Friday, August 31, 2012

No Big Surprise

Huge cheating scandal at Harvard.  

Would it be a gigantic surprise to find out half of an entire class of Harvard students cheated?  These are folks who will be running the country in 25 years.

What a joke our "elite" have become.

There is a creepiness to how the "progressive" left uses the term "white" as a style of insult.
The Clint Speech

He's old.  A lot of analysis is going around the blogosphere as to the effectiveness, etc, whether it was disheartening or truth-speaking or whatever.  He's losing his facilities and his mind isn't working at full speed.  I don't mean this as an insult because I love the guy and I don't care about the politics of the message.  I'm relatively close to Eastwood politically speaking.  The Republicans were smart to feature him - he's revered by Americans - but no one can defeat father time.  Not even the man with no name.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Film:  This Means War

I go back and forth between what is more painful to watch: a bad comedy or a bad drama.  This film tips the scale over to comedy.  See, a bad comedy has a desperation and pathetic-ness that a bad drama does not possess.  A bad drama tends to be boring, possibly incomprehensible, but it tends not to be humiliating.  Bad comedy can be a humiliating experience for all involved.  The desperation of people - writers, directors, actors - wanting laughs and being utterly charmless and witless is painful to watch.  And you feel the pain for them...versus bad drama, where you feel pain only for yourself.  (although perhaps nerd fantasy stuff could be an exception).
Netflix vs. Amazon

A good description of the experience of watching streaming services.

The streaming / on-demand world (is there a difference?) is starting to look like simply a rival of cable television, rather than a rival of DVD/BluRay.  Think about it:  you don't get to select precisely what you want to watch, rather, you decide you want to watch something and you choose what's available.  Sounds more like the TV experience than the movie-rental experience.
Can We Count on Technology To Save Us?

Or are we looking at extended stagnation?

I think the article is right - we'll never know where the next transformative technology will come from and exactly how it will impact the world.  And also, gains from computer technology have already occurred and peaked.  Now, we're just talking about innovations in entertainment and games, but nothing that fundamentally alters work or life.

Film:  Bullhead

Very interesting film.  Didn't love it, but was surprised by a lot of the choices during it.  This is the type of indy film and storytelling I'd like to see.  Competent and different than how Hollywood would tell a story.  Cool world.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


TV:  Hard Knocks

They cut the tight end Les Brown this week.  You can see it on the screen - he's just too small.  His head is smaller than the rest of the guys, the guys he's playing against.  He got pushed around on blocks.  He got tuned up by cornerbacks.  It seems obvious to me he isn't an NFL player.  They tell him to go bulk up.  What does that mean?  Hit the juice and come back next year?  Also, guy hasn't played in several years.  I just don't see it happening.

I don't find this show depressing.  I find it inspiring.  Football is giving all these people - the players, the coaches - something they can do they feel passionate about.  The sadness and the tragedy of not making the team or retiring or getting traded are because what they are trying to accomplish is great -- to rise above all the other amazing athletes and competitors.  These men get to see how they measure up.  So much of the rest of the world is spent wallowing away in niches or in provincialism.  These guys get to compete against the best and see how they stack up.  What an amazing opportunity.  And of course, most fail.  Most get cut, most have short careers on mediocre teams.  Guess what?  That's life.  Not everyone is a winner.  These guys get to experience it in real-time, in a heightened environment at a young age.  I think very few of them would trade in this experience - whether they succeed or fail.

Watching this show makes me think pro athletes deserve the money they make.  And makes me think the Miami Dolphins are going to be lousy this year.

Wells Fargo fires employee for stupid incident from 1963.

I would never fire someone for such a petty, bureaucratic reason.  Individuals need to stand up against this type of bullshit.

Film:  Death at a Funeral


Restaurant:  Tinga

A nice little Mexican spot on La Brea.  Style reminds me of Border Grill.  You order at the counter.  Prices are expensive for counter ordering, but relatively cheap for dinner.  Not much in the way of veggies or particularly healthy.  But not unhealthy, either.

La Brea south of beverly seems to be a nice little hot area for reasonable, but cool dining these days.  The crown jewel is Sycamore Kitchen for either lunch or breakfast, a place almost as good as Huckleberry without the ridiculously long lines.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Film:  What's Your Number

I turned it off after about 30 minutes.  I knew it was supposed to be super bad, but it was on HBO on demand.  I'm a fan of Anna Faris, so I root for the film, but boy...the movie literally has the exact same first scene as Bridesmaids.  Very poor form.  Don't you have to take out the scene?  Biggest problem with the movie:  the conceit.  It makes no sense emotionally.  You can't buy into a girl needing to go back to ex-boyfriends to find the right one because she read a magazine article saying 96% of woman don't get married if they sleep with over 20 guys.  What rational, sane person believes nonsense like this?


