So it’s been awhile… I’ve got a whole bunch of new stuff that I’m anxious to blog about, but the single most popular way for people to Google™ what I’m up to is to look for a picture of a lemming jumping off of a cliff, and I think this may well be the best essay I’ve ever written, so I’m going to “recycle” my post about “The Lemming Effect”:
Lemming Effect Redux
OK, so I’ve already gone on about ‘The Lemming Effect’ in my earlier and incomprehensible blog about spirals, but I’m not done yet. The lemming effect refers to lemmings throwing themselves off cliffs to commit mass suicide in times of food shortage or overpopulation – the idea, apparently, is that if you’re a really good little lemming, by which I mean a good soldier, cult member, union worker, corporate employee, or political conservative, when your mommy lemming says, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?” the right answer is Yes!
Actually, to be honest, it turned up in today’s research while I was looking for a picture of lemmings jumping off a cliff that it’s just a myth anyway. On the other hand, it also turns out that Disney™ did a film in which they forced a few lemmings off a cliff and reinforced this idea in the minds of the masses, and it’s still a perfectly suitable metaphor for what I’m about to say.
What’s got me thinking so much about lemmings you ask? Harry Potter for one. J.K. Rowling and her henchmen at Scholastic say, “Tell ya what. We’ll go ahead and take a couple few million pre-orders so we’ll have some idea how many of these darn things to print, and the rest of you all line up outside around midnight and if you’re real good, we might let you buy a copy of this book, but we might not have enough, so you’d better dress in costume just to be safe” and the lemmings say, “Hmm. Sounds good… I gotta get me some of that!”
Another example? Just sticking to the American book market, how about this: After a long hiatus from picking Oprah’s Book Club Selections™, that homegirl has started picking classic fiction titles. So today, East of Eden (Oprah’s Book Club), by John Steinbeck, is #2 on Amazon, second only to, yes, that’s right, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Now, granted, I think it’s wonderful that the big O’s promoting reading, but Steinbeck’s got the #2 book? Lemmings.
OK, one last example, and I think I can wrap this up. Every day, my favorite radio station (and that’s a tough call, since they’re really all the same station, just at different frequencies) has an ‘All-Request Lunch Hour,’ and all that happens is that people call in and request the #1 song, and fill up the whole hour with the same shit they just played the hour before and they’re gonna play the hour after.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, what’s the alternative, Chris old bean? Is simple nonconformity to cultural norms really the answer? Well, yes and no. If you react to everything by trying not to conform, just to be contrary, then you’re what one might as well call a lemming-nonconformist. The trick is to figure out what you really like and why you really like it, and to make your own little life decisions based on rational self-discovery, and realize all the while that as you go along, you have to be flexible to the changing situations you find yourself in.
It’s OK to decide that some position is generally foreign to your way of thinking, but one of the surest signs of lemming-nonconformity is a knee-jerk opposite reaction to everything they say. You can be a liberal democrat without needing to be an anti-republican who disagrees with every plank in the platform or bill in the senate. It also works in the affirmative – you can be a pretty good Catholic without necessarily believing that the pope is infallible, or joining the other lemmings outside that hospital in Milton, MA that’s practically been shut down by pilgrims standing around the parking lot trying to get a glimpse of the condensation in the dual-pane windows that happens to look a little like the Virgin.
So maybe you decide that no, beef is not What’s for Dinner™, and it really does make more sense for your health and the environment, and prevent cruelty to animals if you go vegan. But if I ever make that decision, and I’m a contestant on Survivor, and we win a chicken or two in the reward challenge, those little cluckers had better start shooting eggs out their butts before I figure out how to spell fricassee.
And no, I’m not promoting situational ethics, per se. Some things are clearly right or clearly wrong. Like killing another human being is just plain wrong. I understand about self-defense and all that, but if some axe-wielding maniac ever comes at me with a glint of steel and a gleam in his eye, and I have a concealed weapon, I don’t think I’ll kill him in self-defense. I’ll just shoot him in the thigh to stop him from coming at me. Of course, if his axe is nice and sharp, I might take off a foot, just to keep him from running away before the cops arrive.
Or what about traffic laws? Well, I’m generally pretty cool with most of them, like I think it’s a pretty clever idea to wear a seat belt, and I’m usually grateful for stop signs and traffic lights for keeping other drivers out of my way, but where I draw the line is that stupid law of gravity that says I have to keep the vehicle on the ground at all times. That’s just wrong.
Well, last night I went to bed all sad-ified that Latoya London had lost the vote. I was really thinking, “Well, OK, that just cuts it. It was one thing with Bush and Gore and Florida and the chads, but I think this just proves that ‘America’ isn’t qualified to vote, and we should just go with Plato’s ideal of a philosopher king (and yes, I’ll volunteer).”
But then tonight? We voted for The Dread Pirate Rupert the friendly giant, and my faith in democracy was somehow restored. Yay!
I’ve read the whole Vonnegut thing now, and it’s great. Please go read it.
Now I swear to God I didn’t get this from J-Walk — I stole it directly from either Blogdex or Metafilter, OK?
