Thursday, July 31, 2014


"The difference between LA and Vegas is that in LA, when you crap out, you don't leave town."

-Seinfeld on Comedians in Cars with guest Jon Stewart

A's trade Cespedes for Lester (and Gomes).

I'm a little bummed by this trade. Cespedes is my favorite player on the A's and the one hitter who you don't change the channel when he's up to the plate. Plus, one of their strengths this year was having a 3-4-5 of Cespedes, Moss, Donaldson, which is quite solid. Sure, our pitching staff is totally nasty now. I mean, we have four guys who could conceivably be aces. Or maybe a better way of thinking about it -- we have four #2 guys who are better than any other #2s in the game.

In Billy we trust...I guess...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Book: The Jugger by Richard Stark

I could read Parker books all day.
Density in Los Angeles

Joel Kotkin thinks LA is making a mistake by becoming more dense and adding in more public transportation.
Transit has limited effect in Southern California because this region functions best as a network of “villages,” some more urban than others, connected primarily by freeways and an enviable arterial street system. Inside our villages, we can find the human scale and comfort that can be so elusive in a megacity. This arrangement allows many Southern Californians to live in a quiet neighborhood that also is within one of the world’s most diverse – and important – cities.

These villages span all the vast diversity of Southern California. Some areas, like Downtown Los Angeles, increasingly appeal to young professionals who seek a version of dense urban living. They share a universe with cohorts found in many older cities: young hipsters, a small sample of empty nesters and a sizable population of homeless who live on the edges of the gentrification zone.

But Downtown hardly provides a template for the rest of the region. Mostly we live in lower-density villages, many of which – in the San Gabriel Valley, East Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Westminster and L.A.’s Leimart Park, for example – reflect largely ethnic cultures with deeply established roots.

Even newer areas, like Irvine – which still ranks among America’s fastest-growing cities – are now majority Asian and Latino. Irvine’s appeal is largely the much- dissed suburban virtues of clean streets, good parks and excellent schools.
His description of Los Angeles as a series of villages accurately describes living here. I see all these new dense, urban type of townhomes going up all around Mid-City, Hollywood, and Silver Lake. They don't exactly capture the California dream home experience, which involves a little yard, but they do offer a nice in-between option for young families.

I think the best thing Los Angeles could do for families is to bust up the LA Public School system and create smaller districts by neighborhood. Explain to me how that would make things worse?


Film: This Is The End

Watching this movie was like eating a rice crispy treat. It tastes good for a bite or two and then you realize there is nothing to it but rice crispies and marshmallows and butter and think to yourself "why am I eating this?" Then, for another moment you think, "oh, it's kinda cool that's all this is." But by the time you finish eating it, you regret it and realize why you don't eat rice crispy treats all that often -- because they don't make you feel good.

This movie was a rice crispy treat.
Finally, Something Intelligent... written about the current flare up in Israel-Palestine.
But when the Muslim Brotherhood government fell, the military leaders cracked down. They sentenced hundreds of the Brotherhood’s leadership class to death. They also closed roughly 95 percent of the tunnels that connected Egypt to Gaza, where the Brotherhood’s offshoot, Hamas, had gained power. 
As intended, the Egyptian move was economically devastating to Hamas. Hamas derived 40 percent of its tax revenue from tariffs on goods that flowed through those tunnels. One economist estimated the economic losses at $460 million a year, nearly a fifth of the Gazan G.D.P. Hamas needed to end that blockade, but it couldn’t strike Egypt, so it struck Israel. 
If Hamas could emerge as the heroic fighter in a death match against the Jewish state, if Arab TV screens were filled with dead Palestinian civilians, then public outrage would force Egypt to lift the blockade. Civilian casualties were part of the point. When Mousa Abu Marzook, the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau, dismissed a plea for a cease-fire, he asked a rhetorical question, “What are 200 martyrs compared with lifting the siege?” 
The eminent Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff summarized the strategy in The Times of Israel, “Make no mistake, Hamas remains committed to the destruction of Israel. But Hamas is firing rockets at Tel Aviv and sending terrorists through tunnels into southern Israel while aiming, in essence, at Cairo.”
A continuing flaw in how we think about about the Middle East is that we think it is about us. And by us, I mean the West and our only proxy in the Middle East, Israel. But the truth is, the conflicts exported by various Arab groups is about them -- and inter-Arab conflicts that having be raging for centuries. Even Al Queda declaring war against the US is really just a side proxy battle for Wahhabist control over Saudi Arabia.

