I just saw “Valerian City of a Thousand Planets”

7-24-2015 I just saw “Valerian City of a Thousand Planets”


Bear with me. I am going to reference another movie here.

The other movie I am going to reference is

“Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone.


I think a certain amount of comparison to “The Fifth Element” Is also warranted.



Okay. So. As fans, we’re on a voyage. We’re space tourists. We visit fantastic places and meet interesting people.

There are some places you discuss and almost every Fan-Tourist has been there, too. Like Aliens 1986.


We all remember fighting to escape LV-426 with Ripley

We all remember fighting the Bugs in Starship troopers (1997).


But when you meet fan-tourists who went with Peter Strauss to Terra Nine and picked up Molly Ringwald along the way…


Then you know you’re talking to a serious space tourist. This is a person who has, metaphorically, been places.

The Movies vary in quality, but they’re places we’ve been.



These days “The 5th Element” is considered a classic. It was not considered so at the time. It was actually panned. It got better as time progressed.


I liked it right off the bat, but not everyone did. I have an affection for it, but I don’t think it’s like Star Wars (1977) Or Superman: The Movie (1978)

It’s a good place to visit as a space tourist.  You can tell a fan-tourist if you say “Mooolti-paaasss” and they grin in recognition.


So Valerian. I think another comparison here is Avatar.


Valerian is a pretty, but empty calories film. There’s not a lot of depth to it.

I last saw Dane Dehaan in Spider-man 2 (2014)

He plays Valerian.

Cara Delevingne Plays Laureline. She’s listed on Wikipedia as a model and an actress. She plays a tough, no nonsense secret agent pretty well.

To me, Dehane and Delevingne both look 12 years old. They’re short, skinny and amazingly symmetrical. Maybe each one weighs 100 pounds or so.

But they’re secret agents. James Bond types. I was strongly reminded of the Family D’Alembert, from EE Doc Smith and Stephen Goldin.


So they’re superhumanly fast, accurate and tough, and all the James Bond stuff.

But before we meet them, we meet the planet Mul. Now, It’s pronounced “Mule” and is spelled with u with an umlat. The two little dots.  I never learned how to make those in unicode, so screw it, I am not going to make them in this text document.

Besson does a great job making the people of Mul, later called the “Pearls” attractive and relatable without any dialog.

But their world gets wiped out.

Then 30 years later, we meet Valerian and Laureline and see them on a mission.

We see that Valerian and Laureline are mixing a Rom-Com into their action adventure movie and that’s okay.

We meet Clive Owen, playing their boss. He chews up the scenery. He’s enjoying himself and it shows.

Rhianna stars as Bubble. Interesting role.

Ethan Hawke puts on a funny costume and mother fucking ACTS in a small roll as Jolly the Pimp. For Hawke there are no small roles. He sort of reminds me of Robert Downey Junior’s character in Tropic Thunder.

In any case, there is an action plot here. Our heroes go here and there and there’s lots of violence and chaos.

The setting is interesting. They’re on Alpha. A Space city. The opening montage of the film shows the space station starting out as an international space station around Earth, with nation after nation joining. Then, aliens come by and join the party. The more and more until the station is too big for earth orbit.

So they fire it off into space… where it continues to attract new participants and grows and grows

And this is like the first 5 minutes of the film!

So this is hundreds of years later, and this space city holds an improbable number of people, environments, and places in it.

They mention one estimate of the population, but… c’man. This isn’t Hard SF, this is space fantasy.



In the end Valerian and Laureline fight improbably violent battles (With no blood, it’s all Blasters and CGI, after all, this is a PG-13 film) And come to reaffirm the value of love and question the value of following orders.

The through line is…. well, it’s interesting. What’s really going on was interesting, but the twist wasn’t, like M. Night Shamalyan or anything.

The characters are likable enough.

The game world has DEFINITE promise for me. Lots of good lego pieces for role playing games here.

But the chief value of this film…

It’s pretty. It’s a spectacle. It’s another place we Fan-Tourists will put a sticker of on our metaphorical suitcases.

It worth going to see with some friends, just to say you’ve been there. It’s a spot to check off on your fandom-tourism list.

There is a little bit of subversive content, but it’s so broad that it can easily be dismissed as “Just a story”

The Pearls of Mul bear a certain resemblance to the Naavi of Avatar, but without the ham-fisted analogy and without the bad dialog.

So I’d recommend seeing this thing in the Theater. Just to get the full effect of the visuals.

Don’t go expecting Shakespear, and you’ll be okay.

This film came from a graphic novel and really sort of looks like it came out of the work of Mobius in Heavy Metal Magazine.

I give it a C+ over all. A solid B on the visuals.

I’ll bet someone smarter than me will see deeper things in this film than I saw. But for me, this is a Big Dumb Summer Movie and works well enough in that role.

But if you’re going to try this, and have it turn into a franchise, you need a better story. You need something that grabs people on a deeper level. The Guardians of the Galaxy films did this same sort of thing, better.

The Wachowskis tried this with Jupiter Ascending and took it straight into the ground. They left a crater on their try.

So there is my review. It’s worth a look. Can’t hurt. It added stuff to my subconscious Space-Fantasy landscape.

I’d like to see a sequel, but I find that proposition doubtful. I doubt anyone will be cosplaying it in 10 years.

I saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

I saw Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

TL;DR a pretty, but bland film based on yet another young adult urban fantasy book. Grade C.


This story is notable to me for a great performance by Terence Stamp as “Crazy Old Grandpa” in the first several minutes.

I think it would be informative to read the original book this movie was based on.

As it is, I really can only judge it on it’s own merits.

You can see what the studio wanted. It wanted a Harry Potter like franchise. Which is weird, because Burton doesn’t like sequels and he is not a “franchise” kind of guy. I guess they were hoping he’d get a solid hit and justify a journeyman coming in and following up.

The story has several Burton tropes. This is why I think reading the original book would be informative.

The Burton trope here is that a gothy teenage boy is secretly the chosen one and his family is mired in and fixated on “normalcy” to the point where they miss the boy’s specialness. But an elderly relative knows and encourages the boy to find his true special self. In this case his name is Jacob, played with earnest dorkiness by Asa Butterfield.

This move does an okay job with it. Not something outstanding or particularly memorable. Just Okay.

The other Tim Burton Trope in play here is that there are people who are secretly monsters, but they’re just misunderstood. They hide because the normals would react very poorly to seeing such weirdos affront their normalness.

The Movie sets up a world where there are “Peculiars” people for whom “Abnormal” is a vast understatement.

