Friday, November 17, 2017

The Day Nothing Happened



Not loafing today (well, except for a couple of hours surfing YouTube), but I couldn't find much that could keep my attention long enough to write about.

Which, now that I think about it, isn't a bad thing.

And it drizzled here today, which generally puts me in the mood to find a good book and turn the heat up. The cats agrees, and has declared a campaign to sit in my lap as frequently as possible. I'm pretty sure I'm just a cat heating pad with legs once I settle in.

But I'm sure someone will do a worldwide faceplant in a day or two, and I'll be rested, and with an extra days' worth of rotten eggs to throw.

Hope y'all had a nice Friday, sliding into a lazy weekend.

And fair warning: Sunday is National Ammo Day.
You should start planning your purchases now, if you hadn't already.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Future Darwin Award Winners - Team Event

h/t Kenny


If these people ever breed, the species is so f****d.

Some people are only worth anything if we set them on fire, and practiced beating out the flames with rakes, mattocks, and brush hooks.

"Lighten up, Francis."


 
From comments here:

 
-- "...you're nominally supposed to remember the almost literal real three-percenters who've actually served to give you other slacker 97% the freedom to ignore and spit on us the rest of the year. "--

That is uncalled-for arrogance. We of the 97% you disdain made your service possible. We paid the taxes that provided for every facet and element of your soldiering. We supported you with our purchases of War Bonds. We've practically fallen over backwards in praising you and thanking you. And a great many of us worked at making the weapons you wielded, or learned to wield, rather than at higher-paying occupations elsewhere in the private sector.

You want thanks? You get more of that today than any class of veterans in America's history. You want praise? See previous answer. But don't expect either of those conditions to continue if you make a practice of sneering at us, simply because we never donned the uniform.


As Sgt. Hulka said. "Lighten up, Francis."

But you sound serious, so here's my serious reply to that.

I don't disdain the 97%. As lifelong civilians, the vast majority of them are exactly what I expect.
(This is why there hasn't been a Democrat elected president with any military experience since Jimmy Carter.)
I just call it like I see it. And perhaps it escaped your notice, but veterans, including those in combat, pay taxes too. Which, last I heard, was more of a contribution than 51% of the country does, year in and year out. So if anything, I'd only be disdaining maybe those douchebags, who neither pay nor serve.

Secondly, for comparison, in 1944, something like 16% of the males 18-45 in America were in uniform. Now it's less than 1%, going back 25 or 50 years. As Churchill once said, "Never have so many owed so much to so few."

As for "making the weapons" thanks, sincerely. I was unaware, however, that working for defense contractors was such a financial sacrifice. Mainly because most of the kids I went to school with had parents who worked for Lockheed, Hughes, Northrop, McDonnell-Douglas, Martin, Consolidated, Vought, North American Rockwell, Rocketdyne, General Dynamics, and a few other small companies, now mainly departed to more tax-friendly havens, and conglomerated out of existence in most cases. And BTW, most of their dads had served in uniform too, unlike most of their own sons. I seem to remember most of them doing just fine, financially, but when the government gives you college and wildly advantageous home loans gratis just for serving, it's a lot harder to screw up in life. I wouldn't know.

As for "more thanks" and "more praise", hey great.
Send a can of that to my brother, who graduated from DaNang, Class of '65, and got called "baby killer" when he rotated home through LAX.
He still hasn't gotten his parade, or thanks, or any praise (and long since gave up looking for any of the above from the wastrels of society, and got over it), and last I looked, Ken Burns and the Usual Hippie Suspects just shit on his generation all over again on PBS/Pravda. Like they do, since forever.
Some day when I get the courage to broach the subject, I want to sit down with my brother and his boot camp yearbook, and see how that class from MCRD did. I suspect if it was compared alongside such artistic endeavors as HBO's Band of Brothers, the aftermath for his classmates would be a national scandal.
(That is, it would if the yellow-backed cowardly jackasses culpable for that generation's treatment had any sense of self-respect. John Kerry, Bill Clinton, and almost everyone in Hollywood, call your office.)

Please read what I wrote, instead of what you imagined I wrote, and note that I didn't ask for praise, nor even thanks. As if either would ever be forthcoming. Just a little unspoken respect, and acting like decent Americans, all on your own. It's not like I demanded you stand watch in Bumfuckistan at 3AM 8000 miles away from home in freezing rain for less than minimum wage, or something equally unreasonable. But as befits those of lesser mettle, just don't be douchebags, and flaming embarrassments to your entire country. That's all.

FTR, I haven't seen any "bending over backwards", except for about five minutes after the Gulf War, which was over in, what, 72 hours on the ground, and six weeks of near-bloodless air pummeling? And that was 26 years ago.

But I've lost track of how many movies, articles, and newspaper stories have done nothing but paint every vet as a defective drug-addicted suicidal PTSD loser, going back to about 1966. The only bending I've seen is actual vets, being bent over before they take it in the pants, yet again.

We won't even talk much about the pampered pussies of the NFL, or their mostly libtard kissass owners. The only thing that hasn't been beaten almost to death there (that ought to be) is the players pulling that crap.
The best thing we could do, instead of having the Army start taking Cat IV retards and psych cases, should be re-instituting national conscription. I'd start with the NFL; they already understand how a draft works, and giving those overpaid thugs some constructive supervision would probably straighten out more than a few of them. And the rest could use some serious wall-to-wall counseling, from people who aren't playing a kid's game.

{Oh, and while we're there, let's draft the chicks, too. Nothing will cool all that happygas BS about "women in combat" like mandating that 50% of all draftees be women, starting tomorrow, and that they be assigned to infantry, artillery, and armor units at the exact same percentage males are. If they wash out, keep drafting women until they find enough to fill the quotas. That will be every woman of draft age in America, by the way, to find the three dozen living that can pass the current standards. Sure, if there's a shooting war, they'll die in droves, and get half their male counterparts killed too, but what's that compared to seriously inconveniencing 20 million crippled women washouts, and serving the "Diversity is our strength" mantra?}

And don't even start with what the 97% have paid for; I've seen the pictures of sewer rats and cockroaches running through the VA hospitals without a single civil service oxygen thief running that shitshow demoted, fired, or prosecuted once going back to the 1970s, while vets back to the WWII are literally dying waiting to see a doctor. That's what taxes and war bonds (War bonds? Those haven't been a thing since, when...? 1945?? How old are you?) have paid for.

I'm sorry if a half-serious comment hurt your feelings. Really, I am.
You seem to be a pretty bright and decent guy, a fellow blogger, and well-known author, and I think what I wrote struck a lot closer to home for you than I ever intended. That a mostly tongue-in-cheek comment gets you that riled says more about you, I think, that it does about the sentiment I expressed.
But sneering at those who never donned the uniform?
What would be the point?
The phrase "He never served" is so pregnant with meaning to those who have, none of us would ever waste the effort to even exercise our facial muscles about it. Mainly because the military isn't for everybody, and I'm actually pretty happy for many of those who never attempted it (not least of all because I wouldn't trust any number of them with firearms, high explosives, nor any conveyance more complicated than a pack mule).

