Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

Showing my age, I watched this at the Palace Theater in Granbury Texas when it came out in 1953, and there are scenes that stick with me after all these years. It’s Pony Express, a highly fictionalized account centered around the actual Pony Express—1860-1861. Did I mention “highly fictionalized?” I am at times known for understatement. This has big names, maybe not as big in 1953 as later. There’s Charlton Heston as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and there’s Forrest Tucker as Wild Bill Hickock. I caught it streaming on Hulu this month. It was released by Paramount. It’s a simple story made overly  complex. Here’s a rundown of the plot.

The opening shows Bill Cody meeting up with some suspicious characters from a plains tribe. He tries to  figure out if they are friendly. They are not. They chase him down and kill his horse, but they have only arrows, and he has guns. Their leader, Yellow Hand (Pat Hogan), tells Bill he’s breaking off the fight, but will come back when his band has some guns. They later get the guns.

Bill treks across the prairie until he intercepts a stage coach, and he shares a ride with Evelyn Hastings (Rhonda Fleming) and her brother Rance (Michael Moore). The two are up to  no good. This is 1860, about the time states are figuring to break away from the Union, and they are part of a plot to engineer California secession. They eye Bill coldly, Evelyn, perhaps, with not so much chill. After all, that’s Charlton Heston sitting in the opposite seat.

At the next stop the coach is met by some phony soldiers who attempt to arrest Evelyn and Rance and take them away. But Bill sees through the ruse, and he breaks up the scheme with some amount of gun play. Problem is, Evelyn and Rance are in on the plot. It’s all a scheme to make it appear that… Actually, that’s an aspect that is never made clear to me.

At the next town Bill runs into his old friend Wild Bill Hickock. They engage in a bit of gun play to show off for the audience. Evelyn is impressed.

And here is the scene that I  recall seeing at the age of 12. Evelyn needs a bath after that long stage coach ride, and she gets instructions from a girlfriend of Bill’s, Denny Russell (Jan Sterling). The dialogue that I recall after all these years goes like this:

Evelyn: Doesn’t this soap lather?

Denny: No, it’s sandstone.

Evelyn: Then how do you get clean?

Denny: Rub until the dirt comes off.

Truth be, Denny is hot for Bill to an unhealthy degree, but she is too rascally a woman for Bill’s taste, and the ardor is not reciprocated. Makes for some sexual tension, especially after Evelyn develops a shine to Bill.

Lot’s of stuff. Evelyn and her brother plot to bring down the Pony Express enterprise that Bill and Denny’s father are cooking up. If California is kept isolated from the eastern states, then secession is going to be an easy sell. The Pony Express will cut mail delivery from St. Joseph, Missouri, to 10 days.

The secessionist group considers a number of alternatives. Kill Bill, destroy the Pony Express stations, various other devious acts.

But Yellow Hand and his troops have their own ideas. They ambush a party that includes all the movie’s remaining principals, forcing a stand-off at a stage coach station.

That episode comes to conclusion when Bill defeats Yellow Hand mano a mano, and the white faces are allowed to go about their business.

Finally we arrive in Sacramento, the capital of California and the terminus of the Pony Express. A mail satchel is dispatched from St. Joseph, heading west, with a 10-day schedule. The bad guys put their plan into action.

A rider is stalked and wounded on the trail. Closer to the terminus two other stations are destroyed by explosives after the agents are gunned down. But Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill ride to the rescue, defeating the bushwhackers with gunfire, and Cody takes the satchel into Sacramento before the noon deadline, putting the kibosh on a bunch of carefully laid plans.

The secessionists are sore losers, and they attempt to ambush Cody, but Denny is killed, instead. She dies in his arms. A massive fire fight wipes out the secessionists, and Cody picks up the return mail pouch and heads off out of town toward the east.

And that’s the end of the movie.

There is a bunch of irrelevant stuff added to boil the plot. The entire business with Yellow Hand contributes nothing.

The action starts and stops. During the siege at the stage coach station, Yellow Hand rides up and offers to duel Cody, winner take all. Cody declines. His plan is to sneak out the back after dark and set the prairie on fire, spooking the enemy’s horses. He gets captured, instead and engages Yellow Hand in the fight to the death. During all this, his life not worth a cup of warm spit if Yellow Hand wins, Rance contemplates finishing off Cody with an “accidental” shooting.

Time lines don’t make sense, and this highlights something I never understood about depictions of the Pony Express. The transit time from St. Joseph to Sacramento is targeted at ten days, could be eight. All along the route we see relief riders waiting to pick up the relay when a rider comes in. How do they know when the rider is going to be there? The relay rider could be waiting for hours. There is no way to alert the relay station when a rider is approaching.

there has to be a lot of back and forth between St. Joseph and Sacramento, but communication time between the two was measured in weeks at the time. Whoever wrote the original story had telegraphs and telephones on his mind at the time.

Bill Cody did ride for the Pony Express, but he was 14 at the time. Much too young to be the fabled gunfighter depicted in the movie. Cody’s and Hickock’s lives did intersect, but I’m thinking much later, when Buffalo Bill recruited Wild Bill to his wild west show. Wild Bill’s involvement was as a partner in the parent company of the Pony Express. He was ambushed and killed in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Bill Cody died right before the United States entered WWI

Heston went on to become Judah Ben Hur in the DeMille production. Later he was Moses. We enjoyed seeing him hawk pseudo science on NBC’s Mysterious Origins of Man.

