August 23, 2011 - August 16, 2011
talking about innovation as if it's something the
government can do, or command, or fund, or somehow inspire. Really? I'd
propose a test.
Before we spend trillions on green jobs and antimatter-based replacements for fossil fuels, let's see if the government can find a technological solution to the second-worst esthetic blight on the population of the United States.
No, I'm not referring to obesity. Fat is beautiful, as all the fat people keep insisting we must accept for reasons of political correctness. I accept. Fat is beautiful. Fat people seem to think so. Good enough for me. Because I am nothing if not politically correct. A real blight is one so generally accepted as a blight that few people take issue with the assumption that it's some kind of problem which can never be explained away. It's just awfulness incarnate. Like small breasts and no hair. Unforgivable.
Of course, there's nothing to be done about the first of these. Women's determination to insert baseballs or softballs into their chests in the utterly vain belief that it will make them more attractive to the opposite sex, whatever that happens to be today. Never mind that "tit men" are generally the lowest form of life on earth, including plankton. Why don't women know that in the infinitely superior wisdom they always display in commercials and sitcoms? Unless somebody's kidding us on the subject of female wisdom. It's a mystery. Also, an unfolding natural disaster no one seems able to control. Who wants to grapple with a bra populated by rocks? Women who spend thousands on such self-mutilation are beyond all help and can be reached only through pity (which still isn't an official government function, at least not explicitly). It's so obvious that all breast implants are an abomination, there's no accounting for the fever that swipes women's supposed intuition about all matters sexual and replaces it with a grotesque anatomical joke. Not even the government can deal with the delusions of crazy women.
Which leaves us with the Second Worst blight, one that maybe, just maybe, technology can address.
I refer, of course, to the scandal of male pattern baldness and the absurdly idiotic lengths men will go to in pretending they don't suffer from it. (As all men do. Percentage of bald men tracks precisely wih age. 30 percent of thirty year olds are bald. 50 percent of fifty year olds. 70 percent of seventy year olds. Aren't men supposed to be the sex with a knack for math?)
Good God. If you thought I was being hard on women before, you were wrong. Men are absolutely fucking nuts on the subject of head hair. Never mind that some of the admittedly sexiest movie stars are bald -- Sean Connery, Bruce Willis, Jason Stathem, and on and on. No. The rest of us have to be subjected on a daily basis to absurd comb-overs, truly rotten toupees you can't take your eyes off because they're so awful, and the whole gruesome hair-plug thing, which makes the male head look like a cribbage board. It's time for the feds to DO something about this.
I want a government investment in male hair infrastructure. Not to cure baldness. But to offer solutions to the maimed of spirit who can't deal with baldness.
THE CHALLENGE: A convincing toupee that doesn't give a bald fifty-year-old a twenty-year-old head of hair. Hey! Shocking concept, eh?
Novel concepts to be incorporated into the design: As we get older our hair thins. It's simply insulting to everyone to pretend this hasn't happened to you, too. So the new government-innovated toupee will actually let people see your scalp, the way they can see the scalp of every man who does still have hair. You know. Just enough hair to be plausible and convincing. Like all the rest of us older guys. Unless we're Bertrand Russell or Ronald Reagan. But none of you are Bertrand Russell or Ronald Reagan, are you? (And I'm guessing Rick Perry isn't either, but it's still a guess, except for the Bertrand Russell part. And the Ronald Reagan part.)
Proof of concept: Local TV weathermen will cease to look like walking ads for closeout sales on indoor-outdoor carpeting. Elderly Republican congressmen from the midwest won't always look like they're wearing a brimless baseball cap with a spurious ruler-straight part. And Donald Trump might stop looking like the world's oldest gay blade auditioner for the role of the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Proof of success. It will be affordable. Even used car salesmen will be able to stop looking like assholes.
THE EXPECTATION: The government can't and won't fund such research, because it might stop Republicans from being an automatic on-camera laughingstock. Even if they funded it, the results would be even more ludicrous than what we routinely guffaw ourselves sick at in ads for "The Hair Club for Men." And the cost per toupee would be $269,000.