I merely repeat my fond yearning from the original post, that those of you, by happenstance, choice, temperament, or accidents of fate, who never put yourselves at risk for the country, to please not make those of us who did wish we hadn't either.

I don't think that's really too much to ask for.

And the only contempt I've seen expressed has all been going the other way, pretty much non-stop, for decades. (When, in contrast, the Westboro @$$clowns get beaten to a bloody pulp by bystanders for mocking and jeering at soldiers who've died, and NFL take-a-knee protesters start getting the Tonya Harding steel pipe leg massage every time they venture out amongst the public, give a holler. I not only want to watch, I'd pay to see that.)

I'll even go out on a limb, and say that if those who served from about 1917-1991 knew how their children and grandchildren were going to f**k up both the country, and the world, they'd have probably stayed home too. Mainly so that succeeding generations of their progeny would get to learn the hard way and first-person what simple common sense would have taught them otherwise, and exactly how, in all likelihood, they're going to learn the lesson when it's dropped on their doorstep again and again, like it was on 9/11.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plague Hysteria Is Horsesh...er, Rose Fertilizer

I told you the preceding Crichton essay to tell you this one...


As some of my readers here have noted in recent comments in the last few weeks, the media keeps reporting on the "ZOMG Plague!" epidemic going on in Madagascar (famous previously mainly for being the setting of a couple of kids' cartoons). As I've noted in brief replies, it's not a thing. But the media under-played the near-apocalypse that was Ebola, and now they're way overplaying the yawner that is another African plague outbreak. Folks, the two don't cancel each other out, and average to decent journalism. In fact, the media has sucked ass both times, and I will now illuminate the point.

Premise: The Media Are Idiots, and they lie reflexively.

Case In Point:
Drudge, today has two links to the plague stories dribbling out.

This one, beyond retarded. Beyond even fucktarded.
Cringe-worthy and beyond-fucktarded money quote (the reason Drudge linked it):
Infection and immunity expert Dr. Matthew Avison, of University of Bristol, has revealed the outbreak in east Africa is likely to become more serious before the "crisis" ends.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Star Online, Dr. Avison said because the disease is “extremely rare” it has been “resilient” to antibiotics.
“Because this disease is extremely rare, it doesn’t get exposed to antibiotics that often,” he said.
“That means it’s more resistant to antibiotics and the risk of death is higher.”
However, he said if antibiotics are handed out quickly then the disease “can still be treated”.
If Avison is indeed an "infection and immunity expert", he's been grievously misquoted. Or he's a raving lunatic jackass. There is no third option there.
And as we're talking Britistan, it could go either way.

Because the way it works is that diseases become resistant by too much exposure to antibiotics, particularly under-dosing, not by too little exposure. This is Microbiology 101 stuff, not trade secrets from Bayer Labs.

So the only reason antibiotics don't work is because no one did a Culture & Sensitivity test to see what kills this plague strain the best. Which is what everyone, even in Third World Madagascar, does. unless they're too broke, or morons.
(A C&S is where you grow the bacteria you're worried about on a petri dish in an incubator, and then, once it's thriving, drop little wafers of 2 to 12 antibiotics onto the dish in different spots to see what kills it at all, or kills it the best. It's something a C-student in high school can accomplish with minimal supervision.)


So, either the Star's ace reporter, Joshua Nebbish Nitwit Nevett, fucked the quote up by the numbers, because he never had so much as even high school biology, or else Dr. Avison fell on his head a lot as a baby, and got his doctorate the same place Dr. Jenny McCarthy learned about vaccines and autism. Put your chips where you like on that, but without more information, it's a straight 50/50 bet, IMHO.

Super bonus fucktardation moment, same article:
Scientists also believe the disease – which can kill in 24 hours – could become untreatable in the future if the virus mutates.
Boys and girls, if the plague virus mutated, it wouldn't be a epidemiological catastrophe, it would be a medical miracle - because Plague is caused by a bacterium, pictured at the top of the post, not by a virus. But the Star's resident halfwit doesn't know the difference between a bacteria and a virus, which is the difference between houses and houseflies. So if you can't get the basics of biology even remotely correct on the first pass, you're entirely untrustworthy and deserve to be the subject of ridicule for making retarded people look smart by comparison with reporters.

And then this one, doubling down on teh Stoopid.

A local news crew following one health worker in the stricken city heard doctors informing residents that the new strain of the disease “can kill in three hours”.
So, just to be clear, we're basing medical credibility on the recollection and medical grasp of the brighter lights of a local news crew, and hearsay given to people with a middle-school education, in a country where the median age is 19, where bare literacy hovers at 60%, and just getting to the 11th grade is considered to be a college degree.
(As Casey Stengel used to say, you could look it up.)

So no, plague - not even pneumonic plague - doesn't kill anyone "in three hours".
Nor even in 24 hours.
Even in a country where the concept of hours is probably lost on a population where 99% of them can't afford a wristwatch.

Even the bastion of scholarly scientific accuracy, Wikipedia, notes the following about pneumonic plague:
Symptoms include fever, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and cough. They typically start about three to seven days after exposure.
So, three hours...or did we mean to say 72-168 hours? One of these things is not like the other.

Oh, and that "resilient" plague strain?
Dr Avison said...old antibiotics developed decades ago can still cure the disease.
He said the problem is “access to those” antibiotics in countries with poor health infrastructure.
In other words, "Please ignore the ascientific frothing moonbat hysteria we clickbaited you here with in the previous paragraphs. We regret any inference that our raging journalistic stupidity might be confused with actual facts." - Sincerely, the Usual Gang Of Forty-IQ Clot-headed Mouthbreathing Idiots at The Star.

Oh, and a country where residents have an average income of under $1000 might have a wee bit of trouble shelling out $50 for a course of doxycycline? File that under "No shit, Sherlock!"

Something else that RoomTemp IQ Reporter at the Star forgot to mention is that in Madagascar (just like in Ebolaville, West Africa in 2014) the local custom of the geniuses there is to play with the dead bodies of infected victims. No, really. In Madagascar, they dance with them. Cheek to cheek. So as you ponder that, consider that the rhymes of "Ring around the rosie" was originally descriptive and commemorative of the Black Death as it toured throughout Europe in the 1300s, and not a children's playground rhyme.

Maybe you could update the Madagascar version to some Oingo Boingo:



For those of you inclined to panic or just over-prepare, a box of N100 respirator masks, a bottle of aquarium doxycycline, and a modicum of diligent personal research, will cost you under $100, and solve your plague problems, even if we start shipping infected Madagascar slum residents to both Disneyworld and the NYFC Subway by the 767-load tomorrow. It's that much of a non-problem in the First World.

