Category Archives: culture

The Revenant

The Good

I am a mountain man, by Gawd! so I am excited to a mountain man movie no matter what. The opening sequence of the trappers in the wilderness getting their beaver furs packed up for the long journey back was amazing. The intensity of the Indian attack kept me on the edge of my seat and the scenes of the trappers doing the business trapping felt truly authentic. The fur-trade era fort was amazing and felt real.   It was cold, damn cold. Tom Hardy was incredible as the malicious trapper Fitzgerald.  The bear attack . . . THE FREAKIN’ BEAR ATTACK!!

The costumes were spot-on, with one small exception below . . .

The Bad

How did the Indian get into the tree to snipe the trappers? Indians shooting arrows from sniper-rifle range distance? I found myself wondering if these were a lost tribe of ninjas.   The flashback scenes showed a group of soldiers attacking the Pawnee that really looked like Spaniards.   Glass and his son looked like they were the same age.   Glass was in his early 40s when the bear incident occurred, because Leo doesn’t age, he looks like a kid, dressed like a man, dressed like a mountain man.   Which for Hollywood is probably spot on . . .

Our hero grabbed a pistol from the Frenchman and proceeded to fire it four times without reloading. Did he grab a shot pouch that I missed? Luckily grab the right size ball?   And my most fundamental question for a pack of pre-1840s dudes living in the wilderness . . . where were all of their hats?

Looks like Pedersoli (or one of their distributors) did a good bit of business on this movie . . .

The Run-down

There are a lot of classic movie moments in here.   The most obvious is the cutting open the pony to stay warm – calling back to the tauntaun scene in ESB.   Two elements from First Blood – the jumping off the cliff into the tree to break a fall, using gunpowder to cauterize a wound. And finally, the inevitable ending where our protagonist and antagonist square off to settle the scope with hawk, knife and fisticuffs.

Overall, I would say it’s probably worth seeing, but I just don’t see the staying power of a Jeremiah Johnson

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

John Stuart Mill, English economist & philosopher (1806 – 1873)

The First A-Team Trailer

The moment you all have been waiting for is here.

The first trailer for the new A-Team movie got released today and in a word – it looks AWESOME.

A few happies:

1) Liam Neeson looks to be a great Hannibal (cigar and all)

2) Sharlto Copley from District 9 as Murdock

3) Rampage keep the BA Baracus hair-do

3) The A-Team van!

If this is half as good as the trailer looks, then this will more than make up for GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Honoring 9-11

I read the below on Breitbart’s Big Hollywood blog and thought it was worth re-posting here. A good portion of our crew are current and/or former military, with 3 of them having server in the GWOT and one on his way.

Honoring September 11th: They Wants Us to Forget
by Mark Tapson

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner

“We will write our own future, and the future will be what we want it to be.” – Barack Obama

In a quiet and seemingly innocuous gesture, President Obama has designated 9/11 as “The National Day of Service and Remembrance.” Personally, I liked the ring of “Patriot Day,” and what does “service and remembrance” mean, precisely ? The idea is to get Americans to “engage in meaningful service to create change…in four key areas”: education, health, energy/environment and community renewal. None of these seems to have anything to do with honoring 9/11, but that seems to be the point: in the Huffington Post, Muslim-American playwright Wajahat Ali wrote, “In the US, we are trying to move away from focusing on 9/11 as a day of horror, and instead make it a day to recommit ourselves to national service.” An excellent Spectator article provides a blunter translation: “Nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.” Why? ”They think it needs to be taken back from the right.”

In other words, they resent the surge of patriotism and righteous outrage stirred up by the attacks, sentiments that empower the political Right. In order to advance the leftist agenda of dismantling American exceptionalism and recasting ourselves as the villain in our history books, they need Americans to put 9/11 behind us, forget the victims, forget that our enemy danced in the streets in celebration, forget that Islamic terror plots on our very shores continue to be disrupted, and forget that our rights and freedoms are under assault by a subversive civilizational jihad.

