Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Peter Thiel's Graph of the Year

It speaks for itself.
I Love British Teenagers!
"What we've learned from working with 16-18 year olds in the UK is that Facebook is not just on the slide, it is basically dead and buried," Daniel Miller, professor of material culture at University College London, writes in a blog post. "Mostly they feel embarrassed even to be associated with it."
Income Inequality

Not sure whether it's relevant or silly to discuss income inequality and racial preference with regard to the NBA.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

We're Not As Smart As We Think We Are

That's what Tyler Cowen thinks anyway.

An open letter shaming Leo and Marty for The Wolf of Wall Street. 

This is a tough position.  I'm sympathetic to what the woman is saying and yet, it's a movie.  If you start talking about the victims of real-life stories and glamorization and all this stuff, you'd never make any movies based on real-life stories and boy, would they be boring.  You'd also be without any good crime drama.  We wouldn't have Goodfellas, The Godfather.

That said, I really didn't like The Wolf of Wall Street and cannot understand how it is topping a lot of "best-of" lists.  I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Film:  Labor Day

Yikes.  Jason Reitman makes a bad Lifetime movie.  I fell asleep.  Maybe this is what the Notebook and those kind of movies are like, but I suspect the scenarios are a tad more plausible.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

How Did I Miss This?

Luis Suarez bites Ivanovic.  Boy, that's a pretty strange thing to watch.  I hope Uraguay is in the World Cup.

Arizona beats Seattle.  I can't tell whether this is good or bad for the Niners.  On the one hand, dealing a loss to our archrivals at home is good.  Punctures their balloon (and I believe Seattle is a bubble just waiting to burst with their overly aggressive defense that holds and pass interferes almost every play and their systematic use of major PEDs).  On the other hand, this leaves Arizona in a position to still knock the Niners out of the playoffs and to make the already competitive NFC West even more competitive.  There could be three 11 win teams!  And the Rams are no slouches either - they might even get to .500.

Maybe the best thing out of it is a model to contain Russell Wilson.  I've always thought you need to design a defense to not let him out of the pocket and use the large arms of defensive to cut down his vision and throwing lanes.  I didn't watch the whole game, but whatever Arizona did should be repeated.
Then Why Do You Ask?

A&E and others in the media are super offended by the Duck Dynasty dude who said homosexuality is a sin.  These folks "respect" his right to free speech, but of course, want his job.  They make hand-over-fist money displaying these kooky people and then are offended when he says kooky things.  Really?  And didn't GQ pose the question?  It's not like the guy took a bullhorn in order to make this point, it was asked of him.  Very clumsy and strange.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Interesting discussion on Kobe's contract on the Brian Windhorst podcast with Chuck Klosterman.  Hat tip, Andy.

Klosterman brings up some good points about the state of the NBA and how much talk is centered around the finances and the friendships of the players and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering.  I tend to agree with him that I find all these topics unappealing, yet, a major part of the conversation.  You can thank fantasy sports.

They frame the overall discussion in an interesting way -- and how the NBA is now a players league and the NFL is a management league -- and what that means to whom.  Just an all-in-all interesting talk.

Regarding Kobe's contract - and now he's injured again - I sense most people are just disposed to liking or disliking it based on how they feel about Kobe already.  I'm not a fan and it's been well documented on the blog.  I think the contract is stupid, above all else, gives the Lakers little chance to win in the next couple years.  Whether Kobe deserves the money -- I sort of don't particularly care -- and the question almost doesn't seem all that relevant.  I think Kobe's been a master of self-promotion over the years and has an almost cult-like following.  I think he's the most overrated of the major stars in any sport.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013



Inside Lleywn Davis - enjoyed despite not being sure what it was about.
Saving Mr. Banks - not my cup of tea.
Wolf of Wall Street - never ending.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Niner-Tampa Bay Impressions

Mike Glennon is like Colin Kaepernick without the running ability.  Takes similarly long to read defenses and throw the ball.  Big disadvantage.

Helps to have Crabtree back.  Very nice work on the first touchdown.

Boldin has to be the Niners offensive MVP this year.  He converts a hell of a lot of 3rd downs.

What a letdown at the end of the half.  Could have put the game away, instead allowed a touchdown.

Is Revis good anymore?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Population Questions

1.  What is the third largest country in the world by population?

2.  What country has a larger population - Pakistan or Nigeria?

3.  If Pakistan and India were one country, would it be larger than China?

4.  Does France or Iran have more people?

5.  What country in the Middle East has the most people?

6.  Who has more people Japan or Germany?

7.  Who has more people - Russia or Bangladesh?

Answers in comments.
Practice What You Preach

A bunch of New York professionals are disappointed to learn their health insurance plans are being cancelled and they will pay more in the exchanges.  And they are Obama people.

Uhh...yeah...that's the whole idea of health care reform -- those who can pay more for the sick and the poor.  This is what it means to be a liberal.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pick of the Week

Nine home underdogs in the betting lines this week!  A home dog's dream come true.

I am fascinated by the Niners-Tampa Bay game.  This is a real test of how someone views the world.  In the study of history, the two major schools can basically be broken down into:  1)  Historical Movements or 2)  The Great Man theory.  In the "Historical Movement" school, great big complicated forces move history and men and women are largely products of their time and their actions exist and matter only in the context and relationship to this larger forces at work.  So, for instance, the American Civil War can be viewed as the inevitable clash between the realities of Southern slavery with the values espoused in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence, combined with economic and social forces coming to a head at that particular moment.  In the "Great Man" theory of history, individual people shape history by their choices and actions in a particular moment.  You would view the American Civil War as the result of Lincoln's attitudes toward slavery mixed with his political skill and/or the follies of the Southern Leadership and the conduct of the war more about major choices made by Generals, etc.

The Niners-Tampa game is a classic "trap" game for the Niners.  Coming off a big, emotional win against Seattle, they have to travel cross country for a 10am game against a sneaky good Tampa Bay team.  On the flipside is Harbaugh.  Harbaugh does not lose games against bad teams.  The Niners are rarely unprepared (except, oddly, in the Super Bowl, NFC Championship game last year and against Seattle in Seattle -- although I attribute those to nerves rather than lack of prep).  So...the question is...do you believe in trends (ie trap games) or individuals (Harbaugh's ability to keep his team focused)?

Right now, I lean toward individuals and am picking Harbaugh.

Armond White disses Nebraska.

I enjoyed the film and yet still agree with his review.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Film:  Philomena

Very enjoyable.  I like this scale of film a lot.  But there were only four other people in the theater, so I sense I'm in a minority.  Steve Coogin has a nice little side hustle as an indy filmmaker.  Frears - as always - is steady and reliable.
Why Aren't Americans Moving?

I'd guess because the rents are too damn high and too much of our "wealth" is concentrated in homes.

If you live in a lower-value real estate area, you have little incentive to move to a higher value area, even for a better job opportunity because your standard of living may still drop.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stay Calm and Carry On

Why you are speculating and not investing.

Pretty good article on the insanity of asset prices, zero percent interest rates and why it is all engineered by the Fed.  It's awful hard out there for just a regular old retail investor who wants a calm, steady yield.

My overheard movie-related bits while traveling in Asia:

In disbelief, "You haven't seen Sex in the City 3?  Abu Dhabi!  Hilarious!"

Searching for the title, "...the movie where humans grow tails..." puzzled looks all around.  Finally someone figures it out: "Avatar."  Not how movie buffs would reference it, but how the public thinks of it.
The World

A bunch of lawyers and studios fighting over the money of dead creators and talents.  Parasites.
Generally Speaking, Not A Good Move

Tila Tequila expresses sympathy for Hitler and suspects Paul Walker was murdered.

