People Unclear

This is number 34

Thank God for Franklin Graham. Did he not exist, then it would be necessary to invent him. He daily makes our sun shine brighter. How? Need you ask?

That’s all I’m going to quote. It is not my job today to thoroughly insult your intelligence. This is from the CNS blog, an organ of the Media Research Center. And while we’re on the subject, the MRC is something we would need to create did it not exist. May the sun never set on the MRC. I do take note of what has been said.

  • We have a new president, not the same one we had at the beginning of last year.
  • And the new president was put there by a mythical being, a mythical being in the sense of somebody like Spider-Man, but lacking all the reality.
  • And grown people are shaking their heads yes.
  • Grown people who are allowed to operate heavy machinery, drive cars, and possess sharp objects.

Obviously there are a few items that remain unclear to some people. And that is what keeps me awake nights.

Keep reading. There’s going to be more. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Oh my God! I saw this when it hit the screens in 1961. It’s Disney’s major foray into sitcom TV for the big screen. It’s pure corn syrup and out of this world cute. People with a family history of type 2 diabetes should not watch this movie. It’s The Parent Trap, starring Haley Mills and also Haley Mills. That’s two roles for Mills. I did not investigate whether Mills got paid two salaries, but that’s water under the bridge by now. As I write, this is streaming on Hulu, where I’m getting the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

Don’t believe this is way too cute? Then check out this from the title sequence. Yes, way too cute.

So, let’s get to the plot. Here we see way too cute Sharon McKendrick (Mills) arriving at summer camp (Camp Inch), delivered by the family chauffeur. She’s proper Bostonian, all of 13, and residing at 18 Belgrave Square. Is she ever in for the shock of her life.

Wham! The action starts early. Sharon runs head on into Susan Evers (Mills), an exact look-alike. Naturally the two girls take an instant like to each other.

Of course not. These are 13-year-old girls, the perfect formula for a teenage cat fight. And the war begins. Rival cliques are formed and nuclear war quickly escalates. The Sharon clique draws first blood, dumping the Susan clique in the lake by tumping over their canoe. In retaliation, the Susan clique sabotages the Sharon clique’s tent, creating mass chaos. Finally, the Sharon clique, now barred from the inter-camp dance for a failed tent inspection, sabotages Susan’s dance dress, unbeknownst to Susan until she steps onto the dance floor with her butt showing.

That’s final straw. The cat fight turns physical, and the dance turns into a shambles, complete with all the standard dance party fight gags, including punch bowl sliding down the capsized table into the face of the boy’s camp counselor and also the cake falling onto the face of Miss Inch, the girl’s camp counselor.

At this moment pause to appreciate the exquisite camera work by the Disney crew. Many scenes show Mills doubling up in the same frame with the aid of some industrial magic:

The film originally called for only a few trick photography shots of Hayley Mills in scenes with herself; the bulk of the film was to be shot using a body double. The film used Disney’s proprietary sodium vapor process for compositing rather than the usual chroma key technique. When Walt Disney saw how seamless the processed shots were, he ordered the script reconfigured to include more of the special effect. Disney also wanted Mills to appear on camera as much as possible, knowing that she was having growth spurts during filming

Yes, that does it. The girls are sentenced to quarantine for the remainder of the summer, required to live together in a remote tent. At this point the plot crystallizes. The girls get to talking to each other, and details come out. Not only do they look alike, but they share a common birth date. Also, each lives with just one parent. Sharon lives with her mother in Boston, and Susan lives with her father in Carmel, California. Then Sharon shows Susan a photo of her mother. Not only does it turn out to be Susan’s mother, as well, but it’s Maureen O’Hara for Christ sake!

The girls figure they were separated when their parents split up 12 years previous, and they initiate a scheme to get their parents reunited. Hence the title of the movie. Each wants to meet her other parent, so they switch identities, which requires Susan clip Sharon’s golden locks. They share sufficient details to facilitate the ruse, and at the end of summer each returns to the other’s home. Susan is enraptured by her glamorous mother. On the other hand, her grandmother is a bit on the stuffy side.

Out in California, Sharon meets her hunk of a father at the airport. He turns out to be Brian Keith, with the squarest jaw west of the Pecos.

There’s a fly in the soup, however. Mitch Evers is making plans to marry gold-digging Vicky Robinson (Joanna Barnes). Mitch is loaded.

Sharon sees right through the plot, and in private encounters Vicky reveals her true nature. The girls figure they need to act quickly.

So, Susan unravels the situation to her Boston family, and Margaret “Maggie” McKendrick travels out to California with Susan. Mitch is surprise to find his ex-wife in his house wearing only a bathrobe.

So, yes, the girls gang up on Vicky and, employing tactics they learned in summer camp, they sabotage her. Only they call it “submarining,” by which they probably meant “torpedoing.” Vicky’s true character comes out for all to see, including Mitch, and Vicky departs stage left.

