Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hostel

Hostel was interesting but over the top with the gore. It was not scary, just gross at times. The Saw and Hostel movies have taken this gore porn idea to a new level. It also played out like a 1980s film. You can walk from predictable scene to the next. I did like that they switched up the horror convention that the "noble" guy or girl is the one who lives. This is a low budget film, and it really really shows. I do believe some scenes of post-Communism run down factories could have been filmed in Detroit to save travel time and money.

Three actors stood out to me.
1. The Russian kid who tells the protagonists of the hostel. He sold that scene, and came across as real. Herpes sore and all.
2. The Dutch businessman. I enjoyed his weirdness, including his salad eating in the train. These are the Euros you randomly meet on train rides.
3. The scene stealer was the Icelandic hostel guy. This is the archetype of the drifting person you meet in a hostel who bonds with you and jumps from city to city, looking to party, drug and bang the night away. I loved that the writer threw in that he had a kid, and that surprise-shocks the American youngsters. He also looked like the radio host from Boston of "Matty in the Morning" only younger & with hair.

Yes, there is nudity & dudity. Nudity of eastern european women and one guy's ass. If you're going to get an R for violence, at least throw in some boobs for the men (and nontraditional women) and a rear end for the ladies (and nontraditional men). My weakness for eastern euro women would have been a great character flaw if I had been a character in some Cold War era spy novel series. In a James Bond vein, a female love interest could be named Natasha Bendova.

The truly interesting theme of Hostel is that feeling of isolation when you travel abroad. They nail the feelings of unease when they have the little ruffians show up and threaten one of the leads, when the 'hero' asks the chicks to speak English when he starts to figure things out, when the 'hero' sees the cops are in on the hunt, and when both leads drink too much & pass out. There is a sense of danger just below the care free surface whenever you are in a strange land and don't speak the tongue.

Grampa's Death

My paternal grandfather died about 10 days ago. After a week of being home and sharing stories, I feel pretty at peace with his passing. My eldest cousin and I had to read short poems by his sister at the service, and it was tough but you have to cowboy up at those moments. My uncles read good, honest eulogies, and my cousin with a solid gold voice capped it all off with "Amazing Grace" a capella. The graveside service was short & sweet, Taps was played, the flag was folded and presented to my gramma, and that was that.

I said prayers at his casket, but more or less told him thanks, and that I'd honor his memory & sacrifice. My sister and I together told him thanks for being a tough guy, thanks for letting us get away with murder while in his house, and that we will tell tales of him to our kids. We had an instructional relationship. He would tell me and teach me stuff. To this day, I can't wait to have a wood shop in my basement. I got As in industrial arts in jr high because I knew how to use tablesaws, jig saws, wood files, sandpaper and finishing paper to get things looking good & feeling smooth. He said "make sure everything's level, cause if it ain't level, it's shit". I was 10. He didn't have a kid ears filter. My oldest cousin was about 10 when I was born, and at the calling hours, she told me of how gramps was with me when I was first born. How he told my mom in the run up to Christmas of '79 that all he wanted was a 'bouncing baby boy'. It got me crying because it was behavior I never saw & words I never heard. My grampa never told me he loved me because he was a hard ass who hid his heart well but there's one photo of me and him when I was a baby and I'm on his knee. I'm managing to look up at him and he's looking down at me, and he never had to tell me how he felt because I've seen that photo.

- Once when I was really little my family went up with my grandparents to Sebago Lake. He kept telling my sister he'd run into the lake and dive in before everyone else. So we get settled, the towels in place and he tears off his shirt and runs full force into the lake. He dives in and when he comes up, his shorts are down. We all see his ghost white butt. We laughed our asses off, and my sister forever reminded him of it whenever he went swimming.

- He used to get angry when I'd come to his house after summer b-ball camp and tear off my shirt & socks and dive into the pool, spilling water. One day to teach me a lesson, we're in the pool and suddenly he comes barrelling towards the pool & jumps the 4 foot wall (he was 68 +/-). Water spilled out everywhere and I learned my lesson.

- He was 75 & I was teasing him about getting older. He threw me over his shoulder into the pool. I was about 145 lbs.

- I turned 13 and he gave me a Playboy. His rationale: "so you won't look surprised the 1st time you see a girl nekkid".

- Before I went to college, I stopped by to say goodbye to him & gramma. He shook my hand & said 2 words: "Watch yourself".

- He built a snow igloo for my sis & I two different winters. It was 5 feet high and 10 x 8 in size. We thanked him and gave him hugs and he, of course, mumbled "what are you doing, it was nothing, go outside for chrissake" like it was nothing. My gramma said he worked on it all day before we got home from school.

When I was 21, I had the chance to go to the beaches of Normandy. I got down there and scooped up some sand for him and his brother. I walked up the hill and saw the rows and rows of crosses like Arlington. I thought of how lucky it was he, and the other surviving veterans of that invasion, were to come back. After seeing where our family was from in Scotland, it hit me how many generations worked hard just to get us to this point. How much hard living and sacrifice was there. What am I doing to honor it? Everyone stands on a mountain of bones of those who labored to put you where you are. What are you doing for them? So gramps, I will remember, and honor you.

Unions Are Bad

Genius at work, union members voted to eventually move their jobs overseas.

"How dare you freeze entry level wages!!??!?!" or "How dare you ask skilled trade workers do more than one job!?!?!?!?!?"

Unions served a purpose when my Memere was working in the textile mills. Many of the things they fought for are now codified in law. With the labor laws now in existence, what exactly are the unions fighting for our benefit? Not much, but they will surely tell you how much a vice president of marketing is earning. Damn those management cronies!!!!

Lesson in union negotiations and contracts: many unions have hardwired into their wage contracts that they will automatically get a wage increase the same as a rise in the federal minimum wage. If you've ever wondered why the Dems always seem to push a rise in the minimum wage look no further than that union connection. I cannot tell you how comical it is to see a small amendment to a contract come in that asks for a $10 increase in a weekly wage protection program. Yup, that $10 will buy you 2 value meals at Mickey D's.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

H1N1

Get the H1N1 vaccine. I'm not being an alarmist, but the death patterns are skewed towards younger people unlike other flus, but oddly enough very much like the Spanish Flu of 1918 that wrecked havoc with younger people. Sign me up for the vaccine.

What If: Terrelle Pryor Doesn't go to Ohio State

The Multiverse Concept is an idea I can dig for fun. I love what ifs. Big picture politics, economics, war, religion, sports, my past dating life, and probably the biggest one for me, what if I had went through with a transfer in college. What ifs are great with sports as sports are so trivial & stupid that you don't discuss a sports what if and take it to a far off conclusion like Nazis landing on the Moon first. Sports what ifs are fun because oftentimes they involve the smallest, dumb little difference. Today I want to blog about Terrelle Pryor and where he'd be today if he had not gone to Ohio St.

