Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can $700 Billion Save Poker?

This is pure speculation and wishful thinking on my part, nothing more. Read nothing into this. Unless I'm right, then I'm a fucking prescient super-genius you should all bow down to.

Congress is getting close to approving this asinine (I've used that word a lot recently) bailout proposal. They're sticking in some changes, likely caps on executive pay (meaning the troubled companies will never be able to hire a top-tier exec), mortgage relief (meaning personal responsibility goes out the window), and perhaps some vague "taxpayer protections" (I still have no idea how ANY of this plan will protect taxpayers). So that's $700 billion being used to buy shitty asset-backed securities that nobody can price. The government WILL overpay for these, and the taxpayers won't see much, if any, profit. I also strongly doubt it will buoy Wall Street for an extended period of time (getting rid of the bad debt will reopen lines of credit, but those will just be used to increase leverage again... causing another overload).

So if the economy's still in trouble, a major tax raise will be out of the question. Any government that does so will find themselves on the street fast. So they'll need an alternate source of tax income. Enter the sin taxes. Increases taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol are... unpopular. On top of that, too much of an increase will cause people to find other sources - bootleg/stolen cigarettes, homemade booze, pot, etc.. But what about gambling? Gambling winnings are already heavily taxed in the US. You win big at a casino, you get a chunk taken away. Same for Powerball winners. But right now, online gambling is verboten. Realigning the "games of skill" section to allow poker would bring back billions of dollars of taxable revenue streams. They might have a hard time allowing online craps or slots or the like (too easily rigged), but poker already has the infrastructure. Online sports betting might come into play as well, since it's already legal and wide-spread in a brick-and-mortar context.

So maybe this bailout will save poker. Maybe the need for capital will cause a rethinking of the UIGEA... "well, if we regulate and tax it..." Stranger things have happened, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


So let's see... I need to do laundry, clean up a bit, see what needs to be done before packing for the Bash (packing happens tomorrow). Load up the MP3 player for the drive, charge all necessary batteries.

Oh, and the PLAY THE MOOKIE! Poor Waffles needs 80 players to sign up in order to have a shot at 1st on the leaderboard, where he will then win bets against Tragedy, Bayne, and LJ. So let's do what we can and sign up! Even if you can't play, just donate! Waffles is even adding a $109 overlay for 1st place! That guy is so break-even, he's putting that up!

Now here's the beauty of that overlay. In order for Waffles to take the lead, he needs to win. If he wins, he owes only himself the overlay, so it ceases to exist! If someone else wins, it means Waffles doesn't get the leaderboard spot AND has to shell out $109! He loses twice!

Imagine actually getting 80 people signed up, and then having a non-Waffles winner? So now you have two options : Sign up to help out Waffles, or sign up to help screw over Waffles. Entirely your call. Just SIGN UP!

Ron Paul Is My Hero

Watching the Senate hearings with Bernanke about the bailout. Ron Paul is nailing it, bashing everyone, and speaking as plainly as you can about how stupid this whole thing is.

ie.- "Where is the money coming from?" "Nobody's smart enough to figure out a price, so how do you do it?" "You don't have the constitutional power to create credit out of thin air." "A collapse in the housing market means the market was too high and it should come down."

Bernanke responded admirably ("federal reserve act confers the powers of congress to them to coin money", "we will try to set prices via auctions and other means"). The "try" worries me of course.

Now Klobuchar just compared Wall Street to a casino, with Paulson and Bernanke as the floor managers.

Good times.

Ol' Kentucky

Anybody read this guy? He's been linking to some articles about Kentucky comandeering domain names of online gambling sites. LOTS of them.

How could a state claim control over internationally held domain names? How can it have control over any for that matter?

Ah Kentucky, you should be proud of your state government and courts that just continue the stereotype of your state being a backwater hole of stupidity with a good horse race.

The rhetoric is what really gets me, and the blatant "I don't care about the rest of the world, just Kentucky" attitude. Give me a fucking break, you're just protecting local gambling interests.

Sigh. I think I'll need a drink or two this weekend. I wonder if they'll even let me across the border...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Gimme a B!

3 days. In 3 days I should be pulling into the Mainstay Inn and pre-apologizing to my liver. In 3 days, many a drunken donkey will descend on the "where the fuck is that?" town of Phoenixville to be... well... drunken donkeys.

It appears I'm on team Otis for the Pub Olympics... I'm SO the low man on that totem.

Otis, BigMike, BamBam, Pebbles, BobbyBracelet, CK, DrChako, Falstaff, Spaceman, and... me? Well, every team needs a luckbox :).

I'm psyched for The Bash.

What's That Creaking Sound?

Why, it sounds like the gears of government actually turning! Is the do-nothing Congress getting ready to... umm... well.. do nothing, I guess, but effectively?

It's starting to look like Paulson won't get quite what he wants with the $700 billion. There are rumblings of the Democrats none too happy with the lack of oversight, zero REAL regard for the taxpayer, lack of conditions for mortgage easement for homeowners (which I think is stupid anyway... just because you were too proud and greedy to realize you couldn't afford a home doesn't mean you should be bailed out), and the attitude of "please rubber-stamp this", and want to actually investigate and explore and analyze the bailout plan before okaying it.

Bra-fucking-vo! Maybe they'll even stumble across some alternatives that are floating around out there rather than buying up all the bad debt and holding it until it's good debt.

Let's Talk Heroes

But first - I played in the LPR game last night. I came in late as the 3rd player... why is nobody showing up? Is it because nobody knows it's actually at 10:00 ET? Anyway, I made short work of Tragedy and Osssssuuuuuuuuuuuuuu and took home my $28 in about 24 minutes. I rock.

Wait... math time. $10+1 entry. $2 KO bounty. 3 people... one place paid. $10-2=8. 8x3=24 (first place). I knock out 2 people for $4 in bounties. What the hell happened to MY $2? Since I don't get knocked out, should I get that back? So, in fact, shouldn't 1st place be $26? I do believe I got ripped off. Fuckers.

Okay, Heroes, season 3 started tonight. Just in case you didn't catch the 3000 ads being run on every NBC network for the past few weeks. I skipped the (I'm assuming) lame pre-show. This is a show that wowed me in the first season, and easily had the best hour of TV that year for the episode where Bennett flashes back to his early days in the Company. But it ended with one hell of a whimper and left me disappointed for the summer.

Season 2 was a disaster from the get go. Terrible new characters, the asinine idea of stripping all the cool characters of their powers so we could be reintroduced to them or something. LAMELY killing someone in flashback who they LAMELY saved at the end of the 1st season. Throw in possibly the worst romantic subplot ever written, and Season 2 is best forgotten.

So, after the creators apologized for season 2, would they finally rediscover the magic that made 90% of season 1 so great?

They certainly tried. The first 15 minutes once again felt like an hour of any other show... in a good way. The fact it was 2 hours long was boding well. They answered questions from season 2 immediately, without drawing out the "suspense". Everyone was still themselves, and even Sylar was getting back into form. They had some shocking moments, deaths, and some surprises. They even had a little bit of sexy. So far, so good.

But then Mohinder showed up.

I was one of the people that liked Suresh in the beginning. Great, they had a guy who DIDN'T have powers trying to discover the secrets of these people. He was naive, but brilliant. But he developed a stupid streak comparable to Claire's. He'd be moving right along and then do some brain-dead, makes-no-sense thing that derailed any momentum. He and Claire were the fall guys for "we need to move the plot along, so we'll sacrifice the character we've built for this implausibly stupid thing they need to do because we can't write ourselves out of this corner."

He still is. My GOD he's a tool. It took me out of the show with how stupid he was. Even Claire seemed relatively even-keeled this time, Suresh goes and does the moron-boy cliche thing.

And Hiro does something EVEN MORE idiotic... this is the best way the could move his story forward? He's shown naïvité in the past, but this was outright idiocy, followed up with paranoia.

There were also some pretty blatant rip-offs. I realize the mutant story is somewhat limited, but could your pyrokinetic maybe NOT have Liz Sherman-like blue flames? And a villain with control over magnetism? Well, Kring wanted that in season 1. And I get the feeling David Cronenberg could sue for one developing storyline.

Seeing Bruce Boxleitner and William Katt was cool though. Alan Bradley and The Greatest American Hero in the same show... awesome.

Really? Did they think nobody saw The Fly? Mohinder has super-strength and agility, and can seemingly stick to walls. I was thinking direct Spider-Man rip-off until he started peeling skin from his back. Then it was obvious that Jeff Goldblum wasn't available.

The return of Lindermann was surprising for about 2 seconds, when I realized he wasn't really there, and very likely a figment of Nathan's psyche. Or he's being caused be someone else.

And Nikki's new character is kind of boring. But now that she's learning about her forgotten past, and has freezing abilities, she could grow. Although why'd she have to kill Katt??? WHY???

So in the end, there's a lot of promise here. They've got some villains (which I'm pretty sure will be a maguffin and wrapped up fairly soon). Some heroes in interesting positions (again, these will be wrapped up I think), and another end-of-the-world plotline. But there's still the HUGE problem of seemingly intelligent people doing completely out-of-left-field STUPID things, which if it continues, will turn me off this show permanently. Also, the totally unsubtle product placement is still grating... will Sprint be this season's Nissan Versa or Rogue?

For the plot and start of the season, it gets high marks. For originality and stupidity, it gets low ones. So I guess that puts it in the middle.

Monday, September 22, 2008

$1.8 Trillion

That's how much the government has pledged or spent on this crisis. That's a fuckton of interference, and if you pay the IRS every year, than it's all YOUR money.

They've got the breakdown over at CNBC

—Up to $700 billion to buy assets from struggling institutions. The plan is aimed at sopping up residential and commercial mortgages from financial institutions but gives Treasury broad latitude.

—Up to $50 billion from the Great Depression-era Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee principal in money market mutual funds to provide the same confidence that consumers have in federally insured bank deposits.

—The Fed committed to make unspecified discount window loans to financial institutions to finance the purchase of assets from money market funds to aid redemptions.

—At least $10 billion in Treasury direct purchases of mortgage-backed securities in September. In doubling the program on Friday, the Treasury said it may purchase even more in the months ahead.

