Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
March 23, 2013 - March 16, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March Madness

THE SCOPE OF MY INTEREST. Yeah, I know it's here. Harvard's even in it, all the way till about 10 pm EST tonight. But who has the time to pontificate knowledgeably about brackets? I mean, you'd have to spend hours and hours (and hours) watching college basketball games in a dozen or more conferences, learning the players, the teams and their tendencies, records, and seasonal momentum. It's a staggering investment of time, and I just don't have the slack in my schedule to allow for it.

Why I'm happy to delegate it to someone who obviously does have all the free time necessary, with nothing better to do.

Over to you, Mr. President.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Foreword?

Ah yes. Instapunk on the Brits. A goood long lashing. Yum yum.

THE BOOK OF BLOODY BRITS. Instapunk has also done a lot of posts on the Brits and some of their Commonwealth factotums, including Canada and Australia. We haven't been especially kind except with regard to their movie and other dramatic efforts. The sum of those posts is another book. Commenters from the kingdom and its vassals haven't liked what we had to say. Why all the negative rhetoric?

That would be the job of a foreword. An opportunity to mention a few facts that don't normally come up when one is dealing topically with the scorn of individual Commonwealth Brits who look down absolutely on us poor benighted, superstitious, ignorant, rapacious, war-mongering, racist buggers.

Which is all a crock. We are, and always have been, the good ones who left the bad ones behind in our search for freedom and opportunity. They can pretend that they got somehow more civilized in the intervening centuries, but they didn't. They're still who they have always been, only without the spine.

No end of the ways they lecture and sneer at us. But they've always been, above all else, snobs. Everybody who wasn't British was a "wog." Guess what. We're wogs to them too. A mixed race rabble they're inherently superior to.

Oops. Did I just suggest the enlightened Labourite Brits are classist and racist? Yup. I did. Note: home of some of the greatest rationalists who ever lived. Did it improve their moral character? No.

In hindsight, they did what Brizoni wants us to do now. Transcend the superstitious diktats of Christianity by subordinating religion, safely eviscerated of theology, to the authority of an educated elite. Whose science understood better than the stupid people what was necessary for ineluctable progress.

Apart from their literature, which they give every sign of not understanding at all, they have earned absolutely no right to lecture anyone on earth about matters moral and ethical. We Americans carried away the best of what their writers and philosophers had to say and made impossible ideas real. The ones left behind continued in a fantasy of unscrupulous domination and exploitation that looks less bad than the Nazis because it was so typically English -- slow, polite, and deadly instead of sudden, ugly, and deadly.

Believe it or not, they're STILL the English we fought a war to free ourselves from. Think about the Revolution. Am I the only one who never quite believed that a third of the colonial population risked everything because of an excise tax on tea?!!! Sure, they're smart, but isn't there just something off about them?

Of course, there is. And we can see it right now, even as our own form of government flirts with becoming more and more like theirs. The Brits ruled India for more than a hundred years. (Ruled is a mild word. It's called the "Raj" for God's sake.) India is filled with smart people, one of the oldest advanced civilizations in history and presently one of the fastest growing economies on earth. After all that time, what do you suppose is the current Indian population in the U.K.? Bear in mind that throughout the Raj, Indian population was always at least ten times the population of Britain, and it's more like twenty times today.

Oh, guess. Britain has first rate universities, a prosperous high-tech industrial sector in need of the mathematically inclined and gifted, and a devotedly humble post-colonial spirit of making up for historical wrongs that it's so anxious to lord over, say, the United States. One can only imagine the outreach that has occurred to its former colony in the years since Indian independence.

Give up? The Indian population of the U.K. Is about four percent. In fact, the native white population of the U.K. Is 92 percent, which also allows for a black population of 2 percent (despite all those African colonies back in the day) and 2 percent of other assorted wogs, including Muslims. Meanwhile, the minority representation in the Parliament's House of Commons stands at a whopping 3.3 percent of 650 seats. Which is just over a third of the 8 percent minorities represented in the population. Most of those, by the way, are held by people of Indian descent. Something like the Jews, maybe. You just can't hold them down, even if they can't be admitted to your clubs.

Compare this to the backward and racist U.S. There are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Of these 44 are currently occupied by African-Americans, who represent 12.5 percent of our population. A whole bunch more are Hispanic. Our minorities are about 75 percent represented versus their population.

