Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Film:  Moonstruck

Stopped at the library to pick up a different movie, but of course they don't have it (libraries don't generally have a very good dvd collection), and Moonstruck stuck out for some reason.  I've never seen the movie all the way through and figured I should have.  So I watched it.  Yikes.  For a movie that I remember getting critical accolades - it won Best Actress for Cher and best original screenplay - I found it quite dull.  And really weird at times.  The tone was strange.  I rarely laughed and I think it was supposed to be a comedy.  I don't really know what it was supposed to be.  What was interesting was how different it is from contemporary films.  How "small" it felt.  This movie would be a tiny indy movie today, but back then, it was one of the smash hits of the year.  The ethos of the movie certainly felt like from a different era, and the director, Norman Jewison, I suppose was from very much a different era.  Still, I would say the film really does not hold up over time (if it ever did).

Film:  Going in Style

An early Martin Brest film from 1979 about three old bored dudes who decide to rob a bank.  It was okay.  The highlight is a craps scene in Vegas.  Really captures the true feeling of being on a heater and is patient about it.
Why Big Problems Are Hard To Solve

And why we aren't doing a good job of it today.
Why the Harden Trade Is Dumb

Look, I suppose I "get" the idea that the Thunder want to make a profit and had to deal Harden to provide financial flexibility.  But do you honestly get into basketball ownership to profit?  Don't you do it to compete for the championship and bring pride to your city?  When you get the opportunity, I say go for it.

Letterman doing his show without an audience.  Surreal.

Monday, October 29, 2012


I find it almost impossible to believe we were giving guns to Jihadis in Syria.  If any part of this ended up being true, it strikes me as being impeachable.  I mean, it was one thing to arm Jihadis in the 1980s against the Russians.  We didn't know these kooks would turn around and use it against us (and the Russians were a much bigger threat).  But to do something similar now?  Against a weak Syrian regime.  This would be the height of incompetence and stupidity.

McCain calls Benghazi a cover up or gross incompetence.

He makes a good point:  during the Bin Laden raid, Obama's office was quick to release all the details to the press and the world, but for some reason, with the Benghazi story, they are are classifying all the data about who knew what and when.  Kinda makes you wonder about all those promises of transparency...

Also reminds us that weeks after the attack, Obama and his administration were still calling it a reaction to the video when they knew it to be false.  And don't forget, the Feds arrested the filmmaker.  This looks ugly when you view the story objectively.  If Bush had done this while President, the liberals would be losing their minds over it.

TV:  The Walking Dead, the most recent episode

I stopped watching this show after the first three episodes during the 1st season.  I thought it was good, but I dunno, I just didn't get into it.  Caught this latest episode and it was pretty damn good.  I was surprised.

Restaurant:  Short Order

New spot at the far end of the Farmer's Market near Fairfax.  Really good food.  Got the tuna melt - one of the better tuna melts I've ever had.  Definitely will be back - great place to eat after a movie.  Probably will be popular during peak times, but was not busy tonight.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Film:  Cloud Atlas

So the message of the movie is...

do good, not bad.

I suppose I can get behind that.  And beware - if you ever - in the past or the future ever come across Hugo Weaving - he is probably up to no good.

Books:  Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and Counter Intelligence by Jonathan Gold

Two books by restaurant critics, neither of which I read in full.  With Gold, I found it more fun to read about the place I've been.  With Reichl I got really tired of her voice about halfway through the book, struggled to get 2/3 through and then skimmed the rest.  Frankly, I find the food world to get a little boring and pretentious after awhile.
NFL Thoughts

Just scrolling through a few games this morning, I think RG3 is awesome.  I know I'm like the last person to say it, but the guy makes incredibly good decisions.  This is what stands out.  Not his athletic ability - which is great - but frankly, so are most of these guys.  You don't see guys who you think make good decisions very often at QB, and especially young QBs.  For instance, Cowboys and Giant's are on TV and Romo is like the exact opposite type of player.  Just dumb play after dumb play.  But I see RG3 not settling for check downs or even running when he has space and making throws downfield to open guys.  He scrambles around and then keeps the play alive and then makes a throw.  He leads guys on short passes, so they have running room.  The talent surrounding him is truly subpar and yet, he makes things happen.

I think Norv Turner is about to be fired.  It looks like the Dolphins might be as good, if not better, with Matt Moore and they can get to playoffs this year.
Chinese Man Sues Wife and Wins  For Being Incredibly Ugly

I imagine we will see more of this.

Restaurants:  Superbra Snack Bar and Cooks County

Superbra is on Rose Avenue, a new little hot spot for midlevel restaurants on the Venice/Santa Monica border.  Along that road is Oscar's, a fantastic fish taco spot (the burger is delicious as well), a wine bar, La Fiesta Brava, and a new Cafe Gratitude.  Superbra is the newest, "coolest" spot.  I don't know where the crowd comes from, but they ooze "hipness" if you are into that kind of thing.  The food is interesting and flagrantly fatty.  We ordered what amounted to a charcuterie plate with pheasant, pastrami toasts, and the fattest slab of bacon I've ever seen.  We ate that along with a smoked trout salad which was pretty tasty.  Overall, the food is very rich and bold.  I tried a Pinot Gris which was delicious and an orange-pink color.  At first, I thought the guy poured me a rose on accident, but the taste was crisp and not sweet at all.  The place was a tad pricey, but I wouldn't say overpriced.  I'm glad I tried it, but I won't be back as a regular.  The gem of the block is Oscar's, which I would eat at almost anytime. And La Fiesta Brava's fajitas are a cheap feast.