But I was unaware of this other Vonnegut article that J-Walk linked in his post, and I think it’s actually better than the new one, so go read it, then go read J-Walk.
Well, I just lost about 20 minutes work on a post I was spell-checking on the “new” Google/Blogger joint. The spell check didn’t know Google, I forget what it even suggested, but I know it suggested “flogging” instead of “blogging.” Hmm.
Anyway, all I’d really said was that I’d wasted all my blogging time tonight screwing around with Blogger, and I can see some real linkability-ness in stuff like the new profiles, but I’m going to be struggling to make the changeover, so bear with me. I think the new comments are going to be nice, for instance, but right now, they only appear on direct links to specific posts, and the font sizing is all wonky, so I won’t be turning off SquawkBox just yet.
Thanks for listening to me whine.
Good article by Kurt Vonnegut, ranting and rambling on about the state of the world: Cold Turkey. Actually, it’s long, so I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing, but I will. What I have read was good.
Have you ever seen the ad for Oreck vacuum cleaners? They sell you an upright carpet cleaner, and as a “bonus” you get a little hand-held job with a shoulder strap for “free,” and it’s so powerful, it can lift a bowling ball?
Well, we actually bought one of these a few years ago, and the upright is a great, light-weight, easy-to-maneuver vac with a lot of suction, and the little guy works OK, but honestly it’s as good as a space heater as it is as a vacuum.
And also, sure, it’ll pick up a bowling ball, but then what? Do you know how many bowling balls fit in that little bag? That’s right, none.
I am tempted, though, to take ours out to the local bowling alley on a lark, plug it in, and start lifting balls and see what happens.
I don’t care much for a few of the words that writers seem to take pride in using. Here are a few that I just won’t ever use:
Career as a verb, as in ‘The car was careering wildly through the streets of downtown Auburn.’ If I ever go careering about, it will mean that I’m looking really hard for a job.
Careening… see careering above. When I need to tip to the side, I’ll do so, thank you. I shan’t careen, as I might appear to some to be careering.
Next is ‘rebuff’: If I ever do this, I won’t be snubbing you, I’ll just be polishing something for the second time.
Redoubtable: Huh? Do I doubt this guy or not?
So I’m over on Google’s Zeitgeist page, and I’ll be darned if William Hung isn’t #4 on the Top 5 entertainment searches. This is the guy from American Idol who is famous because he can’t sing.
What is the matter with you people?
I don’t ever download any music off the Internet, legal or otherwise, because we already have about 500 albums and 300 CD’s that we don’t ever listen to. But I do listen to the radio when I’m in my car, and I really like this stupid song that’s a remake of the Gloria Gaynor classic I Will Survive, which I hated, but it’s a little faster and a little more hip-hop, and it’s got a new chorus that goes something like ‘This love has taken its toll on me. You said, “Good-bye,” too many times before,’ and I’ve heard it something like 5 or 6 times, and I’ll be darned if they’ll ever tell me who it’s by.
So here’s a big ol’ clue for the RIAA: Stop suing kids for downloading Eminem bootlegs and try to get the radio stations to tell me who the songs are by so I can go out and buy their records!
While I’m doh!-ing, here’s one for the think tank at the Microsoft campus: It would be really cool if when I get an HTML formatted message in Outlook, the status line would show me the URL for a link in the message body the way IE does. Seems like an easy thing.
By the way, here’s a recycled post with links to some songs that I’ve recorded over the years. I have around 10 times the number of vistors I had when I originally posted this, so maybe someone will find something to enjoy, and please remember, bloggers live for comments.
I Don’t Love You No More
||A lighthearted country ditty.|
Why Are We All So Afraid?
||Really cool guitar – good lyrics & good atmosphere provided by my brother Kevin.|
All I Ever Wanna Do
||Good song – the girl I wrote it for was unimpressed, but that’s OK – I like it. Not a very good recording, though.|
Couples & Money
||Very nice, bouncy little Beatlesque thing. Actually appears on a commercial audiobook by the same name, in a slightly different studio recording that’s not as good.|
Go with the Flow
||Major Lennon-ish production number.|
||Very real sounding classical guitar piece, but it ain’t live – it’s Memorex. Even when I actually played this many years ago, I used several tracks.|
Sometimes It’s Hard
||This may well be the best thing I’ve ever come up with.|
Levi’s 501 Ad
||This was back in the days when Sasson jeans was running an ad where Elton John sang ‘Sassons mean so much.’ I actually sent it to Levi’s via Foote, Cone & Belding, and they sent it back registered mail with a copy of their unsolicited ideas policy.|
||Another Lennon song I tried to write.|
No Woman Blues
|What it says.|
Out in the Rain
|This is my first big piano number from when we got my mother-in-law’s old piano a few years ago.|
|20-something angst about a long-distance romance. Nice pseudo-classical acoustic solo piece played live.|
I’m So in Love with You
|This may be my most elaborate production number to date.|
Ton of Pain
|Another light-hearted country piece.|