[I assure you you don't want to see how much better Canada and Australia are doing. Despite their anti-American sanctimony, they don't even publish such figures. Canadians have few black people and barely any "aboriginals." What happened to them all? Aussies are still counting up aboriginal massacres and noting when some one of them got elected to a local assembly. Not kidding.]

I'm reminded of the supercilious British posturing about the fact that they outlawed slavery long before we did. Big check mark in the Brit box. Except it depends on what you mean by "long." They, the most powerful and technologically and educationally advanced nation on earth, outlawed slavery in 1833. A full 29 years before their formerly subjugated American colony did. (Think 1984 vs. today. Then think 5,000 years of recorded history. Huge moral advantage, eh, for a nation that never let wogs in in the first place...)

Speaking of which, the Americans had an unpleasant southern problem the Brits like to torture us about. They think we still have it. Ironies abound. Always invisible to the idiots who make the world up to please themselves. Americans solved the part of the southern problem that could be solved by violence in the 1860s. The problem that persisted got worked out mostly nonviolently within a hundred years. The Brits had an "Irish Problem" for how long? And their efforts at resolution included military violence and suppression until the fucking 1990s? Resolved only with the help of an, uh, American president? Please.

Not the end of the ironies. To this day, the American south is closer to the Brits in terms of cultural phenomena than anything up north. The south is home to aristocratic writers and poets, as well as those who farm the land for, well, the landowners. You know, squires and earls and dukes and such. Language is an indicator. In Britain, there is one more or less unified aristocratic accent, except that Oxford boys have to stutter to prove they didn't go to Yale, I mean Cambridge. Same holds true in the south. There is one aristocratic southern accent, which you'll hear in graduates from UVA, Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt, and Duke. Can't tell where they're from. They're the quality. In the rest of the south the lowly regional accents vary so much you sometimes need to turn on the captions at Comcast, the way you always have to with BBC programs set outside Miss Marple's drawing room. Yes, they can act and they can write little entertainments, but only because they have learned one lesson we can't seem to; keep the entertainers in entertainment, and don't ever pretend they're as big as the people they play on the screen. But I guess that's a by-product of realizing you're all really really small. After all.

One of only many reasons why the Brits shouldn't ever try to condescend to us. The biggest one is the question of the Constitution. They keep telling us there's a British Constitution too. But that's just a convenient generalization, meaning it's utterly untrue.

Yes, their system of laws is the ancestor of our own, but ours was a vast improvement. There is no written British Constitution. It exists only metaphorically as the sum total of all British judicial rulings since the Magna Carta. Millions of pages of arguable legal points. And they have all been argued into the ground. Why Britain is now the most surveilled society in the so-called free western world, why they are at this moment considering laws designed to muzzle the free press, and why after all these centuries they have so completely failed to overturn class hierarchies that they imagine a dictatorial political class is somehow different from a set of twit feudal lords-in-charge without the slightest qualifications to do anything but sputter. Or should that be stutter?

Note that I haven't mentioned the Scots. They rarely do, either.

Imagine a handful of 19th century power lords waging continual war on New England and Virginia until all the vital resources of the country are conceded, automatically and in perpetuity, to be located in DC. What Brit history has wrought. There's London. And then there's the nowhere of everywhere else.

They're proud of themselves. They've liberated women. 25 percent of MPs are women, compared to 18 percent of the U.S. Congress. On the other hand, all Brit women over the age of 40 are actually men, or what passes for men in the U.K. Hollow victory, what? They've spent the last quarter century vilifying the one female prime minister who kept them from subsiding to the level Greece and Spain occupy today. What's that about? Oh yes. They hate women. Or they hate the fact that they now need their women to be men.

Want more? Look up how many Brit music superstars are not pasty white. The British Invasion was all white and killed Motown. Before that, Brit Big Band was Ted Heath and all white. If you're content with that, they're in love with that. Aggrieved about racial injustice? Burn your Beatles records.( At least, Keith Richards stood there and let Chuck Berry punch him in the face.) I know the Brit conceit is that they are the sophisticated Greeks to America's rude Rome, but in the wrestlings of civilizations, I propose that there can be reversals. How many times have they been the imitators? Is there a Brit precursor of the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Flatiron Building? No. It's been all us for a long long time.

Here's the truth they sense but can't tolerate. The source of their invective and bile. Britain is The Rome that gave birth to America's Golden Age of Greece. Everything they can do we have done better.