Why 20-30 Year Olds Don't Own

The Atlantic publishes responses from readers.  I like this one:

Right now my income is $180k per year, which is not the highest but probably better than most of my friends. My family is fortunate to have some help from our respective families. We save between a half and two thirds of this income.
A guy making $180k per year gets help from his family? Strange times, indeed. But maybe that's just how some people live.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


TV:  Breaking Bad, S. 4, penultimate episode

A shout out to Jonathan Banks who delivers a once in a lifetime television performance this week.  The stress on this man's face when the cops are coming for him...absolutely incredible.  He's been great since he first graced the show, but he topped himself in this latest episode.  I go to look him up, because I had never seen this guy before Breaking Bad, and can't imagine how an actor of this quality could go unnoticed.  Well, turns out, he's been acting consistently since around 1977.  Show what the f--- I know about anything.

Yeah, the movies are in a rough spot right now.

Film:  Man on Fire

Finally made it through this film.  Don't understand why I never saw it before, seems like my type of thing, I'm a Denzel fan, and not a Tony Scott hater.  An overly long film and somehow the images we're accustomed to on Instagram make the visuals seem all the less remarkable.  But yeah, overall, it took me three sitting to watch it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


TV:  Hard Knocks Miami, Ep. 3

Miami's coach makes his second Seinfeld reference in 3 episodes.  Can't imagine another show getting referenced like that.  Certainly not Frasier.  

My impression:  Tannehill didn't truly earn the first position.  The Dolphins are desperate.

Hollywood Money

What executives, agents, and lawyers make per year.

Friday, August 24, 2012


TV:  Louie S. 3 continued

I don't know what happened, but Louie went from being a delight to feeling like a drag to watch.  I think he tries to do too much himself.
Gangnam Style!


Thursday, August 23, 2012


The new episode is up.

We discuss Cosmopolis and Bachelorette.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Headed For?

Are we headed for a recession in 2013?  Did we ever get out of one?

The analog computer.
The Era of Cheating

We are in an era of cheating.  Bartolo Colon just got suspended for 50 games.  I guess the major clue was that a 39 year old fatass overweight dude was having a fantastic year in the pros.

Watching Hard Knocks, it is obvious why these guys cheat.  If you're playing in the show or in the NFL, you are on top of the food chain.  If you aren't, most of these guys are driving Fed Ex delivery vans or coaching high school.  You want to give a guy an incentive to cheat?  Put him in the top 1% where only the top .01% succeed and then the drop off is entrance to the lower middle class.

It's fine to talk about personal responsibility, but when the cheating is systemic (as it is), you also might be smart to look at the incentives and the systems that give rise to it.  A typical conservative position would put the onus on the individual, yet, a conservative understands the evils of communism or fascism and how systems influence the human spirit -- so we might want to look a little closer at these business and sport cultures to understand what is going on and how to prevent this erosion in morality.

Book:  Labyrinth (unfinished) by Taylor Branch and Eugene Propper

The story of the investigation of the murder of Orlando Letelier, former Chilian Ambassador to the US by car bomb.  Takes place in 1976.  I found the story fairly interesting, but at over 600 pages I got about halfway through and grew tired of reading on.  Didn't feel like any more crazy twist and turns were coming, so I'm putting on pause.
Big Surprise

Middle class had worst decade in modern American history.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Interesting interview with the man.
Does It?

Sex sells.  Is that the lesson of 50 Shades of Grey?  There is a tremendous amount of erotica and this style of writing.  None of it became 50 Shades.

At a certain point, things like this take a life of their own and people read it because other people have.  There is no rhyme or reason to what takes off in this capacity.  It cannot be engineered, in my opinion.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Film:  Bachelorette

A Bridesmaids rip off with Kirstin Dunst, Isla Fischer, and Lizzy Caplan.  To call it a film is a stretch.  It is a total mess of a movie, just high level actors dicking off and making drug and fat jokes.  Really obnoxious.

If anyone wants a glimpse of the type of movies that will be made when/if the studio system collapses, this is a preview.  People like to fantasize that without the studios, there would be an unleashing of fill-in-the-blank kind of films -- pretty much a projection whatever one's film preference is.  Some, if you are predisposed to them, believe awesome artistic type of films will rule the landscape like the 1970s; others believe more conservative-minded fair will be popular, others believe religious message movies will become popular, others hope Marvel will dive further into their back catalog and will unleash all these awesome new comic book characters.

I think the reality would be - actors will start working with their friends and people they like - and you'll get clumsy, indulgent crap.

