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May 22, 2012 - May 15, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Open Thread 3
.


STILL WAITING. We're conservatives. We care about people, right? And Instapunk is a community, right? Or did I get that wrong? So yesterday, we received this comment from our prodigal Helk:

On Saturday I got robbed at gunpoint. I rode my bike down to the grocery store to get some ice cream, you see. The artist lady had some money and I had the energy to ride a bike and thus I went to the store to get some ice cream.

I am mentally handicapped. I am functionally retarded. Seriously, I am. But I know how to make people laugh and I know how to lift heavy things and I can do a bunch of tasks for people and they usually agree that I do a good job. For a retarded person.

Well, I am not mentally handicapped when it comes to reading environments due to the fact that retarded people are everybody's mark. I am a mark, all the time. It is written on my face (when my face is visible).

And that might be part of the problem. You see, sometimes people think I need a haircut. They say, "Jeff, you look crazy man. Your clothes are all torn up, you look homeless." I explain that a person who is intelligent about being functionally retarded wants to look crazy and homeless, because intelligent-looking (smart looking) people are marks. Marks for scorn, ridicule, and robbery.

But I let them (those who argue for straight edges) get me when my guard was down - and they gave me a military haircut. And then on the night of the ice cream ride (last Saturday night) I went out the door looking like some kind of country-clubber. I was wearing nice pressed khaki shorts and a pastel blue button up shirt. All I needed was a sweater tied around my neck. But instead I got a gun to my chest.

"This is a motherfuckin' robbery."

OK. I mean. Fuck. I bought some M&M's and I was going to eat them on the ride home. Also, you see, I had a nice bike, but I gave it away to the female artist. She had and now continues to have a crappy mountain bike.

Well, as a result of the seat being lowered to her height requirement I decided to push the bike up one particularly steep hill. Just one particular hill. Eating the M&M's. And I forgot what I was dressed like.

"Give me all your money."

"I don't have any money, man."

"I said give me all your money."

"I *don't have* any money." I handed over my bike.

He took it. His eyes lit up because I communicated to him that he had won. That I had no desire to chase him, or report him. In fact, I hoped to help him. I hope things get better for him.

"Denial is more than a river in Egypt!" somebody once said to me. I was too pathetic to know what The Nile was. I still don't really know. I mean, river? Is that what it is? A rocky slit in the Earth's crust that fills with water that falls from the sky? That makes sense, right? Water, in the sky, just falling down. Well, I am sorry but ?I am functionally retarded and that makes very little sense to me. Heat, the Sun, water molecules, gaseous envelope inside a magnetic shield; those are fictions, right? No? See, I am stupid and dumb. It is true that water falls from the sky. And smart-looking people, who are also marks, are explaining everything in terms that work for themselves and everybody else.

Did I ever mention my predicament to you? It involves my daughter, an x-wife, and a man who threatened to kill my daughter if I ever tried to contact her. Have I ever explained any of that to you? Of course not. But as a sidebar, let me say it has had something to do with how my lifestyle has evolved.

Dreadly. But she is doing well. She has developed and is, in effect, far better off (in the material sense) than I am. Her step-father, who has not and will not talk to me, will not and has not talked to me. Except to say that if I try to contact her that she would be killed.

If they were hillbilly's I would of course have made adjustments. But he is no hillbilly. At all. And that is what made his threat seem so very real.

Well, at any rate, with my daughter now missing and my x-wife in London, what can I possibly do?

Pray. Of course. God exists, even if invisibly. So I will pray hard and repent for my fell ways.

I tried to call him two, maybe three times. No answer. What did you do?

We're supposed to care about one another, aren't we?

I have his phone number and will keep calling. What will you do or say?

Your thread.

P.S. Helk. Call me.





Open Thread 2


STILL WAITING
. For the ones who are waiting and hoping for it all to fall apart. Share your vision. You sit home and chuckle when Obama is reelected, because there's no difference between Obama and Romney, and then what? Which map is your favorite? This one?



This one?



Or this one.



Be convincing. By which I mean convincing me you didn't get it all from the movies:









Unless it's really just about this.

