Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And the M Stands for…

Bond: "I thought M was a randomly assigned letter. I had no idea it stood for…"

M: "Utter one more syllable, and I'll have you killed!"

Casino Royale

In case you were wondering, M stands for moron.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An M Is an M Is an M

Bond fans used to wonder whether M is a position or a man, that is, whether Bernard Lee and Robert Brown were playing the same character, or one man and his successor. Now, since the appointment of Judi Dench to the role of M, those suckers believe that question is settled.

Little do they know. What most people don't know is that Miles Messervy underwent a sex change operation. You know, he was sick and tired of being an old man.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nor Any Drop to Drink

Alex answers his mail, re: "They Don't Know Who Their Friends Are."

Oleg writes:

[Y]ou don't know a thing about Bolivian water story, which took place in a small town Cachabamba. "Bad guys" (Aquas Del Tunari, controlled by International Water Limited, controlled by Bechtel) through corruption (the price of the contract was laughable - 20'000 USD) took control over the town water system, then doubled retail prices for water, then used imported weapons (courtesy of the U.S. embassy) to stifle a "paro civico", then government was forced to rescind the contract with Aquas Del Tunari, then contractor sued Bolivia for the loss of earnings, which was 25'000'000 USD. The loan for the operation came from World Bank. So, you know, those "capitalists" are true parasites, who are not simply "ask another men to live for them", but force them to.

Ted writes:

The foundational principle being ignored on all sides, is that individual liberty, being natural, has also natural limits. When anyone deliberately decides to use their liberty to manipulate and control others, whether the vehicle of that control is religion, politics, philosophy or even "capitalism", the natural boundary has been overstepped.

Steven writes:

Since when is overthrowing governments, doing business with killers or establishing a water monopoly behavior we admire? This sounds like a thoroughly neo-conservative reading of the film not a libertarian one. If you really want to associate Capitalism with Gangsterism, then by all means continue these misdirected, knee-jerk tirades.

Obviously, they still don't know who their friends are.

First off, Steven's remarks are so wrong on so many levels that they merit a blow by blow dissection.

"Since when is overthrowing governments, doing business with killers or establishing a water monopoly behavior we admire?"

We, Steven? Dou you presume to tell me what I admire?

Or is we you and Ayn Rand? Looking at "Egalitarianism and Inflation" (The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. III, No. 18, June 3, 1974) you'll see that Rand didn't believe Allende was better than Pinochet.

Or is it you and some unspecified libertarians? Why would I care what some anonymous libertarians admire?

"Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we.' " — Mark Twain

"Three groups are permitted that usage: pregnant women, royalty, and schizophrenics. Which one are you?" — Hyman G. Rickover

I'm afraid, Steven, you just outed yourself as a closet collectivist.

By the way, does that mean you don't admire the American Revolution?

"If you really want to associate Capitalism with Gangsterism, then by all means continue these misdirected, knee-jerk tirades."

Of course, capitalism, voluntary cooperation to mutual advantage, is preferable over either gangsterism or socialism. Yet if you can't have capitalism, gangsterism sure is better than socialism. Where were people better off in 1926, in Chicago or in Moscow?

Why did Ayn Rand flee from St. Petersburg to Chicago? And why didn't she flee back to the Soviet Union in horror when she saw the Chicago gangsterism?

If you can't have "voluntary cooperation to mutual advantage," "everybody fights for himself" sure is better than "the individual gets enslaved and sacrificed for the common good of the majority."

"Has any act of selfishness ever equaled the carnage perpetrated by disciples of altruism?" — Howard Roark

Who was the worse violator of human rights, Al Capone or Adolf Hitler? I'm not so sure what Steven and his tapeworm may choose, but I'd take Al over Adolf any day.

"This sounds like a thoroughly neo-conservative reading of the film not a libertarian one."

Who told you I'm a libertarian? "Libertarian" is a broad catchall term that includes about everybody who claims to be in favor of liberty, from anarcho-capitalists to objectivists, and then some. Why would I care if a specific viewpoint of mine is neo-conservative or libertarian?

As for the Bolivian water story, it's Oleg who doesn't have his facts straight.

In the Aguas del Tunari case, the corporation raised rates not out of greed, but to be able to invest in the water network. True, poorer Bolivians claimed they could not afford this, and to cut a long story short, an angry socialist mob with torches and pitchforks kicked out the capitalist company.

The upshot: Without the capitalists' capital to fix up and expand the water system, most folks there still have no connection to the water main. And unless that socialist mob finds some idiot who builds water mains for them without getting his money back through higher rates, they won't get any faucet water, ever.

Don't take my word for it. Read the relevant entry at everybody's favorite joke of an encyclopedia.

