Avant-garde brass solo of the gods proves we’re all fucking stupid.

Let’s get right to the goodness. This sound came out of the sky and was apparently heard from Canada to Germany.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHi6LjKuNl4

It’s pretty cool. Articles I won’t bother googling, because this is long enough already, describe it as “evil trumpet sounds”, but it’s got some nice multiphonics and stuff going on. It sounds distinctly metallic. So what the hell is it? And why does it prove we’re all fucking stupid? First let’s quote my archenemy, Lawrence Krauss, on religion vs. science.

“I tried to be really clear that you can keep asking “Why?” forever. At some level there might be ultimate questions that we can’t answer, but if we can answer the “How?” questions, we should, because those are the questions that matter. And it may just be an infinite set of questions, but what I point out at the end of the book is that the multiverse may resolve all of those questions. From Aristotle’s prime mover to the Catholic Church’s first cause, we’re always driven to the idea of something eternal.
If the multiverse really exists, then you could have an infinite object—infinite in time and space as opposed to our universe, which is finite. That may beg the question as to where the multiverse came from, but if it’s infinite, it’s infinite. You might not be able to answer that final question, and I try to be honest about that in the book. But if you can show how a set of physical mechanisms can bring about our universe, that itself is an amazing thing and it’s worth celebrating.
I don’t ever claim to resolve that infinite regress of why-why-why-why-why; as far as I’m concerned it’s turtles all the way down. The multiverse could explain it by being eternal, in the same way that God explains it by being eternal, but there’s a huge difference: the multiverse is well motivated and God is just an invention of lazy minds.” From http://genealogyreligion.net/infinite-regress-of-turtles

OK, so let’s follow this here. God is lazy because you’re just going, “I dunno, must be God”, right? The infinite universe, even though it too, like God, is causeless, is NOT lazy, because it’s well-motivated. Yeah, but does that make it actually exist? Because I thought science was about dealing with stuff that exists. Anyway, that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came to talk about the draft …

No wait, I came to talk about the Great Old Ones gracing us with an awesome trumpet solo, shouldn’t it be flutes? We still don’t know why this thing happened. According to NASA, it’s earth noises.

http://nypost.com/2015/05/19/eerie-trumpet-sounds-are-coming-from-the-sky/

Assuming this article is correct and NASA said they’re called things like spherics, happy day, because we can listen to some of those!

https://archive.org/details/ird062

Notice how those sound nothing like the trumpet thing? But fine, maybe they were talking about something else. So here are some questions:

1. If this is just the earth doing its thing, why aren’t we hearing it on a regular basis?

2. Let’s assume it was radio emissions, and to simplify things, let’s assume they’re different from the ones in the previous link. That assumption explains the difference in sound. OK, why did we suddenly hear them, when they’re not something we can normally hear at all? And if we remove our assumption, why do they sound so different when we hear them normally, as opposed to when we hear them via a radio receiver?

3. Why are you just going “probably nature”, and that’s it? Like, don’t you care to investigate the damn thing?

So how does this prove we’re all fucking stupid? Because you’ll notice, nobody actually KNOWS what this thing is. So guess what? The people going “OMG, magic trumpet of God’s doom!” are doing the exact same thing as the people going “wow, nature sure is mysterious huh”? One side’s going “because God”, or aliens or what have you, and the other side is going “because nature”. Neither side really knows WHY it happened, or HOW it works, they’re just going “caused by thingy”, done. If Krauss’ point is that when we invoke God we can stop explaining, that’s precisely what’s happening here. Trumpet noise == God, who knows? God does mysterious things. Trumpet noise == earth? Well who knows why we’re suddenly hearing it and stuff? That’s nature, it’s full of mysterious things like this. The NASA people aren’t actually telling us what’s happening, they’re giving a probabilistic, i.e. educated, guess.

Now I’m not saying that means it’s really the gjallarhorn and Ragnarok is upon us. Just because NASA doesn’t know what it’s doing, that doesn’t mean the ancient aliens people DO know what they’re doing. I’m just saying, the explanation/argument is precisely the same in both cases. Nobody is being any more or less intellectually rigorous than anybody else. Suppose we investigate and find out it’s not the earth at all, but underground nuclear testing? That’s an equally scientific/materialistic explanation, but it’s different from NASA’s guess. But we like one over the other, probability again, so when NASA says “oh it’s probably that”, we nod and go “ah, case closed then”. Don’t believe me? Here’s where I originally stumbled across this, and the author is doing that precise thing, NASA’s solved it for us.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-famous-unsolved-mysteries-with-obvious-solutions_p2/

No, NASA hasn’t “solved” a damn thing, and while its explanation sure is a hell of a lot more likely than the ancient alien overlords trying to communicate with us after all these centuries, without actual investigation and working out just exactly what in the hell is going on, you may as well pick one as pick the other. Is it the aliens? How are they communicating with us, and why, and … We have no idea. Is it the earth? How are we suddenly hearing this, why now, and … We have no idea. This is why I can’t buy a lot of the whole skeptic/anti-religion/anti-paranormal thing. Because they turn around and make the exact kinds of arguments they criticize from “believers”.

I don’t think this noise is God, or gods, or spirits, or a signal of the end of the world, or aliens, or whatever other whacky paranormal explanation you’d like to chase down or come up with yourself. However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to bullshit myself into thinking “earth noises” is OK because it’s a deeply meaningful, intelligent, and satisfying explanation. With nothing behind it, it’s just as ignorant as “aliens dude”! And that’s why the Great Old Ones’ bitchin’ brass solos prove that we’re all equally fucking stupid … however much we like to pretend otherwise.

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I try to explain braille, sort of.

This started from a Facebook post where I posted a bunch of stuff in pseudo-contracted braille, i.e. /& = (st sign)(and), ‘stand’. So I decided to try to explain how braille works, kind of. I figured it deserves a more permanent home, so here it is.

OK, more braille, but for you sighties this time! The basic braille cell looks like this. I’m using the [ and ] to give space, ignore them and focus on what’s inside of them.

[..]
[..]
[..]

Or:

[14]
[25]
[36]

So now we can talk about dots like so:

[. ]
[ ]
[ ]

That is dot 1, or the letter ‘a’. If you want to make that an ‘A’, capital ‘a’, it looks like this:

[ ][. ]
[ ][ ]
[ ][ ]
[ .]

That represents two cells:

[..][..]
[..][..]
[..][..]

So you can see that in the first cell we have dot 6, which is the capital letter sign, and in the second cell we have dot 1, the ‘a’. Now suppose you want to make the number 1. There are two ways of doing this. Both start with the number sign:

[ .]
[ .]
[..]

