Friday, March 30, 2007

Go For the Hoax, Redoax

Newest Hoax: That "updating" my template per the new Blogger would help the awful HTMLriffic posting I have to do myself now, part of the reason I blog so seldom lately. didn't work. New blogs ahead, I promise again, but I still mean it and things are still happening.

Here at the Museum of Hoaxes you can see many famous foolings- which makes me feel slightly better for being faced again- including spaghetti trees and the recent big You Tube hit, the screamingly acrimonious break-up of a couple that, in fact, never dated. Even real reality TV is fake. The couple claims now some philsophical purpose like to show the power and money involved in its vast internettiness, but I think it was to make fun and see if people would believe. They did and did.

I actually have saved up bunches of other links, some mildly amusing and provacative, to post about, but I can't bring myself to go through all the hassle. The image above was purported to be Baby Hitler until an unfortunate mother (in may ways) from Connecticut recognized it as a doctored picture of her own little Johnny. Image comes from the museum's photo gallery. Be patient with their site; it's their big traffic season. Please enjoy this simple and sparse pre-April Fool's dose of fraud and have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Bummer, I Warn You, but Cathy deserves the Props

Cathy Seipp, one of those contrarian non-smokers with lung cancer, has died at 49, five years after her diagnosis gave her only six months. Though current postings at her blog are filled with sympathy from myriad friends she never met (I met her once in 2005, so there!), her archives are a great place to discover her unique, funny, and well-reasoned perspective on LA life and media. Besides, it would be the coolest twenty-first century-style tribute to hoist her to number one on Technorati today. She was already ahead of Paris Hilton by yesterday. Click a link and share the love. Also, consider the horrible fate of lung cancer victims- frequently stigmatized as morally-corrupt smokers- though Cathy never was (nor was Dana Reeve) and always lived a healthy lifestyle. This disease is aggressive, painful, and greedy to kill. Once my great aunt Katherine was diagnosed, they simply tranked her to the gills on morphine, and she never saw her own bed or home again. I hope Cathy is pleased to know that she's brought today's spotlight to this disease that's quite underfunded and studied compared to its virulence and the number of yearly fatalities it causes. Maybe the needle will move a little today.

Cathy's World

Update March 23: Cathy's Number 1! Take that you vapid celebritards. Back seat to a real human. Shine on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

BLAMMO, Einstein, and Og

Update: I never did get the Og pix figured, but this post now provides a handy spot to park a miscellaneous Hamburglar picture I needed. Don't ask.

Through image search, I think I've learned that 'og' means 'and' in German. It also clearly means something in Japanese, something occasionally tagged on NSFW pix. This captures the spirit of Og as I intend him. It'll all make sense by the post's end.

Ever written a whole mess of verbiage, then just flitted away for a picture, and BLAMMO went all your text? Ever tried to post pictures repeatedly without success? Ditto. Ever hated the new Blogger?

Apre BLAMMO, I was just writing that today's both Houdini's and Einstein's birthday (1874 for Erik Weisz and 1879 respectively), and that I'm reading an occultish novel about one of them. Did you guess right? It's Einstein. It's Three Days to Never by Tim Powers. a creative fuser of the fantastic and historic who happens to write well, too. He irritates me that way, and I'm compelled to read everything he writes. Eventually, of course. I'm a juke box that doesn't play album sides, if you know what I mean.

Do you find it amazing that I began reading an Einstein-centric time travel book about unmaking existence yesterday after I was commenting on a philospohical argument against existence, and that I'm still reading the book and it turns out to be Einstein's birthday today? Me neither. I have certain fascinations, reflected in the books I have waiting to be read, the articles that provoke me, and the dates I'm likely to notice. This confluence would mean more if I'd just found the book abandoned in a public place, the article had been forwarded by a stranger who didn't know my tastes, and I didn't regularly read my This Day in History e-mail for the kinds of birth-and-deathiversaries I like to know. (Today's also the 1833 birthday of America's first woman dentist, Lucy Hobbs Taylor, but what am I gonna do with that? Can't think of a thing, so I ignore it.)

The novel's good so far, and I respect the way Powers is willing to hang things out, incomplete and unexplained, for many pages. If I like the writing and subject, that approach engages me, makes me dig into the story further, but some people may find it frustrating. This is a somewhat confusing time travel a-go-go kind of tale where (unlike the rules in Back to the Future), your future, present, and past selves from varying parallel existences may be grousing next to each other at the blood-stained skeezy bar before the end of existence. No mere white-tableclothed restaurant at the end of the universe, this.

