30 June 2007

Wedding Speculation, circa 2014

While checking up on Tom Cruise and what his role at United Artists is, noticed the deal with his wives. All three are actresses, and each successive wife is born 11 years later than the last (not an original observation on my part, others have noted this trend).

That would mean that his next wife was born in 1989. It's possible she's not a famous actress yet, but figured I'd make some suggestions directly to Tom Cruise, just in case he finds himself on the market again 6-10 years from now.

Kristin Herrera is a comely lass, building a nice little career for herself, don't know if she'd be willing to commit to Scientology, but I'm sure in 6-7 years from now, she might be ready. As an added bonus, she's only 5'4", so she might be able to wear heels when you go out together.

Ashley Benson, just in case you're tempted to go with another fair skinned blond/red head for your next wife. Another lass listed at only 5'4", that way she won't have to slouch in public all the time

Renee Olstead is another attractive petite actress (and singer) who might strike your fancy some years from now. She may have been in an unwatchable sitcom, but she has four octave range, and that's hard to beat.

Reina Tanaka is a lovely young singer/dancer/sort of actress from Japan who would surely be a perfect match for you. Here's a video of her posing, and one of her performing (I bet she even has you in mind while singing this song, Japanese girls are crazy for you, as you already know), to help you in your decisionmaking (and she's the shortest of the bunch at barely 5')

Daniel Radcliffe might be a possibility a few years from now, also. I'm not saying that you or he are gay, or have ever been gay, or are even bi-curious, and I've certainly never believed any of the numerous rumors about your sexuality that have pervaded the internet since there's been an internet. I'm not just saying that just to avoid becoming another in a long line of litigants with reference to rumors regarding your sexuality, either. But he's certainly a big star, and a big open relationship between two Hollywood players like this might be a major vehicle for social change. It might make a good career move for both of you, think of it as a marriage of convenience, and not a love match. Plus I'd bet he'd make a great stepdad(mom?) for Suri. Besides it's about time that Scientology makes crystal clear their views on homosexuality, and this would be a good way to signal believers and non-believers in a major clarification in Scientology policy.

A Review of the Trailers

Saw Live Free or Die Hard (aka Die Hard 4.0 for you foreigners), good stupid film. Emphasis on stupid. Plot holes you could drive a truck through, improbability piled upon improbability, and computer hacking as a filmic device gets old in about 30 seconds, but for a big dumb action picture, it's very good at what it does.

And Dana Stevens has absolutely no excuse for misidentifying the F35B Lighting II in the film, they identify the plane as an F35 in the picture. Here it is 5 days since the review was posted, and still not corrected, bet if they misidentified the shoes Anne Hathaway was wearing in a review of the Prada film as Jimmy Choos instead of Manolo Blahniks, they would have got that corrected right away.

But this post isn't about that, this is about the trailers. 20th Century Fox has a few big pictures coming so they attached them to this film (plus plenty of trailers from other studios).

    The Simpsons Movie=The Simpsons Movie, enough said (other than maybe 12 years too late)
    Hitman=Another (crappy?) videogame to film adaptation. Starring a bald and barcoded Tim Olyphant (sheriff in Deadwood, bad guy in Die Hard 4.0)
    The Kingdom=Syriana+Jarhead (and who keeps punching Jennifer Garner in the mouth, one of these years that swelling has to go down)
    Balls of Fury=Greatest Movie Ever Made!!!
    Rush Hour 17=OK, it's not really Rush Hour 17, just Rush Hour 3, but it seem like they're up to 17. And would somebody please take Chris Tucker's balls out of whatever vice they'v e been in all this time. That high pitched voice is getting old.
    The Heartbreak Kid=Ben Stiller doing his Farrelly Brothers buddies a big, big favor
    The Bourne Ultimatum=More evil government conspiracy action, can't get enough of that (this one actually looks good, though).
    Lions for Lambs=Meryl Streep plays Judith Miller (possibly). Redford gets to spew every bit of commie propaganda he can think of (from in front of, and behind the camera, he's doing double duty), and Tom Cruise gets to play the eeeevil Republican congressman. OSCARS FOR EVERYONE!!!

Hollywood seems to find a writer and then suddenly pick up everything they ever wrote. The writer of The Kingdom, also wrote Lions for Lambs, and has two more corrupt government pics on the way.

The Lions for Lambs trailer was especially craptacular. Here's the plot summary up at imdb:
Simultaneously: 1) a Senator on Capital Hill debates a current crisis in Afghanistan, with the Reporter who made his career ... 2) a Professor teaching Political Science tries his best to convince a good student not to give up his studies, using two former students who passionately enlisted in the Army as an example ... 3) both of which (coincidentally) are currently under fire in Afghanistan -- the very same crisis the Senator and Reporter are debating over.

Doesn't that sound like a peach of a film. The trailer was a series of HuffPo talking points strung together, would imagine the entire film is just more of same. Tom Cruise runs United Artists now (sort of), seems interesting he casts himself as the heavy in this pic. Guess he's hoping that being a properly slimy and evil Rethuglican will be a guaranteed Oscar. Shame of it is, he's probably right, it will at least earn him a nomination.

Most of the trailers can be found here, watch them yourselves, if you dare.

"He looks way crankier at the Pink Taco opening than any man ought to look at the opening of a pink taco."

Another quote of the day. This time Eric Balfour related. Cause you can never have enough Eric Balfour related quotes.

And I'll give you a review of the new Pink Taco restaurant in Los Angeles, just as soon as I lose all the rest of my tastebuds, cause I can't imagine that being a place full of haute cuisine. Then again, it's at the mall where I see most of my movies, so maybe I'll check it out. Likely, it's just as good as any other tex/mex place, though gimmicky restaurants at that mall haven't lasted before (Spielberg's Dive! didn't do so hot at the same corner).

"Did I just accidentally write a script for the next Adam Sandler movie?"

Recast it with Jack Nicholson instead, and I'd go see it (more age appropriate, anyway).

I'm thinking an About Schmidt that's actually funny, sans naked Kathy Bates, though Kathy Bates could play the wife he leaves at home who threatens to uncover the whole scheme. For the truckstop prostitute with the heart of gold (this film couldn't be done without that character), I'd go with her, or her, or her, but definitely not her.

Saturday Whatever Lyrics: Nick Lowe --- I Trained Her To Love Me

Not every Saturday Whatever Lyrics will be bitterly cynical, but this one is. It's a track off of Nick Lowe's fantastic new album, At My Age. It's as pure a 33 minutes of pop tunes you'll ever find. He crafts terrific tight little pop tunes, whose lyrics undercut the lightness of the pop with the bitterness of the wordcraft. Nothing off of the new album is up on YouTube, but Nick Lowe has a presence thanks to his long career. Above is an old performance of Cruel to be Kind, which could be seen as a partner piece to today's song. The young guy who thought Cruel to be Kind was a good idea grew old to be the fella who wrote I Trained Her To Love Me (courtesy NPR, you can hear the song, here)

On top of that, his voice is getting craggy, and weariness seeps into every line reading. That's a positive, not a negative as far as I'm concerned.

It's a short album, a solid album, and this track is a good example.

Couldn't find any lyrics on the 'net so the transcription below is my own, if there are any mistakes, I'll happily correct them

I Trained Her To Love Me

Do you see the way she lights up,
When I walk in the room
That's good
And the skip in her step
When we're both out walking in the neighborhood
This one's almost done
Now to watch her fall apart

I trained her to love me
So I could go ahead and break her heart

If you think it's depraved
And I should be ashamed
So what.

I'm only paying back womankind
For all the grief I got
I've got the latest believing
Forever I'll be true

I trained her to love
Now excuse me, I've got work to do

I trained her to love me
And I'm gonna start working on another after this
And when I get that one in a state of bliss
Betray her, with a kiss

Well one time, one cut-up rough
told me I only do this cause I can
And I'm bound to wind up one lonely twisted old man
But look out,
Here comes a prime contenda
for my agenda
If ever there was one
And I'm gonna train her to love me
Until it's time to do what must be done
Train her to love me

And I'm gonna start working on another after this
And when I get that one in a state of bliss
Betray with her a kiss

And I'm gonna start working on another after this
And when I get that one in a state of bliss
Betray with her a kiss
I trained her to love me
To late to stop now

28 June 2007

Beware of My Mojo!!!

Earlier, I invoked the Spice Girls, and look what happens.

They reunify.


(I like all the ones who let themselves stay fairly normal human beings, Baby looks especially glowy being with baby, but the stick figure on the left, kind of scary (and not in a Scary Spice kind of way))

And I'd love to see Bruce Campbell as the "sixth" Spice Girl, that'd be awesome (wait, I'm thinking of an Old Spice/Spice Girls mash-up of some sort, only in my dreams)

Innocent, So Long As You Prove You Aren't Guilty . . .

