Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
June 28, 2009 - June 21, 2009

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Calm down, everybody.

SNOOTY AIN'T NEW. The conservatives seem to think they're really on to something with Obama's trashing of Pennsylvania small town folks. Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has done a good job of explaining why the remarks should be so damaging:

Obama’s camp... has tried adopting bitterness as its strategy, claiming that small-town voters are right to be bitter about an economic expansion that has created the lowest unemployment we have had in any 25-year period of this nation’s industrial history.

But that’s intellectually dishonest. Let’s break this statement into its component insults:

  • [T]hey cling to guns…” Cling to guns? Americans have “clung” to guns since the founding of the Republic. It’s such a core value to this nation that its founders placed it second on the Bill of Rights, right after freedom of speech and religion. Speaking of which …
  • or [they cling to] religion …” People don’t become religious because the economy hits a few bumps in the road. Obama may have chosen his religion based on politics, but most people follow a religion out of a deeper sense of spirituality. I can’t think of a more condescending and contemptuous analysis of religious dedication than this statement.
  • or [they cling to] antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment…” Small-town voters are bigots and xenophobes; there’s no other way to read the first part of this statement. The second part, about them being “anti-immigrant”, is a non-sequitur. They may be anti-illegal immigrant, but that’s a far different issue. Obama offers no proof that small-town voters are xenophobes, but the Frisco audience didn’t demand any, either. It’s part of their own bigotry that makes them see middle America in those terms.
  • or [they cling to] anti-trade sentiment …” And this is just jaw-droppingly hypocritical. This comes from the same candidate who opposes the Colombian free-trade agreement and wants to throw NAFTA out the window. Who’s clinging to anti-trade sentiment? Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Big Labor.

It would be difficult to be any more condescending or insulting in so many ways to so many voters in a single sentence. It reveals a deeply elitist and shockingly callow candidate. It’s the “Let them eat cake” of 2008.

I'm not going to do the big round-up thing. You can find that at practically every conservative site. They think they've got their teeth into something big here, and they're using each other's opinions for support. I'm not convinced. The only additional quote I'll cite is also linked from Hot Air:

ABC News' Sarah Amos reports that at North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, N.C., Clinton campaign North Carolina chieftain Tom Hendrickson, a former state party chair, made much hay out of the "small town" comments made by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill....

And so he did. He spelled it out in some detail. But the ABC news piece ends with this:

Amos points out that, interestingly, the crowd had little reaction at all. They, in fact, seemed a tad bored.

It's hardly a secret that the Democratic Party hates guns, Christianity with few exceptions, opposition to any and every form of immigration no matter how blatantly and catastrophically illegal, and most of the people who live between the two enlightened coasts of the continental United States.

That doesn't mean there aren't loyal Democrats who are Christian, gun-loving, prejudiced against this or that ethnic group or nationality, or lifelong citizens of the most stereotyped states in flyover country. Of course there are. And they're used to hearing various aspects of their own identities and values trashed by Democratic pols seeking election. In fact, they routinely expect to be slandered and lied to by their candidates. The Democratic 'Big Tent' includes millions of moderate foreign policy hawks, for example, who are sure neither of their party's presidential candidates will execute the kind of precipitate withdrawal from Iraq they're promising. It's understood that this kind of rhetoric is simply a sop to the crazy -- but electorally necessary -- left wing.

This is the most important thing to understand about Democrat elitism. It's not just that all the real movers and shakers of the party's leadership are Old Money snobs with Ivy law degrees and a profound contempt for the lowly church supper. It's that their three-quarter-century-old New Deal coalition has bought into the concept of a patrician political class they don't really expect to understand or respect them -- as long as they can be pressured to support the legislative agendas of the various plebeian groups who will never dine with them in the Hamptons: labor, minorities, single women who think abortion is a dandy birth-control device, government employees of all kinds, especially teachers, and fleets of non-Ivy lawyers whose livelihood depends on their ability to assault every legitimate business with frivolous lawsuits.