But try it. It's cheaper than turning government loose on wind farms, healthcare, electric cars, and child nutrition.
And it would serve the incredibly valuable purpose of keeping the government out of the business of tits. Which are absolutely our business, not theirs.
. On Instapunk's suggestion, my wife and I started
watching the show
Suits on USA this summer. It's
made for some great summer watching,
lots of fun, and you should check it out. But that's not the main point
of this post.
When IP recommended the show, he pointed out some parallels. The show is about Harvey, a top New York lawyer, the best at what he does. He doesn't lose cases. He's a gunslinger in negotiations, a quick wit in conversations, and a bit of an egomaniac… sound familiar? But the show's protagonist is not Harvey, it's Mike, the kid from the above clip. He's got a photographic memory and a money flow problem, so he lands an associate's position working directly for Harvey under false pretenses. After the setup in the pilot episode, the show has become a pretty standard serial. They work a case or two, beating the odds and outsmarting the competition, while Mike sorts out his personal life and tries to maintain his cover.
A week or two ago, a somewhat different episode appeared. Instead of working a real case, the stable of young Harvard Law associates are put through a mock trial presided over by the firm's managing partner. Mike, whose powers of recollection have earned him notoriety in the firm, is put up against a cutthroat hotshot out to make a name for himself. With the firm's partners acting as the jury, all the associates' career prospects are on the line.
Of course, Mike is put into the unfortunate position of needing to break a witness on the stand… who happens to be the office's beautiful paralegal that he's got the hots for and has also recently betrayed. So he has to decide: win the case and lose a friend or throw it and get back in her good graces. He has to choose between being Harvey, who always does what it takes to win, and being, well, a nice human being. Mike throws it. Later, he goes to Harvey's office, unhappy with the loss but feeling vindicated in his choice. I don't think there's a clip of it out there, so here's a transcript:
Hmm. So if Instapunk is Harvey, who is Mike? Instapunk still has it,
obviously, but all summer he's been looking for someone to step up.
Sure, Mike could be Brizoni -- he's got the writing chops, he's got
something to say, and he's got the reins of the site. Instapunk keeps
goading him because he knows what Brizoni is capable of. But this post
isn't a slam on Brizoni -- he gets enough from Instapunk in front of
and behind the scenes, I'm sure.
I'm aiming this metaphor at myself especially. I thought I could help out this summer, but besides a TV and book recommendation, I haven't been able to pull it off. I keep wrapping myself up with other projects, idling a large amount of time away reading, playing and walking around with my kids, and doing summer vacation things. I haven't been following the large and important political events taking place even as you read this, and I've felt properly chastened by IP's serious warnings. I've basically chosen to be a normal human being, but I've recently recognized that the stakes have been raised.
Like Mike, the fake lawyer, it looks like I haven't decided what kind of person I'm going to be yet. I haven't made the clear decision to be an active and intentional participant in democracy and its future. I've been content to be a lurker, a reader, and an infrequent commenter, but that's not going to win cases… or elections.
I'm aiming this metaphor at you all, too. Maybe it's just me and you're fully invested in actually saving this sinking ship. I know Instapunk has the smartest commenters on the intertubes, but what is it worth if we lose?
. I debated deleting Brizoni's latest post, but I didn't do it
because we're still about freedom of speech here.
But I will sigh. Because the upcoming election is about the United States of America, not Obama's racial animus. I suspect that animus exists, but it's hardly the most important thing. The important thing is removing him from office. He's not behaving like a racist or racialist. He's behaving like a scared Chicago politician running like hell for a reelection he has done nothing to deserve.
His jobs bus tour, for example, never went near a predominantly black community where unemployment is running at close to twice the national average. His fundraising efforts are still focused on Hollywood and other elites that are overwhelmingly white, hypocritically green, and annoyingly pink rather than black. When he panders, it's to La Raza, not African-Americans.