So keep pirating movies if you like Bachelorette.
Facebook Going Down-Down

The Facebook Fallacy.
The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact.
Well, Facebook has a 60 billion dollar valuation (that is going down each day) until they come up with the grand "idea" that will turn their website into a value-creator and hence money-maker. I'm not betting on them. If they had an idea, they would be implementing it. In the absence of one, they are just floating along, bleeding cash until they steal one (like Google from Yahoo) or develop one (doubtful) or buy one (from someone who comes up something). Of course, they have competition to develop or buy - Google - who is better at it than them. I just don't see it happening.

Film:  Cosmopolis

Boy, this was a rough one to watch.  Very dull.  Pretentious.  Tedious.  Some of the ideas expressed in the film were borderline interesting.  I'm sort of wondering - why a film, though?

Friday, August 17, 2012


Film:  The Campaign

A good idea for a movie, but not a good execution.  Just didn't quite work.  Why do they need to make the issues of the campaign so absurd and dumb?  It seems like it could have been equally funny if they dealt with real issues in a real way and then upped the absurd stuff.  I dunno.  On the one hand it would be tempting to think the filmmakers don't understand the real issues, but Jay Roach has been immersed in these political movies - Recount and Game Change - it seems like he's has access to top people.  Then again, maybe idiot humor is played out.

They say you should save 10% of you income for retirement.  Assuming your cost of living is basically the same while you are working as when you are retired (a safe assumption, I don't see why anyone would assume otherwise), we're talking a 10-1 ratio of work years to post-work years.  So say you work from 24-67 (a fairly reasonable estimate given the nature of schooling, time off, etc, etc.).  That gives you 33 work years.  And saving 10% of that money towards retirement would give you 3.3 years of retirement.  Not much, right?

No one should reasonably expect the magic of compound interest to make up the rest - certainly not the way the stock market has performed lately.  You'll be lucky if you have a little bump up from the simple cost of living adjustment (inflation).

So how is this supposed to work?  One of the dumb aspects of retirement planning is the idea that your income is constant.  Craziness.  People will work for jobs for years in order to build themselves up for a big payoff moment.  People start businesses and can work for years without income, but if they establish a good business, can later sell it for massive profit.  Or fail, I suppose, too.  Or you may be earning a lot at the moment as corporate lawyer, a studio executive, or an investment banker.  But all these jobs are up or out, and the majority of those people will be out.  Not everyone becomes a partner or the president of the studio, or an owner of a company.  So save while you can -- and don't raise your nut.

I guess my point in all this - don't listen to dumb advice.  Save WAAAAY more than you think you'll ever need, if you can.  And time is money.  You are either getting ahead or falling behind.  There is no such thing as cruising.
Tax Returns

Although Mitt Romney isn't legally required to share his tax returns to the public, I do find the situation to be representative of a problem with the overall sell of the Republican agenda.  Republicans want to run on the platform that they are the fiscally responsible party - the party that wants to cut stupid government spending and be responsible about the government deficit and debt and put the economy back on track.  The selection of Ryan as the running mate would validate this premise.  But Mitt's tax returns would undercut their very message.  I'm sure he didn't do anything illegal, but we will find that he earns and spends in the 10 millions per year and pays less taxes than the average schoolteacher or all all my friends who struggle to pay the rent in 1 bedroom apartments and yet are paying in excess of 20-30% in Federal taxes each year.

No one expects the Federal Government will disappear and everyone needs to pay taxes and contribute, but the Republicans would have you believe all the middle class, upper to lower, should pay 15-30% of their income in taxes and the Romney-like folks, the uber-wealthy, should only pay 13% or even lower.  No one can justify this situation on common sense grounds.  No one should try and defend this position, lest be completely cynical and irrational and Orwellian almost in their sense of justice and fairness.

This is a morally indefensible position and explains why he won't release his returns.  Also explains one of my biggest problems with voting for the guy (even if I believed he'd do a better job or even if I believed it was in my own self interest, this fundamental, in-your-face, corruption would be dishonorable to let stand).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Amen, Jodi Foster

She stands up for Kristin Stewart against the vultures of social media.

The thing that Stewart did - hook up with an older guy she shouldn't - as what...a 22 year old girl?  Imagine if every 22 year old girl in America was scrutinized for their stupid sexual decision making?  It wouldn't be very pretty at all.
Gosh, I Wonder Why

Facebook shares down as people realize it is a Ponzi scheme sell their previously unsaleable shares.
I'd Read It, But...

It costs too much.  Interesting sounding book about why children succeed - character vs. talent - and how one builds character.

Now the kindle edition costs nearly as much as the hardcover.  One of the perks of kindle was books like this used to cost $9.99.  I guess that was just a trick to get people to buy one and then once they hit a critical mass, jack up the other prices.  Annoying.  Common sense would suggest kindle ought to be at least somewhat cheaper given the delivery and shelving costs are nothing.  But what do I know?