It seems impossible to believe that that morning could be forgotten – just as it was once impossible to believe that our government could erase “jihad” and “Islamic” and “terrorism” from our national lexicon, preventing us from even naming the enemy, or that an American President could proclaim us no longer a Christian nation, but rather one of the world’s largest Muslim countries. There was a time when screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh’s extraordinary 2006 ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 was going to be shown in schools across this country and be aired every 9/11 anniversary – until the Clinton administration, wanting you to forget their flaccid response to the growing threat of Islamic extremism, and fearing the show would tarnish their political legacy, pulled out all the stops to suppress it; it very nearly wasn’t aired, and today you can’t even obtain it on DVD. (This whole story has been related fascinatingly in John Ziegler’s must-see documentary Blocking the Path to 9/11). It’s impossible to forget that morning only if we fight to keep its memory alive.

Americans can commit themselves to public service any or every other day of the year; 9/11 should be reserved for solemn remembrance and renewed commitment to preserving American security, values and sovereignty. A day of greening your neighborhood? I’m all for planting trees, but what does “green” have to do with 9/11? Only that it’s the color of Islam. But if the President insists, allow me to suggest some service appropriate to the day:

Education? How about this: educate yourself and your children about 9/11 and about the continuing Islamist threat – not only of overt acts of terrorism, but the insidious dangers of “stealth jihad” and “creeping sharia.”

Environment and community renewal? Okay, beautify your block by flying the Stars and Stripes. It sends a simple but unmistakable message to the enemy and their useful idiots that, unlike our post-American President and his fawning media, you are proud to be American; you believe in American exceptionalism; you believe that making this day about installing fluorescent light bulbs trivializes the memory of 9/11’s victims; and you will never let their deaths be in vain or erased from history.

Eight years ago, nineteen fanatical Muslims turned hijacked aircraft carrying hundreds of terrified passengers into missiles targeting symbols of American might. Nearly 3000 innocents died horribly that day, including hundreds of courageous, selfless first responders making a superhuman effort to rescue their fellow citizens. The hijackers are regarded by their fellow Islamists as heroes and martyrs in the cosmic war against the Great Satan America. That war is by no means over, and thus, in the Faulknerian sense, neither is 9/11. We owe it to the victims to keep this day alive in our hearts and national consciousness – and not allow the Left to bury it.

Make no mistake, no matter how the current administration tries to downplay the threat of radical Islam or change the lexicon of the GWOT to make its language more palatable to the PC-minded, what we face is a culture war – the progressive, free-minded, free-markets vs. the last bastions of anachronistic monarchy, oppression, and closed-mindedness.

If you doubt, ask any woman who grew up under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan or Christian expartriates who live and work in the Saudi kingdom.

There is no timetable for a pull-out.

There will be no Paris Accords or effective mutual withdrawal.

We will be fighting this war until the end of time.

Potential Update on the A-Team Movie

Daytime just sent me over this info on the ever-in-discussion A-Team movie:

The “A-Team” is certainly gearing up for what one would call an A-list cast (though I’m quite fond of George Peppard, Dirk Benedict and Mr. T). According to Variety, it was confirmed that “Hangover” star Bradley Cooper is in negotiation to play Lt. Templeton “Faceman” Peck. And now, Variety is stating that none other than Liam Neeson (who just starred in the ridiculously entertaining “Taken”) is in negotiations to play John “Hannibal” Smith. Joe Carnahan is set to direct, with Ridley Scott producing. OK, great. But where’s Mr. T in all of this?

The source is here.

I would have never thought of Liam Neeson as a good Hannibal (of course Faceman would need to be played by a pretty boy, so no surprises there), but after seeing him in Taken, I would certainly like to see his interpretation of the role.

Now of course the big question for me (aside from the concern of Hollywood destroying all of my childhood icons in the name of making a buck, i.e. Transformers, GI Joe, etc.) – is where in time will they set the story?

The A-Team is fundamentally a 1980’s post-Vietnam story, but I am not relying on Hollywood to keep the story in context.

I am sure that the A-Team will have been accused of a “crime they did not commit” – some kind of robbery of a big bank in Iraq or Afghanistan. But to make the story politically correct for modern times (and Hollywood), it’ll turn out that the bank is being run by an evil military contractor – who was really defrauding the government for its own nefarious purposes.

I wonder if they will push the envelope and make the team mercenaries during the conflict – certainly believable in our contractor-based neo-warfare model – or if they will be a real US Army A-Team (Special Forces) that is assigned the infamous task? If they are US troops, then of course Mr. Neeson would have to do something about that accent . . .

