The Singularity vs. Nightfall

Ian Morris begins his massive history of Eastern and Western social development, Why the West Rules-- for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, at the very beginning --15,000 years ago, deep in prehistory-- and he runs through the typical Guns, Germs, and Steel stuff (with more details about Chinese history) but he comes at this massive scale of time from the perspective of an archaeologist, and on the "maps vs. chaps" debate, he's firmly on the side of the maps (unlike someone like Paul Johnson, who goes more for the chaps) which might be offensive to some because he takes the humanity out of history, and views the span of human achievement as something of a Civilization computer game, with an algorithm for social development based on energy capture, urbanization, information technology, and war-making capacity . . . so you're going to get a lot of numbers, as societies advance, which is sometimes disconcerting but it all eventually makes sense and if you can't figure out how to break through the hard ceiling-- perhaps this occurs at a social development index of 24-- then you don't get to stagnate at whatever glory you have achieved, instead things tend to spiral out of control and your civilization collapses . . . you can't turn away the four horsemen of the apocalypse: climate change, famine, state failure and migration (occasionally, there is a fifth horseman: disease) and you need particular resources to defeat these horsemen, and of your geographical and technological situation doesn't possess them, then you're screwed . . . no matter who is making the decisions . . . but with great collapse comes great resilience and great recovery-- so you might as well embrace the impending apocalypse, because while a few good decisions might head off or postpone a collapse, if it's going to happen, no individual human-- brilliant leader, scientist, thinker, moral crusader, or whatever-- is going to defeat the lazy, scared, concerned masses . . . you might be able to temporarily plug the dike, but you're not going to stop the flood . . . and Morris doesn't see any inherent superior value to Western culture-- there's no cultural bias here-- the East surges ahead of the West at times (541 AD to 1100 AD in particular) and then hits a hard ceiling and it takes the Industrial Revolution for the West to make the big move ahead and it really didn't matter who invented what or when (Stigler's Law of Eponymy) and then, finally, Morris gets to now and that's when the book really takes off-- he explains the economic marriage of America and China (we buy Chinese products and China buys our debt, making the America dollar more valuable and the Chinese renminbi less so and if we stopped buying Chinese products, they could dump all the US dollars they own on the market, thus totally devaluing our currency . . . so we're stuck with each other) and how we are headed towards an uncharted future as far as social development-- we might hit 5000!-- which could result in cities of 140 million people or more, but we're hitting a hard ceiling around 1000 points, and we can't go on this way-- all the citizens of earth can't live the way the richest countries live-- we're burning too much fossil fuel, contributing to what Morris calls "global weirding" and as the world becomes smaller and flatter, developed nations are becoming more concerned with immigration (a prescient prediction of Trump's victory and Brexit . . . the book was published in 2011) and because we are at such a technological high point, the stakes are infinite . . . we may see a transformation in the next fifty years that makes the Industrial Revolution look like the domestication of the goat, a singularity situation where AI and energy capture make the world so small that geography and nations are meaningless . . . or we may be staggering towards a collapse like no other, where-- as Einstein pithily predicted-- we fight World War IV with rocks . . . the scary thing is that, with the technology we now possess, it only takes one thing to go wrong and then we are shrouded in nuclear winter or enduring the desert of the real, while it will take incredible diplomacy and cooperation to make everything go right, so that we break through the next hard ceiling and propel ourselves into a phenomenal future . . . I'm rooting for humanity to do it, but I'm not sure we've got it in us, but if we don't succeed, there's always the hope that some other life form-- cockroaches? rats?-- will step up to the plate and eventually swing for the fences . . . anyway, this is a must read, but when you get bored of the ancient Chinese history, skip a bit brother, and get to the conclusion (which a good hundred pages in itself).

Is Sloth Contagious?

Senior-cut-day has infected my brains and robbed me of my initiative . . . hopefully we'll all be back in gear tomorrow.

