307 More Albums on My iPhone

That earlier post got some interesting reactions, so here’s more of what’s on my phone, just from a different playlist. Mostly this is newer stuff that I hope to find time to check out.

I hadn’t realized how many older albums remain here though.  Why haven’t I added them to the ‘My iPhone Always’ playlist? I’ll get around to it.

If there’s more than one album listed by an artist, it generally means it’s someone I really like.

ABC – The Lexicon of Love II

Arcade Fire – Reflektor – I really need to do an Arcade Fire playlist but haven’t gotten around to it.

The Avalanches – Wildflower

Bat for Lashes – The Bride

Beck – Morning Phase and Sea Change – love both of these so much

Continue reading “307 More Albums on My iPhone”

Music – What’s Missing From This Playlist?

As I’m going through my iTunes and trying to clean things up, I realized I needed a playlist for blaxploitation, the incredible music from the soundtracks to blaxploitation films of the 70s.

It would have to include the classics that everyone (should) knows and loves. For me that means starting with Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly soundtrack, Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man and of course Isaac Hayes’ Shaft.

It was easy enough for me to get started. I have these four two-disc compilations from the 90s, Blaxploitation Volumes 1,2,3,4.

blax 1 blax 2 MI0002385571 blax 3 MI0001609768 blax 4 41D0V76S0VL

All told, there are 96 songs with a running time of over 9-1/2 hours. They go for the long versions of songs too, which is nice but not what I had in mind for this playlist. I like that these collections reach far beyond the usual Motown/Atlantic/Stax stuff, but there’s also a lot of stuff included that I don’t feel belongs within the genre.

Anyway, here’s what I edited it down to but my question now is – what essential tracks am I still missing?

  • Donny Hathaway – The Ghetto
  • Curtis Mayfield – Pusherman
  • Esther Williams – Home is Where the Hatred Is
  • Isaac Hayes – Theme from Shaft
  • Curtis Mayfield – Superfly
  • Sly & the Family Stone – If You Want Me To Stay
  • Curtis Mayfield – Little Child Running Wild
  • Temptations – Papa Was a Rolling Stone (the 11:47 version!)
  • James Brown – The Boss (“look at me, you know what you see, you see a bad mutha”)
  • Sly & the Family Stone – Family Affair
  • Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead
  • Bill Withers – Use Me
  • War – Low Rider
  • Marvin Gaye – Got to Give It Up
  • Temptations – Ball of Confusion
  • Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man
  • Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
  • William DeVaughn – Be Thankful for What You Got
  • Teddy Pendergrass – Love TKO
  • Funkadelic – One Nation Under a Groove
  • O’Jays – Back Stabbers
  • Curtis Mayfield – Give Me Your Love
  • Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street
  • James Brown – Hot!
  • Isley Brothers – It’s Your Thing
  • War – The World is a Ghetto
  • Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough for You
  • Curtis Mayfield – If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go
  • Bill Withers – Who Is He (And What is He To You)
  • Isaac Hayes – Truck Turner
  • Bar-Kays – Son of Shaft
  • Joe Simon – Theme from Cleopatra Jones
  • Marvin Gaye – I Want You
  • O’Jays – For the Love of Money
  • Brothers Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23
  • James Brown – Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine
  • Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle

I feel like something’s missing but I can’t put my finger on it just yet.

Any suggestions?

The 143 Albums I Always Have With Me

I’ve got a 128 gig iPhone. That means I can fit a shitload of music on it.

I used to have a Sony Walkman and I’d make cassettes of my favorite albums and be able to carry around half a dozen cassettes with me at any time. Then I had various portable CD players and I’d get a CD wallet and stick 25 discs into it. It still wasn’t enough. Then I got some Korean MP3 player (because at first iPods would only work with Macs). Finally the iPod, and I still have the 160 gig model somewhere and I think it still works, but the touch screen interface on the iPhone is what works best for me.

Theoretically, a subscription to Spotify or another streaming service would be better. Except for seriously shitty mobile internet in the Philippines. Bad coverage. Slow speeds. Expensive. Unreliable.

So a music library on the iPhone still works best for me.