—Up to $144 billion in additional MBS purchases by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.The Treasury announced they would increase purchases up to the newly expanded investment portfolio limits of $850 billion each. On July 30, the Fannie portfolio stood at $758.1 billion with Freddie's at $798.2 billion.

—$85 billion loan for AIG, which would give the Federal government a 79.9 percent stake and avoid a bankruptcy filing for the embattled insurer. AIG management will be dismissed.

—At least $87 billion in repayments to JPMorgan Chase [JPM 42.80 -4.25 (-9.03%) ] for providing financing to underpin trades with units of bankrupt investment bank Lehman Brothers [LEH 0.19 -0.0251 (-11.67%) ]. Paulson said over the weekend he was adamant that public funds not be used to rescue the firm.

—$200 billion for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Treasury will inject up to $100 billion into each institution by purchasing preferred stock to shore up their capital as needed. The deal puts the two housing finance firms under government control.

—$300 billion for the Federal Housing Administration to refinance failing mortgage into new, reduced-principal loans with a federal guarantee, passed as part of a broad housing rescue bill.

—$4 billion in grants to local communities to help them buy and repair homes abandoned due to mortgage foreclosures.

—$29 billion in financing for JPMorgan Chase's government-brokered buyout of Bear Stearns in March. The Fed agreed to take $30 billion in questionable Bear assets as collateral, making JPMorgan liable for the first $1 billion in losses, while agreeing to shoulder any further losses.

—At least $200 billion of currently outstanding loans to banks issued through the Fed's Term Auction Facility, which was recently expanded to allow for longer loans of 84 days alongside the previous 28-day credits.

1.8 Trillion. Most of it in less than a month. Just... wow. I can think of a few better ways of spending that kind of cash than bailing out companies that got themselves into a quagmire by doing idiotic things that a child with a 4th grade education could figure out were bad ideas.

Just When You Think They Can't Get Dumber

Remember the good ol' days, when the Fed, the President, and everyone else who was hoping nobody was paying any attention kept lying about the US economy being solid? Seems like only a couple weeks ago. Oh yah... IT WAS.

Of course, now Paulson and Bernanke go to Congress and talk about how the economy is just days away from a collapse and they need fast, decisive action... to the tune of $700 billion to buy bad debt instruments from failing banks.

Now, this is a sliding $700 billion. It isn't to exceed $700 billion, but as soon as they sell off some of the bad debt, they can replace it.

But that's not the kicker. The proposal has a line that says the money is to be used solely at the discretion of the Fed, with NO POSSIBLE COURT OVERSIGHT OR POWER. In other words, "trust us with the money, we'll know what to do."

Is that even fucking legal?

Except these fuckers have proven time and again that they don't have a damned clue! It's like backing a losing poker player with everything you've got after he nearly bankrupt you, and not having any say over how he spends it!

Then you've got morons like Barney Frank talking about how they'll be able to forgive mortgages and stop foreclosures because the government will OWN ALL THE BAD MORTGAGES! For fuck's sake! What are these people on????

And Chris Dodd suggests the bailout should extend to CREDIT CARD DEBT?? Hey! I lent a buddy $50 once and he didn't pay me back, can we include that too? What the fuck happened to personal responsibility? Let's make ALL debt go away! Americans are debt free and it only costs a few trillion dollars of taxpayer money!

Of course, the country is swimming in debt, devaluing the dollar again, and shooting themselves in the face.

There is ZERO reason for the fed bailouts and this $700 BILLION proposal. They'll have spent over a TRILLION dollars on bailouts, most of it in less than a month! But Congress is about to end for the election, so they have to rush through these plans without thinking about them! It's like handing your drunk friend your credit card as you run out the door because you don't have time to think about it. And I don't think anybody other than the government is that idiotic.

Toss in Goldman and Morgan now becoming BANKS to have access this money, and it was another interesting weekend. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley can now take deposits and be your local branch apparently, instead of just investment banks. This puts them under Fed regulation, which will limit their ability to lose money... and conversely MAKE money with higher risks.


Here's the problem. These companies all have stockholders, they all have bondholders, and most have preferred shareholders as well. If you buy stock in a company, you are an OWNER of that company. You take on the risks and rewards of that company when you buy in. You can get out whenever you want by selling your stock. If you have a bond in a company, you own nothing, but they owe you before anyone else. They've promised a certain payout, and if they go belly-up, you get first dibs at their stuff to get paid.

And when you buy these instruments, you take on the risk that they might not work out. When a company starts to fail, the burden should lie squarely on the shoulders of the shareholders and bondholders, NOT the taxpayers.

It's bullshit - Bernanke, Paulson, Bush, and everyone else who speaks keeps blabbering about how these plans must "consider the taxpayers". Yah, the consideration goes like this - "Will this fuck the taxpayers? Yup."

So you stayed away from these companies. You don't have any interest in them, and now you're on the hook as a taxpayer. This should be a big deal for people.

As for the line of "taxpayers are better off with this than the alternate" is bullshit. "Taxpayers" wouldn't be affected at all by the alternate. The economy would be in trouble, companies would fail, and investors would get torched, but it wouldn't cost a dime in taxes. Yes, "Americans" MIGHT be better off with this than the alternative, but not from a taxpayer standpoint.


This government intervention is pure, undiluted crap. They own your house now... you realize this right? They own your insurance. They will slowly own you bank. One of the CNBC commentators today was talking about how they know people who are literally taking their money from the bank and storing it in a strongbox. You know who else did this? Russians during communism. They hoarded their rubles in mattresses, under floorboards, etc.. They couldn't trust the banks or the government with it because it would just disappear. Then, when the curtain fell, the government came out with "the old rubles are worthless, here are new ones" and set a limit to what people could exchange. Millions of personal savings were lost in one swoop.

No, I'm not actually saying the States is turning into communist Russia, but this is an insane power grab that is going unchecked and it scares the shit out of me... and I don't even live there!

Plus, it does nothing to help the economy or the markets in the long-term. Even today, the DOW is back down, the dollar is down, and it's only been a weekend. It's the goverment fumbling around trying to staunch the bleeding without dealing with the all the shrapnel inside. It's a short-term stabalization that will backfire HUGE not that far down the road, and take even more good people with it.


And of course, our news starts putting up headlines like "Harper says Canadian banks won't receive US-like bailouts." Well NO FUCKING SHIT! We're not bloody insolvent up here! Our banks aren't in imminent danger of collapse! We don't NEED a bailout, but that headline sounds like we're doomed and nobody will throw us a line.

Okay, I'm done for now. How was your weekend? Mine was actually great.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cold Revenge

Returned to my regular home game today. I was in 1st place in the ToC standings for it after winning the biggest tournament they'd had during the year, and taking second to a donkey in the last one (and a couple final tables in between those). $20, 700 chips, and rebuys for the first 4 levels.

I bought in once, and rapidly built a massive chip lead. At the break I had 80 BB and close to double the 2nd biggest stack. That stack barely dwindled as people slowly dropped. My stack and loose-yet-catching image was enough to scare off the usual calling stations, and I was able to bully my way around. When we got heads-up, it was versus the same donkey I'd lost to previously. It was time to revenge myself.

I look down at the first hand (on the button), and it's snowmen. I minraise (600 more), he re-raises twice my bet (2400 total), I give him an incredulous look and say, "okay, I'm all-in", with a dismissive wave of my hand. He briefly agonizes over his cards (I'm obviously ahead), and calls... he flips over K9o and I blink in disbelief. He hits his 9 on the flop, but a glorious 8 comes on the river and he's done in one hand, and I have a pretty much insurmountable stranglehold on the ToC standings with only one game left before the ToC itself. I don't think being 1st gets me anything but respect, but I want that image at the ToC.

Toss in a pretty good cash (4+ BBs) in the blogger cash game on Friday, and it wasn't a bad weekend for poker at all. About time I had one.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I did nearly forget! It be TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!

ARRR! Be sure to shiver ye some timbers of the scurvy bilge-rats ye encounter in yer travels this finest of days! For on the morrow, there shan't be a speck of buried gold to be found!

Indeed, tonight's Donkament shall involve much drinking of the finest RUM! YO HO HO!

Every Silver Lining Has a Grey Cloud

It's looking like it'll be one hell of an open for the market thanks to the US Fed futzing around where they don't belong. *update - and it was.

Somewhere down the road, this is going to bite people in the ass. The proposal for the Fed to provide financing for banks in exchange for equity (ie.- government can buy bank stocks), and that the government gets paid out first and foremost is disasterous. I say "hello!" to my comrades in the south! Not only does this mean further government ownership of formerly independent financial institutions, but that all other stakeholders in those companies can be royally screwed.

The herd needs to be thinned, and instead the Fed is going to feed them bad carbs and fight off the natural predators for them.

Don't Stick a Fork in It

'Cuz the market ain't done.

RTC-like clearing house?
Temporary BAN on short selling by the SEC?

You know how there's that little scribble on a bag of chips? "Filled by weight, not volume. Contents may have settled." It explains why you have a big giant bag that's mostly empty.

The market's about to be very similar. Lots of empty space making it look a lot better than it really is. That's what a short-selling ban will do.

Fucking idiots.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Panic in the Streets!

Some global financial news off the top of my head:

- Russia pumps $20 Billion into their liquidity pool to boost their economy
- China starts buying stock to keep its stock market level up
- UK BANS short selling until they revisit it in January
- Major central banks set up US dollar swaps in the billions just in case they need them
- Morgan Stanley maybe isn't as great as it claims and is looking to be bought
- Goldman Sachs still seems in pretty solid shape, but the stock's taking a beating due to panic
- Nobody in Congress has a clue what to do... neither does anybody else

Well, I do. Leave it all the fuck alone. Russia's doing the same thing the US Fed is doing, China's market is going to be a mess due to the government artificially inflating it, the UK ban on short selling will just kill liquidity in the market and will look nice short-term, but will smack them in the face down the road. Goldman Sachs will probably come out of all of this in fine shape.

Oh, and of course the US gubmint is now the biggest mortgage company in the world AND the biggest insurance company in the world after taking over Fannie, Freddie, and AIG. But don't elect the democrats, because they'll socialize everything! Oh... wait... umm... nevermind that argument.

This stopped being about bad mortgages a while ago. Now it's becoming apparent it's due to bad regulation enforcement. The 5 big investment firms were able to over-leverage due to ridiculous exemptions. So, now in an attemp to fix the crisis, more regulation is being suggested.

