Saturday, October 25, 2014


Movie Review - Fury

Saw the new, decent WWII flick, Fury. Here are my thoughts. As usual, this is a review, not a preview, so I reveal all details. You should only read this after you see it yourself. It's set in the last full month of WWII-European Theater in western Germany. We've won the war but some of the Germans haven't been keeping up on current events. The fanatics fight on.

Pitt and crew are in a slightly upgraded M4 Sherman tank, whose military alpha-numerical designation ended in E8, so these tanks were called Easy Eights. It has a 76mm gun with a muzzle brake and a better engine. Our canons did not develop the muzzle velocity of the same caliber German canons; and in some of the tanks, the Germans fielded even bigger guns, namely the 88mm. We made up for the fact that our tanks were inferior to the PKWs V and VI (Panthers and Tigers) by having a lot more tanks. I think we produced 60,000 Shermans during the war; the Germans did not break 8,000 Tigers and Panthers (3/4 of that production was of Panthers). The movie succeeds best where it shows the unrelenting horrors of tank warfare undercut by an equally intense camaraderie among the crew. Oh, and it uses the elegant definition of heroism, defense of a narrow place against odds, to the limit.

Problems: It is often very difficult to hear what our guys are saying. Most of the German lines were crisp and clear. What's up with that? The forced murder of the German in an American coat is nasty and pointless. (My cousin, who fought there and wrote one of Dick Cheney's favorite books about it, said we didn't start killing prisoners until after D-Day. He never mentioned a particular antipathy to Waffen SS). The lunch with the two Fräulein is nasty and pointless. In the real war, if the soldiers in the SS Brigade were hell bent on doing maxim damage in a suicide attack and had even the least bit of experience, they would have spent no more than a minute or two trying to take out the immobilized Sherman with one or two panzerfausts and then, if that failed, they would have gone around the tank, by an out of range path, to commit suicide against a less determined force further west. Under no circumstances would they have stood around shooting it with mere bullets. That's just stupid. It's inches of steel all around. Perhaps a 3 HL magnetic mine would have been helpful. Additionally, don't the hatches on tanks have a locking mechanism? In Saving Private Ryan, our guys just lift up the faux Tiger tank's main hatch (which was nothing like a real Tiger hatch) and drop in grenades. Same here. Couldn't the tankers twist a handle or something to prevent the enemy from opening the hatch from the outside? Jeez, I have to think up everything around here. The guy who played Shane on Walking Dead has the nickname "Coon-ass" but he brags about being from North Georgia. Isn't 'coonass' uniquely related to Cajuns? Yes. He's the loader while Shia la whatever is the gunner. Pitt is the commander. The 76mm gun would probably have penetrated the front armor of the Tiger that close and the best shot was probably from the side not the rear, this flick and Kelly's Heroes notwithstanding. It's OK to be behind the turret shooting the M2 .50 BMG at an enemy in front of the tank, but that configuration is not so hot when the tank is surrounded by enemy infantry. Oh, and wouldn't the sniper, so close, have taken the head shot right away? I think so. Finally, I had an uncle in the 10th Armored Division (he fought in Bastogne) and he would tell me stories about losing numerous tanks to German armor. As a child, I had difficulty understanding how we won the war. He credited air power, which was totally missing in this movie (except for the huge bomber formation shown once).

The pickiest I can be is about a tiny detail from the interior of the tank. They have a lot of Nazi medals strung up inside. One of the medals they showed was a Mothers Cross. It is a blue and white, elongated, miniature Maltese cross thing with a central glory thing and a blue and white ribbon. It is very well designed; I might even say beautiful. But it was given to women for having children for the Reich. So it's possible some soldier was keeping his wife's medal for some reason, but the most likely place an American soldier would have obtained one was off a woman and where's the honor, the counting coup, the scalp taking, in that? Just seemed really unlikely to me. The pogues in the back had this medal as a souvenir, not the macho boys on the front. They had collections of men's medals for bravery, Knights Crosses with oak leaves and swords, etc., not some fecundity award. I write this mistake up to an art director's aesthetic taste overwhelming his or her sense of history.

It is very cool that Pitt has picked up an STG 44 and uses it instead of a grease gun (M-3). I have been singing the praises of the first assault rifle for a long time at this site (because it deserves it) and the choice by Pitt shows his weapon savvy. There was a device you could attach to the barrel of the STG which allowed you to shoot around corners. It was developed for tankers to shoot Russians swarming on their tanks. Might of made something of that oddity. It seemed a handful to bring up out of a tight hatch. No problem with that with the M-3.