I manage what goes onto the phone via playlists, as I guess most people do. I used to have a single playlist (000 My iPhone)(the ‘000’ so it would be at the top of the playlist list) but then I started splitting it up, most notably a list I creatively call 000 My iPhone Always – these are my all-time favorite albums that I always want to have with me. Mostly these are older albums, ones that have stood the test of time for me.

Now that I have a Dragonfly DAC, I’ve been going through the list making sure that as much as possible everything on it is at 320 kbps bit rate – I’m about 85% there. I’d love to buy one of the newer generation of HD audio players capable of playing lossless formats but that’s just not in my budget.

I thought I’d share the list (and maybe a comment or two) and see what comes back in comments or reactions. At first I thought I’d include album covers and Amazon links but there’s not enough hours in the day for that.

Note that there are certain artists I love that are not listed here – that’s because I’ve created separate playlists for them (Springsteen, Bowie, Zeppelin, Dylan, etc.). Another playlist covers one-hit wonders and songs that I love – but not enough to need the full album on my phone.

I’m not sure if this has any point beyond occupying space but here goes:

Continue reading “The 143 Albums I Always Have With Me”

An Open Letter to the CEO of Warner Bros.

This letter from former Warner Bros. employee Gracie Law has been making the rounds on the internet. Given that I’m a former Warner Bros. employee myself, I wanted to share it.

When I left my screening of Suicide Squad last week, I was angry. I was annoyed and let down and frustrated as well, but mostly I was just angry.

Look, I’m a big dork. So of course I thought this trainwreck of a movie did a major disservice to the characters, concept, cast, and crew, but that wasn’t why I was mad. Yes, it is unfathomable to me that Warner Bros could mess up a movie starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and The Joker so completely. But that just had me flummoxed.

I was angry because I couldn’t stop thinking about you, Kevin Tsujihara.

A lot of fans might be angry (and rightfully so) because you keep completely whiffing at properties that they are desperate to love and enjoy, but this is a little more personal for me. See, I am a former Warner Bros employee. I have so much respect for your studio. I love every square inch of that magical backlot, from Stars Hollow to the fitness center I always meant to use. The people I worked with during my time with your company are now close friends. On my last day, I hugged them and I told them I loved them.

I was also there in 2014, when you made the decision to lay off 10 percent of your workforce. It was a terrible year. Let me catch you up: Every morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach, because I assumed that would be the day I lost my job. Every day I saw someone packing up their desk, or carrying a box to their car. I can not describe to you the relief I felt when my department was told we were safe, or the guilt I felt afterwards walking through the halls of my office with that relief.

But out of all that, the thing that really sticks with me is the memo you sent to all of us. Let me refresh you on my favorite part:

I wanted you to hear directly from me about our plans for the studio. In recent days, we have started to hear rumors here at the company and to read misinformation in the press, so I’d like to set the record straight. I know that the hard work and dedication of every employee around the world is the key to Warner Bros.’ success, and I am sorry for the distraction this situation brings to the workplace.

At Warner Bros., we work with the world’s most extraordinary storytellers, and our focus has always been to provide the creative environment and financial resources they need to realize their vision. Our commitment to that won’t change. In fact, we’re investing more than ever in our film and television productions.

This is how you opened a memo about layoffs. “Hey guys, we work hard for the people telling stories here and we want to make sure those visions are realized.” The balls on you.

That year we pursued the storytelling vision of Adam Sandler’s Blended and Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys. Failures. We pursued a potentially great summer movie like Edge of Tomorrow and completely botched its release. Same with Man From UNCLE. We dug in our heels and hoped The Hobbit Trilogy would somehow stop being a mediocre case of diminishing returns. Talented, loyal people packed their boxes and went home while your story tellers dropped the ball.

One could argue that this was not your fault. That you inherited former CEO Barry Meyer’s agenda and were merely trying to correct the course of an ocean liner heading for an iceberg.

I would not make this argument. And here’s why: I wrote this letter last year. I actually started forming it in my head after Man of Steel was a box office failure instead of the modern classic tentpole you were expecting.

I kept holding off on doing anything with it because of one title: Suicide Squad. Zack Snyder’s Dawn of Justice was a fiasco, but here comes this plucky little dark adventure about antiheroes. I love David Ayer. I love Harley Quinn. I love Will Smith. Put the letter in a drawer. The ship isn’t sinking anymore. Everything is fine. There’s no way this movie is bad.

