March 11, 2010 - March 4, 2010
I've been baffled by the Toyota scandal. I admit it. In previous
posts I've been honest about the fact that I was once a GM consultant .
Back then, they were trying desperately to learn from Toyota, whose
Just-in-Time manufacturing system I came to know very well because I
was teaching it to GM execs, managers, and factory floor employees.
Here's a representative excerpt of my past musings:
Yeah. I had a Toyota then. Have one now. Full disclosure, don't you
The first one I had for ten years and experienced just one mechanical
failure, which briefly stranded me: an alternator that failed in year
9. The second one I've had for four years and experienced one
mechanical failure that didn't strand me: an emergency brake that had
to be replaced so I could get through inspection. Both have been pure
joy to own and drive. The newer one is quicker (0-60 in 6.7 seconds),
faster, (125 mph), better handling (1.0 Gs of cornering power), and
more parsimonious with fuel (34 mpg), That represents an approximate
20-30 percent across the board performance and fuel economy improvement
for an equivalent (inflation-adjusted) purchase price. The one I own
now was conceived by Toyota as 80 to 90 percent of the performance of a
Porsche Boxster for about half the price. And, I expect, about 10X the
reliability and 1/10th the maintenance expense. I couldn't be happier,
although it also offers considerably less than half the cargo capacity.
The original had a trunk behind its mid-engine configured to stow a
full set of golf clubs (or a suitcase or two if you must). The later
version has a front storage compartment that might hold a basketball. Not
Which is an easy way of acknowledging that MR2s are, by definition, not typical Toyotas. Especially not typical contemporary Toyotas. Why I've been slow to comment on the whole thing. While they've been growing by leaps and bounds and becoming the number one automaker in the world, for my money they've become drab appliance makers rather than a car company. There's not one vehicle in their current stable I'd ever look twice at, let alone buy.
I think that's what happened to them. They forgot that cars aren't appliances but, well, cars. Things people drive. My MR2, for example, was discontinued some years ago. Not enough like a blender. Manual transmission, old-fashioned dead pedal, you know, too much driver stuff.
That's why I'm finally moved to comment. The YouTube video of the Prius owner up top is, I'm sorry, funny to me. The Prius is no longer even an appliance -- it's a social statement. "I'm all green and everything." Such people don't drive. They parade. I actually kind of like the idea that his parade turned into a Terminator moment. The machine rebelled and took him for a ride. He looks so quiveringly nonplussed and betrayed. Who could ever have imagined that a social statement would have moving parts? 94 miles per hour? I've done more than that on a motorcycle and didn't need a heroic cop to save me from my vehicle. (Hats off to the cop, by the way. It takes real guts to save an idiot motorist from his worst instincts.) You see, the kind of unintended acceleration the Toyota "victims" are experiencing could never happen to my Toyota. I have a manual transmission (you know, shifting and like that). If my motor suddenly revved to the redline, all I'd have to do would be depress the clutch. It takes the engine out of gear instantly. It can scream all it wants, but no power will get to the wheels. And the brakes will work too.
Sorry. I know it's motorhead stuff. But it's also relevant. Perhaps more than you know. For example, here's what a learned lefty professor, Robert Wright, has to say about the Toyota mess:
He also has a truly intriguing analogy to offer:
Don't mean to make an unsignaled right turn here, but doesn't the
boldface text above remind you of Nancy
Pelosi's latest weird gaffe?
You’ve heard about the controversies within the bill, the process about the bill, one or the other. But I don’t know if you have heard that it is legislation for the future, not just about health care for America, but about a healthier America, where preventive care is not something that you have to pay a deductible for or out of pocket. Prevention, prevention, prevention—it’s about diet, not diabetes. It’s going to be very, very exciting.
But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.
Isn't she also talking about a Beta test? Robert Wright makes a sound
probabilistic argument given his assumptions. But the possibility he
doesn't quite allow into his essay is that we all might be better off
if cars weren't being asked to do so much in place of informed, well
trained driver skill. Yeah, if you're going to cede more and more of
what used to be your personal responsibility to a machine that's going
to keep you safe without compensating pleasure or decision-making
opportunities, you are
reduced to calculating the percentages. But why do we have to do that?
Where is it written that we have to submit to cars that lug us around like UPS boxes and occasionally kill us because machinery is never quite as good as a person who feels the road through controls designed to enhance rather than deaden his control of the unpredictable? And where is it written that our institutions -- corporate or governmental -- are absolutely responsible to keep us from harm when we stop paying attention to the roads we travel?
Message to Toyota. Start building cars again.
I'll close with what may be two non-sequiturs. Make of them what you will. The first is a Top Gear clip:
The second is an anecdote that maybe has nothing to do with anything. I
just like it. It's about a motorhead husband and his wife.
Here's how it goes. The 427 Shelby Cobra is one of the most desired and
dangerous cars ever made. A big block NASCAR V-8 with four stand-up
Weber carburetors producing 500 horsepower and God only knows how much
torque in a Brit sportscar chassis that weighs less than 2000 pounds.
Absolutely linear acceleration from 0 to 100 mph and beyond, to a peak
near 200 mph. Only a few hundred were ever made, and surprisingly most
of them still exist. (Replicas abound but they're easily exposed.)
They've found their way, it seems, into hands that can both drive them
and keep them safe as the treasures they are. Read an interview with
one of the owners, who like many Cobra collectors still drives this
ultimate beast for fun. (Bugatti people do, too, but other collectors
not so much. It's rare.) The relevant vignette concerns his wife, who
is also in love with the car and also drives it on occasion. He's asked
if that doesn't frighten him somewhat and he replies with a cocked head
and a wink: "Don't you ever
tell her, but every time she drives it, I disconnect half the
A man who loves his wife. He knows where the real responsibility lies. Why don't we?
. Go figure. Two
interesting op-eds in the New York
Times today. The first is by Stanley Fish, who is apparently
trying to steal credit (just kidding) for a view expressed here
election in 2008. He predicted that within a year of Obama's
inauguration, Americans would be wishing they had George Bush back.
