Monday, March 31, 2008

Lions for Lambs .. half-brained movie

I'm going to vent my frustration here at Robert Redford, supreme idiot, director and star of this anti-Iraq-war film. It also stars loonatic Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep.

Wikipedia has a good description of the plot and the critical acclaim the film received.

The reason I find this film so disappointing is because it had potential. It had an all star cast and was very professionally made and filmed. It revolves around 3 interesting and compelling story-lines, all of them

1/ Two brave young US marines stranded on a hill in Afghanistan under heavy fire. These two close friends had enrolled in the US marines to fight in Afghanistan instead of continuing as students studying political science in an ivy league university.

2/ A gritty and confrontational hour long interview of a young Republican senator Irving (played by Tom Cruise) by a veteran Washington news reporter (played by Meryl Streep).

3/ A meeting between a young promising university student who has a poor attendance record, and the professor of political science at an ivy league university (played by Robert Redford).

I'll tell you why this film sucked so hard .. the script. They need some writers with a brain. The film just seemed like it was pointless and couldn't communicate anything clearly. It was about "stuff" related to the Iraq war, it was very cynical, but who can even guess what kind of point it was trying to make, other than "something isn't right with what goes on in Washington".

There was actually a scene where Meryl Streep complained she never had the freedom to write what she wanted since her newspaper was bought by a big media conglomerate. And then a scene where she clashes with her editor over her proposed column. The journalist wants to write a strong anti-war piece making fun of the government's vague and poorly planned new strategy to win in Afghanistan and Iraq, as put forward by Tom Cruise's creepy character.

I don't know what the writers were smoking when they wrote the scene, where the editor reminds her that her job is to "report the facts" and then tells her she will lose her job if she goes ahead with an anti-war editorial instead of a news report on the details of the new strategy.

Seriously, how many thousands of anti-war articles have been written in every single newspaper without staff being fired ?

Meryl Streep feels it is her job to connect the dots and not to sell the war. Clearly, the writers believe that journalists are sacred higher beings, and the sheeple will just believe what they say, so it is very important that these super-intelligent journalists connect the dots for us. This self-righteousness is astonishing, as Meryl Streep reflects on the Iraq war with a deep sense of guilt, as she continually admits to "letting the people down" by "swallowing the lies and feeding the government propaganda to the public".

Then you have the scenes with the professor of political science, who tells his student its worth getting involved and getting active instead of being a cynic about politics. These scenes were indeed the most frustrating to watch, because the professor is supposed to be able to hold a discussion on certain topics, but instead avoids them like the plague. Not a mention about American history, the constitution, the role of government and the war on terror.

Instead, its a cynical sneering attack on "the current administration" as a bunch of incompetent and insencere fools who only want power. Rather than criticise the system even once, the film just blathers on about random stuff.

This is the same empty-headed drivel that leads people to blindly cheer for Obama. Because he stands for "change" .. and stuff.

I recently watched Rendition which contained some fairly graphic torture scenes, although it had a few unrealistic plot twists in it. But the general point it made about torture being immoral is a pretty solid one that the film can help support.

When it comes to Lions for Lambs, who knows what the general point is ?! It looks like audiences were fed up with it too:

On November 28, 2007, The Wall Street Journal reported that "Lions for Lambs has performed so poorly that it may not make back its $35 million investment.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Central banking in a nutshell

The Daily Reckoning has a good history lesson on the failures of central banking:

The foundation for modern central banking theory was laid down in the very year Alan Greenspan was born - 1926. That was when one of the first "neoclassical" economists, Professor Irving Fisher, published "A Statistical Relationship between Unemployment and Price Changes," arguing that a little inflation was a good thing, since it seemed to stimulate employment.

Then, "in the 1970s," writes Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps in the Wall Street Journal , "a new school of neo-neoclassical economists proposed that the market economy, though noisy, was basically predictable. All the risks in the economy, it was claimed, are driven by purely random shocks - like coin throws - subject to known probabilities..."


Professor Fisher lived long enough to see the gods laughing at him. Just days before the stock market crash of ' 29 he wrote, "stock prices have reached what look like a permanently high plateau." Then, when the crash came he said that the "market was only shaking out the lunatic fringe," and claimed that prices would soon go much higher. A few months later, Fisher had lost his fortune and his reputation, but still told investors that recovery was just around the corner.

So far, Alan Greenspan has only gotten a few chuckles, as he attempts to explain where he was and what he was doing when the world's biggest bubble took shape. But the more he explains, the more people understand: that the 'science' of central banking is nothing more than claptrap, and Mr. Greenspan is a scalawag.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Free markets are good for the environment

Property rights are that-damned-important, and I'll never back down from promoting them as a goal of the highest order.

