Dylan O’Brien plays super-hero in Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin”, and the subject matter is very grave in the world of Trump

On the evening of September 11, 2001 I attended a screening of Michael Cuesta’s “L.I.E. ” (Long Island Expressway) at the Lagoon Cinema in Minneapolis.  I won’t dawdle on the theme right now (a teen’s relationship with an older man played by Brian Cox), but I want to recall that I met Cuesta in a hotel bar after the show – because he couldn’t fly back to New York in the wake of the 9/11 groundings (No, the bar wasn’t the Saloon or the Nineties.)

I met author Vince Flynn at a booksigning party at a Barnes and Noble in Edina, for his self-published “Term Limits” (them it was Cloak and Dagger Press. before Pocket Books gave him a contract), in the fall of 1997, just after I had moved to Minneapolis myself.  We had a discussion about the whole process, which I had just executed with my own first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book.

Vince Flynn beat me to the movies.  He also died in 2013 at age 47 of unusually aggressive prostate cancer.

Flynn’s genre of techno-thrillers, sometimes compared to Tom Clancy,  adapted quickly to the end of the old Cold War and the new world of terrorism and rogue and failed states

Mike Cuesta’s latest film  comes from Flynn’s “American Assassin” (2010) which turns out to be eerily prescient with the concern over a rogue state using nuclear weapons.  This time, the state is Iran, rather than North Korea.

But the movie is also part of the Mitch Rapp series.  This time, Rapp is played by 26-year-old Dylan O’Brien (“Rhe Maze”).  In the opening scene, Mitch is with his fiancée (Charlotte Vega) on a Florida beach when a gruesome radical Islamist terror attack mows down everyone on the beach with automatic weapons.  Mitch loses his love despite surviving himself with minor injuries. He swears personal revenge.  Back in his Rhode Island apartment, having flunked out of college, he finds his calling. He pretends to be a Muslim and gets recruited by ISIS on Twitter (an activity Trump says he wants to shut down despite his own use of the platform) and goes into the Dark Web.  Soon he is in Libya.  But he has already made arrangements with other mercenaries to become a saboteur, even as he fools his ISIS “trainers” at first.

Fast forward and he is being interviewed by the CIA (director played by Sanaa Lathan, convincing in a minority-cast role as sufficiently authoritative) and trained by a former seal (Michael Keaton) in various virtual reality settings.  The “ghost” arms dealer (Taylor Kitsch) hardly looks like one.

The film moves around the world, from London to Poland, to Turkey, Romania, and Italy, as Mitch tracks down a parts of a bomb intended for Tel Aviv.  Yes, an underwater nuke can produce a mushroom cloud and destroy a lot of ships in the area.

The real problem right now is that North Korea has more than one nuke, to be sure.  I wonder if any of Flynn’s novels deal with the EMP threat (E1 and E3 are different parts).

Dylan O’Brien’s performance merits note.  Yes, he rather comes across as superman, verging on a comic book hero.  He usually looks clean cut and boyish, with a little wad of chest hair on the beach that survives.  When he tries to look like an ISIS fighter in disguise, he isn’t convincing. In most scenes, despite all the mayhem, his pretty physicality remains intact, very slender, very muscular, as if prepared not for “Dancing with the Stars” but for a big gay disco with all the dirty dancing.  Milo Yiannopoulos would find him admirable (because “thin” is “in”).  Flynn’s writing manages to keep romance and family as a kind of “afterthought” behind the real super-hero, even given Rapp’s earnestness.  But, didn’t that perspective come from James Bond — what it means to be a man.

The film was shot in Thailand. Istanbul, Rome, Malta, and London.

Name:  “American Assassin”
Director, writer:  Michael Cuesta, Vince Flynn
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Regal Ballston Quarter, weekday PM, small audience
Length:  105
Rating:  R
Companies:  CBS Films, Lionsgate
Link:  official

(Posted: Wednesday, September 20, 2017 at 11 AM EDT)

“Mother!”: Darren’s chamber piece on radical hospitality turning into chaos and communism

Mother!” is another dream-like supernatural set piece from Darren Aronofsky (and cinematographer Matthew Libatique). And this time there is a bit of a political warning.

