Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blowing Shit Up on Facebook

A girl arrested for blowing up toilets in the woods.

I want to hang out with this girl.  But look - she's got arrested for putting shit up on Facebook.  Why is anyone surprised by this?  People can see it.  It is evidence.  Don't use Facebook for anything, must less cool shit, and much, much less illegal cool shit.

A case in front of the Supreme Court about affirmative action gets a friend of the court brief from an Asian American group citing U of Texas under-admitting Asian applicants.  Money quote:
To avoid misunderstanding, I should reiterate that I have some sympathy for the compensatory justice rationale for affirmative action, and do not believe that such policies are categorically unconstitutional. 
I also have significant reservations about the Fisher case in particular. My general position is the exact opposite of current Supreme Court precedent, which holds that racial preferences can be used to promote “diversity” but not compensatory justice for minority groups that have been the victims of massive “societal” discrimination. 
That said, many current affirmative action policies are a travesty from the standpoint of either compensatory justice or promoting diversity. The University of Texas policy is no exception.
Diversity is just an end around for colleges to make their guidebook and campuses look like stylish Benetton advertisement. They are not about social justice, addressing past wrongs, or fairness. "Diversity" as presently used, is about image. The word has a purposely elusive meaning, expanding and contracting categories as institutions and government see fit.
Growing Concentration of Education

In certain cities/areas.  Memo to the other places:  you could attract college grads with half decent jobs and affordable housing -- find a way to drag even just medium interesting companies to your area -- people will follow.  Also - hot chicks would help.

An analysis of last nights game and how awesome Rondo played and how quietly LeBron James puts up 34-10-7.

The more you watch LeBron, the more you can understand how unbelievable the guy is.  He makes all these little tiny plays.  He doesn't have a sense of "the moment" and I think that is why people get on him for not being clutch.  He doesn't save himself.  Kobe saves himself.  Kobe doesn't take charges, doesn't play defense unless he has to, takes ample breaks, all so he can have his legs in the last 2 minutes (and he still sucks in those because he's too predictable).  LeBron "wastes" his energy trying to win the game in the first 3 quarters, because in case you haven't noticed, it's easier to win a blowout than a close game.  We, as spectators, like the close games because it is inherently more dramatic.  As player, I wouldn't seek out close games, like Kobe does, but I would prepare for them.  I don't think LeBron prepares for them.  Chris Paul seems to manage it best.

I think the theory about LeBron being worn down and tired towards the end in the past two seasons makes a lot of sense.  A good coach would save him a little bit.  Spoelstra plays the guy 40 plus minutes for months at a time -- and this guy is big.  He isn't Ray Allen who looks like he could run forever.  LeBron looks like he is overused.  I hope he doesn't figure it out, because if he ever does, boy it's going to be scary.

Less Gay Than We Think

Americans vastly overestimate how many gay people there are.

The article says this is evidence of the success of the LGBT agenda.  I'd say it is evidence of identity group politics spin over-inflating the importance of their agenda.  The fact is, gay marriage is given way too much importance in our national discussion for how much and how many people it actually effects.

To put in perspective, why is gay marriage considered a Civil Rights issue whereas student loan indebtedness is not?  The massive student loan debt has created a form of lifelong indentured servitude impossible for a huge number of people to escape.  What's worse - it is a gigantic scam perpetrated on young folks supposedly "for their own good."  It is, at best, a government sponsored pyramid scheme to funnel money to colleges at the expense of students and at worst, a political scheme to make generations of young people dependent on the government for loan forgiveness (a form of servitude).

As for the practical differences between a civil union and gay marriage -- I couldn't even tell you -- other than this vague notion of "acceptance" in society.  And I support gay marriage, because I don't give a shit, but not because I think it is an important civil rights issue.  Likewise, I don't think it ruins the institution of marriage (certainly not more than say, divorce).

Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary fireworks.  The beginning is pretty awesome.
Yeah, But What Do the Parents Think?

A new spin on living with your parents at 30 -- it's awesome!

The article is more evidence that the under 30 crowd is the most narcissistic group of spoiled entitled kids ever to grace the planet.  They don't seem to even consider that perhaps mom and dad don't want to be footing the bill for their kids forever or that perhaps they would like to have their own space or to you know, see their kids grow up into real, self sufficient adults.  Jesus.  All you need to do is read the internet, watch HBO's Girls, or listen to 20-somethings talk these days and it's enough to make one want to vomit.

Of course, it isn't all their fault.  The colleges ripped them off, their boomer parents spoiled them, and the economy stinks.  But still.  They suck.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

If Bush Had Done This...
US President Barack Obama’s description of a Nazi German Holocaust site as a “Polish death camp” shocked Poland, whose leaders insist the record be set straight 67 years after World War II. Obama on Tuesday labeled the Nazi facility used to process Jews for extermination as a “Polish death camp.” The White House later said the president “misspoke” and expressed “regret”. The linguistic faux pas overshadowed Obama’s posthumous award of the highest US civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Jan Karski, a former Polish underground officer who provided early eyewitness accounts of Nazi Germany’s genocide of European Jews. would be evidence of...something sinister and bad. Obama doing it, well, it is just a common mistake anyone could make.
She Should Go To Jail

Ex-athlete exonerated in false rape claim.

The man served 5 years in jail and another 5 under house arrest as a registered sex offender.  The woman received $750,000 from the school in a settlement.  She recently sent the guy a facebook request because "she wanted to get back together."

She should have to give the money back and go to jail.  This is completely insane.

Film:  Risky Business

This the greatest teen movie ever made.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My Lord

Watched the Spurs-OKC tonight.  OKC played with heart in the 4th quarter, but prior to that, the Spurs were completely molesting them.  Their baskets seemed effortless while OKC was using all the energy of their young legs to get points.  Harden played incredible -- and the game wasn't even close by the end.

I haven't watched the Spurs play much since they've gotten on fire -- but if tonight is any indication, this is one of the best teams I can remember in recent memory.  And by the way, this is a much different style of play than back in the old Duncan days.  This is a spread them out, dribble penetration, pick and roll, 3 point shooting team.  They are legitimately fun to watch...easily the best passing team in the league.

TV:  Game of Thrones, penultimate episode season 2

The best stand alone episode of the second season.  Got even better the second time I watched it.  Finally got to see a battle.  Lots of fun new alliances spring up.
The Spurs

On David Robinson setting the tone of the franchise.
Meaningful Work

The danger of "meaningful work."
Get Rid of Helmets?

Are helmets one of the reasons for the increased violence in the NFL?

