Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

dollarSign

Previously the Quiz Question was about the origin of the dollar sign ($). This week’s Quiz Question is about the dollar.

What is the origin of “dollar” for the American unit of currency? To provide the required answer you are going to have to drill down to the absolute root of the origin of the word. You are not allowed to run to Google for the answer, but you are allowed to mine archives of this blog. I provided the answer in a previous post.

Don’t post your answer on Facebook. Post you answer as a comment below.

Update

And Prasad has provided the correct answer. It is possible he read this previous post, which describes the origin of the American dollar:

Richard Rhodes told the story in his 1986 book The Making of the Atomic Bomb. The book tells of the development of modern nuclear physics and of the coming involvement of science in the world of politics and war. The book won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.

The German word thal (tal) means valley, and Sankt Joachimsthal in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic was the site of a great mineral wealth. Silver came from the region and later uranium ore. The silver was struck into coins that became known as Joachimsthallers, and the thaller became the English dollar and the unit of currency for a new nation on the North American continent.

Advertisements

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Be honest, you never expected this to be a top-tier production. It’s Abbott and Costello Meet Captain Kidd, starring Charles Laughton as Captain Kidd and the eponymous Bud Abbott and Lou Costello as 18th century flunkies Rocky Stonebridge and  “Puddin’ Head” Feathergill. Of course, it’s all played for laughs as Laughton reprises his role as the notorious pirate from the 1945 production Captain Kidd. This one came out in 1952, distributed by Warner Brothers. Images are screen shots from Turner Classic Movies, and details are from Wikipedia.

It’s all played for laughs, and music, too. Here we see the vicious Captain Kidd snarling as his merry band of cutthroat pirates go about their duties on deck while singing in harmony. Then they spot their destination and go ashore. This is where everything begins to unravel.

AbbottAndCostelloMeetCaptainKidd-01

Onshore we meet clown princes, Stonebridge and Feathergill, working as scullery drudges and generally goofing off. Here is the classic sight gag as a sweet lady needs to cross the street, but a water puddle blocks her path. Feathergill gallantly takes off his jacket and spreads it across the water so the lady can cross feet-dry. Only, the water is deeper than expected. It’s the top gag of the movie.

AbbottAndCostelloMeetCaptainKidd-02

Of course, there’s a treasure map, and the two clowns are shanghaied aboard Captain Kidd’s ship to go get the treasure. More gags, as Feathergill tricks Captain Kidd into locking his hands behind his own back. What fascinated me most was seeing Laughton, winner of an Academy Award for The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), plus having picked two other top-tier nominations, playing slap-stick comedy with Abbott and Costello. Of course, he does it with characteristic aplomb and well. See him in Ruggles of Red Gap.

AbbottAndCostelloMeetCaptainKidd-03

The production is a combination of comedy and musical, with numerous dance and song interludes sprinkled throughout. Here lovers Bruce Martingale (Bill Shirley) and Lady Jane (Fran Warren) entertain the bloodthirsty crew with a sweet duet. This was Warren’s first movie role.

AbbottAndCostelloMeetCaptainKidd-04

To be sure, the clowns prevail over the double-crossing Captain Kidd, and Feathergill winds up in the arms of notorious lady pirate Captain Bonney (Hillary Brooke). Feathergill may not look like much, but he sure can kiss.

AbbottAndCostelloMeetCaptainKidd-05

No, I am not going to dissect the plot. The plot exists only to display the zany antics of Abbott and Costello. For more of the same, see my previous review of Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. On stage and even on radio (before TV), the pair were slam dunk hilarious. A movie production requires they intersperse the slapstick with snatches of plot, which absolutely destroys the continuity. And that’s what’s wrong. In this production some classic skits wilt, such as a wave that smacks Feathergill in the face when he opens a port hole to look out, but never does for Stonebridge. This is funny enough, but Laughton brings it to a peak. Feathergill tricks Captain Kidd into looking out and is chagrined when he turns away stone dry. Then the captain opens the door to go on-deck and is drenched by a giant wave. Now that is funny.

I have additional Abbott and Costello flicks to review. Keep reading.

Bat Shit Crazy

Second of a series (unfortunately)

Todd Akin

Todd Akin

What is this thing called love
This funny thing called love
Just who can solve its mystery?
Why should it make a fool of me?
Lyrics by Cole Porter

Of course, it’s not always thus. There are times when love is not involved. But some politicians hold out hope. Sort of. Idaho State Representative Pete Nielsen of Mountain Home was speaking in support of a proposed bill. It would “require women seeking abortions to be given a list of providers of free ultrasounds, and to be told they have a right to such a procedure and to hear a fetal heart monitor.” My guess is that Representative Nielsen is among those who believe abortion should be avoided in all cases. Lacking the legal means to block abortions, bills of this kind are designed to dissuade women who have decided to abort a pregnancy from going through with the procedure.

But “in all cases” includes rape and incest, two instances in which women are very likely to need an abortion. Fortunately for these women, Representative Nielsen has some good news:

During the hearing Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, said, “Now, I’m of the understanding that in many cases of rape it does not involve any pregnancy because of the trauma of the incident. That may be true with incest a little bit.”

Except for the “little bit” part, this means victims of these crimes may not have to worry about becoming pregnant, meaning the proposed legislation would not apply to them. Representative Nielsen knows of what he speaks, due to his extensive background in gynecology and human reproduction.

Actually, that last part is not quite true. Other than attending Brigham Young University and Utah State University, Representative Nielsen seems to have no medical background at all:

This leaves us wondering at the source of Representative Nielsen’s deep knowledge. Apparently some questions are never meant to be answered.

This is not the first time a feckless politician has offered up sage advice on the mysterious workings of human reproduction. During the election cycle four years ago the world swooned at candidate Todd Akin’s amazing grasp of detail:

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – Todd Akin, the Republican candidate in the closely watched U.S. Senate race in Missouri, released a new advertisement on Thursday featuring a woman who says she was raped and had an abortion but supports Akin’s anti-abortion stand.

The TV commercial comes in the closing days of a campaign that has drawn national attention because of Akin’s remark in August that women’s bodies could ward off pregnancy in cases of “legitimate rape.”

As it turned out, voters did not appreciate candidate Akin’s insight. Some, I am sure, thought he was bat shit crazy. He lost the election to Senator Claire McCaskill.

The election years is just rolling into gear. There will be, I am sure, much more to come. Keep reading.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

A cabbie picks up a nun. She gets into the cab, and notices that the very handsome cab driver won’t stop staring at her. She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: “I have a question to ask, but I don’t want to offend you.”

She answers, “My son, you cannot offend me. When you’re as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I’m sure that there’s nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive.”

“Well, I’ve always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me.”

She responds, “Well, let’s see what we can do about that…
1) You have to be single and
2) You must be Catholic.”

The cab driver is very excited and says, “Yes, I’m single and Catholic!”

“OK” the nun says. “Pull into the next alley.”

The nun fulfills his fantasy with a kiss that would make a hooker blush. But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

“My dear child,” said the nun, “why are you crying?”

“Forgive me, but I’ve sinned. I lied and I must confess, I’m married and I’m Jewish.”

The nun says, “That’s OK. My name is Kevin and I’m going to a Halloween party!”

The Age Of Embarrassment

Fourth of a series

RichardLindzen

I’ve been posting on this topic for several weeks, and it appears this will go on for a while. That’s another way of saying there will be no end of discussion on this topic. The matter is anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and its implications.

What motivates this post is an item that came across my Facebook feed as a “Suggested Post.” I’m not completely sure what drives these suggested posts, but an item from Marketing Land suggests what lies beneath:

Facebook’s popular Sponsored Stories ad type shows posts from pages but must come from one of the user’s connection. This new “Suggested Post” ad type would allow brands to advertise a specific post to users who have no interactions or connections with a brand.

This explanation suggests that somebody paid to cause this item to appear on my feed. Who paid for it is not immediately clear, and I will much appreciate it if a reader will clear this up for me.

Anyhow, the ad is a link to an item from the Truth And Action site. That item deals at length with Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his dispute regarding the scientific consensus for AGW. Here is the item:

TruthAndAction

The liberal narrative about climate change is starting to fall apart thanks to conscientious scientists who have spoken out in face of pressure to toe the alarmist party line.

Dissenting from the supposed consensus of scientists who believe mankind is primarily responsible for climate change, Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology cast doubt on the very existence of said consensus. Indeed, the climatologist argues that the amount of scientists who believe climate change is man-made is much lower than the left and their allies in the media make it out to be.

Speaking to talk show host Bill Frezza on RealClear Radio Hour, Dr. Lindzen claimed that the idea that researchers overwhelmingly agree on climate change has been “propaganda” from the beginning. He said that the media helps push the narrative by saying scientists agree, but never bother telling people what exactly it is that they agree upon.

Since most Americans are unfamiliar with climate science, they feel pressured to accept the claims of personalities purporting to speak on behalf of scientists, allowing the climate change consensus myth to strengthen it’s hold in the minds of citizens.

Discussing the widely-touted 97% of scientists who believe in man-made climate change, Dr. Lindzen pinpoints the source of this claim as a 2013 report put out by one John Cook. Although the study has been cited by innumerable figures, Lindzen finds it’s methodology to not only be wanting, but highly dishonest to boot.

“Cook’s paper found of the scientific study ‘abstracts expressing a position on [manmade global warming], 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.’ But Cook’s assertion has been heavily criticized by researchers carefully examining his methodology.

A paper by five leading climatologists published in the journal Science and Education found only 41 out of the 11,944 published climate studies examined in Cook’s study explicitly stated mankind has caused most of the warming since 1950 — meaning the actual consensus is 0.3 percent.

‘It is astonishing that any journal could have published a paper claiming a 97% climate consensus when on the authors’ own analysis the true consensus was well below 1%,’ said Dr. David Legates, a geology professor at the University of Delaware and the study’s lead author.