There's not much of significance in the essay except that he thinks
it's time to take
a bow for his prescience, which is okay by me. The content that's
worth looking at is the comments section, which is in the New York Times, remember. Be sure
to read through them, but don't blame me when you're sorry you did.
It's like suddenly getting catapaulted back in time, to some old
argument with an ex-flame that's every bit as exhausting and depressing
in the reliving as it was when it actually happened.
Fish's piece also makes for an interesting backdrop to Roger Cohen's essay "Gone, Solid Gone," which seems to be suggesting that the Europeans might also be missing 'W' more than they'd ever have anticipated. He makes a couple of points that are worth ruminating about. The title comes from this passage:
More important is the question of why
it is gone. Which is the part that's worth some serious thought:
The people who need to take particular note of this point are those who
believe Obama's ultimate aim is to make the U.S. into a European-style
socialist welfare state. Well, if he's "not a Westerner, not an
Atlanticist," and if his "feelings are tied more to the Pacific and to
Africa," what political, social, and economic models are driving his
unique vision of American transformation?
This is the deep reason so many conservatives believe Obama's ambitions go far beyond mere incremental expansion of government's role in American life. It's why they suspect he is, in some very basic way, inimical to what we think of as American life. For if he's not a "Westerner," how can he even be an "American"? Roger Cohen gives us a clue that's probably more revealing than he intended (given that he thinks Obama is merely a globalist "pragmatist"):
You'd say that, would you, Roger? I'd say that, too. I think the clear
pattern we've seen thus far in Obama's interactions with foreign heads
of state is that he feels more at home, in every instance, with the
despots who preside over one-party states that are democracies or
republics in name only. He doesn't like the pluralistic European model
at all, and he likes the messy American notion that government is
subordinate to its citizens even less. In his first year in office,
he's shown more punctilious respect for Ahmadinejad's "Islamic Republic
of Iran" than he has for Gordon Brown's parliamentary prime
ministership or even Brown's democratically defanged monarch. He smiles
at Hugo Chavez and blows off polite dinners with the president of
France. He bows to the autocrats of Arabia and kowtows to the son of
Emperor Hirohito. He can't bring himself, even in Beijing, to criticize China's human
rights record (uh, and when exactly did that nation cease to be 'Red
China?' Anyone?) and he dispatches the exiled Dalai Lama through the
garbage bay of the White House. Are these minor gaffes of international
protocol? Or are they indicative of a mentality Americans can't even
begin to contemplate because it is so, well, un-American?
Africa and the Pacific? Well, African 'democracies' are almost unanimously brutal one-party systems, a lot like Chicago but with machetes and mass graves instead of mass prison terms. And the same goes for the Pacific. Even postwar Japan has been governed by a single dominant party for all but a few years of the past half century. I wonder what Obama sees when he looks into Putin's eyes. I'm thinking soulmate. And maybe a touch of envy. Putin gets to kill his political enemies and direct the exculpatory investigations afterwards.
Which is why I'll close with an objection to a statement in Stanley Fish's essay. Not because I have anything against Mr. Fish, but because, well, read this:
This is just flat-out wrong. That's why I enjoined everyone to read the
comments on the piece. They have no argument. Only invective. Which is
not true of perspectives like that offered here. But it's a wrong that
many conservatives of admirable character and dim perceptions are
repeating every day. Libs scream about how Bush "lied us into the Iraq
War," which is demonstrably untrue. Yet the past dozen times I've seen
Obama, practically every word he
utters is a lie. ("I don't want the government to control
the private sector." "I don't want government bureaucrats between
patients and their doctors." Give me a break.) That's a good reason for
despising him, but that's all I do. I despise him. I don't hate him. I
don't wish to see him dead. He has turned out to be exactly who I thought he was before
the election that put him in office. There's nothing irrational about
my animus. And I believe that's true of most of the people who are
being unfairly compared to the sufferers of Bush Derangement Syndrome.
Which is fine. I don't mind being unfairly characterized in the grand scheme of things. That's bound to happen at times. What I do object to is the blinders. The people who refuse to see who Obama really is, as we've been considering above, because harboring such suspicions is somehow unworthy of us goodhearted patriots. Sorry. I'm not buying that line of bullshit.
And I hope you're not either. There are excellent reasons for fearing the very worst about this man. Not recognizing a truth that's staring you in the face because you're duty-bound to be polite is folly of the worst order.
Here endeth the lesson.
. At this rate, Lloyd's going to have to adopt his own
punk monicker and become a regular. He keeps sending the most amazing
stuff. Seems to me this one needs one of you techno-wizards to erase
the nasal London narrator and add an appropriate soundtrack. I won't
tell you what kind. If there were enough of you, it could be a
Not speaking for InstaPunk here, who keeps his heart close to
himself, with a pattern of beating known only to him, but I'm
attempting a kind of inoculation. I know we fling words around
here like bricks, but they aren't bricks. They're just electrons
streaming through the wire and the air.
What's interesting, what's damned fascinating, is that we have reached a point in time where it's possible to have real relationships with people we've never laid eyes on. I'm not talking the hookup preliminaries that occur on dating websites, which are just dancing in air to a common purpose. They make me suspicious at the least. The end object there is very physical and can be dangerous for everyone involved.
I'm talking instead about an altogether new phenomenon. I'm talking about the two way relationship between writer and reader that occurs on blogs like this one. These aren't just glancing hits -- trolls bouncing off stranger targets or bloggers slamming and banning trolls in passing. Those encounters have their correlatives in, well, real life. Nasty letters written to authors whose works or views we don't like. Authors penning essays denouncing their critics in the op-ed pages of a newspaper. All of that is as old as (probably) Euripides and Aristophanes.
What's different is what happens in a site like this one, which isn't so big that commenters are just the audience in an arena, who clap or boo as an entity that is gauged as if it were a single beast and dismissible as such. We've never been "successful" enough to regard our commenters as a mob or a cheering section. We get to know you. Or at least the distinctive streams of electrons that are the identity you launch across the ether.
I have come to know many of the commenters here in precisely these narrow terms. Is it reality squeezed through a tube one electron wide, or is it just a verbal form of the jostling one experiences in a shopping trip at the mall? I mean, even that is more "real" than what we do here. At the mall the stranger I bump into has a face, a body, clothes, a smell, a size, an age, a sex, any number of identifiers that tell me more truth in an instant than any commenter necessarily shares in six months of words electrons.