Friday, May 25, 2012


Film:  Horrible Bosses

Only watched the first act.  It should be called Horrible Movie.  The reason Jason Bateman still looks 26 years old is the effortless way he works.  The guy treats acting the way I treat throwing a baseball around on Sunday afternoons.  I bet he just memorizes lines the night before, shows up to set, does his thing, is out by 4 for his spin class, eats a nice dinner, and preps for the next day.  Probably watches LA sports teams on Tivo.  I can't imagine any of his takes are better or worse than any other.  Guy must have one of the best lives on the planet.  The guy is just going to play Michael Bluth the rest of the his life.  Goddamn, what an easy life.  I'm not really complimenting him or insulting him, but it is what it is.  I think he likes working, having a place to go.  I bet gets along with most of his co-workers.  Guy is never going to pull a hamstring - he reminds me of those old dudes who play soccer - who just stand around in center mid, collecting the ball and dishing it around.  They never make runs, don't play defense, just grab the ball when it is around them and make nice passes.
Clinton Era

Just spinning off the last post...the three biggest issues of today are the economy, healthcare, and Islamic Terrorism.  If we look back on the Clinton era, his administration dealt with all those issues similarly - by pushing the can down the road and leaving someone else to deal with the mess.  In a time of economic prosperity, Clinton loosened regulation on the banking industry and incentivized higher risk mortgage lending, both of which propped the economy up in the short run only to cause the collapse in 2007.  With respect to Islamic Terrorism, Clinton was quite passive, in retrospect, about the danger posed by Bin Laden which ultimately lead to 9/11 and the last 10 years of war fighting, which may historically be viewed as an overreaction.  With respect to healthcare, Clinton didn't make any changes at the time, but tried to unsuccessfully.  Healthcare costs increased and now Obama has tackled the issue.

I gave Clinton a pass on the Bin Laden thing because the American public was not fully aware of the threat he posed and were not in a war fighting mood.  Of course, the job of the President and his administration to know and understand the world better than the public and to educate them about the danger.  I can't give him a pass on the economic stuff, but that caused real damage and was a blatant choice.  Healthcare is a boondoggle either way.

In Clinton's defense, the issues where he failed are the issues that became relevant today.  Had he killed Bin Laden, perhaps 9/11 never happens and we'd never know what we avoided.  But the present doesn't seem to vindicate Clinton's policy choices.
Welfare Reform

Did Clinton-era welfare reform solve problems or just obscure them from view?

Seems like a lot of Clinton era policies look worse and worse in the long term.

And an interesting bit on employment insurance and how it may cause as much as a 2% increase in unemployment because of the disincentive to work.  It baffles me how many people in LA collect unemployment as a matter of course -- I don't understand who pays for it all.

Non-Fiction:  The Blooding by Joseph Wambaugh

True crime story about the first case ever to use DNA evidence to catch a killer in a small English village. Interesting storytelling.  To talk about it would ruin a twist in the middle that was quite unique.  Not that anyone is in danger of reading this book other than me, but still, for some reason don't want to publish the twist.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Film:  Sea of Love

If ever write a movie as good as Sea of Love, I could retire a happy man.

There is competition for the best sandwich in LA...from a chain...Mendocino Farms Bahn Mi pork belly.  Deliciouso.  Five star.  Highly recommend.
So This Is Kinda Funny

Harvard University alumni, attending their 50th class reunion this week are getting updates on classmates, but one person stands out among those sharing news about career moves, retirements and grandkids — Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. Kaczynski graduated in 1962 and is locked up in the federal Supermax prison in Colorado for killing three people and injuring 23 during a nationwide bombing spree between 1978 and 1995. In an alumni directory, he lists his occupation as “prisoner” and says his awards are “Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.

Film:  Battleship

Saw it at a screening.  Screenings are always a different experience because you don't pay for the movie and you are around people who were somehow involved with the film.  So you aren't as hard on the movie, I would say, but they have this unreal quality to them, which in a way makes it harder to enjoy.

The movie is far from good.  It feels like a Michael Bay rip off, actually, so if you're a superfan of Michael Bay, you actually might be a bit peeved.  I'm sure they used the same special effects people as Transformers.  But what the hell, I don't need to gripe about every single studio movie as if the world is coming to an end because of them.  I was entertained in a few moments.  The Q&A with the screenwriter afterwards was one of the best Q&A's I've ever heard - he was appropriately cynical and practical and very aware of what the movie is.  He seemed to have a good time working on it and outlined pretty much why the plot was never going to make much sense -- and I'm paraphrasing him "we have aliens...who somehow are genius enough to to manage interstellar travel, but in the end, we have to beat them.  So how do figure that out?"  He was candid about the impossibility of it all, so they do the best they can.  They're working off a board game, for crissake.  And he had the attitude, of yeah, I want to work.  I pitched the job because I write screenplays.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Film:  Knight and Day

It's been a long time since I was so surprised and delighted by a film.  I had heard from several people that the movie was surprisingly good, so it was on my list to see.  But I never brought myself to watch it, the whole enterprise seemed a bit flaccid.  The marketing campaign was a turnoff - "Cruise and Diaz" - like that would get me to got see a movie.  So I turn it on during lunchtime yesterday because it was on HBO and started watching.  I was laughing my ass off.  The movie is a screwball comedy action film - and an incredibly well done one at that.  Any fan of screwball comedy will love the first half of the movie.  I paused it because believe it or not, I shouldn't just sit around and watch movies all day, and finished it up before I went to bed last night.  I admit, I enjoyed the first half more than the second half, but there was still some good moments.  And almost all of the best parts were these tiny throwaway lines throughout the movie like "That was weird" or "June, you've got skills."  I suppose you need to see the movie to appreciate the lines, but the deadpan deliveries and timing of these moments are incredibly enjoyable.

I was planning on seeing the Avengers yesterday - this is part of my job - seeing the action movies and I just can't seem to bring myself to go to the theater.  No one is talking about the Avengers anymore.  I can just tell it's going to be "product."  Maybe good product, but ultimately, just product.  Knight and Day convinced me to watch itself versus going to see the Avengers - I was looking forward to completing the movie - and not looking forward to dragging myself to the theater to see Avengers.

In any case, I can't quite remember the last time a studio movie was such a delightful surprise.  I highly recommend the movie.  It would have been on my list of top 10 for last year if I had seen it.  Also, if I ever teach a script analysis class, this would be on the syllabus.  Really easy and clear delineation of acts and sequences - part of the charm of this movie is the awareness of the studio-ness and movie-ness of it's existence.  And the casting of Cruise and Diaz with their exaggerated faces and almost dated movie-starness helps lend itself to the overall effect.  Really a joy to watch.  Preston Sturges would have really enjoyed this movie.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shocked!  Just Shocked!!