Pryor chose OSU as it runs a pro style offense (poorly) and is a huge program with lots of media attention and constant BCS appearances. Because Coach Sweater Vest had to 'punish' someone for the poor game vs. USC last year, he benched Boeckman wrongly and inserted Pryor to play a super limited role of game manager for the entire season. This wasted a year of eligibility and threw the kid ot the wolves since he had not had spring practice to learn the playbook. Coach SV asked a lot out of Pryor and lost some tight games vs. good opponents because he had a true frosh QB in there with no seasoning and a limited playbook. The hype and expectations have made people grumble about his play and development which is sad and some of this blame, if not most, should be placed on the coaching staff. He has a great arm, fast feet, NFL QB size, but he needs time to learn to play at that level. He also would have had time to add some weight to his frame and not take a beating early. Not every top QB recruit is Matt Barkley. I believe Pryor is the real deal and can play in the NFL. I just think he's at the wrong school with the wrong coach. Even has some jerk teammates who give mush mouthed cover for him. Where else could Pryor have gone and where would he be right now?

Oregon Ducks

TP heads to Eugene, Oregon and does not enroll early. He comes in as a true freshman without any spring practice work just like at OSU. Coach Mike Bellotti would have most likely redshirted Pryor. He had some upperclassmen ahead of Pryor and would have looked to redshirt him, get him learning the offense and save a year of eligibility. He would have gone under the radar at Oregon for his frosh year. No hype, no failures, no terrible 6-14 for 100 yards in a win games. This year he'd be 2 or 3 on the depth chart and maybe see some action. The public would not know much about him, but the anticipation for the redshirt frosh to play would be bubbling, especially with the team running through the Pac 10 w/o him or their no. 1 RB. Playing on the west coast would also give him some cover from the media. It would be more relaxed than playing at the Horseshoe at OSU. OU's program recruits good skill position and O-linemen, so he would be surrounded by decent weapons. They run the spread, which is suited for his dual threat talents, but they do pass quite a bit. The attention might not be there, but it might be better for his development (slower).

Penn State

Pryor from Pennsylvania playing in Happy Valley. Oh gosh, half of Penn would have exploded. With Daryl Clark and Pat Devlin last year ahead of him, JoePa would have redshirted Pryor to save some eligiblity and teach him the offense (the HD spread). PSU's QB coaching is a bit suspect, but if eh can follow the Clark playbook, with his superior talents, he'd be 2nd string behind Clark right now being groomed as the replacement to start for 3 years after Clark graduates. He'd get reps this year in blow outs. The hype and excitement for him would be incredibly high still. He could develop slower with just as much excitement. Right now at PSU, they'd be spitting nickels waiting for him to take over and the future would look bright. My concern would be recruiting the weapons for Pryor, but JoePa has really improved his recruiting the last 5 years.

Michigan

Part of Pryor's reluctance to sign at Michigan was that Rich Rodriguez had a "Super Pat White" in mind when he saw Pryor. Pryor wanted to go to more of a pro style offense so he could be more ready & draftable for the NFL. Last year was horrible for Rodriguez, and I will blog that he'd have not reshirted Pryor. I think Pryor would be in a similar spot to where he is now except for one huge difference: his supporting cast would have been so bad that he couldn't be blamed for losses. He'd be that talented pianist in a dive bar collecting compliments from people who wonder why he's there (wow, that's the story of "Pianoman"). Rodriguez would have spent his offseason not recruiting Forcier and "Shoelaces" Robinson, but finding other talent in order to help Pryor. I don't see this college as a huge step up for development, but R-Rod has done better with Pat White than Coach SV has done with any of his QBs. I can see him working with Pryor to start from his spread option offense at first and then develop it more into a pass compatible spread as Pryor developed.

LSU

Now this would have been a great match for him. Premier conference, great coach, pro style offense that does run some option plays, and lots of weapons around him. I think Miles would have redshirted him since Pryor did not attend spring practices. He would have been on the sidelines, watching the abomination that was their duo of Lee and the Harvard in 2008. He'd be a starting redshirt frosh this year with a strong run game and defense to back him up. Primetime matchups each week and lots of TV exposure. Like Oregon, getting away from his Midwest roots might have been better for him. The battle over Pryor was a huge tug of war between Michigan-PSU-OSU. At LSU, he'd be set to start for the next 3-4 years. With the WRs at LSU now and coming in, he'd have good targets to throw to, and be marketable to the NFL as he'd play Florida and Alabama's defenses each year. LSU would have been his best fit. Coach Miles turning down the Michigan job to stay at LSU should tell you everything you need to know about Big 10 football right now.

Remote Possibility... Florida

Florida, yes Urban Meyer's Florida, was on Pryor's expanded list of schools. This would be murder to the SEC and rest of the nation. Urban Meyer would have had Tebow and Pryor to form a mobile QB legacy of nearly a decade. With Tebow there, he could redshirt Pryor, teach him the system, put some weight on his frame, and then use him this year as a change of pace QB like Meyer used Tebow as a true frosh. He'd then take over after Tebow's departure. It would be scary and bad for the rest of the NCAA. Meyer would have a stronger armed and faster QB than Tebow to run his system.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Documentary that Inspired the Boogie Nights Documentary Sequence

Very happy I found this gem of unintentional comedy and delusional behavior & beliefs. Many parts of this as well as scenes from Holmes' movies are directly copied or duplicated in "Boogie Nights".








Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pakistan

Timing feels right that I blogged on Pakistan's basket case status and Iran accuses them of being involved in an attack on their Revolutionary Guard. I'm surprised they didn't just accuse the USA or Israel. The Revolutionary Guard is like a mash up of the KGB, Nazi Germany's SA, and 'brute squad'. Dead RG members are OK in my book.

NCAA Football: A Fun Saturday

Saturday was a fun day to be a college football fan. Great games, classic rivalries, and tight finishes. It's a rarity to see so many games featuring top 10 teams come down to the wire or end up on the losing end. I managed to watch parts of 7 games yesterday while at the gym, at home or at a bar. October is a great month for sports fans with the NFL, NCAA football, MLB playoffs, and the start of the NHL season. On a cold Saturday, it's nice being in a warm home with the TV on and snack food to eat. It good escapism.

- I love how Texas-Oklahoma play their annual game at the Cotton Bowl. It's a huge oval stadium built to seat thousands, not built for luxury box a-holes. It's smack dab at the midpoint for each campus, and both teams have good groups of fans show up.

- I'm sorry to see Sam Bradford re-injure his shoulder. Truly sad. I'm not sad to see Colt McCoy get exposed this entire season for running a dink-dunk offense.

- I'm tired of Tim Tebow. He's not Jesus. He's not even a great QB. He's not. He doesn't even run well for a guy running the spread option offense. He will stink in the pros.

- I passed up on tickets to the OSU-Purdue game. I could have seen a huge upset, damn!

- Why did Pryor choose OSU over Michigan? Awful decision. Wrong offense, wrong coach, might even be the wrong conference. Must have received a few extra thousand from some OSU booster. His final 5 schools were Oregon, LSU, Michigan, OSU & Penn st. He got stupid advice.

- Jimmy Clausen looks for reals. He played well vs. a real defense. I bet he's next year's no. 1 NFL pick by the St. Louis Rams. He does more with chicken shit supporting players than any other ND QBs. He runs a good 2 min drill, has the physical tools, and plays in a pro style offense.

