Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
April 1, 2009 - March 25, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools

Make up your own punchline if you need one.

NOT A DAY TO BE MAKING UP JOKES. Over at National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg tried to sneak in an April Fools prank about the Obamas' gift to the queen.

This just in:

Diplomatic jaws dropped across the continent yesterday when it was revealed that U.S. President Barack Obama had, once again, fumbled a routine protocal of international statecraft: finding the right gift for a foreign leader or head of state. In a private ceremony with Queen Elizabeth, Her Royal Highness bequeathed to the Obamas one of the earliest known copies of William Shakespeare's Henry V. She also presented him with the framed orginal sheet music of John Newton's "Amazing Grace." To the Obama daughters, the Queen gave a dollhouse-sized replica of Windsor Castle with a functioning train station in the year of the compound. They also received a prize Shetland pony. Mrs. Obama was given a ruby ring commissioned and worn by Queen Victoria.

The Obamas, unfortunately, did not seem prepared for the occasion despite the row set off by the exchange of gifts between Prime Minister Brown and the U.S. President barely a month ago. Mr. Obama rather unceremoniously handed the Queen a shopping bag from the Duty Free shop at Heathrow airport. It contained a signed paperback copy of Dreams of My Father, purchased at the WH Smith shop at the airport, a bottle of Johnny Walker Scotch (black label), a CD of the Swedish band ABBA's greatest hits (still in shrink wrap with a 2-for-1 sticker on it) and ten bags of M&Ms with the presidential seal on them.

The Queen responded in a rather flat: "How delightful."

Very funny. Only problem is, the Obamas topped him with what they actually gave her, as the Drudge Report gleefully headlined:

I've never been a big follower of her majesty, but even I knew she had an iPod already.

That's pretty much like all the rest of the news today. It could all be a joke. Except that so much of it isn't funny. Still, if it's a laugh or two you want, go here and browse. (A review here, if you need permission.) They're a lot funnier than the faux news on the Comedy Channel, even if they're on too late to watch.

But you won't catch of any of us making a joke today. It could come true before midnight.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Republican Fecklessness

The GOP asking all the little Satans how to be liked.

. Don't know about you, but I just got this Republican Party poll. It makes me want to throw up. Or shoot somebody. It came from Our Anointed Party Leader, Michael Steele:

yada yada yada

blah blah blah. Sickening enough in and of itself, but wait till you see the questions....

Part I. The Republican Party

1. Why did Republicans lose the White House and Congressional seats in the 2008 elections? Check all that apply.

[ ] Iraq War
[ ] Poor Economy
[ ] Government's Response to Katrina
[ ] Republican Scandals
[ ] Republicans acted like Democrats
[ ] President Bush's policies
[ ] Liberal Media
[ ] Other: ______________________

2. What are the key strengths and beliefs of the Republican Party that we can build on? Check all that apply.

[ ] Social Issues
[ ] Family Values
[ ] Ethics
[ ] Free Markets
[ ] National Security
[ ] Fiscal Discipline
[ ] Limited Government
[ ] Personal Responsibility
[ ] Pro-Life
[ ] Other: ______________________
3. What are the weaknesses of the Republican Party? Check all that apply.

[ ] Bad Messaging
[ ] Poor Response to Democrats
[ ] Republicans who don't vote like Republicans
[ ] Standing Up for Principles
[ ] Need to Lead in Congress
[ ] Other: ______________________

4. What is the best way to encourage and register new voters in your community? Check all that apply.

[ ] Door-to-Door visits
[ ] Online Social Networking
[ ] E-mail
[ ] Personal Appearances by Republican Leaders in Your Area
[ ] Radio Ads
[ ] Interaction at Community Events
[ ] Online Advertising
[ ] Other: ______________________
5. What technology would you like to see the RNC make better use of to grow our Party? Check all that apply.

[ ] More Aggressive E-mail Campaigns
[ ] More Aggressive Text Messages
[ ] More Aggressive use of Twitter
[ ] More Social Networking Sites like Facebook and MyGOP
[ ] No Opinion
[ ] Other: ______________________
6. What can the Republican Party do to earn and maintain your trust?

