Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 23, 2008 - January 16, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Neo for President

Do you even exist?

WHAT WHAT. Does anybody care what the smart folks at Oxford think? For example, maybe contemporary philosophers have something to offer about resolving the many complex conflicts of our age. The politicians don't seem to be making much headway, which is why people are still so continuously undecided about which particular boob we want to trust the whole ball of wax to. As it happens, there is an Oxford philosopher who thinks he know what we should be most worried about. Here's the title page:


Department of Philosophy, Oxford University

And here's the conclusion at the end of what is demonstrably a very serious academic article:


A technologically mature "posthuman" civilization would have enormous computing power. Based on this empirical fact, the simulation argument shows that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) The fraction of human-level civilizations that reach a posthuman stage is very close to zero; (2) The fraction of posthuman civilizations that are interested in running ancestor-simulations is very close to zero; (3) The fraction of all people with our kind of experiences that are living in a simulation is very close to one.

If (1) is true, then we will almost certainly go extinct before reaching posthumanity. If (2) is true, then there must be a strong convergence among the courses of advanced civilizations so that virtually none contains any relatively wealthy individuals who desire to run ancestor-simulations and are free to do so. If (3) is true, then we almost certainly live in a simulation. In the dark forest of our current ignorance, it seems sensible to apportion one's credence roughly evenly between (1), (2), and (3).

Unless we are now living in a simulation, our descendants will almost certainly never run an ancestor-simulation.

And my conclusion is that if this is the case, then I'm not comfortable with having Hillary deal with it, or Obama, or McCain, or anyone else still in the race. I suppose we could resurrect the defunct campaign of Dennis Kucinich, but it seems risky. He might already know about the simulation and has been covering it up. That's just how he strikes me.

If we're actually living the premise of a popular science-fiction movie, it's time to consider nominating Neo. So what if he's fictional. For all we really know about the existing candidates, they could be fictional too. Not to mention us.

Think about it. I can't. It makes my head hurt.

YouTube Wednesday.

THE FUTURE BECKONS. Only one clip today. It should suffice. Yes, it's 2008 and if you've even glanced at Drudge, you know all hell is (supposed to be) breaking loose. The stock market is crashing -- or at least having a nasty fender-bender. Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin is launching missiles into the Atlantic Ocean to prove what a, er, man he is. The Palestinians' most accomplished criminals have breached the Gaza Wall to spread more death and destruction. The Secretary of State is off somewere in La-La Land offering new olive branches to North Korea and Iran because they chewed up and ate the old ones. The doddering dinosaurs of NATO are muttering darkly about the need for the U.S. and Europe to use nuclear weapons preemptively before our appeasement of North Korea and Iran becomes fatal to the west. Inside our own borders, open war is breaking out in Los Angeles between blacks and Latinos even though the leaders of neither major U.S. party think we have a big immigration problem, or at least not a problem big enough to risk losing all those Latino votes by solving it.

Meanwhile, the two Democratic candidates for President are having hissyfits with each other about who can spend more money on socialized healthcare and who can do the best job of ignoring all the crises in foreign affairs that can't be handled by rehashing four-year-old decisions. In the ever escalating competition to pander to voters, their Republican counterparts are all lying about how they can fix global, structural economic problems by sending a check (or IOU) to you and your Aunt Tillie. Despite or perhaps because of all this, the Global Warming fanatics have been staging demonstrations in the midst of driving snow storms to demand greater totalitarian control over free economies and our personal liberties. If all the bad guys get their way, the future really will be a frightful monster.

We are going to need bigger guns.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

If You Go Away...

Jean Seberg was absolutely IT.

FILMS. Sorry. I was actually in France in 1963. I fell in love on the Riviera. The whole nine yards. Yes, I was ten, but I was also precocious. The previous summer I had discovered the works of one Mickey Spillane. Nothing could have prepared me for the angst of my unrequited love affair with a cabaret singer named Edith Sanski in Menton. (She was Leslie Caron, only older and with a more severe overbite.) When I returned to the United States -- a broken manboy -- I kept stumbling across the cinematic efforts of Jean Seberg, an American who lived a tortured life in Nice and other jet set destinations in the south of France, trying desperately to reconcile her crewcut with the demands of Frenchmen who had much richer accents than morals.

