Movie Review: Expendables 3

It's rare that I go to see a movie in the theaters these days, let alone on opening night! Nevertheless The Expendables in its original form is a special favorite of Mr. Wolf, and has therefore gained a certain following around here. Thus some of us went to see the third (and last) in the series last night.

The movie has a tone that is more than a little sad. A lot of these actors are doing their swan song and they know it, so they're taking a moment with it and trying to introduce the next generation. There's a very melancholy feel to it almost throughout.

It's also sad, in another way, that none of the new generation actors being introduced have anything like the style or presence that these guys had back in 1985. You think of the 'handshake' scene in Predator, and compare it to what you're seeing now. There's nothing wrong with these kids, not obviously, but they aren't any of them what Arnold was. Nor is it just muscles -- some have muscles -- because they aren't what John Wayne was, either. There's an absence of confidence, maybe even of an idea of what confidence would look like.

On the other hand, the action sequences were an improvement over the last rendition, though they lacked the relative realism of the first movie. There were, blessedly, fewer referential jokes -- Arnold got in a couple, towards the end, but they didn't present the awkward distraction of Chuck Norris reading out his own "facts" in Expendables 2.

Smuggle some beer into the theater, sit back, and enjoy watching the last parade of a generation that set the standard for Reaganite confidence during the end stage of the Cold War. These aren't the actual guys who won the war, but they're the guys those guys cheered on screen. They're the guys who spurred some of those guys to enlist. That's not nothing.

"This just in: Halt in Global Warming due to Climate Change!"

Sadly, that's not just a joke.

A commenter on a Watts Up With That post reminded me of something I hadn't read in a long time:
“First, I asked Stephen Belcher, the head of the Met Office Hadley Centre, whether the recent extended winter was related to global warming. Shaking his famous “ghost stick”, and fingering his trademark necklace of sharks’ teeth and mammoth bones, the loin-clothed Belcher blew smoke into a conch, and replied,
“Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”
Startled by this sobering analysis, I moved on to Professor Rowan Sutton, Climate Director of NCAS at the University of Reading. Professor Sutton said that many scientists are, as of this moment, examining the complex patterns in the North Atlantic, and trying to work out whether the current run of inclement European winters will persist.
When pressed on the particular outlook for the British Isles. Professor Sutton shook his head, moaned eerily unto the heavens, and stuffed his fingers into the entrails of a recently disembowelled chicken, bought fresh from Waitrose in Teignmouth.
Hurling the still-beating heart of the chicken into a shallow copper salver, Professor Sutton inhaled the aroma of burning incense, then told the Telegraph: “The seven towers of Agamemnon tremble. Much is the discord in the latitude of Gemini. When, when cry the sirens of doom and love. Speckly showers on Tuesday.”
It’s a pretty stark analysis, and not without merit.”
The post itself links to explanations for how the Global Warming model explains heating, cooling, drought, flood, and anything else you can possibly imagine, but it was the comments (including the title of the post) that caught my fancy. Another commenter adds: "When the temperature remains constant (relatively), that is due to natural cooling offsetting the human induced warming." Another describes the phenomenon as "Policy-based evidence-making."

An early frost

Global warming puts another notch in its belt:  unusually early fall color in Pennsylvania.

A friend called from the Rocky Mountains earlier this week, reporting that the hummingbirds are coming through much earlier than usual.  I've learned my lesson, though.  I made no attempt to link the phenomenon with the curiously persistent belief that temperatures are rising.  She'll see the pattern on her own some day, or she won't.  If I try to get her to think about it, she'll only get defensive.  And of course I can't be sure, either, whether the current cooling is noise in the signal or a reliable indicator of long-term trends.  The difference is that I'm aware there's room for doubt, and have at least attempted to look into the reliability of the physical explanations for a projected warming.

A birthday surprise

A little pedestrian in the execution, but you get the (great) idea.

Who lost the cities?

