Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
September 7, 2013 - August 31, 2013

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Just an Idea

NASA's new Cruise Phone. Six inches long, 600 mph.
We can send it anywhere... not. But we can do SOMEthing.

PSAYINGS.5D. I know that bloggers are casting around for a way to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. I'm aware, for example, that some of the big blogs are planning to become clearinghouses for contributions to charities. This will undoubtedly do some good; however, it appears to leave a lot of the blogosphere's real strengths on the table. So I'd like to propose the outline of an idea -- still hazy, to be sure -- but perhaps sufficient to generate more specific action items.

What are the blogosphere's strengths? It is literally everywhere, a vast network that takes in all geographical regions and dozens if not hundreds of capabilities. The short history of this medium has also shown that it is most effective when its resources are sharply focused on a specific task or objective. And the one attribute that practically all bloggers share is an awareness of the prime importance of communications.

The difficulty to date in applying effective help to the stricken areas is that communications have been crippled. Land lines are down, cell phone batteries are dead, and, probably, many cells are dead. Some repairs will be made in weeks to come, but the communication problems are likely to continue for a long time afterwards. Families who do not yet know if their friends and relatives are alive or suffering may continue in this state for much longer than anyone imagines. That's why my suggestion is that the blogosphere focus its efforts on the communication problems.

Blog email addresses can be depots for those who wish to get word to their families in other parts of the country. Bloggers with the right long distance plans can accept phone numbers and messages by email and place the phone calls.

Bloggers can also join together to secure prepaid cell phones in bulk, satellite phones, etc, and, via bloggers close to the scene, establish distribution centers and delivery systems. This mission is to get communication devices into the hands of ordinary people and keep the supply of batteries, etc, flowing.

Waiting for all the existing bureaucracies to provide real help to ordinary folks will be tedious, wasteful, and frustrating. This is a situation that cries out for entrepreneurial initiatives. Being way stations for charities seems like too low a bar to set for ourselves.

Please take the time to record any suggestions, criticisms, or useful information in the Comments section, or email this website.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

God Blames Bush

God says, no, it's not his fault.

NOBODY'S FOOL. After months of silence regarding his role in the grim tide of events around the world, God gave a surprise press conference yesterday in Los Angeles for members of the U.S. and some international media. The event was presided over by David Boies, lead attorney for God's legal team, who fielded questions from the floor. His client participated via a computer-email hookup for close to an hour. The XOFF News Team has obtained the following transcript:

DAVID BOIES. On behalf of the Lord and Creator of the Universe, I'd like to welcome you all, and I'd like to thank Capitol Records for allowing us to use their facilities for this unprecedented event. I will read a short statement approved by my client, and then we will take some of your questions. Here's the text of the statement:

"I understand that many many people around the world are not pleased with certain happenings that have occurred in recent months and years. I wish to state for the record that I sympathize with all those who have suffered and are suffering. I further wish to state that said suffering has been caused in large part not by divine intention, but by human error. I therefore cannot accept responsibility or liability for any losses, damages, or reparations that might be owed to individual human beings. I will now attempt to answer questions, although under advice of counsel, I must warn you that I cannot speak to specifics which may be pertinent to future litigation."

My office will give you copies of the text afterwards. We'll proceed now to the question-and-answer phase. Yes, Chris, you had your hand up?

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC. To touch on what is occupying everyone's attention today, I'd like to say that I'm a good Catholic except for being pro-choice, and it's an honor to meet you. I want to ask about Hurricane Katrina, which is only the latest in a pattern of increasingly violent weather, including the recent tsunami, that has killed hundreds of thousands of Asians as well as hundreds of Americans in the southern states. Do you accept any responsibility for these catastrophes, or is it rather the case that human -- and especially American leadership -- has so failed in its planning and execution of environmental policy, as well as foreign policy, that you really can't be blamed?

GOD. That's exactly right, Chris. A certain amount of weather is normal, of course, but what we've seen lately is outrageous by any standard. Your scientists long ago identified the danger of global warming caused by human-generated greenhouse gases, and most of the world's nations were prepared to solve the crisis with the Kyoto protocols. The United States in particular has chosen to ignore climate change and the extreme storms it might generate, and now you are paying the price. I had nothing to do with it. Oh, and Chris, did anyone ever tell you you talk too much? Less is more, believe me.

AN NG, HANOI CITY TIMES. Two questions. Are you saying that the terrible loss of life we've experienced due to weather is the fault of the greedy running dog capitalists of the west, and by this I mean specifically George Bush of the United States? And if so, why is it that weather in Asia kills hundreds of thousands and in America only hundreds, if that?

GOD. The answer to your first question is yes, although I cannot mention individual names because of legal considerations, you understand. The answer to your second question is somewhat more complicated. Unfortunately for many, the United States is the most powerful and influential nation in the world, and its will is therefore imposed -- rightly or wrongly -- on billions who are powerless to disagree. What has been clear for almost half a century now is that the American people -- and their institutions, including the Supreme Court of the United States -- have decided that no American citizen should die from any cause, including disease, old age, natural catastrophe, plane crash, auto accident, war, et cetera. I used to have the power to intervene at times in such affairs, but the American supreme court has, in a long series of decisions, eliminated my right to do so. It is, at this point, illegal for me to correct the imbalance of death and suffering that exists between the United States and the poorer nations of the world. Soon, I expect, the more progressive Americans will pass laws that prevent me from afflicting any American with any ailment or injury under any circumstances. Such is the power of western liberalism. My hands are tied.