Regulators investigating Facebook IPO for possible fraud.
Good Points

Why is the American taxpayer subsidizing Harvard tuition when the institution is incredibly wealthy.

Seeing what the Federal Student loan program has done for college cost ought to make one worry about what the individual mandate will do for healthcare costs.

Penn Jillette goes nuts on Obama for his causal, cool guy attitude about his past drug use in contrast to his policies to have the Feds raid California medical marijuana spots and putting away people in prison for marijuana crimes.

He says something like, "can you imagine what it would be like if you had a kid in prison...prison...for pot use, and then you have the President on Jimmy Fallon joking about it smugly?"

Rich people don't go to jail for drug related crimes, only poor people do.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Game 5

I suppose we should quickly revisit the narrative post from a couple days ago now that OKC handily beat the Lakers in Game 5.  Kobe didn't get a chance to choke in the clutch, since his team was down by too many points.  He did manage to score 42 points and collect 0 assists.  And in the first half when he "went off," his plus minus was -7 points, meaning the Lakers were doing better with him out of the game than when he was in the game.  Gasol played well in the first half with 10 points and 10 boards, but then faded down the stretch.  Gasol didn't play soft - certainly not softer than Andrew Bynum and Ramon Sessions, who both had terrible games.  Bynum for getting into early foul trouble and not doing much and Sessions for just being an absolute disaster.  That guy may have worked himself out of a job.

But let's give credit where credit is due.  In the second half, it was Westbrook who crushed the Lakers.  They had no answer for him and he extended the lead in the 3rd and then they went on that little run at the beginning of the 4th to put the game away.  Westbrook made Blake and Sessions look like boys playing against men.

**side bar:  of course, I'm sure the thought never crossed Kobe's mind to guard Westbrook and shut him down, like Jordan or LeBron would have done.  Because it would not help to reinforce the "hero" narrative Kobe is trying to construct with the consent of the media and his cult followers.  And if you were watching the game, Kobe didn't play much defense at all because he was trying to save himself to be the hero instead of trying to win the game, as per usual.  

I used to be suspicious of Westbrook's weird attitude and propensity to turn the ball over, but he's gotten a lot better.  He seems to have calmed down after signing that big contract.  He lost his cool once in the game, when he practically tackled Kobe in the 3rd quarter, but I liked that play.  Kobe trip fouled him running down the court (for the 3rd foul against Kobe that went uncalled as the NBA officials had been alerted not to allow Kobe to get into foul trouble) and Westbrook did a hard foul on him back.  Right there, he told Kobe he wasn't afraid of him and if the refs wouldn't protect him, he would protect himself.  Great play.

Also gotta give a bunch of credit to Scott Brooks coaching decision to go for the kill at the beginning of the 4th, leaving in Harden, Durant, and Westbrook.  He could smell blood.  They were up 7 or something and knew if his guys had a burst in them, they could extend the lead to 14-16, before the Lakers main rotation got back in, and by then, would be demoralized.  It worked exactly as planned and probably saved OKC legs in the long run by not having to play the last 4 minutes.

The last thing I'll say to believe their narrative...that Kobe is one of the all time would have to believe Kobe has been cursed with some terrible luck in the teammates he's drawn.  A Kobe defender takes Kobe's side in his battle to oust Shaq from LA.  They argue this was necessary because Shaq was lazy.  Okay.  Say that is correct.  Then for the 3 years before Gasol, Kobe must have had terrible teammates considering they usually went out in the first round or didn't even make the playoffs (in contrast, LeBron took a lousy Cavs team to the Finals and Conference Finals 2 times).  Now, we are asked to believe that Gasol is "soft" and not aggressive enough.  Bynum is weird and immature, the bench is terrible, etc.  In short, any success is due to Kobe and any failure is due to his teammates.  Why do no other "great" players seem to have this problem?  Would Magic have won more with better teammates?  Would Bird have won more with better teammates?  Would Hakeen?  Would Jordan?  People don't even seem to ask this question about the other great players, and yet it is a problem that has plagued Kobe his entire career.

It is a puzzling thing to consider how Kobe, of all the greats, was seemingly blessed with such terrible teammates.  The one exception is Derek Fisher, who may, if the ball breaks the right way the next couple weeks, surpass Kobe in rings.

What Is Social Media?

Is it technology?  Business?  Advertising?  A picture album?  A religion?

Many people are talking about Facebook losing stock value at the moment.  Some salient points:
See, there's another selfish thing about the social network: It doesn't add much of anything to the world. Facebook claims its mission is to connect people. But, as Haislip notes (and as The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal noted before him), boiled down, it just sells advertising.
and not very well, either:
 "The problem with Facebook and other social media is that they were not designed to carry advertising," writes Ad Age's Rance Crain, explaining that businesses don't see Facebook's utility in ad buys. General Motors, for example, pulled its $10 million ad campaign because it didn't really see Facebook as an advertising platform. 
Social media is a religion.  You don't buy anything via it.  It does not make life any easier.  It gives you a sense of belonging and comfort.  You exchange self selected private information for others self selected private information in some sort of blind faith that this process will make you happier and perhaps even a better, well-connected person.  It isn't something you buy or sell.  It isn't a tool one uses to say, transport from one place to another, or to cool your drinks, or write a paper.  It isn't really even entertainment in the way books or movies or tv.  Utterances and pictures are not acts of creation.  No one pays for it in the way people pay for books, movies, and tv.  People "belong" to it, in the way you belong to a church.  You "join" Facebook like you would join Scientology.  It makes you feel connected and gives you solace in a lonely world.  And if it doesn't achieve it, well, at least 900 million aren't achieving it also.

The moment I realized this was many years ago, but I was only able to put it into words recently.  When I was first invited to join Friendster and later Facebook and turned it down, the reactions of other people were very bizarre.  In normal circumstances, if someone offers you a piece of chocolate and you turn it down, no one says anything or thinks anything of it.  They assume you aren't hungry or don't like chocolate and everyone moves on.  Or when someone says "do you want to see a movie on friday night," it might be filled with subtext and innuendo because it is asking someone out on a date, and you still might respond "no thanks" and there might be all sorts of neurosis and explanations - "could they be seeing someone else?"  "maybe if I asked differently" blah, blah, blah.  The exchange could be quite complex, actually, but people still accept the answer as meaning what was said, although the reasons might be varied.  But when it comes to saying "no thanks" to Facebook the reactions are stunned disbelief "Why not?" or a deterministic "Oh, you'll join eventually, everyone does it" or like you are trying to make some sort of rebellious political point "Oh, I get it, you're one of those people."  When actually, on the surface, it is a pretty uncomplicated decision.  So why is it such a big deal to so many people?  Because not participating in Facebook is sacrilege, because it is saying "I don't believe in Facebook."  There is no neutral.  You either believe or you are a heretic to be distrusted.  Well, count me as a heretic.  I wear the badge proudly.  I'm not a Scientologist either.

