URLs du Jour

2009-08-31

  • Real (i.e., non-blogging) Life prevented me from even trying to attend the "Town Halls" in Portsmouth and Manchester hosted by my Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter, this past Saturday. But more diligent folks were all over it:

    • Amy Kane had a photo essay from outside the Portsmouth venue and further thoughts and links.

    • The Granite Groksters also posted: Doug had a couple videos; Skip took issue with tbe Congresswoman's czar-counting; Ann Marie attended in Manchester and got to ask a question on tort reform (which, as near as she could tell, fell on deaf Congressional ears).

    • Despite efforts to pack the forums with Shea-Porter supporters, there were plenty of skeptics in attendance in addition to Ann Marie. This story (with video) from Now! Hampshire concentrates on retired NYC cop Carl Tomanelli, who had the effrontery to ask an unapproved question, and was kicked out. This got national attention: Ed Morrisey at Hot Air linked, and—whoaInstapundit linked to Ed.

    • Instapundit seems to have taken a dislike to the Congresswoman, in addition to linking the Hot Air article, he also linked to a Moe Lane post with the wonderful headline "Carol Shea-Porter (D) has the political instincts of a tasered marmoset" as well as theblogprof's article with the slightly less memorable title "Fringe Kook Rep. Carol Shea-Porter Doesn't Know How Many Czars There Are. Denies There Are 35. Actually More!"

    • Drew Cline has a very complete report from the Manchester site (the one where Tomanelli got tossed, and Ann Marie attended). He draws attention to numerous Shea-Porter flubs, misrepresentations, and inconsistencies. On the other hand, he has little patience with the hecklers, who "came with no intention of listening" and "just wanted to disrupt the meeting and attack Shea-Porter." He also provides a less sympathetic view of Tomanelli's treatment.

      Probably true, and I share Drew's preference for reasoned debate. Still, I have to admit that it's a tad gratifying to see a lefty like Carol victimized by the tactics she and her fellow lefties used against the GOP a few short years ago.

    Now Pun Salad has been on Carol Shea-Porter's case ever since we noticed her misquoting Teddy Roosevelt on her campaign website in 2006. So it's nice to have her moonbattery get wider attention. If she becomes a national laughingstock, can my fellow voters finally be shamed into voting her out? Here's hoping.

  • Beating up on the LA Times is usually Patterico's thing, and he often finds fertile ground in the writings of "business" columnist Michael Hiltzik. But today it's my turn as Htltzik writes approvingly of the lefty boycott of Whole Foods inspired by the WSJ op-ed on health care written by CEO John Mackey.

    I won't rehash points I've made before (here and here and here) about the op-ed and the boycott. But this characterization by Hiltzik is worth pointing out:

    As for Whole Foods, its founder and chief executive, John Mackey, wrote an op-ed piece for the Wall Street Journal this month largely attacking Democratic healthcare proposals.
    Now, as anyone who has taken the time to actually read Mackey's op-ed knows, this is a complete and utter lie. (There's a link in the webbed version of Hiltzik's column, but readers of the paper version don't have an easy way to check.) Mackey's column is nearly completely devoted to advocacy of his own reform proposals.

    Precisely two paragraphs of Mackey's op-ed are (arguably) indirectly "attacking Democratic healthcare proposals":

    With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable and they are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation or they will bankrupt us.

    While we clearly need health care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and moves us much closer to a complete governmental takeover of our health care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the exact opposite direction-toward less governmental control and more individual empowerment.

    That's it. The rest of the piece is only an "attack" if you think that by advocating Policy A, you are "attacking" Policy B.

    Worse, Hiltzik claims Mackey's op-ed to be "melange of misinformation and misconceptions". And (tediously) later claims it has "misrepresentations and irrelevancies". Nowhere does he bother to substantiate those claims with specific references to the op-ed; if he tried that, people might notice that he was talking through his hat.

    Hiltzik is a bad joke. The LA Times should find somebody more honest. Um, again.

  • My weekend was made more interesting (for sufficiently small values of "interesting") by my fumbling attempts to set up a Linksys WMP54GS Wireless-G PCI Card with SpeedBooster card in my home Linux desktop system. Only (as I type) $20.50 plus shipping from Electronica Direct via Amazon, a sweet deal. (It's $55.20 from Amazon direct.) But wireless is still a bleeding-edge technology for Linux, with a great deal of confusing, obsolete, and incomplete documentation out there.

    Finally, it started working. The funny part (for sufficiently small values of "funny") is: I'm not quite sure which of the many things I did made it work. Like any good techie, I'm tempted to tear everything down and see if I can get it to work again more cleanly.

    Yes: I'm thinking of doing a lot more work just so I can get back to the same point I am now.. Gee, when I say it like that, it doesn't sound like such a good idea.

  • By the way, thanks to the reader who clicked through to Amazon to buy a Babyliss Pro BABNT3072 Nano Titanium Ceramic Ionic Iron, 1". (Titanium and Ceramics and Ions and Nanotech all in the same product? Woot!) I'm not quite sure how you got there from here, because that's not a product we actually use ourselves (for a reason that should be obvious ), let alone blog-plugged. But it's much appreciated in any case.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:24 PM EDT

Gran Torino

[4.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The IMDB trivia page claims that Clint Eastwood maintains that this will be the last movie he acts in. Sob! Say it ain't so, Clint!

Clint plays Walt Kowalski, a crusty retired autoworker living in a decaying Detroit neighborhood. Things aren't going well: (1) His wife has just died; (2) And (worse) before she died, she forced the local priest to ask Walt to make confession; (3) His curmudgeonly hardass ways have estranged him from his family; (4) A Hmong family has moved in next door, and Walt sees them as "gooks", much like the ones who he fought in Korea; (5) Gangs of various ethnicities prowl the streets; (6) His health is deteriorating; (7) One of the Hmongs, the teenage boy Thao, tries to swipe Walt's prize possession, a gleaming 1972 Ford Gran Torino.

But on the other hand, his dog likes him.

Unsurprisingly, underneath the irascible bigoted exterior is a man of bravery and character. Walt develops a relationship with the Hmong family, and tries to save Thao from dead-end gang membership.

