I saw Irwin Allen’s EARTHQUAKE!* San Andreas today.  I did, in fact, see the original Earthquake when it hit theaters in 1974.  San Andreas is very much like that film, only cranked up to eleven.  SQUARED.  That is, not much plot, but lots of destruction.

It’s worth the matinee price just to see the special effects.  I’m serious – the devastation is spectacular in every meaning of the word.

And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson actually acts in the film, which was kinda surprising.

But the plot, what there is of it, is….  I was going to say “secondary” to the disaster porn, but that wouldn’t be right.  Not even “tertiary.”  What’s the expression for fifth- or sixth-order of importance?

But turn off your plot-hole analyser, shut down your “it doesn’t work like that!” processor, set your brain to “numb,” and watch Los Angeles and San Francisco collapse in glorious big-screen style.  (I saw it in 2D.  I’ve read that 3D mutes the colors somewhat.)

And try not to enjoy it too much.  Remember, if it ever does happen who will be footing the bill.

(*Yes, I know Irwin Allen didn’t make Earthquake!, but he was the king of disaster porn movies in the 70’s.)

Republicans, They Thirst For Death

I used to think this was just a snarky saying, but I’ve come to realize it’s the truth.

I received in the mail this week a survey from the RNC.  Attached was a letter, supposedly penned by Reince Priebus, that begins:

Preparing for the 2016 Presidential Election is going to take a massive grassroots effort all across America.

As Tam once observed about the gun control crowd, “they’ve been playing on astroturf so long that they don’t know grassroots even when fed a mouthful of divot.”

The survey has four sections before it gets to begging for money. The first section is demographic data gathering – what do I consider myself to be politically? Am I planning on voting in the 2016 election? How old am I? Am I willing to volunteer at a local Republican Party office or help campaign for a Republican candidate? Where do I get my news? But the last two questions set the tone for the rest of the survey:

10: Do you believe the Republican Party should continue to embrace social issues or are these too divisive when it comes to winning elections?

_Too divisive
_No Opinion

11: Please register your opinion on the following social issues, 1 = SUPPORT, 2 = OPPOSE 3 = NO OPINION

_School Prayer
_Faith Based Initiatives
_Ban Burning of the Flag
_Fight against same sex marriage
_Ban human cloning
_Ban Federal funds for birth control
_Ban all abortion
_Ban Federal funds for abortion


What happened to SMALLER GOVERNMENT?!?

Section 2 covers “General issues” such as do I believe the country is headed in the right or wrong direction, what three issues do I believe are most important to people in my area, and which party is better able to handle these issues? I’ll skip that except to say “government overreach” wasn’t on the list except as the write-in “Other.”

Section 3 covers “Domestic issues.” Here I’ll start quoting in full:

1. How confident are you that America’s economy will improve in the next year?

Five choices from “Strongly Confident to Not Confident at all.

2. Which of the following is the single most important economic issue facing you and your family?

_Inflation/Rising Prices Overall
_Cost of Health Care
_High Taxes
_Concern over funding for Social Security and Medicare
_Other ____________

Another vote for “Other.”

3. Do you think our Republican leaders in Congress should be aggressive in forcing the Obama White House to work with them to create jobs, cut taxes and regulations, end economic uncertainty, and make America more competitive?

_No Opinion

Hint: The government doesn’t “create jobs” except when it creates or expands another bureau or regulatory structure.

4. Do you favor efforts by Republicans in Congress to cut the present corporate tax rate (currently on of the highest in the world) in order to help bring more businesses back to the U.S., where they can invest their dollars in expanding their operations and creating new jobs?

_No Opinion

Holy shit! A reasonable question!

5. Do you favor a major overhaul of the current Federal Tax Code – currently thousands of pages long – that would replace today’s burdensome tax system with one that is simpler and fairer?

Now they’re just teasing, the bastards.

6. How concerned are you that our federal debt – presently $18 trillion – will seriously jeopardize our nation’s economic security for future generations?

Like they’re actually going to DO anything about it except make it bigger?

7. Are race relations in America today getting better or worse?

Well, they told me if I voted for Romney….

8. The Obama White House and Democrats in Congress are aggressively pushing for a higher federal minimum wage. Do you feel that forcing employers to pay higher wages will hurt or help the economy?

Well, the government doesn’t “create jobs,” but it can certainly destroy them.

9. Should Republicans in Congress stand firm against actions by the Obama White House to bypass Congressional votes and enact new regulations, fees, and other freedom-destroying measures via unilateral Executive Orders?


10. With revelations of “Fast and Furious,” IRS abuses, the Benghazi cover-up, and other major scandals in recent years, do you feel Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have the right to hold government bureaucrats’ feet to the fire and demand more transparency from the Obama administration?

They have the authority. They don’t have the SPINE.