Think about it.

After this should come my long list of posts. Then, probably, an afterword.

Unless nobody cares.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another Insta-Book?

The Devil

The software assures me you can see this clip.
Even if you have to click on over to YouTube.

VINNIE.42.1-11. Did some compiling. Lots of IP entries about the Rolling Stones, who should always have been called Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. I don't even care if this one is book-length. It's so important it's not negotiable.

What catalyzes this particular effort? The clip above. Never saw it before. But it says everything, and poses questions about everything.  It comes from a Stones-sponsored TV concert called the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Conventional wisdom was that it was long unreleased because Jagger didn't like the Stones performance. Though one key critic disagreed:

In a 1996 review, Janet Maslin called the film an "uneven but ripely nostalgic show"; although "rumor had it that the Stones... thought they looked tired and felt upstaged by the high-energy Who", "it hardly looks that way as Mick Jagger's fabulous performance nearly turns this into a one-man show."[1] She called Jethro Tull's performance a "shaky start" by "arguably the most unbearable band of their day", said The Who "turn up early and stop traffic, delivering a fiery [performance]", and notes Yoko Ono's "glass-shattering shrieks" are "dutifully" backed by The Dirty Mac. She calls the concert-ending sing-along of "Salt of the Earth" smug and condescending, a "song about little people living in the real world."

Of course, noted condescender to little people Joan Baez covered  "Salt of the Earth" not long after. Crazy times. The video was recorded about a year before the Altamont disaster that made Jagger a Satanic figure for a generation.

I think I might be writing the Foreword to "Instapunk on The Rolling Stones." So be it. I really have been that fascinated over the years.

Two long-haired rock stars on a cheap set. For all the Beatles-Stones advocates, it can't help but be a confrontation of sorts. Jagger seems diffident, deferential. Lennon seems self-assured and patronizing. At the end he hands his discarded food plate to Jagger and the moment is over. Except for a second just before the cut when Jagger looks at Lennon and says, "You are blues, John. You are blues." In the last fraction of a second Jagger looks at the departing Lennon and his eyes are... Well, you call it. I'm thinking knowing.

Context. It's the old Star is Born scenario. The one is done, and the other is ascendant. Lennon will go on to perform with his screechy harpy Yoko, and Jagger will go on to become the most successful rock star ever, over a career of half a century. Within a very few years, Lennon will be dead. Whereas Jagger will be, well, the Nemesis of every subsequent imitator, almost immortal.

Which just maybe you can see in that one instantaneous flash in Jagger's eye after Lennon has turned his back on the busboy Rolling Stone.

Not trying to overplay it. Just explaining why I'm compiling again so quickly. It got me started.

Here's the deal. Every writer has literary influences who shaped his personal writing esthetic. Every writer has a bunch of them, in fact. Mine are Poe, Fitzgerald, Cheever, Homer, Cynewulf, Tyndale, Swinburne, Waugh, and Jagger. Which completes a circle. Poe was every bit the performer Jagger is, the former in words and the latter in words, music, and persona. He was a living exemplar of satire at the (mathematical) limit, meaning that he was satirical but collapsing toward identity with what he was mocking. He became somehow the apotheosis of what he was jeering at -- endlessly prolonged youth, surrender to every temptation, knowing repudiation of received wisdom he had actually studied, and a pied piper who knew he was leading lesser followers into the most perilous path available.

Think about it. All the skinny lead singers who succumb to all the temptations... Where are they now? Old, fat, in and out of rehab, made-up surgically recreated caricatures of themselves, appearing in TV specials as weird permutations of their youthful selves. While Jagger and the Stones just keep on being Jagger and the Stones. Unholy.

Why I've also always had the sense that Jagger wasn't just a rock star. He might actually be the character in the song that begins, "Please allow me to introduce myself..."

How do the wise ones speculate about the devil? They say he will be attractive, charming, seductive rather than threatening. They don't intimate that he might actually be honest.

Am I suggesting that Jagger is Satan on earth? No. He isn't. He's like Harry, my protagonist from the Boomer Bible. He's telling us one lesson and actually teaching another. Because some of us can only learn the lesson that way.