. . . presumption of innocence is so inconvenient, and can get in the way of protecting endangered species. Scottish lawmakers are proposing a new law regarding kilts.

(via Samizdata)

In Honor of the 38th Anniversary of the "Stonewall Rebellion" . . .

. . . I link here.

(and you know you'll be humming that tune in your head all day after clicking that link)

27 June 2007

Way To Build An Audience?

Insult your most avid fans:
In yesterday’s post I dared to say Paris Hilton entertains me, and I confessed I liked her because she works when she doesn’t need to, she has a sense of humor, and I’ve never heard of her being mean. This caused a Category 5 irony storm in the comments.

My favorite comments came from people who believe Paris Hilton’s television show on E!, The Simple Life, is a reality show about two stupid rich girls who do mean things. I hate to be a spoiler, but it’s a show produced by smart people, starring two rich girls who pretend to be mean and stupid. Their target audience is people who aren’t bright enough to know the show is staged.

And people wonder how I can be entertained by Paris Hilton. Good lord, the woman gives and she gives. This is performance art, and you’re part of the show, even if all you’re doing is strenuously denying its entertainment value and causing me to write this post that you are now reading.

My other favorite comments came from people who angrily point out how wrong it is to be entertained by something as trivial and unimportant as Paris Hilton’s life. This raises an interesting question: What the hell are you doing that’s so important? You’re not only reading The Dilbert Blog, but you’re leaving a frickin’ comment. How can you afford to take time out from your primary activity of performing free heart surgery on poor African babies?

In Scott Adams defense, the folks who feel compelled to comment on the blog, aren't all there as fans of his strip. Some might comment just to fling poo, others comment to vent, others comment cause others are commenting. So insulting the lot of folks who come there just to feel better about themselves by insulting the blog host for voicing his own personal opinion, will at the very least not drive away anybody who was actually a fan, and possibly even shore up his credibility with people that are fans. Plus more importantly, it probably feels satisfying on a personal level to ridicule the idiots who think their snide comments are comic gold, or worse yet, the sanctimonious jerks who think they've caught Adams in some sort of moral failing.

So insult away, Mr. Adams. I don't find the Paris Hilton act entertaining personally, but I do believe that the folks that pile-on in the Paris Hilton hating department have some mighty big problems themselves.

A Video So Mind Blowing That You Will Be Forced To Challenge All Your Other Pre-conceived Notions As Well . . .

Jenna Elfman can be funny. Who knew? Pretty much all the work she's done up till this point would seem to be conclusive proof to the opposite, and yet this video exists, and it's funny.

My worldview has just turned upsidedown.

Next thing you know I'll be pondering the positive possibilities of a potential Clinton 44 presidency.

On a sadder note, just as she was hitting her prime, it would seem this actress is leaving the business.

How Long Before Slate Notices . . .

This will be a good experiment to see the kind of readers Slate still has.

In her review for Live Free or Die Hard, Dana Stevens writes this

Thus begins a jolly chase in which McClane and Matt, pursued by international villains, airborne cars, and at one point, a Harrier jet, make their way toward the top-secret NSA facility that's become Gabriel's command center.

They even link to a site that shows Harriers. I've seen the trailer, and the hovering jet in the film is clearly not a Harrier. The Harrier is being replaced by the F-35B Lightning II, aka the STOVL version of the JSF. The F-35A has only just begun flying, the F-35B won't be operational until 2012 (according to the linked wiki), but that doesn't stop Hollywood from throwing their CGI'd versions of the machine into the latest action flicks.

Slate's usually pretty good about corrections, plus they include the original information that they corrected, so no memory holes there (unlike at the memory hole filled wire services).

She's letting her military ignorance show, not surprising, easily corrected, but they don't have an editor over her, or a fact checker under her who's aware that the Harrier is no longer the only "jump jet".

It's an easy catch, too. The intakes are trapezoidal on the F-35B, on the Harrier they're rounded, plus the Harrier has a single vertical stabilizing wing, whereas the F-35B has two. It would be like looking at a 05 Viper and describing it as a 68 Charger. Sure, they're both muscle cars, they're both Dodges, but they're worlds apart in design.

I'm not a plane nut, or in the military, but I could still tell from a 2 second shot in a trailer whether or not a hovering plane is a piece of 35+ year old technology or something that is bleeding edge.

Do I suspect that the probable lack of anybody with any interest or history in the military (other than as a target for invective) at Slate has something to do with missing this obvious mistake?

Do I have to answer that?

Since All the Cool Kids Are Doing It . . .

. . I'm not jumping off a bridge (this time), instead I'm showing off lyrics to songs, non-random, though, I don't keep a lot of songs on my hard drive, so random wouldn't be random enough. I'm breaking the rules as set up by Samurai Frog, cause that's the kind of anarchist I am.

(others doing the lyrics thing are Samurai Frog, Tosy and Cosh, and Bill at So Quoted)

So below's my version of Name That Tune madness. Speaking of Name That Tune, anybody else remember Kathie Lee's sexy humming?. Instead of random songs, there'll be a unifying theme behind all eight songs picked. Guess the songs. Guess the connection between them (these songs should be very unobscure). Answers at the bottom in INVISO-TEXT.

(song one)

Little hellions kids feeling rebellious
embarrassed, their parents still listen to Elvis
they start feeling the prisoners helpless, 'til someone comes along on a mission and yells "bitch"
A visionary, vision is scary, could start a revolution, pollutin the air waves a rebel
so let me just revel an ask, the fact that I got everyone kissing my ass
and it's a disaster such a catastrophe for you to see so damn much of my ass you ask for me?
Well I'm back (batman sound) fix your bent antennae tune it in and then I'm gonna
enter in and up under your skin like a splinter

(song two)

Silly games that you were playing,
Empty words we both were saying
Let's work it out, boy, let's work it out, boy
any deal that we endeavour,
boys and girls go good together
Take it or leave it, take it or leave it

(song three)

Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance the tide...yes

(song four)

An angel's smile is what you sell
You promise me heaven, then put me through hell
Chains of love got a hold on me
When passion's a prison, you can't break free

You're a loaded gun
There's nowhere to run
No one can save me
The damage is done

(song five)

You're leaving now
It's in your eyes
There's no disguising it
It really comes as no surprise
To find that you planned it all along

I see it now
Becomes so clear
Your insincerity
And me all starrey-eyed
To think that I would have know by now

(song six)

Like a heartbeat... drives you mad...
In the stillness of remembering what you had...
And what you lost...
And what you had...
And what you lost
Thunder only happens when it's raining
Players only love you when they're playing
Say... Women... they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean... you'll know

(song seven)

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

(song eight)

You're trying to make your mark in society
Using all the tricks that you used on me.
You're reading all those high fashion magazines
The clothes you're wearin' girl are causing public scenes.


When I first met you girl you didn't have no shoes
Now you're walking 'round like you're front page news.
You've been awful careful 'bout the friends you choose
But you won't find my name in your book of Who's Who

Highlight below to see the answers:

(1) Eminem, Without Me [The Eminem Show]
(2) Spice Girls, 2 Become 1 [Spice]
(3) Garth Brooks, The River [Ropin' the Wind]
(4) Bon Jovi, You Give Love a Bad Name [Slippery When Wet]
(5) Asia, Only Time Will Tell [Asia]
(6) Fleetwood Mac, Dreams [Rumours]
(7) Neil Young, Old Man [Harvest]
(8) The Monkees, (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone [More of The Monkees]

Each song is a single (not always the top selling one) off of the best selling album from 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 years ago (that's right, More of the Monkees was the best selling album of 1967). I've only ever owned one of these eight albums, guess which one (no inviso-text this time).

Greatest Movie Of ALL TIME?

That would be Ratatouille (still unsure of the Basil content).

Of the 24 early reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, 100% positive, most glowing. Brad Bird has a track record of putting together great animated films that work as films and not just kiddie babysitting devices. The user ratings at that site are nearly as positive.

Incredibles is the best (and most libertarian) of the PIXAR films, so far.

Iron Giant was a well regarded animated work that somehow didn't find an audience when first released.

Ratatouille by all accounts is the equal or better of those two previous works.

Definitely be seeing this before this weekend is up, still not sure if a story about a rat that still looks rat-like will be an easy sell in the marketplace.

There are still folks out there who think all animated features are just kids stuff, especially all computer animated films. While that's primarily the case from Hollywood (definitely not the case in Japan), kids stuff isn't always crap. PIXAR has yet to produce crap, no other studio can make that claim. Not every PIXAR pic has been a classic, but none of their films have been a waste of time, either. That's a pretty impressive track record for a studio, a testament to their emphasis on story first. They don't sell their pictures on cuteness, or whichever voice actors they hire, they sell their stories based on the stories, and, thus far all their pictures have worked at the story level.

Can't say the same for the Michael Bays (but I'll still see Transformers against my better judgement), or even the Peter Jacksons and Curtis Hansons of the world.