The truth of the matter is that these groups don't have much in common with each other apart from being necessary parts of the Coalition. Mostly, they don't care at all what the aristocrat politicians say, or have to say, or slip up and say, as they're campaigning for public office. The one postulate that matters is that Demorats aren't Republicans, meaning naifs who consistently let ideology get in the way of all the mundanely pragmatic deals that protect various blocs of government dependents.

Conservatives in particular never seem to understand this. They believe stubbornly that most people have deep beliefs which must be respected by those who seek office. They mistake all the ideological pap Democrats utter to appease the one small but influential subset of the faithful that does have ideological convictions -- the mass media, the academics, and the guilt-ridden limousine liberals -- as the philosophical core of the Democratic Party. It's no such thing. The Democrat Party is simply a cold-blooded alliance held together by a desire to loot the public treasury in plain view.

The small-town Democrats of Pennsylvania know this. They don't care that Obama thinks they're dogshit any more than they care that Hillary lies her ass off at every opportunity. They -- and all the much sought after independents -- will choose their horse in the general election the way they always have. By picking the one self-important rich prick who promises them the most loot.

It may not be pretty, but it's the way it is.

Paper People

JEFFREY. A friend of mine died today. It's no big deal. He wasn't interested in living any longer, and I, who had spoken with him via cell on his deathbed, realized there was no there there when we talked. An on-again off-again friendship of close to 40 years was unequal to the shell of charm that was the calcified residue of what had made us friends in the first place. Not even the imminence of death in a hospice could precipitate a breakout from that shell. It was cool to the touch, even over the phone, and it poisoned my memory of what I used to think of as good times. I mourn his passing. He was brilliantly talented. I'm prepared to believe he inspired other people with that talent. But in his death he reminded me of my own father, a desiccated ruin who welcomed the end of his disappointments.

I have had an extraordinarily fortunate life. I was raised to be part of the prep school, Ivy League elite who rule the world with their minds. By an accident of geography I was also raised in a pair of predominatly rural counties that take hold of your soul with an anti-rational mix of vistas, smells, sounds, people, and pursuits which become part of your blood. The salt smell of the marshes and the burning rubber smell of drag and motorcycle tires cutting swaths through the moonlit silence. Serpent roads and internal combustion engines that slice through the mist of back roads, back woods, the river, the ocean, the bay, and the back streets of villages, towns, and even Philadelphia.

So I was always divided. Thomas Wolf said "You can't go home again," but he was an asshole. Going home again was the only thing that ever had the chance to save my soul. I had been brought up to be one of the Paper People, those whose province in life was supposed to be ideas but is instead the pillorying of all ideas, in the name of bookish superiority, a continuous demonstration of the power of wit and learning over the native creativity that is supposed to animate our best efforts. The only thing I learned from the Paper People was a certain superciliousness, the kind of preemptive dismissal of all things philosophical which is responsible for the exceptionally high percentage of our so-called 'best and brightest' who go to law school and business school and occupy the empty wastelands of stock trading, investment banking and corporate law.

I went so far as to go to business school myself. I actually did better at statistics and business case analysis than I had done at Dickens and Shakespeare in college, but there came a day when I realized that I was in danger of becoming a certified public accountant or a banker.

That's when I returned home -- to the grave disappointment of my father, who had lived most of his life in a town whose people he had never met, unless they were the right sort.

Now I know how wrong he was AND how right he was. In a curious way John Edwards is right. There are two Americas. But the difference between them is not what government can do to reconcile them. There's only what they both need to learn from each other. The Paper People think they have figured out everything important. They have their books and their goddamned smarts, and they have certain gifts at administration, organization, discipline, and rectitude. But they almost always make an unholy mess of their own lives. They're always the person tapping the outside of the aquarium thinking they can make the fish conform to their irrelevant will.

Then there are the real people. The ones who live in their senses and the moment. The ones who never have any money but always know where the best party is being held tonight. They don't have any books. They're the ones who know how to cut off dangerous tree limbs, pump your septic tank, put the power back on after an ice storm, catch the snake in your crawlspace, and reshingle your roof. They're also the ones who shoot bullet holes in road signs, think stripping is an okay profession, and will kill you in a barfight because they didn't really imagine what life in prison is like.