Then again, while this particular company can be blamed for nothing except maybe for misjudging Bolivians' ability to pay, there are no doubt some shady capitalists just as there are corrupt government officials. However, Hollywood will make you believe that all capitalists are corrupt, while government agents are only corrupted by the need to fight fire with fire.

But neither is my principal point. That point — and I probably did not make that clear enough in my review — is: If someone takes control of a resource and doubles the price on consumers out of pure spite or greed — it's OK. Sure, it's not nice, and cause for censure, but it is not cause enough to resort to the use of force.

It's mind-boggling how ready people are to resort to force at the slightest provocation. People cry, "We cannot live in anarchy. Everybody would go after his neighbor with a shotgun for the slightest perceived offense." Yet that is what people are doing under and through government.

The mere fact that you get a judge or a jury to agree with your peeve, or even a legislature elected by a majority (of those who care to vote) to agree with you that "there ought to be a law," does not give you any "objective" right to have the government use force against others over trifles. The shotgun of anarchy is the litigiousness of archy.

It's the road to Obamastan. Seven billion people believe there ought to be a law against their pet peeve, like their high water bill, or their high gas bill, or whatever.

The result, quite predictably, is world socialism. If the pet peeves of seven billion people are grounds for government regulation by force, what else can the result be but a totalitarian state?

In the water rights case, there are no grounds to use force against the "industrialists," unless you're the victim of outright, overt force or fraud, or dying of thirst. In the latter case, of course the ethics of emergencies kicks in: "[M]any Objectivists say that, if they fell off a building and hung onto somebody's balcony, they ought to die rather than trespass."

But if the matter is of no vital importance to you —

"Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones, though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog, than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite." — Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bench That Dench

Uh, I mean, ditch that bitch. I guess it's no secret that I'm no fan of Judi Dench.

I don't care that our British friends believe she's one of their finest actresses. I mean, Brits believe Roger Moore can't act.

(Shouldn't become a closet collectivist here, though. It should be: "most Brits," not "all Brits.")

Anyway, let's cut to the chase. Dench's #1 problem is that basically she's nothing but a punk: She's rebelling against beauty itself.

Until a cure for aging is found, one can at least try to age gracefully. Letting one's face implode into a crater with wrinkles around and then smearing eyeliner and lipstick on the remains like whitewash on the ruins of the WTC is only adding insult to injury.

Like so many things, it's either or. Either go for a facelift or forgo the makeup.

And if she doesn't want to dye her white hair, fine. But that doesn't mean she has to opt for a do that looks like it's been nibbled by boogle of weasels. The Donald's do has more dignity.

As for her "acting," I've seen her only in Shakespeare in Love and in those disastrous howlers that pass for Bond movies these days. Nevertheless, in both roles she played a mean old bat, and from her performance as M it's obvious that she can't act, can't even tell acting from frenzied histrionics.

So I can't help but wonder, is she being typecast or isn't she acting at all — is she just playing herself? If an actor's playing the same type again and again, that's basically the only two possibilities.

Either she's had some real bad luck being cast, or she enjoys being a mean old bat because she is a mean old bat in real life. Given her open rebellion against beauty, I tend to think the latter.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bond Barbie Keeps the Streak Alive

From the day Barbara Broccoli was promoted to producer, there's never been a blond Bond girl. No true blond "main Bond girl" (what other franchises would call a "leading lady") since Maryam d'Abo as Kara Milovy in The Living Daylights, to be precise. And two movies later, Brunette Barbie assumed producer duties.

Well, as long as Brunette Barbie stays in charge, I trust she won't tolerate any Bond girl more beautiful, uh, blond than her. The fact that Barb lost her boy toy to a blonde won't help matters much, I'm afraid.

But then, given the esthetic nosedive the Bond franchise has taken with the reboot, with virtually all the fun elements — from humor to gadgets — gone, either Bond is headed for a slow slide into oblivion, or the production team will have to be rebooted.

Be it Brunette Barbie or the end of the Cold War — since License to Kill, Bond has never been the same. And no, it's not that I've grown up. I still like to watch the classic Bond movies.

And it's not only my subjective dissatisfaction at not getting the quantum of blond I paid for with the ticket. (No, Daniel Craig doesn't count. I'm not gay. And even if I were, I'd prefer tall dark strangers. Call me old-fashioned, but chicks are supposed to be blond; guys, dark. 'Nough said.)

No, even in the nineties, Bond was running out of steam, out of credible opponents. I've watched every one of those movies, and the plot of every one of them was forgettable, straight-to-DVD material.

If North Koreans and Chinese can be made to stand in for soviets, the writers sure didn't manage to pull it off. (With the possible exception of Die Another Day, which was quite tolerable, or would have been, had Brosnan's presence not reminded me of his three preceding bombs.)