TV:  Hard Knocks - Miami - E.2

Why the drama is so great - the difference in these guys lives if they make the team vs. not making the team is just enormous.  Money is only part of it.  It's what they do with their time.  The camaraderie.  The glory.  The joy of playing.  The status it affords.  The self confidence it brings.  The panicked look on Chad Johnson's face when he gets cut -- he knows he is 34 years old and the clock is ticking.  You could read him thinking - oh my god - this might be it.  I might never play football again.

Contrast it with David Gerrard.  His little injury - it only is for a few weeks - but he can see the clock ticking as well.  I suppose one big difference is Gerrard has a family and not a wife he met on twitter, married for 40 days before headbutting her and getting arrested.  He seems more relaxed and serene about the life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Sandwich In America

A contest.
85 Must See Movies From Scorcese

I've seen remarkably few of these.
Kobe / Pippen

Say the Lakers win one or two championships with Dwight, Nash, Kobe, and Gasol...and Kobe surpasses Jordan with 7 championships and 2 additional visits to the finals.  (Magic has 5 rings and 4 more visits).  The comparisons to Jordan will continue in more earnest.  But would they be appropriate?  Kobe won 3 with Shaq and then two more with Dwight -- so 5 of his rings would come when he wasn't even the best player on the team.  So wouldn't Pippen be the more interesting comparison?  And what if Pippen had won a ring with Portland that one year when they should have beaten the Lakers?  And why am I even talking about this?
Bring It Back!

The three martini lunch.

TV:  Hard Knocks - Miami Dolphins - Ep. 1

"You know you found someone special when you're willing to put down Call of Duty."

-Chad Johnson, formerly Ochocinco.

In today's news, his new wife files for divorce.

According to Hard Knocks, she withheld sex from him last year when he wasn't playing well.  I suppose that is a sign I'd put in the opposite column from the Call of Duty signal.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Film:  Your Highness

I sat through the whole thing watching HBO on demand.  I was tired.  Lazy.  Didn't laugh much.  Didn't hate it.

E-Book:  The Higher Education Bubble by Glenn Reynolds

A short ebook guessed it...

Wasn't worth the cost.  Even though it was only $5, it ended up only being the length of a long article and pretty much covered ground already explored ad nauseam at Instapundit.  I was happy to financially support Instapundit, however, for the amount I visit it.

I like the idea of these E-books, sort of like buying a magazine article.  I think they should be more up front about what they are - however - they aren't really books.  They are more long form articles.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The China Bubble

Worries about doing business in China.

If you only listened to the main stream media, you'd think it was inevitable China will take over from the United States as the largest economy on the planet in a mere 20 years or so.  And a cursory look at numbers would suggest you might be right:  1.3 billion people is a lot of people.  At my own birthday party, people gawked and laughed at me when I said China was not an economic threat to the United States.  Remember, this was during the time when it was being reported how much US currency China holds (they do this to keep their wages down and the dollar strong).

But two facts stand out to me:  1)  The US economy is 3x as large as China's.  I don't think most people know this.  3x is a lot of ground to make it.  I bet if you ask joe average on the street, they'd think we are much closer in size and 2) The majority of apartments / living areas in China do not have their own toilets.  It might be up to 70%.  I heard this statistic on NPR from a journalist living in China because he was describing how most Chinese people still view themselves as a poor country.

I'm not trying to be jingoistic or excessively prideful, but explain why we in America ought to be worried about the economic prowess of a nation where the majority of people don't have toilets in their homes.  Come on.  This is a poor place.

As a side factor, the US economy is tied closely to our allies in Europe and the Americas.  It's not like China can suddenly throw their weight around and make everyone do their bidding.  The biggest challenge is basically dealing with China financing a few rogue states or corrupt governments by buying their natural resources, places like Iran or Nigeria, etc, and then possibly throwing their weight around Asia a little more than they already do.  That is our concern.  Not that suddenly China can dictate world economic policy at our expense.
Podcast #2 

Phil, Andy, and Greg discuss Killer Joe and Hope Springs.
Google Is Dumb

They've removed the print draft email function.  Because, you know, who would want to print and proofread anything before sending?

Google keeps getting dumber and dumber if you ask me.

What it looks like from the interior.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Soft Gasol?

I only caught the last 5 minutes or so of the Gold Medal basketball game.  But I was watching Gasol and I could tell the team USA was worried when he touched the ball.  And he wanted the ball.  He lead his team to a respectable performance against an absurdly good USA squad.  It simply does not fit the narrative of Gasol-as-soft.