A 2013 study by Andrew Montford of the Global Warming Policy Foundation found that Cook had to cast a widenet to cram scientists into his so-called consensus. To be part of Cook’s consensus, a scientific study only needed to agree carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that human activities have warmed the planet ‘to some unspecified extent’ — both of which are uncontroversial points.

‘Almost everybody involved in the climate debate, including the majority of sceptics, accepts these propositions, so little can be learned from the Cook et al. paper,’ wrote Montford. ‘The extent to which the warming in the last two decades of the twentieth century was man-made and the likely extent of any future warming remain highly contentious scientific issues.’

Despite the dubious nature of the consensus, liberal politicians used the figure to bolster their calls for policiesto fight global warming. President Barack Obama even cited the Cook paper while announcing sweeping climate regulations.”

Source: Daily Caller

The first thing that caught my attention in the foregoing was the the first three words, “The liberal narrative.” Oops, this is going to be about politics, or at least there is going to be an argument that political motives are involved. If you are like me then you are also wondering how scientific issues come to be a matter of politics. Before reading on, you might want to go through the Daily Caller article. I saved off a copy in case it’s not available in the future.

To be specific, here is the critical language from Truth And Action: “Indeed, the climatologist argues that the amount of scientists who believe climate change is man-made is much lower than the left and their allies in the media make it out to be.” Lindzen states that the much touted consensus is less than 97%. But he doesn’t attempt to peg the actual level of consent, though he makes numerous arguments as to why it should be less. What is significant in the Truth And Action piece is there are no claims against the facts of AGW.

That takes us to another matter. If anybody is in a position to refute the science behind AGW, it is Richard Lindzen. He is well qualified with respect to the related science, and he has actually challenged critical related points. For example:

Lindzen hypothesized that the Earth may act like an infrared iris. A sea surface temperature increase in the tropics would result in reduced cirrus clouds and thus more infrared radiation leakage from Earth’s atmosphere. This hypothesis suggests a negative feedback which would counter the effects of CO2 warming by lowering the climate sensitivity. Satellite data from CERES has led researchers investigating Lindzen’s theory to conclude that the Iris effect would instead warm the atmosphere. Lindzen disputed this, claiming that the negative feedback from high-level clouds was still larger than the weak positive feedback estimated by Lin et al.

Lindzen has expressed his concern over the validity of computer models used to predict future climate change. Lindzen said that predicted warming may be overestimated because of inadequate handling of the climate system’s water vapor feedback. The feedback due to water vapor is a major factor in determining how much warming would be expected to occur with increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Lindzen said that the water vapor feedback could act to nullify future warming. This claim was criticised by Gavin Schmidt.

There is more, and readers should go to the Wikipedia entry for a complete discussion. At the bottom of the foregoing Lindzen addresses the matter of water vapor feedback. It’s something that came up in a previous presentation I made on AGW. In particular:

Water vapor accounts for the largest percentage of the greenhouse effect, between 36% and 66% for clear sky conditions and between 66% and 85% when including clouds. Water vapor concentrations fluctuate regionally, but human activity does not significantly affect water vapor concentrations except at local scales, such as near irrigated fields. The atmospheric concentration of vapor is highly variable and depends largely on temperature, from less than 0.01% in extremely cold regions up to 3% by mass at in saturated air at about 32 °C. (See Relative humidity#other important facts.)

The average residence time of a water molecule in the atmosphere is only about nine days, compared to years or centuries for other greenhouse gases such as CH4 and CO2. Thus, water vapor responds to and amplifies effects of the other greenhouse gases. The Clausius–Clapeyron relation establishes that more water vapor will be present per unit volume at elevated temperatures. This and other basic principles indicate that warming associated with increased concentrations of the other greenhouse gases also will increase the concentration of water vapor (assuming that the relative humidity remains approximately constant; modeling and observational studies find that this is indeed so). Because water vapor is a greenhouse gas, this results in further warming and so is a “positive feedback” that amplifies the original warming. Eventually other earth processes offset these positive feedbacks, stabilizing the global temperature at a new equilibrium and preventing the loss of Earth’s water through a Venus-like runaway greenhouse effect.

To clarify and to summarize: Adding CO2 to the atmosphere results in a rise in temperature. The rise in temperature allows the atmosphere to hold more water vapor. The additional water vapor causes the atmosphere to absorb more infra red radiation, raising its temperature further. Fortunately other factors keep this process from running away.

I particularly note this from the proceeding: “Lindzen said that the water vapor feedback could act to nullify future warming.” I find this statement difficult to reconcile with any known facts. Perhaps somebody has made a typographical error that will explain the anomalous language.

Anyhow, Lindzen has and does weigh in on the science related to AGW, unlike political critics the likes of United States Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma and current presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Donald Trump:

Donald Trump (real estate developer) doesn’t believe in climate change and asserts that the changes we see are actually just weather, unaffected by human actions. He puts climate change low on the list of problems we need to address. In 2012, Trump said global warming was a hoax created by China to make U.S. manufacturing uncompetitive. He supports regulating air pollution.

Sorting through the various issues surrounding Richard Lindzen and AGW, it becomes apparent that if there is a consensus, the consensus is that Lindzen and his scientific colleagues are in disagreement. The report from the IPCC highlights this disagreement:

Contrary to the IPCC’s assessment, Lindzen said that climate models are inadequate. Despite accepted errors in their models, e.g., treatment of clouds, modelers still thought their climate predictions were valid. Lindzen has stated that due to the non-linear effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, CO2 levels are now around 30% higher than pre-industrial levels but temperatures have responded by about 75% 0.6 °C (1.08 °F) of the expected value for a doubling of CO2. The IPCC (2007) estimates that the expected rise in temperature due to a doubling of CO2 to be about 3 °C (5.4 °F), ± 1.5°. Lindzen has given estimates of the Earth’s climate sensitivity to be 0.5 °C based on ERBE data. These estimates were criticized by Kevin E. Trenberth and others, and Lindzen accepted that his paper included “some stupid mistakes”. When interviewed, he said “It was just embarrassing”, and added that “The technical details of satellite measurements are really sort of grotesque.” Lindzen and Choi revised their paper and submitted it to PNAS. The four reviewers of the paper, two of whom had been selected by Lindzen, strongly criticized the paper and PNAS rejected it for publication. Lindzen and Choi then succeeded in getting a little known Korean journal to publish it as a 2011 paper. Andrew Dessler published a paper which found errors in Lindzen and Choi 2011, and concluded that the observations it had presented “are not in fundamental disagreement with mainstream climate models, nor do they provide evidence that clouds are causing climate change. Suggestions that significant revisions to mainstream climate science are required are therefore not supported.”

This is not to say Lindzen is the only ranking scientist to dispute AGW. A list if available on Wikipedia, and it contains names most will recognize. I will mention a few:

The list is separated into categories:

  • Scientists questioning the accuracy of IPCC climate projections
  • Scientists arguing that global warming is primarily caused by natural processes
  • Scientists arguing that the cause of global warming is unknown
  • Scientists arguing that global warming will have few negative consequences

It will be noted that none of these include scientists who believe global warming is not happening or that CO2 does not contribute.

Perhaps missing in all of this is why the matter of scientific consensus even comes up. Of course, consensus matters, because an idea that is completely fractious at this stage in the game is rightfully suspect. There are two approaches for those who want to deny the validity of AGW:

  • Refute the science directly.
  • Point to a long list of scientists who do not agree with the validity of AGW.

Lacking the first, many fall back on the second. There is a mistake in that. Taking the second approach opens the argument to the same pitfall invoked by Lindzen. Who are these people opposing AGW? An example is available. There is a list of 31,000 (could be more by now) scientists in opposition:

This claim originates from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which has an online petition (petitionproject.org) that states:

We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

To participate in the petition one only needs to mark a check box to show that one has a Ph.D., M.S., or B.S. degree, and then fill in the fields. Unfortunately, that means that anyone can sign the petition, whether they have a degree or not.

The appropriate rejoinder to such attacks is the scientific consensus. Anybody wanting to refute AGW with an opposing consensus will need to address the 97% consensus.

In previous discussions the term “accepted science” has been tossed around derisively. It was pointed out that Galileo went against “settled science” and was proved to be right. When that came up my response was that what Galileo went against was not science, settled or not. It was accepted conjecture with no basis in scientific discovery. In the end it is not settled science that matters but what can be demonstrated. Currently what is being demonstrated is the reality of AGW.

There will be more on this. Keep reading.

The Tainted Well

Joseph Smith Translating Harold Kilbourn, © 1970 “You have a gift to translate the plates” (D& C 5: 4) Displayed on LDS’ Website: www.josephsmith.net

Joseph Smith Translating Harold Kilbourn, © 1970 “You have a gift to translate the plates” (D& C 5: 4) Displayed on LDS’ Website: http://www.josephsmith.net

I worked most of a year in Salt Lake City, and many co-workers were LDS members. To a person, they were exemplary individuals, little representative of the founder. An American Fraud is a book by lawyer Kay Burningham, born into the faith, only to leave the church in mid-life. The book lays out the history of the founding of the LDS and the ethical squaller of its early leaders. Under outside pressure the Church morphed to adapt to modern morality, yet still retains tinges of a 19th century oppressive society. This according to Burningham’s observations.

Not detailed in the book are the workings of LDS offshoots that show much evidence of drinking from the tainted well. When circumstances arise the egg is cracked, and the world gets a fresh appreciation of the Church’s criminal underpinnings:

FLDS leader Lyle Jeffs, 10 others charged with benefits fraud, money laundering

SALT LAKE CITY – Several leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are in jail, facing federal charges. On Tuesday, federal prosecutors announced indictments against 11 people on charges related to food stamp fraud.

The unsealed court documents allege FLDS leaders directed members to hand over their SNAP benefit cards to the FLDS storehouse, and that certain individuals laundered money to hide the activity.

Up front it should be noted that the FLDS has no relationship with the founding church. This and numerous branches of similar ilk are soundly repudiated by the Church, headquartered in Salt Lake City.

