangely unconcerned about: 1) Alex Smith. The guy has grown a lot and shows confidence and good decision making ability and an understand of his role and what the team is. Even after being chased around the field by the Ravens, I was not worried he was going to ruin the game. The one pick at the end of the first half was stupid but more Braylon Edwards fault - the guy is injured. 2) Crabtree. Crabtree is now our best receiver and he runs hard for yards after the catch. Both Crabtree and Smith are quietly developing into our two most important offensive players for the stretch. I predict Crabtree has a 100 yard game in the playoffs. 3) Run defense. The best in the league. Simply put. 4) Harbaugh. He had the right game plan. We lost, but like I said, a few little things go our way earlier on and we win this difficult game. The Ravens brought everything they had to this game to win.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

But, Of Course

We will see a lot more part time employment when Obamacare goes into effect, so companies don't need to pay for healthcare.

Book: Magic, Science, Religion by Bronislaw Malinowski

I only read the portions of the essays related to magic and how primitive people used it. Very interesting. Salient points - ideas about demons and spirits, etc, came out of primitive people trying to understand dreams. They didn't know how to process the dreams and believed dead people (who they dreamed about) were visiting them from the spirit world. Sort of makes sense if you don't understand neurons and how the brain works. Also, a lot of magic rituals were performed in conjunction with run-of-the-mill tasks. For instance, magic rituals were performed after seeding and tilling a field for a crop. Or before war fighting. Or before going deep sea fishing. Or in trying to woo a mate. The author theorized most magic rituals dealt with activities where chance and luck had a lot to do with the outcome. So, in a way, magic was a way of dealing with the anxiety of the unknown and a way of dealing with powerlessness. From an anthropologic point of view, this makes sense. People who DID NOT practice magic rituals were more likely to be faced with crushing anxiety and to curl up in a little ball in the face of danger and the unknown - like before going into battle or facing a horrific storm in the ocean, or when their love is unrequited. From a "survival" point of view, the folks who practiced magic rituals as a way of saying "i can control or help control" whether my crop yield is good this year, or whether so-and-so will let me have sex with them, or I will defeat this guy in battle when I cast a spell on him, were more likely to succeed than the person who tossed up his or her hands and said, "I got no control over this thing." In short, it was a lot about optimism and false sense of control and the habits/rituals were passed down and believed by generations of peoples. Very interesting, I thought.

Film: Margin Call

Well, another black list script made into a crappy movie. Soon Hollywood is going to catch on and stop making these things. Bad for me. Pretty amazing cast the guy was able to put together for this movie. Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Zach Quinto, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Stanly Tucci, the Mentalist. Surprising, though. The script was kind of a mess and the movie making a bit on the cheap side. Not that I mind cheap movies, but for a movie about high finance, the last thing you want is for it to seem cheap and the frame empty. Bigger problem was with the script. Strange structure. Starts as Stanley Tucci's movie, then becomes Quinto's, then becomes Spacey's. All this would be cool if it felt purposeful - like the Insider. But it didn't. It felt as if the momentary main character served no other purpose than to get us to the other character. In short, I suppose, the individual character journey's were not thematically linked in the way the Insider pulled it off. I suppose if you think about this as some guy's first movie, it isn't bad; but it certainly isn't good, nor does it make me want to pay attention to the writer/director's career. Oh yeah, it is about 24 hour meltdown in a finance firm when they realize they are holding toxic assets. But they don't do a particularly good job of explaining what happened or the simple "why now" question.

Wishing for Jimmy Carter.

The Carter presidency was a mixed bag, but he had the requisite adult judgment for the job. He did not abandon his "progressive" values, but he could see the obvious—that the times called for backing and filling in the "progressive" project, not charging ahead, onward and upward oblivious to realities.

He never got credit from the political calendar, but the Reagan economy was truly built on a Carter-Reagan foundation. Lost amid the shouting, the continuities of American life are often impressively large. Check out Mr. Carter's speech to the 1980 Democratic convention, in which he boasted unembarrassedly and at length about "slashing regulations" and "restoring free enterprise" to failing regulated industries.

You perhaps see where we're going. Mr. Obama's career has been one in which the main effect has been the impression he leaves on audiences—the main effect has been himself. Familiarity with his country—or any other country—would be helpful at this point, if only to counterweight his mesmerization with the arc of his personal story.

It's hard to argue with the point.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Broncos front office won't admit Tebow is the long term answer at quarterback, which only proves they are not stupid.

Supercommittee fail and what it means.

In a modern democratic state, two things are true of any policy agenda:

1. You eventually have to pay for it, with actual money.
2. You have to get those bastards on the other side to agree to it.

We seem to have an electorate who believes neither of these things, and the political class has followed them. We passed a giant health care entitlement "paid for" with cuts to existing services that should have gone towards deficit reduction, if they can be done at all . . . and with a structure that risks failing spectacularly and making everything worse if the cost projections are wrong, or the necessary changes prove politically unsustainable. When I pointed this out, I was told "it's not our fault if the Republicans fuck it up," as if it were somehow reasonable policy analysis to assume away the existence of anyone who disagrees with you.