And somebody should tell Drudge that the boobs on the Page 3 girls (in inches) are a higher number than the IQ of the reporters at The Star. As is generally true for any newspaper, anywhere, at any point in history.


Michael Crichton - Why Speculate?

 

 

WHY SPECULATE?
A talk by Michael Crichton
 
There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.
—Mark Twain
My topic for today is the prevalence of speculation in media. What does it mean? Why has it become so ubiquitous? Should we do something about it? If so, what? And why? Should we care at all? Isn’t speculation valuable? Isn’t it natural? And so on.
 
I will join this speculative trend and speculate about why there is so much speculation. In keeping with the trend, I will try to express my views without any factual support, simply providing you with a series of bald assertions.
 
This is not my natural style, and it’s going to be a challenge for me, but I will do my best. Some of you may see that I have written out my talk, which is already a contradiction of principle. To keep within the spirit of our time, it should really be off the top of my head.
 
Before we begin, I’d like to clarify a definition. By the media I mean movies, television, Internet, books, newspapers and magazines. Again, in keeping with the general trend of speculation, let’s not make too many fine distinctions.
 
First we might begin by asking, to what degree has the media turned to pure speculation? Someone could do a study of this and present facts, but nobody has. I certainly won’t. There’s no reason to bother. The requirement that you demonstrate a factual basis for your claim vanished long ago. It went out with the universal praise for Susan Faludi’s book Backlash, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for General Nonfiction in 1991, and which presented hundreds of pages of quasi-statistical assertions based on a premise that was never demonstrated and that was almost certainly false.
 
But that’s old news. I merely refer to it now to set standards.
 
Today, of course everybody knows that “Hardball,” “Rivera Live” and similar shows are nothing but a steady stream of guesses about the future. The Sunday morning talk shows are pure speculation. They have to be. Everybody knows there’s no news on Sunday.
 
But television is entertainment. Let’s look at the so-called serious media. For example, here is The New York Times for March 6, the day Dick Farson told me I was giving this talk. The column one story for that day concerns Bush’s tariffs on imported steel. Now we read: Mr. Bush’s action “is likely to send the price of steel up sharply, perhaps as much as ten percent…” American consumers “will ultimately bear” higher prices. America’s allies “would almost certainly challenge” the decision. Their legal case “could take years to litigate in Geneva, is likely to hinge” on thus and such.
Also note the vague and hidden speculation. The Allies’ challenge would be “setting the stage for a major trade fight with many of the same countries Mr. Bush is trying to hold together in the fractious coalition against terrorism.” In other words, the story speculates that tariffs may rebound against the fight against terrorism.
 
By now, under the Faludi Standard I have firmly established that media are hopelessly riddled with speculation, and we can go on to consider its ramifications.
 
You may read this tariff story and think, what’s the big deal? The story’s not bad. Isn’t it reasonable to talk about effects of current events in this way? I answer, absolutely not. Such speculation is a complete waste of time. It’s useless. It’s bullshit on the front page of the Times.
 
The reason why it is useless, of course, is that nobody knows what the future holds.
 
Do we all agree that nobody knows what the future holds? Or do I have to prove it to you? I ask this because there are some well-studied media effects which suggest that simply appearing in media provides credibility. There was a well-known series of excellent studies by Stanford researchers that have shown, for example, that children take media literally. If you show them a bag of popcorn on a television set and ask them what will happen if you turn the TV upside down, the children say the popcorn will fall out of the bag. This result would be amusing if it were confined to children. But the studies show that no one is exempt. All human beings are subject to this media effect, including those of us who think we are self-aware and hip and knowledgeable.
 
{Pay attention now... -A.}
 
Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)
 
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
 
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
 
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.
 
{As The Gunny used to note, "You will see this material again." - A.}
 
So one problem with speculation is that it piggybacks on the Gell-Mann effect of unwarranted credibility, making the speculation look more useful than it is.
 
Another issue concerns the sheer volume of speculation. Sheer volume comes to imply a value which is specious. I call this the There-Must-Be-A-Pony effect, from the old joke in which a kid comes down Christmas morning, finds the room filled with horseshit, and claps his hands with delight. His astonished parents ask: why are you so happy? He says, with this much horseshit, there must be a pony.
 
Because we are confronted by speculation at every turn, in print, on video, on the net, in conversation, we may eventually conclude that it must have value. But it doesn’t. Because no matter how many people are speculating, no matter how familiar their faces, how good their makeup and how well they are lit, no matter how many weeks they appear before us in person or in columns, it remains true that none of them knows what the future holds.
 
Some people secretly believe that the future can be known. They imagine two groups of people that can know the future, and therefore should be listened to. The first is pundits. Since they expound on the future all the time, they must know what they are talking about. Do they? “Brill’s Content” used to track the pundit’s guesses, and while one or another had an occasional winning streak, over the long haul they did no better than chance. This is what you would expect. Because nobody knows the future.
 
I want to mention in passing that punditry has undergone a subtle change over the years. In the old days, commentators such as Eric Sevareid spent most of their time putting events in a context, giving a point of view about what had already happened. Telling what they thought was important or irrelevant in the events that had already taken place. This is of course a legitimate function of expertise in every area of human knowledge.
 
But over the years the punditic thrust has shifted away from discussing what has happened, to discussing what may happen. And here the pundits have no benefit of expertise at all. Worse, they may, like the Sunday politicians, attempt to advance one or another agenda by predicting its imminent arrival or demise. This is politicking, not predicting.
 
The second group that some people imagine may know the future are specialists of various kinds. They don’t, either. As a limiting case, I remind you there is a new kind of specialist occupation—I refuse to call it a discipline, or a field of study—called futurism. The notion here is that there is a way to study trends and know what the future holds. That would indeed be valuable, if it were possible. But it isn’t possible. Futurists don’t know any more about the future than you or I. Read their magazines from a couple of years ago and you’ll see an endless parade of error.
 
Expertise is no shield against failure to see ahead. That’s why it was Thomas Watson, head of IBM, who predicted the world only needed 4 or 5 computers. That is about as wrong a prediction as it is possible to make, by a man who had every reason to be informed about what he was talking about. Not only did he fail to anticipate a trend, or a technology, he failed to understand the myriad uses to which a general purpose machine might be put. Similarly, Paul Erlich, a brilliant academic who has devoted his entire life to ecological issues, has been wrong in nearly all his major predictions.
He was wrong about diminishing resources, he was wrong about the population explosion, and he was wrong that we would lose 50% of all species by the year 2000. He devoted his life to intensely felt issues, yet he has been spectacularly wrong.
 
