Snapshots - #42: Thor: Ragnarok, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, LBJ

Thor: Ragnarok (2017), (♦♦♦♦½): Thor has saved earth twice by now and has, for the last two years, wandered the universe searching for infinity stones. He hasn't found any. He has, however, become prisoner of an enemy of Asgard, Surtur, who tells Thor that his visions of Asgard engulfed in flames is a premonition of Ragnarok—the destruction of Asgard, which is already in motion. Thor frees himself and arrives at home to find Loki sitting on the throne, passing as Odin, and neglecting his duties to protect the Nine Realms. With Odin's exile, Asgard's enemies have been reassembling, but Odin's death may just free Hela, a goddess against whom neither Thor nor Loki are enough.
It was in Thor: The Dark World where Loki, an antagonist, first threatened to steal the show. He became the villain that Marvel fandom loves to hate. While Loki is at his most charming in this film, the director, with the help of a sparkling screenplay, has very much exploited the great chemistry of t…

The Fist of God by Frederick Forsyth (♦♦♦♦)

I could never do justice to Frederick Forsyth if attempted to retell the plot of any of his novels in my own words. Thus, for The Fist of God, I submitted to Barnes & Noble from which I extracted the official book blurb:
"From the behind-the-scenes decision-making of the Allies to the secret meetings of Saddam Hussein's war cabinet, from the brave American fliers running their dangerous missions over Iraq to the heroic young spy planted deep in the heart of Baghdad, Forsyth's incomparable storytelling skill keeps the suspense at a breakneck pace.  Somewhere in Baghdad is the mysterious "Jericho," the traitor who is willing (for a price) to reveal what is going on in the high councils of the Iraqi dictator.  But Saddam's ultimate weapon has been kept secret even from his most trusted advisers. And the nightmare scenario that haunts General Schwarzkopf and his colleagues is suddenly imminent, unless somehow, the spy can locate that weapon--The Fist of God--in time."
I spent the month of December on a trip to the past in the form of the Gulf War in 1991. And let me tell you, The Fist of God is not a crash course, but a full immersion complete with army acronyms, rogue, hero pilots, and top notch espionage.

Taut, dense, and brimming with useful (and likely) insider's information, it took me ages to absorb it all, and what a ride that was. It furthered my understanding of the conditions it took to build that big, yet fragile, Coalition, which Saddam Hussein endangered by targeting Tel Aviv with modified Scud missiles, possibly facing retaliatory (and rightly so) action against Iraq's military infrastructure. The U.S. had to convince Israel not to join the war.

Curiously (and likely), a Washington-based think tank wrote in a memo addressed to James Baker, then Secretary of State, the reasons why Saddam Hussein shouldn't be targeted for assassination. The interesting thing is that it seemed they were watching through a wormhole the chaos the Middle East has become since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Don't get me wrong, he had it coming, but his terror regime was a stabilization factor in the region.

Finally, to conclude, I'll just send a question to the void: if Saddam Hussein had WMD, and he had some as early as 1990, what happened to them? Because by 1990 estimates, Saddam had invested nearly seventeen billion dollars in procuring WMD and/or the means to get them, yet when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 supposedly none were found. Is it possible that the Iraq War was justified after all?


  1. A can of worms has been opened with this book, eh? I'm not aware that Hussein spent 17 billion procuring WMD - though it's documented that he used mustard gas and launched a chemical attack on the Kurds & others. If he did procure the WMD, they didn't find any. I don't feel comfortable the war was justified but the first Gulf war with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait likely was. It always mystified me why Saddam wasn't forced to leave then. Maybe it would have stopped endless bloodshed later

    1. Neither then nor later there was a suitable replacement for him. Iraq like Afghanistan, have no tradition of democracy, so they need the so called "strong men government" to keep all the ethnic groups in check. Most Middle Eastern countries have been kept more or less stable up to now because of that doctrine, but the Arab Spring changed all that with disastrous consequences for the entire world.

  2. At last the mystery of what you read in December is revealed! Wow, the book sounds great. I am quite ignorant of that period of history and it is time I learned more. I did some checking about Forsyth and he looks to be an interesting guy. He is on my bestseller lists of My Big Fat Reading Project beginning in 1971. So thanks for a hot lead on all this stuff!

    1. Oh, Judy, he is just great and you get to learn so much with him, whether you like it or agreed with him or not. Yes, his first book, written in 1971 or 1972, was The Day of the Jackal, which is among the best thrillers ever written. I have yet to tackle it.
      BTW, I haven't seen Madame Bovary yet, but I will hopefully tomorrow, and if my muse strikes then I'll write a post about it.

  3. Interesting review and perspective. Personally, I think we meddle in the politics of another country at great risk. We can never completely understand the forces at work there. If we are not directly threatened, I think it is generally best to leave people to work out their own destinies.

    1. I understand your view point, though I agree only partially. Americans contribute to causes, charities and world organizations more than any other nation on Earth, so it is just logical that the peacekeeping and world patrolling falls on our shoulders too, even if we prefer to step aside. While I don't condone meddling on other countries' affairs for its own sake, I do think that we have a moral responsibility with the rest of the world to keep things as stable as possible. However, unlike most politicians, I don't think that democracy is something you can export, particularly to countries that have no tradition of it.


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