Cooks County is new small restaurant on Beverly Blvd right across from Swingers.  We went for brunch and I'd recommend it.  Ordered the scrambled ham and eggs which came with a cheddar biscuit and salad.  Perfect size, very tasty.  A tad heavy, with lots of cheese and butter, but I like that kind of thing.  C ordered the poached eggs dish with bacon and beans and some type of greens.  It was good and when I eat there again, I'll probably order what she got.  They serve Intelligencia coffee and manage to keep it real hot, which is an accomplishment because I feel like most places the coffee goes cold too quick.  But they also charge $4 a pop, which a few years ago would make me vomit, but is becoming more and more normal.  This place could become one of my regular brunch spots.  The menu is small and everything looked worth trying.  I would quibble a little bit with the coffee price and brunch ended up running just a hair over $40.  A better deal at about the same price level is Joe's in Venice, which is a Michelin star restaurant and a level nicer for about the same price.  But this spot is better than Swingers (obviously) or King's Road Cafe, all of which are in the neighborhood.

Other spots:

Baco Mercat:  downtown spot, considered once the best new restaurants in LA.  I ate the lamb baco (which is like a sandwich/taco) and it was delicious.  If I lived closer, I'd eat at this place a lot to try all the cool-sounding stuff on their menu.

Mercado:  a new Mexican spot across the street from Border Grill in Santa Monica near the promenade.  Fancy style Mexican food, a little pricey.  Not an everyday place, but if you have friends or family in town and want to hit up a nice, but not crazy expensive spot, this is not a bad option.  I got the carne asada, which came as a big steak with corn and green onions.  I ate it like a steak rather than making the tacos.  It was pretty damn good.

Highly educated have biggest debt problems.  And this point:
“The percentage of renters who piled on debt really surprised me. It shows that the financial crisis wasn’t all about housing speculation. There was too much debt in all parts of the economy.”
Worth reading about.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The US Military Failures

A fantastic, must read article in this month's Atlantic details the ineptitude of the our military leadership during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

I've been talking about this for years now - how is it possible the "most powerful" army on the planet can't achieve a decisive victory over remnants of Saddam's pathetic regime and the rag-tag group of Taliban?

I get the Taliban are tough, but they are also unpopular.  I don't understand how we can't beat them.  This would be like the 49ers playing a close game against Oregon in Eugene.  The 49ers should crush them, not be in a close game.

This article will explain why.  Not a single general has been fired --
In World War II, the firing of a general was seen as a sign that the system was working as planned. Yet now, in the rare instances when it does occur, relief tends to be seen, especially inside the Army, as a sign that the system has somehow failed. Only one high-profile relief occurred during the American invasion of Iraq, and the officer removed was not a general but a Marine colonel. Relief has become so unusual that even this firing made front-page news. 
How did this transformation occur? Why has relief become so rare, and our military leadership rank so sclerotic? The nature of the wars the nation has fought since World War II is one reason. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq were all small, ambiguous, increasingly unpopular wars, and in each, success was harder to define than it was in World War II. Firing generals seemed to send a signal to the public that the war was going poorly. But that is only a partial explanation. 
Changes in our broader society are also to blame. During the 1950s, the military, like much of the nation, became more “corporate”—less tolerant of the maverick and more likely to favor conformist “organization men.” As a large, bureaucratized national-security establishment developed to wage the Cold War, the nation’s generals also began acting less like stewards of a profession, responsible to the public at large, and more like members of a guild, looking out primarily for their own interests.
Indeed.  You hear a lot of people talking about how something is wrong with America.  America is on the wrong track.  This is it!  This is why we are on the wrong track.  We've become a nation of middle managers.  We don't punish poor performance and we don't reward good performance enough.  Look at industries where failure is the norm and success is rewarded.  Sports franchises.  Silicon Valley.  Even Hollywood to a degree (although there is a lot of failing upwards, there is also a lot of cut throat competition -- I think there is a mixture of both things).  These industries generally succeed and are healthy.

Failure should not be feared.  We must continually try and fail at all endeavours until we don't anymore. And that is success.  Success is not showing up.  Success is getting up after failing.  Just thinking about all this crap sickens me - the waste of time and energy and money we've put behind these fricking losers.  Reading about how Franks approached the Iraq and Afghanistan wars -- I mean -- it's ludicrous.  There must be 100 people out there would could have done a better job.  Think about the effect of this ineptitude on nations and history.  Good lord.

Coming up:  I'm going to be writing something new on the Iraq War and War on Terror, looking back and evaluating how we are still misthinking about these projects.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Free 5 Minutes? Enjoy.

TV:  Homeland Season 2 Ep 1-5

The show is watchable and gets away with some pretty ridiculous plot scenarios.  There are groan worthy moments, but I still look forward to watching.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Lena Dunham is plagiarizing for Obama.

This man is losing himself the election.

Film:  Some Kind of Wonderful

I've seen this film in bits and pieces multiple times over the years, but I'm not sure I ever watched it straight through without commercials.  Did Mary Stuart Masterson get an Oscar nomination?  (A quick look up reveals she did not.  Mistake.)

A strange detail - the father discovers at one point the T-bill rate has been bumped up from 6.25% to 7%.  7%!  I believe the rate right now is .6%.  Think about that.

Note:  John Ashton plays the father -- yes, Marvin from Midnight Run, and Judge Reinhold's partner in Beverly Hill Cop.  This man deserves more screen time.
Truer Words Never Spoke

A Grantland short film.

"You don't need to do your best more than once."

Hat tip, Aton.
Is New York Secretly Affordable?

Interesting article.  Makes very good points, including this:
For starters, let me say that the data is picking up something real, though I think, not quite what the report implies. New York has almost no middle class in Manhattan, and it's shrinking fast in the rest of the city. But New York is actually a pretty okay place to be poor in a lot of ways. The city offers more subsidies, higher up the income scale, than almost any place else in America. There's a whole lot of subsidized housing of various sorts. There are (if you are lucky, or have lived there a long time) still rent-controlled units around. A full third of New York City's citizens are on Medicaid. And there are various other means-tested assistance programs for people whose incomes would make them middle class anywhere else. People a little higher up the socioeconomic ladder do not ever see this social-service-assisted world, because they're not eligible for it (or wouldn't dream of applying). But there are a fair number of poor families in Manhattan living in more space than, say, a couple of book editors in Brooklyn.
Sounds like a terrible model for a society.
Funny Headline

Jennings to have surgery on his groin.
Stagnant Markets...

