The New Official Teaser Trailer for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - In UK Cinemas December 12 2014
From Academy Award(r)-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world. Enraged, Smaug rains his fiery wrath down upon the defenseless men, women and children of Lake-town.
Obsessed above all else with his reclaimed treasure, Thorin sacrifices friendship and honor to hoard it as Bilbo’s frantic attempts to make him see reason drive the Hobbit towards a desperate and dangerous choice. But there are even greater dangers ahead. Unseen by any but the Wizard Gandalf, the great enemy Sauron has sent forth legions of Orcs in a stealth attack upon the Lonely Mountain.
As darkness converges on their escalating conflict, the races of Dwarves, Elves and Men must decide - unite or be destroyed. Bilbo finds himself fighting for his life and the lives of his friends in the epic Battle of the Five Armies, as the future of Middle-earth hangs in the balance.
Gun regulations megapost:
I’ve gotten accused of a lot of frankly weird things in talking about gun rights, but one of the main things has been being too verbose and asking too many questions. I feel this is an incredibly unfair and frankly baffling contention, since gun rights are a dense, tricky subject, interfacing with property rights, self-defense rights, public safety, privacy, and a host of other issues and to treat them at all seriously you need to go into it in depth.
Still, to keep things to a minimum, I am going to lay out my thinking in this here megapost. I am going to include counterarguments where I can, and do a synthesis where I can.
You will notice a lack of reference to the 2nd amendment. This is because referencing the 2nd amendment is not an argument, but just a citation of fact. The majority of gun regulation laws decided at the Supreme Court level have been decided by a 5-4 majority. The constitutionality of gun ownership as an individual right, or as a highly unregulated right, etc. is as tenuous, if not more, than the privacy rights and abortion rights guaranteed in Roe v. Wade. The dissents make compelling arguments for guns as a collective right with self-defense as the individual right. Anyone who relies on the 2nd amendment during an argument about what our gun policy should be is missing the point: The question is what policy we should have. The 2nd amendment is not a part of that conversation except to the extent that it offers an argument. The argument in the 2nd amendment for the possession of guns is the need for a militia, and so the 2nd amendment, on its own, is a very weak, very poor argument.
1. For any firearm regulations to really change in the US, gun culture has to change.
This is rather obvious, but it needs to be stressed. The push, in the wake of school shooting tragedies, for legislation addressing the problem is not helpful. It is not helpful because these laws tend to be badly written, but also because, even if there is political will in the wake of a tragedy, that ground gained would not be permanent and can be rolled back. We would not be celebrating the gay rights victories in the courts if the culture of the US wasn’t also becoming more and more tolerant of gay people.
Counterargument: Changing laws will change culture. The Civil Rights movement wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if it didn’t focus on legal changes.
Rebuttal: This is relatively difficult to argue, but I don’t think it holds water because we have numerous examples to show that it doesn’t. Prohibition didn’t change US drinking culture for the better, it actually made it worse. The anti-abortion culture in the US has made abortion rights restrict even while gay rights expand. Laws are absolutely a part of this change, but they should capitalize on cultural change, not be expected to produce it on its own. The Civil Rights movement was very much a cultural as well as a legalistic force.
2. Guns are a tool designed for a purpose. The purpose of guns is to kill things. That guns are also used for plinking tin cans and for target shooting does not eradicate their actual purpose, which is to kill. Among the things they are designed to kill is human beings.
Counterargument: Guns are for fun, some guns can’t kill a human being, guns are for threatening and not for killing.
Rebuttal: Each of these may be true, but the reason that guns were invented, the improvements to their design, their central purpose is to kill. Corner cases do not contradict this.
3. If a person has a gun, they should be trained to use that gun for the purpose that they bought the gun for. This may seem like common sense, but there’s a surprising amount of pushback against this. Still, if one starts from the beginning, I think this contention is a very powerful one. If someone buys a gun for self-defense, then they should be able to defend themselves with that gun. If someone buys a gun for hunting, they should be able to hunt with that gun. They should be able to do these things safely, without presenting an undue risk to themselves or others. If they cannot use the gun safely for the purpose that they bought it for, then there is no purpose for which they actually have the gun.