As the movie draws to a close Mitch turns around in the kitchen and realizes what he saw in Maggie from the get-go. The final scene is a too-sweet wedding ceremony.

Other matters:

The twins were raised separately. There are differences. Sharon has learned to play the piano, which her father notices. That’s about right. But Sharon is also an accomplished horse rider, as evidenced by a beach riding scene with her father. Did she learn to ride a horse somewhere back in Boston? If so, then what’s she doing getting off the wrong side of the horse?

The girls scheme to get their parents back together. They stage a bit of entertainment, emphasizing “let’s get together.” Sharon, wearing a neat dress, plays a two bars from Beethoven on the piano. Susan, in jeans and a tee-shirt responds with a few riffs from a guitar. The dissonance is manifest. Then the two harmonize on a smarmy tune with the refrain, “Let’s get together, yeh yeh yeh.” I had to remind myself this was three years before the Beatles hit the big time, and it was two years before Bob Dylan advised, ““Tell Your Ma. Tell Your Pa. Our Love’s A-gonna Grow Ooh-wah, Ooh-wah.”

Hey, Leo G. Carroll plays the Reverend Dr. Mosby, always around to officiate at the wedding, no matter which bride, and also adding a ton of class as he always did in his roles.

And by now you too recognize this as too sweet for words, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Haley Mills is, of course, daughter of Sir John Mills, famous for a number of stellar roles, including the village idiot in Ryan’s Daughter, where he won an Oscar.

Brian Keith had a long and successful career, starting in 1924 and ending with Rough Riders  in 1997, the year of his death.

O’Hara made a splash as the gypsy girl in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939.  She also starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn that same year. She paired with Keith again in 1961 in The Deadly Companions. Her last dramatic film role came in 1991 with Only the Lonely. She died in 2015.

This is your President speaking.

Number 48 in a long series

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

Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….

…big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!

The man certainly has a way with words. We will hear more about this, and it will be most interesting.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 90

Really, not only Jesus:

TEHRAN — The founder of a mystical, New Age version of Shiite Islam was sentenced to death by an Iranian court after losing an appeal, his lawyer said on Monday.

However, the religious mystic, Mohammad Ali Taheri, who was convicted on charges of founding a cult, is entitled to another appeal, the lawyer, Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei, said. An earlier death sentence for blasphemy against the 61-year old Mr. Taheri was overturned in 2014 by an appeals court.

In recent weeks, dozens of Mr. Taheri’s followers have been arrested across the country, especially around the central Iranian city of Isfahan.

But opponents of the spiritual leader say his conviction has nothing to do with proselytizing for a cult, saying he has had “illegitimate” sexual relations with women.

“He has committed sodomy,” said Hamidreza Taraghi, a hard-line political analyst. Sodomy, if testified to by at least four separate witnesses, also carries the death sentence in Iran. His followers deny the accusations.

Around 2005, Mr. Taheri, a researcher in alternative medicines, founded a group called Circle of Mysticism, focused on faith-based healings and their understandings of the universe. Initially, Mr. Taheri’s teachings were tolerated by Iran’s religious establishment, which is quite restrictive about alternative versions of its understanding of Shiite Islam. He was allowed to give public speeches and publish books, and attracted a following across the country.

Presented as part of an effort to make Duck Dynasty appear normal.

Quiz Question

One of a continuing series

This is a famous Martin Gardner puzzle. If you’re a Gardner fan, then you already know this one. Anyhow, it’s easy.

Above is a chess board. Two black squares have been removed. The task is you have dominoes, each piece being the size of two squares. Is it possible to place 31 dominoes on  the remaining squares in the chess board?

Post your answer as a comment below.

Not So Sacred Visions

The following originally ran in The Dallas Morning News on 27 March 2005. It is also posted in The North Texas Skeptic for April 2005 at

In 1429 a French teenager convinced church scholars and the future Charles VII that God had commanded her to drive the English from France. That Jeanne d’Arc actually spoke to God – or even that God exists – may be debatable, but the consequences are not.

A French army under her leadership turned the tide against the English in the Hundred Years War, and history was changed forever. While the French may have had reason to embrace the Maid of Orleans’ claim of divine guidance, the English were less than amused. They laid hands on her and burned her at the stake after a 14-month trial for heresy and witchcraft.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, in which we have abandoned the burning of witches, but our credulity is still being stretched by claims of heavenly conversations and miraculous visions. How then are we to take stories such as that of six young schoolchildren who reported an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1981 near Medjugorje in what was then Yugoslavia? And what of the supposed miracles that have become associated with this and similar places such as Lourdes, Fatima and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe near Mexico City?

For the faithful, apparently, little coaxing is necessary. Thousands visit these sites every year for spiritual inspiration and to seek miraculous cures. The pope has visited the Guadalupe shrine four times, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated every 12th of December.

But did these miraculous sightings and dialogues with God actually occur, or are they the result of self-delusion or even deliberate deception? In one scheme of things it may not matter. The historical result is the same as if they did happen. These days the British pound isn’t recognized on the Champs-Elysees, and the poor in spirit and body still flock to the shrines. No other proof is needed.