...means you should save more, not less.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Verlandar Buzzsaw Broken

By the time I turned on the game it was 6-1 or so.  Lincecum was pitching.  Game over.  I guess the A's  tired out Verlander for the Giants.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


On the unlikely sustainability of fiscal 1990s Japan.  Seems he has an opposite prescription  for America today.
Interesting Perspective

Sowell criticizes Obama for taking credit on the Bin Laden raid, amongst other things.
Osama bin Laden was by no means the first man to plan a surprise attack on America and later be killed. Japan's Admiral Yamamoto planned the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II, and he was later tracked down and shot down in a plane that was carrying him. Nobody tried to depict President Franklin D. Roosevelt as some kind of hero for having simply authorized the killing of Yamamoto. In that case, the only hero who was publicized was the man who shot down the plane that Yamamoto was in. Yet the killing of Osama bin Laden has been depicted as some kind of act of courage by President Obama. After bin Laden was located, why would any President not give the go-ahead to get him? That took no courage at all. It would have been far more dangerous politically for Obama not to have given the go-ahead. Moreover, Obama hedged his bets by authorizing the admiral in charge of the operation to proceed only under various conditions.

Film:  High School by Frederick Wiseman

The famous 1968 documentary about high school in the cinema verite style.  I thought it was excellent. At the time, I guess people were sensitive about how it portrayed high school as authoritarian and socially problematic.  I didn't see it.  I saw educators working hard to shape young minds and build solid character.  I guess I'm getting old.

Film:  Dawn of the Dead

Watched at the cemetery.  Not the greatest of all places to see a movie, but this was a fun one to watch with the crowd.  Didn't fall in love, nor do I need to see it again, but glad I saw it.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Verlander Buzzsaw

The Giants are actually in a good position against the Tigers.  They'll throw Zito or one of their worst pitchers against Verlander, thus not wasting one of their best starters pitchers.  Let Cain and Vogelsong match up against Detroit's 2 and 3 and try to win those 4 games.  I actually don't know why teams don't try this tactic in the playoffs more often, especially if the other team has a big number 1 starter.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Go find a job, boy!  Earn some money!

Funny little cartoon.  Hat tip, C.  I remember when I was younger, the attitude about finding a job - and we're talking about minimum wage, teenager, college-student type of jobs - was if you put in the effort, you could find something.  If you could not get a job the perception was you weren't trying hard enough.  Today, however, it seems like the lack of having a job or a good job, often gets blamed on failures of the government or some natural unfairness in the system.  You see this routinely in the rhetoric around the Presidential debate - Romney is running the platform that he will bring more jobs to the country.  And the first question of the last debate was a college kid asking how he was going to find a job when he graduated (a question Romney spoke on for 2 minutes without saying a single thing).

I wonder if something has changed culturally, if the system somehow is genuinely failing, or the recession is a natural cycle and just part of capitalism.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Niners

I only watched the 4th quarter, but I was generally happy with the victory.  I'll definitely take a victory over the dangerous Seahawks on a Thursday night.  People are going to gang up on Alex Smith, but I'm not worried about him.  Maybe we won't win a Super Bowl with him, but I think we can.  Smith fits in really well with how our team is constructed.  Sure, there are a few elite QBs out there, but in the absence of one of those elite, I can't picture a better fit for the Niners than Smith.

Some things to think about:  Smith sprained his finger.  Everyone says it is fine, but his downhill play these last two weeks came after the injury.  I imagine this has something to do it.  In the past, Smith has played through injury and generally done poorly during those stretches.  It isn't all "coaching and confidence."  Sometimes these dudes are hurt and trying to do too much.  At the QB level, the tiniest things will make a difference.

Play calling and situations.  During the Giant's game, the play calling was terrible.  They got Smith out of a rhythm by bringing in Kaepernack too much.  They didn't switch up the calls and fool the Giants like we did against other teams.  We became too predictable and gimmicky.

We did the same against the Seahawks last night, except the Seahawks couldn't do anything on offense.  For instance, we were inside the 10 yard line with the game at 10-6 and ran three run plays before settling for a field goal.  Later, we got the ball up 13-6 with 2 plus minutes to play and ran the ball three times before punting back to Seattle.

In both of these cases, I thought we should have thrown the ball on 2nd down.  I know on a possession before, Smith had thrown an INT in the end zone.  We didn't want a repeat.  I get it.  And we ended up winning anyway.  I just think you gotta go for the jugular when you have the chance and when the other team expects the run.  Any time you become one-dimensional, you become weak.  I guess my point is that I trust Smith to make this kind of play.  I don't trust him to convert 3rd and longs.  But on 2nd and longs with the opponent gearing up to stop the run, he can be dangerous.

I suppose I shouldn't argue with success.  The Niners played it safe and still won.  The Seahawks might have the best secondary in the NFL and our passing game is our weak spot.  Wilson could do nothing all night, so just holding the lead and giving them bad field position proved smart.

But if we flip this logic and look back on the Giant's game.  We lost that game in the 1st quarter when we only put up 3 points despite dominating the quarter.  We missed a field goal and were unable to get in the end zone early.  Had we been up 10-0 or 14-0 in the first, that game is totally different.  We force the Giant's to play catch up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Obama's Way

A Michael Lewis article on how Obama does his job.

Lewis is the best there is at what he does.  And the article reminds me of the appeal of Obama - he actually seems like a good guy - not some strange political animal.  Sadly, this aspect of his persona may make him a bad president or at least perceived to be.