The world building here really falls apart. The Peculiars live in tiny enclaves, created and maintained by bird women. These enclaves are pockets of time. So it’s time travel story…. sort of.

These places form nearly perfect hide outs. The Peculiars live the same day over and over and over again. Even if they make terrible mistakes or become terribly destructive, it doesn’t count because at the end of the day, time rewinds and they do the same day over again, and all the people not in the know are reset back to the beginning.

There are bad guys. Samuel Jackson takes a journeyman like turn as peculiar who, with a group of others have discovered that can attain immortality, or close to it, by eating the eyes of Peculiars. This is as disturbing as it sounds.

So there is a long term fight in play where Bird Women try to hide their time loops and the cannibal monsters try to find them.

Jake’s Grandfather, who encouraged Jake, was a Peculiar who left the time loop to find and battle these cannibal monsters. His peculiarity was that he could see them. Usually they were invisible to everyone else. This is why Jake’s grandfather was living outside of the loop and looked insane to everyone.

Jake knows nothing of this and it’s only revealed in dribs and drabs as the movie goes along. For some reason, Miss Peregrine seems really taken with Jake while offering him absolutely zero useful information.

So Jake wheedles and connives to go to Wales (From Florida) and track down the things his Grandfather was telling him.

He encounters the Peculiars and visits their time loop.

Now, here, the children and Miss Peregrine are depicted… interestingly. They have been living the same day, over and over since 1943. At the end of the day a German Bombing raid destroys the house they’re living in. So every night they gather, watch the bomb drop and destroy their house, and then the time loop rewinds and it’s the same day again.

They never age. Ella, who becomes Jakes Love interest almost immediately, explains that, if they leave the loop, after a bit the time will catch up with them. It’s been so long that for most it’s a death sentence and even for the youngest, well, suddenly north of 75 years old.

So they’re stuck. And if Jake stays, he’d be stuck too.

They’ve been trapped in a time loop, cut off from the outside world with only each other for company, always stuck at the same age for 70 years.

Jacob is a breath of fresh air and brings word from the outside world, but is prevented from sharing by Miss Peregrine, who’s policy is “We don’t ask about the future”

There is a hint of the insanity that would result from this, but only a hint.

Well with one thing and another, Jake elects to leave buy accidentally leads the bad guys to the loop, and adventure ensues. The Bird Ladies are called “Ymbryne”. They can bend time and turn into birds. Why they all wind up taking care of flocks of Peculiars is not explained to my satisfaction, but there you go.

Judi Dench shows up (Criminally under used here) as a bird lady who’s loop was invaded and all her children killed by the bad guys.

The bad guys have a master plan that involves capturing and sucking the magic out of several Ymbryne.

Jackson’s “Barron” succeeds in over running the time loop, capturing Miss Peregrine and making off to do his evil thing.

Jacob and the Peculiars survive by the skin of their teeth and Jacob being both clever and able to see the “wights” when no one else can. They bear a strong similarity to the Slenderman character.

Jacob rallies the Peculiar Children and leads them on a desperate mission to recover Miss Peregrine before time catches up to them and they all age to death.

This is handled well. It’s an exciting sequence.

In the end they rescue Miss Peregrine.

The Girl, Ella, her peculiarity is that she’s basically an air elemental. Without heavy weighted shoes, she’d float away. To reach high objects, they tie a rope to Ella and she balloons up to grab it.

Later in the movie we see her true power. She can exhale insane amounts of fresh air, and control where the air goes.

One of the most “Oh, COME ON!” moments of the film is when Ella refloats a wrecked ship that has lain on the bottom of the ocean for 30 years. Then the other children get the boilers fired up and the ship steams away.

At the end of this movie this impossible ship is now their home, and presumably, the rescued Miss Peregrine will establish a new Time Loop to save all their lives.


So yeah, the world building here is a worse mess than Harry Potter.

Even the Percy Jackson series does better.

Some of the characters were interesting.

I’d cheerfully watch a sequel on DVD. Not at a theater though.

The look on this one is very well done typical demented circus you’ve come to expect from Tim Burton.

You could almost summarize this one as “The Addam’s Family Battles Slenderman at a Carnival.”

Someone needs to sit down with Burton and work through his tropes with him. They’re gettiing stale. His “Jacob” character goes from a sullen goth-nerd to a hero. His most interesting development actually happens off screen!

The problem with Burton subverting this trope is that for him this is biographical. Unappreciated Goth Nerd finds his inner director and makes piles of money directing a bunch of movies some of which actually move popular culture and the awareness of hundreds of millions of people.

(As opposed to Mars Attacks where the Nerdy Goth Kid and his lovably insane grandma save the world with Slim Whitman records)

So saying “The Goth-Kid-becomes-the-hero-thing is a touch stale, how could we challenge this?”

Not only does Burton have a stack of films but his own life story says “Nope! Goth-Nerd-Becomes-The-Hero is a thing!”

In some ways it fit Alice of Alice in Wonderland much better. There’s a sequel to that one I haven’t gotten around, to yet, either.

I guess the difference is that in Alice in Wonderland, Alice is a nerdy girl, but she’s about half sliding into the role of passive victim. The events of the film (Written as a follow on to Carroll’s original story) have Alice break out of her passiveness and find her inner hero and then take that back to Edwardian England, and putting it into action there, which is a much stiffer place for a woman to be true to her inner hero.

This is a thing in Young Adult fiction. The hero is where the reader identifies so the message is “Be true to yourself and you will find your inner hero.” So all the books are about a plucky young person putting that lesson into action.

But I’d also like to see that challenged. “What does it mean to be the hero? How do you good guy?”

Anyway. I think the movie generated enough positive cash flow to warrant a sequel. On the other side its opening was a bit sluggish and the critical reception was “mixed”

For me, this was a collection of lego pieces to steal for a hypothetical Harry Potter type RPG scenario.

I give it a straight C.

Like I say, I’ll watch a sequel on DVD, but no more.

I saw “Passengers” 2016 (Spoilers)

I saw “Passengers” 2016 (Spoilers)

This review will contain spoilers. Don’t read if you don’t like that.

TL;DR version This movie starts off with an interesting trolley problem and then chickens out of it.
I was intrigued by this movie, to begin with

The premise, as seen from the ads, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence wake up from hibernation in what old sci-fi nerds used to call a “Slow Boat” but then, things begin to go wrong.

I was reminded of Frank Herbert’s “Destination: Void”

A quick run down of that one, because I was dead wrong.

In Destination: Void, a highly trained crew of astronauts are launched in a slow boat to colonize a distant world. But things begin to go wrong. Then Wronger.

At a certain point, the crew finds out that they are not the original crew. This is not the original ship. They are the 5th copy, replicants of the people they remember being.

