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Thank the editor

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I know we’re a political blog but even political tragics like me get tired of it sometimes.

Especially with Covid-19 in the air. Even before the latest lockdown my wife went to a little evening event with several of her friends and came home in a rather depressed mood: “All anybody talked about was Covid”.

So, in the spirit of Not-The-Virus-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, here’s something fun.

I loved the first Star Wars movie that came out in 1977. As a kid I’d watched some crappy special effects TV programs and the occasional movie that tried to portray space warfare and in the wake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, I wondered when we’d get a space war movie that looked as cool.

It took almost a decade but Star Wars was it, and based on reading newspapers (Ha!) I was more prepped than my school friends were when it arrived in NZ in the summer of 77/78, to the extent that they teased the shit out of me. But they all loved it too!

Lucas made a fortune and became a name in Hollywood, equalling his peers like Steve Spielberg. At least for a while. The sequel released in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back, is regarded correctly as the best of the entire series, but stories were already spreading that this had much to do with the cast re-writing the dialog. As Harrison Ford (Han Solo) supposedly told Lucas: “You can write this shit, George, but you can’t speak it”. Over the next fifteen years, the “prequals” would demonstrate just what an awful movie maker Lucas actually was in story, plot, and dialog.

Which thus raised the question: why was the first movie so good? As it turned out that story was already emerging in the late 80’s, and the tale was that it was actually his then wife, Marcia Lucas, who was the genius behind the scenes as the editor of the movie. Editors don’t get much coverage in any movie, even though there is an Oscar category for them to win. But Marcia was already a very well-known editor in Hollywood and much in demand.

Lucas basically dropped a whole lot of movie reels at her feet, as well as excitedly getting friends to watch his incoherent pile of shite! They hated it and it was up to Marcia to fix the mess.

She did. The following is the story of how she did it.


Written by Tom Hunter

September 23, 2021 at 4:05 pm

The skills of ordinary men

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I recently read two articles that actually cover some of the same ground, even though their topics could not be more different.

The first is from 2003, Electric Heroes, and it’s written by a lawyer looking back at one of his early cases where a woman sued an American power company over the death of her husband, who was a linemen.

They clambered up narrow steel ladders and then inched across four-inch-wide “angle-iron” girders made slippery with rain or morning dew, and when they reached out, they touched either the open sky or heavy steel cables whose purpose was to carry enough electricity to power the nation’s fourth largest city.

Because they were so well trained, they were able to work safely, routinely, under conditions that would terrify you or me.

The writer points out that these men (in those days they were all men) were also very careful, which made the case a little strange since this particular linemen had fallen 120 feet to his death or possibly had jumped. Not even his workmates could figure out what had gone wrong.

As the young workhorse lawyer gathering two years of information for the trial, he got to know these men very well.

They had a strong sense of duty, and they had a natural dignity that was boundless.  They were modest men, but they had quiet pride by the mile.  Amongst each other, they were very, very funny.  They cussed a lot, and after work they’d go out together for a beer, or to hunt or play poker or catch an Astros game.  And they stuck up for one another.  You’d think twice about crossing any one of them.

They took the case seriously from the beginning because one of their own had died in their midst, for reasons they couldn’t quite explain or grasp, and they were being accused of having caused his death by their indifference. 

In the end the case was settled out of court and the jury dismissed. The young lawyer had become so bonded with these men that he was incandescent with rage at what he felt his senior lawyers had done to them: as much as admitting that they had been indifferent to their workmate, their friend. But the young partner took him to lunch and, as he saw in hindsight, helped him grow up a bit:

“In the greater scheme of life, are you really furious that Mrs X is getting the fairly modest amount of money that will be left to her after her lawyers’ fees and expenses are extracted?  She’s not getting a huge windfall.  Our client can afford it.  It all goes into the rate-base, and ultimately it will be paid in tiny, tiny increments by all the families for whom Mr X helped keep the lights on during his twelve years with the company. Can you not see the justice in that result, even if it wasn’t the harsh and total victory you were gunning for?”