Hat tip, C.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Is Sanchez The Worst QB in the League?

This statistic suggests so:

Since the start of the 2008 season, no quarterback has cost his team more net points than Sanchez, if replaced by a league-average quarterback. Sanchez has been worth minus-75.0 points to the Jets over the course of his career -- worse than JaMarcus Russell, Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen, et al.
Yowza! Tebow Time!

Is that Werner Herzog playing a bad guy in the new Tom Cruise movie?

Sweeden comes back from 4-0 deficit to tie Germany 4-4 in World Cup Qualifying.

Never heard of anything like it.  Especially against Germany.

Numbers reveal a sledgehammer to kill a gnat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Watching the debate on DVR.  Weird detail at beginning - they did a split screen while Romney was talking and turning and speaking directly to Obama, but they switched their positions on the split screen.  This made it look like Romney was looking screen right while Obama was screen left.  This is a disorienting view and confusing and not representative of their physical positions.  Right wingers could say this is a conspiracy to make Romney look like a weirdo.

Content-wise, I can barely listen to these guys.  They don't answer the questions and they mug with false seriousness.  Boring people.

Film:  Some Like It Hot

Rewatch.  Surprised how long it takes the guys to get dressed up like women.  Also surprised how many characters are introduced prior to Lemmon and Curtis.  The reason this movie is considered the greatest comedy of all time is the 2nd and 3rd acts, which are pure genius.  The movie becomes great in the sequence when Curtis takes Marilyn to the boat and Lemmon goes on his date with the millionaire.  When Lemmon decides he is going to marry the millionaire for
Taking One For the Team

Clinton tries to take one for the team on the Benghazi attack.  They all want to keep their jobs, after all.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Numbers Don't Lie

Reading an article about the failure of the 401k experiment.  The "number" they say you need for retirement is 20x your annual income to have the same standard of living.  Think about that number for a moment.  Most people work for 30 years and that may be generous.  People take time off to have kids, attend grad school, to start a business, switch careers, or they work in lower wage jobs to gain experience, get forced into early retirement, any number of things.  So I think 30 years is a generous estimate.  How does one save 20x your annual income by working for 30 years?  By saving 2/3 of every paycheck.  This is so beyond impossible for most people - even most well to do people - it is almost laughable.  So what are people relying upon?  Inheritance?  The lottery?  Their house?

Whoever came up with the 401k idea has a lot of explaining to do.  It put all the downside risk on the shoulders of individuals as opposed to corporations and institutions and enriched many a scheming financial advisor.  It stinks of the Bill Clinton-adopts-Reagan-era Republican ideas, 3rd way nonsense.
Problem For Obama

To a swing voter, a sober look may reveal, in fact, the Democrats will do a better job governing than Republicans.  This is what Democrats are counting on - that ultimately the American people will decide they can do a better job than Republicans.  The Dems don't have a vision.  They don't have a cause other than the platitudes developed in the 1960s made more modern and workable by the Clintons.  But the problem:  Obama isn't a sober, solid candidate.  He is the dreamy, glamorous candidate and needs to run on a dreamy, glamourous platform.  This is the problem and why I think Romney will win.

How Amazon and Walmart are stepping into financial services and lending.  The article concludes the bank bailout was unnecessary and is stalling economic recovery.

I've always suspect the bank bailout was a bit of bullshit.  What was the big deal of letting them fail?  Someone else would step in and provide banking services cheaper and better and buy the old banks for rock bottom prices.  Same with underwater mortgages.  Those with money should buy up property at the low values.  Value-seekers could have made a killing.  That's capitalism.
More On Libya

Enough poor performance to go around - the White House, the Press.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Film:  Foul Play

This is one of the more bizarro films I've seen in recent years.  The tone of comedy-thriller is so goofy, I wasn't sure what to make of it.  I liked the set up a lot and then it became a bad Hitchcock/DePalma homage until: the Dudley Moore scene happens.  One of the funniest single scene, stand out performances in the middle of an otherwise middling movie.  He ends up being in a total of 3-4 scenes in the entire movie and basically makes the movie worth watching for him alone.  I should also mention Goldie Hawn is delightful and it makes me cringe to look at this.

What is wrong with Akers?  He's been terrible this year.  2 missed field goals is the difference between being down 10-9, but instead being 10-3.

Bigger issue:  Coughlin outcoaching Harbaugh.  Better game plan - attacking Niner secondary deep.  Don't understand why we aren't getting pass rush.  That said, a couple of executed plays are the difference. 3rd and long, Giants complete a big pass.  Alex Smith on deep balls - interception and just barely missed by Manningham.

This is a good match up and the Niners can still win, but we do not dominate the Giants like we are able to do against other teams.  Giants play to the level of the opponent and they've got good receivers.
Making vs. Taking

Tyler Cowen in the NY Times.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Film:  Argo

It's good.  Won't surprise me if it gets Oscar nominations, etc.  Gets a lot right, particularly in the 1st half.  Don't love it, though, but will begrudgingly admit Affleck is getting better as a director.  Runs into a tricky situation in the last 1/2 to a 1/3 where they're just making up crap to make it seem thrilling. Come on - getting through customs really isn't that dramatic with or without fake papers.  People will laud it as an old school Pakula-esque thriller.  For my money, Michael Clayton was better.
The A's

We ran into the Verlander buzzsaw last night and could not continue the mojo.  It was unfortunate the umpire was giving Verlander calls 4 inches off the plate, as if the best pitcher in baseball needed the benefit of the doubt.  But let's face it - the guy is awesome.  He throws pitches that are laughably unhittable at times.