As I type, IMDB users rate Gran Torino #81 on their Top 250 movies of all time. I don't know about that, but it is pretty good. As I pointed out at the time it got pretty much snubbed by the Oscars, yet another data point in favor of the view that the Oscars are increasingly useless.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:24 PM EDT

Carol Shea-Porter: Obsessed With …

A funny little story in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, reports on the appearance of Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter in a tame venue: a "backyard picnic" sponsored by "Organizing for America, a grassroots arms of the Democratic National Committee, the SEIU, Health Care for America Now! and New Hampshire for Health Care." The NH GOP described it as "a secret party hosted by liberal special interest organizations." It's safe to say that nobody asked her any tough questions.

What stuck out for me was a certain verbal tic. See if you can spot it; I've added some emphasis to help:

  1. While mentioning her chance meeting with Kelly Ayotte, a GOP candidate for the US Senate next year:
    … Shea-Porter, a two-term Democratic representative from Rochester, said Ayotte "was speaking to the tea-baggers" …
    In fact, Ayotte was speaking to the Portsmouth Republican Committee.

  2. When talking about ObamaCare, and how to (in her words) "message" it:
    "Find those tea-baggers who don't like the idea of this and talk to them. You won't get all of them, but I think when they realize we're still going to be an employer-based insurance system in this country, and that it is a choice -- one choice among many choices -- it takes away that sense of fear, that sense that they're losing control over their lives. They're not. What's happening is we're giving some people who haven't had any choice, a choice."
    [Shades of Candidate Obama's comments about bitter, frustrated, bigoted clingers to guns and religion. Why, those poor people are just frightened! They don't know any better!]

  3. And finally, when discussing her upcoming "Town Hall" meeting in Portsmouth Saturday:
    She said the "tea-baggers" were quizzing her on the logistics, including why it's being held at a federal building where attendees will need to go through security checks.
    The Foster's reporter is more specific: "The state Republican Party has been critical of the venue choice…"

So: what's going on inside the Congresswoman's mind? Does she really think that directing a juvenile sexual slur at her opponents is likely to be seen as clever? It might be appropriate for union goons, washed-up potty-mouthed actresses or sniggering MSNBC hacks, but you'd think a Congresswoman might at least pretend to have higher standards.

[Skip at Granite Grok was much faster than I in posting on this story. In related news, Drew Cline posts e-mail sent out by the Democratic National Committee in an effort to pack the Saturday town halls in Manchester and Portsmouth with … well, with the kind of people who are on the DNC's mailing list.]

URLs du Jour

2009-08-27

  • Shawn Millerick at Now Hampshire! notes my Congresswoman, Carol Shea-Porter, discoursing on her theory of Constitutional Law.

    In what may prove to be her most controversial remarks to date, Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) on Tuesday defended Washington's efforts to reform the American health care system by telling a talk radio caller, "The Constitution did not cover everything."

    Shawn's story was also picked up by the Club For Growth and Granite Grok.

    Congresswoman Shea-Porter, like her colleagues, took an oath to "support and defend" the Constitution, to bear it "true faith and allegiance". Her attitude, however, seems to be that it's a bunch of suggestions, not actually containing anything that would stop her and like-minded legislators from doing whatever the Hell they want.

    Unfortunately, I would wager that somewhere north of 400 Congresscritters feel exactly the same way. And a similar fraction in the rest of the Federal Government.

  • For example, there's the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Mark Calabria of Cato@Liberty comments on their recent effort to bully Anheuser-Busch into ceasing sales of Bud Light in cans "decorated with the college-team colors."

    What's not responsible is the FTC wasting taxpayer resources wondering what color beer cans we are drinking out of.

    And I'd like to see where in the Constitution it says they can do that. But I'm sure, like Carol Shea-Porter, they dismiss such concerns by thinking (if not actually saying out loud): "the Constitution doesn't cover everything."

    And if the FTC must investigate Anheuser-Busch about Bud Light, they should really be asking: how can you get away with calling it "beer"?

  • Also up near the top of the "Where does it say you can do that in the Constitution?" list should be the National Endowment for the Arts. It's depressing, albeit not surprising, to learn that the Obama Administration is using it as a political tool, as reported by Patrick Courrielche at Big Hollywood:

    On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The call would include "a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!"

    When it comes to propagandizing the citizenry, President Obama promises to leave no taxpayer-funded avenue unexplored.

  • But seriously, folks: if you've got some time, you might want to read this Atlantic article from David Goldhill on health care. Goldhill is a (self-admitted) Democrat, but the article is pretty non-ideological, spurred by the death of his 83-year-old father from an infection resulting from his hospital stay. You may not agree with everything he says, but you'll probably learn something.

    But you might not want to read it if you or a loved one have a hospital stay coming up.

  • And today's winner for Best Blog Post Title goes to John Tierney:

  • Bob Dylan is releasing Christmas In the Heart, an album of Christmas songs. I like Bob Dylan, and his royalties on it are going to a charitable group, which is admirable.

    But I'm also pretty sure that this is a sign of the Apocalypse.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:24 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-26

  • There's P. J. O'Rourke content over at the Weekly Standard. P. J. is eviscerating the Washington Post writers trashing the anti-ObamaCare movement.
    Us right-wing nuts sure is scary! That's the message from the Washington Post. To put this in language a conservative would understand, the fourth estate has been alarmed once again by the Burkean proclivities of our nation's citizens. The Post is in a panic about (to use its own descriptive terms) "birthers," "anti-tax tea-partiers," and "town hall hecklers."
    The term argumentum ad verecundiam is used, which I had to look up.

  • President Obama pledged, both tirelessly and tiresomely, to favor "science" over "ideology" in formulating federal policy. That's a good point to keep in the back of your mind while reading this fascinating article by Gary Taubes on how science and public policy interact on what you might think would be a very simple issue: the health implications of salt consumption. It's not exactly an "everything you know is wrong" article, more like "the whole issue is way more complicated than you could imagine."

    Everyone knows the recommendation: "Eat less salt and you will lower your blood pressure and live a longer, healthier life." Taubes says this message has been pounded into the citizenry for decades with "the indisputable force of gospel". The only problem is:

    While the government has been denouncing salt as a health hazard for decades, no amount of scientific effort has been able to dispense with the suspicions that it is not. Indeed, the controversy over the benefits, if any, of salt reduction now constitutes one of the longest running, most vitriolic, and surreal disputes in all of medicine.
    A good thing to remember when the food nannies start hectoring you (or the legislature) with high-sodium horror stories. (Via Megan.)

  • I laughed out loud at the picture on this post at Protein Wisdom. But you may need to be A Certain Age to get it. For you youngsters, Hulu has a collection of clips demonstrating the genius of Ms. Emily Litella.


