April 30, 2017
— Open Blogger
It seems many of us lately know what Noah experienced.
Quotes of The Day
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. Auguste Rodin
Shouldn't the issue of Middle Eastern Christians wake up European civilization to its core identity? Shouldn't we in Europe and the West be telling ourselves that these attacks are also aimed at us? Mathieu Bock-Côté,
A large group of Hollywood actors and Washington media are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom in our nation's capital right now. They are gathered together for the White House Correspondents' dinner -- without the President. And I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with all of you and with a much, much larger crowd and much better people. President Donald J. Trump
April rain got you down? Sunday night blues? Here's a historical tid-bit with a happy ending. 72 years ago, Adolph Hitler put an end to his life.
— Open Blogger Back in the late 90s, when I was in high school I wrote a letter to President Clinton.
I never got a response.
— Open Blogger
Pie of course!!!! more...
— Open Blogger
The cacophony of food advice bombarding us from every direction is maddening, because most of it is utter and complete drivel. Some bored grad student designs a lousy experiment with too few subjects and too many variables and then announces to the world that "BROCCOLI WILL KILL YOU!" Or the EPA, in its infinite wisdom and incoherent statistical analysis, will strike fear in the hearts of every mother in the country by proclaiming that if you are pregnant and walk past a fish store selling tuna, your child will be gravely injured.
The fact is that fear is a powerful tool with which to manipulate people, and who are the usual suspects when it comes to controlling us and our behavior? more...
— Open Blogger They used to hide it. Hell, the Soviet Union spent billions of rubles on disinformation and supporting organizations that were publicly neutral or soft-left but in reality were fronts for the Soviet's robust efforts to undermine Western Democracies, most of all the United States. But now there seems to be little desire to hide the progressive Left's efforts to destroy democracy and freedom in this country.
Academic Malfeasance: U. Of Arkansas Disinvites Phyllis Chesler is a sordid tale of exactly what many of us suspect the Left does behind closed doors, but here they don't even bother to shut the door, and in fact don't seem to care that the intercom was broadcasting their fascist plots.
Free Speech isn't complicated. Government (here in the form of a state university) has no business regulating speech in any form short of clear and unambiguous calls for violence. But they don't care.
And lest you think they were going after a crypto-conservative, this professor was a member of a loony-tunes hard-left socialist organization called "Hashomer Hatzair," and trust me, they are hard-core. And nuts. But definitely far, far to the left. But she made a fatal error...she is against honor killings and genital mutilation, and that just can't be tolerated, because those are the tools of the Islamists, who are at the vanguard of those who would destroy the West.
The latest speaker to be "disinvited" from an American college is prominent feminist scholar Phyllis Chesler, whose participation in a University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, symposium on honor killing earlier this month was withdrawn days before the event. Behind the cancellation lies a sordid tale involving faculty machinations, threats from a dean, and at least one shattered window. Together, they offer a case study on the intellectual and moral corruption of academe.
And to the surprise of no one with more than two functioning synapses, The neo-fascists of American academia were being supported by some rather more hands-on fascists, the militant Islamists who are quickly becoming embedded in our universities, thanks to lots and lots of oil money.
The university has a chapter of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a Saudi-founded organization that promotes Islamist propaganda -- including Islamic supremacism, opposition to women's rights, hostility toward America, and anti-Semitism -- on campuses nationwide. That Islamists played a role in cancelling Chesler's talk is revealed in a professor's April 7 email stating that he anticipated "campus Muslim organizations would get involved" and "a Muslim RSO [Registered Student Organization] might be involved too."
Trumped up charges, low-level violence, manipulation of the academic-political process...this is an all-too familiar playbook.
— Open Blogger
Personal Library of George Lucas, Skywalker Ranch
Good morning to all you 'rons, 'ettes, lurkers, and lurkettes. Welcome once again to the stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread, where men are men, all the 'ettes are gorgeous, safe spaces are underneath your house and are used as protection against actual dangers, like natural disasters, or Literally Hitler, and special snowflakes do not last. And unlike other AoSHQ comment threads, the Sunday Morning Book Thread is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Even if it's these pants, which is a good example of "too much for too little."