I've yet to see the "Hitler was misunderstood" move work effectively.  I suppose she wants a little attention, so it works for a moment, but she should have consulted with Lars Von Trier before going on her Facebook rant.  (I'd watch that conversation)

Tia:  Lars, I've been thinking:  Hitler was misunderstood.
Lars:  I sympathize with him in the bunker.
Tia:  Bunker?
Lars:  Who are you?  My did my agents set this up?
Tia:  I'm a myspace star in a Facebook era.
Lars:  I am a filmmaker.
Tia:  We have much in common, then.  I'm thinking of posting a picture of myself dressed as a Nazi outside Auschwitz on Facebook.
Lars:  What's Facebook?
Tia:  I love you.
Lars:  You have an interesting face.  Have you considered acting?
Tia:  I value my privacy too much.
Lars:  You're perfect.  How do you feel about being subjected to abuse?
Tia:  I'm fine with it recreationally.
Lars:  Do you have a problem with pedophilia?
Tia:  On the contrary, I'm in favor of it.
Lars:  Do you really believe in Nazism or is this a ruse?
Tia:  I just don't see what the big deal is -- it's not like anyone got hurt.
Lars:  On second thought, I have a better part for you.  I'm making a film about aliens.
Tia:  Perhaps we could co-write since I've recently been abducted.
Relax, Buddy

An article on the rise of ACL tears.
But here is the thing about ACL tears: They're not just another injury. They are the Godzilla of injuries. They are painful beyond tolerance, they take eons to rehab, and they always leave a lingering doubt in the athlete's mind that he will ever be whole again. An ACL tear tests one's mettle. An ACL tear goes to the very heart of resilience and mental toughness. An ACL tear is the standard against which the athlete himself measures his determination. An ACL tear is the absolute limit.
I've had an ACL tear -- and it is bad, but this description is hyperbolic.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Rent Is Too Damn High

According to a Harvard study.  The three biggest scams/money-sucks running in America today:  housing, college, and healthcare.

Is it just me or are these all places where the Federal government plays an inordinately large role?

Play:  Hamlet

Surprisingly enjoyable.

Saturday, December 07, 2013


Film:  To Rome With Love

Rather enjoyed the Roberto Benigni part.  Would've made a great little stand alone short film.
The Cheapest of Shots

I generally like Wesley Morris and I've yet to see Out of the Furnace.  Judging by the many bad reviews, I expect it won't be good.  But I'm a little sick of this charge made by movie critics:
These vacuous, grim, sometimes grisly movies want to speak to the troubles and fears of our times. But to even have a chance at achieving that, a director ought to care about life as it's lived outside the movies he's seen.
It's a familiar charge by critics and others that the filmmaker hasn't "lived enough" and lives inside only movies.  We've all heard it many times.  It's been lobbed upon every lousy student film by faculty in addition to filmmakers like Tarantino and the Coen Brothers.  I think's it's a bullshit charge because it can apply equally to lousy films and great ones.  I mean, does anyone think a young George Lucas had "lived enough" when he created Star Wars?  I can't imagine the early Coen Brothers were all that experienced in life.  I just think it's an easy thing people say when a film is lousy (or they don't like it) because the charge cannot be refuted or debated.  Oh...you simply live in a world of movies, therefore your movies only reflect other movies...as if the only guy who should direct a film is The Most Interesting Man In the World.

Anyhow, movie critics lobbing this charge strikes me a bit as the pot calling the kettle black.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Best Player on the Niners

Watch Justin Smith on this play.

People talk about Kaepernick, Gore, Crabtree, Davis, Bowman, Willis, Aldon Smith...but for my money, the best player on the field is Justin Smith.  I knew the guy was good, but it didn't become clear to me how good until they played without him for a little bit last year and the defense stunk.  In contrast, when Aldon Smith was out for 4 games this year, the team hardly noticed.

Talent-wise, our two linebackers:  Bowman and Willis are in the same league as Justin Smith, but I simply think Defensive Tackle is a more important position than linebacker, which is why I give the nod to Smith.  Vernon Davis is our most important player on offense and Boldin, probably our most valuable player on offense, but the heart and soul of this team is the defense.  Gore, career-wise, has an argument to be made in his favor, and I love the guy, but in terms of value to the team on a given game -- the Niners are one of the top teams in the league with Smith and simply not one of them without him.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The End Of History Ends

Terrific article on foreign policy.  He understands precisely what Iran, Russia, and China are up to.

Monday, December 02, 2013


Films I watched or partially watched over my honeymoon vacation:

The Wolverine - on plane to Taiwan.  Eh.
Pacific Rim - on plane to Taiwan.  Eh.
The Dark Knight - on plane.  Only watched scenes with Bain.  Enjoyed it in comparison to the other two aforementioned movies.
Thor 2 - was between this and Hunger Games 2 one evening at a random theater.  I think we made the right choice, which is not saying much.
Beyond Beauty -  Taiwan From Above -- I fell asleep many times.  Strange "documentary."
Identity Thief - turned off after 5-10 minutes in the hotel.  Of all the bad movies, this was the worst and most hatable.
Bourne Legacy - turned off after 20 minutes.  Very confusing.  Maybe would have been decent if I stuck with it.
Rust and Bone - I loved it and also wanted it to be over.  Maybe because I was on a torturously long flight home.  Audiard is a filmmaker.  And I suspect he rather likes Michael Mann.  Or the other way around.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow - a Taiwanese film by Arvin Chen, a classmate from film school showing on the plane.  Congrats to Arvin on making a real feature film.  Not my cup of tea in terms of subject matter, but a respectable film.
Grown Ups 2 - the surprise on the list.  I really enjoyed it and had quite a few laughs.  I can see how people may hate this movie if they paid to go see it because they are not really rewarded by any narrative pleasures.  But Sandler doesn't care about narrative, he cares about comic bits and some of them work.  What can I say?  It made me chuckle.  There's no reason to find reasons something sucks if you are enjoying it in the moment.  I'd watch this movie any day over a piece of corporate trash like Identity Thief, which is simply aimed at getting butts in the theater.  At least there is a human being behind Grown Ups -- Sandler -- and I'm guessing he likes his own movie.  There is no way anyone involved with Identity Thief can actually believe in the thing.  There is no love or care put into it at all.  No personality.  No nothing, but a clever marketing conceit.  Grown Ups - sloppy as it may be - is actually about something beyond the comedy - about parents discovering the talents of their children, about blue collar family values and friendships, and about a community.  Frankly, I found the movie refreshingly uncynical.

Sunday, December 01, 2013


Returned from my trip and vegged out watching NFL today.  A few thoughts:

Niners are looking pretty good.  They need to start scoring touchdowns rather than field goals to be elite, but their defense is stronger than last year and with Crabtree back, the passing game has opened up.  Let's see if Joe Staley will be okay - losing a left tackle is a major problem.  Kaepernick is still limited in his understanding of defenses and his progressions, but if we dominate other aspects of the game, we are looking good.  But can we beat Seadderal?

Kansas City has apparently forgot how to rush the passer.  They don't get any pressure on Manning and the Broncos will score 30+ every time if you don't pressure him.  What happened?  It didn't help that their offense dropped about 6 passes, either.  But this team isn't built for shootouts.  They have some decent offensive weapons - Jamal Charles is a top tier back and they have two other running back type weapons - McCluster and Hill (or something) - who are quite good.  They have Bowe, a good possession receiver, and Smith is a good QB.  He was hitting on passes all around the field today, but his guys were dropping too many balls.  He made one costly interception early in the game, but that's not why they lost.  They lost because they couldn't pressure Manning.  They need a tight end and a big play receiver to improve offensively.  But their defense has become a weakness all of a sudden.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Healthcare

I understand getting a business or government run health system would have some natural kinks.  Then again, I figure knowing this, you ought to plan for it and test the system before launching it.  Also, the government already has a system delivering healthcare:  Medicare and Medicaid, so wouldn't you just be able to mimic some of the systems already in place?  Or, flipside, couldn't you just mimic private insurer systems?  Why didn't they hire someone who worked for Kaiser to help implement the new Obamacare system?

I suspect the reason is because the law itself makes no sense.  No one understands it and worse, there are people who pretend to.  The rules, I'm guessing, contradict each other and have all sorts of wonky, unintended consequences.  But, this is what you get when policy is basically wishful thinking.  In some ways, we might have just been better off increasing taxes and then expanding Medicaid to the  uninsured, or offered straight subsidies to the uninsured.  It strikes me the Supreme Court understood the law to be basically this system, but clearly it is written in such a goofy way, no one can make heads or tails of it.

Film:  Lady Vengeance

Yikes, this film was tedious.  Didn't capture any of the sublime moments of Oldboy.  I still hold story idea is a relatively undervalued aspect of filmmaking versus themes and director, especially in critical circles.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Michael Jordan and Ideology

Posing the question "who is the greatest of all-time?" is not a search for truth, but rather a statement of ideology.  The question is reflects a peculiar set of values that privilege "success" and "winning" over honor, sportsmanship, and graciousness.