The substory of the game - and series - was baserunning.  Norris couldn't throw anyone out all series.  Maybe Parker couldn't hold runners on, but it was pathetic.  On the flipside, Moss gets thrown out at 2nd trying to steal on a ball in the dirt early on in the game when Verlander was on fire.  I don't see how the A's can give up outs like that.  If the A's didn't have the miracle comeback the night before, the story was going to be Drew getting thrown out going for a triple with no outs and the heart of the order coming up.  Stupid.

When the Tigers finally erupted in the 7th, it was a string of bad luck and mini-meltdowns by a young team.  With Verlander on the mound up 6 runs, you knew there was little mojo could do to bring it back.

These best of 5 series are tough when the other team has the best starting pitcher.  But oh well, an awesome season and still a lot of fun.

Cespedes is my favorite A's player.  Norris is my least favorite.  The guy can't hit and can't play defense.  Remind me why we traded Suzuki to give this guy a shot?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What A Game - A's - Tigers - Game 4

Jim Leyland said it best "That's why it's the greatest game of all."  What a freaking baseball game.  Scherzer looked unhittable for awhile.  Drew made a huge mistake of going for a triple and getting thrown out with the heart of the order coming up and no outs.  I thought we were done.  Then 9th inning magic.  What can you say?  Now we need to face the best pitcher in baseball, but Oakland is rocking and we have the momentum.  You get to the postseason to face the best.  Bring on Verlander.
All Things Counterterrorism

An interesting perspective on counter-terrorism from one of the folks from the now defunct counter-terrorism blog.

On one of the problems of extrajudicial killing:

...I wonder if those who think this is a victory (and those supporting the strategy of extrajudicial killings more generally) have given ample thought to the fact that he along with others who have been assassinated were actually a moderating force within a far more virulent current that has taken hold in the milieu. And yes, given his teachings I do note a certain irony in this, but sadly, it’s true. What is coming next is a generation whose ideological positions are more virulent and who owing to the removal of older figures with clout, are less likely to be amenable to restraining their actions. And contrary to popular belief, actions have been restrained. Attacks have thus far been used strategically rather than indiscriminately. Just take a look at AQ’s history and its documents and this is blatantly clear. In the years to come, owing to this generation being killed off, this type of restraint will disappear; in fact it is clearly already heading in this direction. A significant part of this change is directly attributable to the counter terrorism strategies being employed today. I’m working on a more detailed, research driven piece on this. But in the meantime, the best way of summing up the consequences of a strategy of killing off leadership instead of using a criminal justice approach lies with what happened in a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa many years ago. A culling program was implemented to kill off all the older generation elephants owing to overcrowding. Juveniles were spared. However, without the presence of the older elephants they then proceeded to go on rampages, killing other animals and causing such havoc that the rangers thought they’d have to cull them too. Until that is, someone chanced upon the idea of bringing in older elephants from another wildlife park, who ended up bringing the juveniles into line and enforcing discipline, something that had been missing since the cull of the older generation.

Do You Believe in Magic?

Bring on Verlander.

Turns out there was no protest outside the US Embassy in Libya at all.

So why did Susan Rice and Obama go on record as saying the whole thing was a spontaneous reaction to the video?

It had nothing to do with the video.  It was a pre-planned attack.

The one job of the US government we can all agree upon is to keep our citizens safe -- especially our citizens out on the front lines of diplomacy, our Ambassadors.  This is a major fuck up.
Bowman and Willis

Matt Millen thinks they are best linebacking combo in 30 years.

Not to get ahead of myself, but a Niners/Pats Super Bowl would be a hell of a match up.  The best head coaches in football, the Pats Tight Ends vs. Niners Linebackers.  Passing vs. Running.  Old school.
Aye, Yi, Yi

More on the Libya debacle.

Whereas many claimed Bush lied about the work up to the Iraq war, I think most reasonable people can agree he was misinformed, and didn't lie on purpose.  Most everyone thought the Iraqis had WMDs, even those against the war.

But what happened at the embassy in Libya appears to be a legitimate lie for political purposes.  Worrisome.  If I were Romney, I'd hit this story really hard.  Along with healthcare, it shows Obama is too set in his beliefs/ideology and not nimble enough to deal with events on the ground, ie the recession and the reality of the WoT.

Film:  Grumpy Old Men

I remember wanting to see this movie when I was young, which is strange, but I guess as a 12 year old maybe it looked funny?  I don't know.

I wonder if Kevin Pollack thought he should have played George Costanza.  He obviously wouldn't have been better than Jason Alexander, but I'm curious if he thought he could do the role.

Affirmative action is "racial justice on the cheap."  Damning:

Bottom line: Race conscious policies consciously discriminate against non-minorities based on their race (regardless of their income), disproportionately help out upper income minorities, and do little/nothing to help lower income minorities– all in the name of achieving “diversity” while simultaneously keeping SAT scores up. “Equal” protection of the laws? Give me a break.

In my high school, all the kids knew affirmative action was BS. Many of the more well-to-do folks were able to claim some minority status, while many of the less-advantaged kids were just white-bread. This isn't ideological, it's more an issue of common sense.
The Bernie Lean!

This is one of the weirdo music/fan videos I can remember.

Go A's.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Tebow Time

I'm no fan of Tebow.  I wouldn't want him on my team.  I wouldn't bet on him.  All that said, it was painfully obvious the Jets needed to play him last night.  He was going to score a TD when they had it in the red zone.  You could just see it.  He was incredibly pumped.  He wanted to play.  He was going to will it.  And then, down 6 points with 3 minutes left in the game.  Your offense has scored 1 TD in like 3 games.  Why not give the ball over to Tebow?  It at least would have been interesting.  Even on football and non-religious grounds.  How do the Texans defend?  They can't give up the deep pass at that point, so Tebow runs and does short passes and marches up the field and at least you get a shot at the end zone.  With Sanchez, you get nothing, but a high probability at an interception.  If you've got nothing else, I think Tebow is a good option.  The Jets certainly have nothing else, except Joe McKnight...

