Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

A woman was expecting the plumber, he was supposed to come at ten o’clock. Ten o’clock came and went, no plumber. Twelve o’clock, one o’clock, no plumber.

She concluded he wasn’t coming and went out to do some errands. While she was out the plumber arrived.

He knocked o the door. The woman’s parrot, who as at home in a cage by the door, said, “Who is it?”

He replied, “It’s the plumber.”

He thought it was the woman speaking and waited for her to come and let him in. When this didn’t happen he knocked again. Again the parrot said, “Who is it?”

He said, “It’s the plumber!”

He waited, and again the woman didn’t come to let him in. He knocked again, and again the parrot said, “Who is it?”

He yelled, “It’s the plumber!!!”

Again he waited, again she didn’t come. Again he knocked, again the parrot said, “Who is it?”

The plumber flew into a rage, he pushed the door in and ripped it off its hinges. He suffered a heart attack, and he fell dead in the doorway.

The woman returned from her errands, only to see the door ripped off its hinges and a corpse lying in the doorway. “A dead body!” she exclaimed. “Who is it?”

The parrot said, “It’s the plumber.”

Snowflake Constituency

For some reason, you figure it out, I subscribe to a newsletter called En-Volve (envolve.com). It advertises “Conservative Headlines,” “Politics,” “Election 2016,” “Social Justice,” and more. It comes to my mail box from “Trump News.” I have no assurance this source has anything to do with the President-elect, but I have cataloging messages from Trump News from back in October. Whatever this is, it’s sure to be a gold mine of conservative wisdom. Time to mine it:

Muslims Threaten Company to Bow To Their Demands. Company FIRES THEM ALL!

The news item, which I will get to shortly, came with this image:

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I particularly wanted to post this image, because I am about 100% sure it has nothing to do with the story from En-Volve. Here’s more of the story:

Posted on December 29, 2016 by

A report coming in from Denver  says that Muslims were praying at their place of work, which was allowed by company policy in the past. However, recently the company changed that policy and said that if they would like to pray, they could go home.

This isn’t an unreasonable request, but the Muslims in question were outraged and staged a 200 worker walkout. When some returned, the company said “pack your bags!”

About 190 workers, most of them immigrants from Somalia, have been fired from a meat packing and distribution plant on Colorado’s Eastern Plains for walking off the job to protest a workplace prayer dispute.

Ten days ago more than 200 workers walked off their jobs at Cargill Meat Solutions in Fort Morgan.

Depending on the season, the Muslim workers prayed at different times of the day, typically in about five-to-10 minute blocks, Hussein said. But recently a decision was made at the plant to change the practice.

“The workers were told: ‘If you want to pray, go home,’ ” Hussein said.

We all know that the liberals in this country will do everything in their power to make these delicate little snowflakes feel at home in the U.S. by allowing them to do pretty much whatever they want. And Cargill even tried to appease them before the now-infamous incident.

And there’s the cute phrase I was looking for—”delicate little snowflakes.” These workers are Muslim. They are also “delicate little snowflakes.” What a handy term.

Full disclosure: I have no truck with giving religious exemption in any case, and, call me a bleeding heart liberal if you want, but I would have fired employees who walked off the job over such a tiff.

The story further notes some of those fired had ten years with the company and had previously been allowed to pray at work in a set-aside space. A. Michael Smith, writing for En-Volve, commented additionally, “Other companies should follow Cargill’s example: don’t bow to radical Muslims, treat them like you would any other worker and fire their asses if they are being unreasonable!”

Yeah! Snowflakes!

Speaking of snowflakes:

“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know,” Donald Trump said on Monday night at a speech in Springfield, Illinois. “Seriously, I don’t care.”

It was a rare moment of trollish apathy for the Donald, considering that he was referring to the kind of peevish campaign that’s right up his alley: a video going around the Internet by a guy named Joshua Feuerstein—he calls himself “an American evangelist, Internet, and social media personality”—raging against “the age of political correctness” and the new seasonal coffee cups at Starbucks.

“Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ, and Christmas, off of their brand-new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red,” he says.

That’s right. Plastic coffee cups at Starbucks. People, what we have here is a snowflake constituency. I’m thinking this is going to be a fun four years.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Friday Funny

One of a series

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Thank you, God. Thank you, God. Thank you, thank you, thank you:

Evangelist Franklin Graham doesn’t believe it was the Russians who intervened in this year’s controversial presidential election.

It was God, he declared during President-elect Donald Trump’s final public rally before the Electoral College vote Monday.

“I don’t have any scientific information. I don’t have a stack of emails to read to you,” Graham told the crowd in Mobile, Ala., according to the Washington Examiner. “But I have an opinion: I believe it was God. God showed up. He answered the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people across this land who had been praying for this country.”

God moves in mysterious ways.

And that is funny.

The Age Of Embarrassment

Update: I fixed some flawed language in this posting.

Sixth of a series

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This keeps coming up. Makes my day. Dan Kuttner likes to jump on items supporting the denial of AGW (anthropogenic global warming). For that I am thankful.

This time it relates to a post on the Scott Adams blog. Scott Adams, if you recall, is the cartoonist/commentator who has for over two decades ragged American corporate structure and our idiosyncratic social fabric. No scientist, himself, he likes to take on AGW, which he appears to doubt. Here’s the item in question:

SCOTT ADAMS’ BLOG

I keep hearing people say that 97% of climate scientists are on the same side of the issue. Critics point out that the number is inflated, but we don’t know by how much. Persuasion-wise, the “first offer” of 97% is so close to 100% that our minds assume the real number is very high even if not exactly 97%.

That’s good persuasion. Trump uses this method all the time. The 97% anchor is so strong that it is hard to hear anything else after that. Even the people who think the number is bogus probably think the real figure is north of 90%.

But is it? I have no idea.

So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

Notice I am avoiding the question of the measurements. That’s a separate question. For this challenge, don’t let your scientist conflate the measurements or the basic science of CO2 with the projections. Just ask the scientist to offer an opinion on the credibility of the models only.

Remind your scientist that as far as you know there has never been a multi-year, multi-variable, complicated model of any type that predicted anything with useful accuracy. Case in point: The experts and their models said Trump had no realistic chance of winning.

Your scientist will fight like a cornered animal to conflate the credibility of the measurements and the basic science of CO2 with the credibility of the projection models. Don’t let that happen. Make your scientist tell you that complicated multi-variable projections models that span years are credible. Or not.

Then report back to me in the comments here or on Twitter at @ScottAdamsSays.

This question is a subset of the more interesting question of how non-scientists can judge the credibility of scientists or their critics. My best guess is that professional scientists will say that complicated prediction models with lots of variables are not credible. Ever. So my prediction is that the number of scientists who ***fully*** buy into climate science predictions is closer to zero than 97%.