My PRIVILEGE in life is that I'm both these people. The blood of the Real People makes sense of the Paper People. I've lived in both their worlds. Real People are more fun but they repeat the same mistakes so endlessly you reach a point of wanting to be done with them permanently. (No, you really don't need to slash her tires and bust all her fenders just because...) Paper People are genuinely enthralling -- they know so much and can be so charismatically captivating -- but they live their whole lives without the slightest idea of what life is about, and they're actually proud of that fact. Their wit and intellect can kill you stone dead over a decade, and if you don't believe me, look at what happens to their children.

My ARTICLE OF FAITH is that most Americans are more like me than unlike me. We believe in the virutes of both Real People and Paper People. We subscribe to a sublime if naive notion that the ultimate of our breed is someone who knows how to live AND how to think.

To be honest, I go back and forth. Sometimes I can't stand Real People. Other times, like now, I positively hate the Paper People. What's the point of all that intelligence and talent if your only response to the sound file on this post is that it's "boring"? What I DO know is that Europe has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Paper People. Their entirely rational refusal to reproduce is the purest possble refutation of the rightness of their philosophy. They won't exist in another fifty years. America will. Because even though bipolar examples like me may seem like victims, in reality we are simply evidence of the roiling process that continuously rejuvenates our nation. When you get sick enough of the Paper People, you will stop buying their newspapers and magazines, and you will demand some combination in your leaders. Maybe that's Obama's real role: the reductio ad absurdem of the Paper People. Learn fast, my friends. Four years of superior platitudes is a lesson. Eight is a cataclysm.

You can see that nothing is going to be resolved in this post. Perhaps that's why I'm obsessed with the promise of Christianity, which does not conflate intellect with virtue. Intriguingly, the story appeals to all facets of human experience. It befuddled George Bernard Shaw as much as it does your local bartender. That's why I love it so.

Sleep well, my friend. You don't like this music, but I do. We'll argue the point later.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Brizoni's Misadventures Abroad

GREETINGS FROM, UH, ASIA MINOR! I THINK. I'd be more geographically specific, but I have no clue what country I'm in, or if I've ever heard of it. After the fiasco in Jakarta, I just ran for the first train I saw. Didn't have the luxury of knowing where it was headed, other than "away."

I'm the only American I've seen in three days. My cell doesn't work here. Their coinage AND bank(?) notes are shaped like heptagons. When I ask my local guide where I am, he only says "Amakakhlakhbakhkakhlakh, Meester Zoni," which I hope isn't the name of this place. I asked him to write it down, but their alphabet looks like a cursive Korean, with lots of umlauts. I could solve this mystery in a flash if I hadn't left my Regional Ethnicity Color Wheel in the hostel back in Bangkok.

Luckily the gentle Bakalakhaberkaberkatalakh people and I get along well, because I'm stuck here for only the FAA knows how long. Here's a picture of me with my guide (couldn't spell his name if I knew it) chatting up the locals, who turned out to be every bit as lost as we were:

Me coming home at dawn or so from some fertility festival
or funeral, or something. It's Saturday or Tuesday morning
as I type this; Abakalakabookastan is like 58 hours ahead.

Sorry about the hair. They don't sell gel here. But their McDonald's has shish-ka-bobs! Can you believe it? Gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.

What am I doing backpacking in the ass-end of rural India (Bali? Sri Lanka?) when there's terribly important news stories in America to blog about? Here's the gist: I won 50 percent of the publishing royalties for the music in the first Mario game on a bet, and had to fly to Tokyo to collect. I had a day free, so I figured I'd fly in, catch a rickshaw or whatever to Yamamoto-san's brownstone, get the paperwork, have a couple rounds of sake, a few laughs, and fly out. Solid way to spend 24 hours, right?

I must be jinxed. I bought my (first) return ticket on discount carrier BlueFlush (I may be a young, sexy jet-setter, but I'm not made of money) the day before they declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. Every discount airline I booked with that day folded almost immediately after my credit card went through, one after the other. Finally I got fed up, and decided any trip that costs this kind of scratch needs to net me more than a measly Shinjuku pub crawl.