Now we can either use the letter ‘a’, or we can use Nemeth code, which is for math. The numbers 1-0 are the first ten letters, a-j, but lowered by one dot. So instead of being dot 1, it is now dot 2, like so, first using the normal letter ‘a’:

[ .][. ]
[ .][ ]
[,,][ ]

Now using Nemeth code:

[ .][ ]
[ .][. ]
[..][ ]

Are you confused yet? I sure as hell hope not because we’re nowhere near done. Dot 2 is also the comma. You can go look up the braille alphabet and such on your own, now that you should have the basic idea, because we’re moving on to grades now. You know dot 2 is a comma normally because if it’s a number, it should have a number sign before it or be embedded in a number, e.g.:

[ .][ ][ ]
[ .][. ][.]
[..][. ][ ]

That’s #21. OK, so, grade I braille is every single thing written out. All the letters are written one by one, and so on. Grade II has contractions. Some of these are single letters, so: b=but, c=can, d=do, e=every, f=from, g=go, h=have, j=just, k=knowledge, l=like, m=more, n=not, p=people, q=quite, r=rather, s=so, t=that, u=us, v=very, w=will, x=it, y=you, z=as. Some of them are double letters, e.g. ab=about, bl=blind, cd=could, ll=little, yr=your. Some are triple letters, brl=braille, yrf=yourself.

Hey you haven’t passed out have you? Well wake the hell up, we’re still not done! Remember when I said that dot 2 could be a one in some contexts or a comma in others? Yeah well, take a look at this:

[ .][ ]
[. ][. ]
[. ][ ]

Notice in the first cell we have dots 2-3-4. That’s the letter ‘s’. Notice in the second cell we have dot 2. So that’s ‘s,’, right? Nope. In grade II dot 2 is the contraction for ‘ea’, although you typically don’t use it at the end of a word like that to avoid ‘s,,’, i.e. is it ‘sea,’ or an ‘s’ followed by two commas? However, this is perfectly fine.

[ .][ ][ .][ ]
[. ][. ][..][. ]
[. ][ ][. ][ ]

So in the first cell, dots 2-3-4, our good buddy ‘s’. In the second cell dot 2. In the third cell, dots 2-3-4-5 or ‘t’, and in the fourth cell, dot 2 again. That’s ‘seat,’. You know one is ‘ea’ and the other is a comma because one is embedded in a word and the other has a space after it. Now try to work this one out for yourself, because I’m sick of keeping track of the graphics. Dot 5 followed by an ‘s’ is the contraction for ‘some’. Here’s one more. You remember the ‘2’ from our Nemeth code example of #21 above, so:

[ ][ .]
[. ][ ]
[. ][..] [

OK, so that’s 2 followed by something, right? Oh you poor poor fools, of course it isn’t! If that had a number sign before it, it would be ‘2+’. But since it doesn’t, we know we’re in grade II. So that first cell is the contraction for ‘be’, so 2c=because, and the thing in the second cell, dots 3-4-6, is the contraction for -ing, thus, ‘being’.

Enjoy your simple simple alphabet! And yes, I can read that too, whenever you write it plain and don’t try to smother it to death under ornamentation. I had to learn it and grade I braille at the same time, when I was five. As soon as I got good enough at that, I pretty much started learning grade II right away. Because yes, everything pretty much has to be fifteen times more complicated when you’re blind.

So whenever you think we’re amazing superheroes because we’re out walking the streets, you’re wrong. We don’t have twelve extra senses, well you mortals don’t anyway. We’re superheroes because we have to start out by learning at least three alphabets and two number systems, (upper and lower case print, print numbers, and letters and numbers in braille), and then move on to a crazed system of what is, essentially, shorthand that’s so complicated it makes most sighted people weep. And I haven’t even gotten into braille on both sides of a page, which even those of you who can read braille by sight can’t really read, because you can’t tell the sticky outy dots on one side of the page from the holes that make the sticky outy dots on the other side of the page.

Most people think braille is like some sort of alternative alphabet or maybe a code, but it’s kind of both of those things slammed together. It’s really a lot closer to a language than an alphabet, at least the way it works in America, I can’t speak to other braille systems in use around the world. There’s also a grade III braille to try to save even more space, with even more contractions, but I don’t know that one. I’m pretty sure one of the contractions is dot 5 followed by the letter ‘b’ for better, as opposed to grade II’s bett(er sign).

I’ve tried to give you a little bit of the flavor of it, and I’m sure there’s more stuff on the net with way better stuff than my horrible ASCII graphics, if you’re curious enough to poke around at it a little more. In fact I encourage you to at least look up some stuff, because you’ll probably need to in order to come back and read this in a way that makes sense. I guess what I’m saying is I didn’t really do the best job of it, but hey, cd y d gd at x & make p l x?

& =
[..]
[. ]
[..]

G d brl, h yrf a ll fun!

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The more you look, the less you see.

A.K.A., let’s see Ayn Rand misunderstand both chess and her own philosophy.

So Ayn Rand wrote an open letter to Boris Spassky. We’ll get to that in a minute, but first, let’s look at a quote from her essay “The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made “.

Man’s faculty of volition as such is not a contradiction of nature, but it opens the way for a host of contradictions—when and if men do not grasp the crucial difference between the metaphysically given and any object, institution, procedure, or rule of conduct made by man.

It is the metaphysically given that must be accepted: it cannot be changed. It is the man-made that must never be accepted uncritically: it must be judged, then accepted or rejected and changed when necessary. Man is not omniscient or infallible: he can make innocent errors through lack of knowledge, or he can lie, cheat and fake. The man-made may be a product of genius, perceptiveness, ingenuity—or it may be a product of stupidity, deception, malice, evil. One man may be right and everyone else wrong, or vice versa (or any numerical division in between). Nature does not give man any automatic guarantee of the truth of his judgments (and this is a metaphysically given fact, which must be accepted). Who, then, is to judge? Each man, to the best of his ability and honesty. What is his standard of judgment? The metaphysically given.

The metaphysically given cannot be true or false, it simply is—and man determines the truth or falsehood of his judgments by whether they correspond to or contradict the facts of reality. The metaphysically given cannot be right or wrong—it is the standard of right or wrong, by which a (rational) man judges his goals, his values, his choices. The metaphysically given is, was, will be, and had to be. Nothing made by man had to be: it was made by choice.

Now let’s move on to her open letter, cleverly titled, “An Open Letter To Boris Spassky”. She opens by calling him “comrade Spassky”, but let’s assume this was just what she assumed had to be done, if the evil commies were ever going to allow him to read it. After explaining that she only vaguely understands chess, because she’s “a novelist-philosopher by profession”, she talks about how they clearly put forth all of this mental effort, and then says:

Then I was struck by the realization that the game itself and the players’ exercise of mental virtuosity are made possible by the metaphysical absolutism of the reality with which they deal. The game is ruled by the Law of Identity and its corollary, the Law of Causality. Each piece is what it is: a queen is a queen, a bishop is a bishop—and the actions each can perform are determined by its nature: a queen can move any distance in any open line, straight or diagonal, a bishop cannot; a rook can move from one side of the board to the other, a pawn cannot; etc. Their identities and the rules of their movements are immutable—and this enables the player’s mind to devise a complex, long-range strategy, so that the game depends on nothing but the power of his (and his opponent’s) ingenuity.