AHMED SIH, AL JAZEERA. I must confess that I am very disappointed to hear you speak in this way. Are you not Allah, who chose the Prophet Muhammed as his voice and strong right arm? I hear you condemn the selfishness and greed of the infidel Americans, but I do not hear you promise the vengeance, bloodshed, and justice we have learned from Muhammed to expect. What is your explanation of the war of aggression fought by Americans against my Arab brethren, and what are you going to do about it?

DAVID BOIES. Give us a moment. (Thirty to forty seconds of typing by Boies, followed by an interval of silence and more typing.)

GOD. On your knees, Ahmed Sih! Who are you to question Allah, Lord of Creation? There's only one question you should concern yourself with: how might YOU submit to MY will more perfectly. I shall deal with the Americans in my own way, in my own time. That is all.

MAUREEN DOWD, WASHINGTON POST. Speaking of the war in Iraq, could you comment on the despicable behavior of a president who takes months and months of vacations while American children are dying in the Sunni Triangle?

DAVID BOIES. Give us another moment. (More typing, etc).

GOD. I have no comment at this time, except that you really do need to break it off with Don. He's just playing you.

ANN COULTER. Quit shrieking, Modo. If this is really God, he's drunk or just killing time. How could he resist an opportunity to mess with a ship of fools like this one? Me, I have no questions he's in any mood to answer.

GOD. Hi, Ann. Like your skirt. And thanks for the beaucoup laughs. I have no answers you're in any mood to question. So there.

PAT ROBERTSON, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING. I regret to tell you, O Lord, that like Ahmed Sih -- and unlike Ann Coulter, apparently -- I am grievously disappointed to hear you speak in this way. Since when are you bound by the sinful rulings of the Supreme Court? Does this mean that you will do nothing to end the holocaust of abortion and the immoral spread of a secularism which even denies you credit for Creation itself? Are you simply going to stand by and watch us fall into decay and hellish ruin? Is there no hope for us?

GOD. Hey, Pat. Chill. You really should have paid more attention in your science classes at Yale. Or didn't you take any? Do you really think I have the kind of time it would take to be the personal totem you make me out to be? That I'm available every second to improve your personal finances, make your wife understand you better, and punish all the other sinful beings you fancy more sinful than yourself? Your scientists aren't idiots, you know. They're pretty close to the mark when they describe Creation as an ancient moment when certain natural laws were set in motion, so that things could progress pretty much on their own afterwards. Do you imagine that I deliberately designed the duckbilled platypus? Pfui. And if I really were the kind of personal deity you say I am, why would I care about a few fetuses when I have been doling out plagues, wars, and irreparable heartbreaks of every kind since the dawn of your sorry history? Grow up. And while you're at it, quit pretending to speak for my son. He's as sick of it as I am.

STEVE DOUCY, FOX NEWS. Excuse me, sir. I'm a weatherman for the Fox News Channel, so forgive me if I ask a question that's a little off topic. You seemed to be blaming the tsunami on George Bush -- maybe not in so many words, but effectively, if you know what I mean -- and the thing is, the tsunami wasn't a weather event, per se. It was caused by an earthquake. Earthquakes aren't caused by global warming, are they?

GOD. I know it's in the nature of your puny species to obsess about details. I don't. I'm the Big Picture type. If you really want to know, I couldn't care less about HOW tsunamis and hurricanes are the fault of the American government. They just are. You'll have to take my word for it.

PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES. Isn't the situation with Hurricane Katrina really an extraordinary nexus of numerous strands of incompetence by this administration? Isn't it possible that you played some part in arranging a kind of expose of Bush and his cronies -- to demonstrate in vivid terms that he caused the hurricane by blowing off Kyoto and then made it impossible to formulate an effective response because all the National Guard troops are in Iraq, and people can't even get away because of his mismanagement of gas prices? Are you sure you're not trying to tell us something with all this? And could you comment on the two successive presidential elections that have been stolen by this criminal?

DAVID BOIES. These are all matters that are too specific for divine comment, Paul. (Boies consults the computer screen.) Although God does offer an aside. He says, and I quote, "I thought you were an economist, Krugman. Did I miss something?"

SIMON FREAS, WALL STREET JOURNAL. Speaking of economics, could you comment on the housing market? Are we in the midst of a real estate bubble that's about to collapse? A simple yes or no will do.

GOD. Personally I'd advise diversifying into equity markets and, as an inflation hedge, money market funds.