I grew up rooting for Joe Montana and Magic Johnson and want to write about how their playing styles reflect different - and better - values than Michael Jordan's.  The legacy of Jordan is this new era of sports where athletes are only judged by winning.  The result is widespread use of PEDs, mega-teams created by joining forces with other stars, and pro teams tanking to get higher draft picks.

Film:  The Wild Geese

Filmmaking has come a long way since 1978 (incidentally, the year I was born).  If you can get past the utter cheese and believing the old drunken fart, Richard Burton, is actually running around the bush killing Simbas, the film has some good elements and builds up to an emotional and action packed payoff in the end.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Future, Mr. Gitts, The Future

A rather positive outlook on the future of American work.  Less traffic.  More work from home.  Office space costs plummet.
1. Just as it was once standard for U.S. workers to work a six-day week, Levinson imagines that the workweek will continue to shrink. Every-other Friday off (the 5/4 schedule) becomes standard by 2015; by 2020, the standard schedule becomes a 9 hour day with four days a week in the office and 4 additional hours of checking in from home; by 2025, workers are taking every-other Monday off (the 4/3 schedule); and by 2030, the “flipped” office, like the “flipped” classroom, becomes the norm — i.e., workers do the bulk of their work at home, and they come to the office for “interactive collaboration days.”
Sounds eerily like my present.

First Read

Dilfer -- "take away Kapernick's first read and he's a remedial passer."

For the record, I've been saying Kapernick is way overrated from the beginning.  How many excuses can we possibly make for the guy?  At first, it was he didn't have enough receiving help.  Now, it's well, he's only playing in his 18th game as an NFL Quarterback.  Hey.  Guess what?  The Niners were a Super Bowl contender the last two years.  We weren't in the market for a project quarterback.  We were in the market for a win-now quarterback.

We look way worse now than we did last year or the year before.  So did our window close already?  I think so.  Changing starting quarterbacks from Smith to Kaepernick was a move for a team going nowhere -- not a team competing for the Super Bowl.  All the media folks need to stop making excuses and admit they were wrong.

Smith had earned his shot to compete for a Super Bowl with the Niners and he's proving it (again) with Kansas City.  Who is in better shape right this moment, Chiefs or Niners?  I'd rather be the Chiefs and I don't see more offensive weapons over there.
Monitoring Social Media

Colleges rescind applications after looking up prospective students on social media.  Hat tip, Chuck.

I don't know why people use this stuff.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Film:  12 Years A Slave

Considering all the buzz, a very underwhelming experience.  Purposeless brutality, if you ask me.  Despair upon despair.  The main character isn't always involved with the more interesting dramatic moments and relationships.  I actually found the Patty-Fassbender-and his wife little triangle the most interesting part of the movie perhaps because there was dramatic conflict instead of just people shitting on Chewy Ejiofor.  Anyhow, the race hucksters will get it into the nominations, but will the Academy be fooled?
Eerie Similarity

The lousy Niner-Carolina game reminded me a lot of the Giants-49er playoff game which left everyone concluding we couldn't win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith at quarterback.  What is the fix now?

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Internet Scam

How much does twitter owe you?

And T-Bone Burnett on the same issue:
If somebody had come down from Silicon Valley 30 years ago and said "I've got this new technology, and you're gonna be able to see all around the world, transfer your stuff all over the world, you're gonna be able to send things, you'll be able to see your friends, you'll be able to hear music -- all you have to do is give up your privacy and your royalties," everybody would have said, "Get the f--- out of town! Right now! Get out of here!" Instead, these guys came down with their shtick, and everybody went "Well, how can we make money from this great new technology?" "Oh, you're not gonna make money from it. Everything's gonna be free. Just give us the intellectual property we can send around in our pipes, everybody will subscribe, and then we'll be rich. Not you, though." [Laughs.] "Don't ask us what we're doing with the money. Just make the stuff and send it to us for free." That's how much of a straight-up con it's been. People in Hollywood, we should go up there with pitchforks and torches to Silicon Valley now. Unfortunately, that's [how sophisticated] our response would be -- pitchforks and torches.
Hat tip, Andy.

Hey.  He's right.  I'm sure every middle manager at Apple and Twitter is now a millionaire while Cat Power is broke.

This is cannibalism.  At least the Hollywood studios, stingy and corrupt as they are, pay the actors and filmmakers residuals and royalties.  These internet people take what other people make, turn it into a cheap digital copy, and take $1 and give the creators 5 cents.  Who put in the work to make this stuff?  The struggling musician who worked 10 years to hone their craft or or the kid who took 3 engineering classes at Stanford and knows how make a small sized digital file?

Film:  Oldboy

Really enjoyed this film.  I missed the entire Vengeance trilogy and have for whatever reason never caught up.  It was showing at the New Bev last night, so I caught it.  Goofy, surreal, with some unbelievably awesome moments.  It feels wonkily plotted, until the end it all comes together.  Terrific.
Critical Re-Evaluation of Starship Troopers?

A beginning.  I was a huge fan of this film.  It came out at a time when I wasn't going to a lot of movies, and I dragged people to the theater to see it.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Good Title

I'd like to read this book:  The Antidote.

Looking both east and west, in bulletins from the past and from far afield, Oliver Burkeman introduces us to an unusual group of people who share a single, surprising way of thinking about life. Whether experimental psychologists, terrorism experts, Buddhists, hardheaded business consultants, Greek philosophers, or modern-day gurus, they argue that in our personal lives, and in society at large, it’s our constant effort to be happy that is making us miserable. And that there is an alternative path to happiness and success that involves embracing failure, pessimism, insecurity, and uncertainty—the very things we spend our lives trying to avoid. Thought-provoking, counterintuitive, and ultimately uplifting, The Antidote is the intelligent person’s guide to understanding the much-misunderstood idea of happiness


Reading:  Blood's A Rover by James Ellroy

Man, I really loved American Tabloid, but am having a tough time with the other two.  Ellroy is fun to read and I made it through The Cold Six Thousand just on the fumes from American Tabloid.  Blood's A Rover is suffering from plotting.  I'm 200 pages in and not even sure what these guys are trying to accomplish.  At the moment, they're trying to infiltrate these weak-ass black power organizations and it just feels like super small stakes given the language and power of Ellroy's prose.

I'm having a hard time finding really good big novels.  Started reading this Machado book Philosopher and Dog and it feels like it came from a different writer than the Alienist.  Maybe it is a translator thing.
This is a Real Thing

Tony Dorsett and others showing signs of CTE.
The former Cowboys running back, now 59, said that when he took his Oct. 21 flight from Dallas to Los Angeles for testing, he repeatedly struggled to remember why he was aboard the plane and where he was going.
Such episodes, he said, are commonplace when he travels. Dorsett said he also gets lost when he drives his two youngest daughters, ages 15 and 10, to their soccer and volleyball games. "I've got to take them to places that I've been going to for many, many, many years, and then I don't know how to get there," he said.
The 1976 Heisman Trophy winner and eighth all-time leading NFL rusher said he has trouble controlling his emotions and is prone to outbursts at his wife and daughters. "It's painful, man, for my daughters to say they're scared of me." After a long pause, he tearfully reiterated, "It's painful."
Another guy says he played for years and never was diagnosed for a concussion but probably suffered from 100s of them.  That's right:  100s.  Man, it really surprises me it didn't cross people's minds that suffering all these bell-ringing hits would have some long term consequences even without all the science.  This is a problem with the way "men" handle problems, by not talking about them and being perceived as weak if they do.
The Plot Thickens

Many of the Miami players are defending Incognito and not Martin.  And this former lineman explains the logic behind the various incidents.  And Martin isn't talking.  Also, rumor I heard on the radio was that Miami coaching staff wanted Martin to "toughen up."  All very strange.  Guess I should shut my trap with opinions, until the full story comes to light.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

No Duh

Student loans could delay retirement for young grads.

How many articles can be written about how student loans affect young people's ability to buy homes, save for retirement, or just have money, in general?  The math is so obvious.  Any money spent on loans or interest is money not spent on other things.  And one of the good things to spend money on is investments that accrue interest or value, like homes or retirement savings invested in stock.  Math:

20,000 loan at 5% paid off in 10 years - total price paid: $212.13 per month = $25,455
20,000 investment at 5% in 35 years - total value: $110,320

So while it seems like that 20-25 grand is a reasonable amount, over time the value is really much more.
The End of TV's Golden Age

Normally, I don't agree much with Greenwald, but he is spot-on with his analysis of The Walking Dead being the quintessential show of the moment and the symbol of the end of TVs golden age.

