Monday, October 29, 2018

Maybe some people DIDN'T evolve: The Vintage News discusses evolution

Nothing is more entertaining than an evening of perusing the Facebook page for The Vintage News. The Vintage News has nothing whatsoever to do with ANY kind of news, vintage or not. It's a chopped-up mixture of Weekly World News/Believe It or Not-type article, with some random quasi-historical/scientific stuff culled from other Facebook pages and just sort of glommed in.

Usually the articles are boring and kind of pointless, except for the fact that most of them are written with atrocious grammar and spelling and seem to be bad translations from some other language (which I love dearly). But the comments! The comments are something else again, and are often highly entertaining because of the mentality of the readers - or lack of same.

I didn't even include the article, which was about Charles Darwin marrying his cousin, but oh MY - what a "discussion" it sparked about how the theory of evolution is "just a theory", there is no evidence for it, it has never been proven, so therefore IT CAN'T BE TRUE. There's also lots of indignation about how we don't "come from monkeys", which reminds me of Spencer Tracy thumping the Bible in that old 1950s movie Inherit the Wind. Things haven't come  so very far since then - I don't mean the 1950s, but 1925 when the Scopes Monkey Trial took place:

The Scopes Trial, formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and commonly referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was an American legal case in July 1925 in which a substitute high school teacher, John T. Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act, which had made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.The trial was deliberately staged in order to attract publicity to the small town of Dayton, Tennessee, where it was held. Scopes was unsure whether he had ever actually taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so that the case could have a defendant.

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1395 in 2017), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The trial served its purpose of drawing intense national publicity, as national reporters flocked to Dayton to cover the big-name lawyers who had agreed to represent each side. William Jennings Bryan, three-time presidential candidate, argued for the prosecution, while Clarence Darrow, the famed defense attorney, spoke for Scopes. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy, which set Modernists, who said evolution was not inconsistent with religion,[4] against Fundamentalists, who said the word of God as revealed in the Bible took priority over all human knowledge. The case was thus seen as both a theological contest and a trial on whether "modern science" should be taught in schools. (Wikipedia)

I've taken a few university-level anthropology courses, though I'm aware the field has exploded since then. The fossil record, which becomes more rich and complex with each new find, is slowly but surely illuminating the mystery of human origins, tracing them back to a COMMON ANCESTOR (not a monkey, you dummies!) which split into two groups before they even looked like monkeys. We looked sort of like lemurs back then, and before that, we were tree shrews. 

We had to start somewhere.

But the point is, connection led to connection in a multi-branched, incredibly complex pattern with many dead ends. The fact that people still blather on about "the missing link" just infuriates me, because that idea was completely invalidated in about 1918. It's just a "thing people say" because they know nothing whatsoever about anthropology or the evolutionary process. To rant against Darwin by thundering that "we didn't come from monkeys" is so simple-minded and the idea still so apparently prevalent that I honestly wonder if Trump will ever run out of supporters.

Ron Waid Lizzie Campbell - It's still just a theory, not proven fact. If natural selection were true, Eskimos would have fur to keep warm, but they don't. They are just as hairless as everyone else. Also, if natural selection were true, humans in the tropics would have silvery, reflective skin to help them keep cool, but they don't. They have black skin, just the opposite of what the theory of natural selection would predict.

Keith Blackwell Lizzie Campbell so if you have a baby with a deformed hand or no legs... is that evolution?age

Ronald Redman Maybe you did fall out of a tree and landed on your head,their is no factual evidence man derived from a flipping monkey you twit

Rastko S. Ilić  His empty heretical theory had only one purpose: to separate humanity from Holy Christianity. As always

Nancy McIlrath Ok Vintage here you go again. How many times are you going to post this? I have seen 4 so far. I am a fan of Darwin but I suspect something else is going on here.

Ronald Redman Imagine you're a monkey playing in a tree, now you're a homosapian, can believe what ever floats your boat but sorry mam didn't come from a have no proof whatsoever, to observe the truth look at his sponsors and channels of funds for his work and all will be clear.

Ronald Redman But still no evidence of evolution

Robinson Yost No, because science is not about proving things with absolute certainty, that’s not what science is about. So saying the theory of evolution means it’s unproven shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the word theory and the scientific process itself.