Or . . . they could go all UN-style like Streetfighter.

Just kidding . . . seriously. Don’t do it, Hollywood!

Ok – so the Transformers movie wasn’t that bad . . .

Swine Flu – Some Perspective

This article was written by Dr. Larry Miller (former head of Emergency Medicine at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and Medical Director for several EMS Systems). I think it provides some great perspective on the current situation and gives an alternative viewpoint to all of the media hype.

Swine Flu – The Journalistic Scaredemic
April 28, 2009

Swine Flu is a new strain of influenza that has yet to cause a death in the USA. That being the case, why are Americans in a state of panic over the Swine flu?

The answer is that the media (CNN, ABC, NBC, USA Today, along with other publications) have stirred the public into a virtual frenzy. They are bombarding us with hysteria. They love it. Nothing turns them on more than to sensationalize mountains out of molehills. In the case of the Swine Flu, the media is guilty of causing an epidemic of panic. They are guilty because they relentlessly hype this dubious threat into a certain deadly pandemic.

Let’s look at the facts:
Seasonal influenza causes thousands of deaths every week during flu season in the USA. The CDC estimates that seasonal flu causes over 36,000 deaths per year (200,000 hospital admissions) and over 500,000 deaths per year in the world. Does the media discuss these statistics? No. Why? Because these are boring facts – not sensational news that bolsters their ratings and increases their revenue.

How is Swine Flu different than regular seasonal flu?
It has become the “boogie man”, used by the media to terrorize the public. And they are getting away with it. Yes, the Swine Flu will eventually kill people in the US, but the chance of it becoming more dangerous than seasonal flu is unlikely. Unfortunately, the media is even scaring medical and public officials into irrational behavior. Why are they closing schools for Swine flu (that has yet to kill anyone) but not for seasonal flu (that kills thousands every week)?

What other biological threats do we encounter every day?
Tuberculosis, Streptococcus (flesh eating bacteria), AIDS, Hepatitis, Pneumonia, Influenza, Staphylococcus, E Coli, Salmonella, Shegella, and the list goes on and on. Thousands die every week from these infections; some are incurable and untreatable. I would much rather be infected with Swine Flu which is susceptible to several antiviral agents, than to have MRSA that often cannot be cured.

As EMS leaders what should we do?
We already have protocols that address exposure to dangerous biological threats. As long as we practice our usual and customary universal precautions we will not contract Swine Flu or any of the far more dangerous biologics we encounter every day. We do not have to change any policy, protocol or procedure. We do have to use common sense and notify supervisors or medical control if we are concerned about a particular incident.

We live in an environment of danger from infectious diseases. Swine Flu is only one of them. How do we stay healthy? Most folks have a strong immune system that protects them. In medicine we work in the midst of such infections, but rarely contract them because we use universal precautions (gloves, masks, and gowns) to keep us safe.

What we in the medical field need to do, more than anything else is to remain calm and reassure our patients that the sky is not falling in. Be understanding and prepared, but do not get caught up in the hype and hysteria. We need to be a voice of sanity in an insane world.

During the last great war, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That has not changed.

As a rational scientific community, we should reprimand the media for their irresponsible behavior. Force them to develop a balanced approach to a potential problem. As it stands today, they have inadvertently become the problem. They are the Epidemic (Scaredemic).

Larry J Miller MD
miller ‘at’

April 21, 1836 – The Battle of San Jacinto

The battle of San Jacinto was the concluding military event of the Texas Revolution. On March 13, 1836, the revolutionary army at Gonzales began to retreat eastward. It crossed the Colorado River on March 17 and camped near present Columbia on March 20, recruiting and reinforcements having increased its size to 1,200 men. Sam Houston’s scouts reported Mexican troops west of the Colorado to number 1,325. On March 25 the Texans learned of James W. Fannin’s defeat at Goliad, and many of the men left the army to join their families on the Runaway Scrape. Sam Houston led his troops to San Felipe de Austin by March 28 and by March 30 to the Jared E. Groce plantation on the Brazos River, where they camped and drilled for a fortnight. Ad interim President David G. Burnet ordered Houston to stop his retreat; Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk urged him to take a more decisive course. Antonio López de Santa Anna decided to take possession of the Texas coast and seaports. With that object in view he crossed the Brazos River at present Richmond on April 11 and on April 15, with some 700 men, arrived at Harrisburg. He burned Harrisburg and started in pursuit of the Texas government at New Washington or Morgan’s Point, where he arrived on April 19 to find that the government had fled to Galveston. The Mexican general then set out for Anahuac by way of Lynchburg. Meanwhile, the Texans, on April 11, received the Twin Sisters and with the cannon as extra fortification crossed the Brazos River on the Yellow Stone and on April 16 reached Spring Creek in present Harris County. On April 17, to the gratification of his men, Houston took the road to Harrisburg instead of the road to Louisiana and on April 18 reached White Oak Bayou at a site within the present city limits of Houston. There he learned that Santa Anna had gone down the west side of the bayou and the San Jacinto River, crossing by a bridge over Vince’s Bayou. The Mexicans would have to cross the same bridge to return.