The entire film is set in an octagonal symmetrical house somewhere in Quebec. Javier Bardem plays a poet and writer who has displayed “writer’s block” since he and his wife, Jennifer Lawrence, “lost everything” in a fire.  Well, everything except a remelted glass obelisk that represents all his creative output.  The house has apparently been restored, but it is still creaky and mysterious with supernatural trinkets (and blobs derived from living things) inside.  The couple still has no children, and it’s unclear if they want to.

One night, a stranger (Ed Harris) appears.  He says he is a doctor, despite cigarette smoking. He acts like the house were listed on Airbnb (or maybe Emergency BNB), although there are no computers in the film that I recall.  I think there was cell.  Immediately, he goes into coughing and vomiting spells, and the couple “hosts” him – an example of radical hospitality (and maybe scruffy hospitality, too)  The next morning, “Mother” (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up, with all the presence of a Hitchcock villain.

In time the rest of the family appears, including two younger adult sons, who fight over arcane provisions in a trust.  It seems as if maybe the poet doesn’t own the house at all.  The film starts turning violent, and one of the sons is severely injured.  Then others show up, as if from a Bolshevist revolution.

The guests recede, and the poet and his wife have the house to themselves once again, and this time the woman gets quickly and obviously pregnant.  Then the hordes return, this time with a lot of ideology that sounds like it comes from Marx and Lenin.  A full bacchanale ensues;  one room becomes a disco, some of the floors leak and collapse, and eventually everything gets set on fire and it seems like the baby is to be sacrificed.

All of this, in the end, seems to be a circular, reoccurring plot.  Maybe this is a corner of the afterlife.

The house seems to be able to fix itself, as in the 1976 film “Burnt Offerings”, based on Robert Marasco’s novel.

The soundtrack, in Dolby 7.1, makes a lot of imagined voices and haunting sounds, making the wife especially seem a bit schizophrenic.

Name:  “Mother!”
Director, writer:  Darren Aronofsky
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic, Fairfax VA, 2017/9/18, day, small audience
Length:  118
Rating:  R
Companies:  Protozoa Films, Paramount
Link:  official

(Posted: Monday, September 18, 2017 at 6:45 PM EDT)

Hillary Rodham Clinton tells “What Happened”

I can remember when reading the little stories in “Fun with Dick and Jane” in grade school, we waited to read “What Happened”.  So I chuckled just a little that Hillary Clinton named her autobiographical analysis of the 2016 election that.

The book does pay heed to women in politics, but the elements of the 2016 election leading to her defeat do lead themselves to functional decomposition, the way a systems analyst would see things. These components include Trump’s own behavior during the campaign and debates (including the second debate where she wanted to yell “You creep”), Russian hacking and disinformation with fake news, and most of all “those damn emails” leading to the notorious Oct. 28 Comey Letter, as well as the painful Election Night with the slow motion acceptance of electoral college defeat.

Clinton’s perceptions should indeed alarm us.  The idea of blatant racism and “whitelash” played a much bigger role in the behavior of the electorate than many of us could have expected (although Michael Moore had been warning about it). Clinton often mentions the “zero sum game” thinking of the alt right, where the economic losses of less educated working class heterosexual whites are seen as the result of gains by “others” (blacks, gays, and especially immigrants).

Russian meddling, leading to the fake news manipulation of social media (and the ultimate “Comet Pinc Pong” incident) shows a serious social problem among the nation’s professional “elite” class (including black and gay professionals).  I saw relatively little of the “fake news” in my own social media feeds because my online behavior normally connects me with people in a more intellectual mainstream.  I have contact with Hollywood, with the book world, academics, and with some pundits on both right and left, and including some doomsday preppers (normally on the right).  So I see some material at the margins (Breitbart on the right, and Truthout on the Left), I see very little material that is patently outrageous.  But it seems like a lot of people did.  It is rather scary that Putin saw the insularity of America’s privileged intellectual class and realized that a campaign of disinformation leveraging resentment and fear could really work.

I’m a bit perturbed to see her name Sinclair Broadcasting in Baltimore as one of the participants in his whole mess (p. 361).  Sinclair owns WJLA7 in Washington, and tried to bring to light the threats to the power grid in some reports in the summer of 2016 that got suppressed.

Clinton talks about Putin’s macho values (I think its ironic that he likes to bare a completely hairless chest when riding horseback) and the way they put individuals in their “rightful” place in a system where fascism is returning to replace communism.