In case you don’t see the problem here, you’ll note in the earlier quote that she says everything man comes up with has to be judged, and it is most definitely NOT metaphysically given. So no, a queen is NOT a queen because it has some sort of queen nature determining its actions, as water has a nature which causes flooding under the proper conditions. That’s one of her examples in the other essay BTW, flooding in a place where there are no humans is metaphysically given, the dam to try to control it is man-made. Now it is certainly the case that if we set rules, and follow them, then a queen can only move in certain ways. But there is nothing whatsoever that makes those rules immutable and gives identity and causality to chess pieces. Speaking of rules:

1. Would you be able to play if, at a crucial moment—when, after hours of brain-wrenching effort, you had succeeded in cornering your opponent—an unknown, arbitrary power suddenly changed the rules of the game in his favor, allowing, say, his bishops to move like queens? You would not be able to continue? Yet out in the living world, this is the law of your country—and this is the condition in which your countrymen are expected, not to play, but to live.

2. Would you be able to play if the rules of chess were updated to conform to a dialectic reality, in which opposites merge—so that, at a crucial moment, your queen turned suddenly from White to Black, becoming the queen of your opponent, and then turned Gray, belonging to both of you? You would not be able to continue? Yet in the living world, this is the view of reality your countrymen are taught to accept, to absorb, and to live by.

3. Would you be able to play if you had to play by teamwork—i.e., if you were forbidden to think or act alone and had to play not with a group of advisers, but with a team that determined your every move by vote? Since, as champion, you would be the best mind among them, how much time and effort would you have to spend persuading the team that your strategy is the best? Would you be likely to succeed? And what would you do if some pragmatist, range-of-the-moment mentalities voted to grab an opponent’s knight at the price of a checkmate to you three moves later? You would not be able to continue? Yet in the living world, this is the theoretical ideal of your country, and this is the method by which it proposes to deal (someday) with scientific research, industrial production, and every other kind of activity required for man’s survival.

4. Would you be able to play if the cumbersome mechanism of teamwork were streamlined, and your moves were dictated simply by a man standing behind you, with a gun pressed to your back—a man who would not explain or argue, his gun being his only argument and sole qualification? You would not be able to start, let alone continue, playing? Yet in the living world, this is the practical policy under which men live—and die—in your country.

5. Would you be able to play—or to enjoy the professional understanding, interest and acclaim of an international Chess Federation—if the rules of the game were splintered, and you played by “proletarian” rules while your opponent played by “bourgeois” rules? Would you say that such “polyrulism” is more preposterous than polylogism? Yet in the living world, your country professes to seek global harmony and understanding, while proclaiming that she follows “proletarian” logic and that others follow “bourgeois” logic, or “Aryan” logic, or “third-world” logic, etc.

6. Would you be able to play if the rules of the game remained as they are at present, with one exception: that the pawns were declared to be the most valuable and non-expendable pieces (since they may symbolize the masses) which had to be protected at the price of sacrificing the more efficacious pieces (the individuals)? You might claim a draw on the answer to this one—since it is not only your country, but the whole living world that accepts this sort of rule in morality.

7. Would you care to play, if the rules of the game remained unchanged, but the distribution of rewards were altered in accordance with egalitarian principles: if the prizes, the honors, the fame were given not to the winner, but to the loser—if winning were regarded as a symptom of selfishness, and the winner were penalized for the crime of possessing a superior intelligence, the penalty consisting in suspension for a year, in order to give others a chance? Would you and your opponent try playing not to win, but to lose? What would this do to your mind?

After this, Rand claims Spassky would be unable to even think of these questions, being disallowed by his government, let alone answer them. But she knows the answers, and they’re all no, no he couldn’t play, and that’s why he fled into the world of chess, to escape the horrors. Let’s dispense with one thing right here and now. Yes, he most certainly COULD play, with the possible exception of point 5. In fact, there is a game pretty much based on question 6, here’s a link to it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_games

I am thinking here in particular of fox and geese, where the whole point for one player is to protect as many geese, “the masses”, from the fox as possible. No doubt, Rand would have been horrified by this game. Or maybe she would have loved it, since the individual fox devours the masses of geese, if it wins. Now Rand isn’t against games, she says so, and she even proclaims that chess might be a respite for a man who is working really hard. Keep that in mind as you read our final gem.

You, the chess professionals, live in a special world—a safe, protected, orderly world, in which all the great, fundamental principles of existence are so firmly established and obeyed that you do not even have to be aware of them. (They are the principles involved in my seven questions.) You do not know that these principles are the preconditions of your game—and you do not have to recognize them when you encounter them, or their breach, in reality. In your world, you do not have to be concerned with them: all you have to do is think.

The process of thinking is man’s basic means of survival. The pleasure of performing this process successfully—of experiencing the efficacy of one’s own mind—is the most profound pleasure possible to men, and it is their deepest need, on any level of intelligence, great or small. So one can understand what attracts you to chess: you believe that you have found a world in which all irrelevant obstacles have been eliminated, and nothing matters, but the pure, triumphant exercise of your mind’s powers. But have you, Comrade?

Unlike algebra, chess does not represent the abstraction—the basic pattern—of mental effort; it represents the opposite: it focuses mental effort on a set of concretes, and demands such complex calculations that a mind has no room for anything else. By creating an illusion of action and struggle, chess reduces the professional player’s mind to an uncritical, unvaluing passivity toward life. Chess removes the motor of intellectual effort—the question “What for?”—and leaves a somewhat frightening phenomenon: intellectual effort devoid of purpose.

If—for any number of reasons, psychological or existential—a man comes to believe that the living world is closed to him, that he has nothing to seek or to achieve, that no action is possible, then chess becomes his antidote, the means of drugging his own rebellious mind that refuses fully to believe it and to stand still. This, Comrade, is the reason why chess has always been so popular in your country, before and since its present regime—and why there have not been many American masters. You see, in this country, men are still free to act.

So let’s see, apparently unless you’re out punching a bear to death, I’m sorry, that’s way too much nature for Rand, let me try again. Unless you’re out quarrying stone or milling some steel or taking train trips across the country, or maybe doing science, that might be OK, you’re probably a dolt who just wants the scary scary world to go away. And by the gods, you’ve found your 64 squares of heroin baby! Seriously, I simply do not get this. First she proclaims that chess pieces have a sort of inherent nature, they are what they are and this makes the game possible. Then she makes up a bunch of weird scenarios and proclaims nobody could play under them. This is patently false. Those games wouldn’t be chess as currently defined, but they ARE in fact playable games.

Take, for example, question two. I would set up the rule as follows: For X moves, your queen is yours, then for Y moves it becomes your opponents. Finally, for the rest of the game, it becomes a piece belonging to both players”. It seems pretty clear to me that the queen would still work the same way in all other respects. So say we’ve reached the point where it belongs to both players. This doesn’t make the game unwinnable. Since it’s impossible for both players to move the same piece at the same time, each player would have to take turns. A clever player, particularly if matched against a careless one, could still move the queen in such a way that it could capture their opponent’s pieces. Would this be an interesting game? No, I would assume if you had players of decent intelligence it would result in a stalemate. However, there are plenty of games which can result in stalemates, and we play them, for all of that.

