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movie review
Minions
July 25, 2015

Nothing spoils a movie like great expectations. Minions is the spin-off movie from Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, and it's more despicably bad than either of the other two movies.

The problem is that if you establish a whole species of characters who talk in a kind of gibberish with near-English and near-Spanish, you can't have them suddenly speak clearly and distinctly, just because you are concerned the audience isn't going to get what is going on.

If you establish a whole species of characters who do their own things and are easily distracted by emotional responses, you can't set them out on a quest.

The continuity police should have arrested the movie with continuity police brutality, early-minion style.

The overall problem with Minions is the creators felt obligated to have a Plot with a capital P, which led them to having to introduce a quest and clear-language and making the minions... I really don't want to have to say this... serious. The movie even had a part-time narrator.

The movie theater I saw Minions in about a week ago was half-full of kids and parents expecting a fun movie. The movie trailers got laughs. The movie kept audience attention but only received a few laughs here and there.

Not every movie needs a plot. Not every movie needs clear language.

Minions cartoons are like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons. They were funnier in the beginning.

Rating: two minions out of five
minionminion
Music Association: Pharrell Williams - Despicable






Iran Deal - no nukes

Historic Iran & World Nuclear Deal
July 15, 2015

The nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the world powers limits Iran's nuclear abilities and opens Iranian facilities to inspection. It's a big deal.

Not huge, but big.

The agreement is against nuclear bombs: nuclear bombs are bad. No more lines being drawn in the sand. Iran and the world powers are talking again, as they should. Iran belongs on the world stage and in the global economy. Congress should ratify the agreement and talks should begin with Iran about ISIS, Syria, and human rights violations.

But this nuclear deal is not huge. In order to be huge, the nuclear threat would have to have been a serious threat.

Several years ago I listed the historical threats:

The Iran Threat

As reported here in February 2012 and August 2012, Israel and the U.S. have been crying wolf [sources: 1, 2, 3] for years about Iran nearly having the bomb:
In 1984, the British defense magazine, Jane’s Defence Weekly said “Iran is engaged in the production of an atomic bomb, likely to be ready within two years.” The article based their estimate on the minimum time for West German engineering firms to complete one of two unfinished  nuclear reactors at Bushehr.
In 1988, Ayatollah Khomeini said Iran needed atomic weapons to win the Iran-Iraq War.
In 1992, Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 1999, according to Shimon Peres, then Israeli Prime Minister.
In 1992, Iran was 3-5 years from producing a nuclear weapon, said Israeli parliamentarian Benjamin Netanyahu.
In 1992, the CIA said Iran would have the bomb in 2000.
In 1996, Iran would have nuclear weapons by 2004, according to Ehud Barak, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 1997, Iran President Rafsanjani declared that Iran "hates nuclear and chemical weapons. 'Yes, some say we must have the atomic bomb,' says an Iranian official. 'But we can't afford it. The political consequences are too much trouble, and it's expensive.'" But the U.S. believes Iran will acquire nuclear weapons in 8-10 years. 
In 1998, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld reported to Congress that Iran could build an intercontinental ballistic missile, that could hit the U.S., within five years. The CIA gave a time frame of 12 years.
In 2002, President Bush said Iran was aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction.
In 2005, a National Intelligence Estimate said Iran is moving determinedly toward a 2015 nuclear arsenal.
In 2009, a U.S. Senate report by John Kerry said, "There is no sign that Iran's leaders have ordered up a bomb. But... Iran has moved closer to completing the three components for a nuclear weapon: fissile material, warhead design and delivery system... Deadlines have come and gone with Iran and so have predictions about when it might have a nuclear weapon."
In 2010, Iran was scheduled to have its nuclear bomb in March of 2011. (The Stuxnet attack began in June 2010.)
Now the talk is that Iran will have nuclear weapons between 2013 and 2015.

It's always just around the corner.
Israel wants to stop Iran. They may attack Iran. Emily Alpert at the Los Angeles Times put together this great list of Israel To Attack Iran headlines:
August 2004: The New York Times, Sharon on the warpath: Is Israel planning to attack Iran?
March 2005: Philippine Daily Inquirer, Israel has plans to attack Iran, says London Times 
December 2007: The Daily Beast, What Will Israel Do? 
February 2008: Haaretz, Pentagon: Israel increasingly likely to attack Iran 
May 2008: The Daily Star (Lebanon), As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon 
July 2008: The Atlantic, Will Israel Attack Iran?, ABC News, Will Israel Attack Iran?
April 2009: Salon.com, Will Israel attack Iran? 
August 2009: Talking Points, Will Israel Attack Iran This Year?, LA Times, Expect Israel to hit Iran without warning
April 2010: Middle East Post, Will Israel attack Iran? 
August 2010: The Week, Will Israel attack Iran in the next three days?
November 2010: The Atlantic, Will Israel Attack Iran by Christmas?
November 2011: Chicago Tribune, Will Israel bomb Iran?

So yesterday's announcement of the nuclear agreement with Iran is big and is historic, but it's more about bringing Iran back to the world stage.


Music Association: Flock of Seagulls - Iran So Far Away
Music Association-Association: The most recent episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee featured Steven Colbert. Colbert and Seinfeld launched into several music associations within 17 minutes.