26 June 2007

Could This Film Actually Be Good?




John McClane is back and balder badder than ever. in "Live Free or Die Hard".

A lot to be fearful of regarding this film. Willis hasn't been in a good action picture in awhile (either the last Die Hard or Pulp Fiction depending on your taste, both more than 10 years ago). Len Wiseman has directed those messy dumb Underworld pictures, and nothing else. Plus the writing credits also have sucktacular written all over them. Mark Bomback has the main screenplay credit along with partial story credit, but his last studio film, Godsend, was a mess. The other story credit is for Dean Marconi whose previous major studio film credit was for Enemy of the State. On top of that, the germ for this story came from this Wired article by John Carlin regarding US vulnerabilities to having our communications networks being attacked in a coordinated fashion.

The article was written in 1997, which might explain why the article focuses on 'cyberwar' between states, rather than 'cyberterror' being enacted by non-state actors. Something else from the article caught my eye
Spooks and cops may well be better suited to the task, at least for holding up the defensive end of I-war. But better is only relative. I-war trashes time-honored distinctions between law enforcement and intelligence, between Americans and foreigners, between the kinds of surveillance permitted at home and what starts at the water's edge.

Undaunted, the FBI has created a Computer Investigation and Infrastructure Threat Assessment Center, expanding the bureau's three existing computer crime squads to 56 nationwide - one in every major field office. More tellingly, an executive order signed by President Clinton last July created an interagency outfit called the Infrastructure Protection Task Force. Chaired by the FBI and including representatives from the DOD and the NSA, the task force is charged with developing a "threat model" and "countermeasures." To these ends it is mightily empowered to demand "assistance, information, and advice" from "all executive departments and agencies." Says John Pike of the watchdog Federation of American Scientists, "The IPTF reeks of what everyone always worries about: the nebulous control authority. There are people who were looking for a hunting license, and they seem to have gotten it."

One proposal quietly making the rounds on Capitol Hill is to let the NSA engage in domestic monitoring, partly on the theory that digital technology makes distinctions between "domestic" and "foreign" artificial. Where's the water's edge in cyberspace?

I guess that sort of thing wasn't a problem as long as a Clinton was President (and I'm assuming would be OK again should another Clinton assume office). The article's a good read, but it definitely reads as if it was written ten years ago without an inkling of what was already brewing in the world.

Back to the film, Since they cast the Mac guy as the unwilling sidekick this time around, I think they would have done better going with this guy as the villain, but I'm sure Timothy Olyphant does a bang up job. It would have taken guts to cast Hodgman as the villain against Willis, though.

The early reviews are all pretty positive. I'm a bit shocked, and dismayed. When the type of folks who write reviews like action pictures, usually that means either the picture gets everything right, or there's something really, really wrong with the movie and it's total crap. This is the only bad review of the 9 posted early.

I wasn't thinking about seeing this pic, the idea of a another Die Hard picture this many years after the last isn't particularly appealing, and the trailer just made it look like a blue screen cgi-fest with no real sense of danger involved in any of the over the top action sequences. But, the idea of seeing this film is growing on me. It's summer, and it's been a pretty crappy summer picture-wise, so between this and the excellent looking Ratatouille (will there be Basil in this Ratatouille?), and the truly dumb but spectacular Transformers, it ought to be a good next few weeks.

Happy Birthday, Leela James (and Ron Mexico)

According to Wiki, happened on this date:

1284 --- The Pied Piper did his dastardly deed.
1945 --- UN Charter signed in San Francisco.
1963 --- JFK does or doesn't describe himself as a jellied donut.
1969 --- Dr. Goodman, John Hopkins class of 1929, delivers his last child (though he remains a GP until the early 90s, and you won't find this info in a Wiki)
1974 --- A UPC is scanned for the first time.
1993 --- The Clinton Administration launches missle attack against Baghdad intelligence headquarters.
2003 --- Lawrence v. Texas decided.

Born on this Date:

1819: Abner Doubleday
1892: Pearl S. Buck
1904: Peter Lorre
1909: Colonel Tom Parker
1956: Chris Isaak
1961: Terri Nunn
1968: Shannon Sharpe
1969: Me (that kid mentioned above)
1974: Derek Jeter
1980: Ron Mexico
1983: Leela James (non-birthday song covering No Doubt, video below)

Prince, Great Performer, Even Greater Capitalist

Prince is about to begin his 7 night (non-consecutive) engagement at the Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood.

Ticket prices are $312.10 for SRO, and $3121 for dinner, table and the show.

It's good to be the Prince.

He's worth every purple penny, way out of my price range, but don't go hating on him just cause he's good enough to earn that kind of dough.

His album "Planet Earth" will be out soon, 24th of July in the US, a week earlier in the UK. According to the wiki for that album, it will include contributions from Wendy and Lisa. That can't possibly be a bad thing. Wendy and Lisa are still pretty great, bought every one of their albums, and saw them in concert around when Girl Bros. came out, and they were great. Mentioned before how much I like the work they do scoring the TV show Heroes, they get maximum effect out of a minimalist score.

Verizon customers can downlaod the track Guitar from the album, just visit his site 3121 and you'll get hit with all sorts of info on all this stuff.

But I Thought ALL New Yorkers, and Especially ALL Apple Fanatics Were Sleek, Stylish, Sexy Urbanites ?!?

But once he gets a hold of the Jesus Phone, he will be transformed, I'm sure . . .

There's an Apple Store at the 3rd Street Promenade here in Santa Monica. Gridskipper has their Ultimate iPhone Camping Guide up for this location.

I wouldn't touch any of the restrooms they recommend with somebody elses ten foot pole, but otherwise the guide seems sound.

25 June 2007

Nice Piece

Hi! Kevin McHale and Mitch Kupchak, Thanks for Reading . . .

. . . I think I was the only person suggesting last week a Garnett to the Lakers trade for Bynum, Odom and toss ins, but apparently there's serious discussions going on to make this happen.

This trade works for both teams. The Wolves get young talent and cap space to go after Gilbert Arenas or any of the other big free agents out there in 2008 (which might be the best Free Agent class in awhile). If the Lakers can make other trades to secure a higher draft pick to sweeten the deal, they'll get another solid young body that could make the 'Wolves one of the teams to beat just as the Suns, Spurs, and Mavs start getting too old. Trying to get better next year isn't going to happen in Minnesota, and they'll get nothing for Garnett after another losing season, but being solid in 2009 and beyond when everyone else begins falling apart seems like a sensible goal. Minnesota needs to trade Garnett now while they can get value, and the Lakers need a legit All-Star (who doesn't overlap his skill set the way Odom does) to pair with Kobe to keep him happy.

As for the Lakers, they have an immediate problem, and Garnett fixes that problem, even if they have to give up some good young talent to get him. Kobe and Garnett would have a much more complimentary game together than Kobe had with Bynum and Odom. Find teams that want expiring contracts to dump Cook, Radmanivic, Brown and McKie and keep Walton, Farmar, Turiaf, Mihm and Evans, and pull in a few solid but cheap veterans in a Brian Shaw, Eric Snow like capacity, and you've got yourself a team.

Kobe, Walton, Farmar, Garnett, and Mihm would make an outstanding starting five (assuming Mihm gets back to 100% after a one year layoff). With a veteran or two off the bench (somehow they might convince Horry to comeback to LA instead of going to Houston as expected) and high energy young players like Turiaf still around, the Lakers could instantly keep Kobe happy, maybe even challenge for the title, even in the stacked Western Conference.

At the very least Garnett and Kobe would get to see the 2nd round of the playoffs for the next three or four years together, something neither has done since 2004 (when the Lakers beat the 'Wolves in the Western Conference Finals).

They better get this done before the draft on Thursday, though, somehow getting a top 12 pick (or two top 20) to Minnesota is the only way this is going to work.

Take That Dubuque! (and NYC, Too)

At the Tate Modern in Merry Ol' London, an exhibit running through the 27th of August focuses on Global Cities.

Only one city in the United States makes the list, and it's not Dubuque (even though some cranky-pants columnist from Baghdad by the Bay used to call us Double Dubuque). It's not even Fargo. It's definitely not NYC.

Nope, it's Los Angeles, Co-Capital (with Tokyo) of the Pacific Rim and home to the 21st Century in all its Blade Runner-y glory (for ill and good). We aren't looking like we'll catch up to Ridley Scott's vision for this city (discussed by Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame in PM recently) by 2019, but the multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-legal stew of rejects, foundlings, wealth, sparkle, and grime are all here presently (still no replicants that I know of, but I'm keeping my eyes open).