And here we are. I got back from my screening and dusted this sucker off. You, your executive team, and the vision of your ‘extraordinary storytellers’ that resulted in the loss of around one thousand jobs seem intent on crashing the ship into as much shit as you can find in the ocean by making inane decisions over and over again.

Zack Snyder is not delivering. Is he being punished? Assistants who were doing fantastic work certainly were. People in finance and in marketing and in IT. They had no say in a movie called Batman V Superman only having 8 minutes of Batman fighting Superman in it, that ends because their moms have the same name. Snyder is a producer on every DC movie. He is still directing Justice League. He is being rewarded with more opportunity to get more people laid off. I’m assuming you yourself haven’t been financially affected in any real way. You and your studio are the biggest lesson about life one can learn: The top screws up and the bottom suffers. Peter Jackson phones it in and a marketing supervisor has to figure out a plan B for house payments.

Your uneven Hall H presentation at Comic Con this year was a ridiculous mess that ranged from rushed to boring. When Marvel announced their full slate of films with a fun fan event several years ago, you announced yours on a shareholder conference call.

You just don’t get it. And it’s not just DC movies, it’s your whole slate. Jupiter Ascending. Get Hard. Hot Pursuit. Max. Vacation. Pan. Point Break. Fucking PAN, you jerk. People lost their jobs and you decided Pan was a good idea. You think another Jungle Book is a good idea.

What are you even doing? I wish to God you were forced to live out of a car until you made a #1 movie of the year. Maybe Wonder Woman wouldn’t be such a mess. Don’t try to hide behind the great trailer. People inside are already confirming it’s another mess. It is almost impressive how you keep rewarding the same producers and executives for making the same mistakes, over and over.

If I worked at a donut stand, and I kept fucking up donuts, I’d be fired. Even if I made a tiny decent one every now and then, it doesn’t matter. I’m gonna get fired.

I love that studio, and you’re allowing it to sink. It’s not about making movies for ‘the fans’ and not ‘the critics.’ It’s not even about ‘ruining childhoods.’ It’s about protecting livelihoods.

It’s time to wake up and make the fucking donuts, Kevin.

The thing is, Warner is in serious decline from just a decade ago, when it ruled the box office every year. Back then there was Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, and some prestige projects that always did decently at the box office.

All of that has evaporated in the last few years. Disney rules, not least due to smart acquisitions (Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm).

Warner has lost all of the people who really loved movies. The person in charge now is a bean counter with little appreciation for the studio’s more-than-80-year legacy. One thing that former co-CEO’s Barry Meyer and Alan Horn were great at was nurturing relationships with the creative community.

I remember reading an interview with Kevin Tsujihara in Fortune when he was head of the Warner Home Entertainment Group, the division I worked for. His background?

He grew up in Petaluma, Calif., where his father was an egg distributor – and through his sophomore year at the University of Southern California, he spent his summers delivering eggs to merchants for his dad. Far from being one of those “all I want to do is direct” teenagers, he worked as an accountant, graduated from Stanford business school, and co-founded an online tax-filing company before landing at Warner Bros. in 1994.

And this bit of false humility – “I don’t go into any room thinking I’m the smartest guy in the room. There are thousands of people who could do what I do.” – has probably served him well as he built his personal empire.

There was another interview back then, I can’t find it now, where I seem to recollect him saying he knew nothing about the product and had to ask his kids what was hot.

I met him once. It was at a party in Tokyo, soon after he was promoted to be head of WBHEG. At the party, Koji Hase grabbed me by the neck, dragged me over to Tsujihara and said, “This guy knows more about our movies than anyone else in the company!” My big break, no? No. Tsujihara shook my hand, he might have muttered something along the lines of “Oh, okay,” and then turned his back on me.

Well, whatever. Except I still have a lot of friends working at Warner and when the numbers are bad, they’re the ones who will take the hit, not Tsujihara. But three years into his new role as CEO, hopefully people above him are taking note of his performance and will do something about it.