I bought a backpack, some clothes, a hackysack, turned my yen into traveler's cheques, and became an unwashed American youth painting the Orient red on five dollars a day.

First stop: Burma. Or, on odd numbered days, Myanmar. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I met told me all the coups and protests and riots you've heard about lately were all staged, to shoo away all the unwashed backpacking youths.

They seemed cool with me being there, though. Let me tell you something: The dollar still floats like a motherfucker on this half of the globe.

From there I hit all the typical tourist spots: Thailand (always, always check for penis. It's a cliche for a reason, folks), Seoul, Singapore, Fiji, all those temples in India with tons of short candles and finger cymbals lying everywhere, and I spent exactly 47 minutes on what I'm pretty sure was a real life Kong Island. I took a picture, but the big black blur at the top left looks like my finger over the lens. I'd tell you where it is, but my Taiwanese street vendor GPS has worse reception than my cell. Total blind luck I stepped on that ferry in the first place.

Ooh! Almost forgot Micronesia-- like the rest of the world, ha ha. Speaking of funny currency, the tiny island of Yap uses giant rocks for money! Which almost makes sense, when you think about it... and sort of squint. The more expensive ones are heavier. See?

Cool people, though. Cool people everywhere, mostly (just stay away from the Muslim countries. Jesus). And I heard Russia hates us again. And stay away from every non-English speaking country in the Western hemisphere, except for Tijuana, whose economy depends on the safe partying of rich white kids, and one or two cities in Brazil.

I tried to do the responsible thing and book a flight home 2 days ago. Done being burned by cheapo airlines, I picked a real one: American. Whoops. Told you I was jinxed.

You know what? I'm in no hurry to come home. I may be the only chance these people have of seeing an iPod in person before they die (and screw that, they'll break it), but they get CNN on satellite. I'm watching Lou Dobbs Tonight as I eat my big bowl of plain rice for breakfast. You ever watch this calvalcade of sham conservatism? He's enough to drive a man to fill his hollowed-out cat skull with rice wine before morning harvest.


OUT OF THE GUTTER FOR ONCE. Somebody got offended that we responded to a commenter who accused us of being obsessed with 'boobies' by posting a Google search of the term. What they didn't realize was that we had employed the rarest stratagem on the Internet for finding interesting content -- the 'Strict Safe Search.' You see there really is a whole bunch of stuff that's completely SFW and fascinating to boot. Worse, these are subjects no one ever learns anything about because they're too sophisticated to screen out the flood of vulgarity that ensues when they are tolerant enough to think they're better than the censors of the Info-Gush called Google.

Tell me. Honestly. How many of you knew there were these extraordinarily beautiful birds out there called boobies? Have you ever discovered the Wikipedia entry?

The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) is a bird in the Sulidae family which comprises ten species of long-winged seabirds.

The name “booby” comes from the Spanish term bobo, which means "stupid fellow". This is because the Blue-footed Booby is clumsy on the land, and like other seabirds can be very tame. It has been known to land on boats, where it was once captured and eaten.

The natural breeding habitat of the Blue-footed Booby is tropical and subtropical islands off the Pacific Ocean, most famously, the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.

They sound something like Coleridge's albatross. But damn, they're intriguing. And a lot more charismatic than most of the boobies we seem to spend so much time looking for.

Are you with me on this? Do you really prefer Demi and Pam's plastic rocks?

Well, end of lesson. Filtering isn't necessarily censorship. It's just discrimination, which has -- oddly enough -- become something of a dirty word in its own right. But if you practice it, you just might find, for example, that even a relentless search for 'tit' can yield something other than dirty thoughts:

Yup. You ultra-sophisticates miss a thing or two along the way. Me, I feel sorry for people who never had maiden aunts. Try a few 'safe' searches of your own. You might be surprised.

P.S. Mrs. IP has more or less ordered me to stop (over)using the audio clip I added to this post. I think she'll forgive me this time. Maybe it isn't rationally relevant, but it seems kind of right. Somehow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not Right

Actually, we feel kind of sorry for her.