Finally, Rand, who isn’t against games at all or even chess you’ll recall, goes on a tirade about how chess is an escape from the world. Earlier she compares chess players and athletes, athletes BTW are building the body’s capabilities to perfection. Here’s one of the stunningly insightful questions she puts to the chess players of the world. “But what would you think of a world champion runner who, in real life, moved about in a wheelchair?” Apparently chess players are just stunting the hell out of their minds because, see above, chess has nothing whatsoever to do with reality … Oh except for when Rand wants to make her point about how awesome Aristotle and her are, then chess players can play because chess exemplifies the laws of identity and causality.

However, it’s evil if you’re a professional at it, and the only reason you do that is because you’re scared of reality. Because of course you are. I mean, you wouldn’t do it because you find chess, I don’t know, actually interesting or something, gods no. The ONLY reason you’d do that is because you’re frightened of reality, and chess provides an ordered place that gives you the illusion that all questions are settled. That’s why, according to Rand, Bobby Fischer threw temper tantrums and stuff, because he was incapable of dealing with messy people and their messy irrationality, which is the REAL enemy he and Boris Spassky should have been fighting, instead of each other on a dumb chessboard. Yes, she actually says that, though she doesn’t name Fischer. She just mentions a youth bewildered by the world.

So there you go. Not only does Rand completely and utterly misunderstand chess, and her own philosophy while she’s at it, she also completely misunderstands people too, there’s a huge shock. So if you ever wonder why I’m not that worried about people who mostly read or mostly garden or whatever the hell they mostly get obsessed with as long as it’s not harming anybody? This is why, right here. Because worrying about that shit leads to craziness like this here. Hey, I think horse racing is really dumb. Every year it happens, people insist on telling everybody which horse with a stupid stupid name won the Kentucky Derby. I have no idea why, because they don’t give a shit about it. You know how I know that? Because NONE of them talk about horses or horse racing at ANY other point in their lives. You just have to have all the news reports about which dumb horse won though, because … I have no idea, but people sure are determined that you find out about that shit.

But you know what? If people want to race horses, go for it. Sure I think it’s dumb, but then, they probably think playing an instrument that hasn’t existed for at least a thousand years and has no known music is dumb too. That’s fine. I’ll play my six-string Anglo-Saxon lyre, and they’ll race their horses with the dumbest names ever conceived of by the mind of man. Somebody else will pretend Sherlock Holmes was a real person and try to reconcile all the weird issues of chronology and such that pop up in the stories, somebody else will totally own gardening, somebody else will know about all the birds ever, somebody else will do puzzles, you get the idea here. Some of them might even get payed for some of that stuff, and you know what? More power to them, I say.

As a final note, yes, I know those were long quotes. I did that for a reason. You can see the full arguments, save for me simply quoting the entire letter of course. Did I get something wrong? The proof should be right there. Did I mischaracterize what Rand said? Again, ample evidence should be right in this post. I don’t think I did though, and you can see her actual words for yourself. For anybody who’s bored to death with my periodic forays into Ayn Rand, don’t worry, I’m pretty much done I think. I mean, if she gets this much stuff so fundamentally wrong about a game and the people who play it, really, what more can you say? Well there is ONE more thing, but it’s pretty short. It’s also pretty important though. So I might do that one at some point, but then that’s about it.

Reading Rand reminds me of a saying. With all this horse shit, there’s got to be a pony around here somewhere! I’m pretty sure I’ve read enough, and I think it’s clearly demonstrated in my posts quoting her, that there is in fact no pony to be found in her philosophy. I’ve given her a fair shot, though doubtless her followers would strenuously disagree. You can, as with her quotes, judge for yourself, if you’re of a mind. I’ve given my understanding, and I think I’ve given enough quotations so that you can easily see where my understanding is coming from, whether you agree with it or no. I have to say, I just don’t get what people see in her. She was big again back around 2008, when some conservatives were proclaiming that her novel “Atlas shrugged” was indeed prophetic, and yea verily what “Ms. Rand” hath spoken is fast coming to pass. “Harken to her words”, they said, “lest ye surely die”. Well, we’re all still here, and you’ve had quite a sample of her words right here. Pay attention to them if you like. Me? I’m finding something that’s actually interesting and useful to read, as opposed to inspiring morbid curiosity.

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H. P. Lovecraft was a crazy racist, but you should read him anyway.

OK, so I’ve been meaning to start this for a long time now. I haven’t, because here’s my problem. H. P. Lovecraft was a crazy racist. Here’s a link if you want a good chunk of the awful details.

http://www.racialicious.com/2014/05/28/the-n-word-through-the-ages-the-madness-of-hp-lovecraft/

In case you don’t want to read that, he called black people something between beasts and humans, (he used a word to rhyme with figure), claimed he wished he could exterminate whole races, at least initially thought Hitler had some damn fine ideas, and so on. But that’s not really what I want to talk about, and here’s why. The post implies that those of us who read Lovecraft either have no idea in the depths of hell he was a racist, or that we try to sweep it under the rug so as not to taint his majestic legacy. But here’s the thing. The very first thing I read of Lovecraft was “Dagon And Other Macabre Tales”. In it, there is an excellent introductory essay by T.E.D. Klein, called “A Dreamer’s Tales”. Though T.E.D. Klein doesn’t quote HPL’s thoughts on Hitler, or the poem opening the blog where he proclaims black people some sort of intermediate between man and beast, he is quite explicit, and does give detailed quotes, about Lovecraft’s racism. So let’s just accept the fact that most of us do indeed know that old HPL was a crazy, and get to some other points.

The author insists that we should pay attention to Lovecraft’s stories and ideas sure, but also not forget the fact that he was super duper racist, because it will help us “appreciate” his stories. I don’t think this argument works, and here’s why. There are two senses of “appreciate” that I think are relevant. One is, gain a deeper understanding of the story. This fails on its face. What deeper understanding of, say, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, do I gain by knowing Lovecraft was against interracial relationships? I mean, the story is about these undersea fish people aliens interbreeding with humans, such that their offspring transform into alien fish people. So OK, now that I know Lovecraft thought mixing races was equally hideous, now what?

How does knowing that ADD to my appreciation of the story? Does it become more relevant? Certainly not, in fact less so since I have no problem whatsoever with people of different races getting together if they’re so inclined. Does my knowing that Lovecraft held this belief add to the story? Nope. If anything, it detracts from it, because now I can’t think “wow yeah, what if there WERE alien fish people? That would be pretty creepy huh”? Now I guess I’m supposed to think, “oh alien fish people was code for Jews” or something. Congratulations, you’ve just reduced a weird/horror tale to a thinly veiled racist rant. Which brings me to the second understanding of appreciation, it helps gain insight into the story process, i.e. how/why it was written. Again, I’m not sure I buy this. Let’s take Psycho as an example, because I assume everybody’s familiar with it. Does it add to our understanding if we know that Robert Bloch wrote Psycho because he had issues with his own mother? How about if he wrote it based on deep psychological research, or based it on a particular person?