Viewing this strategic situation on the morning of April 19, Houston told his troops that it looked as if they would soon get action and admonished them to remember the massacres at San Antonio and at Goliad. On the evening of April 19 his forces crossed Buffalo Bayou to the west side 2½ miles below Harrisburg. Some 248 men, mostly sick and ineffective, were left with the baggage at the camp opposite Harrisburg. The march was continued until midnight. At dawn on April 20 the Texans resumed their trek down the bayou and at Lynch’s Ferry captured a boat laden with supplies for Santa Anna. They then drew back about a mile on the Harrisburg road and encamped in a skirt of timber protected by a rising ground. That afternoon Sidney Sherman with a small detachment of cavalry engaged the enemy infantry, almost bringing on a general action. In the clash Olwyns J. Trask was mortally wounded, one other Texan was wounded, and several horses were killed. Mirabeau B. Lamar, a private, so distinguished himself that on the next day he was placed in command of the cavalry. Santa Anna made camp under the high ground overlooking a marsh about three-fourths of a mile from the Texas camp and threw up breastworks of trunks, baggage, packsaddles, and other equipment. Both sides prepared for the conflict. On Thursday morning, April 21, the Texans were eager to attack. About nine o’clock they learned that Martín Perfecto de Cos had crossed Vince’s bridge with about 540 troops and had swelled the enemy forces to about 1,200. Houston ordered Erastus (Deaf) Smith to destroy the bridge and prevent further enemy reinforcements. The move would prevent the retreat of either the Texans or the Mexicans towards Harrisburg.

Shortly before noon, Houston held a council of war with Edward Burleson, Sidney Sherman Henry W. Millard, Alexander Somervell, Joseph L. Bennett, and Lysander Wells. Two of the officers suggested attacking the enemy in his position; the others favored waiting Santa Anna’s attack. Houston withheld his own views at the council but later, after having formed his plan of battle had it approved by Rusk. Houston disposed his forces in battle order about 3:30 in the afternoon while all was quiet on the Mexican side during the afternoon siesta. The Texans’ movements were screened by trees and the rising ground, and evidently Santa Anna had no lookouts posted. The battle line was formed with Edward Burleson’s regiment in the center, Sherman’s on the left wing, the artillery under George W. Hockley on Burleson’s right, the infantry under Henry Millard on the right of the artillery, and the cavalry under Lamar on the extreme right. The Twin Sisters were wheeled into position, and the whole line, led by Sherman’s men, sprang forward on the run with the cry, “Remember the Alamo!” “Remember Goliad!” The battle lasted but eighteen minutes. According to Houston’s official report, the casualties were 630 Mexicans killed and 730 taken prisoner. Against this, only nine of the 910 Texans were killed or mortally wounded and thirty were wounded less seriously. Houston’s ankle was shattered by a rifle ball. The Texans captured a large supply of muskets, pistols, sabers, mules, horses, provisions, clothing, tents, and $12,000 in silver. Santa Anna disappeared during the battle and search parties were sent out on the morning of the 22. The party consisted of James A. Sylvester, Washington H. Secrest, Sion R. Bostick, and a Mr. Cole discovered Santa Anna hiding in the grass. He was dirty and wet and was dressed as a common soldier. The search party did not recognize him until he was addressed as “el presidente” by other Mexican prisoners. One of the eight inscriptions on the exterior base of the San Jacinto Monument reads: “Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah, and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty.”

