This is your President speaking.

Number 4 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

Sen. Jeff Flake(y), who is unelectable in the Great State of Arizona (quit race, anemic polls) was caught (purposely) on “mike” saying bad things about your favorite President. He’ll be a NO on tax cuts because his political career anyway is “toast.”

Recently announced: Twitter will increase message content from 120 characters to 240. Our Twitter-in-Chief will now have twice the bandwidth to display his language skills. What more is there to be thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving, and may your turkey serve out the remainder of his term.


Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

When life’s troubles get you down, relief is just a Second Amendment away:

UPDATED: Murder suspect dead following manhunt

WEBER CITY, Va. — A Coeburn man wanted in the Sunday morning shooting death of his wife took his own life Sunday night.

Todd Allen Richardson, 44, was found dead inside the cab of his 2015 Toyota Tacoma pickup just before 8 p.m. Sunday night near a Burger King restaurant off U.S. Route 23 in Weber City, according to Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp.

I will be the first to agree there are out there many cases of the “good man with a gun.” The problem is, the good man with a gun keeps getting lost among the multitude of so-so men with guns. Keep your powder dry.

This is your President speaking.

Number 3 in a long series

And now a few words from the President of the United States:

It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME. Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think..

…LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!

I don’t know about others, but this brings a little tear to my eye. We have so much to be thankful for.

Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 6

Yes, this takes me back to those TV commercials from the 1950s. A white knight comes riding in, “stronger than dirt.” My Navy Reserve boot camp training included sessions on morale and patriotism. They needed to be sure we knew what side we were on. The message of our enemy was portrayed as a white knight proclaiming to be “stronger than dirt.” The uninformed were proposed to fall for this line, but not us. We were well-indoctrinated capitalist.

And that was a lot of fun in those days, but the message is still out there, and to me it is the same. A white knight wants you to know, “it’s stronger than dirt.” We shall see.

A reader proposed I go to two links to see for myself why attacks on biblical inerrancy are foolhardy. Here are the links:

I’m going to the first one put up by the Young Earth Creationist group Answers in Genesis. I have already addressed two of AiG’s points. Here is one from 1 Samuel:

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and He has set the world upon them. (1 Samuel 2:8)

He stretches out the north over empty space; He hangs the earth on nothing. (Job 26:7)

At first glance, these verses appear to contradict each other: how can the earth rest on pillars and at the same time hang on nothing?

AiG contributor Erik Lutz goes on to explain:

The supposed contradiction quickly disappears when we examine the context of each passage and recognize it as figurative language. First Samuel 2:8 was spoken during a prayer by Hannah after she dedicated her son Samuel into the Lord’s service. Job spoke the other verse while talking with his friends about man’s weakness in light of God’s majestic power. This sort of poetic imagery (pillars, foundations, etc.) is commonly used in Scripture to describe how God upholds the world. For example, consider what the Lord said to Job:

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone[?] (Job 38:4–6)

We know that the earth does not literally have foundations and a cornerstone like a building; instead, God uses this figurative language to create a mental picture for Job. In the same way, animals do not talk and laugh, yet God also tells Job that the horse “laughs at fear” and “when the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’” (Job 39:22, 25, ESV).

So the explanation is that God uses figurative language. That’s good to know. It’s good to know, because we are now allowed to conclude the teachings in the Bible are figurative and are not to be taken literally. We are free to interpret them as we desire, which is what seems to have been going on all along. We are told the Bible is the source of human morality, and now we know the source of human morality is the person who interprets the Bible for us. That person can be a man standing at a podium, or it can be a white knight astride a magnificent horse, proclaiming to be “stronger than dirt.”

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

I was sure I saw this one before on HBO, but when I caught it again this month on Amazon Prime Video I had the feeling I had missed some of it. Anyhow, it’s F/X from 1986, and it had a good run at the time, spawning a franchise. It followed a plot formula, familiar even back then. Here’s an outline.

It’s a dark and stormy night in Manhattan when a car pulls up to a swanky uptown restaurant. A man exits the car and comes in out of the rain. He doesn’t have a reservation. He pulls a machine gun and starts shooting up the place. It’s a mad house.

Bullets are flying, people are cut down at their tables, a bank of large fish tanks dissolves into a shower of glass, and a flood of water and fish wash across the scene. At the very last a blond floozy recoils from the mayhem and begs for her life. She is machine gunned and dies spectacularly.