Judging from the bits at the Tate's website the L.A. focus (along with all the other cities) will be on inequities in wealth distribution, overcrowding, grime and all that rot. Hell on Earth here, yada-yada-yada. Funny how many Brits I bump into in the pubs hereabouts (lead article (pdf of the whole "e"dition at link) in our local free rag was Brits in Santa Monica this weekend)

So being grouped with London, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Tokyo, Istanbul, Cairo, Johannesburg and Shanghai may not exactly be a compliment, but I bet those folks in Chicago and New York City are still jealous anyway. Interesting that no other European cities (depending how you group Istanbul) made the list.

The ten cities they pick are all in the top 20 when measuring population of the metro area, Istanbul being the puny guy of the ten at "only' 11.3million while Tokyo outranks all population centers at a whopping 31million for the metro area, LA ranks 13th worldwide (though it's disputable as most folks include San Bernardino and Riverside as part of the Greater L.A. conglomeration which raises our total to 17.6million).

I know I live in a surprisingly dense place, but it doesn't feel dense, and here in Dogtown, it's actually pretty quiet at night, and relatively crime free. All this despite a population density in Santa Monica of over 10,000 per square mile residentially and far more than that during business hours (the city swells to about 200-250,000 folks during each work day), and on a hot summer weekend within the city limits you might find 500-750,000 people swarming across our little 8 square miles (with a majority of that in a 2 square mile strip along the beach). So regularly, I'm looking at population densities over 100,000 people per square mile in certain small districts in my home town, yet so far haven't been choked by the share weight of all those bodies (occasionally get choked by the shear presence of some of our 'sky-housed' residents, but that's a different story).

The population densities for all the places in the coastal communities of West Los Angeles are over 10,000, some approaching 20,000 (all except bucolic and pricey Malibu). Draw a 5 mile circle with my house as the center, and you are probably pushing between 600,000 to 750,000 people living around here, over 1,000,000 working (more people commute into the Westside than reside here, surprisingly), and some days 2,000,000 people milling about isn't out of the question.

And people complain about the 405 Fwy. It's amazing it ever moves at all. With all the density, living here is still pretty great. People don't associate density with L.A., they think sprawl, but a surprising number of folks are squeezed into all that horizontal space. Your city doesn't need to be all vertical like Manhattan or the center of Tokyo to be really dense.

Of all the places in the world where I could be within a 30 minute drive of 1 million people, L.A. is still my favorite.

[previously at Immodest Proposals on why NYC is so 20th Century and LA is 21st]

A Modest Proposal On Reforming Social Security Preceding the Boomer Flood

[an earlier version of this post, now lost to posterity, properly noted that Bill at So Quoted inspired what I had wroted, now fixted]

The Boomers will be flooding on to the Social Security rolls over the next few decades. Despite the drugs, the sex, and the rock and roll, quite a few of them look poised to make it into their 80s, if not their 100s.

They've benefited from government programs most every step of the way, and politicians love to cater to voters over 60 since people over 60 are much more likely proportionately to bother to go out (or at least mail in an absentee ballot) and vote. But despite the demographic bulge they represent, and the fat swallowed rat like bulge they've appeared to be within the snake of population age distribution charts, they aren't, nor never will again be in the majority. They tried for a long time not to have any kids, my generation is the smallest bulge in that snake. When boomers were in their twenties, they were very busy not having kids, but eventually they all decided that 30 was the new 20, and later 40 was the new 30, and later still 50 was the new 35, now they've convinced themselves that 60 is the new 39, by the time they start hitting 70, they'll grudgingly admit to being like the 40 year olds of yesteryear. Rather than never dying before they get old, they'll just read Newsweek articles declaring that whatever age they are isn't really old at all. But that phenom means they didn't stop having kids, they just delayed it, so the 80s into the early 90s were a baby boom, wrongly derided as an echo-boom, larger than the original baby boom as you had multiple generations getting busy generating.

Most of the kids born in that 'echo' will be eligible to vote in '08, most won't choose to vote, but give them an incentive to hit the polls, and they'll find a way to get involved. Oddly, AARP are the ones running ads about fixing social security, but they're most interested in using the definition of "fix" that means to keep something from changing, not in the sense of repairing something broken. The AARP represents a greedy lobby for the elderly that want to see no reforms whatsoever to the current system, even though it's obvious that unless the boomers start dying in surprisingly large numbers in the 2010s and 2020s, they'll burden the system to the breaking point.

I wouldn't be pointing out the problem unless I had a modest proposal for the reform of the system that would satisfy all parties however, and in this case, requires none of the usual bloodshed or using of a too numerous human population as comestibles as some great thinkers have modestly proposed in the past.

How to solve the fat rat in the snake problem without bloodshed? Simple, it will take an Amendment, but this amending of the Constitution won't be too radical, it's merely a small measure to ensure that any expenditures considered owed by society to those beyond their generative years still finds a way to enrich the lives of those still contributing to the tax base. My proposed amendment would have three parts as illustrated by the following bullet points

  • FIRST, the franchise shall no longer be open ended, a reasonable cut-off age for the ability to vote (and by extension, vote in Congress) would be applied. 85 would be a reasonable age at which someone can be expected to enjoy the fruit of their own labors and be forcibly withdrawn from the onerous task of voting. It wouldn't be fair to allow folks in Congress, or in the Judiciary beyond that age if voters are forced to retire from their civic obligations, but I think plenty of those in Congress would have no problem not seeing any more Stevens, Byrds and Thurmonds in their body.

  • SECOND, our society is built on family. Money to dependents isn't paid directly to the dependent, it's paid to their parents. If that makes sense for people under 18, I say it makes even more sense for people over 70. People in their sunset years have had most of a lifetime to develop their relationships and make sure that they maintain good firm relationships with those in other generations. Put the incentive to maintain those good relations into law. People over the age of 70 who choose dependency on the government in the form of Social Security payments must also choose a person under the age of 50 with whom they'll entrust with receiving their Social Security payment. People who have children would most likely have an easy choice in the matter, people who never had children, or are estranged from their own offspring, could use services like Craigslist to find somebody trustworthy with which to receive a payment for them. Opting out all together would be an option, and as an incentive to opt out, a lump sum payment equal to 20% of the total funds they paid in to the system during their productive years would be a tasty carrot which to dangle, but by taking that lump sum, they'd be ineligible for any more money beyond that.

  • THIRD, those that choose the path of dependence, forgo their right to sue the government or the person who collects their checks, for fraud. Without this simple legal protection, the court systems would be clogged with the petty squabbles of the elderly claiming their assigned guardian was feeding them cat food (which, really makes no sense at all, you can eat at McDonalds every day of the week for far less money on a per calorie basis than you could live off cat food), or maltreating them in some other way. It may seem harsh, and but for being part of a clearly written amendment would be counter to many of the philosophies behind the rest of the constitution. Criminal behavior against the elderly, would still be criminal, but taking a check for an old person and then giving them care in return with which the elderly in question wasn't satisfied wouldn't be criminal (any one who thinks all little old ladies are sweet, hasn't been around many little old ladies, some would happily sue the pants off their own children if they thought they were getting cheated out of the level of care they felt they deserved on the government's dime). Another aspect that would need to be addressed would be to ensure that the checks only go to people caring for people still alive. To keep the checks going, every six months the continued health of the dependent would have to be confirmed. Checkups are good idea anyway, so just have a combination, proof of still kicking and hospital visit rolled into one.

I believe this modest proposal would have many positive side effects. Of course some unscrupulous people would take advantage of the elderly in their care, just as some people collect checks for children and then chain them to a bed, but I think that kind of fraud would be fairly rare. If anything this would reduce the number of elderly taken in by various predators who attack the elderly on a regular basis. On the positive side, by cutting off the age of the person receiving the check at 50, you'd force the elderly as they get older to maintain relationships with progressively younger generations. As a son or daughter approaches their own retirement, it's not fair for them to have to care for their own parents, but hopefully there's a grandkid willing to take on the responsibility and accept the government's assistance in that project. Living independently would remain an option, but choosing dependence on the government would mean choosing dependence on someone from later generation as well.

Seems like the only fair and equitable way to ensure that the monies spent on Social Security are spent on securing a solid quality of life for those that age, and not get deposited directly into slot machines at various casinos across the nation (as anyone who has been to a casino knows those places often resemble AARP conventions). I believe this system would encourage people to live multi-generationally as they used to, pool their resources more effectively, and maintain excellent relations with their relations as they approach the age where they have to decide if accepting Social Security and the limits imposed on those that take the money is a good path for them personally.

The Boomers were the 'trust nobody over 30' crowd. I wouldn't go that far (given that I'll be 38 in a day or so, I still find myself fairly trustworthy), but I think 'trust nobody over 50 with a government check' would be prudent policy. Sell this the right way, emphasize how this is the ultimate in not only 'family values' but 'equitable redistribution' policies, and you ought to be able to court support from the left, right and center for this most modest, most reasonable, and most sensible of all possible Social Security reforms.

A Bill That Would Never Pass . . .

