Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Justin Smith

Could be one of the bets players in the NFL.  Signed a 2 year extension.  He's already 33.
 You said last year you didn’t want to be the guy that just plays a handful of snaps at the end of his career. Is language built into this extension …
JS: Yeah, there’s ways for both us. That’s not going to happen. I said that. I meant that. I won’t be a guy that’s around for 10 snaps, 20 snaps. It’s either I’m going (to play full-time), or I’m not going. And when it’s time to get my ass out of here, I’m going. I get a ticket like everybody else, so that’s what I’m doing.

Did Aaron Hernandez murder this guy?

Man, young guys are really, really dumb.
Affirmative Action

Is basically just discrimination against Asians.  But the interesting thing -- Asians don't seem too bothered by it.

A couple, perhaps borderline racist, hypotheses:

1.  Asian American communities primarily see their children in competition against each other and not other ethnic groups.  Since affirmative action is basically African American and Hispanic kids getting into college at the expense of Asian students, the emotional toll of getting shorted is not very strong.

2.  Asian American communities view their well being in relation to their home countries (or other Asian countries) and despite some unfairness in the American system, prefer it to the nepotism very prevalent in Asian countries.

3.  Asians tend to be frugal (go buy Asian groceries for evidence) and don't mind sending their kids to UCSB instead of Dartmouth because dollar for dollar UCSB is probably a better deal.

4.  Asian Americans have their own communities that are not as attached to the traditional WASPY institutions like the Ivy League, Stanford, Duke, etc, and therefore do not value those institutions as much as say, someone with family who has attended such institutions.  Obviously, Asian Americans still strive and attend these places, I'm just suggesting at the margin, the gravitational pull is not as strong.

5.  Asian Americans tend to not put their energies into American politics and instead focus on economic achievement.

Those are just some hypotheses.  I'm half Asian.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Men on Strike

I doubt I'll read this book, but the premise is interesting.
More and more men are dropping out of American society. They aren't going to college, they aren't holding down jobs, they aren't getting married and they aren't becoming fathers. Current explanations typically involve blaming the men themselves: Some blame pandemic immaturity (XY-chromosomers won't "man up" and accept adult responsibility for wives and children). Other cite a "Cardboard Man" rigidity that makes men unwilling to function as househusbands or amanuenses to the female professionals increasingly favored by our deskwork economy. 
Helen Smith, a practicing psychologist and blogger for PJ Media ("Dr. Helen"), offers an alternative theory: "Most men are not acting irresponsibly because they are immature or because they want to harm women; they are acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives today's society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers." They are "going Galt," as Ms. Smith puts it—imitating John Galt, the industrialist titan in Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, "Atlas Shrugged," who hides out in a gulch to defy the big-government welfare state. (Ms. Smith is a self-described libertarian and Rand fan.)
Young and Isolated

More on the great unravelling.

Let's go genius elites: you presume to rule, where are the answers to the question of employment for hard working Americans?

TV:  Parenthood

First couple episodes.  A bit saccharine for my taste.
Myth:  Information Wants to Be Free

How much is 1 million listeners worth?  $16-17 to the musician.

If people believe professional musicians produce better music that amateurs, we ought to figure out a system to get them paid.  And fast.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

LA Food vs. NY Food

This food writer prefers LA.  And he doesn't even mention Tsujita Ramen Noodle, which to me is hands down, the most unique and best restaurant I've been to in LA in years.  You have to go at lunch and get the Tsujita style ramen -- I haven't even tried other things on the menu because it is so good and delicious.

Book:  Storm of Swords

The third book in the Game of Thrones series and the best of the books.  I got so taken by the Red Wedding, I turned back to the books (I stopped after the first two), and read this 925 page beast in about 2 weeks.  Such great fun to get into a book and so rare.  Of course the thing is imperfect and of course it is different from the show.  But who cares?  I've learned that when you can just enjoy the read, you need be happy and thankful and let the voice of the critic be drowned out.