So this is perhaps too technical a review. I am an avid fan of WWII history. The director's earlier work includes the unrelentingly tense Training Day (he wrote it) and the similar End of Watch (wrote and directed). As I said, it's a good movie. A lot of people are seeing it. If you haven't seen it yet, see it this weekend.


Thursday, October 23, 2014


Well Equipped Enemy

These are Volksturm militiamen, German home Army 'troops,' in January 1945 being trained in the use of the 3HL magnetic mine against a Panther tank. It was a shaped charge so it blasted molten metal at speed through the armor and into the tank destroying it. But you had to be brave.


Friday, October 17, 2014


Changing the Rules in an Unsuccessful Effort to Change the Results

Lefty websites Mayday.US and teamed up to sponsor a contest for a 30 second political ad (Sheesh, haven't we seen enough of those lately?) regarding money in politics. They have a lefty team to judge which one was best but they invited the public to vote for its favorite and that went horribly wrong for the leftists. The only right thinking video, about the hypocrisy of Tom Steyer, who has donated the most money by far in this election, was winning 25 to 1 over the next most popular entry.

What's a collectivist to do when the collective won't do what one wants it to do?

Change the rules of course.

Here's what the site used to say were the rules and time limits for submissions and voting:

“Contest ends at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 16, 2014.  The sooner you post your video, the more time you’ll have to get votes,”

Here's what the site says now:

“Contest submissions ends [sic] at 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, October 16, 2014.  The sooner you post your video, the more time you’ll have to get votes.  The 24-hour voting period begins on Thurdsday [sic] at 5pm ET, and ends on Friday at 5pm ET, October 17th, 2014.”

I'm assuming the typos in the new version are a result of panic and haste in changing the rules.

So they threw out all the old votes and just counted the ones cast in the 24 hour period tacked onto the old time limit. I guess they hoped that the leftists who read these sites would rally to the cause and vote the best lefty submission to victory.

Well that doesn't appear to be happening. There are about 30 entries and the average number of votes for the lefty ones is in the low double digits. The most popular lefty entry has just over 300 votes with 9 hours to go. Most of the entries got only the film-maker's mother and friends to vote for them (and a few couldn't even get even a mother's vote). The Steyer entry has over 5800 votes and is winning 19 to 1.

The panel will almost certainly not award the Steyer entry the prize but it's good to see what the people think. The vote has the feel of non-social(ist) justice.


Thursday, October 16, 2014


Thought of the Day

They "monitor" Ebola exposed health workers all the way to the departure gate.

Kate McMillan


Friday, October 10, 2014


Well Equipped Enemy

A German tank destroyer during WWII called the Jagdpanther (hunting panther). It did not have a turret but was built on the Panther tank chassis. The front armor was sloped and 80mm thick. The mantle around the gun was 100mm thick. The gun was the 88 mm KwK 36 L/56, the same gun the Tiger tanks had. Formidable weapon. Not too big, not too heavy but well powered, well armored and well armed. Fortunately for the Allies, less than 500 were produced by the Nazis.



Dracula Told

I'm not going to see the stupidly titled Dracula Untold. Vlad Tepes, the 15th Century Prince of Christian Wallachia is very interesting in real history. He fought against invading Muslims. He impaled* his enemies. There is absolutely no reason to tack on this vampire bullshit to a movie about him.

Here's my favorite story about him. A big Muslim army crossed the Danube and was marching towards his country to conquer it when they came upon a big field in which 10,000 people were impaled. They turned around and went home.

*The classical impaling has a 5 foot tapered spike driven, large end first, into the ground. Then the thin end is shortened and sharpened (sometimes) so that its top is just under the height of the victim's heart. Then the victim is paraded around the spike naked and then stout men grab him by his pinioned arms and underneath his untied thighs and lift him up above the spike, put the sharp end up the victim's anus, and drop him down.

Now a smart, strong willed person would let his legs go limp and his weight would immediately cause the spike to skewer his heart (and perhaps keep traveling up his body to come out the top of the head) and kill him with very little additional pain or suffering. However, so strong is the will to live in most people that they stay on their feet and even go tiptoe for a while as their blood flows down the spike. The contemporary accounts call this the dance of the impaled. Finally, weakened by blood loss, the person sags, pierces his heart and then collapses completely with the spike exiting the mouth, shoulder, neck or head. The whole thing can take a long time.