The recent charges relate to blatant criminal activity, but at a lower level these splinter sects have a long history of banking social preferences—supposedly supported by religious doctrine—off the American taxpayer. Polygamy is a Church practice abandoned and condemned by the LDS over a century ago, but it exists in principle, particularly in the Utah hinterlands and other locales out of the main stream. The easing of legal repercussions against casual immorality allows a man, so inclined, to have multiple wives, provided he files only one marriage with the government. The remaining wives are women of convenience, completely tolerated by modern law. Modern society assists this arrangement by providing welfare benefits to these unwed mothers and their children.

lyle-jeffs-mug

Apparently Lyle Jeffs has gone the step too far. What prosecutors are saying is that people eligible for SNAP (benefit) cards were giving the cards to others, under the direction of local leaders. The people eligible for the benefits were not receiving the benefits, but the cards were being used in stores controlled by the FLDS to make phony purchases. Sales were recorded, and the stores received reimbursement from the government, but no actual purchases were involved. The activity amounted to theft of money from the government.

This and other FLDS shenanigans in the towns of Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, (actually one community spread across the state line) are not appreciated by others in these communities:

Former members of the FLDS church say they’re not surprised by the by the allegations. Hildale resident Isacc Wyler said he’s glad the federal government is doing something about it.

“We know there are things going on that shouldn’t be going on,” Wyler said. “We’ve reported it. It just seems like it was going really, really slow, and then all of the sudden today it’s going really, really fast. So that’s good.”

The rot is not localized:

Former Police Chief Testifies He Lied Under Oath Due To FLDS Church Pressure
February 04, 2016

PHOENIX – On Wednesday, Helaman Barlow entered the Phoenix federal courthouse and took an oath to testify truthfully in front of a jury.

There would seem to be nothing exceptional about Barlow taking that oath, since all witnesses do, and Barlow is the former chief of the joint police department serving the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, on the state border.

But on Wednesday, Barlow told the jury he had lied previous times he was questioned under oath about the very matter before them — whether his former police department was controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and whether the city government and police discriminated against church outsiders.

It’s hard to come away from this without concluding evidence of a tainted well. Burningham’s book traces the roots to the following and more:

The Kirkland Bank was typical of the criminal enterprise at the foundation of the LDS.

Soon after his translation of the Egyptian papryi, Smith attempted to create an independent financial institution whereby he would profit from the deposits of his faithful followers. Here is where the Prophet’s outright swindling of the Saints caused the first in a long series of disaffections and apostasies.

Burningham, Kay (2011-03-13). An American Fraud. One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism (Kindle Locations 3681-3683). Amica Veritatis. Kindle Edition.

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is currently in a Texas slam after being convicted of less than ecclesiastical transgressions. His incarceration did not serve to pull the plug on his criminal enterprise. I am doubting these recent events will, either.

I Was Wrong!

Could be the first of a very long series

DonaldTrumpsHair

Don’t you just hate it when you’re wrong? You do? I don’t. I love it. I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I am wrong so seldom. In this instance there’s another reason I’m so happy I was wrong. Here is what I had to say last year:

This was back on 16 June. Real estate tycoon and billionaire Donald Trump announced he is a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for president. I recall at the time I had some sort of snarky response. It was something like:

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
So let’s sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

That was because I knew, as did anybody fresh out of captivity by the Taliban, that the fun was about to begin. Unfortunately I had mis located my egg timer. The fun was not late coming:

In that misbegotten piece I reminded some Facebook friends that a Donald Trump nomination would the the Democratic Party’s dream come true. “Happy days are here again.” I went on to say:

Getting back to the original issue, is Trump number one? No. He’s number two in the only polls I’ve seen. Do I wish for Trump to win the Republican nomination? Does The Donald wear a piece? I salivate at the prospect of that first debate. It might go something like this:

  • Panelist: Mr. Trump, if you are elected president, who would be First Lady?
  • Trump: Why the answer is obvious. It would be my lovely wife Melania.
  • Panelist: No, Mr. Trump. I mean next year, when you take office.

Trump was headed for a quick exit stage right. I was sure. No, I was wrong! And I am so very happy.

ItsTrumpCNN

The dude is on a roll. And Tea Party Republicans are roiled. They sowed the wind, and now they are reaping the whirlwind. They wanted anti-establishment. They are getting anti-establishment. And it’s coming soon to a voting booth near you. I’m wondering if these people have figured out what they are going to be doing next January 20th.

Tea Party Republicans may be getting to know how Victor Frankenstein must have felt:

ItsAlve-01

In the meantime Bill and Hillary are picking out new drapes for the White House. Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Sometimes when the house is quiet, and I’m alone with my thoughts, my mind wanders, and I ask myself, “What is your favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?” That’s a tough one. Of course there is always The Terminator and sequels, which genre I agree salvaged his acting career after the death dive of the Conan couplet. Yeah, I like The Terminator, and I also enjoy Commando, giving it another look every year or so and even a review. And don’t forget True Lies, with Jamie Lee Curtis. It’s one of those curious objects that make us laugh while people are getting killed. Kindergarten Cop is another.

It stars Schwarzenegger as detective John Kimble with the Los Angeles Police Department. This came out 26 years ago (1990) when both of us were much younger, and it shows. Just watch the movie.It also stars  Penelope Ann Mille as school teacher Joyce, former wife of killer and sometime drug dealer Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson). But I’m getting ahead of the story. Imagine Entertainment produced this movie, and it was distributed by Universal Pictures. I used to have the VHS tape, but got rid of my tapes a long time ago. Images are from the DVD. Details are from Wikipedia.

As the movie opens we see Detective Kimble trailing career criminal Cullen Crisp in an indoor shopping mall. Crisp is cruising along the lower level while Kimble keeps an eye on from above. Then Kimble loses sight as Crisp ducks into a back room. He’s there to meet Danny (Tom Kurlander), a drug runner, who wants to sell Crisp some information. The exchange takes place. Crisp gets the information he wants. Danny gets a bullet to the chest. Crisp exits and dumps the murder weapon, silencer and all, in a trash bin. Only, there has been a witness to the exchange. Alix Koromzay is Cindy, Danny’s druggie prostitute girlfriend. Crisp leaves, Cindy screams. Kimble comes running. He handcuffs Cindy to the corpse and chases after Crisp.

Here we see Kimble telling Crisp his days of crime are over. At the same time he has to show his police badge to the mall cops, who are ready to shoot anybody displaying a weapon.

KindergartenCop-01

After some shenanigans, Kimble gets Cindy to cough up the information involved in the murderous exchange. Crisp is looking for his ex-wife, and Danny has revealed she is living in Astoria, Oregon, and Crisp’s son is a kindergarten student. Kimble and Detective Phoebe O’Hara (Pamela Reed) head off to beautiful Astoria to track down the ex-wife and the $3 million she has stolen from Crisp. We see them arrive in beautiful Astoria with a magnificent view of the iconic bridge. Watching the movie again yesterday, I took notice. I have the same image, but not as neat. Barbara Jean and I were there on a cloudy day.

AstoriaBridge

Detective O’Hara is supposed to pose as a kindergarten teacher in order to nose around and find out which of the kindergarten monsters is Son of Crisp. She takes a terrible turn of stomach flu, so Kimble takes over the teacher role. Hence the title. The kindergarten kids get their first look at the substitute teacher. It’s awesome.

KindergartenCop-02

Kimble also meets pretty Joyce. Sex is in the air. This makes for some interesting tension.

KindergartenCop-03

Kimble, with his vast experience in educating small children is an immediate success. No, that’s not right. Joyce has given him some sound advice, “They’re like the ocean. Don’t turn your back on them.”

KindergartenCop-04

I’m not going to recapitulate the plot. Cindy gets bumped off. There is no more witness to Danny’s murder. Crisp goes free. He and Ma Barker, AKA the senior Mrs. Crisp (Carroll Baker) head off to Astoria to settle matters with the former Mrs. Crisp and to abscond with the younger Crisp.

The pair arrive. Crisp sets a fire in the school to stir things up, and in the confusion he grabs his son. With the building evacuated there is an episode of stalking, ending in a shootout. Mr. Crisp takes a number to the torso and succumbs in the boys’ restroom.

KindergartenCop-05

Enter Ma Barker, putting a couple into Detective Kimble. It’s a great role for Baker, a long way from Baby Doll.

KindergartenCop-06

Kimble recovers. He returns to the classroom. There’s a celebration. The movie freezes the frame. It’s right out of An Officer and a Gentleman.

KindergartenCop-07

And what’s wrong with this movie? Plenty. Plot absurdities abound. I mention this often. Where to start?

Crisp has the word out on the street that he’s in the market for information about his ex-wife and son. Danny just happened to be in Astoria and saw the wife. The kid must be (given his age) in kindergarten class. Danny proposes to cash in. $1000. But that’s not his final asking price. He will take $750. He gets paid off in lead. Why? Crisp is a mature and street-wise drug kingpin. He throws money around like corn chips. He’s going to stiff (pun intended) Danny and risk a murder rap? And he saved what? He has to ditch the pistol (and silencer). That was not cheap. A wise operator would have paid the $750 and considered it all in a day’s work. Then the police would not have been clued in (from Cindy) about Joyce and the kid. And the movie would have been over a lot sooner.

Two big-city police detectives show up at a public school in beautiful Oregon, and they want to insert an undercover agent into the system, with the potential of bringing in a big time drug gang menace. And the school is willing to go along with this? Don’t believe it.

Kimble and O’Hara need to find one woman with a son in kindergarten in Astoria, and to do that it’s necessary to pose as a kindergarten teacher. Much too complicated and risky. But, the producers had to do it. Else there would have been no Kindergarten Cop.

Cullen and Ma Crisp head to Astoria to snatch the kid. Cullen feels his paternal instincts tugging. Ma Crisp is driven. What is plan B? They are going to take the kid? They are going to expose themselves to additional police attention? There’s going to be unwanted additional court time. Unless they bump off the mother in the process, then the Shinola will really hit the fan.