In the 70s, Orsen Welles lamented we were brutalizing the audience.  I can only imagine what he would have thought of this particular Walking Dead sequence which I find emblematic of the show:  a major character needs an amateur c-section to save a baby.  The mother dies and then is murdered to avoid becoming a walker.  The father goes to see the dead mother and finds a zombie with a full stomach, who has obviously eaten the mother.  He kills the zombie and stabs it in the stomach multiple times.  And this is the most popular show on television.  Something is wrong with our society and I'm a freaking fan of violence in movies and tv...but this is just too ridiculous.
The Gentleman Athlete

This article does wax nostalgic for a different type of era and different type of game.  I rather like the overall attitude:
Instead of focusing on creating academic or athletic top dogs, our educational institutions should focus on what Baker valued above all: character. Not only is good character a worthy goal in itself, it has an additional bonus: It can lead to success. Consider the research of Angela Duckworth, a renowned social scientist, who, looking at places like the Chicago public high schools, the military’s West Point, and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, has studied the differences between those who excel and those who do not. She has found that “grit”—the persistent pursuit of a long-term goal—better predicts success than “standardized achievement test scores.” She also finds that self-control, a close cousin of grit, predicts good grades better than raw intelligence does.
That said, like anything else, the gentlemanly aspect of sport can be taken too far and create soft players.
What Kind of World Do We Live In?

I already read Deadline too much as it is, but this will give me an excuse to give it up completely (I surely won't).

Nikki Finke is gone from the site she basically created from scratch, herself.  Literally, this woman created THE SPOT for entertainment reporting and took down Variety and the Hollywood reporter and became one of the most influential people in town.  And look:  I doubt many people are 100% fans.  She's caustic, editorializes, needs constant praise, and has all sorts of annoying qualities.  I don't think she'd be a fun companion to be around.  But she was fun to read and had an earned chip on her shoulder as any person of character might develop by being around Hollywood too much.

The people who run this site ought to be pretty ashamed, right?  I mean, how do they spin this without coming across as carpet-bagging vultures?  They take her creation and are now turning it into online Variety, the exact type of reporting she wanted to toss in the dustbin.  Ugly world.  This is the same thing as Walmart coming to town and forcing all the mom and pop shops to close down.  And the only thing I really hate about this reality is the people involved with Deadline are the types who would criticize Walmart and deny what they've done as the same exact thing.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


Film:  The Counselor

There was no plot.  There were just scenes of people talking.  And I didn't want it to be over.

UPDATE:  As I lay in bed last night, I thought to myself:  Does Cormac McCarthy really believe we are destined for an old testament slaughter?  It strikes me as the organizing principle in his notable works:  No Country, Blood Meridian, The Counselor, The Road (I have yet to read the Border Trilogy).  His stories are sort of centered around this very idea and the violence he displays exists in relation to this brutality.  Or is this old testament stuff just an excuse to get your jollies off lopping people's heads off?
Surprisingly Complicated Pirate Finances

Detailed in this brief article.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Rigging The Numbers

I wish someone had pointed this out before...when you remove car accidents and violent crime from statistics related to life expectancy in the United States, we actually have really good outcomes.  And if you have cancer, you can be expected to live longer.  Basically, using the metric of "broad life expectancy" takes into account factors unrelated to the healthcare system and misled our thinking that our health system is super flawed.

Incognito (how did he get that last name) suspended from Dolphins for bullying, racist taunts, and forcing this dude to pay $15,000 for a trip to Vegas.  I agree with Cowherd on this point:  forcing rookies to pay for big ass dinners and trips is fucked up.  Most of these guys aren't gonna last in the league and the vets know it.  Forcing them to shell our major dough as a hazing process is super shitty.  Good for this Martin kid for saying F-you to the Dolphins and Incognito.  You know this guy can't be too soft - you don't get to the NFL being soft.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Fun

A review claiming The Counselor is the worst film every made...and it makes me want to see it.  Reviews are rarely fun to read.  Maybe at one time, reviews were meant to discriminate for the audience how to spend their time and money.  I no longer read them that way.  I read them now as texts unto themselves, like accessories to outfits.  This is a fun quote:
If you eat dinner at Burger King and the food sucks, it’s disingenuous to get all mad about it. This is more like having Alice Waters and Mario Batali labor in the kitchen for a while and then serve you a gray-green burger on Wonder Bread, with what looks like somebody’s pubic hair stuck to it. But surrounded with whimsical garnishes of fresh herbs.
Narrative Lies

A new book on the Matthew Shepard hate crime case suspects the killing had more to do with a burgeoning crystal meth scene than a hate crime.


And Big Papi winning the World Series MVP.  And everyone knows he's juicing.  What a joke.  I know how we can stop steroids:  you get caught, your career is over.  Kaput.  We lock up 18 year old poor kids in jail for dealing pot, effectively throwing their lives down the toilet and we reward millionaire drug users with MVP trophies, multi-million dollar contracts, and a slap on the wrist and wink, wink, nod, nod.  We're getting to a breaking point with this stuff...I think....
Heath Care

Costs are going up for some people.  But of course they are -- you don't insure the uninsured for free.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World Sloppiness

Casually watching the World Series and the Cardinals just blew a run down play.  Unbelievable.  My high school coach would have us running laps if we blew a rundown.

Blackface for Halloween.
As a black man, I find myself wondering two things. First, why do I need white people to be offended on my behalf? Second and far more importantly, why should I be offended by something as trivial as a Halloween costume?
I’ve never quite understood why blackface should offend me. The act of wearing blackface does not harm me. It does not take something from me. It does not prevent me from acting upon my own judgment. It does not violate my rights. I accept that blackface offends some people. I understand that it may be distasteful. But I’m not sure why academics and journalists are so desperate to snuff blackface out of existence while ignoring or even advocating practices which actually harm black people.
People get offended because you get to feel righteousness without it costing anything.  A win-win.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Horrible Play Calling

Rams on the goal line at the end of a pretty good MNF game -- horrible play call on 4th down.  You have a back up QB and shit receivers and you throw a fade?  Huh?  The fade is for 1st down or if you have Calvin Johnson.

Spread the defense and draw up the middle.  Or pack the box and do a QB rollout with a run/pass option.  Let someone make a play.  That wasn't even close.
Profits Up, Earnings Down

Yep.  Profits are up because firms are cutting the fat and working people too hard.  Revenue is down across the board.  This is bad news.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hard Out There For A Villain

Myanmar's villains are having trouble getting work.

I suppose we all have to agree globalization is good.  And we all need to be nimble and crafty to get work.  But at some point -- shouldn't we even pause to consider -- all the workers and craftsmen and various skilled laborers who lose their livings to the companies who merely aggregate data on the internet?  Can I be skeptical of this system without being a Communist pinko bastard?  I mean, isn't it obvious we are cannibalizing ourselves?


Rams contact Farve to come back.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Do Trades Work in the NFL?

I don't know.  But Tony Gonzalez to the Chiefs is a good idea.  If anyone could come in and fit on a team, it would be Gonzalez.  And the Chiefs are at least one offensive player away from a true Super Bowl contender.  But who knows?  Maybe this only improves them incrementally and in the end, it will still just come down to luck.
Why Are First Born Children Smarter?

Average is Over

Tyler Cowen argues we are headed towards an increasingly stratified economy.  This will spell the end for democracy should it happen.

TV:  Masters of Sex, ep 1 and 2

I really enjoyed the 2nd episode.  I commented after the first episode "this is a girl's show" and I'm probably right.  I imagine the drama running out eventually.  There's only so long you can string us along on this will-they or won't-they type of stuff.  This is why I stopped watching Mad Men.  But that said, I'll keep watching this until I get bored.  The writing and characters and design of the show are quite good.  I actually think I prefer it to Mad Men, at least at the moment, and maybe just because it is something new.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Commenting on The Internet

I have the top rated comment on this internet post.  Should I be worried about myself?  Commenting on the internet?