The second article is very recent and is written by a Captain Charlie Anderson of the Minnesota National Guard, describing their recent expedition to Kabul to extract American and Afghan civilians before the Taliban took over: A few good ‘Bastards’.

It’s a fascinating look at those events from a soldier’s view, but it’s also a good look at a component of the US military that’s often overlooked or disparaged, The National Guard. They’re part-time soldiers although equipped with the same stuff as the regular forces including, in this case, Bradley’s and Abrams tanks. Having said that I was surprised a few years ago to find out from a mate in the NZDF that the Hawaiian Air National Guard flies F-22’s!

But what shows here is that the training is also right up with the regular forces:

We’d practiced and trained for the past two years. The task force did a combat training rotation exercise at Fort Hood, Texas in 2019 and executed a successful rotation (the first post-Covid) at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in 2020. While drilling at Camp Ripley, Minnesota we completed numerous tabletop exercises and worked the Military Decision Making Process repeatedly until it became muscle memory.

We had executed multiple iterations of gunnery tables and were continuing ongoing missions in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. We were confident that as the CENTCOM Regional Response Force we’d be poised and prepared to project military power wherever it was needed to accomplish tactical and strategic goals.

When the time came to move out they were ready to go and got to Kabul promptly. Even so such units still endure scepticism from the regulars:

One captain I met from their brigade intelligence section told me he was under the impression that a senator had pulled some strings and got us deployed from Minnesota. When I told him about our task force and that we were already in the Middle East, postured for such a crisis event, he was speechless. Initially, there was an air of distrust, but we proved ourselves worthy partners, dispelling the myth about the perceived capability gap between the active duty and guard/reserve components. 

It was this paragraph that caught my attention in relation to the first article, as the commander of the unit, Lt. Col. Jake Helgestad, described:

He underscored the life skills the National Guard brought to the 82nd Airborne. “We provided capabilities to the fight beyond trigger-pullers that 1/82 never would’ve been able to — engineers, plumbers, electricians, welders, mechanics, heavy machinery operators – we enabled advanced operations that directly impacted the military’s ability to get people out.” 

No need to call up the US Army Corp of Engineers to build barricades and reinforce walls when you’ve got a bunch of people who do that in their everyday lives.

The article is lengthy but well written and packed with a lot of coal-face detail about what they dealt with in a horrific and rapidly deteriorating situation. Well worth your reading time.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 18, 2021 at 9:54 am

9/11 and our conspiracy theory culture

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As the hours tick down to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – which for NZ occurred in the early hours of September 12, 2001 – there is a lot of interesting commentary about the subject.

An unusual one was recently published in the City Journal magazine, Conspiracies All the Way Down. It’s quite long but very much worth the time to read.

It’s written by James B. Meigs, who, when he was the editor of Popular Mechanics in the early 2000’s, got a story put together that examined most of the claims then floating around with the “9/11 Truth Movement”.

I hadn’t intended to join the Globalist/Bush–Cheney/Zionist/CIA cabal for world domination. And I certainly didn’t mean to become a leading figure in the conspiracy to cover up the truth about 9/11. According to my critics, though, I was all that and more.

While this article briefly revisits some of those claims, Meigs writes more about his particular history in dealing with them and in particular what has transpired since then in the world of conspiracy theories, and more importantly in our general culture that seems to have enabled them more than ever.

On the far right, Capitol-storming QAnon followers imagine vast, deep-state conspiracies involving pedophiles and pizza parlors.

Today, the Woke Left routinely portrays American institutions as engines of cleverly concealed oppression. Racism, sexism, and the like are not just biases to be overcome but fundamental organizing principles of American society.

I would bet that many on the Left would absolutely not agree that the latter assertions are a conspiracy theory, and Meigs tries to cover his ass by saying that “The Left’s conspiracy theories aren’t as obviously bonkers…”, which I don’t think will save him.