Film:  Psycho

Haven't seen this since I was young.  Really interesting film in a formal sense.  Establishes common horror movie cliches of characters getting knocked off one-by-one or at least the fear of it.  Also fascinating in the changes of POV.  The movie is known for the killing of the protagonist at the end of the 1st act and then becoming an investigation.  But the 2nd and 3rd acts vary from being from Norman's POV, the detectives's POV, and finally the sister and boyfriend's POV, so it really abolishes the idea of a protagonist completely.  In the end, the essence of the movie is the psychology of Norman, and explores it without completely taking his POV.

The White Savior Industrial Complex

There's money in it.
Giant Cash Out

Even a dope like me could see the Facebook IPO for what it was:  a giant cash out for the early investors.

The stock is already dropping.

TV:  Game of Thrones

A lot of exposition for the 3rd to last episode of the season.
West Ho Crime Wave

A woman randomly attacks 4 shoppers with a knife.

Bus driver shot dead yesterday.

And apparently there is a rapist and a burglar operating in the neighborhood.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


The power of dominant narratives to shape our understanding of events are on full display during the NBA Playoffs.  For the Lakers, Kobe is known as a "closer" and Gasol is known as "soft."  We interpret what we see in the games through this lens and cherry pick moments to reinforce these narratives - whether they be true or not.  The media reinforces these narratives by repeating them over and over ad nauseum.

The Lakers-OKC series provides a perfect example.  Last night's game 4, Gasol makes a costly turnover at the end of the game, costing the Lakers the game.  Lakers fans are irate - simply more evidence of Gasol's "softness."  Kobe goes so far as call out Gasol in his press conference.  He doesn't use the term "soft," but he may as well have.  Nevermind the fact that Kobe did the exact same thing in game 2, costing the Lakers the game and then credited Durant for a "risky steal."

Also nevermind Kobe shot 2-10 in the fourth quarter taking terrible shot after terrible shot.  Perhaps if he passed the ball to Gasol and yelled at him to shoot during the game, one could believe what he said in the press conference after the game about Gasol needing to shoot more.  We all know Kobe doesn't believe Gasol should shoot more.  Had Kobe made some of those ridiculously poor shots, he wouldn't be calling out Gasol.  No, the plan for Kobe is to take bad shots, if he makes them, it reinforces the narrative of him as a closer and if he misses them, it reinforces the narrative that his teammates are "soft."  It pays well to be Kobe.

You can't blame Kobe entirely for this situation.  The media plays into it.  You can't tell me these guys aren't aware of the constant evaluation of their decisions.  Durant himself said after the game, he knew he would be criticized for his 3 pointer at the end of the game had he missed.  They know.  They read the papers.

Kobe is not a good closer and Gasol is not soft.  These are completely untrue narratives and I know, because I've been watching the Lakers for a long time.  Kobe is subpar in the clutch.  The stats prove it.  Now that the Kobe-defenders can no longer deny the stats (or point to a single game winning shot in the past 4 years of playoffs), they cite that "everybody's stats go down in the clutch."  Well, not Chris Paul's.  Not Michael Jordan's.  Not, you know, "clutch" players, which they steadfastly claim Kobe is.

Kobe is a great player.  A great competitor with incredible endurance, work ethic, a perfect basketball 2 guard body, a great streak scorer, and the best bad shot maker I've ever seen.  He can play good defense when he decides to.  You know which other guys are similar?  Paul Pierce and Dwayne Wade.  But neither of them are considered Kobe level because of two reasons:  the carefully constructed narrative and the 5 rings.  (and Wade's injuries)  But you know who else has 5 rings?  Derek Fisher.  Robert Horry.  The first 3 rings were Kobe playing second fiddle to Shaq and the last 2 rings were because of Mr. Soft, Pau Gasol.

Kobe is a great player, but not one the greats because he's a bad teammate, a bad passer, and does not play well in the clutch.  He makes bad, selfish decisions.  I would argue the big shots he's made throughout his career are simply from statistical volume.  If you take 100 potential game winning shots,  you are going to hit some - maybe even 30-40 - although that would be a low percentage.  In fact, in the end, the most impressive thing about Kobe will be simply volume.  In the same way Cal Ripken is known mostly just for the hitting streak, Kobe will be known mostly just for the volume.  Because this is his real achievement.  Not being clutch, not being a killer, even though everyone insists this to be the case.

Let's look at the last two championships, because it is this time period which created the idea of Kobe as a killer and one of the greats and somehow created the idea of Gasol as this soft player, despite him being the reason for the Lakers winning.

In 2006-7, Kobe was the leading scorer in the league and the Lakers were a 7th seed in the playoffs, losing in the first round to the Phoenix Suns 4-1.  This is what Kobe had built by forcing Shaq out of town after their humiliating defeat to Detroit in the Finals a couple years before.  In mid 2007, the Lakers got the gift that helped cement Kobe's legacy and made them relevant again:  Pau Gasol, a top 15 player in the league to compliment Kobe.  That year, 2007-2008, they went to the finals against the Celtics, who had put together the "big 3."  Kobe got outplayed by Pierce and Gasol got beat up down low and the Celtics blew them out in Game 6.  For some reason, this is where Gasol got the soft label, by taking a 7th seed caliber team to the NBA finals and getting pushed around by Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins - guys who make their money pushing around dudes.  But no one called Kobe soft by being outplayed by Pierce in these finals.  See, the thing that real leaders do is shoulder the blame and share the credit.  The thing that "heroes" and politicians and hucksters do is take the credit and lay off the blame elsewhere.

The next year, with Garnett injured, Lamar Odom playing better and Andrew Bynum becoming a decent player, the Lakers were far and away the best team in the playoffs and won the championship without much competition.  In fact, their only really tough series was against a Yao-less Rockets team with Artest and Aaron Brooks.  They easily defeated a Magic team that got hot in the series against Cleveland.  This was hardly a case of Kobe dominating in the clutch or Gasol being soft.  It was a case of technically superior basketball team to their opponents winning handily, much like the Shaq-Kobe wins of years ago.

