Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
December 5, 2009 - November 28, 2009

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Break in the Action

Key quote:  "You know what? I'm the hero."

DON'T BE DEPRESSED. Yeah, everything's pretty dire this morning. A bank failure overnight, stock market poised for another plunge, and congress torn between passing a massive bailout package nobody wants and not passing a massive bailout package everyone sort of knows is necessary. But's it's also a fine comic moment. What must Obama be thinking about now? Isn't the clever young fox always supposed to be more agile and energetic than the old dog who's depicted in campaign ads as three-quarters in the grave? But so far, every time Obama thinks he's about to see daylight in the polls, Senator McDroopy looks to have been a step ahead of him all along. After the Berlin extravaganza, the obsolete old fleabag was waiting back home with a truly deflating set of viral video ads comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. After Obama's Roman Triumph in the Denver coliseum, he marched grandly into the buzzsaw of the old hound's Palin gambit. And now, blessed with the Democrat heaven of an economic crisis that can be blamed on Republicans, Obama sprints out to the expected lead only to find that damned old dog has beaten him to the headlines yet again.

Is McDroopy going to "surprise him like this through the whole picture"? Your guess is as good as mine.

Okay. You are now free to resume being terrified and heartsick about the economy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Groaning Board of Talent

From the City of Brotherly Love Handles: The Phatty Phils.

METS-PHILS ROUND 2. I'm not going to name names, but Phillies pitcher Brett Myers is the size of a house. When he waddles to the mound, the whole ballpark shakes. The same goes for most of the rest of the staff. The pictures in the video don't do them justice. They were probably taken before  the long season these guys have spent gorging out of sight in the bullpen. I can only imagine the cornucopia of food behind the screen -- like some medieval mead hall, no doubt, every trencherman with his own leg of mutton and brace of turkeys washed down with a hogshead of ale, every scraggly beard matted with grease and crumbs.

The banquet hall in the Phillies bullpen.

It's a wonder anyone can hear the phone ring when Manager Charlie Manuel calls from the dugout to ask one or more of them to push themselves away from the table. Watching them warm up is like witnessing a pod of whales stranded on some beach, heaving and snorting with painful effort.

Of course, eating yourself into a coma is a grand Philly tradition. Every year, the city celebrates the bitter end of yet another failed Eagles season with an event called the Wing Bowl, which features the same combination of massive food intake and bevies of buxom wenches. And only in Philadelphia could a major league game be threatened with cancellation because of concerns about the supply of hot dogs. So I'm not dismissing the whole gluttony thing out of hand. It has its place. But is that place really in the final stretch of a breakneck pennant race?

Is it really an accident that the three best pitchers on the team actually look like athletes?

Cole Hamels (14-10), Jamie Moyer (15-7), and Brad Lidge (40 saves).

Sorry. I probably shouldn't have said anything. Maybe I'm just jealous. Wouldn't it be great to spend just one night feasting with the titans of the Phillies bullpen? You bet it would.

Dark Beams

"Giant, massive structures much larger than anything in our... observable universe"?

DARKNESS IS ONLY A HIDDEN DANCE. While the atheists are making their full-court press against religion and the belief in any god, their own scripture of scientific truth continues to encounter baffling enigmas concerning the nature of a universe they claim to understand but for a few niggling details.

But, as they say, the devil is in the details. Here are a few of the loose ends they haven't quite tied up to the satisfaction of what people in generations past would have called 'science.' There isn't enough mass in the universe to account for the way it operates. In fact, there isn't even half enough mass. Which physicists have decided to explain by positing a thing they call dark matter, which has never been seen because it's invisible and untraceable except by negative inference; unless it's there, their model of the universe doesn't make any sense. They have a similar problem with energy. There appears to be too much of it, more than can be accounted for by their assessments of where in the observable universe it might come from. So they posit the existence of dark energy, which is just as invisible and untraceable as dark matter.