Monday, October 08, 2012

The "Elite"

Interesting looking book and passages on how elite high school kids view themselves.
At every stage in a student’s education a sense of triumph over adversity is fostered (despite graduation already being a foregone conclusion – barely anyone fails out). And this sense of triumph extends far beyond the bounds of St. Paul’s. Students perceive one another as being not just above average but world-class, an illusion that is reinforced by a procession of prominent visiting speakers and class trips to prestigious locations. Every St. Paul’s athlete was considered a potential Olympian; Mr Khan’s own pupils assumed he would one day win a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.
You could lose the sense of entitlement and triumph by getting the kid in the ring with a trained boxer his/her same age. Or just letting them enter the real world.
Tebow Time!

When Tebow goes in, there is a huge surge of energy - the only energy provided by their offense.  Imagine if Tebow just refused to come out.  What would happen?  Could Rex Ryan stand up to God?
Side Projects

The benefits of side projects.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


A's are playing nervous.  But hell, they're facing Verlander and Cabrera and company.
Cooking the Books

Jack Welch thinks the Obama guys cooked the books on the employment numbers last month.

I've seen The Wire and I believe it, too.
The Joy of the A's

A love letter to A's.  I got into baseball the same way as this guy - reading box scores and listening on the radio.  I started liking the A's when they sucked - and it never made any sense.  My favorite player was this lefty right fielder named Mike Davis, a guy who was like a career .270 nobody.  It defied logic.  I remember the first of the Billy Beane years when I would diligently compare the A's to the Yankees on paper.  We had Giambi. Tejada, Dye, Chavez, Huddy, Foulke, Mulder, Zito...I would always come out thinking - we have a shot.  We're not "better," but we have a shot.  Even the Milton Bradley, Frank Thomas year, it seemed like we could kinda match up on paper.

This year is different.  We don't match up on paper.  We don't even care about paper.  We just play and it's all gravy.  It's unlike anything I've ever seen before.  Logic is out the window.  This is magic.  This is baseball how you play as a kid in the 12 year old leagues where you don't think about sabermetrics or salary caps or tv contracts.  Enjoy it while you can, it don't last.
A Review

At Taken 2 last night, I saw a big card board review of "The Master" from A.O. Scott.  The words "camera movements that elicit an involuntary gasp, passages in Jonny Greenwood’s score that raise the hair on the back of your neck, feats of acting that defy comprehension" were bolded and highlighted.

"Poseur" was my involuntary reaction to this review.  And what a shameful melding of movie review and movie marketing -- a wholly disingenuous game of both Mr. Scott and PTA's complicity in it.  One of our most talented filmmakers making movies for the reviews.  Ugh.

I just read the actual review this morning and it isn't as I imagined.  He ends with a solid point:
All of this striving — absurd, tragic, grotesque and beautiful — can feel like too much. “The Master” is wild and enormous, its scale almost commensurate with Lancaster Dodd’s hubris and its soul nearly as restless as Freddie Quell’s. It is a movie about the lure and folly of greatness that comes as close as anything I’ve seen recently to being a great movie. There will be skeptics, but the cult is already forming. Count me in.
He fails to mention the lacking narrative, but makes the most important point:  to enjoy this film, one must consent to the logic of cult - and blindly, faithfully, believe there is something at the core of what PTA is trying to accomplish.  AO is in and I am, thank god, out.

$5 a Gallon of Gas

Is here, in California.  If Bush were Prez...oh you know what I'm going to say.
Were Not There
FEARS PERSIST AMONG VENEZUELAN VOTERS AHEAD OF ELECTION: Hugo Chávez, a polarizing president who has led Venezuela for nearly 14 years, has many advantages over the opposition candidate trying to unseat him on Sunday, from the airwaves he controls to the government largess he doles out with abandon. But one especially potent weapon in Mr. Chávez’s arsenal is what might be called the fear factor. Many Venezuelans who are eager to send Mr. Chávez packing, fed up with the country’s lackluster economy and rampant crime, are nonetheless anxious that voting against the president could mean being fired from a government job, losing a government-built home or being cut off from social welfare benefits.
But this is why a big government is problematic.

Film:  Midnight Run

I watched the whole thing.  When someone from the movie biz passes away, I like to think back on what 3 movies I'd watch to commemorate them.  With DeNiro, it'll be tricky because he has so many good movies AND so many bad movies.  Obviously I don't want to remember him from Righteous Kill, but I also don't think his career should be exclusively remembered as his work with Scorcese.  Here's what I think right now (and I realize the man is still alive):

Taxi Driver
Midnight Run

There's Mean Streets and Raging Bull, but I think Taxi Driver is the movie DeNiro owns and is the most quintessential.  Midnight Run is his best comedy - by far.  If someone even bothers to mention Meet the Parents, I'm going to punch them in the mouth.  But there ought to be an acknowledgement of his comedy leanings in any DeNiro restrospective.  And then Heat, which is a tough choice with Goodfellas, Casino, and even Ronin as a random good performance, but Heat is probably the most interesting and I believe, one of DeNiro's own favorite movies.

The odd movie out is Deer Hunter and I suppose you could do a respectable - Taxi Driver, Deer Hunter, Goodfellas type of choice.  But even in mentioning that, Goodfellas isn't exactly DeNiro's movie (and in a way, neither is Mean Streets or Raging Bull).

Film:  Taken 2

Not as good as the first one, but a serviceable, inoffensive sequel.  When Liam Neeson started kicking ass again, I was like -- oh yeah -- this is why the first film was so much fun.  Luc Besson is doing something interesting out of Paris - just cranking out genre films one after another - you almost forgot until you look at the recent list - the Taken movies, the Transporter movies, Columbiana, Lockout, and there are about 10-12 more.

