Friday, February 27, 2015

Costanza Lives!

Grantland votes him the greatest 2nd banana ever.

They didn't include Vince Vaughn in Swingers...?????
Does Facebook Make You Happier?

It appears to do the opposite.

Not that happiness is the end all be all, but nor does Facebook, I imagine, make you more virtuous.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


Film: Wild Tales

I don't know what to say. It might be the film of the decade. I'm tempted to compare it to Pulp Fiction.

Cinema is alive and none of it is coming from Hollywood.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Book: The Savior Generals by Victor Davis Hansen

Good stuff, although his chapters on the Iraq war need amending. Not sure how history will view the Iraq wars - perhaps they will be seen as a sideshow in the long series of inter-Arab struggles.

Went to a little office job today where people chit chat a lot. None one spoke of the Oscars.

Friday, February 20, 2015


The Atlantic has a good article about ISIS this month. The author makes a pretty good point about how ISIS has as much claim as any other Muslim entity to being representatives of the religion. All this talk of ISIS and Al Queda as being "perversions" of true Islam - as noted by our President - don't really understand the theological underpinnings of ISIS' beliefs. Just because ISIS is unpopular amongst "mainstream" Muslims doesn't make their positions are theologically incorrect or perverted.

Their positions of course, mean enslaving every non-Muslim and torturing and beheading all non-Muslims into submission, and this type of stuff. And obviously most Muslims don't believe in this stuff -- but on what basis can they claim this is "un-Islamic?"

I heard someone on the TV the other day make a smart point that the West misunderstands Islam as a religion, when it is actually a politcal movement. And therein lies our problem understanding it. If we simply understood Islam as a political movement -- and it is to anyone who believes in Islamic Law (about 20% of Muslims) -- then we would quickly see it as a major problem and threat to be countered. But because it also so happens to be a religion, we are quick to not criticize it and sensitive to its practitioners.

Interesting dilemmas.

In reading about what ISIS does to the people it enslaves, my immediate response is to want to gather a coalition and send the militaries of the world there to crush them out of existence. They are similar to the Khmer Rouge, and when I studied a little bit of history and 20th century, all the smug liberals thought it was a terrible disgrace the world didn't do anything about those atrocities. Well, it's happening right now, and not a single "liberal" voice is out there saying we should be putting a stop to it.

The other option, of course, is to just let them go. They don't hurt Americans, except the ones who go over there, they haven't declared war on us. They are not an "immediate threat." And maybe in some sick perverted way, the Islamic world needs to see what political Islam means in practice in order to be dissuaded from pursuing it as a system.  But if ever one believed in a humanitarian intervention, this would be the time for it.
A Week Late

On the SNL 40th anniversary. Pretty fun. My favorite joke of the night was Seinfeld coming on saying he heard Brian Williams was on the original class. It took a moment to sink in, but it was the best joke. Can't the Oscars just get it over with and get Seinfeld to host for the next 20 years. It seems like something he'd enjoy and they need him to do it. The Oscars and movies are dying, Seinfeld could keep them on life support for a little while longer and confer the proper respectability and love of movies.

Friday, February 13, 2015


TV: Better Call Saul, ep. 1 and 2

The pilot was shockingly dull and difficult to follow and I was almost ready to give up on the show (yes, that bad) until the final moment. 2nd episode was better. I later read critics praising the show, which strikes me as strange. Best parts thus far are basically lesser facsimiles of Breaking Bad scenes.
Glad I'm Not in College Anymore

PC-ness was a little crazy back when I was in college, but it seems to have reached new heights.
“With Martha Plimpton, when you say that you are speaking for all of these women in reproductive health and reproductive justice, then you need to be aware that it’s not just women that get pregnant,” she said. “You need to be aware that vaginas don’t get pregnant. Uteruses can contain a baby, but you don’t have to have a vagina in order to be pregnant.”

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Variable Employment

I'm in a field that is completely variable. It is not what I was raised to expect out of work and I find it challenging. But I can also say, it is not boring or soul deadening. The jury is still out, although I suspect, in the end, it will be what I suspected: good in some ways, bad in others.

Since most personal financial advice is based upon the premise of a salary, the way I deal with it is living "as if" I made a certain amount each year. I do not change how I live if I make more or less money, with the expectation that over the long term it will even out. So far, it works, but obviously in a prolonged season of lousy crops, I don't know what I'd do. I think it is important to note before the last 50-80 years, most human beings made a living this way, so it is certainly doable.
End of Pax American

Good question.
On a related note, what should we make of the fact that in response to the murder of one of its citizens, the United States is less forceful than Jordan? Your choices include: 
a) Jordan currently has more forceful leadership than the U.S.   
b) In fighting ISIS, the United States has a strategy that is more nuanced and will ultimately be more successful. 
c) The United States is wisely playing down the significance of terrorism in order to save its resources for dealing with bigger threats.  
d) The United States in fact does not have the military capability to defeat ISIS, and attempting a decisively forceful response would only expose that fact.
Sadly, I think the answer is both a) and d). However, I think we have the capability to recruit and find people to both lead better and simultaneously figure out a way to defeat ISIS. The problem is that our elites are not interested or capable of presently doing so and our populace is not putting pressure of them to act.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

No Big Bang?

