Hunter Killer

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

I was in the mood for a good sub movie. This is not a good sub movie.

The movie opens with a US hunter-killer sub stalking a Russian sub in the Barents Sea, just off the Russian northern coast. Both are ruthlessly blown up! The USS Arkansas, under the command of new captain King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) is sent to surreptitiously investigate. Meanwhile a SEAL team is sent to the area to investigate strange goings on at the nearby Russian Navy base. Before you can say "I wish Sean Connery were in this movie", a nefarious plot is revealed: a no-goodnik wants to depose the nice-guy Russian president and (probably) start a war with the US. Or something. I'm pretty sure I dozed off while the plan was described.

The SEALs and the sub crew engage in some major operations to rescue the Nice Russian, foil the plot, all while avoiding escalating the violence to all-out war. Lots of shooting, explosions, even fisticuffs; you'd be surprised at how boring this can be.

Gary Oldman is wasted as a hotheaded Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Linda Cardellini brings her two X chromosomes to try to calm him down.

Looks as if they spent a lot of money on the special effects and sets, but … you gotta do more than that.

URLs du Jour

2020-11-16

[Amazon Link]

  • Jeff Jacoby has some good advice that probably won't be taken: If you love this country, Mr. President, concede defeat.

    "AN ELECTION does not end when the winner declares victory," wrote Scott Farris in "Almost President," his 2011 study of unsuccessful presidential candidates. "It ends only when the loser concedes defeat. This may seem a minor distinction, but it is what makes American democracy work."

    If Farris's book comes out in an updated edition, that line may need to be changed. For while Donald Trump has lost the 2020 presidential election, he evinces no intention of conceding the race to Joe Biden. Having spent four years in the White House shattering longstanding norms, Trump is now wrecking another of the unwritten but crucial expectations of presidential politics — the duty to accept defeat with dignity and submit to the people's decision.

    Nobody likes to be beaten in a contest, and there have always been graceless losers. But a tennis player who smashes his racket when he loses a set or an NBA superstar who refuses to shake hands when another team wins ultimately affects only his own reputation. A presidential candidate who won't acknowledge defeat, on the other hand, undermines the legitimacy of American democracy and inflames partisan rancor just when the need for reconciliation is greatest.

    Expecting Trump to act with dignity is … well, see our Amazon Product du Jour. You'll be wasting your time.


  • But did he concede? Even briefly? Jacob Sullum answers that burning question at Reason: No, Trump Did Not Concede the Election (Even Briefly).

    A Sunday morning tweet by President Donald Trump set off a flurry of misleading reports suggesting he had finally admitted that he lost his bid for reelection. "Trump says for the first time Biden won the election," CNN said. "Trump says Biden won," BBC News announced. "Referring to Mr. Biden, the president said that 'he won,'" The New York Times reported. "That represented the first time Mr. Trump had publicly said what his advisers have been telling him for days privately: His re-election bid failed and Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20."

    But what Trump actually said was perfectly consistent with what he has been saying since Election Day: "He won because the Election was Rigged." In other words, Biden did not really win; it looks that way only because of a massive fraud that deprived Trump of his rightful victory. The president added: "NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company, Dominion, with a bad reputation & bum equipment that couldn't even qualify for Texas (which I won by a lot!), the Fake & Silent Media, & more!"

    Also: what Trump actually said was perfectly consistent with his (as Jacob says) long history of self-flattering delusions. My only depressing observation is the surprising number of people who are going along with it. It really is a personality cult mixed with conspiracy theory. There's a toxic mix for you.


  • But (as reported at the Epoch Times, via Liberty Unyielding), there's always Trump lawyer Sidney Powell: ‘We're getting ready to overturn election results in multiple states’.

    Former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell, a Trump campaign lawyer, suggested in a Sunday interview that there is still more evidence coming out in President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud and irregularities.

    OK. Fine. Evidence? Let's see it.


  • Pun Salad Fave Virginia Postrel is optimistic: 'Trumpism' Without Trump? There's No Such Thing.

    Even in defeat, President Donald Trump is a master of branding. People are rushing to slap his name on their favorite version of the Republican Party.

    “Whatever the GOP once stood for, voters today associate it with one thing: Donald Trump,” writes Bloomberg’s Joshua Green. “Trumpism” is the word of the season.

    But what exactly is it, or was it?

    What follows is an excellent analysis of what "Trumpism without Trump" might look like. As someone said once about Oakland, California: there's no "there" there. Or in VP's words:

    Trumpism without Trump is like chocolate chip ice cream without chocolate chips. Missing its defining ingredient, it’s plain vanilla.


  • [Amazon Link]
    Making some waves for her book (link at your right) published months ago, Abigail Shrier wonders: Does the ACLU Want to Ban My Book?.

    I never thought book banning would be respectable in America, much less that I’d be the target, but here we are. Last Thursday Target stopped selling my book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” in response to two Twitter complaints.

