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July, 2008:

The Worst Films EVER!!!

My previous post got me thinking about terrible movies I have seen (in no particular order)…

  • Batman & Robin – Dreadful in every way.
  • The Thin Red Line – Utter lack of organisation and a sort of busked script totally ruin a movie which annoyingly has great combat sequences. And it’s waaay too long.
  • Twin Town – A repugnant tale of repugnant trailer-trash in South Wales.
  • Taxi Driver – Spectacularly over-rated. And you just want Travis Bickle to fall under a subway train and end the whole farrago in the first reel. The scene with the porn movie date is horrible to watch.
  • Stealth – Obviously (see previous post).
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – More like Ken Brannagh’s Wankenstain. De Niro again puts in a performance for which (if he’d a shred of dignity he would have retired to his trailer after seeing the first rushes and ended it all). Brannagh also of course totally fucks up the entire script. It conveys no sense of Victor’s thrill at discovery. In fact he half-inches his science from John Cleese(!) and that just misses Mary Shelley’s point. The definitive Frankenstein for me is an early 90s TV mini-series with Patrick Bergin (I think) as Victor.
  • Attack of the Clones – Incomprehensible drivel going nowhere at light speed. Yoda’s line, “The Clone Wars begun they have” should have been the first line and not the last.
  • Phantom Menace – Annoying kid, Jah Jah Binks, and not an Evil Empire but a Trade Federation as the bad guys!
  • That Thing You Do – Deservedly obscure Tom Hank’s directed “personal project” about a band in small town America in the 60s becoming famous and then quitting. Nothing wrong with it but basically nothing much happens either.
  • The Da Vinci Code – Watched it on a flight. Would have rather looked at the Atlantic. Utter bilge. Hanks and McKellen ought to be thoroughly ashamed.
  • Mystic River – Really enjoyed it, great performances, absolutely great but I felt so robbed by the ending.
  • Bad Lieutenant- Horrible, horrible, nasty film. The scene where Harvey Keitel is bombed out of his box and gyrating naked is hideous. And he’s hung like a Chinese mouse.
  • Six Days, Seven Nights. Appalling Action-Rom-Com staring Anne Heche’s permanently erect nipples. Was Ellen Degeneres fluffing her between takes? IMDb doesn’t say.
  • Jaws 3D – Utter bunk from start to finish.
  • Quo Vadis – Title mean something like “Where are you going?” Answer: down the pub. Duller than complete sensory deprivation.
  • Lawrence of Arabia – If you enjoy long shots of camels coming towards you very slowly through heat haze then you probably also enjoy watching paint dry.
  • Carry on Columbus – They shouldn’t make Carry on films while Sid James is still dead.
  • Rollerball (original) – Rollerbollocks more like. Reasonable fights but the rest is tuly awful.
  • Hannibal – Almost as bad as the book. And Ridley Scott should have told Oldman and Hopkins that “competing with each other to see who can be hammiest” is not in your contracts. Maybe it was.
  • Waterworld – Mad Max all at sea.
  • Jack – Not Robin Williams finest hour and that’s up against some pretty stiff competition.
  • All later Steve Martin movies.
  • What I have seen of the Police Academy franchise.

The. Absolute. Worst. EVER!!!

I was watching one of those list shows on Five last night. “100 Celebrity gaffes of the ’90s”. At #8 was Julia Robert’s unshaven armpits at the London premiere of Notting Hill. I was already surprised by it being that high-up the list (compared to the antics of the likes of Michael Jackson, for example) when they came to the obligatory talking heads commenting on the item. The first was a man who was clearly gayer than a tree-full of monkeys therefore could only, at best, take a theoretical view on female pulchritude who was outraged. OK, I thought, we have a new definition for “moron”. Seconds later I had to re-write the dictionary again. This, er, woman came on and described Ms Robert’s armpits as The Worst Thing EVER!!!. It was fairly clear from her tone and her continued ranting that she didn’t just mean the worst grooming faux-pas ever either, but absolutely the worst thing of any description ever. You know that 9/11? Nothing to Julia dumping her Remington. The Black Death – serves them hairy peasants right. Battle of the Somme – Our plucky (and plucked) lads went over the top not just for King and Country but because our lasses depillated* and we had to save them from horribly hirsute Hun. German women were styling their body hair in the form of the Kaiser’s ‘tache and we were worried the fashion would spread. That’s the real, hidden reason for WWI. Oh, that and a NeoCon-Zionist plot (“Bosche”=”Bush”=”body hair” – see it all fits wonderfully circularly) , obviously…