Imagine if Spain had one player of Durant-Carmelo-Kobe-LeBron abilities on the wing in addition to Rubio and the Gasol brothers instead of Rudy Fernandez.  Does that shift the outcome?  24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists against all stars in the gold medal game.

Yeah, real soft.  Gasol suffers bias/racism because he's European and because he has to play in a situation not designed around his skills.  He was actually more effective when Bynum wasn't demanding 10-15 shots a game in addition to Kobe's 25-30.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


E-Book:  The Rent Is Too Damn High by Matt Yglesias

At the suggestion of one of my anonymous commenters, I read this book.  It was fine.  The basic argument is that in overly expensive urban areas, ie LA, NY, SF, DC, cities should relax zoning restrictions (ie deregulate) and build more apartment-style housing to lower the overall rent prices.

Yglesias is a proud liberal and I found it somewhat ironic his policy prescription for the topic he choose could have been written by Ronald Reagan.  My sister is also a very opinionated liberal, except when it comes to her field of expertise: education, where she is a big proponent of charter schools and introducing competition into the public school system.  Something to think about.

So...deregulation.  More apartments.  Okay, I'm in.  I live in Santa Monica one the most overpriced little sections of land in the entire country.  Luckily for me, I got into a weird rent control situation and am paying under market value for my apartment.  This is precisely the type of scenario Yglesias has a problem with  - the combination of zoning rules and rent controls help present residents at the expense of "would-be" residents by making the available housing and rental units prohibitively expensive and to de-incentivize moving for the folks who are already in the rent-control places.

Now I'm trying to imagine the real world application of Yglesias policies.  In Santa Monica and Venice area, I've noticed a lot of big apartments being built recently.  In Santa Monica, there are all these yuppie developments over around the 3rd Street Promenade with names like "The Victorian" and "The Galaxy Apartments" and other Vegas-type naming knock offs.  (I am making up those names).  Over on Rose Ave, they just build a huge complex called "The Frank Apartments," which is pitching itself as some sort of eco-friendly living arrangement (how exactly, I am unsure).

I looked up the Frank Apartments.   This is Yglesias dream world.  Yoga and pilates studios in the first floor.  Fancy coffee shop.  Shared communal spaces.  Easy proximity to the beach and a nice little shopping district.  A one bedroom costs $3000 a month.  A townhome costs $5000.  Other examples of Yglesias style developments are littered along the beach - huge apartment/condo complexes.  I imagine they cost a lot more.

Who the hell would pay $3000 a month for a one bedroom apartment?  Just doing some quick math -- that is $36,000 a year in rent, which should be about what?  25% of take home income...a mere $144,000 a year of TAKE HOME income.  To bring that much in, you need to be making a salary of around $250,000 per year.  Unless you are in entertainment, in which case, you need to be making $300,000 because of your agent, lawyer, manager fees.

Who makes this much money to live in a one-bedroom place?  Maybe a lawyer who graduates in the top 5% of his/her law school class.  Maybe a doctor who worked 12 years to become a specialist.  Maybe a pretty successful television writer or actor.  Maybe an entrepreneur.  Who else in Los Angeles would make this much money at an age when they would want to like in a one bedroom?  Not many people.  We're talking top 2% here.  Hardly a solution for "the people."

So what am I doing here?  Making Yglesias point for him?  Should we build 2-3 other apartment complexes just like this in the area to drive prices down?  Would anyone do that, given there is no way the first one is filling up?  And then there is the aesthetic question.  Do people want to live in glorified college dorms?  I don't.  I look at these places and the sign might as well read: yuppies douches in here. They have no personality.  They are Ikea Furniture made a bit nicer.

I don't have an answer.  I suppose the de-regulation might work.  I think it might be more interesting if the cities encouraged more condos or individual units for sale to be built to eventually lower prices - so people can get some equity into their rental situations.  But again, maybe that is just a prescription for a bubble.

As a general note, in books like these, I'm more of a fan of how Michael Lewis approaches subjects where he takes specific individuals and situations and those anecdotal stories illuminate a larger trend in American society rather than these folks who make wide-ranging policy claims with very little actual evidence or specifics.  I'd separate Tyler Cowen's book only because it makes more of a historical claim and attempts to read data in a different way.

Good interview with Tony Gilroy on the new Bourne.  Part of me wants to dislike Gilroy for some reason, but I think that is immaturity and a longing for filmmaking to be something it isn't.  I'll actually probably see this new Bourne movie, even though I'm not particularly excited about it.