Last Modified 2009-08-31 8:56 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-25

  • I'm a sucker for legislative scorecards, and if you're a Granite Stater, you might want to check out the one from New Hampshire's Business and Industry Association for the state's Senate and House, a rough measure of how our legislators voted on bills impacting the BIA's membership. My results:

    My senator, Amanda Merrill, wangled a dismal 40%, voting "correctly" on two out of the five scored votes. Only five others scored worse.

    And things were even more pathetic on the House side: my reps (Strafford District 2) scored 0%, 0%, 0%, 38%, and 0%.

    <sarcasm>Great, New Hampshire needs to make its business climate more hostile. That will ensure continued prosperity and employment!</sarcasm> Honestly, let's see how many of these guys I can vote against in the next election.

  • At NH Watchdog, Grant Bosse tells the tale of his recent dealings with the NH Department of Motor Vehicles.

  • We previously linked to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's op-ed ("The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare") in the WSJ two weeks ago, and thought it was great. It went through some editing, though; if you'd like to read the whole original thing, Mackey has posted it on his blog.

    I guess I'm a little surprised by the vituperation that's been pointed at Mackey in the weeks since then. (And I'm not typically surprised by lefty vituperation.) Radley Balko looks at one particular reaction (calls for a Whole Foods boycott); he shares my feelings and expresses them well:

    Let me see if I have the logic correct here: Whole Foods is consistently ranked among the most employee-friendly places to work in the service industry. In fact, Whole Foods treats employees a hell of a lot better than most liberal activist groups do. The company has strict environmental and humane animal treatment standards about how its food is grown and raised. The company buys local. The store near me is hosting a local tasting event for its regional vendors. Last I saw, the company's lowest wage earners make $13.15 per hour. They also get to vote on what type of health insurance they want. And they all get health insurance. The company is also constantly raising money for various philanthropic causes. When I was there today, they were taking donations for a school lunch program. In short, Whole Foods is everything leftists talk about when they talk about "corporate responsibility."

    And his conclusion is one with which it's hard to disagree:

    These people don't want a dicussion [sic]. They don't want to hear ideas. They want you to shut up and do what they say, or they're going to punish you.

    And there's plenty of confirming evidence for that via Drudge: (a) a United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) press release announcing they'll be "disseminating educational information to Whole Foods shoppers" in Cincinnati; (b) a release from the "CtW Investment Group" demanding that Mackey be removed from his CEO position. (CtW is "Change to Win", a group run by a whole bunch of unions: UFCW, SEIU, Teamsters, etc.)

    Meanwhile, (as I type) Whole Foods' stock is up a healthy 5.18% in the past couple weeks. (Investor's Business Daily has more on that score.)

    It should be an obvious point, but I'll make it anyway: guys like Mackey scare the crap out of "progressives". The only response they have is a knee-jerk "shut up". And their desperate hope is their overreaction will chill out any others in similar positions from speaking up.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:23 PM EDT

ObamaCare: It's Yahweh Or the Highway

It appears the President has given up on the technocratic arguments for ObamaCare, which (if I may paraphrase) went roughly like this:

Decades of heavy government interference in the health care sector have brought us fiscally unsustainable government programs and increasingly expensive, insecure, and unportable private-sector insurance, with only marginal improvements in health outcomes.

So we'd like to interfere even more, remaking the whole enchilada from top to bottom, putting huge new restrictions on insurance companies. But don't worry, everything you like will stay exactly the same. And it won't cost you anything, unless you're rich. Hey, you'll probably save money!

No government bureaucrat will deny you care you need! But we'll have this expert government panel to make sure everything's "cost effective", even though we've never actually made anything like that work at any point in the past.

And there will be a public option! That's a must! Or maybe not.

Oh, and we won't kill Grandma. Trust us.

Amazingly, people were skeptical. And, for their skepticism, they were branded racists, traitors, immoral villains, and (of course) un-American. And, most unkindly of all, "well-dressed." (Take that back, you vicious …)

So a new and even more offensive marketing gimmick is being rolled out, roughly: God says we have to do this. And if you disagree, you're a sinner.

In a conference call with liberal and progressive religious leaders Wednesday afternoon, President Obama railed against those who were "bearing false witness" in the debate over health care reform.
And, yes, using that kind of language to that kind of audience is no accident, and they're only too willing to respond, demanding that we start rendering unto Caesar even more of the things that are Caesar's, and rendering up some of our own stuff too:
A group of religious leaders launches a health care blitz Wednesday that will be highlighted by television ads, sermons and a nationwide "call-in" to the White House that will stress the "moral imperative" to extend affordable coverage to the nation's uninsured.

The "40 Days for Health Reform" initiative by the interfaith groups will include prayer services in congressional districts, meetings of religious leaders with members of Congress and a "Nationwide Health Care Sermon Weekend" with preaching from the pulpit on the need for a health care overhaul. The leaders say they're the ones who see up close the problems with the insurance system and the need for change.

I eagerly await the howls of the folks that bewailed imminent theocracy and pulpit-politicizing under Reagan/Bush/Bush. But I expect to hear crickets instead.

There are a number of good comments elsewhere:

  • I like David Harsanyi's take:
    On Team Righteous, we have those who meet their moral obligations; on the other squad, we must have the minions of Beelzebub--by which, of course, we mean profit-driven, child-killing, mob-inciting insurance companies.
    So true. The previous vituperation directed at ObamaCare opponents will pale in comparison once their true eeeevil nature is revealed.

    (I also stole the headline for this post from Harsanyi's column. Pun… can't resist! But it's not as if others haven't used it before.)

  • Ann Althouse is also unimpressed with the new tactic.
    Government as religion -- it's a poisonous notion! But drink it, drink it. Believe! It will not hurt you at all!

  • And if Taranto isn't an every-weekday stop for you, this is a pretty good day to check him out.

  • And Andrew Klavan makes a subtle theological point.

Of course, you don't have to be religious to engage in this sort of moralizing. A good example is Ms. Susan Jacoby, a self-proclaimed atheist who writes at the (I am not making this up) "On Faith" section of the Washington Post website:
Opponents of universal health care are not only morally wrong but antirational.
If that's not enough, she also plays the racism card:
Finally, we […] should stop pretending that opposition to health care reform is all about health care. It isn't. It is about an unreconciled minority that does not accept the legitimacy of an African-American president […]
And demonstrates how her atheism informs her compassion and tolerance:
One reason I don't believe in God is that if he existed, I just feel certain that he would inflict some really, really uncomfortable (not fatal--I've never liked the Passover tale of the plagues or the slaying of the Egyptian first-born) ailment on the screamers at town hall meetings.
Ms. Jacoby demonstrates just how unattractive preening moral superiority can be just as unattractive in the unreligious as the religious. And (truth be told) probably more so; at least some religious folks are humbly uncertain that they can know the mind and will of God and are informed by the Gospel's message of love; unbelievers lack that particular brake on their arrogance, whims, petty hatreds, and resentments.