Except, there are some for whom the truth is not a sometime thing. For these people “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.” This is the mantra of “rational skeptics,” some of whom are even organized. We skeptics want you to carry rationality to its logical conclusion and give weight to the least convoluted explanation. It’s an idea elaborated by William of Occam way back even before my time, and it’s called “Occam’s razor.”

In the case of miraculous sightings we may ask you which is simpler to believe: That a woman who has been dead for nearly 2,000 years has now become visible to a selected few individuals and only to them, or that these are just made-up stories, born of either design or an overwhelming need to believe. And not really true. Not true in the same sense as “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”

So, what if these stories are not true? Does it make a difference in the course of history? And why do skeptics even give them a second warming? Besides, doesn’t trampling on these sacred toes amount to religion-bashing?

To answer the last, let me tell you what rational skepticism is not. It is not anti-religion. We skeptics don’t want to tell people how to manage their souls. However, we do insist that the physical realm needs to be approached through critical study and reason. We maintain that wishful thinking does not translate into reality. The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan is noted for saying, “Everybody is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Whether you, as a devout person, would be offended by this stance depends on your approach to religion and how seriously you consider the consequences of mistaken belief. If you need to hang your faith on fake miracles, you may be overlooking the moral benefits of your religion’s teachings. Maybe your faith can benefit from skepticism on your own part.

Outside of that, skeptics take up these issues partly because they object to the outrageous abuses perpetrated on behalf of the shrines. Confusing belief in miracles for religious faith, the gullible are induced to place reliance on magic above common sense. Tragically, real people with real medical problems every year abandon helpful medications and prosthetics at these sites under the delusion they have been healed.

Maybe a moral compass will be found among the abandoned items as well.

[John Blanton is a member of The North Texas Skeptics (, an organization devoted to the rational and scientific investigation of paranormal claims. His e-mail address is]

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Everybody knows going in this not going to be a serious movie. Start with the title, Legally Blonde. The implication is that being blonde is a handicap that needs to be covered by the ADA, so if you can demonstrate yourself to be legally blonde, we need to give you a break. This came out in 2001 from MGM and was a great hit, due about 100% to the scintillating performance of legally blonde Reese Witherspoon. As I write this the movie is streaming on Hulu, where I’m getting the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

Witherspoon’s character is Elle Woods, elle being French for she. And is she ever rich and fashionable. In fact, her college major is fashion merchandising, which I am not inclined to capitalize, since I find it difficult to believe this is an existing degree program at a serious college.

Anyhow, Elle and her self-absorbed sorority sisters live in a make-believe world where fashion and status are the the alpha and the omega. In fact, if anything is to summarize this storyline, then that thing would be status.

So, a big day has arrived for Elle, and her sorority sisters are bubbling over with enthusiasm for her. Tonight Elle’s best beau is taking her to a most  swanky eatery and is going to pop the question. It is no secret that what matters in these young women’s lives is advancing properly through life’s grand chain of events—proper family, proper school, proper boyfriend, proper husband, proper life as the proper wife of the proper man. And the proper man arrives to pick up Elle for the proper event in her life. He is Warner Huntington III (Matthew Davis), and Elle’s future is going to be just perfect, and proper.

Only, at the most elegant of all dining spots Warner Huntington III does not pop the question. Instead he delivers the awful truth that what he needs is the proper wife for a proper man on his proper career path. And the proper wife not a ditsy blonde majoring in fashion marketing. He is off to Harvard Law School and the rest of his life. And by the way, thanks for the ride.

Ditsy does not completely describe Elle Woods. She has fortitude. After crying her lovely eyes out she decides anything worth wanting so badly is worth the maximum effort. She announces to her proper parents from the pool of their proper home in a proper SoCal neighborhood that she is going to Harvard Law School, and she is going to lay claim to the most proper Warner Huntington III. Her parents are nonplussed.

But if there is one thing Elle Woods learned while obtaining a 4.0 average in fashion marketing, then that thing is marketing. She markets herself to the Harvard Law School admissions board in no-holds-barred presentation video. The board members are impressed. She has what Harvard Law School needs more of, tits an ass. Also an impressive score on the Law School Admission Test.

Harsh reality sets in when Elle Woods attends her first class. Harvard Law School is going to flunk you out if they can. This is made clear by one Professor Stromwell, played by Holland Taylor. In the meantime, Warner Huntington III has already given the coveted engagement ring to one snippy Vivian Kensington (Selma Blair), a classmate seen her gloating over Elle’s humiliation.

Vivian further rubs it in, flashing off the coveted engagement ring at Elle when Warner Huntington III introduces to the two at a chance meeting on campus.

Vivian loves to twist the knife, further demonstrating this story is all about status. There’s going to be a party, and Elle announces she would love to go, as well. Vivian lets slip it’s a costume party, so Elle shows up in costume. It’s not a costume party.