If I recall correctly, it was the latter two. I don’t know that it does. That is, sure, we might find some detail, oh that’s in there because real life serial killer guy did that, or that’s in there because he was reading about some psychological condition. But what I’m driving at is, does that change Psycho, as a story? I don’t think it does. I think the story can stand on its own, and I think, more often than not, these little tidbits, at least for me, bring the story down, so to speak. As another example, take The Birds. Fun creepy story, right? One of the things I love about it is, you never get a reason. This stuff just happens out of nowhere, and then it kind of ends.

I should note I’m thinking of the movie, as I haven’t read the book. So what if we learned, I’m making this up as an example, that the whole thing came from the author’s fear of chickens, because she was attacked by a chicken as a child? For the sake of accuracy I looked it up, and she saw a man plowing a field with seagulls wheeling over him and apparently thought “what if they turned hostile and attacked him”? My point is, I think knowing this stuff makes it very easy to go, “oh he wrote that thing about the giant spiders because he has a phobia of spiders”, and suddenly we’re not talking about the story anymore, but about the author. Which leads me to my other big problem with this post.

The author discusses somebody wanting to put up a statue of Lovecraft, laments the fact that they received the funds to do so, and then said about the inscription: “If I had put the bust together however I might have tagged it with something slightly different: H.P. Lovecraft
Beloved Racist & Anti-Semite
Also wrote stories.”

Oh, OK. We’re supposed to talk about his ideas and influence and all of that while of course understanding he’s a racist, but he “also wrote stories”. You might note, if you read the post, that the ONLY ideas talked about in HPL’s stories are racist ideas. I’ll also add that lots of people were racist, maybe not to the same extent, but they don’t seem to receive nearly as much press for it. Here are a couple of examples:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_the_work_of_Charles_Dickens

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_Then_There_Were_None

Now let me get back to why I didn’t want to write this. I did, because I’ve had people ask me about reading Lovecraft in light of his racism. But I also didn’t, because, were I to go by posts like this one, if I wanted to comment on a story, I should mostly comment on the evil evil racism, and I’m sorry, but that’s tiresome. There’s only so much time I feel like devoting to “yes yes, and here’s this racist bit here that detracts from an otherwise excellent story because …” Also, I still don’t understand how it matters, as the author implies, that Lovecraft believes things. For instance, in “Herbert West”, a character says, of a dead black boxer, that he had abnormally long arms he couldn’t help thinking of as “forelegs”. Again, I return to appreciation. What difference does it make whether that’s purely a fictional character speaking, or Lovecraft inserting his belief that black people are like apes? By which I mean, what difference does it make to reading the story? It’s a story about a guy who reanimates dead people, and parts of dead people, and about how you can go crazy with rationality and too damn far with science. But again, though the author mentions the story, and the racism naturally, we don’t hear about any of that.

So, let’s sum up with one of my favorite stories, it also has the virtue of being short so if you end up hating H. P. Lovecraft, well, at least you didn’t suffer much.

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/p.aspx

First, let’s read this the way I presume the author of the post would like us to. Oh, it’s a rant against the filthy evil Eskimos! It even says so right at the end, and anybody who’s familiar with it knows that Inuto looks a lot like Inuit. The awesome people are tall and stuff, that means they’re white! Although, if we’re going to read the story this way, I have to say it reminds me very much of the Greek and Roman attitude towards other peoples, and we read the Greeks and Romans all the time. Since Lovecraft was heavily influenced by “the classics”, i.e. racist writers at the foundation of Western civilization, these attitudes are only to be expected. Note the Greek character of the one personal name, Alos.

Now, let’s talk about the story. This is clearly an amplification of zhuangzi’s (Chuang-Tsu’s) question after he woke up from a dream that he was a butterfly. How does he know the person him is real, and not the butterfly him? It’s an interesting question. I’ve heard people respond to it by saying that we know it’s a dream, or hallucination, or whatever because we have different words for those things, since we have the word for the concept “dream” then we know there’s a difference. Leaving aside the simple fact that this is wrong, we have the concept “unicorn” but we agree they don’t really exist even though we know differences between a unicorn and a horse, this still offers us nothing to distinguish between which set of events in this story is “real” and which is “a dream”. Then there’s the use of language: “Long did I gaze on the city, but the day came not.” This very much strikes me as largely poetry, even though it’s written as prose. Suppose the narrator is right? Was he reincarnated? Did he go through multiple reincarnations? Was his consciousness projected forward in time into another body while he was sleeping?

All of these strike me as much more interesting ideas for discussion than “yeah it was totally wrong for Lovecraft to call the Eskimos hellish warlike brutes’. Because here’s the thing. We all KNOW that’s wrong, or we should at any rate. And sure, you could link it with modern themes, we’re basically dealing with a clash of civilization vs. barbarians, shades of some conservative ideas about Muslims/Islam. But to my knowledge, nobody’s going “ah man you see? It’s just like H. P. Lovecraft said in Polaris man ,we gotta fight the bastards”! I suspect Lovecraft would have felt right at home with those claiming that we’re in a struggle of civilization against Islam. In fact, he wrote a story pretty much to that effect called “The Street”, though it wasn’t about Islam, though again, the more interesting point of the story is that the street basically performs a reboot of reality.

But it seems to me that to read this as the point of something like Polaris misses the point entirely. By all means, proclaim Lovecraft’s poem about how the gods made black people as the missing link, so to speak, as the worst sort of racist idiocy, just as we should proclaim as the worst kind of idiocy Aristotle’s idea that some men were simply born to be slaves. But we don’t say things like “Aristotle, racist, misogynist, also did some philosophy”, implying that the philosophy was just something that he did while taking a break from his hating on women and the lesser barbarian peoples. Absolutely, if we talk about Aristotle’s attitude towards women, or slaves, or barbarians, then we should explore it and condemn it. I don’t think that means we should, as IMO the author does with Lovecraft in the blog post, pick through all of Aristotle’s writings seeking out all the racism and so on, all the while proclaiming we shouldn’t ignore his ideas and contributions while not actually talking about any of them.

I’d further add that if anything, writers like Aristotle are even more problematic than writers like Lovecraft. Even if Lovecraft is a million times more racist than Aristotle, entirely possible, Lovecraft is writing fiction. He’s not trying to tell anybody how they should think, or what constitutes a good life, and so on. But just as well-informed people know about Aristotle’s racism, or even if they don’t, they reject his ideas that some men are simply born to be slaves when they encounter them, so too we can reject, say, the description of the boxer as “gorilla-like” in Lovecraft, but still read him because he wrote interesting stories which, for me at least, imply some interesting philosophical ideas in some cases. Whether the description is simply in the mouth of the fictional narrator, or near and dear to Lovecraft’s heart, shouldn’t matter one bit, for the same reason we can read Aristotle, knowing that he really believed that some men were born to be slaves.

