American Elephants


Somebody call PETA! by The Elephant's Child

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This picture was posted on Facebook, and many viewers were outraged that at a time when there is so much going on in the world, some idiot hunter was slaughtering, um, peaceful rare animals. If you recognize the face of the man, Steven Spielberg, and the animal, Triceratops, all becomes fairly clear. The director posed with a prop from Jurassic Park. The Daily Caller summed up the rage of some of the commenters:

“That’s Steven Spielberg, director of Jurassic Park!” one user wrote.

“I don’t care who he is he should not have shot that animal,” another responded.

“Steven Spielberg, I’m disappointed in you. I’m not watching any of your movies again ANIMAL KILLER,” commented another.

“Disgraceful. No wonder dinosaurs became extinct. Sickos like this kill every last one of them as soon as they are discovered. He should be in prison,” another followed up.



The Environmental Themes of Aronofsky’s “Noah” by The Elephant's Child

I have not seen Noah, nor do I intend to. Saw the trailers, and Noah as an environmentalist and vegetarian with really bad dialogue left me thinking there were better ways to spend my time.

This summary of, um, “creative interpretation or heretical imagination” — or Noah’s top five environmental intrusions into the biblical textual account convinced me that, much as I like Russell Crowe, I would pass on this one.

The environmental notions of the movie show the extent of the culture wars.

  1. Man’s primary sin is that of destroying the environment.
  2. God prefers animals to humans.
  3. Man is an unwelcome intrusion on the environment.
  4. Taking dominion over the earth means ravaging it.
  5. Man’s task is to reduce his environmental footprint.

The explanations of each theme are here. The author says:

Aronofsky himself sees the movie as an environmentalist sermon of sorts, with anthropogenic global warming as our latest evil to combat. “The water is rising, and we already saw it once,” he commented to CNN on the supposed climate effects predicted by the United Nations. “We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

Sounds like a religion to me. The culture wars are getting exceedingly strange.



Who Was It Who Said Celebrities are Those Who are Famous Only for Being Famous? by The Elephant's Child

us-oscars-times-square

I am not watching the Oscars. I am only grateful that it marks the end of the seemingly endless exercise of the glitterati congratulating themselves for the remarkable wonderfulness of their contributions to the world’s culture. Oscars and Emmys and endless awards, borrowed dresses and borrowed jewelery and borrowed makeup. I don’t care who wins what. I don’t care who wears what. I am not interested. There are more important things going on in the world. And it may be astonishing, but there are way more important people, more important ideas and more important events.



The Secret Knowledge: The Origins of “Social Justice” by The Elephant's Child

From the archives: October 28, 2012

The Left is deeply concerned about income inequality, you know that, they tell us so often enough. They have observed that some people live in poverty while others, particularly corporate CEOs, who get ridiculously enormous salaries that they certainly don’t deserve, are very rich. The Left considers this observed inequality as unnatural. In his book The Secret Knowledge, playwright David Mamet tackles the origins of the problem:

To correct this observed inequality, which the Left sees as unnatural, it invented the term “social justice.” But a system of Justice already exists, formulated by Legislature, in supposed expression of the will of the people, and administered by the Judiciary. This is called the Judicial System.  What then is this additional, amorphous “social justice”? It can only mean, as Hayek wrote, “State Justice.” Here, though the Left will not follow the reasoning out to its end, the State (operating upon what basis it alone knows, and responsible to no law enacted by the people) confiscates wealth accumulated under existing laws and redistributes it to those it deems worthy.

History proves that the worthiest in these Marxist schemes are or quickly become, those in charge of distribution, which is to say “the State,” it’s constitutional powers usurped by those we know as “dictators.”

To the Left it is the State which should distribute place, wealth, and status.  This is called “correcting structural error,” or redressing the legacy of Slavery,” or Affirmative Action, or constraining unfair Executive Compensation; but it is and can only be that spoils System which is decided at the ward level as “cronyism.” And lauded at the national level as “social justice.” It is nothing other than the distribution of goods and services by the government for ends not specified in the Constitution; and in response to pressure from or in attempts to curry favor with groups seeking preferment or goods not obtainable either under the law, or through those practices of mutual benefit called the Free Market. What obscenities are created in the name of “social justice?” What could possibly be less just than policies destructive of initiative and based upon genetics?