Film:  Hope Springs


Friday, August 10, 2012


From an article called "The Age of Cheats," comes a detail I never knew.
President Obama wrote a biography based on fabrications, which he admitted to this year. The oddest of those lies concern the “girlfriend” he now says was a “compression” of real people. Even small lies reveal character.
I found a more detailed article:
"In Dreams from My Father, Obama chose to emphasize a racial chasm that unavoidably separated him from the woman he described as his New York girlfriend," Maraniss writes, offering a passage from the book in which they go to see a play by a black playwright: One night I took her to see a new play by a black playwright. It was a very angry play, but very funny. Typical black American humor. The audience was mostly black, and everybody was laughing and clapping and hollering like they were in church. After the play was over, my friend started talking about why black people were so angry all the time. I said it was a matter of remembering—nobody asks why Jews remember the Holocaust, I think I said—and she said that’s different, and I said it wasn’t, and she said that anger was just a dead end. We had a big fight, right in front of the theater. When we got back to the car she started crying. She couldn’t be black, she said. She would if she could, but she couldn’t. She could only be herself, and wasn’t that enough. 
"None of this happened with Genevieve," Maraniss writes. "She remembered going to the theater only once with Barack, and it was not to see a work by a black playwright. When asked about this decades later, during a White House interview, Obama acknowledged that the scene did not happen with Genevieve. “It is an incident that happened,” he said. But not with her. He would not be more specific, but the likelihood is that it happened later, when he lived in Chicago. “That was not her,” he said. “That was an example of compression I was very sensitive in my book not to write about my girlfriends, partly out of respect for them. So that was a consideration. I thought that [the anecdote involving the reaction of a white girlfriend to the angry black play] was a useful theme to make about sort of the interactions that I had in the relationships with white girlfriends. And so, that occupies, what, two paragraphs in the book? My attitude was it would be dishonest for me not to touch on that at all … so that was an example of sort of editorially how do I figure that out?”"
Maybe I misunderstand what is meant by autobiography.  I understand there is an editing and a narrativizing of the action of one's life, but a merging of characters? Assigning actions to one person that were performed by another? Is this "emotional truth?" Very odd.  But I suppose the act of writing an autobiography at age 34 or 35 is a pretty strange thing to begin with.

UPDATE:  Ahhh...I guess this is a memoir, not an autobiography.  But...whatever...all the same problems apply, methink.

Fareed Zakaria suspended for plagiarism.

Very strange.  One of the top intellectuals in our nation.  Why?

UPDATE:  Here is are the details.  This is strange to me because essentially they are both paraphrasing arguments by a third author in a book.  In some respects, both accounts are plagiarism, because they simply recount the 3rd author's argument similarly.  This is not a big deal.

From LBN:
SERIAL KILLER DAVID BERKOWITZ SAYS ‘TAKE THE GLORY OUT OF GUNS’: David Berkowitz says “society has to take the glory out of guns.” The “Son of Sam” killer spoke to the Daily News from the maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, N.Y. He’s serving 25 years to life for killing six people during a 13-month shooting spree in the 1970s. He lamented the latest fatal shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin and on New York City streets, including that of a 4-year-old boy in the Bronx. Berkowitz said “young people are losing direction and don’t value life.”
The Freak

I'm not even a Giant's fan, but the world is a more interesting place when Lincecum is pitching well.
I Should Hope It Would

Does personality influence the philosophy of philosophers?
And What Happens Then?

From a FT article:
Low-cost production techniques could soon become so advanced and so low cost — thanks to developments like 3D printing — that even the tiniest salaries in Africa will not make it worthwhile to employ human beings at all.
Someone needs to address this question...soon...

TV:  Louie S. 3, E. 6

Strange episode.  The charm of the show is wearing off.  I'll keep watching, but it seems to have entered a lull.  Perhaps we are lacking some consistent other characters?  Maybe the show misses Pamela more than it knows.
Why Romney Is Losing

Interesting POV - his campaign is weak.

I think it would be good for both parties and America to get down to concrete proposals and idea versus the inoffensive talking points.

Fresh Air had a good podcast the other day on the budget and the looming fiscal cliff.  During it, he makes a good point about how Republicans don't go into detail about what programs they intend to cut, but that they simply intend to cut the government beast.  And Democrats tend to not want to talk about who they are actually going to raise taxes on (upper middle class folks) to pay for everything.

Toward the end of the podcast, the guy makes the most relevant point - Americans want more in benefits than they want to pay in taxes.  This is the simple reality.  The majority of the budget are entitlement programs - Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security - and Americans do not want these programs cut even though they are the ones threatening to bankrupt our society.

Thursday, August 09, 2012


The idiocy and perverse incentives created by cap and trade like policies to effect climate change.
Sports in the Daytime

Two fun sporting events going on right now - Gold Medal Woman's soccer (US v. Japan rematch of World Cup) and A's-Angels 4th game of the series with wild card implications.