Game of Thrones is such a unique and fun reading and watching experience.  The texts complement one another really well and I even enjoy going to the Game of Thrones Wiki to read up on the history of certain characters and to remind myself of who is who and related to whom, etc, etc.  Very fun and I suppose, incredibly nerdy.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Because No One Cares

Why no one can find Thomas Pynchon.  Ugh.  This is so annoying -- upon his own reflections on Gravity's Rainbow:
"I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality," he once said of his dominant novel — perhaps Pynchon accomplished with his life.
Sounds dull to me. Made me think of this interview with William Monahan I recently read.
I think that scripts should be published, but they are published, really, because when you’re a screenwriter, your stuff ends up in samizdat form on thousands and thousands of desks and shelves across the industry. If you write a screenplay that gets circulated, you have a bigger readership than any literary novelist. And it’s an educated audience as well. Some reviewer might be out there saying, obviously Edge of Darkness didn’t come off because of the script, blah blah blah, but everybody has read the script, except the journalist attacking it.
I've never thought of screenwriting this way, but it is totally true.  I read a decent number of books and the majority of them, no one else I know has read.  Sometimes, they've heard of them.  Occasionally, one or two people I meet have also read those same books.  But with certain scripts that have passed around the industry -- tons of people have read.  Of course, I'm talking about people who's job it is to read scripts, ie execs and agents and other screenwriters.  But this is a curious thing, isn't it, when you think about it.  Even many scripts written by friends or peers which will never get made are more read in my everyday circle than the newest Pynchon novel.  Kind of fascinating, if you think about it purely on literary terms.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Good New Podcast

From Matt Miller at KCRW.

His last two guests are Jared Laneir and George Packer, both guys with interesting-sounding new books about the end of the American middle class.  Lanier talks about how the internet destroyed the middle class and Packer does a more broad social history type of book about how American institutions are crumbling in front of our eyes and how uncertainty and anxiety reign all around the country.

The more I read and think about these things, this notion that "information wants to be free" is actually one of the great heists in the 21st century -- Google and Facebook seizing and aggregating private (and valuable) information -- and essentially stealing the future from working Americans.  To begin, look at musicians, porn stars, journalists, filmmakers, and all those who work in surrounding support positions to those jobs -- and you'll notice the same trend -- jobs disappear while everyone steals the fruits of the labor over the internet.  And the quality is slowly dying as the experts get old and retire and there is no one to nurture those who show promise or enough gatekeepers to wade through the crappy material to select the good from the bad.
Silver Lining

On the mediocracy in the teaching profession.  Silver lining:  because of the great stagnation, they believe talent will flock to teaching.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Films:  Ain't Them Body Saints and The Spectacular Now

Screenings at the LA Film Festival.  Super fun atmosphere to watch movies.  Makes movies you wouldn't otherwise enjoy, still worth the time and effort.  Saints is good, but not great.  It's fine to be inspired by Malick, but I'm just wondering if filmmakers ought to strive to be something other than what people in the past have already done -- and better.  The Spectacular Now was an enjoyable movie watching experience, but I don't think it will find a wide audience.  Afterwards the filmmakers talked about being inspired by Cameron Crowe and John Hughes, but the film lacked both the humor and the melodrama of the better movies by those guys.  No conflict between the two lovers, so it got kind of flat and I imagine would not be as fun to watch if you were at home or in a regular theater.

My God

Rarely do you read about someone that you simply want to read more about.  This man sounds like a genius and a man after my own heart.  Money bits:

Creativity always comes as a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.

In the first place, Friedman considers withdrawal or exit as the “direct” way of expressing one’s unfavorable views of an organization. A person less well trained in economics might naively suggest that the direct way of expressing views is to express them! Secondly, the decision to voice one’s views and efforts to make them prevail are contemptuously referred to by Friedman as a resort to “cumbrous political channels.” But what else is the political, and indeed the democratic, process than the digging, the use, and hopefully the slow improvement of these very channels?
Hirschman pointed out the ways in which “exit” failed to send a useful message to underperformers. Weren’t there cases where monopolists were relieved when their critics left? “Those who hold power in the lazy monopoly may actually have an interest in creating some limited opportunities for exit on the part of those whose voice might be uncomfortable,” he wrote. The worst thing that ever happened to incompetent public-school districts was the growth of private schools: they siphoned off the kind of parents who would otherwise have agitated more strongly for reform.
When I was in high school, I had the idea that the best way to improve public schools was to ban private schools.  It would force more of the wealthy, caring parents to send their kids to public schools and they would insist the schools got better.  It was one of my clearest ideas that I believed would work, but figured it was basically illegal because people can form private schools if they want to.  And now, here I read this economic genius writing the same idea in a much more elegant, informed way.  I love this guy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Linked In 