(Note the way I'm not using 'Anyhoo' to begin this paragraph, even though it beckons me like a blazing finger). The tendency as displayed above for humans to selectively self-filter what we conncetrate upon is exactly the reason a movie like '23' blows emu sack. Oh I see, we add up a number series and get 23! Why didn't we subtract or long divide or do anything consistently from our arithmetic or even algebraic bag of tricks? Frankly, I think algebra's the better method here. If I know I need the answer to be 23, what maneuvers and variables will it take to get that outcome from the address of the Chinese take-out place down the street with their accursed Kung Pao of existential doom?! Can it possibly be entertaining watching someone disappear that far down his 23 millimeter navel?

This very normal human tendency to tune out what we don't need as noise can tempt us to overemphasize, but it has its distinct upside, too. For example, the ability to pick out your plane's gate from a static-filled departure display listing hundreds while ignoring the squeaky-wheeled cart nearly clipping your heels and the five people shouting into their cell phones. But, it's not just an adaptation for modern life. Heck, no. In a wild savannah, the landscape teems with thousands of specific details to see, but what about young Og who spends his time looking down a lot, poking at smelly piles with a stick? We hope he's using a stick. Instead of butterflies or leaf varieties or the clouds in shapes of bunnies or cappucino machines, young Og sees only scat. The fresh scat of either juicy, prancing prey or razor-clawed predators. We might call him poopy-brained, but he might survive long enough to become old Og.

May we all be old Ogs who've earned new sticks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Find Today a Fine Day to Exist

Can flocked wallpaper be so bad it's good? Well, ahem, someone (I'm pointing down the page) doesn't see it that way. Things do seem black and white to him, I guess. But definitely not a groovy swirl of overlapping and constrasting moments, just unrelieved black mostly. The black of nonbeing so unbeen that it might even be lavender.

Sure, it's just my opinion, but I do prefer being to the alternative, now that I'm in the swim of it. However, not every deeper thinker feels that way. Prompted by an article on odd book names, the crack team (or meth, whatever makes the links quiver) at James Taranto's Best of the Web for the Wall Street Journal did further investigation on one particularly prickly title: "Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence"

This tome was written by David Benatar of the University of South Africa at Cape Town, and I'm sure if I had a sister that rockin' and popular, I might feel so insignificant as to prefer the winking-out. To his credit, rather than becoming a bitter suicide, the professor's decided to plod on, contributing to the intellectual content of our unthinkingly cruel species with his philosophical treatise against being. That's right. Being At All. Yes, you too. The WSJ's link is (personal html skillz not mad today), and I think it's a freebie, but in case not, I will extract freely and tell you how darned interesting and funny the column in total usually is, so you should subscribe yourself, blah....or just pluck the book's description from Amazon like they did.

Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence--rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should--they presume that they do them no harm.

Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence.

Drawing on the relevant psychological literature, the author shows that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives and why they are thus resistant to the suggestion that they were seriously harmed by being brought into existence.

I'm quite sure I'm missing the brilliant subtlety of the "anti-natal" argument: No one will ever experience suckitude if there is No One to know what sucks, but I don't know how he could attest that non-existence sucks less. All of us doing the arguing are too late to the party to know, pre-birth memories being widely faulty for other than a few bestselling hosts of costly weekend seminars and consciousness props. To my unsophisticated perception, life strains everywhere to be fecund, whether in blossoming flowers or the mold on leftovers, whether in termites, kudzu, or those fish that hibernate under mud flats for years. Mayflies. The lengths to which life will adapt (most unattractively) just for the briefest, longest-shot to make more life from itself seems to show that living must be cool, or at least preferred. Otherwise, why would so many vile and perfectly natural things from plague viruses to deadly bacteria keep trying so hard to make it here in LifeTown. I'm a crude instrument for philosophy, I'll admit, but there's one other refutation I can make.

A bestest friend of mine is having a birthday today, and I'm extremely pleased not only that said friend ever existed, but that many suckfests were able to be shared and survived together, as I find that surviving long enough to laugh, sometimes just a second or two past the sucking, is half the fun. And so I praise this one laudable existence by sharing a gift of unalloyed happiness with you. Dare I say, it may even serve as healing balm for your existential harm.
Hopefully, what will quickly load below is The awesome Wallpaper video of Do What you Want by OK GO.

Just for a nanosecond of your intrisically-harmfilled slog, I dare you to dodge the sweet lightning of joy. Go on, try.