Life sucks. Jean Seberg, who was beautiful, is now dead, while I, who am not beautiful, continue to blog as if nothing of consequence had happened.

There's no point to any of this. Tragic, unrequited love belongs to all of us. (Wouldn't it be great if Hillary Obama told us the truth about this part of life?) Enjoy the music.

Monday, January 21, 2008

NFL Championship Game:
Giants Beat Pack, 23-20.

Giants end their season with an historic victory.

PSAYINGS.5S.9-11. The long NFL season is finally over. In the frigid cold that has always characterized the NFL Championship Game, the New York Football Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers 23-20 at icy Lambeau Field in the polar outskirts of Wisconsin.

All that remains now is the pro forma exhibition game with the prettiest team, whoever it was, in the AFL championship(?) gala presumably performed yesterday afternoon. The so-called "Super Bowl," which is always "played" in some warm sunny city down south where they have no NFL teams, is essentially a mega rock concert bracketed by three or four quarters of football's version of professional wrestling. According to recent custom, the AFL team will flounce and preen to a stage-managed "win" while the NFL Champion Giants loaf through a well deserved team vacation before disbanding till next fall.

Congratulations to the Giants. It was cold out there. Really really cold. But isn't that the whole point of football? Anyone can play when the thermometer reads 50 degrees. Only champions know how to play when the turf is as murderously rigid as the Antarctic ice shelf. Everything else is just a meaningless preamble or an anticlimactic postscript.

We'll be resuming our NFL coverage in late August. Have a fruitful off-season.

Why You Shouldn't Vote
for Hillary Obama (Part I)

You couldn't have one of these. It's bad for you. Mama spank.

INANITY. Yeah. It's the beginning of an intermittent series. There's only one assumption underlying this and future entries in the series, which is that a lot of Americans, especially young (or young-ish) Americans, are still alive and want to live their lives. I know that may be a wrong assumption, but if it is wrong, then you can all go to hell. (Kudos to Brizoni, from whom I stole the clip during a vain attempt to find his email address.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Blowing the Whistle

Stewart lied, writers cried.

STRIKE NEWS. We're supposed to think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are bravely facing their audiences without writers. The copy almost writes itself:

The Jan. 10 episode of The Daily Show opened with Jon Stewart hilariously skewering President Bush's recent trip to the Middle East.

Utilizing the show's trademark ability to make Bush seem like a college freshman showing up naked to class at state functions using only news footage, Stewart illustrated the polar-opposite welcomes extended by Israeli and Palestinian residents.

On the Israeli side, Bush received a red rose while being serenaded by a little girl singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in Hebrew.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians reacted to Bush's arrival as the normally do - by burning effigies, burning flags and flashing signs showing Bush sporting a neatly trimmed Hitler mustache.

"Burning flags, Bush is a Nazi, will kill for oil . . ." Stewart said. "Come on guys: is there a writer's strike over there, too? You're not wowing me."

Stewart, however, continues to wow without writers.

Since Jan. 7, he and his blood brother Stephen Colbert have stepped in front of the cameras without their respective writing staffs, which have been on strike with the Writers Guild since Nov. 5.

Without their writers Stewart and Colbert sometimes trudge through unusual laugh-less lulls, but mostly the shows still deliver biting satire.

Jesus Christ. What bunk. I deliberately avoided watching the first couple episodes of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert because I didn't want to see teleprompter-reading faces humiliated by the lack of talent behind them. I was a fool. Now that I've watched their post-strike shows I can tell you, without any doubt whatsoever, they're liars. Writers are writing their shows.

I've written dozens of scripts for videos, speeches, and presentations by celebrities and corporate executives. Especially when graphics are involved, it's impossible to pull off a performance unless you know what's coming up on screen and what you'll say when it does. No matter how dumb your response is, if you can deliver it without a series of 'ums' and' uhs', what you say on camera has been written by someone. Because you knew what was coming.

It's possible, of course, that Stewart and Colbert wrote their own copy tonight. I'm not saying they're untalented (except for Stewart). What I am saying is that they did not extemporize anything they said. The graphics were there to illustrate all their points, which meant what they said under those graphics was decided in advance and thus written.