But I’m willing to be proved wrong. I kind of like it when that happens. So prove me wrong.

I pasted as much as I consider pertinent on the possibility it will be withdrawn in the future.

As you can see above, I posted a response to Dan’s posting on Facebook, inquiring whether he felt safe in venturing into this wilderness again. This considering his performance in a prior exchange:

In a previous conversation Dan made some claims related to atmospheric science. One went something like this (I do not have the exact quote), “Carbon dioxide weighs [some number] more than the rest of the atmosphere.” That statement struck me as odd to the extreme. The German physicists Wolfgang Pauli is noted as having said something like, “Das is nicht einmal falsch,” that is not even false (wrong).” It related to something so absurd that it went beyond not being true. Dan’s statement regarding carbon dioxide and the atmosphere is such a statement. Some explanation.

Carbon dioxide is a chemical compound, not a physical object. The atmosphere is a physical object. Any statement comparing a non-physical object with a physical object is beyond false. In this case there was no way for me to respond to Dan’s statement. The conversation unraveled from there.

So Dan has asked, “Did you answer his challenge?” I responded that I am in the process now, which is what this is. I need to answer Scott Adams’ challenge.

But first, what is his challenge? That may take some deciphering. The critical language is:

So today’s challenge is to find a working scientist or PhD in some climate-related field who will agree with the idea that the climate science models do a good job of predicting the future.

A trivial response to Adams’ challenge would be to find “a working scientist…” who will naively proclaim the models do a good job of predicting the future. I will not go that route. The matter concerning AGW is worth more attention than that. It is also worth more attention than Adams’ challenge. As stated, it would be impossible to address. For example, we would all have to agree on the meaning of the word “good” used to assess the quality of the models. Everything breaks down from there.

If Scott Adams will propose a challenge with more precise, even lucid, wording, it would be something everybody could work with. Something that would have to go would be any requirement that a model predict frequency and severity of hurricanes, future drought or flooding with great accuracy. Once again, an unquantifiable adjective is “great.”

Scott Adams’ challenge is really a phony challenge. Less than what he demands would be adequate. All Scott Adams needs to do to challenge the reality of AGW is to refute demonstrate one of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, methane, and other such gases do not trap heat from solar radiation in the atmosphere.
  • The concentration of these gases is not increasing and has not been steadily increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • Human activity is not contributing significantly to the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Specifically, human activity is not responsible for the increase of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere represented by the Keeling Curve.
  • The temperature of the combination atmosphere and hydrosphere is not increasing and has not been increasing for the past 50 years and more.
  • Events beyond human control are alone responsible for the warming.

An additional point that is not part of the science behind AGW is the following:

  • The increase in global temperatures will have little or no impact on human well-being.

And all of this has nothing to do with models.

Update

As I was in the process of working this up, additional comments came in. Here is one:

David Varner The idea of constructing models without measurements sounds like something Dilbert’s pointy haired boss might have come up with.

As a retired scientist and engineer I  take exception to David’s remark. Properly, constructing a model does not rely on measurements. I have constructed models, computer simulations, that presuppose initial conditions. The idea of the model is to determine the consequence of a set of initial conditions, the measurements.

If by “measurements” David means measurements of the atmosphere and such to assess the validity of models, then he has not been keeping up with the science. Atmospheric/oceanographic models are constantly assessed against progressive measurements.

Update:

Dan posted a comment on the Scott Adams blog:

I challenge your basic assumptions.

1. The term “Fossil Fuels” was coined by John D. Rockefeller. He wanted to emphasize the supposed scarcity of oil in order to inflate its price.

2. Many old “dry” oil wells are filling up FROM THE BOTTOM. There’s evidence going at least back to Immanuel Velikovsky that petroleum has a non-organic origin, probably low in the Earth’s mantle.

What is to be said of this? I hope it is meant as a joke.

  1. What difference does it make who coined the term and for what reason? Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are fossil fuels. Fossil is a well-defined scientific term.
  2. Citing evidence going back to Immanuel Velikovsky is like citing evidence going back to Miguel de Cervantes. Does anybody care to follow up on that?

This post, and the ones in this series are titled The Age Of Embarrassment for a reason. Let’s not take that as a challenge and try to outdo each other.

Sagging Star

Reflecting back

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Do I long for the days when I received a weekly mail from my congressman, Francisco Canseco? I truly do:

[14 October 2012]

Congressman Canseco’s Weekly Column
Where are the Jobs?

Nearly four years ago, the Obama Administration promised us that their economic policies would keep unemployment under 8%.  Last week’s September jobs report showed that it’s taken them 44 months to get there – while the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8% is welcome news, it’s a reminder that we remain mired in the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
Despite all the spin from the Obama Administration touting the “strength” of the jobs report, the facts are clear:  Twenty-three million Americans find themselves out of work or can only find part-time work; one half of recent college graduates remain unemployed or underemployed; and during the second quarter of 2012, our economy grew by a paltry 1.3%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  These numbers are not the hallmarks of a strong economy, and they stand in stark contrast to the Obama Administration’s 2009 projection that the unemployment rate would be approximately 5.6% right now if we passed the trillion dollar stimulus bill.
President Obama and his liberal allies have attempted to spend, tax, and regulate our way to a better economy, and it hasn’t worked.  It’s time we implement policies to put America back to work.  One way to do that is to take advantage of the vast amount of energy resources we have right here in America. The 23rd District is fortunate to include portions of the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale, two of the most prolific oil and gas production areas in the country.  According to a recent study, production at Eagle Ford alone contributed $25 billion in economic output and supported 47,000 jobs in the region during 2011.  The potential for further growth and job creation in the Eagle Ford region and Permian Basin are tremendous, and we must ensure that the economic opportunities afforded to the residents of those areas are not denied. 

This is typical of the mail I received from my congressman, and it came a few days before voters cast him out of office.

Despite the congressman’s warnings of  doom and gloom, the unemployment rate in the United States has since dropped to 4.9%. And, by the way, the United States at the time of Mr. Canseco’s writing was, and is now, an energy exporting country. We are not dependent on foreign supplies of oil. We produce more than we consume, and we export gasoline.

What impact has this had on American jobs and the American petroleum industry overall? Contrary to what Mr. Canseco and other have claimed, should I say wished for, the effect has been a loss of jobs in the industry. The glut of American  oil has forced the price down and has forestalled production in some sectors. The following is two years old, but the story has not changed much since then:

OTTAWA — For as long as 400-ton dump trucks have been rumbling around the open pit mines of Canada’s oil sands, crews from Kal Tire have been on hand to replace and repair their $70,000, 13-foot diameter tires.

But the relationship, going back over a decade, didn’t spare the company when oil prices began plummeting.

