URLs du Jour

2019-12-02

[Amazon Link]

  • So a sad story for the Welfare Queens, Dairy Queen edition: The Nation’s Biggest Dairy Is Failing Despite Relentless Government Intervention. As reported by Baylen Linnekin at Reason:

    In early November, Dean Foods, the nation's largest dairy producer, filed for bankruptcy protection. The company, which has secured nearly a billion dollars in debtor financing to keep it afloat temporarily, is looking to sell off some or all of its assets as it attempts to reorganize and survive.

    How did the government "help"?

    "USDA dairy marketing orders set minimum dairy prices, while the [agency's dairy] checkoff program takes money from dairy farmers to promote milk and other dairy products," I detail in my book Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. "Taxpayers have the dairy checkoff program to thank, for example, for the ubiquitous 'milk mustache' advertising campaign. If there are any benefits to be had from either program, they aren't likely to be enjoyed by your local farmer, creamery, or dairy."

    There's an obvious joke in here somewhere about getting off the government teat, but I'll let you make one up and laugh at it.


  • Issues & Insights has an economic bone to pick with a young CongressCritter: AOC’s ‘Free Stuff’ As ‘Public Goods’ Is An Old Socialist Game.

    The political left has long tried to hide its true intentions and character through the use of euphemisms. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has learned to play the game as well as anyone. She has demanded that taxpayer-funded handouts be considered “public goods.” It’s a convenient justification for taking the property of productive Americans and giving it to those who have more political favor.

    “People like to say, ‘Oh, this is about free stuff,'” the New York Democrat said at a Bronx town hall meeting over the weekend, before Thanksgiving. But “this is not about free stuff,” she said.

    As (even) I know, economists define a public good as non-rivalrous (I can consume it without there being less for you) and non-excludable (By its nature, one can't restrict provision of the good to people who have paid for it.) The classic example is national defense.

    Giveaway programs don't qualify on either count.

    And yet AOC graduated from BU with an econ major. So either she's forgotten what she learned or BU did a poor and incomplete job teaching her.


  • And the great Titania McGrath notes that some progressives are stealing her ideas without proper attribution.

    Guilty confession: I excused and myself left the Thanksgiving table when one of our guests started to spout off politically. (It was after the meal, though.)

A Quiet Passion

[1.0 star] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A Mrs. Salad pick. As sometimes happens, I didn't care for it. What I saw anyway, because I kept dozing off. Hey, maybe something happened during my naps. But I doubt it.

It's the story of Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst. from her schoolgirl days (where she's played by actress Emma Bell) to her older years (where she's played by Cynthia Nixon).

But nothing much actually happens besides people talking to one another. And doing so in the most affected and wooden way. It was impossible for me to imagine people talking to each other like that even in 19th century Massachusetts. People take offense, or not, at Emily's devastating quips that seem to have been made up hours in advance.

As the years go by—seemingly in real time—people move in and out of Emily's life through birth, death, marriage, war, occupation, etc. I didn't find anything to be that inherently interesting.

I never cared for Emily Dickinson's poetry either, sue me.

Ford v Ferrari

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

So Pun Son and I had an itch to go see a Theater Movie, and this was kind of an ideal Guy Flick. Loud cars going very fast. Precisely one female speaking role. But it's the great Caitriona Balfe, who is so badass, she qualifies for Honorary Guy.

It's the story of how a offer by Ford to buy struggling Ferrari was insultingly spurned, causing Henry Ford II to decide that old man Enzo Ferrari needed to be humiliated by having a Ford-powered car win Le Mans. To do that, Carroll Shelby (played very well by Matt Damon) is enlisted by the Ford brass to design, build, and race said car.

Enter Ken Miles (played, also wonderfully by Batman himself, Christian Bale). He's a loose cannon, custom-made to irk the oleaginous Ford execs. But he's the best driver around, and also has a "feel" for what needs to be tweaked on a racing machine. Or pounded out with a sledgehammer.

The Shelby/Miles relationship is developed wonderfully well. And there's plenty of racing action. I think we'll see some Oscar nominations.


Last Modified 2019-12-02 3:40 PM EST

Yesterday

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

You probably got the premise if you've heard anything about Yesterday at all, but if you haven't, I would recommend that you put this movie on your watch list right now, and otherwise stop reading. (Don't read the fine print on the DVD box over there on your right either.)

I think it would be more fun to watch it if you didn't know the premise ahead of time.

Still here? Well, fine. I knew the premise, and I had a good time anyway.

Jack is an aspiring songwriter/musician, but his writing talents are at best mediocre. He's decided to give up his aspirations when an inexplicable glitch in reality, paired with getting hit by a bus, catapults him across the universe (see what I did there) into a slightly altered reality. The big important change: the Beatles never existed.

Out of the hospital, Jack discovers this while playing "Yesterday" for his friends. Who are gobsmacked by his hitherto-unknown genius, and don't know what he's talking about when he tries to credit the Fab Four.

And after a number of comic missteps, his knowledge of old Beatles tunes paves his way to pop superstardom. But can he honestly coast on someone else's talent like that? And what about his loyal manager, Ellie, who has loved him for years? Will she be left behind in his old life?

OK, it's sentimental and gooey. But still…

If you get the DVD with the alternate ending, I suggest you check that out. I liked it better than the actual ending.

Keanu

[2.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Well, I wanted to like this a lot better than I did. I wasn't a devotee of Keegan-Michael Key's and Jordan Peele's sketch series on Comedy Central, but what little I saw was pretty funny. And Jordan Peele has directed a couple of really good horror movies since this.

But this … was disappointing. Thanks to an opening scene, we meet Keanu, a cute kitty who is apparently the only survivor of a drug gang shootout. He makes his way to the doorstep of pothead Rell (Peele), who adopts him. Meanwhile middle-class family man Clarence (Key) is on his own as wife and kid go off somewhere… I forget the details, they don't matter anyway.

It turns out that Clarence has nothing better to do than hang with his cousin Rell. But their fun bro time is interrupted by Keanu getting catnapped. They must go track him down, and that involves them getting involved with the drug underground economy, of course posing as drug lords themselves…

I'm not saying that none of this is funny, a lot of it is. But a lot more of it involves various invocations of the f-word, usually shouted, as if that's funny in itself. The plot has a made-up-as-we-go-along quality.

Tolkien

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A biopic of the early life of J. R. R. Tolkien. Spoiler: it ends with J. R. R. penning (literally penning) the first line of a certain book: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

But to get there was quite a journey. And I knew next to nothing about Tolkien's life, so it was pretty revelatory. As the movie begins, Daddy Tolkien is already dead. And Mom is on her way out herself. J. R. R. and his brother are remanded to the care of the local priest (Chief O'Brien himself, Colm Meaney). Who in turn places them in a home for orphans, where he J. R. R. meets (spoiler) the future Mrs. Tolkien. He also enrolls them in a good local school, where J. R. R. makes some lifelong friends, each with his own special artistic talent. (Tolkien himself has a natural way with languages, and that is the source of some fun scenes.)

Ah, but "lifelong" isn't that long for some in that era. Because World War I happens, and … well, it ain't pretty. The movie makes a powerful cinematographic argument that Tolkien's depiction of various hellish scenes in Lord of the Rings was "inspired" by his war experience.

The movie kept my attention, the acting is decent, the depiction of the era is spectacular.