The ship is breaking down for stupid reasons, stuff ship designers SHOULD have taken into account. Almost as if the mission were designed to fail.

Then, they hit bottom. The mission was so poorly done, they have no hope of getting anywhere.

Their only hope is to cobble together a true AI to help then defeat their problems. Out of desperation, they do.

Here Herbert does a thing I’ve seen others do, and it makes no sense to me. The AI becomes super intelligent and then becomes God.

It is revealed that this WAS their mission – The goal all along was to put these very talented people in a position of desperation, where they could invent AI because they had no choice. It was do or die.

The AI runs off with the Survivors to make it’s own new Eden.

Why Herbert, or anyone thinks super intelligence becomes God is beyond me. Stephen Hawking is the smartest guy there is, and not only is he wrong about stuff, but his illness had taken his body and his hands away. He can’t defeat that with raw smart. He needs tools and assistants.

Smart does not equal Do.

The 2015 Film “Lucy” also commits this error. It’s in a fun way, but still.

So Passengers is something else entirely.

In one way I was reminded of “Wall-E” – the slow boat is a space going Titanic. Pure Luxury Liner. I wouldn’t mind getting stuck there.

In the story, Chris Pratt’s character wakes up from an unaccountable error in the ship’s systems. The ship is traveling at sub-light speed. It isn’t due to reach its destination for 90 years.

Pratt cannot return to hibernation. it’s a complex process. The ship was only equipped to maintain hibernation, not put anyone INTO hibernation.

Pratt is trapped for the next 90 years on Space Titanic. Alone.

Now, Pratt and Lawrence’s characters have names. I am sure Pratt and Lawrence talked Director: Morten Tyldum and Writer: Jon Spaihts almost to death psychologically reverse engineering these people and breaking them down into emotional particles to understand them.

There is no point. Pratt’s “Jim Preston” is a well-meaning, competent enough everyman and Lawrence’s “Aurora Lane” is a creative, deep and intellectual person, besides both actors being smoking hot cinema idols.

I will call then Pratt and Lawrence because the back stories don’t matter.

So – Pratt is stuck in isolation. His cage is gilded and luxurious, but he’s going to die in it.


There are over 5000 hibernation tubes filled with people.

He can relieve his isolation

By condemning someone to die in the gilded cage with him.

Now, this is a hell of a trolley problem. It’s great.

It has two serious, serious problems.

A) We already know what he decides to do because Lawrence appears in the previews and movie posters.


B) Anyone isolated is going to break down. Humans weren’t meant to handle isolation. Research shows that if you want to take someone and just smash their sanity to pieces. Solitary Confinement is a good start and over enough time, it’s all you need.

So even though the question is “Would you condemn someone to die in a gilded cage, to soothe your own insane loneliness?” Sounds like a good trolley problem it’s broken because if you leave anyone alone for long enough, they’re going to do it. All they have to do is be weak ONCE and the deal is done.

So the movie proceeds on as a sort of Rom-Com with Pratt and Lawrence falling in love until she uncovers his dirty secret. She didn’t wake up by accident, which is what he let her believe. He deliberately woke her up and condemned her to live out her life on Space Titanic. He killed her, albeit really slowly and luxuriously.

She freaks out appropriately and they become tense, angry roommates on Space Titanic arguing over split custody time schedules of the Bar Tender Robot.

But then, who appears but Lawrence Fishburne! His character has a name, too and there’s no point.

Fishburne is a member of the crew who has woken up and has two problems. He feels like crap and Space Titanic is breaking down.

They find out that Fishburne’s hibernation tube malfunctioned rather more aggressively than Pratt’s. He is dying. Also Space Titanic is fixing to come apart at the seams. Pratt and Fishburne waking up are the first symptoms.

Turns out that just before Pratt woke up, Space Titanic hit a space iceberg. Unless Fishburne, Pratt, and Lawrence make with the fixing, they and 5000 other hapless people are going to suck vacuum.

As he dies of the painful icks, Fishburne heroically hands Pratt and Lawrence his keys to the Space Titanic and tells them how to figure out how to fix it.

Although Lawrence still is not a big fan of having been murdered, she and Pratt must work quickly, heroically, with lots of techno-babble, broken machines to fix, CGI fire and impending explosion.

Pratt heroically puts himself at extreme risk to save the ship, and Lawrence realizes she actual does like him after all, So she rescues him

Using Fishburne’s keys to the ship, Pratt discovers that the ship’s autodoc CAN, indeed put a person into Hibernation. But only one and it occupies the autodoc.

Pratt points this out to Lawrence and offers her the place in the autodoc. She declines and instead elects to stay on Space Titanic with Pratt

The story ends with the rest of the crew waking up to find the Space Titanic as remodeled by Pratt and Lawrence as they spent the rest of their lives happily redecorating their own tomb.


I think that the storytellers introduced the Space Iceberg, and the cumulative damage as a way to resolve the essential conflict without actually resolving anything.

Pratt’s character Jim behaved in a deeply unethical fashion, but it’s hard to blame him. He was in a situation where his own sanity, moral compass, and agency were slowly painfully being compromised.

But he did what he did.

Lawrence’s character reacts with understandable and justifiable anger when she finds out.

This is ugly but it’s akin to being kidnapped or raped. She was going to a place for a reason. She will never live to get there, now. Her personal boundaries were profoundly violated.

And now that can not be undone. She’s stuck with the consequences of that.

And Pratt is the kind of guy, who, when things got ugly for him, was the sort of guy who did that and now must live with that.

But the move cuts that off at the knees and uses the crisis of an impending explosive end to the Space Titanic to rewrite the whole first half of the movie.

And that robs this thing. It didn’t have the courage of its own convictions.

I think Morten Tyldum and Jon Spaihts had some severe executive interference to tack on a “Happy Ending” to this movie. To take it from a Trolley Problem in Space to a Space Adventure with a Happy Ending.


Here’s a very sad thing – You can spot places in this movie where, probably with no intention at all, they echoed Red Dwarf.

You could almost see this as an American Pilot for a Red Dwarf like series.

Except they didn’t watch Red Dwarf. They didn’t steal *enough* from Red Dwarf to make this thing anything but Generic Space Movie #5

Movies like “Battle Beyond the Stars”, “Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone” or “Ice Pirates” beat this movie like it owes them money.

A fraction of the budget, a fraction of the Special Effects. And bluntly a fraction of brains,  space and science literacy.

All of the older movies were dumber in many ways, but they were real about what they were, and even if their tongues were firmly in cheek, they were more honest with their stories and their characters.