    Where does the ACLU come in? Right here:

    “Abigail Shrier’s book is a dangerous polemic with a goal of making people not trans,” Chase Strangio, the American Civil Liberties Union’s deputy director for transgender justice, tweeted Friday. “I think of all the times & ways I was told my transness wasn’t real & the daily toll it takes. We have to fight these ideas which are leading to the criminalization of trans life again.” Then: “Stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.”

    You read that right: Some in today’s ACLU favor book banning. Grace Lavery, a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, went further, tweeting: “I DO encourage followers to steal Abigail Shrier’s book and burn it on a pyre.”

    Et tu, ACLU? As I type Alison's book is Amazon's "#1 Best Seller in LGBT Demographic Studies". I see a Streisand Effect.

    As I wondered in a comment at Granite Grok: will Irreversible Damage make the American Library Association's Banned Books Week next year? (I note it's not available at Portsmouth Public Libary.)


  • Glenn Greenwald has more on the ACLU connection: The Ongoing Death of Free Speech: Prominent ACLU Lawyer Cheers Suppression of a New Book. There's an "internal war" going on in the ACLU about its stance toward unwoke speech.

    Numerous ACLU staffers told me that one of the most vocal and effective advocates for a more “nuanced” free speech approach was Chase Strangio, the ACLU’s Deputy Director for Transgender Justice of its LGBT & HIV Project, who I also interviewed. I knew Strangio as an excellent lawyer who earned my admiration from his years of dedication representing WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and I joined him once at the ACLU headquarters for a videotaped discussion of that case. A measure of Strangio’s massive influence is his inclusion in this year’s TIME 100 list, with a tribute from actress Laverne Cox.

    My interview with Strangio was too long ago for me to comfortably summarize it, but suffice to say there was no question that his views on free speech are sharply divergent from those that caused me to regard ACLU lawyers and their free speech absolutism as among my childhood heroes. If you want to hear reasons why the ACLU should be more reluctant to represent the free speech rights of “dangerous” extremists and why free speech should give way to other, more important values — views I vehemently reject — Strangio is about the most thoughtful advocate I’ve heard in defense of that position.

    Sad!


  • Here's news you can use from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution: Sunny Days Protect Against Flu. Quoting a research paper:

    Sunlight, likely operating through the well-established channel of producing vitamin D, has the potential to play a significant role in reducing flu incidence. A recent meta-analysis of 25 randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation (Martineau et al. 2017) demonstrated significant benefits of such supplements for reducing the likelihood that an individual will contract an acute upper respiratory infection. The current study considers sunlight as an alternate, natural path through which humans can and do secure vitamin D. This study’s findings complement and reinforce the Martineau et al. findings.

    Alex also, bless him, links to Inc: Neuroscience Says These Are the 10 Happiest Songs Ever. Relevance? I got your relevance right here. On the list:

Starship Troopers

[Amazon Link]

Continuing on my "Reread Heinlein" project. I still remember when I first read this book: got the hardcover out of the library of Boyd Elementary School in Omaha, Nebraska. I was either in fifth or sixth grade, and that would have made me 10 or 11 years old.

I even remember what shelf it was on in the library. Memory is funny.

And: whoa. I'd read some of Heinlein's juveniles before that. This was different. With someone buying the farm in Chapter One, despite the best, heroic efforts of the narrator.

And the book pictured at your right is the edition I own: Signet 50¢ paperback, second printing 1963. (Available for $9.60 at Amazon, plus shipping.)

The narrator is Juan Rico, spoiled aimless rich kid. On a lark, being eighteen years of age, he signs up for the Federal Service, which is the only way in his future society to get the vote and qualify for full citizenship. Having no skills of possible interest, he's assigned to the Mobile Infantry (MI). Which is a tough way to go; even if you survive basic training (not everyone does), there's soon an interstellar war on. The enemy is a race of insect-like creatures, unaffectionately called the "Bugs". Also involved are the "Skinnies", who are initially Bug allies, but are "persuaded" (by MI actions) to switch allegiance to the humans.

But what the book is really about is Juan's growth from callow youth into a seasoned military veteran. Heinlein handles this transformation deftly, to an extent I didn't really appreciate as a pre-teen.

Another theme is the obligation of individuals to their society. A few flashbacks to Juan's (required) high school course in "History and Moral Philosophy" illustrate: the teacher, Mr. Dubois, is a veteran and a martinet. None of this "two sides to every question" nonsense for him. He's utterly certain that the philosophical underpinnings of the Terran Federation are not just true, but provably mathematically correct! (I doubt that.)

The book won the Best Novel Hugo in 1960. So yeah, it's very good. But not perfect; for some reason, Juan spends a bunch of paragraphs on the MI's organization and politics. Those are details we don't need, Imho.

And can you have spoilers for a sixty-year-old book? Well, stop reading if your answer is yes.

The book just ends, with Juan about to lead his troops into another battle. Does it end because Juan buys it? Gee, hope not.

Oh, yeah: if you like this book at all, you're probably gonna hate the movie.