Monday, October 21, 2013


Film:  Act of Violence

Terrific little noir film.  Robert Ryan.  I'm a fan.  Did anyone ever put he and Sterling Hayden in a movie together playing rivals or brothers?  Seems obvious.
Most Disliked Players in NFL by the Public

The list:

1.  Michael Vick
2.  Manti Teo
3.  Suh
4.  Big Ben
5.  Mark Sanchez

Interesting.  I diverge with the public a bit...I don't mind Vick or Big Ben...I imagine women are driving the dislike of Big Ben because of his sexual assault history.  And Vick -- well -- people love dogs.  Don't mess with dogs if you want to be liked.  The others are interesting because clearly, they are disliked for different reasons.

Teo is disliked because he is weird and foolish.  We don't like that.  Suh is disliked because he is evil and out to hurt people.  We don't like that.  Sanchez is disliked because he is overpraised and receives undeserved accolades.  We don't like that.

Build your own car.

If you lived in a modestly trafficked area, this would be a load of fun.

Kaepernick played great yesterday, even though he threw several risky throws and got bailed out of an interception by a silly roughing the passer call.  That moment changed the game.  But overall, the Niners going into Tennessee and getting a convincing win was impressive.  We are back to our style of football we were playing with Smith at QB and I love it.

Watched some of the Kansas City game as well.  It was not as close as the final score.  The Chiefs got cocky for a moment and Sean Smith let some back up receiver beat him over the top by Case Keenum. You could see this was a moment of taking the foot off the gas pedal for the Chiefs D.  They also fumbled near the goal line when they were about to put the game away and then obviously kneeled it out at the 2 yard line.  I'm saying the game "should" have been 24-16 at least.  But who cares?  They are the only 7-0 team.  If they can manage to split with Denver (who is looking kinda vulnerable, especially on D), they might even take the division, which would be a huge advantage to them in the playoffs.  Certainly, they are benefitting from a pretty easy schedule, but still.  7-0 is no joke, especially given a new coach, QB, and the 2-14 record from last year.  And it's not like any of the wins were exactly "lucky" anyway.  They've basically just beat every team so far.

Is it just me or do Peyton Manning's throws look weak?  It seems like his arm strength has regressed back to last year.  What's up with that?  Still, Denver is the only team that can be down 22 points in the fourth quarter and I'm keeping the TV on because there is a decent chance of a comeback.  Shit, when it was 30-36 and they got the ball back, I was pretty sure they were going to score and then we'd get to see if Luck could drive the Colts back.  Huge bummer about Reggie Wayne.  Right as I saw the play, I knew it was an ACL.  Turf, right?   I hate seeing that.  Can a 34-year old WR return from an ACL to play in the NFL?  Man...I dunno.  Bummer, too because the Colts have become the most interesting team in the NFL - beating Denver, Seattle, and the Niners, but losing to Miami and the Chargers and almost losing to the Raiders.

Who do I like for the Super Bowl at this point?

Buying:  Niners, Saints, Colts, Kansas City, Cincy
Selling:  Denver, New England, Green Bay

Don't really see any other possible contenders...some decent teams, but no one I see winning 3-4 playoff games.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


How older generations rip off the younger.  Several schemes:

1.  Social Security.  People get more money than they put in.  Why do we even have this system?
2.  Low capital gains taxes.  People in their 60s have five times as much wealth as those in their 30s.  All those capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than the folks who are working for income.  The guy has a good proposal to tax capital gains as income and lower the corporate tax rate to zero.
3.  Mortgage interest deduction and any policies designed to help homeowners.  He doesn't mention this one, but every cent you give to a homeowner is a cent out of the pocket of a potential homeowner.  There is no way around this logic and it obviously this benefits those who own homes (ie older generations) against younger one's.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Teenage streaker was going to be charged as an adult sex offender and instead, killed himself.

Who are these prosecutors?  What the hell is wrong with them.

One of my fondest high school memories was a streaker during halftime during a huge soccer game.  One of the funniest moments in all of high school.  Loosen up.

Film:  Sweetwater

A festival western starring January Jones as a vengeful whore killing her husband's murderers.  The film is not good, but it also wasn't totally terrible for a small film.  Ed Harris is in the movie and it is shocking how better he is than everyone else in the film.  If you ever need evidence to support paying actors well, just show people this film and you can picture a world where there are only subpar actors.  No one would watch a thing.
For Real?

Arian Foster is going public and selling shares of his future earnings.

I don't see how this is ever is going to be a good investment.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Enjoy the Decline

The more the government tries to tinker with the lives of of its citizens, the more perverse incentives result.

In screenwriting, a bad fundamental idea always leads to goofy patch-work solutions.  In the case of our healthcare system, there is a fundamental flaw of linking the majority of healthcare to the workplace.  This worked in a specific time in America and is simply no longer relevant to the global economy.  The residue, however, is nearly impossible to politically shake.  A quick understanding of how Singapore created their health system and you'll understand why they spend 10-15% less of their GDP on healthcare and get better outcomes -- basically you are forced to set aside money for your family into a "health plan."  When you go to the doctor, all services cost something.  In addition, the government subsidizes some health services to effect the overall cost (in theory, very smart because some health services are public issues - ie flu shots, other diseases, versus acute issues like broken bones).

And here is an interesting part -- the set aside money can also be used for retirement and housing.

It can easily be said this type of thing can only work in a small country versus a big, diverse one.  But if I'm the state of Oregon or North Carolina -- why do I not consider trying something like this?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Doing Well

People born in the 1930s and 1940s made significantly more money that people born in the 1950s and 1960s.

I'm sure there are many reasons for this, among them, luck.  Should we redistribute?  Why not?

My advice would be to follow the habits of the people from the 30s and 40s.

Novella:  The Alienist by Machado de Assis

In a mere 84 pages, this guy immediately became one of my favorite writers.  I can't believe he was writing in the late 1800s.  His style is incredibly modern.  The little book was part Confederacy of Dunces, part Bolano (Bolano wishes he could write like this guy), part Woody Allen.  Hilarity.  I loved it.

This is the series of novellas recently republished -- all by terrific writers.  Great little project.

TV:  Broadchurch

This was one of the better executed mysteries of the four I've watched recently:  Top of the Lake, The Killing, Prisoners, and Broadchurch.  Somehow, it got more compelling toward the end.  The mystery was only the plot engine, it was really a social examination of small town life in the UK.  I imagine many American audiences will find it a tad boring.  BBC, after all.  But if you like just straight ahead mystery stories, this one does the form quite well.
Not Working

When do they decide and scrap the Obamacare website for another year?

If this was such important legislation, you'd a thunk they could figure out how to make the system work.  This isn't brain surgery.  My car insurance is incredible simple to purchase.  When I get healthcare through my employer, it is just a straight sign up.  Obama is making Republican opposition look prescient - something they can't do for themselves.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Film:  Captain Phillips

I was surprised I didn't enjoy this film more.  It started well and did a clever thing with the first act break, separating the pirate attack into two separate events (this was probably based in reality, not so much cleverness on the filmmakers part).  As a side note, so often "real life stories" are able to do more interesting narrative things since the audience will "buy" odd storytelling techniques because it adheres to real life.  An easy example is bringing in major characters very late into the movie, which Captain Phillips does.  But anyhow, after the movie gets onto the lifeboat, it got repetitive and frankly, a little boring.  Too procedural.  And I couldn't help but a feel like the whole thing was this immense waste of resources.  How about you just put a machine gun or a rocket launcher on the cargo ship to ward off little pirate skiffs?  Do we really need a battleship, an aircraft carrier, and a team of Navy Seals flown in from Virginia to handle four fisherman?

Anyhow, towards the end, I was just hoping the movie was going to end and this is never a good sign.  Although in fairness, it was a late Friday night show and I get tired at that time.

Friday, October 11, 2013

No Longer A Story

Facebook does not allow you to remove yourself from search.  I suppose we just need to come to terms with the idea that all google and facebook searches and information can and will be viewed by those powerful enough to access it.

Book:  David and Goliath:  Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants

Much like his others, the original premise is quite interesting and the book gets progressively less interesting by the end.  Perhaps because the argument is so convincing early on.  To me, it could have been 100 pages just as well as 280.

Film:  Key Largo

John Huston does a hell of job with ensembles.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

25 Best Action Movies Since Die Hard

A pretty damn good list.
Soul Mates

Are made, not found. 

When someone talks of finding a soul mate, I know I'm talking to a moron.

How working women are changing society.
Save Your Cash

"America needs a stock market crash."

In our current climate, it is very possible.  If you are young, the best thing to do is save your cash and buy after it crashes.  If you are old, you should have a significant portion of your money outside of stocks.