Nancy McIlrath troll

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Three speeds of Elizabeth Holmes

An experimental gif featuring my favorite Silicon Valley sociopath, Elizabeth Holmes. A little small, due to the varying frame size/speed.

Monday, October 22, 2018

"Shrink! Shrink!" Instant weight loss miracles

I want to subtitle this, "When I came, my brain was loose. . . "

There are some truly strange phenomena in religion. This is right up there with Mormon magic underwear: the belief that a simple prayer will instantly peel 20 or 30 pounds off your body, so that suddenly your skirt is literally falling off. Even the needle on the scale is shown edging down and down, right on camera. It seems ludicrous, and it IS ludicrous, and I can't help but be sad, because people who believe this will believe anything. They will believe anything because they make the evidence fit. Either it's a downright hoax and they're sucking in their gut or have a hidden tuck in their waistband, or they're trying so hard to believe in the miracle that they delude themselves into actually SEEING results on their own body.

Part of it is just - may I say laziness? Losing weight is hard work, it takes effort, commitment, and an endless dedication to keeping the weight off even when your body insists on putting it back on. But what if God was willing to do all this for you - no effort - no energy - and in only seconds?

It scares me because this guy, this evangelist, is very slick. He's one of these charismatics, and he's there to fill the holes in people's lives. Most of this audience (and I believe the church is in Zimbabwe) are poor and black, and most are middle-aged or older women. No doubt this instant weight loss has another kind of cost, a more literal cost, in having to pony up big bucks to line the preacher's pockets.

It's what used to be called cheap grace. Jesus will do it all for you. Just believe in him, surrender to him! It seems like another lifetime that I not only belonged to the United Church, but was a lay minister for years and years. It wasn't so much waking up one morning realizing it had all been a sham. It was a slow crumbling, an eroding, a gradual realization that this just couldn't be true. What was I having "faith" in? Was there a God, a separable force from brute nature, that cared about us? After a while, it just didn't make sense any more. In the eyes of the church, it had to be something benevolent that was kind of hanging above us, watching over us, counting the hairs on our head, etc. If I doubted, people would try to hook me back by saying, "Oh, but it's just something that lives in your heart." But that's not it. An atheist could (and many do) embrace this idea. I could believe in human goodness without believing in a separable, personal, unconditionally loving God. 

That time I thought I caught a dazzling glimpse of the power of the universe, that dizzying force was completely indifferent. Quite simply, it didn't care about us. This was the raw force of nature, and of all that is. If there's something more personal going on, then we must provide it for each other.

So where is God in all this?

Videos like this one, in which trusting people are duped and bled dry of money they can't spare, only erodes my sense of the Big Guy in the Sky even more. How many crusades were fought in the name of God, how many people tortured and executed - and on a more intimate level, how many people were shamed and blamed, how many innocent, trusting children sexually abused and emotionally destroyed by priests who were God's representatives on earth?

It's a grim scene. I had to learn to do without God, and it was a loss, and still is, now that I am grieving the loss of my best friend. He was a believer for years, but I am not sure what happened at the end, because it looks like his former church is not going to do a memorial for him. So much for the graciousness of God and his followers! When it comes right down to it, Christian forgiveness is practically never followed, though an awful lot of people play at it. So I am left pretty much alone with my grief, and it's bloody painful. Sometimes I feel him on the other side, sometimes I even hear his voice, but if  I made the mistake of telling a psychiatrist, I'd be given medication for it and have a note written on my chart: delusional. And it would be on my record forever. Don't start that God business, whatever you do, or it will follow you around forever.

POST-BLOG GLOB! Predictably, I just found a news article from a Zimbabwe paper about  this Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, claiming that his church will soon be shut down (though I am sure that, like a poison mushroom, it will pop up somewhere else in short order. As P. T. Barnum famously said, there's one born every minute.) 

The fortunes and survival of UFIC leader, prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa, is hanging by a thread, with the prospect of an ultimate shutdown of his tricky church, after the already talked about Ghanaian pastors have sent an explosive letter to President Robert Mugabe, to be hand delivered by a local delegation of clerics representing them in Harare next week, the Telescope News reported.