In my opinion Warner Bros. was the greatest Hollywood studio. When I was a kid, I realized that most of the movies I watched on TV that I loved had that WB shield at the beginning. Bogart, Cagney, Busby Berkeley, Stanley Kubrick, The Wild Bunch, Dirty Harry, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Purple Rain, Bugs Bunny ….  I hope someone else can come along and restore it to its former glory.

Just One of Those Days

People want me to write more about my life here. Your wish is my command.

I have a pair of B&W P6 speakers. I bought them in a shop in Causeway Bay almost 20 years ago. If you search for them online you’ll see people still rave about them and refuse to let them go. But mine have traveled from Hong Kong to the U.S. and back to Hong Kong and then to Manila. They’re somewhat beat up looking.

Two months ago my wife was using her satanic Magic Sing videoke device and said she saw smoke coming from the back of one speaker. Basically that speaker was fried.

So three weeks ago I brought the speakers to an authorized repair shop in Quezon City. The name of the shop, so you can all avoid it in the future, is Pure Digital Concept.

I called them every 3 or 4 days asking if they had an estimate for the repair yet. Finally after almost three weeks, they told me that since the speakers are so old, they can’t get the replacement parts. I said, “I understand, no problem. I will come by tomorrow to get them. What time do you close?” 6 PM I was told.

Saturday is the only day I can drive to Quezon City. It takes at least an hour each way for me. It’s been raining like crazy all week, including heavy rain on Saturday morning. But by the afternoon it has let up and I get in the car.

First off, Waze fucks me. I’m going along fine and dandy and then it wants me to take a left turn at an intersection that has been closed off. Nothing to do but keep going. Now it wants me to go down some odd little road where I can go under some highway and turn around and head back. Except I go down there and at the bottom it is flooded out and closed off. So I have to turn around, continue in the wrong direction, and soon I find myself driving past SM Marikina, which is pretty fucking far from where I want to be.

Eventually I do get to the shop. 4 PM. Took me way over 90 minutes. I drive up. The gate is down. They have the repair shop downstairs, the retail shop upstairs. The retail shop is open. I go up.

I ask them what happened to the shop downstairs. They closed early because of the heavy rain. But you’re still open and every other shop on the street is open.

I tell them I am there to collect my speakers so please open the shop downstairs so I can get them. They don’t have the keys.

So please send a text to the manager – tell them it takes me 3 hours round trip to get here, they told me they would be open today until 6 and it is only 4, I will wait for them to return to the shop. They send the text. Sorry sir, they are already home.

What can I do, right? I get back in the car and drive back home.

I get home, it’s after 6 PM (I made some stops along the way). Nothing cooked and don’t want to go out and so I call up Shakey’s Pizza. Crap, but my mother likes it. I have to call because their web site won’t let me log in. I wait on hold ten minutes, get someone, they take all my details, they take my order, they tell me to hold on and after 5 minutes tell me they can’t deliver because someplace somewhere in the country it’s flooded.

So I order online with Yellow Cab because there’s not that many places that will deliver to where I live and at least it’s not Pizza Hut. 45 minutes later I get a text in Tagalog telling me they need to extend the delivery time by one extra hour.

I send three texts in reply asking what time to expect it since they never told me the original time. No reply, of course. So I call them up. The person who made the recordings for their hotline obviously hates his job. “[Sigggghhhhhh] Thank you for calling Yellow Cab ….” “[deep long exhale] all of our telemarketers are busy now …” Seriously, that’s what the recording says. Telemarketers. Not delivery agents. Not representatives. Telemarketers.

And all of this is just the small stuff cause I’m living in a country where they are killing a dozen or more people a day “suspected” of using drugs and the president of the country called the US Ambassador a gay son of a whore and hopes we are all okay with that because he doesn’t see any need to apologize or even say “whoopsie!” and parts of the city had to be evacuated today due to heavy rain because after all of these years and the highest taxes in all of ASEAN there is still no infrastructure to speak of in this country, all of which kind of serves to make my first world problems even more trivial than they already are.

But it’s still frustrating. There are days that Manila really gets to me and today was one of them.

A Step in the Right Direction

With all of the massive problems the Philippines faces, change for the better will be a gradual process. Today the country took a step in the right direction by FINALLY outlawing age discrimination in hiring.