A DAUGHTER OF ED. Yeah, I know it's probably premature to believe that Randi Rhodes is really off the air at Air America. The Not-Ready-For-Profit radio network has been pronounced financially dead a score of times and come back with refinancing schemes that would make most South American governments green with envy. If liberals were as creative with their social solutions as AAR has been about staving off market disasters like no audience, no advertising, and no clue about the radio business, one could almost believe in the Dems' too-good-to-be-true promise of free universal healthcare. Still, this does sound like a big step toward an official parting of the ways:

NEW YORK -- April 10, 2008: After being suspended indefinitely for calling senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a "f****ing whore" and saying the same about former Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, Randi Rhodes has left Air America Radio. Rhodes made the comments in March at a KKGN (Green 960)/San Francisco-sponsored event.

A joint statement released Thursday by AAR Chairman Charlie Kireker and President Mark Green said, "Last week Air America suspended Randi Rhodes for abusive, obscene language at a recent public appearance in San Francisco which was sponsored by an Air American affililate station. Air America Media was informed last night by Ms. Rhodes that she has chosen to terminate her employment with the company. We wish her well and thank her for past services to Air America."

I won't pretend that I've ever liked her. But it's also true that politics in this country is a game of savagely violent chess.

Randi Rhodes was always a pawn in the game. I don't think she knew that because she carried real arms and took her habitual one step forward with real passion. Like her colleagues, she began the Air America experiment with a two-step move that gained her lots of national attention (the original link is gone, but I quoted it fairly at the time).

The queen of venom, Randi Rhodes, followed Franken in the host slot. Her imitation of a cracker military type telling a soldier to "insert this fluorescent light bulb into that man's buttocks" was revolting. She compared U.S. prisons in Iraq to the "Nazi gulag" and said, "The day I say thank you to Rumsfeld is the same day I'll say thank you to the 12 people who raped me."

Rock bottom came when she compared Bush and his family to the Corleones in the "Godfather" saga. "Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw," she said, imitating the sound of gunfire.

Was that opening gambit really so much different from the non-broadcast outburst that got her suspended in recent weeks? Here's what we have of the offending performance:

Has anyone complained about her calling the Vice President of the United States an anti-semitic racist? No. Anymore than anyone seriously complained when she sponsored a radio skit declaring John McCain a sodomite because all 'prisoners' automatically become homosexual.

Perhaps she thought that wasn't offensive because she assigned the notion to Mitt Romney's Mormon supporters. (And if you're planning to defend her by pointing out that her voice doesn't appear in the bit, then acknowledge that you don't hold Limbaugh responsible for this or this.)

She had also convinced herelf, like a lot of other, uh, progressives, that the mass media were somehow in the pocket of the Republican power structure. Something about Reagan.

How could she possibly have known that she would eventually become the victim of a double standard? She couldn't. After all, do pawns ever understand that they're merely cannon fodder? That when they confront knights or rooks or bishops, they're dealing with people who have more exotic and deadly moves than they do? There's no question Rhodes thought she had scored a signal victory when she announced her desire to "kick Ann Coulter in the nuts."

(And here she is swapping spit with another college drop-out know-it-all.) Problem is, Coulter isn't a pawn. She's a knight, at least, endowed with the ability to skip spaces and strike from unexpected angles.

Which is why Coulter is still standing and Rhodes is headed for minor syndication. So I do feel sorry for Randi. Unlike Coulter, she has no law degree, not even a college degree, no real connections. She was a useful tool of the Democratic Attack Machine until she attacked the wrong targets.

But, as I said, I'm feeling sorry for her. She's a radio guy, schooled in the same bruising arena as Limbaugh and Hannity. Here's her Wikipedia bio.

Limbaugh knows the wisdom of the truism, "Be careful who your friends are." Rhodes apparently doesn't. (Who knows about Hannity? We have our doubts about him, too.) She thought she had carved out a special place for herself. She hadn't. Unlike even the oh-so-vulnerable Hannity, she never acquired an audience big enough to protect her from random execution.