I haven't signed into Linked In for over two-three years.  I get tons of emails from them, some of which I wouldn't mind checking, in theory.  But they all require me to sign-in, which I don't want to do.  Linked In was my foray into social networking.  Dipping my toe in before signing up for Facebook.  Basically, as far as I can tell, the thing is basically spam.  Any pertinent information could be easily emailed to me by my Linked In contacts if they wanted.  But they don't want to.  Linked In basically spams on behalf of you.  Am I missing something?

Sunday, June 16, 2013


That was just a badass game played by the Spurs.  Near perfect.  I'm rather enjoying the finals even though none of the games seem to be close.  Still, the team match ups and coaching chess matches are fun to watch.
When Work Disappears

I've been talking about this for years - mostly because I've seen it happening all around me here in the entertainment industry and hear about it tangentially from friends in other industries.  Now McArdle, Krugman, and Reynolds are catching on,  Firstly, I think the social effects of work elimination are vastly underrated.  On a macro-level, sure, you can make the argument that new jobs will be invented.  (although it isn't clear that trend is continuing)  But that doesn't do much good for a young family with a 2 and 4 year old when both parents are out of work and need health insurance.  And we need young families to survive and prosper -- if we expect America and the human species -- to continue into the future.  Secondly, you need a middle class for democracy to prosper.  The topic itself deserves a larger blog entry, but if the majority of your citizens are either on the dole or have no stake in the society, you can be pretty sure trouble is just around the corner.

There is another issue as well.  Down here in LA on the fringes of the entertainment industry, there is one type of "growth" industry, that is the web-series, internet video type of stuff.  In fact, I know quite a few people who work either full time or part time or have worked job-to-job basis in some type of media job where the primary space of content is the web.  Superficially, this should be cause for celebration.  Growth.  New jobs replacing old.  Opportunities and so forth.  I would be very hesitant to celebrate.  The VAST majority of these jobs barely pay a living wage.  They end up employing a lot of young people right out of college.  Most probably do not get health insurance.  Most, I'm sure, have no type of retirement plan.  And most don't have equity in the companies themselves, so I'd be wary of characterizing this as a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity.  The fact is, the web stuff is uncharted territory and importantly, most of the money is coming from investors versus customers.  No one has figured out a model yet -- not in journalism, not in music, and not in entertainment -- to deliver a consistent profitable business.  Maybe some on the high end will prosper -- although I think the business model basically is "lets get bought by Google."  My basic point:  these are not middle class jobs.  They pay too little and are excessively risky.  And for them to become "middle class" type of jobs, ie a job where someone can comfortably raise a family, they would, in essence, come to resemble traditional entertainment jobs (which are disappearing).  Hence, the problem.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Kaiser in California

Megan McArdle writes about Kaiser pumping up their rates based on the healthcare bill.

The more I read and think about it, our healthcare system is fundamentally flawed.  It incentivizes NOT caring for the sick, which, of course, runs contrary to the very mission of medicine in the first place.  I have no answers, but this healthcare bill does nothing to satisfy the basic problem -- only further complicate it.  This will make the rich richer and the poor poorer as any type of regulations that overly complicate rules will always do.  (the rich find way to milk the system and the poor do not understand the system and get ruined by it).

Friday, June 14, 2013


Film:  Man of Steel

This movie sucks!  Ugh.