Kevin Williamson wonders why progressives can't see what their own policies are doing to the cities whose conditions they so deplore:
Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities — have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.
. . . [T]he Reverend Jackson is undoubtedly correct in identifying “a national crisis of urban abandonment and repression.” He neglects to point out that he is an important enabler of it.
Philadelphia, for example, has not had a Republican mayor since the Truman administration. It did enjoy the services of Mayor Frank Rizzo, a Democrat who endorsed Nixon in exchange for federal handouts and who governed in the progressive style: He converted a private utility into a public one and promptly turned it into a patronage machine, he was close with the labor unions and raised the city’s wage tax to fund spending on transportation and infrastructure projects, worked for economic benefits for the elderly, etc. He was a classic welfare-statist Democrat — and a man who, as police commissioner, famously promised to “make Attila the Hun look like a fag.” (Rizzo later ran as a Republican.) It wasn’t a right-wing radical who bombed a Philadelphia rowhouse and burned down the neighborhood — it was an African-American progressive, Wilson Goode. Closet Ayn Rand fans have not been running the affairs of Detroit all these years, and the intellectual patrons of the Chicago Boys have had approximately zero influence on the municipal affairs of Chicago. Ralph Reed will never be the mayor of San Francisco.
. . . The philosophy of abusive eminent domain, government monopolies, and opportunistic taxation is also the philosophy of police brutality, the repression of free speech and other constitutional rights, and economic despair. Frank Rizzo was not a paradox — he was an inevitability. When life is reduced to the terms in which it is lived in the poorest and most neglected parts of Chicago or Detroit, the welfare state is the police state. Why should we expect the agents of the government who carry guns and badges to be in general better behaved than those at the IRS or the National Labor Relations Board?


Apparently the officers did not call dispatch to report the shooting for thirty minutes, at which time they reported only that they needed backup for crowd control. Anonymous has obtained, and released, what they say is the unedited dispatch recording. If the police think it has been edited, they can release the full record, but the dispatcher says several times that she has no more information on why a disturbance might be occurring at this location.

I know: vigilantes, breaking the law. But sometimes -- as at, and after, the O.K. Corral -- the law and the law enforcement are the problem, and citizen resistance to authority is the solution. That the law forbids resisting the government in this way is no defense. Of course it does.

The truth will out.


Jonah Goldberg gives his thoughts about the potential rapprochement between liberals and libertarians:
I think the Ferguson story has become more interesting and significant than the usual spectacle of this kind. The timing coincides with the ripening of an argument on the right against the militarization of U.S. police forces (led by Radley Balko as far as I can tell). It’s funny how unaware so many liberals are that this conversation was even taking place on the right. Liberals have been mocking libertarians for years as paranoid lunatics. Oh you want to live without government? Move to Somalia! Oh wait, when did the cops get tanks?
He also touches on one of my favorite issues: the blindness of the state-vs.-individual school of thought to the existence of voluntary communal institutions that relieve us from choosing either a 100% individualistic society or a totalitarian state:
Perhaps the most annoying thing about libertarianism is its blind spot about the importance of community. Ayn Rand and Barack Obama share the view that there are only two important institutions: the individual and the state. The difference is Rand thought the state is evil and Barack Obama thinks it is awesome. The truth is closer to the middle. Well, let me modify that. The state in the Bismarckian/Wilsonian sense sucks. But government is not evil. Oh, it can be. But it needn’t be. Sure, semantically you can make the case that it is a necessary evil, but I don’t think that’s entirely fair. Nothing truly necessary can be evil. Gravity is not evil. Food and shelter are not evil. There are things we need to do collectively. That’s why the Founders wrote the Constitution. Its genius lay in the fact that it understood that government is necessary but not sufficient for a good life. . . . Oh, for you constitutionalist libertarians, you might ponder the fact that the reason we swapped out the Articles of Confederation for the Constitution was that the Barbary pirates were getting all up in our business and we needed to pay for a navy to open a can of whup-ass on them.

A Potentially Unjustified Complaint Against the Ferguson Police

So, in general, I'm on board with the complaint that this whole series of events demonstrates a police culture in need of reform and defanging, if not outright neutering.

Still, there are limits. We must be fair to the officers involved as far as we can. The most outrageous charge against them today is that they refused a nurse the right to perform CPR on the shot body of Michael Brown.
Mr. Stone ran outside and saw two police officers, both white men, standing near Mr. Brown, who was lying on his stomach, his arms at his sides, blood seeping from his head. Another neighbor, a woman who identified herself as a nurse, was begging the officers to let her perform CPR.