I'm telling you this because it's getting harder for me. Not that I'm planning to quit or anything like it. It's that despite all the jousting and back-and-forth jibes, I've come to care about commenters I have no direct physical, personal experience of. I'm caring about streams of electrons as if they were people I drink coffee with in the morning dark. Am I crazy?
Some of you I've met, so you're excluded from this discussion. But I worry about Penny. Who is she, where is she, what's going on in her life? When she's mean, I'm hurt. When I'm mean, as I have a habit of being -- the persona, don't you know, the blogger show-off -- will she come back? Will she understand I'm a professional entertainer here? Dirty Rotten Varmint has disappeared. I offended him. Didn't mean to drive him away, just tweak him, but electrons are such febrile streams that other internetters have adopted stratagems I've been loath to copy -- acronyms reducing emotions to three-letter pills: lol. etc. Others too. DRV isn't the only one. I used to regard it as turnover, but no longer. The web weaves its own web and I'm as caught as any fly on the wing. A valued commenter (a talented artist whose paintings I posted here!) suddenly announced he couldn't keep up with the intellectual level of the site and would never comment again. I thought he was making a joke; he wasn't. Is he still here? Is he okay? Same goes for not just one or two others, but many: JS, Billy 'O,' Eduardo, jaytee, Peregrine John, Betty, more. When they don't come by I feel guilt. I pissed somebody off, again.
Which means -- which has to mean -- that there is such a thing we could call 'electron friends.' I'm thinking, like all extensions of human consciousness, that it's a good thing and a bad thing. It's good because it says that what is most human about us really can survive incredibly drastic dilution and, for once, devoid of sexual complications. I can fret about Penny without being unfaithful to my wife. I can care about Eduardo's personal losses even though we could pass one another in a crowd without even the faintest chance of recognition. His electrons are all I need to connect with his experience, his values, his vicissitudes of joy and pain. Bad because the web is so fragile. When it breaks it's like the severing of a spider's spinneret. If Penny isn't here she could be ill, lost, in need, and I would never know it, even though she's become part of my emotional life. No one would even know to contact me if she were in crisis, and not only is there nothing I could do, there's nothing I would ever know needed to be done, and nobody would know to tell me after the fact. I could never prove in a court of law that I actually know Brizoni. Although IP and I both regard him very much like a son.
Is there a point to all this? I don't know. How do you feel about it? I think I'm simply declaring that something new has been added to the human experience, and I'm inclined to take it more seriously than I would have if somebody had posed it to me as a philosophical riddle a few years back. I think that's why I've been moved to share, in this forum, more personal experience than I would ever have contemplated a few years ago. That's why I write about and solicit your input on intimate preferences like movies, music, places, and reminiscences. I want to reinforce that electron stream, buttress it with something like authentic memories and tastes. I don't want to dread what the Comments section says today. I don't want to discover losses by prolonged absences. I thought, years ago when I began this odd experiment, that I was writing in a new forum. Now I find that I'm living in a new forum. Sometimes it's great. Far better than having my work published on paper between covers with no reader response except sales. But sometimes it hurts. Because I've been careless, thoughtless, blundering, or too full of myself.
I wouldn't trade the experience. To my mind, InstaPundit has lost almost the entirety of the blogging experience because he allows no commenters. Hotair regards commenters as a rabble to be roused or appeased in conjunction with some algorithm about traffic. Me, I feel like Spiderman. All my webs are direct touches. Trolls don't come here. I AND you have scared them away. But what is it we have here? An illusion or a new form of intensely human connection? That's what I'm pondering.
Just thought I'd share. Bottom line: you've become part of my life. For good or ill.
P.S. Please don't preach Facebook at me as some kind of solution. Or I'll be forced to do an even more obnoxious post.
. Here's a gem:
Here's my bet. Anyone want to
take it? On who would be thudding their big dim-bulb ass down the
stairs...? Got it?
Come o-o-o-o-o-n, dumbshit, lardass, thunder-thighed, flat-chested
wannabe celebrity fag moll suckbutt. I dare ya. She'll punt you into
the middle of next week's Hollywood Castro rally. Guaranteed.
Or, to put it more tersely:
Who's going to take a bite out of who? (Stay on the line for my
Another high risk post. A bunch of seemingly disparate stuff bouncing
around inside my head. Any chance of pulling it together into an
enlightening discussion? The odds aren't good. But let me give it a
try. Because I'm trying to find my way to some matters that are
important and relevant to all of us. Just bear with me as long as you
can. I'm planning a big (really big) payoff.
Let's do it.
After an incredibly busy Saturday, the old bones just wanted to veg out on Sunday, but television proved a challenging medium yesterday for someone who was tired (!) of the endless rehashing of healthcare headcounts and desperate to avoid the flurry of Oscar-related hype and pile-on programming. (Who wants to see the movie The Oscar? Ever. Ultimate spoiler? Sinatra wins.) Dodging the morning network interview programs, I stumbled on a two-hour documentary called "The Real Werewolf." Here's the thumbnail description:
The show is responsible for my title, because the investigation touched
on all these sensational phenomena. There was a local French monomaniac
who had devoted his entire life to amassing an impressively large
library containing every scrap of evidence about the Beast of Gevaudan.
The investigators were both borderline monomaniacs -- a cryptozoologist
who couldn't look at the evidence without seeing echoes of the
chupacabra (of whose existence he had video proof) and a criminal
profiler who couldn't look at the evidence without seeing an 18th
century Jeffrey Dahmer-esque serial killer. Flummoxed by evidence
neither perspective could entirely explain away, they flirted with a
conspiracy theory involving the Catholic Church's supposed attempt to
intimidate French protestants by fabricating an apocalyptic vision of
divine punishment for anti-Catholic heresy. And ultimately they settled
on a theory in which a monomaniacal psychopath trained an exotic
foreign beast to kill on command so that he could become the hero of
the legend he created and redeem himself from protestant ostracism.