- People who compare QBs like Clausen and Bradford with Tebow like all 3 are similar for NFL potential and will be top 15 picks are retarded. Watching Tebow, Clausen and Bradford, it is obvious who is the passing QB, who has great physical skills for the NFL and who can run a passing offense. Tebow is a gimmick offense guy with a super slow delivery, average arm, and great skill players around him.

- Weird rule where at ND, when USC scores a TD, the refs have to start throwing penalties to keep the game interesting. It truly is amazing how ND has a completely different world for college football than everyone else. Opponents get flagged for flexing, for hitting guys inbounds, for diving at guys while they still aren't down, and for softly pushing QBs to the ground. All new rules I guess. The refs kept ND in that game. They stunk for the most part. Writers who watched the game know this. Watch, they will not drop in the polls either, they are the only team that can lose at home and not drop in the polls. They are the only team in the nation who has moral victories when they lose at home.

- Matt Barkley will be the no. 1 NFL pick in either 3 or 4 years. Let's hope it's not the Raiders. It would be amazing to think that two future no. 1 picks overall faced each other in the ND-USC 2009 game.

- The NCAA has to do away with the pre-snap look to the sideline by offenses. This is an unfair offensive advantage. What happens is the offense sets up, then the defense sets up, then the offensive coaches look at that defense and decide to change the play or not. This is unfair to defenses, and really annoying to watch.
- Seeing the full dress marching bands is always fun. It's not fair to call them band geeks when they get awesome uniforms and national TV exposure.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Drop Outs

The news had a little blurb recently on the number of students who missed the first and second days of the school year in Indianapolis Public Schools. It was petty staggering around 25% or so. This is a bit of an indicator for % of students lost or the number of drop outs each year. This made me wonder how the city and schools ever estimate student attendance, budgets, etc. Truly sad. What is also sad is the number of drop outs. The IPS system has gone down the tubes in as little as 10 years.

The idea of dropping out and the current state of school attendance aroused my detective side, and I looked up some stats. The stats showed really low drop out rates. I then found other studies and a pretty solid study that showed how the tinkering with stats makes them look better. The drop out picture is worse now than 1960 for both genders and all races. Prison populations are excluded. GED recipients are included, despite a GED not garnering the awardee income equivalent to a high school graduate. Despite what the education machine tells you, a high school degree can give you job security. As a society, the message of education should start with just completing high school. Let's get them through HS as a literate adult.

This is a bit strange too since America has lost so many manufacturing jobs that in the past did not require HS diplomas. Back in the day, it was common to leave school to get a job to support the family. Is that the motivation behind dropping out today? I highly doubt it. What can be done? Not much since so many studies show the most important thing towards educational success is within the individual's home. It might be good to look at what the alternative are for these drop outs. Is there a way to induce them to stay in school? To induce the family to value staying in school? I will have to keep searching for new research and papers. These are the kinds of funded studies I support, not checking the methane content of cow farts. Let's go America.

The Problem With Pakistan

Pakistan is an absolute mess. It is unstable. It has lawless areas that harbor terrorists. It has an intelligence agency that has odd ties to the Taliban, terrorists, and who knows what else. It also is a nuclear power. One thing I supported Prez O on was his renaming of the Afgan situation to the Afpak theater. He's playing Hamlet with Afpak now & going soft compared to his campaign bombast, but at least announcing it as one linked theater was good (even if we already were using drones in Pakistan in 07-08). Pakistan is important, and our press would do everyone a service to explain its geopolitical importance.

Pakistan was once a secular nation where women could wear jeans, the mosques were separated from the government, and they had beef with India. They still have beef with India, but everything else has changed. Read these two books and you learn why. Their dictator turned president Zia ushered in Islamic (sharia) law and officially Islamified much of their society. The Soviet invasion of Afganistan created the call to jihad for Arabs and other Muslims. Their entry point into Afganistan was Pakistan. These Arabs poured into border towns, created schools that only taught the Koran, and surprise surprise left a social infrastructure of rabid Muslims in a former British colony. The inclusion of Sharia courts rather than the nice Brit system suddenly infused by many more devoted Muslims in the nation lead to instability in the legal system. This is not good for any nation. The change in Pakistan was not overnight and cannot be blamed on one thing.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan's leaders lied to the US (directly to our Presidents) about their drive for a nuclear weapon. The finally tested one in 1998. This was all started in reaction to India's nuclear ambitions, which goes back to the "beef with India" problem. This all goes back to the British leaving India and splitting it into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan (not really smart). They have the weapons, they have the know how, and they have radioactive material. It's not just 'the bomb' that is a danger, but the idea fo radioactive material which could easily be slapped into a normal explosive device to create a dirty bomb. Well placed dirty bombs could create panic in high human traffic areas. These are the things to strategize for when considering Al Qaeda's desires and potential moves. The Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI) could transfer material or just sympathetic scientists and government officials. This is why Al Qaeda and the Taliban's forays into seizing government and army buildings in Pakistan is a big deal. This is why countries looking to protect their people should be alarmed and active in stabilizing Pakistan.

This is also why it would help Prez O and our interests to reach out to India. While Pakistan could create a problem for us through transfers of information and material to terrorists, Pakistan is a direct threat to India. India is also a billion person, multiethnic democracy that is a growing economic power hoping to increase its influence on the world stage. God forbid we buddy up with them. Using regional powers to assist us in our goals is an effective tool. When those regional powers are democratic countries that we have had good relations with for 10 years is even better. This is important as a stable Pakistan means a tool to use against terrorists. Preventing terrorist playgrounds and terrorist friendly nations from popping up should be a national security priority. Let's hope Hamlet and the gang don't dwaddle too long and hurt us all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Russia's Shrinking Too

Russia has plenty of problems like any country. Bad economy, terrible income inequality, no free press, a secret police, low birth rates, shorter life spans, and crazy alcohol problems. They also have the KGB Mob running the show. At least they have oil and gas riches. What a country! They have an awful demographic problem that makes Japan's problem look mild. They try lame programs to increase the population to no avail. It's not a new problem, and it will stay with them for decades. A dangerous thing for Russia is that as they age like every nation, the problem is worse for them as the life expectancy is so short. Adult men have a life expectancy of 60, worse than 3rd world nations! How could this happen in a country with socialized medicine??? Thousands die from tuberculosis every year in Russia. This is a sick and dying country.



Despite this demographic death march, Russia has a unique role on the world stage... because of their nuclear arsenal. Their current military uses old junk or deploys systems that don't compete with the US or even Chinese equipment (ask Syria how Russki radar & anti-aircraft tech is). Throw in their status as the world's largest producer of oil, and suddenly it makes sense how Russia roars when oil is priced high & meows when it is low (see 1970s compared to the 1980s). Russia has a reason to juice geopolitical events to get oil up. Russia has a reason to be against missile defense. It's not for use against their huge arsenal, but against proxy rogue nations Russia can use to pester the USA. Russia can proclaim disgust with Iran-US relations, do nothing to help prevent an incident, but then sit back & count the dollars-euros-yen when the price of oil spikes to $150 after a bombing. Those oil riches enable their oligarchs to live lavishly and the Russian government to send enough crumbs to the peasants to keep them pacified. They need oil at $95 per bbl to cover their budget. It would benefit the US population if this was mentioned during most foreign policy articles or columns that have Russia on 'the other side' or demanding something from the West or the USA. This is also why we should switch to nat gas for a transportation fuel, especially now w/high unemployment. Take the 'oil weapon' away from the totalitarian states and terrorist funding nations.




