Saturday, July 29, 2017

Odds and ends 7/29/2017

Derp: "Seattle Min Wage Hikes Crushing The Poor: 6,700 Jobs Lost, Annual Wages Down $1,500 - UofW Study"

Smoot-Hawley, 2017-style: "Trump's 20% tariff on steel from China, Germany cause 'global recession.'" The most interesting thing about the article is the chart showing that each percentile of the world population made gains from 1988 to 2011. The "decline of the middle class" is relative to the steeper rise of the world's lower class.

The headline-chasing fraud Elon Musk's subsidized venture is being exposed one bad quarter at a time: "Tesla story becoming increasingly fantastic as business model falls apart"

Suspend him at your peril, Goodell:

Police found no witnesses of Elliott’s alleged assaults. Three people, including a security manager at a bar, told police they saw Elliott’s accuser fight another woman that evening, not Elliott. Four people told police they heard the woman yell at Elliott she was going to “call the cops to ruin his career.” And one woman — whom Elliott’s accuser had identified as a witness — told police she didn’t witness any assault, but Elliott’s accuser had asked her to lie and say she had.

Andrew Garfield identifies as gay. What, there are no chaste homosexuals? The resulting outrage confuses some. Not me. Garfield outed the fluidity of sexuality, which renders equal protection laws inoperative towards the self-worshiping LGB-etc. cult. He showed just how non-exclusive the club really is. If anyone can be gay, gay is not special.

The triumph of the will over reality and national defense: "Military Blinks Several Times Before Allowing Enlistment of ‘Transgender’ Troops." Trump's Twitter announcement of the "ban" on transgenders is true and righteous, if it translates into actual policy.

"Portland stabbing suspect yells 'free speech or die' in court appearance"

It doesn't matter how righteous you believe your cause is. Free speech is not a license to instigate conflict and utter fighting words. This isn't "like" drawing a Mohammed cartoon. This man is a murderer.

Distrust mob power: "Allan Bloom’s University and Mine: From Racial Intimidation to Trigger Warnings" by Paul Rahe

The first half of this is great: "Progressives Destroyed Normalcy And Now They’re Shocked Trump Isn’t Normal"

"Do dads treat daughters better than sons? Emory study finds striking differences in treatment of children"

There is sense in fathers cherishing their daughters more than their sons, as they have reason to believe that, when she grows up, she will belong to another man in marriage, effectively supplanting the father. Fathers also set the standard for their daughters' prospective husbands, so she will be selective during the courtship period.

Somehow this tidbit snuck past the goodthink editors:

“Daughters and sons are very different even in utero and then when they're infants they start behaving very differently,” Kazdin told CBS News. “Interactions between parents and children drive and influence each other's brains. So what we don't know here is whether the fathers drive the behaviors of their daughters and the sons or if the daughters and the sons drive the behavior of the fathers.”

The tyranny of the nanny state: "Danbury woman left child unattended in car, police say"

I took my 10-month-old daughter to the library to print out some forms that a prospective employer needed signed that night. I took her inside, printed my stuff, returned to the car, and buckled her into her carseat when I realized I left my library card on the printer. I had three options: Leave her in the hot car, leave her in a running car with the A/C cranked up, or take her inside again. I saw leaving her in the hot car as the best of these options. I was gone less than a minute. She was fine.

I know about the perils of hot cars. I know about all the little things that can harm my little girl. When I read that mold was growing in some Sophie giraffe dolls, I cut Margaret's doll open, ruining a perfectly good $20 toy. No mold. I saw leaving her in the heat for a short amount of time as an acceptable amount of risk. Am I a criminal? Just because bad things can happen doesn't mean there should be laws passed against them.

Related: "The day I left my son in the car"

I think this goes back to "Not everyone's a homicidal maniac." It's just that homicidal maniacs are all we hear about.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Crazy about Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a typical Christopher Nolan movie, very well-made and engrossing but with glaring faults. For me the faults have been too many and too severe in the last two movies he's made. Interstellar was marred by confusing character motivations and an absurd "twist" ending. Dunkirk sinks by virtue of its terrible sound design and editing.

Why in the world is this story not told linearly? We have three storylines running at different paces converging on the same scene. Why? It was natural for Inception, when you had a dream within a dream within a dream. What purpose does it serve here, other than to rationalize introducing Tom Hardy's character an hour earlier? We see one character in one storyline appear in the next scene on another storyline the day before. This is not an "aha!" moment but a contrivance of the editing, which as far as I can tell has no justification other than the self-serving one of fooling the audience into thinking they found a missing tile to a puzzle. They only found it because the filmmakers hid it from them in the first place.