Friday, October 05, 2012

I'm Mosely!

Watching a little bit of Midnight Run this afternoon.  Boy, what a movie.  Almost can't stop watching.

"His real name is Mosely."
"I'm Mosely!"
Gas and Food

I don't think I'm the only one to notice - the prices of gas and food have leapt in the past year.  I noticed a box of strawberries yesterday cost $6.  Yikes!  Filled my tank the other day - $60!

Inflation is here.

If Bush were President, this would be his fault.
A Crock of Shit, Is What It Is

Falling unemployment rate...The Economist calls B.S.

Everyone knows the unemployment rate is being gamed.
"Green" Energy

Investments in solar are bankrupting China.  And the democrats want to follow in their footsteps?

If there was true promise in these ideas, the venture capitalists would be jumping all over it.  Ever looked at the value of Exxon?  There's a lot of money to be made in energy.

Thursday, October 04, 2012


Film:  The Master

This movie is all craft and no story.  So if you like that sort of thing, bravura.  If you're like me, you'll be bored and waiting for the movie to be over.  The only thing I read/heard about The Master prior to watching was the Moviegoers podcast and obviously, in waiting this long to see it, I wasn't all that excited.

I feel like during the downtime on set (of which I'm sure there was a lot to figure out those camera set ups and perfect light) many of the actors were practicing their Oscar speeches and what to wear on the film festival circuit.  It reeked of wanting critical praise and love from cinephiles.  A Freudian might interpret Philip Hoffman as a PTA surrogate and his film fans as Joaquin Phoenix.  Imagine being in a room full of fans of this film and talking shit - you'd get apples tossed and and wrestled into a headlock for questioning what their Master is trying to do.

Look - I'm just not a fan of these cryptic films (or books or music for that matter).  Does no one understand how much easier it is to tell a story this way -- when one isn't beholden to plot, logic, pacing, or keeping the audience engaged with story?  It just becomes the whims of the director.  And to quote Landry from Friday Night Lights, "he's just making this up as he goes along."  So if you like that sort of thing - there is plenty of films out there for you right now.  But my one bone of contention with what Brower and Phil brought up in the podcast is - we must not blindly support or praise PTA or Malick or other filmmakers who make grand cinematic projects with incoherent (or just bad) stories - simply because they are NOT studio fare (ie Resident Evil 6, etc, etc).  This is a reactionary impulse and amounts to celebrating a film for what it is NOT versus what it IS.  I'd rather not go down that road.  And whatever - PTA and Malick can make lousy films.  Since when did their skin get so thin?  Since when do they need praise?  If their heart is in the right place and these are films and stories they need to tell, they shouldn't care about what the reaction is.  After all, the Thetans will be watching it in 1 billion years and probably think it is the only film of our era worth remembering.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012


TV:  Presidential Debate #1

Boring.  Next time around, must add a drinking game.  People say Romney won.  I knew he would win before the debate -- his job is easier.  He just needs to occupy the same stage and not look like an idiot.  He can be aggressive.

I don't feel like they talk about or address the important issues.  The most clear moment, I thought, was dissecting Obamacare.  Neither has a plan to add jobs to the economy or to reverse the trend of the hollowing out of the American middle class.
The A's - Holy Crap

The A's just won the AL West with a sweep of the Rangers.  This is totally ridiculous.  Between the Niners ascent from nowhere last year and this - these have to be the two most improbably "good" Bay Area teams in recent memory.  Even the Giant's winning the World Series made some sense with their pitching.  This A's team starts 4 rookies.  They play so incredibly loose - they play so carefree, it is amazing.  I wouldn't want to play them.
Tebow Time!

My favorite bit in the BS report podcast this week - Simmons and Sal speculate Santonio Holmes was so terrified of being hit by the 49ers defense, he injured himself trying to brace for the hit.
What Are These People Doing?

The Administration knew within hours there were AQ elements involved in the Libyan Ambassador murder, but spent 9 days all misleading the public about it.  Why?

The irony of Watergate was that Nixon didn't even need the break-in to win the election, but his own paranoid delusions lead to his downfall.  What is this administration trying to hide from us?  I can only hope it is a source inside AQ -- but I count that highly unlikely.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012


Film: Looper

Pretty impressive first act and then the movie veers out of control.  Briefly regained only to spin out into some pretty random and nonsensical stuff, if you ask me.  I felt sleepy in the theater.  But the new Bond movie trailer looked pretty awesome.

On the illiberalism of the modern liberal.
“It is difficult now to imagine a modern university intellectual saying something as simple and unequivocal as ‘I disagree with what you say, but I defend to the death your right to say it,’’ Theodore Dalrymple writes. He would be more likely to think, if not actually to say out loud or in public, ‘I disagree with what you say and therefore rationalise to the death my right to suppress it.’”
These folks really aren't liberals, they're just glad to be part of the democrats team and like their own narrow beliefs validated.
Lena Dunham Book

I'm sure she will be praised for being gutsy and brave and a good writer.  She strikes me as equally brave to Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Hat tip, Chuck.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Is it 1989?

The A's and the Giant's are playoff bound.  The Niners are one of the best teams in the NFL.  The Bay Area is back, baby!

Film:  Klown

Very enjoyable.  Filmmakers are fans of Sideways, Bad Santa, and The Hangover and take the raunch to a whole other level.
Alex Smith

Watching Tony Romo tonight for a little bit makes me thankful for Alex Smith.  I don't think those string of words have ever been written anywhere - thankful for Alex Smith.  It got me thinking:  if I'm the 49ers, who would I rather have behind center?  Many QBs are great because they fit the system and/or team - Brady, Roethlisberger are the best examples.  Others would be great wherever they went - Peyton Manning, John Elway.

So...given the unique make-up of the 49ers at this moment, which QBs would I prefer to Alex Smith?

