December 20, 2007

Quotes: December 2007 & Beyond the Infinite

..seize this window of opportunity.
-Mixed metaphor from a coalition of British corporations responding to climate change

Steve Martin, in his memoir of his early career as a stand-up comedian, writes that he used to get a laugh by claiming that in Bananaland it's true both that all chairs are green & that no chairs are green ("In the Bird Cage," October 29th). "I loved implying that the one thing I believed in was a contradiction," he writes. Actually, those claims are not contradictory: if there are no chairs, both claims are true. (The negation of "All chairs are green" is, rather, "There is at least one chair that is not green.") I would like to think that his audience included some logicians who cracked up at the thought of a chairless Bananaland.

-Alexander George, Professor of Philosophy, Amherst College, Mass.
The New Yorker's The Mail, December 24th, 2007.

1) No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste
2) No modern poetry is free from affectation
3) All your poems are on the subject of soap bubbles
4) No affected poetry is popular among people of real taste
5) Only a modern poem would be on the subject of soap bubbles
THEREFORE: All your poems are uninteresting.
-The famous Lewis Carroll syllogism, which Martin quotes as being an inspiration for some of his early absurdist stand-up comedy.

Ever hear the Urban Legend about the lady who puts her poodle in the microwave to dry it off? Here's a folklorist matter-of-factly discussing the physics of it:

Around 1976 I began to hear the microwave-over variants, & I inserted the following summary example from Utah into the second edition (1978) of my text-book The Study of American Folklore: "[a] child ... accidentally sprinkles the cat with a hose & puts it into a microwave to dry out, whereupon the cat explodes (p. 111)." The phrase in the Arizona text, of the animal being "cooked from the inside out," more accurately describes the molecule-jiggling effect of microwaves than the account of the pet exploding in my text (the only way I have heard it). I am told, however, that eyes might possibly pop when bombarded with microwaves, just as eggs or potatoes are said to do if inserted into an oven whole. People's notions about what would happen to a living creature caught in a microwave oven are doubtless colored by a vague fear of the new devises and intensified by such things as the warning signs posted on public-access microwave ovens and the news stories about microwaves beamed by the Soviets into our foreign embassy. Whatever those mysterious invisible waves may do to a person - or to a pacemaker, as the posted warnings imply - they certainly would not be healthy for the family pet. The animal would surely cook & die in the oven, so the fear is quite realistic.

-Jan Harold Brunvand, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings (1981), pg. 63.
This is a tall tale which Myth Busters, for liability reasons, will never be able to debunk.

If you do not own a copy of John Hodgman's "Almanac of Complete World Knowlege",
The Areas of My Expertise, may I suggest it as a Christmas Present to yourself, or as a gift to someone who lives in the same house as you. In the section on "How to write a book", he offers this advice:
When writing, please avoid these failed palindromes:

Slow speed: deep owls

Drat That Tard
Two Owls Hoot Who Owls Hoot Too (Owt)

Sour candy and Dan C.
Desire still lisps: Arise! D.
A man, a plan, a kind of man-made river, planned.

Hobos! So!

Eh, S'occurs to Me to Succor She

Tow a What? Thaw!


pele said...

KANTORII ROODO (Take me home, country road)
originally by B. Danoff, T.Nivert & J.Denver
Ending theme song of Mimi o sumaseba (Please Listen Carefully)

kono michi zutto yukeba
ano machi ni tsuzu iteru

hitori bocchi osorezuni
ikiyouto yume miteta
samishisa oshikomete
tsuyoi jibun o mamotteiko

repeat *

aruki tsukare tatazumuto
ukandekuru furusato no machi
oka o maku saka no michi
sonna boku o shikatte iru

repeat *

tonna kujike souna tokidatte
kesshite namida wa misenaide
kokoro nashika hochou ga hayaku natteiku
omoide kesutame

kono michi furusato he tsuzuitemo
boku wa ikanaisa
ashita wa itsumo no bokusa
kaeritai kaerenai

Transliterated by Mak Kum Shi
This has been brought to you by Mach 3 Anime Radio Station

Sam said...

beautiful post gabe. that steve martin book is highly intelligent and inspiring and reminded me to watch l.a. story which is a new-age masterpiece. i saw james quill today.