Because, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a movie set, actually in Manhattan, and the brilliant special effects (hence the title) work of cinema artist Roland “Rollie” Tyler (Bryan Brown). It’s a successful shoot, and it’s a wrap. A crew begins scooping up fish and siphoning off water. “Killed” patrons get up off the floor and head to get out of their costumes and makeup. The blond floozy is actually Roland’s best girl Ellen (Diane Venora).

But in comes a “producer” who wants to hire Roland. He’s Martin Lipton (Cliff De Young).

It turns out Lipton is not really a producer. He’s with the United States Justice Department, and he wants Roland to stage a fake assassination on a mob boss, Nicholas DeFranco (Jerry Orbach). The scheme is being managed by a Col. Edward Mason (Mason Adams), who ultimately convinces Roland to work the scam.

So DeFranco is rigged with special gear and brought to a fancy Manhattan restaurant, almost a replay of the opening scene. Roland plays the part of the hit man, and he empties his weapon into the gangster.

Only, it’s not the gangster. It’s a person hired under false pretenses to impersonate DeFranco, and Lipton has substituted the blank cartridges in the pistol with live ammunition.

Roland makes his exit and gets in the waiting car with Lipton, who immediately pulls a pistol and attempts to shoot Roland. Roland turns the tables, the driver is killed, and Roland escapes into the rain. Remember, once again it’s a dark and stormy night in Manhattan.

From a phone booth (this was 1986) Roland calls Mason to tell him what just happened. You guessed it. Mason is in on it. He orders Roland to stay put. A police car will come to get him.

But somebody else wants to use the phone, and Roland watches from a doorway, out of the rain, as a police car rolls up, and two “cops” riddle the unfortunate in the phone booth.

Now Roland realizes the shit is deeper than imagined, and he takes it on the lam, spending the night with Ellen in her place.

But come the morning, when Ellen goes to open the blinds, a sniper’s bullet comes through the glass and kills her. Her second death in the movie.

Roland waits, and the sniper shows up. Roland kills the sniper and launches a scheme to turn the tables on the crooked federal agents. He has his own arsenal at his disposal—his bag of movie tricks. Thus develops the movie’s (and subsequent offshoots) theme. Special effects to defeat bad guys.

Enter two honest cops, Lt. Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy) and his partner (not readily identified). They figure out something is fishy about the whole business, and as they barge close to the truth McCarthy is relieved of duty. Of course he keeps working the case. That’s the formula.

Roland regains his van, which the police had impounded, and he leads the police on a chase through the streets and along sidewalks. More special effects.

Roland makes his way to Mason’s Mansion, protected by a mass of armed guards. He defeats the protection detail one at a time, by tricking one into touching an electrified iron gate and another by tricking a fellow guard into shooting him.

But DeFranco is alive and is about to leave the country with Mason. He has the key to a box in a Swiss bank, from which everybody plans to live a life of leisure. But Roland knows DeFranco wears a pacemaker, and when DeFranco touches a charged glass plate his pacemaker comes to a halt. That leaves only Mason, who attempts to bribe Roland with the key.

But Roland is again a step ahead. He places the Uzi he stole from one of the dead security detail on a table, after removing all the bullets and also after dousing it with crazy glue. When Mason picks up the Uzi and discovers it will not shoot and also that he cannot put it down, Roland shoves him outside where the police are waiting with guns drawn.

Roland fakes his own death and later joins McCarthy in Switzerland. Roland is a master of disguise, and he already has a DeFranco’s face in his bag of tricks. With the key, that’s all he needs to get at the box and the loot.

Closing title scenes are a tour through the Swiss Alps.

Jerry Orbach was already a Broadway legend when he played second fiddle in this movie. He later went to greater popularity as Lennie Briscoe for 12 years in the Law & Order TV series. He first came to my attention decades ago when he was one of the special people who drank Dewar’s Scotch.

From Wikipedia:

sequelF/X2: The Deadly Art of Illusion, was released in 1991. A spinoff TV series entitled F/X: The Series was produced from 1996 to 1998.

Even watching this for the first time you’re going to know Roland is being set up. You only need to figure out how they are going to do it. It’s not hard, either, to figure Roland is going to use special effects to defeat the conspiracy. Beyond that, there are gaps in logic.

