Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
May 10, 2013 - May 3, 2013

Thursday, May 09, 2013

The End Is Near &
Other Light Topics

Of course I went looking to see how the media responded or didn't to yesterday's Benghazi hearings. About what you'd expect. The AP referred to the congressional hearings as "GOP hearings." The three cable news networks (yes, Fox too) cut away from the hearings to cover the Arias trial verdict, because it was, you know, so important. Although MSNBC had its own experts who talked over the part of the hearings they did cover and announced throughout that there was nothing new here, while CNN was suddenly riveted by the kidnapping case in Cleveland, despite the fact that just like the Gosnell trial it was a local crime story. Stephen Colbert made fun of the hearings because it's always hilarious when four Americans are murdered in the service of their country in a way that might embarrass President Asshole. The best was the LA Times coverage, which you can see here.

Then I did what I haven't done in a while because I have no stomach for internecine conservative fights. I went to National Review Online. They did have complete coverage of the hearings, of course, and even an editorial on why, contrary to Hillary's bitchy question, the truth of what exactly happened in Benghazi and afterwards really does matter. But I'm not here to talk about that. You can find it on your own. Instead, I rediscovered what I have liked about NRO over the years, excellent writing on fascinating topics that aren't confined to current events. Why I thought I'd share. Like me, you might need some air.

NR honcho Kevin Williamson, the guy in the video up top, has a new book out. It's called The End Is Near and It's Going to be Awesome: How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier and More Secure. He has an essay up, iPencil: Nobody knows how to make a pencil, or a health-care system, abstracted from the book, that should be like a tonic to many of us naysayers. Go read it. What capitalism is really about. He doesn't need my summary. I'll tease you with two paragraphs, ones I know will resonate with everyone here.

The decline of U.S. Steel was bad for the company’s shareholders and its employees, but it was good for people who use steel — meaning everybody else in the world. U.S. Steel was itself the product of an improved business model that had displaced older, less efficient competitors. Without the pressure and opportunity created by the possibility of failure, the U.S. steel industry — and the entire U.S. economy — would be (at best) stuck in the early 19th century. It seems paradoxical, but failure is what makes us rich. (And we are, even in these troubled times, fabulously rich.) We’d all be a lot worse off if corporations such as U.S. Steel lived forever (which is one more reason not to engage in bailouts).

Politics creates the immortal corporation. Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service are two institutions that would have failed long ago if not for government support — subsidies for Amtrak, the government-chartered monopoly on letter delivery for the postal service. The cost of their corporate immortality is not only the waste associated with maintaining them, but also the fact that their existence prevents the emergence of superior alternatives. No sane person would invest 12.5 percent of his income in Social Security in 2013, but we are compelled to do so, and so the bankrupt enterprise continues as though it were not tens of trillions of dollars underwater. A political establishment is a near-deathless thing: Even after the bitter campaign of 2012, voters returned essentially the same cast of characters to Washington, virtually ensuring the continuation of the policies with which some 90 percent of voters pronounced themselves dissatisfied. No death, no evolution. Outside of politics, human action is characterized by evolution and by learning. And what are we learning? How to take care of one another, which is the point of what we sometimes call capitalism. (Don’t tell Ayn Rand.)

I have one more. Another NR luminary is Jay Nordlinger, whose column Impromptus I have enjoyed for years. He's a learned man, deeply educated in music, language, cultural history, and multiple other disciplines. He's working his way through a five part review of what is obviously an extraordinary book titled The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia by Roger Kimball.

The first four parts are posted. They're more essay than strict review, and I guarantee you'll enjoy what he has to say. The book goes to the heart of so many things we know instinctively and puts them in a context that's both erudite and accessible. You may even want to make note of a dozen or more quotes we all wish we had ready to hand when talking with the lefty glunks who plague our days.

Here are the links to the published parts:

This Is Important (Part IV) Jay Nordlinger on Kipling, Buckley, Kimball, and more.

You can find Part V on your own, I'm sure.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Can't Post.

