This is Spinal Tap – again

Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer, the three guitar players in the 1984 cult film that featured the loudest rock band ever (it went up to 11), are actual musicians and a few days ago, the trio performed live with Elvis Costello at the Tribeca Film Festival at a screening for the 35 anniversary of the film. (The drummers in the band had a habit of dying mysteriously.)

Here’s the trailer for the original film from back in 1984.

Sometimes, I just hate politics

I am not naïve. I know that politics is a dirty business and that people will do unsavory things to help their chosen candidate win. But there are some things that so sicken me that I feel the urge to say the hell with it and go and become a hermit just to avoid reading about it.

One such case is the attempt by two Republicans to recruit gay Republicans to allege that Democratic contender Pete Buttigieg had sexually assaulted them. Fortunately that plot was exposed by Hunter Kelly, the person who was being used for the purpose
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Outsourcing the mailing of letters

Once in a while, one needs to actually send a physical letter. For those of you for whom this is an unfamiliar exercise, this involves writing or typing (and then printing) the message, addressing an envelope, sealing the envelope, putting a stamp, and then popping it in the mail box.

Do you find that process onerous? Rob Beschizza says that there is a company that will do all that for you for a cost that starts at $1.52 per letter. All you have to do is email them the text of the letter and the address you want it sent to.

This may be the beginning of a new class of service industries for retro services.

The NRA is fighting with itself and New York state

The National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the US, successfully thwarting many attempts at serious gun control laws. It started out as an organization dedicated to the responsible use of guns but over time was taken over by zealots who opposed any and all attempts at controlling the spread of even the most lethal weapons, even if the net result was that seriously disturbed people could get their hands on them.
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Saudi Arabia helps accused criminals flee the US

Saudi Arabia has one of the worst governments in the world, ruthless and oppressive. It is however a close ally of the US and because of the value it provides as a friendly source of oil and its willingness to act as a regional surrogate power against Iran and Yemen, the US turns a blind eye to even the most outrageous actions. The most obvious recent example is of course the way that the country and its de facto leader Mohammed bin Salman have suffered no consequences at all for the brutal murder of reporter Jamal Khashoggi.

But that is not all. The Saudi government brazenly allows its citizens in the US to escape the consequences of their crimes by paying their bail and spiriting them out of the country before they can be tried, even if their passports have been impounded. It is hard to imagine how this could only happen unless the US government has decided to look the other way. The right to justice for the victims of the crimes is simply ignored.
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A new documentary about Satanists and the Satanic Temple

I have written many times before about the Satanic Temple and their efforts to keep the public square secular and open to all beliefs and not have it become the domain of those who favor one religion over other religions or religion in general over non-religion. Their demand that their statue of Baphomet be allowed in any public space that allows religious symbols has proven to be a potent political and legal argument against religious exclusivity but their broader goals are to promote social justice and equality.
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Meanwhile, violence closer to home continues

Yesterday a 19-year old man armed with an assault rifle attacked a synagogue in California, killing one person and wounding three others. Murtaza Hussain writes that the person arrested for this act had written a manifesto admitting that he had also been responsible for a recent arson attack on a mosque and that he had been inspired to act by the man who carried out the recent mass attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
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Update on Sri Lanka

The situation in Sri Lanka is worse than I thought. I had initially thought that the simultaneous attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels that killed so many people might be a one-off plot by a small but tightly knit group of Islamist extremists. But subsequent events seem to suggest a much wider scope. Police and army raids on many locations around the country have unearthed caches of weapons and uniforms that suggest that this group is much larger and that the attacks may have been seen as just the first wave of a much larger plan.
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Why do people broadcast film and book spoilers? (No spoilers!)

Yesterday saw the release of the film Avengers: Endgame, the latest in the franchise of superhero films based on the Marvel comic books. These films have been roaring commercial successes. I myself am not a fan of the genre and have watched just a couple (The Avengers and Spiderman: Homecoming) to see what all the fuss was about. I had not planned on seeing the latest film.

But last evening I got an email from someone I do not know in which the subject line, all in upper case, revealed what is apparently a major plot twist in this film. The person who had sent out the spoiler had gone to great lengths to make sure that every single person who might in any way be connected to my university (including alumni) was made aware of the spoiler. The address line contained the addresses of about 250 email address lists (not individual addresses) that seemed to cover pretty much everyone. I think my address was in the list of physics faculty, staff, students, and emeriti. This person had gone to great lengths to obtain all these email address lists, presumably by hacking into the university server that has the database that contains all of them.
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