What in the Hollywood treatment of this man could be more horrifying than the truth about him?


Thursday, October 09, 2014


Well Equipped Enemy

Really big cigarette lighter used by the Wehrmacht during WWII.



Bloomberg Merges With the Onion

The [Current] Triumph of the Democratic Party. Not really a merger of Bloomberg with the Onion, but it seems so.

Here are some other similar possible headlines of this ilk:

The Triumph of the Titanic's Maiden Voyage;

The Triumph of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;

The Triumph of the Children's Crusade;

The Triumph of Athens' Punitive Campaign Against Sicily;

The Triumph of the North Korean Economy, 1945-2014;

The Triumph of the Light Cavalry Brigade in Crimea.

I could go on and on and on.



Thought of the Day

Women are fragile flowers who must be protected from all the stuff men deal with every day. Because equality!

Glenn Reynolds


Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Hopes Are Dashed, People Forget

I saw Lena Dunham naked, repeatedly, on TV on a past episode of Girls (30 something girls, I guess) a while back. Imagine me doing a Ted Cassidy as Lurch imitation (not "You rang?").

I recall the excitement you felt when you knew the woman you were with was about to get naked with you but you had no real idea what she looked like under her clothes. Some times, in fact most of the time, I was pleased after the reveal; but sometimes it was a Lena Dunham look-alike viewing. Imagine me doing a Ted Cassidy as Lurch imitation (not "You rang?") again.

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Sunday, October 05, 2014


Movie Review -- Gone Girl

Real movie fans follow directors rather than actors (I still say actresses for female actors but I'll use the politically correct version here). But what if you hate an actor for being, let's say, somewhat limited in fake emotion, but kinda admire his directing, what then? I think Ben Affleck is not a good actor. He's in the Kevin Costner/Clint Eastwood school of acting, that is, he just plays himself, somewhat woodenly, over and over, and cannot do anything else. (It's probably no accident that both Costner and Eastwood are pretty good directors as well). Unfortunately for Mr. Affleck, however, he's not as likable as the other two, he just has the wooden part down pat. And his inability to analyze political questions is ever less endearing. Two strikes. So I generally avoid an Affleck film like a virus. On the other hand, what if a very good director has Affleck in a movie, what then? Well, you go see it.

So I went to see Gone Girl, yesterday, and for the most part enjoyed it. David Fincher remains an outstanding director, his screw up of the Aliens franchise notwithstanding.

I don't believe there are many college educated women in America who have not read the book, but I do believe it did not appeal to a lot of men, certainly not the right thinking, gun toting type. So I never even wanted to read it. Good thing.

I know that knowing what's going to happen doesn't have to be a check on your enjoyable anxiety during a movie (See Apollo 13, for example). But I think it was a big plus that I didn't know the story. So I was able to feel my loyalties switch during the progression of the narrative. I was unable to see just where things were going and those things added to my enjoyment of the movie. I also thought all the women actors in the film were utterly terrific. Even the small roles.

The ending is a little unsatisfactory. For starters, I couldn't buy in to it completely. His media-perfect, welcoming embrace of a blood covered woman who had just committed 1st Degree Murder and attempted 1st Degree Murder on him, was unlikely. I would have locked the doors and pretended not to be at home, for as long as I was able. Affleck's plan to tough it out for 18 years also seems so unlikely as to be jarringly irrational. Yeah, like he's never going to piss her off again. Just being a careful, never straying, toady husband will piss her off. Just as unlikely is her plan to make him want to tough it out for 18 years. You don't try to get the state to execute the one you love. And it's utterly clear that she didn't love him, more the concept of him. She seems the perfect archetype of the narcissist to me--both narcissist and sociopath, not an uncommon combination I am led to believe. I know they are supposed to be "complicated" characters, but they're not really. Nobody is so complicated that they can maintain directly contradictory feelings, at the same time, about another. I know, I know, there's Catullus' poem that starts: "I hate and I love"; but that describes the conflicted shifting feelings we can have for another. Generally if you get to the 'I hate' part in a relationship, you don't conspire to tie that person to you for nearly two decades, you're out of there, even if you miss him or her later. (This might be TMI, sorry). Even Catullus abandoned Clodia/Lesbia at the end.