Monday, July 28, 2014

On Israeli Constraint

Does anyone think Hamas doesn't want civilian casualties? Isn't it commonly understood that a major tactic of Hamas is to actively encourage civilian casualties by placing weapons caches and military operations systems near and underneath hospitals and schools? Seems to me anyone who preaches for Israeli constraint must factor in "the how question" and address the morality of Hamas' military conduct -- otherwise, the words seem pretty hollow.

Doing my best to pay as little attention as possible to this "crisis," but couldn't help but overhear some criticism of Israel's actions and this old term "proportionate response." Apparently, people think Israel has a right to defend themselves, but only "proportionately." And I guess that means...what exactly? If one Israeli is killed, then Israel is allowed to kill one Palestinian in response? Is that the basic moral calculus? Absurd. Utterly absurd. The point to war is to win. Not to have equal losses on both sides. It surprises me to hear "intelligent" Americans saying such things -- we haven't ever had equal losses on the battlefield -- in any war. Imagine saying in WW2, "let's fight the Japanese, but only kill one of theirs for every one of ours that were killed in Pearl Harbor."

Hamas chooses perpetual war -- their reason for being is perpetual war against Israel -- and so every now and again Israel fights them and then is criticized for it. The international community puts pressure on Israel to hold back and allow Hamas to rearm and the cycle continues. Very strange.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I never liked this film critic ever since he praised the ridiculous film Margaret. But in his brief review of A Most Wanted Man he slips in an absolutely horrific sentiment:
Part of me wishes that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s final lead performance, in A Most Wanted Man, wasn’t very good. I know that sounds perverse. But if he’d been flailing as an actor at the end, it would make his loss easier to bear from an artistic—if not a human—perspective. The thing is, though, the actor we see in this movie is at his absolute peak. This might even be my favorite Hoffman performance of all, damn it.
Whaaaaat?!? Edelstein is a monster. What a dick! His cardinal sin is conflating Hoffman's skill and performance as an actor with Hoffman as a person, as a soul, as a human. His death would be more tolerable had he been in a slump? Had he not been as talented? I can't even wrap my head around someone who have such a if other people on this planet are here merely as a source of amusement or a source of art or to do performances worthy of criticism. What a disgusting little pretentious piece of shit.

From this LBN news report I get via email:
In the course of a lifetime, the average man has had 6.1 sexual partners and the average women has 3.6 sexual partners.
Can someone explain the gender of the 2.5 sexual partners difference? Who are these guys hooking up with? Space aliens?

This stat suggests what I already know: both men and women lie.

Films: A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, and Force of Evil

A triple feature...almost. More like a double feature with an old film noir DVD cherry on top. A Most Wanted Man was what we can now expect from a LeCarre adaptation - stylish, cool, ponderous, well-acted, and poor movie storytelling. I can say this about LeCarre because he is one of my favorite authors, but the best screen adaptations of his work are long over. Richard Burton's A Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Alec Guiness' Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy are both his two best books and two best adaptations. The truth is, LeCarre's one big insight was that the West's tactics in the Cold War were no worse than the Soviets, but it was in defense of something better. His insight was so true and so ahead of its time, it is now widely accepted. He is not likely to make another such insight anymore than Mark Zuckerberg is likely to invent another Facebook. Book reviewers praise some of his newer work, A Most Wanted Man among them, but he has no bad guy to work against. Sure...his premise is now that we defeated communism, we must work to defeat capitalism. But come on...capitalism has endured the criticisms he lobs at it for longer than even LeCarre's been alive - that it is cold, it sacrifices the weak, and so forth. It just isn't very original. Still, there was a great Phillip Seymour Hoffman moment at the end that was perhaps a tad too subtle for the movies in this day and age where he jumps out of the car, slams the door, and yells "Fuuuuucccckkk" before flopping around the street like an injured sea lion.