Fill a bowl with glue. Tell someone there is one rule - don't put your fingers in the glue. Every time they ask if they can touch the glue, say no. Finally, let them do it "just this once". Now they're stuck in the glue, and need to put their other hand in there to free the first. Now they're more stuck. They cry for help because they're stuck in the glue. Once you start mucking around trying to get them out, you get stuck too. The problem just gets worse the more you try to help and fix the problem.

Or think of Homer trying to free himself from the Springfield tar pits. "I'll just pull my legs out with my arms, and my arms out with my face.... glub, glub, glub." I don't think Stampy's gonna help here.

More regulation just complicates things more. They need simple, clear, and ENFORCED rules.

Funny, I thought I was going to write about something else entirely. Next time I guess.

Just in Case You Were Wondering

A sloe sour southern/comfortable screw against the wall on the beach with satin pillows and a kiss the hard way in Manhattan would have:

Sloe gin (sloe)
Southern Comfort (southern or comfortable)
Vodka (screw)
Galliano (against the wall)
Amaretto (with a kiss)
Frangelico (satin pillows)
Whiskey (the hard way)
Peach schnapps (on the beach)
Sweet Vermouth (in Manhattan)
Bourbon (in Manhattan)
Sour mix (sour)
Orange juice
Cranberry juice
Angostura Bitters
A marashino cherry
A twist

A little umbrella probably wouldn't be out of place either.

With the Upcoming Bash...

So at last count, I was dragging Kat and VinNay down to The Bash with me next week (I should really book a hotel room... damned lazy me). Arriving on Friday, sometime in the late afternoon/early evening with luck. Anyone else want to hitch a ride?

So, with the thousands of people who will be in the bar on Saturday night, I got to thinking back.

For one school year, I tended bar at the student pub. This was hardly a demanding task as it was only open Friday or during event weeks, and involved pouring copious amounts of beer for Engineering students. The non-beer behind the bar consisted of some limited supply - vodka, rum, peach schnapps, blue curaçao (that's a SOFT "c", it's not curakao), maybe gin, rye, amaretto, tequila, and some mixes. Basically what you need for the standard University student to get drunk on or do a few shots.

But Engineers are voracious drinkers, especially on a Friday after putting 30-60 hours of class and lab time in, and a weekend that looks like it'll be spent in a lab or buried in a text book. So we'd have 2 or 3 bartenders avoiding one another behind the small bar, the manager getting more ice and hoping the new keg settled enough, and general mayhem for a few hours. You got good at filling multiple cups simulataneously, and estimating a "shot" based on how well you knew the person ordering (or how cute they were).

Now when it comes to drinks, I love nothing more than being asked to "surprise me" at a party, or my place, or even during the rare slow times at the bar. Other bartenders I knew back in the day also got a wicked gleam in their eyes when those words were spoken... with a caveat - that they weren't completely swamped with a million other orders.

When a bar is running full steam, you can barely hear, and you've got people impatiently wanting to add their drinks to the already growing list you have in your head. Beer is easy and done quickly. Basic drinks comes next - a screwdriver, a vodka and cranberry, rum and coke, rye and ginger - the ones that have 2 ingredients and often describe themselves. Real martinis aren't terrible, since they're generally one booze, a hint of vermouth, and some accoutrement. After that though? It starts getting ugly with the shaking and the stirring and the 3 mixes and 5 alcohols and 14 fruits. Sure, an Old Fashioned sounds classy, but would YOU want to muddle fruit with hundreds of screaming drunks in your face?

So, knowing that there will be millions in attendance at The Bash on Saturday night, do the bartenders a favour - don't ask for "this pink drink I had once, but I don't know what was in it... maybe passion fruit or something?", or that drink that has-a-long-name-that-you-have-a-hard-time-remembering-when-you're-drunk, or "surprise me" (although I imagine any pros out there have a mental list of "surprises" that can be thrown together - Paralyzer anyone?). Keep it simple for the poor boozemongers - beers, SoCo, shots everyone knows, [booze] and [mix] names. And if you absolutely HAVE to have a "sloe sour southern screw against the wall on the beach with satin pillows and a kiss the hard way in Manhattan" while a million people are yelling drink orders, make sure you tip the tender at LEAST the price of the drink itself, and do so before you even order. Remember, we're Al's friends, and want to be invited back next year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

For Myself

My poker game has sucked hard of late. There's no point in bringing up examples, because they all tell similar stories. Distraction, mental flubs, inconsistent stories, ignoring the obvious, lack of belief, etc..

So maybe it's time to analyze some basics. There will be nothing revolutionary here. No deep insights into chip utility, applying pressure points, 3rd level bluffing, or anything else.

Preparation. I'm choosing games with no reason behind them. I fire up a 1-table turbo SnG because it's easy to do, but really don't care about the game. I decide to late register for the PLO $4k because I'm home sick and haven't played an Omaha MTT in awhile. Forget that I haven't showered or eaten breakfast yet. I don't even think about how I'll attack a game, or why I'm playing one. My most satisfying victories of the past came after I spent time figuring out when to change up my game, what the ebb and flow would be, and then applying that plan successfully. I haven't been doing this.

Observation. I'm making assumptions about everyone these days. Sure they're bluffing when I have TPTK. No way they have set, they suck too much to have a set. They obviously held on for that rivered flush, etc.. I'm not letting the cards, the board, or the betting tell me much. I'm relying entirely on instinct... which has been surprisingly accurate when the cards DO get flipped over, but often too late. At least I can still smell a busted flush draw, even if I can't see an inside straight.

Volatility. My chipstacks are all over the place. There's seldom a slow-but-steady climb, it's all-in and double up, blind away, all-in and double-up again. In SnGs, it's hold on until the bubble and push to stay alive, instead of push to accumulate chips. I spew over an orbit or two before tightening back up. It's disgusting.

Desire. I start off wanting the win, but eventually get to just wanting the end. I get knocked out, wish everyone good luck, and sign off relieved that I don't have to play any more.

Bankroll. I reloaded a couple weeks ago, and am once again on the cusp of doing so again. As the numbers tick down, I get more concerned about the money, which causes my play to shift dramatically in key situations. I play to hang on and get another chance as opposed to take down the pot and advance stronger.

Distraction. This has always been a constant. The problem with online poker is that distractions are easy to find. I have the TV on, or a show on my computer, or a another completely unrelated game going, or I've accidentally misclicked on a link to some dirty pictures and don't know how to get out of that page (yup... mmhmm), or am editing photos, populating databases, or any other number of things that aren't playing the game at hand. The benefits of focus are automatic and obvious. Plus, being distracted leads to giving off incorrect signs at the table - pauses that seem like doubt, missed premium hands, missed opportunities. Just another leak.

Game. I've got none these days. I've lost the ability to have my big hands pay off it seems. I also seem unable to bluff effectively. I'm playing scared, shitty poker.

So tonight's The Mookie. I plan to show up, and maybe plug a few of these holes back up.

Looking For Someone...

... with the courage to say "I don't know."

Let's talk about everybody's favourite Republican - Abraham Lincoln.

Something that I've heard mentioned a few times over the last couple years is how one of Lincoln's greatest assests was his ability to admit he didn't know something. When elected, he was aware that he could give a good speech, had his beliefs, and believed in his leadership abilities, but knew he came up short when it came to complex economic matters, that there would be difficult legal changes, etc.. So he brought in the BEST people he could to help him. Not the best people who were willing to kiss his ass, or the best people who had their own agendas and tried to control him and govern from the vizier's seat, but the best people period.

He had adivsors, staff, and confidantes who hated him. They didn't agree with his politics, his philosophy, thought his sense of humour was crude (it was), and probably didn't like his beard too much. But they were called upon by their President to do a job. They were told to do what was best for the country, and to give their expert opinion to shape policy. On top of that, he LISTENED and applied their knowledge.

I'd like to see a President do that. Bush sure as hell didn't, what with his "message from God" attitude, and the handlers who controlled him, not the other way around.

Can McCain? Perhaps. I'd have a lot more faith in the old maverick than the new guy in his skin. But he's been around politics long enough (and that military service may actually be handy in herding the cats of political office) to know how to play the game and stay in control. He might even still be able to reach across the aisle and surprise everyone by asking a Democrat or two to help him out. He might. But first he needs to show a glimmer of the old guy.

Can Obama? Maybe. Apparently he's a big Lincoln fan, keeps Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals with him. Not surprising since Lincoln was an inexperienced, yet charismatic, Illinois senator himself. But can he overcome the political system to do these things? Would he bring Hillary into a major role? Could he shock people and mend fences by convincing a Republican to join his cabinet (or whatever you call it south of me)? Or will his inexperience swamp his charisma as he drowns in backroom deals and the real politics?

In some ways, both have already started. McCain from selecting Palin as his VP, who fills in the gaps of his campaign. She's harder right, appeals to women, is young and vibrant, etc, etc.. Obama with Biden as his choice, bringing decades of experience in the halls of Washington, and his own ill-fated Presidential run.

Eventually, we'll see if either has the guts to make some real changes, even at the expense of their own ego.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sick Day

So I called in sick yesterday and watched the market massacre from home. That got boring after a while, so I decided to use my time more wisely.

I finally started my taxes (due last April, but they owe me, so no biggie from a legal standpoint), and now I just need to make sure I'm not missing anything (I think I am, but hardly enough to make a difference). I went through some papers. Seems I have a dormant bank account that I should have dealt with 7 months ago. Whoops, I guess I'll pay the $20 to reactivate and maybe shut it down.

I made some Julep Iced Tea (I have the book this recipe came from, it's fantastic).

And I catalogued my DVD collection. I'll make a rough estimate at 235 titles. If you expand the box sets to their individual titles (ie.- the Alien Quadrilogy is actually 4 movies), it's probably more like 250. Kind of disappointing actually. That, and I STILL don't know who the hell has my copy of Harld & Kumar Go to White Castle. I'm about halfway through entering them all into a database.

It was interesting how many times I said, "I own this? Really?" Some were pleasant surprises, others were just surprises. I think I'll need to sit down with A Bothersome Man again. I really liked that film. I also apparently still need to get Vexille... luckily, I do own Ghost in the Shell already (who knew? Not me!).