UPDATE.  From a Grantland review.
The geeks, nerds, and obsessives have so completely taken over the entertainment industry, and so thoroughly know the comic books, science fiction television, and galactic film series they're working with, that there are no new surprises left. Even when it's new, it's nostalgic.
Whether it's Batman or Star Trek or Star Wars, the audience has been there before and can't wait to go again — to find the Easter eggs hidden for only them, to bask in the filmmakers' adherence to sacred texts. This obviates any real expectation that a movie will work as a movie, that it will be a piece of commercial art that takes you to some emotional or visceral place. Certainly, a few of these movies have cleared that bar: Christopher Nolan's second and third Batman films achieve this, as do Bryan Singer's X-Men and its first sequel. J.J. Abrams's maiden Star Trek do-over went for something audacious.
My thoughts on these movies amount to PFFFFFTTTTSSSS - a big wet fart noise. I booed after the movie because a few nerds clapped and yelled out - how dare you cheer this!  To no avail, of course, the Arclight was busier than I've ever seen it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


More on Lucas and Spielberg -- end of movies as we know it.

Thinking about this more:  when's the last time Lucas was right about anything?  In 2003, I went to a talk with him at USC and he said he was going back to his student roots and going to start making small movies again.  That was 10 years ago.  I've yet to see one.

Predictions are hard.  Especially about the future.

Unpaid interns get positive ruling in the Fox movie legal suit.  The use of unpaid interns in Hollywood is a tradition and a scam.
San Fran Bart Man Goes Crazy

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Worth Highlighting

Spielberg and Lucas predict implosion of film industry.  Hat tip, Phil from a comment.
"you're gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln." He also said that Lincoln came "this close" to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.
George Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher.
This sounds eerily like the end of movie as a cultural touchstone and a popular media.  I don't think we will be better off.
Metta on the Finals

I love this bit hidden at the very end of this article.
"So, as a fan, sometimes to see LeBron not take over, I'm kind of like, 'Come on, let's do it.' His pops went to jail with my older brother. My brother spent 10 years in jail, they were locked up together. I'm a fan of LeBron, so I always want to see him do well and sometimes I'm like, 'Step it up! Start playing.' "
Pretty incredible.

Spurs just whooped them last night.  Miami does not play hard all the time.  I have no idea what's going on with them.  Ray Allen had a play when he should have put a hard foul on Leonard in the first half and he just let him get a dunk.  I couldn't believe it.  I know Ray-Ray is old and just likes to shoot 3's.  But come on.  NBA finals.  Play it out and then retire.  Who wants to win a ring by just hitching their carriage to LeBron?  You gotta seize it as a team and I just don't see them playing that way, talented as they are.  I don't blame LaBron for shrinking sometimes.  The pressure these days is enormous.  But someone has to say to the guy "just play."  Don't overthink.  You can see him trying too hard sometimes to get his teammates going in the beginning.  Just play.  Have fun.  I know it's easier said.

Still, I'm rooting for Pop and the Spurs.  Love their team.  Parker isn't playing well right now, though, and there's no way to keep up the three point craziness.
Bad Sign

In 2012 there was more student filming in L.A. than filming for TV dramas.

Doesn't sound sustainable.
Woman Finds Dad's Killer

Nice work.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Another Shooting in Santa Monica

Jesus, what is going on?

And the LA Times story on the first shooter.  Once again, he fits the exact same pattern as the other recent spree shooters.  Everyone around them knew they were powder kegs ready to explode and yet they are able to purchase guns and plan an attack.

I'm not saying we can throw these crazy kids in prison before they commit a crime, but one of the most obvious and basic functions of a government is to protect the public from insane individuals who are way outside the bounds of regular society.  This shouldn't be difficult or cause any sort of legal question.  This is common sense.  Even an Indian tribe in the 1600s with no legal system or advanced weaponry would know to keep Crazy Eyes Norman away from all the kids and not let him have a bow and arrow and/or fire.

We aren't getting rid of all the guns and we don't need any "well, what about his civil rights...blah...blah...blah."  There cannot be a more idiotic response than a concern with the rights of a psychopath who basically announces:  I'm going to kill 20 people tomorrow with this gun than to say "well, we can't do anything about it because he hasn't committed a crime yet and we don't want to prejudge people."  I tell you what: if you actually believe such a thing, you should have to teach at the school with one or two of these psychopaths.  Or sends your kids to school with them.  You'll change your tune right quick.