The police are really after the $3 million Joyce has stolen from Cullen. They feel that it is rightfully theirs. There are problems. First, the $3 million is a ruse. Joyce never did take $3 million. Cullen made the story up to get the attention of the street, as in the case of Danny. And the police don’t know this? If you think $3 million rightly belongs to the government, then you had better know whether the money exists. In order to seize the money you are going to need a case that links it to some sort of government claim. But the money does not exist. This aspect of the plot is exceedingly thin.

Cullen cases the school. He sees the ex-wife. He sees her kid. That must be the one he’s looking for (hasn’t seen him since he was a squirming infant). How does he go about snatching the kid? He sets fire to the place, bringing all kinds of attention, also alerting Kimble and O’Hara. People, there just has got to be a better way.

Hey! I didn’t show any shots of Linda Hunt as Miss Schlowski: the school principal (from Wikipedia). A bright light in an already dazzling production.

More Schwarzenegger reviews coming up. Keep reading.

Bat Shit Crazy

First of a series

PhilRobertsonTedCruz

Wisdom oft comes unbidden. And from the strangest places:

Gentlemen, young men, marry you a woman. Dude—if she’s clean, and you’re clean, and you marry her, and you keep your sex right there, you’re never going to get a debilitating disease and/or death. It’s safe!”

The prospect of never dying has long had my attention. Not so long Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson. Stunned was I to hear such wisdom from the same mouth. The same mouth that has in the passed revealed serious lapses of comprehension:

I am guessing Robertson never heard of Emmett Till. I am guessing Robertson never noticed that black people were being denied the right to vote. I am guessing he never saw the governor of a state stand in the door of a school building to prevent a black student from entering. I am guessing Robertson never ventured over into Neshoba County, Mississippi. I’m guessing he never heard of James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. I’m guessing Robertson missed a lot growing up in rural Louisiana.

Could you possibly imagine it’s the very same mouth that is delivering up the path to freedom from sickness and death. At this point I need to second guess the Oracle of West Monroe and conclude he is not actually promising eternal life free of the flu and cancer of the pancreas. What he likely means is that if you don’t bed down with a chick who has gonorrhea, syphilis, the crabs, and even AIDS, then you are going to avoid these modern maladies. Provided, of course, you don’t already have them, yourself.

Actually, the Duck Dynasty patriarch had more to say in his speech endorsing presidential candidate Ted Cruz, United States Senator from Texas. The video show him waving what appears to be a copy of the King James Bible. He proclaims, in part:

Vet what you say to the word of God. If you do, you know what? There won’t be any vile, filthy language coming out of your mouth. God said don’t do it.

Amazing! The answer is simple. The Bible (if I interpret correctly) is the word of God. We should follow the example of the Bible. Such as this one:

Ezekiel 23:1-8 King James Version (KJV)

23 The word of the Lord came again unto me, saying,

Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother:

And they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth: there were their breasts pressed, and there they bruised the teats of their virginity.

And the names of them were Aholah the elder, and Aholibah her sister: and they were mine, and they bare sons and daughters. Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah.

And Aholah played the harlot when she was mine; and she doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours,

Which were clothed with blue, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding upon horses.

Thus she committed her whoredoms with them, with all them that were the chosen men of Assyria, and with all on whom she doted: with all their idols she defiled herself.

Neither left she her whoredoms brought from Egypt: for in her youth they lay with her, and they bruised the breasts of her virginity, and poured their whoredom upon her.

Blessed be the word of the Lord. And blessed be he who brings us the word. Further blessed is he who will promote this wisdom to the highest stations in the land:

“So,” Cruz continued, “I’m seriously thinking about sending Robertson off to the UN, so he could establish some sense of order in Africa. You all heard his speech today. The man knows what he’s talking about, I dare even say he’s got a valid point. So, who better for the job than him? And another thing – because of the hygienic apocalypse that has been going on throughout Africa, we now have AIDS as a consequence. One of the most severe diseases that has plagued the human race in history today exists solely because of how dirty the peoples of Africa are. And the sad part is – they don’t even care about it. The men keep sleeping with infected women and keep spreading the virus as if it was nothing. That’s why we need someone with a firm hand to take control of things, to rule them with an iron fist and to teach them how to pick out the clean females. And I’ve got just the man for it. So, don’t go dismissing him before he’s even started the job.”

I’ve seen bat shit, and I’ve seen crazy, but I have to tell you this is bat shit crazy. Is there more? Does the bear…? Well, you know what the bear does. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

dollarSign

The dollar sign is the symbol or our currency. For example you can tell a woman you meet at a bar, “I make over $5 million a year.” She’s going to know you are lying, but that illustrates the idea of the dollar sign. And here is the Quiz Question for this week.

Where did we get the dollar sign?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

Update and answer

Prasad has provided the correct answer. He did not say whether he had to go to Google for the solution, but one of the rules of the Quiz Question of the week is to dredge up the answers from your own memory.

And and answer comes from the question: Why do Mexicans use the dollar sign for the Mexican peso? The answer is that Mexico was around before the United States existed, and they already had $ as the symbol for pesos or “pieces of eight.” It was already a popular symbol when the new nation on the eastern shore of the continent needed a symbol for the dollar.

Why I Support Clinton

An unpaid political endorsement

HillaryDeletedTheTruth

Yes, I love that movie. The script is by Aaron Sorkin, just about my favorite script master (also The American President, The West Wing). Of course, anybody knee deep in American films recognizes the above allusion to the climactic scene that has Tom Cruise grilling Jack Nicholson on the stand and demanding the truth. I didn’t create this meme. Someone of great wit did, and I feel I need to use it. I’m here to state why I support Hillary Clinton for President, and I should start by putting up the best shot from the opposition.

So that was it. The best shot, and Hillary is still standing. Now it’s time to get down to reality.

The first thing people who know me are going to ask is, “Why not Bernie Sanders?” Easy question, and my answer is, “Bernie Sanders.” When the race kicked off last year it appeared Clinton was going to be the anointed Democratic Party candidate. Then Sanders (and Martin O’Malley) jumped in. Sanders lost me with his first shot:

As with many other elements of his platform, critics of Sanders’ free-college proposal have charged that it is unrealistic and that he hasn’t fully explained how to pay for it. Funding free college can be tricky because, as with other government benefits, the very act of promising to pay can drive up costs in a couple of different ways.

Yes, call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I saw this within two seconds. I’m a retired engineer with three college degrees, said degrees obtained at public universities in Texas with tuition subsidized by tax payers. Thank you. But it wasn’t free. In a screwball way, it turned out that taxpayers ended up footing the bill for all my college tuition. I worked this way.

Out of high school I embarked on an active tour of duty with the Navy Reserve. Taxpayers funded that, and I thank you. I saved my government pay and applied it to my college expenses to get a degree in engineering. Before my initial funds ran dry the Navy Reserve got back to me and payed me full salary and expenses to work as a campus recruiter while taking classes. Thanks, taxpayers. Later I went back to school and obtained degrees in mathematics and physics. Most of this time I was working for defense contractors, who payed my tuition. Again, thanks to all you hard-working taxpayers.

So you can see the taxpayers of this country did, in fact, fund my college education. And I am eternally grateful. As I heard it from Sanders, that is not what he had in mind. How was the government going to pay for all this college tuition? Sanders proposed to tax the rich.

Nah. That’s never going to happen. In order to tax the rich you are going to need some help from Congress, and the rich, while not owning Sanders, certainly do own Congress. Call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I have been constrained to live the past 75 years in the real world. People detached from reality do not hold my attention for more than a few milliseconds. Goodbye, Senator Sanders.

Why Hillary? My short answer is mental depth and a certain lack of bat-shit crazy. Before she abandoned her career to get into politics with skirt-chasing Bill, Hillary had a lot going for her:

From 1982 to 1988, Clinton was on the board of directors, sometimes as chair, of the New World Foundation, which funded a variety of New Left interest groups. From 1987 to 1991, she was the first chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, created to address gender bias in the legal profession and induce the association to adopt measures to combat it. She was twice named by The National Law Journal as one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America: in 1988 and in 1991. When Bill Clinton thought about not running again for governor in 1990, Hillary considered running, but private polls were unfavorable and, in the end, he ran and was re-elected for the final time

This is one tough old biddy.

What about her detractors? To many she comes off as devious, some would even say untrustworthy. Wait just a moment. Let’s look at the job description: President of the United States—tasked with ordering certain people be killed, making cozy deals with world despots, deporting young children. Yeah, Hillary is up to the job.

But, can you trust her to fulfill her campaign promises? Pardon me while I enjoy a nice laugh with all who just read the foregoing. Of course not. For me it’s not so much what Hillary promises to do (but will not), it’s what she will not do. Here’s a short list:

  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Resurrect Antonin Scalia and nominate him to the Supreme Court.
  • Ban homosexuals from serving in the military.
  • Sign off on legislation making Christianity the state religion.
  • Privatize Social Security
  • Remind the LGBT community they are second class citizens.

And that’s only a partial list. You will, of course, remind me that Bernie Sanders will likewise not do any of those things. Bernie Sanders will not do any of those things, because Americans will not elect Bernie Sanders. They will, instead, elect Donald Trump, the least of our remaining worries. When it comes to voting for bat-shit crazy, the American electorate is not something I want to take a chance on. One Antonin Scalia on the Supreme court is not worth risking for 100 million free scholarships, and that’s the chance Democrats take if they nominate Bernie Sanders.

As Forrest Gump would say, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

Full disclosure: This is to remind people who do not already know that my wife and Hillary’s husband attended high school together in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

They made a bunch of these. Here’s a re-cap:

So I didn’t get to see all the series, but from what I did see I got the following:

  • The Falcon is a freelance detective, possibly with a dark background. He seems to have great talents as a thief, and he is on close terms with the police, who continually want to arrest him for the crime that he is investigating.
  • He has a pretty girlfriend, who is also a pushy newspaper reporter.
  • He has a sidekick named Goldie, who has a criminal background, looks like a thug, seems superficially stupid, but has great talents that are continually brought into play.
  • Each movie starts with a beautiful woman barging into The Falcon’s life with a desperate plea for help and convincing The Falcon to get involved in her case.
  • Each movie ends with the Falcon preparing to exit stage right to make whoopie with his girlfriend when a beautiful woman comes barging in with a desperate plea for help.