Why can I only understand one-fourth of the words the characters are saying to each other? The bass in the soundtrack is so loud it drowns out the dialogue. This issue has gotten progressively worse with each Nolan film dating back to The Dark Knight Rises.

It kills the tension when the characters do things that make no sense. Why did the group of trained soldiers get in an abandoned boat and not post a topside watch? Why do they assume the British will pick them up as they drift out to sea and not the Germans? The scene where they argued about throwing one of the soldiers off the boat to lighten the weight so the boat wouldn't sink was a shockingly bald attempt to concoct suspense and create a moral dilemma for the protagonist to distinguish himself. It's made worse by the fact that this argument occurs as hundreds of gallons of seawater come in through bulletholes in the hull. Was there not a single person involved in the production who told Nolan throwing one man off a bullet-ridden boat won't stop it from sinking? And it was weird that Harry Styles was gung-ho about murdering a fellow soldier, but he was chums with the protagonist a few scenes later. All's well that ends well, I guess, except for Styles' would-be victim who was left behind in the boat and drowned.

I can't overstate the failure of this scene. It defaces the whole movie. It's like when you're interviewing someone for a job, and they're pontificating about their field and sound competent, but then they say something so nonsensical that you wonder if everything they've done to impress you was staged or faked. That's what the kill-one-to-save-all scene does to an otherwise decent thriller. It was such a forced and dumb scene that it took me right out of the movie. I couldn't wait for it to end after that.

The threat of the Germans was not sustained during the beach scenes. One or two German planes do at most four runs at the beach during the movie, scattering little bombs in the sand. Many soldiers, including ones lying right next to the protagonist, don't get up. What killed them, falling sand? There's no gore, no screams, no close calls to justify the soldiers' fear or desperation. An R rating would have helped the movie in this regard, but it would have hurt the box office.

Kenneth Branagh's character is wasted staring grimly across the English Channel and delivering expository dialogue. He watches a ship sink literally yards away and stands still as a statue as his countrymen drown. Later a German plane dives straight for him and he doesn't move a muscle. Dude, take cover! Branagh's contract must have stated he couldn't break a sweat during filming.

Tom Hardy's plane glides without fuel for what seems like 15 minutes, then he lands down the beach from his compatriots and lets himself be captured by the Germans while the evacuation is underway. No reason is given for this.

Finally, the scale of the evacuation is underserved. It seems like there were only a few thousand soldiers on the beach. There were no more than 50 or so civilian boats visible during the rescue. The "miracle" of the evacuation is more told by Branagh than actually shown. Nolan's stubborn aversion to digital effects hurt the movie noticeably in this regard. This is a shame, since the civilian boats coming into Dunkirk was the sweetest moment in the movie's 107-minute runtime.

I wouldn't be writing this unless I thought Dunkirk was getting way more praise than it deserves. It doesn't hold a candle to other modern war movies like Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, or even Hacksaw Ridge. It's probably Christopher Nolan's worst movie, at best a tie with the silly and overlong Interstellar. We know he's capable of making great movies, but he's in a serious slump that the critics are abetting by unwaveringly singing his praises as each successive movie diminishes in quality.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Monuments madness

Liberals overreached trying to leverage Dylan Rooff's mass murder at a black church into a license to tear down historical monuments across the country. Their hysteria about history makes even the reviled KKK look reasonable. The protestors against removing the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville are right, and amazingly the New York Times can't help but portray them favorably to the violent counterprotestors, whose en-vogue totalitarian iconoclasm I fear much more than the race-determinitive ideology of the Klan because there seems to be no checks on its excesses.

The history cleansers first go after Robert E. Lee, defender of the Confederacy. Racist! Then they go after George Washington, slave owner. Very bad! They portray the Constitution as inherently evil by virtue of its association with the flawed past, as if the past at any point in time will not be inherently flawed by inherently flawed men. The order they seek to impose is completely free of sin, of course, because they, the culmination of centuries of progress, are sinless.

Will the iconoclasts eradicate the years before their ascendance and set their calendars to year 0 like the French Revolutionaries? We all know how that turned out for the French.

An element of liberal society seems unsatisfied with getting everything it has asked for, so now they are demanding more. The answer must be no, and any authorities who say yes need to be removed from their positions of influence and power. They will by their cowardice permit another civil war.