Whatever happened to the loony bin?  Let's put some tax dollars back to the loony bins.  If someone is crazy and their family knows it, their community knows it, and they aren't fit for regular society, throw them in the loony bin where there isn't stress, there are medical professionals who know how to deal with nutty people, and there aren't any weapons and sharp objects.  They can watch DVDs, read Game of Thrones, go on walks in the yard, and do pilates classes.  It doesn't need to be One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.  Common sense.  But no, low end lawyers want a say and cowardly politicians won't risk anything.

God, our elites got so crummy so fast.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Smart Quote

From Tywin Lannister in A Storm of Swords "The greatest fools are oftimes more clever than the men who laugh at them."

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Value of the Pause

Can commercials and time between episodes increase our enjoyment of television?

To this day, I still enjoy watching Seinfeld on syndication because I think the show works really well with commercial breaks.  And while I'm dying to see this next Game of Thrones episode, I think the anticipation is part of the fun.  All of which is to say, the binge/Netflix model is not something I think is inherently better.  Although...I suppose you can always create your own pauses like when you read a book...but it really isn't the same is it?  TV watching is a fundamentally passive activity (and should be).

Friday, June 07, 2013


Film:  The East

There was a decent idea in here - a corporate spy enters an anarchist environmentalist organization to take them apart from within.  I liked the idea of exploring fringe counter-cultural America in a Point Break - style story.  But the craft just wasn't there.  The writing was below average.  Acting was tolerable, but not good.  It reminded me very much of Margin Call and Arbitrage -- movies that used to be done at a mid-level studio level than are now reduced to an indy space.  And you can tell.  Michael Clayton might be the last really good example of a studio film made this way well.  In this film - and I felt the same way about Margin Call and Arbitrage - the filmmakers need to figure out a way to fill up the frame.  It is so clear the movie has no money to spend because the frame feels empty all the time - lots of wilderness shots, or shots foregrounded, or close ups.  These filmmakers might benefit from watching Michael Bay's Pain and Gain and paying attention to what can go on within the frame..  Beasts of the Southern Wild didn't suffer from this and I suppose that film had just as little to work with.  There were other issues as well - a very hackneyed outlook towards hippy-anarchist world POV and non-functioning love stories - basically it was a bit amateur.  Another $28 down the drain for a movie worthy of Netflix Streaming.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Better Get the Right Opinions

Assault on empirical data.
If you take certain positions, you will be cast into outer darkness. Whether your statements are empirically accurate is irrelevant.
The irony is there is plenty of racism and injustices related to class, homophobia, and religious intolerance all around the world and in the United States.  But it is easier to go after these people's jobs than to actually confront and change the world in any meaningful way and feel like you are fighting the good fight.
Not As Crazy As It Sounds

GOP candidate says yoga can open you to demonic possession.

Yoga did begin as a sex cult and there is an element of body worship and spiritual mumbo jumbo that strikes me as strange.  About as strange as weird Evangelical practices.

I've been reading - more like skimming - an ebook called "You Aren't What You Eat," which is highly critical of foodie culture for being gluttonous and overly fetishizing what we put in our bodies and it got me thinking about this stuff.

There is this thing out here on the West Coast which cloaks itself as progressive, mindful, healthy living involving yoga, foodie culture, environmentalism, life coaching, glutton free consumption, etc, a lot belief sets that strike me as more faith than rational.

Film:  The Stories We Tell

A pretty good documentary.  Some interesting reenactments done in 8mm.  Really liked the cuckolded father figure.  The story, in a way, ultimately became his.  He was a terrific writer.

The story and world got me thinking about the lack of anyone in the film with religious beliefs or strict morals.  People didn't really talk about things in terms of being right or wrong, but just want someone chose to do at the time for emotional reasons.  And making choices in this manner, I thought, caused a lot of confusion and damage to others.  But no one in the film seemed to have the language to talk about the events in those terms.  No one in the film felt like they were wrong or were wronged.  I found it puzzling.  I suppose there was one brother who felt that way, but his POV was minimized.  And, perhaps not coincidentally, he was the only one whose marriage survived.