Oh, and I donked around at some poker... and fared horribly. I'll likely be reloading again soon... shortest time between reloads ever? I truly suck at poker these days.

More Palin

Why the hell not? It's not like there's anything interesting going on in the financial world.

I was watching The Daily Show last night, and Stewart nicely tore into Palin's record. Let's see if I can recall everything:

- Bridge to Nowhere support (already covered here)
- Over $400 Million in earmarks, even though she claims to be against that.
- Never went to Iraq, despite claiming she had
- Left Wasilla $20 million in debt after her run as mayor
- Made rape victims pay for the rape kits used in their investigations

Let's work backwards.

- Paying for rape kits.

See, this is a means of attack you seldom see from the Demo side. Yes, under her term as mayor, the police budget was changed to shift charges for rape kits from the police budget to the victims. Yes, this was done by the new chief of police that Palin hired after firing the old one. Yes, Palin signed off on this. Yes, she is ultimately responsible. But she didn't actually WRITE the police budget, that was the police chief. It was his call to remove that cost from their budget. It was ill-advised, short-sighted, and just plain stupid, especially from a PR standpoint. I imagine it then went through a few functionaries before landing on Palin's desk for a rubber stamp signature. Or maybe she was more involved than that (I mean, it's only a town of 7000 people, right?). But by reducing the whole thing to one sentence, it portrays her in a TERRIBLE light. Nice attack, too bad it came on a fake news cable comedy show. The Dem's need to fight a little dirty like this though to counteract the Republican crap. It's not dishonest, just lacking some details. But ultimately, she's still responsible for what is likely a single line in a budget report.

- Wasilla debt

Not sure if I can find a counterpoint to this one. She cut property and small business taxes in the town (scroll down to the part about tax cuts), but raised sales tax to fund a sports complex (which is popular, but cost the city a fair bit in a legal battle). She didn't shrink the government any, ran into legal problems with said complex, and the budget rose around $2 million over the length of her term. That $20 million is long-term debt, which puts her pretty much in line with the Bush idea of how to pay for things with money you don't have. Not exactly a die-hard fiscal conservative I suppose.

This brings up a problem I have with tax-cutters. It sounds great, but in order to cut taxes, you have to cut services and create a more efficient budget and government. Often, this second part of the equation doesn't happen. Cutting taxes in the current environment is absolute economic suicide.

But it plays well in the sticks.

- Iraq

Oh this one is kinda fun. See, she just got her passport in 2007! In her ONLY trip ever outside of North America, the campaign said she's been to Ireland, Germany, Kuwait and Iraq. Ireland turned out to be a fuelling stop. Iraq? Oh, well, she stood at a border crossing between Iraq and Kuwait, so maybe a toe was in the country. I guess that's not technically a lie.

Once, I was stuck in O'Hare for 8 hours waiting for a flight. So I've been to Chicago. I also stopped, but didn't disembark in Pittsburgh. Ooooo.. and once I missed a connection in Hawaii, so I was in Waikiki for 24 hours. I drove through the Green Zone in Israel... well on the highway along the fence. I also did a U-Turn at the border to the West Bank because I missed the entrance to a park. Oh, and once I made a fuelling stop in Anchorage.

Yay! VP with foreign experience!

- Earmarks

Not sure about the $400 million. That probably includes the Bridge to Nowhere money. Some fairly exorbitant costs for different areas of research. Millions to study crab mating habits, or seal populations... hmm.

Then there was her ABC interview. The big point seems to be her having no clue about the Bush Doctrine. Now granted, if you'd asked me about it, I wouldn't have known a damn thing either, especially when it sounds like a very generic term. But then, I'm neither American nor a VP candidate.

What's great about Palin is that no matter how attacks on her get deflected, cleared up, or ignored, more keep coming.

Naturally, she's no longer doing any interviews due to the "attacks" by the media and the "rampant sexism" being shown to her. Except maybe with FOX News, because they're "fair and balanced" after all.

Interestingly, Stewart's guest that night was talking up a book about Cheney. I think we've forgotten something in the last 8 years - the VP is a fairly useless position. The VP is there to break ties in the Senate, and take over if the President is rendered incapable of leading. Outside of that, they do secondary political functions, gladhand with leaders, visit places the President doesn't want to go, and play around with their own pet projects. Some are advisors to the Prez, and some are relegated to dark corners where they are ignored.

And this is where Palin will end up. It doesn't matter what her policies or positions are, because if McCain wins, you won't hear a peep from her again. She'll be a pretty face that smiles and says what she's told to say. She won't have a voice, and every backroom wheeler and dealer will be terrified that McCain will croak and she'll take over.

This lipstick on a pig thing? Stupid. She called herself a pitbull with lipstick at the RNC.

She's done absolutely NOTHING to change my opinion of her as an ignorant hockey mom from a backwater state without a clue about how the world works.

And the opening to Saturday Night Live perfectly pointed out how she's nowhere NEAR a suitable choice for a Clinton vote-grabber. In fact, she's quickly become the party's biggest liability. Although she does deflect any focus on McCain's shortcomings... I can't help but think this was part of the plan.

Week 2 Results

Let's see if I improved...

CHI @ CAR - CAR - Picked CHI
TEN @ CIN - TEN - Picked TEN
GB @ DET - GB - Picked GB
BUF @ JAC - BUF - Picked JAC
OAK @ KC - OAK - Picked KC
IND @ MIN - IND - Picked MIN
NUG @ STL - NYG - Picked NYG
NO @ WAS - WAS - Picked NO
SF @ SEA - SF - Picked SF
ATL @ TB - TB - Picked TB
MIA @ ARI - ARI - Picked ARI
SD @ DEN - DEN - Picked DEN
NE @ NYJ - NE - Picked NE
PIT @ CLE - PIT - Picked PIT
PHI @ DAL - DAL - Picked DAL

So 10 out of 15, or 66.67%. A mild improvement over the previous week, only because there was one less game. Faults in my strategy? I still took the Jaguars based on not picking the other feline-based teams. I have to stop this bias. I also apparently guessed wrong on the type of Bear in Chicago. One can only assume henceforth that it is, in fact, a Teddy Bear. Who could have guessed that Washington and Oakland would have won? I forgot that racist stereotypes don't care about religious icons, and that Raiders with guns probably beat Chiefs. As for Indy beating MIN? I should have listend to Ohcaptain and realized that these aren't the tough-as-nails row-across-the-Atlantic Vikings, but the pansy-ass stay-at-home-and-drink-mead variety.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More Finance

What a disaster of a day for the markets. Oh wait... unless you were effectively short, or looking to buy for the long term.

DOW? Down 504.48. I don't think Sub-10k is that unlikely, but it'll be a fight.
TSX? Down 515.55

Still a ways to go. This might clear some cobwebs though. I'm getting a mite scared about things though:

"In a third step, [the Fed] said it will temporarily allow commercial banks to extend liquid funds to their brokerage affiliates for assets that would normally be accepted in tri-party repurchase agreements." [link]

Nothing like suspending laws to fix a problem. There MIGHT just be a reason for these laws in the first place. Like, I dunno... separating arms of financial institutions? Protecting the assets of its customers (in this case, institutional customers)? I dunno. I like the word "temporary", like that ever holds in the financial world.

Expect any other stand-alone brokerage firms to be bought up by banks now that BoA has Merrill. There are still banks with money to burn out there.

There seems to be a liquidity fund being built too... no small part made up of lent money.

And AIG can now borrow from... itself?

Talk about a shell game.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blood on the Trading Floor

This'll be quick.

I've come down a with a cold, which sucks. Normally I'd be somewhat happy with the side-benefit of maybe missing work tomorrow, but not this time.

Lehman Bros, Merrill Lynch, and AIG are in no small bit of trouble today. Nobody wants Lehman, BoA wants Merrill before nobody wants it, and AIG is trying to raise capital in the face of Ike-related damage. Expect one hell of a day in the market tomorrow. I'd kind of like my ring-side seat.

There's some good coverage (and a decent if mildly stretched analogy to poker) of the weekend's happenings over here.

Final TIFF


Every time I pick a move for TIFF, certain expectations exist. Rarely is there more to go on than the description in the official program, or the occasional early review. Some don't live up to the hype, others meet my standards, and some exceed these expectations.

I picked Chocolate expecting one thing - A whole whack of ass-kicking. It didn't disappoint.

Zen is the daughter of a Yakuza boss and Thai ganglord's girlfriend (or something). She is, as related in the story, a special child, with special needs. The audience decided she was, in fact, autistic. Slow to develop, and fairly non-communicative, her mother Zin gives up her life to raise Zen. Years pass, and Zen watches the kickboxers practicing in front of her house, martial arts movies (including Ong Bak - the director's previous film), and displays sharp reflexes and a keen sense of hearing.

Her best (and only) friend Moom uses Zen's talents to entertain crowds and take tips. She becomes a busker. The money is used to pay for Zin's cancer treatments. One night, Moom finds a book of Zin's from her gangster days, detailing who owes her how much. Naively, he and Zen go to collect from the underbelly of their city.

And that pretty much sets up increasingly impressive martial arts scenes as the debtors refuse to pay up without a fight... or more specifically, without the entire staff of whatever establishment they own putting up a fight. It's no surprise that the adversaries are little more than cannon fodder for Zen's grace.

This gets the attention of the gangsters (who happen to have a large number of Ladyboys as henchmen... go figure), figuring Zin is up to something. Of course, we all know where this is leading.

The Midnight Madness crowd are the people who own the fringe horror, categorize their martial arts movies by fight choreographer, and could probably correct Quentin Tarentino on mistakes in his homages to the Asian film world. The last time I heard them react like they did in this film was Banlieu 13, except this time it was pretty constant throughout the movie. Just when you think the bar's been set, it gets raised a bit higher.

When Zen walks into the dojo straight of Kill Bill and a dozen men come streaming down the stairs, you know you're in for a treat. The battle between her and another "special" kid (who the programmer of Midnight Madness referred to as "B-boy crackbaby") moves from an odd display of moves to a beautifully choreographed breakdancing fight scene that just has to be seen.

There's a plot, it's meant to connect the fight scenes. There's acting, it keeps it from being a silent movie. There's tragedy, because rarely do people fight for comedic reasons. In the end? It was the perfect way to end what turned out to be a great festival for me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Buy Buy Buy!