All right, you may say, you’ll accept that the future can’t be known, in the way I am talking. But what about more immediate matters, such as the effects of pending legislation? Surely it is important to talk about what will happen if certain legislation passes. Well, no, it isn’t. Nobody knows what is going to happen when the legislation passes. I give you two examples, one from the left and one from the right.
 
The first is the Clinton welfare reform, harshly criticized by his own left wing for caving in to the Republican agenda. The left’s predictions were for vast human suffering, shivering cold, child abuse, terrible outcomes. What happened? None of these things. Child abuse declined. In fact, as government reforms go, its been a success; but Mother Jones still predicts dire effects just ahead.
This failure to predict the effects of a program was mirrored by the hysterical cries from the Republican right over raising the minimum wage. Chaos and dark days would surely follow as businesses closed their doors and the country was plunged into needless recession. But what was the actual effect? Basically, nothing. Who discusses it now? Nobody. What will happen if there is an attempt to raise the minimum wage again? The same dire predictions all over again. Have we learned anything? No.
 
But my point is, for pending legislation as with everything else, nobody knows the future.
The same thing is true concerning the effect of elections and appointments. What will be the effect of electing a certain president, or a supreme court justice? Nobody knows. Some of you are old enough to remember Art Buchwald’s famous column from the days of the Johnson Administration. Buchwald wrote a “Thank God we don’t have Barry Goldwater” essay, recalling how everyone feared Goldwater would get us into a major war. So we elected Johnson, who promptly committed 200,000 troops to Vietnam. That’s what happens when you choose the dove-ish candidate. You get a war. Or, you elect the intellectually brilliant Jimmy Carter, and watch as he ends up personally deciding who gets to use the White House tennis courts. Or you elect Richard Nixon because he can pull the plug on Vietnam, and he continues to fight for years. And then opens China.
 
Similarly, the history of the Supreme Court appointments is a litany of error in predicting how justices will vote once on the court. They don’t all surprise us, but a lot of them do.
So, in terms of imminent events, can we predict anything at all? No. You need only look at what was said days before the Berlin Wall came down, to see nobody can predict even a few hours ahead. People said all sorts of silly things about the Communist empire just hours before its collapse. I can’t quote them, because that would mean I had looked them up and had facts at hand, and I have promised you not to do that. But take my word for it, you can find silly statements 24 hours in advance.
 
NOBODY KNOWS THE FUTURE.
 
Now, this is not new information. It was Mark Twain who said, “I’ve seen a heap of trouble in my life, and most of it never came to pass.”
 
And much of what politicians say is not so much a prediction as an attempt to make it come true. It’s argument disguised as analysis. But it doesn’t really persuade anybody. Because most people can see through it.
 
If speculation is worthless, why is there so much of it? Is it because people want it? I don’t think so. I myself speculate that media has turned to speculation for media’s own reasons. So now let’s consider the advantages of speculation from a media standpoint.
  1. It’s incredibly cheap. Talk is cheap. And speculation shows are the cheapest thing you can put on television, They’re almost as cheap as running a test pattern. Speculation requires no research, no big staff. Minimal set. Just get the talking host, book the talking guests—of which there is no shortage—and you’re done! Instant show. No reporters in different cities around the world, no film crews on location. No deadlines, no footage to edit, no editors…nothing! Just talk. Cheap.
  2. You can’t lose. Even though the speculation is correct only by chance, which means you are wrong at least 50% of the time, nobody remembers and therefore nobody cares. You are never accountable. The audience does not remember yesterday, let alone last week, or last month. Media exists in the eternal now, this minute, this crisis, this talking head, this column, this speculation.
One of the clearest proofs of this is the Currents of Death controversy. It originated with the New Yorker, which has been a gushing fountainhead of erroneous scientific speculation for fifty years. But my point is this: many of the people who ten years ago were frantic to measure dangerous electromagnetic radiation in their houses now spend thousands of dollars buying magnets to attach to their wrists and ankles, because of the putative healthful effects of magnetic fields. These people don’t remember these are the same magnetic fields they formerly wanted to avoid. And since they don’t remember, as a speculator on media, you can’t lose.
 
Let me expand on this idea that you can’t lose. It’s not confined to the media. Most areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation, and have embraced them wildly. In academia, speculation is usually dignified as theory. It’s fascinating that even though the intellectual stance of the pomo deconstructionist era is against theory, particularly overarching theory, in reality what every academic wants to express is theory.
 
This is in part aping science, but it’s also an escape hatch. Your close textual reading of Jane Austen could well be found wrong, and could be shown to be wrong by a more knowledgeable antagonist. But your theory of radical feminization and authoritarian revolt in the work of Jane Austen is untouchable. Your view of the origins of the First World War could be debated by other authorities more meticulous than you. But your New Historicist essay, which might include your own fantasy about what it would be like if you were a soldier during the first war… well, that’s just unarguable.
A wonderful area for speculative academic work is the unknowable. These days religious subjects are in disfavor, but there are still plenty of good topics. The nature of consciousness, the workings of the brain, the origin of aggression, the origin of language, the origin of life on earth, SETI and life on other worlds… this is all great stuff. Wonderful stuff. You can argue it interminably. But it can’t be contradicted, because nobody knows the answer to any of these topics—and probably, nobody ever will.
 
But that’s not the only strategy one can employ. Because the media-educated public ignores and forgets past claims, these days even authors who present hard data are undamaged when the data is proven wrong. One of the most consistently wrong thinkers of recent years, Carol Gilligan of Harvard, once MS Magazine’s Scientist of the Year, has had to retract (or modify) much of what she has ever written. Yet her reputation as a profound thinker and important investigator continues undiminished. You don’t have to be right, any more. Nobody remembers.
 
Then there is the speculative work of anthropologists like Helen Fisher, who claim to tell us about the origins of love or of infidelity or cooperation by reference to other societies, animal behavior, and the fossil record. How can she be wrong? It’s untestable, unprovable, just so stories.
 
And lest anyone imagine things are different in the hard sciences, consider string theory, for nearly twenty years now the dominant physical theory. More than one generation of physicists has labored over string theory. But—if I understand it correctly, and I may not—string theory cannot be tested or proven or disproven. Although some physicists are distressed by the argument that an untestable theory is nevertheless scientific, who is going to object, really? Face it, an untestable theory is ideal! Your career is secure!
 
In short, the understanding that so long as you speculate, you can’t lose is widespread. And it is perfect for the information age, which promises a cornucopia of knowledge, but delivers a cornucopia of snake oil.
 
