This is your President speaking.

Number 13 in a long series

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

Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

People, you had to have been there to appreciate it.

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Bad Movie Wednesday

One of a continuing series

Trailers for this one started running last year. Now it’s streaming on Amazon Prime Video, where I obtained these screen shots. It’s Allied, from 2016, starring Brad Pitt as Wing Commander Max Vatan and Marion Cotillard as Marianne Beauséjour. It’s from a collection of production companies, none of them known to  me, including Huahua Media. Details are from Wikipedia.

Once the titles roll we see somebody descending from the sky by parachute into the Moroccan desert near Casablanca. It’s Commander Vatan, and he’s dropping into  German-occupied territory in 1942. Keep in mind it was later that year when Allied forces occupied all of Morocco.

Vatan is picked up by a car that comes along a desert road, and then he gets dropped off in front of a café patronized by foreigners, mostly French. It’s not Rick’s. Before going in Vatan deposits his valise into the trunk of a car waiting outside. Then he enters the room, searching for a woman wearing a purple dress and flashing a hummingbird code sign. He spots her, and she is absolutely stunning. She is Mlle. Beauséjour, who is supposed to be his wife for the duration of the mission.

They hit it off well as Vatan (from Canada) attempts to pass himself off as a Frenchman from Paris. There is attraction, and there is some good sex. Then they get down to business, which at one point has Vatan spotting a German officer who knows him. Vatan moves in and kills the German with his bare hands, and he and his “wife” set up for their real mission, the murder of the German Ambassador to Morocco. This they do by finagling an invite to a swanky party, at which place Sten guns have been secreted beneath one of the tables. At the appropriate moment there is an explosion in the street nearby, and Mr. and Mrs. Vatan upturn the table, grab the weapons, and unload on the ambassador and various others who attempt to interfere, including a number of German soldiers.

Surprise! They make a clean getaway, and the following year they are both in England, where Vatan has has managed to get the Mrs. brought into the country after proper vetting. They get married, and the following  year (must be 1944 by now) they have a sweet little girl.

Then their happy life ends as a Special Operations Executive (Simon McBurney) accuses Mrs. Vatan of being a German plant and not the real Marianne Beauséjour. He will test her worthiness by running a blue die test, planting fake intelligence where she can get at it, and then seeing whether it winds up getting sent to the Germans. Vatan is told if his wife cannot be cleared in 72 hours he must personally execute her.

This movie has great drama and heartfelt romance but also glaring plot defects. Where to begin.

First there is the Morocco mission. A special ops officer is parachuted into enemy territory on what is likely to be a one-way mission, and for what? To murder a German ambassador? No way. Ambassadors are not high-value targets. This makes no sense.

Vatan gets dropped off in front of the café, where his car is waiting. Says who? What better way to signal the Germans that a foreign agent is arriving in Casablanca than to have a car waiting for him? Real life spies would have him pick up the car at some other location, so he can be seen driving it to the café. Also, where did he get the car? He supposedly just arrived from France. Who saw him come into  the country?

Beauséjour is supposed to be a German plant, substituted in for the deceased Beauséjour, all for the purpose of convincing the Brits of her authenticity by executing the hit on the Ambassador. No. At any point in the operation either or both of the operatives could have caught a German bullet, and that would have been the end of the plot. Nobody does something like this in real life.

The British SOE informs Vatan that material which crossed his desk has been detected in messages transmitted  to Germany. His wife is suspected. No again. Crossing Vatan’s desk is not the same as passing beneath the eyes of Mrs. Vatan. This is not done. Classified material is not taken outside secure areas and especially is not taken home.

The SOE devises the blue die test by arranging to phone Vatan at home and giving him the sensitive information, which will then be picked up by Mrs. Vatan. Again no. Unsecured phones are not now and were not then used to transmit sensitive information.

While this is a beautiful and sensitive portrayal of love and loyalty, many of the plot devices are rude concoctions. But watch it if you you get a chance.

I mention Wikipedia in almost all my reviews, as I pull heavily from this free Internet resource. In return, every year I log on and make a sizable contribution. You should, as well. Nothing like Wikipedia has come our way before, and everybody interested in the straight skinny, enlightened, and crowd-sourced should work to ensure it stays on-line and current. Here is the (shortened) link to contribute. You have to click on the link to get the contribute page:

https://donate.wikimedia.org/w/index.php

Sweet Home Alabama

I’m trying to figure out why this keeps running through my head.

Truth be known, I was preparing to write an different story. It was going to be about the great state of Alabama’s almost redeeming itself. Good thing I didn’t spill a bunch of ink before tonight’s election results came in.

Now what appears to have happened is that Alabama rejected former Judge Roy Moore and elected a Democrat to a state-wide office for the first time since most of us were born. The problem is, I fear, they did it for all the wrong reasons.

