Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
December 24, 2012 - December 17, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Posts You Don't Want
to Read, Part Deux

The Stability of Momentum


YEAH. AGAIN. So we had a tiny tantrum in the Comments section. Tiny because it missed the point entirely. Missed the point that all the questions I raised were not solitary hypotheses to be gunned down one by one. They're merely different angles of perspective on the same  bigger question. There is only one given. GIVEN that the United States is now clearly headed for decline and eventual ruin, what does it all mean? Everybody's all fired up about "the kids" right now. Regardless of how bad the news is, don't we still have a responsibility to prepare them as best we can for the lives they will be leading?

I vote yes on that. I have things to say about that. As always, you're free to disagree with me. My perspective is unique. It consists of my life experience, my education, and my ability -- such as it is -- to extrapolate from my unique perspective in a way that provokes others to think. Period.

What goes up must come down. I had hoped America had some more up in her. Apparently I was wrong. Not that I won't be back in combat next election season attempting to forestall doom. But now is not the time for that. All current politics is simply the negotiation of surrender terms to an ascendant new force. Our freshly spun gyroscope, if you will. No point in fretting about the fiscal cliff, etc. All beyond our control. Instead, now is the time when some of us can start thinking in ways that will help our children, our descendants, have more fruitful lives. 

So. Once again. I invite you to think. To ponder. The physics of our universe consists of forces and reactions. How might we understand these better? What's a trend and what's an anomaly? What part might we be playing in a much much larger human experiment than we've ever allowed ourselves to conceive of? Because at the dawn of a new Dark Age, these are questions that matter deeply. To the ones who will have to experience the darkest part of the plunge long after we are gone. Think longer, farther, more deeply, more serenely. More wisely.

Or give it your best shot.

P.S. No. The world didn't come to an end today. It's not going to be that easy. That's the whole point of entropy. It's gradual. It hurts. One small cut, one major body blow, at a time. Until you're a pulverized blob begging for an end that can't come soon enough.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Radio Was Magic.

Who says a band that lasts for 5 minutes can't be good? The A's.

. While you chew on the big topics I've proposed, if you do so chew, I'll go back to something small, which is actually part of the "micro-macro" discussion. I used to think I would never stop watching MTV. Wrong, as it turns out.  Bombardments of rap and the hip-hop lifestyle finished off that illusion. I used to think I would never stop listening to WMMR in Philadelphia. All good things come to an end. T'was ever so.

But now I'm in looking back mode. Todays's rock oldies stations are the bled-out remains of what was once a radio revolution. Rock and roll generated over the top radio personalities -- Wolfman Jack, Cousin Brucie, and hundreds of minor league imitators who shouted between songs to keep the energy going. I remember being driven to school in a station wagon full of kids by a man who listened exclusively to WIBG in Philadelphia. The songs were actually quieter than the DJ. The same guy ultimately became my aged parents' favorite radio personality under a new persona, the last guy who still played Big Band music on AM radio at WPEN. Can't even think of his name now. Oh. Yes I can. Joe Niagara.

This is what is called live writing. I'm not hiding the stumbles in my reminiscence. But yelling was the norm in pop radio. Until WMMR in Philadelphia went FM and changed all the rules. They billed themselves as a "progressive rock radio station," and they had the wit to borrow some of the finesse of what also existed at the time, classical music stations, like WFLN in Philadelphia. They were conversational, low-key but passionate about the music they loved, and they did love the music. They made the universal local. Because they were fans, they got impossible interviews with the big stars in town for a show. For years, WMMR ran a teaser featuring an obviously incoherent Mick Jagger (1981 tour) trying to get the call letters of the station correct and failing. The DJs weren't stars; they were us but with a pass to the inside. Riveting.

They had a sense of what we all wanted. There were Beatles-Stones weekends, meaning nothing but Beatles and Stones. There were Stones A to Z weekends, during which the entire Delaware Valley plotted where they would be when the songs they had to hear would be played as the alphabet moved relentlessly on. And, yes, it did take an entire weekend to play the Stones opus.