Man, looking like a good time to buy a house in Vegas. Nevada keeps leading the charge with the most foreclosures in August. 1 in every 91 homes. I guess an entire economy based on either gambling and tourism or secret military projects doesn't hold up well in a recession.

Find something in a prime location, sit on it, and host the WPBT events there... yah, that's a plan.

Does ANYBODY out there believe analysts when they talk about a bottom? Or that he housing crisis is easing? Such bullshit.

Football Week 2

Alright, let's see if I can improve on last week's 62.5% record.

CHI @ CAR - What type of Bear is it in Chicago? A grizzly could take down a panther, and a polar bear would probably be capable too. A black or brown bear though... that would be a battle. A hairy gay man vs a panther isn't much of a battle though, and a Bear Stearns is already dead. Panthers are also just cooler than bears. Well, it's a bear market these days, so let's assume grizzly and pick Chicago.

TEN @ CIN - I like tigers, and I have two Bengal cats as pets, but Cincy sucks donkey balls. Also, Titans crush tiny creatures.

GB @ DET - Oh man... the Pack vs the Lions. Lots of loyal fans involved, even though the lions have the double whammy of sucking AND being in Detroit. I had a nice conversation once with an opponent at a poker table at how scary Detroit was. Then I took his money. Cheeseheads for the win.

BUF @ JAC - I still don't know what a Bill is, and I still hate Buffalo (it's in the Toronto charter). But once Wilson kicks the bucket, that team's coming north of the border. We'll change their name to something more the Argonauts or maybe name them after a bird or cat of some sort. The Toronto Maine Coons? The Toronto Titmouses? Oh right, a pick... fuck. Jaguars are pretty awesome, and I already killed panthers and tigers today. Let's go with Jacksonville.

OAK @ KC - Chiefs. I mean, it's freakin' Oakland. Sorry Carmen, no extra hour off work on Monday.

IND @ MIN - Vikings kinda rock, and Peyton is kinda sucking a bit. Yah, Vikings ride horses for breakfast or something.

NYG @ STL - Giants crush rams and then feast on their carcasses. Hey, it's just what giants do, cuz they're huge like Titans!

NO @ WAS - Don't bet against Saints. They're Saints after all.

SF @ SEA - Hey, does Joe Montana still play in SF? Let's see, one team eats their fish with rice-a-roni, the other with marijuana... tough call. SF FTW!

ATL @ TB - Falcons are kind of like parrots, who sit on Buccaneers' shoulders and want crackers. I can't abide racism. Tampa Bay shivers their timbers or something.

MIA @ ARI - Really? I have to pick between the Dolphins and Cardinals? Fuck, it's Miami... Arizona wins.

SD @ DEN - Broncos! They charge AND buck, vs Chargers who are far more 1-dimensional.

NE @ NYJ - Tom Brady will likely be watching from a hospital room or bravely making a speech to his team... it doesn't matter, because his superpowers will flow through whatever medium separates him from the Patriots and imbue his team with strength. Also, Jets suck.

PIT @ CLE - Again, WTF is a Brown? Someone change the stupid name. Oh, it's Cleveland, they're lame anyway. "Hey, we've got the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame!" Yah? where the hell is Pat Boone? huh??" Steelers kick their asses.

PHI @ DAL - Dallas. Sorry Riggs, but Cowboys have guns, and Eagles don't have body armour.

Tune in Tuesday to see how awesome I truly am!

Penultimate TIFF

Me and Orson Welles

With a few drinks in me, I powerwalked from the subway to the theatre a city block away. Released some of the beer back into the wild, and found a seat in the balcony with minutes to spare.

The plot goes thusly: A teenager, Richard Samuels (Zac Efron), in 1937 New York talks his way into a small roll in Orson Welles' (Christian McKay) production Julius Caesar at the Mercury Theatre a week before curtain. He quickly learns his part and spends the next week rehearsing, falling in love with Orson's assistant (Claire Danes), and trying to survive the larger-than-life genius of Welles.

On it's own, and with Zac Efron, this hardly sounded like an appealing film for my limited selection. Except for one thing - it was directed by Richard Linklater.

I didn't realize he had nothing to do with the writing of it though. In fact, I didn't realize that until the credits rolled. Linklater's loved for films like Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Waking Life, and A Scanner Darkly. They're movies that thrive on the conversations, and in the case of the the latter two, the rotoscoped visuals that add to the conversations.

So doing a film set during the rise of Welles' career, in 1937 New York seems like a good fit for him. Lush visuals, rapid-fire conversation, and a simple story that relies on the actors and their words. And fit it did.

Linklater tries a few interesting shots here and there, but for the most part the direction is safe and serves its purpose of putting the story on the screen. Although I do like the effective use of props and tight scenes to create 1930's New York -- it seems appropriately low-budget for a movie about a low-budget theatrical production. Where his talents really come through is in the direction of the actors.

By the end of the film I'd decided that Christian McKay needs to be in a TON of movies now, because he carries this film as Welles. The man knows Orson, having done a one-man theatrical show as Welles before being grabbed for this movie. His delivery, look, and speech are dead-on. He plays Orson Welles playing the character of Orson Welles (a bombastic individual who was seldom not "on") perfectly, with brief, subtle moments where the real man comes through - in the eyes, a genuine smile, or a rage. Eventually you come to distrust every word he says, realizing he's always playing a role. I do hope he's not a one-trick pony though, and his ample skills at playing Welles can be transferred to other parts.

Claire Danes is Claire Danes. She's a strong, independent woman who aggressively goes for what she wants - be it men or career. Zac Efron is very much the teen idol trying to broaden his horizons beyond Disney musicals. He tries admirably here, but still has a lot of work to do. Efron feels like someone acting. He seldom overacts (one or two scenes near the end), but he doesn't fully embody Richard, and it leaves you somewhat detached from the film. It's a step in the right direction though, with the right cast and crew to lead him to better things.

The rest of the cast ranges from serviceable to good as Mercury players trying to put on their first show.

The romantic subplots are kept brief and in the background. They serve mainly to advance and resolve conflict. The focus stays squarely on Richard and Orson.

There's nothing heavy here, no life-changing message that will stick with you well after the lights have come on. It's a week in the life of one of the greatest dramatic personalities of the 20th century, and the effect he has on those around him. The movie achieves its goal nicely. Definitely a worthwhile way to spend a couple hours.


My last movie comes Saturday at midnight. I'm expecting big things from Chocolate. What kind of things? Well, a minimal plot used to service the idea of a Muay Thai martial arts fest from the creator of Ong Bak. It'll be a rowdy crowd and a hell of a way to end this fest.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Charity Fun

As I stated before, I've got a charity game on Friday. I've got another coming up in a few more weeks too. Why do I torture myself?

$20... for $300 first place.

3000 chips, 15 minute levels. Shootout format.

45 minutes in, the blinds are 100/200, half an hour later, it's 200/400. Remember, this is live.

Hellooooooooooooooooo donkey poker!

Far From Over

You'd think there'd be a poker post in here somewhere. But no... Mookie was quick and painless last night, and then I blew a chunk on a bunch of super turbos. Doom switch still in full effect for me, and nobody wants to hear details of it.

So let's talk commercial real estate instead. Looking around the Intertubes, this seems to be the next kick to the groin for the economy. Commercial real estate relies heavily on debt financing and loans. The strip malls, the big box stores that pop up everywhere, the shopping malls, the outlet malls, etc, etc.. But debt and loans have dried up, and the banks holding the mortgages are in trouble.

And this just gets compounded by the recession, economic problems, gas prices, and everything else we hear about. Why? Well, Christmas season is fast approaching, and it's well-known that this is the make-or-break time for retailers. When people are tightening their belts, cutting back on their driving, and fighting to keep their homes, Christmas presents and luxury items fall by the wayside. That 50" flat panel can wait a year or two.

So if shopping drops, retail profits fall through the floor. Stores close with nobody to replace them, and rents dry up. No financing to get through it, no rent, and commercial properties close up as their owners declare bankrupty. Look for more nail salons, bail bondsmen, pawn shops, and payday loan offices as property owners scramble for tenants.

So I think the full brunt won't be felt until the new year, once the money is counted and fiscal realities kick in. More dead malls will be showing up, and nothing quite destroys a neighbourhood like large abandoned buildings.

Nope, still far from a bottom out there folks.

May Day

At least Canadian politicians still have shame. Elizabeth May is now in the televised leaders debates. Layton and Harper both backed down from their childish, selfish, cowardly, and idiotic boycott stances. I'm not that surprised, since this actually gave the Greens MORE publicity, and would have been mentioned time and again as the debates neared. I'm even less surpised because the NDP and Conservatives have a history of making foolhardy gaffes and constantly removing their feet from their respective mouths.

This interests me, from May -

"That's my main goal: To take them away from the pre-scripted, pre-prepared little advertisements for oneself that party leaders usually do and get into something more spontaneous."

Wait, an ACTUAL debate? Now that would be interesting to see.

This is shaping up to be an intriguing battle across all parties. If you think keeping track of the attacks between two parties is fun... well, here's an example of how it works here:

NDP attacks Conservatives and Liberals, Conservatives strike back at NDP, Liberals turn focus off them to Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois gets attacked by NDP, Liberals, and Conservatives, the Greens toss a small jibe at everyone, NDP strikes back, Liberals back Greens, etc, etc... It's an increasingly more complex knot all the time, and it all gets crammed into a month.

An interesting aside from that article - the attacks on the Bloc from both the Conservatives AND from the seperatists in Quebec. This COULD be the beginning of the end for the light blue party if it continues. I'll give Quebecers this - they'll strike back hard if they feel the Bloc isn't giving them what they want.

Also, I actually agree with Harper's comment about Ford. It's not the job of the government to guarantee jobs to people. The billions of dollars in grants to prop up the auto industry's presence in Ontario only delay the inevitable until the next round of gifts and tax breaks.

Yup, this is shaping up to be an interesting election...

TIFF Part Something

Adam Resurrected

As a director, Paul Schrader has given us a few recognizeable movies - Cat People, American Gigolo, Auto Focus, and, um, a movie about Patty Hearst? As a writer though... Well, there's American Gigolo, Cat People, Bringing Out The Dead, City Hall, The Last Temptation of Christ... and a couple small films - Raging Bull and Taxi Driver.