The crooked feds need to spirit DeFranco out of the country along with his magic bank box key, and they need to make everybody think he’s dead. So they concoct an elaborate scheme and pull a phalanx of others in. What were they thinking? What keeps the coroner from taking fingerprints to verify the identity of the corpse? The conspirators got into trouble when they got all these other players involved.

They need to kill Roland. And they engage a sniper, yet another person, to take a shot into a high-rise apartment. And the hired gun shoots Ellen instead? Then he comes to the apartment and lets himself in, only to be killed by a movie special effects man? If he could let himself in, why didn’t he do that to begin with?

It gets mentioned that maybe Roland should squelch the plot right out of the gate by unloading to the New York Times. The Watergate episode is mentioned. People, if a bunch of crooked government officials are out to track you down and kill you, the quickest way to get them off your back is to notify some reporters. The bad guys are going to be spending all their time dodging questions and trying to get out of the country to have any opportunity to mess with you.

Roland is one slick operator. In fact, he is too slick. He drives up to Mason’s house, never having seen it before, and he is able to disable alarms and lights as though he had the schematics burned into his brain. Remember, this is night time.

Yes, the movie is like Roland’s life, all special effects.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 80

Who needs Jesus when there exists a host of alternative ways to die from stupidity?

The Daily Star reported that 9 children have died in Tripura Para of Sitakunda during the last week. At least 46 other children in the remote hilly area are suffering from the same unidentified disease which has not yet been identified. The children aged between one and 12 suffer from fever and other symptoms include body rash, breathing problems, vomiting and blood in stool.

None of the fatalities was taken to a hospital, and two of them were treated homeopathically. The three-year-old Rupali had fever and a rash all over her body for three days. “We took her to a man who practices homeopathy. He lives some two kilometres away. He had given Rupali some medicines”, said her uncle. Asked why they did not take the child to a hospital, Pradip said the next health complex was 15 kilometres away from their home. Besides, they did not have money to buy medicines which would have been prescribed by doctors.

Modern homeopathy is a rebirth of the snake oil salesman.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

Back to math questions for a change. Full disclosure: I don’t make up all of these. This is from an Internet site. No fair going to the Internet to get the answer.

The triangle is equilateral. Prove the shaded area is equal to the inner circle. Post your answer as a comment below.

Update and solution

Mike is the first and only to provide the correct solution. A reasoning goes like this.

It is easy to demonstrate (exercise left to the reader) that the inner circle is ¼ the area of the outer circle. Then the region between the inner and outer circles is ¾ the area of the outer circle. The blue-shaded regions total 1/3 of this difference or ¼ the area of the outer circle. The inner circle is equal to the blue-shaded area.

Stronger Than Dirt

Restating the obvious – 5

The One, the True, the Pure

This is a continuation of my response to a reader named Reece. I previously posted a number of objections to biblical truth, and he suggested I follow a couple of links and get my facts in line. I did, and I will continue for a few additional installments. See the link above for the background. Here are the links provided by Reece.

The first one links to a page by Answers in Genesis, a Young Earth Creationist group headed up by Ken Ham. I will take another of AiG’s challenges and do some analysis. Here is what AiG posted:

Did Moses make an error when he called a bat a bird?

Here is the pertinent biblical  passage:

Leviticus 11:13-19 King James Version (KJV)

13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,

14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;

15 Every raven after his kind;

16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,

17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,

18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,

19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

[Emphasis added]

Here is what AiG posted for Leviticus 11:13-19:

Leviticus 11:13–19
These are the birds [05775 Pwe ‘owph] you are to detest and not eat because they are detestable: the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat.

So the text from Bible Gateway does not jibe with AiG’s copy of the Bible, but Bible Gateway says “fowls,” definitely not to include bats, regardless of whether it means “birds.” Bats are not birds, and the mythical  person Moses got it wrong. AiG attempts to explain this away, stating:

The Hebrew word for bird is actually owph which means “fowl/winged creature.”1 The word owph simply means “to fly” or “has a wing.” So, the word includes birds, bats, and even flying insects. The alleged problem appears due to translation of owph as bird. Birds are included in the word owph, but owph is not limited to birds. This shows that translators aren’t always perfect when handling the inerrant Word of God.

It is nice that the Hebrew word for bird also fits the definition for bats, but the King James version, which is the most thumped by Christian fundamentalists in this country, says fowls, meaning birds. Mistranslations are part and parcel to biblical error.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

After there was Batman (1966) and before there was The Dark Knight, there was Batman (1989). This was streaming on Hulu in October, giving me the opportunity to watch it for the first time. It’s from Warner Brothers. Details are from Wikipedia.