Cut to the chase. Elle, Vivian, and Warner Huntington III make it to the end of the first year at Harvard Law School and are selected for internships with the law firm of Professor Callahan (Victor Garber). All the major characters come together in one shot, as they interview the defendant in a major homicide case. With her back to the camera is Brooke Taylor-Windham (Ali Larter) from Elle’s college sorority. Brook is accused of murdering her fabulously wealthy husband, something over thirty years her senior. To the left is Emmett Richmond (Luke Wilson), a serious hunk of a person previously seen lurking about campus, and giving Elle some sound Harvard Law School advice. That’s Professor Callahan presiding over the interrogation.

Callahan professes not to buy into his client’s innocence, not a great position to take if you are defending her against a murder charge.

Meanwhile Elle has become involved in a sidebar with a manicurist, who so much wants to connect with the hunky UPS delivery man. Without wasting a bunch of ink, Elle’s advice pays off, as the movie ends up with the lady getting her dog back from an obstinate ex-boyfriend and subsequently married to the UPS hunk.

You never saw a worse trial performance by a Harvard Law School professor. He is completely inept in defending the widow Taylor-Windham, who has an alibi but will not disclose it. But Elle’s fashion expertise comes to the rescue. A key prosecution witness is the pool boy, Enrique Salvatore, at the Windham estate. He claims to have had a passionate affair with Mrs. Taylor-Windham, but Elle figures different. Enrique turns out to be much too fashion conscious for a straight guy. Elle figures he’s gay. After Professor Callahan asks him some functionary questions (he’s a Harvard Law School professor?) on cross-examination, Emmet Richmond steps forward to ask a few more, also more pertinent. Such as,  “How long have you been sleeping with Mrs. Windham? (three months) ending with, “And your boyfriend’s name is? (Chuck). That explodes all over the courtroom, especially when Enrique disclaims any such relationship, and the boyfriend, who is in court, calls Enrique “bitch” and storms out.

Professor Callahan has by now determined that Elle is just the type of lawyer his firm needs, and he arranges a private conference with her, wherein he indicates that T&A is what he really needs.

That’s the end of it for Elle, and she quits the team. But Emmet convinces her to stay on, and he takes over the defense after the widow Taylor-Windham fires Callahan and company. The principal witness against the widow is the step daughter, Chutney (Linda Cardellini), who discovered the widow kneeling over her father’s dead body. No gun was ever found. She was taking a shower during the time of the murder and did not hear the gunshot. But Elle destroy’s Chutney’s story by pointing out that nobody with any idea of fashion would be taking a shower immediately after an expensive perm job. The daughter did it.

Elle throws over Warner Huntington III and hitches up with Emmet. Raquel Welch appears in the movie as the first Mrs. Windham.

Yes, fashion consciousness wins the day, and that’s what this movie is all about, making it something not to take seriously. Of course, this is comedy, and we need to give it a lot of leeway. But not that much.

Law professor Callahan is shown to be completely inept in the defense of his client. A back alley law firm would have investigated the pool boy and discovered he had a boyfriend.

The widow was discovered kneeling over the just-shot husband. And there is no gun ever found. And the prosecution is going to make a case out of this?

The sidebar concerning the manicurist and the UPS guy plays no discernible part in the movie plot, seemingly inserted for additional comic relief and also to chew up 15 minutes of celluloid (hint, I don’t think they use celluloid anymore).

The defendant in a murder case will not reveal her alibi. She was having liposuction at the time of the murder, and her reputation as a fitness guru would be ruined if that ever came out.

Somebody supposedly as sharp as Elle Woods gets taken in by the standard plot device of conning somebody to show up inappropriately dressed at a party?

This was not the end of Legally Blonde. Wikipedia lists a slew of spin-offs:

There is no doubt T&A are going to feature in all of these.

Drive-by Shooting

Calling It Like It Is

The above title came to me as I read through this item from The Patriot Post. Here is a bit of what it says:

NY Times Peddles More School Shooting Deception

School shootings are no doubt heartbreaking. But the bigger story is the Times is complicit in its own immorality.

Jordan Candler · Jan. 26, 2018
We’re not even a full month into the new year and already The New York Times is peddling deceptive information to spur action on gun control. On Tuesday, following the unfortunate situation in Benton, Kentucky, in which innocent students were ruthlessly attacked (and two killed) by a fellow pupil, the Times ran with this narrative-infused headline: “School Shooting in Kentucky Was Nation’s 11th of Year. It Was Jan. 23.” Only in the sixth paragraph did it almost unnoticeably get around to printing this disclaimer: “Some of the shootings at schools this year were suicides that injured no one else; some did not result in any injuries at all.” How nice of the Times to let that cat out of the bag — you know, after the agenda-driven drivel was already featured in the headline.

Yeah, my title is dead on. This is a hit job on a publication noted for telling it like it is. Hit job? Who would know? Nobody but everybody who bothers to read the piece that appeared Tuesday in The New York Times:

School Shooting in Kentucky Was Nation’s 11th of Year. It Was Jan. 23.