Part II. Domestic and Social Issues

1. A recent national poll reported that nearly 25% of Americans want the government to pass more socialism. Do you agree or disagree?

[ ] Agree
[ ] Disagree
[ ] Undecided

2. Which do you believe creates more jobs for the American economy: Government Programs and Spending or The American Free Enterprise System?

[ ] Government Programs and Spending
[ ] The American Free Enterprise System
[ ] Undecided

3. The Obama Administration has proposed spending as much as $1.5 trillion to bail out the banking industry. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal?

[ ] Agree
[ ] Disagree
[ ] Undecided

4. Do you oppose so-called "card-check" legislation, which eliminates secret ballot elections during unionization drives and puts workers at risk of intimidation by labor bosses?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

5. Should Republicans unite to block new federal government bureaucracy and red tape that will crush future economic growth?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

6. Should Republicans in Congress oppose the new wasteful government spending programs passed in the recent "stimulus" bill by the Pelosi-Reid Democrats designed to "spread the wealth"?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

7. Do you agree that we must secure our borders to stop illegal immigration?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

8. Should we do everything we can to block Democrats who are trying to shut down conservative talk radio with the so-called "fairness doctrine"?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

9. Should we resist Barack Obama's proposal to spend billions of federal taxpayer dollars to pay "volunteers" who perform his chosen tasks?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

10. Should Republicans unite in opposition to judicial nominees who bring a personal, left-wing agenda on social issues to their jobs as judges?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

11. Should bureaucrats in Washington, DC be in charge of making your health care choices instead of you and your doctor?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

Part III. Homeland Security and Defense Issues

1. If Barack Obama tries to gut the USA PATRIOT Act and other important laws that promote the safety and security of all Americans, should Republicans in Congress fight back?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

2. Should we stop Democrat leaders from cutting funding from our intelligence agencies or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions on inter-agency communications?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

3. Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

4. Should Republicans unite in support of full funding for border and port security when Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid try to make cuts in these areas?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

5. Do you think U.S. troops should have to serve under United Nations' commanders?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

6. Do you agree that our top military priority should be fighting terrorists?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

7. Should we fight military-cutting efforts in Congress, such as the proposal from liberal Barney Frank to slash the Pentagon budget by 25%?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

8. Even though Barack Obama pledged to meet personally with the likes of Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, should Republicans continue to focus on supporting democratic movements in oppressive states like Cuba, Venezuela and Iran?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Undecided

Part IV. Personal Information

(Notice: this section is optional, but will help give us a more complete survey prospective. Because we value your privacy, any information you provide will be kept strictly confidential.)

Age Group:    
[ ] 18-25    [ ] 26-33    [ ] 34-41    [ ] 42-49   [ ] 50-57    [ ] 58-65   [ ] 65-72    [ ] 73+

Employment Status:

[ ] Employed Full Time
[ ] Employed Part Time
[ ] Student
[ ] Retired
[ ] Unemployed

Education Background:

[ ] High School
[ ] 2 year college
[ ] Some College
[ ] 4 year college
[ ] Graduate Degree
[ ] Trade School
Other: ______________________
Are you or your spouse a military veteran?

[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Decline

Are you active within your local Republican Party?
[ ] Yes
[ ] No
[ ] Decline

Jesus Christ. Does anybody know what representative government is? Do Republicans know what representative government is? No. Aaaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

At a technical level, do Republican pollsters know anything about how to ask questions? It's like looking at leading questions asked by your crazed girlfriend. The first expected answer is "yes." The other expected answer is "no." This brilliant pollster stacks the questions BOTH ways. If you're not on the tippy-top of your Republican toes, you might give the wrong answer... Stay with us now, because the expected answer to "You want us to be conservative but never diss Obama, and everything's going to be okay as long as we don't do or say anything racist, got it?" is, uh, YES. More questions. "Are breasts sexy?" uh, NO. Of course not. We're conservatives. "It doesn't matter that Michelle Obama has these sexually magnetic, tubelike---?" NO! "Does Michelle Obama even have breasts?" uh, no, uh, yes, but they're not actually sexy because they are, uh, feminist, since she's black and female and we're not racist or sexist. Cool. "And are we racist if we like her great big ass?" YES! You have to be like, "uh, we're conservatives and we never even noticed Michelle Obama's gi-hugic big booty ass." Otherwise? Goin' down, dude. Conservatives are not permitted to notice that Michelle Obama has two appalachian-sized buttocks, count'em, two. A mountain apiece. All we're allowed to notice is an outstanding First Lady figure. Got it?