Now, nowhere is it written that the media need be accurate, or useful. They haven’t been for most or recorded history. So, now they’re speculating… so what? What is wrong with it?
  1. Tendency to excess. The fact that it’s only talk makes drama and spectacle unlikely—unless the talk becomes heated and excessive. So it becomes excessive. Not every show features the Crossfire-style food fight, but it is a tendency on all shows.
  2. “Crisisization” of everything possible. Most speculation is not compelling because most events are not compelling—Gosh, I wonder what will happen to the German Mark? Are they going to get their labor problems under control? This promotes the well-known media need for a crisis. Crisis in the German mark! Uh-oh! Look out! Crises unite the country, draw viewers in large numbers, and give something to speculate about. Without a crisis, the talk soon degenerates into debate about whether the refs should have used instant replay on that last football game. So there is a tendency to hype urgency and importance and be-there-now when such reactions are really not appropriate. Witness the interminable scroll at the bottom of the screen about the Queen Mother’s funeral. Whatever the Queen mother’s story may be, it is not a crisis. I even watched a scroll of my own divorce roll by for a couple of days on CNN. It’s sort of flattering, even though they got it wrong. But my divorce is surely not vital breaking news.
  3. Superficiality as a norm. Gotta go fast. Hit the high points. Speculation adds to the superficiality. That’s it, don’t you think?
  4. Endless presentation of uncertainty and conflict may interfere with resolution of issues. There is some evidence that the television food fights not only don’t represent the views of most people—who are not so polarized—but they may tend to make resolution of actual disputes more difficult in the real world. At the very least, these food fights obscure the recognition that disputes are resolved every day. Compromise is much easier from relatively central positions than it is from extreme and hostile, conflicting positions: Greenpeace Spikers vs the Logging Industry.
  5. The interminable chains of speculation paves the way to litigation about breast implants, hysteria over Y2K and global warming, articles in The New Yorker about currents of death, and a variety of other results that are not, by any thoughtful view, good things to happen. There comes to be a perception—convenient to the media—that nothing is, in the end, knowable for sure. When in fact, that’s not true.
Let me point to a demonstrable bad effect of the assumption that nothing is really knowable. Whole word reading was introduced by the education schools of the country without, to my knowledge, any testing of the efficacy of the new method. It was simply put in place. Generations of teachers were indoctrinated in its methods. As a result, the US has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the industrialized world. The assumption that nothing can be known with certainty does have terrible consequences.
 
As GK Chesterton said (in a somewhat different context), “If you believe in nothing you’ll believe in anything.” That’s what we see today. People believe in anything.
 
But just in terms of the general emotional tenor of life, I often think people are nervous, jittery in this media climate of what if, what if, maybe, perhaps, could be—when there is simply no reason to feel nervous. Like a bearded nut in robes on the sidewalk proclaiming the end of the world is near, the media is just doing what makes it feel good, not reporting hard facts. We need to start seeing the media as a bearded nut on the sidewalk, shouting out false fears. It’s not sensible to listen to it.
We need to start remembering that everybody who said that Y2K wasn’t a real problem was either shouted down, or kept off the air. The same thing is true now of issues like species extinction and global warming. You never hear anyone say it’s not a crisis. I won’t go into it, because it might lead to the use of facts, but I’ll just mention two reports I speculate you haven’t heard about. The first is the report in Science magazine January 18 2001 (Oops! a fact) that contrary to prior studies, the Antarctic ice pack is increasing, not decreasing, and that this increase means we are finally seeing an end to the shrinking of the pack that has been going on for thousands of years, ever since the Holocene era. I don’t know which is more surprising, the statement that it’s increasing, or the statement that its shrinkage has preceded global warming by thousands of years.
The second study is a National Academy of Sciences report on the economic effects to the US economy of the last El Nino warming event of 1997. That warming produced a net benefit of 15 billion dollars to the economy. That’s taking into account 1.5 billion loss in California from rain, which was offset by decreased fuel bills for a milder winter, and a longer growing season. Net result 15 billion in increased productivity.
 
The other thing I will mention to you is that during the last 100 years, while the average temperature on the globe has increased just .3 C, the magnetic field of the earth declined by 10%. This is a much larger effect than global warming and potentially far more serious to life on this planet. Our magnetic field is what keeps the atmosphere in place. It is what deflects lethal radiation from space. A reduction of the earth’s magnetic field by ten percent is extremely worrisome.
 
But who is worried? Nobody. Who is raising a call to action? Nobody. Why not? Because there is nothing to be done. How this may relate to global warming I leave for you to speculate on your own time.
 
Personally, I think we need to start turning away from media, and the data shows that we are, at least from television news. I find that whenever I lack exposure to media I am much happier, and my life feels fresher.
 
In closing, I’d remind you that while there are some things we cannot know for sure, there are many things that can be resolved, and indeed are resolved. Not by speculation, however. By careful investigation, by rigorous statistical analysis. Since we’re awash in this contemporary ocean of speculation, we forget that things can be known with certainty, and that we need not live in a fearful world of interminable unsupported opinion. But the gulf that separates hard fact from speculation is by now so unfamiliar that most people can’t comprehend it. I can perhaps make it clear by this story:
On a plane to Europe, I am seated next to a guy who is very unhappy. Turns out he is a doctor who has been engaged in a two-year double blind study of drug efficacy for the FDA, and it may be tossed out the window. Now a double-blind study means there are four separate research teams, each having no contact with any other team—preferably, they’re at different universities, in different parts of the country. The first team defines the study and makes up the medications, the real meds and the controls. The second team administers the medications to the patients. The third team comes in at the end and independently assesses the effect of the medications on each patient. The fourth team takes the data and does a statistical analysis. The cost of this kind of study, as you might imagine, is millions of dollars. And the teams must never meet.
 
My guy is unhappy because months after the study is over, he in the waiting room of Frankfurt airport and he strikes up a conversation with another man in the lounge, and they discover—to their horror—that they are both involved in the study. My guy was on the team that administered the meds. The other guy is on the team doing the statistics. There isn’t any reason why one should influence the other at this late date, but nevertheless the protocol requires that team members never meet. So now my guy is waiting to hear if the FDA will throw out the entire study, because of this chance meeting in Frankfurt airport.
 
Those are the lengths you have to go to if you want to be certain that your information is correct. But when I tell people this story, they just stare at me incomprehendingly. They find it absurd. They don’t think it’s necessary to do all that. They think it’s overkill. They live in the world of MSNBC and The New York Times. And they’ve forgotten what real, reliable information is, and the lengths you have to go to get it. It’s so much harder than just speculating.
 
And on that point, I have to agree with them.
 
