The Great Wall

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

Pun Son and I went to see this before it disappeared from our local theatres. His choice.

Consumer report: I dozed fitfully during the first half. In terms of grabbing the viewer's interest right from the start, I'd have to rate that a failure. But things seemed to perk up at the end. So overall, three stars ("OK"). I don't think I was snoring. Had I been snoring, I'd knock it down a star.

Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal play a couple of mercenaries on their way to China to pick up some black powder. You know, the kind that explodes. They figure this is their road to riches if they're able to make their way back to Europe with a decent amount. That's illegal, but they are used to doing illegal sorts of things.

Unfortunately, they arrive in China during one of the every-sixty-year outbreaks of monstrous giant carnivorous lizards. Each one has, like, 298 razor-sharp teeth. They are, it turns out, what the Great Wall was put there to protect against.

So Matt plays the reluctant hero, throwing his mad archery skills into helping the Chinese fend off the pesky lizard onslaught. He gets less reluctant as time goes on, as the beautiful soldier Lin Mae captures his heart and draws out his better nature.

I guess this did OK in China, but not so well here in the US.

URLs du Jour

2017-02-25

Oh, please, Proverbs 29:22, tell us something of relevance today:

An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.

Ah. Not bad, Proverbs. Keep up the good work.

  • Is the press the enemy? Or even an enemy? Find out the answer in Jonah Goldberg's column: "The Press Is Not the Enemy".

    Except (in case you are not tempted by the title): most of the column is devoted to the mainstream press's dreadfulness. That doesn't make them the "enemy", just another entity that doesn't deserve your trust.

    One need not paint with an overly broad brush or accuse the entire press corps of being part of a knowing conspiracy to manipulate the public. Many mainstream journalists sincerely believe they are operating in good faith and doing their job to the best of their abilities. At the same time, it seems patently obvious that the “objective” press is in the business of subjectively shaping attitudes rather than simply reporting facts.

    Which brings us to…

  • President Trump's CPAC speech transcript. Here's a line that should send a chill down every liberty-lover's spine:

    They [referring to the press] shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name.

    You don't need to be a slavish MSM fan to be repulsed by Trump's assertion of what they "shouldn't be allowed" to do. You don't need to be a fan of their too-convenient overuse of anonymous sources to find Trump's words odious.

    All you need is to be a fan of the Constitution and the First Amendment.

    You remember: that's what Trump took an oath, just a few weeks ago, to preserve, protect and defend.

  • Another bit from Trump's speech was not as disgusting, but…

    […] we're going to make trade deals, but we're going to do one-on-one — one-on-one — and if they misbehave, we terminate the deal, and then they come back and we'll make a better deal.

    We'll send this one over to Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek, who addresses an "open letter" to the Prez:

    By “we” you mean you.  By “misbehave,” you mean act in ways that you find objectionable (which surely includes offering to sell goods to Americans at especially low prices).  And by “terminate the deal” you mean use threats of coercion to prevent Americans from buying as many imports as Americans would otherwise choose to buy.

    Now I do support the idea of one-on-one trade deals, but I have a radically different proposal for implementing them – namely, that you mind your own business and let each of us Americans make whatever trade deals each of us likes, one-on-one, with whichever suppliers each of us chooses to deal with.

    Even Trump admits [see transcript] that, on trade, he's in the Bernie Sanders corner. That should worry otherwise sensible people.

  • But maybe I worry too much about President Trump. Maybe his goose is well and truly cooked now. Because, as reported in Elle:

    Starting at midnight on Friday, witches around the country are calling for a mass spell to be cast on Donald Trump every night of a waning crescent moon until he's driven from office.

    A WSJ crossword clue on Thursday was "Spelling pro?". Five letters. Beginning with W. Last letter appears to be H. … Oh, now I get it. Moan.

  • At Reason, Thomas W. Hazlett offers unpleasant birthday wishes ("would you just die already") to the Radio Act of 1927: Herbert Hoover's Radio Malware Turns 90:

    On February 23, 1927, Babe Ruth had still to hit 60 home runs in a season. Yet President Calvin Coolidge would that day sign a bill that would establish how radio spectrum—the "economic oxygen" of the emerging information age—would still be governed 90 years later. Markets would be pre-empted, no ownership of the "ether" would be permitted. Public administrators would dole out privileges to deploy wireless networks according to the "public interest."

    Yes, that would be sometime libertarian hero Coolidge. Major mistake, Cal.

    Hazlett takes you through a brief history of US radio, and shows how the Radio Act was pushed through by an alliance of power-grasping pols and radio moguls looking to protect their electromagnetic turf by throwing up barriers to entry.

  • Megan McArdle has news you can use: "'Authentic' Food Is Not What You Think It Is"

    In fact, authenticity is an illusion, and a highly overrated one. Most of the foods we think of as “authentic” are of relatively recent vintage -- since capsaicin-containing hot peppers are native to the Americas, any spicy cuisine like Szechuan or Thai is by definition a Johnny-come-lately invention. Or take artisanal breads, like that crusty, moist peasant bread that most of us eat too much of at restaurants: Nathan Myhrvold, the mad genius of the cookbook world, says that this is a new invention. Our peasant ancestors, who got a large portion of their calories from bread, did not make these richly hydrated doughs, because they’re a pain in the butt to work with. Ciabatta, another bread that America likes because it sounds very authentic, was invented in the 1980s to compete with the baguette. (Itself a product of Industrial Revolution bakeries, not the proud local peasant.)

    Just go for what tastes good.