I have always suspected that celeb journos were generally facile, shallow and a bit thick but that was something else. She should be kept in a darkened room and should only be let-out when Britney Spears does something wacky. OK, serves me right for watching a show about celebs doing the funniest things on Five but I was tired. I should have heeded the final words uttered by Adam Faith, the 60s singer turned business-guru, “It’s all crap on channel Five”. Then his heart gave out which was probably a mercy.

I had earlier watched on Five the movie Stealth. Now that really is an atrocity. If they’d burned the budget in twenties in a brazier at least a couple of Harold Ramps could have warmed their hand for an evening. It failed on every level. It in managed to fail in a way that as far as I can tell is unique in modern cinema. There were two tacked on romantic sub-plots. The first was too dull for me to waste pixels on but the second was something else. On R&R in Thailand, Jamie Foxx’s character hooks-up with a local lass who doesn’t speak English at all. There is therefore no dialogue between the two for the entire duration of the romance. That hasn’t happened since the days of Louise Brooks! Terrible, terrible film. As far as techno-thrillers are concerned I don’t think Mr Clancy has too much to worry about. Stealth is something you watch in rapt horror.

I have now vowed to take heed of Mr Faith’s final words. Never have five words been truer.

*Underarm shaving becoming commonplace in the Anglosphere is generally dated back to an advert in the May 1915 edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Sleeveless dresses were in vogue at the time and Mr Gillette saw a new market. I know some junk, I really do.

A hint of rationality

From the comments at Rantburg -

An email from Ireland to all of their brethren in the States. A point to ponder despite your political affiliation:

We, in Ireland, can’t figure out why you people are even bothering to hold an election in the United States.

On one side, you had a pants wearing female lawyer, married to another lawyer who can’t seem to keep his pants on, who just lost a long and heated primary against a lawyer, who goes to the wrong church, who is married to yet another lawyer, who doesn’t even like the country her husband wants to run!

Now…On the other side, you have a nice old war hero whose name starts with the appropriate ‘Mc’ terminology, married to a good looking younger woman who owns a beer distributorship!

What in God’s name are ya lads thinking over in the colonies!!!!!

via Ghost of a Flea

So it starts

I guess it makes sense that the advertising industry would be amongst the first to notice. Too many people are shivering through the northern summer this year and when reality diverges from rhetoric, people do eventually cotton on.

via MoonBattery -

Last week, The New York Times noted that the advertising industry is pulling back from green-themed marketing, having “grasped the public’s growing skepticism over ads with environmental messages.

The politicians are going to have to get their act together. Soon.

Extreme Porn

It will from the 1st of January 2009 be an offence to own within England and Wales “extreme pornographic images“. Please read the whole thing. This is an unbelievably weird and draconian law. Essentially it is claimed it is needed to outlaw certain violent pornographic sub-genres. I assume that means that for example rape scenes intended to be “pornographic” are to be made illegal. To call that a can of worms is an understatement. If there is one thing the internet has taught us it is that there is always someone who will get off on something, no matter how weird and no matter how, perhaps, seemingly non-sexual.