That’s the first paragraph, not the sixth. In the first paragraph the article describes a variety of incidents other than cold-blooded murder. And the agenda? How about there is something wrong when possession of weapons of war, as provided in the Second Amendment, translates into random and other shootings at are near schools and students.

That said, I do perceive an agenda.

It’s an appeal to patriotism and all that right-thinking Americans hold dear. The motto I translate, perhaps incorrectly, as “For God and Liberty.” It’s followed by 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence. The Patriot Post is one of those. I have no way of knowing how patriotic the people of The Patriot Post are, but I am sure that most are. That said, I know patriots who are not of this mind set, patriots who would object to this kind of whack job. Here is a letter I received 50 years ago from a patriot—a more liberal person you are not ever likely to meet:

To make the story short, the helicopter coming to take him on night patrol crashed in the darkness and the mist, and everybody aboard was killed. My brother used to hunt men with a sniper rifle, and I know personally he would have no part of the nonsense peddled by The Patriot Post.


This is your President speaking.

Number 46 in a long series

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

DACA has been made increasingly difficult by the fact that Cryin’ Chuck Schumer took such a beating over the shutdown that he is unable to act on immigration!

Call me nostalgic if you like, but this takes me back to my days in junior high. Keep on talking, Mr. President.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

An old and tired one

Robert was born in the house on Olive Street, and he lived there all his life. Then one day he moved to the house across the street, and this made news, because Robert was now 83 years old. The Evening Bugle sent their city reporter out to get an interview and a story.

“Robert, all of a sudden you decided to move. Tell us about it. What’s behind this sudden change?” the reporter asked.

Robert got a thoughtful look on his face, and he leaned back before answering the question.

“I guess it’s just the Gypsy in my soul,” he responded.

People Unclear

This is number 33

Yes, it is true. There are still some people how have not received the memo. Specifically, there are things that are true, and saying they are not true does not make them not true. Things have to actually be not true before they are not true. Case in point:

Evangelist Franklin Graham defended President Donald Trump on CNN late Tuesday, saying “all of us are sinners” and “he’s not the pastor of this country.”

Graham stood up for Trump when CNN anchor Don Lemon mentioned the president’s use of foul, derogatory language and reports of an affair more than a decade ago with porn star Stormy Daniels, reports The Charlotte Observer.

“There’s a lot of presidents that have had rough language,” Graham told Lemon, noting that Trump comes from a business, not political, background.

Graham, however, said Trump has denied asking during a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than people from places like Norway.

“He said he didn’t say it,” the evangelist told Lemon, adding that some others in the meeting have said they never heard Trump use that language.

I particularly like “He said he didn’t say it.”

He didn’t say it? Really? Are you sure he didn’t say it? If he didn’t say it, then the next question that comes to mind is why didn’t he say it? To not have said it would be totally out of character for President Trump. Remember, Reverend Graham, this is the same Trump who called a woman reporter a cunt, mocked a reporter with a disability, called a former First Lady “crooked Hillary.” Do I need  to go on? If President Trump had failed to call some countries, including all those in Africa, “shit-hole countries,” then the Secret Service would have been alerted to the fact and would immediately start to investigate whether a Manchurian Candidate had been substituted for the actual Donald Trump.

Reverend Graham, he said it. But you are telling Don Lemon he didn’t say it.

Exodus 20:16 King James Version (KJV)

16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Are we now down to only nine commandments? Maybe it’s time somebody gave Reverend Graham a copy of the memo.

This is your President speaking.

Number 45 in a long series

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

Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fully understands, especially after his humiliating defeat, that if there is no Wall, there is no DACA. We must have safety and security, together with a strong Military, for our great people!

The level of maturity manifest at the top is absolutely breathtaking.

The Government You Paid For

Number 22

If you ever wondered whether your tax money is well-spent, wonder no longer. The matter is being settled daily. Here’s the latest:

CIA director: Trump grasps intelligence at same level as 25-year veteran

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised President Trump’s grasp of intelligence briefings, saying he has the same depth of understanding as agency veterans.

“I have seen 25-year intelligence professional receive briefings. I would tell you that President Trump is the kind of recipient of our information at the same level that they are,” Pompeo said during an interview with the American Enterprise Institute.

That should lay to rest any concerns our President is not mentally up to the task. The concern now shifts to CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Are we getting more than we are paying for with this amazing government employee?

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 95).

When your domestic situation becomes unbearable, it’s not left-leaning politicians who are going to  look after your right to protect yourself:

HOUSTON – A 37-year-old man suspected of killing his estranged wife outside of a home on the Northwest side Sunday morning has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office confirmed.

An AMBER Alert was issued for Richard Concepcion’s 18-month-old son after police said he fled the scene of his estranged wife’s murder, taking the child with him.

