Wednesday, February 28, 2007

La Seduzione - Storyboards and Animatic

I've finished a roughly drawn storyboard of La Seduzione, which given my limited drawing skills is about the best I can do. I've also finished an early version of the animatic. (You can read other posts about the making of this animated short here.)

A storyboard is like what you see below... a visual interpretation of each scene in the movie. (Just to be really confusing, in animation we call shots scenes.) It's usually accompanied by a text description of what is going on. Click to enlarge:

Once the storyboard is finished, an animatic is made. This is essentially a filmed storyboard. The image of each scene is kept on screen for as long as it would appear in the final product. Scratch (by which we mean temporary) music, dialogue if any, and some sound effects accompany the images.

An animatic allows a filmmaker to preview the timing and story flow of the film before a big investment is made in animation. I know I will probably putter around with my animatic for weeks before I feel comfortable enough to start animating scenes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sub-Prime Submarines

It looks like the lax standards of the credit industry are catching up with them. How lax are their standards exactly?
The Center for Responsible Lending laid out the gory details in its December 2006 report "Losing Ground: Foreclosures in the sub-prime market and their cost to homeowners" According to the report, more than 50 percent of sub-prime loans are underwritten using less than full documentation. A subsequent review of a sample of these loans showed that 90 percent of borrowers inflated their incomes and 60 percent of the borrowers inflated their incomes by more than 50 percent.
Yikes. But that's just a small part of the market, right?
The delinquency rate on sub-prime mortgages is now above 10 percent. With sub-prime mortgages comprising 23 percent of mortgage originations in 2006, the math is ugly and getting worse. Eventually, the CRL projects that 19 percent of sub-prime mortgages originated during the past two years will default with 2.2 million sub-prime households losing their homes and suffering monetary losses of $164 billion.
This mass of foreclosures would add to housing inventory that is already at near-record levels. That in turn would push down prices. These falling prices, together with tightening credit standards, would make re-financing the exploding ARMs that are maturing this year problematic. With payments rising dramatically and households falling into negative equity, the temptation to walk away is very real.

It could get ugly.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Gore Wins

Al Gore won the Oscar last night and the Supreme Court can't do anything about it. Oh, that his mock announcement of candidacy weren't so mock!

Al Gore was right about the first Persian Gulf War. He was right about the internet. He was right about global warming. He was right about the second Iraq War. That's an impressive record of clear-sightedness on some of the most important issues of our day.

Moreover, there is something mythic about his emergence after defeat in 2000. He has been liberated. The new Gore is more authentic, more passionate, and a better communicator. And hey, even the old Gore was able to win a majority of the votes in a national election.

Al Gore ought to be President. These nice people are trying to get him to run. Sign their petition and maybe throw some bucks their way if you can.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Bitch Slap Theory

Josh Marshall has a good post about the recent Cheney-Pelosi dust-up. Cheney alleged that Pelosi was validating Al-Qaeda's strategy in Iraq; Pelosi whined that this was "beneath the dignity of the debate we're engaged in." I'll let Josh explain:
The point of the whole exercise is not the underlying issue of Pelosi but what the exchange is supposed to demonstrate about both players -- that Cheney is strong (he hits) and Pelosi is weak (she complains when attacked.)
Josh would probably endorse Obama's attitude to Cheney when he ridiculed him yesterday for his statements regarding the British troop withdrawal from the Iraqi south. Said Obama: "When Dick Cheney says it's a good thing, you know that you've probably got some big problems."

But this also reminds me of something David Mamet once said: the problem with the Democrats is that they never raise the bet. Why not say that Dick Cheney is a loose cannon, and that a strong executive would rein him in? Say he's the administration's crazy uncle. Dare President Bush to either endorse or reject Cheney's statements. They're playing a losing hand -- 2006 told us that. The only reason Cheney is allowed to say things like that is because only their base pays attention to him.

When you've got a winning hand raise the bet.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Argument and Personality

Well, here I am about to go all bloggy again, but this video exchange between Eric Alterman and Mark Schmitt caught my attention. Alterman criticizes Andrew Sullivan for putting too much personal information in his blogs:
Too many bloggers feel that their private lives are intrinsically interesting. And maybe they are. But in a very unhealthy way. In a very Us Magazine, not even a People way. In an Us Magazine way. And I think that interferes with the quality of ... the ability of one to make one's argument on the quality of one's argument.... like Andy, Andy, curling up... I just noticed this because last week he wrote about Valentine's Day, how happy he was to be curling up in bed with his boyfriend to watch a DVD. I'm like: Why do I have to read this?
This is what Sullivan wrote on Valentine's day:
We watched "Basic Instinct" last night with a bottle of champagne and freshly-made brownies. I'd never seen it before. It was washed down by a HD Sunrise Earth special on Machu Picchu. Life is good when you're in love and have a widescreen television.
Alterman has a very narrow definition of what argument is. Aristotle said there were three categories: logos, the appeal to reason, pathos, the appeal to emotion, and ethos, the use of authority. One of Andrew's major themes is the right of gay people to marry. It seems to me that, probably without even being conscious of it, he is establishing ethos -- he's making clear that he's in a committed relationship with another man, which after all, doesn't seem to be too much different from a straight relationship. He is making a testament in favor of an argument that is very important to him.