Are you with us so far? Now, they have stumbled over another detail:

As if the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy weren't vexing enough, another baffling cosmic puzzle has been discovered.

Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can't be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon "dark flow."

The stuff that's pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude...

Scientists discovered the flow by studying some of the largest structures in the cosmos: giant clusters of galaxies.

These clusters are conglomerations of about a thousand galaxies, as well as very hot gas which emits X-rays....

They discovered that the clusters were moving nearly 2 million mph (3.2 million kph) toward a region in the sky between the constellations of Centaurus and Vela.

This motion is different from the outward expansion of the universe (which is accelerated by the force called dark energy).

"We found a very significant velocity, and furthermore, this velocity does not decrease with distance, as far as we can measure," Kashlinsky told "The matter in the observable universe just cannot produce the flow we measure."

The scientists deduced that whatever is driving the movements of the clusters must lie beyond the known universe...

A theory called inflation posits that the universe we see is just a small bubble of space-time that got rapidly expanded after the Big Bang. There could be other parts of the cosmos beyond this bubble that we cannot see.

In these regions, space-time might be very different, and likely doesn't contain stars and galaxies (which only formed because of the particular density pattern of mass in our bubble).

It could include giant, massive structures much larger than anything in our own observable universe. These structures are what researchers suspect are tugging on the galaxy clusters, causing the dark flow.

Let's be clear about what they're conceding here. The mathematical coherence of their cosmological model now depends on the existence of a permanently unknowable other-verse operating in accordance with undefinably different laws of physics. In other words, the only way our current cosmic logic remains logical is if we postulate a vast all-encompassing illogic we can never understand. (Was Moses really offering such a different deal?) They continue to call their formulations scientific. But casually incorporating metaphysics into physics proper without acknowledging the enormity of the leap entails its own kind of dark energy. They don't even have the good manners to wink as they execute their sleight of hand.

Fine. I'm not saying they're wrong. I'm just saying they've got a lot of big, invisible, magical, and unequivocally theoretical balls in the air that they have to keep juggling in the dark, so to speak, if they are to prevent their "science" from shattering into the chaos of a disastrous delusional fantasy. Dark matter. Dark energy. Dark flow. These are hardly details. They're enormous unaccounted for remainders in computations of cosmological long division that just aren't working out the way they're supposed to. And what is their argument for the existence of such immensely powerful forces and entities they've never seen and therefore can't, ahem, observe and measure? They just have to be there, because the scientists are pretty sure their basic theory about how the universe operates is correct.

Funny, but I expect the person who would best understand that kind of a logic-belief superposition is St. Thomas Aquinas. Given the belief, the logic is impeccable. And given the logic, the belief is thoroughly justified. It's called religion. Of course, this is a religion that is unique in one regard; it infers no moral imperatives from the universe it claims to understand so well.

I believe, though, that this is a lack which can be easily remedied. Cosmological physics rests on the observation of, thus far at least, four forces: gravity, electro-magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. It would appear that our list of only three dark entities is one short of par. Permit me to suggest a fourth. Dark beams.  These are lines of exceptionally powerful energy so finely concentrated that they are presently undetectable, hence invisible or "dark." But, just like the physicists, we can still prove they are there because of the well documented phenomenon of answered prayers. Dark beams arc across the universe to and from the elegant conjunction of dark matter, dark energy, and dark flow that scientists 'know' continuously alters the behavior of the physical (i.e., visible and observable) universe. We see dark beams at work when  the routine predictions of science are confounded -- a brain-dead coma victim recovers, a hard-bitten fireman swears an angel protected him from immolation and led him impossibly to safety, the brief life of one man in a conquered province overthrows an empire and afterwards sets in motion the greatest explosion in the development of human imagination, knowledge, thought, creativity, and freedom in history..