Do you believe more federal laws that impede individuals’ Second Amendment rights are the proper response to recent gun violence in our nation?

Gun Control: It’s what you do instead of something.”

12. Do you support Republican efforts to defer fully implementing ObamaCare and replacing it with something that will address the high cost of health care while maintaining the quality of care?

No, I think the whole thing should be repealed, period. Forget trying to “fix” it. THAT target will never stop moving.  But the Republicans won’t do that, so they’re signalling that they want to “delay” it until they can legislate an (equivalent) alternative.

13. Do you think one of the government’s top priorities should be to preserve the financial stability of Medicare and Social Security?

I think one of government’s top priorities should be to get people to understand that both programs are operating deeply in the red, and they CANNOT CONTINUE as they are, nor can they be EXPANDED. But I’m fully aware that the job of the politician is to get elected and keep getting elected so that’s not a position any politician is going to take.

14. Do you favor Republican efforts in Congress to better strengthen our borders and fight President Obama’s unconstitutional, unilateral decrees in writing new immigration policies?

You mean like you fought his unconstitutional, unilateral decrees delaying the implementation of ObamaCare? Just askin’.

15. Would you support immigration reform that included securing our nations borders and a path to citizenship for some people living in the U.S. illegally if they were required to learn English, go to the back of the citizenship line, have a job, pay taxes and pass a criminal background check?

Being here illegally, wouldn’t they fail the criminal background check?

16. Should the federal government open up more federal lands to energy development in order to further foster America’s energy independence?

Shouldn’t the federal government own less land in the first place? It owns, for instance 61.8% of Alaska, 42.3% of Arizona, 36.2% of Colorado, 61.7% of Idaho, and 81.1% of Nevada. Why?

17. Do you feel that actions by the Obama Administration in recent years have seriously eroded America’s individual freedoms?

I’m not blaming all of that on him. I will blame serious erosion of our foreign policy on his administration, but the DHS, the TSA, NSA spying and the like did not originate with Obama. The dismantling of our foreign policy and our influence around the world, on the other hand….

This completed the “Domestic Issues” questionnaire. Section 4 covered “National Defense”:

1. Are Republicans in Congress right to fight back against the Obama Administration’s efforts to severely cut America’s military power?


2. Do you think it is in the United States’ national interest to take military action against ISIS in Iraq and Syria?

Hell, there isn’t any good answer to this. All options suck.

3. Should America take military action if necessary to keep Iran and North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons?

Doesn’t Lil’ Kim already have some wet-firecracker nukes?  As former Secretary of State Madeleine Not-so-Bright told us about North Korea and Clinton’s treaty efforts:

“No, what they were doing, as it turns out, they were cheating.”

But we should trust the Iranians.  It’s not like they have special religious dispensation allowing them to lie or anything.  Not that politicians give a damn about telling the truth ever anyway.  How about we let China deal with Lil’ Kim and Israel deal with Iran?  We’ll just provide Israel MigCAP and KC-135 support.

4. Do you agree with Republicans’ commitment to continue to fully fund a “missile defense shield” for our nation to protect us from future missile threats?

Define “fully fund.”  How much?

5. Do you believe our government is doing enough to protect the homeland from future terrorist attacks?

You mean setting up people in “terrorist sting” operations?  “Thousands Standing Around” who have yet to prevent one terrorist act on a flight?   Telling us that a guy yelling “Allahu Ackbar” while shooting up a military base was actually committing “workplace violence“?  Yeah, redefining “terrorist attacks” as “workplace violence” helps “protect the homeland”!

Hey, I know!  Let’s have the NSA record every single phone conversation in the U.S.!  I’m sure that’ll help!

6. Should the U.S. take a more muscular attitude toward Russia as it moves toward re-establishing itself as a military and economic superpower?

Maybe we should encourage Europe to take a “more muscular attitude.”  Or at least a less supine one.

7. Do you agree that it is essential for our nation to better prepare for cyber-warfare and create a comprehensive strategy that will enable us to respond decisively to cyber-adversaries?

Not so long as that “comprehensive strategy” is “Hey, software and hardware creators – give the .gov a back door into everything you make so we can ‘protect’ it!  Nice product you got there.  Be a shame if something happened to it.”

8. Do you believe that President Obama went too far in moving to reestablish diplomatic relations with communist Cuba without demanding concessions that would give Cuban people more freedom?

Of course I do!  Given another fifty-five years, I’m sure the Castro brothers would have finally surrendered!

9. Fundamentally, do you feel the U.S. should play a major leadership role in the world, or do you feel we should concern ourselves only with matters of immediate national interest?

I think we need to get our own shit in one sock before we try to tell everybody else how, but we’re stuck with the role we took after WWII.  Letting go of it completely invites chaos.