The completion of a telegraph connection to Sacramento put the end to the Pony Express after a few months of operation.


The Government You Paid For

Number 25 in a Series

People have been complaining for decades. We heard them. They elect politicians. They pay taxes. They obey the law. And for what. We hear people complain they are  not getting the government they paid for.

Good news, boys and girls. Those days are over. We are now getting the government we paid for.

Trump campaign aide Rick Gates pleads guilty in Mueller investigation

“The third Trump associate” to plead guilty? Only the third? Where is the government I paid for?

I mean, I paid good money for indictments. Where are the other plea deals—I want to see the perp walks.

Where is my money going?

Not that money. Where is my tax money going for convictions and hard time? I guess I will have to wait.

Meanwhile, at the CPAC:

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

A woman rushes to her doctor, looking very much worried and all strung out.

She rattles off: “Doctor, take a look at me. When I woke up this morning, I looked myself in the mirror and saw my hair all wiry and frazzled up. My skin was all wrinkled and pasty. My eyes were bloodshot and bugging out, and I had this corpse-like look on my face! What’s wrong with me, Doctor?”

The doctor looks her over for a couple of minutes and then calmly says, “Well, I can tell you there is nothing wrong with your eyesight.”

This is your President speaking.

Number 60 in a long series

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

What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

“Let me make one thing perfectly clear.”

Deeper and Deeper

A Reading Of High Delusion—Part 2

I previously reviewed The Language of God, by Francis Collins. This is Adam and the Genome, by Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight. I obtained the Kindle editions of both after a short dive into a posting to Evolution News, the blog site of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. No author is listed for that post, but it centered on this book and the one by Collins:

In Adam and the Genome, Trinity Western University biologist Dennis Venema covers many other subjects besides what you might expect from the book’s title. We have been reviewing this material by the prominent theistic evolutionist and BioLogos author; find the series so far here.

Thus, Venema cites the high degree of genetic similarities between insulin genes in humans and other mammals as evidence for our common ancestry. He writes:

[W]e can see that there is good evidence to support the hypothesis that these two present-day genes come from a common ancestral population in the distant past … What we observe for this short segment is that the gorilla sequence is identical to that of the human except for one letter; the chimpanzee is identical except for three; and the orangutan is identical except for five. As before, this level of identity far exceeds what is needed for functional insulin, and strongly supports the hypothesis that humans share a common ancestral population with great apes. Indeed, the similarities between these sequences make English and West Frisian look like very distant relatives by comparison.

(Adam and the Genome, p. 30)

Yes, Venema does dig deeply into revelations from the human genome, and Evolution News does make a big deal about that. But Venema goes far deeper, a depth not plumbed by the posting. All this you can marvel at by plugging through the remainder of the book—which I did.

From the back cover of the book:

Dennis R. Venema (Ph.D., University of British Colombia) is professor of biology at Trinity Western University and Fellow of Biology for the BioLogos Foundation. He writes and speaks regularly about the biological evidence for evolution.

In the book Venema does lay out the evidence for evolution in grand detail, and it is this part that has caught the attention of the Intelligent Design pitch men. Some excerpts from the book elaborate:

Like many evangelicals, I (Dennis) grew up in an environment that was suspicious of science in general, and openly hostile to evolution in particular. Yet I had a deep longing to be a scientist, even as a child. For a long time, I reconciled my two worlds by rejecting evolution— after all, evolution was “just a theory” pushed by atheists and supported by “evidence” so flimsy that even a child could see through it. Moreover, Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life, and “what the Bible said about creation” was good enough for me.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science . Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

He goes on to say that conflicts with his faith almost kept him from pursuing his dream of becoming a scientist. Fortunately for science and for his students at Trinity Western, reason won out.

My family explored the possibility of my attending a Christian university, but it was more than we could afford. So a secular university it was, and I braced myself for what would surely be a trial for my faith.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 2). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Interestingly, I would remain an antievolutionist through the course of my PhD and on into my career as a professor, now teaching at the very same Christian university I was unable to afford as a student. What would come as something of a shock to me as a young professor is that, contrary to the claims of my Christian grade-school workbooks, evolution is a theory in the scientific sense.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 11). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

What those creationists of the second kind found worth challenging is Venema’s erudite exposition of the evidence for common descent. For example:

In looking at the sequences above, we can see that there is good evidence to support the hypothesis that these two present-day genes come from a common ancestral population in the distant past, just as “butter, bread, and green cheese” and “bûter, brea, en griene tsiis” do. The principle is the same: they are far more similar to each other than they are functionally required to be. In principle, any words could stand for these concepts in either English or West Frisian; similarly, any matched pair of hormone and receptor could function to regulate blood sugar levels in humans or dogs. Yet what we observe strongly suggests, in both cases, that the present-day sequences are the modified descendants of what was once a common sequence.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 30). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Besides giving the creationists something to chew on, Venema does a great job of taking them down.