Up until now it has been legal to advertise jobs with requirements including gender, age, height, eye sight … even weight.

mercury drug

So apparently gender discrimination is still legal in the Philippines but at least age discrimination isn’t. Penalties are severe enough to actually matter – fines from P50,000 to P500,000 or prison from 3 months to 2 years.

It’s worth noting that after the Senate passed this bill, it became law after 30 days because the President didn’t bother to sign it.

It will also be interesting to see how long it will take for this to actually take hold.

Just to give you an idea of the ignorance of people here, this is the photo that website When In Manila chose to illustrate this news:


You would think that they could have chosen this picture of Heart Evangelista:



She’s 31 years old which means that up until yesterday she would have been rejected by every restaurant and department store in Manila, not to mention Mercury Drugs. In other words they might have shown a picture of a healthy attractive person over the age of 25 but decided to run a picture of old people who might not make it till the end of that day.

So I guess now everyone will be up in arms because they’ll be afraid that the waitresses in Pancake House will be octogenarians.


Tribo Subculture Live at B-Sides The Collective

I’ve known guitarist Bong Borbe for six months and knew he was a musician with a large following in the Philippines but never had a chance to see or hear him play until last Saturday, when he invited me to see his group Tribo Subculture. They were appearing as part of an all day festival called MerchX Jam at a place in Makati called B-Side, The Collective.

Fortunately, Bong and his group were great. Loud, energetic and, most importantly, passionate. Here’s Bong:


Here’s Tribo Subculture lead singer Cris Relato:


And here’s one of the group’s percussionists, I think his name is Julius Publico:


The photos are all up on Facebook for those who follow me there. I’ll be adding a gallery to Spike’s Photos within the next day or two.

It felt great to be out and shooting again after such a long dry spell.

And congratulations to Bong Borbe, starting his new job today as Country Manager for Fender Guitars.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan and a Short Fingered Vulgarian

Full transcript of Khizr Khan’s speech at the DNC:

Tonight, we are honored to stand here as the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.

Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty-handed. We believed in American democracy — that with hard work and the goodness of this country, we could share in and contribute to its blessings.

We were blessed to raise our three sons in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams.

Our son, Humayun, had dreams of being a military lawyer. But he put those dreams aside the day he sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers.

Hillary Clinton was right when she called my son “the best of America.”

If it was up to Donald Trump, he never would have been in America.

Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country.

Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words “liberty” and “equal protection of law.”

Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of the brave patriots who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities.

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

We can’t solve our problems by building walls and sowing division.

We are Stronger Together.

And we will keep getting stronger when Hillary Clinton becomes our next President.

Donald Trump’s response:

If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably, maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say. I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done, I’ve had tremendous success.

Ghazala Khan’s response:

Donald Trump has asked why I did not speak at the Democratic convention. He said he would like to hear from me. Here is my answer to Donald Trump: Because without saying a thing, all the world, all America, felt my pain. I am a Gold Star mother. Whoever saw me felt me in their heart.

Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do. My son Humayun Khan, an Army captain, died 12 years ago in Iraq. He loved America, where we moved when he was 2 years old. He had volunteered to help his country, signing up for the ROTC at the University of Virginia. This was before the attack of Sept. 11, 2001. He didn’t have to do this, but he wanted to.

When Humayun was sent to Iraq, my husband and I worried about his safety. I had already been through one war, in Pakistan in 1965, when I was just a high school student. So I was very scared. You can sacrifice yourself, but you cannot take it that your kids will do this.

We asked if there was some way he could not go, because he had already done his service. He said it was his duty. I cannot forget when he was going to the plane, and he looked back at me. He was happy, and giving me strength: “Don’t worry, Mom. Everything will be all right.”

The last time I spoke to my son was on Mother’s Day 2004. We had asked him to call us collect whenever he could. I begged him to be safe. I asked him to stay back, and not to go running around trying to become a hero, because I knew he would do something like that.

He said, “Mom, these are my soldiers, these are my people. I have to take care of them.” He was killed by a car bomber outside the gates of his base. He died trying to save his soldiers and innocent civilians.

That is my son. Humayun was always dependable. If I was vacuuming the house and he was home, he would take the vacuum from my hand and clean the house. He volunteered to teach disabled children in the hospital how to swim. He said, “I love when they have a little bit of progress and their faces, they light up. At least they are that much happy.” He wanted to be a lawyer, like his father, to help people.