It all started around 8 a.m. Sunday when [San Antonio] Police were called to the 10400 block of Arbor Bluff for assistance in a custody exchange. While en route to the home, police got a call for shots fired.

Richard always knew who his real friends were. Right up to the very end.

The Government You Paid For

Number 21

I’ve been around  a few years, and I’ve seen governments come and go. Entertainment value has varied. I absolutely do not recall Roosevelt, but I understand there were tense times. I recall Truman, reviled at the time, recognized only later. Eisenhower was deadly dull. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson provided the drama in those days. If not for McCarthy, we could have swept the ’50s under the rug. The Kennedy years were short and memorable, and then I went All the Way with LBJ. So did a lot of the world. Nixon, now those were the times. We thought something like that would never come again in our life time. Fast forward—even watching Bill Clinton, caught between a failed real-estate venture and a blue dress, failed to live up. George Bush blossomed and faded into fond memories, followed by eight years of deadly dull Obama. There is a reason he picked up the sobriquet “No Drama.”

The waiting has paid off, readers. Enter, stage right, Donald J. Trump, the gift that keeps on giving. During his first year this amazing specimen of American intellect has drained our blood lust dryer than James Buchanan was able to during his entire four years. The Lord has shined his blessing upon us.

When candidate Trump bragged about grabbing women by the pussy, we salivated, hoping for more of the same. Then, days before inauguration last year the specter of the Golden Shower hit like thunder, and our eyes came alight like the sun rising in Arizona. It has only gotten better. To help you enjoy what may be the once in your lifetime reddest of meat, here’s what I’m observing come across the wire.

Where to start? How about what is currently racing across the national fiber this week? ABC World News Tonight with David Muir is my source for these screen shots, but everybody is carrying the story. Advisio: when I say “everybody” I don’t necessarily mean everybody. I need to check with Fox News first. Start with some background.

January last year word leaked out that citizen Trump obtained top billing in a dossier prepared by a British spy:

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit TRUMP’s person  obsessions and sexual perversion in order to  obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ (compromising material) on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, TRUMP’s perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew president and Mrs OBAMA (whom he hated) had stayed on  one of their official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. the hotel was known to be under FSB control  with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

Whoa! That was hot shit. The man who was to become President could possibly be in the pocket of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin? What could be worse? Grabbing pussies faded to black. It turns out there was more.

While the Trump campaign was still trying to maintain momentum back in 2016, advisor George Papadopoulos offered to arrange a meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The problem is that soon-to-be Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied in formal filings any contacts with the Russian government during the campaign. It came out that by “Russian government” Mr. Sessions did not mean “the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.”

Fast forward, and the now Attorney General has been forced by some cruel facts to admit numerous contacts with the Russian government, said contacts previously disclaimed. He also spoke of having no knowledge of the Papadopoulos scheme, despite having sat inches away when Papadopoulos set it forth.

The drama drags on. When Congressman Jerrold Nadler read to General Sessions, “There are reports that you ‘shut George down’ when he proposed the meeting, Mr. Sessions was forced to admit his earlier recollection had been in error.

The source of our joy had more to say on the matter. When FBI Director James Comey declined to neatly wrap up the investigation into Russian meddling in the campaign, President Trump fired him last May. President Trump seemed at one time to confirm this connection of events. Explaining the firing of James Comey, he remarked, on-camera, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story…'” And Comey was out.

Now Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, and an independent counsel Robert Mueller, has been put in charge. George Papadopoulos has admitted to lying to the FBI and is under indictment. Likewise, three others connected to the Trump administration or the campaign have been indicted, with some guilty pleas already tendered.

General Sessions, himself, has now been questioned by Counselor Mueller, and Mr. Mueller has turned his sights on the President. ABC reporter Jonathan Karl is seen unloading sources from within the White House. The opinion is there is no way the President is going to agree to a one-on-one with Mr. Mueller.

This is despite President Trump telling Jonathan Karl and others last year that he would be “100% willing to do it.”

President Trump said Friday he would be willing to testify under oath about his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired in May.

The president said Comey’s testimony on Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee mostly vindicated his previous claims about their interactions.

Oh, my God! What is the government coming to  when politicians go back on their word?

In the meantime, there is more drama concerning George Papadopoulos:

George Papadopoulos is the ‘John Dean’ of the Russia investigation, his fiancee says

 January 22

He has been mocked by President Trump as a “low level volunteer” and “proven to be a liar.”

But the fiancee of George Papadopoulos, the former Trump campaign adviser who pleaded guilty in October to lying to the FBI about his Russia contacts and is cooperating with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, says he is being miscast.

“I believe history will remember him like John Dean,” said Italian-born Simona Mangiante, referring to the former White House counsel who pleaded guilty to his role in the Watergate coverup and then became a key witness against other aides to President Richard Nixon.

Dean told Nixon in 1973 that Watergate was a “cancer on the presidency,” warning him that it was an existential crisis that could imperil his term in office.

Yes, people, we are truly getting the government we paid for. Please enjoy.