Better than that, though, they were tireless promoters of local talent. There were no Springsteen weekends. Their stomping ground was definitively Philadelphia, South Jersey, and Delaware. They were behind bands you've probably never heard of, like the A's above...

...Robert Hazard and the Heroes, who may sound like an imitation of David Byrne but also wrote Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"...

...the Hooters, who did go on to great success...

...and George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers. Sometimes local promotion works.

I lost track of WMMR when I moved to Ohio in the early 1980s. Until I was driving one day from Dayton to Cincinnati and heard a Cincy "progressive rock" station take a call from Philadelphia. It was a voice I knew, one of the first morning shock jocks who didn't yet know about porn star guests, and he was calling to complain about Cincy's disrespect for Philly favorite Peter Gabriel. I felt a tremendous gush of homesickness and a pride in my home station, WMMR.

The sad thing. WMMR is now just an oldies station. All its antics packed away in a box marked old news.The same DJs who were once alive with musical excitement are exhausted, bored, and going through the motions. Howard Stern killed all the morning shifts forever with his invisible strip shows, narrated dildo machines, and splatter chatter. He does it in New York. The end of community can happen anywhere. It results in the annihilation of everywhere.

I don't listen to live music radio anymore. It's grown even older than I am. And there is no more sense of place. Unless you happen onto it by accident. Like this tribute by the Hooters to Robert Hazard, who died of cancer.

What are you dying of, my friends? Hopefully not of alienation from any place or home in your experience.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Posts You Don't
Want to Read

Maybe it IS time we recovered some humility. Look at your own
entitled kids, granted all possible toys, electronics and, insolence.
Their pictures are taken so often, they don't know if they should
on TMZ or suing parents as paparazzi. Life WILL be rough justice.

MORE IN SORROW THAN ANGER. From here on it's not about politics. Can't watch the news, can't listen to talk radio, can't abide Boehner and Pelosi, Reid and McConnell, Matthews and Hannity, or all the blatherskites fatally misdirected by mass murder in Connecticut. No.

It's not that there's nothing left to say. Just that now it has to go deeper. There will be no second American Century. We don't get to save the day, which is a bitter pill. But we can try to understand what happened. Those of you with young children have an opportunity to prepare them properly for the challenges they will face.

Hard to resist the conviction that nobody wants to go deeper. Not talking about the three or seven or ten things that would fix the mess. They no longer exist. Talking about things to think about as we begin tobogganing into oblivion. The only possibly fruitful result is wisdom, maybe illumination. I don't pretend to have answers, but I can pose some of the questions.

Topics we could address here...

Micro vs Macro:A Contradiction Too Far?

Christian Civilization: An Evolutionary Dead End?

Ontogeny Recapitulates Philogeny: a Light or a Lie?

Is History a Terrible, Inevitable Circle? Or a Golden Section?

Is the Universe a Computer Simulation?

Is Civilization Nothing More than the Archaeology of Metaphors?

Does anything matter?

Why Do the Smartest People Always Screw Everything Up?

Why Do the Most Creative People Misunderstand Everything Important?

Why Do the Angriest People Win All the Arguments?

How Can the Worst of Times Turn Out to be the Best of Times?

Why Must History Be Driven Almost Exclusively by Revenge?

As I said: posts you don't want. But if there are one or two you're interested in, let me know.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hillary Guts it out.

She's finally going to get that call.

ALWAYS PRESCIENT. Well. Just when Hillary Clinton, presumptive next president (again), was going to testify before Congress and explain the silly kerfuffle the Right Wing Conspiracy calls Benghazi-Gate, life played the dirtiest of tricks on her:

Washington (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sustained a concussion after becoming dehydrated and fainting, and will no longer testify Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Clinton had been suffering from a stomach virus at the time, according to a statement on Saturday from Philippe Reines, deputy assistant secretary of state.

She is being monitored by doctors and is recovering at home. She was never hospitalized, Reines said.

"At their recommendation, she will continue to work from home next week, staying in regular contact with Department and other officials. She is looking forward to being back in the office soon," Reines said...