Stop snickering conservatives: you didn't pay for your tax cuts at all, and you tried to get through an equally enormous entitlement change (remember Social Security reform) without funding it in any way, even a stupid and likely-to-fail one.

We are in bad shape politically.

The 57,000 page tax return.

GE paid no tax on their 14 bil in profits last year.

GE’s tax bill illustrates both why our corporate tax rate is too high and too low. The nominal rate is too high which encourages a real rate which is too low.

Consider the resources that GE spends to lowers its tax bill, not just the many millions spent on clever accounting and accountants and the many millions spent on lobbying but also the many inefficient ways that GE structures its businesses just to avoid paying taxes and the many millions it invests in socially wasteful projects just in order to produce privately valuable tax credits. Now add to that the allocational inefficiencies of taxing some firms at different rates than others and you have a corporate tax system which wastes a lot of resources and raises relatively little revenue. Indeed, a corporate tax system with a tax rate of zero could well be preferable as it would waste fewer resources and raise not much less revenue.

Sometimes it feels like America is full of the smartest idiots on the planet. And by the way...this doesn't just apply to the corporate tax applies to our entire tax system. With stories like this, how do you expect a family of four with an income of 80,000 to fork over 20% of their money to the Federal Government. Jeez.

TV: PBS Documentary on Woody Allen

I recorded the first part and watched the 2nd part last night. Quite a good profile on the man. My favorite part was when he talked about Cannes. He basically says "It's all bullshit. Everyone wants to love you and your movie. But none of it is real. You can't believe anyone. They all lie." He is talking about the heaps of praise and the red carpet and the whole celebration of film. Woody holds himself up to a higher standard - he's always trying to make a "great" movie and his reason for his high work rate is that he figures if he produces a lot of stuff, he has better odds of making a great movie. This, I imagine, is the key to his success as a filmmaker. It goes without saying, he is a comic genius and a man of great natural talent. But his refusal to accept the excessive praise, or his ability to compartmentalize the bashing of his unsuccessful films or the Soon Yi controversy, is they key to plugging along. A worthy lesson for all of us.

On the Great Work Divide:

It suddenly occurred to me that this is a standard feature of the work lives of blue state elites: almost all of their contact is with people just like them. Same education, usually the same few states of origin, and a pretty uniformly shared set of values about what work is for and how it should be done.

These people tend to vote Democratic. Small-business owners, who work in much more diverse environments, tend to vote Republican. I'm not going to speculate on why this might be so--but I suspect that it matters.

It is very true and unfortunate. I've had a few work experiences in my life mixing it up with folks from different backgrounds. I always found it rewarding. This is a truer form of diversity, if you ask me, than mere racial make up, which we blue state people seem to value without thinking.

This whole sham of "diversity" in colleges and the workplace is a costless chimera that allows the powerful to do-nothing about class issues or improving equality of opportunity.
This Would Be The Biggest...

...I told you so, in my entire life:

IS FACEBOOK DOOMED? Possibly. In the last week or two, several people I know — all of them attractive women between their teens and early thirties — have quit Facebook. Their biggest complaint is the lack of privacy, and its tendency to attract creeps. Under not just one, but two of Kaus’s Rules Of Punditry (“generalize from your own experience,” and “three events make a trend”) this now represents a legitimate phenomenon.

It helps you keep in touch with people you don't want to keep in touch with, ie creeps.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Educational Rebate

A proposal to rebate tuition to law school students.

Law schools might analogously offer to rebate half of a student’s first-year tuition if the student opts to quit school at the end of the first year. (If the student has taken out government loans, this rebate would first go to repay this debt.) A half-tuition rebate splits the loss of an aborted legal career between the school and the student. Each has skin in the game, so students will not go to law school lightly, and law schools will have better incentives not to admit students likely to fail.

Not a bad idea. A lot of the financial problems facing the country are the result of looking at the wrong timeline and getting into sunk costs.
She Went Through With It

Mila Kunis attends Marine Ball.

Good on her.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Film: The Descendants

Not among my favorite Alexander Payne movies, but still a watchable movie. Oddly, felt like it was cast well all around, except for George Clooney. He is the only one that didn't feel like he actually lived in Hawaii. Not that Clooney did a bad job, it's just the guy is a movie star and you can't forget you're watching him.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bill Maher Ambushed

Elizabeth Hasselbeck ambushes Bill Maher on the View.

On this, I gotta side with Maher, even though I'm not much of a fan. I feel a need to defend all comedians when people get offended or outraged about their jokes. I wish Maher had said something along the lines: look, if you want comedy, the only way you get comedy is to push the envelope of what is acceptable to say. Sometimes, we will be off. Sometimes, we will be offensive. But the alternative is to be self-censoring for fear of upsetting people, and who wants to live in a world like that? So, no. I won't apologize for being offensive. Some of the funniest bits in comedy are rape-jokes (Chris Rock), jokes about child beating (Bernie Mac), so get off your high horse and learn to laugh a little.