Dave Embraces the Future

In honor of finally finishing Why the West Rules-- for Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future, a monstrous tome of massive erudition by Ian Morris that I purchased over two years ago on my Kindle, I embraced the culture that will probably supersede our own (if there's not a nuclear apocalypse first) and after a truly epic Sunday-- I played pick-up soccer in the morning, then built a gate for our fence, then coached a soccer game, then went kayaking in a tiny kayak that I barely fit into and which spun in circles if I didn't paddle with perfect synchronicity (difficult to do while drinking a beer) then switched out of the aforementioned kayak because my legs were cramping up inside the tiny hull, and attempted to stand-up on a very small paddle board, designed for folks 150 pounds or less, toppled into Farrington Lake several times, finally got my balance and stood up and slowly paddled it back to the put in, navigating a stiff breeze with the tail end of the paddle board underwater-- so when I got home I was cold and wet and really really hungry and Cat and I decided to go to Chef Tan, the fairly new upscale authentic Chinese place right in town, so I could scarf some food down; we've been several times before and so we got some of our favorites: the Dan Dan noodles-- which come in a spicy peanut sauce with minced pork; the scallion pancakes; the dumplings-- homemade and crispy; and then we decided to try something new . . . Minced Pork with Mustard Greens, a heaping plate of chopped greens and tender lean pork chunks, but very spicy, just loaded with chopped skinny red hot peppers, and Catherine ate a reasonable amount and then waved the white flag and admitted defeat but I was really hungry-- I had an epic day!-- so I soldiered on, until my lips were numb and my nose was running and I couldn't take another bite . . . but it was so tasty and there was that weird amount left on the plate-- too little to take home but too much to leave-- so I finished it . . . and my stomach was pretty beat up this morning, along with the rest of my body because of my epic Sunday, and so I decided to go to the Chinese massage place in town, where I had once told the proprietress that "strong" was fine, and so now every time I go there, she does it a little stronger, and I'm not sure if this is authentic and I'm embracing the culture, or if the chef at Chef Tan and this lady are just giving me a taste of future Chinese domination, but either way, I'm preparing myself.

Butt Dial Plus

Thursday night at the bar, I had to confirm to a friend that I had butt-dialed him, and he sent back a text that said, "I thought I heard your ass" and while I assume he was speaking metaphorically, I had consumed a fair amount of beer, so he might not have been speaking metaphorically . . . and even if he hadn't literally heard my ass, and was only joking, I am sure there has been-- at some point in the history of cellular phoning-- a flatulent butt-dial, and that is wonderful.

Watching the Matrix Inside the Matrix

We were watching The Matrix last week in my senior composition class, and we had already covered the philosophical implications of the film: we connected early scenes to Plato and Camus (The Allegory of the Cave and "The Myth of Sisyphus") and so all we had left to discuss was the ending, when conflict and drama inside and outside the matrix build in masterful intertwined lock-step . . . Neo appears to be dead in the simulation, the sentinels have breached the hovercraft, Morpheus is about to detonate the EMP, and Trinity finally uses her oracular knowledge and some tongue to resolve things; this is when I used my brilliant analogy-- and analogy almost as brilliant as Plato's cave . . . I explained that the final structure is analogous to when they are in class-- the matrix-- pushing the rock and trying to live and succeed in the false reality of academia, and their cell-phone is buzzing, bring them information and messages from the real world, the world outside the matrix-like environment of school, the world which they desperately want to learn about and enter . . . but they're not supposed to be using their cell-phones in the school, they're supposed to ignore the outside world, stay inside the cave and focus on the shadows on the walls, but they want to graduate and see the light and fly around in the sky with cool sunglasses to awesome heavy techno music (and they're going to be sorely disappointed).