The whole process of arriving at this utterly unprovable conclusion is presented to us as a triumph of reason and science. There's no question that real science was involved. The ballistics testing of the properties of silver bullets fired from rifles was fascinating (far less accurate and lethal than lead bullets) (though there was no attempt whatsoever to reconcile their arguments about rifled barrels with 18th century muskets and their whopping musket balls... just saying). The long postponed smoking gun of a documented taxidermy exhibit at the Paris Museum of Natural History, titled the 'Beast of Gevaudan' and labeled a 'hyena,' was compelling. The self-satisfied and libellous indictment of a man 200+ years dead as a happy compromise of the two investigators, however, was less so. Both investigators were perfectly willing to discount contemporary eyewitness accounts that didn't agree with their assumptions, but they stuck slavishly to the one-shot-at-20-meters-with-a-silver-bullet version of the beast's slaying memorialized in popular legend. One wonders if either gentleman had ever read "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and its hilarious sendup of heroic exaggerations. Or, for that matter, fishermen's tall tales about how they single-handedly subdued the Giant Marlin on the wall. Plus, it's hard to escape the impression that they didn't so much abandon the theory of a formal Catholic conspiracy as let it drop in order to avoid unnecessary controversy. As they strolled into the credits like a latter day Bogart and Claude Rains, it was still possible to believe they suspected their man-beast "werewolf" was a cunning invention of the secularist's Transylvania, namely, the root of all evil known as the Vatican.
Okay. I've said more about this case than I meant to. My apologies. But then there was the Oscar coverage no one can completely avoid. And a very long and interesting article this morning about Global Warming. What if all these things are related? Or what if I can relate them? Wouldn't that be grand? You know it would.
First, what may be a red herring. By the time I learned about the Beast of Gevaudan, I had already partially failed in my attempt to avoid the Oscars. On Fox & Friends, I had the misfortune of hearing Lauren Green's exegesis on the importance of faith in many of the Oscar-nominated movies this year.
Predictably, she praised Blindside.
And Up. Christian and/or
life-affirming and so forth. Then she was asked about Avatar and asserted [paraphrasing
here] a Christian allegory of physical resurrection -- by the maimed
hero -- in a symbolic 'Garden of Eden' setting that I have heard
described as such nowhere else. Which reminded me that Fox News in
general has resisted any
acknowledgment of the conservative opposition to Avatar that has been so thoroughly
documented at Big Hollywood. Steve Doocy expressed great affection for
the movie when he saw it, despite his otherwise habitual rightwing
biases. Born-again Minnesota Republican Gretchen Carlson keeps
repeating she hasn't seen it without specifying why. The dyslexic Brian
Kilmeade... well, who cares? So: this supposedly rightwing cable news
network acts as if there hasn't been a huge reaction against the film
on the grounds that it if it's an allegory, it's an allegory of the
Iraq War, anti-military, anti-Marines, and an anti-American twist on
the experience of 9/11. And
that it's also decidedly anti-Christian in the sense that it expresses
a pantheistic and expressly pagan view of existence which holds that
divinity resides in Nature rather than any transcendant relationship
between God and Man. But devout Catholic, troop-loving Doocy claims he loved the movie and Lauren Green
seems determined to whitewash it for evangelistic fundamentalist
Christians like herself. Interesting. I was wondering, is there some
transcendant but clandestine relationship between News Corp (the parent
company of Fox News) and the financial success of James Cameron's Avatar? Is this the hint of some conspiracy we might all want to
know about? The Nav'i all do have tails, but no one's talking
werewolves. Yet. Stay tuned
Now for Global Warming. It's our bridge to the big (really big) payoff. This morning, The Weekly Standard has the best summary yet written of the meltdown underway in AGW science. The author is Stephen Hayward. Love the cover art.
Needless to say, RTWT (er, Read the Whole Thing). Print it out. Keep it
and distribute hard copies to the deranged lefty acquaintances whom you
still care to associate with for whatever reason. (Also needless to
say. Don't understand the desire to maintain friendships with lunatics
of this sort, but that would be your
Anyhow. There were two passages in the article that I found hyper-relevant. The first describes the process called the "issue attention cycle" laid out by a political scientist named Anthony Downs about 40 years ago:
Here we have mentions of monomania and apocalypse. And perhaps the best
possible demonstration of what a large-scale conspiracy looks like
(clearer by far when you read the whole essay). It's not exactly
secret, it's just parochial (i.e., confined and institutionalized with
allied communities), elitist, and willingly devious. It doesn't rely as
much on subterfuge as it does on a facade of invincible scorn for those
it is determined to mislead and manipulate. It is also morally and
intellectually dishonest, in that it is willing to use the perception
of its its own disinteredness for spectacularly selfish objectives. The
major corrupting influences are the desire for power and the arrogance
which justifies that desire. It's all for our own good. Except for the
ones who are in it for the money. Who know that the only good they're
interested in is their own. Instructive that people of such diverse
motives can work together so effectively without destructive discord.
But not surprising. The desire for money and the desire for power are
not exactly strange bedfellows. They're just the yin and the yang of
the most dangerous human corruptions.
Almost there. Almost to the big enchilada. As I read the Hayward piece, I thought of the best piece Ed Morrissey has ever done at Hotair -- which was about the utter failure of the American media to pursue the collapse of AGW science -- and I also thought of a phenomenon I had noted without understanding at the best science aggregator site I've found as a resource for InstaPunk, GrahamHancock.com.
This is where the werewolves leap back into the picture. Graham Hancock's site has been one of my favorites for years because it provided links to science stories in every field without editorial or predisposing comment. Physics, cosmology, archaeology, anthropology, paleontology, genetics, biology, biochemistry, computer science, linguistics, anomalies, UFOs, psychology, consciousness, religion, and, yes, climate science. No hypothesis articulately stated and defended was too extreme to reference. There's also a separate Forum section devoted to alternative science theories that range from the seriously academic to the mystical and outlandish. (Not that there were no politics. Pyramidologist John Anthony West is the ultimate lefty moron.) At the site as a whole and particularly in the science section, I thought I saw an understanding that monomania was not bad per se, that one could respect learned and determined devotees of virtually any discipline, as long as they made arguments that could be checked, verified, and evaluated on their own terms. I never saw there an advocate for werewolves, but I did see people brave enough to argue scientifically for the existence of Bigfoot, which I am not laughing at btw, although I realize some of you out there will.