Could clumsy writing undo the healthcare bill?

Well, the NBA isn't going to have a season, and this makes even less sense than bungling healthcare.

We truly suffer from a dearth of leadership in all sectors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Retired By 80

75% of middle class Americans think they won't be able until age 80.

A combination of living too high on the hog and printing money to kick the can down the road (inflation).
Unemployment Benefits

It seems counter-intuitive, but this study says increasing unemployment benefits is the best way to increase job creation.

I wonder how they are calculating.
Niners v. Bears

Every time I read about Matt Forte, it upsets me. The man is 48% of the Chicago offense and they pay him $600,000 a year. He is a top 5 running back in the league. He is professional, hardworking, everything you could ask of a man, and how does Chicago treat him? Like a piece meat. They are going to suck him dry and leave him literally limping in his old age. They won't give him a new contract - they plan to designate him as a franchise player in 2012 - thereby getting their 4 years out of him, let him go in free agency, let some shitty team like Arizona sign him for a 3 year deal where he probably gets injured due to overwork in his first 4 years.

From a strict dollars and cents perspective, it is smart. Running backs are a dime a dozen and bad long term investments. Look at Dallas, basically picking DeMarco Murray off the street, and the guy is arguably similarly effective as Forte. All this said, it is a shitty way to run a business.

When the Niners signed Frank Gore this year to a 3-year, $21 million dollar deal, I winced. Gore is 28 and missed a lot of last year. He is probably past his prime as a running back and everyone, myself included, thought it would take years of rebuilding under Harbaugh before the Niners ever became a contender. Why would we invest in Gore and at a position that is easily replaceable? The reason - because Frank Gore is a Forty Niner. He epitomizes what we want the character of our team to be. The guy dropped in the draft to the 2nd round because everyone thought he had a bum knee. What did he do? Work his ass off and three years later he led the league in rushing on a half decent 8-8 team. He declared he'd run for 2000 yards the following year. He was the one bright spot of a franchise that had sunk into the doldrums.

The Niners decided to stick with Gore. We went against the smart "dollars and cents" move and rewarded the player for his character, past performance, and because we wanted him to finish out his career as a Forty Niner. He will be the Niners all time leading rusher by the end of his career. He is still the character of our offense. And this year, he ran for 100 yards in 5 straight games. Granted, he is injured right now. But he'll be back.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Film: Once Upon A Time in The West

Forgive me, because I'm new to having a nice HD flatscreen TV, but there is something pretty amazing at being able to stream a movie like this via Netflix for a mere $7.99 a month on the incredible quality of an HD TV right in one's living room. It certainly does not match the theater experience...but then isn't 1968 and time travel is incredibly expensive. I love the rhythm in this movie and I'm not sure if it is the same in all Leone Westerns, but the scenes are very slow and deliberate and patient and then erupt into sudden action and then onto the next. In the better scripts I've written, my rhythm tends to be the opposite, where I like to open scenes up into action (I call it front-loaded action) and then end scenes on the smaller, character beats.

Monday, November 14, 2011


The perpetual claim of Palestinian victimhood.

TV: Cheers, Pilot-Ep. 3; Parks and Rec; More Twin Peaks, S. 2

Cheers pilot is excellent. Most notable thing - how much of the comedy is rooted in character vs. jokes/gags. Actually has quite a melancholy tone. Today, something with this tone becomes a mini-major comedy...almost the closest thing would be an Alexander Payne movie or something. Surprised by how much backstory they get into the pilot - and how rich the backstory of each character is. They all feel as though they've lived big past lives before even entering the show. Maybe that is the charm.
Baby Boomer Fail

An interesting article on the failures of the Baby Boomer generation.

What the Boomers as a generation missed (there were, of course and thankfully, many honorable individual exceptions) was the core set of values that every generation must discover to make a successful transition to real adulthood: maturity. Collectively the Boomers continued to follow ideals they associated with youth and individualism: fulfillment and “creativity” rather than endurance and commitment. Boomer spouses dropped families because relationships with spouses or children or mortgage payments no longer “fulfilled” them; Boomer society tolerated the most selfish and immature behavior in its public and cultural leaders out of the classically youthful and immature belief that intolerance and hypocrisy are greater sins than the dereliction of duty.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy What?

VDH lays it out.
In Fairness

At least one person has written a calm, reasoned piece on Paterno and Penn State.

But I will say this: Paterno has paid a price here. His job is gone. His life’s work has been soiled. His reputation is in tatters. Maybe that should be the price. Maybe there should be more of a price. You don’t have to type: “Well, his price is nothing like the price of those victims…” I already know that.

