URLs du Jour


Looking forward to a "wintry mix" later today, with increasing probability of "heart attack while shoveling" after that. So:

  • Kevin D. Williamson has a slap in the face to all the whiners about 2016: "It Was the Best of Times ".

    Buck up, you pansies: 2016 was the best year in human history, and 2017 almost certainly will be better.

    Oh, I know, the presidential election was a fiasco, but the republic will endure. And it was a tough year for beloved celebrities: David Bowie became a very handsome corpse at the age of 69 (liver cancer), Prince became a very small one at the age of 57 (fentanyl overdose), and Carrie Fisher checked out at the age of 60 (killed by complications resulting from a terminal case of being Carrie Fisher). And, 2016 being 2016, Americans took to social media to document the flimsiest of connections to these famous figures, raptly engaged in the characteristic pursuit of our time: making everything about us.

    TV viewers of a Certain Age know what to say to that sort of slap in the face: "Thanks, I needed that." Others should Google.

    (Do they still make Mennen Skin Bracer? Ah, yes, they do.)

  • Mr. Williamson risks falling afoul of the Carrie Fisher PC cops above. I note they've already claimed two victims, accused and convicted of the crime of Insufficiently Correct tweets: Steve Martin and Cinnabon.

    I can't help but think Ms. Fisher would have been fine with both perpetrators. (Come on: "you'll always have the best buns in the galaxy"? How can you not smile, at the very least?)

  • Tom Nichols is a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and an adjunct professor in the Harvard Extension School, and he carries out on a daunting task: "America’s Nuclear Response Procedure Explained, Using GIFs From ‘Friends’"

    Unexcerptable. Just click over. One can only hope that President-Elect Trump pays attention to this lecture.

  • The New York Times gets off its usual message, with Deirdre McCloskey's column: "Growth, Not Forced Equality, Saves the Poor"

    We had better focus directly on the equality that we actually want and can achieve, which is equality of social dignity and equality before the law. Liberal equality, as against the socialist equality of enforced redistribution, eliminates the worst of poverty. It has done so spectacularly in Britain and Singapore and Botswana. More needs to be done, yes. Namely, more growth, which is sensitive to environmental limits and will require a proliferation of rich engineers. Let them have their money from devising carbon-fixing techniques and new sources of energy. It will enrich all of us.

    These facts are well-known to anyone who takes the time to notice them. One can only wonder whether the Social Justice Warriors are motivated more by their envy of the rich than their desire to help the poor. I'd like to think charitably of them at this time of year, but …

Last Modified 2016-12-29 11:37 AM EDT

Rogue One

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Getting one thing out of the way: They should have spent a lot more time and money on the last-scene character CGI; it's deep in the uncanny valley. (No spoilers on who that character is, but fans should be able to guess.)

On the other hand, the character CGI that everyone knows about, Grand Moff Tarkin, is pretty darn good. Although maybe because Peter Cushing looked pretty uncanny in the first place.

Other than that: it's a straightforward yarn about the events leading up to the very first Star Wars movie. If you didn't memorize the text crawl in that one: "… Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet." Here we get to know the spies, the genesis and details of that mission.

The reluctant protagonist is Jyn Erso; at a young age her father was dragooned into the rewarding field of Death Star design by the slimy Orson Krennic. Jyn grows up keeping her head down, but the Rebel Alliance finds her, and none too gently uses her as a tool to track down her dad, so he can be assassinated.

But things don't go quite as planned, and the assassination mission turns into the plan-stealing mission. We know how it turns out, but don't know the details.

The movie is a warts-and-all picture of the Rebels: the ostensible mission leader, Andor, murders an informant near the beginning of the flick to avoid compromise. (Arguably worse than Han shooting first, right?) And there's a lot of friction in the Alliance between peaceniks, surrender monkeys, militants, and warmongers. The Empire has some of that too, as we know from other movies: Tarkin and Krennic clearly despise each other, and claw for the favor of their superiors.

People who have panned this movie have a point: The Magnificent Seven (at least the Yul Brynner version) showed how to make a movie about a ragtag team fighting evildoers against the odds. Rogue One doesn't compare well on that score: characters are undeveloped, and the underlying "moral complexity" is, at its heart, brattish.

But that's easy to ignore when you just want to be a kid again. On that basis, I had a good time.

Last Modified 2016-12-29 9:26 AM EDT