Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 2, 2009 - December 26, 2008

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

YouTube Wednesday

SHORTER THAN THAT. True, we've never done a YouTube Wednesday before, and we may never do one again. But for today's edition we're focusing on extremes. Above, you can hear the world's most extreme bird song. Immediately below, you can take a ride in the world's most extreme automobile. The final clip offers the most extreme version of American Revolutionary history you've ever seen. All of them are safe for work.

The Bugatti Veyron

1776 -- "300" Style

Wasn't that fun?

Casting Call:

Shattered Glass, Part Deux
(SCOOP? The TNR Masthead at is 404 via Google)

Scott Beauchamp played by Giovanni Ribisi

HOT HOT HOT. Via InstaPundit, NRO's Kathryn Jean Lopez is asking who will star in the sequel to Shattered Glass. We always try to oblige. The answers are a cinch. All you need is one over-the-top actor who specializes in creepy, one or two elite West Wing alums, and someone else to play the one who looks exactly like Matt Damon.

Peter Scoblic played by Oliver Platt

Peter Beinart played by Matt Damon

Franklin Foer played by Bradley Whitford

All they need now is someone to make up a script. That shouldn't be too hard. Everyone involved seems pretty darn good at making things up.

UPDATE. A bumptious commenter who styles himself as "Timmy" asks us, "Umm, isn't that Ricky Gervais in the Peter Scoblic photo?"

Faced with a crude and baseless accusation of this sort, our editor-in-chief ("His Magnificence") felt compelled to reply:

Umm Timmy,

I can assure you that our division of very well dressed fact-checkers obtained 100 percent confirmation before the photo was published that the Ricky Gervais-looking one was really truly for sure Peter Scoblic.

Nevertheless, since you have raised this absurd question, has initiated -- consistent with our commitment to the very highest of contemporary journalistic standards -- a thorough investigation to reconfirm what we have already ascertained to be fact; namely, that the person in the disputed photo is Peter Scoblic. Or someone who looks so much like him that he could only be played by Ricky Gervais if the much suaver Oliver Platt weren't available.

I can further assure you that the results of our investigation will be published as soon as Google ceases its inexcusable stonewalling about the deceptive procedures it uses in ID'ing the photos which may come up in a 0.05-second image search. Please note that our dedication to thoroughness may require weeks of investigation or months. Decades aren't entirely out of the question. That's how professional we are.

In the meantime, I suggest that you conduct your own investigation of why this Scoblic person would go to such lengths to make himself look like Ricky Gervais. And why is it exactly that you know who this Ricky Gervais is? (Some lowdown dirty  leak?) We certainly don't. It's our considered opinion that you have a hidden agenda in all this. Be warned. Eventually -- perhaps very eventually -- will uncover whatever sinister purpose drove you to impugn our good name.


Ummm, on a more serious note, the TNR masthead seems to have disappeared from the TNR website. Via Google: Error 404, File Not Found. No text, no images. Anyone know anything about this?

UPDATE 2. A text-only masthead is still accessible by direct link at the TNR site though Google can no longer find it. A call to TNR resulted in a denial that Scoblic had been fired. His voicemail is still playing its recorded message.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Superior Conservative

OLD GUARD. One of the biggest fallacies in politics is that only the liberals-slash-progressives exhibit the above-it-all superiority of those who are to the manor born. Indeed, the haughtiness of power-elite liberals pales in comparison to the educated class who have never been taken in by such fads as Marxism, atheism, post-modernism, or even Reaganism. Such people are so aloof they tend to be invisible to pollsters and political campaigns of every stripe. If Hillary is to be prevented from capturing the White House, this community of the not-interested-enough-to-be-involved conservatives must be persuaded to vote in the next presidential election. I essayed a conversation with one of them not long ago. The results are not particularly promising. Here's a transcript.

Is there any particular Republican candidate who appeals to you? Refresh my memory. Who's running?

Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, and John McCain. Oh, right.

What do you think of them? I didn't much care for George Romney. Too much slicked back salt-and-pepper hair. But at least he wasn't named after a baseball glove. I suppose that's called having a common touch. Just how common are politicans expected to be these days?

Giuliani? Thompson? McCain?  It's said that persistence is a virtue, but I've always found persistence more tedious than inspiring. Oh well. Giuliani. He's a mayor, isn't he? Why would anyone think a mayor is qualified to be president? Don't they spend most of their time making deals with labor unions? Rather low, don't you think? I've heard of the McCain fellow. Didn't he break under torture in Vietnam? Regrettable. One might think he'd be content to go home and stay there without seeking to excite any more attention. Under the circumstances, that would seem to be the tactful thing to do.