Instapundit was throwing around some legal terms (guess he really does have a day job as a Law Professor) in a post responding to Megan McCardle.

It makes sense to differentiate between laws that are laws because you need rules, and laws that are laws because certain actions are morally wrong. Even in a postmodern society, you'd hope that certain actions are beyond the pale.

But if amnesty is a good idea, why not go for it all, and rollback most federal laws that punish 'victimless' crimes.

Amnesty for illegals (but not coyotes and employers knowingly hiring illegals), amnesty for drug users (but not big time pushers), amnesty for gamblers (but not bookies), amnesty for tax cheats who pay back taxes less penalties (but not crooked accountants), couple that omnibus amnesty package with a shrinking of federal laws that punish lifestyle choices (those shouldn't go up past the local level). There might be a few more vices and social ills that have become federal crimes that I'm forgetting, but immigration violators, junkies, gamblers, and tax cheats are the ones that come readily to mind.

Other laws I'd de-federalize but not grant amnesty. A lot of the laws that create a federal crime out of violations that aren't federal in nature (child molestation, kidnapping to name two), have been added cause the urge for Congress to act is greater than their resolve to hold the size of government to the minimum size necessary. The other excuse for all these federal violations is to give the FBI an excuse to join the party. But, local law enforcement agencies have more resources than they used to, and cooperate on a regional basis better. Instead of facilitating streamlined investigations, FBI involvement becomes just another layer of bureaucratic crap that hinders rather than helps crime solving and later prosecutions.

The federal court system is bloated beyond the breaking point. Reduce it, and reduce its reach. This nation functions best when the federal government concentrates on truly federal problems, when the federal government reaches beyond that scope, it screws everything up and duplicates efforts best left up to the states.

The idea that this Congress or any future Congress would seriously consider passing a series of laws that reduce its influence nationally, and exhibit a sense of restraint when it comes to the scope of the federal government, is a flight of purest fancy, unfortunately.

24 June 2007

Ed Driscoll On a Roll . . .

Ed Driscoll's been busy today, and nearly every post is something I was thinking of commenting on, but he's already done it, and better than I could have, so I'll just link:
Now I don't need to jump on any of those stories, they've been properly jumped for me. Nice when things work out like that. Also, I don't use bullet points often enough, expect many more posts with bullet points, like cowbell, you can never have enough bullet points (until of course you have too many, there's a fine line between clever and stupid . . .)

Photos That the Ahmadinejad Administration (and Their Mad Mullah Enablers) Show With Pride . . .

The state run news agency in Iran posted a bunch of photos showing how they treat folks they deem not Islamic enough.

Michelle Malkin puts together the photos along with many links, YouTube footage and commentary. She can be strident and shrill, but in this case her target deserves all the anger she can generate.

I would love to see Hollywood make a picture about a dystopian big brother government running rough shod over the lives of their citizenry and not set it in the United States or Great Britain.

Here we have a real life 1984 society that has exhibited many of the Freedom is Slavery and War is Peace virtues that so many like to accuse our society of having.

That picture won't ever get made, instead we get the Flood tale turned into a eco-friendly bumper-sticker message movie. Or you get the beheading of a journalist turned into a moral-relativist tale about how we just need to understand each other better.

I can enjoy pictures where the politics don't match my own. The current run of Dr. Who throws in digs against the U.S from time to time and I'll let it slide cause it's entertaining. Listening to the director's commentary of Pan's Labryinth and while watching it completely passed me by that it was all really about Boooosh and the evils he unleashed since 9/11. I still love that show, and the director's personal political idiocy won't prevent me from thinking or saying that Pan's Labryinth was the best film of 2006 by far. Where I take exception with the politically correct nonsense and groupthink endemic in Hollywood is when it leads them to make bad narrative and artistic decisions in the service of making a stupid political point, or worse yet, where they forget that they are primarily artist and just pound home their stupid politics without offering any entertaiment in exchange.

We've got everything Orwell ever warned about in Iran, and they're pursuing nuclear weapons on top of that, but it will be a snowy day at Hollywood and Vine (and not just a few flakes which happens once or twice a century, but I'm talking a foot of snow in a day) before they make a dystopian picture set in any of the modern day countries that see 1984 as a blueprint for governance.

The Nominations for Best Use of a Geoffrey Rush Still Are As Follows . . .

The first nominee, is this Kat Dennings video from a month ago, don't know how I forgot to embed this here, must be slipping.

Who am I kidding? There will never be a better use of a Geoffrey Rush still in all of human existence.

So will skip the pretense of any other nominees and just give the award now and forever to Kat Dennings, you've earned it.

(and people who pretend to be other people on the internet do seriously suck)

If You Can't Beat Them, Join Them . . .

You can't beat the Boomer Generation at the nostalgia game, so I won't even try. Let's return again to 25 years ago and check out one of my favorite local bands that went big from back in the day.

The Bangles rocked. Energy, harmonies, performance, they had it all. In this clip you get lead vocals from Susannah Hoffs, Vicky Peterson, and Debbie Peterson. As they got more polished, they kind of lost some of this early magic. Wish I had seen them more often when they were at this stage, only caught them once during their earliest days (I have an excuse, I was 13 at the time).

That was then, this is now, but turns out, they can still put on a pretty good performances. Above is a clip shot in Alhambra just last year. They look good, sound great, still trade off on the vocals, and do a strange Walk Like an Egyptian/Mrs. Robinson medley (don't ask), it works, though.

(and Susannah, if you ever tire of that director hubby of yours, call me . . .)

(hell, if either Peterson sister reads this, you can call me, too, I'm not picky, I had a crush on all of you back in the day . . .)

23 June 2007

Saturday Whatever Lyrics: Steely Dan --- Deacon Blues

Fridays were for funk lyrics, and I think I've already mined most of the good lyrical content available, you can only wax poetic about P-Funk so many times. But Saturday's a different day, so until I bore of this project, Saturday will be Saturday Whatever Lyrics.

The main thing will be the YouTube link. I'll only do songs that have something interesting on YouTube available.

Fagen and Becker discuss the song's structure at length in the segment, it's interesting watching the sausage get made. The video of this is a bit jarring at first, as it uses establishing shots of NYC, and the usual establishing shot of peering through the Brooklyn Bridge peering back at Manhattan is used (which means the main thing you see in the shot is the WTC). This song should be everything I hate. It's deeply cynical, over produced, and very, very late '70s

But just cause I hate everything this song represents doesn't mean I hate the song. The craft is too good, the song is light and lush (still very chordally and rythmically complex), yet the lyrics are deeply bitter, not bittersweet, the only sweetness in the song is musically, lyrically there's only bitter.

Here's another clip of just the song, played underneath a slide show of Renoir paintings. I don't get the connection, either, but it looks good, so I include it. Really, the styles couldn't be more different, Renoir's visual style doesn't seem a good fit for a deeply bitter cynical song, but the discordance between sight and sound becomes something either separately wouldn't be, so I heartily approve. Here's a video that uses images keyed to the lyrical content, it's way too literal for my taste.

But, back to those deeply cynical lyrics:

This is the day
Of the expanding man
That shape is my shade
There where I used to stand
It seems like only yesterday
I gazed through the glass
At ramblers
Wild gamblers
That's all in the past

You call me a fool
You say it's a crazy scheme
This one's for real
I already bought the dream
So useless to ask me why
Throw a kiss and say goodbye
I'll make it this time
I'm ready to cross that fine line

I'll learn to work the saxophone
I'll play just what I feel
Drink Scotch whisky all night long
And die behind the wheel
They got a name for the winners in the world
I want a name when I lose
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide
Call me Deacon Blues

My back to the wall
A victim of laughing chance
This is for me
The essence of true romance
Sharing the things we know and love
With those of my kind
That stagger the mind

I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I'll rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I'll make it my home sweet home


This is the night
Of the expanding the man
I take one last drag
As I approach the stand
I cried when I wrote this song
Sue me if I play too long
This brother is free
I'll be what I want to be


22 June 2007

Film Geek Showdown

Inspired somewhat by Prof. Althouse posting on the subject, decided to cross reference Academy Awards with the latest AFI list. The results are interesting (in my opinion).

