By John Ruberry

“So listen, there’s still a little bit of it to go,” the host of NPR’s witty Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, Peter Sagal said as he opened his New Year’s Eve show, “but all the pundits and the pollsters have already called it: 2016 will go down as the worst year ever.” Which led moderator Bill Kurtis, the longtime journalist and Chicago news anchor to reply, “Sure, 1346 had the plague, but at least Black Death was a cool name.”

I’m here to explain, at least for me and people who visit Da Tech Guy and my own blog, Marathon Pundit, that 2016 was a darn good year, and absolutely a better one than 1346.

Defying the “pundits and pollsters,” but perhaps not the same ones Sagal was talking about yesterday, Donald J. Trump was elected president–he’ll be sworn into office in nineteen days. Although not as historic as being the first African-American elected to America’s highest office, Trump will be the first president who was not a prior public office holder or a general. That’s yuge.

Like Bob Dylan in 1964 keeping his love for the Beatles to himself and not, initially, telling his folk-music pals, I secretly hopped on the Trump Train in the autumn of 2015, but I was a vocal passenger well before the Iowa Caucuses. Like Sean Hannity, I saw Trump’s, yes, historic candidacy as the last chance to save America from collectivism and socialism, mediocrity, malaise, globalism, cronyism; and in what would have sealed the unpleasant deal, a runaway leftist Supreme Court. I am not an aberration, there are tens-of-millions of Americans who look at the rise of Trump in a similar manner.

A Hillary Clinton victory could have possibly hobbled America as much as the 19th century Opium Wars did to China. A large and populous nation does not necessarily mean that it will be a prosperous and powerful one, as India and Indonesia show us. And Russia is not prosperous.

I look at Trump’s win as the best news of the decade. But even as blogs and new media continue to prosper–my blog’s readership soared last year–the old guard media, which is dominated by leftists, for the most part despises Trump. Their bad news needs to be your bad news.

My daughter at the old
M*A*S*H set

The old year of course will forever be remembered as the year of so many celebrity deaths, which included Leonard Nimoy, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Dick Van Patten, Omar Sharif, Yogi Berra, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, Wayne Rogers, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

Wait…wait…don’t tell me! Yes, those are deaths from 2015. Celebrities die every year. Trust me, they really do.

Okay, second verse almost as same as the first: In 2016 the celebrity departures included David Bowie, Prince, Florence Henderson, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, William Christopher, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

[Editorial note: The WordPress blogging platform does not like words with asterisks within them.]

Admittedly, some of these celebs are a bit different from the Class of 2015. Although enigmatic, Bowie, Prince and Michael meticulously cultivated their public images, they became familiar presences on MTV; so people, even if they weren’t fans, believed they “knew” these performers, and their 1980s videos enjoy eternal life on VH1 and on YouTube.

Fisher played Princess Leia in Star Wars, which was arguably the most influential movie, both artistically and in the business-sense, since The Jazz Singer. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, then you probably haven’t seen many films. Florence Henderson’s TV show, The Brady Bunch, was not a first-run success, but it achieved legendary status on the re-run circuit. Like Bowie’s “Modern Love” video on MTV, sometimes you need to watch something every day instead of once-a-week for it to be properly digested.

Oh, I mentioned earlier that Dick Van Patten of Eight Is Enough died in 2015. And few cared because I’m pretty sure you have to buy DVDs of his show to watch it.

As members of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation pass on, there are proportionately more self-absorbed people remaining, those of course being the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Snowflake Generation, many of whom view every event, whether it is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, an election, and of course, a celebrity death, as being about themselves. When Ish Kabibble, a kind of proto-Jerry Lewis, died in 1994, my parents didn’t take it as a personal loss.

John “Lee” Ruberry of
the Magnificent Seven

Here is some more good news from 2016: Third quarter growth in the United States was a robust 3.5 percent, perhaps because the end of the Obama era was in sight. And since Trump’s win, the stock market has been soaring, clearly many people, smart ones, are confident that 2017 will be a year of strong economic growth.

Now if we can only convince the self-absorbed ones to stop thinking about themselves so much, then 2017 will certainly be a great year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Note: I just saw Rogue One last night, and this post will not contain any spoilers.  Go see the movie in theaters, it is awesome!

