Archive for September, 2009

I Convict Her of Being Stupid-Stupid

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

…and may God have mercy on her soul.

My comments at Gerard’s site speak for themselves. This shouldn’t be a conservative/liberal thing, and yet it is quickly becoming one. Because of what’s being defended, and the methods used.

Had another thought though:

A while back, Republican Senator Larry Craig pled guilty to trolling for sex in a mens’ bathroom in a Minneapolis airport. Conservatives came out in defense and liberals came out fightin’. I’m reasonably sure I heard all the arguments on both sides…not that this means very much. You’d have to have been living on Mars to miss anything.

To the best I can recall, the conservatives all made note of the idea that the law was absurd…but not a single one of them made too much of it. Going by their words, they all would have gone along with the suggestion — if indeed he was guilty, and if indeed whatever punishment’s on the table would also be applied to you or me in the same set of circumstances…well then, the conversation’s over. See ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya.

Whoopi acts like no matter how many layers you peel off the onion, there’s always some other infinitesimal, crucial distinction to be made that changes everything. Perhaps she’s convinced herself this is the case. But look at all that time that was given to her to define why exactly this wasn’t “rape-rape,” and her teeny brain couldn’t come up with a single salient point. She just threw out a big fact-salad to confuse people, and when it was all over, nothing had changed. Nothing had been argued. She just went through the motions.

Is she laying down some protocol of justice to be applied to the esteemed director, that would also apply to everyone else? Heh. The question is too ludicrous to even be asked.

Yet More Creative Billboards

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

From here.

David Bugnon

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Hannah Giles, wielding a Husqvarna and takin’ care o’ business…

From here (hat tip to The Camp of the Saints).

Why Obama Bombed on Health Care

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I quote myself, once again.

7. Find Out What People Are Missing

Once you’ve demonstrated a connection between your concerns and the concerns of your audience, you’ll find people are quite forgiving when confronted by disconnected, trashy logic. So don’t be afraid to turn your dumb idea into a solution-in-search-of-a-problem. Dumb ideas get sold that way pretty much all the time.

Once again: What you are doing is not putting together a meritorious argument; instead, what you’re doing is dispelling the requirement for you to put together a meritorious argument. It would be highly difficult to assemble a meritorious argument that a weak economy will recover through an ambitious “stimulus” program financed through record-setting debt and draconian tax increases against the most productive citizens. Or that the unemployment rate will go down when the minimum wage goes up. Or that when we activate a “disarmament” treaty with a belligerent foreign power, things will work out okay because there’s just no way our former enemy would stockpile some secret weapons and fail to tell us about them.

None of those things make any sense, but they’ve been sold over and over again, quite successfully, through a suggestion that the plan is substantially conducive to the declared goal. Once that suggestion is planted, people don’t check it out to see if it makes sense. They think they did, but they didn’t.

That’s Item #7 from the list of ways To Motivate Large Numbers of People To Do a Dumb Thing, Without Anyone Associating the Dumb Thing With Your Name Later On.

And perhaps I should make a mental note to begin writing about the flawed human condition with just a little bit more optimism. Sometime in the future. If recent events constitute any indication of what will continue to happen indefinitely…

President Barack Obama made a “public option” his centerpiece not because it’s the answer to what’s broken in the U.S. system, but because it’s a halfway house to a single-payer setup that liberal Democrats have always wanted. Team Obama also knew the public is concerned about rising costs, so they jammed together a hooey-filled argument that the public option was somehow the solution to rising costs.

The public is not as dumb as it’s made out to be, and Mr. Obama’s public option died a bipartisan death yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee.

I don’t entirely share Mr. Jenkins’ optimism; I think the public is, generally, just as dumb as it’s made out to be. The public smartens up at breakneck speed when pain is coming. Personalized, individualized, “Yeah I Mean You” pain…not some other guy’s pain. We’re ready to indulge in all kinds of whacky theories about how much water may or may not be in the pool, when it’s the other fellow diving in; factual statements about the volume of water, and gravity, are just too dry and time-consuming for us, messing up our precious schedule of downloading tunes to our iPod-whatever. And we don’t have any patience for anybody else paying attention to such boring stuff either.

Once our own feet are on the diving board our interests suddenly change.

That’s why “The Man Who Can Sell Anything” suddenly met His match. He tried to sell us something that was bound to mess things up, and soon. Crafty as He is, I doubt like the dickens Mr. Juice ever saw it coming. I really doubt it. Don’t ever forget — this is the guy who argues with dictionaries.

Hollywood Unites Behind Polanski

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Go for it, Tinseltown. Show us exactly what you think is moral, and what you think is not (via Big Hollywood, via Memeorandum). And when you’re done showing us your oh so refined sensibilities, I think the word needs to get out, to be broadcast far and wide. The whole world should know exactly what makes you tick.

Best quote from the story by far:

“[A]t a time when California is shredding the safety net that protects the poor and the unemployed, not to mention the budget of the public school system, you’d hope that LA County prosecutors had better things to do than cause an international furor [sic] by hounding a film director for a 32-year-old sex crime…”

If anyone wants to argue with me about this in the comments below, know this: I am an admirer of Polanski’s work. I think he’s incredibly talented. If you agree, then we have no quarrel here.

Your beef with me, therefore, comes down to a question of creativity entitling certain elite, talented individuals to special sunset provisions not enjoyed by others. Certain talented convicted individuals, who have been convicted of horrid, damaging, hurtful crimes.

Proceed to make your case.

You know what the difference is between invading countries and molesting young girls? We don’t have any young girls who need molesting.

Lots of People Love Obama, But Does Anyone in the World Really Fear Him?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Headline speaks for itself. But the article is worth reading too. Confusing “love” with respect is a mistake that’s been dangerous since the beginning of the human race.

They love Him like a pit bull loves a bloody rag.

Here’s my worry about Obama. Lots of people love him and he is indeed very lovable. But I wonder if anyone at all, anywhere in the world, really fears him.

Ever stop to think what a different world we’d have if democrats “fought” terrorists the way they fight conservatives?