The Russian hacking also connected to various schemes to make it harder for certain minorities to vote.  Black and Latino turnout in key states was considerably less than had been expected.

On the email scandal, Clinton pleads that she did not starting using computers at work herself until the middle 2000’s, and that she started in a world where it was still normal to use one’s own personal computers and servers even for sensitive work.

Indeed, in the 1990s in the mainframe computer world in which I worked, it was normal and acceptable to use personal laptops in fixing production problems, which could lead to exposure of consumer PII, but at the time (pre Y2K and just as the Internet was heating up) it was seen as much less of a risk than it would be now.  It was also acceptable to take listings home that had production consumer data printed.

Clinton does think that the Comey letter did provide Trump with his ninth inning rally, and maybe a couple of unearned runs, by baseball analogy.  Remember, the whole incident could not have happened if Anthony Weiner had not committed a sex offense, an observation that provides an ironic comparison to a bizarre incident that happened in 2005 when I was substitute teaching that I have discussed here before – apparently I had not seen the end of it, but I never thought this sort of thing could throw and election. Also ironic were Trump’s self-incriminating comments overheard on Access Hollywood.

On p. 465, the last chapter “Onward Together”, one of her supporters, a history teacher, offers some partisan moralizing.  “Privilege” alone makes that teacher’s students responsible for others.  It doesn’t wait for marriage and having babies.

Author: Hillary Clinton
Title, Subtitle: What Happened
publication date 2017
ISBN 978-1-5011-7556-5
Publication: New York, Simon and Schuster, 18 chapters unnumbered. 494 pages, hardcover, e-book
Link: publisher

(Posted: Friday, September 15, 2017 at 9 PM EDT)

LGBT Showcase at DC Shorts 2017: “The Whole World” is the best film

Here is a rundown of the LGBT shorts program at DC Shorts 2017, sponsored by the DC Center for the LGBT Community and DC Center Global.

The Whole World” (“El Mundo Entero”, directed by Julian Quintinalla, Spain, 30 min, in Spanish) was the best and principal film.  This film is set in a town in southeastern Spain, set up in sunlit, exaggerated colors, almost as if animated.  The town itself looks like a glimpse of heaven. Julian, an attractive 30—year old, visits the cemetery where his mother La Chary (Loles Leon), who had died at 51 from breast cancer, materializes in her only afterlife form.  She relates how she protected him as different, from the bullies, and from a rogue psychotherapist.  Then Julian will meet Peter (Candido Gomez), who was another attractive gay teen when he was growing up, ten years older.  But the overriding idea is that Julian himself seems to be in a layered afterlife of his own.

Pool” (“Piscina”, directed by Leandro Goddhino, Brazil 20 min, in Portuguese).   Claudia wants to investigate the family’s past as it fled the Nazis, and encounters a German lady, Marlene, who has set up an apartment in an empty swimming pool.  Marlene recounts the past persecution of gays, while there is a parallel story of Claudia’s own lesbian marriage in which she is raising a child.

Dusk” (directed by Jake Graff, UK, 15 min), tells the story of gender-fluid Chris Winters in the hostile 1950s, a time that took Alan Turing’s life.

Little Potato” (directed by Wes Hurley, 13 min, USA/Russia) invites a young gay man to tell his story growing up in Vladivostok, Russia, at the time of the fall of the Soviet Union. His mother also contributes.  But the film anticipates the hostile 2013 anti-gay propaganda law in Russia, which has led to asylum seeking in the U.S.

The Real Thing” (directed by Brandon Kelly, 7 min) puts a new spin on the whole debate about the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the military.  A father returns home from deployment to his home in Texas, in fatigues, to find his child has transitioned to female. He hugs her at the end.

Better Known as Peaches Christ” (directed by Jeff Dragomanovch, 4 min) lets a drag queen tell his story. Is he more than just an entertainer? I knew a bartender named Peaches in Dallas in the 1980s, but he was very cis.

(Posted: Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 10:45 PM EDT)

Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” (1960 Disney film)

I think I read a young person’s illustrated version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “boys’ life” Alan novel “Kidnapped” (written in first person) in tenth grade, in the spring of 1958, about the time certain other interests were developing in my mind.  I remember typing the book report at home.  A lot of other book reports with this teacher were “in class”, but this one I remember doing at home.  We had recently read George Eliot’s “Silas Marner” and been tested on it.  That’s what sophomore English was like: grammar and literature, in alternation.