Pic stolen from Libraries of the Rich and Famous:
Welcome to Skywalker Ranch – a residence of director and producer George Lucas. “A filmmaker’s retreat.” Lucas conducts a large portion of his business on his land. The home also boasts man-made Lake Ewok, a 300-seat theater, and its own fire station. The ranch is not open to the public
Click on the pic to see not just a bigger version, but there's more library to be seen, particularly the second floor, which you can get to by the winding staircase there on the left.
The ceiling looks pretty cool, too.
Fake Hate Crimes
Why do we keep getting snookered on these widely publicized hate crimes that always seem to turn out to be fake?
The victim doesn't contact police to file a report, and if it happened on a subway or other public transportation, that utility's security force is not notified, there are no witnesses, cell-phone video, or surveillance footage, there's just the victim's claim. Which gets broadcast and retweeted all over the place, and the outragey outrage junkies whine into overdrive. Editorials are written. Strong words of condemnation are spoken. Legislation is proposed.
And then later on it's determined that the victim made the whole thing up.
There are few articles that ask the question, what's with these fake hate crimes, anyway? Here's one, and guess what, it's on Fox News.
Laird Wilcox, author of “Crying Wolf: Hate Crime Hoaxes in America" said college campuses have become the perfect incubator for fake hate crimes.
"This isn’t just my opinion. This is widely recognized now. I would say now 80 percent of the events that happen on campus are hoaxes or pranks," he said.
He adds, "It's a place where consciousness of discrimination, sexism and homophobia is at a peak, and when there's nothing happening, and they need something to happen, they can make it happen."
So I tracked down Laird Wilcox's book. To my knowledge, it is the only book about fake hate crimes, and it was published in 1994(!). To be sure, I also located the book Hate-Crime Hoaxing For Fun And Profit by Michael Rolls, but this appears more satirical than informative.
By the way, Rolls is also the author of the short book, The Opinions You Must Hold: Etiquette In A Left-Wing World, which is book #2 in his "Right wing rants" series. It is currently available for free.
It Pays To Increase Your Word Power®
An ANABATHRUM is a raised seat or throne.
"Oh, he's on the anabathrum."
"Is that the one in his libary?"
— Open Blogger Thread now open for your convenience.
April 29, 2017
— CDR M
— Open Blogger What Ever Happened to the Mid Budgeted Action Movie (Except John Wick)?
Action/Adventure movies aren't allowed to have modest goals anymore. They are either tailored to hit a billion dollars worldwide or they're not made at all. In practical terms, this means that more studios are spending more money on a small number of films designed to attract the holy four quadrants of the movie going population. Those four quadrants (under 25 males, under 25 females, over 25 males, and over 25 females) and the drive to appeal to all of them in the country at once means that many action/adventure movies are getting bogged down in a very same mediocrity that's surprisingly pervasive.
There's a lot to unpack about this trend, but I want to focus on one particular issue that is developing as a side effect: the ever expanding budgets of movies that really shouldn't cost that much and two sequences in two movies that exemplify this problem.
— Open Blogger
Sofonisba Anguissola, 1555
Good afternoon morons and moronettes, and welcome to the Saturday Afternoon Chess/Open Thread, the only AoSHQ thread with content specifically for all of us chess nerds who pay homage in the temple of Caïssa, goddess of the chessboard. And, for those of you who aren't nerdly enough for chess, you can use this thread to talk about checkers, or other games, or politics, or whatever you wish, only please try to keep it civil. Nobody wants to get in the middle of a pie fight on a Saturday afternoon.
“The essence of Chess is thinking about what Chess is”
According the wiki entry, depicted here are the artist's sisters. And no fair complaining about the chessboard being set up wrong. I don't think the "lower right corner square must be white" rule was in effect at this early date. Matter of fact, I don't think I've seen any instances of this rule prior to the 19th century.
Problem 1 - Black To Play (474)
Hint: Black wins material
2q3k1/5pp1/5b2/2p5/1p1r1B2/1P4Pp/2P2P1P/1Q3RK1 b - - 0 1
— Open Blogger
Welcome to the almost world famous Ace of Spades Pet Thread. This is the place we celebrate creatures large and small. We appreciate you stopping by. Grab a beverage and cuddle up. Cheers!!
— Open Blogger
Happy Saturday, gardeners and wildflower watchers!
Well, #TrackTheBloom is moving north in California, and into the mountains. One of the plants blooming there now is Baby Blue Eyes. Little blue flowers harmonize with a lot of other flower colors, but they can also be used alone.
The Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan features an entire hillside planted in Baby Blue Eyes. "In spring, 4.5 million nemophilas (baby blue eyes) paint the 3.5-hectare Miharashi Hills light blue. The nemophilas are stunning under the blue sky against the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean." more...
— Open Blogger
How is class status determined in American society today? As suggested at the link above, is education the primary factor? Or are there other forces in play?
Sarah Hoyt has written up some interesting musings on hereditary slavery, hereditary aristocracy, feudalism, class systems and today's left. (Via David Foster, who has recommended some related reading.)
— Open Blogger
Saturday morning. Where has the time flown? Yes, I'll have a cup of coffee and peruse the weird news. It's early, kick back and relax.
— Open Blogger The old movies really are the best ones. And by old, I mean anything made yesterday is probably worlds better than anything made today, and tomorrow's releases will be even worse.
Watched "A History of Violence" last night. Remembered liking it quite a bit years ago, and it really holds up well.
The movie takes the time to develop its characters enough to actually care about them.
Nobody is saving the world. It's a far easier story to relate to than a bunch of guys and gals in shiny pajamas. "History" is simply about a man trying to keep his past from stealing his present.
The violence is short, effective and fairly brutal without being murder porn. Tip to Hollywood: WWE isn't real.* When real people get hit with a baseball bat, it tends to take the fight right out of them.
And Maria Bello.
* don't take that wrong -- no doubt they are damn fine athletes for the most part, and dishing and taking all sorts of punishment with the crazy stunts they pull to entertain us.
April 28, 2017
— Open Blogger
— Open Blogger Most of The Horde has probably never even heard of this movie, but it might be fun to chat about it anyway. Our very own moviegique has agreed to share his thoughts on it, and if you like them, or even if you disagree, head over to his blog, Moviegique: I Go To The Movies More Than You, where he has a few (hundred) more reviews all set for your reading pleasure.
Few movies of the past 35 years have been as influential as Ridley Scott's 1982 science-fiction classic Blade Runner. Most of the sci-fi of these past few decades have wanted to be either Blade Runner or Road Warrior -- more so, stylistically, than even Star Wars.
Producers wanted Star Wars' box office but not really its cheerful, retro feel (like its almost campy scene transitions, hearkening back to the old Flash Gordon serials). Blade Runner and Road Warrior, on the other hand, were, real, man. They were gritty visions of an inescapable future.
Not quite as bad as what we might call "Zack Snyder disease" is today, but still pretty awful.
Humongous wants you to embrace the realism.
alt="That codpiece is super real."
Blade Runner also had a huge influence on literature, being released two years before Neuromancer, William Gibson's grim take on the future that sounded the starting gun on a cyber-implant, corporate-ruled-dystopia which, in retrospect, was no more realistic than utopic '50s jetpack sci-fi, but a lot more dreary. It was also a big influence on video games.
Which is, all-in-all, not bad for the film that finished 27th at the Box Office in 1982, behind Tron, Lee Horsley's magnum opus The Sword and the Sorceror and, of course, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. (It did beat out another iconic film: John Carpenter's The Thing. So, it's got that going for it.)
The movie tested so poorly that a desperate Ladd Company hacked it up and added a notoriously bad voiceover (by Harrison Ford) trying to explain the plot. This gave the movie an ersatz '40s film-noir detective feel, which should have been a good thing, but (probably because they did it without any of the talent on board, except a frustrated Ford) just made hash of the whole experience. As such, there are no less than six subsequent cuts of this film trying to salvage it.
Rutger Hauer thinks seven versions is excessive.
alt="Also, he can't believe you left your bishop open like that."
We saw "The Final Cut'" which is Ridley Scott's last word on what he was trying to say and do here.
And it sucks.
I kid! I kid! but not as much as I wish I were. The truth is, Blade Runner is one of the most frustrating experiences you can have in a movie theater. Why? Because it is staggeringly beautiful. Even 35 years later, the special effects are the best practical effects have to offer.
As I've maintained in this past 18 months (where we've shifted our moviegoing to half-or-more-revivals of classics), what works, long-term, for special effects is not whether they look "realistic." The word "realistic" really just means "conforms to the current idea of how this impossible thing might look." Plenty of movies from the last 15 years that were heralded as breakthroughs in CGI look positively goofy now. (All that effort Lucas put into ruining his original trilogy, for example, looks even worse now than it did back in 1997's "Special Editions." before we realized ol' George was gonna bury the originals.)