Be winning, entertaining, and not completely braindead. Pun intended.

Your thread.





Open Thread 4


STILL WAITING. This is great. Tick, tick, tick. I don't have to have any ideas. Tick, tick, tick. I can just wait for you to have some.

Truth is, I don't mind having ideas. I do it all the time. Thing is, if it's all done, there's no point in me having ideas, no point in you being here, and no point in doing anything but watching the Doomsday Clock. Has this ever occurred to the resolute Cassandras amongst you? Tick, tick, tick.

Your thread.





Open Thread 5


STILL WAITING. Prescription? Comedy. The missus, who knows men better than men know themselves, prescribed "Porky's" or anything by Bill Murray. She would have been right except for this, the ultimate, the funniest movie ever made.

If you  can't laugh at Animal House, you may as well crawl into your grave and die.

Discuss.

Your thread.




Monday, May 21, 2012


Open Thread 1

Gingrich dictating terms. Skip to 5:40 in and go to 10:10.
When  you've learned how to laugh again, let me know. ha.

WIKIHOW. Oops. That's not it. (uh, Brizoni's attempt at humor failed completely. Not funny. Also not relevant. Watergate wasn't about a legalistic fine point. It was about a cover-up. Fancy constitutional talk doesn't cover up a cover-up.)

How about some laughs? Have it in you? I think not. You're so sad. All of you.


Are you cute? Up to a point. But old Bassets wander and go missing....

Your thread.




Friday, May 18, 2012


Nothing to Speak of

ALL THE SMART PEOPLE ARE CERTAIN
. Nobody intelligent is a Birther. Let's get that out there right away. Breitbart broke the story of an Obama bio produced by his literary agent that claimed he was born in Kenya. But even before they got to their own lede, they announced -- actually proclaimed -- that Obama was born in Hawaii. At the local level, Philly talk show host Dom Giordano regretted the Breitbart scoop and proclaimed -- actually ridiculed -- Birthers as people who live in their mothers' basements. Several times. In the first 10 minutes of his show.

Well, nobody here is a Birther either. I just wanted to say that so you all know. Born. In. Hawaii. (Damn. I think there's something wrong with the carriage return on my keyboard. Bear with me. I'll try to get it fixed ASAP.)

But doesn't the Breitbart story change the status of Birthers just a little? One of the big questions about Birthers was why and how they got this bit in their teeth in the first place. A few ambiguities in Hawaiian newspapers almost fifty years ago. Which leads easily to the suspicion that they started with a political inference -- that Obama seems not quite American -- and followed the history back through such facts as that Obama's father was Kenyan and sought to nail down their antipathy with a contrived and definitive prime cause: he wasn't even born here. Even the kindest interpretation of this kind of backward logic can't help but suggest some level of racism as a motive.

Why every argument put forward by the Birthers was a priori dismissible as the "fruit of the poisoned tree." Whatever started their conspiratorial quest was illegitimate; therefore, nothing that comes from it can be legitimate. Not his mother's odd history. Not the curious lack of cooperation in supplying basic records by the State of Hawaii. Not the contradictory recollections of family in the U.S. and Africa. Not the confusing name changes associated with the absent father and the mother's second, muslim husband. It's all decades in the past, they didn't keep good records in the ancient pre-technological long ago of the early 1960s, and it's hardly the biggest Obama mystery anyway, because what smart people are concerned about is the missing college applications, test scores, transcripts, and Obama legal writings. If the Birthers had any brains, that's what they'd be fired up about.

Unless the initial suspicion was somehow indirectly caused by Obama himself. If the first confusion about where Obama was born was initiated by the man himself, then the prime cause of Birtherism might not be a manifestation of overt or subliminal racism and invented chains of conspiracy theory but derived from the subject of their suspicion himself. The Breitbart story's most notable fact is that the bio printed in the literary agent's catalogue of writers persisted from 1991 to 2007, through multiple updates involving the titles of books he actually did publish. Sixteen years of one signal error repeated without correction. The agency dutifully fell on the sword when it belatedly responded to Breitbart inquiries, uh, after the story had already been published. Their fault. Lack of fact-checking. For sixteen years. Obama had nothing to do with it. But where did they get the idea initially that Obama had been born in Kenya? From the promising author fairy who helps them write all such bios?