In the late 1990s I was a PhD student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, studying genetics and development. I had weathered my bachelor’s degree with my faith and antievolutionary views intact, and my area of study did not require me to think about evolution much at all. 3 Evolution was not completely avoidable, however: one very proevolution professor down the hall from my lab maintained a bulletin board called “Crackpot’s Corner,” where antievolutionary views were held up as objects of ridicule. It was here, on this bulletin board, that I first became aware of biochemist Michael Behe, a leader in the intelligent-design (ID) movement. 4 A little digging indicated that he had recently published a book, Darwin’s Black Box. In that book, which I eagerly devoured, Behe makes the case for what he calls “irreducible complexity”:

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (pp. 67-68). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Venema explores Behe’s irreducible complexity conjecture and finds it bare of support.

Behe argues, we can infer when we see protein complexes composed of several proteins that bind to one another that they are the product not of evolution but rather of design.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 69). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The irreducible complexity argument goes like this:

  • A living organism, even the simplest cell, is a complex assembly. Darwinian evolution stipulates that life forms were not always that complex.
  • Evolution from less complex to more complex life forms has taken place.
  • We now know that evolution proceeds by random mutation of genes, coupled with selective pressure that produces organisms more likely to predominate in the gene pool.
  • Random mutation of genes must occur in small steps, slight changes in a DNA chain—the genome.
  • Each slight change in the genome must be beneficial to the organism, else that change will not be preserved.
  • Existing organisms cannot operate competitively with the loss of a single function coded in the genome.
  • Modern organisms are irreducibly complex. There is no way to proceed from one viable organism to a new and more viable form by means of single mutations.

Behe stakes his argument against Darwinian evolution on his contention that many biological functions are irreducibly complex. What Venema does, and what others do, is to expose Behe’s supposed irreducibly, showing how current forms can be obtained by means of Darwinian evolution.

Interestingly, the virus did evolve to use a second host protein, one called OmpF. Not only did this happen once, but it happened repeatedly in the experiment. Sequencing the DNA of the viruses able to use OmpF instead of LamB revealed that one of the virus proteins— the one that normally binds to LamB, called “protein J”— had accumulated four amino acid changes. By looking at the preserved samples, the researchers showed that the new binding requires all four mutations to be present. They also showed that these mutations did not happen simultaneously, but rather sequentially. As it turns out, these single mutations allowed the protein J to bind more tightly to LamB, which was a significant advantage since hosts with LamB were so scarce in the experiment. Once three single mutations were in place, the virus was only one mutation away from the ability to bind and use OmpF. Interestingly, viruses capable of using OmpF retained  their ability to bind LamB— the virus could now use either host protein.

Two key aspects of this experiment are problematic for Behe’s thesis. First and foremost, this experiment documents the addition of a protein to an irreducibly complex system. The original system was composed of virus protein J binding to LamB, plus numerous other protein-binding events. The modified system lacks LamB and has a modified virus protein J that binds to OmpF instead. The intermediate system has the modified virus protein J and LamB, as well as OmpF, but now only one of LamB or OmpF is required. The transition from one irreducibly complex system to another has an intermediate state between them that acts as a scaffold, or to use Behe’s term, a stepping-stone.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (pp. 79-80). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Is it any wonder those creationists of the second kind, writing for Evolution News, feel the need to take Dennis Venema down.

Venema is beginning to look like a secular camp hero of the first kind. Where this discourse starts to come apart is the latter half contributed by Scot McKnight.

Scot McKnight (born November 9, 1953) is an American New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity, theologian, and author who has written widely on the historical Jesusearly Christianity and Christian living. He is currently Professor of New Testament at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL. McKnight is an ordained Anglican with anabaptist leanings, and has also written frequently on issues in modern anabaptism.

From Chapter 5 through Chapter 8, McKnight lays out a devilishly detailed analysis, some would say apologetic, on the place of Adam, both as a character in Genesis and as an ideal in Judeo-Christian faith. I apologize for having little comprehension of what he is attempting to get across, but I will have a go at my interpretation.

What happens when the church or, in my case, a Bible professor, encounters the kind of science found in the first part of this book? What happens, not to put too fine a point on it, when evolutionary theory and the Human Genome Project encounter the Bible’s creation narratives? What happens then when we are told that the best of science today teaches that the DNA characteristic of modern humans could not have come from less than approximately 10,000 hominins? What happens when we are told there were pre-Adamite humans? What about those two humans in Genesis 1– 3? And what about the eight that survived Noah’s flood? Which are we to believe, some ask: the Bible or science?