This one is The Falcon In Danger, and it stars Tom Conway as Tom Lawrence, The Falcon. It came out in 1943, when America was knee deep in World War Two, and there are numerous references to this connection in the movie. This was produced by RKO Pictures. Screen shots are from a DVD I made off the showing by Turner Classic Movies. Details are from Wikipedia.

The opening scene shows a bunch of anxious people waiting for the arrival of a plane at an airport. Disaster! The Plane cartwheels on landing. More disaster. There is nobody aboard.

TheFalconInDanger-01

One of those supposed to be on board is industrialist Stanley Harris Palmer (Clarence Kolb). Another is Palmer’s business associate, Wally Fairchild (Robert Emmett Keane). A quick check reveals that only Palmer, Fairchild, and the pilot are unaccounted for. The other passengers and crew were left stranded when the plane took off.

We next see The Falcon at an illegal gambling club, where he is dropping money at the roulette wheel. His fiancée,  Bonnie Caldwell (Amelita Ward) is assisting. The police come. It’s not a raid. The police want to speak to The Falcon to get his assistance in solving the mystery. Sweet Bonnie objects strenuously. We see a lot of that in the movie. The Falcon declines to help the police.

The Falcon changes his mind when smashing Nancy Palmer, daughter of the missing Palmer (Elaine Shepard), begs him to intervene. She shows him a ransom note she has received. Her father is alive, but she must pay $25,000 to get him back. The Falcon relents.

TheFalconInDanger-02

We are treated throughout the movie with Bonnie’s wacky antics. She is intensely jealous of any attention of any kind shown to The Falcon by any female. That means no end of trouble for The Falcon.

At the crash site The Falcon’s troubles increase. Iris Fairchild (Jean Brooks), niece of the missing Fairchild, shows him yet another note. This is getting stickier and stickier.

TheFalconInDanger-03

There follows a bizarre ransom payment attempt at a water fountain in a park. The Falcon gets the license number. It leads to an antique shop, where we meet the nefarious Mr. Morley (Felix Basch) and his two equally nefarious sons. They continue to give trouble for much of the remainder of the movie.

TheFalconInDanger-04

Surprise! Harris Palmer turns up alive. He tells of two men high jacking the plane and robbing him and Fairchild, then forcing him to bail out using a company parachute (Palmer’s company makes parachutes). Worse news. Later the police find the bodies of Fairchild and the pilot.

TheFalconInDanger-05

The movie gets more bizarre. As The Falcon closes in on sumptuous Iris Fairchild, she decides to go to a skating rink for a bit of recreation. The Falcon joins in. So does a police detective. This escapade contributes little to the plot.

TheFalconInDanger-06

The Falcon solves the mystery, and I won’t divulge the outcome. You need to see this one. Suffice it to say the plot has numerous shunts that go nowhere, and there are shenanigans aplenty to keep the audience wondering why they are watching.

At the conclusion Bonnie receives a telegram from another suitor and announces she is leaving. The Falcon is relieved, but not so much so. He sent the telegram. Just then another beautiful woman in trouble approaches The Falcon and asks for his help. How can he refuse?

The plane crash that opens this movie would not pass muster in a 21st century production. Airplane (and ship) models in those days were notoriously hokey.

The Ever-Diminishing List of Those Who Cannot Obtain Life Insurance at any Price

One of a continuing series

From The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal

There’s been more of this going around recently. Last month it was the second deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His name was Assi Ali Mohammed Nasser al-Obeidi, and he was was a top ISIS military commander in western Iraq and eastern Syria, according to a CNN item. The list of those listening intently for the Whispering Death continues to shrink. The most recent to exit saw his last sunset in Libya. According to The Wall Street Journal:

U.S. Airstrikes Target Islamic State in Libya

Training camp west of the capital Tripoli is hit, U.S. officials say

U.S. warplanes struck an Islamic State training camp in Libya on Friday, in an operation that targeted a long-sought senior member of the extremist group, U.S. officials said.

The training camp near Sabratha in western Libya was targeted by F-15 aircraft based in the U.K., and a Tunisian Islamic State “operations officer” known as Noureddine Chouchane was thought to have been killed in the attack, the officials said.

The airstrike was the second against an Islamic State militant outside Iraq and Syria. The first was also in Libya, in November, against Abu Nibal, or Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubayadi, who was an operative of the extremist group. The man was described at the time as a longtime al Qaeda member with links to Islamic State.

The United States and its military allies in the campaign against these soldiers of God are having difficulty eliminating the scourge through the use of twentieth century war strategy. The group tends to embed itself among unaligned civilian populations, rendering frontal armored assault and carpet bombing problematic. Our practice for the past 24 months or so has been to gather sufficient intelligence regarding the whereabouts of select individuals and concentrations of fighters and then showing them the true face of God.

The President, as well as I have, has called this religious cult a “J V team” (junior varsity). I’m not sure what President Obama had in mind, but my reasoning behind this attribution is their complete lack of an industrial base for conducting modern warfare. Unlike the Nazis and the Japanese Empire of World War Two, the religious state must fight exclusively using weapons supplied from outside, either purloined from modern military forces (e.g., the Iraqi army) or else purchased on the black market. Furthermore, since their membership comprises mostly fighters and few others, with no means of generating wealth, purchases must be made largely with stolen funds. There is only so much that will do against forces such as our present alliance. Eventually the army of God is going to find itself governing a pile of rubble.

Additional news of late speaks of the exit of yet another pumped up religious terrorist. Watch for it in a blog post coming soon. And keep reading.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

Another one from cousin Skip. This one is short and possibly funny. Apologies all around.
A Hotel guest calls the Front desk and the clerk answers“May I help you?”
The man says, “Yes, I’m in room 858. You need to send someone to my room immediately. I’m having an argument with my wife and she says she’s going to jump out the window.”
The desk clerk says, “I’m sorry sir, but that’s a personal matter.”
The man replies, “Listen you idiot. The window won’t open… and that’s a maintenance matter.”

Slogan Thinking

Readers should not get the wrong impression. I do not spend hours each day wading through news feeds and seeking the advice of smart people. No, I take the lazy route. I just scroll my Facebook feed and allow a small number of energetic “friends” do the leg work for me. The inspiration for my postings appears limitless. Here is the most recent.

WeThePeople

Actually, this was posted as two separate images, but it came across looking like this. With the magic of PhotoShop I rendered the concept into a single image. And that’s what this post about—single-image thinking.

There’s a lot of that going around these days. Concepts, bold ideas, movements that promise to shake the world. Some of these have depth and substance behind them. Many are about as deep as the layer of ink.

The practice is not new. It predates the foundations of this country, and the American Revolution made good use of bare symbolism. Here is an example.

From Google Images

From Google Images

This isn’t it, but this was used on a battle flag to taunt the British. It carried a strong message. It was not an idle message. People were prepared to die. People did die. The message had substance. Here is a similar image, but with more depth of thinking:

Join_or_die

From Google Images

This alludes to something Benjamin Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The document to which a number of brave colonialists put their names (in ink) was clear treason and inescapable. Franklin reminded those in attendance:

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

In the event, the colonies did hang together, and they did see it through.

And that’s as far as slogans can go on their own. A nifty slogan, a splashy meme, without substance, can be turned on its source. The “don’t tread on me” meme, obviously lacking any force, is currently the subject of mirth. It’s been turned on its head with little effort and with obvious effect:

DontLaugh

Yes, that’s right. When a smart slogan is all you have, reality is going to come back to bite. The so-called Tea Party, lacking substance, so often sows the wind, only to see it blow back on them.

It’s been done before, and many were the beneficiaries of great joy. In the 1960s former Vice President Richard Nixon was running for the top job. Somebody on the campaign got the idea that name recognition would suffice. A popular Nixon sticker looked like this:

NIXON

Yes. That’s all it said. It took campus wits about two seconds to figure out what would happen if you obtained one of these stickers and turned it upside down:

NOXIN

Immediately the Nixon team destroyed the existing stock and designed out the symmetry. The wits had their day, but in the end so did Nixon. He won.

The “Come And Take It” meme has historical basis, but I’m thinking that’s accidental. It’s possible the modern day Paul Revere pretenders are not acquainted with the real history. The slogan was used during the American Revolution, but its association with a weapon of war dates to the Texas Revolution:

In early January 1831, Green DeWitt wrote to Ramón Músquiz, the top political official of Bexar, and requested armament for defense of the colony of Gonzales. This request was granted by delivery of a small used cannon. The small bronze cannon was received by the colony and signed for on March 10, 1831, by James Tumlinson, Jr. The swivel cannon was mounted to a blockhouse in Gonzales, Texas and later was the object of Texas pride. At the minor skirmish known as the Battle of Gonzales—the first battle of the Texas Revolution against Mexico—a small group of Texians successfully resisted the Mexican forces who had orders from Col. Domingo de Ugartechea to seize their cannon. As a symbol of defiance, the Texians had fashioned a flag containing the phrase “come and take it” along with a black star and an image of the cannon which they had received four years earlier from Mexican officials. This was the same message that was sent to the Mexican government when they told the Texians that they had to return their cannon; failure to comply with the Mexicans’ original demands led to the failed attempt by the Mexican military to forcefully take back the cannon.

Here is the original “Come And Take It” Image:

Come-and-Take-It-Flag

The difference between this image and the meme at the top of this post is that the Texans who put up these brave words also put up their futures and their very lives, some of which were sacrificed. The image with the assault rifle and the wording underneath is devoid of any of this. The people who concoct these slogans, slap them on signs, create cute memes, lack the purpose and determination of the brave men from the past who laid down their lives for real causes. Phony patriotism is exemplified by the humorous shenanigans of the Bundy clan, who were, in the end, unwilling to put their own lives on the line for what amounted to a criminal enterprise.