For Adam Resurrected, he dons the director's cap, but not the writer's. The result is a movie that really tries to be a great one, and even leaves you with the impression you just saw an important film. But it's like the arrow just missed the bulls-eye and the shadow plays tricks with your eyes.

Adam Stein (Jeff Goldblum) was once Germany's most famous clown. He grew from a humble nightclub act to filling theatres with his Circus. Of course, when you're a Jewish clown in Berlin in the 1930's, things aren't going to go well for you.

Yup, another Holocaust movie. As Schrader pointed out at the post-film Q&A though, this one is a total fiction, and nowhere near as reverent as the movies in this genre are supposed to be. That said, it's not REALLY a comedy so much as a drama with comedic moments.

The bulk of the film takes place in the 1960's, Adam is alive, but not necessarily well. He's at a clinic in Israel for the survivors of the camps. It's essentially an asylum where experimental treatments are performed on those the most far gone. A woman who is constantly holding up the sky with one arm, a man in uniform blowing a bugle, and others with various dementias. In fact, Adam appears nearly sane - he's a genius, seemingly a psychic, and has charmed the doctors, a particular nurse, and the rest of the patients with ease. He has free reign of the place, invests the other patients money in the stock market, and has booze hidden away throughout the clinic.

We get his history through flashbacks. His days as the funniest man in Berlin, the night he saved a man's life by preventing him from committing suicide (using his psychic abilities and comedy), and the day the Nazis shut him down...

Then one day at lunch, he smells a dog. He becomes upset, confronting the head doctor, and tracking down the animal to a distant wing of the hospital. There, we begin to learn the true depth of his madness and pain.

Goldblum is very good as Stein, with the exception of his accent moving all over the place. He's charming, witty, and believable as a man trying to hide his suffering. Willem Dafoe plays a Nazi Commandant who destroyed Stein. His final scene is particularly good. Tudor Rapiteanu is particularly good as a boy who believes he is a dog.

But somehow, it misses the mark. Goldblum doesn't quite nail it, and is sometimes just Jeff Goldblum with an accent (or none). Considering the amount of work he says he put into the role, I'm surprised he slips out of it as often as he does. The narrative has some holes of believablity, and the movie tries to draw you in, just to let you go.

As is often the case, it's not a bad film by any means, and is, in fact, good. But it fails to achieve its aspirations, which makes it disappointing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

As Promised

I missed Obama's keynote at the DNC this year. So I looked up the transcript. You know what? It's damned inspiring just to read it, let alone hear it.

Those Dems gots some gooooood speech writers.

I started reading it, and kept going, and was wondering to myself, "When the hell is he going to get to what HE'S going to do?" Half a speech of bashing McCain, Bush, and the GOP or pointing out what everybody already knows is wrong with the country.

Then he quickly builds to his goals after going on about "the promise" of the presidency. Reading through the "promise" section was actually frustrating, because I was already at the "where the fuck is your platform?" stage...

Then comes the meat to his "change".

- Tax breaks shift from corporations that shift jobs overseas to corps that keep jobs in America.

Really? How will you differentiate? Does GM not get tax breaks because they have plants in Canada as well as Detroit? Or how about a company that is BASED overseas and wants to set up shop in the US? Wouldn't this be a deterrant? Where is this line drawn? Because I could set up a company with 7 employees in Kansas, and 100,000 in India... does that meet the criteria? And aren't those corporations already getting the same tax breaks?

- 10 year end of dependence on Middle East oil. Via clean coal, nuclear power, natural gas reserves, auto efficiency, wind, solar, and biofuels.

A few things - one, I LOVE the wording "I will our tap natural gas reserves... and find ways to safely harness nuclear power." Did you know Barack had these skills? I had no idea he was a nuclear physicist. No Barack, what YOU will do is give nice speeches and urge congress members to form committees to investigate the possibilites. You will approve funding (if it makes it to you through congress and the senate) for these. Hey, guess what? Safe nuclear power is already possible! Clean coal is a reality! T. Boone Pickens is already pushing for wind and solar power!

Two - CANADA is the #1 single provider of oil to the United States. Followed by Saudi Arabia, then MEXICO, and VENEZUELA. So the majority of your imported oil actually comes from THIS SIDE OF THE WORLD. Sorry, but this has been a political talking point that's annoyed me for a long time. Oh, and the US provides itself with over 5 million barrels per day as it is.

Three - Coal, Natural Gas, and Uranium for nuclear power are all... NON RENEWABLE RESOURCES. So what happens when they start to run dry? Why, you look elsewhere and start the cycle again. The US is already looking to tap Russia for uranium. Yah, Russia... there's a stable bet. Point being - turning to other non-renewable resources to substitute for a shortage in another one is still a stop-gap measure, it's just a bigger one. At least offshore drilling isn't really coming up in the speech - that's just fucking useless.

Four - Fuck off with biofuels. They aren't viable on a large scale until you convert the entire growing and processing aspect of it to... cheap, renewable resources! When you burn more oil and gas to harvest the corn than the corn produces, and then subsidize the industry to keep it afloat, it's a net loss! Biofuels work on the small scale only, when you can use waste products as a power source.

Oh and while I'm at it... this whole tax breaks in Detroit for fuel-efficient and Hybrid cars? Fuck. That. Shit. Toyota's already kicking your ass. By the time US manufacturers figure it out, they'll be a generation behind and playing catchup. The oil jump jolted a lot of Americans out of their "bigger is better" and "horsepower is king" mentality, and are looking for ways to save gas costs. They'll be in the hybrids and compacts before the "big 3" get a chance to make a dent. And you know what that is called? MARKET FORCES. Tax breaks in this case are too late. The companies are going down the drains and already realize that they have to scramble and build smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. But I'm sure that if there's a turnaround, whoever's in power will take credit.

I'm all for the environment, but the solutions proposed have their pitfalls. I'm a supporter of new nuclear plants, with appropriately safe NEW technology (as in, meltdowns are impossible), and continued research in minimizing nuclear waste. It's come a long way in the last decade even, so keep any new plants upgradeable for future technology.

- Accesible education for all children

Okay, this is a sadly overlooked aspect in every election and every government. Providing access to QUALITY education is the corner stone for a successful country. It's short-sighted to ignore the public school system. Ask Hoy about private schools in NY and the competition for them. There is no reason that the public system should be so sub-par and viewed so terribly. Considering only a small minority of children get the "benefit" of private school, and the costs can easily bankrupt families, this only inflates class and wealth gaps, and hurts the country as a whole. Especially as manufacturing and low-level jobs are being outsourced, meaning education is even more important unless you have a goal of customer service.

But it comes at a cost. I think that throwing money at the problem is prohibitively expensive, and the problem is more complex than a lack of teachers and accountability. You can't lay educational standards across the board. Students in Mississippi are different than ones in New York. Students in East LA have different needs than those in Orange County. Hell, every student is unique if you break it down far enough. I don't have an easy solution, but I think a great deal of study and honesty is required before hiring an "army of teachers" and increasing their pay.

- Health care for all

What can I say, I'm biased. I can walk into any hospital in the country and get the help I need without paying a dime. Sure, it comes out of my taxes, but I don't have to worry if I can afford the trip. But it is insanely pricey, and highly inefficient. ERs become triage units, where people with nut allergies get in quickly while someone with a broken arm can sit for hours. An MRI can take weeks to get if you don't want to drive across the border and pay a few hundred bucks for one. Our health care system here might not be ideal, but it's there. But Americans are dead-set against socialized medicine... at the same time, the argument that private for-profit companies should dictate who gets what care is ridiculous to me. Sadly, Barack doesn't actually give details of his plan (I'll look at his platform more in-depth later) here, just that it will lower premiums for those who have health care, and provide it to those who don't.

- Equality of pay between men and women

Nice dream. There are too many variables that go into determining pay for this to be viable. If a woman complains she's being underpaid due to her sex, all it takes is a comparison of experience, education, or contribution to find the necessary discrepencies. I'm not saying she's not right, but that companies can always weasel their way around these things if they're already sexist.

- Paying for it all

Closing corporate loopholes and tax havens, elminating budget fat ("line by line")... all very nice-sounding, and completely rhetorical. I honestly don't believe tax havens and loopholes make THAT much a difference in corporate taxes. The ideal situation for a corporation is to make ZERO profits by passing them on to shareholders in the form of dividends, and reinvesting into R&D and the like. Or just look at the current environment, where companies are LOSING money. You know what? You don't pay taxes if you don't make anything.

As for the budget... good luck with that. You still have congressmen and senators who will protect their earmarks and pork with their lives. Lobbyists who will fight for lines. 300 million people crying out for different things. That $1000 toilet seat only saves you $1000 when you stop buying them.

No... taxes will be raised in some form or another to pay for education and health care. The numbers are just too large to made up by some fat-trimming.

Then the speech continues with hurried rhetoric about the rest of the "small" issues, touches briefly on Iraq, and then plays patty-cake with the GOP.

What I found most striking is the VERY clevery use of pronouns. The word "I" is used a whole bunch in there. Not "we", not "my administration", not "us", not "the democrats", but "I". Barack Obama is clearly being set up as the saviour, not the party that's behind him, but he, himself. Sometimes this is offensively obvious, other times it's subtle. The Dems have found their next leader. Bill Clinton and JFK both had charisma to spare. I saw Clinton speak in person a while back, and he is captivating and motivating in a way you wouldn't think possible. Obama is even moreso. The problem with a saviour is that as his reputation increases, so does his ego, and so much farther does the fall become. Give Bush this - for all his arrogance, posturing, and confidence, he's never been on a high pedestal. He's been the most disasterous President in history, but he's still there because nobody expected any more from him. If Obama slips up, he's done for.

And he will slip up, because he has so very little substance behind him. A full 75% of his DNC speech was empty. Promises by association - "McCain is against this!" which IMPLIES that Barack is for it, but that's never explicitily stated. Suggestions without backing, plans that seem poorly thought-out, promises that appeal to the masses but are utterly impractical, grand ideas that are already falling into place without his support, and dodging the truly contentious issues and the dirty fight. It's easy to say "every child deserves an education" or "I believe gays should be able to visit their partners in the hospital" but it doesn't tackle the underlying issues.