1. Citizen Kane, nominated, How Green Was My Valley (off list)
2. The Godfather, won
3. Casablanca, won
4. Raging Bull, nominated, ORDINARY PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (way, way off the list)
5. Singin' in the Rain, not even nominated for Best Picture, From Here to Eternity (off list)
6. Gone With the Wind, won
7. Lawrence of Arabia, won
8. Schindler's List, won
9. Vertigo, not nominated, Gigi (off list)
10. The Wizard of Oz, nominated, Gone With the Wind (#6)
11. City Lights, not nominated, Grand Hotel (off list)
12. The Searchers, not nominated, Around the World in Eighty Days (off list)
13. Star Wars, nominated, Annie Hall (#35)
14. Psycho, not nominated, The Apartment (#80)
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, not nominated, Oliver! (off list)
16. Sunset Blvd., nominated, All About Eve (#28)
17. The Graduate, nominated, In the Heat of the Night (#75)
18. The General, not nominated, Sunrise (#82*see entry for special note)
19. On the Waterfront, won
20. It's a Wonderful Life, nominated, The Best Years of Our Lives (#37)
21. Chinatown, nominated, The Godfather Part II (#32)
22. Some Like It Hot, not nominated, Ben Hur (#100)
23. The Grapes of Wrath, nominated, Rebecca (off list)
24. E.T., nominated, Gandhi (off list)
25. To Kill a Mockingbird, nominated, Lawrence of Arabia (#7)
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, nominated, Gone With the Wind (#6)
27. High Noon, nominated, The Greatest Show on Earth (off list, but managed to come in last on this list)
28. All About Eve, won
29. Double Indemnity, nominated, Going My Way (off list)
30. Apocalypse Now, nominated, Kramer vs. Kramer (off list)
31. The Maltese Falcon, nominated, How Green Was My Valley (off list)
32. The Godfather Part II, won
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, won
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, not nominated, The Life of Emile Zola (off list)
35. Annie Hall, won
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai, won
37. The Best Years of Our Lives, won
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, nominated, Hamlet (off list)
39. Dr. Strangelove, nominated, My Fair Lady (off list)
40. The Sound of Music, won
41. King Kong, not nominated, Calvacade (off list)
42. Bonnie and Clyde, nominated, In the Heat of the Night (#75)
43. Midnight Cowboy, won
44. The Philadelphia Story, nominated, Rebecca (off list)
45. Shane, nominated, From Here to Eternity (off list)
46. It Happened One Night, won
47. A Streetcar Named Desire, nominated, An American in Paris (off list)
48. Rear Window, not nominated, On the Waterfront (off list)
49. Intolerance --- pre-Oscars
50. LOTR: Fellowship, nominated, A Beautiful Mind (off list)
51. West Side Story, won
52. Taxi Driver, nominated, Rocky (#57)
53. The Deer Hunter, won
54. M*A*S*H, nominated, Patton (off list)
55. North by Northwest, not nominated, Ben-Hur (#100)
56. Jaws, nominated, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (#33)
57. Rocky, won
58. The Gold Rush --- pre-Oscars
59. Nashville, nominated, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (#33)
60. Duck Soup, not nominated, Cavalcade (off list)
61. Sullivan's Travels, not nominated, How Green Was My Valley (off list)
62. American Graffiti, nominated, The Sting (off list)
63. Cabaret, nominated, The Godfather (#2)
64. Network, nominated, Rocky (#57)
65. The African Queen, not nominated, An American in Paris (off list)
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark, nominated, Chariots of Fire (off list)
67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, nominated, A Man for All Seasons (off list)
68. Unforgiven, won
69. Tootsie, nominated Gandhi (off list)
70. A Clockwork Orange, nominated, The French Connection (#93)
71. Saving Private Ryan, nominated, Shakespeare in Love (off list)
72. The Shawshank Redemption, nominated, Forrest Gump (#76, inexplicably)
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, nominated, Midnight Cowboy (off list)
74. The Silence of the Lambs, won
75. In the Heat of the Night, won
76. Forrest Gump, won (really, really, inexplicably)
77. All the President's Men, nominated, Rocky (#57)
78. Modern Times, not nominated, The Great Ziegfeld (off list)
79. The Wild Bunch, not nominated, Midnight Cowboy (off list)
80. The Apartment, won
81. Spartacus, not nominated, The Apartment (#80)
82. Sunrise, won (received "Best Picture" while Wings received "Best Production")
83. Titanic, won
84. Easy Rider, not nominated, Midnight Cowboy (off list)
85. A Night at the Opera, not nominated, Mutiny on the Bounty (off list)
86. Platoon, won
87. 12 Angry Men, nominated, The Bridge on the River Kwai (#36)
88. Bringing Up Baby, not nominated, You Can't Take It with You (off list)
89. The Sixth Sense, nominated, American Beauty (off list)
90 Swing Time, not nominated, The Great Ziegfeld (off list)
91. Sophie's Choice, not nominated, Gandhi (off list)
92. Goodfellas, nominated, Dances with Wolves (off list, and some kind of sick joke, right?)
93. The French Connection, won
94. Pulp Fiction, nominated, Forrest Gump (#76, no really, how did this picture win an Oscar or make this AFI list, what dope are those folks smoking?)
95. The Last Picture Show, nominated, The French Connection (#93)
96. Do the Right Thing, not nominated, Driving Miss Daisy (off list)
97. Blade Runner, not nominated, Gandhi (off list)
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy, nominated, Mrs. Miniver (off list)
99. Toy Story, not nominated, Braveheart (off list)
100. Ben-Hur, won

That was more work than it was worth. Gandhi shows up a lot, 1982 was a good year for pictures and a bad year for the Academy. The Academy made a run of really lousy decisions from 1979 through 1985. Seems the Academy loves the biopic a lot more than the AFI. And Forrest Gump, winning an Oscar and making this list ?!?

Also, back in the late 30s through 1943 a lot more films were nominated, so that skews some of those years. If there's any mistakes you catch, let me know, I was getting a bit cross-eyed bouncing back and forth between the AFI list, a list of Academy winners, and typing up this list, so I wouldn't be surprised if error crept in along the way.

In conclusion, both the AFI and the Academy aren't all that good at picking really good films. I agree with some, disagree with others, and awhile ago posted my own idiosyncratic list of films I like (not exactly a best list, just films that mean something). I didn't limit my list to American films, but I'd still re-watch the 54 films on my list before trying to tackle all the Academy Award Best Pictures or the 100 films on the AFI list.

21 June 2007

Mommy, Make the Bad Men Stop Saying All That Mean STUFF . . .

(via Drudge)

[The embedded version that was above has been taken down, but the content seems to still be available at the "video presentation" link I've added below]

Take with a grain of salt. At Breitbart.tv they've got a video presentation of a John and Ken (libertarian leaning (and not social conservative) right wing talk show hosts who have the primo drive time slot at KFI 640am in Los Angeles) segment with Sen. James Inhofe where he claims to have overheard Sen. Clinton and Sen. Boxer agreeing to try and administer a 'legislative fix' for the scourge of the vast conspiratorial right wing talk radio.

Think Progress is pushing this idea after a report (pdf at link) from the pretentiously titled THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS AND FREE PRESS.

Think Progress is a rather ironic name for that website as the ideas put forth require little thought and the 'progressive' ideology they advocate is remarkably primitive and collective.

Another front in the battle between individualist versus collectivist.

I'm no fan of the stuff, though I do like some of the voices on the radio, Tammy Bruce, Larry Elder, Dennis Miller, and Al Rantel come to mind as 'right wingers' who are good at what they do. Any legislative fix would chill not just the Rushs and Hannitys and Michael Savages of the world, but would attack the smaller fish who offer up a non-sanitized NPR approved 'voice of reason'.

One of the complaints in the report is that talk radio ownership is too white, too conservative, and too male. Let's look at the authors of this piece, there's John Halpin, James Heidbreder (probably the same guy as the fella with the bad hair cut in these pictures), Mark Lloyd, and Paul Woodhull.

After an unprecedented survey of all the people with authorship credit for this report, I've come to determine that nearly 100% of the authors are male, and at least 75% of them are white. Though it couldn't be confirmed from the initial survey, I suspect that 100% of those involved in this study would be best described as politically 'progressive'. Shocking results, I know.

One of my favorite suggestions from this bulky 40 page document is that stations that don't meet enforceable goals on viewpoint diversity must be required to pay a penalty to local public radio stations, since everybody knows public radio is a bastion of fair minded, unbiased and completely viewpoint neutral reportage.

But why stop with radio, I say all future surveys that involve political and sociological issues must be required to balance the make up of the authorship of the studies. The truth is viewpoint neutral, afterall, so if the truth is what they're after, then the good folks at THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS AND FREE PRESS wouldn't mind the folks at the Manhattan Institute sending some folks with like areas of expertise over and help co-author any future reports. It's the only fair thing to do. That's there only goal afterall, they say so over and over again. They're not interested in stiffling conservative voices, they just want to bring balance back to the airwaves. I'm all for balance, but let's start small with the think tanks, then we'll worry about radio and TV.