The setting is, of course, Gotham City, a thinly-disguised New York City. We get this early on when the opening scene shows some out-of-towners wandering into the wrong neighborhood. The father says this way to 7th Avenue. The kid says 7th Avenue is the opposite direction. They are obviously on 8th Avenue, now heading the wrong way, toward 9th Avenue, a region previously known as Hell’s Kitchen. Of course they get mugged.

But Batman comes to the rescue. Sort of. After the muggers pistol whip the husband and take his money and credit cards, Batman comes upon them and gives them a thrashing they will never forget. This in the early day’s of Batman’s career, and people are still trying to figure out what sort of crooked scheme he’s working.

Enter diabolical crook Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson). He’s about to transform how crooked deals are done in Gotham.

The big boss is the godfather-like Carl Grissom (Jack Palance). Jack notices that Carl is muscling on on Jack’s main squeeze Alicia Hunt, played by Jerry Hall. Jack aims to level the field.

Meanwhile, sizzling hot news photographer Vicky Vale (Kim Basinger) has teamed with ace reporter Alexander Knox (Robert Wuhl) to get an exclusive story, with photos, on Batman. She gets invited to dinner at his sprawling mansion with reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton), whose alter ego is Batman. If you’re like me you’re wondering who does her hair. She spends the night.

Carl schemes to  have Jack murdered in a setup safe-crack caper at a chemical company. That fails, but Jack falls into a vat of unidentified chemicals, requiring skin treatment and resulting in a clown-like countenance. The episode also unleashes Jack’s true nature, and he becomes The Joker, master criminal with a twisted persona.

Bruce Wayne’s secret is not for long. His trusted butler, Alfred (Michael Gough), sees that true love is withering on the vine, and he brings Vicky to the Bat Cave to  learn Bruce’s secret.

There ensue multiple encounters involving Batman, Bruce Wayne, Vicky, and The Joker, culminating in  The Joker’s master plan to  hijack the Gotham bi-centennial parade, throwing out wads of cash to the gathering throng, before activating the valves to unleash poison gas from a giant clown balloon.

Of course, Batman intervenes, introducing the Batwing  (we already witnessed the Batmobile), and there is a protracted battle to the finish between Batman and The Joker, during which Vicky repeatedly comes under menace. And I’m not going to tell you how The Joker meets his end.

This movie suffers from an unimaginative plot. The main characters are introduced, they exercise a sequence of sketches, each involving menace, intervention, rescue, retreat. Until the final, for which there is no retreat phase.

Jack Nicholson turns in a stellar performance, providing that’s not a stand-in recapitulating Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange, prancing around inside a museum, vandalizing priceless works of art. “Tell me something, my friend. You ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

Keaton continues to find regular film work, but nothing that makes the Earth move. Much the same with Basinger. More’s the pity.

Jerry Hall is originally from Mesquite, Texas, (born in Gonzalez, Texas) and most famous as Mick Jagger’s squeeze for many years.

There is an interesting final scene with the dead Joker lying in the street. All that survived his fall from a great height was a little mechanical laugh box, but you have to imagine hearing “Ha ha, ha ha ha ha…” to the cadence of “ Ne Ne Na Na Na Na Nu Nu.”

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Here’s an old person joke, so get ready.

An elderly couple walk into a fast food restaurant, and they order one hamburger, one order of French fries, and one drink.

The old man unwraps the plain hamburger and carefully cuts it in half. He gives one half to his wife and keeps the other half. He carefully counts out the fries and gives half to his wife. He takes a sip of his drink, and then she takes a sip.

As the man begins to eat his part of the fries his wife just sits and watches. An onlooker, figuring the couple are able to purchase only one meal comes over. He offers to buy them another burger, fries, and drink. The old man declines. “We are just accustomed to sharing everything,” he tells the man.

Still the old woman sits and watches as her husband eats the hamburger. Again the man offers to purchase them another meal. The woman responds, “It’s really all right. We are used to sharing everything.” Still she does not eat.

The old man finishes and wipes his mouth with a napkin, and still the old woman has not eaten. The other man is now insistent. “You aren’t eating. What are you waiting for.”

She turns to him and says, “The teeth.”