What matters in a special effect is how it reads. Does it communicate what it's supposed to communicate? That's why an old flick, be it Wizard of Oz or Forbidden Planet, still looks great: because it was made to look good, not necessarily real. (If you don't believe that, try watching Oz next to any of the LOTR trilogy on the big screen.)
Los Angeles 2019: It's like looking out the window.
alt="Well, in two years, anyway."
And there is no doubt that the city of Los Angeles reads. The constant rain, the giant video billboards, the massive superstructures (even though, as is barely pointed out, the earth is depopulating rapidly), all read dystopia -- albeit a strangely beautiful dystopia.
And this is true in literally every shot. There isn't a moment of this film that's hastily put together. I've heard it was a hard shoot; I believe that. This is the sort of exacting piece of art that you'd get out of Kubrick (who would take a year to shoot The Shining).
The plot really isn't hard to follow, as the "need" for a voice-over might suggest. Harrison Ford is a pseudo-cop whose job it is to destroy androids that can pass for humans. Also, the film takes a (very typical) viewpoint that said androids are essentially human, at least when it comes to the explicatory up-front text, where it explicitly says that destroying the androids isn't called "execution" but "retirement."
Brion James horribly miscast as "someone who can pass for human."
alt="I kid because I love. He was great."
That said, the whole point of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and, in fact, the whole point of everything Philip K. Dick ever wrote, apparently, is to call into question the difference between what is real, and what you perceive to be real, and whether it matters. (I would guess PKD dropped acid at least once.) The movie can't communicate that subtlety: If the androids are "real," they're sociopaths, quickly changing their emotions to suit whatever is advantageous to the situation. (This was something the book could elide over.)
So the movies is left with this ambiguity with regard to -- well, look, these aren't robots or even androids. They're sorta bionic clones. They're organic in every way, except somehow in their ill-defined construction process. The movie is all about this big question -- to the point where Scott and Ford argue about whether or not Deckard (Harrison Ford's character) was actually a replicant -- surrounding the difference between androids and humans, and it really fails to make it much of a question at all. If the replicants aren't human (as far as it counts), there's no moral dilemma whatsoever. If they are, Deckard is a monster.
But none of this would actually matter except for one thing: The movie deliberately alienates you from everyone. If you can go through this film and find someone to give a damn about, you're a better movie-watcher than I am.
OK, they seem nice.
alt="This film launched Daryl Hannah's Career of Weird."
The kids noticed this, too. They all agreed it was amazing to look at, but that they were sorta bored. As it dragged on, I couldn't help but think this was two hours of brilliant set design in search of a movie.
Except for Rutger Hauer and some great character actors like the late Brion James (Cabin Boy, Flesh + Blood), William Sanderson ("Newhart," "Deadwood," "True Blood"), James Hong (best known these days as Kung Fu Panda's dad, playing old Chinese guys 35 years ago), Joe Turkel (Lloyd from The Shining), the performances come off as awful. Even Brion James doesn't really come off as being very android-y -- and while this was probably the point, it doesn't help the movie much.
Everyone else is at arm's length distance, at best. You could say (as some did) that Ford had not yet learned how to act, but I would defy you to describe his character, regardless of how well he played it. Then see if you could describe Sean Young, Darryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy or Rutger Hauer in terms of their character. Hauer brings a lot of "humanity" to his character, through little touches he added, but it just feels like the director is so taken with the idea of blurring the line between man and machine, that he pushes man toward the machine.
Not gonna lie: You could stop this movie at any random frame and come up with a good desktop wallpaper.
alt="And that's what you want in a movie: Desktop wallpaper."
Hey, people clapped in the theater, so for some, two hours of visual beauty is apparently enough.
We were glad we saw it. It's an important film. It's an influential film. It has many truly great aspects. But it's a hard film to enjoy in any traditional sense of characters-we-care-about-undergoing-struggles-we-understand. And it's not something I'd recommend to non-movie-lovers. We didn't clap.
And now I go into hiding before the legions of Ridlicants come after me.
— Ace So we're now in a No Whites Need Apply system. Wonderful.