When I heard a remake of Ghostbusters was coming out, I was intrigued.  I hadn’t loved the original Ghostbusters, but it had been a good enough movie that a reboot could be awesome.  So I watched the trailer with my wife.

And we both were like…seriously?  It was terrible.  I had a few friends see the movie, and they hated it too.  Rotten Tomatoes wasn’t kind, and if you click the Top Critics vs. All Critics, it gets worse.  IMDB was even less kind.

But the criticism of what is obviously a terrible movie suddenly exploded into charges of sexism.  Obviously male audiences rated the movie poorly because it had female leadsObviously, males are inherently sexist and can’t stand to have a strong woman in a film.  The same critics conveniently tied in Donald Trump as the continued their rage on the internet.

If you need a perfect counter example, see the recent Star Wars films.  Both Episode 7 and Rogue One have female lead characters, and have done outstanding.  Episode 7 had Rey, General Leia and Captain Phasma, and while you could argue that the movie splits attention between Rey and two male characters, Rogue One’s Felicity Jones is definitely the star and main focus of the film.

So why the difference?  Why did Star Wars, which has a cult following like Ghostbusters, do much better?  Sexism can’t explain it, but I think I can, contrasting Ghostbusters with Rogue One.

Rogue One stayed true to what made previous movies great.  People like Star Wars because it has space battles, blasters, aliens and the occasional Jedi with a lightsaber.  Rogue One never broke from this.  They then created characters (bad and good) and pitted them in a good vs. evil environment, adding a few twists to keep you on your toes (did I mention you need to see the movie yet?).

Ghostbusters was a hit because it was a comedy.  Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and the rest of the cast are funny people, and their dry sense of humor appealed to audiences in the 1980s.  The new Ghostbusters, while they tried to make it funny, focused too much about the fact they had a female cast.  They added social justice to a movie where people wanted to watch a team of four people fight ghosts and save New York City.  When people blatantly saw this in the trailers, they immediately turned hostile (the YouTube trailer has over 1 million down thumbs so far).

Rogue One had a diverse cast.  Besides the aliens, it featured lots of non-white actors and actresses.  But it doesn’t shove that in your face.  It lets you draw the conclusion that the Rebellion embraces diversity while the Empire looks more uniform.  Letting people develop their own answers makes them more powerful in the end than providing the “obviously” right answer.  In contrast, Ghostbusters gives you the answer, and treats you like an idiot if you don’t like it.

The last point is that Ghostbusters did a terrible job using stereotypes.  In Ghostbusters, the stereotypes are connected to the actresses gender and color.  Patty Tolan, played by Leslie Jones, is a loud mouth black female because apparently that is how black females are, or at least that’s the stereotype we use to judge her behavior in the movie.  Contrast that with Ernie Hudson’s character, who played a pretty upstanding guy in the original movie.  Rogue One ties stereotypes to the character, not the actor.  Jyn plays a hardened rebel.  She’s tough, hates the Empire and has no problem shooting Stormtroopers.  There isn’t any mention of her being a woman.  Again, letting the audience come to the conclusion that a female lead is awesome makes the message more powerful.

My advice to aspiring social justice warriors trying to champion a cause is to stop shoving things down people’s throats.  If you want to champion diversity and women’s issues, look to the example set by Rogue One before you make another terrible movie.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, U.S. Government, Galactic Empire or the Emperor.


If you liked this post, donate to Da Tip Jar at the bottom, and maybe you’d like my analysis of why Darth Vader is an operational genius.

Come to Draft Town
Draft Town billbard, Chicago

By John Ruberry

Deadly shootings in Chicago are up 20 percent this year over 2015. Last year Rahm Emanuel and the exclusively-Democratic City Council stuck it to Chicagoans by enacting the city’s biggest property tax in history to pay for municipal worker pensions–with probably more hikes to come. Chicago’s population decline continues, the onetime Second City is now third, with Houston within reach to pass it.

How does Rahm Emanuel respond?

With Roman style bread and circuses.

Two weeks ago the NFL draft was held in downtown Chicago for the second straight year–accompanied by an elaborate Draft Town festival.

