Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wishful Thinking and Corporate Greed vs. Nature

Lost in the egg freezing discussion. The facts.
We’ve since been led to believe that science has mastered Mother Nature. This is not true. I know. I am a former patient of three clinics in the Bay area, all of which were happy to sell me services as long as I could pay the bill. I had multiple fresh and frozen embryo transfers. Instead of taking home a baby, I came away with tremendous heartache. And my experience is not unique. Around the world, there are an estimated 1.5 million IVF procedures each year, and 1.2 million fail.
The article says egg freezing is the "Wild West" of medicine.

Personally, I think American women are continually being sold a lot bullshit under the banner of "Having It All and Leaning In, etc."

Film: Birdman

Que pasa?!? I must be totally out of it, because this movie was not good. First of all, it is supposed to be a dark comedy or a comedy of some sort. I laughed maybe once. I was bored. I wanted the thing to be over. My mind remembered during the movie, oh yeah, I never like Iñárritu movies.

Let's talk about the main flaw: writing! The dialog and drama in this film is terrible and borderline incompetent. Naomi Watts has this line "God, why don't I have any self respect!" right after she stood up for herself and told Ed Norton off for acting like a piece of shit. It made no sense.

Several characters give unprompted speeches about the past. Dull. Very dull. Inarritu's dramatic instincts are pure melodrama and the only thing that distinguishes his films from soap opera is the flamboyant direction and inclusion of massive ACTORS ACTING REALLY SERIOUSLY.

The discussion of Superhero movies in the culture was about as interesting as Superhero movies themselves. Is real life Michael Keaton really haunted about playing Batman? Or any of these actors who played a silly role in the past? Do I think Val Kilmer sits around lamenting his star has fallen and worried about doing "'real art"? I doubt it. I bet they think about incidents in their past much like most people think about incidents of their past -- "oh yeah, that's who I was then, huh. Isn't that kinda funny to think about. What do I feel like eating for lunch?"

Anyways...I just heard a lot of praise and buzz for the film, which just goes to show the culture of movie criticism sucks just as much as the movies themselves these days. Maybe more.
Bill Maher, Again

The guy is talking sensibly. Who would've guessed.
BILL MAHER: You know what else I find disturbing is that everybody in America just sides with their own people and doesn't look at the facts. The cops, I saw on the news a couple of weeks ago, were wearing bracelets or something that said, "I am Darren Wilson." Why do you want to throw your lot in with this plain murderer? 
And Michael Brown's people. I'm sorry, but Michael Brown's people say he is a gentle giant. Well, we saw of when he was in that 7-11. No, he wasn't a gentle giant. He was committing a robbery and he pushed that guy. He was acting like a thug, not a gentle giant. He certainly didn't deserve to be shot for it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Puzzling Team

The 49ers are a puzzling team. A few reasons to be optimistic:

1. They've played a super tough schedule and handed both the Cowboys and Eagles their only losses.

2. They will be getting significant help on the defense back later in the year - Bowman, Smith, Willis, and some secondary injuries.

3. They will have an easier schedule from here on out.

A few reasons to be pessimistic:

1. Only one win - the Rams - was dominating and impressive and even in that game, they fell behind.

2. They've been lucky so far -- getting the Eagles when they were decimated by injuries, the Cowboys right before they figured out their identity, and won a toss up game against Kansas City. They could easily be 3-4 or even 2-5.

Who knows.

Online Dating

"It's a classic tale of boy-meets-girl, girl-tries-to-break-into-boy's-house-through-the-chimney. Firefighters came to the aid of Genoveva Nunez-Figueroa, 28, after she became lodged in the flue at the Thousand Oaks, Calif., home of a man she said she met online."

Full story.

Book: The Good Spy by Kai Bird

Fantastic book for those interested in the modern Middle East. The Israelis sure did a lot of damage to themselves by isolating, and at times killing, moderates in the Palestinian cause. And the development of Hezbollah can be traced to the meddling of Israel in Lebanon. I can't figure out if Israeli's policies are:

1) Very cynical and worked to prevent a legitimate Palestinian state.
2) Necessarily tough in an unforgiving neighborhood
3) Incredibly stupid and short sighted and a causal factor in the radicalization of the Muslim world

Maybe all three.