To be sure, Roy Moore, despite all his holier than thou posturing throughout the years, has been most recently exposed as a scumbag of the first order. Many women, now middle-aged, have come forward to relate experiences they had with Roy Moore when they were a months or years short of the age of consent and he was a man of power. These revelations turned what appeared about to be a victory rout for Moore into a thin win for his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones. There is just one problem with that. Moore’s past indiscretions do not make him unfit for public office. If being a scumbag were a barrier to the halls of government, then there would be a noticeable echo in those halls.

What is wrong here is there is not much evidence that Alabamans rejected Roy Moore for the correct reasons. Motivation for dumping Moore should have been his glaring unfitness for the job. To wit:

  • As a superior court judge, flouting the Constitution by promoting and having installed a religious monument on government property.
  • Refusing to abide by a higher court ruling to allow same-sex marriages, this after having been bounced from office for the above offense and then being returned to office by the good voters of Alabama.
  • Insisting that religious belief supersedes the law of the land.
  • Proclaiming that people of certain religious affiliations are ineligible to hold public office.
  • Supporting legislation to criminalize homosexual behavior.

Additionally, his 19th century views on biological evolution bring his knowledge base into question.

I am hearing from  others that some or all of the above turned off sufficient Alabama conservative voters to the extent they stayed home on election day. It could be the state of George Wallace is about to enter the 21st century. Quoting Lynard Skynard:

In Birmingham they love the governor, (boo! boo! boo!)
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you?
Tell the truth.

This is your President speaking.

Number 12 in a long series

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

Leaves a lump in your throat.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same – 83

Score one more for Jesus. Sooner or later Jesus will be around to visit your family. Should you let him in?

‘God makes no mistakes’: Couple ignores warning that baby could die, rejects doctors, police say

, Lansing State Journal Published 3:49 p.m. ET Sept. 28, 2017

LANSING, Mich. — A mom refused to seek medical treatment for her newborn daughter even after a midwife warned that the infant’s jaundice could lead to brain damage or death, according to a police detective.

“God makes no mistakes,” Rachel Joy Piland told her midwife, according to court testimony last week from Peter Scaccia, a Lansing Police detective.

Two days later, infant Abigail was dead.

His touch is soft, and deadly. Sleep well.

Bad Movie of the Week

One of a series

If you don’t recognize the title, then you need some background:

Simon Templar is a fictional character known as The Saint. He is featured in a long-running series of books by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963. After that date, other authors collaborated with Charteris on books until 1983; two additional works produced without Charteris’s participation were published in 1997. The character has also been portrayed in motion picturesradio dramascomic strips, comic books and three television series.

I caught the TV series back in the 60s, where I must have been watching in black and white. Anyhow, it’s had a long go-round, now landing in some recent films. This is about the 1997 movie starring Val Kilmer in the title role. It’s The Saint, again, in a release from Paramount Pictures and co-starring Elisabeth Shue as his love interest, Dr. Emma Russell. I often get my bad movies from Amazon Prime Video, but this one is streaming on Hulu, where I obtained the screen shots. Details are from Wikipedia.

The movie provides some background. In a Catholic school for unfortunate orphans there is one particularly recalcitrant boy, giving the ruling authority no end of grief. He gets confinement, but not before lifting a crucifix pin from the headmaster. From that meager acquisition he engineers a massive prison break, but sees a young girl friend fall, apparently to her doom. Thus is born a master criminal.

We next see The Saint in Moscow, stealing for hire a critical microchip.

That involves much adventure, and after he caches his fee in a financial account, he notices he’s about $3 million short of 50. He needs a round 50 million, then he retires. He goes over a list. Somebody wants the formula for cold fusion and will pay just the right amount.

Dr. Russell is the inventor, and she still has the secret. In disguise he attends her presentation and is severely smitten by her loveliness. The Saint is preparing to make his fall.

In  another disguise he romances Dr. Russell and lifts her notes. But she is at least as smart as he is, and she tracks him to Moscow, where he has come to hand over, and collect his reward, the formula to a Russian Billionaire, who in turn has plans to usurp the government and take over, using cold fusion as his ploy. To this end he has engineered a massive fuel shortage, and Russians are dying in the cold. It’s shades of the Siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) all over again.

But now the Russian Mafia is after them, and the remainder of the movie explores how they manage to elude capture and turn the tables on the gangsters. The trick is that Dr. Russell’s cold fusion actually works, and the legal Russian president uses it to save the people and to show up the ringleader.

 

Which results in The Saint and Dr. Russell back in bed again, and that is about all there is to the plot.