Makandiwa had appeared to take the gospel in Zimbabwe by storm five years ago, with sugarcoated teachings bordering on a heap of what his critics say are "lying miracles", such as penis enlargements, miracle money, miracle babies, weight loss on live television, and dubious financial summits to empower men right in the House of The Lord, they charge. However, the letter sent last night to Zimbabwe, calls on Mugabe to immediately arrest Makandiwa without hesitation when Grace passes away, as evidence that he is a fake prophet, thus God has hidden this sad prophecy just to expose his wickedness, and alleged ties with the occult and voodoo magic, the pastors lead by Lawrence Ajoba, said.

The Telescope News claims that it has a copy of the letter, which is embargoed until 6 April 2014, thus we shall be publishing the full text of the letter on Monday, the 7th of April, as part 2 to this interesting saga fast approaching "Judgement Day".

Ironically, Makandiwa is preparing for a much hyped "Judgement Night" on April 19, at the National Sports Stadium in the capital. Some 150 000 people are expected to attend his meeting, including foreigners, which could be his very last shot at fame and crowd pulling. The Ghanaian pastors, as will be read next week also want Mugabe "to set bulldozers" on the UFIC Chitungwiza church.

(I'm afraid they lost me at the penis enlargements.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Which way did he go?

In the land of Dairy Queen

I consider this to be a thing of great beauty. We seldom see such beauty in the world anywhere, let alone in a commercial for Dairy Queen. We had treats then, and not many people were fat. We were impressed with less. But was it less?

This is a piece of art. Art and commerce meet and blend with such incredible grace. No seams show. This came right out of the brain of an animator and on to our TV set. The black and white gives it an unearthly, even otherworldly quality. And the Dairy Queen fairy descends from space to bring her curly-topped treats to sleeping children.

We still have the Land of Dairy Queen, but it isn't the same. It's no longer an astral destination, but just a place to go to for blizzards and chocolate-dipped cones and frozen birthday cakes. We're no longer transported. The imagination is becoming blunted. We don't even know the ways in which things are slipping away, because they have already slipped away.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

This man is having a bad day


Joe is playing a sort of modified orchestrion, which is an organ played with paper rolls like a player piano. This rendition has something of the 1812 Overture about it. For some reason the instrument is called an American fotoplayer, an odd name for something acoustic rather than visual. In this case, his highly physical enhancement of the piece is downright maniacal. These keyboard instruments were popular in the parlour in the early 20th century. They provide such a workout that it's a wonder Joe isn't more slender.

I have a fascination with mechanical musical instruments - I could go on and on, but I have to be somewhere - their hokey artificiality, out-of-tune-ness, and outlandish methods of propulsion, such as the steam-driven calliope popular with travelling circuses and Mississippi steamboats. Like bagpipes, which also utilize hot air, they're outdoor instruments, too deafening to be played in the parlour. These were instruments on the move, in circus wagons or on steamboats (or marching bands in kilts). 

It was technology of a sort, though analogue/manual. Obsolescence interests me, for reasons which kind of frighten me, sometimes. Like so many of my generation, I am slouching not-so-slowly in the same direction.

Joe has an entire YouTube channel of fotoplayer performances (link below). They are extremely intense, even noisy, so listen to them at your own risk.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Keith Morrison: "And then. . . well. . . you know what they say. . . "

Oldest sex symbol on network television. Face like the Gobi Desert, but that's why we love him. This speaks volumes about Dateline's age demographic. He also speaks in a certain language I call Keith-ese, with lots of low-pitched "well"s, and slightly archaic Canadianisms like "anna-thing" for "anything", and "rec-coards" for records. His pauses are more than pregnant, they have already given birth and are running around.

Click on bottom right corner, you can't watch this without the sound!

Can't Help Falling in Love (on a kalimba)

I had never heard of a kalimba before, but I sure recognized the sound. It's the tinny, plinky sound of my first toy, an old tin jack-in-the-box (old even when I inherited it from my older siblings).

It looked and sounded something like this:

POP goes the synapse! And memory that is no more than a nearly-invisible, hairlike trace among the neurons once again begins to sizzle.