That last question leads some of us to dig in our heels while others shift with the latest conclusions of science. Some relish the countercultural stance of digging in their heels, and, to switch imagery, the second group at times refers to their counterparts as hiding their heads in the sand of the past or even of religious superstition. What the first thinks is faithfulness to the Bible, the second thinks is intellectual compromise. The accusations go both ways. You’ve probably heard them as often as I have. To illustrate I pose the great Protestant Reformer Martin Luther, who dug in against scientists, with Galileo from the generation following Luther, who permitted science to reshape his thinking. Luther said this of the facts in the Bible that seem to conflict with the external realities: “The more it seems to conflict with all experience and reason, the more carefully it must be noted and the more surely believed.” When Luther turns to Eve being formed from a rib, he says, “This is extravagant fiction and the silliest kind of nonsense if you set aside the authority of Scripture and follow the judgment of reason.” But perhaps this illustrates his heel digging the most: “Although it sounds like a fairy tale to reason, it is the most certain truth.” Here Luther contrasts “reason” (or scientific thinking) and faith or Scripture. One might call Luther’s approach the dominating approach to science and faith because he chooses— against reason, he admits— for the Bible to dominate the evidence. Galileo mirrors Luther with another kind of domination: “A natural phenomenon which is placed before our eyes by sense experience or proved by necessary demonstration should not be called into question, let alone condemned, on account of scriptural passages whose words appear to have a different meaning.” The choice to let either the Bible or science dominate the other is common enough, but there is a better way, one that permits each of the disciplines to speak its own language but also requires each of the voices to speak to one another. Science, after all, can help the interpreter of the Bible just as the Bible can provide horizons and vistas for the scientist. Three Old Testament scholars are modeling how this dialogue between the Bible and science can be fruitful— John Walton, Tremper Longman, and Peter Enns. They don’t agree with one another always, nor do I always agree with them in the pages that follow, but they have opened up new pathways for this kind of dialogue to occur.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 93-94). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

That’s a massive chunk of text carved out of a book for review, but it’s worth doing on two counts:

  • McKnight has a knack for the longest trains of thought I have encountered in writing, making it difficult to find a good point to insert a break.
  • This piece pretty much summarizes my impression of where McKnight is going with the last four chapters.

He seems to accept that Adam and his faithful companion Eve are not the origin of the human race. Then he spends the remainder of his alloted space attempting to justify the story of Adam (and Eve) by invoking context.

I have to admit that the encounter with science made me wonder at times about what I had been taught, about what the Bible said, about whether or not the Bible was wrong, and— this was for me a defining intellectual moment— about whether traditional interpretations of Genesis 1– 2 were perhaps well intended but misguided and in need of rethinking. In other words, my encounters with trustworthy scientists and their works taught me to go back to the Bible with other questions and other possible interpretations and to ask what Genesis meant in its world. In this I believe I was motivated by a quest to know the truth. I went back to the Bible to read Genesis in context and to ask if what many thought the Bible was saying (that is, its interpreted meaning) was not in fact what the Bible was actually saying (its original meaning). But there’s more: my encounter with science that prompted renewed study of Genesis also led me to challenge science about some of its assumptions. Modernity, expressed in extreme form in the “New Atheists” such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, presses into our minds that the only reality is the empirical. If only what studies the empirical world (science) ascertains reality, then only science tells us the truth about reality. However, this common assumption in modernity is a case of concluding what one already assumes. How so? This approach restricts discoveries to empirically testable realities. Nothing else is real. But what if there is more? What if some kind of nonempirical reality exists? This is the sort of question the Bible presses on the scientist. I am convinced that there is more than the empirical, or perhaps I should say the more is hyperreality or suprareality. If so, there is a reality not knowable exclusively by the empirical methods of science. Theology, which is designed to investigate that nonempirical reality in some ways, can provide a map onto which we can locate science and which can challenge science.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 95). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[Emphasis added]

Use of “context” occurs four times prior to this point, including once in an introduction and once in the Table of Contents. It appears an additional 85 times from this point forward. My take: context is everything.

Where have I seen this before? It was in the matter of tattoos. A Facebook friend, a devout Christian and one who from time to time posts pronouncements of faith, called attention to her tattoos. Gentleman that I am, I reminded her that the Bible forbids tattoos, much as it forbids homosexuality. A relative chimed in with the reassurance that it is a matter of “context.”

My take (again): “context” is a cop-out. When context is invoked to justify the Bible, then what you are getting from the Bible is the interpretation being pushed by the speaker. You are not getting the word of God. You are getting the word of the interpreter. You are not placing you faith in a 3000-year-old set of laws. You are placing your faith in whoever happens to be professing faith, an extreme case being the sordid collapse of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple.

Previously mentioned, McKnight’s parsing of theological history largely passes over my head. Therefore I will post a few excerpts that caught my attention, and  I will let the reader get back to me. Advice requested.

I went back to the Bible to read Genesis in context and to ask if what many thought the Bible was saying (that is, its interpreted meaning) was not in fact what the Bible was actually saying (its original meaning).

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 95). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Every statement about Adam and Eve in the Old Testament, in Jewish literature, and in the New Testament is made from a context and into a context. Furthermore, some of the statements about Adam and Eve in all this literature are designed to speak against that context. That is, those statements are polemics and apologetics. Learning about those contexts and polemics often brings fresh understanding of the intention of the Bible and hence of what God wants his people to hear. In addition, this contextual approach to Adam and Eve provides a model for how Christians today can think about Adam and Eve in the context of the faith-and-science debate. If the Human Genome Project provides brilliant discoveries about the origin of life and the development of humans into who we are today, we will all gain clarity if Christians learn how to speak about Adam and Eve in a context that both affirms conclusions about the genome and challenges some conclusions drawn from the Human Genome Project. Contexts, both ancient and modern, shape what we see, what we hear, and how we respond.