Ballsy Bootlegger

When we got home from soccer practice last night, Catherine greeted Ian with the statement: "I found something in your bookbag" and Ian immediately went with the classic contraband trope-- he threw his friend under the bus and said, "I was just holding it for X so he didn't get in trouble with his parents" and I said, "Okay, no problem, we'll just call X's parents and straighten it all out" and after a moment of reflection, he walked over to my wife and told her the two giant bags of gummy candy were his-- he had bought them at Rite-Aid-- and, after the usual web of lies, he finally admitted they were just for his own gluttonous consumption-- so we confiscated the bag, gave him the perfunctory lecture about sugar-- we had just been to the dentist the day before!-- and then I advised him that if he had just bought a little bag of candy, consumed it, and threw away the evidence, no one would have been the wiser, but three pounds of candy was rather excessive-- dealer level weight-- and then we thought we were in the clear with parenting dilemmas, as the long weekend was almost upon us, but today Ian used his green hair paint to spray a giant pair of green genitals in the boy's locker room (the frank and the beans) and he not only had to clean the school locker rooms but he also did a bunch of manual labor around the house to atone for his profane vandalism . . . I guess I shouldn't have let him watch Superbad last weekend (although he did nice job weeding and mulching . . . not that I want him to get in trouble, but it is a big help with the chores when he does).

Manchesters Fictitious and Real

Although it is well-acted, impeccably structured, and beautifully filmed, watching Manchester by the Sea is about as much fun as following the Manchester Ariana Grande bombing . . . but since Manchester by the Sea didn't actually happen, why put yourself through unnecessary tragedy?

Did I Finish This Book?

If you're a fan of big data, breezy writing, fun facts and sex and sex and sex and sex, then you'll certainly enjoy Seth Stephens-Davidowitz's new book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are . . . his theories and information are extracted from the digital confessional, the place where people are the most honest, the place where people think no one else is listening . . . he studied massive troves of Google and Pornhub searches; here are some of the things you'll learn about:

1) how racist America really is . . . and where the racists live (closer than you think)

2) the truth about Freudian slips and phallic dream imagery (neither means shit)

3) the six most popular story structures (as determined by an algorithm)

4) why 99 percent of teenagers who reported having artificial limbs on academic surveys were pulling the researchers' legs (pun provided by Dave!)

5) why parents wonder if their son is a genius and their daughter is overweight;

6) why were not as polarized as we think (Stormfront users love the NY Times)

7) how we are lying about how much we want to judge and keep up with our friends, how much we care where and how products are produced, how much we want to watch midgets having sex with porn stars, and how much we want to learn about political policy;

8) how most people are overestimating the amount of sex they are having per week (male and female estimations don't add up, and even more damning, the condom sales don't add up)

9) the ethics of using all this data . . . we don't want to end up like Minority Report, with precogs predicting crimes before they happen and then pre-crime units preemptively abrogating people's rights-- or . . . if we could avert something like the recent Manchester bombing . . . maybe we do;

10) why non-fiction conclusions don't matter (most people don't finish non-fiction books).

Decisions in Basketball Have No Bearing on Decisions in Life

Pick-up basketball night is all about making quick decisions with the ball, and my son Alex is certainly getting better at that-- he made a couple of nice outlet passes and is getting better at catching and shooting the ball in one motion-- but his decision making off the court has improved not so much . . . before we left for the gym he was hungry so he put a bunch of cereal in his pocket, so he could eat it when necessary-- and when my wife and I questioned the rationality of this strategy, he told us: "these are clean shorts!" and when he got home, he filled a cup with cereal and milk, and went into the living room while drinking his concoction-- and he's got terrible allergies right now-- so he ended up choking and spitting cereal and milk all over the place (and he's got poison ivy on his face because he fell in a bush during Nerf wars and he also nearly asphyxiated at his soccer game on Sunday because his allergies were so bad-- we had to take him at half-time and the doctor gave him a steroid shot-- not that he can control his allergies . . . but he's quite the thirteen year old trainwreck right now).

The Test 87: Brothers From Another Mother

Another brilliant and creative test idea from Stacey this week, and she thought of it all by herself . . . without the help of a man . . . astounding; first you'll have to endure our tales of curing cancer and Cunningham's perplexity about a disgusting mystery of the human body, but this is a sun-dazed episode the whole family will enjoy (and kids might perform better than adults) so give it a shot, keep score, and see how you fare.