There will be more to come. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your souls.

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This is a remake of one from 62 years ago. The Desperate Hours starred Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March, and was reprised in 1990 with changes in the title and the plot. Desperate Hours, from MGM, features Anthony Hopkins as besieged leader of his family Tim Cornell and Mickey Rourke as desperado Michael Bosworth, whose ruthless gang invades the Cornell home. As I write, this is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

The original, based on the Joseph Hayes book, jumps right into the police searching for the fleeing gangsters. This one begins with a bit of drama that provides some setting for what is to follow. We see a speeding car, throwing up dust along a mountain road, apparently in Utah.

When the car finally stops we are treated to the best legs to come our way in a while as attorney Nancy Breyers (Kelly Lynch) steps out. She leaves the car parked at a turnoff and walks those FMN shoes to a bus stop. We next see her hustling into a court house, where she prepares to defend Mr. Bosworth against heinous crimes. She has left the car parked for her gangster boyfriend to pick up later in the day.

She has more between her legs than you might expect. Prisoner Bosworth slips his hand into this sacred place, but only to fetch the weapon. He kills the guard and fakes a hostage situation, leaving breathless Nancy abused and bedraggled, feigning to be the victim rather than the accomplice.

Out on the street, Bosworth joins up with his brother Wally (Elias Koteas) and accomplice Albert (David Morse), recreating the role of dumber-than-dirt Simon Kobish from 1955. The Cornells are putting the finishing touches on a friendly divorce, and their spacious home is in the process of being sold when the Bosworth gang picks it from among many on the street.

Nora Cornell (Mimi Rogers) is home alone when the gang leader rings the doorbell. She is shocked when the brutish Albert comes in the back way.

To make the telling short, family members come to the home and are taken in, starting with rebellious teenage daughter May (Shawnee Smith).

Eventually young Zack (Danny Gerard) arrives, and the entire Cornell family has been scooped up into Bosworth’s deadly scheme. Tim is a war veteran and puts up resistance, getting stabbed for his efforts. The real estate agent drops by, and Bosworth kills him. Albert now wants out of the whole business, and Bosworth takes advantage of his slow wit. Albert gets the job of disposing of the corpse, and off he goes with a dead body in the trunk.

But Albert, as expected, muffs the assignment, which was all along a scheme by Bosworth to ditch him. He gets the car stuck in the dirt alongside a stream bed, wherein he ditches the body. Then he makes it back to the highway on foot, where his bloody appearance catches the attention of some college girls and ultimately the police. His life ends at the hands of police snipers.

But Albert was carrying Nora’s pistol, registered to her, and the body is identified and tracked to a slew of properties being handled by the dead real estate agent. It all points toward the Cornell residence on a quiet street.

Meanwhile, FBI agent Brenda Chandler (Lindsay Crouse) has not been taken in by the ruse back at the court house, and Nancy has been allowed to go about her business, which is to bring money and her sweet self to her lover Boswell. The police first plan to send Nancy in wearing a wire, and she is stripped to the waist in that effort, and also to provide some eye candy for the rest of us.

They decide against the wire, but Nancy insists on carrying a piece. Agent Chandler agrees, but she removes the bullets.

Then there is the expected climax, expected especially if you watched in 1955. Wally is riddled with police bullets out front, and Tim and Michael Bosworth have it out inside the house.

Only, by now Tim has discovered the unloaded gun, and Bosworth has it. When Bosworth attempts to use Nora as a hostage the leader of the Cornell clan takes him down for what he’s worth and thrusts him outside for the police snipers to finish off.

The Cornell family is reunited inside their spacious home.

It’s just as it was in 1955, with some differences:

  • Humphrey Bogart reprises Duke Mantee from The Petrified Forest. Mickey Rourke is cool and calculating, right up to the point where things began to go south.
  • The gangster’s moll never appears on screen in the original.
  • Also, the original has a bunch more going back and forth, with the drama stretching out for days.
  • The original likewise features the murder of an innocent witness. The original has the trash man becoming suspicious. The dumb crook tags along on the trash truck and murders him. He never makes it back to the house. He shoots a cop, then gets run over by a truck.
  • In both versions the crook’s gun is traced back to the house.
  • Both versions feature the unloaded gun.
  • Both end with the gang leader being machine gunned on the front lawn.

There is a lot to be suspicious about the plot:

  • I never came to understand the opening sequence. It’s the dead of night, and Nancy is absolutely racing the getaway car down an unpaved road in the mountains. Then the sun is up, and she is running the Mille Miglia along a two-lane hard top. Then she’s going more miles, like a bat out of Chicago, throwing up dust along an unpaved stretch. She now leaves the car and hikes a few feet to a paved highway, where she now must catch a bus back to town in time to make her scheduled court appearance. We know this is an unbroken sequence, because she is dressed for business the whole time and carries her lawyer’s briefcase.
  • Stashing the getaway car out on a lonely stretch of road seems overly dramatic.
  • We see Miss Sex Body smuggle in a gun between her thighs. What ever happened to metal detectors?
  • The authorities never buy the fake hostage escape caper. What was Bosworth thinking?
  • Bosworth sends Albert off on what he expects to be a one-way mission. And he doesn’t figure this business is going to trace back to the house?
  • Bosworth has duped his comely lawyer into aiding his escape. Now he puts his life on the line, waiting for true love to come his way.
  • It is never explained why American lawyer Tim Cornell has a trace of British accent.
  • The final police siege of the house mirrors what I previously mentioned about The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery. There is a family inside the house, and police are pouring volleys of machine gun fire through the front door? See the above images.