But that doesn't mean we should celebrate her downfall. She's an ordinary person who did her best to make a difference. I disagree with almost every political opinion she's ever expressed, but I don't think she's as revolting as, say, Michael Savage.

Here's what I'll say for her. She is a veteran. She is passionate. Sometimes she's funny, whether I like it or not. And every once in a while she is right. She was right about the Republicans fawning disgustingly over the ghost of Ronald Reagan. And she was right during her ominous calm in handling this caller:

She shouldn't have been drummed off the air for doing to Democrats what she routinely did to Republicans. If the one is okay [applause, applause, standing ovations], so is the other [boo, hiss, disgust, revulsion, shock]. Conservatives aren't made of glass. Liberals shouldn't be, either. Thing is, they are.

Radio is a big wide field. [Choke.] We wish her well in her future gigs.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Penny's Worth:

The Good News

A YOUTUBE-ISH WEDNESDAY. It seems the big new fad of the moment is YouTube clips of girls fighting. We're not going to link that crap here. What you may not know, though, is that there also seems to be a building trend for people making Greyhound Music Videos. The production values vary, but they're all more fun to watch than that other fad. The video above is "Daisy the Greyhound," and here are some others: "Bandit Dreaming," "Born to Run," "Run Cecil Run," and "Harvey the Lurcher & Glen the Greyhound." (If you want to see what they look like going flat out in a straight line without the music, go here. It's stunning.)

Of course, we can't mention greyhounds without doing our bit for rescue. "Running for Their Lives" is a short vid about the thousands of dogs who need homes after their lives at the racetrack. It's British, but still informative. We have the same problems here. The good news is that there are many active rescue organizations doing a good job of placing greys. But there are always more new dogs. End of commercial.

We've got a few more feel-good stories for you, too. So take a break from Hillary-Obama, the congressional hearings on Iraq, and the Chinese Olympic mess. Take a look at this picture:

Freedom and friend.

There's a nice story that goes with it. Jeff Guidry works at the Sarvey Wildlife Center near Seattle. About four years ago, the Center received a bald eagle fledgling that had fallen out its nest and suffered two broken wings. Guidry explains what happened subsequently here.

At five weeks we are approaching the end.

Sarvey Wildlife Center believes in giving every soul that comes in a chance to live; but when it is painfully clear that death is the only way out, the decision is made to let that particular spirit continue on its journey. We were at this juncture; this beautiful baby eagle was given one week to see if she could, or would, stand up. This was a crushing blow. Every day that next week I checked to see if she was up. The answer was always the same... "No."

You can guess part of what happened but not all of it. Read the link above and then take a look here..

Our next item is quite a puzzler. It concerns a young woman who received, at death's door, a heart-and-lung transplant from a young male donor (above) she was obviously told almost nothing else about. Her experiences after that were remarkable enough that she felt obliged to write a book about them. You can read the short version here and draw your own conclusions.

By now you've probably figured out that most of our "good news" isn't all quite new. But that's the way of things and why screaming headlines are usually screaming about something bad. Some stories just take a very long time to develop and the end result doesn't make the front page of the New York Times. I discovered the long-developing tale of 'Charlie Brown' at the website, which routinely researches viral Internet legends that usually turn out to be all or mostly false. In this case the legend went all the way back to World War II, where Charlie Brown was supposedly the pilot of a very badly damaged B-17 trying to limp back to England from Germany with half the crew dead and no remaining ability to defend itself. According to viral versions of the story, a German fighter pilot was ordered up to finish the bomber off but instead escorted it back to the channel, saluted, and flew away.

Well, this time the legend is true, and there was a second chapter many years later. Chivalry may be dead, but not quite all the chevaliers.

Another story of dire mechanical urgency actually did make headlines this week. It happened in Cleveland. A bus full of children began rolling out of a gas station down an adjacent street toward inevitable collision. Fortunately, there was someone on board who knew what to do.

The 11-year-old Cleveland boy who steered a runaway school bus to safety said Wednesday he took the wheel because the bus was rolling toward a semi.

David Murphy told on ABC's "Good Morning America" other children on board during Monday's crash were "freaking out," screaming and hollering, and he decided he had to do something.