I had originally intended to comment on all of Lovecraft’s stories, with links. I don’t know if I’ll actually do that or not. I may instead pick some an focus on my thoughts on some of Lovecraft’s interesting ideas, at least, the things that interest me. Part of this is because, as I’ve mentioned above, I feel like I’d have to keep addressing the topic of his racism, or conservatism, or lack of female characters, or … But it’s also true that, just as say episodes of The Twilight Zone, a number of his stories share ideas. It would probably be tedious to comment on every single story. I know a couple of people said they’d be interested in this, so here’s the first post. Feel free to comment, if you’re of a mind.

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How not to read a myth.

I’m going to assume you’re smart, whoever you are. I’m also going to assume you know there are people in America who take the Bible literally. You’ll often hear people complaining that these literalists think the earth is six thousand years old, or that the earth was created in seven actual days, stuff like that. I’m not arguing that those people don’t exist. I’m not even arguing that they’re views aren’t a problem. What I’d like to argue is that there’s a better way of doing things, and that by ignoring it and focusing on these people, we’re depriving ourselves of quite a lot of interesting food for thought. However, it’s worse than that.

In general, we don’t want people to take these stories literally. But then, many of the same people complaining about the literalists yell about how we can’t learn anything from stories that are thousands of years old. I mean, these people walked everywhere, didn’t have cars or phones, and what’s even worse, even committed the apparently unpardonable sin of believing that the earth was flat and that the sun went around the earth! How can these people and their stories, so far removed from our modern lives, tell us anything of value whatsoever? I think they can, I think people should be encouraged to learn these lessons from them rather than taking them literally, and I’d now like to demonstrate how it works. To keep things fresh, I’m going to use a myth I’m pretty sure almost none of you have ever heard of, let alone read before. This myth is excerpted from:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/ca/cma/index.htm

Before we get to the myth itself, I should mention a few things. This is a myth, or part of a myth, of the Wintu of California, a Native American tribe. This myth deals with creation, and the beings mentioned eventually become various creatures, features, and objects of the world in which we live. The beings we’ll be dealing with are Olelbis, who is sort of like God but not really, Dokos who becomes flint, Klak who becomes the rattlesnake, and Wima Loimis (Loimis means young) who becomes the grizzly bear. Finally there is tilichi, some sort of water bird, used by Olelbis as a messenger. Got that? Don’t worry, it will all get straightened out. Here we go with the story.

“”Who is this?” asked Olelbis of the old women.
“This is Dokos”, said they; “he is bad.”
Dokos was placed a little northeast of the sweat-house. He sat looking toward the west. Tilichi brought in a second and third person. “Who are these?” asked Olelbis.
“These are both bad people,” said the old women. “These are Wima Loimis and Klak Loimis.”
“Put them with Dokos,” said Olelbis. After he had called all the people out of the sweat-house to send them to their proper places, Olelbis had put something on their teeth to make them harmless.
“Come here, Wima Loimis,” said Olelbis. “I have something to put on your teeth so that they may harm no one.”
“I want nothing on my teeth,” said Wima, Loimis. “If something were put on them I could not eat.” He asked again, but she shook her head, saying: “I want nothing on my teeth, I could not eat if anything were put on them.” “If she will not come, come you, Klak Loimis.” Klak Loimis would not go to him. “Why not come when I call you?” asked Olelbis.
“My sister Wima will not go. She says that she could not eat if her teeth were touched. I want nothing on my teeth. I am afraid that I could not eat.” “Very well,” answered Olelbis, “you, Wima,
p. 46
and you, Klak, want to be different from others. Come, Dokos, I will touch your teeth.”
“My sisters, Klak and Wima, want nothing on their teeth. I want nothing on mine. I am angry at my sisters; my heart hates them. I do not wish to be good. I am angry at my sisters. I will be wicked as well as they.” Then turning to his sisters he said: “After a while people will employ me against you whenever they are angry at you. Whenever you bite people or hurt them, they will call me to fight against you, and I will go with them. I will go into your bodies and kill you. Then you will be sorry for what you have done to-day. Olelbis asked you to be good. He wants you to be good, but you are not willing. I will be bad to punish you.”
When the two women heard these words they cried, and Wima said, “Well, my brother, we can put something on our teeth yet.”
Dokos placed his head between his hands and sat awhile in that posture. Then he straightened himself and said,–
“You two have talked enough; you would better stop. You are not like me; I am stronger than both of you, and I shall be so always. You, Wima, and you, Klak, will hate people only, but I shall hate all living things. I shall hate you, hate every one; kill you, kill every one. I want nothing of any one. I want no friend in any place.” “Well,” said Olelbis, “you go as you are.”
“I will go first,” said Dokos.
p. 47
“Go,” said Olelbis, “to Koiham Nomdaltopi, be flint there, and spread all around the place. You, Klak Loimis, will go to Klak Kewilton, be a rattlesnake there, increase and spread everywhere. I will send you, Wima, to Wima Wai Tsarauton; you will be a grizzly bear there. After a while a great family will come from you and spread over all the country. You will be bad; and, Klak, you will be bad, but, Dokos, you will be the worst, always ready to hurt and kill; always angry, always hating your sisters and every one living.
“You, Klak, and you, Wima, when you see people you will bite them, and people will take Dokos to kill you, and Dokos will go into your bodies, and you will die. Wima, you will be sorry that you would not let me change your teeth. You, Klak, will be sorry. You will bite people, and they will kill you because you cannot run away from them. Your dead body will lie on the ground, and buzzards will eat it.
“Dokos, you will go to your place and increase. People will go there and get you to kill your sisters and others for them, and when you have pleased them and killed all the people they wished you to kill, when they want you no longer, they will throw you down on a rock and break you to pieces, then you will be nothing. You will be dead forever. Now go!””

OK, so, reading this, it looks pretty simple right? I even told you these beings transform into things, so here we get the answers to the question, where do grizzly bears and rattlesnakes and flint come from? But let’s dig a bit further. People show up, and God, knowing they will become other things, says “hey come here, I want to make your teeth harmless. Everybody objects to this, and here is where we get to the meat of the story, so to speak. First Wima Loimis objects. She does not want her teeth to be harmless. If they are, she believes she won’t be able to eat. Klak Loimis also refuses, for the same reason. Then Dokos refuses, and here we come to what I consider to be the heart of the story.

Dokos says, “Olelbis asked you to be good. He wants you to be good, but you are not willing. I will be bad to punish you.” This implies that, if Wima and Klak had agreed to have their teeth made harmless, none of what will happen would have. Wima tries to fix things, suggesting that they can still have their teeth made harmless, but Dokos replies with his declaration of undying hatred. But what is interesting is that he sits for a while with his head in his hands. It seems to me that he is clearly thinking things over. What we really have here then is an origin of violence. But the point isn’t where things come from as a first cause, i.e. why we have violence instead of not having violence in the world. Wima turns to violence out of fear, if her teeth can’t harm, she believes she will die of starvation. Dokos becomes violent as a consequence, to punish his sisters.