UPDATE: Flacks for both Senator Clinton and Senator Boxer deny the conversation having taken place. But, a statement issued through a flack isn't a direct denial, and Sen. Inhofe stands by his claim. The denial isn't a complete denial anyway. They don't say a new 'fairness doctrine' is a bad idea that they'd never support. They only say the conversation, as outlined by Sen. Inhofe didn't take place. I was already skeptical of the initial report in the first place, so I don't want to engage in 'fake but accurate' thinking. But, I think it's telling that in their denial they don't mention anything regarding the merits of a new 'fairness doctrine'. They may be testing the wind to see how adamant 'progressives' are about killing right wing talk radio, they may also put feelers out to Republicans like Trent Lott who have no love for a medium he views as out of control. One thing Congress seems capable of finding bi-partisan agreement on is limiting people's access to their decisionmaking and limiting the venues where criticism can be voiced. I wouldn't be surprised to see a bill that attacks radio and blogs in the works. The congressional Goliath hates all these Davids running around, and they may work across party lines to do something about it.

Noticing the Primitivism and Collectivism of the Greens . . .

(hat tip Classical Values)

I'm not the only one who noticed. The President of the Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus wrote in the Financial Times on the subject.

He knows the dangers of collectivism first hand, and now that they've prospered under individualism for nearly two decades, he's wise enough to warn his people against the leaner, greener collectivist threatening European prosperity.

The Greens are really just another shade of red, it's obvious to anybody willing to pay attention, but only cranky paleo-conservatives and people who lived under the communist boot are willing to state the obvious.

Collectivism is appealing on a gut level, individualism is frightening at that same primal level. Collectivist offer the state as permanent (s)mother, individualists are the father who tells you, 'you're grown now kid, go out there and build yourself your own life'.

The greens want to (s)mother the world to save it. Beware of folks who want to (s)mother grown ass adults.

Maybe I'll live blog the insanity that will be the 7.7.07 big green collectivist fest. I might be able to endure it, given enough alcohol.

Visited the website devoted to the event and did their "carbon footprint calculator". I'm ashamed to say that my carbon footprint is less than 2 tons per year. The national average is 7.5. I'm Mr. Green and didn't even know it (helps that I haven't been on a plane since I was eight, drive a Honda, don't have a commute, and don't live in a house with AC).

Blurring the Lines . . .

Where do you put Apple fanatics within the primitive versus individualist continuum?

On the one hand, they're worshipful to the point of irrationality. On the other hand, they seem to feel their collective love for all things Apple as the ultimate marker of their extreme individuality.

Likewise, the corporation they adore would seem to be more individualistic than their rival Microsoft, yet it's the Wintel alliance that allowed the PC revolution to flourish in such a chaotic manner whereas Apple maintained a stranglehold on hardware.

But regardless where they sit on the continuum, I think all non-Apple fanatics can agree, hey folks, it's just a PHONE!!!

First, Choose An Enemy . . .

(hat tip Instapundit)

Irshad Manji has an excellent opinion piece in The Australian. It nicely illustrates the differences between the primitive-collectivist versus the liberal-individualist. The way Islam is taught in many places, is exceedingly primitive and collectivist. Manji has rejected this primitivism, but not Islam.

Being muslim need not be synonymous with primitivism. One doesn't need to parade around like good old Akthar Butt and scream for the murder of somebody you disagree with. No need to run around like good old Ahmed Angerpuss (remember him?) every time you perceive somebody insulting your religion.

You'd think these rent-a-mobs would show more anger towards people who actually kill tons of muslims like Hamas, Fatah or Al Qaeda in Iraq, but instead they'd rather demonstrate their anger with Queen Elizabeth II by destroying KFCs in Pakistan (that will show her!!).

Countries have pulled themselves out of primitivism in the not so recent past. Look at Japan. In 1852-4 they were humbled by a few American warships and were forced to open up their ports. Their leaders reacted by trying to keep to their collectivist ways while copying the technology of more individualist societies. They made massive strides in a very short time (within 50 years they went from nothing to having the 3rd or 4th best navy in the world), but the militarism and collectivism at the core of their national identity lead to decisions that amounted to mass homocide/suicide. Their attempts to dominate the Pacific lead to an equal and un-opposite reaction killing millions. But the utter defeat of the militarist and the occupation after WWII sowed the seeds for Japan to match their penchant for technology with a government system that maintained an essential Japanese-ness while embracing individual rights and freedoms. They've succeeded wildly since, managing to create an economic giant from the rubble of WWII in a matter of decades.

Can muslim countries in South and Southwest Asia avoid being reduced to rubble before embracing individualism? We would have let Japan keep China, Malaysia and Indochina had they not also attacked Hawaii and the Philippines. Their dictators believed the United States would tire of war quickly, a few large scale engagements where lots of Americans died, and America would retreat to their own borders leaving the Pacific to Japan. They miscalculated. The various jihadis and dictators today in the opposite end of Asia are making the same miscalculation. Maybe we can wear them down before we have to kill them in massive numbers. That would be the preferred path for the next 50 years. But, when push comes to shove, we'll slaughter them with less discrimination if that's the only way to preserve ourselves. You hear it often repeated by some over there that they will win because they love death more than we love life. But they forget, you don't have to love death to be really, really good at killing, you just have to threaten us on an existential level and we will embrace our artfulness.

Individualists in the 20th century have won two world conflicts by out killing the other guys, and one world conflict (the Cold war has mostly been won, still not completely over, though) by out prospering the enemy. The path the defining conflict of the 21st century takes is up to the enemy. We'd prefer to slow bleed them while the populations that give them support realize the primitive path is no fun. But, we still have the best toys, and those toys can lay waste to millions if we choose. The leaders of the enemy are hellbent on choosing the suicidal path of maximum destruction. Their people need to wise up or suffer the consequences. Collectivist need enemies to thrive. But, call us an enemy for long enough and often enough, and we'll get the hint and start really acting like one.

Did He Get That Backwards On Purpose?

Right, left - the terms are useless nowadays anyway. There are statists, and there are individualists. There are pessimists, and optimists. There are people who look backwards and trust in the West, and those who look forward and trust in The World. Those are the continuums that seem to matter the most right now

I agree with most of what's up there, pulled from Today's Bleat from James Lileks.

But there's a part that's exactly backwards. Those that look forward are the ones who trust "the West", and the ones looking backwards are the One World types.

Just look at the upcoming 7.7.07 concert for example. That's a 'One World" event if there ever was one. But is that really a forward looking event? Hell, no. It's just another goddamn smelly hippie jam they hope to kick in full gear. My inner Cartman would love to plow through the crowds, but instead I'll just ignore the whole sad event. Any event organized by Al Gore is automatically, and by definition, a product of retrograde thinking. The globalist of the world are just a new flavor of Marxism, and these new Marxist have collectively decided (MARXIST DO IT COLLECTIVELY would make a great bumper sticker) to replace red with green as their new favorite color. Same crap, different shade of stain it leaves on the wall. One World types are against individualism, innovation, and choice. Those concerts will be all about indoctrination, and heartfelt pleas getting 'youth' more 'involved' to 'take action' and 'be the change you seek'.

Nope, it's "The West" that's looking forward, if you define "The West" as those that still cling to a Burkean notion of liberalism. Free trade, freedom to fail, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, freedom from tyranny, freedom of choice, are all part of the bargain in "The West", and those will now and forever be the most forward thinking and cutting edge ideas out there. It was true a couple of centuries ago, and it will be true centuries hence. All the different outposts that make up "The West", and the places that aspire to join the club are successful and free at different levels and in different dimensions. No place is perfect, that's why Utopia means literally, "no place". But the countries that maintain an allegiance to the concepts of Burkean Liberalism are the places that will bring about the future.

China with all its size and potential will be hamstrung as long as it continues to look backward and avoid acceptance of the whole package of liberalizing freedoms. India, even with its corruption, religious and regional strife, will surpass China within a few decades so long as they stay on a more liberalized path.

It would be nice if we could just let the backward thinking backwaters of the world stew in their own primitivism, but unfortunately even a primitive can press a button on a very big and devastating bomb. It would also be nice if we could ignore the globalist and the gaiaist and let them shriek about the falling sky, except those folks want put an end to many of the freedoms crucial to liberalism just as much as the primitives.

It may seem counter intuitive that the 'globalist' are the primitives, but a unifying theme amongst global movements is that difference and freedom are dangerous and whether the controlling impulse is to submit all to one faith, or submit all to a shrunken economy to save the planet, the goal is the same, control. Another seemingly strange ally for the primitivist would be academia. Yet, postmodern and post colonial theory helped laid the groundwork for primitivism to flourish. The first notion was that everything is subjective. From that came the notion that nobody can judge another (due to subjectivity). From the inability to judge 'the other' came the strong determination to judge only those like ourselves most harshly. From there it doesn't take long till you have prominent academics, newspapers and NGOs who see no evil when committed by Hamas, but see every evil imaginable (even all sorts of imagined evils) when discussing the U.S. government. So we live in a strange state where the biggest advocates for the new primitivism, the biggest critics of classical liberalism, and those most resistant to progress are those who've made education, news reporting, and 'protecting the weak' their careers.