Sometimes "environmentalists" suggest - hey, "society" needs to preserve "the environment" and government needs to have environmental laws, regulations, statutes, departments and bureaucrats to protect trees, animals, fish, oceans and the air.

As Penn and Teller often say, I'm calling bullshit on that, and here's why:

Kenya banned the killing of elephants in 1979, effectively nationalising its herd. At around the same time, Rhodesia (as it still was) made elephants the property of those whose land they were on. The result? Thirty years on, Kenyan elephants have been all but wiped out, while Zimbabwe’s are as numerous as ever.
(hat tip: Samizdata)

Free markets revolve around property rights. Whats yours is yours, and nobody has a right to tell you what/how/where/when you can use your property.

Sounds simple, but why then do we meddle (regulate, tax, socialise and bureaucratize) with so much property, so much wealth, so much land, and people's most highly valued personal property such as their bodies, their speech and their relationships ?!?

If somebody owns something, they have an interest in it. If EVERYBODY owns something, then nobody has an interest in looking after it because nobody really owns it. A park and a public toilet are often used for the same things. Trains are used as big graffiti canvases.

Lets get something straight. Only misguided idiots still believe that free markets involve big greedy corporations buying the great barrier reef and dump toxic chemicals there.


Instead, people seek to acquire property rights over a resource not for "exploitation" or to despoil it. But an entrepreneur will take a risk and pay money out of their own pockets to maximise their own profits. The only way to do this, is to put that resource to its most profitable use under free markets. And when it comes to natural resources, forests, oceans .. if you own part of it, and you paid good money for it, why would you trash it and make it worthless ?

Why would you fish all the whales out of the ocean, cut down every tree standing in a forest, dump chemicals on a coral reef ? You will soon see, within weeks, that you have destroyed any future value that the resource would have once held.

We also saw the British versus the French practice of Oyster farming in the 19th century. The French had property rights and licensing for oyster farming. The British banned it and said that the oceans are the property of the state. Yet nobody owned the ocean, nobody protected it and made sure that they could enjoy future revenues and future oyster catches ! So the British have no oysters left, and the French do.

Capitalism is great for the environment (however you define it).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Julia Irwin, Hezbollah lover

Courtesy of Andrew Landeryou, a Youtube created to slap Julia Irwin for her incessant Israel bashing and rabid hatred of Australian Jews.

The Constant Gardener

This one really takes the cake for a shocker of a film. And doubly so because I expected more from it.

What a load of lefty post-modernist meaningless conspiracy mongering. I really feel sorry for the actors who had to read out such lines and act out a truly incomprehensible plot:

A big pharmaceutical company is testing unsafe drugs on poor Kenyans, with the British government in on the conspiracy, and anybody who tries to uncover it gets murdered. The bad guys are ready to confess to some ridiculously elaborate plot as the movie progresses, and the Africans in this movie do nothing except play the role of the victim.

Right now, it sits alongside The Chronicles of Riddick as one of the crappiest films to reach our screens.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Victoria's jackbooted thugs crack down

Can anyone tell me what crime was actually committed here ? Why should people be locked up for owning dangerous stuff ?

Police allegedly seized a cache of firearms and explosives in Melbourne's outer east this morning, as part of an ongoing operation.

Armed Crime Taskforce detectives arrested a 44-year-old man today and allegedly seized gelignite, detonators, automatic firearms, ammunition, silencers, telescopic sights and fake identity documents from a property in Big Pats Creek Road in Big Pats Creek.

A Monbulk man, aged in his late 20s, was arrested at an address in Olinda-Monbulk Road, where firearms and a hydroponic cannabis set-up were allegedly seized, police said.

"Such weapons in the wrong hands present a significant risk to the community and police investigating the offences, due to both their dangerous nature and because they are often used in the commission of serious criminal activity," Detective Acting Inspector Everett Moutsidis, the head of the Armed Crime Taskforce, said.

The seizures were part of an ongoing operation into firearm trafficking.

The two men were to be interviewed by police at the St Kilda Road crime department. No charges have yet been laid.


Victoria - where you have the right to remain unarmed, defenceless and sober.

Banning plastic bags is the dumbest idea in a long while

Thanks to Catallaxy for pointing out this SMH article by Miranda Devine, where surprisingly, she is actually allowed to write against the banning of plastic bags. Don't know how the editors let that one slip through.
First, there are the economic consequences of this idiocy:

The largest manufacturer, Melbourne's Detmark Poly Bags, makes almost all the Australian checkout bags used by retailers, including Woolworths. Detmark, a 25-year-old private, Australian-owned company worth $15 million to $20 million, with about 30 workers, will be "just wiped out" if the Government's plastic bag ban is enforced, its managing director, Malcolm Davidson, said yesterday.