Humayun is my middle son, and the others are doing so well, but every day I feel the pain of his loss. It has been 12 years, but you know hearts of pain can never heal as long as we live. Just talking about it is hard for me all the time. Every day, whenever I pray, I have to pray for him, and I cry. The place that emptied will always be empty.

I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?

Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family.

When Donald Trump is talking about Islam, he is ignorant. If he studied the real Islam and Koran, all the ideas he gets from terrorists would change, because terrorism is a different religion.

Donald Trump said he has made a lot of sacrifices. He doesn’t know what the word sacrifice means.

Chili Dogs and Backpacks

Who doesn’t love a good chili dog? I won’t say I could eat one every day, but every week for sure.

Pink’s is an iconic hot dog and burger stand in Los Angeles; they’ve been in business for 77 years.


(not my photo)

Oddly enough, despite working for Warner Bros. for 9 years and spending a lot of time in L.A., I never made it to Pink’s.

Nevertheless, when I found out that the folks behind Wildflour (they have four branches, I visit the Ortigas one regularly) and Farmacy had obtained a Pink’s franchise for the Philippines, I knew I’d have to try it. They have opened their first branch at the new Shangri-La Mall in BGC.

Last night I went over to the Fort (I still call it the Fort, not BGC, I guess that dates me) to look for a new backpack. (More on that later.) I was thinking about going back to Passion for dinner but I realized I was more in the mood for a chili dog and that Pink’s was close by.

I went into the mall, so new that most shops aren’t open yet, what’s there so far is a motley collection of high end furniture and jewelry stores. I finally asked a guard and found out that I had to leave the mall, walk around to the side, and that Pink’s had its own entrance on the side street.

The place was bigger than I expected and, for 8 PM on a Thursday night, at least 2/3rd’s full.


(my crappy iPhone photo)

You order and pay at the counter, they give you a cube with a number, seat you and you wait for your order. The VW microbus on the side is serving ice cream and other items from Farmacy.

No question about what I was going to order. Chili dog! I hesitated on deciding between french fries and “onion strings”. I asked the girl about the portion size, she said it was small – I think it’s probably small for 3 or 4 people sharing but huge for just one person.


Anyway, there on the right is the dog, smothered in chili (with beans), cheese and onions.

What did I think about it? I think the dog could have been cooked a bit more. The chili tasted like proper chili but very little heat. I think it would have been nice if they offered different spice levels here, but maybe that’s not what the original place does, I have no idea.

I spent just under P600 for the chili dog, onion strings (so called because they’re sliced thinner than traditional onion rings I guess) and a Coke Zero.

Overall I would gladly go back here but I would still give the edge to the chili dogs at Lazy Bastard – in part because their dogs are wrapped in bacon. Pink’s definitely gives you more chili and more cheese, so some might prefer them. But, let’s face it, bacon!


(not my photo)

Also, Pink’s closes at midnight, Lazy Bastard is open till 3 AM, and if I have a late night craving, it’s better to wait until well after 11 PM for traffic to die down.

By the way, how useless is Globe as a mobile phone company? There I was, just outside of SM Aura, 4 bars on the antenna and LTE and yet no internet connection.


The only reason I stick with Globe is because there are really only two choices for mobile phone companies here and at least I can get a 4G signal at home (insanely slow) with Globe, with Smart I get 2G.

Anyway, I need a new backpack. At the moment I’m using a Thinktank Photo My 2nd Brain briefcase


but it’s really too small to comfortably hold all the stuff I take with me when I’m going to the office.

I also have one of the ubiquitous Swiss Army backpacks you see everywhere but I think mine is close to ten years old. It holds a ton, it has a billion pockets, but it’s starting to show its age.

I thought I’d narrowed it down to two choices – the Thule Crossover:


or the InCase Icon:


Once I was actually in the shops I was no longer so sure.

The straps on the Thule seemed very thin and I wasn’t sure how comfortable it would be for a long haul. Another Thule pack, the Escort 2, also had the same thin straps and seemed huge.