Dan Allan, the senior vice president of Kal’s mining tire unit, said that customers immediately began looking for price concessions. Others asked Kal to withdraw personnel from some sites or swiftly canceled plans to add more maintenance crews.

This is, of course, Canada, actually the major source of the oil we do import. In the United States the emerging sources are shale, mined at the surface, and hydraulic fracturing, both of which are opening up new sources of petroleum.

The result of all of this is that, despite my former congressman’s warnings of economic disaster, the American  economy has soared under the care of the Obama administration, with the Dow-Jones averages hanging just under the 20,000 mark as Mr. Obama prepares to exit stage left. On Christmas day I made my last out-of-town drive of the year and passed a number of Valero stations alongside the freeway. Unleaded was still going for less than $2 a gallon.

Enter President-elect Donald Trump, and the table is set for him to make his mark. There is ample room to move downward, and Mr. Trump has sold his supporters on promises of an economic surge. It would appear the surge is already here, and whether it is the peak of a wave or the beginning of a swell, the coming months will tell. With a Republican congress in power, Mr. Trump will have little wiggle room if his promises don’t pan out. Then, Donald Trump has proved himself in past months to be the king of wiggle.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

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Bad news from Minnesota, readers. A man bent on a terrorist mission has rammed his car into a crowd at a St. Cloud shopping mall, injuring some and shooting nine dead.

No, wait! I have that a bit wrong. He was not armed with a gun, but instead he carried an equally deadly knife. The carnage was no less shocking:

Nine people were hurt in a knife rampage at a Minnesota mall during which the attacker made references to Allah, authorities said.

The suspect was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, which began around 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET) on Saturday.

I guess that settles the dispute over knives being just as deadly as handguns. I have a great idea. Let’s issue guns to our military and to police and require terrorists carry only knives.

Military Thriller

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The author is one of my sister’s four daughters, and it is for that reason only I am reviewing the book. Fact is, I read very little fiction these days. The list of worthwhile fiction I have not read and will never read is too long for me to ever address. I sometimes read a novel in  order to gain insight to a movie. In the case of this book, I am curious at the efforts of the only close family member to produce a work of length.

This is The Obsession, and I purchased the Kindle edition. It’s Dawn Brotherton’s first of what promises to be a number of successful enterprises. It’s a murder mystery thriller, set within military life. I’m not going to detail the plot. I’m looking at this as an assessment of a first-time author’s efforts. But an overview is necessary.

The story begins with a police investigation of a murder. A single woman, living alone, has been attacked and killed in her home by a person unknown. If you are starting to think this will be about a serial killer, you are right.

Jackie Austin is a young Air Force Lieutenant, working as a missile specialist at a base in Missouri. This should bring back memories to a lot of us. ICBMs, tipped with nuclear warheads and kept ready in below-ground silos scattered about the country, kept the balance of power between the United States and the Soviet Union for decades. This setting is crucial to the plot, because these missile specialists were carefully vetted individuals upon which the nation placed it’s utmost trust. The specter of a stalker who murders women in this context injects critical tension into  the plot.

It takes only a few turns of the page to realize that Lieutenant Austin fits the profile of the stalker’s targets. She is young, single, attractive, and lives alone in a house she has purchased in a quiet neighborhood. That she may become a target is made apparent through a series of harassing phone calls, home intrusions, mash notes delivered by mail or left at the house.

At a certain point the reader is given a veiled view of the killer, who remains a mystery until the very last. Disturbing and multiple profiles are revealed, leaving the reader to wonder if they fit any of the men in Jackie’s life.

Without revealing any secrets, readers need to know that Jackie prevails in the end, using a bit of detective work to unmask the killer and bring him to justice. The book is about what happens in the meantime.

Now for some critical assessment. I compare the first few chapters of the book with the initial work of another successful author, that being Erle Stanley Gardner. Gardner was a California attorney before he turned to writing. His first novel was The Case of the Velvet Claws, which I reviewed for much the same reason I am reviewing this book. As expected, Gardner took some time to find his feet as a fiction writer, and it shows in this early work.

In my niece’s first work, finding her footing amounts to  providing a level of maturity to her character. Jackie Austin’s interactions with her friends, associates at the base, men in her life, her immediate family, remind the reader more of life back in junior high rather than adults of demonstrated maturity. The good news is that as the book progresses, Jackie matures and so does the writing. It is as though the author is finding her way at first before hitting her stride. The pace quickens and the drama builds.

Reading about the serial killer, I had to  reflect back on the Thomas Harris works I have read. Both Black Sunday and Red Dragon involve damaged characters who morph into instruments of atrocity. Black Sunday was made into a film of the same name, and Red Dragon was the basis for the first Hannibal Lecter movie, Manhunter. Dawn Brotherton does readers service by having a go at developing the warped characters that appear in the book, and there are more than two.

At another level, this is an Agatha Christie novel in the way Jackie Austin throws off her self-doubts, sets her goals, and unmasks the killer. Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was born to wealth and privilege and published her first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1919. Her second was The Secret Adversary, for which I have not written a review. However, that early work by this most successful of writers reflects the same issues with character development as The Obsession. A for-instance:

“Tommy, you’re stony!”

“Not a bit of it,” declared Tommy unconvincingly. “Rolling in cash.”

“You always were a shocking liar,” said Tuppence severely, “though you did once persuade Sister Greenbank that the doctor had ordered you beer as a tonic, but forgotten to write it on the chart. Do you remember?”

Tommy chuckled. “I should think I did! Wasn’t the old cat in a rage when she found out? Not that she was a bad sort really, old Mother Greenbank! Good old hospital— demobbed like everything else, I suppose?”

Christie, Agatha. Secret Adversary (pp. 3-4). . Kindle Edition.

That was our introduction to the girl and boy protagonists in this early work. Needless to say, Dame Agatha’s style matured in subsequent works, and so did her characters.

I know the author as a deeply committed Christian, and her religiosity shows through at points in the book:

Jackie nestled closer into Stan’s arms. “I do. My boss ordered me to talk to someone, but he didn’t say I had to go to Mental Health. I figured it was time I gave God another chance. Doing it on my own obviously wasn’t working.”

“Wait a minute… did Chaplain Vandesteeg help you hatch this plot to catch that psycho?” She could hear the hidden resentment in Stan’s voice.

Brotherton, Dawn. The Obsession (Jackie Austin Mysteries Book 1) (Kindle Locations 3227-3230). Blue Dragon Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Significant authors have written with their religious commitments as part of the theme. Besides possibly C.S. Lewis, whom I have never read, there is G.K. Chesterton. Chesterton wrote The Man Who Knew Too Much, which title but not plot was the inspiration for two Alfred Hitchcock movie plots. He also wrote the Father Brown books, which naturally have religion woven into  their fabric:

When this spirit of the captain spoke in Valentin he was obeyed like a bugle. Dr. Simon went through to the armoury and routed out Ivan, the public detective’s private detective. Galloway went to the drawing-room and told the terrible news tactfully enough, so that by the time the company assembled there the ladies were already startled and already soothed. Meanwhile the good priest and the good atheist stood at the head and foot of the dead man motionless in the moonlight, like symbolic statues of their two philosophies of death.

Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith). The Innocence of Father Brown (p. 22). . Kindle Edition.

Hint: it was the atheist who did the killing and for religious reasons.

Speaking as one who has never published a short story, much less a novel, I will recommend that if there is a major aspect of a subjects character introduced into a story plot, that aspect needs to be worked into the plot in a major way. Else its introduction may be seen as a mission statement of the author, not relevant to the story.

What can I say more. The author is family. Earlier this year we had the pleasure of attending her retirement from the service, giving our scattered relations the opportunity to get together for the first time in decades. Here are some photos:

The author at her retirement ceremony at the Pentagon.

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At the White House. Most of the people in this photograph are descendants of John Freeman Blanton, born in 1867 in Johnson County, Texas.

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Dawn’s first book includes her mother as one of the characters. This is spooky, as I can hear my sister’s voice as I read these passages. It’s a problem with reviewing a work too close to home.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

My life was too busy at the time this came out, so I’m seeing it for the first time on Amazon Prime Video. It’s Addams Family Values, from 1993, obviously a sequel to the successful The Addams Family from two years previous. These, to be sure, are based on the TV series from the 1960s of the same name. Finally, the TV series sprang from a cartoon theme developed by Charles Addams. I was never during all this time a stranger to the Addams Family, being acquainted through a collection of coffee table books kept by my mother’s youngest sister.

When this title first popped up in trailers on TV I was dead sure where the producers got the title. At the time the rivalry between the Republican and Democratic parties had driven the Republicans to elevate “family values” to the front of the debate. Republicans were all for “family values.” Obviously Democrats were not. Anyhow, cartoonist Matt Groening came out with the cartoon below as a way of illustrating the value of politicizing family values. This was a year before the movie, and nobody can blame me for making the connection.

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That done, I’m getting details from Wikipedia, and I’m not going to dive into the plot. This production exists purely to throw sand in the face of traditional American values, and treat us all to a darker view. We start with the opening scenes, where the Addams wife, Morticia (Anjelica Huston), announces she is going to have a baby. Right now. Husband Gomez Addams (Raúl Juliá) rushes her to the hospital, where the Addams siblings, Pugsley (Jimmy Workman) and Wednesday (Christina Ricci) discuss the coming event with a straight-life blond girl, who expounds on the stork and cabbage patch theory. Wednesday concludes the discussion by revealing her parents had sex. It’s the iconic scene from the movie.

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And baby Addams is born, and he looks much like Gomez. As the newcomer to the family, he is resented by the other children, who decide one of them needs to go, terminally. They devise devilish ways to dispose of young Addams, all falling short.

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The parents decide what is needed is a nanny to look after the baby, and they hire the evil Deborah “Debbie” Jellinsky (Joan Cusack), after a few comical false starts. Sexy Debbie has killed her previous husbands for their money and now has eyes on Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd).

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Debbie vamps the innocent uncle, while taking the precaution of disposing of the older children, who see clearly through her scheme. She convinces Gomez and Morticia the children need to go to summer camp, a side adventure that takes up half the remainder of the plot.

Summer camp is the nightmare we all recall as children. It’s a camp for the privileged and the pampered, and the Addams kids are going to fit in here like a toad in your soup.

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Yow! We meet the camp counselors to end all camp counselors, unnaturally bright and sufficiently overbearing. Peter MacNicol is impossible to miss as Professor Larry Fleinhardt, years later in NUMB3RS. Here MacNicol is Gary Granger, who, along with his wife Becky Martin-Granger (Christine Baranski), make a mockery of American societal presumptions.

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It’s a flashback to Revenge of the Nerds, as the misfits of Camp Chippewa revolt and disassemble all the presumptions.

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Of course, Debbie’s evil plan gets unraveled by happenstance and bad karma, and the Addams family reunites within their dark and disjoint world. There is a final scene you will need to have previously seen Carrie (by Stephen King) to appreciate. It’s a killer.

So why am I reviewing this as a Bad Movie Wednesday? People, this is not a serious flick. Addams Family Values didn’t even wave as the Academy Awards passed it by, standing alongside the freeway. Box office was down significantly from the The Addams Family, the plight of so many attempts at feeding off past success. What as fresh in 1991 lost some shine by 1993.

Treasure Chest

Some more of the same

Watching World News Tonight With David Muir on Hulu, and they had this story about President-elect Donald Trump making  the grave decision to close down his eponymous Trump Foundation. With 25 days until Mr. Trump takes on the highest profile job in this country, possibly in the world, he’s telling us he will dissolve the foundation “to avoid even the appearance of conflict.” Despite what critics have been saying about Trumps charitable foundation, he has assured the American  public that “100% of the money” goes to charity.

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Good to hear that. Some of us have been getting the wrong impression. In previous news releases it was disclosed that funds from the foundation were used to purchase an artist’s portrait of Mr. Trump. Some background. Mr. and Mrs. Trump were attending a charity auction, and an artist quickly painted a portrait of Mr. Trump and put it up for auction. Remember this is for charity. Mrs. Trump won the bidding at $10,000. The artist suggested that Mrs. Trump double her bid, and she did. Half of the $20,000 went to the artist, and the remaining $10,000 went to the charity. Trump took the painting and installed it in one of his properties. The charity received a check, $20,000, but the check did not come from Mr. Trump or Mrs. Trump. The check came from the Trump Foundation. The charitable Trump Foundation purchased a painting for Mr. Trump’s personal use—something usually not allowed for charitable foundations that receive tax-exempt status under the 501 (c) (3) tax code.

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And that is so much for that. Except, there  is more. Is there more? Yes, there is more:

David Fahrenthold, who wrote the item for The Washington Post, reports on other curious disbursements from the tax-exempt Trump Foundation.

In recent weeks, The Washington Post has reported other instances in which Trump may have violated those rules. He used $258,000 from the foundation to pay off legal settlements that involved his for-profit businesses. He spent $12,000 from the charity’s coffers to buy a football helmet signed by then-Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

More? Yes:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. Trump, of all candidates, is supreme in his innovative campaign financing:

During their meeting in Trump’s office, they discussed Christian faith and religious liberty. Smith was struck by “a different Donald Trump than I expected.” On his way out the door, Smith asked that Trump consider donating to the Palmetto Family Council.

“He was never heavy-handed about any quid pro quo,” Smith said.

But Trump delivered.