Lucy. Yikes. I cannot believe the man who made Leon The Professional also made this film. Does Besson do drugs? This movie was seemingly conceived out of a bad drug trip after binge watching True Detective and Her. I know that probably didn't happen, but is it so unimaginable that Besson had this idea and Scar Jo lined up, took some weird drugs, binged watched and decided to do a last minute rewrite? Anyhow...a bad sign in your action movie...when your final sequence involves your protag sitting in a chair building up a computer flash drive in her mind (don't ask me)...while the bad guys attack the building.

Force of Evil. Simply put, back in those days the writing was better. It has a lame voice over, but there are snippets of little aside dialog in this film that tops anything I see on film or tv today. Funny that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Film: Boyhood

The film of the year thus far. (Although, I re-watched part of Snowpiercer on Demand and it gets even better on 2nd viewing). What can I say other than Linklater is the man. He rejuvenates my sense of cinema and what can be accomplished with the basics: writing, acting, vision, originality. There is a total absence of cynicism in this project. I watched it right after seeing Planet of the Apes, which embodies the best Hollywood can offer at the moment (and it isn't much).

I sure hope Patricia Arquette wins an Oscar for this (oh damn, is she going against Tilda Swinton! Hopefully PA is best actress and TS is supporting). She is a terrific actress and utterly lovable on screen. She plays sexy and matronly. She has flown under-the-radar for too long as her attractiveness makes her seem not serious. But let's not confuse what seems effortlessness with a lack of skill. In many ways, I prefer actors who "make it look easy" rather than this Meryl Streep phenomena where it needs to feel like such a gargantuan task.

Anyhow, Boyhood should also be considered for editing awards. The time transitions were terrific - elegant, easy-to-follow, emotional. What a film. I must read how he filmed it. It would not surprise me to discover a very minimal crew and apparatus.
A Worthy Endeavor

538 seeks the greatest burrito in America.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Film: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Technology for making ape good. Writing and story not so good. Same idea as X-Men franchise. Can species live together?
Tom Cruise Weekend

The wife watched Risky Business the other night and Collateral was on the TV late last night. Of course, I watched the whole thing. Got me thinking of Tom Cruise and what if he had only done his roles in Risky Business, Top Gun, Mission Impossible, Magnolia, Collateral, and Tropic Thunder. You'd think - Jesus Christ - this guy is a fantastic actor.

He plays a vulnerable, sexually naive teenager, who blossoms into a young man in one of the greatest high school movies of all time. He carries two massive Hollywood blockbuster movies as a charismatic leading man -- in one, playing sexy pilot and in another, a badass team leader. And then, he plays scene-stealing villains in several different types of movies. In PTA's Magnolia, he arguably gives the most standout performance in an ensemble of some of the greatest living actors at the time: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Phillip Baker Hall, Julianne Moore, etc. In Collateral, which might be my favorite of all his roles, he plays a sociopathic hired killer, draped in a tight grey suit and dyed grey hair, doing a Terminator impersonation. And then, the comedic turn in Tropic Thunder, which was much more clever than any of the DeNiro self-spoofs if you ask me. He basically makes the movie, which isn't very good, but the performance could be up there with Terry Crews in Idiocracy and Dudley Moore in Foul Play, where these single side performances elevate the films into worth watching.

All I'm saying is that there are many actors who get more critical "respect" who can't match these five performances, methinks.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Obama Has Lunch

With a struggling single mom. This is nice and paints a picture of Obama's true calling: an inspirational ex-President for the less-advantaged in America. I'm serious. I think Obama will be a great ex-President.

While Vlad Putin does his best Tywin Lannister impression in the Ukraine by having airlines shot down and Israel invades Gaza and ebola breaks out in Nigeria and the BRIC countries make the first strategic move to wrestle the American dollar out of the position of the world reserve currency, our President is going to inspire a single mother to stay in school.

I honestly don't mean to be snarky, because I do think this is a ground-up, not top-down world. And inspiration for people to improve themselves should not be mocked. But as an executive - which is what the President IS - Obama doesn't really seem to have a grasp of priorities. He's more of a Ghandi or MLK figure with a good political apparatus to get people out of vote. Strange, this 21st century.
Grading By Race

A plan to give grades by racial background at University of Wisconsin.

First of all, I think this happens already in some classes. I had a history professor (the class and teacher will remain unnamed) in college who I believe gave grading advantages to students by race.