Russia dying and the acceleration of it's death is discussed here in this clip and in other clips from the same special. I will believe all is well with them when they stop exporting their young, attractive women.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Subway EEs

Let's get rid of the subway ticket sales ees and replace them all with machines. Some cities have kind of moved to this with autosales stations. When you get down to it, with the spread of credit-debit cards, why are we paying public ees (and their benefits & pensions) to do the work Aquaboggan waterpark teens do for minimum wage. Mind you they made a stink of this in Boston recently. Money quote: "The unions’ benefits, which include free health care for retirees, are considered some of the most generous of any public agency in the nation and have long been the target of public and political scorn." This is bullshit. Taxpayer money and T fees pay for these folks to have free retiree health care. Millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost by men and women over age 50 in the last 18 months and they do not have free health care to look forward to. Nope. It's too bad so sad when you don't have the SEIU on your side. They 'reformed' the pension eligibility from 23 years of service regardless of age for full pension and it's still rich so that you can qualify if you have 25 years in and are age 55. Who retires at age 55? Investment bankers and public union ees!!!

Why should public union ees get more protection than my dad the non-union tool maker? What about an assembler making 35K in Mass who has to ride the T in to see a Sox game or a show? Their T fee goes up because they have to fund the albatross pension and Cadillac retiree health programs for the MBTA ees. Has an MBTA ee ever smiled at a rider? Ever???? They are horrible. It's like you bothered them when you want to buy Charlie passes or insert the pass incorrectly. It's not just lower level ees, how many layers of fat can you have in admin of the MBTA. I bet if you had a census showing every ee, you would be amazed at how many redundant positions there are. I wish I was at my former employer because I would probably quote on the MBTA at some point and be able to make that public.

It's not just the MBTA. It's all of government up and down the ladder. I see cop salaries in tiny towns in Central Pennsylvania that are 2.5 times the average wage for that county. This will all end.

More Natural Gas News

As future president, I will convert our car-truck-bus fleet to compressed nat gas. We've got enough of it. It's future looks bright. Part of this is the genius that is technology unlocking more oil and gas. Domestic transportation fuels. This needs a bigger push.

MTV's The Ruins: "The Road to Ruins"

This is a mindless TV post as I need a break from serious issues.....

After 3 episodes now, I have to recap MTV's The Ruins. Three episodes are done with, and the teams have found some balance. In the first two episodes, Wes showed that he is smarter than almost everybody on that show (not too difficult) and that he is a fierce competitor. He also might be on 'roids. Just throwing it out there as he is jacked and has uncontrollable outbursts of rage. He has shown his value and now the champs, lead by the clever Evan, understand that they do need him to win challenges so they just can't try to eliminate him because they hate him. This guys are generally stupid, and Evan-Wes are the two bright ones. It's understandable they would clash in an Alpha Male-Lord of the Flies way. Here's why MTV brings them back: they are entertaining. I do enjoy watching their evil manipulations and lame strategy obsessions. It's a reality show, c'mon guys. That also did not stop Johanna from stating on camera, that if Wes threw a challenge at the end, she would sell his house. That's blackmail-extortion. On national television with rolling cameras and open mics. Idiot. Once again, this is a reality game show.

The Challengers can be summed up in one word: idiots. They finally win a challenge, and then they vote a 'strong' female into the Ruins putting her at risk instead of putting a weakling in the pit to be eliminated. They do not get it: nominate a weakling, if they win, great you go up 1 person, if they lose, you lose a weak teammate. The strong woman they nominated challenged a strong woman and lost. Dumb. In these challenges, always go up against an older competitor. With these jackasses, it's not the years, it's the miles. Stupid. Adam took on Syrus, which was smart as Syrus
might be 50. Sadly, he lost as Syrus broke a sweat for the first time the entire 3 episodes. It was entertaining watching these morons vote in strong folks for elimination, and then seeing them force a strong vs. strong match up or the young woman (22) not choose the 33 year old. An 11 year age difference with the MTV lifestyle usually means a 20 year difference in lung capacity & stamina.

There is an even more entertaining pseudo-talk show they sometimes run called "After the Ruins", which gets people back talking about that episode. They had on the Evelyn-Johnny-Wes-Kelly Anne. The Champions put their strongest female competitor against the strongest female challenger just to spite Wes. Dumb. They did not do this for strategy, just for spite. It backfired as Evelyn quit. Stupid as she is solid and kind of cute. One thing that was revealed was Johnny said Evelyn thought Kelly Anne was on 'roids. I would not believe this except for the visible loss of muscle mass from the Ruins to the "After Show", the large zit on Kelly Anne's left boob in ep 3 of the Ruins, and that she is really ripped on the Ruins. Women don't look like that. Oh yeah, her boyfriend is Wes who as mentioned above, has soem 'roid traits. Maybe they shoot each other up? I now lean towards her using 'roids for the challenge.
This episode lacked the drunken escapades, was heavy on the love story narrative between Evan-Veronica, and was a bit more about team. They wanted you to buy into the challengers coming together, instead of just being a bunch of party idiots. Oh wait, they did show a drunk Tonya making out with some random Thai girl. She aged in dog years. That's what alcohol, drugs, whoring and the aprty lifestyle will do to you. One complaint is the constant use of jump cuts or as they said in the 80s an MTV edit, where they switch camera shot every other second. Stay focused for a while and use a pan or zoom when establishing a setting or scene. I'll be watching each week, turning my brain off for one sweet hour.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Financial Reform

I've blogged about the need for Financial Reform like countless others. We need to 'change' the banking system to prevent another concentration of assets and systemic risk like what created this jam. Looks like an agent of 'change', Barney Frank, just shot down a major provision to rein in the banks. Nope, nothing to see here, move along.

The Fake Marine

I hope ex-Marines find this guy after he has served his time in jail and beat the shit out of him. Identity theft is lame for starters, but impersonating a wounded veteran is 6th circle of hell bad. I do find it weird that he is 32 and watched 9-11 at a homeless shelter. Was he a 24 year old bum?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's Something About You

Level 42's "There's Something About You". I love this song. I loved it as a kid. I love it now. I love to make up lyrics to songs as they play, usually sexual or self deprecating humor, and this song has a great flow to do this. I forgot about the MTV video, but it is as cliche as 80s videos got. Serious looking Brits, bad clothes, rolled up jacket sleeves, bright colors, the weird looking all knowing character played by the lead singer because he needs to always be in the spotlight, the camera zoom out shot, and of course SLOW MOTION.

I found a video of them on a French show that shows how much better American Bandstand was at tricking kids into thinking the song was being played live (where are those guitars plugged into)....