He points out the ethylene gas which is turned into ethylene pellets from which he makes his bags, is a byproduct of natural gas from the Bass Strait, piped to a processing plant in Melbourne.

"If we didn't use the gas they'd have to burn it off", hardly a Gaia-friendly solution. Repeat Plastics Australia (Replas) is another successful Australian-owned company that will be hurt by the ban, since the fewer plastic bags available for recycling, the higher the price of the raw product. It turns plastic bags into everything from horse feeders to jetty planks, park benches to bollards.

The article dispels many of the myths put forward by the green lobby. Plastic bags do not harm marine life, and they do not represent a large share of litter. But more importantly, it takes aim at the proposed replacement for plastic bags - the eco-friendly canvas bags.

Here's the money quote:
As for the thick green so-called eco bag, which Garrett has described as "canvas", it also is a plastic bag, made of polypropylene. Each is the equivalent of 1000 of the original polyethylene bags, Jacobsen says. And "no one wants to recycle them," as the plastic requires a higher temperature to melt.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Word of the day

Hypnobama - the next president of the United States.

This guy can do no wrong. Who needs good ideas, a plan to fix the tax system, restore sound money and banking, protect property rights or even the slightest understanding of the U.S Constitution, when you have hypnotic powers ?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stupid regulation of the day

This is why licensing is always a bad idea, that allows monopolies and cartels to be formed and prevents free and competitive markets from developing in many sectors.

The Louisiana Floristry Board:
reason: When did the Louisiana law go into place?

Mellor: In the 1940s. There was a proliferation of these licensing laws in the Progressive Era and an explosion of them after the New Deal. They’ve just continued to increase as the number of occupations has grown and enterprising people have created more niches.

In Louisiana, once they set this law in place, it was regulated by the floristry board that was comprised of florists. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the passage rate on the practical exam—where you arrange flowers and show your proficiency—was about 35 percent a year. It was utterly subjective. They’d just say things like, “It doesn’t have the proper sense of balance. It doesn’t have the proper perspective. It’s not artistic enough.”

There was no appeal from it, no standard of review. You were basically stuck. Many more people passed the bar exam in Louisiana than passed the floristry exam.

The state was arguing that you could create a corsage in such a way that someone could prick their finger on the pin, and that this was a public health and safety rationale sufficient to uphold that law. That’s literally what they were arguing.

Irony of the day

The palestinians, recently suffering the destruction of dozens of their "metal workshops" (which for the palestinians, is their key industry) have now adapted by firing their shiny new Grad missiles randomly at Israeli towns.

And who did they narrowly miss out on killing ?

A couple of palestinian babies being treated in an Israeli hospital.

The Grad rocket that landed next to the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon on the Sabbath last week narrowly missed killing two premature babies from Gaza who were admitted to the facility.

"When the Hamas shelling of Ashkelon started, the twins, a boy and girl, were still in the neonatal intensive care unit." The hospital spokesman added. "One of the Grad rockets fell a mere 50 meters from the hospital entrance. All the premature babies in the NICU unit, including the two Palestinian babies, were transferred to the hospital's bomb shelter for fear that the hospital itself would receive a direct missile hit."
Seeing as Israel has taken out dozens of "metal workshops", where exactly are these Grad missiles produced ? - Iran

So lets recap:
  • Palestinians operating dozens of "metal workshops" i.e bomb and rocket factories
  • Israel successfully targetting and destroying these terrorist facilities
  • Israeli doctors and hospitals being impartial to the conflict, routinely admit and care for palestinians.
  • Iran meddling in the conflict between 2 parties, and providing ammunition to Hamas
  • Hamas decided to randomly fire missiles at Israeli cities with no regard for where it hits
  • The victims of Hamas' murderous actions are just as often palestinian or Israeli Arabs.
This incident sums up every aspect of the conflict.

hat tip: Israellycool

Monday, March 03, 2008

Obama gets schooled in economics

The Austrian School of Economics Blog tears into Obama's universal health plan and shows his complete ignorance of the laws of supply and demand, and how his plan will deliver PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE of what he intends.

Well, those good intentions of his might help win presidential elections, with his celebrity pop-star endorsed video clips and songs, but they look like they are going to further destroy the American health system.

The article points out the rising costs, the in-fighting and political lobbying, the lowering of standards and the predictable failure of universal socialised health. Read it in full.