I just have to include the video making the rounds…stop-motion of our “loved” President, and His unchanging, creepy smile.

Barack Obama’s amazingly consistent smile from Eric Spiegelman on Vimeo.

Sloane Peterson Taught Her to Be a Good Girlfriend

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Not too much attention being paid these days by the ladies, in these not-quite-so-delicate matters of how to be a good girlfriend. Things do seem to be improving there slightly, I think…but it’s tough for me to tell because I’ve got the best girlfriend of all. So for me it’s like trying to look at the stars in the sky while standing under a very bright light.

Sloane PetersonWhatever the situation, I thought I’d help the improvement along, because this is a great post and it deserves linkage (and she, in turn, found it over here). And I think I found some new blogroll entries as well:

THE GUIDE TO BEING SO CHOICE:

How Sloane Peterson from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Taught me how to be an Awesome Girlfriend.

 • Get along with his friends if you don’t get along with his friends you are done. seriously. That is number 1. Even if you think his friends are uptight weirdos or hypochondriac freaks, HEY, he is friends with them for a reason, so cut the shit. You’ve probably got some weird and crappy friends too.
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 • Pack lightly ever notice how tiny Sloane’s purse was? The bigger the purse, the lamer the girl. Its called baggage for a reason.

Kind of funny that this weekend just past was our “Ferris Bueller” weekend. I haven’t even sent the disc back, it’s sitting right there on top of the red envelope under the teevee staring me in the face.

I have mixed emotions about this one. On the one hand, Ferris is so clearly headed for a future of being a welfare bum…but you can’t bet any real money on that, can you. After all, he is a smart kid surrounded by stupid grownups, recognizing the futility of a mediocre school curriculum churning out mediocre graduates by going through the motions. He’s taking the bull by the horns. But of course, he could be taking the bull by the horns doing something productive and not quite so fun to watch. This is, after all, the kid from War Games.

In the end, Ferris lands on the “approve” side of my fence because of his sister. It’s a movie not quite so much about the things we do, as about the emotional reaction we have to the ideas of doing those things…and through the high-strung sister, the film recognizes my conflict and addresses it head-on:

“I hate him.” It is the hate that comes from doubt. It is hate felt by those who “know” they’re doing the right thing by preserving order, even when that order leaves dimwits in charge…but aren’t completely sure that this is the right thing. They know they’ve been given a choice of rejecting rebellion versus rejecting incompetence, and have chosen to tolerate incompetence.

The Global Warming Evidence is Missing

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

National Review Online, via Ace of Spades, with a tip of the hat to I Think Therefore I Err.

Imagine if there were no reliable records of global surface temperature. Raucous policy debates such as cap-and-trade would have no scientific basis, Al Gore would at this point be little more than a historical footnote, and President Obama would not be spending this U.N. session talking up a (likely unattainable) international climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

Steel yourself for the new reality, because the data needed to verify the gloom-and-doom warming forecasts have disappeared.

Or so it seems. Apparently, they were either lost or purged from some discarded computer. Only a very few people know what really happened, and they aren’t talking much. And what little they are saying makes no sense.
:
Warwick Hughes, an Australian scientist…wrote Phil Jones in early 2005, asking for the original data. Jones’s response to a fellow scientist attempting to replicate his work was, “We have 25 years or so invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?”

Ay-yup…and then it, uh, gets weird.

Unemployment Among Young People Now Over Fifty Percent

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Is that hope and change working out well for you there, junior? Something about We Are The Change We’ve Been Waiting For?

The number of young Americans without a job has exploded to 52.2 percent — a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. — meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time.

The number represents the flip-side to the Labor Dept.’s report that the employment rate of 16-to-24 year olds has eroded to 47.83 percent — the lowest ratio of working young Americans in that age group, including all but those in the military, since WWII.

And worse, without a clear economic recovery plan aimed at creating entry-level jobs, the odds of many of these young adults — aged 16 to 24, excluding students — getting a job and moving out of their parents’ houses are long. Young workers have been among the hardest hit during the current recession — in which a total of 9.5 million jobs have been lost.

Is it unfair, in any way, for me to bottom-line our current plan this way:

We are engaged in a process of using taxes and regulations to make every single business move — that is, every move that would expand a business — as expensive as it could possibly be. That’s every single decision. Every last one.

As a direct result of this, we shall be putting this thing we call “business” in such a state that it’ll do something called “recover” and start humming right along.

Is that an unfair summation? Is it an incomplete one? Did I miss anything? If not…someone please walk me through the steps. Now that we’re in midstream, what exactly are we supposed to be looking for here.

Remember, this is the generation that’s going to be saddled with the $10 trillion in debt. Hope won and fear lost?

Media Uninterested in Caskets Now

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

It’s an interesting thing about democrats when one observes them across the election cycles: Whereas Republicans and Libertarians more-or-less have their minds made up about whether or not government is to be trusted, and how much, the democrat teeters back and forth on the matter depending on what letter happens to be behind the President’s name.

You’re a terrible person if you aren’t helping them protest and stop just short of advocating a complete overthrow of the government — then all of a sudden you’re a terrible person if you’re not entrusting your most cherished life-and-death decisions to the whim of the lowliest bureaucrat who can read and write.

Which makes it tough to go through the motions of wondering how the mainstream press votes…as if we still had reason to wonder. The interest in photographing caskets returning from the Afghan and Iraqi theaters of operation, seems to have just…gone…somewhere…

So far this month, 38 American troops have been killed in Afghanistan. For all of 2009, the number is 220 — more than any other single year and more than died in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 combined.

With casualties mounting, the debate over U.S. policy in Afghanistan is sharp and heated. The number of arrivals at Dover is increasing. But the journalists who once clamored to show the true human cost of war are nowhere to be found.

I’m beginning to understand now what people meant last year when they said Barack Obama has what it takes to unite us. They must not have meant by that there will be less bickering; the events of this summer have shot that full o’ holes. Their meaning must have had to do with conflict between the government and the press that is supposed to be holding it accountable. Like the press was working way too hard to show us what we had a right to see, and they were getting tired of it, so please put Obama in charge so they wouldn’t be working at it quite so hard.

