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Category: Fun

Two cannibals are eating a clown and one says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”

March 13, 2008 | 11 Comments

Maybe your parents were right

They dropped the charges against that poor eighth-grade kid who was caught with a dollar bag of Skittles somewhere up in Connecticut. I’m not so sure that this is a good thing.

I used to eat Skittles by the pound, always saving the red and purple ones till last. My parents always warned me to drop the habit else my teeth would rot out. I didn’t listen and to the delight of my dentist and not surprisingly, they were right. I can’t eat Skittles as an entire meal anymore either. I outgrew them.

What else might your parents have been right about? They certainly warned you about your candy and if they were doing their duty, they educated you about your awful music, too. But they couldn’t have been right about that, could they? After all, your grandparents, and even their parents, said the same thing: modern music stinks. Because everybody is always saying it, you reason, it can’t be true.

Where did you get that idea?

Look at this picture. It shows a graph of music quality through time, sinking, slowly sinking, probably hitting bottom sometime in the next ten years or so. I’m at point number 4, which is the date I first heard myself echo my father when I shouted “Turn that crap down!”. My kids are at a point just off the graph, which I project is some time four to six years in the future, right before the apocalypse. My parents are at 3, the time when my blasting AC/DC on the Cougar’s eight-track machine pierced the old man’s eardrums. My grandparents came in at 2, despairing over their kid’s doo wop. Point 1 is too far back in the past for anybody to even remember.

By “music quality” I mean the obvious. You can also view this curve as something like the inverse probability that when you are in public you hear dreck pumped through speakers. This picture does not preclude that, at any time, top quality music can be found, because it obviously can be. However, the old rule that the lower the IQ the higher the volume is in force. If this graph is accurate, then I was right to switch off my kids music, and my parents were right to switch off mine. And so on. It turns out that what our ancestors were always telling us was true after all.

Music quality through time

It is nearly impossible to go anywhere today and not hear bad music. A steady stream of simplistic sound surrounds us. Every mall, restaurant, retail store, bookstore, elevator, bar, park, beach, bench, office, subway, car, bus, every damn place and every damn occasion. I fairly long to go out to eat or for a drink and enjoy nothing but silence and the murmur of conversation!

Just as you can’t eat Skittles and nothing else without rotting your teeth, you cannot listen solely to juvenile music without rotting your mind. You will positively stunt your growth injecting empty calories into your belly or empty notes into your brain.

Now, it’s good pointing out to me that Song A or Song B were excellent and that I’m a fool for not acknowledging this. Despite the fact that conversations about the niceties of juvenile music often bear an eerie similarity to, and have all the intellectual content of, in-depth discussions over the indiscernible differences between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, I won’t disagree with you that Song A is just the thing. Sometimes. Occasionally. But not everyday and not every time you have to shop for toilet paper.

Please just shut it off.

March 9, 2008 | 1 Comment

Harmonica Convergence: classic column

In 1987 in Sedona, Arizona, the end of the world occurred in an event called the “Second Harmonic Convergence“. It was publicized all over the world. Many enlightened people came. Not everybody got the right idea.

The Second Harmonica Convergence, by Lem Polomski


I had missed the first Harmonica Convergence as I was touring Lichtenstein with the Borscht Five Polka band, which as you might remember was started by three ex-members of the Traveling Schmenges. So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that I would be on tour in Arizona for the famed event. I took a diversion and arrived early. I worked feverishly the night before, polishing my best Steinowski—a forty-six holer. I would be ready. At five the next day, many hundreds were milling around on the Mesa, many still in their bathrobes. When would we play! I kept my beloved instrument under wraps as no one else had their harmonica out. Finally everyone joined hands in a large circle. They began humming. Concert C! This was it! They were about to tune up. I could stand no more and pulled out my brass beauty and began an impassioned rendition of the “She’s Too Fat For Me” Polka. I would show these Americans a true Harmonica Convergence! Imagine my confusion when no one joined in. Instead several of the bathrobed convergers chased after me with large crystalline rocks, chanting in a strange language. I left, dejected, and washed away my troubles with some tasty cabbage rolls and coffee and am now a wiser, more spiritually fulfilled person.

March 1, 2008 | 7 Comments

People take off their shirts when it gets hot: peer-reviewed study

I am finding it difficult to breathe after reading this abstract from a peer-reviewed scholarly article in a respected journal1.

This paper describes the application of a methodology designed to analyse the relationship between climatic conditions and the perception of bioclimatic comfort. The experiment consisted of conducting simultaneous questionnaire surveys and weather measurements during 2 sunny spring days in an open urban area in Lisbon. The results showed that under outdoor conditions, thermal comfort can be maintained with temperatures well above the standard values defined for indoor conditions. There seems to be a spontaneous adaptation in terms of clothing whenever the physiological equivalent temperature threshold of 31?C is surpassed. The perception of air temperature is difficult to separate from the perception of the thermal environment and is modified by other parameters, particularly wind. The perception of solar radiation is related to the intensity of fluxes from various directions (i.e. falling upon both vertical and horizontal surfaces), weighted by the coefficients of incidence upon the human body. Wind was found to be the most intensely perceived variable, usually negatively. Wind perception depends largely on the extreme values of wind speed and wind variability. Women showed a stronger negative reaction to high wind speed than men. The experiment proved that this methodology is well-suited to achieving the proposed objectives and that it may be applied in other areas and in other seasons.

(All emphasis mine; visual proof of their findings is here.)

In case you are not used to parsing academicese, I have take the liberty of re-writing this abstract in plain English.

We went to an open-air cafe in Lisbon on 2 sunny spring days and asked people if they were hot or cold. People were happier being in the sun than indoors. When it got hot, people took their shirts off. People generally did not care to think about out questions about the difference between perceptions of temperature and wind. It was always hotter sitting in the sun. People didn’t like when the wind blew away their newspapers and napkins. Women complained more than men about the wind. We plan on asking these questions in Hawaii in January if we can get another grant.

Remember this! It isn’t true unless a study says it’s true.

1Sandra Oliveira and Henrique Andrad, 2006 (may they forgive me). An initial assessment of the bioclimatic comfort in an outdoor public space in Lisbon, International Journal of Biometeorology, 52, 69-84
February 23, 2008 | 7 Comments

Vegetarian Intestines

You know how it is. It’s dinner time, but you’re tying to cut back on the red meat. So what do you do? That’s right. You reach for a big ol’ bag of vegetarian intestines:
Vegetarian intestines

Look carefully at the bag. Two things are striking. The first is obviously the pile, the loops and loops, of fake intestines. You ask yourself: how did they ever get them to look so lifelike? Chinese attention to detail!

The second, noted by the caption “The picture is for reference only”, are the two exquisite bottles of wine, which, as everybody knows, go perfectly with boiled intestine.

Many of you by now want to know where to find this delicacy. Go to the Hong Kong Supermarket, frozen food aisle, in Elmhurst, Queens, right off the R, V, or G subway lines. Only $2.45, an exceptional bargain.