“It was a quiet donation that came with a simple cover letter,” Smith said. It read: “Great meeting with you and your wife in my office,” dated May 6, 2011. Enclosed was a check for $10,000 from the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

That check is one of at least several donations to suggest Trump used his private foundation, funded by outside donors, to launch and fuel his political ambitions. Such contributions, if they were made solely for Trump’s benefit, could violate federal self-dealing laws for private foundations.

From 2011 through 2014, Trump harnessed his eponymous foundation to send at least $286,000 to influential conservative or policy groups, a RealClearPolitics review of the foundation’s tax filings found. In many cases, this flow of money corresponded to prime speaking slots or endorsements that aided Trump as he sought to recast himself as a plausible Republican candidate for president.

Although sources familiar with the thinking behind the donations cautioned that Trump did not explicitly ask for favors in return for the money, they said the contributions were part of a deliberate effort by Trump to ingratiate himself with influential conservatives and brighten his political prospects.

Nobody besides Donald Trump has the imagination to use a tax-exempt charitable foundation to finance his political campaign. What next can we expect? Will The Donald come up with innovative charitable foundations to finance our next nuclear aircraft carrier? Only November 8 will answer theses weighty concerns?

And that is all there is to it. Not quite:

Self-obsessed billionaire Donald Trump earlier snatched the campaign torch from the Republican Party by scooping up conservative America’s low-hanging fruit. Full disclosure: it’s something I proclaimed over a year ago could not be done. I was wrong! How wrong? Very wrong. And all despite Donald Trump’s long history of criminal behavior:

That’s the pay-for-play Trump has talked about so much recently in another context. He paid; they played. With his characteristic bravado, Trump bragged about being a participant in the corruption that he was setting out to fix.

As far as rhetoric goes, it’s a tricky line to walk. But when questions arose about Trump actually giving money to get a benefit from politicians, those comments came back to haunt him.

At issue is a contribution made by Trump’s foundation to a political group associated with the attorney general of Florida. The Post’s David Fahrenthold has been tracking money flowing in and out of Trump’s nonprofit for months, and he reported last week that the organization had to pay a fine for giving to a 527 political organization, a violation of rules governing nonprofits.

Just so you understand, Donald Trump ran a fraudulent company known as Trump University. Prospective students were promised professional instruction in creating and managing money-making real estate deals. In fact, the professionals giving the instruction were professionals in fraud. Prospects paid, in some cases, thousands of dollars for worthless instruction. It was expected that Florida would join in a New York suit against Trump University, but Attorney General Pam Bondi dropped the case, and her re-election campaign received $25,000 from the Trump Foundation. The Trump Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) organization, which means it is exempt from paying taxes. At such it is also prohibited from making political contributions.

Graciously, President-elect has elected to “dissolve” the notorious Trump Foundation for the sake of the national honor. What I’m saying is there is just so much slime anybody should be allowed to track over that magnificent carpet in the Oval Office.

Ha! Donald Trump thought he was finished with the Trump Foundation stench. Not so fast, says New York Attorney General Spokesperson Amy Spitalnick. Previously the Attorney General’s office ordered the Trump Foundation to cease and desist taking contributions in the state:

The New York attorney general disclosed Monday that it ordered Donald Trump’s personal charity to cease fundraising immediately after determining that the foundation was violating state law by soliciting donations without proper authorization.

The message was conveyed in a “notice of violation” sent Friday to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, of which Trump is president.

The night before, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s foundation — which has subsisted entirely on other people’s donations since 2008 — had failed to register with the state as a charity soliciting money.

Because of that, Trump’s foundation had avoided rigorous annual audits that New York state requires of charities that seek the public’s money. Those audits would have asked, among other things, if the foundation’s money had been used to benefit Trump or one of his businesses.

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Now the state of New York refuses to allow the dissolution of the Trump Foundation until some matters get cleared up. What these matters might be, we can only imagine.

On 20 January Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Does anybody know how to spell “banana republic?”

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

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No way did I ever think I would outlive this guy. I followed his career with the rise of the Apple computer into one of the financial giants of our time. Steve Jobs had everything going for him, wealth, youth, and an intellect that towered over most others. Apparently that magnificent intellect was thrown away, as has happened with so many lesser ones:

In October 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with cancer. In mid-2004, he announced to his employees that he had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. The prognosis for pancreatic cancer is usually very poor; Jobs stated that he had a rare, much less aggressive type, known as islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.

Despite his diagnosis, Jobs resisted his doctors’ recommendations for medical intervention for nine months, instead relying on a pseudo-medicine diet to try natural healing to thwart the disease. According to Harvard researcher Ramzi Amri, his choice of alternative treatment “led to an unnecessarily early death.” Cancer researcher and alternative medicine critic David Gorski disagreed with Amri’s assessment, saying, “My best guess was that Jobs probably only modestly decreased his chances of survival, if that.” Barrie R. Cassileth, the chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center‘s integrative medicine department, said, “Jobs’s faith in alternative medicine likely cost him his life…. He had the only kind of pancreatic cancer that is treatable and curable…. He essentially committed suicide.” According to Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, “for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer – a decision he later regretted as his health declined.” “Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He was also influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, before finally having surgery in July 2004.” He eventually underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy (or “Whipple procedure”) in July 2004, that appeared to remove the tumor successfully. Jobs did not receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Steve Jobs died in 2011.

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

One of a continuing series

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Suddenly, OK maybe slowly, it’s beginning to look like not so fun a game anymore. This is what it’s like to play in the big leagues:

Irbil (CNN) — Iraqi security and coalition forces have killed 97 ISIS militants in eastern and southern Mosul on Sunday, Iraq’s Joint Military Command said, as the group continues to defend its Iraqi bastion with suicide attacks and artillery.

The militants were killed in three separate incidents, the Iraqi military said in a statement.

Yeah, guys. It’s the NFL. The story from CNN relates how the 97 unknowns came face to face with eternity. 21 JV fighters were benched when Iraqi soldiers set off two explosive charges in separate vehicles. Another 51 lost out in an attack on Iraqi troops. Coalition airstrikes counted for a further 25.

But wait. What does all this remind me of? There is an image I’m looking for. Ah! Here it is.

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Yes, this is the one. It’s a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. That’s Lieutenant Lockhart (John Terry), a Marine Corps public affairs officer, lining up assignments for Marine journalists at the height of the Vietnam War. He’s explaining to Sergeant James T. “Joker” Davis (Matthew Modine) the importance of having an enemy body count when reporting action against the NVA. He picks apart a story by Joker concerning a firefight that interrupted a meal some grunts were having in the out lands.

Lockhart: Joker, where’s the wienie?

Joker: Sir?

Lockhart: The kill, Joker, the kill. I mean, all that fire power, the grunts must have hit something.

Joker: Didn’t see ’em.