And heck, it makes for more interesting writing anyway. Ann Althouse has more.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So Much for Flypaper...

From a Mother Jones study: the Iraqi war has increased terrorism sevenfold worldwide. Via Kevin Drum.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Meet the Press for Idiots

I don't post many youtubes, but this one's pretty good.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Housing-led Recession?

Calculated Risk is my favorite economic blog. I thought I'd run what has got to be his favorite chart (click to enlarge):

This graph charts housing starts, housing completions, and residential construction employment. Housing starts are shifted 6 months into the future so that the tight corelation between the three is more apparent. Calculated Risk argues that since housing starts have fallen off a cliff, housing completions and employment will soon follow. He's calling for a loss of 400,000-600,000 construction jobs by this summer. Further, he estimates that this and other factors (like falling mortgage equity extraction) will be enough to tip us into a recession. I'm no economist, but it sounds to me like a pretty persuasive case.

A Green Market

Kevin Drum recently wondered out loud why liberals are so crazy about carbon taxes when studies have shown that gas price has very little impact on usage. He favors raising CAFE standards -- the law which mandates that car manufacters maintain a certain average fuel efficiency for their fleet. Kevin argues that CAFE standards have had a proven impact, enjoy some bipartisan support, and are easier to pass politically than an oil tax. But he adds an interesting twist... that car companies should be able to trade credits. I think that's a powerful idea. You could get a credit/debit for every mile per gallon a car you sold was above/below a certain level; at the end of the year you would have to be even. Detroit manufacturers who feel they need to make big gas-guzzling SUVs to make money could buy credits from smaller startup companies making electric cars, say. Unleashing market forces would make the cost of CAFE standards to the car industry plummet.

But I think this idea has a broader applicability. Along these same lines, you could do the same thing with bulbs, refrigerators, air conditioners, or any energy-consuming product. Take compact fluorescent bulbs, for instance. These bulbs are longer-lasting and far more energy efficient than incandescents. Furthermore, their color profile is much improved in recent years so that now they are virtually indistinguishable from incandescents yet use 50-80% less energy. One organization has calculated that if every household in the U.S. replaced just three bulbs it would be the equivalent of taking 3.5 million cars off the road. Incandescent makers could buy credits off compact fluorescent makers, lowering the price of these bulbs and speeding their acceptance and market penetration.

This philosophical approach is better than coercive bannings and more efficient than taxation. It would use market forces to unleash further innovation... if someone could make an even more efficient bulb and sell it, they would have even more credits to take to market. Moreover, it is the most politically saleable way of encouraging both conservation and innovation.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sullivan Fumbles?

Andrew Sullivan posted the following this morning:
The Argentina govenment has refused to hold high-level meetings with U.S. attorney-general, Alberto Gonzales. The reason? According to the government, refusing to meet with him "expressed its deep felt and firm policy of opposition to torture." Argentinians have a long and bitter history of governments that disappear and torture people. They know who Gonzales is and what he represents.
I'm not saying this isn't true, but Sullivan links to a Buenos Aires publication, Pagina 12, that does not say this at all. Here is my translation of what they're reporting:
Yesterday, the Executive Director of CELS, Gaston Chillier, gave President Nestor Kirchner a letter asking that the Argentine Government expressly reaffirm its policy against torture to the visiting delegation
I have no idea what CELS is. I e-mailed Andrew hoping to get a clarification, but I've gotten no response and seen no correction posted. As of now, Google News has no confirmation from a major news organization. Other sites like HuffPost are linking to the post.

Maybe Andrew has this nailed, but as of now I'm skeptical.

UPDATE: Sullivan linked to the wrong page. Here it is. Apparently, Gonzales did meet with Minister-level functionaries but not President Kirchner.

Dowd on Barack

Maureen Dowd has one of her bitchfests on Barack Obama in the Times today. For those of you without TimesSelect memberships I'll summarize: the first sentence is "Barack Obama looked as if he needed a smoke and he needed it bad." That's the summary.

Sometime after that she writes: "Senator Obama’s body language was loose — and he’s so slender his wedding band looked as if it was slipping off — but there was a wariness in his dark eyes." Ahh, Maureen... have you considered that wariness is any rational person's reaction to being interviewed by you?

For those of you unfamiliar with our hometown paper's It Girl, Dowd is not so much a columnist as a bon mot machine. Not so much a columnist as a calumnist? Not so much a columnist as... oh damn, now she's got me doing it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hillary and the War

The braying about Hillary needing to say she's sorry for voting for the war goes on. Hillary is willing to say she was misled. She is willing to say she wouldn't have taken us to war. But she is not willing to say she made a mistake. With the volume where it is, I think eventually she will break down and say the words.