I give this one an A+ for its look, and a D- overall

If you enjoy Chris Pratt or Jennifer Lawrence being on screen and saying things, but you don’t care at all about what those things are, then this is an adequate movie.

This is a movie for putting on in the background, while you and your friends talk about stuff and don’t pay much attention. The science fiction equivalent of elevator music.

Which is sad because Pratt, Lawrence, Fishburne and gigantic Space ships have all shown that, when used properly, they can be fun to watch.

Michael Sheen does steal the show as Arthur the Bar Tending Robot. And the Character’s limitations are very interestingly played. But that’s not enough to save this movie.

I don’t recommend it.

Noodling about Batman Versus Superman (2016)


Okay, here is what I liked about Batman v Superman. I am going to talk about things I liked, and things I would have done differently.

It took two viewings for me to “get” this film. The theatrical release was a mess. When I saw the extended version later, in a home viewing, then the point was more clear to me.

First of all, This was a Batman Film. In the first viewing, I was rolling my eyes at the Batman origin story… AGAIN.

BUT … it sets up a thread in this film, which holds the whole film together, and it’s necessary.

Bruce Wayne as a small person, his family goes into a dark place and encounters a Monster. The Monster takes Bruce’s parents away.

This is a part they never actually put in the movie – they sort of expected us to carry it in from previous Batman Films.

Bruce feels small. He feels powerless. In that time of feeling small and powerless, He gets *angry*. He will muscle up and attack the monster that made him feel that way. That’s how he copes with that feeling.

Cut to Metropolis. During the Zod v Superman battle that ruined the city. Bruce Wayne is in the middle of it. He’s a man of action and he actions…. and it’s not that helpful. His business and people are mangled and he can’t stop it or even ameliorate it much at all.

Bruce feels small. He feels powerless. This makes him crazy.

Cut to a few years later. Bruce Wayne is still doing the Batman thing, but this point is subtle. He’s lost his mojo. he’s getting more violent. He’s tracking down a mysterious plot. But his heart isn’t in that. He’s chasing kryptonite. He’s focused on a goal. Muscling up and beating up Superman. Not for anything Superman DID, but because Superman is so much bigger than he is. Bruce must overcome that. That’s how he copes with being scared.

As we go along through this thread, we see things that Bruce notes, but that he doesn’t process. He’s so focused on beating Superman, he’s telling himself that Superman is a threat. But he’s seeing Superman flail with the big blue boy scout thing. But he’s not really processing this yet.

Superman, trying to be a big blue boy scout, looks at Batman. A man who dresses up like a bat and beats the crap out of people before they’ve been found guilty of a crime. He approaches this as Clark Kent and gets told no by Perry White who dresses him down for trying to be a social activist.

So, as Clark Kent, he pokes into it anyway. And as Superman, the Big Blue Boy Scout, he approaches Batman and says “This is not right. Stop it.”

Of course, that just fits right into Bruce Wayne’s form of crazy.


There’s another thread in here, that I sort of liked, but I would have changed some.

Their Lex Luthor in this film is having a parallel reaction to Bruce Wayne, but it much sicker. This version of Lex Luther is one part Mark Zuckerberg and one part The Joker.

He has a hard on against God. He’s as mad as hell. He was abused and God never helped him. So when Superman and Zod show up and express such terrible power, unknowingly Superman volunteered for the role of God in this lunatic’s revenge Fantasy.

I’d have changed this, some. Some writings of Luthor (I am thinking Mainly of Elliot S Maggins) Paint Luthor as a sort of semi-anti-hero. He’s just too smart for the world. His mad schemes are not aimed at hurting people, he just finds the bounds of normal behavior too restrictive. He transgresses these because he finds normal rules too small to worry about. Things like traffic rules, the FAA or rules against building Godzilla size robots.

This version of Luthor attacks Superman not out of any direct malice, but because Superman is an interesting and difficult problem. Beating Superman is the last mountain to climb.

Other writings (John Byrne) have Luthor as a power-mad sociopath. He fights Superman because Superman is the only power he can’t control. He resents Superman because Superman can tell him “No” and make it stick. And there’s nothing a power mad sociopath hates worse than that. He’s killed everyone who’s opposed him before and now, come hell or high water, Superman’s next.

This is a much darker, and more evil form of Lex Luthor, but more suited to being the villain.

Anyway – in this version, Luthor is a psychopath who’s trying to murder God. he, too, is after the kryptonite.

This is the dark plot Bruce Wayne is stumbling over and not really seeing well, because his heart isn’t in it.

He’s still pulling at threads and gathering clues, because that’s what Bruce Wayne DOES, but he’s not seeing the big picture.


This Culminates in Luthor playing the Hostage game to force Superman to fight Batman.

This part is very important, too. The fight is big and epic.  In the end Batman wins.

At the very bottom of the fight, when all looks lost for Superman – He yells “You’re letting kill then Martha!” and this short circuits Bruce. “Who told you to say that!?” he rages.

Then Lois rescues Superman (Nice subversion, there) and tells Bruce “Martha’s his Mother.”

Bruce is rocked.

This part is terribly difficult to cram into one scene in a movie and that’s why most people missed it.

In that Moment, Bruce realizes where he is, and where he’s standing.

He has become the monster he was fighting all along. He’s the big scary thing in the dark, hurting someone powerless and fixing to take their mom away.

At this moment, he loses his focus on beating Superman – this obsession that’s been blinding him for the whole movie. He gets his Batman mojo back.

That’s Batman’s arc. That’s his travel though the movie.


A short aside here. I would not have used Doomsday as the Big Monster. The whole battle with him was … Big, Epic and Destructive, but in a narrative sense it was anti-climactic. It was included in the movie to ramp up the Fan-Boy Kewl factor.

Instead, I’d have used Metallo.

I’d have had two Metallos. John Corbin the canonical Metallo was a criminal. Professor Vale used him as the basis for Metallo, a full-body cyborg, powered by Kryptonite.

I’d have added a second Metallo. A solider, maimed in Battle who is a patriot. Or maybe, to close the circle, one of the guys wiped out in Smallville in Man of Steel.

I’d have had these two guys created by the US Government in an attempt to counter Superman.

The Batman and Lex Luthor arcs are about power and response to power.

So having the US Government create Kryptonite powered cyborgs to try and counter Superman and other Kryptonians makes sense and also adds motivation and goals to them.

But visually, they’d have been too close to Ultron… which would have made it a fight.

I enjoyed Ben Affleck as Batman and I’d cheerfully go watch another Batman film with him in it.