I think the analogy of Barack to the Emperor with no Clothes is, in fact, apt. He's set himself up brilliantly. Those promises he can't keep will be the Bush administration's fault (The debt they put this country in is staggering! We must raise taxes!), and much of what he's promised is already falling into place, so he'll look like a hero. Sure, he didn't fix health care, but Ford is making hybrids!

A little honesty, that's all I want. I also want people who can afford it to stop being afraid of an extra percentage point or two on their taxes. The country's in the shitter, and it needs more money and more efficient services - which means lean times, higher taxes, and less funding for a while. If you rebuild a sports team, they suck ass for 5 years and eventually win the championship... same deal.

I've said it before though - The US could use a charismatic, motivational speaker these days though. Someone who can create faith and belief in the government. That itself can spur recovery.


Synecdoche, New York

Go ahead, pronounce it, I'll wait.

Okay, I'm done waiting. Sin. Eck. Dock. Key.

Giving a definition wouldn't help things.

Charlie Kaufman's resume as a writer is a list of some brilliant, brilliant films (and some quirky mainstream TV). Being John Malkovich, Human Nature, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are all his. Yet with such a unique voice, he had yet to direct his works. Luckily, people like Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze have been more than up to the task. In fact, it was Spike that was going to direct Synecdoche, but when schedules didn't match up, Charlie decided to take the reigns himself with Spike's blessing.

I went in with high hopes. Kaufman is a lock to be quirky, odd, hard to follow, and challenging. He's a perfect fit for a festival film. He didn't disappoint. Much like Eternal Sunshine, he starts off with a seemingly normal premise, with a hint of "off", and slowly cranks it up to a surreal, meta, exploration into... something.

Caden Cotard (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) is a successful theatre director in Schenectady, New York. He's married to artist Adele Lack (Catherine Keener), and has an adorable daughter, Olive. His latest production of Death of a Salesman is critically acclaimed, but his wife points out that he's stuck. He's getting praise for something somebody else wrote. Then his life falls apart - health and family both start to fail.

In the midst of this, he gets a "genius" grant, giving him financial freedom to create something magnificent. He decides to create an honest, real-life piece of theatre as his masterwork.

And this is where Kaufman goes all Kaufman on us... brilliantly. The movie shifts to New York City, where Caden buys a giant warehouse to stage his play. He starts creating a simulacrum of his life, and it grows into a reproduction of the lives of everyone else. Through it all, he deals with love, marriage, and life in general.

And that is the barest structure of the plot, which has so little to do with the experience that is this film. I think I could watch it a dozen times and have 12 different interpretations of things. It's recursive, metafictual, self-refrencing, and yet seldom confusing. By the end, I just kept staring at the screen, processing what I'd just watched. Somehow, through the increasing abstraction and blurring of lines between the fiction of the play and the reality of the film, a strong sense of pathos and pain comes through.

The directing was spotty at times. Unlike his writing, Kaufman didn't take too many risks with the camerawork. It's fairly basic, with a few interesting cuts, but it serves the purpose of the story. At times its confusing... some of those times are purposeful, but others seem to be unintentional. I forgive it all though.

I wish I could do this film justice. Many people will likely hate it, passionately, but I found it fantastic. Imagery that will take multiple viewings to work out, only to then believe something different entirely, moments of laughter that may seem like sadness in hindsight, relationships so screwed up that you sit in awe, it's all over the map, but what a fun journey it is.

Loved it, from top to bottom. This one and Pontypool would be enough to make this a top-level fest experience for me.

Tonight - Adam, Resurrected. A holocaust comedy.

*EDIT: Something I forgot - the wordplay! There is some great use of language and ambiguity in this film. It's a film that rewards those who listen to every word, and watch the entire screen.

Turning Back The Clock

This one is of interest only to Toronto sports fans methinks.

Don Matthews - Head coach of the Toronto Argonauts (CFL folks) - 1990, 1996-1998 - Back-to-back Grey Cup victories in 1996 and 1997

Cliff Fletcher - GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs - 1991-1996 - Back-to-back conference finals in 1993 and 1994

Cito Gaston - Manager of the Toronto Blue Jays - 1989-1997 - Back-to-back World Series in 1992 and 1993

Why bring up these three? Because as of today, with the hiring of Don Matthews by the Argos, all three of them are BACK in Toronto, in the same positions they held during the best-remembered years their respective franchises have seen in decades. Welcome back to the 90's Toronto.

Report card? Well, Matthews has been out of coaching since 2006 with health problems, but he's the winningest coach in the CFL, and brings success with him. We'll see how the rest of the season plays out for the 4-6 Arrrrrrrrrrrgooooooooos.

Cliff - Came in to clean house. Failed miserably in this task before the end of the season, but the team played better. Once the final buzzer went, he got to work. New head coach, bye-bye Darcy Tucker, Kyle Wellwood, Andrew Raycroft, and yes, even Bryan McCabe. Hello new coach Ron Wilson, GM assistant Joe Nieuwendyk, backup goalie and locker room leader Curtis Joseph, Mike Van Ryn, #5 draft pick Luke Schenn (that move up in draft picks is still the most impressive thing I've seen from Fletch this off-season), Mikhail Grabovski, Niklas Hagman, Tim Stapleton, Jeff Finger, Jamal Mayers, and Ryan Hollweg. Mats Sundin? Still undecided.

So we've lost some dead weight, picked up a bunch of no-names, drafted well, and improved the front office and leadership position. This team will SUCK for a few seasons, but Fletcher's done a fantastic job of tearing down a losing team and laying the foundation for a killer rebuild. When Burke inherits the team next season, he'll have a lot to work with. Expect the Leafs to play boring, defensive hockey this upcoming season.

Cito - He's been back for a little under 3 months. In that time, the Jays have played .614 ball (43-27), which is a big improvement over their .470 (35-39) record this season under John Gibbons. They're on a tear right now with a 10 game win streak. Making the playoffs is still highly unlikely, but I'll be damned if they aren't creating a wee bit of hope. If nothing else, he's got a job here next season guaranteed. Although, as much as I hate taking credit away from Cito, I think Gene Tenace is a BIG part of this turnaround, as the Jays are winning with their pitching AND hitting (11-0 blowouts, 1-0 nailbiters, 6-4 comebacks, 7-4 in extra innings, etc.).

I'll take what's old is new again if it means success.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Chilly Reception

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
- Alan Corenk

Okay, I lied. This is another political post, but it's not anti-Obama. In fact, it has nothing to do with the US, as it's Canadian politics!

As I've stated, we now have FIVE viable federal parties in my fair country. The fifth, the Green Party, just got their first seat in Parliament. A Liberal MP (Member of Parliament) left the party amid accusations of campaign finance shenanigans. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and joined the Greens. Not exactly the most democratic means of getting a seat, but hey, an election is coming in a month anyway.

But the other parties refuse to let the Green leader, Elizabeth May, to participate in the upcoming televised leadership debates.

Point being - the current Prime Minister's own party, the Reform Conservatives once had but ONE seat when they were the Reform party. They got invited to the debates back then. Giles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Québécois can go to the debates, even though his party can only be voted for IN QUEBEC, its mandate is to separate Quebec from the rest of the country, and looks out only for the interests of that one province, not the whole country.

Jack Layton, leader of the NDP (New Democratic Party) threatened to boycott the debates if May was invited. Rumour is that Stephen Harper did too. Duceppe didn't threaten a boycott, but did say that he supported only the other four parties taking part, since the Green hadn't had someone ELECTED into Parliament yet.

Stephane Dion, leader of the Liberals, was the only one who supported inviting May. This is because they're supposedly in bed together. They've agreed to not run candidates in their respective ridings (ie.- no Greens in Dion's own riding, no Liberals in May's). They have similar platforms and beliefs as well. So the other leaders felt that the Liberals would be getting essentially a second candidate in the debates.

Personally, I think it's cowardly of the other leaders. Elected or not, the Greens have a representative in government (even if he may never get a chance to sit as a Green, since Parliament won't reopen until the election is done). May's an environmental lawyer, Harper has a Masters of Economics, Duceppe and Bachelor of Arts, Layton has a PhD in Political Science, and Dion has a Masters in Political Science... in other words, May should be able to wipe the floor with all of them in a debate. She'd hammer Harper on the environmental issues his party keeps fucking up.

Layton is afraid that the debate would catapult the Green into more power, and they're take seats directly from the NDP, weaking his power even further.

Duceppe? He just wants more airtime.

Then again, with 4 leaders shouting at each other, the debates are pretty pointless already. Not that a 5th would hurt any more.

I voted for the Greens a few elections back, because I thought they had some good ideas, and could use every vote they could get. I knew they couldn't possibly achieve any power, but they'd be a good voice to have in the mix. Then I read up on their leader at the time and realized what fucking crooked tool he was. With May taking over, I had my faith restored a bit. Look up her Wikipedia entry and you'll see a woman who has actually DONE things she believes in her life. Oh, and she was born in Connecticut, go figure.

It's odd. In the States, there are 3 presidential candidates that offer something. If you're a McCain, Obama, or Nader supporter, you can make arguments that make sense on why you'd back that candidate. Sure, there's a ton of bullshit that goes along with all of them, but I can see why they'd get votes. Here in Canada, the leaders are boring, uninspiring, and unfocused. Their plans all ring hollow and sound stupid. I've been protest voting for at least 3 elections now (Green, NDP, NDP)- picking the parties who have the social platforms I most approve, just so they can have a voice in government.

And for the record - I was a die-hard Conservative supporter back in the days of the PROGRESSIVE Conservative party. Once the Reform took over as the right-wing option, I lost all interest in them and ther biggoted, back-asswards beliefs. The Liberals have been do-nothing government for their entire existence (back to the founding), taking credit for the policies of the previous regime. The Bloc wants to split up the country. The NDP would tax us even more than we currently are, and destroy our economic strength to go hog-wild with their admittedly noble goals... except they're big union supporters, and I have VERY little use for unions. The Greens have pie-in-the-sky ideals, but I think they're a voice that needs to be heard in an attempt to open the eyes of those in power.

Which is why I'm such a strong believer in our current minority government structure. None of the parties have a solid enough platform or set of beliefs to rule effectively, and none of have a leader capable of righting their respective ships. I'll gladly take an amalgam of them, although these days I'd much rather see a Liberal government, leaning on the NDP and Greens for support, which would force watered-down (read: economically viable) versions of their plans into practice. If they step too far out of line, then the Conservatives and Bloc have the power to dissolve parliament and force another election. Saving 1 or 2% on my taxes is hardly worth the cost of my soul.