Thank you very much.
– International Leadership Forum, La Jolla (26 April 2002)
 
©Michael Crichton 2002
Posted for reference.
All rights reserved to the author. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

These Are My People

h/t Peter @ Bayou Renaissance Man
Vegas shooting ER team
Ironman, Captain America, Superman, and Batman 

From this month's Emergency Physician's Monthly (the trade paper for ER docs):

I’m a night shift doc. My work week is Friday to Monday, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Most people don’t want to work those shifts. But that’s when most of the action comes in, so that’s when I work. It was a Sunday night when the EMS telemetry call came in to alert Sunrise Hospital of a mass casualty incident. All hospitals in Las Vegas are notified in a MCI to prepare for incoming patients.
As I listened to the tele, there happened to be a police officer who was there for an unrelated incident. I saw him looking at his radio. I asked him, “Hey. Is this real?” and he said, “Yeah, man.” I ran down to my car and grabbed my police radio. The first thing that I heard when I turned it on to the area command was officers yelling, “Automatic fire…country music concert.” Ten o’clock at night at an open air concert, automatic fire into 10-20 thousand people or more in an open field—that’s a lot of people who could get hurt.
At that point, I put into action a plan that I had thought of beforehand. It might sound odd, but I had thought about these problems well ahead of time because of the way I always approached resuscitations:
  1. Preplan ahead
  2. Ask hard questions
  3. Figure out solutions
  4. Mentally rehearse plans so that when the problem arrives, you don’t have to jump over a mental hurdle since the solution is already worked out
It’s an open secret that Las Vegas is a big target because of its large crowds. For years I had been planning how I would handle a MCI, but I rarely shared it because people might think I was crazy.

It's written by the senior ER doc on duty, and so from his perspective. Taking not one thing from him, but the reality is, while his plan helped, it was a team effort.

For instance, they had 6 ER docs working that night, including a Trauma surgeon and Trauma resident.
We also initiated our hospital’s “code triage,” in which staff from upstairs would come down to help by bringing down gurneys and spare manpower. We took all of our empty ED beds and wheelchairs out into the ambulance bay. Anybody who could push a patient, from environmental services to EKG techs to CNAs, came out to the ambulance bay. I said to the staff, “I’ll call it out. I’ll tell you guys where to go, and you guys bring these people in.”
Unstated were how many RNs on hand, but in a 36-bed main ER, they had 10+, which swelled to probably 20-50.
What were they doing?

 At that point, one of the nurses came running out into the ambulance bay and just yelled, “Menes! You need to get inside! They’re getting behind!” I turned to Deb Bowerman, the RN who had been with me triaging and said, “You saw what I’ve been doing. Put these people in the right places.” She said, “I got it.”
And so I turned triage over to a nurse. The textbook says that triage should be run by the most experienced doctor, but at that point what else could we do?
Better late than never, doc. Nurses run Triage 24/7/365 everywhere. Should've seen that coming and made the call a lot faster.
We were in the hallway of Station 1 with the beds side by side. We were butt to butt intubating these three people. “I need etomidate! I need sux!”
Up until then, the nurses would go over to the Pyxis, put their finger on the scanner, and we would wait. Right then, I realized a flow issue. I needed these medications now. I turned to our ED pharmacist and asked for every vial of etomidate and succinylcholine in the hospital. I told one of the trauma nurses that we need every unit of O negative up here now. The blood bank gave us every unit they had. In order to increase the flow through the resuscitation process, nurses had Etomidate, Succinylcholine, and units of O-negative blood in their pockets or nearby.
Another good call. But "Duh".
By this time, all the patients had bilateral IVs. As the orange tags and yellow tags would become red tags, it became very apparent that those early IVs, put in while patients still had decent veins, were lifesaving. As the patients decompensated, we had adequate access to rapidly transfuse and stabilize patients. If we didn’t have that early IV access, we would have spent valuable time trying to cannulate flat veins.
Putting in IVs: nursing skill. Twenty-forty/night. That's why all those patients magically had bilateral IVs.
Cannulating flat veins: what ER docs do when patients don't have anything better.
So again, "Duh."
Throughout the night, I would look up from what I was doing and scan the room to see if anyone was crumping. I noticed a choke point forming for CT. We were now left with stable yellow tags. These patients needed CAT Scans. Typically, the CT Tech picks up the patient, transfers them onto the scanner, and then they bring the patient back. These yellow tag patients were shot in the torso, but for some reason were stable even after 2 or 3 hours. I told the CT Tech, go over to the CAT scan machine, and sit behind the controls. “I don’t want you to move. You’re just going to press buttons for the rest of the night.” Then I took every nurse that was free—at that point we had a lot of extra staff—and told them that all the people who needed CAT scans needed to be lined up in the ambulance hallway outside of CAT scan. We placed monitors on them, and nurses watched them. Then the nurses assisted getting each patient on and off the CT, and then back over to Stations 2 and 4. I called it the CT Conga Line.
And yet again: Good improvisation, excellent use of resources, poor foresight.
But how many hospitals deal with 250 GSWs in 6 hours? So far, just this one.
I identified another choke point with the green tag patients. Many were shot in the extremities. They had potential fractures or open fractures and needed X-rays. The standard way of doing things is taking the patient for an X-Ray, then sending it off to the radiologist so they can read it in their reading room. That was just going to take too long. So I told our CEO, Todd Sklamberg, “I need a radiologist here in the ER. I’m going to attach him to an X-Ray tech because our machines have little screens on them.” They X-Rayed patients, the radiologist read off the screen, and we would decide on disposition right there.
Another genius move. Put the people where the work is, and roll the patients past them.
Create flow; eliminate the bottlenecks, choke points, and single-points-of-failure.
IOW, destroy almost everything we do now, to do what you have to do then.
In the end, we officially had 215 penetrating gunshot wounds, but the actual number is much higher. As I would circle the ER “looking for blood,” I would hear the green tags say, “You know what? I’m not that bad—I’ll be fine.” Over time, they would walk out without getting registered. Our true number was well over 250.
The surgery team performed an unprecedented feat that night. The numbers speak for themselves. In six hours, they did 28 damage control surgeries and 67 surgeries in the first 24 hours. We had dispositioned almost all 215 patients by about 5 o’clock in the morning, just a little more than seven hours after the ordeal began. That’s about 30 GSWs per hour. I couldn’t believe that we saved that many people in that short amount of time. It’s a testament to how amazingly well the hospital team worked together that night. We did everything we could.

Improvisation: 10
Pre-planning: 5
Success: 9.9

Takeaway: Plans fail. So does planning. People - who can improvise on the spot - save your ass. And in this case, 200+ patients too.
Top to bottom, these folks were rockstars, when it counted.

Hopefully some of the two dozen nurses and hordes of other staff members will be telling their stories from that night, especially for lessons learned from all the other perspectives.

Superpowers, bitchez.
F**k a cape and tights; superheroes wear scrubs and stethoscopes.
And they kick Death's ass.

Kicking And Screaming


Sic semper communists. Ten cents of justice while you wait.
And your final word will be "Ow!"

It doesn't matter what stories I look at when they all amount to the same thing:
The Usual @$$holes are fighting tooth and nail to stop the dawning of reality and the return of gravity to everyday life. The pendulum has swung, the music has stopped, and they want to throw down to get that last chair they were left without a year and more ago.