I can’t help but wonder how many PATRIOT Acts a President Obama could get signed into law every single week — if He had a mind to do so. He obviously has bitten off more than He can chew with the health care thing. But the resistance there was true grassroots, whereas the PATRIOT Act backlash was anything-but.

Memo For File XCVII

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Just got done sending Blogsister Daphne an offline which contains a redacted version of the complaint letter that arises from the situation over here. It’s the same ol’ Morgan that got picked-on by bullies in the sixth grade: He’ll take it and take it and take it, but man, don’t back that fucker up into a corner. Must be my Viking bloodline.

And I’ve suddenly realized something about my business correspondence about such touchy subjects. I have been privileged to see all kinds of such works written by, and addressed to, other people. For a high school graduate with a 2.65 gradepoint, I have rubbed shoulders with so many millionaires. I suppose I’ve always been shell-shocked at how incredibly lucky I’ve been, in this way. All these years later I still don’t believe it. I’ve been close to captains of industry, and I didn’t get to watch them just ask their Girl Fridays to get them cups of coffee…oh, no. I watched them get sued. I watched them get audited. I watched them get blackmailed.

Maybe I’m just a jinx.

Anyway, I digress. I blame my upbringing. When you’ve been fortunate, in whatever way, you should stop to acknowledge it even if there’s no one around to thank. And this is a piece of fortune I’ve never stopped to acknowledge. My eyeballs are now 43 years old and require no visual aid whatsoever; before them has been paraded a dizzying panoply of spicy business correspondence. That’s two huge blessings. If I had to give up one of them, and keep the other, I’d absolutely be wearing glasses. I’ve learned that much from the correspondence I’ve seen. That oh so spicy business correspondence.

What I’ve realized about the correspondence I put out, is this:

I model it based on what I have seen, as any intelligent creative energy will do. But although I try to coral it all in, when dollars are on the line, the eighty-twenty rule rears its ugly head. In fact, far from drawing on twenty percent of what I’ve seen, most of the time I end up making use of only three artifacts:

There are various tidbits I picked up by reading the works of, and having conversations with, my late Uncle Wally.

When I think professionalism is the order of the day, and it is necessary to conceal my wrath beneath a thick “nuclear reactor wall” veneer of diplomacy so it requires some cleverness on the part of the reader just to figure out how peeved I am, I think of this letter from a dying Ulysses Grant to his biographer, Adam Badeau. President Grant is, in my opinion, highly underrated as our 18th President, and even more highly underrated as a writer. Consider this to be advice: Just pick up some of his stuff. At random. This is art, of a grade you don’t often see.

And when I think I’ve been pussy-footing around too much and some asshole is getting away without his just desserts — I draw on an e-mail I was forwarded from this guy, way back in the olden days when he was my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss’ boss or some damn thing. He was the President of the whole freakin’ company and he walked through the lobby of the corporate headquarters one day to catch the guard playing Solitair on the computer. Poor guard. Stupid sonofabitch. The order came down from on high to strip Solitair out of all the company computers…on Windows 95…order arriving complete with a word-for-word reproduction of the top-dog’s summation of what needed to be done — and oh, my. What fine incendiary business prose. Paragraphs and paragraphs of it. So who is to do what needs to be done? Yep. Lucky me, I’m the poor stupid bastard…not that it was that technically demanding; it ended up being my job because I was the one who had the balls. I’m glad my immediate-boss at the time had some balls too. We did what had to be done, verified what had to be verified, verified it a few more times, and then sent off what had to be sent off. Years later it’s nothing but a good story to tell.

But the point is, I draw on those three. The wise; the cool; and the napalm.

Without those three, I’d still know how to write stuff. But not nearly as well, I think; and certainly not nearly as confidently. I think I’ll be recalling all three of them on my deathbed, in the final hours. I really do.

Popular Support of Obama’s Narcissism

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I’m slightly reworking the title Dr. Melissa Clouthier gave this one because I’d like to explore some things she just touched, kind of pick it up where she left it.

Michael Gerson Sums Up Obama’s Narcissism

Wow:

On several occasions, Obama attacked American conduct in simplistic caricatures a European diplomat might employ or applaud. He accused America of acing “unilaterally, without regard for the interests of others” — a slander against every American ally who has made sacrifices in Iraq and Afghanistan. He argued that, “America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy” — which is hardly a challenge for the Obama administration, which has yet to make a priority of promoting democracy or human rights anywhere in the world.

The world, of course, has its problems, too. It has accepted “misperceptions and misinformation.” It can be guilty of a “reflexive anti-Americanism.” “Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world’s problems alone.” Translation: I know you adore me because I am better than America’s flawed past. But don’t just stand there loving me, do something.

And, wow again:

Twice in his United Nations speech, Obama dares to quote Franklin Roosevelt. I have read quite a bit of Roosevelt’s rhetoric. It is impossible to imagine him, under any circumstances, unfairly criticizing his own country in an international forum in order to make himself look better in comparison. He would have considered such a rhetorical strategy shameful — as indeed it is.

At the United Nations, Obama set out to denigrate American goodness so he can become our rescuer. The speech had nothing to do with the confident style of Democratic rhetoric found in Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. It insulted that tradition. And no one is likely ever to quote the speech — except to deride it.

Here’s my take, though. President Obama is no different from candidate Obama. What did you moderates out there think he meant when he said that he would rise the tides and save the planet and BE the change you can believe in? Why do you think President Obama wanted to “remake America”?

I’ll answer it for you: Because he felt that America is fundamentally flawed. Because he believes HE is the fix. Pretty simple. And he’s no different today than he was a year ago. it’s just rather startling to hear the President of the United States apologize for his own country inherent badness and say that his inherent goodness is the cure.

Arrogant and narcissistic? Yep. But he had a lot of useful idiots help him get elected. His America-hating speechifying is nothing new. Some people are just hearing for the first time.