He points out that while there have always been conspiracy theories – the famous move Amadeus was crafted from a centuries old one about Mozart’s death – the 9/11 Truther movement has built something more permanent.

I now believe the 9/11 Truthers I encountered were canaries in the coal mines of American society. They were an early warning sign of a style of thinking that has only grown more common in the years since 9/11: alienated, enraged, and not just irrational, but anti-rational.

But the grassroots popularity of 9/11 conspiracy theories—and the surprising tolerance for such ideas in elite media and political circles—helped bring paranoia into the modern mainstream. I watched it happen.

He writes of the methods used to attack his old magazine’s article:

Dedicated conspiracists use a whole suite of techniques to dismiss inconvenient facts. They vilify opponents with ad hominem attacks. While refusing to engage with legitimate evidence, they zero in on a handful of anomalies they think undermine the mainstream narrative. For example, a single eyewitness’s mistaken impression becomes definitive proof against the weight of hundreds of other eyewitness accounts. Michael Shermer, then a columnist at Scientific American, called this approach “argument by anomaly” and noted that creationists and Holocaust deniers employ the same sort of selection bias. Of course, Popular Mechanics’ reporting showed that even the supposed anomalies relied on falsehoods. But that gave the Truthers little pause. If a claim became too troublesome, they would simply abandon it and move on to new, even flimsier assertions.

He also makes clear why all this seemed more solid than ones in the past:

First, it’s important to remember that 9/11 conspiracy theories were mostly embraced on the far left at that point. George W. Bush was in the White House, and antiwar sentiment was strong. Few liberal leaders and media figures actively promoted the theories, but few also saw them as a problem worth criticizing. (David Corn, then a columnist at The Nation, was a notable—and noble—exception.)

The unspoken assumption seemed to be that there wasn’t much harm in a few hotheads calling Bush a terrorist puppet master. In fact, if it convinced a few more people to hate Republicans, it might even be a good thing.

So, with a few exceptions, the media mostly gave the 9/11 Truthers a pass. That was one factor helping this minor cult become a mass movement. 

Damned right, and such attitudes led he and Popular Mechanics to be questioned as to whether they had a political agenda and were trying to help the hated Bush Administration. Those questions often came from the MSM.

This was the moment I realized journalism was changing. The evenhanded search for truth—rarely achieved in practice—was fading even as a journalistic aspiration. Now every set of facts must serve a political purpose. If it wasn’t helpful to the Left, it must be helpful to the Right. Where journalists once obsessed over the accuracy of facts, now they worried more about their utility. If some piece of information helps the wrong sorts of people, perhaps it’s best left unpublished.

He specifically makes the point about where that has led the MSM with more recent events:

Last year, we saw this logic carried to a new extreme, when virtually all major media outlets refused to cover the revelations contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop, or to explore evidence that Covid-19 might have escaped from a Wuhan, China lab.

However, Meigs fails to make the point that in both cases the suppression of these news stories, with a judicious combination of the MSM and US government “sources”, actually looks like a conspiracy theory itself, although I put it down more to the actions of a hive-mind.

The then newish Internet world of blogs and video also helped push the 9/11 Truthers along to a far greater degree than was possible even a decade earlier. I’m reminded of the crude VHS videotapes that circulated in 1990’s America detailing the dastardly plots of the Clintons, like landing drug-smuggling planes in Arkansas. Such means are not a patch on the Internet.

The technology allowed a crude but effective movie called Loose Change to be made by amateurs, and that was when the Left really took flight with the theory:

Even before Loose Change, a few prominent Democrats had begun catering to the Truther cohort. Howard Dean flirted with conspiracy claims during his 2004 presidential campaign. Van Jones had to resign as an Obama advisor when word got out that he had earlier signed a 9/11 conspiracy petition. In the House of Representatives, Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney invited conspiracy theorists, including David Ray Griffin, to address the Congressional Black Caucus. But Loose Change opened the floodgates.