Applying the Bard to the Beautiful Game

We had a low turnout for this morning's travel soccer game in Flemington; we were missing several key players and had only one substitute-- who was not only sick, but had a sore quad from Saturday's game-- and we were playing a team with several big, fast players and an eleven year old goalie the size of an adult (he could punt the ball nearly the length of the field and he caught everything cleanly) and we were down 1 - 0 at the half so I paraphrased Shakespeare's St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V to inspire them: I began with the mathematical division of glory . . . the fewer the players, the greater the share of honor, and then reminded them that they had showed up and and if they did something remarkable then those players who were not in attendance "should think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap" and then my very tired crew went out for the second half and immediately gave up a goal, so we were down 2 - 0 and things looked hopeless, and then they got inspired by something-- whether it was my speech we'll never know-- but they came back and tied the game and came damned close to winning it . . . if it wasn't for that giant goalie, but it was certainly a David vs. Goliath performance . . . the other team had eighteen players and we had nine and a half, and I was very proud of their effort.

It's Saturday and It's Raining . . . Again

Last week one of my students said, "It rains every weekend" and I pedantically pointed out how irrational her logic was-- how the weather does not possess consciousness and can't possibly be aware of what day of the week it is-- although it is Saturday and it's raining again, and we have a soccer game and I need to build a new gate for our fence and my wife is getting soaked at a bike rodeo and so my evidence may be anecdotal and also suspect to confirmation bias, but I'm starting to believe her.

R.I.P Grunge

I am usually unmoved by celebrity deaths but Chris Cornell's death is more symbolic . . . grunge is now truly dead: Cornell joins Kurt Cobain, Scott Weiland, and Layne Staley-- and while I've seen the meme about protecting Eddie Vedder at all costs, as he is the last remaining frontman of grunge, I never considered Pearl Jam a real grunge band, they're more of a pop act and most of their songs annoy me-- anyway, the age of grunge was the last time I could listen to pop radio and enjoy it (my friends and I saw Soundgarden and Circus of Power in Asbury Park in the late 80s-- the Louder Than Love tour-- and it was as billed, so LOUD, we couldn't hear for days afterwards and in a few short years grunge was everywhere-- Nirvana was ubiquitous and in 1993, the fantastic, extemporaneous and acoustic Alice in Chains album "Jar of Flies" reached number one on the charts . . . signifying something awesome about that time period . . .Dave was 23 and Kim Thayil said, in some interview in a guitar magazine, "It doesn't matter if you're playing a major or a minor chord when your sound is this loud and distorted" and all that is over now, especially for me, as I can't take loudness these days and if grunge resurfaced I wouldn't be able to tolerate it).

The Sixth Grade Scoop

I'll warn you at the start, this is hot stuff, salacious even, so put on your oven mitts and handle it with care: last night my son Ian and I went to the sushi place for dinner together-- Catherine and Alex went to the Asian place a few doors down-- so it was just me and my younger son, a sixth grader who is 11 going on 12, and while usually his older brother Alex dominates the conversation, this situation gave Ian a chance to air some things that were baffling him . . . he mentioned the fact that some people in his grade were "going out" and that "these things usually didn't last long, only a week or so" and that his buddy "wasn't doing that well" because he had a fight with his girlfriend, and so I asked him what they were fighting about and he said, "Shoes" and so I pressed him and he explained,"You know, if his shoes were cool or not" and I said that sometimes women cared about fashion-- that wasn't uncommon-- and Ian said the consensus among the sixth graders was that girls are "a complicated species"-- he used those exact words-- and I said that was certainly true, and he said that kids are also using the term "third wheel" for someone who is hanging around a couple, trying to get in on the action, they called it "third wheeling" and I said that isn't so uncommon either, and sometimes it's okay to be the third wheel and sometimes it isn't and then he said that his friend had "hugged his girlfriend when he was over her house' and her parents brought the hammer down and banned all hugging and hand-holding and Ian said he was not interested in partaking in any of this stuff in any way, shape, or form and I told him that was fine and that he had plenty of time before he needed to get involved with the "complicated species."