Whether this is a good thing or not is open to interpretation, and that is precisely the point. What we see in this story is that violence often comes from fear, and as a reaction to violence itself. Further, in Dokos’ reply that he will punish his sisters, we are seeing the idea that choices, once made, can’t always be changed. Further, nobody escapes unscathed, Wima and Klak will be killed, but then Dokos will be smashed to pieces when the people are done using him. So it seems to me we are also learning that nothing of much good comes from violence. There are certainly other interpretations one could give this story. I’m not trying to say this one is the correct one, or the only valid or relevant interpretation.

Rather, my point is that this isn’t simply a “just so” story, “well Timmy, we have dangerous grizzly bears because a long time ago God wanted to make everything harmless and Wima refused, and …” If we pay attention, we have something a lot more complicated and interesting happening. We also have something that applies to us, because even though we have cars and phones that can fit in our pockets and satellites, we’re still kind of the same dumb humans we’ve been for all of recorded history. That’s not to suggest we haven’t made progress, mind you, but by and large, we still have the same emotions and go through many of the same sorts of problems we did when we started writing things down. So let’s see if I can tie all of this up.

Myths are often more complicated and relevant than many of us believe. Realizing this not only makes us better people, it’s also the antidote to the people who take things literally. Maybe instead of yelling at them and claiming all myths are really dumb, we can show them a better way. So go. Take the example I’ve given you, and go read some myths. Try to see what they can mean to you. I don’t just mean ancient myths or stories from religions either. Lord Of The Rings, Harry Potter, The Foundation Trilogy, 2001 A Space Odyssey, and many other things are equally mythical. But I focus on religious myths because they’re often the things some people like to claim have nothing whatsoever to teach us. They’re stories, like any other stories, some meaningful to us, some not.

I also think the interpretation I gave of the above myth is something we could all probably stand to think about, as human beings that is. Is this myth a “just so” story? Very possibly, it is telling us why we have grizzly bears and rattlesnakes and flint weapons with people who want to use them to kill, after all. But what of that? Does that change the lessons about violence and its consequences we find? Does it mean it was told simply to explain where these things came from, instead of to teach these lessons and to prompt these reflections? On the contrary, myths, like all good stories, can work on many levels, and we can learn quite a lot from them, if we take the time. And hopefully I’ve shown that “a literal interpretation”, in other words the claim that this myth simply tells us where flint and bears and snakes come from, is perhaps the most pointless way we can imagine to understand these stories. Because it seems clear to me that, even if you completely disagree with my reading, there’s a lot more going on here than simply explaining where dangerous animals came from.

Myths are a type of story. If they’re not to your taste, that’s fine, we like what we like. But it seems wrong to simply dismiss them out of hand. If myths have nothing to teach us, then it seems, to my way of thinking at least, that no story has the ability to teach us. I don’t know about you, but assuming stories have nothing to teach us sounds like a pretty awful life to me.

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Suicide, getting crushed to death, and cults.

What if H. P. Lovecraft got thrown into a black hole? I don’t mean the literal person, I mean his ideas, and I mean black hole to work on a couple levels, the light-smashing region of space, and the depths of depression. Keep that in mind, it will come in handy.

If H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic philosophy got chucked into a black hole, I think we’d get this here.

http://gilescorey.bandcamp.com/album/giles-corey

Here’s how the book that comes with it starts: “Sometime in the Spring of 2009 I tried to kill myself. Six months before that, I used a Voor’s Head Device for the first time.”

If you’re still here, check out this video review and then come back and read the rest of this, because it won’t make much sense without the review, unless you’ve been smart and bought the album already. It comes with the book as a pdf file, so you can listen and read at the same time.

First let me talk about the music. I got interested in this album because of track 7, which is the sample on Bandcamp, so go check that out. It seems to be the fan favorite. I normally hate reverb with a passion, especially when stuff is slathered in it like this album. But this works for me. I agree with the video, it’s more about atmosphere. So where does H. P. Lovecraft come in?

In case you don’t know much about Lovecraft, he made up some gods that represented cosmic forces that don’t’ really care about us. Actually, it’s not even really that they don’t care about us. Did you ever see that Twilight Zone episode where these two guys crash on a planet, and the one guy finds some little people and goes on a crazy power trip? If you haven’t I’m about to spoil it for you. The guy stays behind, and some giants show up. One of them steps on him, picks him up, and when the other one asks what it is, he says “a little man … some kind of little man”. That’s Lovecraft’s gods, in a nutshell. They don’t care about us not because they’re apathetic or because we can’t cause them any problems, they don’t care about us for the same reason we don’t care about ants or amoebas. Half the time they don’t even realize we exist.

So how in the hell does Lovecraft relate to this album? Well, Lovecraft made his gods to represent cosmic forces, and humanity’s insignificance in the grand scheme of things. So what if you took that and smashed it down to a human level? You get this album. We’ve got a cult, we’ve got books of forbidden knowledge, we’ve got weird experiments, oh, and we’ve got an uncaring universe too.

Remember in the review where he talked about the song Spectral Bride? He says it’s about being so depressed that you want to kill yourself, but you have a loved one, so you’re going to be with them as a ghost. Yeah, kind of. Except he left out a really important part. From the book we learn that Robert Voor believed in something called spectral jail. Essentially, when we die, we’re just sort of trapped here and condemned to wander around the earth or in the atmosphere or something, it’s not precisely clear.

So not only are you so depressed that you want to kill yourself, not only do you have a loved one which will probably make you even more depressed about wanting to kill yourself, you’re also going to be screwed when you do kill yourself. Either you think you have a chance of redemption by being around this person as a ghost, and then surprise!, spectral jail!, or you know about the spectral jail anyway. In either case, being around them isn’t some chance for redemption or the best you can do to be with them or help them out of your depression, it’s just more punishment for the both of you, or you if they don’t know anything about your love. We are not talking about a shiny happy universe here. But it doesn’t seem as though the spectral jail is a punishment, like hell is a punishment. The spectral jail just sort of exists, it’s just the way things work. The universe doesn’t care, and that probably results in our insanity. That could be a theme of this book and album, and it could be a theme of Lovecraft. One’s personal, and one’s cosmic.

We’re not done yet. Remember I mentioned the levels? If you look at this thing right, it’s provoking questions about reality, and how we figure out what it is. Take the Voor’s Head Device, for instance. Is it “real”? Well, what does that mean? If he made up Robert Voor, probably not. But hang on, what if he really did make such a device and wear it? What if that stuff at the end of the first track really is him wearing this thing and having some sort of vision or fit? If Robert Voor isn’t real, did he really try to kill himself? Are these even the kinds of questions we should be asking? The first thing I did after reading the book and listening to the album was google for Robert Voor, and as the reviewer said, everything seems to point back to this album.

But I have to tell you, figuring out whether Robert Voor is real or not won’t make this thing any less harrowing, at least, it didn’t for me. I disagree with the reviewer, I think the book adds whole new dimensions to the album. Taken together, fictional or not, I think they’re a pretty damn powerful portrait of depression and madness. How much of it is mythology, and how that mythology works, I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. “True” or not, I think it’s a powerful story, and if you’re not really disturbed at this point and like the music at all, go buy the thing and … well maybe enjoy isn’t quite the right word. It is a pretty awesome album though, but you’d better appreciate horror. If you don’t, well just listen to the music if you like it and ignore the book, I guess. But in my opinion you’re missing a huge chunk of the experience if you ignore it.