Note the original long title of the book: “Kidnapped: Being Memoirs of the Adventures of David Balfour in the Year 1751: How he was Kidnapped and Cast away; his Sufferings in a Desert Isle; his Journey in the Wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he Suffered at the hands of his Uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so-called: Written by Himself and now set forth by Robert Louis Stevenson.”

The Walt Disney Technicolor 1960 film (“Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped”) is ironically directed by Robert Stevenson (no relation) and aired on Turner TCM on September 11.  The plot is a picaresque adventure, as was common for some English novels of the time(1886).  An appealing 16 year old boy David Balfour (James MacArthur) is beckoned to a gothic estate when his father dies, but quickly finds his uncle is conniving (there is a scene inspired by Vertigo).  He is then drawn to a ship voyage, where he is shanghaied (essentially kidnapped) into servitude, and threatened with slavery.  He soon meets up with a Jacobite, Alan Breck Stewart (Peter Finch) and go on a long adventure together, after both are falsely accused of murder. Alan is a Jacobite rebel in Scotland, as both escape the British redcoats about the time of the American French and Indian Wars (and the James Fenimore Cooper novels).  Eventually they get back to David’s uncle and David gets his inheritance with a trick and his friend’s witness.

I do recall that the enduring idea of the novel, especially in its later passages, is “friendship”.  Having read this book may have helped inspire my controversial first theme in English at William and Mary in the fall of 1961, which would help precipitate the ironic events that would later lead to my expulsion in November 1961 (as in my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book).

MacArthur (who was 23 when this film was shot) seems quite mature and handles himself so well, as in that fight with the Gaelic highlander and other foes.  He seems like a low-keyed predictor of the superhero movies to follow a half century later. How many role model teenage boys like this do you meet in a lifetime?  I can think of a few.

Jacobite painting wiki.

The broadcast also included the 1938 Mickey Mouse cartoon “Lonesome Ghosts”, with “personal animation”.

Name:  Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Kidnapped”
Director, writer:  Robert Stevenson
Released:  1960
Format:  1.37:1 now 1.85:1
When and how viewed:  TCM 2017/9/11
Length:  97
Rating:  PG
Companies:  Walt Disney Pictures
Link:  TCM

(Posted: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 9 PM EDT)

“The Big Sick”: romantic comedy about caregiving covers Muslim assimilation

The Big Sick”, directed by Michael Showalter, written by comedian Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, does, even as a romantic medical comedy (if there is such a thing) lay out the issue of assimilation for religious minorities, especially Muslims.

Kumali, playing himself as having come with his parents as a little boy from Pakistan, does comedy gigs at Chicago nightclubs, more or less on Rush Street. His more conservative but well assimilated Muslim parents urge him to go to law school and become respectable.

Kumali falls in love with a (Gentile) girl Emily (Zoe Kazan), and they start sleeping together.  One day Emily twists her ankle in a supermarket, and a few days later is in a medical coma with what looks like a life-threatening opportunistic pneumonia.  Kumali is the only one present until family arrives and pretends to be the husband.  The doctor asks if she has HIV, which could mean that Kumali has been exposed to AIDS himself. (Yes, heterosexuals can spread it.)

But it turns out that Emily has an unusual automimmune disorder, related to genetics (and probably an earlier infection like mono).  Eventually she pulls through, and the end of the film will deal with whether they still have a relationship.

The film presents a few social issue confrontations. Early in the film, when Emily shouts out at him, he scolds her for harassing a  comedian, which is considered rude behavior in comedy clubs.  (Ask Kate Clinton, whom I have watched on Netflix.)  Nevertheless, that helps start the relationship.

While Emily is in the hospital, a caricature of a while nationalist and “Trump supporter” harasses Kmali in the club as a recruiter for “ISIS”.  The boorish troll gets tossed by security, but not before he is told he is  “bad person”, part of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables”.

Then there is the scene where Kumali is confronted by his parents.  Why doesn’t he think about his family instead of himself, they say.  Why is an arranged marriage to a Muslim girl not god enough for him?  Why won’t he grow his beard?  (He looks quite handsome and charismatic as he is, clean-shaven but with his hairy body;  most middle Eastern people are actually “white”, a fact that gets lost on a lot of people.)  Why won’t he kneel and pray five times a day facing Mecca?  Kumali does not such formality is necessary to have the personal faith.