I'd much rather throw my lot in with those who look to Burke, Hayek and Popper than those that look to Marx, Chomsky, and Lennon. With all its problems, even a country as screwed up as France has more in common with Burke than Marx as the election of Sarkozy shows. Likewise, despite some attempts to paint a happier face on their primitivism, the Chinese government is still hostile towards accepting all the fruits of classical liberalism, and still insists that a vast number of their populace remain in a primitive state.

But I'm still optimistic, progress is too addictive, and technological innovation has reached a self-perpetuating critical mass (hopefully) where the primitives won't be able to do irreparable damage to the non-primitives. But that doesn't meant they won't throw a wooden shoe (sabot) into the machinery from time to time, and it doesn't mean that neo-primitives like the Gaiaist won't be able to do some damage too.

I'm not purely a materialist, either. "The West" is also morally superior to the various primitive tribes. Faith is not a primitive concept, but coercive faith is. National pride is not a primitive concept, but blind hatred against those under a different flag is. Protecting the environment isn't a primitive concept, but using the environment as a tool for exerting collective control is. Longing for a world where more people live under better governments is not a primitive concept, but thinking that can be accomplished by a stern scolding is exceedingly primitive.

There will be steps backwards along the forward march to the point where speaking of "The West" is synonymous with speaking about "The World", but that day will come. It won't mean every place will look like the United States, it won't mean everybody will be secularized. But it will mean that every place will be basically at peace with each other, and it will mean that every one will tolerate each others differences. In the mean time, there will be some asses that need kicking, and some bad guys that need killing. From time to time, those bad guys will get lucky and do horrible things to innocent people, but I think "The World" is going to be a remarkably better place in 2100 than it was in 2000, shame I probably won't see it.

In the end, we in "The West" will win, we have the better toys.

20 June 2007

Chris Cooley, Taking His Job Title To Heart

It's never too early to talk about the NFL. Today the focus is on the 'Skins (emphasis on 'skin')

In this photo essay at Hogs Heaven, we have photographic proof that Tight End Chris Cooley takes his job title very seriously.

(guess you can't be a "tight end" unless you put your end on full display)

(thank Morgan Freeman (or God, whichever), that no interior linemen donned those shorts)

(I can just see him getting a Nair endorsement deal out of this, bring back those commercials)

And Woohoo! a ten post day, don't know what got in me, maybe just looking forward to summer.

Also, if you don't follow the Hogs Heaven link then the video below won't make any sense.

Your Weekly Dose of Bai Ling Related News

Bai Ling is a celebrity, of sorts. She's been in stuff, she was almost in other stuff, mostly she's famous for having trouble keeping all her stuff covered while in public.

The fug girls did her yesterday, but good, that photo deserves the treatment it gets. Not many folks have earned their own category at Go Fug Yourself, but perusing all the posts they've done on her over the years, she has earned it.

A few days ago, TMZ posted a video of her "dancing". Bai, St. Vitus called, he wants his dance back.

But as I contemplate Bai Ling more deeply, she's a woman of many layers, at least 23 of them which are completely crazy, and 8 or 9 of those crazy layers which I would probably really enjoy being around.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Scott Adams gives us a peek behind the curtain to see the exciting behind the scenes world of Cartooning.

Turns out the list of requirements is short.

1. Banana
2. Diet Coke (substituting Diet Pespi while acceptable may effect the quality of the outcome)
3. Cat (hopefully purely optional, if one were to need a pet by your side, seems a dog (non-evil non-Dogbert variety) would be preferable)
4. Computer with Wacom 21sx Monitor (*xwl drools*, their latest, the Cintiq 21ux looks even juicer, though the price tag is gobsmacking)

Talent and brains aren't anywhere on this list, interesting, best to start saving up for one of those monitors, then, I think I smell a career change coming . . .

Cutting Kupchak (and Kobe) Some Slack

The Summer of Kobe continues. Now a video has popped up, and it purports to show Kobe speaking ill of Bynum and Kupchak.

Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, a Kobe hater even when they were winning championships, has a big article chock-full-a-Kobe-hateration.

As far as selecting Bynum in the 2005 draft, Bynum was clearly the player with the most potential available at that pick. Look at the 2005 draft and find a name drafted below him that you'd want to add to your roster instead of Bynum. You can't, there isn't anybody on that list who has done much in the NBA (with the exception of Antoine Wright of the Nets, but the Lakers didn't need another 2 guard). Kupchak made the right call drafting Bynum, and all their draft picks since 2003 have been pretty solid (passing up Leandro Barbosa for Brian Cook might seem like a mistake now, but Barbosa wouldn't have fit in LA just as he didn't fit in with the Spurs), and they've gotten good players late in each draft (Walton, Turiaf, Vujacic, Farmar), they were unlucky that their best pick came in the worst draft year of the past five (2005 was a very weak draft). This year's draft is deep, but they need a veteran, so any package for current players should include this year's picks as they'd get good value in return.

So they've got good talent scouts and made the picks they had to make at the time. What's been wrong, and where Kupchak deserves criticism is the decisions they've made after the picks were done. They could have packaged the draft pick and got a veteran player to fill an immediate need. For the past two years GMs around the league have been salivating over Bynum, seeing that he's not a great fit for the Lakers and Lamar Odom has also not found a way to mesh with Kobe. Making a trade using those two players as bait seems like a natural call. Plus Kupchak deserves lots of criticism for letting Caron Butler go in favor of trying to do something with Kwame Brown, and there was the massive contract given to Vlad "Space Cadet" Radmanivic, two costly mistakes that have leveraged a chunk of the Lakers present as well as future for very little in return so far.

Now the Lakers are backed in a corner, partly because Kobe can't shut up, and partly cause the organization didn't make the tough decisions when they should have been made.

Bynum still shows a ton of potential, and might end up being one of the top three centers in the league for the next decade, but keeping him on your roster for the 2-3 years that it will take for him to fully reach that potential is costly, difficult, and not conducive to winning now.

Maybe Kobe is acting like a spoiled brat, but he's also right, the Lakers have an opportunity to be one of the better teams in the league if they have one all-star to compliment Kobe and the right role players to fill in the rest of the roster. The last two seasons that isn't the roster they've had. They are the 2nd youngest team in the league, and when compared to their peers on the teams made up of mostly under 25 year old players, they are the class of those teams. Unfortunately, they play against all the teams, and having the right mix of veterans and youngsters is crucial to having a legitimate shot at a good playoff run.

Kobe's also right to see that pretty much every team in the East is one Kobe away from being in the Finals, the Lakers role players are as talented as the cast LeBron has around him in Cleveland. Put them in the West and instead of putting up the 2nd best record in their Conference, that team would have struggled to win 45 games. Kobe+Deng and a few other good players left over from a trade in Chicago would easily win 55 games and challenge for the Conference Title. That seems to be the only possible scenario acceptable to Kobe and everyone else, probably still won't happen, but you can tell he'd love to attack the Jordan mystique right there in Chicago.

But if Kobe is destined to stay with the Lakers, there's still some chance to create a team that could beat the Rockets, Spurs, Mavericks or Suns. Package Bynum, Odom and Vujacic for an all-star big forward/center and a solid veteran point guard who can work within the triangle, and work on signing one or two veteran bench players who can contribute a steadying force during a playoff run.

I think a Kevin Garnett deal could still be worked without gutting the team, for the PG, Derek Fisher might be attainable and knows how to operate under Phil's system, and for that veteran off the bench, sounds like the Spurs aren't going to renew Horry's contract, so he might be available, too.

A starting five of Kobe, Farmar, Garnett, Walton (a free agent, but seems to want to stay with the Lakers, and the Lakers want him to stay) and Brown (Kwame might put together a good season if he stays injury free) with significant minutes off the bench for Mihm (due to his injury, he might have trouble signing with a different team, though a free agent) Turiaf, Fisher, Evans along with Horry in his usual season long slumber until the playoffs start, could do some damage in the NBA Playoffs, even in the stacked West. That team could play big or small, and as long as they have enough healthy bodies, could be a tenacious team on defense (they'd have trouble scoring when both Kobe and Garnett weren't on the floor, though, so Phil will just have to manage their minutes so that one or the other is always there to fill up the basket).

Maybe blowing up the Lakers and starting over without Kobe will be the best thing for the Lakers and Kobe, but I think all it will take is one legit all-star at his side along with one or two players older than himself to get Kobe to trust the front office again. Kevin McHale would be very reluctant to make a trade that helps the Lakers, but Garnett wants out, and the promise of Bynum and the solid play of Odom might be enough to take away the sting of losing Garnett to the Lakers.

It won't be easy, but it doesn't seem impossible, either.

Having Kobe on one of the local NBA franchises is a gift, he is the most exciting player of his generation, and the stuff he does on court on a nightly basis defies description. To suggest, as Plaschke does (and comparing Kobe to Paris Hilton is just plain low), that LA fans would be better off without him is crazy talk.