America’s favourite blue-haired house-wife, Marge Simpson has a weakness for having her elbow nibbled. Now that’s sort of odd but I’ll bet you dollars to Homer’s donuts that there are folks out their whose deepest fantasy is to do the nibbling. Now, call me conservative but nibbling the elbow of cartoon characters doesn’t fry my onions. Except, obviously, there is no harm in such weirdness. Perhaps there is harm in fetishizing sexual violence and such pornography (or art, or erotica, or filth or whatever you want to call it) is potentially problematic but the way this law is phrased means ‘Staged material would be caught if it “conveys a realistic impression of fear, violence and harm”‘. Now that’s almost vague enough to be meaningless. That could mean almost anything. It potentially criminalizes S&M stuff done by consenting adults. BDSM is a huge porn sub-genre and is probably a more popular (and vastly more fun) participation sport than golf. Of course what exactly is BDSM? Is a film of gentle spanking OK? Are schlocky ’80s horror movies OK (which definitely involve fear, violence and harm and frequently sex – hell we all know the captain of the football team and the cheerleader making-out in the back of his Dad’s Chevy are the first to get slashed)? Is having a sado-masochistic Nazi role-play session with a collection of prostitutes in a basement dungeon in Chelsea OK? And what exactly is harm? Would that include certain body piercings? Or anything that left any other kind of permanent mark or scar? Hell smoking is harmful. Is the possession of risque shots of old stars of the silver screen with cigarette-holders going to land you in the clink and on the bloody sex-offenders register with all the nonces and kiddie-fiddlers and serial-rapists and assorted genuinely dangerous preverts into all manner of nasty, non-consensual preversions?

Everything I know about the BDSM community is that rule one is trust. It is entirely about trust between consenting adults. That is the sine qua non. Of course NeuArbeit doesn’t trust us to trust each other. I of course don’t trust them back.

Bear in mind here that the consensual nature of the activity depicted for real or fake (yes, even CGI) is no defence.

And also bear in mind that this is about the imagery. They are not criminalizing the activity (though certain things already are), merely the images that might be created of it. And this is possession, not distribution even. It might be the video of that session with the missus in your private torture chamber that you made for purely personal, er… use. This is absurd, and this is my most profound objection. How the hell can something be legal to do but not to have images of? How does that make any bloody sense?

This new law merely makes worse one of the rampantly bizarre hypocrises of law in this country. Our age of consent is 16 but any movie depicting sex or porn-mag is barred for under 18s. You can touch but you can’t look. It’s mad. Imagine if you were allowed to get a driving license two years before you were allowed to watch Jeremy and the lads on Top Gear! It’s that raving.

But that isn’t all that really gets me. What really gets me is that wording, “conveys a realistic impression of fear, violence and harm”. The precedent that gets close to setting for making illegal anything which anyone finds offensive is really scary.

mowercide

A chap from Milwaukee is possibly facing jail for shooting his lawn mower. Apparently he was intoxicated at the time. OK, it’s a pretty bloody weird thing to do but I believe his defence, “I can do that, it’s my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want” is water-tight. Well, it ought to be in the Land of the Free. If I was a juror I’d acquit. There have been times when I have been tempted to take a sledge-hammer to our Honda mower when it failed to start. I would of course feel bad for killing our mower because the last time it failed to start it was ten minutes ’till I realized I had disconnected the spark-plug the earlier. Anyhow, yanking the cord for that length of time has given me a right arm like Popeye

H/T Tizona – Sword of El Cid

More warming records

via Greenie Watch -

The coldest Alaskan summer ever? Well, still to be determined, but the distinct possibility is there.

Right now the so-called summer of ’08 is on pace to produce the fewest days ever recorded in which the temperature in Anchorage managed to reach 65 degrees.

(…)

This year, however — with the summer more than half over — there have been only seven 65-degree days so far.

(…)

“It’s probably going to go down as the summer with the least number of 65-degree days.”

Yeah, yeah, I know. Everything is evidence of Global Warming, even multi year trends of cooling.

Creeping totalitarianism II

Continuing from the theme of my previous post -

A group called Service Nation is set to spend a ton of money lobbying the government to create a program to force every young person into servitude by 2020.