Hayes’ book, which I don’t have a copy, was based on an episode from 1952, involving a family named Hill. The Hills subsequently sued Time, Inc., over misstatements in a Life magazine article about the episode. The case bounced around for years, going to the Supreme Court and back. The case was not put to bed until 1967. Former Vice President Richard Nixon represented the Hills before the high court. It turned out to be a landmark case, establishing the present-day right to publish about people who become notorious through no fault of their own.

You can’t watch this, or the original, without recalling The Petrified Forest. Here is an absolutely ruthless gangster, risking it all for the love of a woman.

This is your President speaking.

Number 44 in a long series

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

JULY 19 “She did the uranium deal, which is a horrible thing, while she was secretary of state, and got a lot of money.” (There’s no evidence Hillary Clinton was actively involved or benefited from the deal.)

The entertainment value is priceless.

The Years of Living Stupidly

Number 3 in a series

Today I’m continuing to follow some posts on the Intelligent Design blog Evolution News. Sometimes these posts are anonymous, credited to Evolution News, with no author specified. This one was posted by Cornelius Hunter, listed as a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. In fact, that is how his entry in CreationWiki lists him:

Cornelius G. Hunter, Ph.D., is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he earned a B.S and M.S. in aerospace engineering receiving a Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology from the University of Illinois and currently is Adjunct Professor of science and religion at Biola University. He is currently engaged in molecular biophysics post-doctoral and engineering research in Cameron Park, California. He is fellow of the Discovery Institute‘s Center for Science and Culture (CSC). He is formerly senior vice president of Seagull Technology, Inc.

Postings by a Facebook friend continue to bring to my attention a number of these Evolution News postings. Here is the most recent:

Warren Allmon on the Argument from Homology

Cornelius Hunter January 19, 2018, 1:30 PM

once debated two evolutionists on the campus of Cornell University. In that debate I raised several fundamental problems with evolutionary theory. The problems that I pointed out fell into two broad categories: process and pattern.

In the latter category, I noted that the keystone argument for evolution from homology had badly failed. Unfortunately, that failure was waved off and went unaddressed by the evolution professors. That may not have been the case had Warren Allmon been able to participate. Allmon, Director of the Cornell University-affiliated Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), has thought more deeply about the homology argument than most evolutionists. Now in 2018, he has published, along with adjunct professor Robert Ross, a new paper, “Evolutionary remnants as widely accessible evidence for evolution: the structure of the argument for application to evolution education.” The paper, in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, contains a very important concession.

As is typical, the new Allmon/Ross paper makes several serious scientific errors, either through ignorance, denial, confirmation bias, or whatever. The paper also relies on heavily religious claims and arguments, which again is typical.

And Hunter goes on in this manner for several additional lines, never getting around to the matter of homology and evidence for evolution. He proposes to work through the argument in future installments, and I will attempt to follow up.

In the meantime, it’s worth noting the selection of Cornelius G. Hunter as a fellow at the CSC, and it is especially interesting that he’s on Evolution News, which history is to deny any religious basis for Intelligent Design. In that effort, the CSC is much out on a limb. I mean, look what I do. Everywhere I write Intelligent Design, I capitalize it, such as I would Christianity and Islam. These are religions, and their names get put in initial caps.

While I’m on the matter, here is a list of books by Cornelius G. Hunter:

  • Hunter, Cornelius G. (2001). Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil. Ada, MI: Baker/Brazos Press. ISBN 978-1-58743011-4.
  • Hunter, Cornelius G. (2003). Darwin’s Proof: The Triumph of Religion over Science. Ada, MI: Baker/Brazos Press. ISBN 978-1-58743056-5.
  • Hunter, Cornelius G. (2007). Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism. Ada, MI: Baker/Brazos Press. ISBN 978-1-58743170-8.

Somebody advised me that the CSC has thrown in the towel and decided the religious approach is the way to go in promoting Intelligent Design. The image above is, in fact, from the video series Does God Exist, featuring creationist and CSC fellow Stephen C. Meyer and produced by Focus on the Family, decidedly not the go-to place for scientific enlightenment.

Anyhow, I am among the most glad to see the CSC becoming more open about the connection between the God of Abraham and Intelligent Design. It makes my job of pointing this out a lot easier, even if not as much fun. There’s going to be lots more. Keep reading.

And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.