Plus Hollywood’s Lefties. The Left’s involvement in this should not be forgotten in the age of sneering remarks about the Right and QAnon, although Meigs notes the paradox that some of the 9/11 theories orginally came from Ultra Right-Wing sources, which again leads to the situation today:

The leftists who amplified these Truther narratives probably believed they were undermining the hated Bush administration. But they were also nudging their followers along a path toward the worst sort of neo-fascist propaganda. Those who went all the way down the rabbit hole—as millions of Americans did—wound up in an ideological jungle where far-left and far-right politics become almost indistinguishable.

It is a place where the U.S. democratic system is a cynical sham; where true power is held by a merciless, secretive cabal; and where Israel is the world’s eternal villain. So while progressives either ignored it or cheered it on, the Truther movement was evolving into a kind of gateway drug for paranoid extremism.

Including the MSM before Covid-19 and Hunter Biden:

At the same time, the media became so obsessed with protecting the public from Trump’s falsehoods that it lowered its own standards of veracity. Mainstream media routinely misrepresented Trump statements, such as his “fine people on both sides” comment regarding the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Meantime, they eagerly repeated some of the wildest anti-Trump allegations, especially ones involving Russia. Step by step, the press surrendered any claim to being an honest broker in factual debates.

Which in turn means that political leaders cannot be held to account by the MSM:

Trump took political demagoguery to new extremes, but he certainly didn’t invent it. Asking followers to accept wild, unsupported assertions can be politically useful. And politicians no longer pay much of a price for going overboard.

Campaigning as Obama’s vice presidential nominee in 2008, Biden told a largely black audience that Republicans were “going to put you all back in chains.” Hillary Clinton and other Democrats endlessly asserted that Trump’s 2016 election victory was “illegitimate.” Their followers listened.

Even four years later, 62 percent of Democrats told pollsters they believe the 2016 election was fraudulent. That number is a mirror image of the 61 percent of Republicans who think the 2020 election was rigged.

You hear a lot about the latter but not much about the former, which included Nancy Pelosi. And some of the people playing this game are on the Right, casting themselves as “sensible, moderate, fair and balanced” voices who try to act as gatekeepers for the Right while failing to notice or perhaps deliberately ignoring the fact that their supposedly moderate counterparts on the Left – like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton – don’t bother even trying to do the same on their side of the political and ideological fence.

While Meigs casts his eyes on the January 6 Capitol rioters, the Antifa / BLM stuff does not escape notice:

In those BLM protests that veered into destruction, it was not inner-city youths but committed political radicals instigating the most determined violence. During anti-police riots in Brooklyn in May 2020, two young lawyers were arrested after tossing a Molotov cocktail into an empty police van. NPR described them as “idealistic attorneys hoping to change the world.”

Perhaps. But, like the Capitol rioters, they seemed wedded to the view that the American system is too far gone for peaceful reform. One of the pair, Urooj Rahman, gave an impassioned video interview minutes before launching her firebomb attack. “The only way they hear us is through violence,” she said. “This shit won’t ever stop unless we fuckin’ take it all down.”

Meigs wraps this with a warning.

For now, only the most extreme activists on the right or left seek to participate in such violence. But the share of people who think political violence might be appropriate is growing. In a poll conducted prior to the 2020 election, 44 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats said that there would be “at least ‘a little’ justification for violence if the other party’s nominee won the election.”

Written by Tom Hunter

September 11, 2021 at 6:21 pm

Posted in History, MSM, Reading, Movie, Music Reviews, USA

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A dubious honour

One of my favourite films is the wonderful 1988 movie Bull Durham.

While Bull Durham is about minor league baseball, it’s also about romance, sex, poetry, metaphysics, the tough business of baseball and the clash between talent and brains.

Anyway, there’s a scene where Annie Savoy (played by the then very hot Susan Sarandon) tells player “Crash” Davis (played by Kevin Costner, who for once is also sexy), that she has looked up his Minor League details:

Annie:
“I looked up your records– You’ve hit 227 home runs in the minors. That’s great!

