Rambo: Last Blood

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

Sometimes I'm just in the mood for a flick with a lot of violence. This one was fine, much more to my taste than the John Wicks. Not great, just fine. And it was free on Amazon Prime Video, yay!

And it's a Rambo movie. I've seen all the others, why stop now? Sylvester Stallone knows how to do this stuff.

It's very dark. Rambo is leading a civilized life on his Arizona horse farm, taking his medication. He has a live-in housekeeper. And he's developed a good relationship with his housekeeper's granddaughter, Gabriela, who has just graduated from high school, ready to go off to college.

But first Gabriela needs answers to burning questions about her long-lost father. He's down in Mexico, doing (probably) bad stuff. Rambo tells Gabriela not to go. Gabriela's abuela tells her not to go. She goes anyway, and finds herself mixed up with the kind of Mexicans that haunt Donald Trump's dreams. Rambo (after tossing away his meds) goes down after her on a rescue mission. Which soon turns into a revenge mission. And the violence gets pretty spectacular.

URLs du Jour

2020-10-03

Our Eye Candy du Jour is a consumer report from xkcd on Masks:

[Masks]

Mouseover: "Haunted Halloween masks from a mysterious costume shop that turn you evil and grow into your skin score a surprisingly high 80% filtration efficiency in R. L. Stine-sponsored NIOSH tests."

And in other matters:

  • My local newspaper, Foster's Daily Democrat reports on the latest embarrassment at the University Near Here: UNH investigates after professor accused of posting offensive tweets while posing as woman of color.

    A white male professor in the University of New Hampshire chemistry department has come under fire with complaints alleging he posted offensive tweets while posing as a woman of color.

    The fake Twitter account, which was deleted along with the personal account of the chemistry professor named by his department chair as the person behind it, was known as “The Science Femme, Woman in STEM” and used the handle @piney_the.

    UNH has not confirmed the identity of the professor being investigated but stated this week on Twitter and in emails to the media: “We were recently made aware of allegations on social media about a member of our faculty. We are deeply troubled by what we’ve learned so far and immediately launched an investigation.”

    Note: It is acceptable nowadays in "news" accounts to characterize tweets (etc.) as "offensive", as if that were objective fact.

    I still cling to the old-fashioned belief: offensiveness is inherently subjective. An reporter committed to reporting facts would say (at least): "someone claimed to be offended by his tweets".

    Oh, well. Foster's has been garbage for years now. Nothing new there.

    One of @piney_the's tweet threads was saved here. And it's remarkably sensible. Excerpt:

    Here it is: I was successful in killing my dept’s woke statement on recent social unrest. This took several weeks and may have permanently burned some bridges, but I think it’s important. It is a toxic ideology that cannot be given an inch. Here are the lessons I learned.

    After the tragic death of George Floyd the wokinistas in my dept felt compelled to make a collective statement. It was a self-flagellating admission of guilt and shame for things we had not done that no sane person would agree to sign.

    I was successful in removing all woke terminology from the statement including anti-racism, white supremacy, white privilege, and claims of systemic racism. Before attempting a similar feat, it’s important to make sure you know what all of these terms really mean.

    My guess is this will filter up into the national sites soon. Hope this poor bastard doesn't get professionally crucified for exercising his First Amendment rights.


  • Kevin D. Williamson writes at NR on health care: Small Reforms Can Win Support.

    "Why did the individual mandate fail in its intended purpose to increase enrollment?”

    Chris Pope of the Manhattan Institute asks the question in his very insightful National Review column, an essay that has far more of substance to say about health care than either of the grunting, sneering buffoons we saw sniffing each other’s butts on Tuesday evening. With California vs. Texas coming before the Supreme Court in November, the grievously misnamed Affordable Care Act is once more before us, and its deficiencies — and the deficiencies in attempts to address those deficiencies — are worth revisiting not only for the light they shed on the still-critical issue of health care but also for understanding what ails American government more broadly.

    The ACA individual mandate is a textbook example of bad program design and implementation. Some people object to such mandates on moral and constitutional grounds, and those concerns must be given due consideration, but there is nothing wrong with an individual mandate as a purely pragmatic matter. In the ACA, the mandate was intended to mitigate the problem of “adverse selection” created by a different, much more popular mandate — that insurance companies cover preexisting conditions at no additional cost. To use the most hackneyed illustration: If you could buy fire insurance after your house burned down, then you would have no real incentive to buy insurance earlier. If you can get comprehensive coverage for serious illness after you get sick for the same price and terms that you would have received had you purchased the same insurance before getting sick, then you have no incentive to buy health insurance until you are sick. The preexisting-conditions mandate transforms health insurance into something other than insurance, which is a financial product in which insurers charge a fee based on risk calculation and in exchange offer financial benefits in the case of certain events. Properly understood, you cannot insure against preexisting conditions, for the same reason you cannot bet on a football game that already has been played.