That's Recycling!

I haven't put together a will and last testament yet, so this sentence is going to have to suffice: when I die, I want to have a sky burial . . . I had never heard of this practice until yesterday, when a student of mine who had been to Tibet and seen it firsthand described it-- apparently, after you die they drag your corpse up onto a mountain, put you on a slab of stone, and let the scavenging birds eat you, so that your immortal soul and your decomposing flesh get to fly around in the sky for a while (and then get defecated back to earth, I suppose) and this environmentally friendly, chemical and flame free burial really appeals to me . . . if you want to see a video-- and warning, it is very gross, click here-- otherwise, when I shuffle off this mortal coil, someone needs to make this happen (and if you do, you can have my CD collection).

Thucydides Saw It Coming . . .

The South China Sea may end up being a battle between the submarines and the "slum encampments on stilts," between China and the rest-- and American Cold War dominance, relatively simplistic national game theory, will "likely have to pass . . . a more anxious complicated world awaits us" a world where, according to Thucydides, the real cause of the Peloponnesian War was the build-up of Athenian sea power, which made Sparta very nervous . . . so read Robert Kaplan and try to sort out Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific . . . you're going to have to understand the Law of the Sea and how it applies to land masses and the nine-dashed line, and how we should react to the nine-dashed line and the domestic politics that the countries affected by the nine-dashed line (Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, The Philippines, China, etc) and how they will react to our reactions and so on . . . the book may make you throw your liberal ideals out the window and start thinking in Realpolitik terms like Kissinger and it will certainly make you aware of the complexity that is modern southeast Asia (plus it has a few good maps at the start of the book, which I needed to look at constantly . . . there's a lot of countries and islands packed into a small area!)

Rationalize This

The home mortgage income deduction: a ridiculous subsidy to upper middle class and rich folks that will probably never go away because upper middle class and rich folks-- myself included-- will bend over backwards to rationalize it (although Britain managed to phase theirs out over a twenty year period).

The Test 86: Movies in Five (That's Three Sir)

This week on The Test, Stacey presents a brilliant set of cinematic puzzles, but despite the high quality of the quiz, a peeing dog, low batteries, and my newfound psychic abilities send this bad boy into uncharted waters.

Dave Uses the Scientific Method

Thursday night, I was offensively flatulent, and I blamed this-- by process of elimination-- on something in the taco meat; Friday, my wife and kids took off on an overnight band trip, leaving me alone in the house with the dog, and so after going to happy hour with some teachers at Bar Louie (at the mall . . . absurd) where I only drank Guinness, which never gives me gas, I decided to conduct an experiment and finish the leftover meat and see if my intuition was correct . . . and it was . . . something in that meat-- perhaps extra garlic in the spice packet?-- wreaked havoc on my stomach, and due to my inspired scientific zeal and endeavor, I am now close to certain that my hypothesis was correct (and my gassiness has subsided and my wife and kids won't be home until 7 PM so the only people to experience discomfort because of this experiment were me and the dog).

Adrian McKinty Does It Again

Mercury tilt bombs, Castle Carrickfergus, Jimmy Savile, the Troubles, Belfast, Coronation Road, atrocious scandals, a locked room murder, copious pints of beer, plenty of illicit substances, Steve Reich and other obscure minimalist music . . . this all adds up to another excellent Sean Duffy crime novel: Rain Dogs.

Robert Kaplan: More Analogies!

When my wife and I lived in Syria, it made sense for me to read a lot of Robert Kaplan: Balkan Ghosts, An Empire in Wilderness, The Coming Anarchy, Arabists, The Ends of the Earth . . . then we returned stateside, bought a house, had children, and our travels to exotic overseas locales ended . . . as did my obsession with the most literary of geopolitical analysts-- because reading Robert Kaplan takes a lot of concentration, it's not like breezing through a Thomas Friedman book-- but just because I forgot about Robert Kaplan, doesn't mean he stopped writing, and I've decided to catch up: I picked up Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific in a used bookstore in Vermont and I'm wading through it, trying to sort out analogies like this: "Whereas Hanoi is Vietnam's Ankara, Saigon is Vietnam's Istanbul."