Crash:
Don’t tell anybody.

Annie:
Why not? If you hit twenty homers this year you’ll be the all time minor league champ! The record’s 246.

Crash:
247 home runs in the minors would be a dubious honor.

To that end it would appear that something similar has happened to me over at Kiwiblog, courtesy of this comment on Biden’s Afghan disaster, and some train-spotter named Steve Todd:

Congratulations on putting up Kiwiblog’s 3,000,000th comment, Tom.

Not sure if I’ll get a prize for this or not. I wonder who did the 1,000,000th and 2,000,000 comments?

BTW, since we’re largely trapped in our homes you might want to stream or otherwise watch the movie. You don’t have to know much about baseball to enjoy it as both Crash and Annie try to teach rookie pitcher Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh about baseball (Crash) and sex (Annie). Two quotes should suffice.

Annie:
“Y’see there’s a certain amount of “life-wisdom” I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him. And the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen.

Of course a guy will listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay.”

Or this scene where Crash strongly disagrees with an umpire’s call at home plate and gets chucked out of the game, all while Annie and her friend listen on the radio to the Bull’s official announcer describing events:

Teddy on the radio:
I’ve never seen Crash so angry and frankly, Bull fans, he used a certain word that’s a “no-no” with umpires.”

Millie:
Crash musta called the guy a cocksucker.

Annie:
Mmm…. God, he’s so romantic.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 23, 2021 at 4:37 pm

It will whisper your name.

One of the greatest TV series I’ve ever watched is the 1990 PBS documentary by Ken Burns, The Civil War, which covered the American Civil War fought between 1861 and 1865.

One of the most poignant moments comes near the end of the first episode, in a section entitled “Honorable Manhood”, where a letter from a Union soldier to his wife is read out over the usual B&W photos that Burns used to such great effect.

That letter was written 160 years ago today but it stands for all time.

Here is the TV version, which included some editing for concision.

And here is a link to the complete, original letter, with my edited version below that matches the TV version:

July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.

Dear Sarah

The Indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days, perhaps to-morrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write a few lines, that may fall under your eye when I’m no more.

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how American civilization now leans upon the triumph of this government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution, and I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in this life to help maintain this government, and to pay that debt.

Sarah, my love for you is deathless. It seems to bind me with mighty cables, that nothing but Omnipotence can break; and yet, my love of country comes over me like a strong wind, and bears me irresistibly with all those chains, to the battlefield. The memories of all the blissful moments I have spent with you come crowding over me, and I feel most deeply grateful to God and you, that I have enjoyed them for so long. And how hard it is for me to give them up, and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our boys grown up to honorable manhood around us.

If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that, when my last breath escapes me on the battle-field, it will whisper your name.

Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless, how foolish I have sometimes been! 

But, O Sarah, if the dead can come back to this earth, and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be with you in the brightest day, and the darkest night…. always, always, and, when the soft breeze fans your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air at your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.


Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone, and wait for me, for we shall meet again.

Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 14, 2021 at 6:00 am

Kiwiblog and Jane Austen

Blog comments, and comments on more modern Social Media sites, are well known for being perpetually grumpy, even angry, with the latter emotion at full tilt on FaceTwit.

So it’s always a pleasure when you randomly encounter comments that are fun, even if they take the mickey out of other commentators.

Such a thing happened on Kiwiblog the other day as DPF finally caught up with the story of the North Korean defector, Yeonmi Park, in the US: “Even North Korea is not this nuts”. He got there because the NZ Herald covered the story with its usual copy and paste from a US MSM source (yes, DPF still feeds clicks to these bastards).

One of the comments Park made was about her love of Jane Austen and the response she got:

During her orientation, for instance, a staff member scolded her for liking classic literaturesuch as the writings of Jane Austen.