Item: Everybody from Bitch McConjob and Deep State undercover cronies at the White House are about to shit kittens at the likely prospect of non-establishment crony Moore becoming AL's next senator. Hint: Get over it, jackholes. You undermine that election, and you're one step from a tumbrel and guillotine, and I'm not speaking rhetorically. I'm talking you undo a democratic election, and you'll get beheaded, and deservedly so. See if folks are kidding around about that shit any more.

Item: Hollywood is now trying to Cloward-Piven Harvey Weinstein et al by ladling every silly-ass hysterical accusation into the sausage machine, and trying to make them all co-equal.
No, Fucktards, it doesn't work that way. Rapists like Roman Polanski have been your darlings for decades. Now, your chickens have come home to roost with Weinswine.

And your duplicity, and milking that cash cow has tarred all your liberal jackhole political hacks as well.
Lie down with dogs, rise up with fleas.
Once again, not just rhetorical.

Item: Total waste-of-skin-and-oxygen Jeffie Sessions is finding out that actual representatives of their constituents in the House and Senate expect him to, y'know, start investigating the 50,000 felonies committed for a decade or three by Crown Princess Felonia von Pantsuit and the Clinton Crime Family Foundation. If he recuses himself one more time, he's liable to get impeached right out of a job, because he's neither protected, nor untouchably black, unlike the HopeyDopey-era predecessors, so he can either $#!^, or be evicted from the pot, but he's going to find out there's no third option in the post of AG.

Item: The gun banners are finding out no one's buying their swill, no matter what happens. But that if they keep pushing that so-30-years-ago narrative, they're going to get all the guns, in about fifteen minutes, bullets first. In the face. And then we're coming after your families.

Item: And the Useful Idiots of Street Theatre keep trying to bootstrap their lunacy into meaning anything, but what they're sliding towards is getting the comeuppance they so richly deserved, in a Moldylocks-face-punch sort of way, if not full-on street justice circa Hue during Tet.
Personally, I'm pulling for the latter, and at last count, I only see about 100M souls similarly inclined.

In a song that's coming rapidly to the last verse, the Leftards had better leave the stage quietly, and take their lumps, or they're going to find out when you tip over the peaceful change cart, and upgrade to the violent transition exclamation point of most banana republics, you're graduating from former guest to next course on the menu, especially when you haven't got the chips for playing at that table.

Ammunition: it's not just a hobby anymore.
Buy early, and buy often.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Always A Good Day



Always nice when it happens for real.
Adjusted for inflation since 1930, of course.

Even if it took 11 phone calls today to sort out.
Pity I can't bill for the time, but solvency is under-rated, until you don't have it.

Achievment unlocked.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Charging Your Batteries



From time to time, posting is light.

Like today.

It's partly because I have to earn my crust from The Man.
It's also because it's the weekend.

So
1) Go enjoy yours. Rest is what keeps souls healthy.
2) Security, shelter, water, food, medical, comms, power/light, etc:
Isn't there something related to your own short- and long-term preparedness that you ought to be taking care of this weekend?

No days off is the life of an ant.
Who still lives longer than the grasshopper, both in fable, and real life.

Figure out what your life is missing today, and address the imbalance.
Whether than involves shopping carts, work gloves, a recliner, or a hammock.

I can predict with near certainty that the world will still be right where you left it, with TPTB f***ing it up by the numbers, when we turn our eyes to it tomorrow, because that's what they do.

This is the twilight of a year of respite, in an undetermined period of such.
It won't be endless, and there likely isn't going to be a lot of notice when the falls come into view around the last bend of the river.

And time is the most finite of personal resources, of which you always have less than you had before, and no idea when you're out of it.

So, gentle souls, by all means, make the most of yours today.
Mondays in the stormy sea of life come all too soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran's Day




And yes, boys and girls, it's November 11th, Veteran's Day (formerly Armistice Day, before we began numbering successive World Wars). The day when, by federal decree, you not only get a bank holiday and a three-day weekend for something most of you never did, but you're nominally supposed to remember the almost literal real three-percenters who've actually served to give you other slacker 97% the freedom to ignore and spit on us the rest of the year (something at which a growing number of the populace truly excel, even compared to the yardstick of the late 1960s, which is really saying something).


I jest (a tiny bit, and with a modicum of bile), given what's probably the overwhelmingly respectful and decent readership hereabouts, no small number of whom are in that three percent club, but unlike Memorial Day (which some civilian idiot lackwits still can't comprehend is for The Fallen), today is the day for everyone who served - honorably - in the republic's military forces.

Which honor, along with about $5, gets us one cup of burned coffee at Starbuck's 24/7/365.

But as we don't yet live in the Heinleinian Utopia where only we proven worthies get to vote, and the rest of you get to lump it, we will content ourselves knowing that we few, we happy few, are your betters, whether we have this day or not, mainly because we don't spend the other 364 days a year reminding you of the fact, nor refer to our elected leader as el heneral and Maximum Leader For Life, unlike so many of our neighbors in this and other hemispheres' Republiques de Bananes.

We'd really be happy if you lot could manage to simply salute the flag instead of burning it or wiping your hindquarters with it, sing the anthem standing up, show the barest minimum of courtesy to them and the republic for which they stand, and generally, not make us regret the sacrifices we make or made on your behalf, and simply treat your citizenship in the greatest country on earth as the unbelievable honor and privilege it is, and simply exercise it with an appropriately small measure of respect and the teensiest of gratitude to those who make it possible. That shouldn't be too much to ask of those among the population who enjoy all the benefits, without ever having taken so much as a physical exam. 


But if even that minimal effort is too challenging for those douchenozzles who deserve nothing so much as a healthy bitch-slapping with a tire iron, we'd settle for their simple respectful silence, just for a day. 
And hey, you're welcome. The hours were rotten, the pay was a joke, the sacrifices cannot be measured, it's years of my life I'll never get back, some of us died for being in the club, even in "peacetime", but we got to meet the greatest bunch of people in the world: our brothers and sisters in arms.



And as in the rest of life, the friends we gather are generally life's way of apologizing to us all for the relatives we were saddled with at birth.

Thor: Ragnarok



While we're talking movies, (because hey, it's the weekend) if you're any shade of Avengers fan, go see this one.
I caught it last Monday, but didn't get around to doing the review until now.

When I see a movie (particularly in this utterly atrocious year of dungball films) that's packed (which in itself is a minor miracle) at dinnertime on a weekday, and the audience is laughing out loud at the funny parts - and there are a lot in this film - and sitting in rapt attention at the exciting parts, the makers of the flick have nailed the effort.

The third Thor film does that handily, continuing the Marvel Group as the world-record holders at most movies made without a clinker, and handily surpassing Peter Jackson's seven-flick streak with LOTR/The Hobbit. (Even if Marvel had to rotate directors through like a minor league pitching coach.)