Counterargument: Honestly, I have a hard time finding a counterargument to this. Currently, in many, many states, you can just buy a gun and keep it at home with zero training. This makes minimal sense, and I think is a large part of the PR problem of the gun community, that it has such a low barrier to entry. Many other places have an incredibly law bar to even carry a concealed weapon around, like Florida, where a hunter safety course is enough to get you a CCW. I have not yet had anyone articulate an actual reason why people who want a gun for a purpose should not get the training necessary to use and be tested on that training.
I have seen the argument that some current gun training courses are already sufficient for this. I’m fine with that argument, as long as that contention gets tested.
4. Gun bans are counterproductive, expending political capital for little return. The number of guns in the US is already so high that bans do little to affect actual numbers. Gun bans turn people who are just ignorant and/or fearful into criminals, when a better solution can be found.
Counterargument: Gun bans lower gun violence.
Rebuttal: While it may be true, though hard to prove, that bans alone can reduce gun violence, there are lots of places with gun bans and high gun violence, because the guns are simply brought in from more lax areas. There is little point to having a gun ban in the city when anyone can just drive into the city with a gun. This also leads to people who are legal carriers passing through another jurisdiction being arrested, which is a waste of time and money. Gun bans expend a ton of political capital and tend to focus on ‘villain’ guns like ‘assault rifles’, while cheap handguns contribute far, far more to gun violence. In theory, I kind of support the ‘right’ of a city to decide gun regulations inside it, but I see it as really besides the point and counterproductive.
5. Most people buying guns for self-defense don’t need them, and actually increase their risk by buying them. People look at the national numbers for crime and come to the conclusion that they are at risk for violent crime, but the simple truth is that most people are not at any particular risk for violent crime, and where they are at risk, it is from intimate partners, friends, or family, and a gun would be unlikely to be useful. Stranger crime—being attacked by someone you don’t know—is rare, and it is very rare in most places. It mostly occurs in particular areas of cities, along drug corridors, and between criminals or those who live among criminals. People need to assess their actual situational safety and not use national numbers, and they need to honestly self-assess their risk of gun accidents, too.
Counterargument: Even though the risk may be low, who is to say what’s too low? People have a right to make themselves safe even against unlikely fears.
Rebuttal: Guns are not just a danger to the person who has them, but to society at large. They can be stolen—which many, many guns are each year—or be used in suicides. We would not support the right of people to burn tires in their back yard to drive away rabid raccoons; the actual likelihood of an event has got to count for something, and the risk of the response to that event. Furthermore, this touches on one of the worst aspects of gun culture, the paranoid “You’re never safe” attitude, the vigilante attitude, that causes problems far beyond the actual physical gun problems.
Finally, we should remember that most gun owners are just ordinary people. Most gun owners are not the fetishists, and the bad habits of gun culture come from a minority of yahoos. Gun owners, in general, take gun ownership seriously. My proposals, I feel, would strengthen the gun community and protect them, long-term, against the loss of gun rights. In the current moment, more and more antipathy towards gun owners is building up in ordinary people, partially because of the unwillingness to compromise—but this unwillingness is mainly pushed from groups like the NRA. I think that responsible gun owners exist and are reachable, but that they have been propagandized for a long, long time and need to be approached rationally and patiently. We should remember that we live in a very safe country in general, and that most violent crime is confined to intra-group violence in areas that need a sociological solution.
I would also note that the proposal I’m making for training and testing doesn’t touch at all on the ‘good character’ thing which is so often cited.
If you’ve read this whole thing, thank you for your time and attention. If you feel I’ve made any errors, please point them out. All I ask is that, given I took time and care with this post, you take time and care in your reply. If I am in error, show where I am in error and actually demonstrate it, construct an argument, not just an assertion. This topic needs to be approached soberly and judiciously: it is not going to go away, and if responsible gun owners don’t step up, their gun rights may be severely restricted within our lifetime.