I’m not looking forward to a whole bunch of forehead-smacking as untold millions of American voters realize the mistake they’ve made and resolve to do better. Maybe the folks who voted for Obama in order to protest the Bush deficits — wow, that seems like so long ago, doesn’t it? — will do some of that. But even they won’t be stooping so low as to admit to an error. They’ll simply take the position that there was no better alternative, that McCain was “McSame”…it must be true, all those Saturday Night Live skits said so.

Nor do I think there is any grand prevailing viewpoint behind the idea that Obama is the fix. Modern Americans live far too comfortably to be overly concerned about “fixes”; our enthusiasm tends to be riveted on identifying the problem, and forcing an artificial patina of unanimity in acknowledging the problem is there. Quick, pop-quiz, someone tell me what our “fix” is for global warming. What’s the “fix” for a child with learning disabilities. Details, I want details! But I will not be getting details. No plan, no work-breakdown-structure, no steps, no methods of validation that any plan is working. Just a bunch of bullying rhetoric that such-and-such a child definitely has Aspergers and the planet is definitely heating up.

Obama is in a precarious situation here, and although many among his supporters fail to realize it, I’m pretty sure He Himself gets it. If the election were to be held today, He just might win…better-than-even-odds He would…He is awfully “cool,” and although it’s become embarrassing that His solution to every problem is yet another “wonderful” speech, He is certainly good at giving those. But if the election were to be held today, the vote upon which He would depend — utterly and completely — is the “ego” vote. The “It must be the right thing to do now, because it sure as hell was the right thing to do in ’08″ vote. The not-ready-to-admit-a-mistake vote.

Which means the “This-Year’s-Hot-New-Trend” vote is deader than Charlemagne. Nothing remains of it, no headstone, no carcass to be exhumed because its grave is unmarked.

But this “Ego” vote is strong. People don’t like to admit their mistakes; and they can go a very long time displaying their interest in undeniable-truths…which, it is worth noting, would fail to capture such exuberant support of the truths really were undeniable. They can go a long ways without expressing any interest whatsoever in fleshing out any step-by-step plans for fixing the problems they say they want fixed so badly. And so, take it to the bank, come 2012 we will be hearing from all over the place that “This-or-that was so much worse when Bush left office, than it is now” and “It will be taking Him a long time to clean up that mess Bush made” and “Bush screwed the pooch so Obama needs eight years to take care of it properly.”

Support will be falling off. But very quietly. The next contest, and the next one after that, will be decided by turnout. Very few people will be admitting outright that they supported His Holiness last year, and have decided to stop supporting Him.

Best-case scenario is that Obama comes to be like the trashy tabloid you see in the supermarket: Nobody will admit to buying it, and yet, millions of people somewhere must be doing exactly that. Next-best-case scenario? That the defectors from the Obama camp fit into the tabloid metaphor that way. Nobody will admit to leaving the Church of Holy Barack; but we’ll have some elections proving millions of people must’ve done that very thing.

But I completely agree with Melissa about Obama’s campaigning. If anyone does want to express some discomfort over our President’s amazing narcissism, and they’re so lacking in self-restraint they are actually heard to mutter some words to that effect — they can bite it. It simply isn’t reasonable to show surprise here. Obama is governing, more or less, the way He campaigned. At least to such a minimal extent that He fleshed out what His plans were, while He was campaigning…which wasn’t much. You certainly would have a hard time making the case that He broke too many campaign promises.

Particularly in matters dealing with support or lack thereof, for the country He was campaigning to govern…or rule over…whatever. You thought Obama would give patriotic speeches on the world stage about America’s wonderful contributions to civilization and world peace? You thought He’d say something so that people in Switzerland and Sweden and Nigeria and Afghanistan and Russia and Indonesia would say to themselves “Wow, America is really great”? Really? You expected that? Based on what?

Memo For File XCVI

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I’m watching Enterprise, and I think I’ve figured out what happened to Star Trek. It wasn’t fatigue. There were things done right back in the Kirk Days, that were being done decidedly wrong in what came afterward. And I’m not referring to miniskirts the size of lampshades…although there is that too. You get rid of a good thing, you need to replace it with something else just as good or better.

No, you have to stop and ask yourself “What makes a scene good?” The answer is the same for teevee and big screen. And literature too. All storytelling, really.

To justify its existence, a scene has to define something. It can define a character, or it can define an event that moves the story along. A visual treat for the audience is good, but that’s just candy. Within a decade it will all be obsolete…the CGI…the special effects…the surreal architecture…an unusually grisly demise…Raquel Welch dancing around in her undies…the gizmo somebody is holding that does something and makes you go “hey, lookit that.” That could justify a scene for a little while, but it’s a weak foundation and if the entire product is built out of things like this it will certainly be a bad product.

No, a good scene confines itself to the first two. Character and story. A good scene defines both of these, not just one. And a truly great scene will leave the audience in a state of confusion about which one is primarily important. As the scene unfolds, after it is done, and for several minutes thereafter — a state of confusion should exist about what the audience was supposed to get out of it.

And to be a horrible awful wretched scene, it should exist for the purpose of defining some aspect of a character that has already been thoroughly defined.

Think of the scene where Michael tells Moe Greene that the Corleone family wants to buy him out. Conventional thinking says “Waitaminnit…it’s over five minutes long. It’s a crappy scene, case closed, because there’s no way a scene can be good if it’s five minutes long.” But this is, in fact, a piece of movie greatness.

As it starts out there isn’t even a hint that anything special is going to happen here. Michael tells Fredo to get rid of the girls, alright…we are being told Michael Corleone is all-business. Well, this is over two hours in. We already knew this. Oh no wait, now something is being defined about Fredo’s character. Now we’re defining something about Moe’s character. Now we’re being told a whole bunch of things about stuff that happened previously…complex plot points from the book are being shoehorned, in the movie, into this one five-minute scene. Which is a little awkward. Moe sums up the five-families situation with his “The Godfather’s Sick” speech, which defines a theme. Moe tells Michael to go stick it, which constitutes an event; the event will become important later. Michael ignores the remonstration and tells Moe to come up with a number. This defines something not quite so much about Michael’s character, as about the code by which he’s managing the family business. Moe storms off, Fredo says something that defines him, and Michael tells Fredo something that makes another entry into the archive of Great Movie Lines. Which defines the business.