The truth is, this changes everything. It drives the story away from the question of why Birthers have been so monomaniacally obsessed and toward Obama himself. In some way he contributed to the ambiguity about his place of birth, at minimum by not doing anything to correct an error he must have seen. Don't tell me he didn't read and reread a literary agent's brochure touting him, an ambitious would-be published writer, as an author of a book he hadn't even written yet (and subsequently didn't write at all). If he didn't provide the false information, he didn't do anything to correct it either. He may have seen it as a positive that would enhance his career.

What of the Birthers now? Did they stumble onto the real reason why all of Obama's academic records are sealed? Is there a possibility that he claimed, falsely or not, that he was a foreign national in his applications to Occidental College, Columbia, and Harvard Law School? Was he committing the same kind of fraud that landed Cherokee princess Elizabeth Warren at Harvard? Is that why we can't see any of the academic records of a man whose so-called friends and colleagues describe him as an excellent student?

Alternatively, it's (unthinkably, to be sure) possible that the Birthers are right. I've followed, because I'm relentless in this way, the continuing arguments put forward by Birthers about the Hawaiian birth certificate that was ultimately released. If you dispense with the "fruit of the poisoned tree" dismissal, they have some powerful objections. The certificate is not a reproduction of a physical 1960s record. It's a digital file, akin to a PhotoShop, with layers and suspect grafted content, and almost certainly not any faithful representation of an authentic document.

Meaning, there is also the possibility that Obama was foreign born, used it to obtain entrance to the best schools in the United States, then buried the truth when it became an obstacle to becoming president of the United States.

One more thing. Most conspiracy theories collapse of their own weight. Too many people have to be involved and in the know to make them plausible. This one doesn't. All it requires is a whole bunch of people who just didn't want to know the truth and were willing to go along with all the lies of omission needed to make the questions go away.

None of this will come up. Nobody -- not even Breitbart -- has the guts to bring up all the salient questions. I understand why. When the libs turn the truth into a lie, we're checkmated. Why we couldn't nominate Sarah Palin. I do understand. My only point? It's time to let the Birthers off the hook. Maybe not all of them live in their mothers' basements. Is that too much to concede? 

I'm sorry if you were hoping for something more insightful today. But it's Friday and the weekend's coming. Only a real conspiracy nut would search this post for something more than the simple CYA statement it is. Good luck with that, you basement trolls.

Enjoy your weekend.





Donna Summer.
She could sing.

Something about her soul...

SHE WORKED HARD. Joining the choir. I don't think disco was really her thing. I think music was. So I'll pay tribute in my own way. In case she doesn't find Mozart fitting. here are two Christian chorales:



And this one.



She was a good woman. And as my wife said, a fighter. Far from a mere Disco Queen. I had a dream last night of angels. Why, I don't know. But it's possible I saw her singing.

She was hot.


Turn up the volume. A lot.

Apologies. I didn't mean to do that. Sorry. It just slipped out. Sorry.

Donna Summer was a huge talent. And I'll miss her. Enough said.




Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Indicators of God III


PLUGGING AWAY AGAINST THE SMART GUYS. When you think about it, the rationalists, the atheists, have an insurmountable task. Their baseline position when all is said and done is that nothing matters. There is no guiding hand. No matter how much things might seem to have meaning, they really don't. We can impute meaning, they argue, and believe it to the point of affirming principles which should govern us because ethics are good even if there's no real reason we should have them. 

The problem is, people see meaning in all kinds of things. In fact, meaning is essential to the history of civilization, the brain is wired to perceive meaning, and it doesn't take a Ph.D to infer that if everything's just some big accident, there's not much point in going to work tomorrow, not shooting your annoying neighbor, raising children, or sacrificing anything for future generations. Why Europe is dying, if you want to get specific about it, and why Islam and its Sharia imperative are slowly taking them over. Why God can't be an asshole if you value civilization and freedom. Society needs a benevolent God even if smart people don't.