A report by New York State, along with San Francisco and London, found that iPhone theft was dramatically decreased once kill-switch tech, which allows users to remotely lock phones and wipe devices of information, was implemented. Now Google and Microsoft are joining the kill switch movement.
Ever have your phone stolen? If so, it’s likely you wished for a “kill switch,” a button that would immediately disable your phone, rendering it useless to a thief and protecting your valuable data.
Good thing Google and Microsoft will now join Apple and others in including a kill switch function to their operating systems and phones, following a New York State report that indicated a kill switch cuts smart phone robberies by up to 40 percent in some cases. This follows legislation in Minnesota that mandates all smart phones must have a kill switch.
Smart phone robberies were at an all time high in 2013, according to data by the report, which was done by the New York State Attorney General’s office, with consultations by the Offices of the San Francisco District Attorney and the Mayor of London. More than 3.1 million smart phones were stolen in 2013, nearly double the number stolen in 2012. The Federal Communications Commission estimates that one out of every three robberies includes a mobile devices. In addition, robberies have grown increasingly violent, in some cases even resulting in murders and assaults.
Troubled Kodak has all but finalized a deal with the major Hollywood studios that will allow film to remain alive in certain instances, at least for the near future.
“After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production. Kodak thanks these industry leaders for their support and ingenuity in finding a way to extend the life of film,” Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement Wednesday.
J.J. Abrams, who is currently shooting Star Wars: Episode VII on celluloid; Christopher Nolan, who used film on his upcoming Interstellar; Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow are among a group of leading filmmakers who are passionate film supporters and have stepped up to urge Hollywood to keep film going. Their campaign has worked, with the studios coming aboard to guarantee that will pay for some film processing.
With the rise of digital imaging technologies, Kodak’s film sales have plummeted by 96 percent over the last decade. The decline has accelerated in the last two years as most theaters have converted their conversion to digital.
An interesting commentary by Julia Burke, on the obsession some people on the far left have with food, and how it is similar to how some people on right feel about sex. Do you agree? Do you think the analogy is appropriate?
It occurred to me a few weeks ago after a discussion based on a pro-GMO post Kavin wrote for Grounded Parents. Bring up reproductive rights and liberals shake their heads and remark on the incredible cognitive dissonance of the Religious Right. Sure, the Right is “small government” in theory, but it’s about sex, liberals shrug. It’s about policing women’s bodies and an obsessive desire to control what happens in people’s bedrooms. It’s a complete fear and denial of scientific data in favor of emotionally overblown gut reaction.
Then you bring up GMOs. Or locally sourced meat. Or whatever diet is trendy that week.
Food, and how to eat it as “responsibly” as possible, with a particular focus on “where it comes from,” has become the hot-button topic of white liberals. Witness the euphoria surrounding the dawn of food trucks. Witness the Locavore movement. Witness the spot-on “Local Chicken” sketch on Portlandia—those of us who live in “progressive cities,” like my own Madison, laugh at this parody because we’ve heard similar exchanges so many times.
They could’ve called this article “Look at how ‘supply-side’ economics, anti-environmentalism, and all-around pro-oligarch legislation and ideology has destroyed some of the most iconic, classic Americana.”
Oh, and gentrification-based laws are also robbing us of the classic ice-cream truck jingle. “Family values” my ass.
Edit: Make a drinking game out of how many times you see the word “classic” here or in the link. This is depressing enough to get hammered for.
Here is an updated version of something I wrote at the Times of Israel last year…. I think it is relevant now given the strong strain of isolationist thinking that infects both the Hard Left and the Libertarian Hard Right (think Greenwald, Snowden etc….). So… I would like to put this out there in a moderate forum to an American audience. Here goes:
There is a debate around the spreading wave of Isolationism which is manifested in an unholy alliance between the Hard Left (which ultimately seeks to end the United States) to the Hard Right (which ultimately seeks to create “Fortress America”). Both of these groups have joined forces to strike against those interests which would weaken their “end game” wishes (for the Left, a world where the U.S. if it exists at all, is hobbled and severely weakened and for the Right, where the U.S. exists alone as an island amidst the chaos of an ever confusing and dangerous world).