Sense memories, mostly. I remember the jack-in-the-box and its rusty chipped paint, rubbery plunks and scary pop-up man, the pictures of clowns on the sides. I remember associating it with the smell of pee, or a urinous scent that makes no sense unless I wasn't potty trained yet. These are OLD memories, you must realize, as old as I am. I remember sitting in the middle of the living room floor alone, my fat little legs stuck out in front of me, watching a flickering blue screen, a magic box that had come in the door the same day my mother brought me home from the hospital (upstaging me so completely that no one paid any attention to the new baby). The surreal, dreamlike, smudgy black-and-white images somehow pushed the record button in my infant mind, so that I remember - very distinctly - a man with a moustache, twisting his face around this way, then that way:

Something like this.

Exactly like this, because this IS it, this IS the exact image I saw on TV in my infancy, one of my very first memories! I didn't know what it was, who it was (though of course I recognized it as a face), and it was years or even decades later before I realized it was the wildly innovative comedian my older brother always talked about - THE SAME MAN - Ernie Kovacs! Even later than that, in adulthood, I saw some rare kinescopes of Kovacs' TV show (most of the videos erased by the networks to record game shows like To Tell the Truth and What's My Line. Remember Bess Myerson? ). Even now it gives me a strange, not too comfortable feeling. Kovacs only seems to exist in this grey phantom world, scary, sometimes even off-putting  as it seems to have a mildewed, obsolete quality. But his madness seemed to keep pace with my own, with ideas and thinking that might have been original but were forever out of step.

Sputnik. I remember Sputnik, everyone talking about it, though I was three years old and had no idea what it was, what it was about. No one ever explained anything, but there was an uneasy feeling that I should know, that I shouldn't NEED it explained, because everyone else got it, didn't they? As usual, since I was the youngest by over a decade, everyone else towered over me. I do remember going up some spooky steps at the back of my father's store in pitch darkness to stand on the flat roof with a telescope, trying to see Sputnik. I always thought I imagined that part, that there was no way anyone could see a suitcase-sized sphere hurtling across space from a store roof, but just last night I was talking about it to my son and he said, "Oh, yes, it was visible in the night sky." Jesus Christ!

I remember moving. I hate moving, and maybe this is why. This one is even earlier than Sputnik: I was probably in my two's (toilet trained? Who knows) and being hauled around to look at a new house. A new house where we were going to live. What was wrong with the  old house? These thoughts weren't even verbal, just deep uneasy feelings. If we could move for no reason, then anything might happen.

I was trundled around this huge, empty, cavernous place while everyone murmured and talked. There was no furniture, not even any rugs. I assumed this was how we were going to live. No one told me otherwise. Waffling confusion like a cloud system, never quite clearing up. 

Debby Carey made me come into her playhouse (an awful tippy thing with a cracked linoleum floor) and dared me to pee on the floor. I think I did, and it was hot and the smell was disgusting, but we giggled.

Sandy, the neighbor's bad-tempered cocker spaniel, bit me behind my knee. I think I was four, as it was before kindergarten. When the dog pooped hugely on our front lawn, the kids made up a song to "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow": "Sandy went to the bathroom, Sandy went to the bathroom. . . "

They go back farther, more soft-bordered and woozy like the feeling just before you faint. Being in "the gulley" somewhere around my grandmother's house in Delhi. My sister towering over me as I lay in the weeds and saying, "Are you wounded?" I don't even know what the game was, though I was often (being the smallest, and powerless) taken prisoner.

The tent, being tied to the pole, a reek of canvas. Playing war. Eating sweet peas from the garden, war provisions. Summer noises, cicadas. Long, sizzly, tambourine-like arcs of hot summer sound.

And the skeezix bird, the night hawk that produced a weird booming noise that no one else seemed to hear, so that I assumed I was the only one, or was crazy like everyone told me. Some of them (not many) noticed the call, but not the strange noise that followed it, which my brother claimed was the sound waves bouncing off buildings. (This video finally explained it to me, some fifty years on.)

And just a hair of memory, something that came up in hypnosis, a disastrous session in which I felt I stood before God, but what led into it was a memory of  being newborn and in a crib, my mother opening the door of my dark room - a gigantic exploding rectangle of yellow light, then a figure fifty feet tall, looking down at me with indifference tinged with a certain grim sense of duty.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018