The confusion about purpose is what makes the scene great. If there was a singular, unmistakable point to the scene it couldn’t be this good.

Bad scene? Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The one where Darth Maul is introduced, when he steps into view while Darth Sidious is talking to the Viceroys on one of those hologram communicator things. It was pretty awesome seeing Darth Maul introduced this way…but the Viceroy delivers the anticlimactic line “We should not have made this bargain!” or some such thing, and it’s over. Not only do you get this choppy feeling there was another minute or so that was tossed on the cutting room floor, but there’s too much clarity. We know too much about why we were shown what we just saw. It’s an attempt to revive the Faustian suspense of Lando Carlissian saying “This deal gets worse all the time!” and it fails. It fails because the audience understands, and feeling no uncertainty about it whatsoever, what they were supposed to learn from what they just saw. They’re put in the position of evaluating a complete list of what they just figured out, against how many minutes it took them to learn that — and the result is boredom.

An even worse scene? There’s one in Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life, in which one of her new allies who is just being introduced…follows Lara’s instructions on a headset while he’s driving a jeep. He is ordered to just keep driving in a straight line at the same speed and — surprise! Lara lands in the jeep on a hang glider! Okay. What did we learn, that Lara Croft is an adrenaline junkie who is full of surprises. But we knew this about her already. There is no new aspect of her adrenaline-junkie-ness that is defined outside of what was defined before…the hang gliding equipment notwithstanding…and regarding the fellow who was supposed to be introduced to us through this scene, we have absolutely no information at all other than he knows how to drive a jeep in a straight line.

This is one reason why, I would add, that girls can’t have adventure movies. When you create a James Bond adventure, you can define over and over again that James Bond is a cool guy who knows how to do stuff, but you can do it with finesse, elegance and balance. You can leave the audience wondering what the universality of purposes might have been with regard to a specific scene, by defining Bond’s character, the characters he meets & fights, and elements to the evolving story all at the same time. You can use that ambiguity as a weapon against the audience. Make them wonder what the point is. Give them a puzzle to work out as you tell them the story. Girls on the other hand…no. You have to constantly be pounding the message home over and over again: “She is awesome and bold and she knows how to do stuff.” If the scene defines that, but also defines something else, then you are a seeeeexist movie making guy. Wonder Woman can deflect bullets off her bracelets…but also…there was some hidden motive the guy had for shooting her, so there’s some mystery and we’ll be wanting you to pay some attention to that…out of the question. Wonder Woman has talents and abilities, and that’s the only thought that should be in your li’l head. So there can be none of this puzzle-working or ambiguity, which is so vital to making all good scenes good and great scenes great.

How Awesome I AmNow here is some irony: In the twentieth century, has there been any fictionalized character in any medium, electronic or print, more over-defined than Captain Kirk? Probably not. But in the old Star Trek, there were scenes that were ambiguous in their purpose. Here is Spock forming a theory about the alien, which defines Spock’s logic and superior intellect — but we’re also learning something about this week’s situation, something we’re pretty sure will become relevant later, so we’re fixated on that. Kirk being awesome, theatrically angry, oh-so-boldly protesting the death of his latest redshirt crewman, showing his Kirk-cajones…again, that is subordinate to this other purpose of figuring out what is going on, why the redshirt got killed, who’s keeping secrets from who.

With these newer shows, it was all about showcasing how awesome was Janeway, Sisko, Archer, et al. Another day another dollar: T’Pol shows no emotions because she’s a Vulcan, and Archer is awesome. That’s what you’re supposed to learn from this scene, now let us go on to the next one.

It’s often said that the perfect movie has a purpose for every little thing in it. Someone must have heard that, and taken it to mean the audience should understand that purpose, as each “little thing” makes its very first appearance. And that the purpose should be reiterated with each subsequent appearance.

And aside from displaying Sean Connery dancing around in a big red diaper, I think these are just about the worst things a movie-making dude can possibly do.

“In Times Like These…”

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

I might have complained about those four words before. It’s almost certain that I did, because I was impressed that about half the lines spoken by the bad guys in Atlas Shrugged begin with those four words — and the message is crystal clear. Apart from this other message that socialism tends to feed off the misery that it creates, we see there is this tendency we have to justify shitty decisions with some variant of that old cliche. What I mean by “shitty” is indefensible; ideas that have to have some glittery decoration to distract from the fact that they’re just plain stupid.

And usually it’s socialism. You might say “In times like these, we have to pull together and nobody can make a profit providing a service so essential to the rest of us.” You would not say “Because it’s Tuesday and my butt itches, we have to pull together and nobody can make a profit providing this service.” With the latter, even a flaccid mind would immediately recognize — duh, hey wait a minute…if the service is so essential, how do we make sure it continues to be provided if nobody can make a profit providing it? But “In times like these” goes over like Free Ice Cream night in Hell. Why yes! That makes perfect sense!

But it isn’t confined to socialism. All stupid ideas benefit from the “Times Like These” cliche. It’s like covering a turd in a chocolate-crusty coating.

I went in to a certain financial institution to discuss an interesting letter I’d received from them. The letter pretended to be sent from a collection agency…which I thought was interesting, because my payment record is perfect. First thing the bank guy said was “Well to get a letter like this, you have to be way behind on something…like three months or something.” This I found to be reasonable, and it was my first impression. But the payment record is there. The phone calls are coming in from their account manager to please take out this-or-that credit card and go further in debt, because someone in there has figured out it’s profitable to be doing business with me. I’m invoiced on this every thirty days, and there are no past-due amounts, no late charges, nothing of the kind. So he got on the phone to figure out what’s going on…

What followed was an extended conversation between him and the voice on the other end, as he apparently got an education about the new process. Then he got that look on his face, like he had to explain something exquisitely embarrassing. And explain he did.

