Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, May 30, 2011

Get Yer Motor Runnin'

Sarah Palin appears at Rolling Thunder.

The reports of her uninvitedness are greatly exaggerated.


Remembering The Fallen

(This is an annual Memorial Day post.)

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Wars on the Barbary Pirates (1801-1805, 1815)
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
War Between the States (1861-1865)
Mexican-American War(1846-1848)
Spanish-American War (1898)
China Relief Expedition (1900-1901)
Pacification of Nicaragua (1912-1913)
Interventions in Mexico (1914-1917)
World War I (1914-1918)
Pacification of Haiti and Dominican Republic (1915-1918)
Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War (1918-1920)
World War II (1939-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Vietnam War (1964-1973)
Hostage rescue mission in Iran (1980)
Lebanon peacekeeping mission (1982-1984)
Counterinsurgency mission in El Salvador (1980-?)
Liberation of Grenada (1983)
Invasion of Panama (1989)
Iraq War (1990-1991, 2002-present)
Somalia peacekeeping mission (1992-1994)
Attack on USS Cole (2000)
Afghanistan War (2001-present)

The Veterans Museum has information on many of these conflicts. Information on Allied activity during the Bolshevik Revolution is here. See Wikipedia entry on Manuel Noriega for details on the Panama conflict. This site tells of American pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Latest Items To Be Declared Racist Are...

...white t-shirts.

Don't tell that to the Fonz. Or John Mellencamp.

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Magic Bus

Sarah Palin is planning a road trip.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Metaphor Alert

Robert Zubrin wants to model future space travel after the transcontinental railroad.

Not sure that model will work. We were capable of building major commercial centers on both ends of the historic railroad. We can't yet build a major city away from Earth - so I think we need a different model for our baby steps toward space.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cloudy With A Chance Of Mullahs

Per Rand Simberg:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad thinks that the Europeans are stealing his rainfall.

Wait - wouldn't that decrease Ahmadinejad's chances of getting hit by lightning?


Movie Musings

Before this year's upgrade to Verizon FiOS, I've never used DVR technology before. (Yeah, some of y'all are thinking of that Beverly Hillbillies episode when the Clampetts discover the telephone.) I've been recording movies left and right, and if I manage to watch them all this year, I'll be surprised. Here's some of what I've watched.

Alice in Wonderland (2010) I really like the way they wove several Lewis Carroll works into the film. Almost every denizen in Wonderland is really really creepy. Even the White Queen (Anne Hathaway). Dude, she's creepier than the C. S. Lewis' White Witch. Hatter's recitation of "Jabberwocky" fits the atmosphere perfectly:

Avatar The Na'vi are arrogant xenophobes. Earthlings land on their doorstep, ask to trade for a mineral the Na'vi aren't even using, and the Na'vi tell the Earthlings to pound sand. They accept a token delegation of humans - first Grace (Sigourney Weaver) and then Sully (Sam Worthington) - but there's no negotiation; the Na'vi are all our-way-but-the-skyway.

If i were to meet the Na'vi, my instinct would be to talk about Earth history, about how trade creates cross-cultural goodwill and elevates living standards. But this approach would fail. The Na'vi trust their deity Eywa for all their needs, and to engage in trade would be a betrayal of Eywa.

Understanding this, I would take a different tack: happy humans are less bothersome humans, and allowing them access to unobtanium acts as a form of self-defense. I'd frame it as Eywa's provision to pacify certain bipedal alien species.

The villains are (presumably retired) United States Marines hired as private contractors for the unobtanium mining firm. We're expected to believe that the Marines could breed the equivalent of Spanish conquistadors. Well, maybe it is possible - decades of compounded interest from the Bush-Obama stimulus packages have to be paid somehow. Lotsa luck getting the Na'vi to understand the concept of fiat money, though.

Coraline Good film, but this stop-motion animation horror film is not for little kids.

Inglorious Basterds Brad Pitt is not a pimply teenager anymore. His Lt. Aldo Raine and Christoph Waltz's Col. Hans Landa steal the show. Waltz establishes his abilities at drama in the opening sequence, and at comedy when he bargains for his cooperation in arranging the Reich's surrender. The moment at the party when Landa starts speaking to Raine in Italian is one of the most hilarious moments in this dark comedy. Sylvester Groth plays the slimiest Joseph Goebbels you will ever see in cinema. I liked Bridget (Diane Kruger), but I wish she could have had some of the snappy one-liners.

Monsters, Inc. One reason Pixar tops Disney in the imagination department. Yeah, Disney owns Pixar, but Pixar employs a very different creative team and not the Disney old guard.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington If they ever remake this film, will they keep the series of scenes where Senator Smith punches out the entire Washington press corps?

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) is an absolute doll (no pun intended).

I didn't like the dose of anti-prosperity gospel. Larry (Ben Stiller) found success as an inventor of Ron Popeil-styled gadgets, and his work was taking him away from the museum he loved. I wish he would have found a way to balance both, delegating more of his executive duties to free up personal time. And add an Amelia exhibit to the NYC museum.

The Phantom I read the comic strip regularly on Daily Ink. The movie had a lot of great things going for it. The Phantom/Kit Walker (Billy Zane) has an engaging personality and fills the action hero role well. The plot was entertaining despite a few flaws. the really serious one is the injection of Indiana Jones-styled magic relics - that's just not the Phantom universe. Second is the mild miscasting of Diana Palmer. Diana's supposed to be a brunette. Then there's the complete reinvention of Guran. I didn't even know he was in the movie until the final credits, and he was in several scenes. He's supposed to be a chubby middle-aged black guy, but in the film he was a young turbaned Asiatic. Next thing you know they'll cast a fair-haired guy as James Bond.