Jodi Seth, spokeswoman for Democratic Sen. John Kerry, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said in a statement that Clinton would not testify before that committee Thursday.

"Secretary Clinton's team contacted Senator Kerry this morning to inform them of the Secretary's concussion. Senator Kerry was relieved to hear that the Secretary is on the mend, but he insisted that given her condition, she could not and should not appear on Thursday as previously planned, and that the nation's best interests are served by the report and hearings proceeding as scheduled with senior officials appearing in her place," Seth said.

However, XOFF News has learned there's reason to doubt that Ms. Clinton's concussion is "not severe." Anonymous sources insist that it occurred as a result of the Secretary striking her own head when she saw the file prepared for her use in Benghazi testimony. "Laid herself out flat as Keira Knightley," said one eyewitness on the Secretary's loyal domestic staff. "Ndamukong Suh couldn't have brained her no better. That bitch be HUR -- TIN'."

But XOFF News has also learned that the gamely brave (or is it bravely game?--COPY ED. please fix) Secretary of State will offer her testimony to Congress via telephone, late Friday night, at 3 AM on what will technically be Saturday morning. Because she can't be expected to have completed all five phases of the concussion protocol made famous this year by the NFL, Ms. Clinton will not be under oath. Things can get misremembered during a concussion. Some NFL players, for example, can't even remember how many months they spent in federal prison for torturing dogs. In light of this, the Republican caucus has agreed to take everything the secretary says in her testimony cum grano salis, which is a legal term meaning "under advisement." House Majority Leader John Boehner announced that he was "pleased" with the compromise. "They won't get away with anything hinky under my watch," he said. No determination has yet been made concerning the safety helmet the Secretary's physician has advised her to wear this week and as long as necessary. Some extreme Republicans, disgruntled by their recent abrupt dismissal from congressional committees, speculated that the helmet might permit Ms. Clinton's attorneys to transmit instructions to her during questioning, which is expected to be impolite at times. A spokes-fashionista for the Secretary laughed off such talk as "brainless hetero twaddle." He elaborated by explaining that "Hillary hates the helmet. She thinks it makes her look fat. Or should I say fatter? Unfortunately, we're hoping for the helmet strictly as a way of diverting attention from the Walmart upholstery fabric she's been wearing since she stopped running for president."

Also unfortunately, due to a completely unrelated development, media coverage of the testimony will be extremely limited. Friday night will, by happenstance, be the beta test of a joint venture by CSPAN, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, and the news divisions of ABC, CBS, and NBC to make us feel good during the Kwanzaa season by showing us a holiday fireplace burning merrily.

If all goes well during the beta test, the fireplace video will replace all broadcast news from December 21 through Christmas and New Years, thus eliminating the stress people might feel if they learned of the so-called "fiscal cliff" the nation will be jumping off in the same timeframe. Fox News, though not asked to take part in the joint venture, is nevertheless cooperating with the bipartisan effort to keep Obama's inaugural festivities from being sabotaged by unpleasant controversies; FNS will therefore fill its programming during the time periods in question with 1) its usual Friday night 3 AM broadcast of the hit show Redeye, and 2) during the Kwanzaa season with a marathon rerun of four years of the Mike Huckabee Show. (Sean Hannity btw will be placed in a medically-induced coma until the fiscal cliff nonsense has been ignored away. He doesn't know this yet, so please don't tell him.)

This ecumenical spirit also includes the Washington Post and the New York Times, who will be participating in the beta test their own way. WAPO plans on that day to run a full-page picture of the Kwanzaa fireplace on page A-3, which is, coincidentally, the same page on which they would normally cover the details of a Secretary of State testifying before Congress on an intensely controversial matter of national security. The NYT will be running the same photo on page A-13, which is the page on which they would normally run a story about a trumped up Republican witch hunt that happens to occur in the United States Congress.

Thus, it appears the public won't learn much from Hillary Clinton's testimony. But you're too busy buying holiday crap on the internet anyway, aren't you?

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