Be assured, I have not exhausted my collection of empty memes, gathered lovingly from Facebook postings over the years. It’s a fun game to put one under close scrutiny and draw back the thin façade. Keep them coming. And keep reading.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This is the second time I reviewed this movie. I believe the first time I said something like, “This movie has two things going for it, and Roberts has them.” Julia Roberts, of course, was playing the title role in Erin Brockovich.

The movie came out in 2000 from Jersey Films, distributed by Universal Pictures. Director was Steven Soderbergh. The three co-producers include Danny DeVito. I obtained a DVD, and screen shots are from the disk. Technical details are from Wikipedia.

This is based on a true events involving the title character. It’s about a single mother with tremendous assets, none of which include life skills and basic tact. The opening shows Erin Brockovich completely blowing a job interview. She has no experience related to the position and has no skills at projecting herself favorably. Two failed marriages signal something is wrong with her life choices.

ErinBrockovich-01

Immediately following the interview Erin is involved in a traffic accident. The video clearly shows the light is green when she drives into the intersection before her car is struck by another traveling at a high rate of speed. We see history being made with Erin Brockovich meeting Edward L. Masry (Albert Finney), the lawyer who’s handling her suit against the other driver.

ErinBrockovich-02

That suit goes nowhere. Taking the stand in the court trial, Erin’s choice of language and rejoinder completely unhinges the jury, which votes against her case. Her next life choice involves George (Aaron Eckhart), a Harley rider and otherwise a really great guy. Despite the two getting in some amazing sack time, viewers know this pairing is going nowhere.

ErinBrockovich-03

Unable to find a job (absolutely no marketable skills beyond the obvious), Erin barges into the Masry law firm and starts to work unbidden. Masry takes a chance on her and gives her some files to work on. It’s a case he is handing pro bono for some citizens out in the boondocks who are being offered money for their property by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). Erin notices one of the files mentions payment by PG&E for medical expenses. She hooks it out to the unincorporated community of Hinkley to dig further.

ErinBrockovich-04

Location shots do not show a glut of prosperity in Hinkley, California.

ErinBrockovich-05

After being fired (a week without checking into the office), Erin finally gets across to her boss that there is a real case going. PG&E sells natural gas. Transporting natural gas by pipeline requires first compressing it to cut down the volume. The company’s stations employ reciprocating piston compressors, which require water for cooling. Hexavalent chromium was introduced into the process to prevent rust. The waste water was pumped into holding ponds. Initially the holding ponds were lined to prevent leakage, but a subsequent economy move eliminated lining of new ponds. The water, contaminated with hexavalent chromium seeped into the Hinkley water supply. People are  getting sick in Hinkley. Many illnesses are deadly serious. People have died. Erin produces a comprehensive study that links all this to PG&E. A huge lawsuit emerges.

ErinBrockovich-06

PG&E responds with its big guns. Lawyers from PG&E drop by to intimidate the lowly Masry law firm. Ed Masry responds by bringing two of his office staff, dressed up as lawyers, to the meeting. He also brings Erin. Erin unleashes her lack of charm and reads the big firm lawyers the riot act. The iconic moment of the movie comes when Erin reminds them they are being served water from the Hinkley supply. A  big firm lawyer gingerly puts down her glass and never takes a drink. Victory is in the air.

ErinBrockovich-07

Not quite. Ed Masry teams with a front tier firm, a move that almost proves disastrous. Their lawyers are too professional and are stiff beyond all reason. They turn off the 634 plaintiffs, who begin to shop around for another lawyer. A cute moment comes when the woman lawyer being assigned the case challenges Erin’s capabilities. Erin responds by citing from memory the complete details of one of the 634 picked at random. Asked how she managed to corral all the signatures committing 634 plaintiffs to commit to Masry and his new partner, Erin responds that it was not easy giving that many blow jobs.

The case lacks an essential detail. There is no smoking gun. There is no hard evidence that PG&E had culpable knowledge of wrongdoing. Erin is down to her last straw. She is collecting about the last needed signature from a plaintiff who runs a coffee shop. When a customer in the shop sidles up next to her and starts making personal talk Erin is immediately apprehensive. She has already received one threatening phone call. She has been propositioned countless more times. Then the man drops a bombshell. He worked for PG&E, and he was given the job of shredding documents. He failed to do his job properly. He kept copies of incriminating memos.

ErinBrockovich-08

The game is over. History shows that PG&E paid $333 million, the largest civil action suit at the time. We see Erin taking George, now estranged, to the home of a Hinkley woman and telling her that her part of the award will be $3 million.

Back at the office, now occupying a suite way up in a high rise, Ed Masry knows how Erin will react when he has to tell her that her bonus check will not be what they agreed upon. We see the classic Erin Brockovich comeback, things you would not want your grandchildren to hear. Then she looks at the check. Ed has seen fit to increase the agreed amount. Erin is getting $2 million.

What’s wrong with this movie is that the premise is false. The people of Hinkley did get sick, but not to the degree that others outside the contaminated zone did. Hexavalent chromium is carcinogenic when inhaled. Drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium, in the amounts present in Hinkley water, does not present the same danger. PG&E, like many offenders in these situations, incriminated themselves. They incriminated themselves by acting criminally instead of coming clean in the beginning. By saving money not sealing the holding ponds they dug their own grave. In  seeking to stave off future lawsuits by delaying action until time limits ran out, they exposed themselves as unconcerned with people who may have been injured. By destroying evidence they knew would be needed in a lawsuit, they acted as any Mafia family enterprise would.

Erin Brockovich is still around. I see her on the news from time to time. She is still a legal assistant and an environmental activist. It is likely that much of her environmental activism involves lawsuits that can be won and not so much as their actual merit. She succeeds because corporations still show little regard for the lives and welfare of the public, the people, the source of their wealth.

PG&G has since gone bankrupt.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Third in a series

As with the previous post in this series, this came up in a Facebook post that devolved into a discussion of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) controversy. I will begin by pasting pertinent parts of the dialogue so far:

Jim Medding shared History‘s post.

When ever I hear the term “settled science” I think of Galileo

On ‪#‎ThisDayInHistory 1633, Italian philosopher and astronomer Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy after he advocated the Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

GalileoInquisition

Galileo in Rome for Inquisition – Feb 13, 1633 – HISTORY.com

On this day in History, Galileo in Rome for Inquisition on Feb 13, 1633. Learn more about what happened today on History.

Luis De La Cruz a la “climate change” and the settled science

John Blanton “Settled science” is a term that gets thrown around, but in the final analysis it’s not what counts. What counts is what can be demonstrated. Right now what is being demonstrated is the case for AGW. I have some facts plus a bit of comedy for your reading enjoyment. Comments are welcome. I have more facts.
https://skeptic78240.wordpress.com/…/the-age-of…/

Jim Medding You, John, prove my point.

John Blanton Jim, I’m glad I prove your point. How? Please explain.

Jim Medding You couldn’t resist the temptation to jump all over this post. Shouldn’t there be some room for skepticism? You’re skeptical about the existence of God without having to prove your skepticism, which is OK. But if anyone says “I don’t know” about AGW, oh my let’s set ’em straight. Put your ego aside and coexist. You’re not going to convince anyone.

John Blanton Jim, thanks for responding on this. On a side note: The moment after I responded that I was glad to prove your point, I asked myself what was your point? You did not actually say. This would be a good time to state your position.

It was interesting that you brought up the existence of God, because I had no idea on how you stood on the matter. From the conversation you and I had with Don Hay 30 years ago I assumed you shared my rejection of Don’s views on creationism, the age of the Earth, and religion in general. If you have particular views on God, put them forward for discussion. My own position is that the God of Abraham (to distinguish from the number of other popular gods) is a made up story with no basis in fact. I say that in case there may be some confusion on the point.

You mention my ego, as though I had some emotional attachment to the science behind AGW. Putting that matter to rest, I have no such attachment. I do have a great fondness for the truth, and I do enjoy chiding people who sorely abuse the truth.

I am heading into a trip out of town, and I will be able to address your points in detail when I get back. In the mean time it will be helpful if you will state your position on the matters under discussion (God, AGW, creationism maybe). That way I will not have to bore you with some lengthy discussion when all the while we are in agreement on a point.

And that’s the extent of the conversation up to the present writing. I had hoped that after 48 hours I would have seen an additional response from Jim, but I will post this today rather than wait. If Jim responds later I will update this post. Here is a diagnosis of the exchange.

Jim posted a link to the History Channel concerning Galileo’s hearing before The Inquisition on 13 February 1633. Galileo had published that, contrary to prevailing doctrine, the Earth revolves around the sun. Jim’s comment was that use of the term “settled science” always reminded him of Galileo. Galileo was going against what had been “settled” by higher authority.

Of course, Galileo was not going against settled science, because the Ptolemaic conjecture, which was supported by the Church, did not involve any actual science. Ptolemy, and others, had observed that the sun appeared to go around and around the Earth on a daily basis. No scientific study had ever been invoked to refute the conjecture. It just became accepted and incorporated into church doctrine. But I was OK with Jim’s remark. Galileo did challenge a concept supported by authority and not by science.

Then Luis De La Cruz added a comment linking the science behind AGW to “settled science” supported only by authority. Since I know this to be incorrect, I added my comment to that effect and included a link to my previous post on the matter. Please note, my comment was not in response to Jim’s post, It was in response to Luis de la Cruz’s comment.

Jim commented that I had proved his point.

Without thorough preparation, I responded to Jim, telling him I was glad to be of assistance. Then I inquired as to how I had helped him prove his point, and I asked for additional details.