Maybe the universe didn't start with a Big Bang.

I myself was never totally satisfied with the Big Bang Theory. What was there before it?

Monday, February 09, 2015


Film: Seventh Son

Will be one of the worst movies I see this year with nearly nothing to recommend it. Also, the most costly. Watched it at a luxury theater in Westlake village. A Saturday matinee cost $19. You could order food from inside the theater. The seats were all leather and folded back. Still, didn't help the movie one iota.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Play Call

Everyone is blaming Carroll for the game ending interception, but can I point out if Jay Cutler or Tony Romo threw this ball, everyone would be blaming them. Instead, Russell Wilson gets a pass. Why?
Brilliant Marketing, France

Monopoly, for its 80th anniversary, replacing fake money with real in some of the boxes.

TV: Fresh off the Boat and Fargo Pilot

FOB was okay. The mother character stands out. A few good scenes, but I wish it was a little more ambitious than being an average sitcom with Asian faces.

Fargo was shockingly good and yet, I'm not sure I'll continue watching the show. There is something about this idea of riffing off already existing characters that rubs me the wrong way - both in comic book movies and in something like this. Maybe this is being too picky, because many great movies are remakes, etc. But I end up watching on a meta-level and appreciating cleverness versus full immersion into the world. And man, it goes back to something I've been thinking about with respect to prestige TV: is literally every lead character in a prestige show a murderer/sociopath now? What does this say about the tastes of American elites?

Films: Leviathan and Winter Sleep

A film from Russia and a film from Turkey. Both shot on film in stunning locations. Leviathan was slow-paced, but well acted film about local Russian political corruption. I enjoyed it, but don't think it will be for everyone. Winter Sleep was fantastic. 3 plus hours. Mostly dialog scenes, but spectacular acting, writing, and cinematography. I don't know quite know how to describe the movie quickly, other than it is about a wealthy Turkish landowner in Anatolia struggling with an existential crisis. Images and locations I have never before seen and will unlikely forget. Viewers are in for a treat and challenge.
Investment Advice

What Seth Klarman learned from Warren Buffett:

1. Value investing works. Buy bargains.
2. Quality matters, in businesses and in people. Better-quality businesses are more likely to grow and compound cash flow; low-quality businesses often erode and even superior managers, who are difficult to identify, attract, and retain, may not be enough to save them. Always partner with highly capable managers whose interests are aligned with yours.
3. There is no need to overly diversify. Invest like you have a single, lifetime “punch card” with only 20 punches, so make each one count. Look broadly for opportunity, which can be found globally and in unexpected industries and structures.
4. Consistency and patience are crucial. Most investors are their own worst enemies. Endurance enables compounding.
5. Risk is not the same as volatility; risk results from overpaying or overestimating a company’s prospects. Prices fluctuate more than value; price volatility can drive opportunity. Sacrifice some upside as necessary to protect on the downside.
6. Unprecedented events occur with some regularity, so be prepared.
7. You can make some investment mistakes and still thrive.
8. Holding cash in the absence of opportunity makes sense.
9. Favour substance over form. It doesn’t matter if an investment is public or private, fractional or full ownership, or in debt, preferred shares, or common equity.
10. Candour is essential. It’s important to acknowledge mistakes, act decisively, and learn from them. Good writing clarifies your own thinking and that of your fellow shareholders.
11. To the extent possible, find and retain like-minded shareholders (and for investment managers, investors) to liberate yourself from short-term performance pressures.
12. Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

I think #6 and #8 are particularly insightful.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Egg Freezing

The real reason women freeze their eggs: men won't commit.
He leaned forward and paused. “There’s something wrong with the men in your generation,” he said. I was stunned. Here was a doctor who had just been talking about the importance of considering statistical significance, and now he was chalking my dating problems up to the broadest of generalizations. But he was articulating two forms of truth: the mathematical and the personal. 
“It isn’t you,” he said. “All day long, I see patients like you. You’re smart, beautiful, accomplished, nice. It makes no sense. I go home to my wife and I say, ‘There’s something wrong with the men in this generation. They won’t grow up.’”
Uhhh...I very much doubt this is true and if you flipped the same premise around it would be met with incredible outrage.