I've been watching the Benghazi hearings on CSPAN3. Sorry to report, our nation is done. I already know how the MSM will play it, if they play it at all. The Dems are there only to protect Hillary and the President. Nothing else matters.

It just doesn't matter that four Americans died in service to their country.

I'm so disgusted I can't link, can't argue, can't do anything but throw up. Fuck you, Robert Whitcomb. Fuck you.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Ah. Children's Books

Yeah. Presentation matters.

WHATEVER ELSE YOU DO, GET. THIS. ONE!!!. I've been thinking about this topic for a long time now. I warn you I have a very eccentric position. I'm devoted to the exact editions I read as a kid. The magic of a children's book is not just the words. It's the whole physical package, including the illustrations, the heft of the hardcovers, the jackets if they have them. Ridiculous? No. We invest lots of money in our children. Why not buy them dusty relics of the past if relics help plug the young ones into the mighty continuum? Children need to learn that life did not begin with them. Old things are magical to children. Well, they were to me. I grew up mostly on hand-me-down books. And even when I was very young, I liked the idea that I was reading the very same books my parents had read at my age. Now most of my title recommendations are available in newer versions, and what's good is still good, but I'm going to focus here on the past. You make your own decisions. But when it comes to illustrations in particular, give some thought to the possibility that older might be better. End of lecture.

My recommendations are all over the lot age-wise. The parents who are thinking about these things have children of different ages. I'm not going to concern myself about order, because today's three-year-old is tomorrow's eight-year-old. Everything is relevant. I trust that people will find what they need and have the patience to make their own immediate choices. My mission is magic. Why I refuse to be scientific, chronological, rational, or organized. My only justification? I remember childhood in more detail than most. I'm taking a trip back in time. Please join me.

I'll also warn you in advance that I'll be leaving out the classics that have already resisted the moss of time: Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, Winnie the Pooh, etc. If I touch on something you already know, my bad. Or your good. Where I deviate is with specific editions. You'll see.

Brave Cowboy Bill
. I could read it myself and I read it a hundred times. His boots were amazing. Like me, he was just a little boy and he went to sleep like a little boy at the end of a long day.

Uncle Remus. The devouring scourge of political correctness. The movie based on this book, Song of the South, has been banned and characterized as a racist outrage. Don't know anything about the movie because like everyone else I've never seen it. I do know about the book. Racist? Nothing could be further from the truth. I remember this book, this particular book, and I loved it. I loved Uncle Remus. To me he was an accessible divine figure. You only saw him from the back, sitting in front of the fire, his pipe occasionally held aloft. He was mysterious, wise, and you knew instinctively, even as a kid, that his stories were parables. Very probably the first expressly moral book I ever read. Brer Rabbit was both a hero and a fool, sometimes in the same story. He's fool enough to get himself trapped by the tar baby but survivor enough to do a Tom Sawyer act that lands him in the briar patch of freedom. Kids are all rabbits, neither white nor black. The purpose of a fairy tale is to teach survival skills, and Brer Rabbit was a survivor. What in hell is racist about that?

Thornton Burgess
. A long series of delightful books about individual animals. Jimmy the Skunk. Reddy the Fox. Peter Rabbit. Mr. Mocker, and on and on. I had a pile of them, all inherited from my dad's childhood library. Loved the fact they were so old and yellowed. Does the term children's bible seem over the top? Still available today. New. In paperback. Not quite the same.

Wind in the Willows. Where the illustrations matter more than the immortality of the story. Great ones have done the drawings, including Tasha Tudor, but perfection was achieved only by Arthur Rackham. If you don't have his version, you don't have the book.

The Illustrated Treasury of Children's Literature (1955 Edition)
. The best, the indispensable, the font of childhood imagination. Edited by Margaret Martignoni. I've linked the edition to get (twice now). But others are available, even at Amazon. All completely magical. Just get it and glory in it with your children.

All right. This is obviously going to be more than one post. Stay tuned. Childhood is, or should be, about wonder, romance, fun, and, yes, fear too. Hans Christian Andersen is important. How we teach children about death and consequences. And love. Remember that. Love is not a cost-free emotion. The best writers have always known that.

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