The super competence of the title character was a little difficult to accept as well. Of course, she had the history of stunning success with state-assisted revenge, but the mistakes she made while being gone ultimately had no consequence. Indeed, her mistakes helped her to a better endgame. How is that possible? I blame the book for this central difficulty with the plot and not David Fincher. He tried hard and largely succeeded in making us suspend our disbelief. Right up to the ending, at least. Just as difficult to swallow was her desire to complete her revenge-by-proxy with her suicide. Where's the fun in that? I don't think she would have contemplated snuffing it for a second, much less pick the date.

Oh, and the male actors other than Affleck were good. Barney was particularly creepy and Tyler Perry, who apparently is responsible for half the GDP in Southern California lately, was perfect and perfectly likeable as the Johnnie Cochran inspired character. Well done.

I think a rational guy would move all the un-needed luxury purchases out of the woodshed as soon as he discovered them. Certainly his twin sister could have done it. I think a rational Barney would have been less restrictive on her ability to leave the lake house. A trapped rat is a formidable adversary. Would he leave her weapon/tools? Did she somehow know she would need the box cutter in the tool box in the hick retreat? I think the police would have blood typed the urine specimens at incredible Amy's OB/gyn. I think the FBI would have downloaded Barney's call records and perhaps his credit card "trail" to pick her up; the distance from his home in eastern PA to near where she was in the Ozarks is more than one tank of gas away.

But there are two severe imbalances that rob the ending of credibility and enjoyability. 1) Amy has done horrific things (false rape, false murder, actual murder via false rape) and Affleck has been merely a normal asshole. We want her punished. I'm not saying change the ending; I'm criticizing the only Fincher type ending possible here. 2) There are numerous things that should cause Affleck to leave and/or build a case to prosecute Amy for her real crimes. There's the list from #1 just above; his justifiable fear of his murderous wife, his easily foreseeable hell in staying with her, his stone sureness that he will fail at being an acceptable husband. But what's on the other side of the ledger? He says he doesn't want to be unpopular and that he wants to raise the child and that if he leaves she's sure to get custody (and he's right about that last). But if he gets evidence of any of the bad things she's done (it can't be impossible) and she gets either a state trial or a public opinion trial, then he won't be unpopular for the breaking up and he has an excellent chance for getting custody. He doesn't even want to sleep with her any more, but he's going to stay? Pull the other one.

Go see it.



Thought of the Day

There is some evidence already of sex-selective abortion in the United States — the opening salvos in an actual war on women — particularly in subcultures that have a strong preference for sons, though data about that is scarce. The reason it is scarce is that we refuse to collect it, and the reason we refuse to collect it is, presumably, that we do not wish to know.

Kevin D. Williamson


Friday, October 03, 2014


A Country I Have Difficulty Recognizing

A small school in Vermont I've never heard of wants completely guilty cop-murder Mumia something to be its commencement speaker.

What? Charlie Manson was unavailable?

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Thursday, October 02, 2014


I Hate to Say I Told You So

No, actually I love being right and letting people who were wrong know that they were wrong and I was right. I'm not proud of that pleasure, but, God help me, I do love it.

Last February, when the vile man, who shot at a car full of young black men for no apparent reason other than their playing music too loud, was found guilty of every charge but 1st Degree Murder (a charge on which the jury hung), the racial grievance connoisseurs came out in force to decry this "outrage" as the moral equivalent of the dragging death of James Byrd, Jr., or something. Morons. And I mean you Paul Campos and Jamelle Bouie.

I said, calm down, they will retry this one charge and usually when they do that, they win.

So they retried him and convicted him of murder in the first.

So what's the complaint now, liberal girly-men?

Crickets on a warm, windless Summer evening.

UPDATE: It's a week later than when I posted this and neither Bouie nor Campos has published a thing about their being so wrong. At least nothing all knowing Google can find. I admit I'm wrong all the time, more's the pity. These guys don't seem capable of such raw material for intellectual growth.

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Thought of the Day

The argument that the fight against jihadism can be managed like law enforcement is easy to make when terrorism is out of the headlines and drones do the messy work out of sight. That same argument is very hard to sustain when the jihadis control territory equal in size to Great Britain and, when not beheading Americans, they vow to fly their flag over the White House. The idea that men who crucify Christians and bury women and children alive would somehow be dissuaded if we closed down the prison at Guantanamo Bay is almost perversely idiotic.

Jonah Goldberg


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