But I have noticed that this seemingly all-encompassing aggregator site has not been following the AGW meltdown any better than the American media. I continued to see citations of articles talking about symptoms and consequences of Global Warming even while the AGW establishment was dissolving into a chaos of fury and denial. Is that odd or what?
I'll answer the question for you. It's odd. And it's not. What the AGW advocates don't want anyone to know is that their base (like Obama's extreme left wing core) is not rational at all. It's not scientific at all. It's an alliance of New Age tribes who pick their science the same way they pick their belief systems, based on a worldview that is every bit as irrational as the 'ignoramuses' they look down on. There's no criticism of the AGW belief system because it's one they all -- Wiccans, pyramidologists, Druids, UFOists, psychics, multiverse channellers, and Graham Hancock himself -- all subscribe to. An archaic, pre-Christian, pagan, uh, post-modern view that man is a doomed mistake of some kind requiring an external intervention -- by them or some other brilliant agent -- to prevent his inevitable self-destruction.
They're every bit as hostile to arguments against evolution as they are to skeptics of anthropogenic global warming. Their postulate, the one that binds them all in Mordor, where the shadows lie, is the original sin of man that makes him a blight upon the earth unless he's willing to accept the range, impact, and lifespan of a deer. (Well, we're willing to forgive them cave art, pottery, and weaving, but not reins or arrowheads or scalping unless they're Hopi Indians who assure us they have all the answers and some good psychotropic drugs as well.) What nobody anywhere wants to recognize or accept is that Richard Dawkins is the leading contemporary exponent of original sin. The only twist science and its irrational bastard followers have added in their New Age wisdom is the impossibility of salvation.
But they know better. Because they are better. With their crystals and rituals and covens and vibrations and the other crutches that prop up their scientific certitude about Dawkins and AGW. Why are so many of the alternative science "rebels" so leftwing? The source of their unyielding ivory tower oppression is adamantly, unabashedly leftwing. It's pitiful -- the frenzied duel to the death between Stalinists and Trotskyites.They both know better than everyone else and someone's going to get an icepick in his ear. But at least it won't be at the hands of a Christian prole.
SIGH OF RELIEF. We're here now. To the payoff. Which brings me to the Oscars. All those Marxist egalitarians in their mega-dollar getups. Mrs. CP wanted to see some Red Carpet stuff. She's still pining for Joan Rivers, who knew how to puncture superficiality -- with even greater superficiality. (Oscar Wilde would have loved the Rivers woman.) I saw Matt Damon in his perfect tuxedo. I wondered, Who does he think pays for that tuxedo? While he gets ready to promote the virulently anti-American "Green Zone" and his History Channel subversion project called "The People Speak"? Not the first time I've hated Harvard. (Or the first time I've been cross at the Stones.) The Intertubes had also been full of Tom Hanks, sire of Band of Brothers and the Pacific. Why was he suddenly such a lefty? As I remembered my own WWII father's dying declaration that government paternalism had made a mockery of what he fought for?
I read what the self-proclaimed "most cynical" Hollywood blogger had to say about the Oscar telecast. Nikki Finke hated all the old white men, yearned for last year's "Gay" telecast. Which was just one more thudding bore in the long decline of this annual joke. (Sorry, Nikki. You're a bigger bore than the all old white men put together. Nothing more boring than fag molls.) But she said one thing that struck a note:
[I left in the part about Demi Moore because she seems to have
purchased a new mouth along with everything else. Sad. Awful, really.
Especially the new mouth. Who would do that to her? Can anyone blame me
for thinking about conspiracy theories? Or werewolves? Is Benicio del Toro
the next Oscar winner now that it's established werewolves are in the
replacing vampires (too remindful of menstruation and manipulative
male controlishness) as the new sex symbols in movies? (WWs are so out
of control and excitingly violent, though pitiful, like, well, all heterosexual men.) Yeah. We
agree with Nikki. Bring back the gays. What America wants. The Real
America, inside Hollywood, South Beach, and SoHo.]
Which got me to thinking about conspiracies. Global Warming is actually the best example we have of a truly huge successful conspiracy. It's a shame all the intellectuals who worked so hard on the 9/11 conspiracy, and the New World Order, the Illuminati, the Bilderberger Group, the Tri-Lateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations, etc, didn't have this kind of prototype to reverse-engineer. Because I think I've figured out the real conspiracy, the one that's been at work the longest and has done the most to achieve a world many Americans wouldn't want to live in.
Yes, I have a brand new conspiracy to warn you about: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
Think about it. (More than that: I want a website, videos, hysterical manifestoes and eyewitness reports. You know. CONSPIRACY shit.) They've been around for 82 years. They control one hell of a lot of money. A lot of which they pump into politics. They pretend to be something other than what they are -- I mean, they act like they don't care about politics. Right. Except for all the actors and directors they give awards to. And now think about this -- every time an actor or director gets rich and praised and powerful enough to be even considered for an Oscar, what happens? No matter where they're from or how humble and unlikely their origins, the actors suddenly start becoming leftwing, anti-American loons -- Marlon Brando, Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Susan Sarandon, Jody Foster, James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, Woody Harrelson, Tim Robinson, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Sharon Stone, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, Kate Hudson, and Meryl Streep. And many many more.
Some of them went to Harvard (Matt Damon, for a while), but most of them didn't. The majority of them who aren't Yalies are high school dropouts. When did they get so smart about politics all of a sudden? They didn't. What they got was absorbed into the world's largest and most influential conspiracy of all time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Which, by virtue of its power to contribute to political campaigns and show up smiling on enemy daises around the world, is able to influence everything that happens in the world. To the detriment of America. While we all pay them to do it.
