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Month: September 2007

There should be a history of English dialects

There should be a history of English dialects

I’ve often watched old Hitchcock movies and the like where people speak in an accent or dialect known as Mid-Atlantic English. Think of how FDR or Katherine Hepburn spoke, with those long a R’s, hard A’s and ridiculous dipthongs… as well as regular thongs too!. That is Mid-Atlantic English. The weird thing is that nobody really speaks like that anymore. That dialects just sort of faded away. And the only way that we now know that it ever existed is because it was recorded in film and audio. To me this begs an obvious question… What sort of strange dialects have come and gone in the past without record? How many alterations of spoken English have occurred that we are not aware of, simply because they were never recorded. I’m pretty sure that there would never have been phonetic record taking of English dialects in the time before audio recordings. And if there was it had to have been only of general changes rather than isolated dialects. Currently I know that there is a vowel shift going on in North America… that’s right the way we speak is changing as we speak. You can hear more about that in the PBS documentary Do You Speak American.
But here is an interesting thought, what if we could somehow find a link between the way that English is written and the way that is is spoken and traverse the written word throughout history to find out the way that past English speakers spoke. Is this possible? It should be!

There should be actual practice of the golden rule… but there’s not so here are a few less-moral rules that people go by…

There should be actual practice of the golden rule… but there’s not so here are a few less-moral rules that people go by…

I’ve begun to recognize a few bad alternatives to the golden rule so I thought I’d give them names and definitions (coining phrases is one of my lead ambitions in life) so here goes:

the mirrored rule: do unto others as they do unto you

This type of behavior –of only being as moral and courteous as those around us– leads to a downwards spiral of morality. I think if you asked people on the street what the golden rule is you’d get a fair portion of people giving this definition instead of the right one. It’s often mistaken. Example: you cut someone off in traffic because someone did it to you… and heck… the guy you are cutting off would have done it to you if he had half a chance.

The gilded rule: do unto others good things as far as it enhances your reputation.

This is the rule that is best demonstrated when a guy on a date showingly gives a pan handler a ten dollar bill. But when he isn’t on a date or in front of those he is trying to impress he ignores such poverty.

The controlling rule: do unto others what you think they can’t do for themselves

Make decisions for people… tell them how to run their life… go ahead take control… God knows you don’t have it over your own life… …jeeesh I sound pretty vindictive there. Example: “Oh little Billy can’t decide where he wants to go to school and what he’ll major in… he’s only 17… lets do it for him.”

The “I told them” rule: Someone else should do unto others what you don’t have the time or patience for.

“somebody should do something about that… …I told them that somebody should do something about that… and now look what happened.” “what do I pay taxes for anyway… The government should solve all of our problems for us… while I sit and watch TV and become grotesquely obese… oh yeah, and the government should do something about that too… perhaps a pill that keeps me from becoming obese and depressed and reshapes my couch potato butt.”

The grueling rule: Do unto others way way more good things than they do unto you!

This one’s actually good… Mother Theresa, grandmothers etc… God Bless these people… I just had to throw a good one in here.

But there are plenty of other bad ones… if you can think of them add them by commenting.

There should be a ridiculous non-sequitur song today…

There should be a ridiculous non-sequitur song today…

Here it is. Brian Jump and I recorded it on some strange whim. It details the struggles of a poor funeral director with a few issues. Enjoy.

There should be a rational alternative to war.

There should be a rational alternative to war.

My friend Ian Kane blogged recently about a program that can determine the results of wars. This idea–while seemingly fantastical–could have significant impacts on World Peace! (Note the capitalization and exclamation point… noting also that you should be excited)

I’ve learned several key things, in my studies, about modern developments in global conflict. Firstly that rational governments such as Republican Democracy or a Consensus Democracy or my favorite a Direct Democracy or most appropriately an Anticipatory Democracy but most probably not an Illiberal Democracy do not go to war against each other. This is not to say that there isn’t aggression and tension between modern states like for example France and the USA or the USA and Mexico or the USA and China or the USA and pretty much anybody in some way. But the general rule of thumb is that these countries don’t go and firebomb each other into oblivion as lesser states might. (emphasis on lesser… as I speak from some sort of ivory tower)

So there seems to be a need for conflict resolution other than war in these cases. Oh, of course some of you are saying “there is… it’s called diplomacy!” Kiebash I say! Diplomacy doesn’t work in purely rational ways like for example a computer program that predicts the results of wars would! Lets say there is a dispute between the USA and China and we plug in these numbers and factors and find that we would loose. Or that we would win. Then we could just forgo the entire war and start drawing up concessions before a single person has had to spill his/her blood. I mean, we’re rational beings right?!?!… we would see the simplicity and justice in this method right?!? And this way all countries could donate their entire defense budgets to pay disabled orphans to plant flowers in the ghettos and on mine fields. (After they’ve been de-mined of course) And the world would be full of singing and jelly beans and re-runs of the Jeffersons. Umm… Ok.