Saw this on a Monday night and we were the only people in the theater.  $27 for two tickets.  It's awfully hard to justify spending that amount of dough on a documentary -- even a good one.  I suppose you get a night out and it is still cheaper than going to the theater or a fancy restaurant.  But I can't help but think the optimal viewing experience for documentaries are Netflix instant.  Maybe this is nothing new as documentary has always been a fringe aspect of the theater going experience and show at smaller, art house theaters where there are audiences for such things.  I guess I feel like movies like this ought to be cheaper.  Maybe all movies in theaters ought to be cheaper.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Too Much of A Good Thing

How student loans ruined college education.

It wouldn't be the first time debt ruined a good institution.
Conservative vs. Liberal

Good point.
“Maybe the difference between under-30s and their elders isn’t the era in which they grew up. Maybe it’s a lack of life experience. As young people pass from their 20s to their 30s, they get married and have kids. They lose their na├»vete about self-realization, having it all, the equality of family structures, and the interchangeability of moms and dads. According to this theory, the reason why older people are more likely to believe that unwed motherhood is a big problem, or that kids do better with stay-at-home moms, is that beyond the age of 30, you discover that these things are true.”
There are some other factors as well.  When you are young, you don't have anything except a lot of time.  You don't have money, experience, a family, or things you have earned and want to hold onto.  Thus, your opinions - particularly political opinions end up getting shaped around vagaries like "fairness" "equality" and stuff like that.

As you get older, you begin to acquire wealth, job experience, perhaps real estate, and stocks and use these things to build a family.  You grow more protective of you stuff and more conservative with your choices, because you have stuff, but your time is more limited and you know you don't have the same ability to recover from mistakes as you did when you were young.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Reactions to the Red Wedding

Where Did Robb Stark Go Wrong?

If Ned Stark's flaw was his unwillingness to "play the Game of Thrones," what was Robb's flaw?  Youth?  Inexperience?  Breaking his vows?  Entrusting the wrong people?  Or making bad strategic decisions?

There were the immediate causes of the Red Wedding:  breaking his vows with the Frey's and marrying for love, trusting Bolton, his decision to march on Casterly Rock, but there were other strategic elements that brought him to the point where the walls closed in.  Let us look at those:

1.  The decision to raise banners in the first place when his father was taken hostage.  Verdict:  Good decision, one he needed to do.

2.  Continuing to march on Tywin Lannister when his father was killed and not recognizing Joffery as king.  Verdict:  Good decision, follows the same logic of the first decision and resulted in the capture of the Kingslayer.

3.  Acceding to his bannerman's call for him to become King of the North.  Verdict: Huge mistake.  At the time, this was awesome, but in hindsight, seems to be a mistake.  What had Robb done to warrant being a King?  Had he not learned the lesson of Robert Baratheon - the difference between winning wars and ruling?  Why not support Stannis' claim to the throne, continuing Ned's policy, and trap the Lannisters between two powerful enemies?  He would have gotten his father's justice and restored Westeros to basically the same state it existed prior to Ned becoming the Hand.  Perhaps Robb's flaw was arrogance?

4.  Sending Theon to get Iron Island support.  Verdict:  Small mistake.  Robb needed to do this once he declared himself King of the North.  BUT...he could have done it differently.  He could have demanded Iron Island support -- rather than ask -- and not entrusted Theon.  He had no reason to distrust Theon at this point, but he did have reason to distrust Balon.  This was a tough call and Robb had not been let down by his bannermen or people around him yet, so it was a forgivable mistake, but a mistake still.  The lesson:  do not give unproven allies the benefit of the doubt.  Make them "pay first" by demonstrating loyalty before giving them help.  He should have kept Theon as a ward until the Iron Islands successfully attacked the Lannisters and the war was over or settled.

5.  Not torturing Lannister prisoners and generally treating them well.  Verdict:  Basically a good decision.  Robb theorized that treating prisoners well would encourage the Lannisters to do the same.  They did not.  This pissed off both of Robb's main bannermen and sowed later seeds for betrayal.  But, I don't think this was a mistake.  Getting into the gutter would not have changed the overall calculus of winning the war.