“I said ‘I love those books.’ I thought it was a good thing,” Park said of her orientation. “Then she said, ‘Did you know those writers had a colonial mindset? They were racists and bigots and are subconsciously brainwashing you.’”

In the comments section one long-time commentator, “MikenMildAgain” had some fun with this by parodying the famous opening lines of Pride and Prejudice:

Well, she likes Jane Austen, so perhaps it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single student in possession of a university education, must be in want of a grievance.

Which I have to say was quite clever. MMA has been there for years and specialises in entertaining himself by dropping ten to twenty comments each day, most of which are pure snark. A few years ago when a comment counter still existed there I did some train spotting on him that showed he had exceeded the notorious Pete George with some 20,000 KB comments in just a few years. MMA is probably at 60,000 by now.

Some of that has been regularly directed at another commentator who posts under her own name; Maggy Wassilieff, a retired biological scientist who incurs MMA’s wrathful snark because she doesn’t buy into a lot of the AGW Crisis claims. She challenged MMA to try the opening lines of Persuasion instead but he declined, saying it was too long: you can read the original lines at that link.

Maggy’s response was a hit right between the eyes:

MMA of Manor Park, Lower Hutt, was a man who, for his own amusement, never ventured into social media but for Kiwiblog; there he found occupation for his idle days, and consolation in his distressed ones; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect by contemplating the smears and abuses of his earliest comments; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from long-lost arguments changed naturally into pity and contempt as he read through his almost endless screes of bile from bygone days; and there, if every other comment were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest that never failed.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 23, 2021 at 11:17 am

NERDS!

A long but very interesting article in the latest National Geographic about the discovery of fossils from a gigantic, swimming dinosaur called Spinosaurus.

This thing appears to have basically been the T Rex of the ancient seas. It was actually ;onger than an adult T Rex, at 16 metre (50 foot) and weighing about seven tonnes. What’s really strange about it though is that it had a large sail on its back and an elongated snout that resembled the maw of a crocodile, with lots of conical teeth.

As is usually the case with dinosaur fossils it turns out that there had been much controversy over exactly what the creature looked like. But things were tougher in this case because the earliest fossils of it – dug up in Egypt between 1910 and 1914 by a Bavarian palaeontologist and aristocrat called Ernst Freiherr Stromer von Reichenbach (sounds like the start of an Indiana Jones movie) – were lost:

During World War II, Allied bombing prompted Stromer—a critic of the Nazi regime—to beg the museum director to move the fossils to safety. The Nazi director refused, and bombing destroyed the fossils in 1944. Drawings, photos, and descriptions in journal articles were all that remained to prove Stromer’s Spinosaurus fossils ever existed.

Chalk up one more piece of barbarity to the moronic Nazis.

This particular fossil has started to put a lot of those questions to rest. It comes from a sandstone formation called the Kem Kem beds, that starts 200 miles east of Marrakesh in Morocco and extends 150 miles to the southwest. It’s rugged, brutally hot country:

I got a taste for the site’s challenges, and the rush of discovery, when I joined the team in July 2019 for a return expedition. The 117-degree heat and arid winds wicked liters of water from my body as we chipped our way through an outcrop marbled like bacon. Fanned along the outcrop below, Ibrahim’s Detroit Mercy students lugged rocks in buckets made from recycled tires and scoured the debris for even the tiniest flecks of bone.

I have to say that this photo struck me as particularly Indiana Jonesish.

But that image is quickly replaced by this passage:

The 2018 dig started brutally. To clear tonnes of sandstone, the crew bought the region’s only working jackhammer. It broke within minutes. Days were so gruelling that several team members were hospitalised once they returned home.

But the promise of discovery kept them going, along with Nutella breaks that temporarily took their minds off the punishing work. Finally, they started finding one caudal vertebra after another from the animal’s tail, sometimes just minutes and inches apart.

The team was so giddy over the bonanza, they drummed out musical beats with their rock hammers and broke into song, belting out, “It’s another caudal!” to the tune of Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

Heh. Fucking nerds eh? You have to love them. But read the whole article.