Superman’s arc in B v S

Okay, this arc brings up one of the serious problems with this movie. A lot of critical parts in this movie weren’t in this movie, or they were happening in the background of the movie.

For the whole Movie, Superman is playing Checkers while Lex Luthor is playing Chess. It’s kind of a stereotype of the Superman is a big dumb brick.

A lot of people had trouble with this groove. In older comics, Superman always wins and he always gets a good result. You never see a car bomb in Metropolis killing piles of people and then Superman finds who did it and brings them to justice. That’s Batman. Superman finds the Car bomb and hurls it into space before it can hurt anyone.

That’s not this movie. That annoys some people, and I get that. Maybe I am weird. I can see that Zach Snyder’s game-world is running by different rules. In Snyders world, sometimes, there’s a “good shoot”. A bad guy will hurt someone and killing him is the only way to prevent this. In Snyder’s game world, it is regrettable, even tragic, but it’s not the end of the world.

Superman enters this movie in a stereotypical rescue of Lois Lane. Lois Lane has taken an extreme risk to interview a brutal African Warlord.

This goes south and there’s a lot of violence.

WHY it goes south is not clearly explained in the theatrical release – that leaves Lois’ arc muddled, muted and unclear.

In the Blu-Ray release, it’s slightly more clear.

There are two factions present when Lois and James Olsen arrive to interview.

Side note. In both releases it’s not made clear who the guy with Lois is. Snyder had him being a CIA officer posing as Lois’ photographer, James Olsen, and he gets killed as soon as things begin to go south. More of the Gritty world view. Again, some folks find this distasteful, and I would not gainsay them.

I am not here to argue with people who don’t like Snyder’s outlook or his story-telling choices. I am just noodling about the movie we got.

So there are actually two factions present when Lois and Olsen arrive to interview the African Warlord, but this is not clear to Lois, or the audience.

One faction is the Warlord’s guys. The other faction are mercenaries who have joined in the Warlord’s fight.

It looks like a CIA Dirty war.

But the reason things go south is that the mercs turn on their African comrades, and massacre them, in such a way as to frame Superman.

They come from the world of CIA dirty wars, but they are actually working for Lex Luthor.

This becomes a public scandal and people are divided. Did Superman massacre the Warlord and his troops?

After Lois comes close to dying and gets rescued, She starts pulling on threads of this incident. she Starts pulling on threads of Luthor’s schemes. It’s watching over her shoulder that we begin to see more of Luthor’s plot.

So Luther’s plot to gather Kryptonite and find a way to destroy Superman forms the narrative Spine of the Movie – Batman’s arc happens in relation to this plot. So Does Supermans.

As we go through the movie, Superman is trying to be the Big Blue Boy Scout. He rescues people. He helps out. And the world isn’t having it. Although his actions are pretty classic Superman (Rescuing cosmonauts from an exploding launch vehicle, and rescuing people from a fire) The world is reacting too hard. He finds himself being an angel or the devil and this bothers him badly. He’s fundamentally a humble person so being regarded in such an extreme fashion is not something he’s really good at coping with.

This culminates in the Congressional scene. The Congress wants to hold an inquiry about the African Incident. Superman shows up. He wants to be the boy scout and that means showing up, respecting the process and testifying under oath.

But Luthor car bombs the congressional session, killing a pile of people.

This really counter sinks the point. Superman is trying to be the Big Blue Boy Scout and it’s NOT working out.

Lois is pretty sure this is Luthor’s doing. Bruce Wayne is really conflicted. He knows something is hinky here, he just can’t put his finger on it. He’s getting ever closer to unravelling Luthor’s plot, even though his heart isn’t in it.

So Superman flies to a remote place and has a crisis of conscience. He tried to do the right thing. He tried to be the Big Blue Boy Scout and a pile of people got killed. He blames himself and worse, he can’t figure out what he’s doing wrong so everything keeps sucking.

That’s when we see Johnathan Kent. This is a great scene.

Johnathan tells Clark a story. When Johnathan was young, he saved his farm. He thought he was a hero. He was lauded. But his attempted heroics had an unintended side effect. Johnathan recounts bitterly that at the moment he thought he was a hero and was being lauded, someone else was getting hurt.

Being a hero was worse than useless.

But then Johnathan met Martha, and he says “The world began to make sense again”

And Clark has an epiphany.

Being a Big Blue Boy Scout wasn’t working, because even though he is a fundamentally humble person, some ego slipped in. He was “I am the boyscout”

That contained enough being about himself, that contained the barest hint of “Look at ME, I am the BOY SCOUT” to sabotage him.

But if he frames himself differently. “I am just the guy who loves Lois.” then he can put aside the self-image that’s been clouding his true self. By not taking the Big Blue Boy Scout as seriously, he can re-connect with his true self.

He gets his Superman Mojo back.

We don’t get to see this play out. We don’t see him get to inject a sense of humor and of not really taking the image of Superman all that seriously, because that arc gets truncated into the hostage scene/Batman fight/Doomsday fight.

But I think that after this epiphany, This Superman would have started to look much more like Chris Reeves Superman, because Clark has learned a big lesson there.

We sort of see this when Clark grabs the Kryptonite Spear and charges Doomsday with it. He’s fighting to defend Lois. He’s doing this to make a better world for Lois. That clarifies what he’s doing.


Batman’s Dream

Right in the Middle of the film Batman has a nightmare. An apocalyptic dream. He lives in a mad max wasteland. He leads a resistance. His resistance cell gets attacked by flying men. They are defeated and captured.

As a prisoner, Bruce is Confronted by a very angry Superman. Superman seems to be what Bruce is resisting.

As the dream ends, we see The Flash appear in a burst of light. “Bruce! Protect Lois! Lois is the key!” he shouts.

Now, I got what was going on there, because I am steeped in the mythology of Superman and the DC world.

But again, important parts of the Movie are not IN the movie! And this sequence really depends on future movies in the DCEU working out according to the plan in place when they filmed B-v-S

This is an image of an alternate future. In that world, Superman signed on with Darkseid to conquer Earth. Batman and others resisted, but it was pretty hopeless.

Flash’s warning indicates that at some point they lose Lois Lane. Without Lois as a moral and emotional North Star, Superman loses his way.


Wonder Woman

While investigating Luthor’s scheme Bruce Wayne goes to Lex’s event. I don’t recall why Clark Kent went there.

While trying to sneak around and do sneaky investigative stuff, Bruce runs across a mysterious, beautiful woman in red.

They interact.

It turns out that Bruce has stumbled into another Luthor scheme/Chess-match in progress. It doesn’t seem to relate directly to his anti-Superman campaign directly.