So basically the RNC just informed me that the Party of Smaller Government will talk big about Protecting America from its Enemies, National Defense, and ObamaCare, but when it regains power it’ll define America’s Enemies as TheGays and women who want abortions and birth control. 

It’s what they do.

Not a dime, Reince.  You’re not getting a single damned penny.

“But What About Free Will?”

I caught the movie Tomorrowland at a matinee on Saturday.  If you haven’t seen it yet, or if you don’t want spoilers, then don’t go below the break, but let me say that it was not the film I was expecting.

Nor was it the Politically Correct Social Justice Warrior Global Warming propaganda piece some are claiming.

Again, here be spoilers.  You have been warned.

You’ve probably seen the trailers.  Young girl touches medallion, gets transported (in spirit if not in body) to Tomorrowland where everything is clean, beautiful, high-tech, awesome.  She meets a curmudgeon who can somehow get her there, but they’re being pursued by Evil Forces.

All that’s there.

What I didn’t expect, however, was the morality tale it DID contain.

Now, perhaps I don’t read the right kind of science fiction, but one thing the movie asks that I haven’t seen asked before is “Where’s the hope?”

(SPOILER!)  George Clooney’s character asks the question, “What would you do if I could tell you exactly the date and time you were going to die?” (Paraphrased from memory, but that is the gist of the question.)  Seems he’s invented a machine that allows him to see into the future – and the future is grim.  Grim with a probability of 100.00 percent.  Past this date there be dragons. (Figuratively, not literally.)

But when the young girl responds, “How could you know?  What about free will?” the probability indicator drops to 99.94%.

I was reminded of this scene from 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKhvl2MjO9E?rel=0&controls=0]
In this film the equivalent role of “Thompson” is played by Hugh Laurie as “Governor Dix.”

I was also reminded of last year’s “The Giver.”  Here’s the key scene from that film:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEDu9jVpUjI?rel=0&controls=0]
It seems over in Tomorrowland they built a machine to broadcast subconscious warnings to us here on Earth of the coming apocalypse.

Humanity’s response?

We internalized the message.  We embraced it.  Hell, we commercialized it.  Disaster movies, zombies movies and TV shows, post-apocalyptic fiction. (Have you ever read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road?) Terrorism and jihad.  War and famine.  On and on.

Earlier in the film the protagonist is shown in her various high school classes being lectured on:  Global Warming, the population bomb, Mutual Assured Destruction and the new threat of nuclear terrorism, etc.  Throughout it all, she has her hand up, but is only called on in the last scene.  “Who’s trying to fix it?” she asks.

There is no answer.

For at least the first 150 years of this nation (1860-65 notwithstanding) the overwhelming national outlook was optimistic.  We could go anywhere, do anything.  Hell, in 1962 John F. Kennedy challenged us to send a man to the Moon and return him safely to the earth before 1970 – and we did.  We went from a colonial backwater to the most powerful nation on Earth in the relative blink of an eye because, I believe, of one idea:  “the pursuit of happiness.”

And in the meantime those who believe “we choose wrong – always” have done everything in their power to choose for us, to remove our ability to choose for ourselves.  The message of “The Adjustment Bureau” was that if not for “The Chairman” and the Bureau, humanity would have destroyed the Earth. We needed to be brought along into adulthood by some Higher Power. The idea behind “The Giver” was that we had pretty much destroyed ourselves, and only through the administration of The Elders had this small enclave of civilization survived by essentially removing emotion, choice, hell even thought.

Tomorrowland asks, I think, “When did we stop hoping? And why don’t we do something about that?

It’s a good question, and it shouldn’t get lost in hysterics over political correctness.

UPDATE:  Bill Whittle, however, makes some good points.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmxeoh69G4o?rel=0&controls=0]

I’ve Seen This Happen

Following a 360 Ton haul truck on a rain-slick pit road.  (That’s how much it carries, not what it weighs.)  Exciting doesn’t cover it:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0KPoKmwqt8?rel=0]
I’m just glad it wasn’t behind me.

UPDATE: The Cat in this video is a 777 – a baby haul truck. It’s only rated at about 100 tons.  The big ones these days (like the 797) go 400 tons.  This truck would easily fit in the bed of a 797.

Quote of the Day – Free Speech Edition

From an answer over at Quora.com to the question: “What do normal Americans think about ‘Draw Prophet Muhammed Cartoon Contest’ organized in Garland, Texas?  Was the event about freedom of speech or did it focus on developing anti-Islam sentiments?”

The whole answer is excellent, but I wanted to archive this portion:

We are as viciously, passionately, ready-to-wage-warringly, married to our freedoms as Muslims are to their prophet Muhammad. Never presume that your beliefs are somehow magically more super-duper special than ours just because they are attached to a religious idea. Never fool yourself into believing that others aren’t as dedicated to their philosophical perspective just because you think that your belief is right and theirs is wrong.