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 97). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Winding down with:

Interpreting the Bible is not easy. As Scot demonstrates, taking into account the languages, contexts, and presumed intents from centuries ago is a lot like, well, paleontology. Again, when explaining the challenges science presents to Christian faith, I stress the important distinction between scientific findings (e.g., DNA in a Siberian cave) and the philosophical or theological interpretations of those findings (Homo sapiens therefore emerged by sheer luck of the genome, or God operates on a circuitous route not unlike wandering in the wilderness to get to the promised land).

McKnight, Scot; Venema, Dennis R.. Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (p. 197). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Summarizing the book, we have two obviously intelligent people still clinging to the notion there is a magical person who created us and the universe and who cares for us personally. That this can be so is not an indication that there is no problem at hand. It is an indication that the problem is both wide and deep-seated.

May Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Your Friend The Handgun

Nothing new here, folks (number 99).

Liberal politicians want to deprive you of the right to protect your family. The Second Amendment protects our inalienable rights. How’s that working out?

7-year-old boy dead after accidental shooting in Jefferson County

A young boy was killed in a New Year’s Day shooting in western Jefferson County.

Jefferson County sheriff’s authorities said the shooting happened just after 6 p.m. at a home in the 6400 block of William Drive in Concord and appears to be accidental.

Sgt. Jack Self said deputies arrived on the scene to find the 7-year-old had been shot. The child was taken to the hospital with critical injuries and pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

This is your President speaking.

Number 59 in a long series

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

Thank you to for the great timeline on all of the failures the Obama Administration had against Russia, including Crimea, Syria and so much more. We are now starting to win again!

Are we starting to think maybe we should increase his salary?

Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

This is one of those movies. It’s about the loner who’s had it with society and social structure, reminiscent of John Galt. He’s more valuable to society than society is to him. Of course, by the conclusion he will have successfully demonstrated that. It’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, starring Tom Cruise. It came out in  2016, released by Paramount and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots.

Here we see Cruise as Jack Reacher, former major in the United States Army. There’s been a fight out front of a road-side diner in rural America, and Jack has just trounced four jerks who messed with him. Arrives the crooked sheriff and his trusty deputy, figuring to  arrest this interloper and rid themselves of a threat to their illegal enterprise. And here is where it becomes cute. We see tough guy Jack Reacher telling them they made a mistake by running their operation on property owned by the United States Army. In the next 90 seconds two things are going to happen. First the phone on the wall is going to ring. Second, they are going to be wearing these handcuffs currently on Jack, and they are going to be headed off to prison.

And it comes to pass, as Army MP cars roll up, and the sheriff and his men are hauled off.

The person on the other end of the phone line was Major Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders), who has inherited the position with the 110th MPs recently vacated by Jack. Jack continues his aimless trek across America, becoming ever more curious about the mysterious Major Turner. When he finally gets around to looking her up in her offices in Fort Dyer, he finds she has been arrested, charged with espionage. Jack suspects a setup, quickly confirmed. He arranges to break her out of prison, and they set off to uncover what evil lurks with the U.S. Army.

Along the way they pick up Samatha Dutton (Danika Yarosh) alleged to be Jack’s illegitimate daughter. That rounds out the team of good guys in the movie, at the same time ramping up the complexity of the plot.

It turns out two of Turner’s military cops in Afghanistan previously uncovered malfeasance thereabouts, but were murdered before they could file a full report. Apparently it became necessary to falsely accuse her and thereupon engineer her death to cover up the sorry episode. Reacher and Turner track down a surviving member of the unit involved and get the true story from him. Military weapons scheduled for repatriation are being hijacked, and dummy crates are being shipped back home.

When Jack arranges for an MP officer to come and take the witness into  custody, the general in charge of the criminal activity gets the scoop and arranges for an ambush. The witness is killed, but the plot is revealed to the military cop.

Now all that is left is for Jack and Major Turner to intercept the return shipment and expose the crime. However, Jack figures the worth of the purloined weapons does not measure up to the coinage flowing into the criminal company involved. You guessed it. It’s not about weapons. It’s about Afghanistan opium being shipped home in the crates. Jack figures it out and pulls a launcher tube from a crate and dumps the contraband out on the tarmac. End of the line for the crooked general.

However, it’s not the end of the story. Jack’s nemesis, known only as The Hunter (Patrick Heusinger) wants to even the score with Jack, and his means is young Samantha. He tracks her down to where she is staying in a hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter during Mardi Gras celebrations. Of course Jack defeats The Hunter’s two associates, and The Hunter snags the girl on a high roof top above the celebrations.

Jack takes both The Hunter and himself over the edge, and does as promised. He breaks the creep’s arms, then his legs, then his neck.

Major Burns is restored, and Jack departs. No sex. The girl is not really Jack’s daughter, and he leaves her in the care of an upscale girl’s school.

We last see Jack continuing his trek to see America.

It’s a great action yarn with a hint of romance plus some sexual innuendo. And There’s Tom Cruise being Tom Cruise. And it’s trite. It’s the tired warrior coming out of retirement to right what is wrong. The first matter is showing what kind of stuff Jack is made of. We see the bodies of four toughs he has laid out in  the diner parking lot for the crooked sheriff to clean up. Never said, we get the idea Jack discovered they were up to no good, confronted them, then trashed them, and correctly calculated the immediate consequences. He phoned his previous duty station, got his replacement, the comely Major Burns, whom he has not met. He arranges for the cavalry (MPs) to arrive, and then he sits back and waits for things to develop. Absolutely most cool.