Now
How can it be
That a love
Carved out of caring
Fashioned by fate
Could suffer so hard
From the games
Played once too often
But making mistakes
Is a part
Of lifes imperfections
Born of the years
Is it so wrong
To be human after all

Drawn into the stream
Of undefined illusion
Those diamond dreams
They cant disguise the truth
That there is something about you
Baby so right
I wouldnt be without you
Baby tonight

If ever our love
Was concealed
No one can say that
We didnt feel
A million things
And a perfect dream of life
Gone
Fragile but free
We remain
Tender together
If not so in love
And its not so wrong
Were only human after all

These changing years
They add to your confusion
Oh and you need to hear
The time that told the truth


You know theres something about you
Baby so right
I wouldnt be without you
Baby tonight
Because theres something about you
Baby so right
I couldnt live without you
Baby tonight

Something about you
The way you are so right
I wouldnt be
Without you here tonight
Theres something about you
The way you are so right
I couldnt live
Without you here tonight

Betty Draper in GQ

January Jones, who plays Betty Draper on "Mad Men" is in GQ. They have a good cover shot (photo to the right) that maybe will get some man to sign up for the subscription cost of $1 per issue. I repeat $1 per issue. GQ is so desperate they will give the magazine away. Stay on target! While I enjoy that photo, I find it disappointing that the magazine views my gender as so boob fixated that they would go the cheap low cut route rather than focusing our attention to the contrast of her lips-complexion-eyes. Sometimes my fellow men just let me down.

All of these lame-o interviews and photo shoots are to increase Q rating and visibility to get better roles or to promote a current project. Maybe January Jones is trying to land soem female lead in aan action flick?? I thought maybe they would shoot some cool photos of her looking tough or non-Betty Draper, so maybe she will not just be typecast for the rest of her career as 60s housewife-MILF. Maybe some punkish photos. Well they kind of went in that direction......

They went EYES WIDE SHUT on January Jones. Who greenlighted this shit. I love garter belts on ladies. I love old timey looking udnerwear on women in photo shoots. I do not like old timey underwear crossed with weird bodysuits, stripper heels and Eyes Whide Shut style headgear. WTF!?!?!?


Monday, October 12, 2009

Financial Media Entertainment

Financial Media might as well be Financial Entertainment. The jorunalism is on the light side considering how many amazing stories are out there to be discovered. CNBC has been running shows on prostitution, porn, Walmart (again), gambling, etc. Shows devoted to understanding the government debt cycle, bond markets, currency exchange and manipulation and a host of other timely topics would get the same ratings as their little fluff hour long specials on boobs would get. People are interested. As the Wall St Journal is proving by delivering superior content in this day and age, it is possible to increase circulation or market presence in the old media. I really dislike the Baribe and Ken newsanchor problem. We don't need them. I watched Jackie Robinson for 4 years in college, and cross eyed Bobbie Battista before her. People don't need sex to hear the news read to them. Since most news blocs have them voiced over the actual footage, their looks matter even less. The following two pics are shots of two female reporters. One is in porn and the other is true media.
Contestant number 1...
And contestant number 2.....

I don't see much of a difference.

An Abortion Post

Current American views on abortion. If you want to know how to make poll questions so confusing that they skew results, look at the Pew Research questions.



I wonder what the opinion poll for this would be in the UK or France where they have the abortion pills (RU 486, not just the morning after high estrogen pills) and they pray at the altar of themselves. It was an absolute shock to hear & witness such a cavalier attitude towards using those pills. I recall one girl saying "you're only allowed two & i've already nixed one". I remember trying to keep a poker face when I would hear comments like that. There was also something sad in hearing how Irish girls take the ferry across the Irish Sea to Scotland & England to have abortions. These talks would play out like scenes in a Nick Hornby novel. Note: more British men are built & look like Hornby than Clive Owen.



An abortion was the revelation in the most powerful scene in the Godfather 2. Pacino puts on an acting clinic without speaking, and Keaton has that absolutely depressed look in her eyes as she reveals that she would rather kill her child than bring it into their family. Godfather 2 was set int he 1950s but made in 1974, this was not in the book, and the release was a year after Roe v. Wade. Coppola was brilliant. I remember that scene staying with my friends and I when we watched it because it was so emotional, powerful and sad. Maybe that's why I was jarred by the Euro girls and their attitude.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Women are Awesome


They curve & bend at odd angles and make it look sooooooo easy.

Business

Pay close attention to the "Meth" comment after the primary report.



More American Workers Outsourcing Own Jobs Overseas

Gay People and Marriage

Using the term civil unions vs. marriage. That's what it comes down to. I feel like a broken record. Over 50% of Americans support gays having the right to legally recognized civil unions. The problem is gays want it to be called marriage. The battle gets over wording and all that comes with it. Just using the word marriage causes a 10% swing in support between two polls separated by 3 months. That's beyond the +/- factor; that's an effect of wording. If gays were smarter, they would just say 'recognition of civil unions'. They also would go through the legislative branch rather than courts as no one likes a group that uses lawyers and side doors to get what they need. I support the right for gay people to have civil unions recognized.

While I think this title is a bit extreme, I do find it funny coming from an LGBT site. My Democrat friend working in Congress uses far more colorful language to describe his timidity, but he was a Clinton supporter. I do want to point out that this falls directly into what I have been calling the Prez's MO: pretty speech to get you fired up, no details, no real action and eventually a letdown. At least others are starting to wake up. Do not put it past Hillary to run an internal challenge to Obama in 2012. Eventually, someone is going to come up with a great tag line for the 2010 midterm elections or 2012 like: "More Than Hope, Give Us Results".

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kings Ransom by ESPN

ESPN has a series of 'films' coming out in their "30 for 30" campaign. This idea is to showcase 30 events or moments and explore them in a documentary film. ESPN got Hollywood names to be involved. ESPN is a powerful and somewhat dangerous bully in the sports-entertainment-journalism world, but they have moments that showcase what their power can do for good when used appropriately. The first entry "Kings Ransom" was entertaining and told an interesting tale.

Wayne Gretzky was the greatest hockey player to ever play. He was the Michael Jordan of the NHL. He was the Babe Ruth of the NHL. He was both, as he shattered records, won titles and was a icon for an entire sport and nation. In the middle of his peak years, at the age of 27, Edmonton traded him to the LA Kings. It was mindblowing for hockey fans, for Canadians, and confusing to many others. Why would a team trade the greatest player to ever play the game at his peak?

This documentary maps out how it happened. You hear stories from the owners involved, the Edmonton coach, Wayne, Wayne's dad and his wife of Chorus Line fame, Janet Jones. The documentary gets people to tell their side of the story. You hear some stories that differ a bit. It's interesting how the Edmonton owner spins his side of the tale. I would have liked to have heard the commissioner of the NHL's side of the story. How could the commissioner of the NHL not have had a heads up or involvement in the trading of its biggest star to a giant TV market (L.A.). Something always smelled fishy about this trade. While it was great to hear about it from the owners, Gretzky, his coach and even his family, where was the concerned NHL commissioner who heard about it and allowed it? Somethign felt a bit incomplete, and maybe this is a function of ESPN limiting these "30 for 30" films to 1 hour time slots. If so, it is a shame on ESPN. If not, Shame on Peter Berg the director. This first film was enjoyable, let's hope the rest are as well.