It helps that a comic book is essentially a movie storyboard, leaving you with only the necessity of filing in the script and finding $200M or so to make your movie, but so far, Marvel's got the hang of it, while Warner Bros. DC version continue the hit-and-miss (mostly miss) attempts stretching back to the 1970s.

This one really is a lot of fun, plays out the expanding Marvelverse saga nicely, and consistently entertains, which is a claim so few movies make this year as to be noteworthy.
And as I noted yesterday with MotOE, AFAIK, no one involved with this one is under accusation or indictment for an egregious lack of humanity or criminal predations on women or children, which in Hollywood these days should probably become a new award category.

So once again, if you're looking for a fun flick worth your hard-earned dough, this one fits the bill.

My rating:
It's Marvelous.
And like Thor himself, the folks who wielded this one are truly worthy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Murder On The Orient Express (2017)



As a rule, sequels are a bad idea. Like someone doing an impression of someone else, they steal a little of the magic from those who do a much better job in real life, and effortlessly, and the truly awful ones make you wish for a handy weapon. And there are few folks even remotely talented enough to justify any attempt to pull one off.

Going back to the dawn of motion pictures, I can count the worthy re-makes on my fingers*, while the god-awful atrocious ones would need an abacus and reams of paper.
And a handy weapon.

This movie is the exception that proves that rule.

The 1974 version was directed by film legend Sidney Lumet, and received six nominations for Academy Awards, winning one for Ingrid Bergman for Best Supporting Actress. (It was only up against Godfather II and Chinatown, nominated for 11 Oscars apiece that year.)

If you never saw the earlier version, you'll like this one.

If you watched the earlier version (as I did, a couple of days ago, for comparison) you'll like this one.

Today's premiere is produced by Ridley Scott, directed by Kenneth Branagh and with himself in the starring role as Hercule Poirot.
The 1974 version had scads of talented name stars with oodles of Oscars and nominations.
The 2017 version has scads of talented name stars with oodles of Oscars and nominations.
There are times when that really matters. This flick is absolutely one of those times.
Daisy Ridley without a light saber in this one bodes well for her future after the Star Wars sequels have all finally played out.

This time out, more time is spent setting up Poirot's backstory, which sacrifices some time in the earlier version given to character and plot development, but Branagh's Poirot is eminently watchable throughout. The plot is therefore a bit more truncated, and spiced up a bit dramatically and physically this time around, but nonetheless making for a satisfying experience, and hitting, eventually, all the plot points necessary. I actually wish they'd simply added the scenes they didn't in order to do this, but it wasn't my $100M to spend, or my flick to edit, so you get out of the theatre maybe fifteen minutes faster.

If you don't know anything about either version, I ain't telling you whodunit here.
The reveal at the end is everything you'd want, and this version adds a touching epilogue to scratch an itch and pay off an earlier dialogue scriptease. (And if that isn't a word, I have dibs on it from here on out.) They even managed to set up the possible sequel, which one might even hope for, provided it's another Scott/Branagh vehicle as well.

It's one of the (sadly few) decent movies to go see this year, doubly so in the current climate of well-earned Hollywood-bashing. And AFAIK, no one in this flick is currently under indictment or accusation by the current (and overdue) Committee On Purging Rapists and Molesters From Hollywood.

So if you need something to do this weekend while you're continuing your boycott of the National Felony League, plunk your money down and see what movies used to be like when people told a good story to earn your ticket price.

My rating: Four stars.
Catch This Ride. It's First Class all the way to the end of the line.

Oscar bait? Hell, yes, it is, especially in this utterly dreadful year of mostly craptastic dungheaps fit mainly for burning.
Come nomination time, I expect you'll see this one again.





*(Off the top of my head, The Three Musketeers with Oliver Reed and Michael York was as good or better than the Gene Kelly version - and the 1990s Disney attempt sucked poop; Ben Hur with Heston surpassed the silent attempt, The Four Feathers with Beau Bridges and Jane Seymour beat the pants off any versions before or since; Beatty's Heaven Can Wait was much better than Waiting For Mr. Jordan; and Spielberg's Always was superior to A Guy Named Joe. Note the talent involved, and see if you can figure out the key to getting over the bad sequel hurdle. That you'd struggle to find six more major examples in the 51,000 or so movies the MPAA has stuck numbers on since only 1934 proves my point about "counting them on my fingers" and the low-percentage odds in attempting a sequel, especially of an already-good movie.)

Taking Out The Trash




I won't link to the post in question, mainly from a desire for not needing to shower afterwards, but suffice it to say I'd avoided it until it popped up on another site I visit semi-regularly.

My response should solve the curiosity about to what and to whom I refer, for those possessed of decent skills at Google-fu.

Fred Reed:
Greasing the Slippery Moral Slope with barrels of lube and trying to sell it as a carnival ride since...ever.

I am fine with turning anyone involved with child porn over to the tender ministrations of a jury composed of fathers of school-age daughters, and executing whatever sentence they agree upon in deliberations.

Or, just leaving the perp in the jury room with said jury, along with a dozen pipes and hammers during the lunch break, obviating an afternoon court session entirely.

The purpose of the death penalty for murder isn't pour encourager les autres, it isn't to satisfy and balance the scales of justice, and it isn't to let the state pass along a sentence that if accomplished by the aggrieved family would be merely feuding vengeance, and lend it judicial respectability.

It's to achieve a recidivism rate in perpetrators of 0.0%.
At this it has a batting average of 1.000, every time it's tried.

All I'm saying, is give rope a chance.

And if it's good enough for murder, child porn deserves a seat at that table too.

Of course you can't stop everyone from doing it, Fred (you ignorant slut), but you'll drive it down to such miniscule low levels as to be nearly the same thing as non-existent, while soiling a minimum number of people with complicity in the crime, let alone dragging the entire civilization into the bunghole of the septic tank that complicity and legalization would inevitably do.

And the day the state declines to do that duty, that state is immoral, unjust, tyranny - not leastly in regard to the exact child-victims it consigns to the child-porn sausage machine, whose moving parts Fred would happily oil - and the task falls to every one with a conscience, and a length of handy pipe. Or a gun.

Going the other way, why not just legalize murder, and charge a tax for the privilege, since we haven't stamped it out ever, since Cain? How about a fee to allow the rape of adult women? Or perhaps, as A Modest Proposal, just legalize eating babies to assuage world hunger, as Mr. Swift famously once satirically suggested?

The difference between Fred and a clever literate amoral moron is impossible to measure with existing instrumentation.

But he shouldn't be censored.
He should simply have his fingers and jaws beaten to bloody hamburger with pipes. Weekly.
(And ideally, by child porn victims and their families.)
Then the humor quotient of his future output will accord precisely with his root intelligence.
And the pathetic pain-wracked arm-waving and muffled mrrrphings he'd issue henceforth would be hilarious to behold.





And in that vein, I'm off to the cinema.