From The Handbook of Texas Online

Texas Independence Day – March 2, 1836

One of the most important documents in Texas history is the Declaration of Independence, adopted in general convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos, March 2, 1836.

Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Texas


When a government has ceased to protect the lives, liberty and property of the people from whom its legitimate powers are derived, and for the advancement of whose happiness it was instituted; and so far from being a guarantee for the enjoyment of those inestimable and inalienable rights, becomes an instrument in the hands of evil rulers for their oppression; when the Federal Republican Constitution of their country, which they have sworn to support, no longer has a substantial existence, and the whole nature of their government has been forcibly changed without their consent, from a restricted federative republic, composed of sovereign states, to a consolidated central military despotism, in which every interest is disregarded but that of the army and the priesthood – both the eternal enemies of civil liberty, and the ever-ready minions of power, and the usual instruments of tyrants; When long after the spirit of the Constitution has departed, moderation is at length, so far lost, by those in power that even the semblance of freedom is removed, and the forms, themselves, of the constitution discontinued; and so far from their petitions and remonstrances being regarded, the agents who bear them are thrown into dungeons; and mercenary armies sent forth to force a new government upon them at the point of the bayonet. When in consequence of such acts of malfeasance and abdication, on the part of the government, anarchy prevails, and civil society is dissolved into its original elements: In such a crisis, the first law of nature, the right of self-preservation – the inherent and inalienable right of the people to appeal to first principles and take their political affairs into their own hands in extreme cases – enjoins it as a right towards themselves and a sacred obligation to their posterity, to abolish such government and create another in its stead, calculated to rescue them from impending dangers, and to secure their future welfare and happiness. Nations, as well as individuals, are amenable for their acts to the public opinion of mankind. A statement of a part of our grievances is, therefore, submitted to an impartial world, in justification of the hazardous but unavoidable step now taken of severing our political connection with the Mexican people, and assuming an independent attitude among the nations of the earth.

Full text.

TEXAS DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE . . . . The Texas edict, like the United States Declaration of Independence, contains a statement on the nature of government, a list of grievances, and a final declaration of independence. The separation from Mexico was justified by a brief philosophical argument and by a list of grievances submitted to an impartial world. The declaration charged that the government of Mexico had ceased to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people; that it had been changed from a restricted federal republic to a consolidated, central, military despotism; that the people of Texas had remonstrated against the misdeeds of the government only to have their agents thrown into dungeons and armies sent forth to enforce the decrees of the new government at the point of the bayonet; that the welfare of Texas had been sacrificed to that of Coahuila; that the government had failed to provide a system of public education, trial by jury, freedom of religion, and other essentials of good government; and that the Indians had been incited to massacre the settlers. According to the declaration, the Mexican government had invaded Texas to lay waste territory and had a large mercenary army advancing to carry on a war of extermination. The final grievance listed in justification of revolution charged that the Mexican government had been “the contemptible sport and victim of successive military revolutions and hath continually exhibited every characteristic of a weak, corrupt, and tyrannical government.” After the signing of the original declaration by fifty-nine delegates, five copies of the document were dispatched to the designated Texas towns of Bexar, Goliad, Nacogdoches, Brazoria, and San Felipe. The printer at San Felipe was also instructed to make 1,000 copies in handbill form.


Just great . . . I move away from Austin and then they have a Zombie Attack

Ok, not really. But just in case, we know the signs work in the event of an undead apocalypse.

Apparently, some local folks hacked a construction sign to warn passersby of zombies in the area.

Construction signs warn of zombies Hackers change public safety message

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Austin drivers making their morning commute were in for a surprise when two road signs on a busy stretch of road were taken over by hackers. The signs near the intersection of Lamar and Martin Luther King boulevards usually warn drivers about upcoming construction, but Monday morning they warned of “zombies ahead.”

KXAN Austin News cameras caught many drivers slowing down to read the signs as they approached. Some read, “Zombies ahead! Run for your lives!”

Of course the city didn’t think it was too funny. But then again, sending out a false warning of impending zombie doom is never funny. It’s just like the old tale of the “boy who cried werewolf.” Pretty soon, the angry townsfolk will stop running towards you aid with pitchforks and torches.


I wonder if they changed the password from 1-2-3-4 over to 4-3-2-1? 🙂