“With the economy the way it is now,” he started out…and I realized what was coming next was going to be boneheaded. “What they’ve started to do a few months ago is send out these letters as soon as a payment is two days past its due date.” Apparently this was earlier in the year, and I hadn’t realized it because my payments were on time, like they’re supposed to be. “The idea is…and the lady I’ve been talking to, she wouldn’t want me to use the word ‘scare,’ but that’s pretty much what it is, the letters are supposed to scare people into bringing those payments in because the home office is starting to get worried when payments are late even by a day or two.”

“I have a suggestion for your home office,” I said, and the banker smiled and winced a little, knowing full well what was coming. “Confine this unorthodox and surreal debt management practice to those accounts that have payment records suggesting such a thing might be necessary.” Unless, of course, those customers with perfect payment histories among the ones scaring that poor little home office and making it so upset…suggesting, in my mind, that someone is in a business that they shouldn’t be in.

I’m looking for a way to roll this thing over and give the business to another lender. I have a special dislike for being treated like a crappy customer when I’ve been a good one. Especially when it comes to debt. I look at it like…when you’re a good customer and you’re being treated like a bad customer, what that really means is that the lender in question will not be treating anyone like a good customer. Which means they’re a bottom-feeder. That means if you have the means to deal with someone else, you really should, just because life’s too short. And it will bite you in the ass. Soon. It’s kind of like parking a nice new BMW convertible overnight at Broadway and Stockton Boulevard.

I got a feeling I’m going to get these folks paid off right quick, one way or t’other. This business relationship needs to get canceled somehow. When a wife wants to be single and doesn’t know it, you give her what she wants. When you have someone working for you who would rather be unemployed and they don’t know it, you give him what he wants. The same goes for a bank that doesn’t really want anyone to be in debt to it. They just don’t want to be in business, and they don’t know it.

But the pattern continues. Whatever comes after “In Times Like These” is a staggeringly stupid idea, one that could be justified, even cosmetically, in no other way. If it made sense nobody would be prefacing it with those words.

And with the economy the way it is, in times like these, I’m hearing that phrase more and more lately. There’s a stupid idea behind each use of it. We’re being buried in an avalanche of candy-coated turds.

Great Movie Dialogue: How to Murder Your Wife

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

From here. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re really missing something.

Harold: Mrs. Ford, this is my wife, Edna. She speak mucho good Italian…take lessons…many dollars…dollars is many many Lira…

Edna: Shut up, Harold, you sound like a feeble-minded idiot. (Italian cross-talk as Edna and Mrs. Ford greet each other.)

Stanley: It’s very simple, I want an annulment! I don’t like being married!

Harold: How do you know you don’t like it, if you haven’t tried it?

Stanley: I’ve tried it!

Harold: If you’ve tried it, then it’s too late to get an annulment! (Signature horse-laugh.)

This movie is older than I am. And yet it identifies a problem that even now is just beginning to reach a crescendo: Marriage being re-defined as something innately unacceptable to a man of any intelligence…seemingly to weed out any men who have any intelligence.

I think my favorite part of the movie is the way the tiny loud purse-sized little yip-dogs are used as a metaphor for what is happening. Quite ingenious, and prophetic really, when you stop to consider it’s a 44-year-old movie.

The Best Video of the Year

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

To those of you who thought this was a tad on the obsessive side…and I know you’re out there, I’ve talked to you. (“You were going to make the judge sit through fifteen slides, really??”) This is for you.

In my capacity as Chief Executive Officer, by the Grace of God, of House of Eratosthenes The Blog That Nobody Reads…and let all the civilized world tremble in the face of my wrath…I hereby proclaim in my infinite wisdom, this (hat tip, once again, to Gerard) to be the finest video of the year. In all aspects. The hootin’ and hollerin’, the thigh-slappin’, the solving long overdue problems, the “Yeah Go Get ‘Em”‘s…calculating least common multiples…

Enjoy. Yes, I know it reeks of “staged.” I don’t care. This is a man whose priorities are set properly. Beats the hell out of dismantling nuclear weapons in the very same stretch of days that “Ah’m A Dinner Jacket” guy starts building up his own stock.

Nitpicking an Issue?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

William Teach at Pirate’s Cove discusses nitpicking, which means to showcase a comment in someone else’s blog, give it the publicity you feel it deserves.

We’ve done it quite a few times. It’s fair, IMO, because it’s in a public view. The fact that the blog has no control over the commenter and very little control over his product, simply doesn’t enter into it. You know for a fact (barring the possibility that someone’s writing pure fiction under a blog comment) that the thoughts exist “out there,” because you’ve just pointed to living proof; in what quantity and saturation said thoughts exist, is a matter for speculation. And of course it’s alright for you to speculate.

If someone else reads it, and speculates the idea is out there in high saturation when it really isn’t, that’s their problem. Just like if you tell a story about a guy streaking down your neighborhood, and the guy you’re telling it to surmises this must happen all the time. Purely a matter of opinion, and purely his concern.

Now if you’re working hard at putting an unwarranted spin on it, of course that might be a different story.

Iran Reveals Enrichment Plant

Friday, September 25th, 2009

So we aren’t going to have them

With President Barack Obama in the chair at an unprecedented meeting of the U.N. Security Council, major world powers on Thursday endorsed his goal of a nuclear weapons-free world and pledged to strengthen the shaky international system for preventing the spread of nuclear arms.

The Security Council unanimously passed a U.S.-drafted resolution that endorses the eventual goal of “a world without nuclear weapons.” It lays out steps for nuclear powers to trim their arsenals, while making it harder for other nations to convert civilian nuclear programs to military ones.

While it isn’t clear how fast this will come about, diplomats and private security experts called it the most significant U.N. action on nuclear weapons proliferation in years.

Barack's Tea Party…but those other guys will. What could possibly go wrong?

President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain on Friday blasted Iran’s construction of a previously unknown uranium enrichment facility and demanded that Tehran immediately fulfill its obligations under international law or risk the imposition of harsh new sanctions.

“Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follow,” Obama said, detailing how the facility at Qom had been under construction for years without being disclosed, as required, to the International Atomic Energy Association. “International law is not an empty promise.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused Iran of “serial deception” that he said “will shock and anger the whole international community, and it will harden our resolve.”

“We will not let this matter rest,” Brown said. “…Iran must abandon any military ambitions for its nuclear programs.”

We will become very angry with you, and we will write you a letter, telling you how angry we are. Ah geez, you’re really busting my balls here Hans. Why don’t you take a few steps to your left…

Looks like the sun has set on the era of finger-waggling disarmament diplomacy. Time to put it on history’s bookshelf, right next to the League of Nations. The task before us now, is to find a new way to confront the threat, and then figure out how to explain to our grandchildren the finger-waggling diplomacy was supposed to work…how & why it ever made sense to anyone.

I’m not sure which one of those two tasks is more difficult. One is going to involve people dying, the other one has a real chance of being altogether impossible. Time will tell.

The Creepy Classroom Video

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Public school children being taught to worship His Wonderfulness.

Others blogging:

Malkin.

Gerard.

Exurban League has the school’s explanation.

American Thinker Blog.

Rick.

Cassy.

Who’s behind it?

Charisse Carney-Nunes, “writer, speaker and social entrepreneur.”

D’JEver Notice? XLII

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

The line that divides us cleanly in half, in 2009, remains; but it has shifted slightly. Might as well take a note of where exactly it is.

Some of us are willing to tolerate any sort of personal ridicule in order to avoid supporting the wrong decisions;

The rest of us are willing to support all kinds of wrong decisions, in order to escape any sort of ridicule. Yeah, it pretty much all comes down to that.

Know what makes me think of that?

This…it’s long been an item of “Everyone Else Is Blogging It, I Might As Well Blog It Too.” People paid to be cool, supporting bad ideas to make themselves cool. They’ll do whatever it takes. Even though the idea is oh so wrong.

Back in the middle ages the “court jester” was a fickle, silly, mentally unbalanced, pitiful individual. I wonder what people from a few hundred years ago would think if you could travel back there in a time machine and tell them, “When our clowns tell us we should think a certain thing, a lot of our ordinary but comfortably-living property owners do exactly what they say.”

Thing I Know #153. Lately I notice sarcasm is used, more and more, to discuss opinions without considering facts. In those situations the opinion that “wins” is almost always wrong.

G and H

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Gemma Atkinson and Holly Weber.

Once again — everyone looks awesome and wonderful in lingerie/bikinis. It comes down to faces: Gemma is not only more friendly-looking, but possessing of a girl-next-door undertone not reverberating from her counterpart.

What a shame for Holly. I can’t think of a way to improve on that bombshell of a figure — not by so much as a fraction of an inch. But these chins and noses that could cut through glass…I don’t know why they’re so popular. Kind of a turn-off. They suggest a lack of proper nourishment, and an unhealthy adoration of female qualities that civilized people aren’t quite so quick to adore. Perhaps that’s unfair, but like they say; you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Gemma 1, Holly 0. Them’s the breaks.

Majority Believe the Government is Doing Too Much

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Surprise!

A new Gallup poll shows that the number of people who believe government has its hand in too many areas of American life has reached its highest point in more than a decade.

The question asked by Gallup was, “Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?” Fifty-seven percent of those surveyed say government is doing too much, while 38 percent say it should do more. Five percent are undecided.

The number of people who believe government is doing too much is up sharply from early March, when 47 percent said government was doing too much and 42 percent said it should do more.

The last time the number of people who believe government is doing too much hit 57 percent was in October 1994, shortly before voters threw Democrats out of power in both the House and Senate.

ACORN Came from the Community Reinvestment Act

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Your required reading for today on ACORN:

Acorn found its way into the mortgage business through the Community Reinvestment Act, the 1977 legislation that community groups have used as a cudgel to force lenders to lower their mortgage underwriting standards in order to make more loans in low-income communities. Often the groups, after making protests under CRA, were then rewarded by banks with contracts to act as mortgage counselors in low-income areas in return for dropping their protests against the banks. In one particularly lucrative deal, 14 major banks eager to put CRA protests behind them in 1993 signed an agreement to have Acorn administer a $55 million, 11-city lending program. It was precisely such agreements that helped turn Acorn from a network of small local groups into a national player. And Acorn hasn’t been alone. A U.S. senate subcommittee once estimated that CRA-related deals between banks and community groups have pumped nearly $10 billion into the nonprofit sector.

Given the economic fallout from the long efforts by advocacy groups to water down mortgage lending standards, as well as the controversy surrounding Acorn’s mortgage counseling methods, you would imagine that politicians in Washington would be eager to narrow the scope of the CRA and reduce the leverage that community groups wield under it. But to the contrary, Washington is actually looking to expand the CRA once again.

On Capitol Hill today the House Committee on Financial Services under Chairman Barney Frank is holding hearings on legislation supported by the Obama administration that would bring insurance companies and credit unions under the umbrella of CRA, placing new lending demands on these groups and opening them up to protests and pressure tactics by organizations like Acorn. As proof that Washington is a looking-glass world where basic values and logic get perverted, proponents of the new legislation claim we need more CRA to rein in the bad practices of the housing bubble, which is sort of like arguing that the cure for alcoholism is another martini. Any review of the history of the affordable mortgage movement in America demonstrates the power that CRA had in helping to shred mortgage underwriting standards throughout the industry and exposing us to the kind of market meltdown we’ve experienced.

“Emeritus Shenanigans”

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

“The nation was poorer for his presidency and is poorer still for his emeritus shenanigans.”

D’JEver Notice? XLI

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Nancy Pelosi says the anger in the air reminds her of the 1970′s.

She’s crying — literally — in order to get her way. Right after calling her perceived opponents “Nazis” and whatever else she wants to call ‘em. Holding nothing back.