"I took the wheel and had to turn the wheel on the sidewalk," he said.

His mother said she was amazed.

"When I saw the precision of the bus, it seemed like it was parked," Patricia Murphy said during the program. "I couldn't believe it and that he had that strength and that direction."

Read the whole thing. For awhile there, he thought he was going to get into trouble.

Our final item takes us all the way to the other end of the age spectrum. It's about a rock and roll choral group consisting entirely of very senior citizens. They're having a blast. Here's the background. And here's one of their music videos.

That should put a smile on your face for a few hours.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

European Humor?
Sadly, Nein.

The Europeans have finally discovered humor. Does that include the French?

WHAT NO ONE WILL SAY. Gosh. We were so excited when we got dissed a week or so ago by a site that "won the European 'Satin Pajama Award' for Best Humorous Blog in 2004." Wow. As far as we knew, there hasn't ever been any humor in Europe. But we have it from the proprietors of Sadly, No! that they are definitely funny:

Sadly, No! is a liberal/progressive humor site based in Germany, originally as a project of founder Seb, but since 2004 operating as a group blog, currently with American contributors...

In December, 2005, the site won a Weblog Award in the ‘Best of the Top 251-500 Blogs’ category. In December, 2006, the site won the Weblog Award for Best Humor Blog.

The site’s main running joke is in finding embarrassing slips or untrue statements by conservatives and linking to a refutation, saying, “Sadly, No!” Other running gags include posting pictures of conservative columnists on Internet dating sites, battling with a “singing troll” who sends homemade songs deriding the site’s contributors and commenters, and doing line-by-line putdowns of columns by Christian evangelists and other right-wingers. Sadly, No! also occasionally publishes phony columns at right-wing sites, and engages in other pranks.

I'd like to go on record right now as saying that I think it's great. Europeans actually trying to do humor. Cool. That's a kind of affirmative action we can get behind. It's heartening is what it is. Personally, I didn't know they were even trying. It's like badminton players storming Wimbledon. I do remember having been a management consultant for an American conglomerate in Europe a decade or so ago, and whenever any kind of joint -- i.e., pan-European -- project was initiated, the various European representatives would all take me aside and solemnly explain that the project couldn't succeed without an American at the helm. Because Italians couldn't work for Germans, Germans couldn't work for the French, Scandinavians couldn't take charge but would only smile and defer to the Germans and French, the Austrians would spend all their time tiresomely denying they were Germans to everyone who would listen, the Spaniards were too moody to work with anyone, the Belgians were all just bastards, and while everyone else was squabbling the Swiss would be stealing everybody's money.

Then, when the Americans reluctantly agreed to run things, again, the Euros all breathed a sigh of relief and told the same joke, the only one they ever had. It was all about heaven and hell. In heaven, for example, the French were the cooks, the Brits were the police, and the Germans were all locked up and castrated or something. In hell, the Brits were the cooks, the Germans were the police, and the Brits were running all over the world telling salacious stories about their tedious royal family. Or something like that. I don't remember the details. When you hear the same stupid joke from a dozen different incompetent assholes, you stop paying attention eventually. But you do get the punchline They all hate each other. Forever.

Which is precisely why it's so cool that they have finally developed a sense of humor. One does wonder where it came from, though. Italians have never figured out that Fiats are funny. They've never even figured out that being the disorganized heirs of the Romans was funny -- sad but way-deep-down funny. The Spaniards have never figured out that their macho bullfight bullshit was funny. The Sandinavians have never figured out that if the people who live the longest and age the most gracefully write the most depressing plays and commit suicide at the drop of the hat, they're being exceptionally goddamn funny. The French are harder to figure. They had Voltaire, who was satirical. They had Moliere, who was witty. But when they tried to make the big leap to funny they fell bang on their ass somewhere in the gap between Fernandel and Jerry Lewis.