These are not outcomes that can be explained by hard science or all the latter-day disciplines which claim to be sciences. They are the product of dark beams, which will one day make possible a unified "dark theory" which demonstrates that nothing works without the constant interaction between the raw physicality science seeks to measure and the much greater invisible aphysicality that sustains and makes sense of existence itself. And dark beams are the only shortcut that connects the physical universe directly with the aphysical universe. Hence the human association, throughout all the ages of of our species, of dark beams with the concept of the "divine."

Don't like it? Disprove it. In all likelihood, there's probably more voluminous evidence for my dark beams than for your dark matter, dark energy, and dark flows. And consider this: How scientific would all their formulations sound, particularly in the context of religion, if rather than "dark," they used as their preferred term "the unseen"?

Stew on that for a bit.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Skull of the One

This might actually be it.

THE ONE. The maestro is in the news a couple of ways this week. First, it seems there's been a rediscovery of a lost manuscript: Predictably, it's being used to make lesser men feel less lesser:

What's fascinating about this sheet of manuscript is not what light it sheds on Mozart's existing masterpieces, but rather that it joins the hundred or so strong catalogue of unfinished drafts by Mozart. Unlike the legend, the real Wolfgang didn't always take musical dictation from God. Instead, he tried out ideas, rejecting some along the way, experimenting with his material until he found the right notes that would make the composition flow. Much of this working, there's no doubt, was done in his head or at the piano, so what makes this document so precious is that it is a physical reminder of Mozart's compositional humanity. What's more, it probably dates from Mozart's last years (the watermark suggests somewhere between 1787 and 1791, the year of his death).

They say it's definitely his handwriting. Human handwriting. Hah.

Nobody can play the music yet, because he left out information like the key and so forth that mere mortals have to have before they can orchestrate a deathless doodle.

Second, there's news about the long-disputed skull currently in the possession of an Austrian foundation. We may soon have a better idea about whether it belonged to Wolfgang or somebody else..

DNA Tests to Be Performed on Mozart Skull

VIENNA, Austria - DNA tests could soon solve a century-old mystery — whether a skull held by the International Mozarteum Foundation is that of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Archaeologists have opened a grave in Salzburg thought to contain the remains of Mozart's father and other relatives. Experts plan to compare the remains' genetic material with the foundation's skull to determine if it belonged to the famed Austrian composer. Mozart died in 1791 and was buried in a pauper's grave at Vienna's St. Marxer Cemetery. The location of the grave was initially unknown, but its likely location was determined in 1855. The grave on that spot is adorned by a column and a sad-looking angel.

The scuttlebutt has it that the gravedigger who buried Mozart subsequently stole his skull and sold it. Scientists have managed to procure the thighbone of an aunt to use it in DNA comparisons. We'll see.


Scientists are never satisfied, of course. Without their dumb tests, they're adrift. It doesn't matter that jettisoned body parts have served as soothsayers to millions over the years, capable of answering every "yes or no" question put to them.

Oh? You doubt it? Then give it a try. Frame your question and prepare to hear the voice of the greatest genius yet born in the -- what d'you call it? -- Common Era?

You'll see.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today's Campaign Update

Is that FDR getting dragged into the soup a minute or so in?

DON'T WORRY. Frankly, we can't make out many of the details in what's going on out there. All that's clear is that everyone's involved and everyone's getting dirty. Anyone who can decipher some real highlights of the action is free to offer them in the Comment section. I'm not even going to try.

Meanwhile, gas prices keep going up, the financial system keeps melting down, people on the gulf coast are still mired in mud of their own, Pakistan is imploding, Iran is toiling away nonstop on its atom bomb, our own leftist loons are applauding Ahdumjihad for blaming the U.S. financial crisis on the War in Iraq, and tragically, Horatio Caine is not really dead. (Bret Favre and the Jets, on the other hand, just might be.)

I'm sure all the campaign geniuses know what they're doing and why it's better than acting like a grownup. Maybe they'll explain it all to us one day. Until then, here's the best advice a lone blogger can give you.

Things will get better. They do that. Sometimes they do. But not CSI Miami.