Deer Beer Diary . . .

The lady at the beer store in Ludlow said I should start a beer diary so I could better remember what I like . . . but Gary Taubes told me beer contains quite a bit of sugar, in the form of maltose, and apparently sugar is the enemy-- which makes me very sad-- but now I understand why I gained eight pounds over spring break in Vermont . . . anyway, here are some of the beers I sampled, the remains of which are still hanging about my midriff:

Idletyme Joy and Laughter . . . delicious;

Fiddlehead IPA . . . hoppy and delicious;

Trout River Rainbow Red Ale . . . smooth and delicious;

Farnham Red Ale . . . even better than the Trout River;

Terrapin HI-5 . . . typical;

Idletyme Zog's American Pale Ale . . . another good one;

Uncanny Valley Burlington Beer Company . . . weird cloudy grapefruit juice;

Whetstone Big 'stoner . . . awesome;

Whetstone Down South . . . way too smoky;

Whetstone Off the Rails . . . black but not heavy;

Farnham Double India Pale Ale 78 . . . a better version of the Uncanny Valley cloudy grapefruit juice;

Miller64 . . . nope.

The Enemy is Delicious

Fat is fine, but that's the only good news: the enemy is everywhere, and the enemy is addictive and the enemy is sugar . . . if you want to know why, then listen to the new Sam Harris podcast (but it might be better if you didn't).

The Miracle of the Missing ID

Friday when I got home from work, I unloaded the car-- beer and ice for our Cinco de Mayo party-- and then I took off my windbreaker and noticed that I was still wearing my school ID lanyard . . . but there was no school ID attached to the metal loop-- my ID had fallen off somewhere between school and home-- so I checked the house and my car, but no luck . . . and then Cunningham and Stacey arrived, to do the podcast, so I had to end my search (and I was pretty upset-- we had to sign our life away for this thing, because it's also an electronic card key, and I didn't know if I needed to tell someone at the school that I lost the card, since now anyone who found it could get into the building and I had just gotten in trouble for another security breach: I propped a door open with a chair so i didn't have to keep opening it for late-in seniors) and so an hour later when I received a phone call from the lady at Buy-Rite Liquor, informing me that someone had found my ID on the sidewalk outside the store, I was overjoyed (and told her so, and also might have recounted most of this sentence to her, which my wife and the ladies found very amusing . . . they told me I gave her way too much information, but I was just trying to explain how appreciative I was for the call).

The Gastro-Inevitable

I thought this batch of jalapeno infused tequila I whipped up for Cinco de Mayo was fairly mild (and it was certainly milder than this first attempt) and while some folks at the party disagreed, people liked it enough to finish the bottle . . . which made me think I should step it up the next time-- I can't be making spicy tequila that people can actually consume without clutching their throats and spitting up mucous . . . the only problem is that my stomach thought the mild stuff was more than spicy enough, and no matter how good it tastes, your stomach still has to deal with it later . . . and my stomach is getting old and fed up with stupid shenanigans like that.

Drones: Miniature Paranoia

1990s paranoia was all about unmarked helicopters-- they loomed, they surveilled, they indicated the presence of a mysterious authority-- but you could run from them and you could hide from them . . . Goodfellas and The X-Files come to mind-- but the 2010s are all about the drones: constant, persistent, ubiquitous . . . and there's nowhere to hide; the surveillance and paranoia are constant, so much so that we are inured to it.