I worked in I.T. or 30 years, and I always encountered software people from India and Pakistan. Until 9/11, nobody thought about religion in the office.  Everyone was assimilated. The parents are shown as well off, with beautiful Islamic interior decorations and art work in the house, and well assimilated into American capitalism and business.

At the end, Kumali moves to New York to start in a new club, and Emily has to make a choice.

Chicago picture (wiki).

There was a short film called “Murphy” about a boy, a dog and an animation in the pre-show (M2M).

Name: The Big Sick
Director, writer:  Michael Showalter, Kumail Nanjiani, Emily V. Gordon
Released:  2017
Format:  1.85:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic, 2017/9/10
Length:  120
Rating:  R
Companies:  Amazon Studios, Lionsgate, Apatow
Link:  official

(Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017m at 12:30 PM EDT)

“Tulip Fever”: a 2008 financial collapse in 17th Century Holland

Tulip Fever”, directed by Justin Chadwick, based on the novel by Deborah Moggach, presents a period piece with a parallel story of a financial bubble – the “tulip mania” in the Netherlands in the 1630s.

Sophia (Alicia Vikander) has been forcibly married to a rich merchant Cornelius (Christoph Waltz), who commissions a young painter Jan Van Loos (Dane DeHaan) to do her portrait. At first she resists, the way someone might resist having their photo tagged on the Internet today. But soon they fall in love. Jan can’t make a living just as an artist, so they plot to make a killing by “flipping” tulip bulbs.

But, as with all bubbles, the mania bursts, probably because of the intrusion of a pandemic, the bubonic plague. Tragedy ensues, although Jan survives with a prosperous second life in the Dutch East Indies, eventually to become modern Indonesia.

The film is quite erotic in a few spots, and DeHaan’s boyish body is often on display. A few scenes convey the energy of the physical passion that was expected in those days.

Wiki picture of the tulips.

Name: “Tulip Fever”
Director, writer:  Justin Chadwick
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Angelika Mosaic 2017/9/9
Length:  105
Rating:  R
Companies:  Weinstein TWC, Paramount
Link:  FB, distribution controversy

(Posted: Saturday, September 9, 2017, at 11 PM EDT)

“Unacknowledged: An Expose of the World’s Greatest Secret”: UFO’s, aliens, and false flags

Unacknowledged: An Expose of the World’s Greatest Secret” (2017), directed by Michael Mazzola, gives an account of the Disclosure Project which traces the evidences of UFO’s and alien visitation since Roswell in 1947.

The descriptions of the crashed saucers and of the aliens is rather explicit:  three feet tall, wearing tight fitting skin suits, egg-shaped craft without mechanical parts inside.

The film moves on to showing many presidents (Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford) and candidates (Hillary) on talk shows admitting their interest in aliens.

But the film also presents a major industrial conspiracy to hide information about UFO’s even from the government, in order to protect their market for a fossil fuels industry.  Nick Tesla is depicted as having wanted to move beyond AC current to energy in space-time already in possession of aliens.  There are claims that the government knows of at least two or three other advanced civilizations within a reasonable distance (maybe 100 light years) in the Milky Way (let alone the Dyson’s Sphere that might live around Tabby’s Star 1400  light years away). The setup sounds like Clive Barker’s “Imajica“.

The film goes into the subject of psychological warfare and particularly “false flag” attacks.  In this kind of operation a government creates an incident in order to blame an unpopular enemy, like the Nazi Broken Glass operation. The film claims that a false flag operation was set up in 1980 to blame Cuban refugees from the Mariel Boatlift in order to justify Guantanamo later. The film present George W. Bush’s war in Iraq as a false flag by claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It also says that Werner von Brahn supported a false flag operation to protect the world from aliens.

No question, the day that alien contact was proven would indeed be “The Event” (like the NBC series).  Then you have the “Smallville-Clark Kent” problem.  If someone somehow arrived from another planet and developed like Clark, what would his legal rights be?  That would engulf the debate on immigration (or race) if it happened. We may be approaching a world where we need to consider the legal rights of “non-human persons”, like individual orcas (killer whales) and other dolphins. Cetaceans may be the closest thing we have experienced to alien intelligence on our level. The possibility of cross-mating (DNA compatibility) would no longer define “personhood” legally.

