Sunday, May 30, 2010

Theological Thoughts

"You know, a lot of Christians talk about how bad-ass Jesus was driving moneychangers from the Temple?"
"Yeah! But--I mean, we're talking about a bunch of Jewish bankers! I could do that with my legs broke and a bad case of mono."
"No, you're thinking about it wrong."
"How so?"
"You're thinking pin-striped suit financial eggheads."
"Think loan sharks. Lots and lots of loan sharks with enforcers to boot."
"That's what they say."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Conversations From The Living Room, Part 28: I'm a Genius!

[The Barb is wearing her shirt backwards and her grandpa stops her.]
"You're wearing your shirt backwards!"
"I know! I like it!"
[He tugs her pocket]
"And I guess people behind you could slip stuff into your pocket!"
"No, they can't!"
"Why not?"
"'cause I'm a genius!"
"What does genius mean?"
"That's when you sneak and hide and jump out at people!"
"You mean, you're a ninja?"


Oil companies have been buying up the drilling rights to properties all over the country. What could be better than waking up to a big check (offer) in your mailbox? It's like you got rich for just being lucky enough to be on a natural gas deposit.

Or, to quote a common meme these days, "What could possibly go wrong?"

This is the question asked by Josh Fox, after the Fox family manse receives such an offer.

You already know this isn't going to turn out well, right?

Josh decides to investigate, grabs a video camera, and an enlists the help of a pal (?) with a camera and they run around the country investigating "fracking", the process of—well, hell, you can read about it on Wiki, if you want, but suffice to say, it's a practice of extracting natural gas (something America has in abundance).

Now, a simple truth is this: Just like oil wells, mines, or any other excavation activity, bad things are going to happen. A cold analysis of the situation would be to examine the amount of gas extracted relative to the damage caused in the process, thus allowing us to decide for ourselves whether the risk was worth the cost.

But I suppose that'd make a dull movie.

Fox runs around to farmhouse after farmhouse where the fracking seems to have caused serious problems. A propos of the situation in the Gulf, natural gas seems to also be capable of gushing out of control.

The effect of this is to make the air smell bad, causing rivers to bubble with toxicity, and (as Fox demonstrates repeatedly), makes tap water flammable.

Yes, apparently, on a farm, when your water turns bad, your first instinct is to try to light it on fire. They do this so many times in so many places in this movie, you worry about someone actually blowing up their whole damn farm.

It's a pretty decent (if one-sided) trip over all, with Fox ultimately drawing pictures of the entire northeastern area of the country being poisoned, the entire west being wrecked with wells, and stretches like someone's dad being exposed to the toxic water and being dead inside of 2 years from pancreatic cancer. (Patrick Swayze didn't even make it two years, I don't think. Pancreatic cancer is a bitch.)

About a third of the movie is borderline unwatchable in the literal sense because the hand-held cam is so shaky as to deliver no meaningful picture. The music is, well, homemade. The maker, hopelessly naive about the topic of energy. At one point, Halliburton's name shows up, as if that explains something. At one point, Fox plays the banjo in front of a plant while wearing a gas mask.

Powerful? Or just silly?

Whichever, it all ends up being sort of endearing. This is something we should know about. One would think that the drilling companies would plan for these contingencies and have settlements ready for the landowners, though I suspect the landowners sign those away with the mineral rights. I also suspect that, soon, every problem people have becomes associated with these wells.

Nonetheless, it's just as certain that the various corporations involved stonewall at least some of the time and have a lot of political clout.

Overall, then, this is one of those awareness raising deals. I'd recommend it even if you have to squint through parts and cover your ears through others.

The Boy and the Old Man both enjoyed it as well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Like The Cut Of This Buckley's Jib.

I've not really been up on William F. Buckley (referred to as Mr. Fbuckley on "Laugh In", if tales my parents have told me are true...) but I came across this at The Other McCain:

They are men and women who tend to believe that the human being is perfectible and social progress predictable, and that the instrument for effecting the two is reason; that truths are transitory and empirically determined; that equality is desirable and attainable through the action of state power; that social and individual differences, if they are not rational, are objectionable, and should be scientifically eliminated; that all peoples and societies should strive to organize themselves upon a rationalist and scientific paradigm.

I think this is exactly right, if better thought out than "liberals" actually do any more. Except for being based on a mountain of fallacies, it even sounds reasonable.

I wonder if there's a mirror-image on the left, where "liberals" describes "conservatives" as accurately? Oh, wait, that's right there is!


Touché, statists.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Falling Further Behind...

OK, we've seen Iron Man 2, Harry Brown and The Complete Metropolis.

I will get to them....soon? Eventually? Someday?


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Ghost of Mark Twain Revisits Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses

"Looking at it now, I'd have to admit it was kind of a dick move on my part. And I'm not saying this just because I want Daniel Day-Lewis to star in the movie version of Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Join The Illuminati

"Wow, it's so great you guys finally let me in."
"Your qualifications were...adequate."
"Yeah. Well. You know what the unwashed masses call a guy who just barely gets in to the Illuminati?"
"Nothing, because those poor bastards have no idea who we are! HA!"
"OK. so, this is your desk over here."
"A desk? I get a desk? I figured there'd be, like a banquet table or maybe a grotto..."
"There are, but you have to start somewhere."
"And that somewhere is a desk?"
"That somewhere is Help Desk."
[some time later]
"Hello, Illuminati Help Desk. How may I help you control the world today?"
"You want to devalue a currency?"
"Oh, the yen! The Chinese yen, even? Very advanced. Are you upgraded to the current ver--"
"Very good. OK, go to Actions menu, Economic sub-menu, Currency sub-sub-menu, and click Fluctuation. That should bring up the Monetary Shenanigans dialog."
"Now, from there, you --"
"What do you mean you don't have that menu?"
"You're using the latest version of Illuminati Pro World Conquest Special Edition?"
"You think so? OK, do me a favor: Click on Windows+O. That should take you right to the Overthrow window."
"You what?"
"You don't have a Windows key? What kind of keybo-"
"It's an Apple key? Lady, you've got the wrong number. You need to call the Tri-Lateral Commission Help Desk!"
"OK, yeah, I can give you the number."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Well, That Was Fast!

Man. April! If April showers bring May flowers, I'm gonna be up to my ass in flowers pretty soon here.

I'm so far behind on movie reviews it's ridiculous. In April we saw Gasland, The Secret of the Kells, Kick Ass, Cop-Out, The Secret In Their Eyes, City Island and...I think one more....

I've also been meaning to write on two topics for some time: One is that free marketers often accuse (rightly) statists of operating on the basis of how the world (specifically people) should be versus how they actually are, and how I thnk free marketers have a similar blind spot.

Also, I wanted to write about how racism isn't, in fact, the worst thing ever. (Let's see if I can worm my way out of THAT statement! Heh.)

Anyway, I'll get back on the stick here in a bit and thanks for dropping by.