Film: We're the Millers

Okay, so I didn't watch the movie, but I came home from Rage and the wife was watching and I caught the end. She didn't like it and nor did I in the few bits I saw. So the premise is Jennifer Aniston is a stripper, Emma Roberts is a homeless girl, and Jason Sudeikis is a pot dealer. Not that I have a ton of familiarity with strippers, pot dealers, and homeless people, but it strikes me that none of these people were well cast. I know its easy to jump on movies that don't work -- but this movie seemed particularly "off" in just the few bits I saw. It bore no relationship to life. It seemed like a vehicle for "crazy stuff to happen" with an arbitrary lesson learned by the protagonist so that the filmmakers could feel like they were making a movie. Really awful stuff. Also, the movie looked like bad television. I had just seen Rage and it was not a well directed film. Camera was in strange places at times, the transitions were inelegant, story beats were inserted and never paid off, and there were ridiculous, unmotivated slow-motion shots. But at least the movie was trying. It was experimenting with direction, unsuccessfully. But "We're the Millers" was like watching a football team going out and playing to not get humiliated and being okay losing, whereas at least Rage was trying to win, even if they got their asses kicked. I dunno if that analogy makes any sense.

Film: Rage

A film starring and directed by George C. Scott. His son is poisoned by the army testing nerve gas and he goes on a rampage. Movie was a bit slow for my taste - I almost fell asleep during a few points - but there were a couple awesome moments. One, George C. Scott kills a cat. Two, he blows up a research facility using dynamite and the explosions last for a minute or two. The other standout element of the film is that George C. Scott just brazenly murders security guards and cops who had nothing to do with his son's death. It was strange to see. Ah...B-movies. Oh yeah, this screened at the New Bev.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No Mistakes

An article about Alex Smith's mistake-free game against the Chargers.

The article mentions two drops, but another huge costly wideout mistake was AJ Jenkins somehow stepping out of bounds with the entire field open in front of him for an easy touchdown. Horrible play and there reason Jenkins can barely get on the field.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I love how all the Sunday Night Football announcers can talk about is Kaepernick's talent. The team is behind 42-10, getting their ass kicked, and they're admiring the strength of his arm. The position is quarterback, not who can throw the football the fastest. Although the loss isn't totally Kap's fault, everyone knew the defense would struggle early in the year and the offense was supposed to be more explosive to compensate. I do not see it.
Why Football Is Awesome

Seattle-Rams game today featured two incredible special teams plays by the Rams. Just now, the Rams pulled a fake punt way back in their own territory to maintain possession and not let Russell Wilson get the ball back to tie the game. I absolutely loved the call. Gutsy, creative, brilliant. That's one thing football has over other games like basketball, baseball, soccer -- the strategic element. Basketball and soccer flow and there are tactics used by teams, but rarely can you see a team pull off a strategic decision that literally "fools" the other team completely. Same in baseball. There are trick plays in all of the sports -- but none of them generally involve one team completely faking out the other team. When it works, it is a beautiful thing.

The other play was something I've never seen before. A punt in the first half. The punt returner totally fakes out the coverage team by running to the opposite side of the field to where the ball was punted. The coverage team follows the returner, not where the ball is punted. Meanwhile, one of outside "blockers" sprints back and catches the punt. He turns up field and runs for a TD while the coverage team was on the other side of the field. Unbelievable.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bill Maher

Is it just me, or is he making a lot more sense these days?

He's coming down more on the side of common sense.
To Accept or Reject a Prize

Camus accepted and Satre rejected the Nobel prize. Each had his reasons.

Film: Fury

A few good scenes -- meaty, long, men-talking scenes. As a whole, however, only ok. Action sequences were not particularly interesting and at times bordered on ridiculous, super-hero-esque. I didn't particularly like the scenes inside the tank -- obviously the space is cramped and there's a reason they are fewer movies filmed in tanks as opposed to submarines.

Shia LaBeouf was quite good, surprisingly. Actually, most of the actors, except the lead, delivered solid performances.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Work, Work, Work

Facebook and Apple will help female employees freeze their eggs.