RANDI RHODES, AIR AMERICA. I can't believe you ducked that question about Iraq. Now you're exchanging chit-chat with corporate fascists. Incredible. I demand to know why you humiliated Ahmed Sih like that. He's the victim here. His country has been invaded by imperialist aggressors, and you diss him like some punk Republican. Where were you during Abu Ghraib? Holding the camera? I'm not saying I believe in you anyway, but in case you do exist, I have to ask you on behalf of all the grieving mothers in the world, what DO you have to say about that evil, lying monster George W. Bush and the illegal, genocidal war against Arabs in Iraq? What about the weapons of mass destruction that weren't there? What about--

GOD. Silence, riblet. If you knew how to read between the lines at all, you'd see that I've already made it clear I have nothing to do with the war in Iraq. I don't "hold cameras." And where do you get off talking to me like that? Of course I exist. But if I don't care about a few million aborted fetuses, why would I care about a few hundred grieving mothers? You can't have it both ways  -- unless you're, and that's right, you ARE -- an American. Even if you pretend you really aren't. And if I want to humiliate a boring fanatic from al jazeera, it's no skin off your nose, is it? My question to you is, what is it exactly you're so pissed off about? Haven't I said practically everything you'd want me to say -- that everything wrong on the planet is the fault of your President, that I'm powerless against the self-appointed demigods of your Harvard Law School, that I don't give a rat's ass about the Right to Life, and that I, the Creator of the Universe, have chosen to arbitrarily limit my power to that of initial cause, thus confirming that everyone and everything you see around you is the spectacular accident you prefer it to be? Is there no end to your self-serving demands? What if I told you that I'm only holding this idiotic press conference in the first place because my attorneys suggested it -- that they were paranoically concerned that I'd experience a PR backlash from Hurricane Katonah, or whatever you call it, because I dared to splash a few of your cities as part of my Grand Plan for--

BOIES. (clicking off the computer terminal) Excuse me, I think I'd better call it a day right there. I'd ask you to disregard the last few statements. God has been very upset about the recent weather events in the south, and he's close to total exhaustion. Thank you, thank you, for your time. Don't forget your copies of the official release....

What we can't figure is why Boies didn't take a question from Time or Newsweek. Was that a divine instruction or just another accident?

UPDATE, 1:26 PM. Re the AWOL InstaPunk. This just in from a blogger in Michigan:

He reports the picture was taken on Rte I-70 South from Detroit. The vehicle was moving at an "extremely high rate of speed." Needless to say, we are growing VERY concerned. We can't keep making up all this tasteless stuff without him.

Monday, August 29, 2005

World Champions

The Ewa Beach, Hawaii, Little League Team

NAILBITER. It was a great game between Hawaii and defending champion Curacao, marred only by an umpire's call more amateurish than anything done by kids in the series. In what should have been an inning-ending double play in the third, the Americans caught a Curacao baserunner in a rundown between second and third, then threw out another baserunner attempting to steal home. The runner was doubly out. He ran out of the basepath trying to elude the tag, but was deftly tagged from behind anyway. Only the umpire standing ten feet away at home failed to watch any of it but the runner sliding across home plate. Curacao scored another run after the uncalled third out, taking a 3-1 lead.

The Hawaiians could have lost heart at this turn of events, but they responded in their next at bat with a pair of lead-off homeruns to tie the game once more. Curacao fought back, too, and grabbed a 6-3 lead in the fifth with a pair of their own homeruns, one with a runner aboard. When the Americans went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth it looked as if the game might be over. But the Hawaiian relief pitcher, Vonn Fe'ao, took the mound at the top of the sixth with a look of ice-cold fury in his eyes and seemed to keep throwing his pitches harder, edging up to the Little League equivalent of a 98 mph fastball.(The smaller field dimensions increase the effective speed of a pitch.) A Curacao runner reached third, where Fe'ao stranded him with an inning-ending strkeout.

Fe'ao also scored the first run of the Hawaiians' gutsy comeback in the bottom of the sixth (and last chance) inning, which tied the game with a couple base hits, adroit baserunning, and a turn of speed that converted a possible game-ending double play into a third run.

In the top of the seventh, Fe'ao threw even harder, reaching the equivalent of 100 mph with his fastball. His manner on the mound was so intimidating that it drew a rebuke from ABC commentator Brent Musberger, but that didn't save the heart of the Curacao lineup. Fe'ao struck them all out with hardly a wasted pitch.

Michael Memea, the catcher, was first up for the Hawaiians in the bottom of the seventh, and as he walked to the plate, the camera caught a glimpse of Fe'ao striding back and forth in the dugout like a caged tiger, waiting for his own imminent turn at bat. He never got the chance. Memea blasted a centerfield homerun (his second of the game), and Hawaii brought home its first world championship ever.

Both teams have plenty to be proud of. Curacao played hard and well. The Hawaiians played as if they simply weren't going to accept anything less than victory. Congratulations are due to each and every player, coach, and parent.

Remember this name: Vonn Fe'ao

And we'd also like to go on record as saying that Vonn Fe'ao is a name to remember. In a few more years he could be burning up the majors with his passion for winning. We'll be waiting.

UPDATE. InstaPunk is still missing... Someone sent us this snapshot from upstate New York, but the car was apparently quicker than the shutter.

Please let us know by email of any sightings. He's long overdue at the office.

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