It’s when Jack gets curious and decides to find out if Major Burns looks as good as she sounds on the phone that he gets really involved. He quickly gets neck-deep in the shit when he figures out she’s been framed, and someone high-up in the Army is doing dirty.

There is a whole bunch of kick-ass to put Chuck Norris to shame (almost), with Burns showing her stuff, as well. Who would not fall for a girl like that?

Lots of lead flies, and none of it touches Reacher and Burns. Time after time they evade destruction against steep odds. Typical of this kind of movie and just as believable.

Did I mention classic Cruise. He has come a long way since Risky Business, but we see reflections of Top Gun and A Few Good Men. Fans so loved that vision of Maverick washing up after his crash they reprieve it while Reacher and Burns are holed up in hotel room after losing a fight. Also, if you watch closely, you will see Reacher doing the same thing with the fingers of his right hand, making a point as Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee defending two hapless Marines. All the stuff you love about Cruise.

As you have surmised from the colon in the title, this is one of a series of Jack Reacher stories. Cruise featured in a previous film titled Jack Reacher, which I have not seen.

Too bad, Cruise is showing his age. He was 53 when filming started.

The Apple and the Tree

The distance is measured in inches.



There’s lots of stuff I like to cover. Some it is strenuous, requiring a few hours or research and confirmation of facts. Other stories get handed to me, some from highly-paid people working for the United States Government. Or their close relatives.

Donald Trump Jr. ‘Likes’ Conspiracy Theory About Florida Shooting Survivor’s Ex-FBI Dad

Donald Trump Jr. on Tuesday morning apparently clicked the “Like” button on not one, but two tweets promoting a conspiracy theory about a Florida school-shooting survivor’s ex-FBI agent father. “Could it be that this student is running cover for his dad who Works as an FBI agent at the Miami field office Which botched tracking down the Man behind the Valentine day massacre? Just wondering. Just connecting some dots,”

The item posted to the Daily Beast today linked to one of the items in question, which in turn linked to a tweet no-longer available. See this:

A screen shot may be all the more you’re going to get. Bryson followed up by posting a screen shot of the remarkable tweet, currently nowhere to be found:

Some others enjoyed a nice belly laugh over that one.

Donald Trump Jr. Liked Tweets Promoting A Conspiracy Theory About A Florida Shooting Survivor

The tweets attacked a 17-year-old Parkland school shooting survivor by alleging that he was coached in an anti-Trump narrative by his father who is a former FBI agent.


Hogg told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday that Trump Jr.’s peddling of conspiracy theories was “immature, rude, and inhuman.”

“I just think it’s a testament to the sick immaturity and broken state of our government when these people feel the need to pedal conspiracy theories about people that were in a school shooting where 17 people died and it just makes me sick,” Hogg said. “It’s immature, rude, and inhuman for these people to destroy the people trying to prevent the death of the future of America because they won’t,” he said.

One of his classmates also pointed out on Twitter that the idea of Hogg being a professional actor was, well, laughable.

The sources that so enthralled Trump Jr., according to BuzzFeedNews, are OneAmericaNews and True Pundit. From True Pundit::


Details are available. One America News Network:

One America News Network (abbreviated as OANN), also referred to as One America News (abbreviated as OAN), is an American cable news television channel launched on July 4, 2013 that is owned by Herring Networks, Inc. The network is headquartered in San Diego, California, and operates a news bureau in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Originally launched with the intention of targeting a conservative and center-right audience, OAN states a goal of delivering credible national and international news coverage throughout the day while its prime time political talk shows illustrate a conservative perspective. According to the Washington Post, the channel has risen to greater prominence due to its pro-Trump coverage.

Some True Pundit coverage (images not included):

BUSTED: Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor Visited CNN HQ Before the Shooting; Ranted Live on CNN After

Things keep getting stranger with young David Hogg.

First, we learn the mainstream media’s school shooting darling is the son of an FBI agent (retired). Then he goes on television ranting against President Trump when the deadly Florida school shooting last week — it turns out — was more the fault of the FBI than anyone even close to the White House.

Hogg ranted live on CNN and CBS and all other networks as his anti-Trump and anti-GOP gun control comments went viral in the mainstream media vacuum.

Liberal Nation applauded.

But now we learn Hogg was hanging out at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, GA sometime Before the school shooting. Before the shooting. Posing behind an news anchor desk? Perhaps Hogg’s career dream is to sign on with the network — a young Jake Tapper — as he has portrayed himself since the deadly shooting that claimed 17 students as a “student journalist and entrepreneur.”

Welcome to the Big Leagues.

Then after, Hogg goes on CNN live to rant about Trump and the conservatives.

Beyond coincidence.

Hogg also likes to sport his CNN T-shirt to school and beyond.

You can cut the irony with a chainsaw it is so thick here.

The Deep State media strikes again.

The kid who has been running his mouth about how Donald Trump and the GOP are teaming to help murder high school kids by upholding the Second Amendment is the son of an FBI agent.

David Hogg is a school shooting survivor in Florida. At least that is what the mainstream media has told us. We wouldn’t be surprised by anything involving the FBI at this point.