Why does nobody make a big deal out of this? These are so-called 'satirists' who continuously mock what they perceive as dishonesty by the presidential administration and the congress. But when it comes to their own professional conduct, they are obviously, thoroughly, utterly, absolutely lying about how they do what they do. If anything, the writers' strike enables them to use writers to write easy outs for matters of content and production they don't wish to be honest about.

In the case of Jon Stewart in particular, it's egregious. His main guest tonight was Jonah Goldberg, author of the book "Liberal Fascism." Before he even ran the segment, Stewart acknowledged that it had been mercilessly cut from 18 to 6 minutes. He offered no assurances that the cuts had been fair. On the contrary, he acted as if the cuts had been made randomly because of the general chaos surrounding the writers' strike rather than a deliberate decision to torpedo the guest: he absolutely eschewed responsibility for the unfairness of what followed.

Well, I do admire Jonah Goldberg. He's a young'un. He's a South Park conservative and I suspect he actually likes Jon Stewart, never mind the fact that Stewart has an IQ less than half his own. Vaudeville interviewing Velikovsky. The latter might be wrong, but the former is only a clown courting controversy in the presence of his betters. Still. Stewart hadn't read the book. He knew none of the history. He responded to its unwelcome message with cheap shots rather than honest questions. He used his videotape editors to sabotage Goldberg after the fact. He's a shit. And Jonah once again exhibited the only significant difference between Scots and Jews: he probably still likes Jon Stewart because he's funny sometimes. That's not how Scots think of the matter. I couldn't do an interview with Jon Stewart. I despise him too much to pretend I like him. I'd probably assault him physically.

Not only is Jon Stewart a jackass; he's also a phony. He and Colbert are only pretending that they can do their shows without writers. I defy either of them to furnish evidence they're being honest when they face the American public and claim they do it without a written script. It's impossible. The nature of video production proves them liars. Every single TV show ever made is planned from Take One to Take 'n.' Without a script, there's nothing at all.  But I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who want to believe them. Go for it.

Why I haven't written a serious book like Jonah's.

Sometimes I'm just
 An Old Man.

THE UNSPOKEN. I grew up here in Salem, New Jersey. We had lots of faults. Lots of economic inequality too, if that's a fault. But strangely enough for an age in which smoking was rampant and dumplings were ubiquitous, we also had a bunch of old men. They mostly worked behind the scenes. They corrected the preacher when his sermons weren't helpful. They barked at young men who needed barking at. They managed to be a wet blanket for young women who hid behind the fact that 'horny' was a word nobody would say out loud.

Occasionally, under extreme duress, the old men would come out from behind the shadows. You'd see them stagger off a porch to confront some young hood a third their age and twice their size. They always prevailed. Because they had right on their side. Hard to believe now, but there was a day when being current didn't matter at all. When the old men reminded you of the verities that had put the creases in their brows, all the youngsters knew they had no case.

But it's all changing too fast now. The kids think they know everything because most everything is about 25 minutes old. The people who are supposed to be grownups think they're helplessly behind the times because they remember last year. So they defer to the idiot children who know absolutely nothing about anything but buttons on microprocessor-controlled devices.

Where does tht leave the old men? Damaged, obviously. Too many of us smoke and drink and eat non-Tofu comestibles. The children and grandchildren think the lines in our faces are merely the proof of our immoral chemical choices rather than the spoor of life's losses and responsibilities.

Nevertheless. When we rouse ourselves... when we leap out of the barcalounger onto the front  porch and declaim our outrage about the callowness that surrounds us, we're not automatically perceived as doddering old men. Deep down, the kids do expect us to know something, to possess some wisdom.

I suspect their biggest disappointment in life is that we don't roar off that couch more often.

The youngsters I know seem to like me. And I don't even pretend to be nice. I think they like the fact that I'm keeping track of a continuum they have no idea about. They really don't like being marooned in historical limbo. They just don't know what to do about it.

