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.