Now the next year, the 5th ring, 2009-2010, is where Kobe starts to become a legend.  This was an epic rubber match, the aging Celtics vs. the Lakers.  Game 7, if I remember, came down to the Celtics losing their starting center - Perkins - and Gasol and Bynum dominating the paint while Kobe shot 6 for 24.  Gasol beating Garnett, essentially, to seal what?  Kobe's fate as being clutch and Gasol's fate of being soft?  How does that make any sense whatsoever?  I just looked up the stats:  Gasol averaged more points than anyone else on either team in the entire series, except for Kobe.  He averaged 11 rebounds a game and no else in the entire series averaged over 8.  Bynum averaged 7 points and 6 rebounds a game.  This is soft?  Showing up in the NBA finals after being beat up two years ago and avenging the loss and winning 2 rings?  Isn't that what Jordan did to the Pistons?  What Magic and Bird did to each other?  Did I miss something here?

And then there was last year, with the disappointing sweep by the Mavericks.  Let's not kid ourselves what happened last year, the Mavs played out of their minds.  They made everyone look stupid.  Looking at the stats - Gasol underperformed - 12.5 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists a game.  Kobe underperformed as well - 23 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists.  Of course, I imagine Gasol was matched up against Chandler or Dirk whereas Kobe was matched up against Jason Kidd or Caron Butler.  I think I'd take the latter, wouldn't you?  But is this really evidence of Gasol being soft or Kobe being clutch?  It seems like neither.

So I guess what I'm challenging is ANY reasonable evidence pointing to Kobe being clutch or Gasol being soft in the past 4-5 years - and there just isn't much.  Is anyone considering Dirk or Jason Kidd soft for their performances in the playoffs this year?  It has to be equally disappointing to Gasol's last year.  But everyone says "they won a ring."  Well guess what?  Gasol has two.  Yes, he won them playing 2nd fiddle to Kobe.  There is no question Kobe decided to take the alpha dog spot because he knew no one would consider his rings as relevant as Jordan's so long as he was under the Shaq shadow.  But no one talks about Pippen going soft when he didn't win without Jordan or when he later joined Portland.  It just seems insane to think about Gasol as this guy who is soft or doesn't show up.  It is bias against European players.  If I were the coach of the Lakers, I would run plays for Gasol in the 4th quarter.  But the coach of the Lakers can't do it because Kobe won't listen and will simply demand the ball for himself.  Otherwise, how can he reinforce the narrative?

UPDATE:  In one of the most preposterous developments of the reinforcing the "Kobe is a closer narrative," now the talk radio folks give Kobe credit for "having the guts to take the shots."  So it actually doesn't matter whether Kobe makes shots to cement his tag as a "closer," now Laker fans celebrate Kobe for simply taking them.  Think of this would be like celebrating Joe Montana for throwing incomplete passes at the end of games because "he tried," or celebrating Derek Jeter for striking out because "at least he went up there swinging."  When I bring these things up, people call me a "Kobe-hater" to imply I am irrational for disliking Kobe's shot selection and decision making.

UPDATE 2:  Luckily, this is only basketball, so on a certain level who cares about the narrative.  But I think it's important to remember how the media constructs and reinforces narratives for more important things, like wars and elections and news and other things that you know, actually effect our lives.  Stories get highlight when they reinforce a narrative and disregarded when they contradict the narrative.  We are seeing this now with the Trayvon Martin case.  We obviously saw it in the Duke Lacrosse case.  We saw it in the congressman Giffords shooting where folks were blaming Palin, we still to this day see it when talking about the War on Terror and George Bush and Iraq.  It's actually quite scary and enough to make one quite cynical about the news in general.  The recent JP Morgan case seems to an attempt to reinforce this idea that we need more regulation -- which perhaps we do -- but I actually see no problem with a company taking a big risk and losing $2 billion dollars.  That is their prerogative.  I would recommend firing the people involved and not letting them work in the biz again and look at JP's risk management systems.  And I wouldn't put my money with them, although I'm sure they're not sweating that possibly.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Clippers

Boy, the Clippers are a dumb team.  They remind me a bit of my dog, Magic, from growing up.  He was a lovable, energetic, fun dog, but very stupid.  He would do things like eat corn cobs and need to get surgery because it stopped his digestive track.  He was in no control over his impulses to eat whatever was in front of him and chase after any other animals in the nearby vicinity.

Other than Chris Paul, this is how the Clippers play.  I don't think a single other player on the team possesses an above average basketball IQ.  Blake is super talented and looks like a world beater at times.  But he does dumb things a lot.  Why pass up open 20 footers?  Just take the goddamn shot.  Even if you miss, follow for the rebound.  You aren't going to get a better look in the 4th quarter of a playoff game.  CP3 or Mo Williams driving against 3 people and trying to flick up a shot is not a better shot than an open 20 footer for Blake.  Also, Blake comes down with some offensive rebounds and otherwise gets balls in the paint and gets blocked a surprisingly number of times for a guy of his size and athleticism.  The guy needs to use fakes to get guys up in the air and take fouls and go for 3 point plays.  His fear of free throw shooting prevents him from doing this and he tries too hard to lay it in or dunk it on people and use his strength rather than guile.  This is why he gets blocked a lot.  And then he always looks at the refs like it's their fault for him not knowing how to take a foul or put a move on a guy at the post.

DeAndre Jordan is the most useless offensive basketball player in the world.  I can't stand these big guys who can't catch a pass and dunk.  Totally ridiculous.  The guy is 7 foot 2 or something - what is he afraid of?  He needs to study how Tyson Chandler plays.  Chandler cannot make a shot for shit and still manages 10-12 points a game and shoots like 65% fg's because the guy can catch the ball and dunk.

Nick Young is a lame basketball player.  He is good for one thing and one thing only: getting hot.  If he isn't hot, he's useless.  He can't play defense, he can't score, he can't pass, he can't do anything except get hot and knock down shots when he's hot.  Mo Williams is a similar player, although Mo, to his credit, is more of a scorer.  A second rate scorer, but still a scorer, a guy who you can generally rely upon to get his own basket, by making a shot or driving to the hoop.  He doesn't give you much more than that.

Caron Butler just totally disappears.  He and Mo are the perfect example of mid-level journeyman players who playoff level ballers look forward to seeing on the other side of the court knowing they are going to find a way to beat them.

Who else? Bledsoe is totally out of control.  Him and Reggie Evans try really hard and I give them props for that, but jesus, they are not good basketball players.  Bledsoe rarely makes a smart play and often just forces it.  Evans was the key to beating Memphis, but there's no way you're making it out of the 2nd round if Reggie Evans is playing significant minutes for you.  All he can do is defend big guys and grab rebounds.  He is the type of guy you should put in for a few minutes when you need energy, but if he's playing at the end of the game all time, you aren't really putting yourself in a good position to win.

Kenyon Martin is again just like Caron Butler and Mo Williams.  Very in the middle.  At least he'll catch it and dunk it.  Too bad the Clips can't merge Kenyon and DeAndre into one guy, that would be a serviceable NBA center.