By pulling the thread on this, Bruce discovers that there are meta-humans running loose, and for some reason, Lex Luthor has been gathering evidence on them and has given them code names and branding symbols.

This and Bruce’s Dream foreshadows The Justice League.


This adds to the clutter of the movie and adds to making the through lines unclear.

Joss Whedon complained about this when making Avengers 2. He was given so many key holes and required scenes foreshadowing or hinting at subsequent movies, that it actually interfered with his ability to tell the story.

I think foreshadowing the Justice League movies, adding in Wonder Woman and having the Climactic Battle be with Doomsday were all pre-mandated by Warner Bros and I think this added up to making a weaker movie.

I enjoyed Wonder Woman’s role in B-v-S, but she wasn’t given enough time or enough to do in the story, so she looks tacked on.



The scene where Luthor creates Doomsday looks like a mix of the director being forced to A) Find a reason for Doomsday to exist and B) add more foreshadowing about the upcoming JL Arc.

Up until this point, we see Luthor as a chess player. He’s three steps ahead of everyone else and accurately predicts reactions and steers events.

This depicts a very smart guy who enjoys control and predictability. So interacting with a Mother Box, and randomly playing with Kryptonian cloning technology seems… out of character.

I have never liked Doomsday.

In early writings, he was a generic Hulk stand in. The Brickiest brick that could ever be.

Later on, they added things trying to make the character more scary, competent and more filled with story.

All of this, I found to be dumb. A Waste of Time.

“The Death of Superman” was a big event for DC and they reefed on it hard. It created a lot of buzz and talk.

I think it had a similarly destructive effect on the DC universes as STII had on Star Trek.

After the Success of The Wrath of Khan (TWOK) Now Paramount demands that every Star Trek Film be the same Star Trek Film. The Enterprise encounters an over-the-top master villain who will destroy innocent folks. Although all looks bleak, the Enterprise crew rallies, and in a climactic battle The Captain Punches the Big Bad in the Mouth.

Although Nemesis subverted this. Data Sacrificed himself to explode the Big Bads super weapon in his face.

I always found Darksied to be…. Well, mediocre at best.

Although I expect that Kirby’s original story elling was better. And some writers have done interesting things with Darkseid. In many other cases, he’s Psychedelic Space Satan and has little depth.

He has the raw power to go toe-to-toe with Superman, and that’s a thing.

But sometimes that robs Darkseid of the depths of other characters. Like the telling of Lex Luthor that has Lex Luthor trying to defeat Superman, just because that’s the biggest challenge around.

Or Batman being driven to defeat Superman, because of his own broken methods of dealing with trauma and fear.

These are good stories.

The best stories involving Darkseid come when he’s not Space Satan, but when his motivations become, for lack of a better term, human.

Darkseid’s world “Apokalips” is best when it’s not “Generic Space Hell” but when it shows maybe a side with more depth to it.

The canonical Darkseid story is that, for whatever reason, he sets his sights on Earth. Earth is just one of many worlds he’s conquered. All others have fallen hopelessly. But on Earth, costumed heroes, lead by Superman, rise and confront Darkseid.

It seems as though the current arc of the DCEU is adding Mother Boxes on Earth, sort of like the Infinity Stones in the Marvel CU, to prefigure and foreshadow the confrontation with Darkseid.

The Timmverse Animated DC Universe had numerous conflicts with Darkseid and it did Okay with them. It said interesting things about the characters using the fight against Darkseid as the backdrop.

But there’s other things in Play in the DCEU that I think could make for much better stories. I’ll discuss them next time in my review of Suicide Squad.


One more note about B-v-S

Zack Snyder likes to do Scene pastiches. He likes to borrow scenes from comics and recreate them in his movies.

This served him well with “Watchmen”. “Watchmen” was almost a direct transliteration of the graphic novel onto the big screen. As a fan of the Graphic Novel, I enjoyed the movie. Even though Snyder twisted up the ending some, and I get why, I liked Watchmen.

This urge did not serve him well in B-v-S. He borrowed a LOT from DC comics, especially Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

But the effect was to make a sort of Frankenstein effect, where the movie seems, in some ways, like a quilt of scenes from various comics, stitched together and not all fitting together well.

This, combined with elements inferred but not seen, things that happen but are not clear and really muddled editing made B-v-S not a terribly successful movie, IMHO.

Man of Steel was more clear.

One thing the next movie needs to do it allow Clark Kent’s sense of humor to come out.

People complained about the dark gritty tone of Snyder’s movies here and in some ways they are correct. They take themselves very seriously and the characters are not having a very good time.

A story happens when a Character has a very bad time. But sometimes showing a character enjoying himself, especially when he is being true to his higher self, that can be a thing.

Sometimes Snyder slips that in. he really does. But not brightly enough to overcome the dark and sonorous tone his movies often labor under.

Coming up, we’ll have Wonder Woman, with a different Director and we’ll see if she can add some joy to the tone of the DCEU.  I really look forward to that.



Check out this little girl.  Isn’t she cute?


About 5 days into Donald Trump’s regime, Navy Seals shot her. In the neck.  It took her two hours to bleed out and die.

She is Nawar Al-Awlaki.  She is Abdulrahman Al Awlaki’s little sister. She was in the compound when Navy Seals attacked.  The people in that compound had no real ability to attack the USA.  A couple of terror attack attempts have originated in Yemen.  Our defensive measures succeeded and they never got close.

Apparently, this raid was on Obama’s desk and he declined it since the intel didn’t support it. Trump sent them in.

It got a Navy Seal killed, too.  His name is Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens.


The raid was botched

So Trump had Special Forces go kill a bunch of people and get killed or injured.  To make himself look tough.

This is what drives me absolutely ape-shit.  Politicians order these things with an eye towards how it will make them look.  They’re no-shit killing no-shit real human beings to affect how people see them.

That’s fucking depraved.  And Americans either stand by, or make excuses for it.


Let’s go back over this. Killing human beings, or placing them in danger of being killed to score political points is MURDER  MUR-FUCKING-DER..

This raid killed some Al-Qaeda guys, and I have no beef with killing Al-Qaeda guys.  Fuck Them. They, however, are upfront and in your face about killing people to get their way.  They openly say they are going to murder their way to their goals and more unjust and murdery it is, the better they like it.

But, by any sane standards of ethics, it is ONLY okay to ONLY kill Al-Qaeda guys.  Killing people standing next to Al-Qaeda guys for standing next to Al-Qaeda guys is NOT okay.

That’s ethics.  The utilitarian point is this.  Middle-Eastern people have been saying for more than 50 years that Americans do not give a shit about their lives, or their well-being.  All the talk of ethics, and how the Nazis were bad for doing Nazi shit, that apparently only counts for White People.  For Non-White people across the sea, there are no rules and their lives seem to have no value.