And that is what is mostly wrong with this movie. It’s a tale of cliff-hanging thrills, hair-raising escapes, culminating in a denouement that plugs along for another ten minutes before the credits begin to roll.

All that said, it is most satisfying to see classic Val Kilmer re-emerge. The signature smirk from Top Gun of ten years before is back, along with the dash and flair from Top Secret, two years before that.

Elizabeth Shue is always great to see, but she is best remembered as the kind of teenage girl who could make Roy Moore squirm in Adventures in Babysitting. I look forward to obtaining a copy of that.

Cold fusion has come and gone, never making the big time after splashing briefly in 1989. Interesting to see it turn up as the MacGuffin in this one. Maybe it will find a home in entertainment after all these years.

Darwin’s Doubt

Number 5 in a Series

If there remains any doubt regarding the underpinnings of Intelligent Design, one only has to review the day-to-day endeavors of its key proponents. Stephen C. Meyer founded and currently heads up the Center for Science and Culture (CSC) of the Discovery Institute. The Discovery Institute is the principal organization supporting this attempt to cloak religious creationism and disguise it as cutting-edge science. The above image is a screen shot from  Does God Exist, a video series hosted by Stephen C. Meyer and produced by Focus on the Family, an organization whose purpose is the promotion of a conservative Christian viewpoint.

This is a continuation of my review of  Stephen C. Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt. It draws on a an item posted to the Evolution News blog. That posting excerpts a number of passages from the book. I previously reviewed three of these excerpts. Here are the remaining two:

Intelligent agents can generate new structural (epigenetic) information and construct functionally integrated and hierarchically organized layers of information as we see in animal body plans:

The cited text being:

The highly specified, tightly integrated, hierarchical arrangements of molecular components and systems within animal body plans also suggest intelligent design. This is, again, because of our experience with the features and systems that intelligent agents— and only intelligent agents— produce. Indeed, based on our experience, we know that intelligent human agents have the capacity to generate complex and functionally specified arrangements of matter— that is, to generate specified complexity or specified information. Further, human agents often design information-rich hierarchies, in which both individual modules and the arrangement of those modules exhibit complexity and specificity— specified information as defined in Chapter 8. Individual transistors, resistors, and capacitors in an integrated circuit exhibit considerable complexity and specificity of design. Yet at a higher level of organization, the specific arrangement and connection of these components within an integrated circuit requires additional information and reflects further design (see Fig. 14.2).

Conscious and rational agents have, as part of their powers of purposive intelligence, the capacity to design information-rich parts and to organize those parts into functional information-rich systems and hierarchies.

Meyer, Stephen C.. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (p. 366). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Some analysis will be helpful. Take the first two sentences: “The highly specified, tightly integrated, hierarchical arrangements of molecular components and systems within animal body plans also suggest intelligent design. This is, again, because of our experience with the features and systems that intelligent agents— and only intelligent agents— produce.” Meyer insists that examination of the lowest level of structure of living organisms suggests the work of an outside living agent. Here he is appealing to intuition without providing a factual basis. He compares the functional organization of living organisms to the construction of intricate systems devised by people. By implication, he wants the reader to consider that an entity with human-like qualities is behind the development of living organisms.

Finally:

Meyer concludes that “both the Cambrian animal forms themselves and their pattern of appearance in the fossil record exhibit precisely those features that we should expect to see if an intelligent cause had acted to produce them” (p. 379) He summarizes his argument as follows:

Here is the text from the book:

When we encounter objects that manifest any of the key features present in the Cambrian animals, or events that exhibit the patterns present in the Cambrian fossil record, and we know how these features and patterns arose, invariably we find that intelligent design played a causal role in their origin. Thus, when we encounter these same features in the Cambrian event, we may infer— based upon established cause-and-effect relationships and uniformitarian principles— that the same kind of cause operated in the history of life. In other words, intelligent design constitutes the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of information and circuitry necessary to build the Cambrian animals. It also provides the best explanation for the top-down, explosive, and discontinuous pattern of appearance of the Cambrian animals in the fossil record.

Meyer, Stephen C.. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (p. 381). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Again some analysis. Take the initial sentence: “When we encounter objects that manifest any of the key features present in the Cambrian animals, or events that exhibit the patterns present in the Cambrian fossil record, and we know how these features and patterns arose, invariably we find that intelligent design played a causal role in their origin.” Standing alone in the book this would seem to be a bald proclamation of fact. It will be interesting to peruse the remainder of the book and see whether Meyer has, indeed, demonstrated that “invariably we find that intelligent design played a causal role in their origin.” I suspect this phrasing represents considerable overreach on the part of the author. In following posts I will examine the arguments Meyer makes in the book, and I will keep coming back to this matter of conclusions well-jumped. Keep reading.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a continuing series

This was some time ago, back when cars had hubcaps. I was driving along in my car when it became apparent a tire had gone flat. Sure enough the left rear was almost to the rim, and there was no recourse to but to change it out.