Who else?  Foye?  It seems like Foye only does stuff in the 1st quarter of games.  I think everyone was more right than they knew about this team needing Chauncey.  If Chauncey was playing there is no way they get blow out in a must win game 3 when they are up 22 points.  No way.  How is that even possible?  The Spurs make them look like boys playing against men.
Huge Play

If the Clippers are able to win game 3, I would point to a big defensive play at the end of the 1st half orchestrated by Paul.  Mo Williams just got a lucky roll on a 3 to put the Clippers up by 10 after being way ahead and the Spurs had muscled back into the game.

Parker with the ball was setting up a pick and roll with Duncan for the final shot.  Paul saw this and pointed to Griffin to come up in front of Duncan and cut off the space Parker wanted to get to prior to pick being set.  Parker got confused and went out wide and Griffin and Paul double teamed him as he tried to adjust and flip it to Duncan on the high post.  But because time was running down, he didn't have much time to make this pass, Paul knew this, and jump into the passing lane and knocked the ball away.

The Clips needed to go into halftime up 10 at least.  If the Spurs cut the lead to under 10 after being down 22 in the first quarter, they would have all the momentum.  That play keeps the Clippers in this game.

Another side note, since I don't watch the Spurs play much.  You forget how tall Ginobli is.  I always think of him as a slashing, Sharunas Marchulenis type of player, but he is a lot more than that.  Without injuries, he is more comparable to Kobe Bryant, without the ability to turn it on defensively like Kobe.

Also, Duncan is listed at 6'11" and Blake at 6'10," but when you see Blake guarding Duncan, Duncan looks 3 inches taller than him.
What A Joke

Small rural libraries get $22,000 internet routers as part of the federal stimulus.

Who has any incentive to see things like this don't happen?  The inherent problem with government spending...

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Film:  Gone Baby Gone

Some good scenes mask a pretty bad movie at the core.  One easy way to judge a movie is whether the bad guy motivation makes any sense.  In this case, the reveal is completely preposterous.  Cops risk their entire careers to kidnap a child and steal a piddly sum of money.  Really?  Isn't there about twenty easier ways?  Like calling social services or adoption?

Also, Ben Affleck as a director really needs to watch the speeches.  Jesus, in every movie this Baaaston tough guys give four minute speeches.  Although it isn't entirely his fault, the Affleck, Damon, Graham King, Bill Monahan, Dennis Lehane would have us believe Boston must be the toughest city in the whole world.  If we just sent some Baaastoners over to Afghanistan, we would've beat those Taaalibaners in like two months.  Christ almighty.

Boxing coach - "I train a bunch of fucking nerds...Wall Street guys."

Film:  Picnic at Hanging Rock

Peter Weir's first film, I believe.  An interesting style of film, like Zodiac and The Onion Field, where a certain incident (or in the case of Zodiac, a set of incidents) has long term consequences to the lives of many people who are effected by it.  Not as good as either Zodiac or The Onion Field, worth watching on an academic level.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


A template letter for "your husband is gay and everyone knows it."


Film:  The Godfather

You can always learn from the classics.  I have no clue how many times I've watched the movie, but it's obviously a lot.  This has been said elsewhere, but I noticed it clearly for the first time, the Godfather is structured in quite an amazing way.  It is two movies.  The Michael story and the Vito story.  And they are interwoven seamlessly.   People talk about Godfather 2 being a superior movie, but the structure is more transparent in 2.  There are literally two different stories, told in different time frames.  In fact, 2 only serves to illuminate what was achieved in part 1, but part 1 is so elegant, so perfectly linked, you don't even notice how they pull it off, in a way, until after watching 2 and after thinking about it.

I don't know if Godfather has officially taken the mantle from Citizen Kane as the greatest movie of all time, but it will.

If you want to feel good about America.
Getting Rich

Off the bubble economy.

Seems like it should be illegal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I'm just about done with it.  There's nothing worth watching on the streaming.  It's become a flea market for movies.
"It'll Still Be Useful For Other Jobs"

That's what law school says about itself, anyway.
Plus: “Approximately half of the 45,000 people who will graduate this year from ABA-accredited law schools will never find jobs as lawyers. . . . All this adds up to a completely unsustainable system.” 
It would seem so.

Film:  Wall Street

I turned off Wall Street 2.  In re-watching the original, I can't help but imagine an alternative version of the 2nd Wall Street with Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah playing some type of role.  There would be a surrealness to it, which is really the only way one could go in the sequel.  Stone said what needed to be said in the original and it's truths hold up.  I can make qualms with bits of the movie - it is far from perfect - but it has something important to say about America.  Can we expect much more from studio films?

Rondo is one of my favorite players.  He is the perfect example of why flawed characters are more interesting than flawless characters.  His flaw is so glaring and so obvious - his inability to shoot - that it manifests itself in other aspects of his game.  He makes crazy bad and sometimes insanely creative passes to avoid shooting.  Fascinating to watch.

A classic Rondo play was the other night.  The Celtics were down by 1, I think against the Hawks, with the Hawks inbounding the ball with like 8 seconds left.  Rondo somehow anticipates the inbound pass, steals it, and dribbles down court without a time out and tries to make a desperate play as time is running out and loses the ball on a turnover.  The Celtics lost the game and Rondo famously got mad at a cameraman after the game while he wore a ridiculous jacket.

Last night, another similar play happened.  The Celtics are down, need a hoop, Rondo wiggles his way into the paint to get an offensive rebound amongst giants, somehow skies and grabs a one handed rebound in traffic (this is a really amazing thing to see as Rondo is about 6'2"), then goes up very softly for the put back and the shot gets blocked.

Both these plays were unbelievable and totally ineffective.  I almost can't see any other point guard, maybe any other player in the NBA, making that end of game steal or that rebound...but there is no mincing words, he made mistakes on the back end of each play.
Interesting Point

On why this girl spent money in her 20s - to feel richer than she was.

I think it's safe to say a large part of Americans do this.  But strangely, economists seems to think it is a good thing.  This is what's known as "consumer confidence."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cuban on Student Loans

Mark Cuban weighs in on the crushing load of student loan debt and how it impacts the economy.

The whole situation is outrageous.  And why is this an issue seemingly only addressed by libertarians and the more generally pragmatic, non-idealogical folks out there?  This should be on the forefront of the liberal agenda.  Think about it.  College costs.  A liberal should believe in equality of opportunity and for the poor to have ways to improve their lot in society.  Education is the number one way to achieve that.  And yet, college is so outrageously expensive, no poor person could honestly work their way through college these days without taking loans.  (and imagine how much more 40G in debt looks like to a poor person than to a wealthy person).