Summing up. We have people who would ordinarily be humble high school graduates. Something turns them into revening beasts leaping at our throats on behalf of some dark destructive energy. Werewolves. Many of them are mildly talented until the Manchurian button is pushed by some faceless power in the Academy and they transform into one-dimensional ideologues obsessed seemingly with destroying their own careers. Monomaniacs. And they spend the rest of their time in service to an organization that has utterly preempted all the excellent work of the Bilderberger Group, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Tri-Lateral Commission to prevent the barbarians of the world from destroying us. Conspiracy.
Which brings us back again, for a final time, to werewolves. Do you think there's only one way for you to get your throat torn out during a full moon? Look at your own cable listings. The Green Channel. (Ed Begley, Jr, needs to be put down. I'm just saying.) All the apocalyptic overkill on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, History International, the Science Channel, and, well, it goes on. The shows about hypothetical Megadisasters (earthquake, tsunami, and hurricane) in every major city and region, the fusillade of shows about killer asteroids and comets, the endless if outdated crank crap about Nostradamus and 2012, the endless permutations about what variation of climate change killed the dinosaurs, the mammoths and the Mayans, and the appalling glut of completely obsolete crap about what global warming is doing to polar bears, arctic glaciers, antarctic icebergs, the Himalayas, and will do to Miami Beach. The downright masochistic exercises in species self-hatred about what will happen to the works of man after we become extinct. And, now that global warming is under attack, what will happen when we run out of oil next year.
STOP. FUCKING STOP IT.
Don't care if you can get Alec Baldwin to narrate your newest apocalyptic "science" series. I know the Academy thinks it knows what it's doing. But "apocalypse fatigue" is here. NEWS FLASH: The overwheling majority of human beings don't think it's curative, enlightening, or entertaining to encounter your barely suppressed delight about how much better off Wisconsin will be without cheeseheads in residence.
One last turn around the title nouns. The conspiracies are all yours, and they're all designed to kill us. The apocalypses are all imagined to excite those of you who hate yourselves and us by projection. The monomaniacs would be you -- the narcissists whose divorcement from reality is so complete you don't think of yourselves when you wish for the annihilation of evil mankind. And the werewolves would be -- uh -- YOU. The ravening animals who delight in preying on your kind because you fancy yourselves something superior: once a year in civilized black tie and for the other 364 days amoral animals who rut and fuck and act out in ways you know your own parents would never have approved of. Because you're too good looking to be held to account.
Got news for you. The world is never going to be conquered by good looking people. There are too many of the rest of us. And a lot of us are smarter than you are. Which means, when the shit hits the fan, you'll be looking for protection from those of us who know how to do all the things you never had to learn.
Who's the werewolf? The thing that can't control its urges and acts on base instinct? Think about it.
How did I do? Did it cohere somehow amazingly at the end?
P.S. Forget all my MonsterQuest opinions. Because there's this from Lloyd: "A reminder that the Starchild and I will be included in a new episode of "MonsterQuest" on the History Channel next Wednesday, March 10, at 9:00 pm eastern time." Watch. That's where I'll be.
UPDATE. The always reliable Lake offered this as a dessert topping:
. Greetings, Instapunk readers. Eduardo here, but sadly
not to discuss comic books this time. CP has been waxing
nostalgic about the Beatles, Stones and the '60s, but what about those
of us who didn't live through the '60s? Beatles fans may disagree, but
music didn't actually die with John Lennon. It evolved, just as
the Beatles were themselves an evolution of what came before. Granted,
there was a decade known as the 1980's that spawned truly abominable,
unclassifiable things like this. It wasn't
all bad, but it was mostly bad, so we won't go there. That being said,
what did we gen-Xers grow up with? Who were our musical icons? What
songs were constantly on our radios and casettes/CDs?
Why, I'm glad you asked! Allow me to present to you, in a somewhat particular order, the top 10 definitive gen-X albums. These are not my personal favorites (in fact I originally hated several of these bands for years), but more my chance to wax nostalgic about what I heard and who defined music while I was growing up. If you're close to my age, then you know all of these, and even if you don't like some of these bands, I guarantee you own at least one song from every album on this list.
[NOTE: I did some peer review with my list (and not in a CRU East Anglia way) and one very good point that was made to me was that I should include either Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg or The Chronic by Dr. Dre. I probably should, because gangsta rap did take off due in large part to gen-Xers buying it. However, I hate rap. Always have. And I guess that's pretty much the only reason I'm leaving rap off the list. To quote Seinfeld, it's not you; it's me.]
10. Guns N' Roses: Appetite for Destruction
Did I say we were going to stay away from the '80s? Well in
presidential style, I apologize for anyone that may have been misled by
promise to think that we were actually going to stay away from the
'80s. But I'm writing this so I can do whatever I want.
So I was not even 10 years old yet when this album came out. Why is it here? First of all, Guns N' Roses were the bridge between '80s metal bands and the '90s grunge stuff. They were the last hurrah of the frizzy hair and the hot pants. I should probably put Use Your Illusion 1 & 2 here since they came out in '91, but I have to list Appetite for Destruction because whenever I think of GNR, I think of this song:
on this album: Welcome to the Jungle
and Paradise City.
Now I used to
hate GNR (not anymore, but still wouldn't call myself a
true fan), but Sweet Child O' Mine has grown on me over the years to
the point that I
will say I genuinely like it. I bet you do, too. Btw: we brushed on how
there have been many sub-par Beatles covers, but if anyone wants to see
a textbook example of how not
to do a cover, check this out *hurl*.
9. Metallica: Black Album
I consider this Metallica's best overall album. A bunch of cool songs on here: Sad But True, Holier Than Thou, Unforgiven, Wherever I May Roam, Through the Never...all good things and all a little bit different than Metallica's '80s stuff. They are one of the few '80s metal bands that managed to survive into the '90s, but after this album they cut off their hair and apparently their testicles with it. Before that, though, they managed to crank out this classic which I know is on your Ipod (if you're 35 and under):
went from that to covering Whiskey in the Jar
and other generally boring things. Maybe Metallica shouldn't be listed
separately from GNR since they are both holdovers from the '80s, but I
think both bands spawned an interest in rock in the early '90s kiddies
influenced the younger groups that came to fame in the '90s, so they
have to both be mentioned.