Reason would therefore tell us that a kindly, personal God is necessary to the human race, and that the attempt to destroy, deny, or eliminate God entirely or recast him as something so impersonal as the world's smartest MIT professor is anti-rational. It subverts human survival. So what's the evolutionary advantage of warring against God? None. All societies that have ruled God out of existence have been murderous charnel houses. Fact.

Those of us who are not entirely rational and superior to the idea of a Big Guy in the Sky have learned to look for God in the details. Which makes us fools, to be sure. But it's a kind of folly that makes the rationalists look utterly dreary.Their lack of imagination causes the mind to fail at the challenge of of imagining so much lack of imagination.

Thanks to the Internet, most of us know part of the story of Susan Boyle. She showed up on the stage of Britain's Got Talent and stirred everyone. Few know she didn't actually win the competition. Fewer know that she suffered brain damage at birth and was regarded in her Scottish hometown as a kook, a useless eccentric.

Until she was plucked from obscurity to become a worldwide star. An accident? Surely. But also a global event. It's easy to jeer at the idea of sainthood. Catholics have draped the concept in so much religious mumbo-jumbo that they make life easy for skeptics. They insist on documented miracles. Vatican religious forensics are as rigorous as they are silly.

I propose Susan Boyle as a nondenominational saint, as an indicator of God. She came from anonymity to become a record-breaking recording star. This plain, middle-aged, solitary woman is the only person to have to have Number One records in the U.K. and the U.S. for two years running since the Beatles. And it has been far from easy for her. She doesn't want stardom, vast riches, or constant media attentiom. She's as vulnerable as your shyest daughter. Except that she has this gift which propelled her to step out from the shadows in a display of courage that is almost unthinkable.


The whole documentary, kids. Watch it. If you don't I'll know when you start sniping.

Sudden celebrity almost wrecked her. But she regained her footing, and she hasn't moved away from her Scottish hometown, she doesn't spend the big money she's making now, and she's still the person who set foot on that mass media stage -- an innocent.

Which is the most interesting part. The intransigent machinery of show busines has somehow bent itself around her to accommodate the uniqueness of her innocence. Simon Cowell feels responsible for her well being. He agonizes about his actions anent her. Her producer concedes that he records her differently from other singers; she has to feel the song or she's no good. Her manager is walking a tightrope -- expose her to a 100,000 person audience in China to innure her against performance anxiety or subject her to the smaller and more savage audience of critics in the west.

Boyle herself is a chirpy reminder that she doesn't actually care about the show biz angle. She's fine in China. She still brews her own tea in her bleak Scottish town. She remains the innocent, slightly risque, boldly unstarlike, and reduced to tears at a moment's notice every day. Why she sings like she has a splinter of God embedded in her heart.


The only other good rendition I've heard.


Okay. Not exactly neutral on this one.


It was her DREAM. To be like Elaine Page. Damn!


Love.

Sometimes the finger of the divine reaches down to touch us. Every single soul is important and lovely in some way. We are reminded of this many times in our lives, but sometimes with a smack in the face. Who is smarter? The ones who shrug a smack off as a momentary chill or those of us who stop in our tracks and say, "God Damn"?

God Damn.




Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Whirlaway

Remind you of anybody?

HISTORY. THE USELESS NECESSITY. Couple points. One serious, the other not so.

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries that run at odd hours but are also available on demand. Whirlaway is one of these. Definitely worth seeing. As I told my wife (who loves horses but shies from horse races and horse movies because they usually end sadly), Whirlaway lived to be fifteen and is a grand story of animal personality. His early trainers called him Whirlie and said he craved attention. As a racehorse, he was, uh, difficult. He was a kind of reluctant Secretariat, a superhorse who just didn't like to be in the middle of a bunch of other running horses. He was a three-year-old in 1941 -- a very traumatic year in the U.S. -- and the oddsmakers had a hell of a time with him.