I only caught the last 20 minutes of the 1st half of soccer and the US leads 1-0 at halftime.  The thing I noticed, however, Japan seemed to be the better team.  The US has better athletes and better talent.  But Japan possessed more and got better chances.  In the World Cup Final, I thought the US was considerably better, but suffered from bad luck and fate on that day.  Today, I don't know.  It looks like Japan has improved and perhaps the US is not as strong defensively as they ought to be.  They allowed 3 goals to Canada in the semi-final, not a sign of defensive strength.  Regardless, the US are always dangerous for goals and could put the game away with 1 or 2 more early in the 2nd half.

The A's are good.  They have the best team ERA in the American League, but some of that is due to the pitcher-friendly Coliseum.  What makes me think they are good, however, is their line-up is a little sneakily strong.

Coco Crisp is a legit lead off hitter with speed.

Josh Reddick is having a great year, leading the team in most categories, including home runs.  A solid 3 hitter.

Cespedes is a damn good hitter and if it weren't for the injuries, would probably be amongst league leaders.  I bet he is as, if not more, effective than Pujols this year at a much cheaper cost.

Chris Carter just bombed a home run and last night hit the game winner.  He is a young guy and beginning to fulfill his potential

Johnny Gomes is a solid middle of the line up hitter - 5 or 6 - can flip with Carter depending on who is hot.

Derek Norris is a highly touted young catching prospect they got in one of their pitcher trades.  They traded away Suzuki to let this guy play.  The other day, I saw him drop a bomb.  He seems to be a solid hitter with good potential and a great on base percentage (he takes a lot of pitches)

That is 6 average (Crisp, Carter, Norris) to above average (Gomes, Gomes) to legitimately good (Cespedes / Reddick) hitters.  Although this might not sound impressive compared to Yankees or Ranger line ups, this is a considerable upgrade from A's teams of the recent past.  Our line ups have been terrible.  The last time I can remember having a legit 3-4 hitter in the line up was the year we went to the playoffs with Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley.  Prior to that it was Giambi-Dye-Tejada-Chavez (when he could hit) and Tejada-Dye-Chavez.

UPDATE:  Amazing individual effort by number 10 (Lloyd) on the US team to score goal number 2.  Don't see Japan coming back now.

UPDATE 2:  Japan is not seeing open diagonal long balls when they have players open.  Why you should play space vs. player.

UPDATE 3:  Great look on entry pass to set up Japan's goal.  Hope is alive.  I admire how the Japanese women play soccer.  Tons of heart and brains to compensate for obvious physical disadvantage in size and speed versus the American women.

UPDATE 4:  Women's soccer is highly watchable.  A valid testament to the relative strength of the game to basketball, where the woman's game isn't very fun to watch because of the diminished athleticism.  That is to say, basketball is watchable more because of the awesome athleticism than the spacial dynamics of the game itself.  Soccer is a better balance of art and war than basketball.

UPDATE 5:  One thing I should add about the Japanese - they are not just brains and heart - they do have incredible individual skill on the ball.  They possess very well.

UPDATE 6:  Alex Morgan is the cutest player and I like her a lot, but she could improve by having a little vision and not trying insane shots when she has runners running off of her.

UPDATE 4.5:  The ref made a really good call when a Japanese woman went in wildly for a loose ball on the 5 yard box - a tough foul call to make in that position - but it was a foul.

UPDATE 7:  Is Hope Solo good?  She seems to block balls that would be better caught.  Hard to tell.  Goalies are a weird species.

UPDATE 8:  11 on Japan is the most skilled on the field.

UPDATE 9:  Solo makes a huge save.  I guess she answers my question.  Japanese girl should have played it on the ground, like a pass.  Easier said than done.  (other note - a minute later, Solo drops an easy ball - shaky hands, I'm telling you...)

UPDATE 10:  Japan is taking out 11????  Why?
Cyborg America

Weird subculture.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

No Problem Here

How hackers stole a guy's life.

I gotta get off this internet.
Let's Buy It A Drink!

World Wide Web turns 21 yesterday.

Strange to think about...
We Will See

Grantland believes the Niners are headed to 8-8, 9-7.

He makes a compelling case - probably the biggest component being strength of schedule and the correct assessment of why we were so efficient on turnovers last season.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Hat tip, Cindy.

Of all the many colorful personalities during the Civil War, none is more detestable to me than George McClellan.  Here is an NPR piece from the author of an upcoming book about the Road to Antietam.