(…)

The solution is to develop a system of voluntary universal national service for our country and for the world. To call upon all young adults to take at least one year to learn the hard and rugged skills of practicing idealism.

Voluntary and Universal? By voluntary, they merely mean unpaid.

Idealism? Great, wonderful, a society without idealism would be a desert indeed, but enforced? What about hard headed practicality? Is there not need for that as well? And apathy? Is that to be outlawed?

How about a society of diverse views and approaches? Or is that sort of ‘diversity’ not important to Barackkk’s friends?

All together now – “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”.

Creeping totalitarianism

via Junk Science

Two doctors, writing in the British Medical Journal, suggest that doctors should talk to their patients about climate change and encourage them to think about the consequences of having a big family.

(…)

doctors should help to bring family size into the arena of environmental ethics,

(…)

They also pointed out that The Optimum Population Trust calculates that ‘each new UK birth will be responsible for 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions . . . than a new birth in Ethiopia’.

Whether this is enacted or not, this time, is no more important than that it is being proposed without an expression of universal revulsion. Bit by bit, piece by piece, whether by leaps and bounds or baby step by baby step, all the independent components of society are being drafted to push the one unified message of the nasties; and ultimately it won’t matter what that message is.

“Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”.

Now seems a good time to repeat this -

Pulling together is the aim of despots and tyrannies. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.

The Obama Watch

As November draws nigh, it may be worthwhile putting this on your watch list -

Q:  Why is Jimmy Carter supporting the candidacy of Obama?

A:  Because Carter is tired of being the Worst President ever!

barackobamawatch.jpgbarackobamawatch.jpg

Motive

Money quote from Power and Control blog, on who makes the money, and why -

Only those with the capability plus intense desire become scientists or for that matter engineers. Which is as it should be. I wouldn’t want aircraft designed by those who were only in it for the money.

Sure, science and engineering is hard, and creative. For a good engineer you need a hard headed realist with the soul of an artist. Only those who know nothing about it can call engineering, or science, cold and soulless.

Logical Fallacy

I shall ‘fess up. I did a Physics degree by the seat of my pants and busked the maths. This meant I had to teach myself a lot of maths off my own hook. It gave me a love of the subject that will never fade. So much so that in my final year as an UG (when I had more scope for electives) I did twenty credits of discrete math (but I don’t talk about it much). What is discrete math? It is maths without limits which anyone who has learned The Calculus will understand. For the rest of you in the naughty corner wondering about what the squire on the hippopotamus is equal to I shall explain.

Discrete is stuff like sets and logic and graph theory. It is all whole numbers. But mainly it was logic. I therefore know argumentum ad verecundiam (argument from authority) when I see it and my co-blogger has yanked up two examples recently. In his piece on George Monbiot’s latest de-pramestration which I have described as not even fiskable earlier (it’s in the comments somewhere) the Monbiot (amongst sundry shit) claims this is an argument:

The contribution of a very eminent climate scientist was edited to make him seem like an inconsistent crank, while maverick outsiders were presented as the voices of scientific orthodoxy.

That isn’t even an undergrad error. That is a blatent appeal to authority. My mug of tea tilted and leaked onto the carpet. That is out-fucking-rageous.

That is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever read presented as evidence of anything. OK. Let’s look at cock-ups committed in the sciences by the eminent and their debunking by “maverick outsiders”. I could be here all day but let’s look at just one case. In the late Nineteenth Century a big debate got going about the age of the Earth. It was pretty much kicked off by Darwinian Theory because it was fairly obvious from the get-go that evolution needed a time-scale way beyond anything in the Bible. Some utterly pignorant things were said at the time. The Times ran with the headline “Grandfather was a Horse” which was only true about people from Norfolk. Lord Kelvin, the great thermodynamicist waded into the debate. He “proved” the Solar System was not more than ten thousand years old. He did this by assuming the radiation of the Sun was produced by it’s gravitational contraction. On that he was dead wrong. The Sun shines by nuclear fusion as was proved many years later by Hans Bethe. But that’s not my point. Lord Kelvin was a peer of the realm, ennobled for his scientific work. He was authority. And this is how wrong he was:

I have cocked-up at times but… I never got anything out by that sort of factor. I never tried to invade Russia either.