I've come around to the idea there are only two ways to smartly buy stocks:  on a regular dollar-cost-averaging basis and/or when they are ridiculously low and you can't possibly lose money in the long run.  All other retail purchases are speculative.  Hoard cash for the once every five to ten years when stocks go super low because that's the only time to buy.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Sure...Why Not...?

Woman marries herself.
"Save Your Money"

My history of jazz teacher in college would tell us everyday as we left class "Save your money!  Save your money!"  One of better lessons I learned.  I guess Curt Schilling didn't take his class.

Poor guy blew every cent he earned playing bball on a video game company.  A video game company!  Jesus.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Waiting Tables

"I remember when you could pay your way through college waiting tables."

Equality of opportunity depends on having a system where someone can get a college degree debt-free if they want to work for it.

Film:  Gravity

A great reason to see 3D IMAX.  Rather enjoy the design of the film - a small genre piece about an astronaut getting home - done as a spectacular formal spectacle.  Is this a film or a ride?  There are certainly a few emotional moments, but the reason you watch the movie is for the shots, the action, the movement of the floating camera.  I can't say the narrative is anything other than a vehicle to deliver the images.  I suppose this is what makes it a good and not great film.  In some ways, it is a technical experiment.  This is not a criticism.  Curon is moving the cinema forward.  He is making a spectacle that is not a stupid comic book for nerds.  A film unquestionably worth seeing in the theater.  Bravo.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Two Nations Under Mammon

But there is currently no major figure in the public sphere that sees with any clarity the deep collusion of the all key players in its construction. So we continue down a road that will give rise to two nations, the winners wringing their hands all the way to the bank, the losers narcotized on a steady diet of cheap and deforming delights.

Vic Fangio jokes quarterbacks should be the ones getting fined for big hits.

In soccer, they are called "hospital balls," when you play a guy a ball that sets him up to go to the  hospital.  I was just watching Bills/Browns and EJ Manual tossed a ball to a receiver going over the middle on 3rd down, just lining him up to be drilled by a linebacker.

These flags on illegal hits are getting ridiculous.  If you have any common sense and watch the speed of the game, you can't possibly expect these guys to make the plays and then pull back on those last 1/2 seconds.  And if your QB throws a dangerous ball, why do you punish the defenders?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013


TV:  Re-watching Deadwood Season 1

Enjoying quite a bit.  Really enjoy how everyone - even allies - are continually at each other's throats, running schemes, and at times, overcome with moral behavior.  Quite enjoy the humor as well.  EB makes a side comment when Calamity Jane is going to talk to Alma Garrett something along the lines of "that foul-mouthed heathen going upstairs to converse with the junkie -- must be a conversation for the ages."

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Breaking Bad Death Dream...

...waaah?  A theory the end of Breaking Bad was a Walter White death dream.  Ahh...no.  Not even close.  Taxi Driver makes a whole lot more sense as a death dream ending and even that is debatable.  There is no indication or suggestion Breaking Bad was meant this way.  I suppose it means Walter had a death dream about Jesse having a dream.  It's just hard to end TV shows because TV shows are not designed to end.

On Bill Simmon's podcast the other week, Cousin Sal makes a funny point about the Sopranos finale, which is now the standard bearer for "artistic" endings.  He says "how can an ending be considered successful, when 70% of their audience thought their TV power went out?"  He makes a fair point.

I actually appreciate the entertainment factor of Michael Jordan's pettiness.  He claims he could beat LeBron one on one and Kobe steals all his moves.  Awesome.

How good was Jerry West?  He was before my time, but when asked who Jordan would want to play one-on-one, his mind goes to Jerry West first.  Interesting.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad Finale

Final episodes are tough.  Felt like 45 minutes of set up and then one pretty good scene.  On my Breaking Bad pool, I correctly predicted every single death and every single survivor, but was wrong about who-killed-who.  I predicted Walt would kill Todd, but should have seen it coming that it would be Jesse.  I predicted Jack would kill Walt and got that wrong.

Overall, a pretty damn good final season of TV.  I think it is easy to get hyperbolic about these things and worry too much about what is the best TV show of all time, etc.  Who cares?  Lists, lists, lists.  Enough already.  It's just a goddamn TV show.
Seymour Hersh

The Bin Laden raid story is one big lie.

Hmmm.  And this:
“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious,” Hersh said of the American media. “They are afraid to pick on this guy (Obama).”
"It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight,” he said.
“Now that doesn't happen anymore. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.”

Friday, September 27, 2013


Film:  Drug War

Maybe my expectations were a bit high.  "The French Connection meets the Wire."  "Better than anything Michael Mann's done in years."  These were my primers going in.  The film was okay.  There was some spectacular action sequences, but nothing that tops Michael Mann's work.  More similar to John Woo.  The film was ridiculously complicated and lacked the verisimilitude of French Connection or the Wire.  This was stylized.  Anyhow, a disappointment given my high expectations.
Are The Niners Back?

I'd hardly say so.  The Rams are terrible and the Niners couldn't hardly get a first down in the first half. If Gore doesn't break that 4th and inches, it is 7-3 or 10-3 at halftime.  Getting up 14-3 was huge and then we put the game away nicely in the 2nd half.  You can't make too much of Thursday games, but the game plan finally matched our talent.  We kept Kaepernick on training wheels, which is still where he needs to be.  Still, he pressed some passes and the guy is easy to read, he just stares at receivers and doesn't know what the defense is doing.  He still runs when there is an easy slot pass available.  I don't like he's always barking at the other team and getting in little shit-talk sessions.  I don't like how he can't read the defense and I don't like how he winds up and takes too long to throw.

Still, this is how we need to play:  run to set up the pass.  Get ourselves into 3rd and short situations when we can roll Kaepernick out and utilize his legs.  Long drives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A retort to the idea that technology is killing jobs and the middle class.  Perhaps government regulations and insider-scheming are causing joblessness.  But either way, something is amiss in America today -- fewer adults are working and in particular, way fewer men are working than in the past.  I don't think it is a good thing.

The first sports column I've read which addresses the faulty decision the Niners made at QB.

Imagine what the Niners could have gotten for Kaepernick if we traded him at the end of the year instead of Smith.  Or, hell, just keep him as a talented back up.
Window Closed

Perhaps this is an overreaction, but just like that, it seems like the window has closed on the 49ers.  I don't see how they (or anyone else) gets through Seattle this year.  I don't see our team getting better in the next couple years.  Four of our best players:  Frank Gore, Justin Smith, Vernon Davis, and Patrick Willis are in their prime or past their prime.  We will not be able to replace those guys with equal quality players.  Our young "stars" are erratic and not personalities to build a team around:  Kaepernick, Crabtree, and Aldon Smith.  Perhaps our offensive line will remain potent, but they haven't looked good the last two weeks.  And I heard an announcer say the other day "Quarterbacks make offensive lines, not the other way around."  I fear he might be right.

We have no Steve Young to transition to.  We have no Jerry Rice to bridge the legacy.  We have no young Bryant Young on defense.  We have Willis, who is the heart of the team, but we are lacking a head.  When we were great, we had Ronnie Lott as the heart and Joe Montana as the head.

We have lost our identity.  We tried to be something else by bringing in Kaepernick and the team is breaking around it.  I see a few flashy wins and a lot of frustrating losses.  8-8, 9-7 this year.  Could even miss the playoffs.

Film:  Rush

I rather enjoyed this film.  Didn't know much about Formula 1 racing and the mano v. mano rivalry story was done well.  Wasn't Michael Mann going to do an F1 movie?  Would like to see that.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ceilings and It's Not Kaepernick's Fault

The sports media is a joke and utterly biased by highlights.

Nearly every dumbass article about the Niners cite the fact that "it isn't all Kaepernick's fault" and the receivers stink.  No one offered this explanation for our glamor-less offensive during Alex Smith's reign when our record was 19-5 and we never lost by double-digits.  Why is everyone pointing it out now?  No one pointed it out during the Giant's game when we were down to two receivers.  Unbelievable.