Thank You, Stupid Meat Brain

I can't find a specific name for this logical fallacy, but I'm sure you'll understand what I'm talking about: sometimes people desire variety simply for the sake of variety without a perfectly logical rationale . . . and while this is illogical, there's no question that our stupid meat brains fall for this trick time after time-- this is the irrationality that causes trends in fashion and the 24 hour news cycle and the allure of social media . . . everyone knows that they should just buy some quality clothes that will last a lifetime, read Brothers Karamazov instead of an endless slew of stupid tweets, and stop following the daily political morass . . . but we enjoy the constant change, the shiny allure of the new . . . and while I think this is cognitive glitch is generally a swirling time suck, an environmental disaster, and a recipe for prodigality, I will descend from my high horse and admit that sometimes this desire for variety can be beneficial; Pitchfork, the arrogant, judgey, annoyingly opinionated and generally spot-on music site named the David Bowie/Brian Eno collaboration "Low" as the number one album of the 1970s and when I stumbled upon this last week, at first I found the pronouncement to be fairly humorous and completely absurd-- could this album really be better than Led Zeppelin IV and Exile on Main Street and London Calling and Dark Side of the Moon?-- could it even best Ziggy Stardust?-- but despite the silliness of the choice, the probably underserved number one position convinced me to listen to the album and I love it . . . I've been listening to it on repeat for a week straight; it's full of moody instrumentals that combine funk guitar and bass with ethereal synth washes (and limited saxophone, thank goodness) and when Bowie does sing, the lyrics are spare and ambiguous . . . sometimes the album feels like the soundtrack to Lord of the Rings; apparently this is Bowie in detox, after all the excess and abuse, and while I don't think it's genuinely better than Exile and Dark Side, I've played those albums out and would have no problem never listening to them again, so this variety-for-variety's-sake logical fallacy, while an obnoxious move by a hipster critic, got me listening to something I would never have discovered otherwise . . . so thanks Pitchfork, you giant douchebag and thank you stupid meat brain, for falling for this rather obvious cognitive ruse..

Let's Get Ready to (Logically) Bumble!

In honor of logical fallacy week here at SoD, I oversimplified things yesterday and I'm going to make an unfounded, imprecise analogy today: my generation's JFK moment was February 11, 1990 . . . when undefeated heavy-weight champion Mike Tyson lost to underdog Buster Douglas; I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news (the third floor of my fraternity house) and the absolute shock and disbelief that accompanied this information . . . my perception was forever altered: I now understood that nothing was certain, nothing was deserved, and the future was a wicked morass of variability and change.

The Internet (in a nutshell)

When we have access to everything, we don't know anything.

Operation . . . for Realsies

I hope you are enjoying vintage commercial/logical fallacy week here at Sentence of Dave, and I will begin this episode with an example of an excellent analogy: Saturday morning, I was about to leave the dog park with Sirius, and I noticed something bulbous beneath his eye-- a dog tick had attached itself to his lower eyelid-- so we hurried home and when I entered the house, I called to my wife: "Catherine? Can you get the tweezers? We're going to play Operation . . . for real" and the next sequence was perfectly analogous the old board game, except the punishment for a miscue wouldn't be a buzzing red light, it would be a one-eyed dog; I held Sirius steady, and after a couple of tentative failed attempts, Catherine nabbed the tick (without damaging the dog's eye) and then I found an old commercial for the game and showed it to my kids-- as I was so proud of my analogy-- and there's a really weird logical leap in the first moments of the ad, when the mom overhears her children say the word "operation" . . . she immediately assumes they are vivisecting the family dog . . . so my question is: what happened in the past to make her think this is the case?

The Straw Ham Argument

In my composition class we're reviewing common logical fallacies, which helped me finally put my finger on the exact reason this commercial (above) has been bothering me for over thirty years-- the wacky uncle hard selling the A-1 uses the "straw man argument" to convince his nephew to use steak sauce on his burger; first, he creates a hollow and idiotic premise (no one actually believes a hamburger is chopped ham) and then he knocks down this moronic argument (of his own invention) with apparent ease . . . a hamburger isn't chopped ham . . . no, it's chopped steak! . . . but, of course, there's no mention of what a hamburger really is: cheap beef parts, laced with E. Coli and salmonella, minced and padded out with pink slime . . . the whole thing goes down so quickly that the rest of the family never questions the uncle's slick (but ham-handed) rhetoric.
A New Sentence Every Day, Hand Crafted from the Finest Corinthian Leather.