Everyone knew he was blindingly fast. Problem was, he preferred to run well away from the other horses. As a two year old and early in his three year old season, he kept veering wide, committing himself to running much longer distances than other horses to reach the finish line. He still won. But he lost his last two races before the Kentucky Derby because his jockey was a talented youngster who, according to the ESPN film, Whirlaway played like a veteran against a gullible rookie. So the owner flexed his muscles and brought in the top training and jockey talent available, who were collectively able to trick Whirlaway into running with the (ugh) other horses. He lagged then made his trademark rush to the finish. His Derby record stood for 32 years until it was broken in 1973 by guess who. Then came the Preakness. Whirlaway hit the back straight ten lengths behind the last horse in the pack. He won by six lengths going away. At the Belmont, only three horses entered against him. The jockeys conspired to slow the race down, given that Whirlaway always wanted to loaf behind the pack, to preserve their strength for the final stretch. Jockey Eddy Arcaro saw through it, took the lead and ran away with it. Again, sound familiar?

I don't know about you, but I find his tale entrancing. A goofy superhorse.

Unlike Secretariat he ran for another year after his Triple Crown win, and in 1942 he was an inspiration to U.S. troops overseas who could listen on the radio and hear the change in the announcer's voice when he intoned, "And here comes Whirlaway!" He came to be known as Mr. Longtail because his owner didn't believe in trimming horsetails at all, convinced that other horses didn't like those final feathers tickling their noses as they attempted the chase.



Now for the not so serious part. Hollywood loves repeating past successes. Sea Biscuit and Secretariat have earned a ton of money, but you just can't do Sea Biscuit 2 or Son of Secretariat. A Whirlaway movie is the obvious answer. Too bad nobody thought of it in time to boost Obama's reelection chances. Whirlaway's owner, a woman-loving CEO (not THAT way: he manufactured the best baking powder in the land) named Warren Wright, wore pincenez a la FDR and could be played by Edward Herrmann. The brawling trainer could be played by a bloated boozed up Alec Baldwin (if he could act against type for just one movie), and Eddy Arcaro by Sean Penn. Mark Wahlberg, or some other lefty Hollywood dwarf. Tom Cruise would be best, but we understand he still maintains he's tall. And maybe the talented young jockey who couldn't quite dominate Mr. Longtail might be played by Lance Bass or Neil Harris or Daniel Radcliffe. The movie could be a kind of "Occupy the Great Depression" or "Forward WWII with the 99 Percent" kind of thing, with a bit of contemporary flounce arising from the longtail meme.

Alternatively, maybe you've noticed the Whirlaway story is short on female characters. Maybe Hollywood (and only Hollywood) would see the box office potential of an all-gay approach, with David Hyde-Pierce as the pincenez-ed owner, Harvey Fierstein as the ball-busting trainer, and Clay Aiken as Eddy Arcaro. With Whirlaway (Melissa Etheridge) just killer with that silky tail whooshing around that ample ass after the run for the roses...


Whirlaway couldn't say it better. Fling those tail feathers you beast.

Sorry. I warned you I was grumpy.

But it's still a great story. And it would make a great movie. Even if Whirlaway wasn't a Lesbian but the stud who saved French thoroughbred stock after the war. Details. They can be adjusted. As we've seen.

Hope I haven't ruined it for you.

P.S. On the other hand, what does it take to be a champion racehorse siring other champion racehorses? As it happens, there's an actual intelligent essay on the subject from Bill Whittle. But forget that. Who needs intelligent essays? I'm thinking, contrary to what I said above, Whirlaway could have and would have said it better. Have you ever thought about being being retired "to stud"? Think about it. You'd have to have a penchant, a bent of some sort. Probably not gay. Or beta male. Or even metrosexual. You'd probably have to be a f***ing rock star.



Like Secretariat. But unlike Secretariat, Whirlaway would wear a funny hat. Maybe like this one.



Sad really. Sappho always loses when it comes to the super alphas, funny hats or not. So sad. Why their divorce rate is 150 percent higher than, uh, the gay divorce rate. Which is 50 percent higher than... oh, you don't want to hear this.

And neither do I. Some things aren't gay things but alpha things. Why they're so bitter.




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