They say Thompson is somewhat reminiscent of Reagan. I never much cared for Reagan. His hair was rather peculiarly orange. He also signed gigantic budgets. And his funeral was -- how shall I put it? -- overdone.

Don't you care at all? What about the issues? What about the possibility that Hillary Clinton might be elected President? She probably will be. It might be amusing.  The Clintons are so hilariously, vulgarly corrupt they remind me of old-time big city mayors like LaGuardia, Curley, and Daley. Didn't you say a mayor was running against her? Should be fun. But her ankles are unfortunately thick. Not much breastage, either. Sad. The presidency will probably serve as some species of consolation for her.

Have you even heard of the Iraq War? Certainly. What a bungle. That Bush lad had the right idea, though it's never been a wise move to trust Andover boys with serious decisions. They're not up to it. Too bad he never learned to speak in public. But thumping Iraq was a creditable notion.  Best thing to do with those Arabs is shoot them all. They won't stop annoying everyone until we do that. But I never had any use for that Rumsfeld fellow. It's fine to economize on some things. Like Congress. If we made them all drive Fords, do you think they'd spend so much money on pure nonsense? But you can't economize on wars. When you send troops out to do a job, you send as many as you can find and you keep at it until the enemy is dead or begging for mercy. Low-budget wars are bad business. Pardon my candor.

Do you have an opinion about abortion? Yes. It's not done. But some women do it anyway. The law isn't going to change that. But people seem to like wrangling about it. I prefer raising coneflowers. And foxgloves. Poison is better when it's pretty.

Is God an issue with you? No. When he's had enough, he'll do what he has to do. I'll probably be dead by then. He's pretty patient in my experience. Too damned patient, in fact. Ask all my dead Celtic ancestors about that. They might have a bone to pick with God. Or two.

Aren't you afraid of socialism, Islamic fascism, rampant political corruption, Global Warming, and the increasing saber-rattling of Russia and China? Afraid? No. Life is a mess and if you're afraid of it, go ahead and kill yourself.  If you don't want to commit suicide, you adjust to it. Even to Democrats. They've been socialists since FDR. Thankfully, he died eventually. The usual fate of stupid do-gooders. Fascism is too crude to succeed. It has its moments in the early going, as a rule, like improved efficiency for mass transportation, but when people learn what else is involved they tend to object, strenuously. In the end, fascism flunks at everything but gaudy uniforms. Political corruption is something that's bound to happen when people who used to be mayors and senators and other ladies of the night get elected to high office and discover there's money to be had by selling their favors to the right people. I can't speak to the Global Warming thing. I never trusted scientists any more than I trusted politicians. As far as I'm concerned, summers have been more or less hot all my life. When winters get hot enough to require a gin and tonic before five o'clock, I'll let you know.

Russia? China? Now you're becoming a bore. Name a time when Russia and China weren't being childishly obnoxious about practically everything. Their whole idea of foreign policy is being infantile. If they step over the line the way they've been threatening continuously for the last five hundred years or so, we'll have to smack the presumption out of them. That's what they really want, anyway. It'll do them good. It's what children want. Counterintuitive? Yes. Counterproductive? No.

Do you make any attempt to keep up with what's going on in politics, like the stuff that's made a big deal of in The New York Times and on the network news? No. The lower classes -- especially journalists -- do have to amuse themselves as best they can. There's no point in obstructing their enthusiasms. Being well bred means not losing your temper just because the loudest among us insist on being silly.

So you don't even pay attention to the war? Not really. I know the journalists want us to lose it, so I don't read or watch their reports. If the politicians let us win it, we will. Now that the Princeton boy is out of the picture, I feel mostly more optimistic. I do feel bad for the families of soldiers and marines who died. Every generation of my family has had losses like that, so I -- what's the word? -- empathize. Beyond that, I just wait for them to kick the Arabs back to the seventh century. Nobody beats us when we're there to win. That part of it is bone simple. Or am I missing something? Don't mention the Democrats. I'm being ironic. It's my privilege as an old fart.

Are you going to vote? Yes. Of course.

For whom? Some Republican, I expect. Only most of them are crazy.

One last question: Did you do anything to prevent FDR from subverting the American Dream during the Great Depression? Of course not. I played tennis with him at Groton. Or my father did. Franklin thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'd have hated to burst his bubble. He was paralyzed. Syphilis is a bitch.