But I think the way Joe Paterno has lived his life has earned him something more than instant fury, more than immediate assumptions of the worst, more than the happy cheers of critics who have always believed that there was something phony about the man and his ideals. He deserves what I would hope we all deserve — for the truth to come out, or, anyway, the closest thing to truth we can find.

I don’t think Joe Paterno has gotten that. And I think that’s sad.

True 'dat.
Oh, That's Why

I hadn't been to the movies in awhile, but now I realize why. Check out the top ten. Jesus. What a joke.

1. Immortals - you couldn't pay me to watch this a joke of a movie
2. Jack And Jill - wasn't this one of the Sandler posters in Funny People?
3. Puss In Boots - i get it, but i don't watch cartoons because i'm not 6 years old.
4. Tower Heist - ratner is a clown and incapable of making a good movie, although his interviews are entertaining.
5. J. Edgar - if this isn't clint's worst movie ever, you need to rethink him as a filmmaker. it is that bad. it is so bad, it cancels out 1/2 of how awesome unforgiven is...sort of like if your 401k has a killer year and then the next year loses all of that money. unforgiven in basically the best western of the modern era and j. edgar is so bad, it wipes out half of the goodwill created in making a modern classic. this is hard to do.
6. Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas - there is nothing that can be said.
7. In Time - an original movie, too bad it totally sucked
8. Paranormal Activity 3 - found footage, sequel, horror movie - this is like the hitler/stalin/mussolini pact
9. Footloose - craig brewer goes out on a whimper.
10. Real Steel - sadly, it probably is the best movie on this entire list and it is about boxing robots.
J. Edgar

Impotent. Is the best word I can come up with to describe the Eastwood/Dustin Lance Black collaboration. Dead on arrival. I knew within 30 seconds the movie was completely lifeless, uninspired, just one steaming hunk of shit. Four words into the voice over to open the film and it was snooze-a-rooz. What is going on? Clint has taken this "I shoot the first draft of the script," too far. Or perhaps he forgot how to read. Dustin Lance Black is the most overrated writer in Hollywood. Milk was carried only by Sean Penn's performance. The screenplay, I remember thinking when I watched the film, was terrible. This movie only confirms my original instinct. The problem, I'm nearly positive, has to do with a cinematic education. Who are these screenwriters who think by reading biographies and interviewing people who knew J. Edgar, that they can construct a film via history? This is amateur hour, the approach an undergraduate with a small interest in movie would take. They go for "psychological realism." I have a better term for it - steaming hunk of dog shit. There is no cinematic tradition considered in the conception of this movie. Did he even consider Citizen Kane? Has he seen the movie? I'm not even a fan of Kane, but isn't this the obvious starting point for doing a biopic about someone like J.Edgar Hoover. Yikes. I love Clint, but if I'm Warner Bros, I'm seriously considering pulling his carte blanche and Dustin Lance Black very well might be a good and decent person, but he should not be paid to write screenplays.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One More Thing Re: Joe Pa

I view the the vilification of Joe Pa as a witch hunt, encouraged by the media. This is why: Let's us assume the worst - that Joe Pa - knew Sandusky was shady, also knew about the rape AND knew Sandusky was still running camps for boys on the Penn State campus AND therefore knew it was probable that Sandusky was still raping little boys. And he turned a blind eye. Why did he need to be fired at the peak of the media hysteria? If he is guilty of these things, time won't change it. There will be plenty of time for his legacy to be forever tarnished and the proper punishment to be applied. But no. The demand is that he be fired IMMEDIATELY without deliberation, without knowing all the facts, without calm, civilized, orderly thinking.

Look, a similar thing happened in Iraq with Saddam Hussein. They rushed to trial and execution and while it is without question Saddam deserved the death penalty, the process was uncivilized. The ends don't justify the means and we don't even know what Paterno knew. It is simple what is going on - people are worked up into hysteria and damaging the lives of individuals not because they are guilty of crimes - but because we are looking for people to blame, whether they are guilty or not.

UPDATE: Okay, two more things...Megan McArdle has an article up about the rumors Sandusky was pimping out little boys to doners.

At least it offers a motive. And yet . . . it seems completely implausible. How does one go about marketing one's alumni relations department as a potential procurer of underage boys for wealthy pedophiles who perhaps also happen to be fans of the Nittany Lions? And how do you make sure that no one--in the department or elsewhere--tells the police? I find these rumors basically impossible to believe.

Yeah, this idea sounds like an incredibly over-the-top episode of Law & Order SUV. Impossible to believe. I think I need to stop writing and thinking about this story. There without a doubt, should be an investigation to figure out what happened. But let me be clear - I don't give two shits about Paterno as a legend or a fatherly figure - I have no investment in Penn State or big time college football except as a casual fan. And from that perspective, I have no grudge or axe to grind about "paternalistic" organizations or societies, nor a particular love or hate of college football. I view Paterno as a man and a person who most likely has some moral failings and administrative problems running a large organization. Penn State football could disappear tomorrow and my life would be no different. So all that said, as a person, Paterno does not deserve the wrath of hatred directed toward him. He may at one point, but not right now. Not based on rumors and speculation. Not based upon American instinctive distrust of the powerful. Not because we find it ironic when squeaky clean people fall off their perch. And not because of the sicko factor of child molestation, which we all know exists and happens.