From Deep State CBS News:

“David Hogg was in school when the Parkland, Florida, shooting started. His father is a retired FBI agent, so he recognized immediately that this was a gun. Here’s what he did:”

And while the media allowed Hogg to adorn us with his worldly teen views on the Constitution, they conveniently left out the part where the FBI was warned that the Florida school shooter had promised to shoot up a school — at least twice — long before the massacre that killed 17 students last week.

If Hogg knew the shooter would snap — as he and other students have professed — perhaps he could have told his father about it.

Oh but wait, his father was in the FBI.

It would not have mattered anyway.

That’s the funny thing about the limelight, kid.

Often the lights can come crashing down on your head.

Well played, Don Jr. Well played. You have had a master teacher.

This is your President speaking.

Number 58 in a long series

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

Bad ratings & got scammed when they covered the anti-Trump Russia rally wall-to-wall. They probably knew it was Fake News but, because it was a rally against me, they pushed it hard anyway. Two really dishonest newscasters, but the public is wise!

Quit sniggering.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 93

Homeopathy is based on the principle that less is more—that is, the more dilute the medication the more potent it is. Faith in this absurd conjecture continues to result in serious injury and even death from lack of treatment.

NINE-MONTH-OLD Gloria Thomas was in such distress that her crying alarmed some passengers on a plane trip from India to Sydney.

She had been overseas for two months receiving medical treatment, and homeopathic medication from an uncle for severe eczema.

But in that time she missed two appointments which separate doctors had made for her at specialist dermatologists.

In May 2002, less than 10 days after her return, she was admitted to the Children’s Hospital at Randwick severely malnourished and with infections to the skin and eyes.

She had died within three days of sepsis (bacterial infections) which had caused bleeding in her lungs and airways.


Her father, Thomas Sam, who practised and taught homeopathy, had applied homeopathic remedies to try to cure Gloria’s eczema since she was diagnosed with it when aged about four months, he said.

The above was posted to Respectful Insolence by Orac.

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent’s posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

This is your President speaking.

Number 57 in a long series

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

Just watched a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point I knew very well, interview a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!

The man’s grasp of the vital is a wonder to behold.

People Unclear

This is number 38 of a long series

What is it with people. Is nobody paying attention. The memo has been out there long enough for everybody to pick it up, but there are more still unclear than there are presidential  mistrisses. If this report is to be believed, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich seems to have missed mail call entirely:

Newt Gingrich: “Atheist Philosophy” More Dangerous to Christianity Than Terrorists

Well… yes. Newt, you did you not get the memo. If you had been paying attention, then you would know that correct information of all kinds is anathema to Christianity. I venture to  say that even correct spelling is a threat. I mean, if Christians like Speaker Gingrich were to start waking up in the morning and saying to themselves, “What an idiot I am. All these years I’ve been believing a magical person in the sky created us and watches over everybody, making sure the innocent as well as the guilty get around to  be being burnt in pits of fire for all eternity. Jesus Christ! What have I been thinking?” Well then, Christianity as we know it, will deflate like a punctured condom. Newt, how long did it take you to figure this out?

I could quit right here and head to the kitchen to  mix up another cup of hot chocolate, but to my delight there is more gold to be mined from this sage of divorce courts past. Here’s some more from the same source:

“Either the radical secularists will succeed in controlling the government and driving religion out of American life or the people who believe in faith will succeed in controlling government and insist that you cannot impose radical values on American people.”

Oh, my God! If sane people take control of the government they are going to run rampant over people’s rights. Really! They are going to enact legislation that can be reconciled with the Earth being  round, forget about being 4.5 billion years old. The suffering will be incalculable. The Inquisition will be as a game of canasta. Future history books will call it The Dark Ages—would call it that, except the name has already been taken.

Whatever atheists and other thinking people are doing to destroy this country, they had better knock it off right now. We already have a person employed in Washington, D.C. to do that job.

People Unclear

This is number 37 of a long series

There are two points that need to be cleared up:

  • Don’t invite your mistress to your wedding.
  • Maybe there’s no need for a second point.

With today’s revelations regarding Russian meddling how long will the leftist witch hunt against continue?

Don Jr., I hope this has been of some help to you.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

All right. I’m desperate for another bad movie. No, I’m not. Hulu has the mother lode. Here is Godzilla 2000 from 1999 and currently streaming. And is it bad? Of course. That’s the idea.

No other details. Here’s the story. The Godzilla Prediction Network makes an industry of studying the Godzilla phenomenon.

There is a cute reporter and also some light comedy. When she asks directions the worker turns around while holding the pipe and clubs his colleague on the head. That’s funny.

There’s a precocious kid involved in the enterprise.

Godzilla comes ashore. Tanks are there to fire a welcoming salute.

A UFO has crashed into the sea, and officials raise it. Its surface appearance is that of a ship-size boulder. Godzilla gives combat.

Oh, my God!. The creature from the UFO is morphing, I think.

It invades the city. Everybody needs to run.

Godzilla breathes fire to combat the creature.

Another monster menaces Godzilla.

An anti-Godzilla big wig confronts Godzilla and dies.

And the movie is over. Need I say more? See the whole thing on Hulu, or get the disk from Amazon.