Do you feel better? I know I don't.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Death of a Season

SAME OLD, SAME OLD. For those of you who missed it, Andy Reid's Philadelphia Eagles were leading 16-12 and had the pitiful Chicago Bear offense pinned to the 3 yard line with no timeouts and less than 1:45 on the clock. So the Bears marched 97 yards for a game-winning touchdown with 9 seconds to spare. Game over. At 2 and 4 in a division where every other team has a winning record, season over.

Last year's incompetent coaching was miraculously rescued by substitute QB Jeff Garcia, who led the Eagles from ignominy to six straight wins and the playoffs. Naturally, that required Reid and company to dispose of Garcia, who is presently leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from ignominy to a dramatic turnaround season.

There will be no miracle comeback in 2007.  The Eagles offense can move the ball spectacularly between the 20 yard lines, but they can't score touhdowns. The Eagles defense can mostly stop opposing teams inside the 20 yard line but let them run free between the 20 yard lines (a quid pro quo in the name of brotherly love), which leads to a steady hemorrhage of field goals until the game is really, truly on the line, when Eagle defenders collapse like the French Army. And the Eagles special teams are only special in the way special education is: an ordinary result is so far beyond expectations it's treated as a triumph. Punt and kick returns earn a sigh of relief when they aren't muffed or fumbled. Punts and kickoffs are deemed successful if the opposing offense takes the field inside their own territory.

Fortunately, Eagle fans are endlessly resilient. Years ago, they came together to launch the tradition of the Philadelphia Wingbowl, a gross little festival the city could enjoy while other NFL burgs were celebrating the playoffs and the Super Bowl.

Today is therefore the official opening of the Wingbowl pre-season (h/t WIP Sports Talk). We can't wait for the big day to arrive.

P.S. It seemed like half the New York Giants squad (5-2) was in attendance when Rutgers (5-2) knocked off the No. 2 ranked South Florida Bulls Thursday night (see "Other Notes" at the link.). Actually, Philadelphia is closer to Piscataway than New York, but obviously every single Eagle had more important things to do than watch a gutty comeback perfomance in a game of football. I'm sure it means nothing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Friday Follies

Believe it or not, this is a test.*

TGIF. What a ridiculous week this has been. Not just because Congress has been making a fool of itself, although it has, of course. The highlight (i.e., lowlight) was yet another anti-Bush, anti-military tirade by a mentally ill Dem congressman named Pete Stark during the same week when Harry Reid's letter denouncing Limbaugh for smearing the troops is racking up scornfully huge bids at eBay. While the whole right-o-sphere is guffawing at this latest example of lefty hypocrisy, the Democrat leadership doesn't even have the wit to disavow Stark's contemptible rant. In fact, Speaker Pelosi even compounded the foolishness of Reid's attack on Limbaugh by blaming the defeat of the SChip middle-class entitlement bill on "hate radio."

But Congress aside, the greatest craziness of the week belongs to the ladies, who have been cha-cha-ing through the news with reckless abandon as if it were their whole purpose in life to make clear that the female sex is every bit as lewd, venal, corrupt, stupid, and immoral as the bad boys they find so irresistible.

The one great cause on which they all agree, for example, is breast cancer, the second biggest killer among the various cancers (exceeded only by prostate cancer) and the most ubiquitous and lauded raison d'etre for charity drives ranging from pink-ribboned bake sales to pink-ribboned marathons (and this week, pink whistles for football referees!!?), with the result that the color pink has, in the minds of many, become instantly evocative not of femininity per se, but mastectomies. Thanks for that. And now the selling of the cause has entered a perverse new phase, in which cancer and sexuality are somehow merged. New ways of "promoting breast cancer awareness" unveiled this week include wet T-shirt contests and even dry T-shirts that look like this:

"Save 2nd Base." Is it supposed to be as creepy as it is?

Thank goodness that so far men have had the neanderthal stoicism to die silently of prostate cancer without making any attempt whatever to raise awareness of the anatomy of their disease. But what will the "girls" do next to get more attention? I'm sure it'll be as subtle as a pair of bazookas. Cha cha cha.

To be fair, there are other accomplices in the squeamifying of the connotations of pink. A couple of these were also big in the news this week. The nutty anti-American ladies who call themselves Code Pink managed to embarrass themselves and the city of Berkeley by getting outnumbered by counter-protesters at their protest of a Marine recruiting office near the UCB campus.