Rope One of the reasons James Stewart and Alfred Hitchock were international treasures. This features one of the great movie endings: Stewart, after discovering the body and delivering a speech on the value of human life, fires three shots out the window, and he and the two murderers calmly and silently listen to the outside sounds of voices and approaching sirens.

Where the Wild Things Are This is not a kids' movie. This is an instructional film for clinical psychologists. At least the part I could get through - I could not get past the scene where the "wild things" first talk of eating the boy. I can stomach only so much constant childhood misery.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sounds For The Rapture


Friday, May 20, 2011

Inspiring Flood Photos

Homemade dams protect a number of homes from the flood waters.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More Inspiration For The Supervillains Of Tomorrow

A planet-busting laser doesn't make such in a civilization that has only one planet - can't enjoy the fruits of your supervillainy if there's no Earth to enjoy it in. Even Hugo Drax wanted Earth to stick around.

Your do-it-yourself laser can be a lot smaller. A killer satellite can take out large targets without threatening the entire planet. And then there's much more modest applications.


Holding Out For A...

Frank J. Fleming says: "America Needs Better Villains than Porn-Addicted Jihadists."

Maybe prospective enemies should start reading Ian Fleming. Bond baddies are tops.

Link via Glenn Reynolds, who should also be on the reading lists of tomorrow's Forces of Evil. Here's one useful InstaHeadline: IRRESISTIBLY DANGEROUS: DIY Lasers. Just think of the possibilities.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


From Bloomberg, via NewsMax:

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was awarded the Henry A. Kissinger Prize by the American Academy in Berlin for his role in Germany’s reunification.

I'm all for Kohl receiving such an honor, but WHY IN THE FREAKING FREAKITY FREAK is such an award named after Henry Kissinger, whose Cold War-era legacy was selling out South Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh?


Monday, May 16, 2011

Candidate Newt Gets Off To A Stellar Start

He turns against conservatives on health care reform.

Michelle Malkin contributor Doug Powers concludes:

Newt Gingrich was on Meet the Press this morning in his first Sunday show appearance since announcing his intention to… challenge President Obama for the Democrat nomination, apparently.


This Is Not Sad

Donald Trump will not run for President.


Two And Three-Eighths Men?

Okay, whose bright idea was to get Ashton Kutcher to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men?


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Even Sadder

Newt Gingrich is running for president.

Newt, conservatives are NOT going to forget your endorsement of Dede Scozzafava, the New York Congressional candidate selected in a smoke-filled-room of GOP elites rather than in a party primary. We're also not going to forget that you couldn't last as Speaker. Scram.


This Is Just Sad

A leaked memo from a US State Department official in Ottawa remarks on Mark Steyn's battles with Canadian "human rights" officials, and gets numerous major facts about the affair wrong. Notes Steyn:

What’s the point of paying some lavishly tenured over-pensioned striped-pants deadbeat to sit around the chancery all day cutting bits out of newspapers if you’ve got more chance of getting an accurate picture of what’s going on from plucking a random unpaid blogger out of a 12-second Google search?

Maybe the State Department should hire random bloggers for its intelligence activities.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Random Thought

A gentlemen is a man who can invite all his ladyfriends to the same party without causing any serious friction.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Two Late-Coming Osama Thoughts

It was a mistake to dispose of the body. If a government engages in a military action it wants the rest of the world to know about, it had better have be able to offer slam-dunk evidence. Much of the Earth does lacks a) access to a free press, b) experience trusting any element of the United States government, or c) both. And a lot of those people know less about DNA evidence than I know about Jersey Shore.

Osama bin Laden's body should have been available for viewing by a wide array of witnesses. I would include Saudi officials (OBL was a Saudi, after all), male bin Laden relatives (gotta face reality - most Muslims won't care about what female witnesses have to say), and religious and secular Muslim leaders, including those who aren't at war with us but aren't especially friendly with the West.

The war isn't over. Al-Qaeda a) managed to war against us without OBL, and b) isn't our only enemy in the "War on Terror." There are Iranian-trained militias in Iraq, whatever allies OBL has in Pakistan, and the long-neglected enemy Hezbollah. Not to mention an array of self-styled jihadis like Richard Reid and Major Nidal Hasan, and the chronic threats of mob violence, particularly in Europe.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

Transcript Of Raid On Osama bin Laden Compound

(With talent on loan from Saturday Night Live)

Osama: [approaches door] Yes?

Voice behind door: Mr. bin La-a-aden?

Osama: Nobody names bin Laden lives here. My name is Smith.

Voice behind door: Mr. Smith?

Osama: Who is it?

Voice behind door: Flowers.

Osama: Flowers? From whom?

Voice behind door: Plumber, sir.

Osama: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you?

Voice behind door: Candygram.

Osama: Candygram, my foot! Get out of here before I call the proper authorities. You're the shark, and you know it.

Voice behind door: I'm only a SEAL, sir.

Osama: A seal? Well, okay.

[door opens, gunfire breaks out]



Best And Worst States To Do Business

According to a survey of CEOs - reported here.

Via Rand Simberg, who lives at the opposite end of that list of states from me.

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