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.