Of course, we live now in the days of the so-called European Union, which is as funny as the old Holy Roman Empire, for much the same reason, absent any kind of belief whatsoever, paperwork excluded. But not as funny as the French Revolution, which was kind of an ultimate in European rationalism-cum-Worthington Steel. (Sorry. My joke. Worthington steel comes from Ohio.) But the U.K. was never part of the Holy Roman Empire, and maybe that's where the funny comes from. The Brits were funny once. And even twice. Briefly. But they gave it up in order to join the European Union, where absolutely nothing is ever funny because smart people are in charge of making sure everyone has a very specific office to complain to.

And then there are Germans. Who in their whole history had only one single citizen who was ever funny. Him they hounded into insanity and then posthumously misunderstood into a rationale for extermination of the one people on earth who really did know best what funny was.

But okay. I'm willing to accept that Europeans have learned how to be "humorous." I can even agree that they have been. A year or two ago, "Sadly, Nein" focused its potent humorous energies on a blog called Protein Wisdom. They did their Teutonic best to destroy him with their newfound talent for mirth. I have to admit it. I laughed my ass off. Their entry was indeed hilarious. Falling down funny. Roll over and laugh till you cried and almost died funny. Why? Because they decided to make fun of the most long-winded blogger on earth by deriding his incompetently endless prose with even longer prose delivered in the usual deadpan German style. Not that they got their own joke. No, they gloried in their own infinite specificity, itemizing every single instance of the 410,846 times Jeff Goldstein ( the uppity Jew) employed jokes about cocksucking as the punchline of his political arguments. The Sadlyneinvolk made the usual German assumption that adding numbers up to totals constituted satire and that denouncing those totals amounted to humor.

Dang those Krauts is a hoot, ain't they?

More recently, Sadly, Nein has determined that InstaPunk is worthy of another German attempt at humor. (Perhaps because they've enlisted the aid of the most notoriously humorous Americans yet born, spoiled narcissistic liberals who know the labels for everything and the meaning of nothing. Yeah, they're the stand-ups who've been turning comedy clubs into political snoozefests all across the continent.) But here's the joke. They, meaning Germans and their closest associates in humor, decided that InstaPunk was racist. And the joke they made to drive home the point to the rest of us was selectively quoting from the piece they disdained -- in their infinite European tolerance for all peoples who are not Belgian or swarthy -- and commenting on the selected quote by pronouncing it racist.

HA. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. It's just so damned humorous. Inspired really. Europeans lecturing someone -- anyone -- else about racism.

So funny that Nietzsche is probably laughing in his grave.

Which will make them feel wonderful. And infinitely superior. As usual.

Because they never understood Nietzsche. Who was always making fun of them. As they deserved to be made fun of. Except that they never understood the terrible tragedy of Nietzsche. Which was that he was the only one of their own who made fun of them in the way they deserved. He knew they were dangerous swine. He thought we'd get it if he alluded to it obviously enough. It was the biggest thing he was wrong about. To this day the Germans still haven't figured out that they're swine. Spoiled, arrogant, dangerous, humorless, whining, worthless swine.

Come to think of it, that's why we racist Americans had to troop over to Europe a couple of times in the twentieth century and pry their bad teeth off each other's necks to keep them from destroying the world with their pitifully racist tempers.

Unless that's not true. I'm sure the Europeans have come up with a new explanation that will enable them to say, "Sadly, No." After all, when you have only one joke, every question leads to the same punchline.

Are we intimidated by the post-modern zeitgeist? Sadly, nein.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Jayhawks! Yo!

TAKE IT BACK, BIG GUY. Yeah, The Boss has said bad things about B-Ball. But he wasn't the one who was glued to the tube during the amazing comeback win of the passing geniuses of Kansas over the brilliant pure shooters of Memphis. It was incredible. Impossible. Like seeing Clint Eastwood gunned down by five ambidextrous extras in a Sergio Leone movie. Amazing! And the Kansas coach showed some real class. He said, "This is the best team we played. We could play them ten times and win five. We got fortunate late." Did they ever.

The InstaBoss won't admit it, but he was impressed too. What more can anyone say?

YAHHH! Brizoni! How long did it it take you to get your first post posted? The Boss said I had "verve," I had to look it up. How long did it take you to get up, Longman? First. time. I. submitted.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More