Here’s the song they were singling along to. Personally I always hated it as one of those typical over-produced, Big Hair 80’s “rocker classics”. Barf!

See also:

The Fault In Our Stars

Dinosaur Wars and The Nine Foot Problem.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 20, 2021 at 10:17 am

Charismatic Cisterns

We’re all used to seeing water tanks that look like these ones, particularly in New Zealand and Australia where they’re a common site on farms, although they’re usually no longer in use. These two actually don’t look too bad, probably because the sagging lean of their platforms has added some style to their image, courtesy also of a good photographer.

When it comes to our urban areas New Zealand lucks out with its hilly geography providing an automatic gravity-fed capability. Huge water tanks and cisterns can be buried on the top of hills, perhaps with less than half of the structure sticking above ground.

That’s a good thing because their basic functionality means that they are not pretty to start with.

In other parts of the world where towns and cities are surrounded by hundreds of miles of flat land, the townsfolk are not so lucky. Their water tanks, more correctly termed water towers, have to be raised on a platform to gain sufficient height above the surrounding buildings that they supply. When I first drove through the American Mid-West my attention kept being drawn to these water tanks, not only because I found such structures unusual but because they often looked like the following.

Butt ugly in other words.

Even more so when extra functionality is added by turning them into cellphone towers.

So it was with some pleasure that I discovered that as painting technology has advanced people are no longer willing to accept ugly-functional as the water tank/tower look. There’s even a competition to judge the best ones, Tank Of The Year, which you can view at your leisure by clicking on the link. But here’s some of my favourites

I don’t agree with all the winning selections of course, but here’s my favourite winner, from 2017.

PinInterest also has a nice selection of water tower photos , although it’s labeled “weird” for some reason.

Even the much older concept of cisterns can be prettier than water towers, even if they’re hardly ever seen because they’re underground, like this one in the Peniche Fortress (Forte de Peniche), Portugal.

Bulls Water Tower

Meanwhile back here in NZ, in the heart of the Rangitikei Plains, we’ve got one of our examples of the classic water tower, courtesy of the area being one of the few parts of the nation that are as flat as the American Mid-West.

Yes, that’s the famous/infamous water tower that greets travellers entering the township of Bulls.

I see that it has been de-commissioned because it’s not earthquake proof but has been saved from demolition by a public vote. I realise that architects probably will swoon over it as a classic example of mid-20th century Modernist building style, but I doubt that the old Ministry Of Works architects were thinking that when designing it.

No, it’s functional – and a butt ugly wart on the landscape. Perhaps, having saved the damned thing, the public could be inspired by the links above to apply some creative painting to it.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 11, 2021 at 11:13 am

A Superb Book Review

Dishonest About Abe

Dishonest About Abe

by Thomas L. Krannawitter

With malice towards all and charity towards none of Lincoln’s principles and actions, ‘The Real Lincoln’ is the latest attempt to finish the job so ignobly begun by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865.

Written by adolffinkensen

May 8, 2021 at 6:53 pm

Always Scotch. Always drunk. Always critical. Always brilliant.

A few days ago I put up a post about the catastrophic collapse of TV viewership ratings for Hollywood’s annual, ritual orgasm of self celebration, The Oscars: Die Hollywood, Die.

Once again here are the figures for yet another industry that’s destroyed itself by going full Woke (and New Left).

But as an update on this I thought I would throw in this wonderful piece from The Critical Drinker, drunken Scottish movie critic par excellence. Watch, laugh, and then check out his reviews of individual movies.

My only difference of opinion with him is that I’d be quite happy for Hollywood to burn to the ground. Fortunately, they’re apparently determined to make the wishes of Right-Wingers like me come true.

And I say that as someone who loves the movies.

A free bag of Chocolate Fish for anybody in the comments who can identify even 50% of the movies whose clips he shows: WARNING: they’re fast.