They refused, Mr. Stone said, adding, “They didn’t even check to see if he was breathing.”
So here's the thing about CPR. The way it works is by artificially pumping the heart. In the case of a heart attack, that's a good idea. What will occur is that you will move blood -- still filled with oxygen -- to cells that will shortly begin to die without oxygen. These include brain cells, without which there isn't much point in reviving the body. Almost everyone who receives CPR is not going to survive, it's interesting to note: the success rate is somewhere under one-fifth, and perhaps as low as two percent. Still, in the case of a heart attack, you have nothing to lose by trying!

The case is very different if the life-threatening issue is a gunshot wound. Now, artificially pumping the heart is pumping blood right out onto the ground. As anyone who has taken a combat lifesaver course knows, the #1 most important issue in cases like these is to prevent blood loss. Blood loss is the fastest killer in a gunshot victim who was not killed immediately by the gunshot itself.

So you should not attempt CPR on a gunshot victim. You should focus on stopping the bleeding.

Of course, my defense depends on the police knowing any of that; given their generally horrid training in crowd control, escalation of force and firearms safety, one may doubt that they understood the medical issues. It also depends on them having done everything they could to stop the bleeding.

Still, of itself, refusing a self-identified nurse the power to conduct CPR on a gunshot victim is not alarming. It's not necessarily a good idea, except perhaps in a hospital where blood supplies are immediately available to replace what is going to be lost.

I wish Doc Russia were still around to comment on this with greater expertise.

The Wandering Jew

Friday Night AMV

Shoot to thrill.

No, I can't explain it. But I really would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when they pitched this idea.

A Confession, After A Fashion

IRS Official: "Please delete this email." But doesn't Federal law require you to keep email records like this? Of course!

A Moment of Unity

It appears that, though we still disagree as to whether looting is an appropriate response to a police shooting, there is a moment of considerable left/right unity on the need to restrain the police. From The American Conservative:
A Department of Justice study revealed that a whopping 84 percent of police officers report that they’ve seen colleagues use excessive force on civilians, and 61 percent admit they don’t always report “even serious criminal violations that involve abuse of authority by fellow officers.”

This self-reporting moves us well beyond anecdote into the realm of data: Police brutality is a pervasive problem, exacerbated by systemic failures to curb it. That’s not to say that every officer is ill-intentioned or abusive, but it is to suggest that the common assumption that police are generally using their authority in a trustworthy manner merits serious reconsideration.
UPDATE: A collection of military veteran comments on the Ferguson events.


This is the latest picture of my old high-school friend's adopted daughter, blissing out in the beautiful clear water off of Padre Island in South Texas:

My friend and her husband adopted this girl from a Russian orphanage when she was about five years old.  She landed in clover, with a sane and loving family.  I've never met her, but I love reading about her on my friend's blog from time to time.  She always seems to be ready to burst with happiness.

Anti-Ass Coalition

Today's first story comes from right down the road in Gainesville, Georgia (formerly known as "Mule Camp Springs," because it was a place with sufficient water to water your mule train before or after a trip over the nearby mountains; for some reason we have a habit in Georgia of changing excellent historic place names to very bland ones). The Congressman for the Mighty Ninth Congressional district, Doug Collins, is on the job.
The previous day, the atheists (acting on behalf of a single, unnamed citizen) sent a letter to school officials demanding that the football coaching staff stop participating in team prayers and that they remove all biblical references and religious messages from team documents....

“The liberal atheist interest groups trying to bully Chestatee High School kids say they have a reason to believe that expressions of religious freedom are ‘not an isolated event’ in Northeast Georgia,” Collins wrote in a statement. “They’re right. In Hall County and throughout Georgia’s 9th district, we understand and respect the Constitution and cherish our right to worship in our own way.”...

And it was not lost on the Collins that while the American atheists are picking on high school kids, Christians in Iraq are facing unspeakable atrocities. “It’s utterly disgusting that while innocent lives are being lost in Iraq and other places at the hands of radical religious terrorists, a bunch of Washington lawyers are finding the time to pick on kids in Northeast Georgia,” he said.
Well, if the Caliphate would answer a summons, or obey a court ruling, I'm sure they'd be happy to sue them too.

