Monday, February 28, 2011

Mailbag: Friedman, Naked Swaps and Madoff | Rolling Stone Politics | Taibblog | Matt Taibbi on Politics and the Economy:
"'Here are some numbers for you. There were approximtely $1.4 trillion worth of subprime loans outstanding in the United States by the end of 2007. By the first quarter of 2009, there were forclosure filings against approximately 4.4 million properties. If it was only the subprime market's fault, $1.4 trillion would have covered the entire problem, right?

Yet the Federal Reserve, the treasury, and the FDIC forked out $13 trillion to fix the housing “correction”… With all that money, the government could have bought up every residential mortgage in the country – there were about $11.9 trillion worth at the end of December 2008 – and still have had about a trillion left over to buy homes for every American who couldn’t afford them.'"

It wasn't the bad mortgages. It was the bets on the bad mortgages. And the bets on the bets on the bad mortgages.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Citizen Ruth (1996)***
Alexander Payne's first picture shows all the hallmarks he would refine to perfection in his next film. Laura Dern delivers a tremendous performance as the titular character. Very good cast.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mrs. Miniver (1942)***
Skirts the edge of blatant propoganda, but the skillful direction of William Wyler and the strong lead performances of Garson and Pidgeon keeps the film grounded and lend a realism to the Capra-esque script. Some terrific sequences.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Government Tries to Keep Secret What Many Consider a Fraud -
"Mr. Montgomery’s former lawyer, Michael Flynn — who now describes Mr. Montgomery as a “con man” — says he believes that the administration has been shutting off scrutiny of Mr. Montgomery’s business for fear of revealing that the government has been duped.

“The Justice Department is trying to cover this up,” Mr. Flynn said. “If this unravels, all of the evidence, all of the phony terror alerts and all the embarrassment comes up publicly, too. The government knew this technology was bogus, but these guys got paid millions for it.”"

Is he serious? Has Mr. Flynn been paying any attention at all the past 10 years? We have hard evidence that "the government" has transferred billions of dollars from taxpayers to corporations, has spent hundreds of billions of dollars and murdered hundreds of thousands of human beings, tortured and imprisoned thousands of innocent people all over the world and CONTINUES to do so, and nobody and I mean NOBODY gives a flying fuck. Some low level lackey somewhere may be trying to suppress this but it's to save his own ass not to prevent embarrassment to "the government". That entity ceased giving a shit years ago.

via @MJMcKean
Sisters (1973)*
Early Brian De Palma thriller tries too hard and ends up being silly. Very good score by the great Bernard Herrmann. A good Margot Kidder performance is wasted.
Home (2008)***
Nicely done darkly comic fable about trying to escape a difficult past. Huppert is again wonderful.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dead Reckoning (1947)**
The dialog veers into too-cute territory a bit too often and Lizabeth Scott looks so much like Lauren Bacall as to be a distraction, especially paired with Humphrey Bogart. Minor noir.
The Odd Couple (1968)***
Sharp one-liners and a strong cast highlight this filmed version of Neil Simon's Broadway hit.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pujols declines deal believed worth more than $200 million:
"“We’d like Albert to continue (with the Cardinals). He is an iconic player. He helps us win. He has helped us win,” DeWitt said. “It’s a process we have no control over. If he chooses to go elsewhere, he chooses to go elsewhere. That’s the business we’re in. The players are mobile in this generation. In the end, if he doesn’t stay a Cardinal – which we’ll make every effort that he does stay – we’ll be out there trying to win a division and championships just like we have in the last 15 years.”", I think you DO have control over the process. Yes, it takes 2 to reach a deal, but you have to do something called "negotiate" not stonewall. If the reports are correct and Pujols' initial offer was for $30M/yr for 10 years, and Alex Rodriquez, a very good player but not Pujols' level, currently makes $27.5M/yr, the Cardinals should have taken it and run. Because Pujols WILL get that and more in free agency.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Night Moves (1975)***
Entertaining vintage '70's noir from the great Arthur Penn. Would make a great twin bill with The Long Goodbye.
Calif TV weatherman pleads guilty to lewd act:
"San Diego police say a woman in her 20s saw Lizura was masturbating while watching her as she waiting at a bus stop. Lt. Andra Brown says another witness also reported seeing the incident.

Lizura told police he was adjusting window blinds."

Thus, a new euphemism is born.
To Have and Have Not | Vanity Fair
"Bacall continues, “I don’t think anybody that has a brain can really be happy. What is there really to be happy about? You tell me. If you’re a thinking human being, there’s no way to divorce yourself from the world. Yes, I probably was happy when I was married to Bogie, but I was very young then. I had a good growing-up life, I would say, but I wasn’t really happy, because I was an only child, and I wasn’t part of a whole family—what we in America consider the proper family, a father and a mother and child, which, of course, is a big crock we know—and yet I had the greatest family anyone could wish for in everyone on my mother’s side. So what you think is happy? Happy shmappy. I think you have to be unconscious to be happy. Are you unconscious?” she asks me."