Lockhart: Joker, I’ve told you we run two basic stories here—grunts who give half their pay to buy gooks toothbrushes and deodorant—winning of hearts and minds. Okay? And combat action that results in a kill—winning the war. Now you must have seen blood trails, drag marks?

Joker: It was raining…, sir.

Lockhart: That’s why God passed  the law of probability. Now rewrite it and give it a happy ending. Say, uh, one kill. Make it a sapper, or an officer… which.

Joker: Whichever you say.

Lockhart: Grunts like reading about dead officers.

Joker: Okay, an officer. How about a general?

By the time the Vietnam combat got intense I already had my DD-214 get out of jail card, and I was watching the action on TV. A big weekly item was the casualty report. Starting in 1967 these started to get ominous. The number rose with the level of action. For weeks every report was over 800 dead. Those were American troops. It peaked at over 1000. This was beginning to look like Operation Overlord.

Then there was the enemy body count, and there was a lot of talk about the numbers being fudged. It’s not as though these numbers needed to be weighted:

According to the Vietnamese government, there were 1,100,000 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong military personnel deaths during the Vietnam War (including the missing). Rummel reviewed the many casualty data sets, and this number is in keeping with his mid-level estimate of 1,011,000 North Vietnamese combatant deaths. The official US Department of Defense figure was 950,765 communist forces killed in Vietnam from 1965 to 1974. Defense Department officials believed that these body count figures need to be deflated by 30 percent. In addition, Guenter Lewy assumes that one-third of the reported “enemy” killed may have been civilians, concluding that the actual number of deaths of communist military forces was probably closer to 444,000.

Even considering a North Vietnamese population ranging from 15 million to 23 million between 1960 and 1974, these kinds of losses were not sufficient to blunt the enemy’s will. It was the United States that withdrew from the combat zone without completing its objective of maintaining a South Vietnam independent of the North.

Sometimes made, regarding Daesh, is a comparison with the Vietnam conflict. It dies not work. President Obama drew some heat when he referred to Daesh as the JV (junior varsity) team. At the time I disagreed with the President’s detractors,  and I still do. I will reiterate something I pointed out previously. Daesh is deficient in critical areas needed to play in the big leagues. By these measures they don’t stack up to the North Vietnamese of 50 years ago:

  • No firm control over defined geography
  • No significant industrial base
  • Completely dependent on external clients for financial support
  • Fluid or weak bureaucracy
  • Ill-defined legal structure
  • Weak technological and intellectual resources

This aside, Daesh has gained control of significant geography in Syria and Iraq. The action in Mosul cited above is in response to Daesh taking the city over two years ago. In Syria Daesh remains entrenched amid a conflict among disparate parties.

The prognosis is that Daesh will be defeated militarily in Iraq. The Syrian conclusion is not as easy to project, but none of the possible outcomes includes a region controlled by Daesh.

Will Daesh prevail militarily anywhere in  the world? No.

Will Daesh continue to be a threat in the foreseeable future. 100% for sure.

We can continue to expect fatal attacks with varying degrees of success by Daesh in  the civilized world. While Daesh can be eliminated as an organized movement, as an ideology it has gained the base needed to perpetuate itself at a subterranean level for decades. As a deadly ideology Daesh is shoulders above what the Weather Underground, the Red Brigades, and Shining Path ever amounted to. A better comparison would be the Irish Republican Army, responsible for terrorists attacks, particularly in Ireland and Great Britain for decades.

A key element of Daesh, missing from the above mentioned, is a willingness to die. Modern police methods do not work against the employee who shows up for work one day with a weapon and no backup plan. This is the kind of person who keeps insurance underwriters awake nights.

 

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

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Geography is a lot of fun, so I will stick with it for a while. Last week’s Quiz Question asked which was the second largest island on the planet,  after Greenland. The answer was, of course, New Guinea. This question is only slightly easier.

Of the two islands, which is larger, Great Britain or Sumatra?

Again, you are required to do this one from memory. Don’t go running to Google or even a world globe. Post your answer as a comment below and not on Facebook, where every jake leg is going to see your answer. When the contest closes I will moderate the comments to make them visible to all readers.

Merry Christmas From The ADF

These people are still around.

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The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is curiously named. Here are some details:

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly Alliance Defense Fund) is a 501(c)(3) American conservative Christian nonprofit organization with the stated goal of “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has described the organization as “virulently anti-gay”.

ADF supports the inclusion of invocations at public meetings and the use of religious displays (such as crosses and other religious monuments) on public lands and in public buildings. The ADF opposes abortion, and believes that healthcare workers have a right to decline participation in the performance of abortions and other practices an individual health worker finds morally objectionable. ADF opposes same-sex marriage and civil unions, as well as adoption by same-sex couples based on their belief that children are best raised by a married mother and father. ADF believes parents should be able to opt their children out of sex education in schools that run counter to a family’s religious beliefs.

That’s from Wikipedia, and if I interpret it correctly—and I do interpret it correctly—what it says is this: The ADF supports the use of funds (taxes) collected by government officials using the power of United States law to proselytize for the Christian religion.

Full disclosure: I readily admit a lack of favor for the Christian religion. As a consequence I object to having money, collected from me under the force law, being used to promote this foolishness. Being as forthright as I am required to  be, I also object to my tax money being used to support all kinds of foolishness. Details on request. However, in the case of using tax money to proselytize for Christianity, there is specific United States law that backing me up:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

It is particularly the establishment clause at work here. What we see is a public school teacher, using his paid time, paid through public funds, erecting promotional posters and such on property, paid through public funds and established by public law. This is especially egregious when the purpose is to sway young children toward a specific religion.

Here is the crucial section of the Facebook posting by the Alliance Defending Freedom:

This wasn’t the first time that the Christmas classic found itself on the chopping block, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the last.

Recently, an employee at a public school in Texas was told by the principal to remove a poster on her door featuring the infamous Peanuts Christmas tree, Linus, and these words:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior which is Christ the Lord. That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

As the Daily Caller reports, the employee was told to remove the poster “because non-Christian students might be offended.”

Where to begin?

First of all, I don’t see anyone tearing down posters of Santa Claus or Frosty or Rudolph for fear it might offend those who believe that Jesus is the reason for the season.

This tells me that either (a) people who aren’t self-described Christians are more easily offended than those who are; or (b) these school administrators simply care more about being “politically correct” than they care about the Constitution.

After all, free speech and free expression are protected by the First Amendment. And as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told the school, “The U.S. Supreme Court has held repeatedly that neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

I have highlighted the significant text. Let’s look at it:

  • Foremost, it is false. Jesus was most surely not born on 25 December, and not in Bethlehem. Actually, I think the “City of David” is Jerusalem.  I’ve been wrong before.
  • Second, the proclamation that “Jesus is Lord” is religious propaganda—proselytizing quite pure.