No Sympathy for Bankrupt Pro Athletes, Next Story Please

In this day and age of athletes being paid millions to play children's games, I have no sympathy for when they go bankrupt or waste the dollars. None. Some just appear to be jerks. Some are gambling addicts and spendaholics. In the old days, athletes usually worked a job in the offseason. No need for that now with the salaries they make. It is an insult to the fanas and to people who work 9-5 to see these assholes declaring bankruptcy and then expecting sympathy or for us to understand that they got caught up in the lifestyle. Lenny Dykstra, Antoine Walker and Rumeal Robinson are just examples of this stupidity.

A really good piece of sports journalism going 'in depth' could be the millions (if not billions) cities and states have invested in sports arenas and how some might be taking a huge bath right now. If they are not hurting, then it would make for a good mesh of city and team. Just a note Pittsburgh paid $185.5 million for the Steelers' new stadium with no promises of payback by the team. Yes on Sundays the city has lots of activity, but could that $185.5 mil been spent elsewhere in productive ways or not spent so that taxpayers don't have to subsidize an already profitable enterprise? I bring up Pittsburgh because with lots of debt obligations it's a prime suspect for vanity projects. Some new stadiums lead to hosting Super Bowls or giant events that get hotel revenues & retail businesses juiced, but not all of them. This would make a good article. This would also become a nice bridge for another department to investigate the sources of bond issuance, debt payments, expenses, etc. and write a different article.

The Association

Oh man do I love The Association. Great harmonies, awesome 60s sound, and stuff you cna listen to in any crowd. KJ was also in this band (I'm serious Kenny). "Cherish" is one of the saddest love songs I can think of that isn't a suicidal, Tori Amos-The Cure type of song. Not to denigrate those songs, but they sound stalkerish more than loving. It's cliche but unrequited love or mistimed love is so damn painful that it makes a great basis for art, whether it is a great novel, painting or melodious pop song. I love how in "Cherish" there is that line about need vs. want and how it truly is different. I also enjoy how the pleading singer puts down the 'other guys' with the line that they would use of 'agape' love as a cover for their true feeling, the 'eros' form of love. Simple pop songs can contain wonderful truths and emotion and "Cherish" is a wonderful expression of this specific human issue.





Student Loans, Bad Credit Risk, Changing the College System

The 'democratization of credit' era is over. Hmm. This started in the '70s and gained steam later as banks moved away from the idea of rejecting people for loans when they were a bad risk and started to just assign higher and higher rates for worse and worse risks. This had its beginnings in the Community Reinvestment Act, and exploded as banks found more ways to pump up profit margins by lending to the poor. There was probably a good reason banks for years did not loan to poor security neighborhoods or poor people in general, as they make less money to pay back loans. Kind of common sense. Hmmm, might have prevented that housing bubble. No bank in their right mind would have ever made loans with my paternal grandparents. You could give them a bag of money, wash your hands, come back and find it spent on mac & cheese and Red Sox merchandise. I love them but wouldn't trust them with a $5 bill.

Now the blog I linked to does properly criticize the fact that this young women spent 26K in loans on a 2 year associates degree from a community college. My question is in her home state of NY how did she not go to one of the great SUNY schools for close to 13K a year? Who was giving her advice? Any teacher, coach or guidance counselor out there who might lend a hand? One thing to consider is that there are many decisions in the lives of young adults between age 17-22 that will affect their lives that, despite good/bad advice or lack of advice, they have to make on their own. This is why I like that Congress tried to protect consumers with recent legislation, but the idea that someone between 18-21 has to get their parents signature for a credit card is kind of foolish. We can try a teenager as an adult in heinous crimes but we won't let them make a decision on a credit card by themself. I do like that this Ms. King is dealing with her choices and has the freedom to make them & live with the consequences (not requiring a bailout like big banks).

As we march towards the financial future, we do have to consider how the removal of credit to large portions of America is going to affect education consumption. Many folks took student loans out for useless 2 & 4 year degrees. Remove their easy access to credit and does enrollment drop? Yes. Marginal enrollees will not attend school. Lower demand, means lower revenues for the schools. Schools will have to meet the new demand like many other businesses and either offer a product that will give its users greater value or reduce cost. My prediction is lower costs. Top notch schools will even feel the pinch, but engineering focused schools might be able to weather the storm better. Colleges are going to have to curtail spending on ancillary things like dorm rooms built like townhome condos, gym facilities better than most private gyms, and yes, even the benefits of their ees to help rein in costs. While fancy dorm rooms and gyms can draw more students, the game changes when the access to low interest rate loans is gone. The game changes when people don't think a degree can get them more marginal money to justify the expense/loans or the degree from that university is not going to get them more marginal earnings than a cheaper university. This transformation will come in the American university system, and it will be an interesting one to observe.

I can't wait for the day American businesses stop having a college degree as a requirement even if you have 30 years of experience and grew up in an era when college was a luxury. This has been a horrible trend in the Northeast which fucks over a lot of baby boomers who now find themselves out of work after 20 years with a company.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wait the Peace Prize?

I was a bit shocked to read our Prez won the Nobel Peace Prize. Not that he could not win it in the future, but that it was awarded this year for stuff he's already done. Whatever that is for peace, I'd love to know. Oh shit, it's for pretty speeches. This article does a good job of shredding into this decision. I'm just surprised since he was nominated just two weeks after being inaugurated. This just feels like when your gramma gives a gift to their favorite grandchild on that favorite grandchild's sibling's birthday, and everyone else goes "What the heck did Gramma do giving Jimmy a gift, it's not his birthday???".


This isn't a good sign when SNl recognizes nothing but an International body of judges and whatchumacalthems doesn't...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Mr. Peanut was in WW2, not WW1?!?!?!?!?

I am just honored that someone took my "Mr. Peanut was a german war criminal" and moved it up to WW2 and Nazified Mr. Peanut. I love that sports-comedy website anyway, so I am glad that their mind thinks like mine in a twisted way.

Japan's Lost Children


Does anyone have a good explanation for why Japan's birthrate collpased and the country will continuously shrink for the next 70 years? I'd like to know why. These links are nearly 5 years old. Here's one showing their 2007 birthrate at 1.34 and 1.37 in 2008. Of course their governments are worried about it bankrupting their social welfare state. Birthrates are falling all over the world, and despite reports that always show an increasing population, a population decline globally might be more likely. At least Japan has a long life expectancy so they don't have to lie about their population numbers like Russia to hide massive declines. These are not whack job links. America's slightly higher than replacement birth rate is a good thing. Japan's population also takes a hit because of their, ahem, dislike of immigration. Go figure, other countries can be xenophobic. Who knew?


Back to the subject, what the fuck is up with Japan? Is this why they focus so much on robot development, but not cool robot development like the Terminator or sex robots but more like retirement home worker robots? Is this what happens when a nation has porn in cartoon form? I'm being serious, what if seeing women in even more unrealistic depictions than real live porn warps the men's minds? Do they see no utility in having children or in broader terms, creating a new generation? I just don't get it.