David Mamet was once a Democrat, and thought better of it. Actually he thought long and deeply about it, read a lot, and turned his considerable writing skills to explaining just why he changed his mind. It is a perfectly delightful book, and as a lifelong Conservative, I learned a lot.

David Mamet is an American playwright, screenwriter, author,and director renowned for Glengarry Glen Ross (Pulitzer, Tony nomination). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for The Verdict and Wag the Dog. His books include: The Old Religion, Five Cities of Refuge, The Wicked Son, and a long list of books and movies, television shows and even radio dramas.

 The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,  is Mamet’s book detailing his conversion from modern liberalism to “a reformed liberal.” It was released in June of 2011, and I recommend it heartily.



Antarctic Adventures Can Become Addictive by The Elephant's Child

Icebreaker1928
1928: The cutter Bear, used by U.S. Admiral Richard Byrd on an expedition to the South Polar regions. (click to enlarge)

The Week has assembled a group of historic photographs of icebreakers here, from a much longer historical photography collection from the U.S.Coast Guard, showing icebreaking since the mid 1800s. You start getting interested in the Arctic and Antarctic, and explorations and rescues, and first thing you know, you’re collecting every book you can find about Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations and the Endurance, and then you get the 2002 Kenneth Branagh film (excellent) and books about the incredible expedition and examples of leadership, survival and courage, and you’re hooked.  You’ll be ordering up the whiskey reproduced from the Scotch Whiskey buried for a hundred years, in Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition Hut. There’s even a book about that.



Peter O’Toole: 1932-2013 R.I.P. by The Elephant's Child
December 15, 2013, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Movies, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,

peter-otoole

Consummate actor Peter O’Toole has died in London at the age of 81.
From Lawrence of Arabia which brought him to stardom, he brought much pleasure to world audiences over the years. And there was Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, My Favorite Year, and even the Pixar animated Ratatouille. So many memories. His movies will live on.

 



When a Story Plot Becomes All Too Real by The Elephant's Child

It’s a favorite plot, so overused that it has become trite: something happens to the pilot and a passenger, a stewardess, someone who is not a pilot has to be coached into bringing the plane in for a landing. Heard it all too many times, right? Tiresome.

Except it just happened, in England. Officials at Humberside Airport in northwest England put emergency plans into place and called in flight instructors when the pilot of a small Cessna 172 collapsed in the cockpit and his passenger, 77 year-old John Wildey took the controls and began his first landing with help from flight instructors.  Soon after he landed, his friend, the pilot, died.

It has always been a possible scenario, as so many scary situations are — and sometimes they turn real.  Here’s the full story;

 



Carrie by The Elephant's Child
October 8, 2013, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Pop Culture | Tags: , ,

A trick played on coffee shop patrons in the Village in New York. (Its a viral ad) Clever and funny. I wonder how I’d react if I were there as a customer?

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)



The Uncomfortable Facts of Demographics by The Elephant's Child

de·mog·ra·phy n. The study of the characteristics of human populations,as size, growth, density, distribution, and vital statistics.

The perpetually discontented are sure that if they can just get enough new low-information voters through reforming immigration laws so the borders are more open and friendly, then they will be able to perpetually win all elections. But there are other trends in the world, one of the more notable is demographic, and is changing the world as we know it.

Our president has declared that his objective is to fundamentally transform America. What liberals really mean is they want a different society, made up of different people. They want people who are more like them, who do not disagree and argue, and who truly appreciate their enlightened government and how much they are improving things, or will improve them as soon as they get their next regulations in place and their next laws passed.

child-free-time
From Moonbattery:

The article aggressively advocates childlessness. This fits smoothly with the liberal campaigns to promote abortion and to normalize homosexuality (if only in the weakest of minds). Not having children also allegedly protects the planet from imaginary threats that the liberal press has sacrificed much of its credibility to convince us are real. Plus it saves money!

The Nazis were impatient. They wanted the groups they considered undesirable to disappear immediately. Liberals learned from the failure of their fellow progressives. They are willing to wait a few generations for Americans to fade into nonexistence.

North America will still be populated, even if the liberal ruling class has its way. That’s where the push to erase our borders completely through amnesty comes in. After America is gone, its place will be taken by a gloriously diverse Third World hellhole consisting of peasants and their oligarchical collectivist rulers. The future will look like a cross between Zimbabwe, Guatemala, and the Soviet Union. Or at least, that’s a politically correct statist’s dream.