The meat, and the title then of the ADF posting, is this paragraph:

It’s time to stop treating the next generation like precious snowflakes who will melt at the tiniest disturbance in their atmosphere. I know it’s hard considering what’s been happening on college and university campuses across the country—but these students didn’t become this way on their own.

Yes, ADF writer, Marissa Mayer, is casting this as an instance of PC police protecting fragile little souls from offenses to their delicate feelings. Really? How about this? How about casting this as an instance of showing respect for the American legal framework that protects citizens in a minority position from ultimate government power?

Mayer talks about “snowflakes.” Let’s talk about snowflakes. Let’s talk about a teacher in a public school putting up a poster saying something like, “There is only one God (Allah) and Muhammad is God’s messenger.” I suspect (I have been wrong before) that should such a thing happen we would see snowflakes melting like… Well like the proverbial snowball in Hell.

Exe Jesus

One of a series

Note: I am writing this in May while the movie is still fresh. You are seeing it posted on Christmas day through the magic of Word Press scheduling.

Yes, this really is the Bad Movie of the Week. However, I could not resist using that title, because the new title is what this movie is all about, exegesis. All right, I misspelled it. So shoot me.

Kirk Cameron made it big as a little kid in Growing Pains. More recently he teamed with New Zealand creationist and evangelical wack job Ray Comfort. Need I say more? In fact, I have:

People like Cameron and Comfort tend to align themselves with the conservative element of society. And that’s unfortunate for American conservatism.

I also find this situation so ironic in my own experience. Once in a discussion with a conservative friend I noted that the American voters did not find much favor with presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The response I received was that the voters were sheep. And that’s worth examining.

There are two popular ways to get sheep to go where you want them. One is Kirk Cameron’s way, with a sheep dog behind them. The other is with a trained sheep that the others blindly follow. Both cases do not involve initiative and understanding on the part of the sheep.

Anyhow, forget about Ray Comfort for a while. This appears to be an enterprise entirely from Cameron. And Liberty University. Here’s the opening image from the movie.

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It’s Saving Christmas, and it features Kirk Cameron as part actor – part narrator. And if you think it’s about saving Christmas, you need to take another look. Here’s Cameron telling what he likes so much about Christmas, and a big part is the hot chocolate.

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Forget the plot. This is a message, not a drama. Cameron is over at the house of his sister, whose husband is getting a little fed up with Christmas. Did I mention, this is a Christmas party? The BiL becomes so despondent he goes outside to sulk in his car. Cameron joins him, and explains why all his delusions about Christmas are just that.

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The BiL finds modern Christmas over-commercialized. Don’t we all? The symbols are all wrong. Jesus was most surely not born in December, much less the 25th. Nothing about modern Christmas can be traced to the biblical account of the birth and life of Jesus. The Christmas tree is a hold over from a pagan European celebration, for example:

While it is clear that the modern Christmas tree originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany, there are a number of speculative theories as to its ultimate origin. Its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther who is said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree.

It is frequently traced to the symbolism of trees in pre-Christian winter rites, in particular through the story of Donar’s Oak and the popularized story of Saint Boniface and the conversion of the German pagans, in which Saint Boniface cuts down an oak tree that the German pagans worshipped, and replaces it with an evergreen tree, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven.

Cameron explains to the BiL how the modern Christmas tree evokes the cross on which Jesus was tortured and killed. Exegesis.

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Another thing that troubles the BiL is the presence of soldiers among the Christmas toys. Pictured is a toy that looks for all the world like the nutcracker from the Tchaikovsky ballet. This is another example of Cameron’s solicitous exegesis.

The soldiers, Cameron explains, represent the Roman soldiers sent by King Herod to kill Jesus and all other Jewish babies in Bethlehem. The problem with Cameron’s exegesis is that Herod (according to Matthew and nobody else) sent the soldiers only after Jesus was born, so it’s hardly possible they were present at the birth.

To appreciate Kirk Cameron’s elaborate foray into exegesis you need to see the movie for yourself. I watched it for free on Amazon Prime Video. A subscription is required, but being the piece of evangelical propaganda that it is, and you can watch it on Hulu or possibly for free on YouTube.

Also regarding Saving Christmas, with all today’s hoopla surrounding a supposed war on Christmas, there is very little mention of the modern controversy, engineered almost completely by right leaning evangelicals, who want everybody the strike back at what they contend are attempts to eradicate Christmas traditions across the country.

If you can get past all that, the movie ends on an up note. Cameron convinces the BiL that the modern Christmas is really all right, and the two return to the party for a joyous celebration, which includes hip-hop renditions of the greatest Christmas carols by the God Squad Dance Crew.

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In the end, Cameron reminds us what Christmas is all about. It’s about getting together with family and friends on one of the darkest days in the Northern Hemisphere, eating good food, drinking good wine, and having a good time.

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And all the rest is bullshit.

Likely due to its design as a propaganda piece, it received low ratings from critics and viewers. From Wikipedia:

Three weeks after release, the film gained additional notoriety when it became the lowest rated film on the Internet Movie Database‘s bottom 100 list. Cameron later responded to the low rating, saying that it was due to a campaign on Reddit by “haters and atheists” to purposely lower the film’s ratings.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Administration

Some more of the same

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This is getting less humorous by the day:

Confusion Grows Over Trump’s Nuclear Plan After Possible Hint of ‘Arms Race’

Donald Trump’s newly announced press secretary tried to clarify his bosses’ stance on nuclear proliferation after a surprising tweet and a reported conversation Trump had with a cable news host.

Questions about President-elect Trump’s stance on nuclear arms had been raised throughout the campaign and arose again Thursday when Trump tweeted that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”

To wit:

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Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC followed up in a phone conversation with President-elect Trump. According to the ABC news broadcast from Friday, Brzezinski and the other co-host, Joe Scarborough, repeated what they heard from Trump:

“Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass,” Brzezinski said.

“And outlast them all,” Scarborough said.

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All right, boys and girls. If this be thermonuclear war make the most of it. When it comes time for you to duck and cover, I will let you know.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

Not yet

Not yet

A magician was working a cruise ship.

Since the audience was different each week, the magician did the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem. The captain’s parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick.

Once he understood, he started shouting in the middle of the show, “Look, it’s not the same hat!” or, “Look, he’s hiding the flowers under the table!” Or, “Hey, why are all the cards the ace of spades?”

The magician was furious but couldn’t do anything. It was the Captain’s parrot. Then one stormy night in the Pacific, the ship took water and sank. The magician luckily found himself on a piece of wood floating in the middle of the sea, as fate would have it… with the parrot.

They stared at each other with hatred but did not utter a word.