Monday, September 22, 2008

PSAYINGS.5A.19. Thank God we can trust the government to look out for us, you know? It wasn't always this way. Here's something of a prophecy from nearly 20 years ago. It's from The Boomer BibleWhich continues to be right about a lot of things.

Chapter 33
And so it will come to pass that the American Capitalists will invent industries that nobody ever heard of before,
2  Called management consulting,
3  And public relations,
4  And life insurance,
5  Not to mention advertising,
6  Which won't make anything at all,
7  But they'll be very well paid for not making anything at all,
8  Just like banks.

Chapter 34
And since they've come up, it's important for you to know that banks will be an incredibly important part of Capitalist societies like America,
2  Because every Capitalist nation will always need a whole bunch of boring avaricious people in blue suits to watch everybody's money,
3  Because the most important principle in every Capitalist Nation is the principle that nobody can be trusted,
4  Ever,
5  Except for banks, of course,
6  Which are extremely trustworthy,
7  Or why would they have so many boring drones in blue suits to watch over your money all the time?
8  Besides, if banks weren't trustworthy, why would people give them money and let them lend it to other people,
9  Without even asking the people who gave it to them in the first place?
10  Not to mention the fact that if bankers weren't trustworthy, they'd probably get involved in a lot of risky financial speculation that could cause a huge depression someday,
11 Which wouldn't do Capitalism any good at all.

Chapter 35
That's why it will be such a good thing that banks will always lend money to the people who deserve it,
2  And will always use impeccable business judgment,
3  Because who could possibly know more about business than a know-it-all in a blue suit who thinks you earn money by lending other people's money to still other people who will do all the work and take all the risks,
4  While he sits in a giant office upstairs at the bank thinking up ways to get more money?

Chapter 36
Eventually, there will be so many great bankers that they will build a city all for themselves,
2  Called New York,
3  Which nobody will be allowed into who actually makes things,
4  Except skyscrapers, that is,
5  Because the banks and life insurance companies and brokerage houses who deal strictly in money will all need their own skyscrapers,
6  With their names on them in giant letters,
7  Just so everyone will know that they really do make things,
8  Even though they really don't,
9  Which has a lot to do with the appearance of value,
10  And everything in the world to do with American Capitalism,
11  Which will have its headquarters in New York,
12  On Wall Street.

Chapter 37
In fact, Wall Street will become the world capital of Capitalism,
2  And will become so fantastically successful that the people who work there will eventually forget practically everything you ever said,
3  Because they will know better than you,
4  About everything.

Chapter 38
For example, they will forget about all your quaint definitions,
2  Because Capitalism isn't about creating wealth by creating value that didn't exist before;
3  Instead, it's about getting rich by getting hold of more money than other people,
4  Which is why value doesn't matter,
5  Since what really matters is being the swiftest,
6  And the fittest,
7  And getting up earlier than the other guy,
8  So that you can take his money while he's still asleep,
9  And use it to buy stocks on margin,
10  In the kinds of companies that can't help but succeed,
11  Which you can always identify because their stock prices keep going up,
12  Which is why everybody else is buying their stocks on margin too,
13  And so it's a good idea to buy yours earlier than the other guy,
14  So that you'll make higher profits,
15  And more money.

Chapter 39
Actually (said the pen),
2  I have some not very good news for you,
3  Because when I told you the bad news about your ideas before,
4  I overlooked some,
5  Which I have been suddenly reminded of,
6  Because Capitalism will also lead to something really awful that people will blame on you,
7  Something called the Great Depression,
8  Which will start on Wall Street,
9  With a tremendous noise,
10  Which will sound like a single gigantic crash,
11  Even though it will consist of thousands and thousands of little crashes,
12  Made by thousands and thousands of phones slipping from terror-stricken fingers,
13  All over America,
14  Simultaneously,
15  Because the call they all got,
16  Simultaneously,
17  Was a margin call.