Is he vacationing in Harlem? No. He's rooty-tooting it up at Martha's Vineyard, playground of the bluest blue bloods in America.
What are his colors? White, green, pink, blue, and brown. Why do you think Maxine Waters is so upset?
I was at pains to write some time back that Obama is not actually a black president. He's a dogmatic, inflexible, political ideologue of a president who lacks the experience and the common touch to connect with the American people who have been devastated by his elitist certainty with regard to policy.
Why do I keep talking about "winning"? Because that's what matters. The Republican field is full of loose cannons who are all prone to offensive gaffes on a near daily basis. Why do I keep talking about "The Mission?" Because it doesn't matter if you personally can make excuses for the public flubs of Perry, Bachmann, Palin, Romney, etc, by citing worse outrages by Obama and Biden. Get used to the fact that Republican gaffes matter and Democrat gaffes don't. If we convince ourselves we can win that game, we automatically lose.
Here's a sobering poll about the Tea Partiers. Read every word.
This is our election to lose. And we ARE losing it.
. Just had an interesting discussion with Peter,
otherwise known here as PC. He's a Paulista, committed to the idea that
if we leave the world alone, the world will leave us alone. The seal on
his view is that no government has the right to compel military service
and the risk of death and dismemberment it represents.
Which is a valid philosophical position up to a point.
And a potentially devastating critique of all foreign and domestic military policies of all nations up to the present day, when the world's armies are overwhelmingly volunteer forces. For example, it makes Lincoln into a tyrant and a thug, because he drafted the millions who became part of the 600,000 battlefield deaths of the Civil War.
There are, in reality, only three arguments against Peter's position. If you disagree with any of them, he is right.
Remember, we're talking Peter's worst case here: the compelled, the
drafted. The volunteers of our time, and every time, are way above
that. They fight for others. As, I suspect, do the drafted. Something
the Paulistas know nothing of. Patriotism.
I'm building a logic box here. For Peter. He can argue 1) that are no wars which need to be fought. Which, given Hitler for one, is absurd. He can argue 2) that there is no difference between people, that a woman or a two-year-old child is not worth defending any more than an eighteen year-old-boy who has every capability to defend himself with bullet and bayonet. Good luck with that, especially if the two-year-old is your own daughter. And he can argue 3) that young men who seek every opportunity to demonstrate their invincibility on athletic fields, in motor vehicles, and the rough-and-tumble of daily adolescent life aren't willing to risk their lives for others, only to prove their priapism. It comes down to this for the smart ones, the ones who know the score (according to Paulista scripture): They think they look good in uniforms. They want to show off. They want to be the bravest-looking on the scene.
Peter's just that much too to old to remember the hero impulse. That fleeting feeling you could do it all if anybody asked. Now he's settling into the first signs of middle age. "I don't want to die. Why should anybody risk it?"
So nobody should risk it. Not ever. But think what that would mean.
The 101st Airborne would have caved in the Battle of the Bulge. The RAF would have bailed on saving the U.K. during the Battle of Britain. The Marine Corps would have folded at Iwo Jima. The Rainbow Division would have said "No thanks" at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood.
Would the world be different now? You bet your ass. (Peter would probably be a drafted corporal in somebody's army.)
Grant can't bring himself to spend lives taking Richmond, because who really cares if there's one American Nation, or two, or four?
We can keep going. Wellington decides to "fuck it" at Waterloo. Nelson decides the "Battle of the Nile" is a waste of time. You know. The kids and all.
All that really matters is that eighteen year old boys get to do what they want, because eighteen year old boys are absolutely and completely the tits.
Which is how it seems, I'm sure, if you're thirty looking back on eighteen...
But not to anyone else. I remember how I felt when I was probably going to be drafted. In the top thirty of lottery numbers. I'd been hoping to finish college first. But okay, I thought. So be it. I hope I can do my duty to my nation.
And then nothing happened. I was in the first lottery in which no one was drafted. The war was over.