This went on for a day… And then two days. Then three days. Finally on the fourth day, the parrot could not hold back any longer and said…

“Okay, I give up. What did you do with the ship?”

Friday Funny

One of a series

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Fortunately, I do not have to make very much of this stuff up. I have others who do it for me. For example, there is the Trump administration advisor Anthony Scaramucci:

CNN) — Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Donald Trump’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee, said the scientific community gets a lot of things wrong during a conversation about climate change.

“I know that the current president believes that human beings are affecting the climate,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo Wednesday on “New Day.” “There are scientists that believe that that’s not happening.”
“There was overwhelming science that the earth was flat and there was an overwhelming science that we were the center of the world,” Scaramucci added. “We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community.”

For the record, there was never any science that the Earth was flat. From the first investigations of the flatness or roundness of the Earth, it was concluded the Earth is round. Eratosthenes made an attempt at calculating the diameter of the Earth over 2000 years ago. The first scientific investigations regarding the place of the Earth in the cosmos concluded the Earth revolves around the sun and is not, therefore, the center of the Universe.

I apologize, but I seem to have left out the funniest part of all:

I’m saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet.

You ask why am I laughing? Because I’m too old to cry.

Buyer’s Remorse

Some more of the same

Atchafayala Swamp 1987 (photo by Blanton)

Drain the swamp

It is a well known fact of life: You paid for it, you own it. Well, not so fast:

(CNN) — “Drain the swamp” was a refrain of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, but Newt Gingrich says the president-elect “doesn’t want to use it anymore” now that he’s knee-deep in alligators.

“I’m told he now just disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” Gingrich, who informally advises Trump, said Wednesday on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

The former House Speaker said that he had “written what I thought was a very cute tweet about ‘the alligators are complaining,'” but that “somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff.”

You are thinking about now that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Trump voters, who clung to his every oration throughout his rise to power, are now feeling somewhat let down. Could it be they’re thinking, “I voted for this guy with the idea he was going to drain  the swamp. This is getting to look a lot like bait-and-switch.”

Nah. Step out of Dream World, liberals. These people are never going to turn aside from Donald Trump. If there is one thing he said during his campaign it was, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Believe it.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks.

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From advertisement for Urban Carry

Safety for you and your family comes in many ways. One way is through the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which ensures every citizen the right to keep his sidearm with him at all times. You never know when you will need protection from obnoxious people driving without consideration for others:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A 3-year-old boy being taken on a shopping trip by his grandmother was killed in a road rage shooting when a driver opened fire on the grandmother’s car because he thought she “wasn’t moving fast enough at a stop sign,” police said.

The boy and his grandmother were at the stop sign in southwest Little Rock on Saturday evening when a driver apparently angry about the delay stepped out of his car and opened fire, police said. The boy was struck by gunfire at least once, they said.

The grandmother, who wasn’t struck, drove away and called police from a shopping center.

Police arrived at the shopping center and found the boy in the car outside a JCPenney department store. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he died shortly after, becoming the second young child shot dead in a road rage incident in the city in the last few weeks.

Ya’ll be safe out there, and remember. Don’t leave home without it.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Courtesy of Amazon Prime Video, this is Down Three Dark Streets, starring Broderick Crawford. It’s an FBI crime thriller from 1954, and this is the first time I had an opportunity to see it. It also features the very luscious Ruth Roman, whom I lusted over much in my youth. It’s supposedly from United Artists, but the MGM lion shows in the end notes. Details are from Wikipedia and IMDb.

The title refers to three crime investigations being managed by FBI agent Zack Stewart (Kenneth Tobey), who gets murdered early in the story. The movie is about unraveling Stewart’s three cases to nail the killer. Everything takes place in and around Los Angeles, California.

The first case involves professional  criminal and killer Joe Walpo (Joe Bassett), here about to murder a gas station attendant, who recognizes him from a crime magazine.

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Ruth Roman is sumptuous widow Kate Martell, who has just received a threatening phone call demanding $10,000. Else her little daughter will be killed. Of course she phones the FBI and gets Agent Stewart involved.

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Martha Hyer was a great favorite in those days. Here she is Walpo’s girlfriend, Connie Anderson. I first saw her in Once Upon a Horse, a wacky comedic western starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, later of Laugh In fame.

But that’s aside from the matter at hand. Here Crawford, as Agent John Ripley, puts the squeeze on the floozy Ms. Anderson.

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Early on you know the sexy widow is going to end up the focus of the plot. Her life is more complex than most would allow. Her late husband’s uncle (Jay Adler) is worthless and sponges off the widow, living in her house. He barges into her bedroom, regardless of her state of dress, which fortunately for male viewers, is often worth a look.

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Sure enough, FBI agents stir up feminine resentment in girlfriend Connie, revealing details of Walpo’s other romances. She sneaks out to his hideout, followed by the feds. Ripley nails him in a gunfight, and that’s one case down.

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Another case is convicted car thief Vince Angelino (Gene Reynolds), who refuses to give up his associates. The real crooks leverage his silence with threats of violence. When thug Matty Pavelich (Claude Akins) beats up on Vince’s pretty wife Julie (Marisa Pavan), who is blind, Vince turns the tables, implicating Pavelich and absolving himself of the crime.

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The climax comes when Kate is instructed by her tormentor to bring the money to the base of the giant W in the HOLLYWOOD sign. She learns he is her pretend suitor, Dave Milson (Casey Adams). Of course, FBI agents are on top of the caper, and Milson abandons his plan to murder Kate. As he flees down Mount Lee Drive in his sports care, he runs into a solid roadblock  of FBI and police and is swarmed by fuzz in an instant.

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The movie is based on Case File FBI by Gordon Gordon and Mildred Gordon, who also wrote the script, along with Bernard C. Schoenfeld. I don’t have access to the book, but I’m sure it’s not as dry as the movie. Director Arnold Laven posted this in documentary style, often moving his characters mechanically from point to point in the plot. It’s possible  the Gordons inserted credible reality into their version of FBI procedures, and Laven chose to trim it to keep the story moving along. Not actually in the movie, but representative of some of the dialog:

FBI agent: Do you know where Walpo is?

Blond bimbo: No

FBI agent: OK, bye.

The stalking of girlfriend Anderson to Walpo’s hideout is one of the flashes of dramatic intrigue in  this movie. Much of the rest is procedural.

This was early in Claude Aikins’ film career. He started the prior year in From Here to Eternity and was also in The Caine Mutiny the year this came out. My favorite Claude Aikins role is as the fiery preacher Jeremiah Brown in Inherit the Wind. Later he had his own TV show, where he was a trucker.

I kept wondering why this reminded me of Experiment in Terror, previously reviewed. When I took a look I was delighted to see the two are by the same writers. Old story ideas never die. They just get new treads.