Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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

It's another tale of the Empire versus the Rebellion. Except that the Empire is now called the "First Order" and the Rebellion is now called the "Resistance". For some reason. Anyway, it's pretty clear that just killing off the Emperor 34 years ago was no magic elixir for restoring freedom to the far, far away galaxy.

As we left things, plucky young Rey has tracked down Luke, the Last Jedi, demanding that he return with her to help out against the Dark Side of the Force. He's gotten cranky in his old age, and demurs, but Rey hangs around.

Meanwhile, the ragtag Resistance fleet (they should really use Ω for their symbol) is being pursued by the massive First Order fleet, which is methodically picking off ship after ship; the good-guy population is in serious decline. So the other plot thread involves the increasingly futile efforts of Princess Leia and her retinue (including last-movie heroes Finn and Poe) to stave off destruction long enough to reach safety.

Without spoilers: The overall tone is grim, although there are occasional flashes of humor. Many of the heroic good-guy efforts turn out to be either (a) just delaying the inevitable, or (b) pointlessly misguided. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

It's also very very long.


Last Modified 2017-12-24 4:35 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2017-12-23

■ We take our Proverbs in order, so don't blame us for Proverbs 17:13 not being full of the Christmas spirit:

13 Evil will never leave the house
    of one who pays back evil for good.

Sounds like the premise of countless horror movies. And maybe five good horror movies.


■ Jonah Goldberg's G-File is good as always, but America and the ‘Original Position’ is most notable for its description of John Rawls' classic thought experiment in his Theory of Justice:

Of course, we’re all very lucky, in the broadest sense of the term. As Olivia Newton John might say if she went to grad school, let’s get metaphysical. The late philosopher John Rawls had a thought experiment called “the original position.” The basic idea is to imagine that you are a disembodied soul waiting outside this world in a kind of placeless, meaningless limbo — sort of like a Delaware rest stop. He then asks you to think about what kind of society you would want to be born into. But here’s the catch: You won’t know if you’ll be born rich or poor, smart or dumb, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, gay, straight, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, never mind if you’ll be able to fit 43 Cheetos in your mouth at one time. You’ll be behind what Rawls called a “veil of ignorance.”

I would recommend this to any college instructor struggling to get his Political Philosophy 101 undergrads to understand what Rawls is saying.


■ I don't think I ever explicitly labeled myself a "NeverTrumper", although I've quoted a lot of them approvingly in the past. I didn't vote for him, and don't plan to do so in the future. Nevertheless, my ears pricked up a bit at Roger L. Simon's demand polite request: Why the Remaining NeverTrumpers Should Apologize Now.

Nevertheless, it is time for the remaining NeverTrumpers to apologize for a reason far more important than self-castigation or merely to make things "right." Donald Trump -- whose initial victory was a shock, even, ironically, to those of us who predicted it -- has compounded that shock by being astoundingly successful in his first year, especially at the conclusion. (He's a quick study, evidently.) More conservative goals have been achieved or put in motion in eleven months than in any time in recent, or even distant, memory. It's an astonishing reversal for our country accompanied by the beginnings of an economic boom.

Even granting all that, my reply is "no thank you." Roger wants a "united front". to fight the (hopefully only) ideological "war".

I think that sort of rhetoric is a poor choice, even when you perceive that it's just turnabout-is-fair-play tactics, making leftists and Progressives play against the same strategies they've been using for years.

We're supposed to be better than that. I may not be better than that, but I at least want to pretend I am.


[Amazon Link]

■ At Reason, Adam Thierer lets us know How to Write a Tech-Panic Manifesto. It's a review of Franklin Foer's member of the genre, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. Among many good points:

One reason for the success of big platforms and aggregators is that consumers appreciate not only lower monetary costs but also lower transaction costs. It's simpler to notify your family and friends about a new baby when Facebook puts them all just a click away. Need to sell that old junk in your garage? Craigslist and eBay make that a lot easier, too. And Amazon and Google satisfy your shopping and search needs in a frictionless fashion compared to the past. If Foer has his way and government starts encumbering these activities by undoing efficiency enhancements, consumers aren't likely to be soothed by explanations that diminished choices or higher prices are all for their own good.

It's a tough call on who's worse: Facebook/Google/Amazon/Netflix or folks like Foer. But anyway, thanks to Thierer, I now have one more book on my "don't bother reading" list. (But if you want to read it, you're invited to use my—heh—Amazon link.)


■ It's the time of year for lists! Especially naughty lists, and some people have been very very naughty, as evidenced by Tucker Carlson’s handy list of 100 racist things from 2017. Here's number 10:

And number 11:

You can't win. Don't play.