The radio piece mostly deals with McClellan's maneuvering in the early part of the war to undermine Lincoln and seize full control of the army and exert political control over the President.  In the words of the author "he was a world class narcissist."  After getting outmaneuvered in battle by Lee, Lincoln goes to McClellan to get an accounting of how he plans to not let this happen again and McClellan responds by giving him a letter that gives no details about future military plans about how to win, and instead gives him a political manifesto about how Lincoln must behave politically - 1)  Not emancipate the slaves, otherwise the Union army will dissolve (blackmail)  2)  Not conduct a war of subjugation against the South (ie fight with one hand behind their back and continue to lose) and 3)  Appoint a War Minister who has total autonomy over military action (cede his status as Commander in Chief).

Lincoln was wise enough to realize he needed to get rid of the guy after this meeting, but just hearing about it gets under my skin -- he was effectively a traitor operating at the very top of the army.  One wonders if even small compromises were made to some of his demands how the history of the nation could be entirely different.

Book:  Anatomy of Story by John Truby

I'm not typically a huge fan of screenwriting books, but this is the best one I've read so far.  If I ever teach a class, I'll use it.  It would probably be a bit advanced for a beginning screenwriter, but perfectly appropriate for anyone who has been at it a for a little bit.

Monday, August 06, 2012


Film:  Killer Joe by Tracey Letts and William Friedkin

Good, but not a great film.  It is common for plays put up on screen to feel a bit small and this was no different.  Letts likes to explore the dysfunction in American families.  I think Friedkin does has done it right -- it's hard to stay energetic and interested as a filmmaker.  So many of his contemporaries either became moguls or obsolete.  Friedkin can still bring some verve to it.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


The stick shift is dying out.

I like the stick shift.  It's impractical, but I find it to be more fun and pleasurable to drive.  Keeps one closer to the action.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Friday, August 03, 2012

The Moviegoers

The first podcast of "The Moviegoers" is up.  Give her a listen.


TV:  Louie S. 3 E. 6

Finally, a good episode.  Not great.  But good.  Especially the 2nd half.  "I diarrhea'd."

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Movie Criticism

Very clever - Sight and Sound Top Ten movies of all time coupled with Rotten Tomatoes criticisms.

This is where our culture now sits - the ridiculous pretensions and irrelevance of Sight and Sound critics who would bore us to death with their movie choices and the outrageous idiocy of the internet trolls.

Hat tip, Chuck.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Film:  Peeping Tom

This is a fantastic movie.  I almost can't believe how good.  Maybe it just caught me at the right moment or something.  Sure, it was made in 1960, so it suffers from being a bit dated.  But it came out 3 months before Psycho -- one of the most influential films of all time -- and to me, it blows Psycho out of the water.

As a double feature, it could be shown with any number of movies.  You could do a British pairing of protagonist as serial killer movies from the 1960s with The Collector.  You could pair it with Psycho.  You could pair it with any of DePalma's voyeur films - Blow Out, Body Double.  You could pair it with 8 1/2 and other movies about the world of filmmaking.  Man...just goes to can still be surprised and delighted by the movies.  Even old ones.

Film:  London Boulevard

The weird thing is -- Bill Monahan is one of the most widely revered screenwriters in Hollywood.  It goes beyond the Oscar for The Departed -- he is one of those guys people speak of in nearly mystical terms.  Leo DiCaprio once said he'd be in any movie written by Bill Monahan, I think.  Studios will option books if he is vaguely interested in adapting them.  I'm not a huge Departed fan, but I have read the screenplay and the guy can write, for sure.  But I had also see Edge of Darkness on a plane -- and that is a terrible movie -- and I mistakenly thought he had directed it and so I figured, eh, another one of those overhyped dudes.

In any case, I was in no hurry to see London Boulevard, but it finally came up in my netflix que and it's fine.  It gets to be a decent movie towards the end.  It isn't embarrassing.  But this our gold standard?  Honestly?  This is our "best"?  This ought to be our average or below average.  I almost couldn't believe the lack of originality.  We start with a crook getting out of prison?  Really?  Then he gets a job as a bodyguard for a famous actress and (spoiler alert) they fall in love.  Basically, it's Straight Time meets The Bodyguard set in London.

I was incredibly surprised by the mediocrity.  And then I look up this guy's credits besides The Departed, the Internal Affairs remake.  Kingdom of Heaven, Edge of Darkness, London Boulevard, and Body of Lies.  Yikes.  This is below average studio fair -- am I wrong?  Edge of Darkness is the worst of all the annoying Baston tough guy nonsense (and to be fair, The Departed is the best).  Body of Lies could be categorized along with Syriana as total mideast nonsense.  I didn't see Kingdom of Heaven, but it's gotta be considered in the lowest tier of Ridley Scott's ouvre and then London Boulevard, basically a below average British gangster flick?

I don't want to shit on a screenwriter too much -- I mean it's hard to write a good movie.  But our best ought to be a lot better, methinks.