Side Street

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The second half of our Farley Granger/Cathy O'Donnell double feature, this one directed by Anthony Mann. It's not thought to be one of his classics, but it moves along OK.

Farley and Cathy play young married couple Joe and Ellen, living in black-and-white postwar NYC. They're desperately poor, she's pregnant, and he's eking out a living as a part time mail carrier. While delivering to a lawyer's office, Joe espies a cool $300 lying around. On his next delivery, there's nobody around, and Joe impulsively decides to smash-n-grab.

Unfortunately, he winds up unwittingly stealing a cool $30,000, a blackmail payment masterminded by the lawyer and his lady-killing partner. And when I say lady-killing, I mean that literally: he's already done away with a blonde floozy (ironically named "Lucky"), simply because she was a loose end, the only person the blackmail victim had contact with.

So Joe is targeted by the bad guys, and (of course) also needs to stay away from the cops. And did I mention that the Mrs. is about 8.97 months pregnant?

Again, you're supposed to sympathize with Joe, but he's whiny, stupid, and easily self-tempted into petty crime. Sorry, Joe. My advice is to find a job and keep your nose clean.

Jean Hagen, the great Lina Lamont herself ("a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament"), has a small role as another floozy, a part-time bar singer and full-time drunkard. I kept waiting for her to say Ehnd I cayyyn't stehnd im! But no such luck, and her destiny here is even grimmer.

Also, Whit Bissell as a bank teller. He was in a lot of stuff. And were I James Lileks, I'd point out the Star Trek connection.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:23 PM EDT

Where I've Been, Not That You Should Care

Well, I guess I took an unexpected blogging hiatus there. Hope I wasn't missed! I have a number of excuses:

First, we've been doing a major rearranging project at Pun Salad Manor, switching around the functionality of a couple rooms. This involves a lot of lifting and carrying, coupled with animated family discussions. ("It's yours, you figure out what to do with it.")

That, coupled, with the heat, took a lot of wind out of my sails.

In addition, we spent a couple days dogsitting. Our clients were kind of high-maintenance. Specifically, they didn't get along well with our cats. And they didn't sleep well at night. So neither did we.

Finally: on Saturday, one of the dogs cornered one of the cats in the basement. And this is where I did something stupid, even for me: instead of taking the dog away from the cat, I tried taking the cat away from the dog.

And—as it turns out—cats aren't really that great at figuring out your good intentions; I think she thought I was going to feed her to the dog. She sank her fangs into my right hand, the fleshy part between thumb and forefinger.

Things were a little crazy at that point. I think I may have actually dropped her on the dog. Anyway, I was leaking from multiple puncture wounds and scratches. I cleaned myself up as best as I could, and resolved to never try to rescue a cat again unless I was wearing thick protective padding from head to foot.

But my self-inflicted first-aid wasn't good enough. The next day, things got achy and swollen and red. And Mrs. Salad, coming home that night, told me to get the Hell to the Emergency Room.

I thought maybe I could get away with a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics. No such luck. In short order I found myself admitted to Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, my first hospital stay since I got a tonsillectomy over 50 years ago. In addition to the tetanus shot, I got an IV drip, got poked for numerous samples of blood and wound snot, temperature and pressures taken, the works.

For all my recent postings on Obamacare, you'd think I would have some pithy insights from my up close and personal observation of the American Health Care System. Not really, except (a) show a valid insurance card, and you are treated pretty much like royalty. Albeit sick royalty. Everyone was nice, helpful, sympathetic, professional. And, best of all, everyone pretended to be amused with my clever repartee.

But (b), despite President Obama's predictions otherwise, nobody suggested chopping off my hand just so they could make an extra $50K or so off Harvard Pilgrim.

So, no big deal, I'm out, and on a few more days of horse-pill antibiotics. But I found it difficult to get back in the blogging groove for a couple more days.

Back now, I think. Thanks for your patience, and thanks for reading.

They Live By Night

[3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

The DVD from Netflix is actually a double feature, both movies starring Farley Granger and Cathy O'Donnell. This one is a classic directed by noirmaster Nicholas Ray.

Farley plays "Bowie", who, as the movie opens, has just broken out of prison with two grizzled cons, Chicamaw 'One-Eye' Mobley and Henry 'T-Dub' Mansfield. They hide out at One-Eye's brother's gas station. There, Bowie meets "Keetchie" (the previously mentioned Cathy O'Donnell), the brother's sheltered daughter. Love blooms! But is it doomed? Because Bowie's companions keep wanting him to go out on stickups. That never works out well.

This is one of those movies where you're supposed to feel sorry for the protagonist, who came from a deprived background, wasn't treated fairly, root causes of crime, etc., etc., etc. You almost expect him to start singing "Gee, Officer Krupke". To its credit, the movie does a pretty good job of that, mainly by concentrating on the romance between Bowie and Keetchie. The movie spends much more time on the love story than on the violence, crime, and betrayal.

A big plus for me was a small role for Ian Wolfe as the sleazy proprietor of a 10-minute marriage chapel business. Mr. Wolfe is known to all fans of WKRP in Cincinnati as Hirsch, Mama Carlson's insubordinate butler, one of the funniest bit parts in sitcom history. (And, were I James Lileks, I'd also mention Mr. Wolfe's double-whammy Star Trek connection.)


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:22 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-14

  • Captain Ed notes a couple stories from Now Hampshire that detail the unwillingness of NH Congresspeople to meet with their constituents during their August "recess". Congressman Paul Hodes and my own Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter will (however) appear at the "Blue Hampshire Bash" in Concord on August 24. Congresswoman Shea-Porter also was scheduled to speak today at "Netroots Nation" in Pittsburgh, PA, sponsored by a host of unions, MoveOn.org, and other usual suspects.

    It's likely that neither Carol nor Paul will face any tough questioning from the right at either venue. Captain Ed makes a trenchant observation, which I will steal quote:

    Maybe this makes more sense for both. After all, they clearly don't believe they answer to voters in their districts. They answer more to the unions and hard-Left activists at these functions. New Hampshire voters have a chance to realize that, perhaps for the first time, as Hodes and Shea-Porter run away from them.