Jim’s response to this was more involved. To exhibit, I here repeat Jim’s response:

You couldn’t resist the temptation to jump all over this post. Shouldn’t there be some room for skepticism? You’re skeptical about the existence of God without having to prove your skepticism, which is OK. But if anyone says “I don’t know” about AGW, oh my let’s set ’em straight. Put your ego aside and coexist. You’re not going to convince anyone.

Jim’s comment that I could not resist is correct, but he may have missed the point that I was not responding to his post, but to the comment by Luis. Regardless, Jim inquired whether there should not be room for skepticism. That is a serious consideration and requires serious treatment. Since, by now, the subject matter had become too deep for Facebook, I am reverting to a blog post with more detail. First, the issue of room for skepticism.

Yes, there should be room for skepticism. Whenever anybody puts up a scientific conjecture, hypothesis, even theory, there rightly should be skepticism. Science does not work well without ideas being challenged. In all this the Galileo connection has become lost. Galileo was skeptical of the church sanctioned explanation of orbital mechanics, but he was not merely suspicious. He proposed a better explanation, one that did away with a vast body of specious explanation required to make the Ptolemaic system work. He proposed an alternative, and along with that alternative he proposed a better explanation. This is scientific skepticism, not just idle doubt.

Next, Jim brought God into the matter. He mentioned I am skeptical of God. Moreover, I’m skeptical of God without having to prove my skepticism. To this I take exception. Not only am I skeptical of the existence of God, but I am prepared to present detailed arguments supporting that position. This is not idle doubt. More on that later.

Jim advises me to put my ego aside and coexist. As I mentioned in my follow-up to Jim’s last comment, there is no amount of ego involved in my position. By this I mean, there is no emotional involvement on my part regarding the science behind AGW. What does catch my interest, however, is an abiding respect for the truth. Let’s put this more directly. For example, somebody tells me he believes scientists are all wrong, and the Earth is flat. At the very least I am going to respond, “Excuse me?” I may go so far as to give a big belly laugh. In some cases I might go to the extreme to point out evidence that the Earth is, in fact, not flat. It more closely resembles a ball of matter about 8000 miles in diameter. Yes, I do get emotional when confronted with idle objections to what should be common knowledge.

To wit, the science that backs up the truth about AGW is comprehensive and well exposed for all to see. A 21st century citizen who dismisses all the evidence with a shrug and a comment expressing doubt is going to meet with a challenge from anybody knowing the background. And, the facts be known, that is a job I have given myself, and a task I have been involved with for nearly 30 years. Some history.

Thirty years ago I hooked up with the North Texas Skeptics, a Dallas-based group concerned with the promulgation of astrology, psychic powers, faith healing, creationism, and any number of other factually baseless concepts. It was about this time Jim and I had the conversation with Don Hay, mentioned in my Facebook comment.

Jim and I were working on a missile project for a defense contractor, and Don Hay was recruited from another company. Don was college-educated, a requirement for the job, so it was with surprise that Don advised us he believed in creationism. He announced that he was a devout Christian, and creationism was an integral part of his belief. Part of Don’s belief was that the Earth and the universe were created in six days, as described in the Bible. I inquired of Don whether he had ever visited the Grand Canyon and seen for himself the multitude of exposed layers of the Earth’s crust, giving evidence to an age of millions, if not billions, of years. Don was proud to claim he had never done so, and he never intended to do so. His faith told him all he needed to know, and the matter was settled. It was shortly after that I joined up with the North Texas Skeptics.

Anyhow, at the time, Jim seemed equally as embarrassed by Don’s position as I was. I never then nor have I since heard anything directly from Jim expressing agreement with Don, including a belief in God. I was hoping that a follow-up comment from Jim would clear up that matter. I can discuss my objections to the concept of God better if I know what that concept is supposed to include. Anybody discussing this with me may want to stake out one or more of the following claims:

  • There is an omnipotent being as described in the Bible (Jewish, Christian plus the Quran), said being to be hereafter called God. This God takes a particular interest in the human race.
  • God created the universe as described in Genesis in the Bible.
  • Man (the human race) was created in God’s image.
  • Jesus of Nazareth was the human embodiment of God.
  • God contrived to have Jesus be persecuted and tortured to death in order to absolve the human race of all its past sins.
  • After being killed, Jesus returned from the dead and lived for 40 days before ascending into the sky, never to be seen again.
  • All that is necessary to be a true Christian is to accept that Jesus was the son of God and died for our sins. Those who believe will have everlasting life after death and will dwell in a special place called Heaven. All who do not accept Jesus will be tormented in Hell for eternity after death.

There could be much more, but this will do. Anybody wanting to discuss God at a serious level needs to sign up for one or more of these conjectures. On the other hand, it is not OK for me express my skepticism about God without stating at least some basis for my skepticism. I am willing and will now state my objections to the concept of God.

First allow me to state that I will be unable to prove conclusively that God does not exist. Hopefully I can convince readers that I do not need to prove conclusively that God does not exist. With some effort I can put forth good arguments against the existence of God.

First, regarding lack of conclusive proof that God does not exist. There are any number of untrue things I cannot disprove. Here is one:

Orbiting the sun along the same path as the Earth but on the other side of the sun, is a jade teapot. No, there is not, but I cannot prove there is not. I could prove its nonexistence in principle. I could convince the government to go investigate, and millions of tax dollars could be appropriated, and we could launch a mission to the far side of the sun to have a look-see. Nah, that’s not going to fly. The guy who stands at the gate protecting the national treasure from foolish enterprises is going to say, “You have got to kidding. The United States government has spent money on foolish adventures before, but this one is way off the chart. Not only is there not likely to be a jade teapot on the other side of the sun, in which case this one expensive venture will gain nothing. Besides that, if there is a jade pot on the other side of the sun, we don’t give a fat rat’s ass. Get on out of here.”

Let’s take this a step further. Suppose I postulate there is something else on the other side of the sun besides a jade teapot. Suppose we need to investigate whether there is a compact source of energy that can be brought back to the United States and will supply the entire country’s energy needs for the next hundred years. Now the treasury gate keeper will give a fat rat’s ass. And the answer will still be no. The evidence there is a jade teapot or even a hundred years’ supply of energy is still based on my conjecture and nothing more.

And therein is the tie between the jade teapot and God. The evidence for each is exactly the same—none. Somebody will tell me now that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Well taken. Then why not go after the 100 years’ energy supply? Also, why not make any material investment in belief in God?

At a personal level there is almost no reason not to believe in God, absent any evidence. You can just shake your head and say that you believe in God and then go about your business. The problem comes when belief in God calls for something material. At the entry level this might be taking a day each week out of your life and going to a church to reassert your belief—plus paying to support the church. Beyond that can lie trouble.

What kind of trouble you ask. Here are some examples.

  • William Miller in the 19th century convinced his followers, in excess of 50,000, that Jesus was about to return to Earth, and they should get rid of all their personal wealth and join him to journey into the afterlife with Jesus. This happened a couple of times, and of course Jesus never came, and the people lost all their worldly possessions. An offshoot of Millerism was the Seventh Day Adventist Church.
  • Nineteen, otherwise intelligent, young men believed that killing people in the name of God would result in their obtaining glory in the afterlife. They killed approximately 3000 people, including themselves, in the United States on 11 September 2001.
  • Marshall Applewhite convinced his followers (38) that Jesus was coming for them in a space ship that was following the Hale-Bopp comet. They all packed their bags for the journey and took poison.
  • Vernon Howell took the name David Koresh and convinced his followers the end times were coming. At the conclusion of a standoff with police and federal authorities, his followers killed themselves and their children, a total of 80.
  • It was much the same with Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. This time over 900 died.

There are more. The Blanton family name originated in Normandy in France. They all had to leave on threat of death, because French Catholics were killing all the Protestants. The short story is that there can be bad consequences from believing untrue things. The lesson that should be taken away is when believing in something not well substantiated, invest small.

My previous statement that the evidence for God is nil needs to be backed up. Here is my case, in its briefest form:

The entire case for the existence of God resides in some ancient texts, written at an undetermined time by people not well verified. Nobody has ever seen God, nobody has held a conversation with God, God has never been on television, nor has God testified in court nor served in the armed services. God does not pay taxes. This is the perfect description for a person who does not exist.

Everything said to be attributable to God can be more reasonably explained by natural processes. A ship sinks. Thousands drown. Three survive. This has happened. Was this a miracle attributable to God. No. Each of the survivors told the story of his survival, and each of the stories explain the survivor’s escape in natural terms.

Creationists point to the magnificent universe and the wonder of life. Surely God had a hand in this. People who support creationism claim all this wonder is the work of God. Specifically, it is the work of the God of Abraham. If I were to spot a creationist the point that a supernatural being created all these works, the creationist would still be left with the unsurmountable task of tying this to the God of Abraham and not some other God.

In addition to all of this, the only thing of substance relating to God, the Bible, is demonstrably incorrect at almost every point. The universe was not created in six days. There was no world-wide flood as described in the story of Noah. The story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt is false, since the Hebrews never were in Egypt. This and numerous other points the Bible gets wrong. And somebody is supposed to believe the unbelievable based on the word of the Bible?

I have run on at length (Jim was right on this point) in response to Jim’s most recent comment. Hopefully this dispels the notion of my skepticism about God without the need to back up my skepticism. If doubt remains I am able to run on at ten times this length.

Regarding AGW and “You’re not going to convince anyone,” I am definitely not going to convince anybody who rejects the science out of hand and will not provide evidence for their position nor accept evidence of AGW. A substantive discussion will involve all parties involved providing evidence to support their position. I invite Jim, Luis, and all others willing to discuss the matter to join in. I offer my blog site as a medium for exchanging ideas. This post has a provision for appending lengthy comments. Please use that space and get the conversation going.

Best to all reading this.

Update

It’s been three days since I posted this, and Jim has not gotten back with additional responses. I will presume there are not going to be any. Continuations on this theme will resume with a new post.

Once Upon A Tidy Mind

One of a continuing series

TonyPerkinsTedCruz

This is startling news:

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins introduced Glenn Beck at a campaign rally for Ted Cruz in South Carolina light night, where he warned that if America does not elect a bold Christian leader like Cruz, the nation might not have another presidential election ever again.