8. Oasis: (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
"WTF is this doing here?" you may ask. In answer, I reply, "STFU." Sure, I used to hate Oasis like a lot of other people did and still do. But you know what? Somewhere along the line they became my favorite band. Is this unconscionable for someone who just talked about his dislike for the Beatles since Oasis is, essentially, a knock-off of the Beatles? Maybe, but I've got an answer for that: whatever. What was it Woody Allen said? Ah yes: the heart wants what it wants. So it is with Oasis and me. I like their songs, they don't take themselves seriously, and I am endlessly entertained by the antics of Liam & Noel Gallagher (God love you if you make out even half of what they're saying in that clip). Sure, they're nouveau riche, Brit Euro Trash, but they've never billed themselves as anything but. I mean, who else does concerts in windbreakers? Here's a perfect example of what I mean (0:50 in):
Liam starts whining about something, disrupts the song, starts pouting,
then sits down and starts smoking what appears to be a marijuana
cigarette. Notice how nobody really gives a shit and the song arguably
improves, though Noel was sorta phoning it in. I think it's all
hilarious, but then again I've never paid to see them in concert. Of
course, with their track record of canceling shows and Liam throwing
live tantrums, I'm not sure who would.
For those that don't know, Liam had a band that was going nowhere until his brother, Noel, joined up and wrote all the music. The extent of Liam's talents is an edgy singing voice since he does not write music nor play any instruments aside from the tambourine, while Noel can do everything including sing in a range outside of what Liam can do, which is why Noel takes over in parts of several songs. Liam was probably a douche to begin with, but deep down he no doubt developed a deep inferiority complex that sparked the many fights he's had with his brother over the years, including their recent breakup, which is the second or third one they've had.
The most fun this sibling rivalry produced was when Oasis was doing an MTV Unplugged show. Allegedly it was 10 minutes or so until the curtain went up and nobody knew where Liam was. Then he finally stumbled in, drunk as a skunk and incapable of performing. Noel told him to fuck off and did all the vocals himself while Liam heckled him from a balcony in front of the audience and the cameras. The show never aired on MTV.
But enough about their history. This album was the one that launched them to worldwide stardom, and also the one whose success they were never able to match. It was all over the radio, and I don't care what anybody says, there are plenty of guilty pleasure songs here, especially Wonderwall and Don't Look Back in Anger. Am I wrong? Go out and do DLBIA at karaoke sometime. Everybody will be singing along with the chorus, and I mean every-damn-body. Some might be doing it against their will, they might not feel good about it afterward, but they'll still be doing it. And, of course, this album contains their opus (embedding is disabled on this one).
7. Green Day: Dookie
Before Green Day decided to define themselves as America-hating, anti-Bush zealots, they were some sort of silly, imitation punk band with some catchy songs. Everybody in school liked them except for the hard core Nirvana fans. The radio loved them. People went to their concerts, had a blast and came back with a t-shirt. You'd catch yourself humming their songs to yourself while driving or walking around. Then, suddenly, everybody hated them. I'm not sure why, but they were just uncool. Then later they became cool again, though I'm not sure when that was. Probably when they started really hating America and Bush. At any rate, I think half the damn songs on Dookie were played incessantly on the radio, which come to think of it might be a big part of the reason why everybody started hating them. I'm willing to bet this song (embedding disabled) was played the most often.
6. Smashing Pumpkins: Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness
Perhaps nothing epitomizes whiny, angsty gen-Xers like the Smashing Pumpkins. They were my favorite band for years until they became too crappy for me to bear anymore and they also decided to try and latch onto the "hate Bush" atmosphere to sell records (it, uh, didn't work). Most people will tell you their album Siamese Dream was their best, and those people would be right, because it is. However, Mellon Collie was their big one that made everyone notice them.
It's a double album, lots of songs. I'd bet most people have never listened to many of them, but I've listened to every single one many times over. I first bought this album on casette tape for use in my Sony Walkman. At the time I had a job painting a fence; a really, really long fence. This album is what I listened to, over & over again, to pass the time.
What I liked most about it was the diversity of songs the Pumpkins were able to pull off. This album swings from heavy, angry stuff like Tales of a Scorched Earth to the mellow & bouncy slacker ballad 1979 and everything in-between. There are a lot of good songs on here, several of which got lost in the shuffle, but this (embedding disabled) was the album's massive hit. In fact, that video is a pretty good illustration of why I got tired of the Pumpkins and now favor Oasis. What happened in the daily life of a middle class white kid that would make them so angry at the world? Their parents got them a silver car instead of a red car for their 16th birthday? Please. Give me windbreakers any day over the nutty silver pants and Zero shirt Billy Corgan wore for like a year straight after this album came out. So artsy it hurts.
5. Dave Matthews Band: Crash
Okay, if I was being totally objective about this list, here is where I put the rap stuff, and I would have chose one album between GNR & Metallica and put DMB at number 9. Dave Matthews Band is another group that I initially hated, then came to grudgingly accept as not that bad years later, although their more recent stuff is terrible. They were sort of the "musician's" group of the '90s, and by that I mean either musicians liked them because they did more jazzy-type stuff or people felt more musician-esque by proclaiming their love for Dave Matthews; or because they smoked a lot of weed and would get high and listen to DMB. They were a force for a while, though, until people figured out that all their stuff sounded kinda the same and it got boring after a while (as well as the fact that Dave Matthews can't actually sing). Did I mention they haven't had a decent song in about 15 years? Here's the one you couldn't get away from, no matter how hard you tried:
And now we get to the core of the gen-X library: the Seattle grunge.
For the record, Alice In Chains was always my favorite of the grunge
bands. They had an interesting dual-vocal dynamic between Lane Staley
and Jerry Cantrell.
Other than that, what sets them apart in my mind is that after Dirt
mellowed out a great deal for their next two EPs, Jar of Flies and Sap.
Their self-titled album returned to the darker, harder stuff, and then
their unplugged album swung back to mellow. I prefer all of their
albums after Dirt, but this album is the one full of the pure grunge
hits, as well as one of their all-time classics (even though I prefer
unplugged version) written by Cantrell about his dad, a Vietnam vet:
I like the Chili Peppers, but I never liked this particular album as
much as everyone else. Part of the reason is because many of my Chili
Peppers acquisitions have been a-la-carte. I will hear a song, like it,
then get it er - legally from a store or something. Yeah. They have a
unique sound and are from L.A. instead of Seattle, as a friend reminded
me, so they bring something a little different to the table.
they are douche bags, and every so often that spills into their music.