There is a point where extreme rationality becomes irrational… I think I crossed that line a few paragraphs back.

There should be less glamorous names for disgusting foot conditions!

There should be less glamorous names for disgusting foot conditions!

Boom! There it is, says John Madden. As he sprays Tough Actin’ Tinactin on a little claymation foot monster with evil eyes. Cures Athletes Foot… I saw this on a commercial today and realized the idiocy of this conditions’ name. I think there should be a fair amount of immediate disgust when one hears the name of certain skin funguses related to ringworm and crotch rot!
Imagine this… some high school football jock is scratching his infected foot in class. Some swooning girl asks… “oh what’s wrong?”
He’s like, “Oh, don’t worry about it baby… I have Athletes foot… that’s right, I’m an Athlete!… Cause Athletes get that… we’re tough you see.” And she’s all like, “Oh he’s so tough… he’s an Athlete, wanna go to prom??!?!” Well, what she doesn’t understand is that he has a revolting foot rash… a fungus actually… a disgusting foot fungus, caused by poor hygiene and general bad demeanor… all red and irritated with ripples and bumps… it’s gross! But you wouldn’t know it by it’s name. In fact you’d think telling someone they have Athletes foot sounds like a compliment. “Oh man! Look at the athletes foot on that running back!” or “Johnny just stole third base, he’s sure got the Athletes foot!” Kiebash!
It’s not the same for ringworm–which is almost the exact same condition. You say you have ringworm and people quarantine you in your locker. Nobody will speak to you for months they think it’s so contagious. Athletes foot is so poorly titled, it sounds like a virtuous compliment but it’s actually a virulent rashlike fungus caused by poor hygiene.

There should be an Islamic Bob Marley

There should be an Islamic Bob Marley

The other day on WYEP I heard a middle eastern Reggae/hip hop band that sounded pretty interesting. It had all of those great twangy middle eastern pangs of sitars and dulcimers but it also had this big bassy beat behind it. An interesting combo. But unfortunately after it was over the announcer told me it was an Israeli band speaking Hebrew. While listening to it I realized something… Middle eastern –specifically Islamic– music is wholly lacking! Not in quality, it’s some of the most original stuff you’ll hear. But I mean there is not at all enough of it out there in the world. I wonder how much influence music has over the average middle eastern person. I’d go so far as to suggest that it has very very little influence at all. And this absence of music contributes to terror as a viable outlet for social/religious struggle.
If you consider the influence music has on western culture, you will be–or could be–taken aback. Everything we do has been sung about, literally everything. Our love lives, out political situation, our friends, the environment etc etc etc. I read a book once called All Shook Up about how Rock N’ Roll changed America. It was totally eye opening. It detailed the opening of American culture through music. Rock and Jazz and Blues etc. have touched on the souls of most westerners in some way. But things were different here in Western Culture ust 1000 jyears ago. Our Music consisted largely of short Hymns. Middle Eastern Music seems to have more in common with the medieval Era than it does with the modern one. Their music just needs to be popularized and modernized. Plato viewed music as something dangerous because it can even influence the law and radically change a state. Music is really a prefect form of inquiry (Which would explain why both music and inquiry are some of my favorite things) and it –music that is– comes in spades in modern America. Hmm… perhaps America has been in–and is coming out of– a bit of a good music drought recently… but that’s another blog entry. So, I’m not saying that our socio-political realm is some sort of utopia, but I would say that we’ve sorted out our cultural issues much more than the middle east has.
And my theory here is that there needs to be much more good music over there. There should be an Islamic Bob Marley to tell the people “Everything is gonna be alright.” and “No Woman don’t cry” and “Get up Stand up!” While these things are still a bit revolutionary, they come in the right kind of medium. (i.e. not Jihad) Music has a way of normalizing these issues to the level of thought and emotion rather than violent irrational action. I even thought up an album title “Peace is a Holy War”.
I can picture terrorist training camps out in the desert… totally musciless. They don’t come in from a day of crawling under barbed wire, playing on the monkey bars and throwing grenades to pick up an acoustic guitar and strum out a soulful little ditty. These people have very few outlets for their internal desires. They need something that’ll project a non-violent soulful message rather than the craziness that some of them are all about right now. And I think more good, peaceful, Islamic music would do the trick.

On a Tear

On a Tear

I’ve been on a tear lately, Philosophically. I looked up exactly what that means, and most defnititions point to some sort of promiscuity. But that’s not the type of tear I’ve been on. I’ve been throwing really good ideas into my moleskine lately. Ideas about Inquiry, Terrorism, Education, Ron Paul’s Presidential Candidacy, Second Life, Falsifiability, The Wii, Geography, Transparency etc. And I’ve decided to do something similar to what I did with thesundaythursday.com, come out regularly (perhaps everyday) with a “There should be a…” article. Stay Tuned.