All right. Getting ourselves under control here. Here's the drill. Answer the survey. I'm offering two approaches, and they're not mutually exclusive. Second, respond to Michael Steele, which you can do here. First, respond here, by which I mean fill in the "Other" blanks with your own specific, personalized indictment of a party that really thinks it will succeed by asking whether and if it should oppose socialism, appeasement, surrender, and the cult of personality represented by Michelle Obama*.

*Yup. I've decided to ignore the homophilia contingent, the ones who dote on Barack's "glistening pectorals." Now I'm closing in on the groupies who are masochistically in love with the First Lady. This-a-booty:

Some of you really want to be punished. By a woman who truly enjoys punishing you. This is your chance to be heard. But please don't let's pretend that Obama is in charge. Or Michael Steele. For once, Camille Paglia is right on the money. Manhood is dead. All that's left is negotiating the terms of peace with Nanny Stalin.

Would Michael Steele look good in garters and fishnets? You tell me. More importantly, how do you feel, as conservatives, wearing garters and fishnets while the dominatrix romps on your ass?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Econ 101

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SOUTH PARK. You'll have to sit through an infomercial at the beginning, but it does have a certain pertinency (as you'll realize later), and then you can watch the entire episode. You'll also have to disregard a couple of F-bombs, but the rest of it is almost, well, scripturistic. Enjoy.

Three reasons to
watch CSI NY

BESIDES THE OBVIOUS. Yeah, the plots are silly and the murders they solve are usually straight out of Ripley's Believe it or Not, AND the graphics technology in their lab seems more reminiscent of a supercomputer manufacturer than a budget-challenged Manhattan police precinct. BUT...

There are at least three reasons for tuning in, regardless of the show's manifold faults. Third is the recent addition of Emmanuelle Vaugier as a police detective.

Vaugier is hot. Can she act? We have no idea.

Second is the co-starring presence of the Greek bombsell Melina Kanakaredes. Who cares if it's only a remote eventuality that a CSI would interrogate suspects and crawl through crime scenes in a low-cut blouse perpetually on the verge of contaminating the evidence with a sudden spillage of breast tissue? We certainly don't.

Melina is hot. This is one of her more modest work outfits.

First, though, is Mac, the Boss. He's unique among TV show bosses. He fires people. He has ethics. He makes demands on his staff. He chews them out when necessary. He lowers the boom on self-indulgent behavior. And he doesn't always kiss and make up afterwards. What a concept.

Mac's Brit girlfriend was hot, too, while she lasted.

Plus, he's played by Gary Sinise. Whom we admire enormously. Because he's an honest-to-God man.

He's there for our guys in the military. Continuously.

Watching CSI New York keeps Gary Sinise prosperous enough to fund all the good he does for our troops. We don't care how stupid the plots get. We watch. It's our patriotic duty. Yours, too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


HONEST OBE. What is there to say at the moment? It's all an Escher function, running continuously downhill without most people even noticing, especially the ones who are supposed to be most observant.

But the Escher effect is lost, the sense of motion curiously absent as the MSM continues to cover events as if they were normal political byplay rather than disastrous plunges off cliffs. When in your lifetime has the plummeting of the stock market been treated so, well, casually by the New York Times and the Washington Post? We're all just standing around yakking while the nation descends into ruin.

So, having said so much here already, so far in advance, it seems difficult to leap catlike on individual events as if what follows the tragic climax matters, even though it's only the specification of the now inevitable catastrophe. (See the definition of complex Aristotelian tragedy if you're still at a loss. Scroll to No. 4.) But we have been developing graphics for posts we just can't write. The one up top is a sterling example. So is the one below.