Two AutoDrive Cars Almost Crash Into Each Other
June 26, 2015

The news out of Palo Alto, California is a Delphi self-driving car was cut off by a Google self-driving car, which I think is hilarious. Of course, it can be hilarious because nobody got hurt. There wasn't even a crash, but there nearly was.

While I would love to explain the ramifications and the competitive corporate self-driving car race...


The U.S. Supreme Court Legalized Gay Marriage Today
June 26, 2015

In a 5 to 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage today, establishing this date in the history books and one more strike against discrimination.

That reminds me, I really should update my U.S. History Timelines...


Music Associations: Dixie Cups - Going To The Chapel Of Love & U2 - In The Name Of Love







Tree Contest
May 28, 2015

I love trees. I get sappy over trees. I hug trees.

So imagine how I felt when I learned that Ecuador got in the Guiness Book of World Records for planting 647,250 trees of 216 species in 150 locations in one day. That day (Saturday, May 16, 2015) was a good day for trees. It was "part of a broader effort to reforest 500,000 hectares, which would effectively zero out the country’s current deforestation rate."

Now it's Canada's turn and Russia's.

Hey Canada! Hey Russia!

With all your land and all your deforestation, little Ecuador is beating you at reforestation, with ease.

Time to plant a lot of trees.

Music Association: Let It Grow (from Frozen)







waiting for an update




movie review
India Should Re-Think Its Gag Order
March 11, 2015

India, as a continent, is moving forward... painfully, slowly forward at 67 millimeters per year... hiding its head in shame under the Himalayas.

A young woman was raped by six men on a bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012. A documentary about the young woman, Jyoti Singh, the attack, and the aftermath was recently released and banned. The documentary, India's Daughter, interviews the family of Jyoti Singh, discussing her hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor and starting a hospital in her part of India. The documentary interviews one of the six men found guilty of the crime and the defense lawyer, who offer their misogynist views.

The BBC broadcasted the film last Wednesday night, March 4th, and the film was posted to Youtube. The next day, the Indian governement requested Youtube take down the video, and Youtube complied.

India's Daughter (2015)
protests for Jyoti Singh

Music Association: Indigo Girls - Shame On You









  Spock  Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy
1931-2015

Leonard Nimoy's Disappearing Desilu Studio Bicycle

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy's disappearing bicycle from "The Making of Star Trek" (Ballantine Books, 1968) by Stephen Whitfield and Gene Roddenberry.

The studio is such a big place and it takes so long to walk from one place to another that the stars of a series are usually given bicycles in order to let them take advantage of the precious little time they have free during the course of a day. Each bicycle has the name of the star on a sign attached to the frame, and it is considered verboten to touch the bicycle. For a while it became standard procedure to hide Leonard's bicycle. Anyone who happened to see it standing unattended was duty-bound to hide it.

Leonard began to complain he was having trouble finding his bicycle whenever he wanted it. Apparently he decided the only way he could be sure of locating it when he needed it was simply not to let it out of his sight. That is why one afternoon Leonard rode the bike into the sound stage and parked it right next to the set, where he could keep an eye on it. Naturally, a plan was quickly formed to hide it. As soon as Leonard's back was turned, one of the crew members on the catwalk overhead dropped a rope to waiting hands below, and in no time at all the bicycle was securely lashed to the catwalk overhead. There it hung, about eight feet above the floor, nestled in between a couple of arc lights. The word spread rapidly, and soon everyone but Leonard knew about it.

About fifteen minutes later Leonard decided to check on his bike. He walked over to the place where he had left it, saw immediately that it was gone, and yelled, "Hey! Where's my bicycle?" Immediately there was a loud chorus of, "What bike? You mean your bicycle? I haven't seen your bicycle. Your bicycle was on the set?"

Leonard began to frown noticeably and said, "Now wait a minute, I left it right here." Someone suggested he look outside, as it could have been removed from the stage in order to get it out of the way. His jaw set, Leonard stalked out the door. He was back in a moment, still yelling, "I can't find my bicycle." He then shouldered a broom, apparently determined he was going to clobber the guy who took his bicycle. He walked around the set, waving the broom in the air, saying, "All right, where's my bike? Who's got my bicycle?" As he passed beneath the bicycle securely fastened overhead (the broom barely missed hitting it) someone said, "You're getting warmer." As he moved a few steps away, someone else said, "You're getting colder." For a moment, Leonard looked slightly bewildered, then it began to dawn on him that he was being put on. He turned around, slowly looked from left to right, then tilted his head back and looked up. There was his bicycle neatly suspended from the catwalk. He immediately dropped the broom, started to grin, and then broke up in laughter.

\V/

Music Association: Supertramp - Logical Song
Movie Quotation: "Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most... human."

"beam me up"





snow sharing

Dear Boston,
February 20, 2015

It's been a while since I've written. You probably thought I was busy. Everyone is busy. You might have thought, "Heh, it's Minnesota. They have their own shoveling to do."

Nope.

There hasn't been any significant snow this season in Minnesota, at least not the Twin Cities.

It's like we sent the snow on its way to dump on someone else.

Sorry about that. We'll try to take our share.


Music Association: Supertramp - Give A Little Bit











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Hopes and Dreams: Stuck on AutoDrive is a novel that's about inventing the self-driving car. It has:

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