All you superannuated Boomers who have fought like hell not to get old, consider the possibility that being old isn't such a bad thing. If, somehow, you can cull some wisdom from your many years on earth. And find a way to share it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

YouTube Wednesday

AGAIN! According to Drudge this morning, Mike Huckabee is now claiming that his support for a federal smoking ban has been misrepresented. View the clip of his original comments above and decide for yourselves what you should believe about his philosophy of governance.

But the sad news is that he's not the one who's out of step in the current social environment. The ones out of step are those of us who think government interference in matters of personal health and personal vice is the most dangerous slippery slope there is.

Even the alphabet networks concede that the 'nanny state' isn't just a paranoid neologism. Here's an acknowledgment from NBC.

And ABC News correctly identifies that the pioneer of much of the blatant social engineering being written into our laws is the State of California.

Smoking, obviously, is not the be all and end all of government's invading our homes and cars and workplaces with their superior knowledge about how we should all live. Practically everything else is on the list too, particularly guns, but also such staples as transportation and food. Nancy Pelosi has been Speaker of the House for one year and has accomplished practically nothing legislatively. But she has managed to inflict her native Californian faux-haute cuisine on the congressional representatives of all 50 states:

According to Politico, the cafeteria in The U.S. House of Representatives is now a very different place.

The processed cheese has been replaced with brie. The Jell-O has made way for raspberry kiwi tarts and mini-lemon blueberry trifles. Meatloaf has moved over for mahi mahi and buns have been shunted aside in favor of baguettes.

The menu transformation is part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "Greening the Capitol" plan to make the House campus more environmentally friendly and "socially progressive."

Some employees are complaining that this new "socially progressive" campus is also becoming progressively more expensive...

When you actually read what some of the new meal choices are you really can't help but laugh. The food sounds good, but it just seems out of place in the congressional cafeteria.

You can now get pan-roasted Chesapeake rockfish with sweet potato fennel hash and yellow pepper relish. Or something a bit lighter like Pears with Stilton cheese and watercress.

Staffers who find themselves emotional and weary after a long day fighting for a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq might wish to dine on Cumin-scented leg of lamb with almond couscous.

There are also vegetables with funny names, like bok choy, arugula and jicama. There are baked goods with Italian names, like biscotti, focaccia and frittati.

With the immigration debate raging it only made sense to put something besides "Juan Valdez" in the vending machine that sells coffee.

Employees can now enjoy more politically neutral coffee from famed chef Wolfgang Puck, in flavors like "Vive la Creme Caramel" and "Tropic of Chocolate."

Everything we consume and do is now supposed to be "environmentally friendly and socially progressive." That's how it's possible to make smoking objectively evil while the far greater health risk of homosexual promiscuity is beyond subjective criticism. They've succeeded with smoking, and they're presently hard at work trying to accomplish the same trick with eating red meat and other real foods that taste good. How hard is it to imagine the day when barbecuing a juicy burger becomes a disgustingly unmentionable underground activity? Like so:

That clip is from the movie Demolition Man, which seems to do a pretty good job of imagining the California of the future. Who will be the Che-esque freedom fighters then?

That's right. The valiant underdogs will be people who just want to live their lives without some damn food prude or psychosomatic asthmatic autocrat looking for excuses to lock them up. What, you ask, does a "cigar the size of Cincinnati" look like? It looks like this.

But forget it. Your future isn't going to include anything like that. Not in a free country like this one. What you're much more likely to inherit from the populists who care so damn much about you that you can't wait to vote their controlling asses into office is this:

If they can take the fun out of eating, there isn't much they can't take the fun out of. Eventually, they'll get around to everything, but the very next item on their long list is your personal transportation. (No, you don't have to watch the whole thing. But you really really should.)

NASCAR. They're pretty sure they can get away with selling us idiots on hybrids. Because those of us who object are a bunch of dumb NASCAR types, too stupid and inbred to get out of our own way. What they don't realize is that us NASCAR fans are actually pretty damn smart, and we can prove it.

Maybe we should be just a little bit worried.

POSTSCRIPT. One of our more disreputable contributing bloggers has strayed once again into the ranks of the MSM with an op-ed piece in the Providence Journal. If you like, you can see it here. It's about a past that wouldn't begin to understand today's entry.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More