    Lord knows that it would be nice if a lot more voters finally figured that out.

  • Pun Salad, and many others, liked Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's WSJ op-ed on health care policies that would favor personal responsibility and free markets over government dependence. (If you haven't read it, it's still recommended and it's here.)

    Probably unsurprisingly, some Whole Foods customers are upset, according to this ABCNews story.

    Joshua has been taking the bus to his local Whole Foods in New York City every five days for the past two years. This week, he said he'll go elsewhere to fulfill his fresh vegetable and organic produce needs.

    "I will never shop there again," vowed Joshua, a 45-year-old blogger, who asked that his last name not be published.

    I'm not an organic sort, but this makes me wish the nearest Whole Foods wasn't 40 miles away. If you've got one nearer, and you're more tolerant of what Mackey said, you might want to go in and pick up some PranaBar Shakti Blueberry Chia nutrition bars or something.

  • Betsy Newmark reminds us that Hillary Clinton is always ready to act like a partisan hack even while abroad.

  • And last, but not least:

    I'm a little too lazy to flag myself, but you have my permission to do it for me.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:27 PM EDT

Rio Bravo

[4.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

It's the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Rio Bravo. The movie was made as an angry response to High Noon; Howard Hawks and John Wayne felt that Gary Cooper should not have gone around begging the townspeople to help him, and they were disgusted by the final scene where Coop threw his badge on the ground. So they decided to "do it right".

John Wayne plays Sheriff John T. Chance, who's jailed sadistic murderer Joe Burdette. But unfortunately, Joe has rich brother Nathan on the outside. Nathan's unscrupulous and rich, vows to break Joe out of prison, and mobilizes a gang of professional killers to make that happen.

Chance only has two guys on his side: there's "Dude" (played by Dean Martin), an alcoholic teetering on the edge of self-destruction. And there's "Stumpy" (Walter Brennan), an old crippled man who's physically and chronologically challenged. So things are looking grim. Enter two unlikely allies: "Colorado" (Ricky Nelson), a gunslinger, and "Feathers" (Angie Dickinson), a beautiful card player.

There's a lot of sheer super-manliness here from John Wayne. But there's a considerable amount of humor too.

The only sour note—sorry, Duke—was Ricky Nelson, who had no discernable acting talent. (I remember Ricky from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; even by my low standards when I was nine years old, I thought he was a lousy actor back then.) To make up for it though, Dean Martin has one of his best performances ever.

In addition to the normal links above, interested fans will want to check out Leo Grin's adulatory essay at Big Hollywood, interesting in its own right, and a rich source of links to further reading.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:26 PM EDT

The Sign of Four

[Amazon Link]

Back to Victorian London we go for the second Sherlock Holmes mystery. As it opens, we have the classic scene of Holmes injecting a seven percent solution of cocaine into his arm, to Dr. Watson's continued disgust. But, Holmes explains, it's his only solace when his mental faculties are not employed in the art of deductive crime-solving. This may be a reason why The Sign of Four isn't assigned reading in a lot of schools.

Fortunately for them both, the lovely Mary Morstan arrives at 221B Baker Street. Watson is immediately smitten <spoiler>by his future wife</spoiler>; Holmes is immediately intrigued by her tale of her missing father, and the mysterious yearly gifts she's been receiving: lustrous and valuable pearls. Now she's been called to a meeting with the shady gift-giver—will Holmes and Watson accompany her?

Well, sure they will. Before it's over, we have a locked room mystery, plenty of colorful characters, an exciting chase on the Thames, a lurid tale of betrayal and murder in India, and much more. Lots of fun.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:26 PM EDT

Greatest Foster's Headline Ever

On page A3 of today's dead-trees Foster's Daily Democrat:

Man accused of not selling marijuana
You can't win, man.

If you're not a Foster's subscriber, you'll have to take my word for it. The online version, regrettably, rewrote the headline:

Portsmouth police say man kept money meant for drug buy, violating parole in process
Although it's still a little odd: if he hadn't kept the money, he would have skated?

URLs du Jour

2009-08-13

  • One last URL relevant to President Obama's visit to Portsmouth on Tuesday: a long post from Amy Kane, full of links and thoughtfulness.

  • It's (very) easy and (sort of) fun to ridicule and insult Obamacare, but the natural rejoinder is: what would you do instead?

    Doing nothing is always an option. Despite scare tactics, we can muddle though without a massive increase in taxes, regulations, and subsidies. "Nothing" really is better than that.

    But we can do better: John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, had an excellent op-ed in the WSJ yesterday that outlines seven major steps that would help a lot toward getting overall health care costs down, help uninsured people get the care they need, and most importantly, make personal responsibility an underlying goal:

    Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.
    I like that.

  • The Club For Growth has issued the 2009 version of its "House RePORK Card", ranking Congresscritters on the percentage of anti-Pork votes. Mine, Carol Shea-Porter, got an outstanding 0%; out of 68 amendments she could have voted for, she chose to vote for … none of them.

    In her defense, she was in a 211-way tie for last place, with 201 of her fellow Democrats and 9 Republicans. So (unfortunately) she's not atypical.

City of Bones

[Amazon Link]

The Perl script that semi-randomly picks the next book from my to-be-read database seems to be alternating between Sherlock Holmes's Victorian London and Harry Bosch's modern LA. Whatever. They're both nasty places in which only a gifted detective can bring a determined evildoer to justice.

This is the eighth book in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series. And as usual, Harry's in for quite a bit of psychic punishment. A dog rambling in the Hollywood hills has returned to his master with a bone clutched in its mouth. And worse, it's human. Harry eventually discovers the rest of the remains, and indications are that the body is that of a young boy, it's been there for decades, and it shows signs of long-running abuse.

Hopeless, right? Not for Harry. Things are complicated by LAPD politics, as they're way too eager to pin the crime on a local one-time pedophile. Also, Harry gets a girl: a rookie cop who's interesting and lively. But it turns out badly.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:21 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-12

Some followup to yesterday's Presidential visit to Portsmouth NH:

  • Amy Kane has a pictorial essay, with optional music.

  • Skip at Granite Grok has some video here and here; he describes his Port City experiences here (with also some spot-on comments about the differences between Us and Them). Co-Grokster Doug has a video essaying the astroturfing "paid hacks & union thugs" in attendance.

  • The Union Leader's Drew Cline was absolutely on fire yesterday with one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and (whoa nellie) eleven posts. But who's counting?