The fullest expression of that degradation can be observed in the rebooted Casino Royale: the movie trying to become relevant by latching onto the destruction of the WTC. Of course, Bond movies always tried to be topical. Think The Man with the Golden Gun and the seventies energy crisis.

However, before the nineties, Bond was larger than life. He did not play second fiddle to a real-life terrorist attack.

Nowadays, Bond is no longer larger than life (fighting villains scheming for world domination or the annihilation of mankind) or even as large as life (fictionalizing the Cold War or the war on drugs) but just your garden variety hero, no, protagonist, struggling to impersonate a secret agent, badly, and losing even that fight. A sad shadow of his former self.

As a former Bond fan, here my ultimatum:

(1) I want Blond girls, uh, blond Bond girls, and not James Blond.

(2) Craig shall never again be permitted to act in a movie, except maybe as Frankenstein's monster. A yellow dog could act better than he.

(3) I want Timothy Dalton back. Or even George Lazenby. Too bad Sean Connery and Roger Moore are probably too old by now. Anyway, Dalton should have made more Bond movies. Pierce Brosnan sure looked the part, but now he's associated with those stupid nineties Bond movies. I guess I could settle for Gerard Butler.

(4) There shall be writing that manages to create some credible villains, and without catering to the very worst populist clich├ęs.

(5) I want that sense of humor and those gadgets back.

(6) All Bond movies after License to Kill shall be booted from the canon, particularly that sick joke of a reboot.

Until these conditions are met, don't expect me to buy any merchandise, any DVDs, or any tickets (unless I have to write a review).

They Don't Know Who Their Friends Are

My review of the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace at The Atlasphere:

"They Don't Know Who Their Friends Are‏"

You may also be interested in this review over at Unspoken Words:

"Quantum of Solace — Where's Mine?"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Global Warming Cooked Up?

This article, "The World Has Never Seen Such Freezing Heat," from The Daily Telegraph, can really make you wonder how much reality there is behind all that global warming hype:

A surreal scientific blunder last week raised a huge question mark about the temperature records that underpin the worldwide alarm over global warming. On Monday, Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), which is run by Al Gore's chief scientific ally, Dr James Hansen, and is one of four bodies responsible for monitoring global temperatures, announced that last month was the hottest October on record.

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month…

So what explained the anomaly? GISS's computerised temperature maps seemed to show readings across a large part of Russia had been up to 10 degrees higher than normal. … The reason for the freak figures was that scores of temperature records from Russia and elsewhere were not based on October readings at all. Figures from the previous month had simply been carried over and repeated two months running.

A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others.

I don't pretend to know if the world is headed for global warming or for a new ice age, but given the way those global warming enthusiasts acquire their data, it's pretty obvious that global policy decisions affecting the very air we breathe should not be made based on the say-so of those sensationalist alarmists.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Good Riddance, Sarah!

Here's the farewell America has for Sarah Palindrome. A representative sample:

"Boy, I sure hope you keep her in Alaska forever."

"Keep her — please keep her!!!!!"

"Yikes! The dumbest candidate for anything in my lifetime and the only person who can make George W. Bush look presidential."

"She came, she saw, she got her butt kicked!"

One of the few fundie dissenters opined: "Yep […] hatred for someone that has gone much further than any of you could even amagine [sic]."

If only she would go a little farther still, to the North Pole, and never be heard from again.

Not that I like "President" Barrack Hussein Osama too much. Too bad that McCain self-destructed by picking that fundie nitwit.

Anyways, now is the time of healing, of getting over the nightmares of the Palindrome starting World War III by going after Putin with a shotgun if he rears his head… The nagging fear that a "President" Palindrome would replace the Constitution (imperfect as it is) with her interpretation of the ten commandments… That, like her poor son-in-law-to-be, all men would be shotgunned into joyless marriages to some fugly war pigs they happened to pick up. Too horrible to contemplate.

No new fundies! (Yeah!)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Top Ten Things to Do on Election Day

The top then things to do on election day, best to worst:

(1) Vote for Barr/Root.

(2) Write in Ron Paul.

(3) Write in yourself.

(4) Write "Fuck You All!" all over the ballot.

(5) Tear up the ballot.

(6) Hand in a ballot as illegible and hard to process as possible.

(7) Hand in a blank ballot.

(8) Stay home.

(9) Vote for Osama/Bidet.

And the single worst thing you can do on election day is:

(10) Vote for Alzheimer/Imbecile, uh, McCain/Palin.

No new fundies!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Barring the Greater Satans

"American voters deserve better than simply the lesser of two evils."

Bob Barr.

Why would any freedom-loving individual who chooses to sanction democracy by voting proceed to waste his or her vote on just another collectivist?