Anthony Richard Perkins

is president of the Family Research Council, a conservative policy and lobbying organization based inWashington, D.C. Perkins was previously a police officer and television reporter, served two terms as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representativesand unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2002.

human-events-logo-2

So that’s President Tony Perkins of the FRC. History shows that Perkins is no stranger to quirky thinking. An item posted by him ten years ago on Human Events provides a view to his take on human events. He cites the anecdote by Abraham Lincoln regarding a five-legged dog:

Congress Fails Americans on Marriage

What this is all about is legal sanctioning of same-sex marriage. Many find the concept offensive, and this is generally (my take) because they find homosexuality offensive. Recognizing same-sex marriage would be equivalent to government approval of homosexual acts.

In his Human Events piece Perkins went on to suggest a constitutional amendment to set the issue straight. I would presume such an amendment would declare that Congress shall make no law recognizing same sex marriage. This is much what the Constitution says in its First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” With that in play, that restriction on federal law has since filtered down the local level, principally through the 14th Amendment by way of its “equal protection” language.

What has factored in favor of same-sex marriage is that very equal protection” language:

“The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach,” the Court declared, “a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.” Citing Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court affirmed that the fundamental rights found in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause “extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs,” but the “identification and protection” of these fundamental rights “has not been reduced to any formula.” As the Supreme Court has found in cases such as Loving v. Virginia, Zablocki v. Redhail, and Turner v. Safley, this extension includes a fundamental right to marry.

I need to parse the language in the foregoing. By “right to marry” is meant the access to all benefits provided by law to people in heterosexual unions. And that is that.

No, that is not that. Tony Perkins and his like find the concept offensive. Allow me to dispense with the legalese and parody the situation. Lawana and Tony Perkins are in a heterosexual marriage and have five children. They are rightly proud of their situation. “We are married,” they say. Moving in next door to Lawana and Tony are James and William. They have one child, who is adopted, since neither James nor William is capable of producing an offspring from their union. James and William say, “We are married, as well.” Lawana (supposedly) and Tony find this offensive. James and William are now claiming their union is as legitimate as their own. These two men are queers (my wording). Somehow two queer men claiming equality in their union demeans the heterosexual union of Lawana and Tony. The Perkins marriage has less value. It is demeaned. It is devalued. And in a tidy mind all this is true.

You have to wonder at the mindset that produces this thinking. Perkins provided a clue to this thinking in his Human Events piece:

The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman is rooted in the order of nature itself. It promotes the continuation of the human race and the cooperation of a mother and a father in raising the children they produce.

It’s hard to escape that this wording exposes the flawed thinking in opposition to same-sex marriage. Specifically:

  • Rooted in nature itself: What is at stake here is not procreation by sexual union, it is providing the same benefits of law to same-sex unions that are provided to heterosexual unions.
  • Promotes the continuation of the human race: I refrain from laughing. If same-sex marriage is proclaimed to be illegal, homosexuals are going to sally forth and engage in heterosexual acts and produce more children? Get serious. The human population is calculated to be less than 10% (maybe less than 5%) homosexual. Even were my ridiculous example true, this is going to make a dent in the burgeoning human population?

The hypocrisy of the Perkins argument shows. If homosexuals (man and woman) get married and have children, it is likely their union will pass on the genetic trait for homosexuality, given the current thinking in biology that homosexuality is a congenital trait. Contra that, if homosexuality is a trait acquired from environment, including parental upbringing, then children from the union of two homosexuals will, in the prevailing Perkins think, produce more children raised to become homosexual.

But that’s enough of that silliness. The tidy mind of Perkins is fully laid out in the Right Wing Watch piece:

“I’m here because I decided that too much was a stake to sit on the sidelines,” Perkins said, “that I couldn’t just sit there and talk about it and do commentary about it; that I wanted to use what influence I had with Christians around this country to say that I’ve talked to all these candidates, I have vetted the candidates and from my vantage point in Washington, D.C., I can tell you America is in trouble.”

“We don’t have the latitude to get it wrong one more time,” he warned. “If we don’t elect a bold, courageous, godly leader in this next election, I’m afraid we may not have another election for our republic. That’s not hyperbole. That’s the reality based upon what this president’s policies have done to this nation.”

Perkins, who helped rally Religious Right leaders behind Cruz’s campaign, made a similar prediction back in 2012, when he repeatedly warned that America would not survive a second Obama presidential term.

This last is priceless. “[W]e may not have another election for our republic.” How this is going to happen is never explained, nor can it be. In hyperbolic language, Perkins says, “That’s not hyperbole.”

Readers, it’s a reminder that a tidy mind is a terrible thing to waste. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Quiz Question

 

One of a continuing series

Outland-03

I previously posted a review of Outland, a movie set at a mining base on Jupiter’s innermost moon, Io. They were mining titanium, and I wondered why. Titanium is the ninth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. Why are people going all the way to Io to mine titanium?

So much for that. This week’s quiz question is: What is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust? You may be surprised how much of the crust is this element.

Post your answer as a comment below. I will provide the answer by Friday if necessary.

Update and the correct answer (?) from Mike

Mike has provided the correct answer, but he indicates he guessed at it. Readers, this stuff was taught in science class in high school. I don’t expect Ferris Bueller to get these, but nobody else has an excuse.

Of course the answer is that the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust is oxygen. Thinking about the Earth running out of oxygen? Forget about it. As far as we can dig the Earth is almost half oxygen. A lot of this is tied up inside silicon dioxide, where a formidable chemical bond makes it expensive to extract in terms of energy expended. Of course there is water and lots of calcium carbonate, all rich in oxygen. By mass, oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe. Breath deeply.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Before The Hunter, before The Getaway, before Bullitt, before Wanted: Dead or Alive there was The Blob. It was Steve McQueen‘s first starring role. When you’re getting started in Hollywood, you take what you can get. Need more evidence?

This came out in 1958, from Valley Forge Films and distributed by Paramount Pictures. I saw it in my home town theater when it first came out, and I obtained the DVD in order to have another look and to obtain the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

This is a teenage horror flick, so you’re going to see a bunch of teenagers doing their teenage things and generally saving the world. Also it’s a look back at life in the 1950s. Here we see Steve Andrews (McQueen) and his serious squeeze Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) getting some serious face time in Steve’s convertible, parked in a lonely place up in the hills. Steve likes to come here to, among other purposes, watch shooting stars—meteors. They see one. It’s a big one. It crashes in the woods some distance off. They go to investigate.

TheBlob-01

Before Steve and Jane arrive, a hermit (Olin Howland), hears the noise (and the barking of his dog) and comes out to investigate. He sees a meteorite lying in the crater it has made. He pokes it with a stick. Bad move. Everybody in the audience was screaming at the screen telling him not to do that. He does it anyhow. The meteorite cracks open, revealing a moving blob of matter inside. He pokes the blob with his stick. Another bad move. The blob gloms onto the stick. He tries to shake it off. It gloms onto his hand. He screams.

TheBlob-02

Steve and Jane encounter the man on the highway as they race to the scene of the crash. They take him to the doctor (Stephen Chase). The doctor tells them to go back out to the man’s shack in the woods and find out what they can find out. Leaving the doctor’s office Steve and Jane encounter some of their high school buddies. Some teenage high jinks ensue. The police get involved. This is a teen flick.

TheBlob-03

Back at the doctor’s office, the doctor has phoned his nurse to come in to work. It’s the phone call of death. The blob has by now completely consumed the old man and is coming after her. She attempts to fend it off by tossing a bottle full of trichloroacetic acid on it. To no avail. She becomes the next victim of the blob. Next it’s the doctor’s turn

TheBlob-04

Steve and Jane arrive back at the doctor’s office just in time for Steve to witness the blob consuming the doctor, who has become cornered in a back room of his office. Next we see a mechanic working under a car. We know who the next victim is going to be. We see him talking to his assistant, who has already departed, leaving him alone in the shop. We hear him scream as the blob takes over his body, starting with his head.

TheBlob-05

The teenagers try to alert the town, but nobody will listen to them. They’re teenagers, and this is a teenage prank. Steve and Jane encounter the blob in the Andrews family store, where the cleanup man is mysteriously absent. Jane collapses on encountering the blob in a store aisle, and Steve scoops up her teenage body and carries her into the freezer room. I show this scene only to remind older readers of the petticoats teenage girls used to wear in those days. It’s something most guys were glad to see go out of style in the 1960s.

TheBlob-06

The blob starts to seep under the door to the freezer, but then it backs out and goes away. This is going to be significant.

The iconic scene from the movie is the blob emerging from the movie theater after devouring a sizable part, the slow part, of the audience. We know the 1960s are just over the horizon. We know by way of the advertisement that the theater is air conditioned.

TheBlob-07

Next Steve and Jane take refuge in a stand-alone diner. The blob completely envelops it and begins to seep in. All take refuge in the basement. A fire breaks out. The proprietor combats the fire with a CO2 extinguisher. The blob recoils from the cold. That’s the solution. Teenagers to the rescue. They are recruited to head for the high school and commandeer all the extinguishers. The blob freezes up when the extinguishers are turned on it. An Air Force transport collects the super chilled blob and parachutes it onto the Arctic ice cap. It’s the end of the movie. The end, that is, so long as the ice cap does not melt.

Yeah, here is something directors never get right. Steve and Jane see the meteorite roar through the sky and crash a few miles distant. The flash of the impact and the sound are simultaneous. Has nobody ever heard of the speed of sound?

Without the blob this would have been teenage pranks without all the screaming and dying. Dialogue is pretty lame, and situations are contrived. The theme by Burt Bacharach and Mack David is for the ages:

Beware of the blob, it creeps
And leaps and glides and slides
Across the floor
Right through the door
And all around the wall
A splotch, a blotch
Be careful of the blob

Repeat that three times, and you have a classic.