Chapter 40
During the Great Depression, it will become obvious to everyone that Capitalism doesn't work,
2  Because millions and millions of people will be out of work,
3  And even worse than that, it will be discovered that there isn't any money at all in the Most Chosen Nation,
4  Except for the money that the richest of the fat-cat Capitalists still have squirreled away, of course,
5  Because all the money everybody else had before the Great Depression was borrowed from somebody else,
6  Who had also borrowed it from somebody else,
7  And so forth,
8  And so on,
9  So that there's only one thing left to do,
10  Namely, have the government step in,
11  And print up a whole bunch of money,
12  And start giving it away,
13  Which doesn't have much to do with Capitalism exactly,
14  But has a great deal to do with putting some food on the table,
15  For all the millions and millions of people who aren't fit enought to survive on their own.

Chapter 41
In fact, this new idea of giving money away to the people who need it will catch on,
2  In a big way,
3  And become very very popular,
4  Because the politicans will look very statesmanlike giving away millions,
5  While the philanthropists will look miserly giving away their dimes,
6  Which is why the government will be delighted to discover how easy it is to take more and more millions away from the philanthropists,
7  So that they can have their picture taken giving it away,
8  Until lots and lots of people in the Most Chosen Nation on Earth will one day decide that they were wrong for all the years they thought it was the government who couldn't be trusted the most,
9  Because the ones who can't be trusted the most are the greedy Capitalists,
10  Who borrowed all that money,
11  And then threw it all away.

Here endeth today's lesson. Unless you're prepared to consider even more evidence that InstaPunk is always right. Nah. You don't want to do that. Think about Hope and Change instead.

P.S. Time capsule moment. If you follow the "InstaPunk is always right" link, note that while I anticipated a Hillary nomination, I also suggested the electorate might be in the mood for a "super-smart" candidate. Isn't that really the basis of the Obama campaign? No experience. No accomplishments. No plans to speak of. But he's just "super-smart." Newt would have taken him apart in three debates. (And I mean absolutely nothing left moving on the field of battle larger than a toe...) But read the comments on that post. Everyone telling me I was wrong because they just knew conservatives had to bend their principles this time for the sake of getting elected. And the commenters weren't alone. Somewhat later in the day I crossed swords with Weekly Standard wunderkind Dean Barnett, who still hasn't regained any credibility after his long infatuation with Mitt Romney. When you look at just how nasty this campaign is getting, does anyone really think Mitt's sunny banality would play with the negative ads he'd have to be running by now?

So there's a second lesson of the day. Conservatives blew it this time, Because they had no guts. Their convictions and principles weren't proof against their fears and their media-induced anxiousness to compromise on issues that -- as I predicted -- would no longer be the determining factors in the 2008 election. The bad news? We may very well get ZERObama for president. That's an outcome that could have been avoided with a show of character by all you 'pragmatic' Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and McCain supporters. (Peter: Don't you dare. Ron Paul was never a candidate; he was always only a badly written fictional character, Eugene McCarthy rewritten as a graphic novel for for the solipsistic I-pod set.)

Disgusted. Yeah, I'm voting McCain. But I'm still d-i-s-g-u-s-t-e-d.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Administration Hobby Previews

I didn't much care for the whole biking thing, either.

A TALE OF TWO TICKETS. It's inevitable that one pair of candidates or the other is going to get elected, and we'll get subjected to the usual partisan political fights and screw-ups. What's probably harder to remember right now is that we'll also get bombarded with a lot of stories about what the first and second families do to amuse themselves in their leisure hours.