And if I hear one more person talk about offensive "ceilings," I'm going to vomit.  Who cares about "ceilings?"  So what if in a perfect world an offense "could" score a lot of points.  I'm more concerned about what happens in an actual game with actual opponents and actual situations than some metaphysical notion of possibility.  This guy on a podcast I listened to this morning talked about how the Chiefs offense didn't have a high ceiling and this would hurt them.  Really?  How so?  They are 3-0.  And guess who has a high ceiling:  The Eagles offense.  The same offense that make 5 turnovers and just got their ass kicked at home by the Chiefs.  Then, the guys point out the Eagles made 5 turnovers and the Chiefs had zero and they "only" won by 10 points....as if the two had no relation to one another...

So dumb.  It is as if they don't consider the idea of risk.  The Eagles offense is high risk.  So yes, the ceiling is high, but so is the floor.

Man, I'd love to get in a room and sell speculative real estate investments to all this idiots who talk about high ceilings.  I can see them throwing their retirement savings into dumbass investments all over the place.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


I don't remember the Niners getting humiliated this badly two weeks in the row with Alex Smith at QB under Harbaugh.  And let's not use the no wide receivers excuse, because during our 13-3 season, we had no wideouts either.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Film:  Prisoners

A good but not great film.  Quite a lot of tension and chills.  I'm disposed to like these kind of mysteries.  People are all talking about Hugh Jackman's rageful performance and he is good, but performance-wise, I was most impressed with Gyllenhaal.  I'm not sure I've liked him in any movie since Donnie Darko.  He was the one sore spot in Zodiac.  But he tries something different in this film and I thought it worked.  Plus, the calm detective is a tougher role to bring emotion to than the raging father.

Not that it ruins the movie, but I knew basically what had happened around the midpoint, the result of seeing too many mysteries.  I can claim credit for also predicting the Killing season 3 and the two major twists in Top of the Lake.  My fiance is impressed, anyway.  (The Secrets in their Eyes is a recent mystery I didn't see coming).  Still, the ultimate resolution of the crime and the "why" of the crime was not as satisfying as the great films of this genre.  And the movie is overly long.  I wasn't sitting in my seat hoping it would end, but the steam started to come out right around the 4th act (yes, there are 4-5 acts).  Gyllenhaal's 3rd act realization was a tad hackneyed, a version of putting a glass over a picture in order to focus-in, the type of happenstance that only would happen in movies.

But these are minor quibbles.  I wish this movie well because I'd love it if there were more like it.

My final note is that Silence of the Lambs set the bar so high for the mystery thriller, it has almost ruined the genre.  I'm almost not sure where the genre can go.  The most interesting post-Lambs serial killer film is Zodiac, but that film is more a procedural and the impact of the crimes on the people involved and less about the "why" or "who" of the crime.  Se7en was a bit hit and a good film, but I'd call it an anomaly.  Se7en is so close to being a terrible movie, it really is a miracle it works.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Good Article

I think a lot of people will relate to this.  A very pessimistic view of the future for the US.

Reports Obama only reads The New York Times.  I'd hope anyone, and certainly the President, read more than one newspaper.

The Chiefs are 3-0 and 2-16-16 is the amount of points they've allowed in each game.  Sixteen points each for the Cowboys and Eagles, two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL.  How are they slowing these guys down?  Is their defense that good?  Maybe.  But perhaps there is another factor:  Alex Smith.

Do you watch the drives?  Nothing flashy.  No mistakes.  Make a couple of first downs, chew up clock.  Play for field position.  Get your defense rest.  Don't let the Eagles run a ton of plays.  In fact, if you discount the long McCoy run, they could have held the Eagles to single digits.

Counting the playoffs, in the last three years, here is Smith's record as a starter:


23-6 (win percent 79%)

Perhaps he had elite defenses, but Kansas City had similar guys last year and they were 2-14 and gave up about 25 points a game.  This year, they are 3-0 and giving up around 11 points a game.  And it's not like Andy Reid is known as a defensive coach.

**Side note:  Kaepernick and the Niners since Alex Smith left:


7-4-1 (win percent 58%)

Smith has developed into a quarterback who knows how to win.  He has crafted himself into the anti-Brett Favre.  He is not flashy, does not make spectacular plays, and does not take risks.  There is a problem with this style -- they will have trouble coming from behind to win.  But you know what?  They don't fall behind very often or by very much.  Smith knows what he is doing at the line of scrimmage.  He knows what the defense is trying to do and runs plays that give his offense just a slight advantage.  That's why they reel off so many 4-5-6-7 yard runs.

There is an old adage:  if it ain't broken, don't fix it.  The Niners were 13-3 and a couple fumbled punt returns from the Super Bowl.  I still think we made a mistake ditching Smith for Kaepernick.  I know Kap brings some things Smith doesn't, but no one pays any attention to think things Smith does that Kap doesn't.  And perhaps one of the best arguments for Kap over Smith is how much future upside he brings to the franchise -- but look at Seattle.  That team is a juggernaut now.  We can't really play with them, certainly on their field.  Justin Smith and Frank Gore are getting old and our team will not be the same without them.  I'm just not sure what the future holds and I'm not convinced Kaepernick will be elite in the way Peyton Manning or Brady or Brees or Rodgers is elite, and so I still don't understand what the move was truly about.

Let me put it another way:  you either have an elite quarterback (who makes your team automatically good) or you don't.  If you don't have an elite qb, you want a qb who can play to your teams strengths and not lose games for you.  Smith developed into this type of quarterback - perhaps one of the best in the league.  I think Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, and a few others fall into this same category.  The only elite QBs are really Peyton, Brees, Brady, and Rodgers.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Libertarian Agenda

First on my libertarian political agenda is to imitate this new Sweedish policy:
SWEDEN: IT’S ‘OK’ TO MASTURBATE IN PUBLIC: Didn’t “target a specific person,” or just horrible aim? A Swedish man charged with sexual assault for masturbating on a beach in Stockholm was acquitted after a court ruled the act was not “directed towards one or more people.” The 65-year-old Swede in question was caught with his pants around his ankles, pleasuring himself near the water’s edge in June. Thanks to this monumental ruling, Swedes can pleasure themselves in public so long as they’re somewhat discreet about it. “With that we can conclude that it is okay to masturbate on the beach,” the prosecutor declared. But don’t get too carried away on the shores of Stockholm: “disorderly conduct” charges may still apply.
You Don't Say

Insiders reaping profit after drafting the Obamacare law.

Whatever your politics, this whole idea that "nobody understands the law" is a pretty good indication the policy is destined to be lousy.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why Gen Y Yuppies Are Unhappy

Pretty accurate.

Film:  The Year of Living Dangerously

I love this kind of sprawling, political dramas.  Reminded me of The Killing Fields.  Who said the 80s were lousy for movies?  In the entire 2000s, I can't think of a sprawling political drama that engages with questions of great moral weight.  The English Patient comes to mind, but that was so long ago now.  Sigourney Weaver plays a hot British spy, a nice turn for her.  Another Mel Gibson movie before he became a huge star - he did quite a few.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm Becoming More Libertarian By The Day

CBS uncovers "unregulated" dinner parties, ie underground supper clubs.

Oh yeah, this is really something government ought to be involved with.

And George Will on his libertarian evolution.  "Too many barnacles on the ship."

Friday, September 13, 2013


Film:  Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen gets away with a lot more than other filmmakers.  Is it the track record?  Or skill?  In Blue Jasmine, people fall in and out of love more quickly than they change their clothes.  I don't really buy it in a real-world dramatic sense.  But I suppose I go with it in the whimsical Woody Allen world.  I see this clearer now that I've written (or, tried writing) characters who fall in love.

I feel like people didn't like this movie much, but I actually found the Cate Blanchett character to be pretty interesting.  Structure-wise and other character-wise, there was nothing innovative or special, but the movie can stand alone as a character study.  Well worth a $6.50 matinee at the big screen at the Los Feliz 3 theater.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Great Quote

Grantland's pop culture round up.
Backdoor Teen Mom Farrah Abraham a Feminist? "I'm pretty feminine I think so." The Miami New Times journalist interviewing Farrah explained that they'd actually said feminist. "What does [feminist] mean? You're a lesbian or something?" Sigh.
Putin Speaks

Now the KGB has a direct line to the American people.
No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.
Feels like decline.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Makes Me Want to Read Him

Richard Ford is against literary narcissism.  But not too stridently.