No one who wants to disarm you means you well. The same goes for anyone who does not want you to reproduce. The liberal ruling class that excretes publications like Time is the sworn enemy of every American, including those who consider themselves part of it.

Interesting juxtaposition.

They used to make movies about large happy families: (Consult Netflix). You might enjoy Meet Me In St. Louis, (1949), Life With Father ((1947), Cheaper By the Dozen (1950), Bells On Their Toes (1952), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), The Seven Little Foys (1955), Spencer’s Mountain (1963), The Sound of Music (1965), Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995).

What’s the last movie about big families you have seen besides the Weasley family in the Harry Potter series?  What’s the last movie you have seen about happy families?  How many big families do you know?  Big defined as more than three.  Just something to think about.



Movies, Violence, Hypocrisy and Real Life. by The Elephant's Child

In all the conversation about “assault weapons” most of the commentary has concerned the cosmetic appearance of guns, and the number of bullets in a magazine. Some small number of the comments have concerned violent video games but there have been no serious studies that show a connection to disturbed people committing mass shootings.

On the other hand, let’s admit that movies are violent, unnecessarily so.  Hollywood’s minor celebrities, always anxious to get their faces and names before the public rushed to make a commercial to advance the president’s efforts to ban gun violence and guns. Though he claims to appreciate the Second Amendment, Obama is on record saying that he does not believe that people should be allowed to own guns.

The Hollywood celebrity bunch made a forgettable commercial for Obama’s original campaign for the presidency, so this one was much in the same style — a little gag inducing. Conservatives re-did the commercial, inserting clips from each particular celebrity’s very own movie, celebrating the very kind of gun violence they were so pompously opposing. It’s fun to see hypocrisy exposed. Demand a plan. Heh.

The president, you will notice, said not a word about violence in movies. Hollywood people are major campaign supporters and celebrities flock to the White House. When the CDC studies the causes of gun violence, movies will probably not be included.

Commenters write about seeing World War II movies, which only demonstrates how superficial the thinking. Hollywood is in business to make money. When a movie is popular, they pay attention to what was different about the movie. It is not an accident that so many popular movies have been remade several times. (Think Superman or Robin Hood) Special effects have taken over. What was once a simple car crash, is now a major spectacle with dozens of flaming cars flung high over freeway overpasses. A real-life Volt bursting into flame isn’t really shocking any more.

There was a time when most gun violence was in cowboy movies, where the hero pointed his six-shooter in the general direction of the bad guy, sound-effects provided the necessary sounds, and the bad guy fell down dead. Gangster movies were about the 20s and bank robberies and prohibition and car chases. The gangsters were recognizable because they had tommy-guns, wore black and black hats and drove big black cars that had a back seat or trunk large enough to hold a body. But the story was about bravery and cowardice, honesty and dishonor.

Special effects have taken over, and each movie must top the last. Heads explode in pink mist, wounds rip bodies apart, limbs are amputated. Whole groups of people are torn to pieces. What make-up cannot create, technical wizards will create with their computers. The sad thing is that Hollywood has lost the art of storytelling. Movies are just not so appealing any more. More violence, more gore, more blood, more sex, more squalor, more evil, more vulgarity, more bad language.

Movies once concerned the human condition, not in its excesses, but in its ordinary foibles. People are very human and struggle to understand their own human failings. Good storytelling makes you laugh or cry as you recognize bits of yourself and your friends and realize that perhaps you’re normal after all. That’s what storytelling has always been about, from how to have courage, how to be a hero when you are frightened, how to cope with the death of a loved one, how to be a good person, how to survive.

Think of some of the great movies: High Noon, Gone With the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, To Kill a Mockingbird, It’s a Wonderful Life, E.T., The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Singing In The Rain, Lawrence of Arabia, It Happened One Night. Shakespeare told stories, Homer told stories, Aesop told stories — all about being human.

People use movies as examples in conversation and thought. They justify ideas, not by history, but with movie scenes. Movie dialogue has become an integral part of conversation and speech. I notice because it is not natural to me, and I have been surprised by its prevalence. Often notions of history come from the movies rather than from historians’ evidence from the past.  The behavior of celebrities in real life is influential and imitated. So to assume that violence in movies has no effect on violence in society is absurd. Will that connection be investigated? Not by Obama’s Executive Orders.