And then the Enumerator of Felines mentions homeopathy. An argument in it’s favour is presented by some complete maroon thusly:

In a statement, a Boots spokesperson said: “Homeopathy is recognised by the NHS”.

Wowsers! That is a double appeal to authority. Boots is a huge company. It is therefore an authority. The NHS is also an authority and the largest purchaser of drugs on the planet. Yeah, even more than Pete Doherty.

I think a fair few folk ought to be pistol-whipped onto my Discrete Math course at Nottingham University (which purely co-incidentally was founded by Sir Jesse Boot, the pharmacist). Well, he was an authority too. He managed to buy up a big chunk of the East Midlands and build Trent College (he was later ennobled to Lord Trent) on it. Well, he had created a stunningly successful business and set-up a pretty good university to er… boot.

Sapientia Urbs Conditur as at least one of our regular readers ought to recognise.

Superstition

Britain’s leading pharmacists’ organisation is being urged to crack down on high street chemists that sell homeopathic remedies, amid accusations that they are in breach of their own ethical guidelines.

(…)

In an open letter to the society, Edzard Ernst, the country’s only professor of complementary medicine, criticises high street pharmacists for selling homeopathic remedies without informing customers that they contain no biologically active agents and are no more effective than sugar pills.

The ethical code states that pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies, herbal medicines or other complementary therapies, “must assist patients in making informed decisions” by providing them with “necessary and relevant information”.

(…)

“My plea is simply for honesty. Let people buy what they want, but tell them the truth about what they are buying. These treatments are biologically implausible and the clinical tests have shown they don’t do anything at all in human beings.

(…)

“There may be a place, where the patient demands it, for harmless faith-based therapies. Whether that place is in a pharmacy is what the profession must address.”

I gotta say, I have always found it incomprehensible that these quack remedies occupy shelves in pharmacies. How can a trained health professional sell this drek and sleep at night?

In a statement, a Boots spokesperson said: “Homeopathy is recognised by the NHS

Which says far more about the NHS and how much influence that blithering idiot Cherie Blair had on government policy than it does on the efficacy of distilled water in solving medical problems.

Did I ever mention that I once, for a short time, had a girlfriend who had a ‘degree’ in homoeopathy? For our entire association, if I wanted continued access to her physical affections I had to keep my tongue firmly bitten.

Sticks and stones – or fists

From Kevin, a commenter on this piece at Ezras site -

Doesn’t Canada realize that there is a big difference between ‘saying horrible things’ and ‘committing horrible acts’?

Modeling sanity

The Hawaii Reporter joins the growing chorus of dissent towards the consensus view, with comments about the limits of the computer models in The Salesmans settled science -

as P.J. O’Rourke noted, there are a lot of people who would do anything to “save the planet”, except take a science course. Chief amongs these being Government ministers, journalists and environmantalists ?

Computer models do not consider variations of irradiance and magnetic fields of the sun

Computer models do not accurately model the role of clouds

Computer models do not simulate a possible negative feedback from water vapor

Computer models do not explain many features of the Earth’s observed climate.

Computer models cannot produce reliable predictions of regional climate change

We must conclude that climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), do not accurately depict our chaotic, open-ended, climate system. They cannot make reliable predictions and should not be used to formulate government policy.

As Christopher Monckton recently admonished, “We must get the science right, or we will get the policy wrong”.

(…)

As Dennis Avery recently said, “Let’s have a real debate of the climate evidence. We’ve heard enough from the computers.”

Garbage in, garbage out, although garbage apparently validated by having passed through the bowels of a multi megaflop monster.

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