You know, in the 1970′s I was on a school playground, dealing with girls who liked to start fights with the boys, no-holds-barred, and then go off screaming to the yard duty teacher the instant they encountered anything that bore a passing resemblance to return-fire. So let us say our House Speaker is not the only one being reminded of the 1970′s; I’m having strong feelings of deja vous as well.

Filthy Hippies Everywhere!

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

…in Berkeley.

This Is Good LXIII

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Hat tip to Theo Spark.

Best Sentence LXXI

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Who would have thought an atheist would ever win the seventy-first Best Sentence I’ve Heard Or Read Lately (BSIHORL) award. More surprising yet, an atheist nailing down exactly who & what we have become. Small-tee tim the godless heathen weighs in:

An overreaching, self hatred, self flogging, white guilt, we’re global citizens no better than impoverished soon to be jihadis, using all the worlds resources, war is bad, Bush lied, spread the wealth, capitalism left us behind, post racial mental breakdown coupled with an overabundance of psychoactive drugs meant to “calm” us down because we’re all “too stressed”, let’s be happy and text each other while driving what we just ate for lunch on our way home to watch the latest Youtube video of some dumbass who makes us fe[e]l smarter in comparison.

You never know when one of these godless heathens is about to say something that makes sense. Usually, I’ve noticed, it’s when small-tee is the one doing the talking. He’s giving them better representation than they deserve, or they’re giving him poorer representation than he deserves. Not sure which.

Well done, godless heathen dude. You’re right, we’re being medicated and shamed — and unshamed — into oblivion. A nation of veal calves.

Why Did Mommy and Daddy Vote for Obama?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

As long as we are on the subject of “What kind of apology could we be given, at this point, that would suffice”…

FrankJ just found out about a book. He hasn’t bought it or done anything else to catch a glimpse of what’s written on the pages beneath the covers, but that did not stop him from speculating.

WHY DID MOMMY AND DADDY VOTE FOR OBAMA?

* They are easily distracted by shiny things.

* Because they’re not “mommy and daddy”, they’re “mommy and mommy”.

* Let’s just say it’s a bad idea to use your time waiting in line at the voting booth to snort coke.

* They wanted someone who reflected their values of shallowness and not being particularly fond of America.

* He had a ‘D’ next to his name.

* Because Daddy threatened to beat mommy otherwise.

* Because they want to make sure they have a right to end any future children and not have to answer more stupid questions.

* Let’s just say that mommy and daddy’s last IQ test was inconclusive because they chewed on it.

* The only other choice was McCain.

* Because of something bad you did!

Climate War Room?

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Learning a lesson or two from the health care debacle, the “Save The Planet By Making Everyone Pay More Taxes” people are deploying a new political maneuver

The cap-and-trade movement, spooked by the pounding health care reform took over the August break, is scrambling to persuade nervous Democrats they won’t suffer politically for taking another tough vote this year.

“When you get your butt kicked, like we did [after the House energy vote], it focuses the mind,” said Steve Cochran, director of the Environmental Defense Fund’s National Climate Campaign. “We found out that this is not something to hide from but something to lean on — even in places where coal is king and Blue Dogs were perceived to be running for cover.”

Climate bill supporters say they have spent the summer building precisely the kind of grass-roots network that health care didn’t have, with grass-roots operations in more than 20 states.

A “climate war room” — funded by more than 60 labor, business, faith, agriculture and environmental groups — has been set up to coordinate ad dollars and communications.

The groups are enlisting military veterans and point to polling showing a majority of Americans support changes to U.S. energy policy being developed by Congress and the administration.

But one of their egkspurts is backpedaling on some key points…

Imagine if the Pope suddenly announced that the Catholic Church had been wrong for centuries about prohibiting priests from marrying. Would that be considered big news?

Of course.

And yet something like that has happened in the field of global warming in which a major scientist has announced that the world, in contrast to his previous belief, is actually cooling.

This was the analogy made by columnist Lorne Gunter in the Calgary Herald:

Imagine if Pope Benedict gave a speech saying the Catholic Church has had it wrong all these centuries; there is no reason priests shouldn’t marry. That might generate the odd headline, no?

…When a leading proponent for one point of view suddenly starts batting for the other side, it’s usually newsworthy.

So why was a speech last week by Prof. Mojib Latif of Germany’s Leibniz Institute not given more prominence?

Latif is one of the leading climate modellers in the world. He is the recipient of several international climate-study prizes and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has contributed significantly to the IPCC’s last two five-year reports that have stated unequivocally that man-made greenhouse emissions are causing the planet to warm dangerously.

Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN’s World Climate Conference–an annual gathering of the so-called “scientific consensus” on man-made climate change — Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.” [emphasis in original]

Not warmed for nearly a decade? Nearly a decade, in 2009?

So the Earth has not warmed at all…during all of the time George W. Bush was our President?

This is stunning, and if you need to understand how & why this is stunning, I submit all you would need to do is go back and relive your own life from January 20, 2001, in real-time. Be sure and read lots of newspapers. Don’t you remember? All the “Omigosh!” stories about dwindling polar bear populations…omigosh a big chunk of ice just broke off from the Antarctic shelf…omigosh the Arctic ocean is all liquid and this has never happened before…Greenland is green again…Aiiieeee!! End times! And a Hurricane just struck Nawleans because our Texas dimbulb didn’t sign the Kyoto treaty.

It wasn’t a once- or twice-a-year thing. It was several times a month. Some weeks saw more than one of these stories.

So it really says something that we look back on it all and find the most vital link in the chain, was never even there. Especially in light of the stigma that was placed upon “deniers,” especially in the scientific realm. Oh, if you expressed just a scintilla of doubt about what was going on, you were stupid, you were evil, and worst of all you were both-stupid-and-evil.

The Earth wasn’t even warming throughout all that time?

I don’t know what kind of apology you could give us, at this point, that would suffice. Why don’t you work on finding a way to kick your own asses, and then we’ll talk. You seem to be quite proficient in shoving your own heads up there, so I wouldn’t put it past you folks…but I’ll not be holding my breath waiting on it either.