The world is more interconnected than ever before.We hear that the world is getting to be a “much smaller place”. This is very true. Now, people can talk face to face with those on the other side of the globe from the comfort of their living rooms. Ideas can be transmitted throughout the internet, and data can be shared no matter where we are. We can physically see one another and one anothers environs in a way that has never been possible before.
Because of this, the world is more interconnected than ever before. Things that happen thousands of miles away do affect us. Just look at the rate of environmental damage caused by over use of resources and the concurrent problems that this causes. We are no longer able to isolate ourselves from anyone and we have to come up with global solutions to poverty, the environment, and a host of other problems IF we are too maintain both reasonable standards of living and reasonable National goals.
I do think that National interests can survive and thrive in an ever increasingly globalized world (in fact I think it is imperative that they do). Though that seems counter intuitive to the theory that we need one world government. We don’t. While the world needs to act in a more coordinated fashion regarding some of our issues (the environment, poverty, and so forth) there is no way right now that people in individual nations would be able to pull this off in any meaningful day to day manner. We are simply too different and have too many different ways of approaching and solving problems.
To people in al-Qaeda their vision is that of a warlord filled vicious theocratic world, where only those who adhere to their particular form of Islam would wield power and where everyone else would exist to serve them as individuals and their crazed interpretation of Islam in general. To those in corporate America who endorse “Randian Capitalism” the world would be a strict plutocracy where the rich would live in cantons and the rest of the world would be their “resource pool”. And with all the iterations in between there is simply no way that humanity could come to any sort of peace agreement on how to run day to day government.
So what prompts this piece? It is due to the fact that I see many people both on the Hard Left (as evidenced by most of the folks - not all but most) at leftist blogsites, or columnists doing their utmost to spread disinformation regarding the U.S. and demanding that it live up to standards that they would hardly ask of other nations. And when it even comes to discussing other nations, it seems that as long as those nations are anti-U.S. anything they do is ok with the Hard Left. They will excuse all of the things they say they stand for in the name of supporting a nation that stands against the U.S. And by doing so are willing to team up with the most vile elements of the polity to support their cause, hence Leftist support for Hamas or the Assad regime in Syria.
One thing is truly dangerous - the growing strain of isolationist thinking.I also see the isolationist wing of the Republican party doing the same thing. Unable to think beyond (to them) what seems like the most simple or quick solution they simply say, “let’s build a corporate state in the U.S. reminiscent of the Gilded Age and screw everyone else”. They simply cannot think out their own little boxes, not realizing that while they are building “Fortress America”, forces that are hardly sympathetic to America and our interests gain power. These Rightists think only about the immediacy of an issue and simply don’t think about the ramifications of said issue. There is no serious thought that goes into “problem solving”.. So we see with the “Repeal Obamacare” folks. All they care about is defeating the President, they care nothing for the long term damage they are causing this nation.
The problem is that both extreme’s arguments contain half truths throughout. For the Leftists and their complaints about the NSA, they are generally right. The NSA SHOULD NOT be spying to the extent that it is on American citizens. I get that they want to find out what is happening in the world, and that they are protecting Americans from terror. However, I also get that these powers can easily be misused to create what they like to call “the surveillance state”. That said, the NSA and CIA have a responsibility towards protecting American citizens so… this is a problematic issue. However, to compare the U.S. unfavorably to groups like Al-Qaeda and to lionize those who would leak our secrets to foreign nations (Edward Snowden) is far from helpful.
On the Right side, the “Libertarian crew” is right about the fact that we can cut the Defense budget by reducing foreign ventures and use those resources to pay private business at home for development projects. Of course at the same time they need to realize that while we can do that to a degree, we cannot afford to cut ourselves off from the world in a meaningful way and still have a say in our own future due to the fact mentioned previously, that the world is indeed more interconnected and that foreign affairs really do have an impact on our daily lives at macro level.