And like the bounty hunters who doggedly pursued Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Rahm desperately wants to plop the proposed George Lucas museum on Chicago’s Lakefront despite opposition from preservation groups and a federal judge. Chicago was Lucas’ second choice for his temple, plans for a San Francisco museum fell through two years ago. The filmmaker’s ties to Chicago are at best tenuous. He married his second wife, a Chicago native, on the lakefront a few miles south of the proposed museum site. Oh, Harrison Ford, who played Solo, was born in Chicago and he grew up in suburban Morton Grove, where your humble blogger lives.

Lake Michigan in Chicago
Lake Michigan in Chicago

Meanwhile the carnage in Chicago continues. Last night a man eating dinner was shot to death while eating dinner when someone fired into his Southwest Side home. Early this morning a passenger in a car was murdered when he was shot on Lake Shore Drive. Another man was shot on the same road, albeit not fatally, two days earlier.

Oh, I almost forgot. Chicago anemic school system, which kind-of-sort-of educates children, is essentially insolvent.

Meanwhile Mayor Emanuel cries out with a Hail Mary pass, “Help us Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit

After a very good day’s sleep I turned on the TV and found this scene from Animal House playing.

Watching for a little while and thinking of the Star wars fanaticism that’s been going on it hit me that both of these movies came out in the late 70’s. It was a time when many of the 60’s generation had young kids who because of their parent’s decision to foolishly abandon christianity had no real exposure to religion.

By an odd coincidence both of these excellent movies became more than movies, they became ways of life.

At colleges all over the nation the primary purpose of college to many became to get drunk and score. Meanwhile kids who normally moved from one popular movie or TV show to another (remember the Davy Crockett caps) stayed with Star Wars to the point where it wasn’t abandoned in adulthood and was even passed onto the next generation.

Now there is nothing wrong with enjoying a great comedy or action movie, both of these pictures were a lot of fun but it’s not healthy to replace your moral code with them.

Consider this famous scene from Animal House

The Dean’s words: “Fat drunk & stupid is no way to go through life son.” Is excellent advice that any parent worth a damn would give his or her kids, but HE is considered the villain in this scene, the person to be defeated and ignored.

As a gag or joke, that’s fine, as a way of life, that’s disaster.

Meanwhile for people who have decided that the wisdom of generations concerning the Church and Christ and public events such as the miracle of he sun at Fatima seen by thousands are to be discounted find themselves engrossed in the “force” & “jedi” mysticism. Something that feeds the need for thing beyond themselves without actual commitment to anything but buying the latest toy.

Again as a fun distraction it’s fine, as a replacement for Christ, it doesn’t work. Take a look at the line of fanatics waiting to see the next installment in their gospel, how many of them do you think know anything of the real one?

As a creature with a soul man instinctively has a need for God, and when you take God away from him , he tries to find something to replace him with.

Again I like both of these movies and everybody know that I’m a big Doctor Who fan and if you want to enjoy and be entertained by the Star Wars or Doctor Who franchises that’s fine. Likewise if you want to laugh at Animal House and the genius of John Belushi that’s great.

But if you use any of these three as a “how to” for life, you are going to be disappointed and your culture will suffer.

Unexpectedly

It’s not Luke, it’s Target, but still, TARGET STORES ACCUSED OF SEXISM FOR SELLING T-SHIRT THAT REPLACES PRINCESS LEIA WITH LUKE SKYWALKER

Star Wars purists are rightfully offended, but is this sexist?

Why should we care?

You, gentle reader, may have reached the same saturation point I have: We are subjected daily to a cacophony of constant whining from a culture of grievance where the aggrieved feel (because we should all be caring about the feelings of complete strangers, lest we be pegged as boors but called racist, sexist, ___phobic, etc.) put upon and want everybody to do something about it.

Now, I strive to treat all with politeness and civility. I was raised by parents who respected themselves and others. As an adult, I came to understand that is part of a greater American value of respect for the individual’s right to freedom and equality under the law.

I may choose to not voice an opinion: there are myriad reasons why, but most of the time I’m not interested in getting into an argument. However, I do reserve the right to my opinion, whether it pleases others or not.