God bless Lauren Bacall! The predicament, perfectly stated.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How the Internet Gets Inside Us : The New Yorker:
"Now television is the harmless little fireplace over in the corner, where the family gathers to watch “Entourage.” TV isn’t just docile; it’s positively benevolent. This makes you think that what made television so evil back when it was evil was not its essence but its omnipresence. Once it is not everything, it can be merely something. The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user. A meatless Monday has advantages over enforced vegetarianism, because it helps release the pressure on the food system without making undue demands on the eaters. In the same way, an unplugged Sunday is a better idea than turning off the Internet completely, since it demonstrates that we can get along just fine without the screens, if only for a day."

Geez how many Gladwells do we need? ANYTHING you are obsessed with obsession! Who would have thought? Look, the Internet is a tool. It is not inherently anything but that.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is Mark Zuckerberg a Modern Day Moses? | The Big Picture:
"BLITZER: Wael, this is Wolf Blitzer in Washington. So first Tunisia, now Egypt. What’s next?
GHONIM: Ask Facebook.
BLITZER: Ask what?
GHONIM: Facebook.
COOPER: Facebook.
BLITZER: Facebook. You’re giving Facebook a lot of credit for this?
GHONIM: Yes, for sure. I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him, actually. This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook.
You know, I always said that if you want to liberate a society, just give them the Internet. If you want to have a free society, give them the Internet."

Suck on THAT, Malcolm Gladwell!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chrissie Hynde: The Great Pretender | American Songwriter:
"No one wants a lot of ballads. When people go through their householder years and start having kids and stuff, it does ruin the mix. It all goes a little soft, it’s not very rock anymore. When you’ve got youth, drugs, sex and alcohol and stuff, it’s a no-brainer. Anyone can do it. But when those things start to fall away, and you try to clean up your act and not be addicted, you just have to dig deeper. And unfortunately, that’s hard to do with rock and roll."

via Intellectual House o'Pancakes.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

No joke: Ex-mayor's name too funny for Ind. center:
"'We realize that while Harry Baals was a respected mayor, not everyone outside of Fort Wayne will know that,' Malloy said Tuesday in a statement to The Associated Press. 'We wanted to pick something that would reflect our pride in our community beyond the boundaries of Fort Wayne.' An online site taking suggestions for names showed more than 1,000 votes Tuesday for the Harry Baals Government Center. That's more than three times the votes received by the closest contender."

I guess his cousins Itchy, Sticky, Scratchy and Fuzzy are relieved.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Dogtooth (2009)***
Admirably disciplined modern fable sees its premise all the way to it's logical, horrifying conclusions. It's either a searing, damning drama or the driest and blackest comedy you'll ever see, and the fact that I can't decide which is a testament to the director's skills. Exceptional acting by all.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Peeping Tom (1960)***
Director Michael Powell seems to have a thing for redheads in this creepily fascinating little film about a boy with a camera fetish. To say the least. Moira Shearer sparkles in this colorful thriller.
The Woman in the Window (1944)***
Intricately plotted noir with a sultry Joan Bennett and a conservative Edward G. Robinson as a "certain" kind of woman and a staid professor caught up in a compromising situation. Tight, well-paced, well-acted.
Busch girlfriend died with cocaine, oxycodone in system, sources say:
"Martin was found dead Dec. 19 in a darkened bedroom at Busch's mansion in Huntleigh. There were no signs of trauma to her body, officials said.
Michael Jung, a Busch household employee, called 911 at 1:12 p.m. and said an unresponsive woman wouldn't wake up. He said he wasn't sure if she was alive because it was 'dark back there' and he was going to get a light to check.
Emergency responders pronounced Martin dead at 1:26 p.m.
In response to a question about whether drugs were found at the scene, police said in December that they found nothing to suggest a cause of death. They also said the room was dark 'due to curtains drawn in the bedroom' and that the room was outfitted with blackout curtains to block the sun."

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Biotech sugar beets get USDA's OK for spring planting:
"Genetically modified sugar beets represent more than 90 percent of the sugar beets planted in the country and account for half of the sugar supply. Monsanto, along with the sugar beet industry, has said that preventing the planting of the beets would disrupt the flow of sugar and trigger havoc in the sugar markets."

I think the game is over, frankly. When 90% of sugar beets, corn, soybeans, canola are GMO with rice and alfalfa on the way, there's not much left to fight about. Monsanto has an incredibly effective legal and lobbying team with an impressive string of victories recently. The amazing thing to me is that it is still possible to obtain organically grown foods at all. Enjoy it while it lasts everybody!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Jack Nicholson: I used to feel irresistible to women. Not any more | Mail Online:
"‘If men are honest, everything they do and everywhere they go is for a chance to see women. There were points in my life where I felt oddly irresistible to women. I’m not in that state now and that makes me sad.

‘But I also believe that a lot of the improvements in my character have come through ageing and the diminishing of powers. It’s all a balancing act; you just have to get used to the ride.’"