Harvard students occupy own campus. If they aren't the 1%, who is?

Kinda tough to have it both ways, methinks, that is to say, be apart of the 1% and then protest against it. Of course, what this protest is really all about, is the 1-2% protesting against the 1%.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jonathan Gold

2011 Essential 99 Restaurants.

Who is the best LA-based journalist/writer? Jonathan Gold/Food? Bill Simmons/Sports? Nikki Finke/Movie Biz? Kevin Drum/Politics?

Those last two are generous additions. I must be missing some other possible nominees...
Christmas Tree War and Tax

How the fake tree industry lobbies Washington to tax real trees.

Charlie Brown would be very upset.
Love It

What a great article on Jim Harbaugh. My favorite tidbits:

It's about Harbaugh's childhood as the youngest son of former longtime college coach Jack Harbaugh, back when his family never complained about constant moving or tiny, cramped homes. Jack actually would get so energized while driving his kids around that he'd shout, "Who has it better than us?" Every time, Jim would scream with his older brother John and younger sister Julie, "Nobody!"

It's a message that has so resonated with the 49ers that they chant "Nobody!" every time Harbaugh yells, "Who has it better than us?" after practices and games.

and this

The people who know Harbaugh best say there is no mystery to that approach. He has always prided himself on his toughness. This is the same guy who, as the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, once injured his right hand while punching former Buffalo Bills quarterback and NBC broadcaster Jim Kelly before a 1997 game against San Diego. The minute Harbaugh heard that Kelly had called him "a baby" on the air, Harbaugh found the man and confronted him.

and this

Said Jack Harbaugh: "Jim went back to Al a couple years later and said he had a good shot at getting the head coaching job at San Diego. Al said, 'USD? Jim, why would you want to go there?' Jim said he'd read Al's bio and remembered that Al had taken a college job early in his career. That's when Al said, 'Yeah, Jim. That was U-S-C!' " Harbaugh was so committed to winning at USD that 49ers quarterbacks coach and good friend Geep Chryst said, "They had to calm him down at times. He was running the program like it was Michigan."

Great story. My favorite is the last bit...

Think about this - in 2006 Harbaugh was coaching a I-AA school that didn't have scholarships. Five years later, he's coaching the Niners and will probably win coach of the year. Granted, he was a pro quarterback, but think about how many retired pro quarterbacks there are...a lot. The man moved up very quickly.

With Eddie Murphy out, my obvious first choice would be Ricky Gervais. Why not? Pluck him away from the Golden Globes. Now, I know this wouldn't actually happen. So let's get more obvious - Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld is the perfect Oscar host. Squeaky clean. Inoffensive. Loved and respected both by the old time traditionalists and the edgy young folks. The guy obviously likes movies. I could see this being his thing for the next 10 years. What else is he doing? The only question is whether Seinfeld is actually up for it. Hosting the Oscars is no easy thing and Seinfeld, creatively, hasn't exactly been at his apex in recent years. But then again, he's just hosting. One thing Seinfeld can bring is confidence and stature. He can stand with the biggest movie stars and directors in the world and feel comfortable. A lot of the newer, first time hosts, I think get nervous and feel unworthy of the task.
Brilliant Economic Minds

He must have a lot of bartering skills.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Paterno got fired. This is absurd...not much different from a witch hunt. Paterno did nothing, as far as I can tell, wrong. He is being accused of "not doing enough about this child molester." What was he supposed to do? Arrest the man, try him in court, and put him in jail? The guy is a football coach. According to the ESPN story, he didn't even know the guy had raped someone and thought he had been caught "fondling." So he reported up the chain of command. Now all the self-righteous media people have got the nation up in a fury about a moral obligation to do more. What exactly? What is this standard we are suddenly inventing as a nation that powerful, respected people are supposed to be? Superheroes?

Here is what is happening -- people are freaked out and irrational about child molestation and rape. It is the most horrific thing we can all imagine. It sickens us. And it is making us behave irrationally toward anyone who in theory could have prevented it. But they didn't know. So we have this outpouring of anger towards Paterno. Why? There is not a similar anger towards the child molester who actually did the crimes. Why not? Because people don't give a freaking shit about the victims or the crime or anything. They give a shit about the "story" and they like the irony of squeaky clean Jo Pa being morally negligent. And they are out for blood. This moralizing is disgusting, especially because everyone knows one week from now the story will be over and we'll all be on to something else. Meanwhile, the same "outraged" people will just return to their every day lives and not spend one single moment of their own personal energy or money to help stop child molestation or the victims of such crimes and will just go on reading their freaking newsfeeds and checking facebook status updates. What a bunch of vultures.