One day we might get someone with some charisma and leadership ability at the reigns, which will force the other parties to step up accordingly.

Or maybe one day I'll run as a benevolent dictator.

Fooooootball Followup

In my continued quest to give the worst possible advice on football, let's see how my out-of-my-ass picks went...

NYG def WAS - My pick - NYG
ATL def DET - My pick - ATL
BAL def CIN - My pick - CIN
BUF def SEA - My pick - SEA
NYJ def MIA - My pick - NYJ
NE def KC - My pick - NE
NO def TB - My pick - TB
PHI def STL - My pick - PHI
PIT def HOU - My pick - PIT
TEN def JAC - My pick - TEN
DAL def CLE - My pick - DAL
CAR def SD - My pick - CAR
ARI def SF - My pick - SF
CHI def IND - My pick - IND
GB def MIN - My pick - GB
DEN def OAK - My pick - OAK

So 10 out of 16... 62.5%. Not terrible for not giving a shit. I'll refine my strategies for this week.

Like, I shouldn't have picked Oakland just because I picked Indy and didn't want am equine-heavy picklist. And perhaps personal hatred of Buffalo isn't a good enough reason to toss aside more tested methods (like, even though I don't know what a "Bill" is, they have to be more comeptent than a latte-sipping pothead from Seattle). Or even picking the Bengals... what the hell was I on?? It's not like they were playing Miami.

Poker Meh

I imagine that for live-only poker players, a bad streak runs for days, weeks, or even months - depending on how often they play. But for even a moderate-volume player like myself, the online streaks may pack in more games. Especially when you consider the ease of starting up another tiltfest.

Outside of blogger games, I've been pretty much exclusively playing 1-table SnGs, and sucking hard of late. Last night I took a 2nd place in a $22 Turbo, and a 3rd place in a $1 turbo (played specifically to donk some tilt out, and even after countless suckouts and terrible hands, I still got creamed on a bad beat).

I got home, fired up a late reg into the 50-50 (I had a hankering for some MTT action), and then made dinner while I sat out (couldn't play until the BB hit me anyway). I cut up a German Striped Heirloom tomato, some english cucumber, tossed them together with some feta and 10 year old modena balsamic vinegar and called that my appetizer. I also decided to clean the cats' litter and take out the trash, since it wasn early 10pm and that's the deadline for garbage chute usage in the condo.

I plunked myself down and foolishly reviewed what I'd missed. Trip queens on a turn, pocket aces that turned the set (and WON even though I was sitting out... so I wouldn't have made any more on that one), and some other halfway decent hands that could have won me some cash... and one that would have busted me. I then was card dead for the remainder of the tournament, with dwindling chip utility. I made the break and reheated some meatloaf and cabbage rolls for my main course before sitting back down (oh, and I also took 4th in a concurrent $22 turbo.. damn) and continuing to let my chips go away. I was able to steal the occasional blind, but finally got it in with TT (best hand since I sat down) and lost to AJ. That was frustrating, but entirely my fault.

I don't think I saw a whiff of a cash on the weekend... not fun to blast through a 1/3 of a recently reloaded BR on occasional play. Some of it very tilt-related.

I need to get some live play in I think... that will come Friday at a charity game. Unlike my last attempt at charity play, I won't really care too much about this one. It's a $20 shoot-out, no rebuy, 50 players, and I have no idea what the structure, starting stacks, or payout/prizes are. Yah, this is going to be well-organized.

At least with a shootout, there's no worries about table balancing. But with only 50 players, I imagine we're looking at around 7 players per table, unless they want a fuller final table and drop it to tables of 6 and 7. Since it's for charity, and there's only $1000 coming in, I imagine the pot won't be that big either. I think I'll ramp up my $1 turbo SnG play to prepare.

The more I think about it, the more I think there isn't a better way to untilt than live donkey poker that I don't care about.

Seeing Synecdoche, New York tonight at the film fest - Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut. I have high hopes.

When Topics Collide!

Who the hell is on McCain's staff? I just read this short piece on Palin and her opposition to the Clean Water Initiative in Alaska.

Now I'm not a miner (although I have friends who are), but looking over [pdf] the inititative, it seems pretty straightforward. If you're opening a new big mine, don't fuck up the water with your toxic shit. Nothing seems particularly onerous here.

But Palin "took off her governor's hat" and publicly stated she was against it. As the article states, this MIGHT be illegal in Alaksa. If it isn't, it's certainly against the spirit of the law disallowing a governor from lobbying for or against a ballot initiative.

Now I LOVE salmon, it's by far my favourite fish. I especially love pacific salmon. I even more especially love wild pacific salmon. I don't blink at the $18/lb price for the good stuff down at my local market (I mean, it has to be shipped across the whole country to get to me, and it's so much better than the Atlantic option). But even the raw economics of the situation (again, in the article) make it sound like a stupid stance to take on her part. It reeks of having a corporate hand in her pocket.

But there's no proof of that yet. I'll give Sarah the benefit of the doubt and assume she's just an idiot. Okay, even that's harsh - a small-town bumpkin who has no clue what she's doing. She's a political neophyte who has already made half a dozen gaffes in her short career and will trip over her own beliefs if she gets into office. She's ignorant, and no matter how much the GOP tries to gussy her up, she's still a transparent grab at Hillary supporters.

Seriously, she comes off as nothing more THAN a hockey mom. She's simplistic, seemingly unwilling to broaden her knowledge, goes with her own feelings before looking objectively at an argument, and frankly feels like a parent from buttfuck nowhere showing up in the big city and not understanding what's going on around her. Maybe she'll learn over time, but I somehow doubt it.

I kind of want to see McCain/Palin win... it would be 4 years of unending entertainment and Schadenfreude between McCain's stumbling around trying to toe the GOP line and Palin looking like the hick she is. What was with all the "small-town" bullshit at the RNC? Who the fuck wants a small-town person running the most complex country in the world? Do you want somone who barely knows how to use a calculator fixing your company's network? Look at the disaster that was Bush's foreign policy. Remember, he'd never left the country before becoming President. She's barely left her podunk town.

Not that it really matters, McCain and the GOP will squirrel her away into a dark corner if they get it. No way they actually let a woman have any power or say in matters. Unless McCain kicks it in office.

Okay, next political post will either be pro-McCain or anti-Obama, I need to bring some balance here... damned Libran nature.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Band

Ah economic humour...

You know what I like? The Band is Canadian (except Levon Helm).

Get Hat, Hold on to Hat

Okay, movie reviews up, food post up. Here's my poker summary:

What a fucking disaster. Couldn't win a damned thing. Doom switch is back on at FT for me - laid traps get tripped up, tricks get foiled by runner-runners, terrible preflop calls get rewarded. Bah. Glad I don't play for high stakes.

And that's the poker summary. Now to the economy, and then politics.

Note to the US: You're fucked. Economically speaking. This Fannie and Freddie takeover is a panic move by the government. As I was leaving work on Friday, I turned to a co-worker and said, "You can't merge them unless the government takes 'em both over. It's the only way they can save them." I'm generally against bailouts, but this was necessary with the $5.3 Trillion in mortgages here. The feds are trying to stave off a depression. The Great Depression was triggered from overmargined accounts leveraging waaaaay too much money on the stock exchange. New rules, and new checks and balances were put into place to stop this from happening again. As it was crashing, the super-rich of the time tried to support the market buy buying large positions. It didn't work.

So now Joe Average can't easily have a 10% margin holding millions of dollars in stock. Of course, there are still derivatives, but they've been buffered by their comparative complexity for the average investor.

But houses... oh houses were the new margin account. It used to be that you didn't think of buying a home until you could afford it. But the sub-prime mortgage boom meant people could buy a house without having any savings at all, and terrible credit. Good call there. What you end up with is people owning trillions of dollars of real estate without actually putting up the money for it. The companies that DID put up the cash are now suffering, and if they close, they take those houses with them. No way the government can allow that to happen - it would be a disaster of unheard of proportions. So they buy up the bulk of the problem, restructure it, and hope for the best.

But it's stop-gap. The bigger underlying problems are still there. Every time the government bails out the mistakes, it sends the message of "we won't let you fail." Well guess what? They need to let failure happen, that's the other side of capitalism. There is ZERO need for investor protection, that's what makes it investing. But like I said, Fannie and Freddie are a special case as GSEs and the huge affect their bankruptcy would have on the nation... not that it's protection for the equity holders by any means.

As for the dollar? There's nothing good in the fundamentals about the US$. Its rise is due to the rest of the world's currencies sucking just as much, and the equilibrium resetting. Don't think for a second that it's a sign of improvement. But it will continue to rise if the technicals are to be believed.

All that's being done is a finger in the dike here. There are BILLIONS more in homes that will be lost in the next 2-4 years in the US, the mortgages just haven't reset yet. Any time somone talks about a "bottom", I laugh. There's still a long downward ride here. If they're lucky, the government will keep it as a recession, and not worse.

And United isn't going bankrupt... that was actually kind of funny. Some intern got fired at the Chicago Tribune for that one.

And so comes politics.

The October 14th election date for us Canucks is set. The ads are unveiled, and once I watch them, I'll be sure to criticise. I will say, the Harper ads that are just him talking about family, and the country, and whatnot? Those are MUCH better than the crap I had up here earlier. Some are almost heartwarming. He's still a tool though.

An no, I don't thin Dion is any better. Or Layton. Or anyone for that matter. Actually, if it wasn't for the whole separatist thing, I'd like Duceppe.

As for the states? McCain just took the lead vs Obama in the latest polls! Yah, it's a post-RNC bump, but I still won't be the least bit surprised if the Republicans win. People seem to swallow all this bullshit easily... I guess it tastes better than what Bush had been feeding you for years. Personally, I like Obama more than the current McCain. Not politically, but just as a figure. I think the States could do worse than a good motivational speaker for a few years. It's not like either of them are going to fix a damned thing.

Besides, they're both inheriting a financial disaster that will last through a first term... which means a flip to the other party after that term simply because there will be nowhere else to lay the blame but at the fed's doorstep, even if it isn't that administration's fault.