But liberals are so closely tied to the Universities, they are reluctant to talk about the issue.  They cling to this idea that poor folks have grant opportunities and so forth -- but what a horrible way to think about the problem.  As if the gods of financial aid and grant organizations ought to determine who goes to school and who doesn't.  And since when did paying for college become like buying a used car and subject to negotiations and different price schedules, etc.

Really disgusting when it boils down to it.
Too Boring

Perhaps our problems are simply too boring to solve.
If there is one thing the right and the left agree on this country, it’s that social issues are fun to pointlessly argue about. And we’ll always be able to argue about them, because they never get solved.
 We might not mind dealing with our real problems if we could come up with fun solutions to them that involve explosions and kung-fu fighting. But there aren’t any. It’s all mind-numbing budget stuff; my eyes are glazing over just thinking about it.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


America has tons of oil underneath Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.
the Green River Formation alone–it is located at the intersection of the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and mostly underlies federal lands–contains as much oil as the entire proven reserves of the rest of the world combined. 
Guess we didn't need to invade Iraq after all.
Game 7's

Wow.  Both LA teams survive.  On the Clips side, I think Reggie Evans was the difference maker in this series.  Memphis' strength is their inside game and you could see Evans giving Zbo a tough time on defense all series.  His energy, rebounding, and just general I-don't-give-a-shit attitude is what enabled the Clips to win.  I barely remember this guy playing during the season.  In game 7 he's playing over Griffin and Jordan at the end of the game.  Pretty remarkable.  Obviously Paul won several of these games for the Clippers and is the most important player and MVP of the series.  But the rest of the Clippers team - particularly their starters - got jittery during the playoffs.  Evans, Martin, Bledsoe, Young, and Williams were the guys who didn't get nervous and raised their games.

It seems almost impossible for the Clippers to beat the Spurs.  Paul and Griffin are banged up.  They just had a slug-fest series against Memphis and the Spurs had a cakewalk.  I saw one Clips-Spurs game earlier this year, the one where Paul handed the game to the Spurs in the final moment.  Without Ginobli the game was a toss up.  The Clips should have won.  But then again, the Clips weren't supposed to win this game 7 and they have Paul, who you know won't allow the team to quit, even though there are multiple guys on this team who aren't gamers.  I don't see any evidence Butler, Foye, Jordan, or Griffin upping their game in the playoffs.

Lastly, on the Clippers, you gotta give Del Negro some credit in this series.  The guy rode his second rotation in game 7 to a victory.  Ballsy play.  Something Doc Rivers or Pop would do.  He still has that look of being a deer in the headlights and did that dumb time out earlier in the series.  But hey, he just led the Clips to a playoff series victory against a very good Memphis team (albeit a bit banged up).

On the Lakers side, what can you say?  Gasol showed up and made the difference in game 7.  Give the guy credit.  People are always jumping on Gasol, like he wasn't the reason the Lakers won 2 championships in the last 4-5 years.  I dare anyone to play with Kobe and be motivated to play every night when he chucks up 30 shots a game and calls out teammates when he flings you a bad pass that you can't handle.  Other than that, I was impressed with how Denver played and their general team make up.  I'm hoping Denver or Memphis or teams built as teams rather than these teams build around individual players wins a championship one of these years to reverse this "you need a closer or alpha dog" theory of basketball.  Karl did some interesting strategic things to defeat that style - doubling Kobe and Bynum whenever they got the ball and forcing Blake and Artest to beat them.  They did - so give them credit - but it was a fun game to watch.

Was it just me or did the refs in both games make egregiously poor calls down the stretch as if David Stern has a little mic calling down and insisting they make the games closer and the big market teams make it to the second round?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Piven Today vs. Piven 1993

This guy found the fountain of youth.


Are You Kidding?

 They already made this movie, it was called The Hunt for Red October.

Film:  Please Vote For Me

A really great little documentary from China about 3rd graders experimenting with "democracy" to elect, rather than appoint, a class monitor.  One fantastic element - it was only 57 minutes long - and felt rich and like the story was complete.  One problem with the economics of documentary films is the need to make them theatrical length.  Perhaps with streaming, shorter documentaries can find a way to exist.  And let's face it, a lot of documentary subject matter does not need 1.5-2 hours.  This little documentary was perfect in it's size and scope.

I laughed quite a bit during the movie, the kids end up pulling all the tricks one would expect from Obama and Romney, but the 3rd grade versions.

Friday, May 11, 2012


You gotta love this guy.

I remember KG as the guy who couldn't make a coherent sentence when Boston won in 2008.  In this article, the guy uses language like EB White.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What to Get Rich?

Total War

US Military taught a class on how to fight a "total war" against Muslims.  Wired takes this as some sort of outrage.  I actually see it as a good intellectual exercise as part of military training.  I don't think this makes me fantatic.
Greg Oden

Grantland interview with the guy.  I didn't know Portland was known for having a bad medical staff.

Considering 2 of their 3 best prospects, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, are both out of the NBA before their 30th birthdays is something to think about.

If I'm Phoenix (rumored to have one of the best medical staffs - you need to look no further than Nash), I'd keep my eyes on Oden.
Gay Marriage

Obama's big gay marriage announcement was strange in that it seemed to matter so little.  Does anyone at this point care whether Obama supports gay marriage?  Does anyone believe this issue matters to him at all?  The guy simply needs to raise money in Hollywood and is making a political play to his base.

Obama would argue, "Jesus, I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't."  This is true.  I suppose it is the price you pay for being a politician.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Why can't you just buy HBO Go?  The Atlantic gives an incredibly good breakdown of how cable companies work and how HBO basically has to "take one for the team," because bundled cable is a cash cow and single channel streaming would kill it.

All of this is a tough call - is HBO able to make big hits like Game of Thrones only because it has the deep pockets of NBC-Uni in the first place?  Would HBO be advantaged by "going at it alone?"  Or would one or two big risks blow up the place?  These are actually really relevant and difficult to know questions.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Planned Obsolescence - Phones

I left my phone charger at my parents house, so I went to the AT&T store to get a new one.  The earring clad male youth scoffed "we haven't carried a charger for that phone in 2 years.  Maybe try Radio Shack."  All right, I say, let's look at the phones.  It turns out I am "qualified" to get a new phone because my 2 year contract is up.  They don't have many regular phones these days and the ones they do, are all super large.  Plus, to get a new one would require a new 2 year contract.  But, it turns out, they have deals on smart phones - iphone 3g for free practically - all you need to do is commit to a data plan of an additional $20-50 per month, or as I see it, one stock share of Pfizer or Home Depot.

The incentives push you toward the smart phones.  To commit to 2 years of a regular phone is a bit silly at this point, unless I'm fully committed to never getting a smart phone.  Either way, I like my current flexibility and the small size of my phone.  I decide to do nothing and go to Radio Shack.