The InCase has lots of padding but no outside pocket for a water bottle (not necessarily a deal breaker), no super quick access to glasses, they didn’t have stock in any colors other than red or grey, and the price (in an “official” InCase store at SM Aura) was roughly double the price as shown on Amazon.

So I’m probably going to wait for my next trip to Hong Kong unless I get a recommendation for another brand (easily available in Manila).

What do I carry every day? At a minimum:

  • 13 inch MacBook Air
  • 9 inch Ipad
  • 5200 mAh battery pack
  • reading glasses
  • sun glasses
  • Sony RX100 camera
  • Notepad and pens
  • Headphones (at the moment the Audio Technica’s I bought last week)
  • assorted cables
  • an assortment of smaller items like smokes, mints, etc
  • and space for mail, papers, whatever I may have bought during the day

These days I prefer a backpack to a shoulder bag or messenger bag. Any suggestions?


How Far Is Too Far?

Trump Time Capsule #59: ‘I Hope Putin Has Hillary’s Emails’

To say it clearly: Nothing remotely like this has happened before. A “hope” that a foreign government, with which the United States is at serious and increasing odds, can penetrate American electronic networks so as to affect the outcome of a U.S. election? How exactly would we distinguish this from treason? (Update: In Twitter comments beginning here, an attorney named Christopher J. Regan explains where you would draw the line between comments like Trump’s and outright treason.)

Trump Asks Russia to Leak Clinton Emails

In a bizarre press conference in Doral, Florida on Wednesday morning, Donald Trump seemed to urge the Russian government to find and release the 30,000 deleted emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

He also refused to say he condemned possible Russian involvement in leaking DNC emails: “I’m not going to tell Putin what to do,” Trump said. “Why should I tell Putin what to do?”

Trump’s Plea For Russia to Hack the U.S. Government

During a press conference Wednesday morning that was bizarre even by Trump’s standards, he praised torture, said the Geneva Conventions were obsolete, contradicted his earlier position on a federal minimum wage, and told a reporter to “be quiet.”

It was a stunning moment: a presidential nominee calling on a foreign power not only to hack his opponent and release what they found publicly, but hoping the Russians had stolen the emails of a top American official, perhaps including classified information.

Trump Urges Russia to Hack Clinton’s Email

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” Hillary for America policy adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office did not mention Trump, but condemned any role for Russia in the U.S. election, with Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck saying, “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”

Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing

At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.

1. All the other discussions of Trump’s finances aside, his debt load has grown dramatically over the last year, from $350 million to $630 million. This is in just one year while his liquid assets have also decreased. Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks.

2. Post-bankruptcy Trump has been highly reliant on money from Russia, most of which has over the years become increasingly concentrated among oligarchs and sub-garchs close to Vladimir Putin.

After his bankruptcy and business failures roughly a decade ago Trump has had an increasingly difficult time finding sources of capital for new investments. As I noted above, Trump has been blackballed by all major US banks with the exception of Deutschebank, which is of course a foreign bank with a major US presence. He has steadied and rebuilt his financial empire with a heavy reliance on capital from Russia. At a minimum the Trump organization is receiving lots of investment capital from people close to Vladimir Putin.

The Trump Camp was totally indifferent to the platform. So party activists were able to write one of the most conservative platforms in history. Not with Trump’s backing but because he simply didn’t care. With one big exception: Trump’s team mobilized the nominee’s traditional mix of cajoling and strong-arming on one point: changing the party platform on assistance to Ukraine against Russian military operations in eastern Ukraine. For what it’s worth (and it’s not worth much) I am quite skeptical of most Republicans call for aggressively arming Ukraine to resist Russian aggression. But the single-mindedness of this focus on this one issue – in the context of total indifference to everything else in the platform – speaks volumes.

To put this all into perspective, if Vladimir Putin were simply the CEO of a major American corporation and there was this much money flowing in Trump’s direction, combined with this much solicitousness of Putin’s policy agenda, it would set off alarm bells galore. That is not hyperbole or exaggeration. And yet Putin is not the CEO of an American corporation. He’s the autocrat who rules a foreign state, with an increasingly hostile posture towards the United States and a substantial stockpile of nuclear weapons. The stakes involved in finding out ‘what’s going on’ as Trump might put it are quite a bit higher.

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.