To hire a white professor is an "egregious offense."
Is there any other kind, lately?
Students at Pomona College don't want sociology professor Alice Goffman to work on their campus because of her race, Campus Reform reports. Goffman is white.
The students at the Claremont, California academic institution wrote a letter to the school's administrators demanding that an offer of employment extended to Goffman be rescinded on the basis of the professor's race...
The open letter was produced by 128 "sociology students, alumni, and allies" who wished to express their "anger" and "concern" regarding Goffman's hire -- but not their names.
Meanwhile, Laura Kipnis, that feminist professor put through the Title IX Secret Evidence Court for daring to chide students for being special snowflakes about sex, is now being accused of having committed a crime for having discussed a colleague - using a pseudonym to protect this special snowflake's identity -- because it's mean or something.
By the way, the colleague in question filed charges against Kipnis. That kind of gives Kipnis the right to respond in a book, right? Lord knows she wasn't permitted to do so in a Title IX kangaroo court.
— Open Blogger The word "Brooklyn," with all the imagery, connotations and history it conjures has an almost mythic quality to it. I was born and raised there in 1960, and to those of my generation and older who have that birthplace in common, we can confirm that everything you ever imagined about the borough is as visceral and colorful as its distinct accent. Don't get me wrong; it certainly had its problems, some of them ugly. But whatever its flaws, I don't think there's any other place in the country where the ideals of the American melting pot, especially of tolerance, came as close to being a reality as it.
One of the centers of my world was Brooklyn College. Far from being a great student, or even an average student, I nevertheless enjoyed my time there (IYKWIM). And as a Jew, the idea of someone hassling you (unless it was the Chassids who pestered you to go the mitzvah tank and put on tefilin [look it up]) was about the furthest thing from your mind. In fact, Brooklyn College was, as you might expect, a hotbed of pro-Jewish and pro-Israel student political activity.
What a difference 40-odd years makes. Today, Brooklyn College has the dubious distinction of being among the top 10 college administrations most friendly to terrorists and hostile to the First Amendment in the nation.
At Brooklyn College, President Michelle Anderson responded to posters protesting the links between the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and Hamas by tearing them down and denouncing their sponsor, the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Anderson emphasized that Brooklyn College's status as a public university and its obligation to uphold the First Amendment did not in her view extend to speech she considered, without proof or substantiation, "hateful" or "bullying."
President Anderson failed to address the posters' central claim that Students for Justice in Palestine is funded by the terrorist organization Hamas, and exists to spread Hamas's genocidal propaganda against Israel and the Jews. Instead, she cited the widely-discredited smear site of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the basis for her criticism of the Freedom Center.
— Open Blogger J.J. Sefton has been telling us that Daniel Greenfield is very good writer, and I finally listened.
The Left's Culture of Contempt: Saving America by hating everyone.
He hits a lot of the points about current political discourse that Ace has been highlighting for years. But he left without much comment the use of the word "satire" to describe the forced cleverness and childish insults hurled by the media and the rest of the progressive Left at President Trump and the rest of the world that doesn't dream of fluffing every tin-pot socialist dictator.
1 : a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
2 : trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly
SNL and the WaPo and the various clones of Jon Stewart satisfy neither of these definitions.
What is satire saving the Republic from? Republicans. While making America safe for Socialism.
After Bush won, Democrats fought back by doubling down on the ridicule. Before long they were getting their news from Jon Stewarts smirk. Stewart spawned a whole range of imitators. Today you can find numberless clones of the Daily Show across cable and even on CBS and, soon, on NBC.
We shouldn't dignify this puerile blather as "satire." Satire is based on reality...on truth...on uncomfortable observations...on a multitude of things nowhere near related to stupid quips about someone's hair or the size of his hands.
The left remains convinced that Jon Stewart brought down Bush and Tina Fey brought down Palin because ridiculing the right isn't just an ugly tactic. Instead it carries an almost religious meaning. Mocking Republicans can save us. Every ideology expresses its superiority through its own triumphalism. Sneering is the left's own invocation of its own superiority. These are the grown up politics of kids who were convinced that they were better than everyone else because they looked down on them.
And every time one of these smarmy little pricks mocks the flyover states or pickup-truck-driving Americans or a multitude of easy targets for his giggles, he feels a sense of superiority, because
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