I opened the trunk and pulled out the jack. About this time I noticed I had an audience. Next to the street there was a fence, and a sign on the fence told this was an insane asylum. Several people inside the fence were watching. I gave a wave and kept on working.

I jacked up the left rear and removed the wheel, placing the lug nuts in the hubcap. I was in the process of pulling the spare out of the trunk when a car came along the street. It clipped the hubcap, and all the lug nuts went flying off to who knows where.

This was a devastating situation and I was standing there trying to figure out which tow company I should call. There was this guy on the other side of the fence, and he piped up. “Why don’t you just take one nut off each of the other three wheels and use it to install the spare? That will get you to somewhere you can buy another set of lug nuts.”

I thought that was a great idea, and I told the guy that. “Makes me wonder why you are in there, and I am out here.”

He replied, “Fellow, we’re in here because we’re crazy, not stupid.”

Darwin’s Doubt

Number 4 in a Series

This is a continuation of my review of creationist Stephen C. Meyer’s book Darwin’s Doubt. I was recently reminded by a post on the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News site. That posting excerpts a number of passages from the book. I previously reviewed two of those. Here is another citation:

Intelligent agents can construct and modify complex integrated circuits that are necessary for animal development:

Here is the cited text. The post omits some of the text, as noted by the strike-through section:

Integrated circuits in electronics are systems of individually functional components such as transistors, resistors, and capacitors that are connected together to perform an overarching function. Likewise, the functional components of dGRNs— the DNA-binding proteins, their DNA target sequences, and the other molecules that the binding proteins and target molecules produce and regulate— also form an integrated circuit, one that contributes to accomplishing the overall function of producing an adult animal form.

Yet, as explained in Chapter 13, Davidson himself has made clear that the tight functional constraints under which these systems of molecules (the dGRNs) operate preclude their gradual alteration by the mutation and selection mechanism. For this reason, neo-Darwinism has failed to explain the origin of these systems of molecules and their functional integration. Like advocates of evolutionary developmental biology, Davidson himself favors a model of evolutionary change that envisions mutations generating large-scale developmental effects, thus perhaps bypassing nonfunctional intermediate circuits or systems. Nevertheless, neither proponents of “evo-devo,” nor proponents of other recently proposed materialistic theories of evolution, have identified a mutational mechanism capable of generating a dGRN or anything even remotely resembling a complex integrated circuit. Yet, in our experience, complex integrated circuits— and the functional integration of parts in complex systems generally— are known to be produced by intelligent agents— specifically, by engineers. Moreover, intelligence is the only known cause of such effects. Since developing animals employ a form of integrated circuitry, and certainly one manifesting a tightly and functionally integrated system of parts and subsystems, and since intelligence is the only known cause of these features, the necessary presence of these features in developing Cambrian animals would seem to indicate that intelligent agency played a role in their origin.

Meyer, Stephen C.. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (p. 364). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Meyer makes two significant assertions. Here I will quote, with slight editing:

  • In our experience, complex integrated circuits — and the functional integration of parts in complex systems generally — are known to be produced by intelligent agents — specifically, by engineers.
  • Moreover, intelligence is the only known cause of such effects.

Meyer is correct in the first instance. Engineers and other people are known to do such things. In the second instance Meyer is stating as fact what he aims to demonstrate. The counter to that second part is that scientists have observed complex systems that have not been engineered by an outside brain, mind, intelligent agent—whatever you choose to call it. We see these complex systems, and we do not see outside intelligence creating them.

What Meyer is doing here is what he does throughout his arguments for Intelligent Design. He is saying that he cannot understand how else such systems came to be absent the working of an outside agency, and further he is convinced others do not understand. Therefore, there must have been an outside agent of some intelligence at work. Although Meyer and other followers of the Intelligent Design refuse to admit they have the God of Abraham in mind, there is little doubt from their other works and statements that this is the only thing they will consider. Additionally these people, when they are not hyping Intelligent Design or disparaging the legitimate work of real scientists, spend much of their waking time promoting the God of Abraham and the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. For example:

Historians Mentioning Jesus

  • Titus Flavius Josephus, Yosef Ben Matityahu (ca. 37-100 A.D.)
  • Publius Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 56-117 A.D.)
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (late 1st century A.D.)
  • Flavius Lustinus, Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165 A.D.)
  • Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (ca. 9230 A.D.)
  • Pliny the Younger, ca 61-113 A.D.)

Despite how much they deny, Meyer and his cohorts are engaged in a relentless pursuit to promote the God of Abraham and the divinity of Jesus.

There will be more. Keep reading.