URLs du Jour

2020-05-18

  • Our Tweet du Jour:

    (Via Granite Geek.)


  • Not that it matters, but I am perpetually confused between Jason Bateman and Nathan Fillion. Turns out I am not alone.


  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File is a grab-bag, always worth reading in full. But he's irritated (as am I) with a lazy stereotype:

    Over at The Bulwark, Richard North Patterson offers a fairly  pristine example of a genre of left-wing anti-conservative scolding when it comes to science. Now before I go on, I should say upfront that I agree with the gist of many of his criticisms of some right-wingers and their response to the pandemic. For instance, I think the surge in anti-vaccine talk in some fevered corners of the right is dangerous, disappointing, and embarrassing. 

    But on the whole, I detest this sort of argument because it takes a natural human (or even American) phenomenon and turns it into a partisan cudgel. Polls and studies have consistently showed that anti-vaxxers exist on both sides of the political divide. But ask yourself, who has more cache with the mainstream media and elites: Robert Kennedy Jr. or Michelle Malkin? Who did more in the last two decades to promote anti-vaccine theories?

    As noted a few days back RFK Jr. has recently been muttering darkly about "5G robber barons" who are in the process of "microwaving our country".


  • Kyle Smith has a properly outraged article at National Review about Our Nevermind Media.

    How lovely it is to have a high-profile job in our major media institutions. Let’s say you completely, hideously muck up a huge story. Let’s say you spend three years wildly misleading the public. Let’s say that, at the outset of the worst public-health crisis in a century, you mock people for being afraid and tell them to go about life as usual. When you’re proven wrong, you get to tell the next chapter of the story anyway. And if you feel like saying, “No fair noticing we were wrong!” you know other members of the mainstream-media cartel will rush to support you.

    Media observers are today noticing how strange it is for reporters to juxtapose panic about Florida, where the virus has done relatively little damage, with robust defense of New York, the coronavirus death capital of the Western world.

    Or the "please ignore Obamagate" crowd. Huge story when it was about Trump. Now that it's about Obama/Biden… move along, nothing to see here, shut up.


  • Kevin D. Williamson: Obama claims he was free from scandal — but he's full of it.

    Democrats take it as a matter of moral certainty that Donald Trump and his political allies can only do wrong and cannot be wronged. Trump and his colleagues insist that they have been wronged in a very serious way: by the Obama administration’s abusing federal counterintelligence tools as an extension (and a post-election extension) of the 2016 presidential campaign. That is a perversion of political power that should command the attention of all Americans irrespective of their assessment of President Trump.

    The original decision to target Flynn in the counterintelligence probe was based on a pretty flimsy pretext. And it was driven by the White House, not by the top bosses at DOJ. When acting Attorney General Sally Yates heard about the investigation — from President Obama himself, not from her own department — she “had no idea what the president was talking about,” as she told investigators. The New York Times, not exactly the house organ of the Trump administration, reports that at every turn Obama aides were involved in the investigation even as the acting AG was in the dark.

    Good for KDW.


  • And finally, at Power Line, John Hinderaker asks the burning question: To Mask Or Not to Mask?.

    Government bureaucrats first told us, inconsistently, that 1) masks were useless, and 2) we should save them for medical personnel. Now that advice has changed: on the theory that wearing a mask might prevent an asymptomatic person from passing on the virus, we are being pressured to wear masks of some kind when in public.

    This has created an interesting sociological picture. Last week, my family went up North for a few days on a big lake near the Canadian border. We noticed that once you got outside the Twin Cities, hardly anyone was wearing a mask. On the other hand, after we returned I drove to downtown Minneapolis for the first time in a couple of months. The streets were nearly deserted. I saw around a dozen people, on the average one per block. The majority were young men, maybe 25 years old, generally walking along with no one within 50 yards of them. Every single one wore a mask.

    Mask wearing has become a form of virtue signaling. Do they do any good? Who knows? But wearing one shows that you are a slavish adherent to authority. Not wearing one suggests that you might be a rebel.

    It's an interesting phenomenon, which I've noticed myself. Probably we'll have more in the coming days.

Skyscraper

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

Disclaimer: call him "Dwayne Johnson" all you want, friend; he'll always be "The Rock" to me.

An opening scene tells the tragic tale of our hero, Will Sawyer: confronting a crazed Minnesota husband, he makes a merciful, humane, but also very bad mistake, causing the loss of limb (his) and life (probably a lot of the other people involved, but that's not explicitly shown). He winds up marrying the brilliant and beautiful doctor who saves his life. (I don't recommend this as a good strategy for meeting women.)

Ten years later, he's a security consultant, he has two cute kids, he's invited to Hong Kong to inspect a (guess what) new skyscraper, the tallest building in the world, filled with imaginative architecture and high-tech gadgetry. Unfortunately, the zillionaire builder is also the target of a well-oiled extortion plot carried out by a team of casually-murderous henchmen, and one henchwoman.

I liked it fine. But it's a by-the-numbers, no-surprises, big-budget thriller. It's like an AI was given the script for Die Hard and The Towering Inferno and was told: "Mix these up." And hence you can see a lot of things, big and small, coming:

  • There are bad guys who have infiltrated the zillionaire's inner circle. For the viewer, they might as well be wearing "I AM A BAD GUY" buttons on their lapels.
  • That murderous henchwoman? Of course, there will be a final confrontation between her and Will's wife.
  • That cute scene where Will "fixes" the Mrs's phone by turning it off and on again. Will that be replayed later? Sure.
  • The skyscraper is partially powered by huge internal wind turbines, the blades whooshing impressively. Will Will be dodging those blades later? You bet!
  • Will is shown (for some reason) a holodeck-like virtual reality chamber with dozens of huge high-def screens. Also a key plot mover later? Need you ask?

As a reviewer pointed out: the primary bad guy is no Alan Rickman.

Although the movie did poorly in American theatres, a lot of foreign audiences are apparently Rockhounds, so it did OK overall.

Little Women

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

The end of the normal TV season combined with the lack of Red Sox baseball means we've been hitting the Netflix DVDs. I keep my Netflix queue sorted in descending order by their personalized-for-me predicted rating, but we're getting pretty far down into the three-star area: "not bad, not great, just OK."

Hence, Little Women. It has a very good IMDB rating, but I suspect this is due mostly to Women. (I know, sexist. Sue me, Joe Biden.) It was nominated for six Oscars (including Best Picture), but only won one (Costumes). Again, I blame women and earnest males kowtowing to feminism. ("I am not Harvey Weinstein, see my Oscar ballot?")

I am unfamiliar with the Louisa May Alcott source material, but fortunately there are articles that tell me how it's different.

Both the book and the movie center on the March sisters (Jo, Meg, Amy, Beth), growing up in mid-19th century Massachusetts. Although the main character is Jo, played by Saoirse Ronan. There's also Mom (Laura Dern) and Aunt (Meryl Streep). And eventually Dad shows up. (Hey, that's Saul Goodman! Good move, Saul! The cartel will never find you in 19th-century Massachusetts!)

The movie (apparently unlike the book) zips back and forth in time. The acting is fine, everything is easy on the eyes, the sex scenes are tasteful, the alien invasion that turns the March's neighbors into murderous zombies is believable.