Group A - No Brainers

Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Eli, Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers

Group B - The Prodigies

RG3, Andrew Luck

Group C - I'm Listening (but not a done deal)

Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, Matt Stafford, Big Ben, Sam Bradford

Group D - Maybe They Are Better, But If I'm the Niners, I'm Not Doing a 1 for 1 Trade

Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Joe Flacco

Group E - No Thanks

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannahill, Josh Johnson, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponderer, Weedon, Sanchez, Matt Cassell, Carson Palmer, Russell Wilson, Kevin Kolb

Group F - Haven't Seen, But No Thanks

Jake Locker

The No Brainers are the only obvious group.  Organizationally, you'd have to invest in Luck or RG3 if given the opportunity, but I don't think they'd necessarily give the Niners a better chance to win this year or next year.  Group C are all big maybes.  Arguments could be made both ways.  Would Cam Newton be that much better for the Niners?  I'm not sure.  I'd have my doubts about Cutler as well.  I don't know how much longer Big Ben will last - and he doesn't feel like a Niner anyways.  I'm just saying...if you don't have elite, Alex Smith ain't all that bad.
Playing Bold vs. Conservative

Two plays stuck out to me watching football yesterday -- both were "conservative."  Normally, I favor playing bold, which is why I'm a fan of Pete Carroll, Sean Peyton, and Bill Belichick, three coaches willing to make bold play calls.  But yesterday, I think one conservative play call was stupid and the other was smart.  Here they are:

1.  During the Falcons-Carolina game, Carolina had the ball 4 and 1 within about 10 yards of midfield with under 2 minutes to play and up 1 point.  A first down wins the game.  The Falcons are one of the best teams in the league.  Carolina decides to punt and actually ends up downing the ball on the Falcons 1 yard line.  I still did not like this play call.  Too conservative.  I believe, especially when you are the underdog, you still must "play to win."  Carolina was playing "not to lose."  Bill Barnwell outlines the percentages on this play and agrees with me.  But I don't need the percentages.  I try to win by maximizing use of my own teams strengths and minimizing the opponents strengths.  Carolina is good on offense and bad on defense.  The Falcons are stronger on offense than defense.  There is no good reason for Carolina to give the ball back to the Falcons at that point in the game.  I end up being right because the Falcons do drive down and score a field goal.  But I'm not entirely concerned with results, more the process of making the decision.  I still believe Belichick was right going for it on 4th and 3 against Peyton Manning several years ago, even though they lost that one.

2.  Right before halftime of the Niners-Jets game, the Niners had the ball at their 21 yard line with about 15 seconds left up 7-0.  They let the clock run down and tried a field goal, putting them up 10-0 at half rather than going for one shot at the end zone.  A very conservative play call.  But in this case, I thought it was smart for two reasons:  a)  The weakest element of the 49ers game is downfield passing. The odds of scoring a touchdown in 1 play from 20 plus yards for the Niners (emphasis added) is low, and might even be equal to a turnover and/or sack.  and b) the way the Jets offense was playing against the 49ers defense, it was more important to get up 2 scores than to take a 14 point lead.  Being up only one score against any team in any game is scary because there is always the possibility of the freak play - the turnover/score, the kick return, the one long pass.  Being up 2 scores against an offense as shitty as the Jets with a defense as good as the Niners, probably boosted their win percentage to around 90%.

If this were another game, against another team, I would have favored a different approach.  If the Niners were playing Green Bay, the Saints, the Ravens, New England, Atlanta, or basically any top 5 teams, a shot at the end zone might be advisable.  Any team who has a potent offense.  Or even a team who during the game had demonstrated an ability to move the football -- it might be worth going for the  end zone.  In fact, the majority of the time (the percentage play) says to go for the end zone.  But again, I don't care about percentages.  I can about this particular play in this particular moment and I think Harbaugh did absolutely the smart move against the Jets.

Sometimes the conservative play is the smart play.
More Cover Up

The Libyan ambassador story gets even more troubling.
Soon after the terrorist attack that left four Americans dead in Libya, reports began coming in that U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was not only murdered by the Muslim mob, but also sodomized both before and after his death, and his corpse dragged through the streets. This grotesque defilement was willfully suppressed by the mainstream media, who were focused like a laser on a much more horrific story: presidential candidate Mitt Romney talking like a conservative at a fundraiser. Thank goodness that in these difficult times we can count on the media to cover the news we really need to know.
What the hell is going on?  Why is this information not being reported?  It was portrayed for a week as an uncontrollable mob set off by a youtube video.  Now it is coming out that it was a preplanned assassination/torture hate crime Kimberly Pierce would make a movie about.

Shame on the media and shame on Obama administration for not bothering with the truth.  The perps involved need to be found - dead or alive.
More on Perot

Outline of all his policy positions from 1992.

Note this:
-NAFTA is good for investors and bad for jobs. (Jan 1993)
-NAFTA’s main beneficiary: 36 people who own half of Mexico. (Jan 1993)
On the NAFTA debate - if I recall correctly - there was consensus amongst Dems and Republicans and economists that it would be all around good.  Anyone who opposed was a protectionist and backwards looking.  Someone ought to do a study, but it certainly seems evident globalization is destroying middle class jobs.

Iran News Agency Re-Prints Article From The Onion... true news...about white rural voters preferring Ahmadinejad to Obama.

And many liberals are unconcerned with Iran developing nuclear weapons.
It May Seem Strange...

But if you look back to the 1992 Presidential campaign a lot the issues Ross Perot was talking about are the relevant issues of today.  A short primer.

Obviously, Perot was known as a quack and bringing up politically naive and impossible-to-resolve problems.  But if you look at the shape of our present day economic problems, he identifies them 20 years ago, and proposes structural solutions.  This gives me even less confidence in the politicians of today - particularly the way the Clinton's frame the issues.