This has been a fucking Al-Qaeda talking point since at least 1996.

And here’s Trump making it true.  He is SELLING Al-Qaeda’s pitch to their audience! He’s justifying Al-Qaeda’s bullshit.

American Presidents pretend, really hard and say right to your face they are not mass murderers. And they are LYING.


With that raid, Donald J. Trump joined the ranks of mass murderers in the world. Fuck Him.  In the nose.

That’s the downside to this Flaming Clown Show of an administration. Innocent people died. More are going to.  If Trump stacks up enough of them, he’s going to drive more Al-Qaeda recruitment and donations. And that means more deaths and violence.

The question that’s up in the air is… how many?  Will it be you or me?

Stay safe please. Hopefully someday we can tell young people how we survived all this.



Okay – this is going to get ugly, but it can’t be helped.

Richard Spencer is a White Identitarian. by his own account. He thinks the races should be segregated. He advocated for “peaceful ethnic cleansing”

Now I am going to drop into history and I am going to use some ugly words here. But why these words are ugly is telling. This may offend you. I feel being honest about bad things is better than hiding from there.

Spanish for “Black” is “Negro” – I think in Spanish, you’d use a long “e”. N-eh-gro.

The Spanish were among the first to import African slaves to the Americas, so their word “Negro” become the one used to describe these African people.

Over time, in American usage, the term gained a hard “e”. N-ee-gro.

It also spawned the term “Nigger” a description of black people that’s a corrupted form of the Spanish word.

This label was used to create emotional distance. People who engaged in slavery invented racism in order to tell themselves that their victims weren’t really human. So they called Africans and people of African descent “niggers” to de-humanize them. To emotionally place black people in a box where the racist didn’t have to feel empathy for them.

This happens all over human history. It’s one of the saddest things we do. This ability to withdraw empathy from people lays near the heart of every atrocity and crime in history.

Over time, black people wound up adopting the word.

But, among black people, it’s pretty easy to see “nigger” is used to replace “fellow” “That fellow went over there.” “There’s my fine fellow!” “What is that fellow thinking?” and so on.

However, in the mouth of a white person… it’s a reference not to “Fellows” or whatever hip hop song. It’s a reference to that history of dehumanization.

Up until the 1950s, occasionally black people were lynched. Think of the sort of thinking that goes into that! The people who did those lynchings had, like the slavers before them, completely divorced themselves from the humanity of their victim. They turned their empathy off.

The word “nigger” in a white mouth is that dehumanization. That’s what it means.

And you can find examples all over the human experience.

Nazis and Jews. Hutus and Tutsis. Revolutionaries and Reactionaries.

All of these rest on labels. a way to mentally make your victim not really human.

This is how soldiers could dig a mass grave and machine gun women and children into it. They didn’t think of those women and children as really human.

Regarding Native Americans in Sand Creek massacre, Chivington said “Nits make lice.”  He compared human beings to vermin.

Okay – so this – this tendency to dehumanize people. To withdraw compassion and empathy. This is why the word “nigger” is absolutely offensive. By keeping it offensive we remind ourselves that such brutality, that this kind of induced sociopathy – it’s a monster that lives inside us. All of us. It’s part of the Human Condition.

So Richard Spencer says he doesn’t think blacks are inferior, and he doesn’t hate them. He says he just likes white people more and would like to see a “European Ethno-state” achieved by “Peaceful Ethnic Cleansing”

But what Spencer wants to do, is, he wants to emphasize that white people and black people are materially different kinds of human being. (Factually false)

He wants to establish very carefully, definitely and clearly an “Us” (White people) and a “Them” (Black people, or Latino people, or whatever)

This separation of “us” and “them” is the first step on a road that leads to “nits make lice”

He thinks somehow, you could divide humans into different teams, and yet somehow, against dozens and dozens of examples throughout history – that these teams could separate peacefully.

Now people are forever talking about “us” and “them” and will talk your ear clean off about how “we” are all just wonderful innocent and the war is self-defense. They’ll talk about how “they” are hateful, violent, threatening and an imminent danger to everyone innocent.

And this idiot Spencer wants MORE of that shit?

Okay – but this all gives Spencer the benefit of the doubt. It assumes he is what he portrays, a peaceful White Seperatist.

But what does a more cynical outlook look like?

What happens if Spencer is not portraying himself accurately?

Then he becomes not a useful idiot of Nazis, but someone who is trying to smuggle as much white supremacy as he can in through the loophole of freedom of speech. He is working hard to make himself sound like a reasonable proponent of an unusual, radical but entirely innocent and non-violent idea.

But why divide into teams? Why divide into Us and Them? Why demand to be allowed to do this label setting that is a first step and cover for emotionally dehumanizing people?

I honestly do not believe that Spencer is the innocent and rational person he claims to be.

Currently, Spencer is only talk. Hot air. His ideas should be confronted with reason. Facts. Evidence.

Like, what does Spencer plan to do with the last 5 black people who refuse to leave White-Topia because they own houses and do not wish to give them up?  Would he harrass and stalk them and call that free speech?

Mocking (also free speech) derision (free speech) and ridicule are all strong options as well.

Spencer has the right to advocate for his weird little ethno-utopia. And I have an equal right to call him a morally retarded fuck stick for it.

But watch out for this bullshit. Seriously keep an eye out.

Because some assholes –

They want to be seen as rational, reasonable and only using their free speech rights, until they outnumber you. Until they catch you alone with 5 to 1 odds.

Until they don’t have to pander to a wider public audience. They don’t have keep up that persona of being reasonable.

When they feel there will be no repercussions, then you see what they’re really made of.

I strongly suspect Spencer is like that. If there is a God and he is kind, we will never find out.

Until then, yeah our antifa friend there was outside the lines of acceptable behavior.

But I will be pointing and laughing at Spencer. I am under a self-imposed principle not to initiate violence. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy an asshole’s misfortune.

Ukraine Redux

Okay, look, the basics of the Ukraine crisis are this

If you look back in history, Ukraine is like East Poland. It’s a flat zone without much in the way of natural defenses – which makes it a target for conquest and for big armies moving through.

Ukraine has a hard time keeping itself in one piece. and at different times the area we now call Ukraine has been both unified and separate kingdoms.

It’s notable that Ukraine shares borders with Poland, Germany, and Russia.


Okay, so Ukraine was captured by the Soviet Union right after WWI.

In the 1920s there was an event called the “Holodomor” –  The Soviets starved an insane number of Ukrainians to death.