But I've never stopped believing I owed a duty to my nation. They can still collect at any time. I feel genuinely sorry that so few feel that way today.
far we've sunk. There's word of a feud developing between the
Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain and The Food Network's Paula Deen.
What utter nonsense.
I've watched them both, enjoyed them both, and see real value in both. But now Bourdain has called Deen "the most dangerous woman in America," "she forms alliances with the mosy unholy corporations in America," and her food "sucks."
Let's back up a bit. They're both examples of the American Dream, that improbable breakthrough which transforms also-rans into stars. Paula Deen was a divorced Georgia woman of little education who faced down poverty with her two sons by starting a lunch service that took off and led to restaurants and ultimately television fame. Her business sense is undeniable, and her willingness to share her personal experience along with her recipes has made her beloved. Anthony Bourdain's experience is almost exactly analogous in a completely different sphere of life. He was a flower child who went to Vassar shortly after it became co-ed, dropped out and stumbled for some years, then sought training as a chef and discovered a knack for writing that gave him New Yorker assignments which led to -- where have you heard this before? -- television fame and personal adulation.
So Paula Deen is more cook and Bourdain more chef. Paula is down home and Bourdain is (perhaps ostentatiously) sophisticated and more writer and professional traveller these days than chef. Why on earth should one attack the other?
I have an advantage here that I will use ruthlessly. Although Bourdain has been travelling increasingly far afield of late, more and more pridefully, I might say -- to Cuba, to Vietnam, to other places of Anti-American political bent -- he also spent episodes in the early years of his show in urban U.S. locales whose cuisine was not exactly healthy. I watched him rave over dishes in Cleveland and even his native New York City that were so high in cholesterol the new Bourdain would probably phone the food police, just as he has now apparently done with Paula Deen.
Sad to say, it's all class warfare. which is almost always initiated by those who fancy themselves better by birth. The relentless contempt of the liberal elite for the just folks who dare to tread on the same terrain. Is it possible the Paula Deen TV empire is much much bigger than the Bourdain cult? I'm thinking, YUH!
So, Vassar boy is inherently superior to... well, full stop. Inherently superior, period. Interestingly, though, we know who Paula Deen is married to, who her sons are, and what she really values in life. Why her viewers love her. With Bourdain, what do we really know? He has friends or at least connections in foreign places, his appearance is only gradually dissolving in dissipation (who's going to outlive whom here?), and he may or may not have a wife at home, where he is never is and whom he never mentions. What we can be sure of is that if a Cuban made his cocktail this evening, it's a damned sight better than the cocktail he would have gotten in Miami.
You know. Because.
. Well, not his first gaffe. His first official gaffe. First gaffe as President. I "drew" this a couple weeks after Obama, our intelligent antidote to eight years of Bush bumbling, bumbled his swearing in so bad they had to convene a do-over, just to be sure. Nothing at all happened today that's worthy of my esteemed comment, so enjoy this nugget from the Zoni archives.
Tell me I was wrong.
. It was the top of InstaPunk's negatives list in his Perry point/counterpoint post.
I thought the onus would be on Perry to message these differences. Nope.
He chums the Paulista waters, calling Bernanke and the Fed "almost treasonous." Media pounces. Perry sticks to his guns. Media blinks, unsure what to do when a target doesn't cave the moment they start "tsk"ing. How do they contrive to respond? They contrast him with George W. Bush. For rill. This is from the Washington goddamn Post:
Maybe he's our man after all. Not one full week into his official campaign, and he gets the media to mitigate his biggest weakness for him. The media! He's either the luckiest sumbitch alive, a criminal mastermind... or simply savvy enough to out-media-fu the media itself. Wouldn't that be a hoot and a half to watch.
8/18 UPDATE. By now you've all seen this video.
And you've seen Chris Matthews' "Bull Connor with a smile" gaffe. On Twitter, Allah Pundit lamented "I can't take 14 months of this." You got it backwards, Allah. They're already resorting to slipshod 3rd-rate Michael Moore creative editing slander. This is still week one of the Perry candidacy.
I'll admit. I'm starting to get my hopes up.