In the current atmosphere of PC/multi-culti culture wars, having an unpopular opinion leads to all sorts of assumptions, where those differing from your opinion will vocally tag you as stupid, “living in another planet” (along with the above-mentioned name calling), and fearful.

Fearful? Take a look: Fear lies at the heart of opposition to ‘political correctness’, because

People are afraid of the power that true equality can give the historically disenfranchised and afraid of having been wrong

That, by the way, is that writer’s opinion, which sounds rather condescending to my opinionated-yet-jaded ears.

Peter Berkowitz, reviewing Eric Liu’s article “How to Be American” in the fall issue of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, points to A Misguided Resolution to the Culture Wars (emphasis added),

Liu envisages a cultural literacy list that would “catalyze discussion and even debate.” It would be many-colored and inclusive, rich with references to movies and music, and to the ethnic, racial, and religious minorities that populate America. In the spirit of progressives’ “living Constitution,” it would be “an evolving document, amendable and ever subject to reinterpretation.”The content of this list would demonstrate that “the essence of American life is that it relentlessly generates hybrids.” So would the method by which the list is produced. It would be “an online, crowd-sourced, organic document that never stops changing, whose entries are added or pruned, elevated or demoted, according to the wisdom of the network.” And it would teach that the story of “diversity and hybridity” is “the legitimate American story.” Serving as “the mirror for a new America,” Liu’s cultural literacy enterprise, he claims, would overcome the conflict between the claims of a common culture and multiculturalism by illustrating that multiculturalism “is our common culture.”

But multiculturalism is not our common culture. Nor is the essence of American life hybridity and diversity. It is the American commitment to individual freedom and equality under law that is fundamental, and which makes possible the bounteous American pluralism that Liu justly celebrates. At this moment of dizzying change, recovery and restoration of the enduring principles at the core of the American experiment in self-government is decidedly more urgent than construction of a document that echoes the clamor characteristic of contemporary public life.

In the cacophony of opinions, Berkowitz finds a fact: You can’t have pluralism without that commitment.

And if you don’t like the Target t-shirt, don’t buy it.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

UPDATE:
Linked to by The Pirate’s Cove. Thank you!

I speak to author Ann Margaret Lewis at the Catholic Marketing Trade Show

Her website is here Her twitter page is here

Today on Twitchy we found out that the great Star Trek / Star Wars debate between William Shatner and Carrie Fischer is still on.

I favor Star Trek over Star Wars myself but since I’m a Doctor Who fan over all I tweeted the following:

Imagine my shock when I got this tweet in reply:

I’ve interviewed Senators and congressmen, TV personalities like Joe and Mika, I’ve spoken to Todd Palin (although never managed to get a direct question to Sarah) and even questioned the man who will be the next president of the United States twice, but in terms of coolness this definitely tops the list and impressed the hell out of My youngest who was sitting next to me at the time and my oldest and wife who just got back from Foxwoods celebrating his 21st birthday. As I put it:

Stacy McCain might argue (correctly) that his hard-earned tweet & retweet from Alyssa Milano is more desirable and nobody can deny she is a beautiful woman, but while there will never be a shortage of beautiful women in Hollywood there will never be another William Shatner.

Is that cool or what?

—————–

Cool as this is it will not put a single dollar in the DaTechGuy Fundraiser now in progress. Still over $2200 short of the $3000 goal. Hey a Shatner tweet has GOT to be worth at least a fiver. For details click here for the progress check the thermometer to the right and to kick in hit DaTipJar”.





but even though I resent the anti Palin stuff, why not focus on areas of agreement? After all some things just can’t be argued with:

The team also declared the show’s upcoming spoof of “Return of the Jedi” would be the show’s last full-episode “Star Wars” parody, a venture that’s generated healthy DVD sales for 20th Century Fox TV. In addition to increasing the creative team’s workload, the more recent prequels, MacFarlane explained, would be “too expensive” to recreate.

The problem is, we try to be as faithful as possible to the look of those movies; to do that with the prequels, I don’t think TV budgets have reached that level yet,” MacFarlane said.

Added Alex Borstein, who plays Lois: “That, and they sucked.”

Emphasis mine, well actually emphasis pretty much everybody.