The boogeymen being trotted out are later marriage ages & education. OK, so where are the uneducated youngins' getting pregnant early and often? There must be some on that big old island. I even saw lack of child care services used as an excuse. This is Japan; they can create a govt run nationwide child care program if they want to help moms raise kids just to employ people. Japanese women only make up 41% of the workforce, so fewer women work. More time for family & babies. Fewer women lose out at work by taking time for kids. Japan has also seen prices decline for two decades as they have been caught in the deflation trap since 1989, and the yen has risen vs. most currencies in the same period making imports cheaper. They actually have more money to spend now on kids or more money available that would pay for the various things kids add to a budget. There has to be some unspoken thing at work here.
I would love to live long enough to see how this all plays out. I often think of the cultural suicide going on in the UK partly because of my time there and partly because of multiculturalism playing such a big role in the event. It would be wrong to neglect the slow motion crash of a nation that in the 1980s everyone thought would own the world, run the world and be the new no. 1. Twenty years later, we are considering its slow transformation into the world's biggest retirement home.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Funny

Why I Love College Football: reasons # 257 & 258



Where an 18 year old kid can shut up 100,000 rabid Ohio State football fans & their over the top band and make them all question why they take the sport so seriously when their team lets them down in big game after big game. Where does USC find these cast out of Hollywood starting QBs: Leinart, Sanchez and now Barkley.
....and where cheerleaders can still dress classy.


Monday, October 05, 2009

A Worthwhile Chicago Diversion

Much has been written about Chicago, Prez O, diversions and priorities. What you may not know is a story about a 16 year old brutally murdered for being in the middle of a fight between rival teenage thugs in Chicago. The video was on youtube for a while, and I can't find it now. It's an afterschool fight that goes nuts. No guns, no knives, just fists, feet and random objects lying around. It's truly weird to see teens grab planks of wood to swing at other kids heads. Chicago is a mess right now. All of those rundown neighborhoods that were gentrified during the housing boom are suddenly experiencing the old problems they used to have. If I were a chief of staff or senior strategist, this is where I would have sent my president for the weekend.

It's a perfect set up. A speech with pretty words affecting people & emotions with no details of a plan is tailor made for him. This would be a great way to show off. It ties the current stress of the city life with the economic downturn (recession = excuse for crime). Instead of being blasted for flying off quickly to Europe to help cronies in Chicago & bask in some applause, the Prez would be applauded for going 'home' to show some leadership on city violence and compassion for a dead teen. He could even reference his wife doing her part in Europe for Chicago while he did his here at home on the issue that hits residents far closer & is a daily part of life (are my children safe?). He could discuss the sober economic outlook, and how he, the admin, and local Congressmen are doing their best to turn things around (mention hope a bunch of times). It would show him focused on the economy and being in touch with people's concerns. It would show him cognizant of teen/school/city violence. It would show him taking a position (an easy one) and leading. These are all positives, and would be a change from his wandering summer.

There is another element that the Prez and his team could take advantage of with the Albert murder: his post-racial BS. With his election, people wrote articles (1, 2, 3) wondering if this would improve social-cultural things within the black community. There are things Prez O can say about this murder and to this target audience "inner city blacks in Chicago" that no DC politician or non-black politician could say. This would be a community organizing type of event. A tragedy has happened, let's look out for each other, call a truce in these tough times, come together, etc. A white Prez saying this would be considered talking down. Not this POTUS. After reading his prepared remarks to the nation's schoolchildren, I saw some great lines in there, chuckled at how he always brings it back to him, and then noticed how it had a focus on safe learning environments and that students not "you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things." I wonder who he was talking to there (among other spots in the speech). How many white kids don't feel safe at school? Rapping and basketball must be what white kids think are their 'tickets to success'. (Note: to be a pro NBA player takes tons of hard work.) Obama has this unique chance to be a catalyst for change within his community. There are big things that it would be wonderful for him to show a little leadership and nudge in the right direction... if anyone can. I repeat, no POTUS in our history except for Prez O could challenge the status quo on these issues and avoid attack.

The cameras would follow him either place. Sadly, he chose poorly to deliver an empty sales pitch for something half of the city did not want. Axelrod, Rahm and even Prez O himself should have known better. His advisors really goofed on this one. A speech on the Albert murder could be a diversion that only a cold asshole like Rush Limbaugh could mock, and if Obama chose to go the let's stop the violence and behave route, Rush would be hard to go after him. Reducing city and teen violence is always a plus, and it would be a nice win in front of a far more welcome & receptive crowd. Then again, I'm a believer in picking one big issue and working it for success right off the bat and building on it. In conclusion, while a teen's death in a vicious afterschool fight is horrible and the Olympics are wonderful to watch, they pale in importance to the major issues facing our nation & requiring attention

Kudos to Saturday Night Live

They did it. They made fun of him. Very cute. I am just a little sad Fred Armisen dropped his vocal impersonation of Prez O. He really had the president's voice and style down by the end of last season. I like Fred, and his Prince impersonation is fantastic. I wish they'd use him more than they use Andy Samberg.

Interesting post on a comparison of what exactly we have for a Prez. I love a post that can mention both JFK & Mae West. Mae West was 70 years ahead of her time and puts a lot of young college women of today to shame.

There have been more psychobiographies on Richard Nixon than any other president. I am glad Nixon's zaniness created a genre of presidential biographies, and I hope that we see more of that nature make their way onto the book market. It is tough to match Nixon as his career played out like a 2 hour long "VH1 Behind the Music" with a death at the end. Poor beginnings, meteoric rise, close lose at the near peak, humbling defeat shortly after, lost in the woods period, amazing comeback (60 min mark), landslide win & peak, crumbling downfall & disgraceful resignation (last 30 mins). I would love to see a psychobiography on Jimmy Carter, especially for his behavior after being rejected by the nation.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Break up the TBTF Banks

Let's break up the TBTF banks. Nothing should stop us. We can't let the banksters hold us hostage.

2016 Olympic Comedy

I guess there's no limit to what we can blame Bush for..... losing the Olympic bid a year after he's out of office? I saw the Rowdy Gaines comment on TV & laughed out loud. It's just not looking at the bid in a rational manner. I also want to point out that this was the first time I saw an Olmypic bid announcement covered by cable news like it's a big frickin' deal. Rio had a great bid, it was their 3rd try, they had a unified government initiative to make the bid, they are growing, they are a "BRIC" country, they would be the 1st country in South America to host the games, an emerging power from the 3rd world, and they have lots of half naked people roaming the streets at Carnivale.


One has to wonder what the foreign opinion of the USA will be when pollsters do their annual worldwide poll of favorable/unfavorable views of the USA. It might show that foreigners like the POTUS more than the last one but have the same opinion of the nation at large. That's my prediction.


Note: After watching the speeches by the Obamas, I get the feeling the IOC folks rolled their eyes at how many points related to them. I know this problem. It's the "Ivy Leaguer world revolves around me" syndrome. Harvard kids don't change lightbulbs, they stand still and let the world rotate around them. Rule number 1: There is always someone smarter than you. Stay humble.

The Prize by Daniel Yergin

The Prize is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in years. The book follows the ups and downs, in and outs of the oil industry from birth to the early 90s. It is truly amazing to read about the machinations of the early titans of the industry. If you look around you will still see the early companies like Shell, Exxon, Marathon, etc. The story of Shell is truly amazing. It's also interesting to read how global exploration gave riches to some countries that had previously been backwater areas of the globe. It's an insider account with a huge broad view of the geopolitical effects of oil-energy. I knew of its importance in WW2, but I had no clue that oil was also a player in WW1.