In the end, one thing that is truly dangerous to the U.S. and the well being of the “free world” is this growing strain of neo-Isolationist thinking. Hamstringing our intelligence sectors will only create a world where America and it’s allies (and interests) are threatened. Honestly, the Russians or Chinese certainly have no compunctions regarding the use of any and all tactics to achieve their goals. For the Hard Leftists this is just fine to allow them to thoroughly weaken the U.S. While the Isolationist Hard Right simply doesn’t care what other nations do because (and this is sheer idiocy) they think the U.S. can simply “wall itself off” and let the rest of the world burn.
It is important that we do have civilian oversight of our intelligence gathering particularly as it relates to American citizens. Don’t take this article as indictment of that. We are a “free nation” because our government has been restrained in its ability to gather information / data on our everyday lives. It is also important that we recognize that “overzealous” gathering of personal data can and often does lead to problematic issue with regards to a “surveillance state”. I do not want to live in a nation that monitors my computer usage or my phone records without any kind of just cause.
So.. it is important that we balance our need for privacy with our need for the protections our intelligence sectors provide. What we need here is an honest discussion about how we can best balance the two needs. What we don’t need is constant vilification of our nation hidden with rhetoric designed to weaken our nation and its ability to protect its citizens. We don’t need those who would propose solutions in a vacuum either supporting or without understanding the nature of our national enemies.
Though these movements currently operate on the fringe, as the Hard Left is no real part of the Democratic Party (although they pretend to be the base) and the Isolationist Hard Right is only a portion of the Republican Polity (though growing), still they represent possible growing threats (as they appeal mainly to the young and idealistic for various reasons), it is important that we understand and expose them for who they are. Of course here in the U.S. they should not be restricted from discussing their viewpoints, but those viewpoints should be exposed for what they really are, an effort to weaken the United States, both at home and/or abroad.
In which we find Hobby Lobby using religion to protect their profits through insidious practices. Will they try to say they are exempt from FMLA next? I think the employee might still have a federal case here.
in. RH Reality Check (RHRC) reported yesterday that a supervisor at the store’s Flowood, Miss., branch terminated Felicia Allen after she sought maternity leave.
Allen told RHRC that she discovered her pregnancy shortly after starting a job as a cashier. The supervisor promised Allen that she could take maternity leave without losing her job. But that promise didn’t last long: Allen was later informed that she’d be terminated, but could reapply after her child’s birth.
That, too, didn’t happen. When she attempted to go back to work after the birth of her child, she says the supervisor prevented her from even reapplying for her old job. “I was like, I can’t get fired,” she told RHRC. “She can’t terminate me because I have to go have my child. I started asking everybody on the job, ‘Can they do this?’ And even the assistant manager who had just got hired [said,] ‘No, that’s not right.’”
This is where Allen’s tale takes an unusual turn. When she attempted to sue the chain for pregnancy discrimination, she discovered that she’d signed a binding arbitration agreement upon her hire. That agreement legally prohibited her from filing suit. Instead, she had two options: Secular arbitration or arbitration facilitated by a Christian outfit, Peacemaker Ministries.
As RHRC reports, Peacemaker doesn’t hide its sectarian mission. “Generally, Christians are not free to sue other Christians, at least not until they have exhausted the process that Jesus sets forth in Matthew 18:15-20 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. God instructs Christians to resolve their disputes within the church itself, with the assistance of other Christians if necessary,” its website says.
That probably means little to anyone unfamiliar with the Greens’ preferred brand of fundamentalism. But the “Rules of Procedure” posted on Peacemaker’s website provide more details about what disgruntled Hobby Lobby employees can anticipate from the process.
“The purpose of Christian conciliation is to glorify God by helping people to resolve disputes in a conciliatory rather than an adversarial manner,” it says. It later adds, “These Rules may be used by the Institute for Christian ConciliationTM, a local Christian conciliation ministry, a church, or any other organization or person who wishes to help parties resolve conflicts pursuant to these Rules.”
Christians certainly have a legal right to pursue alternative means of resolving conflict. And Hobby Lobby’s arbitration agreement isn’t an uncommon corporate practice. Its use of Peacemaker Ministries, however, sets it quite apart. In this, it resembles a ministry more than it does a corporation—albeit a ministry that made $3.3 billion in sales last year.