TV: Twin Peaks

Finished season 1. Okay - the show loses SOME steam. I think the pilot and the first couple episodes are the best. For my taste, I would have liked the straight ahead mystery with the oddball idiosyncrasies established early on in the story versus the surreal, dream-like story elements. They don't resolve the murder of Laura Palmer, but this did not anger me like some fans of the Killing. I still feel as though I am in good hands with the story-tellers and suspect the story is going to be resolved. But I could be wrong. They ended the first season with an interesting twist.

Mystery on tv is a tricky thing. It seems to me, for the genre, you need to answer the whodunnit question. Twin Peaks easily could have offered an answer as to who killed Laura Palmer in the first season and then continued on. The second season could continue on with other problems and ideas opened up in Season 1 OR we could introduce a new issue like they do in every episode of Law and Order, where in the trial period new questions open up and maybe who we thought was guilty wasn't, or wasn't guilty in the SAME WAY we thought they were guilty. The possibilities are endless. But if I ever tackle a mystery, I really don't want to fall in the trap recent movies and tv shows have fallen into where they basically turn into an audience cock-tease.
Interesting Point

Ron Paul makes an interesting point about the sectors of the economy where the costs are completely bloated: home prices, college tuition, and healthcare - and what they all have in common - government involvement. Government backs mortgages, enables student loans, and provides Medicare and Medicaid and soon Obama care.

He makes a pretty simple argument right there for unintended consequences. Not sure if the healthcare thing holds up, though, because the costs were skyrocketing prior to government intervention.
Republican Debate

Caught some of it tonight. First things first: Rick Perry. Good lord. He couldn't even remember the three federal agencies he wanted to abolish. He looked like a football player who didn't do his homework and needed to do an in-class presentation. His candidacy has got to be done. The guy cannot talk.

Bachman - crazy eyez Bachman. This women seems unscrupulous and doesn't answer the questions asked of her. She is pointless to listen to.

Santorum - is he even running? Guy can't get a word in. Less relevant than Bachman.

Newt - I liked hearing Newt's answers. The guy is obviously smart. I guess everyone thinks he's slimy and untrustworthy. Maybe I'm not paying close enough attention, cause I don't see it. He does seem a bit erudite, and I tend to think people like that are trying to hide something.

Romney - As a Democrat with independent and libertarian leanings, Romney seems to be the most sensible candidate. I listen to him when he speaks. He seems smart and capable.

Cain - I look forward to seeing what he's going to say and how he says it. I can't possibly take him seriously as a Presidential candidate. I actually don't think he is particularly bright or knowledgeable, but has a folksy charm and probably is the guy I'd most enjoy watching football with.

Ron Paul - Easily may favorite person to hear his point of view. Strangely principled and accurate on about 75% of things, but certain positions are waaaaay too impractical and border on being theoretical exercises as opposed to actual governing.

Huntsman - I can't quite understand why this guy isn't getting more serious attention. Almost like Romney, but comes across as more genuine and with a broader set of expertise. I like hearing his POV in the way I like hearing Romney's as he basically makes fundamental sense.

If I knew absolutely nothing and was just watching these in a vacuum, it seems like Romney and Huntsman are the only two true "Presidential" figures. Cain and Paul are entertaining sideshows. Bachman, Santorum, and Perry are jokes if you ask me. Newt is like the wise old uncle who seems a bit detached.

Occupy protests.

I don't sympathize with these people.
Penn St.

A scathing article about the Penn St situation. Hat tip, Mom.

Penn State has never been an “outlaw program.” It’s what every school aspires to become. Think about that. Every school aspires to be the kind of place where football is so valuable that children can become collateral damage. If the allegations are true, if the school in fact knew this was going on, then the program should be shut down. If the allegations are true, Joe Paterno should be instructed to take his forty-six years and 409 wins and leave in disgrace. It’s tragic that it’s come to this for a legend like Paterno. But it’s even more tragic that protecting his legend mattered more than stopping a child-rapist in their midst. Damn Sandusky. Damn Paterno. Damn Penn State. But above all, damn the fact that the billion-dollar logic of big-time college football leads to decisions as venal as those made in Happy Valley.

Coupled with the big Atlantic article about the shame of college sports -- something is very problematic in this big time college sport culture.

A couple articles are asking whether it is a good thing.

The basic point is that if you are born into the bottom 1/5 of society in 1970, you had only a 17% chance of getting to the top 2/5 as an adult. And the scariest thing is that is doesn't necessarily have to do with pull or corruption, but merely "merit" and "hard work," as upper 2/5 parents impart these skills to their kids at a better rate than the lower 1/5. Point is - is meritocracy ruining opportunity?