TV:  Breaking Bad - 4th to last episode

In my opinion, this was the best episode of the season.  Alliances formed.  Each making major moves.  The end was awesome.  Only confusing bit was Landry and Lydia scene.  Wasn't sure what was going on there...was Landry making a Marlo-esque move to steal the European connection?  Weren't these white power prison dudes just happy to be getting paid a month ago?  Now they want the whole pie?
Football Round Up

Great game between Packers and Niners.  Kaepernick and Boldin played awesome, making tons of huge plays.  Makes me a bit nervous that we couldn't run the ball, but I imagine the Packers were scheming to stop the run, which is one of the reasons we three for 400 plus yards.

I noticed the Chiefs look to be adopting the personality of the Niners under Alex Smith.  28-2 game against Jacksonville.  Smith was routinely said to be a benefactor of a strong Niners defense.  I haven't looked at the stats, but I'd be willing to be the Niners let in a whole lot fewer points with Smith at QB than Kaepernick.  Why would that happen?  A couple reasons:

1.  Smith tends to play ball-control offense, running, short passes, etc.  Not a lot of big plays, but not a lot of turnovers or plays for losses.  His offense tends to hold onto the ball longer and then the defense doesn't have to play as much.  They are fresher and the other team has fewer opportunities to score.  You also don't give the other team good field position.

2.  Kaepernick plays bigger.  Big plays put points on the board, but give the ball right back to the opponent.  He turns it over more (that was the most impressive part of yesterdays game - no turnovers). We also get bigger leads, which causes the other team to become more aggressive offensively.  The flip side, is we are able to come from behind.

No real huge surprises yesterday.  Looks like Pittsburgh might finally be running out of steam.  Tampa got screwed on that call to put the Jets in field goal range at the end of the game.  The Giants demonstrated that running backs are still important.

Film:  District B13

Awesome little movie.  Unconventional story structure.  Really pleasurable.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


Film:  Transporter 3

There's an absurd genius going on in films like this.  On the one hand, they are utterly terrible and almost unwatchable.  Cringeworthy dialog.  Completely absurd situations.  But you would be foolish to think the filmmakers are not aware of it.  The principal organizing factor is handcuffing your hero.  In this film, Jason Statham is handcuffed to a girl and his car.  They will both literally explode from an explosive bracelet if they get outside of 75 feet from the car.  This makes for all sorts of insane set pieces, including the car sinking in water, the car driving on top of a train, etc.

I find a strange inspiration from films like these, who take a basic populist pleasure in action-cinema.  I am reminded of being a young man and the coded messages in such movies about bravery, doing good, having strength, and so forth.  I actually don't think they are such bad lessons to learn.

Watched Sorcerer the other night and it reminded me of a saying that the ancients only valued courage.  I loved the end when the people were cheering and happy for Roy Scheider because he was brave (in contrast to hating gringos during the earlier part of the film).  Same message (although the movie is changed by the end beat when the guys come for him).

Reading a book right now that describes Orwell's opinion of Kipling: when he was young, he loved Kipling, as he got to be a teenager and twenty-something, he despised him.  Later on, he grew to appreciate him again.  The actual detail of the reading-relationship was more nuanced, but basic premise holds.  I'm wondering if I will come back to enjoying just the dumb B-action films of my youth, the Segal, Schwarzenegger films.
Becoming A Morning Person

Camp.  Or at least mimic what campers do.

One of my favorite feelings in the world comes when you get up super early for a road trip - either to ski or just get somewhere - and the feeling of driving with a cup of hot coffee, a nice talk radio show going, and the sun coming up over the horizon and the road is open.  Few better feelings in the world.

I am actively trying to become more of a morning person when it comes to work habits.  There's a nice feeling to getting an hours work done before the morning cup of coffee.  Get two hours of work in before 9am and your day is guaranteed to be good.
Looks Good

This book looks good - The Revenge of Geography.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Book:  Edge of Normal

Quick read.  Fun little crime thriller.

Film:  Sorcerer

Enjoyed this film more this time than when I originally saw it.  Looking forward to the Bluray version.  Incredible tension once they are driving the trucks.  Closest non-Herzog film to a Herzog film, if that makes sense.  Funny imaging being a cinema fan in 1977 and watching this the week after Star Wars came out.
Does Wealth Making Us Lazy

Perhaps.  I like this part:
I’d say most long-term trends can be understood reasonably well as due to increasing wealth and lifespans. These include less monogamy, religion, work ethic, and violence.
And you might want to add in birth control technology.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Breakfast Burritos

10 best in LA.

The breakfast burrito might be the most quintessential Los Angeles food.  The burger would be number 2, but I imagine many cities can claim the burger.  What other city can boast of the breakfast burrito?
NFL Predictions

I'm not a fan of Barnwell over at Grantland.  He way overvalues statistics as a predictor.  Last year, he predicted a major 49er regression because most teams who jumped in performance from 7-9 to 13-3 had regressions.  I thought this was an entirely stupid argument because the reason the 49ers jumped was because Harbaugh was a good coach and there was no reason to think they would regress to under-performing.  His logic was akin to flipping a coin 9 times and 7 of them hitting tails and figuring the next flip therefore has a higher probability to hit heads.  Wrong.  The probability is still just 50/50.

This year, in his analysis of the Falcons, he points out how they perform well in close games and are due to regress because over time close game results tend to even out.  Really?  Wouldn't you conclude the reason they perform well in close games is Matt Ryan and Mike White know how to manage the clock and have good offensive weapons?  Their performance, in other words, isn't random.  I watched the 49ers all growing up during the Montana and Steve Young era.  Montana always managed the clock at the end of games well.  This is why he is known as the greatest quarterback of all time.  Young did not.  They used the same scheme and had similarly good offensive players.  There was a difference between players and that's the reason Montana won 4 Super Bowls and Young won 1.  It wasn't random.

In any case, here are my predictions:

1.  At least one team that looks shitty on paper will be decent - Oakland, San Diego, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Arizona, Buffalo.  I'm picking Tennessee, although Arizona and Buffalo have a shot.

2.  At least one team that looks like a contender will suck - Denver, New England, New Orleans, Atlanta, Seattle, 49ers, Green Bay, Houston.  My prediction is Denver or the 49ers, sadly.  I am picking them based solely on if their quarterbacks get hurt, I think the team will really suffer and they both have a decent likelihood for different reasons.

3.  Kansas City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Tampa Bay will all be over .500 and vying for the playoffs.

4.  The most competitive divisions will be the AFC North, NFC East, NFC South.  In some ways, I think any of the four teams in all these divisions could steal it.

5.  I am terrified of the Seahawks.
In Defense of Maps

A new book about the future:
Your smartphone will record data on your life and, when asked, will tell you what to do, drawing on data from your home or from your spouse and friends if need be. “You’ve thrown out that bread the last three times you’ve bought it, give it a pass” will be a text message of the future. How about “Now is not the time to start another argument with your wife”? The GPS is just the beginning of computer-guided instruction.
Take your smartphone on a date, and it might vibrate in your pocket to indicate “Kiss her now.” If you hesitate for fear of being seen as pushy, it may write: “Who cares if you look bad? You are sampling optimally in the quest for a lifetime companion.” Those who won’t listen, or who rebel out of spite, will be missing out on glittering prizes. Those of us who listen, while often envied, may feel more like puppets with deflated pride.
I will admit the cell phone 3G internet is very handy while on vacation and trying to find stuff.  That alone was one of my major reasons for switching from my old flip phone (incidentally, I noticed Walter White used the exact phone I used to have in last night's Breaking Bad episode).

But I also remember going on family vacations when I was young and my dad studying the map of wherever we were the night before.  And I don't remember getting lost very often, if at all.  To this day, I notice my father able to discuss details of geography and driving routes of places all around the country.  Also, he would have a more general "lay of the land" approach and not get disoriented.  I feel like when you relay on GPS, turn left here, right here, etc, etc., you are more easily flustered and lost than if you have a broader understanding of the city or area you are visiting.

Not only that, when you become broadly literate on geography, you will more easily be able to navigate foreign places.  I imagine once you learn how to use one subway system, it is much easier to  use other subways systems.

We should apply such principles to the adaptation of new technology.  Yes, they can be useful.  But the old ways should not be fully abandoned.  Although my younger self may have benefited at some time or another from a text message telling me to make a move on a girl, I think I prefer the world in which I had to figure it out for myself.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Mental Bandwidth

Poverty taxes the brain.  More than simply adding stress, it actually takes much more mental energy to live and thus makes other, more routine tasks harder.

Interesting stuff.  I am very cognisant of mental energy and try my best not to waste it on stupid things.