People Unclear

This is number 36

Wait. Wait! This is just plain crazy:

‘Game Changer’: Florida Sheriff Working With Schools To Train And Arm Teachers

The world truly has gone crazy when the solution to protecting high school students from random people with firearms is to arm up the schools. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to stop whacked out shooters before they get their hands on a gun? Else, if you just protect the schools, then shooters (they aren’t going anywhere) are going to take on other soft targets. I don’t want to give those NRA fans any ideas, but there are lots of other places besides high schools overflowing with easy targets.

Or, we could keep people who have no legitimate reason for having a gun from getting one in the first place. Nah. That would never work. Kevlar vests, anyone?

Buyer’s Remorse

Number 30 in a series

“The Russia story is a total fabrication. It’s just an excuse for the greatest lost in the history of American politics.”

August 3, 2017

Are you suffering a twinge of buyer’s remorse, having voted for Donald Trump and now experiencing the consequences spilling out on the floor from your morning news? I regret I missed that part, but I do not regret the aftermath. Fact is, devious that I am, I’m enjoying the show, even though I voted for Clinton and not Trump. And my joy grows by the day. Here’s how

Week after week, month after month, I watched the newly-minted President Trump preside over my TV screen, denouncing the “Russia hoax thing.” And I smiled. And I waited. The wait is being rewarded. Now I laugh, because it hurts too much to cry.

“How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse.”

February 16, 2017

“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”

May 11, 2017

“This entire thing has been a witch hunt.”

May 18, 2017

“I’ve been in office now for eleven months. For eleven months they’ve had this phony cloud over this administration, over our government… It’s a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse for losing an election that, frankly, the Democrats should have won, because they have such a tremendous advantage in the electoral college. So it was brought up for that reason.”

January 10, 2018

My regret is that now many of my Facebook friends are experiencing a tremendous bout of buyer’s remorse.

Actually, I have no regrets, because I am sure no such remorse is manifest. These are people I have known for decades, and they will never give up on Trump. It’s possible that some have so much invested in this political carcass they now find themselves unable to get out of the game. Those would be few. The rest have already drunk the Kool Aid and will never desert. Here are a few of the comments from years past:

Donald Trump brought food and supplies to Lumberton, NC and to 3 other towns ravaged by Hurricane won’t see this one in the news, they are too busy making up trash on him..thank you Donald, this is what a real leader looks like people! Feel free to share this great story!

And it really does warm the heart to see a real leader in action.

From a person I previously met only twice years ago:

DEM IT staffer for Debbie Wasserman-Shitz arrested at airport today trying to flee the country, arrested for destroying DMC hard drives and bank fraud. Ha ha. Hillary, Bill, Barack you’re next. Here’s hoping. Cancer needs to be removed. Yes!!!!

Maxine Waters exposed…what a POS…just another disgusting, completely worthless, corrupt face of the DEM party…losers….

So Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama orchestrated the sale of US uranium to Russia. But the left liberal media and DEM party is saying Russia is our sworn enemy. I’m confused. Oh, but wait, it gets better. Russians involved in the uranium deal pumped $145 million into the Clinton Foundation. There’s your collusion assholes. The Clinton’s are completely and totally corrupt and yet the liberal media, liberals, and DEM party are ok with that. Really??!!?? Disgusting! Flush!

Well, well, well…stick this up your chute liberal media and DEM party…

FLASHBACK: Hillary Allies Coordinated With Ukrainian Government During The Election

Amid the firestorm over the new revelations about Donald Trump Jr’s contact with a Russian lawyer during the campaign, it’s worth noting that another candidate’s…

Yep, just another “nothing burger” brought to you by the deceitful, corrupt liberal media and DEM party…

The Left has predictably gone apoplectic over the email thread showing Donald Trump Jr. knowingly accepted a meeting with a Russian government attorney for dirt on…

Yes!!!! Nailed CNN. Ha ha.

Sebastian Gorka To CNN: ‘We’d Like You To Actually Do Your Job’ [VIDEO]

The deputy assistant to President Donald Trump told CNN “New Day” co-host Alisyn Camerota “we’d like you to actually do your job,” while discussing coverage of…

[Note on Sabastian Gorka from Wikipedia: “On August 25, 2017, Gorka’s White House tenure ended, one week after Bannon’s departure.[41][42] Gorka stated that he had resigned because White House officials were “undermining” the Make America Great Again (MAGA) Platform.[43] The White House disputed his claim that he resigned and confirmed he was no longer employed there and did not have further access to the White House grounds.”]

Yes!!!!! ACLU, you are disgusting. Flush!!!!

So Chuck Schumer today demanded that Donald Trump Jr turn over all documents related to his meeting with a Russian attorney and that he be required to testify under oath. Really Chucky? You piece of shit. You are fine with Hillary Clinton destroying technology equipment, deleting emails, and her not being required to testify under oath. Oh, but wait….Donald Trump Jr released the full email string today. Hillary deleted emails. Yep, Chucky you are a hypocrite and you are shit. Flush!!!!!

President Trump has exposed how corrupt our government is, both parties. Rock on President Trump! You are doing exactly what we want you to!!

And that is about all the space I have for this person named David. His level of discourse is typical.

Trump supporters, never give up. A grateful nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Hey, hey, hey!

This is your President speaking.

Number 56 in a long series

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

Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!

How many different ways are there to say Manchurian Candidate?