6.  Breaking his vows to Frey and marrying for love.  Verdict:  Obvious mistake.  Definitely the most clear mistake, but perhaps not his biggest.  I think declaring as King of the North was still the biggest because he lost sight of his original goal: justice for his father by crushing the Lannisters .

7.  Not punishing his mother for letting the Kingslayer go free.  Verdict:  Good decision.  What's a guy to do?  This was not a mistake, although it sowed doubt in the minds of his bannermen and gave them major frustration.  But honestly, what was he going to do?  Kill his own mom?  No choice here.

8.  Continuing to march on the Lannisters after Theon took Winterfell and the Kingslayer was free.  Verdict:  Mistake.  Robb considered going back North and retaking Winterfell, but was talked out of it by Bolton because they had the Lannisters on the run.  This was a mistake.  This is like when a gambler is losing and starts betting more to "win it back."  You need to stop when the signs are flashing red.  Losing the Kingslayer and losing Winterfell were signs Robb was losing his grip on power.  Yes, he was winning battles, but he was also "losing the war."  Plowing forward was the first desperate move he made.  It turns out Bolton may have been manipulating Robb at this point, but we are not sure yet.

9.  Going back to ask Frey for help.  Verdict:  Obvious mistake.  Another compounded mistake, like sending Theon to the Iron Islands.

In my mind, the mistakes break into two sets:  strategic mistakes and tactical mistakes.  The strategic mistakes were the more costly:

a.  Declaring self King of the North
b.  Continue to fight war after Winterfall fell and they lost the Kingslayer
c.  Breaking the marriage vow with the Frey's

Tactical mistakes:

a.  Going back to Frey
b.  Sending Theon to Iron Islands

I'm sure I am missing some stuff.  I might expand this into a real piece.

Monday, June 03, 2013


I'm getting pumped for football season again.  Planning on riding the Chiefs early on -- they are looking like a well built team, set up to win this year.

Sunday, June 02, 2013


TV:  Game of Thrones, penultimate episode, season 3

Fuck the Lannisters.

UPDATE:  After a night of rest, I am reading more about the Rains of Castamere.

I would call the episode anything but underwhelming.  I was hurt watching "the scene."  I literally had the reaction of "how can the author/storytellers do that?"  It was too cruel.  I was mad.  I started packing my bags to head off to Westeros to plan a revenge on behalf of Robb Stark, but then realized Game of Thrones does not really exist.

As for how it was executed, etc, etc, the A-storyline was exceptional.  Humor, creepiness, a slow, gut-wrenching feeling of terror, hope, and then hope shattered.  It was just brutal.  This was why I didn't read book 3.  I knew something was coming.  I could even sense Robb was doomed.  But I guess I never imagined in this way.  It felt like many of the real horrors of GoT had all happened in the past - the mad King burning people, the Targaryen children being slaughtered, and that while Ned Stark's death was surprising and awful, in some ways it felt like a single dumb mistake of Joffrey.  This brutality was worse - an orchestration of multiple powerful people against a noble family for being noble.  That said, Robb and Caetlyn each made mistakes that brought them there.  Caetlyn letting the Kingslayer go lost the war for Robb.  Robb ditching the Frey daughter sealed the mechanism for his slow motion demise.

I hope to find out why Bolton betrayed.  I suspect he lost faith in Robb somewhere along the line.  Or perhaps, like Littlefinger, he is simply a man of ambition who was always going to betray.

Those who read the books say the slaughter was better executed in the books.  Judging by the fact it happened midway through book 3, I'm inclined to agree.  You would never see it coming.  I wonder why the showrunners decided to ditch this strategy.  I told my fiance before the episode began "someone important is going to die tonight."  I felt something big had to happen in the penultimate episode the way the season was heading.