Radio Shack has one charger for my phone - a car charger.  They are about to stop carrying this charger as well.  Luckily it costs only $4.  $4!!!  Alas, AT&T is really structured to push you to buy the maximum.  Annoying.  How much do I really want to pay for internet, cable, phone, etc.  It keeps going up and up.  I suppose the services provided are better - but is it worth it over say things like medical care, retirement savings, going out to dinner, or fancy coffee drinks.  I think not.

TV:  Game of Thrones, ep. 6

Best episode.  Things are coming together.  Still think the design of the season went after too much, in that there are episodes where entire story lines are neglected.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

The Racetrack vs. College

What does the racetrack have that colleges desperately want?  Diversity.  Real diversity.  You see white frat boys, old asian women, middle aged black men, mexican close as you're going to get as a true sampling of America.  The universities idea of diversity are taking a few token blacks and hispanics from the suburbs to throw in with the white/asian/jewish population.  Why do colleges expend such enormous resources to get "diversity" when they could easily achieve the same by just going to the track and picking people from random to attend classes?

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Will people stop watching?

Slate: Should the NFL be banned too? 
Gladwell: As long as the risks are explicit, the players warned, and those injured properly compensated, then I'm not sure we can stop people from playing. A better question is whether it is ethical to WATCH football. That's a harder question.
I imagine the NFL is going to change in the next 5 years. I'm not sure if it will go away, but something will drastically change. Litigation could cause the cost to be excessively high, insurance companies may stop insuring the game, or fans could leave in droves once we learn the dangers. Then again, boxing and nascar are probably more obviously dangerous sports and we continue to watch I don't know.

Friday, May 04, 2012


TV:  Girls

I'm done with the show.  It makes feel incredibly down about people and life and all sorts of things I shouldn't even be down about.  It went so far, I started to think ill of HBO as this phony outlet of "prestige" before I fell asleep last night.

What horribly ugly people these are.  Maybe that's what being in your early 20s is -- being horrible and ugly.  But I so happen to think people are more interesting than that, so for a show like this, which clings to "reality" so hard and so tight, it feels strangely desperate and at the very least, small minded.

There is a subtle hostility towards Asian women in the show.  For those who keep watching, pay attention.  In the first episode, there was an Asian female who got a full time job at work, a job Lena Dunham wanted, because "she knows photoshop."  The one cut to her made her seem like an object - this faceless, foreign sounding name, a person who doesn't speak, who has technical skills superior to Lena herself.  It was supposed to be a joke - but is only funny if you find the very concept of someone having the temerity to be an Asian chick funny.  Then there was the throwaway line in the 3rd episode by a Waspy cougar who says "You know what I say about guys who date Asian girls..."  No...does anyone who isn't cool in the eyes of New York hipsters know what an art gallery ho says about guys who date Asian girls?

Three episodes, two hostile remarks.  Now, I'm not the PC-police as anyone who reads this blog regularly can attest.  But how is Lena Dunham's casual racist hostility towards Asian women more acceptable than say, Jimmy the Greek's assertion that black athletes are better because they were bred from slaves?  If a white southern character uttered a few hostile remarks about black folks or gay folks...well...let's just say, HBO wouldn't even try it.  They'd lose their "edge" immediately.

In Lena's defense, she is also contemptuous of a gay ex-boyfriend, seeing it mostly as an insult to herself, as opposed to a choice by another human being with agency.  No worries - nothing that cannot be resolved by dancing around alone listening to indy rock.

It's not like this is news.  Tina Fey makes white-women-against-Asian-women jokes on 30 Rock, too.  It doesn't bug me when she does it, maybe because 30 Rock takes pride in sending up all races, religions, and genders as part of the very fiber of the show...and plus, it's funny.  Lena's hostility, I would say, is an attempt to be funny, but in execution, but further evidence of being what she is - unaware, spoiled, boring, and gross.   She is closer to these girls in world view than to Woody Allen.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Soccer and Basketball

Yesterday, I watched a high school girls soccer game coached by one of my friends and teammates in college.  It was incredibly exciting.  Within the first 2 minutes of the game, the opposing team earned a corner kick.  The girl hit a beautiful corner to the back post, another girl headed it toward the goal and it went post and in.  The player on the post missed the chance to block it.  3 minutes later, the left wing on the team I was rooting for, hit a long cross that lobbed over the goalie and into the back of the net.  Tied 1-1 within 5 minutes of starting.  About 15 minutes later, the forward on the opposing team got the ball in the corner of the box and looked to make a cross, but she cut the ball back and the defender stuck her foot out and tripped her.  PK.  It was an obvious foul, just barely inside the box.  The crowd went berserk with anger, but as a somewhat neutral observer, it was an easy call.  They made the PK and the score was 2-1 at halftime.

And that was also the score by the time the game ended, but the 2nd half was tension filled.  Almost from the first 5 minutes, our team was stressing out and feeling desperate to score.  About midway through, they brought up one of the defenders to forward to apply additional pressure.  The opposing team got two chances after that to put the game away, but hit post twice.  Our team got in a few crosses that were dropped by the goalie that a lucky bounce could have resulted in a tying goal.  But it wasn't to be.

Like baseball, soccer can be incredibly exciting whether a team scores or not.  Now, I love basketball and the NBA playoffs, but there is flaw in these games - you don't need to watch the first half.  Almost no matter what, the opposing team will make a second half run.  So the game is either put away in the 2nd half of the 3rd quarter, the beginning of the 4th quarter, the last 6 minutes, or the final seconds.  The first half is strangely irrelevant to basketball because of the rhythm of the NBA game.  Only in rare instances is the first half worth watching -- generally if there are story lines preceding the game at hand -- perhaps games 5, 6, or 7 in a 7 game series.

Enjoy the future people, I will not be participating.

Services such as these make me want to buy a handgun and a ranch.  Hat tip, Sher.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


On the way up to SF, listened to Fresh Air interview with Peter Bergen who wrote a book about the Bin Laden raid.  Apparently when they first got the intel regarding the courier who eventually lead them to the compound in Abbottabad they felt 70-30 sure it was OBL.  But in the next two weeks, the closer they examined, the less sure it seemed, dropping to about 50-50 odds when Obama decided to strike.  Interestingly, one of his national security advisors said to Obama, "there was greater circumstantial evidence for WMDs in Iraq than there is that OBL is in this compound."  Something to think about.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


TV:  Game of Thrones, Season 2, Ep. 4

Best episode yet.

Film:  Second half of Taxi Driver in North Carolina

I don't love this film.  But man, I've watched it a lot.