The problem with "diversity"is the rabbit-hole factor. The purposefully amorphous word is used so as to make anyone opposed to the idea seem like a racist fool, but the meaning - and actions by institutions  - can vary to the whims of any unskilled administrator or flunkie who weasels their way into a position of power.

Diversity - as used by institutions - means nothing. It means whatever the people saying it choose it to mean in their present emotional state. It means quotas, basically. But what's worse, it won't actually spell out the quotas it is trying to impose -- and will move and shift at the whims of the politically correct consensus. I dare to think this whole idea of diversity might be one of the most poisonous elements of American culture and could be one of the major causes of our bigger social and political problems - a stagnant economy, unemployment, failing education, lack of trust amongst the citizenry, destructive family structures in the lower classes, disagreements on immigration policies. It is breaking up the core idea of American identity by playing favorites and handcuffing the most competent people in our country and further, doesn't truly help those it purports to. If you want to talk about American decline, you could start in a worse places.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The End of Old Movies?

Netflix is moving away from subscription services. Fox is trying to buy Warner Brothers. Movies are going pure digital and from what I can tell, old movies are going to be forgotten. At least half of movies I want to watch are not available on streaming. I wonder if they ever will.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Not Good For America

BRICS set up bank to counter Western financial influence.

If the dollar loses status as the reserve currency, our economy is going to tumble and be revealed as a pyramid scheme in many sectors.
I Like This

Great, cheaper places to live in LA.
Mar Vista flats, the poor man's Venice

Film: Begin Again

It was fine. I'd watch Ruffalo do most anything - the guy is a great actor. Nowadays, I notice the little things he does to make the character alive even when he's not talking or otherwise active. The times I laughed most in the film were little odd things his character did that were clearly not scripted and were probably throwaway gestures on certain takes. He tries his best to make up for a movie with a fairly low overall emotional intelligence. And it was so soft. They cast some real-life music people like Adam Levine, who when his face comes on the screen makes one want to turn away and check email. Good lord, it takes someone with negative screen presence to demonstrate the value of photogenicity. Speaking of, Kiera Knightly is in the film and she certainly has the face. But she's a mixed bag for me - she seems to choose an awful lot of lame roles - she must have a sympathy for British/Irish directors or settings.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Semi-Finals

I rather enjoyed the game today, although I imagine many marginal soccer fans would consider 120 minutes of 0-0 boring. The quality of the game was high, in particular the defensive organization and tackling. It was the first game where Messi and Robben were both ineffective and essentially taken out of the game by the other team. Argentina has impressed me in the last two games. They seem incredibly disciplined and stingy in the back and patient in the attack. They are content to let their skill players up front come up with magic. They miss Di Maria, probably their most skillful player up front other than Messi, so we'll see how they do against Germany.

My impression of Germany-Brazil was that of a defensive and organizational letdown as opposed to a crushing defeat imposed by Germany. The first goal was a joke - Mueller was completely unmarked. The second goal was a nice play, but it was essentially 2 on 4 and they made a criss cross run and Klose got loose. Again, sloppy defending. In fact, most of the goals and much of the game was just completely wide open for Germany. It was strange to see a letdown at such a high level, but clearly Brazil was playing above themselves for the tournament and didn't have the talent of the other three final teams.

As for the final, I root for both Messi and Ozil. Ozil has had a lousy tournament and it would be sweet for him to have a heroic moment. But it would also be nice for Messi to get a World Cup to add to his resume and make the greatest of all-time debate more fun.

Film: Atlantic City

A pretty good gambling movie with a young Susan Sarandon. Surprisingly light given the story.

"Make no mistake today," Sterling shouted toward the end of his second day of testimony in the trial to determine his wife's right to make a $2 billion deal to sell the Clippers, "I will never, ever sell this team and until I die I will be suing the NBA for this terrible violation under antitrust."
He was followed to the stand by wife Shelly, who tried to approach him in the front row of the courtroom after she was done for the day. "Get away from me, you pig!" Sterling shouted. The judge then admonished him to make no further comments.
Our society allowed ourselves to get worked up in outrageous anger over the ramblings of a man with Alzheimer's.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Prediction: bad.

Fincher is picking worse and worse material.