Does this thing get it 100% right? Nope. But I think it does a pretty good job. If you don’t mind you some darkness, buy this thing. It’s well worth it. Prepare to be creeped right the fuck out though.

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Every TV theme in the world I could think of, explained!

OK, not really. For something fun on my birthday, I decided to give everybody who wished me happy birthday on Facebook a random TV theme from my childhood, and then admonished them to collect them all. However, since I know te youth of today are lazy and without feck, and I’ve had some comments on the enterprise, and also probably didn’t hit a few here and there due to more people not wishing me happy birthday, here’s the extra expanded version, for those of you what are curious and/or masochistic. And please note, this is going to be long enough already, so I’m missing out some obvious mainstays, particularly in the eighties, e.g. Transformers, The Smurfs. Also, though I mostly picked TV shows I watched, this isn’t really about the TV shows I loved as a kid, it was more about hitting themes that came readily to mind. OK, here we go, in order from first to last for the Facebook stuff:


Ah, Underdog! Cool theme, and Simon Bar Sinister is the villain for me. Plus it’s a super weird joke. Bar sinister means a bar on the left or descending to the left or some such in heraldry, and it could also mean Simon son of Sinister, if he’s Jewish.


Battle of the Planets! Used to watch this when I was about five or so, on “WPHL 17 in Philadelphia”! It was in the beginning of the let’s bring over everything from Japan and reanimate it craze. See also: Marine Boy, Ultra Man, Space Giants. You’ve got your 7Zark7, your fiery phoenix, it’s good stuff!


Aaaaaand Speedracer, of course! “… he’s a demon on wheels. He’s a demon and he’s gonna be chasin’ after someone”. Seriously, what more could you need? This was another after school hit on WPHL.


I think this was technically before my time, but I caught it on what I remember as “Krofft’s Superstars”, but it was apparently called “The Krofft Superstar Hour”. Fun fact: McDonald’s ripped off Pufnstuf! http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1343/was-mcdonaldland-plagiarized-from-the-old-h-r-pufnstuf-kids-tv-show


Hey look, it’s Star Blazers! This is another reworked Japanese show, from the eighties. I swear there were two different versions of this show or something, but I’m too lazy to go look it up. But it had two different overarching plots, I’m pretty sure. In one of them the villain was named Deathlock or something like it, and his minions would chant “Deathlock Deathlock Death Lock”! Grab your wave motion gun kids, we’re leaving mother earth!


Breathes fire, his head in the sky! I’m pretty sure I always thought this said “and stands in the sky”, but still. When I saw this it was called “The Godzilla Super 90”, I’m fairly sure. I don’t remember what everything else was in it, but one of the things was Johnny Quest. Tarzan might have been in this as well.


If you don’t know the Superfriends, then kids, I can’t help you. They were pretty much the reason to get out of bed on Saturday mornings, as far as I was concerned.


Ah, the Bugaloos, heirs to the Beatles and Monkees TV shows. More Krofft goodness. Lost Saucer was good too, and we’ve got one more of theirs coming up.


I’ve got nine simple words for you. Prepare to have this song stuck in your head.


Land of the Lost! And not that new bullshit with Uncle Jack either! Thank you, Krofft brothers.


I don’t think many people remember The Brady Kids, but I do. They had a magical talking bird, called appropriately enough, Marlin the Magic Mynah Bird. I don’t think this show lasted very long, because I’m pretty sure it was also on WPHL 17, and most of the stuff I remember from there was the seventies.

OK, there’s all the Facebook stuff, now let’s hit some more. Somebody, I won’t mention any names, apparently isn’t happy with my selections. She says she doesn’t remember any of them, and when I responded that if she’d grown up here, she would, she responded with “I’m not a boy”. So fine, here’s your damn girlie TV.


Truly truly truly outrageous! She had a computer named Synergy which might have had her dead mother’s voice, although I might be confusing that with the computer from Defenders Of The Earth, she had earrings that were hologram projectors. But they weren’t the first to rock their way into the hearts of little girls via cartoons, oh no no no!


I have no idea what half this song says. And I don’t want to know either. It will probably be stuck in your head too.


Man, Rainbow Bright was a damn ripoff, huh? You call that a theme bitches?


They had enemies called the Grumplins, no idea what they were, and they had things called tickle crystals. Seriously, I’m not making that up. But since they came out of a toy, and you don’t get the truly annoying aspect from that theme, here’s a commercial.


OK, if this keeps up I’m going back to my boy shows, (whoa that sounds really wrong), because this theme sucks!


Wow! OK, I’ll give this dude one thing, he is really really trying! It’s like he’s singing a kids TV theme song but also going “hey divorced moms, I’m a great catch. Call me ladies … your kids already love me”!


Horses can’t smile. Yes, I’m an asshole.


OK, this theme immediately brings up a couple of questions. First, she’s He-Man’s twin sister. I know what he means, and I know what a man is. So she’s She-Ra. I know what she is, but what’s a ra? Also, if I remember my She-Ra correctly, she was kidnapped by Hordak at birth and didn’t know her parents and such until later. So here’s a question. How is it that one day she just up and decided, “you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to hold my sword over my head ans say ‘for the honor of Greyskull!’ I don’t know what that means or anything, but I just feel like trying it”.


What the hell was up with the eighties and bears? Also, they’re building an airship because dreaming of getting into a van would be just a little obvious.

OK, that’s enough of that, here’s stuff I’ve missed or left out for some reason.


I was asked to include this one, and the only reason I didn’t before was because it was really obvious. Fun theme though, and a big part of the eighties for me.


I’m including this not because it was a good show, it was awful, but because nobody remembers the damn thing. But I do, and I will not let the world forget!


This show couldn’t decide if it wanted to be all adventure, or a cross between Speedracer and Transformers. There was at least one whole season where the fights M.A.S.K. and V.E.N.O.M. had occurred because they were in a race together. Like literally they all entered a race at Random Track, and they’d get in a fight during the race, no crime or anything. Cool theme though.


Oh look, it’s a Voltron ripoff! This is another show nobody seems to remember but me.

Finally, before we leave, let’s work in a couple old shows.


I have no idea in the depths of hell what this show was about. I know I used to watch it when I was really little, I know it had other little sub-shows, sort of like Underdog, and that’s about it. I will add that I vaguely remember it having words, but I might be getting that confused with the song. Yes, there’s a song, and it was all about Woody Woodpecker getting layed. Oh, you don’t believe me? Foolish foolish people. There are even multiple versions!


Here’s some jazz for your ass.


And seriously, do not miss this craziness.


Finally, we get to this one. It’s probably hard to believe, but here’s what I got out of this theme as a kid. “Casper the friendly ghost, the friendliest ghost you know, mumblemumblemumblemumblemumblemumble”.

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