Downtown Roswell NM, Wiki. I visited it in April 1998.

Area 51, Nevada, Wiki. I was near there in May 2000.

Name: Unacknowledged: An Expose of the World’s Greatest Secret
Director, writer:  Michael Mazzola
Released:  2017
Format:  2.35:1
When and how viewed:  Netflix instant play  2017/9/8
Length: 107
Rating:  NA
Companies:  The Orchard
Link:  Facebook

(Posted: Friday, September 8, 2017 at 7:15 PM EDT)

CNN’s “The Reagan Show” looks like an oldie

CNN Films offered the collage “The Reagan Show” on Labor Day evening, directed by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez.

The film, running 74 minutes (allowing commercials to fit into a 90 minute format), written with Francisco Bello and Josh Alexander) is placed in the old 4:3 aspect ratio of television in the 1980s, and comprises many of Reagan’s speeches and appearances, particularly in relation to relations with the Soviet Union.

A highlight is Reagan’s 1983 Star Wars speech, which attracted some degree of ridicule;  nevertheless, that idea (34 years later) seems to be the buttress strategy for handling North Korea’s grandiose and acceleration of development of missiles and now thermonuclear weapons.   You would think that in this many decades, NORAD ought to be good at this.  Yet, I recall the film “War Games” (1982) and the two “Red Dawn” films.  We all know about the exchanges with Gorbachev, leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall after Reagan left office, and eventually the collapse of the Soviet Union as we knew it.

There’s one spot where Reagan says “Make America Great Again”.

There’s also some footage from all of his old black and white movies from the 1940s…

There is some coverage of the Iran contra with Oliver North (who would later have his own radio talk show in the 1990s).  But there is no mention of the AIDS crisis, or even of the 1981 assassination attempt.

Name:  “The Reagan Show
Director, writer:  Sierra Pettengill, Pacho Velez, Francisco Bello Josh Alexander
Released:  2017
Format:  1.37:1 TV
When and how viewed:  2017/9/4 CNN
Length:  74
Rating: NA
Companies: Gravitas Venturas, CNN
Link:  official

(Posted: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at 2 PM EDT)

“17 Misconceptions about the Effects of Electromagnetic Pulse”: half-hour film seems the best explanation of the real threat to ordinary Americans so far

 

I usually review “YouTube” films on my legacy blogs on Blogger, and the following 25mnute video by “Reality Survival” would normally go on my “Films on Major Threats to Freedom” blog. But I thought that this particular technical explanation of the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threat so cogent as to need to be brought over here as a significant longer short film that ought to be offered in festivals.

It is titled “17 Misconceptions about the Effects of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)” by Reality Survival

He (the presenter) does not list his point, so I trust that his strike count is 17.

He starts out by pointing out that a high altitude nuclear blast from a thermonuclear weapon (hydrogen bomb) who have a “source area” below where the effects are severe, and a “tangent” area surrounding it where they are much less severe.

The most widely touted damage is the “E3” phase, or third phase, lasting perhaps a minute, where Earth’s magnetic field around the event is severely disturbed.  This is the phase that overloads transformers and knocks out the power grids (there are three in the U,S.)  He says there are about 370 major transformers in the United States that are too large for conventional transportation and have to be built in situ.  It could take two to three years to rebuild them all.  That presumes that the components could still be manufactured in other parts of the world and shipped.  But he says that a solar storm that was severe enough (larger than Carrington in 1857) could envelop the Earth even on the night side and prevent any remanufacturing anywhere, so that rebuilding would take maybe 10 years.  We may have had a close call with a huge coronal mass ejection in late July 2012.  So from the power grid perspective, the solar storm risk may be greater than what is posed by North Korea (although Russia and China are capable of wiping out civilization for good, as are we).

But the EMP from a nuclear blast has two other components, E1 and E2, where it is much easier to provide some protection. Furthermore, (at least according to Resilient Societies) fission nuclear weapons produce only these first two effects (a fact touted by “EMP deniers”).  That is one reason why North Korea’s claim to have a hydrogen bomb is strategically significant.