When I look at the Lennon-Jagger clip on Circus, I see fatality versus vitality. Lennon is already done. Jagger is just beginning. Yes, he's a sinner, as we all are, but he will go on to show what survival consists of. You work. You produce. You have children. You overcome obstacles. You become a CEO if necessary, and you are tireless in expecting the best of those around you.

Everybody in the rock world has gone into rehab. Not Jagger. He just motors on. No saint. As he would, has, told us.(KHHF)

Now think of Lennon. "Imagine there's no heaven..." That's Utopia? It's hell. So, who's the devil and who's the, uh, (not) saint?

But 50 years on (45 years after Lennon's diss), there's this from Jagger.

Consider the retro style. Written words spelled out. Like a blackboard lesson in a back alley. Telling us, with his usual ironic psychology, to hope. And live.

Bottom line? Not a devil or a saint. Just the best satirist in the last 50 years. Warts and all.

Maybe there will be another InstaBook.

What a devil he is.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The 3,000 Celebration.
How about an instant
InstaPunk Book?

Sunday was St. Patrick's Day. Saw this wonder. Is it natural? Just what happens as
the earth moves day after day after day? Or is it deliberate, designed somehow???

3,000 POSTS AS OF TODAY. Let's see. Ten years of posting. 300 a year. That's close to five a week. Newspaper columnists don't do that, and they file only about 650 words per column. Nowhere close to the IP average, for good or ill. We've recently had the first Instapunk book published, thanks to Brizoni, but there are many more books sitting there awaiting the simple act of agglomeration and specified order. The hardest -- the one I could never bring myself to do -- was the one that cut across all the manifold subjects to represent the whole site. Now that one has been passed by undone. I can do most of the rest myself. I can also skip the difficulty of eliminating graphics (even the ones I created myself), avoiding copyright issues, and destroying hyperlinks by creating books right here on the site.

So I'm giving you one today. It's called Instapunk on Cars. (Aren't we all ready for some different fare?)  You'll see multiple voices at work, different signatories. Yes, they're mostly me. I used to reserve the right to argue with myself. Sadly, thanks to sock puppets, including commenters who change their names to mount attacks, I have had to reduce myself to merely me. Why this exercise is partly history lesson. The so-called New Media used to be more dynamic and fun. Now there are way too many hurt feelings and snipers. But that's part of the reason for reading.

This first one is a sample of what can easily be done. Did this one in a day. It's a list of links to the original posts. You'll have access to the pictures, the animations, the Youtubes, the hyperlinks, the comments, and to the contradictions and mood swings that go with writing on this kind of schedule. Sometimes I'm mean. Sometimes I'm kind. Bear in mind I don't ignore or ban hostile commenters. If they come in, they need to defend themselves. I guard the site against trolls for the sake of those who wish to debate rather than merely flame. When you do decide to look at comments, hit the button for "First to Last," because it's a fact of blog life that spamming advertisers frequently come in with hundreds of bullshit remedies for what ails our kind. Not all links will work. Sorry about that. Blogs live in time, and things pass away, disappear, just like in real life. Actually, not sorry about that. It's the way of things. Anyway. Here goes.

Instapunk on Cars.

I. Love. Cars. And speed. And their assault on all the senses.

No, this isn't a car blog any more than it's a movie, TV, political, music, literature, art, economic, philosophical, religious, scientific, sports, or personal blog. This is just one core topic that can be the focus for putting related posts together. Usually, the core topic is central. Sometimes it's ancillary or a mere component. This compilation tries to observe a fairly strict chronology because current events and other temporal considerations are embedded in the posts. So try to read it as you would a book. And it really is that long. But there's lots of humor, pictures, and other hopefully fun stuff sprinkled throughout. Don't feel you need to read it at all once. You can come back. It will be here when you return. I've already told you how to access the Archives.

1. Car Seats.

2. Study finds... Not.

3. Emergency Recall! (referencing this earlier news story)

4. Dumbest Ad Campaign of 2005.

5. We just can't wait for yesterday to get here!

6. Castor Oil.

7. You Greenies want to know how to cut CO2?

8. The Guv's New Ride.

9. Low Gear.

10. If Candidates Were Cars...

11. Drooling for Nano-Cars?

12. The Civilization Freeze Movement.

13. Correction and Elaboration.

14. Enraging the Enviro-Wimps.

15. Honoring Limbaugh's Anniversary.

16. The 5 Dumbest Things about Guys.

17. Our Eunuch Future.

18. American Hymn.

19. Welcome to American-Detroit Motors.

20. Joining the Club.

21. Calling Christine. Show me.

22. Government Motors.

23. The Future.

24. Federal Safety Magic.

25. Seat Belts, Child Seats, etc.

26. Time for a rabid new lobbyist org.

27. The Paradox of the New Elites.

28. Cobra Thoughts.

29. Vaginal Cars.

30. "The Good Earth," Joan Rivers, and Fiats.