We know it's dumb to talk about ancient constitutional protections, but this archaic graphic popped up too. Forgive us.

And if you know what this one means, let us know and we'll write the post forthwith:

All we can figure is that it has something to do with the peremptory return of the Churchill bust to the U.K. and the insuperable need to punish the rich with tax increases at a time when we need the rich to put their riches into the economy, not under the mattress.

So. It's not like we haven't been trying. If you have thoughts about what the InstaPunk gang should be commenting on, TELL US. We're listening. Not being lazy. Just nonplussed in the wake of so many predictions so soon fulfilled. (Don't believe it? Scroll down to the last two sentences of the second paragraph of this recent post.)

In fact, as a predominantly satirical website, we're feeling a lot like Evelyn Waugh, who when asked how he came up with the great satirical ideas that powered his wicked novels replied, "I don't write satire."

Everybody else thought he did. But it sure doesn't look like Michelle is laughing. Does it?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

YouTube Wednesday:

Watch the whole thing.

. How many of you are inclined to disbelieve the bird knew what he was doing? And why would anyone be inclined to disbelieve? Because we have an impression from mainstream science that bird intelligence has been somehow measured and found wanting. You don't see birds listed up with there with primates, dolphins, dogs, and even rodents as smart critters. For example, here is what one innovative animal cognition researcher said about her own bird studies in a recent interview:

[INTERVIEWER]: In your book, you describe repeated examples of scientists and journals ignoring and discounting your results. Why do you think people are so resistant to the idea of bird intelligence? And have things improved?

PEPPERBERG: When I started my research, very few scientists studied any bird other than the pigeon, and used any technique other than operant conditioning. Pigeons did not perform very well compared to other animals (such as rats and nonhuman primates), and were thus considered to be lacking in intelligence; scientists extrapolated their findings to all birds. At the time, scientists didn't understand how the avian brain functioned, and thought it lacked any significant cortex. And, of course, when I began my research, some scientists started discounting much that had been done in the field of human-animal communication. So, when I started working with a parrot, and chose to use a nontraditional training method, few in the scientific community would give credit to [the parrot's] achievements.

All of the interview is interesting, so give it a read, but here's a fascinating account of the kinds of things Dr. Pepperberg has learned from her work with the parrot Alex.

[INTERVIEWER]: What do you think was Alex's most impressive cognitive feat?

PEPPERBERG: The work on the zero-like concept. He had shown that he could label the number of a subset of items in a heterogeneous mixture (for example, tell us the number of blue blocks in a mixture of red and blue balls and red and blue blocks), but we hadn't tested his comprehension of number. That task was important, because young children, at a particular stage in number learning, can label a set but can't, for example, remove a specific number of marbles from a big heap.

So we were testing him on number comprehension, again showing him heterogeneous mixtures of different numbers of objects of different colors (for instance, two blue keys, five purple keys, six green keys and asking, "What color is six?"). As was his wont, he was at about 90 percent accuracy on the first dozen or so trials, but we needed far more for statistical significance. The problem was that he just did not want to comply. He began to turn his back to us, throw the objects on the floor, or give us all the wrong answers and repeat the wrong answers so that, statistically, we knew he was avoiding the correct response. We started bribing him with candies and treats to get him to work. One day, in the midst of this, I'm testing him with a tray of three, four and six blocks of different colors, and I ask, "What color three?" He replies, "Five." At first, I was puzzled: there was no set of five on the tray. We repeat this interaction several times, and he consistently says, "Five." Finally, in frustration, I ask, "OK, what color five?" He says "none"! Not only had he transferred the use of "none" from a same-different task, where "none" was the response if nothing about two objects was indeed "same" or "different," to the absence of a numerical set, but he had also figured out how to manipulate me into asking him the question he wanted to answer!

uh, how many of us have never thought talking birds were using words as words? But this appears to be the case with Alex -- and with the parrot in the video above. Cool.

That would be all, but this is YouTube Wednesday, so here are some more parrots.

Maybe not just a clever trainer... And how about this one?

And, finally, some sad news relative to the research above:

I guess I'm the only one not talking about the press conference last night. Good for me.

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