Then they resettled the area with Russian speaking folks.


So you had Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians in the west and Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the east.

Then WWII started up.

When Hitler invaded in 1941, Some of the western Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians jumped up and joined with the Nazis. They saw the Nazis as an alternative to the communists (Who’d just murdered a crazy number of Ukrainians.) One of those guys was Banderas.

Now the Nazis weren’t nice to anyone, but they weren’t as big a pack of assholes to the Ukranian anti-soviet resistance.

But the Russians came back through and crushed all opposition. The Russians were not especially happy with the Ukrainians who sided with the Nazis.

Over the next 40 years, Ukraine was smashed flat (culturally) and became a solid piece of the Soviet Union. The eastern part of Ukraine was built up into an industrial, economic powerhouse. Of course, Russian speaking folks were treated better. There was always an underlying Russian favoring bias in the Soviet Union.

Then when the Soviet Union fell, Ukraine became a separate nation.

Now American Neocons never got over the cold war. They always viewed the world like a giant game of Risk. If the Soviet Union fell apart, if the various nations went their separate ways – that was time to really cinch down the win in The Big Game of Risk.

So despite George HW Bush promising Gorbachev that NATO would not move one inch east – the west’s influence pushed east.

Ukraine had problems. They tried to run a modern, European-style welfare state on top of an outdated industrial base. So the government’s income never matched its outgo.

So they made this up by borrowing.

But if you borrow too much, eventually people are going to measure your debt versus your income. And if those numbers don’t match up well, they won’t lend you money so much anymore.

In the early 2000s, Ukraine suffered badly from this and struggled with too much debt and not being able to properly modernize.

And then the West, especially the Neocons wanted to flip Ukraine from one team to the other team.

So in 2004, there was the “Orange Revolution”



This was a mess and the result was sort of ambiguous.

Russia tussled with Ukraine and imposed sanctions and other measures to try and force Ukraine to, if not stay a loyal puppet, at least to not become a client state to the west.


But in 2014 it started up again

(This article has a good timeline as well)

So when there was a coup and “Protestors” overthrew the Ukrainian government – there was a problem.


The problem was that not only were the protestors and some of the militants aligned with fuckin NAZIs, but they were keenly aware of ethnicity.

They were Pro-Ukrainian Speaking Ukrainians (From west Ukraine) at the EXPENSE of Russian Speaking Ukrainians (from east Ukraine)

So when the new government started promulgating rules banning Russian…


The Russian Speaking folks felt that the Kiev Government was not only illegitimate but actively hostile to them.

So they declined to submit to the Kiev government and decided to go their own way.

Now in Crimea, their response to this was to hold a plebiscite and leave Ukraine in favor of re-joining Russia. Crimea was part of Russia until 1956 when a drunken Kruschov handed it over to Ukraine.


Not only were a huge majority of people in Crimea Russian speaking people of Russian Descent, but Crimea holds important Russian naval bases. So Russian Sailors and their dependents make up a lot of the population the of the area.

Now the Kiev gov’t was NOT HAPPY about Crimea leaving. But it was all peaceful and largely the desire of the Crimea people.

But when the large Eastern cities and provinces started to peel off, Kiev had a serious problem.

Although outdated. the eastern Ukrainian cities were industrial and heavily populated. They are a MAJOR source of tax revenue for the Kiev government.

If these eastern areas leave, then the Kiev government loses a LOT of money

and STILL has to pay off the Debts racked up by previous spendthrift Ukranian governments!

So Ukraine sent their army to stop the eastern cities from leaving.


But that gives Putin a problem.

Russians in Russia are aware of their cousins and family members over in eastern Ukraine. They want them to be protected.

Putin tried to get word to the Kiev government that he was paying attention to how Russian speakers were treated in Ukraine.

But Kiev is panicking about provinces and cities peeling away.

So Putin has to take steps to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians of Russian descent, or he’ll be seen as weak to threats right on his border. And Russians along that border who’s cousins are being abused will be pissed.

But wars are F-ing Expensive! No one knows what the west would do if the Russians rolled Armored divisions into Ukraine and hit a reset button that way.

So Putin split the difference. He set it up so deniable Russian Soldiers could go “Volunteer” with the eastern Ukrainian rebels.

This has caused this Ukrainian Civil War to drag on, be horribly expensive and cost a lot of lives.

Of course, if they asked me, I’d say to allow a sort of cultural federalism, to not fuck with Russian-speaking Ukrainians about speaking Russian.

I’d also work for a sort of economic open borders policy, so Russia and Germany can move goods and services back and forth, with Ukraine taking a light touch each way.

If Russia and Germany and Poland become strong trading partners, then they get richer. If they get richer all the rest of us do, too by second, third, fourth and so on order effects.

Happy humans are just better for everyone.

This sort of policy would cause Neocons to shit themselves and say silly things, which is another benefit of that policy.

Now, let’s be clear here. Putin is NOT a nice man.

Ask the Chechnyans

Or people who live in Apartment Buildings in Moscow

And let me be clear THERE – I strongly suspect a Russian faction of those bombings, using them as an excuse to form a more centralized and powerful government.

But if you look at Ukraine and Syria

What you see is a Dictator on a Budget. You see a strong man with a limited bank acccount. He is using force in an extremely thrifty, careful and parsimonious way.

This isn’t surprising when you considered that Russia has a GDP comparable to Italy.

They really can’t AFFORD a big conventional forces confrontation with a competitor power.

BUT Also remember

All the powers in WWI thought the war would be a done deal in a few months, and made their plans based on this assumption. They were broke early on in the war (Everyone fighting was) and they borrowed themselves almost into penury to keep the fight going.

The economic instabilities of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe can, in some measure, be traced back to the U.K. admantly refusing to admit just how bad they’d broken their bank fighting WWI, and so monkeying with the British Pound to keep it’s per-unit purchasing power up.

If modern powers are calulating fighting a war with similarly stupid unrealistic assumptions – then once it goes, the powers fighting will have no choice but to fake it until they collapse or win.

This image of Russia as a newly aggressive threat in the world really is not consistent with the facts and Russia’s actions. They’re not good guys, but they’re not rolling 50,000 tanks, either.

The Ukraine problem has a lot of East v West stupidity behind it and could be resolved if people agreed to live with each others differences, and if we could get Neocons who think they’re playing Risk away from the levers of power.
The American Media loves White Hats and Black Hats and has volunteered Russia to be the Black Hats, so they only tell the parts of the Ukraine story that support the image of Russia as black hats.

The real story is much more nuanced, complex and needs solutions that don’t buy into old story lines as part of their premises.