McArdle has a good point that parenting isn't necessarily going to become easier in ones 40s and 50s than in the 20s and 30s. The other thing that bugs me about the whole debate is the portrayal of having children as this terrible burden and career-blocker. I imagine most of the folks in the position to take advantage of freezing their eggs are high-achieving and self-described ass-kicking individuals -- and yet they somehow find it difficult to manage kids and work -- something literally every mother on the planet somehow managed before them. I know having kids can be hard and expensive, but those are all decisions we've made for ourselves. I think what does this really boils down to is upper middle class obsessions about money, status, and delaying adulthood for as long as possible.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Film: Harry Brown

Now that was like a 70s flick. Could easily be paired with Rolling Thunder or the original Get Carter. Or hell, even Rambo. Not profound, but quite a good little film. Also, you get to see Davos Seaworth, Jorah Mormont, and Walder Frey all before their Game of Thrones fame...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Simple Answers

Fukuyama believes 9/11 was a "lucky blow" and Islamic Terrorism is full of  "really marginal people who survive in countries where you don’t have strong states . . . Their ability to take over and run a serious country that can master technology and stay at the forefront of great-power politics is almost zero,” he says now.

If you believe simple answers are usually right, I'd say he is.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

It's Good To Be Seinfeld

Seinfeld shits on the advertising award he wins.

"I hope you're happy that you made me happy for the five minutes until I walk to the edge of the stage and it hits me that this is all a bunch of nonsense."

Someday someone will have the balls to do this at the Oscars. And I don't know if that will be a good day or a bad day.

Films: Gone Girl and Charlie's Country

Are movies supposed to give the audience pleasure?

I didn't enjoy either film. Charlie's Country was boring. It confuses the dramatic tradition of tragedy with a victim-narrative, that is, one of those stories where the main character is a victim of a fallen, shitty world. This is not drama. This is a polemic.

Gone Girl is a mess. The characters, foolish. Was this supposed to be a satire? The whole thing is so completely ridiculous, I am tempted to enjoy it on a spoof-razzie level. But I don't think the filmmakers intended it that way. I actually have no idea what the filmmakers intended. A comedy? A horror? A thriller? A procedural? I wasn't bored during the movie, but I wasn't enjoying it, either. The dialog in the opening scenes were a giveaway -- some of the worst movie writing in history -- I had no idea what either character was saying or alluding to or what the hell was supposed to be happening. And then the various twists. I don't want to expend the mental energy to poke holes in the entire exercise. All I can say is that Fincher has an ability to create tension with the camera simply by a character opening a door, but in the guy's recent work, the narrative storytelling seems to have regressed to the level of TV and Lifetime movies. Narratively speaking, The Social Network is a TV movie, Gone Girl is a Lifetime movie, and House of Cards is a daytime soap opera. The only difference is the presence of movie stars and heavy-duty craft.

Although thinking back, maybe Se7en is really just a straight-to-DVD movie idea with the same elements.
Niners-Chiefs Game

Best game the Niners played all year. Harbaugh outcoached Andy Reid. Alex Smith couldn't deliver a final TD scoring drive. Chiefs blew the game if you ask me -- a few important dropped passes and costly penalties. I can't tell if the both the Niners and Chiefs are good, or whether they are both mediocre. Either way, they seem pretty evenly matched. I'd still take Smith over Kaepernick.

It looks like ESPN is planting stories in the media to discredit Bill Simmons and Grantland.

Nevertheless, I can see why Grantland's readership isn't growing. Nothing on the site is edited. Bill Barnwell writes endless, tedious columns. Simmons is a better writer and content creator than editor/leader of a site.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Nothing If Not Entertaining

I had to go somewhere during the 6th inning of last night's A's-Royals Wild Card Playoff game. I recorded the rest. I left when Moss jacked his second home run of the night and felt awesome. 5-3, Lester pitching. We were hitting Shields. Felt like the game was ours. I come home, having received a few texts indicating something went wrong. I love the recorded sports game, but hate this element of texting, which ruins anything truly surprising from happening. No texts means nothing exciting. If something crazy happens, a text comes.

Still, I watch the recording. 7-3 in the eighth inning. Are you kidding? The game is over. And then, the game turned into a little league game. The A's couldn't throw out a single basestealer. The pressure started mounting. Tension up the ying yang. Panic. My recording ran out of space in 11th inning. I didn't even get to see what happened. I watched Sportscenter.

Another absolutely brutal post-season loss for the A's. This type of loss defines the Billy Beane era. There's a special irony in being defeated by basestealing, a practice Beane openly shuns as pointless to success in baseball.
James argued that offensive statistics like on-base percentage and slugging percentage were undervalued while offensive statistics like batting average and stolen bases were overvalued.
Okay, maybe he doesn't totally shun it, but he doesn't subscribe to it much.

Nevertheless, the game was awesome. Totally exciting and sloppy and best of all, a reminder that the whole thing is just a game and supposed to be fun. Joyous, guilt-free entertainment.