  • Michelle Malkin notes that our courageous President was not afraid to take a hardball question from the 11-year-old daughter of a longtime Obama supporter from Massachusetts.

  • Charlie Arlinghaus suggests a couple reasons why President Obama chose to come to New Hampshire, rather than Maine or Massachusetts. And those reasons are: (1) "Dirigo Choice" in Maine, and "Commonwealth Care" in Massachusetts, both schemes to deliver "coverage" to the uncovered.
    Dirigo Choice and Commonwealth Care were both noble experiments that adopted one approach to try and expand care and control costs. However, they failed. If states really are laboratories of democracy, as we often say, we should look carefully at the results of these experiments. They failed. It would be a shame to recreate them on a national scale.

  • And, oh yeah: Obama lied, and lied, and lied, and lied, and lied, and lied.

  • I'm sure he's being straight with us about the whole "death panel" thing, though.

URLs du Jour

2009-08-11

  • President Obama's just down the road in Portsmouth, and your intrepid blogger is … not there. Sorry. Links to more diligent folks:

    • Granite Grok is (unsurprisingly) all over the event, with one, two, three posts. And maybe more by the time you read this.

    • Ditto for Amy Kane: one (a preview with lots of great links), two (excerpting Seacoast Online).

    • And the WSJ got into the whole live-blogging thing here. Of particular note:
      1:14 p.m.: "Let me set the record straight" on rumors: If you like you're [sic] health care, you can keep it. If you like your doctor, you can keep seeing them. You won't have to "wait in any lines." Government bureaucrats shouldn't be meddling-but neither should insurance company bureaucrats.
      This remains a lie.

  • In the Great Minds Think Alike Department: like Pun Salad, Jim Geraghty and James Taranto also proposed that Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer revive the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

  • At the American Spectator, Jeffery Lord examines the history of presidential lying, and proposes that Linda Douglass, a former ABC News correspondent now working for the White House, resign.

  • Professor Sowell has random thoughts.
    Different people have very different reactions to Pres. Barack Obama. Those who listen to his rhetoric are often inspired, while those who follow what he actually does are often appalled.
    You know where I am.

Steny and Nancy: Irate and Lying

In USA Today today, Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are irate at overly feisty demonstrators confronting members of Congress:

These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views -- but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American.
Emphasis added. That's an interesting choice of words. Karl at Patterico's Pontifications notes the major problem with the Pelosi/Hoyer assertion:
"Un-American" is an epithet Pelosi and other top Democrats save for the Right.
Exactly. Someone should ask them why they do that. "Have you ever called a leftist un-American, Nancy? How about you, Steny?" Watch them sputter.

Steny and Nancy, being in charge of the House of Representatives, have a perfect remedy available to them: bring back the House Un-American Activities Committee. It had its day, from 1938 until 1975, when it was famous for rooting out Commies. Of course, some liberals got their knickers in a twist over it, but a current version controlled by the right (by which I mean: the Left) people probably wouldn't bother them.

Stunning bald-faced hypocrisy isn't the only thing wrong with the Pelosi/Hoyer op-ed. They say:

Health care is complex. It touches every American life. It drives our economy. People must be allowed to learn the facts.
OK, fine. But this is immediately followed by:
The first fact is that health insurance reform will mean more patient choice. It will allow every American who likes his or her current plan to keep it. And it will free doctors and patients to make the health decisions that make the most sense, not the most profits for insurance companies.
Now, this "first fact" is a total lie. It's a coldly cynical talking-point falsehood that (for example) the official White House website, my own CongressCritter's website, the AARP, and Consumer Reports echo as well.

If you get away from the blithe assurances of Democrats and their sock puppets, meant to calm the rubes, even supporters will back off on promises they can't deliver:

Q: I'm sorry, but what about keeping your promise to the American people that they won't have to change plans even if employers --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, no, I mean -- when I say if you have your plan and you like it and your doctor has a plan, or you have a doctor and you like your doctor that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform.

Emphasis added. And note: that was Barack Obama on June 23.

It should be obvious that even if "the government" is not going to make you change plans, someone else could, and likely will. That's not an admission Democrats will make willingly, but it's the plain and simple truth.

Here's a recent (PDF) study by Peter Ferrara of the Heartland Institute, which (among many other things, check it out) easily destroys the "you can keep it" lie:

But in fact, if you currently have employer-provided health insurance, whether or not you get to keep it wouldn't be up to you. Your employer would decide.

President Obama and the Democratic leaders in Congress want to create a new "public option" health insurance program that the federal government would run in competition with private insurance. Your employer would have several incentives to stop paying for your private health insurance and instead enroll you in the public plan and pay an 8 percent payroll tax. If your employer's work force averages $50,000 a year in wages, the employer would face a payroll tax of only $4,000 per year per worker, which may be considerably less than what he is currently paying for your health insurance.

Even if your employer wants to preserve your current private insurance, the federal government's new Health Choices Commissioner may decide your employer's plan is not "qualified" because it doesn't cover all mandated treatments and procedures or requires too much cost-sharing by the employee. Your employer could be fined for every day the "violation" continues and even prohibited from enrolling new employees. This would further encourage your employer to drop your current health plan and "dump" you into the public option.

Finally, even if you currently purchase health insurance directly on your own, you won't necessarily be able to keep that insurance under the Obama plan. There would be a good chance your insurer would be driven out of business by unfair competition from a government- subsidized program that operates under rules different from those enforced on private insurance companies. The government-run plan could be the only "choice" you have left.

And it's not as if it wasn't widely acknowledged by its more honest supporters that Obamacare really is a scheme to get us to government-monopolized health insurance.

I don't advocate bad manners in public places, but if I heard a pol try to pull that "if you like your plan you can keep it" line, I would be sorely tempted to stand up red-faced and call him or her a liar. And I wouldn't feel un-American in the slightest in doing so.

A Study in Scarlet

[Amazon Link]

While rooting around the Barnes and Noble bookstore at a University Near Here, I came across an incredibly cheap deal on a two-volume paperback collection of Doyle's complete Sherlock Holmes stories. Irresistible! I hadn't read any since I was a kiddo, long ago; arguably, it's what hooked me on my mystery habit. Might be fun to read again. So…

This one recounts the initial meeting between Holmes and his faithful companion and biographer, Dr. Watson. Soon they're off on their first case together, as a corpse has been found in a crumbling house in a seedy London neighborhood. Holmes is called in by Scotland Yard bumblers Lestrade and Gregson to do his thing; his advice, however, is subsequently ignored, and soon another body turns up…

The (I think) unusual thing about the yarn is that Holmes solves the case about halfway through; the remainder of the story is written to set up the back story for the victims and their murderer. This latter part is mostly set in Utah, Holmes and Watson are absent, and it's kind of rough on the Mormons. Oh well.