The HEMP E1 is a fast pulse that destroys magnetic data and personal electronics.  These devices might be protected by “nested Faraday cages”.  He notes that solid state electronics (like thumb drives) can be destroyed by E1 even though they are not ordinary harmed by household magnets or ordinary magnetic fluctuations in the environment (like by nearby transmission towers).  He recommends people back up their data on optical data, like single-sided CD’s.  Automobile ignition systems are often touted as vulnerable (as in the book “One Second After”).  He says that most cars made before 2003 would probably run, and some newer cars still have the proper shielding.  He says that sometimes a car will start if the battery is disconnected and then reconnected.  But of course you would run out of gas eventually, and electrical charging stations presumably would not work.

The speaker hints that old-fashioned electronics of early stereo and HiFi enthusiasts in the 1960s might work (when I was collecting classical phonograph records) but some vacuum tube components could be undermined by “selenium rectifiers”.

The E2 pulse is more like what a lightning strike to an existing power line does.  Your surge protectors may actually shield from these.  The E2 pulse is the easiest to deflect.

It’s noteworthy that the E3 pulse (like from solar storms) does not normally threaten personal electronics.

James Woolsey, as noted before, has warned that North Korea could launch an EMP attack (possibly in retaliation if Trump strikes the DPRK mainland) from one of its “Shining Star” satellites.  But it does not appear that it would have a thermonuclear weapon on one of these satellites, but it might be capable of an E1 strike.  So consumers need to back up their data on optical data now, even this week?  Remember, an E1-only strike would wipe out devices without wiping out the power grid, apparently.  As a purely geopolitical matter, I note that some other videos on YouTube suggest that China could actually goad North Korea into a high-altitude thermonuclear E3 EMP strike over the US so that China could then conquer the US.  The Domino Theory is back.

There is no information that I am aware of as to whether big cloud companies (Google, Apple, etc) have physical protection of their data with faraday-like covers.

It’s also possible for non-nuclear magnetic flux devices deployed by terrorists in local areas.  It is not clear which effects they have, but they might mainly be E1 and E2.  This was covered by a now largely forgotten Popular Mechanics issue around Labor Day of 2001, one week before 9/11.   The Washington Times wrote about this in 2009.  The US Army uses these devices in Afghanistan now, and one is on display in the Ordnance Museum in Aberdeen, MD.

All of this suggests an enhanced kind of cultural hygiene that we have already gotten used to in meeting cyber threats and hackers (particularly, recently, ransomware as well as doxing and release of PII).  Protection of personal data with optical devices or with Faraday cages could become part of the culture that people need to learn to deal with.  I plan a visit to Best Buy soon to discuss this with Geek Squad.  But that seems applicable only against one kind of threat: older fission nuclear weapons.

The larger point is that society has become much more technology dependent than it was, again, say in the 1960s, the time of the last Cuban Missile Crisis.  While the Pentagon seems to have protected its own systems, protection of consumer and commercial use of technology seems to have lagged behind the serious threats.

It’s noteworthy that “Resilient Societies” has claimed on Twitter that the power grids could be protected with an investment by the utility industry of about $5 per consumer (about $2 billion nationwide), but I can’t yet find any statement as to what the technology at the transformer protection level would be.  However, many utilities (Dominion Power in Virginia for example) have recently announced unspecified security enhancements to their grids against both cyberterror and direct physical threats.

That’s one reason why the “doomsday prepper” and survivalist crowd has developed its somewhat extreme vision of personal morality (that we sometimes associated with the alt-right):  that everyone needs to learn to deal with the immediate physical world and participate in a familial social hierarchy to protect others before seeking global fame through modern civilized living.

The Wikipedia article on nuclear EMP is here.  Note the 2013 bill proposed in the House.

This article by Motoko Rich and David E Sanger about the geopolitical strategy is quite chilling. The Domino Theory of the Vietnam ear draft (my DADT I book) is indeed back.

I have to ask, also, where is the mainstream media on this?  It’s hardly ver mentioned.  But Newt Gingrich and others have testified about this threat before Congress as recently as March of this year. It’s not just North Korea, it’s also space climate (which doesn’t change.)

(Posted: Monday, September 4, 2017, at 10:30 AM EDT)

Update: Sept. 5

The filmmaker has sent me the link of his followup:
How to Build a Nested Faraday Cage: Protect Your Electronics from an EMP

(28 Minutes)