Spider-Man: Homecoming

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

A thoroughly enjoyable superhero movie.

A short prologue establishes the premise: Michael Keaton is busy cleaning up the devastation in the aftermath of the first Avengers movie—you remember, the one with the Chitauri invasion. He and his crew find all sorts of neat technology, on which they expect to make some money, but then government bureaucrat Tyne Daly shows up, summarily fires them, and sends Keaton and his crew on a criminal path with the gadgetry they manage to hold onto.

Years later, Tony Stark recruits Peter Parker/Spider-Man for help in his spat with Captain America. This gives Peter some starry-eyed visions about someday becoming an Avenger, but Tony clearly wants the teenager to lower his sights, becoming (and I quote) a "friendly neighborhood Spider-Man", rescuing kittens from trees and apprehending the occasional local hoodlum.

But one night he notices some thugs using Chitauri tech to rip off an ATM…

Despite this being yet another Spider-Man reboot, the filmmakers eschew the usual origin yarn; in fact, they leave that kind of hazy. Peter's infatuation is with neither Gwen Stacy nor Mary Jane Watson, but with Liz, a beautiful fellow student.

Bottom line: it's a lot of fun. Tom Holland is excellent and believable (to the extent that any of these flicks is believable). No surprise, Michael Keaton continues to be a great actor. And (comic book faithfulness be damned) Marisa Tomei makes a very, very hot Aunt May.

URLs du Jour

2017-11-06

■ Yesterday's Proverb was darned grim, but Proverbs 19:19 is wise:

19 A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
    rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

And haven't we seen this scenario play out in countless TV shows and movies? Or in real life. See, for example The Dark Side of Forgiveness: The Tendency to Forgive Predicts Continued Psychological and Physical Aggression in Marriage.

Or, as an exercise, finish the saying "Fool me once…"


■ At Reason, Sheldon Richman opines: Government Protection From Russian Misinformation Would Be 'Cure' Far Worse Than Disease.

Is American society so fragile that a few "divisive" ads, news stories, commentaries, and even lies—perhaps emanating from Russia—threaten to plunge it into darkness? The establishment's narrative on "Russian election meddling" would have you believe that. On its face, the alarm over this is so ridiculous that I doubt any of the fearmongers really believe their own words. They're attempting to provoke public hysteria for political, geopolitical, and financial gain. There's no more to it than that.

A lie doesn't get any truer if you saw it from 100% pure domestic sources.


■ At the (probably paywalled) WSJ, Holman W. Jenkins writes on the same issue: Social Media Is the Trump of Industries. I found these reality-based paragaphs telling:

Twitter, Google and Facebook's, business model of letting the public have its diverse, antic, usually misinformed and often dishonest say about public matters is something new under the sun—and like all things that exist under the sun, can be used for good or ill.

At the same time, only 85-year-old senators are wowed by a report that 135 million Americans were exposed to Russia-sponsored Facebook ads and messages over a 32-month period. Facebook delivers 517 million ad impressions per hour. User posts, messages, photos and shared links pile up at a rate of three million-plus per minute. The average American, from all sources, is estimated to see upward of 5,000 ads or branding messages each day.

This Washington Examiner article provides some numbers to compare: the famous Satan vs. Jesus ad that Democrats pointed to with horror got "71 impressions and garnered 14 clicks"; the "Buff Bernie" coloring book ad "had 900 impressions and garnered 54 clicks".


@kevinNR encourages us to Bring Back Political Parties. He manages two cheers for the probably-illegal mainstream Democrat maneuverings during the 2016 primary season to tip things Hillary's way. Because:

The Democratic party had an excellent reason to exclude Senator Bernie Sanders, the same reason the Republican party had to exclude Donald Trump: He wasn’t a member of the party. Sanders is a socialist independent who briefly joined the Democratic party for reasons of pure political utility. Donald Trump is a . . . whatever in tarnation he is . . . who joined the Republican party for the same reason. Trump, a sometime Democrat and Hillary Clinton donor who had been aligned with the politically insignificant Reform party, knew that he needed the GOP’s machinery to win the presidency, or to even get close, and Sanders knew that his influence and power would grow from running in the Democratic primary rather than as a U.S. affiliate of the Monster Raving Loony party. (I miss Screaming Lord Sutch.) Sanders is no fool: His lakeside dachas aren’t going to pay for themselves, and there’s no money in third-party presidential campaigns — that’s just an expensive hobby. Ask David Koch.

I am a fan of neither party, but Kevin makes a pretty good argument that the two-party system is an extra-Constitutional "secret sauce" that makes our polity more stable.


■ And our Google LFOD alert rang for an LTE in the Concord Monitor from Contoocook's Judith Kumin.

In all the debate about the origins of the “Live free or die” motto, I am surprised not to have heard the following: Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian independence leader who was born a slave, is said to have used the slogan to galvanize his troops in the revolt against France.

On Jan. 1, 1804, when Dessalines proclaimed Haiti’s independence, he said “Jurons de combattre jusqu’au dernier soupir pour l’indépendance de notre Pays!” (“Let us pledge to fight to the last breath for the independence of our country”). The crowd responded, “Vivre libre ou mourir” (“Live free or die”). Whereupon Dessalines declared himself governor-general for life and shortly thereafter was crowned emperor for life by the Haitian army.

Dessalines reigned for just two years before being hacked to death in November 1806 by opponents of his autocratic rule.

Food for thought.

Judith isn't telling us anything we can't find at Wikipedia. Is it embarrassing that our motto may have been—gasp—of French origin? And (perhaps worse) uttered by an "independence leader" on his way to mass murder and tyranny? Zut alors!