But as I think Ross is saying, this overlooks a more important question, which is why the system went wrong. Don't tell me it got hostage to the wrong ideology--tell me why all those professors we paid millions of dollars to study economics couldn't provide a convincing rebuttal to that ideology in advance of the crash. Don't tell me that regulators were stupid or bankers got greedy until you first explain to me why tens of thousands of very well educated people, most of them graduates of colleges and professional schools that had aggressively winnowed them based on intelligence, barely outperformed a bunch of upstart micks, third-generation coupon-clipping WASP dimwits, and central bankers who still worshipped the barbarous relic of the gold standard?

Yeah, does anyone think the Tracy Flick's (Election) of the world should be running it? I don't.

Monday, November 07, 2011

It's Tough

A 22-year old grad who started the BofA debit protest online laments being underemployed and making only $400 a week.

I'd like to point out, similar job options were available to me and my peers after we finished film school several years ago. It sucks very much. The element that can make all the difference, however, is the future opportunities available. In the film biz, people take these ridiculously low paying jobs with the promise of learning skills, jumping around, and finding ways to get ahead. I don't know about the non-profit sector or whatever the heck she is working in, but I doubt there is a similar promise of future riches.

Wall Street profits soar.

....A recent study by two professors at the University of Michigan found that banks, instead of significantly increasing lending after being bailed out, used taxpayer money to invest in risky securities to profit from short-term price movements. The study found that bailed-out banks increased their returns by nearly 10 percent as a result.

Should this really be surprising?

Sunday, November 06, 2011


TV: More Twin Peaks

I've never heard Tarantino talk about Twin Peaks, but it is clearly something he watched, admired, and copied from.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The News

I'd just like to point out three stories on Levine Breaking News:

TEXAS JUDGE CAUGHT BEATING DAUGHTER :This is one viral video that won’t put a smile on your face. A 23-year-old Texas girl with cerebral palsy uploaded a video to YouTube that shows her father—a family law judge—beating her with a leather belt. The video, which was taken in 2004, quickly spread on Twitter and Reddit. She was allegedly attacked after being caught downloading music to her computer. She said that she videotaped the event because it “had happened before and had been escalating.” Police are investigating the judge.

BIEBER FANS THREATEN ‘BABY MAMA’:Beware the Beliebers. Mariah Yeater found herself bombarded with death threats on Twitter after the Star magazine reported she had filed a paternity suit against Justin Bieber. “Dear Mariah Yeater, Roses are red, violets are blue, stay away from Bieber or Beliebers will kill you,” wrote one person. Yeater claims in her lawsuit that she had sex with Bieber backstage at one of his shows last year. Bieber denies the allegations. Yeater shouldn’t be surprised at the violent reaction of the Bieber fans. Last year Kim Kardashian got death threats after she met Bieber at the White House Correspondent’s dinner. Selena Gomez, the singer’s current girlfriend, has also received threats.

83-YEAR-OLD MAN ARRESTED FOR PROSTITUTION: Police in Iowa have arrested on charges of prostitution an 83-year-old man running for city council. Ben Clifford Dawson allegedly volunteered to perform sex acts on a woman in exchange for repayment of a loan. When she turned him down, he then is accused of grabbing her and kissing her neck anyway. He now faces two aggravated misdemeanor charges: prostitution and intent to commit sexual abuse.

I'd like some clarification on the last story. Did the man owe a woman money and offer to repay her by giving her sexual pleasure? Although I suppose that is illegal, he won my vote.

Unveils the Netflix for books - Kindle Library.

This is pretty frigging awesome.

UPDATE: I could envision a next iteration where you rent books. Why not? You could even price them differently. And really - why do we buy books anyway? The vast majority, after you read them, you don't go back. Rare are the books really worth owning. Such a system would be more accurate to the actual value of books. Of course, you could still buy the good ones.

Planning an attack on Iran?

TV: Twin Peaks, Pilot and Ep. 2

Wow. What a show. I don't know what to say. It's part mystery, part melodrama, part dark comedy. The genre twisting alone is fantastic, but it's combined with hilarity, cinematic use of the camera, and some very creepy moments. I'm jazzed. I should save this comment until the end of the season, but did the folks making The Killing even watch Twin Peaks? I mean, every scene in this show, I have no frigging clue what's going to happen and I can't stop watching. This was on frigging CBS?

Watching the first couple episodes only confirms my suspicion that mystery is the hardest and most noble of all the cinematic genres.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


Film: Topkapi

It is rare these days when I'm blown away by a performance. But Peter Ustinov in the film steals nearly every scene. He seems way ahead of his time. His expressions and line delivery are amazing comic performances. Beyond a ridiculous opening sequence, this is a thoroughly enjoyable film. Dassin really knows how to build tension in heist sequences.
Dull and Incoherent

Salon drafts a new declaration of independence. I stopped reading. Why is it self styled "progressives" are always so long winded? Some of the ideas aren't half bad, but they do themselves a disservice by not focusing on the best ones and making them concise as opposed to throwing everything and the kitchen sink into their plans, essentially making them unreadable. I just zone out when these people start.

Reason has a response.

I think Reason is too kind. My advice: grow up. Life isn't fair. Stop expecting it to be. My policy suggestion: college should be cheaper.*

*detailed ideas to follow
Them Too?