Or at least threaten to sue. It seems like that often is enough by itself, these days. Take the case of a little restaurant in North Carolina that liked to give a small gift to customers it observed engaging in saying a family grace before dinner.
Mary probably thought she had a nice idea that would incentivize gratitude for the good in life. She stated publicly that “Who you talk to or meditate on etc. is your business,” giving all people of all various beliefs and non-beliefs an equal opportunity to qualify for the discount, but that clearly wasn’t enough for a well-lawyered organization whose desires seem to be satisfied by becoming the center of attention that rains on well-intentioned parades.

Regardless of the fact that the verb “pray” has multiple definitions, aside from the one with religious connotations, the [Freedom From Religion Foundation] decided to work against Mary’s instead of working with them to find an appropriate alternative that worked for all.
Now probably that one would have survived in court -- after all, plenty of places offer discounts only to certain classes of people ("Student discount!" "Senior discount!" "Ladies' Night!"). But as Mark Steyn has noted many times since his own legal troubles began, the process is the punishment: resisting the suit takes so much time and money that, even if you win, it's probably cost you everything.

These stunts -- I think of the famous case where "Zombie Muhammad" got his butt handed to him by an irate Muslim observer -- are built around abusing the system in order to undermine the things on which the system stands. You may, in a sense, have a right to dress like Muhammad as a zombie and march through a Muslim neighborhood. If you do it, you're an ass. You deserve the beating from which the system will try to protect you. Not for blasphemy, but for being an ass.

Pray or don't, but don't be these guys.

Love the Bill of Rights? Hater.

It's good to know that young ladies are being taught to think critically about their precious Constitutional heritage.
Tenth: Your man is passionate about states’ rights. Racists and homophobes love states’ rights. Be afraid.

Ninth: Your man picked the foundation for Roe v. Wade. Good egg!

Eighth: No “cruel and unusual punishment” for your guy! It’s unlikely that he’d be cruel to strangers.

Seventh, Sixth, Fifth, or Fourth: He’s really into criminal justice but probably not a troll. Breathe a sigh of relief.

Third: If he picks an amendment this useless, you should just dump him anyway even if he’s not a troll.

Second: Run. Seriously, just run! Your man might not be an asshole to people on the Internet because he’s too busy being an open-carrying asshole in real life.

First: This could be a huge warning sign. Trolls cite the First Amendment as frequently as college application essays cite “The Road Not Taken.” They think that it gives them the right to verbally harass, stalk, and threaten whomever they want without any consequences. If your man picks the First Amendment, just ask him to explain what it means. If he thinks it means that “it’s a free country” and “people can say whatever they want,” tell him to go back to the playground he learned his politics from and find a new boyfriend.
It's unlikely that he knew that the Ninth Amendment was the "foundation" for Roe v. Wade, since of course the decision has no actual foundation in the Constitution. It was "penumbras" that were the alleged foundation, which is to say that the whole thing is built on shadows.

A Fleet Horse... not the best thing in life, but it is in the running.


Ten things you may not have noticed, even if you've spent quite a while looking at the Bayeux Tapestry.

One of the leading theories about it is that it was done rather quickly, and thus doesn't really represent the true skill of the women who doubtless wove it in celebration of the conquest. If true, still, they found time to include a few playful touches.

Three ridiculous stunts

You've probably heard already that James O'Keefe crossed the U.S.-Mexico border recently, disguised as Osama bin Laden in full get-up.  You may not realize, though, as Jim Geraghty has pointed out, that GOP congressional candidate Raj Peter Bhakta of Pennsylvania did something similar in 2006 when he crossed the border on an elephant with a mariachi band.

That can only be followed up with:

Russian Incrementalism

I'm planning on focusing on this war against the new Caliphate, because Russia is a dying power. Still, it seems intent on spending its last hours in a pleasant game of chess that I suspect it will win -- for an hour, while strength remains to hold what they are playing for. Of course, they might recover a bit of spirit if they win a few games of chess. But it's hard going to recover from a demographic death spiral such as they have entered.

As for the rules of the game, they are these -- the same rules of the Cold War:


We have a "Just War" Pope

Pope Francis calls for coordinated, armed intervention in Iraq.

Cultural Appropriation

The song is from Australia. The idiom is from the poorest parts of Appalachia. The band is from...