I also have no idea what the fuck lead singer Anthony Kiedis is talking
about in his lyrics 90% of the
time (and he probably doesn't, either) but I get sucked in by the bass
lines and the funky rhythms. This album was out there around the same
time as Metallica's black album and if they were handing out Olympic
medals for grunge pioneers, the Chili Peppers would be on the podium.
What is arguably their most
famous song is below. It's about heroin or something:
The 90s were really the best, weren't they? All those growly,
manly rockers, who knew that life was going absolutely nowhere what
with no more eighties and all. Like every single band Eduardo
nominated. Except he left out the growliest ones, all but Metallica,
who always hated everything from Day One. God, they were smart. Let's
see if we can help him out with more testosterone. Grrrrrrr. Oh, and
what do we need? Even more growliness. And more opaque lyrics. How
Bush? (Gotta warn you -- here in IP land, you gotta have at least two
songs to qualify for -- what'd he call it? -- best album.) Always a
mistake to go beyond what you personally respond to and think you're
representing some populace. Nobody's more arrogant than IP but even we
wouldn't lay ourselves open to that kind of attack...
But Eduardo did. Which is why he gets Bush. Personally, child of the sixties that I am, I love'em. Have no idea what they're talking about. At all. Cool.
I know. Not growly enough. Or maybe not depressing enough. How about
somebody simultaneously darker (growlier) and lighter (hopefullier)?
Well, not that much hopefullier. We didn't have Obama in the awful
Nineties. But we had Creed.
Sorry. I keep forgetting that the youngsters are so much more
sophisticated about their rock and roll music than we were. They didn't
require it be absolutely deadly depressing and enervated and growly as
long as it could be esoterically masochistic and whiny Which is why
always loved Radiohead. Oxbridge boys who make both the Beatles and
Stones look as corporate as Michael Douglas. That's a ticket to ride,
Didn't mean that the way it sounded. Nineties kids were also free of
any and all of the evil capitalistic prejudices the rest of us oldsters
might have had. They
were the first middle class "share the wealth" kids who also grooved to
But then the nineties started to bleed away all the obsolete passions,
didn't they? I'm old, I'm
out of touch, I don't have the slightest f___ing idea what Metallica is
doing, but I can understand Moby:
And then, astonishingly, the nineties ended. What to do? How about keep
up? For example, there was Eminem:
But if you were tired of the sentimentalism of Eminem and Coolio, or
exhausted nonentity of grunge rock, you could throw all caution to the
winds and and try to live up to the old guys (uh, like the ones Dave
Matthews duetted "Wild Horses" with on the Babylon Tour) and their
Yeah, Eduardo. I know itt's hard. It's so much easier to, like, plight
your troth to Gregorian heavy metal, the Metallica way. (Note that I
said a single nasty word about that band you can't stand hearing a
nasty word about. I wouldn't do that/) Never mind that I liked
Guns'n'Roses before you were born and always did enjoy the Red Hot
Chili Peppers because unlike you,
I've always loved vital music. Including rock and roll. Which isn't part of your necessary
Sorry. Do I sound harsh? Not my intention. You wanted to play. But you're just kids. With every opportunity to grow up and learn what's good. In time.
Are we all smiling now? I thought so.
. Many thanks to Brizoni for updating our clueless
readers about what's happening in Washington, DC. Following his
example, I can't wait to share with you all the news today, which is --
with almost no exceptions -- about counting heads on the healthcare
Excitement! Information! Nonsense aplenty! Let's dig in!
Here's inside info about the headcount in the House.
Here's more inside info about the headcount in the House.
Here's even more inside info about the headcount in the House.
And here's some inside inside info about the headcount in the House.
Golly gee. I bet Brizon is shitting himself for having missed such gihugic scoops.
If only the old men at InstaPunk had enough youthful vigor to repeat everybody else's repetitions.
I don't have to be honest. This is satire.
Stones Retrospective Postscript
I was feeling low. It was February. Always had a problem with
February. Depression. You know. Or maybe you don't. For those of us who
suffer from depression, it's real. No energy. No joie de vivre. To put
So I started writing about the Stones. In an historical way, mind. I don't listen to them anymore. Because I'm grown up and grown old. I can be spotlessly objective about their cultural influence.
Which was just my darkest inner self calling out for a healing burst. Writing about the Stones meant listening to the Stones again. Which, it turns out, is what my soul needed.
I apologize if any of my rambling ruffled your feathers. But I'm feeling much better now. Curiously energized. Alert. Engaged. All that stuff.
Which is why I'll now play one of my least favorite Stones songs. It's in the category of too famous. But it's what you know and have come to expect, so here it is. Except for a couple of other cuts I need to play first. Like this one, which highlights Charlie Watts:
And this one, which gives us Keith in his full glory.
And Mick, of course, in all his horny
No end. Really. But, as I promised, I'll give you this, because it's
also what they've done, once again, this time around:
Mission accomplished. I'm running hot. Again. Never ever ever gonna
stop. If that's winning ugly, I'll take it.
P.S. Oh, For you Beatles fans, there's this:
Had it wit yoo.
. So. CP got pissed. Why? Because he's never been a nice guy. I could have told you
that. Mrs. CP is a saint to put up with him. But he's also fair
sometimes. Which is why he gave me permission to reproduce part of an
email exchange he had with Eduardo, who said:
CP responded thus:
CP is as CP always was. Something of a visionary and something of a
prick. As opposed to me. Who was always much more the latter than the
P.S. Did anyone else notice that the "Quick March" didn't include word one about "Paint it Black" and the girl of CP's dreams? I don't know about you, but I'm feeling sort of cheated. I know the guy and haven't ever heard this story. If Brizoni wants to show off his cojones, this is what he should be demanding in his impetuously impetuous way.
UPDATE. More email. Eduardo replied:
I admit it. I like the Stones too. So sue me.