25 thoughts on the 25th anniversary of the pilot.
I think Matt Zoller Seitz was right when he wrote that Jerry and George helped pave the way for Tony and Walter. TV’s slow transition from telling stories about pleasant people whom you liked to showcasing unpleasant people whom you loved to watch is what sparked the artistic revolution we’re still enjoying to this day. “No hugging, no learning” could have been pinned to the wall in the writers’ room of everything from The Wire to Game of Thrones.

Sunday, July 06, 2014


Restaurant: RepubliqueLA

I'm noticing a style of hip restaurant in Los Angeles -- maybe they've been around awhile and I'm late to the game -- but Bestia and Republique fall into a similar category of intensely flavorful, almost extreme-eating restaurants. The flavors and weight of the food are incredibly intense. As are the prices. These are not regular-night-on-the-town food excursions. These are splurges, I just got a raise or bday party type of spots. Nothing we ordered will sound too exotic - beef tartare, charcuterie, a couple salads, roast chicken, beef short rib, a couple pasta dishes - but everything was intense. There is almost no other way of putting it. You should not eat like this often, I imagine one would become quite unhealthy. My favorite dish was the roast chicken. Roast chicken is usually the most boring dish on a menu and rarely made better than one can do at home (or get from Pollo a la Brasa on Western). But here, the meat was delicious and the drippings very juicy and tasty. I'm sure it was expensive butter (and lots of it), but yum.

I want to also note, the "Martinez," their version of the Martini was one of the best - if not the best - "alternative" martini I've ever had. A real simple drink - gin, vermouth, maraschino, and bitters - it was not a martini, but a riff on a martini and I quite enjoyed. In some ways, it was like part-martini and part manhattan.

Saturday, July 05, 2014


Film: Jane Eyre, the 2011 Cary Fukunaga version

A beautiful movie that felt completely unnecessary. As a novel, Jane Eyre is a decent plot made great by the writing and internal POV of the character. Why this story has been made into so many movies is beyond me.

Hawks said a movie is three great scenes and no bad ones...well, this film had one great scene...when Rochester and Jane first chat in front of the fire.
I Don't Know...

The A's trade the number 3 prospect in baseball for starting pitching relief.

Normally, I favor moves like this. The future is too uncertain and who knows about these prospects. The A's have the squad to compete this year, so why not go for it? But I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the news. Earlier this year, I thought Russell would be called up and starting for the A's by the end of the year. Maybe they see something they don't like in him or perhaps they are simply happy with the way Lowrie is playing and figure they aren't going to use Russell this year and this is the best chance to win the World Series.

Friday, July 04, 2014


Film: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

I can never remember seeing this film in its entirety. Then I watched it and remember I've seen it multiple times. Strange. I feel like I'm supposed to love it more. I imagine the movie played spectacular at the time -- it probably felt incredibly radical and zany. Today, the experience I think is a bit of nostalgia trip for fans. Still, John Cleese wrecking havoc through the wedding was fantastic.

An intelligent article about "The Obama Temptation" from way back in 2008. In hindsight, who was more correct -- those who believed in "Change" or the guy who wrote this:
But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama’s entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The “change” he peddles is not new. We’ve seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama’s appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the “the proletariat,” as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us — today it’s $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he’s now officially “rich.” The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved — for its own good and the greater good. The “hope” Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.
I voted for him. But remember our other choices.

Thursday, July 03, 2014


Film:  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I'd heard nothing but good things, so I was a bit disappointed. The self-referential narration probably seemed clever to some, but to me, it felt self-conscious and reflective of narrative insecurity. I didn't find the POV of Los Angeles particularly insightful. There was some snappy dialog that made me laugh and I enjoyed the overall idea of the movie, but I just didn't find it executed all that well. The plotting was weak and confusing. All said, it wasn't a BAD movie, just not a very good one. I prefer The Last Boyscout, which uses all the same noir tropes without the self-conscious narration. And it has the creepy and prescient opening scene of an NFL player shooting himself on the field (google Jovan Belcher).