Both McCain and Obama openly and unabashedly campaign on their "value" of service. They claim they want to serve you, but they're as proud of the fact that once elected, they will force you to serve your fellow man — and the government that rules both you and your fellow man.

The hope that McCain may be tougher on terrorists and the axis of evil than Obama cannot justify voting for a man who is every inch as much an altruist, a collectivist, an enemy of liberty as Obama. OK, it's tempting to vote for a man whose famous temper will likely make him hit the big red button in case of another terrorist attack, instead of for a man who would negotiate a compromise with them that gives in to materially all their spiritual demands.

Yet any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. No terrorist threat, real or imagined, can justify selling the foundation of civilization, capitalism, down the river.

Let's look at only one example of too many to count: Both McCain and Obama have vowed to fight "speculation" and "windfall profits" in the oil industry.

Bear in mind that it's the government that caused America's dependence on foreign oil. The government destroyed passenger railroads by subsidizing highways and airports. The government claims unowned land that should be open to be claimed by oil companies that wish to establish ownership by improving it, by making it useful by drilling for and producing oil.

These government follies have curtailed oil supply and driven up demand, increasing prices and profits. Can you imagine what will happen if one of the mainstream looters confiscates those "windfall profits" oil companies need to continue working in the stranglehold of an environmentally correct, altruistically price-controlling government?

It took a century of hard work to rebuild ExxonMobil after that overgrown teddy bear Roosevelt took the initiative in destroying Standard Oil. Do you think it is a good idea to vote for a Roosevelt groupie now, when the product of the oil industry has become the lifeblood of civilization?

Bob Barr, in stark contrast, holds that:

The free market, driven by consumer choice and reflecting the real cost of resources, should be the foundation of America's energy policy. The federal government should eliminate restrictions that inhibit energy production, as well as all special privileges for the production of politically-favored fuels, such as ethanol.

In particular, Congress should allow the exploration and production of America's abundant domestic resources, including oil in the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and alternative sources such as shale oil.

So you believe voting for a third-party candidate amounts to wasting your vote? It takes away votes from McCain and ensures the victory of Obama?

That's probably what an unreconstructed Whig would have told a Republican in the 1850s. Wake up and smell the coffee.

If you want change to happen, you have to make it happen. If you want to get rid of both established parties, you have to vote for a third party.

Everybody keeps telling everybody else to not "waste" their vote on a third party. This way, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, game theory at its worst. There will never be liberty unless you there in front of your computer decide to become the political Howard Roark on your block, the first person to go against the grain, the first person to vote for a third party.

In fact, you throw your vote away if you vote for a mainstream candidate. If you vote for either McCain or Obama, you stand up to be counted among those who approve of their identical altruist, collectivist premises.

"See," the mystics of muscle and the mystics of spirit alike will crow, "the people don't want liberty. The people want to serve, want to be ruled by one of us."

Besides, voting for Barr doesn't necessarily have to hurt McCain, much as he has it coming. Christopher Barron, a Republican political consultant, told the Los Angeles Times:

"If Barr's candidacy is fueled by the same people who supported Ron Paul — college students, antiwar advocates and hard-core libertarians — then I think it is unlikely to hurt Sen. McCain in any significant way because these are not the type of voters McCain is reaching out to. I could actually envision a scenario under which Barr's candidacy actually helps McCain by siphoning off some of the enthusiasm among college voters and antiwar advocates for Obama."

Either way, there can be no reason not to vote for the one candidate who's standing firmly for freedom from G like gun rights to P like property rights — while under McCain, the former GOP is being further reduced to a big, fat 0.

Like every one of us, Barr isn't perfect. Like every one of us, he has made mistakes (like prosecuting drug dealers) and held quirky opinions (that same-sex couples should be denied the chance to marry, to become as unhappy as everyone else). But is that an excuse for voting for candidates campaigning by openly brandishing their collectivism and altruism?

It looks like Barr has become enlightened regarding his follies, like the war on drugs. We can only hope this change for the better will be a change for good, and not a flip-flop.

So in some ways, Barr is a reformed "sinner." But is it better to vote for a man who openly says he will do evil?

Oh, by the way, did I mention that Barr is to my knowledge the only candidate who's at least something of a fellow Ayn Rand fan?

We should seek to establish a wall of separation between government and the economy. The legitimate economic functions of government are to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. The government should stop attempting to "manage" the free market.

Ayn Rand? Nope. Bob Barr.

If life, liberty, and property is what you want, Bob Barr is your last, best hope in 2008. In fact, as the candidates of the two mainstream parties have disqualified themselves, Barr is your three best candidates: Barr is the first, last, and only line of defense for liberty left in America.