You know who else isn't happy about charging for grocery bags? These guys:

The alleged plot by four senior citizens in north Georgia to produce and spread ricin and botulinium toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." (Because that's not strange enough, the plot was hatched at a Waffle House.)

The whole plot is pretty ridiculous, but what's also interesting is the men behind it. The affidavit names four individuals, Samuel Crump, Frederick Roberts, Ray Adams, and Dan Roberts. According to his Facebook page, Crump is a big fan of a number of conservative grassroots and astroturf organizations, including Americans for Prosperity. He's also interested in "anything about guns," and he's really offended by the concept of paying a 5 cent tax on plastic grocery bags:

Well, at least I'm not the only one upset about the grocery bag charging.
Greek Debt Crisis

A good, concise interview that explains the Greek debt crisis.

All I can say: ouch.
Cain on China

Que? My problem with normally astute libertarian writers is they start to make strange justifications for incompetence.

"..concludes that Cain could not possibly have not known that China is a nuclear power. I say “wastes more time” because that’s what it is. Cain needs to learn to speak more clearly and authoritatively on foreign policy questions than he has so far. No one would have given a second look at that China quote if he hadn’t already shown a disturbing tendency to not know how to answer even the most basic questions about 101-level issues."

Dude - the guy didn't know China had nukes. I'm more qualified in the field of foreign policy than Herm Cain. That makes him a laughably bad candidate to be President. I suppose it is fun to support this type of candidate to have something to talk about, but please, people.
Santa Monica Plastic Bags

You cannot get a plastic bag anymore at the grocery store in Santa Monica. The city government has banned them. I wrote about this earlier as a dumb idea. It continues to be a dumb idea. The entire premise is stupid. If people want to reuse grocery bags, they can. No one is stopping them. But why force everyone to reuse grocery bags. People won't remember because for the most part, people don't think about grocery bags. I don't. There are a million things worse for the environment that are routinely used than grocery bags. Take out containers. Disposable diapers. Not recycling (Santa Monica is frustratingly bad at recycling). Not to mention, this policy just increases the number of reusable bags they get put out into the environment and which will be eventually thrown away as well. I might even write a letter, this is such a dumb policy.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Being Bullied?

Teachers advise: act less gay.

Hat tip, Phil.
A Look Into Romney

An interesting profile and history.

Doesn't make me like the guy.

Film: In Time

This is a bad movie, but exactly the type of bad movie the studios ought to be making. It is an original, heady concept in the form of an action/chase movie. Basically, the same model that worked for the Matrix. The problem is with execution and Justin Timberlake. This guy is horrible to watch on the big screen. He seems like a little boy. He possesses zero charisma and zero masculinity. He isn't a good actor. The writing is really lame. Andrew Niccol seems to have skill as a producer and about 1/2 skill as a director and very little skill as a writer.

Nevertheless, the studios ought to make more movies like these. If they fail, they might as well fail trying to make movies rather than brands. And while this is a bad movie, at least it is one.

Interesting stat:

Niners note: San Francisco has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since November 2009. Teams that both can run and can stop the run can be hard to deal with -- witness the 6-1 Forty Niners.

Although many people like to point out the Niners play in the lowly NFC West, this is not the reason for their good record. In fact, they haven't even played Arizona or St. Louis yet. Of their 6 wins, 4 have come against above-average or even strong teams: Lions, Tampa, Cincinnati, Eagles. Also, the only loss was in overtime against Dallas in a game that easily could have gone our way.

Forget all the stats, etc. I think the Niners are good because they formed an identity. It is the first time they've been successful in the post-Bill Walsh era with a new kind of identity. It took us a long time. Joe Montana-Steve Young-Jeff Garcia, we were a west-coast offense, pass first kind of team. In our a good years, we had a sneaky good defense, but that was never our identity. Now, we are a stop-the-run team. We beat other teams up with our front 7. That is our identity. We minimize mistakes on offense, that is our identity. We run straight forward schemes to develop mismatches on offense and don't ask Alex Smith to do too much. You can see it in the type of players who succeed on the team - Patrick Willis, Frank Gore - these guys are our key guys. We don't key on Alex Smith or Vernon Davis or Crabtree - although there are arguments we could do so. We used to key on Joe Montana and then Young and then Terrell Owens. We play to our strengths and are benefitting from fewer elite NFL teams this year.

Those following the Niners ought to be inspired. Think of the odds. Last year, we were absolutely terrible. But with the simple addition of Harbaugh, we were able to turn things around rapidly. Anyone who has ever been down in life or feeling bad out to take heart - it can inspire one to think maybe they aren't too far off if they are able to make some simple conceptual changes, just be a little more disciplined, focus on executing just a little better, emphasizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses, doing the little things right and getting a bit of luck and things can turn around quick. I dunno - makes me think a lot of things are possible, even getting out of this lame recession and all that.