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


People are proposing college classes in dating. Disgusting. The new world is being made in the image of computer nerds and life is becoming much less joyous.
The Not Beautiful Game

Let's dispense with the obvious - the US played bravely, did well to get out of the group of death, and had Wondolowski finished (or subbed Green earlier or brought Donovan or coulda-shoulda-woulda fill-in-the-blank) maybe we move on. Fine. I hear ESPN radio guys talking positively about the US - the future is bright, the US are fan favorites in Brazil, our young guys Yedlin and Green looked impressive. But I'm a little more pessimistic. Here's why:

1. Our record in the World Cup games was 1-2-1.

2. Our performance this year was not substantially more impressive than in other World Cups. We've gotten out of the group stage before.

3. We only outplayed the other team in one game (Portugal)

4. We never had the best player on the field in any game.

My problem with US Soccer is with our structure and the way we approach developing talent. We are clearly doing something wrong. We play the same style of soccer, albeit a little better, than we did in 1994. We play hard, we play as a team, we have well-conditioned athletes, and we hope to wear down superior teams by toughness and organization and try to score on counterattacks. This is how we played today and how we played 20 years ago. Approaching soccer in this way gets us into the World Cup in the weak Concacaf. If we get a little lucky, we get out of the group stage. If we get very lucky, we could win a 2nd round game. If we get a little unlucky, we don't get out of the group. If we get very unlucky, we won't qualify.

To improve, we cannot just continue down the same path. We cannot hope to get very far in the World Cup when every team we play has superior on-field talent. We need difference-making field players and currently, we don't know how to find or develop them. We find gritty players. We find strong players. We even sometimes find fast players. But we don't find players capable of brilliance and we certainly don't find multiple brilliant players.

Think about these guys --

Hazard/Lukaku/Mertens - Belgium
Robben/Van Persie - Netherlands
Gyan/Asamoah - Ghana
Drogba/Yaya Toure - Ivory Coast
Modric - Croatia
James/Falcao - Columbia
Suarez/Cavani - Uruguay
Vidal - Chile
Dos Santos/Guardado - Mexico

I purposely did not include the soccer heavyweights who have won the World Cup in the last 50 years and who routinely find top level talent - Spain, France, England, Germany, Italy, Brazil, and Argentina.  I won't even bring up Ronaldo or Messi. I'm just talking about countries who managed to find - in some cases numerous - better players than anyone on the US team in the past 20 years.

What the above list suggests is that wide variety of other countries with varying soccer histories, resources, size, athletic tradition, so on, are able to find more creative, dangerous field players than we are. This should be a major cause of concern.

And I see no movement or effort to find these kind of players. We are content to continue in our style and pray for luck to get better. In no other sports or American endeavor would this be good enough. Imagine a basketball team with a bunch of players like Derek Fisher, Chris Anderson, Andre Iguodala, Shane Battier, etc. They would play hard, work hard, and occasionally beat a better team. But anyone with a shred of intelligence would see the flaw: we need a creative play-maker. We need offensive.

So this is my plea for American soccer -- we must think about the game differently -- we must open our minds to creativity and artistry in the game. We must find our Ozil, our Iniesta, our Mueller, our Pirlo. They are out there - they must be - because they exist in most every other soccer country in the world. We must study how the other countries do it. How did Messi become Messi? How did Vidal get discovered? And we must look for our diamonds in the rough.


We've gotten better at soccer since 1994 - I do not mean to dismiss our accomplishments and growth - but other teams are better as well. Belgium is not a traditional soccer powerhouse, but their skill, strength, and speed is world class. Germany is better. Portugal is better. Ghana is better. To improve at the margins will leave us in a similar position because the world moves too. I only mean to say - our analysis of soccer is wrong - we must either be content to stay in the middle of the pack or we must change how we approach the game - we cannot continue along the same path and expect different results.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Real Question:  Trust

Facebook is conducting studies on the emotional impact of the news feed. They promise it is "no big deal." Of course not.

To me, it sort of feels like waking up in the middle of the night and finding your roommate in your room staring at you. Technically, they've done nothing wrong or illegal, but it feels creepy because it indicates a capacity for creepy behavior. And it feels like the tip of the iceberg.

Here's the thing: there isn't a single reason in the world to trust Facebook with your data. Not one. The only argument is that your data doesn't matter. But Facebook and their investors are gambling your data does matter (to them), and I trust them to do only what is in their interest, not mine.