So: do the stories hold up? Sure! Arguably, even better now than when I was a kid, since I'm a little more aware of funny British language, history, and culture. (And, since I'm a fan of House, it's interesting to see the parallels between Sherlock and Greg: both prickly, drug-addicted geniuses, skilled at deducing the truth via meticulous observation, vast knowledge, immense egos, and awestruck co-workers.)

Consumer note: The version I'm reading is available from B&N here and here. The type is small, but legible to even my aging eyes. Noted Holmes scholar Kyle Freedman does introductions and notes to the text. You can spend more, or less; free versions are easily found online.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:20 PM EDT

Race to Witch Mountain

[2.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Sometimes movies aimed at kids work OK for me, but this is one of those that work less well.

Dwayne "Don't Call Me The Rock" Johnson plays Jack Bruno, an small-time hood trying to go straight as a cab driver in Las Vegas. Two kids sneak into his cab, and demand to be taken to a mysterious location. They turn out to be alien kids in human disguise with mysterious powers. They are relentlessly pursued by a semi-military human, and also a murderous military alien. (There's no love for the military in this Disney flick.) Carla Gugino shows up to help out, and there's a very amusing bit with Garry Marshall as a super-paranoid UFOlogist.

And there's a lot of shouted action movie dialog: "Get back!" "Get down!" "Go, go, go!" "Watch out!"

It's funny in spots, because alien kids in human disguise always act a little off. And Dwayne Johnson does OK.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:20 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-06

  • Mary Katherine Ham has a must-read post at the Weekly Standard describing how lefties have "discovered" Bob McGuffie and his tiny "Right Principles" PAC as (somehow) being behind all the unpleasantness Congresscritters are experiencing from their constituents. That whole First Amendment thing—

  • According to my state Democratic Party Chair, people expressing discontent at congressional town meetings are thugs. Good to know.

  • D'ya think all this whiny overreaction to criticism means ObamaCare's in trouble? See Taranto for more examples and analysis. Sample:
    President Obama tried to convince lawmakers in his own party that America’s “crisis” in health-care financing would turn to catastrophe if Congress did not radically expand government power over health care by this month. He failed. Despite huge Democratic majorities, neither house of Congress passed any such legislation by the Obama deadline.

    The president’s insistence on action without deliberation heightened the sense that ObamaCare was dangerous. He, and friendly media outlets, asked voters to trust his assurances that his plan would not adversely affect their medical coverage. But if that was true, why the haste? If ObamaCare is as good as Obama says it is, why is he acting as if it cannot withstand scrutiny?

    Those are what we in the pundit trade call rhetorical questions. Still…

  • John Stossel has a gift of expressing simple truths in a few obvious words:
    I keep reading about health-care "reform," but I have yet to see anyone explain how the government can make it easier for more people to obtain medical services, control the already exploding cost of those services, and not interfere with people's most intimate decisions.

    You don't need to be a Ph.D. in economics to understand that government cannot do all three things.

    Right. Actually, I'd bet that they can't even manage two out of three.

My Best Friend's Girl

[3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Yes, they do play the Cars song.

The comedian Dane Cook plays Tank, who moonlights by performing an unusual service for jilted ex-boyfriends: he wangles dates with the girls, then, via various terroristic tactics, makes sure they have a horrible time. The chastened ladies then realize how good the jiltees were in comparison, they get back together, and Tank gets a wad of cash.

OK, so that's a pretty far-fetched premise, but Dane Cook plays the Horrible Jerk role so well, he makes it seem plausible.

Oh, by the way: although Tank comes off as a super-cynical misogynist, we see him shedding a tear while watching Ghost, so we're aware he's really a closet romantic. Also, later on in the movie, someone says "Tank, you're a closet romantic."

Complications: Tank's best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs) wants him to work his magic on Alexis (Kate Hudson). Finally, for the first time in his life, Tank … ah, you probably guessed what happens already, so never mind.

I think one's reaction to this movie will depend on how you feel about Dane Cook's schtick. (Judging by that Tomatometer score, a lot of critics hate it.) It's accompanied by (as the MPAA says) "strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialogue and some nudity." (The DVD was unrated, so they ramped that up a bit.) But I'm fine with Dane, and laughed throughout.

Some random notes:

  • It was filmed in Boston, and the city never looked better; the filmmakers obviously love Beantown.

  • A straightforwardly Christian character is first presented as straitlaced, and an easy cheap-shot target for Tank's methods; but—surprise!—things quickly turn around, and she winds up being treated with more respect than anyone else in the movie.

  • Alec Baldwin has a small role as Tank's dad, and he's pretty good.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:20 PM EDT

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

One of our mottos here at Pun Salad is based on an old Elvis Costello lyric: "I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused."

But recent denunciations of anti-Obamacare activism threaten to drag me back to "disgusted."

Here's Nancy Pelosi:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office sent out a fact sheet to reporters Tuesday afternoon, calling recent demonstrations at congressional town hall events "Astroturf," the Washington euphemism for a corporate public relations campaign disguised to look like a grass roots citizen movement.
Unsurprisingly, this appears to be a coordinated talking-point effort by Democrats:
The Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out missives today arguing that groups such as Conservatives for Patients' Rights and FreedomWorks and are creating fake grassroots enthusiasm -- "astroturf" in political circles -- by stacking meetings with outside activists.
OK, fine. Here's an exercise:
  1. Look at this story from my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, from last month ("Dover rally supports health care reform") describing a "band of locals" who demonstrated outside Senator Jeanne Shaheen's office in Dover NH. Here's a picture of attendee Ronald Schutz of Exeter:

    [Mr. Schutz]

    I like Mr. Schutz's t-shirt, which you can buy here. But note his signs.

  2. Here's a story from last month describing a Portland Oregon rally outside the office of Senator "Ron" Wyden. And the picture:

    [Wyden
Rally]

    You can click for a big version. Again, check the non-homemade signs. Same font, same color scheme as Mr. Schutz's! And one (partially obscured) sign in back has the same "PUBLIC OPTION SAVES $$$" wording.