The story of Iran, its relationship with the West and the Shahs is a wonderful thread throughout the book. The Brits struck it big in Iran and made the Shahs wealthy & able to 'modernize' their country. There was always the fear of the Russians/Soviets making a push into Iran for a warm water ocean port, and oil raised the stakes. The Brits and the Shah had an interesting relationship, and with the UK's withdrawal stage, the USA took their spot, but not entirely as the Brits still received the oil. The USA helped the idiot Shah's son stay in power (I need to find a good book on the coup of '53). The USA viewed him as a regional policeman (along with Saudi Arabia (S.A.)). No country better exemplifies the tug of war with oil 'rents', concessions, nationalism, and the danger oil riches can pose to oil exporting nations.

There were some funny moments and good lessons. The Venezuelan oil minister that viewed oil as a corrupting force that could go to waste was a good figure to read about who wanted to use oil as a way to help his country. The Mexican nationalization of the oil industry prior to WW2 hovered over the oil companies as a spectre for years and affected how they dealt with producing nations. It also explains how PEMEX, the national Mexican oil company, has seen the Cantarell field decline rapidly partly from not allowing American oil companies to help manage the field. Those pesky Anglo companies exploit those innocent oil producing nations grrrr. The S.A. correctly doubted the threat of nuclear energy replacing oil. They knew the difference between electricity generation and transportation fuels. The catfights between the OPEC countries, especially Iran-S.A, read like teenage boys fighting over the conch in Lord of the Flies. Congress investigating and attacking oil companies every other decade was very very funny as there is this theme of windfall, obscene, unethical profits that seems to pop up in politicians' speeches whenever oil jumps in price. American independents, wildcatting, and the random Texans all gave me a chuckle.

The saddest thing to read is how the random luck of living on top of a resource that the modern world values has enabled complete psychos to have greater influence than they should have. Should Chavez be a force in South America? No way, but he is an oil exporter (who has hurt his nation's oil production through bizarre loyalty oath requirements) that generates income for his country through geographic luck and price spikes. The Soviet Union was kept on life support longer because of the huge currency earnings they made from their oil exports in the 1970s (similar to today). Same applies to the Middle East and the autocrats and thugs that rule there. These states usually concentrate the oil wealth in the ruling elite or royal family rather than through oil revenue sharing programs like in Alaska & Norway (hopefully also in Iraq soon). This new book, albeit with a strong slant to every interview, does show the dark side of oil's impact. This is one of the reasons why I am all for reducing, not eliminating, oil's role in the total energy pie.

Despite wandering off topic, I highly recommend this book. If someone were writing a paper on Cold War dynamics or ways in which the USA fought the Soviets through non-military avenues, they should check sections of this book out. Any paper on the future of energy, energy investment, and how to tackle oil would see a benefit from reading parts of this book. Energy exploration and investment has a long term look to it, as things are more complicated than flicking a switch and producing more or less.

More oil found in Bakken area. Could add billions to reserve estimates, which could prove the dead geologist who estimated upwards of 30-40 billion in reserves there to not be such a crackpot.

Friday, October 02, 2009

MTV Real World Road Rules Challenge Is Back

MTV"s The Ruins debuted this week. It already has had blurred out boobs, some fighting, drunken escapades and statements about this contest as it is were geopolitical theater. These people are idiots. A few quick observations:

1. Syrus from Real World Boston looks about 80 years old now. RW Boston was in 97 (prob filmed in 96) and he was 25. So he's pushing 40, and contradicting the saying 'black don't crack', he looks closer to 50. He's lost a ton of weight & his face has aged. Lay off the drugs man.

2. Tonya from Real World Chicago looks awful. She is 29 but her skin looks terrible. She's gained weight in her face and a touch all over. She used to have implants, but either she got them out or they've fallen weird. I kind of consider myself an implant expert and I think she got them out and her weight gain is now her bosom. I will have to investigate.
2a. Same for Veronica. Holy shit did time catch up with her.

3. Not a lot of eye candy this season (from a hetero male POV). Kelly Anne is prob tops. Maybe this season they are throwing a bone to the lady viewers and not just stocking the show with bisexual bimbos. Hmmm, interesting.

Some Bad Company for Friday Night....

I'm a big Bad Company fan. Like their sound, the good use of guitars and the piano mixed into the right songs. Here's two songs with the exposed chest hair and bell bottoms for the ladies.




2016 Olympics

I'm a little bummed Chicago did not win the Olympics for 2016. Since American TV money provides most Olympics funding, we should get a games once a decade. I just want to point out that the 2016 Olympics were going to Rio the moment Rio was called a finalist. The Olympics went to China in 2008 as a 'coming out' party. The 2016 games in Rio will be Brazil's coming out party. They are part of the growing "BRIC" group of countries with growing economies and influence around the world. Plus, the former IOC chairman said as he left his post that he wanted to see a games hosted in South America or Africa.

I'm not going to comment on you-know-who flying out in the middle of our financial-war shitstorm to help with the Chicago bid to payback old friend Mayor Daley. Doesn't look good. Sometimes there are fights you can win but shouldn't lose, and someone should have advised him of that. I also didn't know that you need government funds ot learn to ride a bike.

This Guy is Smart

This is probably one of the clearest explanations of the problem facing the USA and world with regards to fixing our issue while we are the 'reserve currency' of the world.

Foreign Policy Poll & a Day Off

Looks like I am not alone with my complaints about Prez O's foreign policy. Toughen up Barry.

I've got the day off. It's needed as our busy season is in full gear. We have a half day offsite, so my field office already knew I'd be out half the day. I decided to take the whole day off and just relax. This means maybe 30 emails when I go back Monday rather than the normal 100 when I take a day off. I'm very interested to see the case numbers after Sept is collected because currently I do about 65% more work than anyone else. I'm not tooting my own horn, it's just the numbers. My office has increased production at an insane rate due to a new arrangement with a client since the case check this summer. I might ask that I be assigned an assistant or that my office have a team rather than just me assigned to it. Maybe we can hire a brunette midget and the field office can call him Little Mac and call me Big Mac. I know my boss is uncomfortable with me doing much more than the rest of my uw team, and these last couple of months have not helped that situation.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

1964 - A Time For Choosing & The Daisy Ad

It's rather amazing to think that Reagan gave this speech BEFORE his career as a politician. He would be elected Governor of Cali 3 years later and Prez 13 years after that election. My favorite line is a line that we in today's world have forgotten...

"You and I have the ability, the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny"



This is one of the most memorable political ads of all time (pardon the 15 sec intro of British-ness). Both parties will use fear to motivate voters, and Barry Goldwater was the one to fear in 1964. This is all so hysterical to me since just 4 years later, Johnson would be chased out of office by his own party for being such a "warmongerer". In 2009, it is a bit of a trip thinking that nuclear warfare was so in the forefront of everyone's thoughts that an ad would be used to say, "Don't vote for the other guy, he'll bring a nuclear holocaust".