    It's a really tough debate. One side sees political advantage in fear tactics; the other side is deathly afraid of saying anything that might be characterized at making customers pay more for anything, ever. Because if you can't afford to pay, you're gonna diiiieee!!


  • A lot of the blame can be laid at the feet of our Chicken-in-Chief, as Rich Lowry points out in the NYPost: Trump's failure to offer a new health care plan could be why he loses.

    [Trump] has been promising a health-care plan since he started running for president, often with superlative adjectives attached, and yet never produced one. His lack of a proposal was a stumbling block in Tuesday’s debate and plays into a broader, long-standing GOP vulnerability on health care.

    Polling tends to show that, far and away, the three most important issues to voters are the economy, COVID-19 and health care. Trump leads on the economy and trails on the other two. To the ­extent that issues play a role in a Trump defeat in November, health care will have had some hand in it, and he has done little to inoculate himself — in fact, he has further exposed himself.

    His administration backs a lawsuit that seeks to strike down ­Obamacare, including its popular protections for people with preexisting conditions. This allows Democrats to say — and they say it all the time — that the president wants to destroy Obamacare.

    Guess what, Don? They're going to say that no matter what. You might as well come up with something, be prepared to defend it with rational, measured arguments… oops, forgot who I was talking to.


  • At the Federalist, Christopher Jacobs explains Why ‘The Simpsons’ Shouldn’t Hire Voice Actors Based On Their Race.

    Tuning in to the season premiere of “The Simpsons” Sunday night, something felt different. Halfway through the episode, the thought occurred that one of Homer Simpson’s co-workers sounded off.

    Sure enough, a search online revealed that Alex Desert had taken over the voice of Carl Carlson, who works with Homer at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. The move comes as “The Simpsons,” along with other animated shows, said they will no longer cast white actors to voice African American roles.

    I, for one, am working through my Futurama DVD collection. I suppose it could be said they got this right from the start: the main cast has Phil LaMarr as Hermes Conrad (check) and Lauren Tom as Amy Wong (check). But … uh-oh … Bender (robot) is voiced by John DiMaggio (a meatbag). And Morbo (some sort of reptilian alien) is voiced by (puny human) Maurice LaMarche!

    Just kidding. I think. Geez, it was a great show. Better than the Simpsons.


  • And the Daily Wire brings us the sophisticated tweetings of used-to-be-conservative WaPo columnist WaPo Columnist.

    It's fun to pick on the insane ravings of Out There people, but Jen's Odyssey of the Mind has taken her to a very dark place.

Dumbo

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

I surprised myself by liking this movie significantly more than I expected. Certainly more than the IMDB raters, Metacritic, or Rotten Tomatoes. And even the Netflix algorithm thought I'd find it a three-star mediocrity.

But nay, it has a fine director (Tim Burton), lavish sets, a bevy of good actors (Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell, Eva Green), and … well, heck, a flying elephant. Sorry, slight spoiler there.

I am not sure I ever saw the 1941 animated movie. I can recall bits and pieces, but maybe that's because I only saw bits and pieces.

The movie opens with the return of Holt Farrier (Mr. Farrell) to America after his stint in World War I, minus his left arm. And his wife has died of the Spanish Flu in his absence, leaving him with his young son and daughter. But they're part of Max Medici's old fashioned circus family. Which has its problems, like a sadistic elephant trainer. And Mrs. Jumbo, a pregnant elephant. After a visit from a stork, voila: her son is born. Unfairly castigated as a freak because (why else) those big ears.

But soon, Dumbo's flying talent is discovered. He's an instant sensation. Which brings the attention of V. A. Vandevere (played by Michael Keaton, who's really good). He's like a bearded-Spock-universe version of Walt Disney. (I'm kind of surprised this Disney film went that way.) Dumbo is shipped off to his semi-demented amusement park, to become an even bigger spectacle, setting up conflict and eventual climax.

Taken on its own terms, it's a lot of fun. I had a good time anyway.

The Confusion

[Amazon Link]

Oops, I read it again. And I stand by everything I said back in 2005 (back when this blog was only six months old, a baby):

A round of huzzahs should be heard around the land, as I have finally finished reading this wonderful book by the brilliant Neal Stephenson following the adventures of Eliza and Jack Shaftoe in the years 1689 through 1701.

I say it's wonderful, and it is, but I found it very tough sledding. Stephenson's writing is dense and discursive. Paragraphs and sentences are long, the type and margins are small. And the words are often spelled funny. And the page count is over 800. And I kept wishing I knew more late 17th century world history, because Stephenson knows it cold.

Highly recommended. I especially liked the "Trial by Crocodile" Jack undergoes around page 608.

And I really don't have that much more to say this time around, except that I'm looking forward to reading the last book of the trilogy sometime… well, maybe not right away. Give me a couple months, at least.