Tiresome Celebrities, Preaching to the Rest of Us. by The Elephant's Child

I don’t know, maybe you are so impressed with “celebrity” that you welcome advice from those who are modestly well known because they were once in a movie or got their picture in the paper. Somebody must be, because so many magazines feature “celebrities” on their covers. I am not, and find them tiresome. Their movies are increasingly uninteresting, and dominated by the same old special effects, and nobody in Hollywood seems to remember how to tell a good story.

Anyway, these tiresome pretty people, inspired by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary decided to tell the rest of us that we should dump the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Somebody else, who also found them tiresome, took the trouble to juxtapose the violent scenes from their very own movies with their preachiness.  Delicious. Love seeing hypocrites exposed.

Because we occasionally spend money to see a movie, and their agents tell them how wonderful they are, doesn’t mean that said minor celebrities have any expertise in politics that might influence the rest of us. I only recognized a couple of them.  If you care so much, stop making such violent movies.  You are a bad example. Please — just shut up.



The HMS Bounty Is Back in the News! by The Elephant's Child

The tall ship HMS Bounty, is a replica of the famous ship sent by the Royal Navy on a botanical mission. It was sent to the South Pacific to acquire breadfruit plants and transport them to the British West Indies. The mission was never completed. Anger and bad relationships between the ship’s commander, Lieutenant William Bligh and his acting Sailing Master, Fletcher Christian, led to one of the world’s most famous mutinies. Fletcher Christian and about half the crew seized the vessel on October 28, 1789.

On December 23, 1787, the Bounty sailed from Spithead for Tahiti. The crew spent an entire month trying to round Cape Horn, but the weather prevented it. Bligh proceeded East, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and crossed the Indian Ocean. Bounty reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788 after ten months at sea. Bligh and the crew spent five months in  Tahiti. Many of the crew formed relations with young women, had themselves tattooed in native fashion. They set sail with their cargo of breadfruit on 4 April 1789.

Some 1300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out. The ship was taken bloodlessly, and apparently without any struggle except by Bligh himself. Of the 42 men on the ship, 22 joined Christian in mutiny, 18 remained loyal to Bligh and two were passive.

The mutineers ordered Bligh, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate, and the ship’s clerk into the ship’s boat, along with a few of the seamen. They sailed 30 nautical miles to Tofua in search of supplies, but were forced to flee when they found the natives hostile and one man was killed.  Bligh then set out for the Dutch port of Coupang, 3,500 nautical miles from Tofua, one of the great feats of navigation and seamanship.  He safely arrived there 47 days later, having lost no men during the voyage.

The Mutineers returned to Tahiti, where they set the loyalists and sixteen of the mutineers ashore. Fletcher Christian, eight other crewmen, six Tahitian men and eleven women, one with a baby set sail in the Bounty. They passed through the Fiji Islands, and the Cook Islands trying to find a safe place. On 15 January 1790 they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on admiralty maps. To prevent discovery and anyone’s escape, the ship was burned in what is now called Bounty Bay.

The stories were admirably told by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall in a trilogy : Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn’s Island. They were originally published in the 1930s, and in many other versions ever since. Amazon has a selection of all different printings.I loved the books when I was a kid.

Movies have been made of Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, (1935),  with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard (1962), and a 1984 movie called The Bounty with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins —who goes somewhat mad. There was an earlier one with Errol Flynn, and one even earlier than that from Australia which is long lost. It’s a great sea story, based on real history, and always popular. Captain Bligh is portrayed as cruel, totally mad, a master navigator and a firm but harsh captain. Books have been written about Bligh’s accomplishments, the aftermath for Pitcairn Islanders, the rediscovery of Pitcairn. That one voyage has proved to be fodder for a multitude of stories.

Which brings us back to today. The HMS Bounty, which I believe is the replica built for the 1962 movie, was caught up in Hurricane Sandy off Cape Hatteras today. They lost steerage, and were taking on water. The Coast Guard performed a heroic rescue, and picked up 14 of the 16 crew members, all in survival suits. Two were missing, but the Coast Guard continued to search.

The sea is relatively warm, around 70° and one was known to be wearing a survival suit, though they didn’t know if the other missing man had one. It’s not known if the Bounty is still afloat.  It is 223 years and one day since the original Mutiny took place.

ADDENDUM: The Coast Guard has suspended their search for the Captain of the Bounty. The missing crew member was found, unresponsive, and died at the hospital. The ship has gone down.




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