URLs du Jour

2011-12-30

  • Your YouTube du Jour is from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education relating their defense of a Wisconsin professor who posted an Unacceptable Poster near his office door.

    That's author Neil Gaiman in the freeze-frame; his opening statement is drily funny, and I won't spoil it.

  • Thomas Sowell presents his reasons for supporting Newt Gingrich. I wasn't convinced, but you might be.

    I enjoyed his New Year's Random Thoughts much better. Sample:

    When an organization has more of its decisions made by committees, that gives more influence to those who have more time available to attend committee meetings and to drag out each meeting longer. In other words, it reduces the influence of those who have work to do, and are doing it, while making those who are less productive more influential.
    … a cheery thought for those of us returning to the job in the new year. Still, better than the alternative.

  • For anti-Newt balance: Damon W. Root at Reason points out something simple about the recent Newtonian criticism of (a) courts being too "activist" in not deferring to the political branches and (b) pointing to Kelo v. New London, the eminent domain case, as the kind of dreadful decision he'd like to keep justices from making.

    But Kelo was an example of the non-"activism" Newt claims to want; the courts declined to override the political branches in this case.

    Newt is, of course, a guy with a lot of big ideas. But in this case, his "ideas" are incoherent.

  • I subscribe to Wired and usually check out their website. An recent article from Michael Graetz titled "Energy Politics Is Lose-Lose" criticizes government efforts in the energy area, but (in a way both amusing and frustrating) mostly echoes arguments that libertarians and conservatives have been making for decades, presenting them as if they were brand new.

    Since one side of Congress is now in GOP hands, it's now acceptable in polite company to trash Congress. Graetz begins by describing the recent appearance of Energy Secretary Chu in front of a House committee, attempting to gloss over the waste of half a billion bucks in a black hole named Solyndra.

    The Energy Secretary no doubt was wishing that he had stayed in his lab in Berkeley. David Biello, Scientific American's energy editor, tweeted: "Stop it with the Solyndra nonsense. Just stop it."
    Aw! It's always nice when an editor of a once-respected magazine channels his inner six-year-old when confronted with things he'd rather not hear, and would prefer that other people not hear about either.

    But Graetz does a good job of briefly describing Congressional culpability in other misguided energy policy initiatives. For example: Graetz has discovered that Congressional earmarks are bad! They divert expenditures for political reasons and hence tend to be inefficient and corrupt. And they write legislation that blatantly benefits well-connected constituents!

    Gosh, I seem to remember hearing about that long before 2011.

    Graetz's article, despite all its one-sided finger-pointing, might help persuade people who don't read Reason or National Review that trusting government to regulate, tax, subsidize, and mandate its way to a sensible "energy policy" is badly misguided.

  • Granite Stater Darrin Garnick videoed his nine-year-old son asking various presidential candidates what superhero they would like to be. Everyone comes off pretty well except for Ron Paul. Even Mitt Romney.


Last Modified 2012-09-24 11:15 AM EDT

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

[4.0 stars] Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011) on IMDb

[Amazon Link]

One reliable rule of thumb for movie-watching over the past decade or so: see anything that has Brad Bird's name on it. That would have steered you to Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant. But do his talents extend to directing a live action movie? Sure they do.

The story here opens with Mr. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) cooling his heels in a Moscow prison. (He's there for reasons that aren't fully revealed until the end of the movie, so be patient.) Just down the road in Budapest, his IMF co-workers are busy trying to steal some MacGuffin from the bad guys. This ends in disaster; before you can say "Hey, it's That Guy from Lost", That Guy From Lost gets shot and the MacGuffin ends up in the hands of some very bad guys, headed by That Guy From The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It turns out he has an insane scheme to trigger a nuclear war between Russia and the US.

That's a desperate enough situation for the surviving IMF team (That Guy From Shaun of the Dead and That Girl From… actually, I don't remember her in anything) to break Ethan out of prison, and attempt to heist a different MacGuffin from the bowels of the Kremlin. But That Guy From The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo gets there first, blows up a pretty good chunk of Moscow, and frames Ethan for the crime. In all the hubbub, "The Secretary", the IMF's boss, gets killed. Things are very bad.

(Also appearing: That Guy From The Hurt Locker and That Guy From Slumdog Millionaire.)

It's an action-packed thrill ride, with numerous big-budget special effects set in unusual and/or spectacular locations. We splurged, and saw it on a (very) large screen with a (very) loud audio system in Newington. I think that was a good idea; if you're into this sort of thing, it's definitely one to see in a theatre at least.


Last Modified 2012-09-24 11:02 AM EDT