Frankly, at this stage I don't care. This isn't about how she feels now. It's not even about her judgement then. I actually believe her when she says she wouldn't have taken the country to war. That's what bothers me. She couldn't have believed Bush was actually going to use the resolution as leverage to sue for peace... she is not a stupid woman. What she thought -- correctly, perhaps -- is that the United States would never elect a woman who was soft on a big national security vote.

It's not about the vote, it's about what the vote says about her. If you're willing to compromise yourself on an issue of life and death, then there is nothing you are not willing to compromise.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Up-Is-Down World...

There is right-wing intellectual dishonesty and then there is the Weekly Standard's mind-boggling mendacity. Via Kevin Drum.

Non-Story of the Day

I've read this New York TImes story about Maria Bartiromo twice and I still can't make out what it's about. There's an unsourced allegation that she let a relationship affect a news call, and it's rebutted on the record. There's a lot of slimy insinuation about an affair with a Citibank exec, Todd Thomson. Mostly it's prattling on about her being too close to sources, but in the midst of the Libby trial that's a bit like complaining that someone jaywalked in midtown Manhattan. So what's it about? Maybe it's just that she's the most beautiful woman on television and any excuse to run her picture is a good one. I did, didn't I? (Two babe posts in a row... I've got to stop it.)

Friday, February 9, 2007

Passing Ships in the Night

Other claims not withstanding, it is time for me to do the gentlemanly thing and admit that I may be the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby. Here's a photo of Anna and me from the night we spent together.

If DNA tests prove that I am the father, I hereby promise to do the right thing, take custody of little Dannielynn, and sue the pants off the Marshall family for all the millions they owe us.

Sewage-piping Intelligence

The man who Tommy Franks called "the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth" strikes again.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Edwards Reprieves (And Is Reprieved)

I usually try to avoid writing about issues that are narrowly "bloggy", but I have to say a brief word on the recent kerfuffle regarding Edwards and his bloggers. Various right-wing sources had attacked him because he employed Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan (of Pandagon and Shakespeare's Sister respectively.) Not unlike every other political blogger alive, they had used some intemperate language in the past and now Edwards was being taken to task for 'condoning' it. Well, Edwards winded up not approving of the language but not firing them either, and a collective sigh was heard among the blogs.

In retrospect, it seems like an easy decision. If Edwards had fired them he would have suffered a blogosphere crucifixion. Chris Bowers seems to hint that it was a decisive issue for him personally. The netroots is sick of Democrats without a backbone. Backing down from winger attacks makes them mad no matter what the issue is. But when it's two of their own being taken to task for charged language, then everybody feels like they have a stake.

The netroots is a real political movement now. (I know... that's not news.) There is solidarity here. And an immense amount of potential. But the fact that this gesture was so important seems to be symptomatic of the movement's nascency and lack of confidence. All we can do is hope for the day when this movement starts turning it's eyes toward changing the country instead of just measuring the stridency of its leaders.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


A peregrine falcon caught a pigeon on the roof across from my window today. I didn't see the actual act, I only saw him perched on top of his lunch after the job had been done. The temperature was in the teens and pigeon feathers were swirling about, but he looked quite happy with himself. The photo is not of the actual perpetrator, it's just something I filched from the web. As you can see, falcons heart New York.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Agnosticism on Iraq

There are two arguments for withdrawal from Iraq.

The first argument is that we are a big part of problem. Iraqis see us as occupiers and want us gone, if not dead. If we leave the Iraqi government will be forced to make the compromises necessary to avert all-out civil war and national reconciliation will follow.

This is an unpersuasive case. The National Intelligence Estimate indicates a likelier outcome:
If coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly during the term of this estimate, we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi government, and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation.
However, there is a better argument for withdrawal. It says that we have a poor record of affecting events in this part of the world. We overthrew an Iranian democracy in the fifties and paid for it twenty years later when Khomeini took power there. We supported the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan only to see them morph into the terrorist-sheltering Taliban. We aided Saddam Hussein as a buttress against Iran only to see him emerge as an expansionist threat. We invaded Iraq to install a democratic regime and we got... what we got. Unintended adverse consequences have been more common than successful applications of our will in this area of the world. Moreover, the cost of continuing our Iraqi presence is huge and the situation is complex. Whatever the adverse consequences of our absence might be, we have no assurance that our presence will have a positive effect. We should just butt out while we’re behind.

I’m not sure I’m persuaded by this view either, but it is a respectable argument that cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

SuperBowl Ads

The New York Times website has a great multimedia feature on SuperBowl ads. You'll be able to look back at some of the best ads for every year since 1984.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Whores Needed!

Can you debunk global warming and still keep a straight face? You're in luck! Exxon Mobil has got an offer for you.