Eventually they did. But "home" for Code Pink these days happens to be Nancy Pelosi's front lawn. Cha cha cha.

Camp Pelosi.

And then there's Britney Spears. Who took time out this week from defying her family court judge and losing visitation rights with her two (apparently unwanted) boys to show off her own favorite connotation (NSFW) to more paparazzi. Cha.

We all know that Britney used to be a role model for pre-teen girls, although she isn't anymore. Except for the girls who are having sex at the age of 11 in middle schools. But they have rights, too. A coalition of teachers and mothers voted this week to allow a middle school in Maine to dispense birth control pills to sixth grade girls without parental notification. Did you get that? Without parental notification. Yes, we concerned and doting mothers have no need to know if our children are ingesting powerful hormones that have never been subjected to long-term testing on 11 year old girls because it would have been frankly irresponsible and dangerous to do so. Never forget that we mothers can be as dumb as a box of rocks too, not to mention too morally retarded to be allowed out in public.

Of course, if we squint in just the right way, we can see their side of it. What with Britney and Lindsay and Paris, etc, there's absolutely nothing they can do to prevent their girl children from becoming sleazy whores within a matter of days after reaching puberty. Who would know better about that than the sleazy whores emancipated women who dropped them in the first place? Cha cha cha.

It will be argued, naturally, that men really shouldn't have any opinion about this sort of thing because we can never know what it's like to be a sex-crazed girl, a 21st century woman, or a mother. And especially a mother. That's why, apparently, the Hillary Clinton campaign is so confident that the female support for her will cut right across lines of party, ideological principle, and moral values. Yes, this is also the week in which we learned that at least one out of four Republican women will abandon all her intellectual stands on political issues and vote (with that curious Mona Lisa smile, no doubt) a Mother-in-Chief boasting zero executive experience into the White House. Cha cha cha.

Meanwhile, the Great Mother herself is dancing up a storm, effortlessly smiling, laughing, and twirling her way around at least five scandals that would be fatal to the candidacy of any white male politician (excluding Bill, I admit.)

There's the Peter Paul civil fraud trial in which hubby Bill is a defendant and Hillary is a material witness.

There's the continuously unfolding Hsu campaign financing scandal (and I absolutely refuse to do one of those terrible InstaPUNdit puns about "dancing Hsus.")

There's the long-smoldering Ray Reggie campaign finance scandal.

There's the brand new Chinatown campaign finance scandal.

There's the Sandy Berger-as-foreign-policy-adviser scandal.

And then there are all the other old Clinton scandals in which Hillary has managed to step-step-step around any number of possible indictments for perjury, obstruction, bribery, and FEC felonies. Could these pop up again to knock Hillary off balance and maybe even off her pedestal? No. Not so long as all the mothers regard sheer maternity as an absolute trump card over the demands of law, reason, and decency.

(btw, please contrast the female icon of America with this truly brave, accomplished, and principled woman who has quit a life of luxury and ease to confront the murderously evil forces in her country at enormous personal risk. She's not dancing. She's marching. Let's hope she's not alone.)

Cha cha cha.

*  EXPLAINING THE GRAPHIC. The gif file (h/t to Gabriel at AOS) is a test of whether you're right-brain or left brain dominant. Here are the originator's instructions:

Do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

I think it's supposed to be the case that men tend to be left brain dominant and women right brain dominant, though there will be many exceptions all round. For the record, I saw the figure rotating counter-clockwise first, and then it flipped spontaneously into a clockwise motion. It keeps doing that without any effort on my part. As I said, there will be many exceptions. One exception I believe will turn up among the kind of women reviewed in the Follies today is an entirely different kind of brain organization, illustrated below.

If this is how the gif file looks to you, I wish you only the best and hope you're happy with Britney, Hillary, and company. You definitely deserve one another.

Cha cha cha.

UPDATE. Commenter Maggie suggests the Friday Follies should have noted this as well. But I feel more guilty for failing to mention the new Valerie Plame book ("Valerie lied, the MSM cried.") and the tortuously reported saga of Randi Rhodes and her regrettable but weirdly propagandized collision with a concrete curb. And the Gorgon reporter who terrorized a 70-year-old man for defending his life with a gun. And Ellen's self-absorbed nervous breakdown on national TV. And Peggy Noonan's truly strange meltdown into guarded but wistful fantasies about Hillary. And Maureen Dowd's odd attempt at seeming to have a sense of humor by subletting her column to a vandal court jester who mocked her but smiled so sweetly she didn't notice. Anyone want to try the brain test on the general population?

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