31. Golden Age Gone.

32. New York Taxicabs and Stuff.


I know there are more I haven't found yet. But I built a book in a day. All for you.

Thanks, everyone.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

My New Favorite
Great Bad Movie

. Change of pace, anyone? Thought so.

There are bad movies of all kinds. Most of the worst are rip-offs, usually of good or successful movies. SyFy has perfected the dubious art of bad movie making. The channel churns out dozens of cheap derivative knock-offs of Jaws, Jurassic Park, Armageddon, older models like Earthquake, and even mediocre theater releases like Lake Placid. They're all bad by definition, but some succeed in being entertaining by occasional tongue-in cheek wit, laughably funny special effects, or plots so cookie-cutter the audience can practically recite the next line of script before it's uttered. You know. So bad they're good, which is frighteningly close to so bad they're unwatchable.

Airspeed suffers from most of these defects. It followed by a year the movie that obviously inspired it, 1996's Executive Decision, in which Steven Seagal famously died in the first act trying to enter a hijacked plane from another aircraft and CIA analyst Kurt Russell hid in cupboards and ventilation shafts while stewardess Halle Berry did all the dangerous sneaking around. A bad movie that was fun in its way.

I mentioned the big first act kicker. That's what dooms most bad movies before filming begins. Somebody writes a first act with a hopefully clever premise and some scenes of shocking violence to hook the viewer. After that it's all downhill -- waiting for the black guy to die, watching women fall down or prove unable to start a car at inopportune moments, and the hero coming up with some lame last ditch plan to save the day, which always takes forever to bring off against all odds. The third act is always ultimately an afterthought.

Why do I love Airspeed, which got a crushing 3.5 out of 10 user rating at the merciless website? Because the whole point of this movie, for once, is the third act. The script, the production, the effects, the plot twists, are all single-mindlessly focused on getting us to the one scene at the end which is inevitable and transparent to every viewer from the very first scene. A bratty, self-absorbed little 13-year old rich girl is going to have to land a lightning-crippled 727 jetliner more or less all alone. That's it. The whole thing.

Why all the imdb user reviewer carping about aviation absurdities doesn't matter. You can almost see the director saying, "I don't care. I know where we're going with this and I just don't care how we get there or what we have to do along the way. All I want is Elisha Cuthbert in the pilot seat trying to save the day for her final injured passenger while the airport below waits with every emergency response crew in Canada for a catastrophic, off the runway fireball. Just make it happen, dudes."

He was betting, in fact, on Elisha Cuthbert. She was 15 at the time, which is still young to carry the whole burden of an action thriller. And for my money, the director won his bet.

She didn't do it alone. She had the help of Joe Mantegna as her preoccupied CEO dad anguishing in the control tower, a couple of quite good supporting actors in the plane early on, an incredibly valuable baseball bat once owned by Roberto Clemente, and a nicely played variation on the eccentric but unflappable air traffic controller who not only knows how to read radar but also knows the innerds and controls of a 727 as well as the plane's design team. (Can't fault them for that; since they did it right in Airport and Airplane (!), every air disaster movie since has made the same stupid assumption that air traffic controllers know how to fly commercial jets by osmosis).

To arrive at this climactic scene, a 15 year old actress has to accomplish the biggest character transformation in a movie since Barabbas. From despicable brat, she somehow manages to turn into a combination of Bruce Willis and Joan of Arc before her final desperate runway approach. All handicaps noted above considered, she does a damn fine job of it.

It's a neat trick. You're laughing at the absurdities all the while she's charming you. You can see the young actress trying as hard to deal with as impossibly impossible a challenge as the character she's playing. And in the end you're rooting for Elisha Cuthbert to get through this ordeal with as little damage as possible.

And, you know, I think she does. Why it's my new favorite bad movie.

It's Monday. What more do you want today? Oh. The whole movie? Okay.

Well, they said it was. I didn't check, to be honest.

See you tomorrow.

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