In the end, Robb was constantly let down by the people around him - Bolton, the Karstark, his mother, and Theon.  Did he bring this on himself by being too above it all?  Too noble?  Too good?  "No one trusts you unless you have a little dirt on you."  Maybe so.
Interesting Theory

The internet as one big vanity press.
President Obama made a secret deal to support Hillary Clinton when she runs for president in 2016, campaign sources say, payback for the support her husband gave him in 2012. Bill Clinton’s animosity toward Obama is legendary. A year before the last election, he was urging Hillary to challenge the sitting president for the nomination — a move she rejected. According to two people who attended that meeting in Chappaqua, Bill Clinton then went on a rant against Obama. “I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama,” my sources quoted Clinton as saying. “I have no relationship with the president — none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur!” For his part, Obama wasn’t interested in Bill Clinton upstaging him during the presidential campaign. He resisted giving him any role at the convention. But as last summer wore on, and Democrat enthusiasm waned, chief political strategist David Axelrod convinced the president that he needed Bill Clinton’s mojo.A deal was struck: Clinton would give the key nominating speech at the convention, and a full-throated endorsement of Obama. In exchange, Obama would endorse Hillary Clinton as his successor.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Gender Equality and Happiness

My litmus test for believing gender equality in the workplace will lead to more happiness:  when I see women happily marrying lower status men and when I see clean, livable bachelor pads.

I'm not betting on either.

(note: those developments will indicate men are happy to clean and keep a presentable house and women will be happy being breadwinners and paying for everything)  Again, I don't see it happening.
Work-Life Balance Awful in US

I think we could rightly dub the era post-9/11 the age of anxiety.  Anxiety, anxiety, anxiety.  It's taken over the country on every level.  It seems to be the one thing Americans can agree on: we are anxious.

One of the major reasons:  this idea of work-life balance being out of whack.  Another article about it.  The dirty little secret about the age of anxiety:  we'd all be A LOT happier if women were working less and men were working more.  Women would be happier.  Men would be happier.  Our country would be equally well off.  Marriages would be better.  Children would have better homes.  Communities would be incrementally better off.  But we can't say it, nor act upon it, because it is not politically correct.  The liberal utopianism espoused at colleges have made such thoughts retrograde and sexist and wrong to utter, much less act upon.

We are anxious because we are fighting windmills.  Life is hard enough without utopian expectations -- the old timers knew it and lived accordingly.  We'd be smarter following in the majority of their footsteps rather than trying to recreate the world in the image of freshman dorm room discussions.

HBO Film:  Behind the Candelabra

Like most biopics, the film starts fairly interesting and quickly falls into the same, well-tread, predictable rhythms of downfall, pain, losing everything and finding one small moment of reckoning at the end.  If you'd already knew the story of Liberace trying to make a young lover get plastic surgery to look like a young version of himself, you know the most interesting and weird part of the story already.  My biggest irritation with the story was that the whole thing was utterly predictable.  Many biopics fall into these same patterns and why I really, really, do not like this genre.

Rob Lowe gives a standout small performance as a creepy plastic surgeon.  Some cool directorial flashes, to be expected by Soderburgh.  Found the script rather dull.  No reason the movie needed to exist today -- felt like it should have been made 10-15 years ago -- and it wouldn't surprise me if this was when it was written.
Improv Characters

Finished my entry level improv class today.  Good time.  Not sure if I'll continue.  A bit pricey and not sure what ultimately I'll get out of it other than being decent at improv for a short while.  Surprised at how much energy it saps to perform, even for only a little bit.  Some of my characters from later in class:

Hank the elderly helicopter pilot expert with an injured back.  Originally from Texas and now living in Southern California, Hank learned to fly birds in the army and then worked for news stations most of his adult life.  He is gruff, no nonsense, and can talk all day about different kinds of helicopters.

Gianno the positive and forward thinking pot farmer.  He is confident and good with ladies.  He spent time in jail for selling pot he stumbled upon in the forest.  He also was beaten by the other farmers whose pot he stole, but he harbors no ill will.

Hugh the youngest partner ever at Orrick, Orrick, and Waldman who became obsessed with washing his hair and fixed up a shower in his office and later bought a shampoo factory, causing him to go bankrupt.

What can I was all on the spot improv!