Do you remember? Sure you do. The Kennedy touch football games. LBJ hoisting his beagle by the ears and showing off his gall bladder surgery scar. Jimmy Carter just sitting there in his frumpy cardigan with that look on his face. Reagan riding horses with his big cowboy hat on. Clinton spraining his knee at Greg Norman's house chasing another piece of tailMcDonald's cherry pie. George Bush the Elder skydiving and George the Younger chain-sawing  sticks at the ranch and falling off his mountain bike. Even vice presidents afflict us with their hobbies. Who can forget Dick Cheney shooting one of his pheasant-hunting friends in the face? Spouses, too. Jackie wanted to redecorate everything in sight, and Nancy Reagan spent most of her free time with fortunetellers and astrologers. Lynn Cheney writes children's books. Ugh. Are you ready for the four years of puff pieces you'll have to endure depending on who we vote into office this November?

You haven't thought about it, have you? Here's a preview. It's not meant to prejudice your vote. There's good and bad on both sides. But who you prefer in the off-hours probably says as much about you as your politics. That's why it's worth looking at.

The Obamas are probably reassuring to the smartest people, as you might expect. Here's a hint about her favorite leisure time pursuit from Michelle, courtesy of the prestigious national news and commentary journal Seventeen Magazine.

On her Facebook page, she lists her interests as "Being a mom, Sudoko."[sic]


It's meta-linguistic. Like Pachinko. Without all the racket.

And from the same source we also learn what hubby Barack likes best.

According to Barack, Michelle doesn't like to play Scrabble. Why? She's very competitive, he says, and "I usually beat her, and I tend to gloat."

Should he let her win occasionally? No. But he should be more gracious about it. I think. We wouldn't want her to get the idea that everyday American life is somehow mean.

He'll probably stop gloating after he wins the presidency.

All very cosmopolitan, to be sure. Very little chance of seeing bandaids and carefully phrased medical press conferences after a lost weekend of Sudoku and Scrabble. The Bidens, on the other hand, will tend to remind us of our physical frailties and vulnerabilities. Joe doesn't play sports at his age, but he does have a rejuvenation regimen that's bound to attract tons of attention after he becomes vice president.

Who knew? You've got to believe. Then comes Viagra.

Maybe the gush of media coverage about hair plugs will be good news for a lot of guys who were too shy or embarrassed to look into the available options. And Joe's wife Jill also has a positive use for her free time. She has her own Breast Health Initiative, which so far hasn't got the glowing reviews it deserves, but I think we're safe in saying that if the Obama-Biden ticket wins, we won't be able to walk down the street without hearing how to give ourselves a breast self-exam.

It's ALL good. Seriously.

So, with the Dems, we'll get our lives enhanced by a bunch of numbers, words, rejuvenation schemes and cancer prevention. Pretty elevating stuff. Especially when you compare it to what the Repubs will probably batter us with. Let's face it. A McCain-Palin administration would be a lot noisier than the refined and helpful hobbies of the Obama-Biden administration.

Forget Cindy McCain's $300,000 convention outfit. This woman is a maniac in her free time. She builds and drives drift racers. Just when you're about to nod off waiting for the weather report during the local late news, you'll probably be blasted out of your warm doze by footage like this:

Is this really what we want middle-aged women doing? Me,
I'm votiing 'Present.' Does she truly know how to heel-toe?

Of course, it's also possible you won't miss the weather report for once. But this is only the beginning. John McCain was an honest-to-God naval aviator, which means we're going to see a whole new emphasis on archaic show-off displays like this:

You know I'm right... The Blue Angels will be fixtures in the
Lincoln bedroom. They'll probably replace the Secret Service.

I'm not sure our ears will be able to stand the strain. Worse, none of the high-decibel McCain extravaganza will do anything to prepare us for the quiet, murderous stalking of Sarah Palin on the hunt for a moose:

No, I didn't show a kill. Don't want to.

And then there's snow machine dude. How sick do you think we're going to get of features, reportage, and melodramatic cinematography like this?

So it looks cool. This time. Think hundreds of times.

Plenty is my guess. But the decision is up to you. Up to all of us, actually. Choose wisely.


P.S. I was definitely not trying to give the impresson that the Obamas and Bidens aren't athletic. Michelle, for example, is on record as saying that she likes to run on her treadmill. That can be athletic, right?

Sure it can.

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