  3. And then there's this story from Hartford, Connecticut covering the rally in front of Senator Christopher "Friend of Angelo" Dodd's office. Picture:

    [Charles]

    The caption identifies this fine fellow as "Charles Walker Prewitt, Sr.", 90 years young. Anything look familiar, sign-wise?

  4. And then there's this story from St. George, Utah outside the office of Sen. Robert Bennett. Picture:

    [St. George]

It doesn't take sophisticated detective work to determine the source of those professional-looking signs mysteriously appearing thousands of miles apart. A little reading between the lines will do the trick: the demonstrations have been organized, populated, and decorated by MoveOn.org. (Sometimes this gets mentioned in the news stories, sometimes not.)

That's just one particular mover/shaker in this effort. It wouldn't have been hard to play the same game with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a pretty safe bet whenever you see purple.

Michelle will be happy to fill you in on just how grassroots these groups are. Unsurprisingly, George Soros makes an early appearance.

Democrat efforts to paint opposition to Obamacare as a nefarious plot funded by shadowy behind-the-scenes figures is very, very phony and hypocritical. For one thing, we'd almost certainly have nicer signs to wave. And—hey!—wouldn't you think that one of those nefarious villains might actually pay me for my anti-socialist screeds? I wish.


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:19 PM EDT

URLs du Jour

2009-08-05

  • Jonah Goldberg notes a growing appreciation for the 161-year-old insights of Frédéric Bastiat in relation to the Clunker-Cash program.

    David Harsanyi doesn't credit Bastiat explicitly, but he's certainly in the same groove:

    Here's an idea: Let's give $50,000 to anyone looking to upgrade to a brand-spanking-new, environmentally friendly home. All we ask in return is that you burn your previous residence into a heap of smoldering cinder.
    I'm sure that would be wildly popular, and any number of idiots would declare it a major success.

  • At Cato@Liberty, Michael F. Cannon neatly demonstrates why I long ago stopped subscribing to the Boston Globe. Read the story of how they badly misrepresented a report from the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation and see if you can come up with a different conclusion:
    I submitted [a refuting] oped to The Boston Globe. They sat on it for a week, then rejected it. Which is fine. (FYI, the oped has been accepted at The Providence Journal.)

    But it also means that they were aware that what they were printing was disinformation before they printed it. I have a very high threshold of evidence before I'll accuse someone of lying. But this seems to fit the definition.

  • Neat Chicago Tribune article describing life at their local Netflix facility. Secrecy and calisthenics involved.

    After switching from Blockbuster to Netflix a few months back, I'm mostly satisfied except that I've had Gran Torino at the top of my queue since the DVD was released in early June. It's been marked "Very Long Wait" all that time. Guys, here's some advice: buy some more copies of Gran Torino, and maybe fewer of Paul Blart, Mall Cop.

    Not that you care. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Dear Senators:

I'd like to encourage you to vote against any further money for the "Cash for Clunkers" program. The Wall Street Journal today has a direct and telling criticism, calling it (correctly) "crackpot economics":

The subsidy won't add to net national wealth, since it merely transfers money to one taxpayer's pocket from someone else's, and merely pays that taxpayer to destroy a perfectly serviceable asset in return for something he might have bought anyway. By this logic, everyone should burn the sofa and dining room set and refurnish the homestead every couple of years.
It was a bad idea, please don't compound the mistake. Thanks for your consideration.

Amazon Scares Me

While "researching" the previous item, I was looking at Amazon's Horror page. And saw:

[The Horror]

Wha… is this some kind of ghoulish joke? … Oh, right: "Thriller". But still…


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:19 PM EDT

The Bovine Menace

Shocking news from TierneyLab:

The image of cows as placid, gentle creatures is a city slicker's fantasy, judging from an article published on Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reports that about 20 people a year are killed by cows in the United States.
Pick your movie title:

  • Barnyard Epitaph

  • Cuds!

  • Revenge of the Tipped

  • Udder Disaster

  • Cloverfield — oops, sorry, taken.

Happy Birthday, LFOD

Your humble blogging idjit forgot to blog the 200th anniversary of General Stark's toast:

Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.
… the first four words of which were adopted as New Hampshire's state motto in 1945, and has appeared on our license plates since 1971.

A number of people pointed with dismay (as did I) to the recent report of the "Governor's Task Force on Young Worker Retention", which uttered the modern rejoinder to General Stark's toast:
The Task Force received several comments regarding the issue of branding the state that would help attract and retrain young workers. Through input and discussions, there is strong sentiment that the "live free or die" slogan does not connect with this demographic and that something else is needed.
The general, having been born in 1728, was woefully unaware of the need to connect with the young-worker demographic. A couple years back, I suggested a replacement that fit in better with the times:
I'm a Loser, Baby, So Why Don't You Kill Me?
Beck's "down" with the youngsters, right? I bet he would let us have the rights to that, cheap.

The Union Leader would prefer not going that way:

The commission members might like to know that "Live free or die" is not a brand. It is not a marketing slogan to be modified for maximum appeal to the ever-changing 18- to 34-year-old demographic. It is a motto, which curmudgeonly old Webster's defines as "a sentence, phrase, or word inscribed on something as appropriate to or indicative of its character or use."

Nothing is more indicative of the character of New Hampshire than our great motto. It is not to be changed to please the ears of lost youth fickle enough to pick a home state because it has a catchy slogan.

Indeed. For other blogger comment, see Skip at Granite Grok, Chris Cameron at Clearly Political, and (I am not making this up) Mr. Pink Eyes at America's Watchtower.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop

[3.0
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Not as bad as the IMDB/Tomatometer ratings would imply. Anyway, it mostly worked for me.

Kevin James is Paul Blart, Mall Cop. He has ambitions of being a real New Jersey State Trooper, but his hypoglycemia prevents him from completing the required obstacle course. So he's pretty much resigned to being all he can be at the local shopping center. Of course, he has eyes for the beautiful Amy, proprietress of a hair-extension kiosk.

Reality intrudes in the form of a Black Friday takeover by a cadre of thugs. Do they take Amy hostage? Yes. Is Blart the only person who can thwart the heist? Yes. Does he prevail and get the girl in the end?

Well, how many of these movies have you seen?

We won't pretend that this movie is sophisticated or subtle, but I laughed throughout, even though I knew pretty much exactly what was going to happen, all the way through. Kevin James is an appealing comic actor, great with physical comedy, and he plays, pretty much, his Doug Heffernan character from "The King of Queens" here. Nothing wrong with that!


Last Modified 2012-10-05 4:19 PM EDT