Monday, May 24, 2010

Something I didn't know about Igor Stravinsky

Stravinsky was arrested in 1940 in Boston for tampering with public property.
His crime? Writing this beautiful arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner, using an unconventional major seventh chord.


But he deserved to be beaten and incarcerated anyway for composing "Rite of Spring". (IMHO)


"I despise mountains," Stravinsky declared contemptuously, "they don’t tell me anything."
-Life [magazine]

Stravinsky looks upon the mountain,
The mountain looks on him;
They look (the mountain and Stravinsky)
And both their views are dim.
"You bore me, mountain," says Stravinsky,
"I find you dull, and I
Despise you!" Says the mountain:
"Stravinsky, tell me why."
Stravinsky bellows at the mountain
And near-by valleys ring:
"You don’t confide in me -- Stravinsky!
You never tell me anything!"
The hill is still before Stravinsky.
The skies in silence glisten.
At last, a rumble, then the mountain:
"Igor, you never listen."

-- John Updike

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Cartoon Laws of Physics

Cartoon Law I
Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation.

Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.

Cartoon Law II
Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly.

Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge's surcease.

Cartoon Law III
Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter.

Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout-perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.

Cartoon Law IV
The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken.

Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.

Cartoon Law V
All principles of gravity are negated by fear.

Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth's surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.

Cartoon Law VI
As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once.

This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled.

A wacky character has the option of self-replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

Cartoon Law VII
Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot.

This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generations, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space.

The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

Cartoon Law VIII
Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent.

Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify.

A cat will assume the shape of its container.

Cartoon Law IX
Everything falls faster than an anvil.

Cartoon Law X
For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance.

This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it happen to a duck instead.

Cartoon Law Amendment A
A sharp object will always propel a character upward.

When poked (usually in the buttocks) with a sharp object (usually a pin), a character will defy gravity by shooting straight up, with great velocity.

Cartoon Law Amendment B
The laws of object permanence are nullified for "cool" characters.

Characters who are intended to be "cool" can make previously nonexistent objects appear from behind their backs at will. For instance, the Road Runner can materialize signs to express himself without speaking.

Cartoon Law Amendment C
Explosive weapons cannot cause fatal injuries.

They merely turn characters temporarily black and smokey.

Cartoon Law Amendment D
Gravity is transmitted by slow-moving waves of large wavelengths.

Their operation can be wittnessed by observing the behavior of a canine suspended over a large vertical drop. Its feet will begin to fall first, causing its legs to stretch. As the wave reaches its torso, that part will begin to fall, causing the neck to strech. As the head begins to fall, tension is released and the canine will resume its regular proportions until such time as it strikes the ground.

Cartoon Law Amendment E
Dynamite is spontaneously generated in "C-spaces" (spaces in which cartoon laws hold).

The process is analogous to steady-state theories of the universe which postulated that the tensions involved in maintaining a space would cause the creation of hydrogen from nothing. Dynamite quanta are quite large (stick sized) and unstable (lit). Such quanta are attracted to psychic forces generated by feelings of distress in "cool" characters (see Amendment B, which may be a special case of this law), who are able to use said quanta to their advantage. One may imagine C-spaces where all matter and energy result from primal masses of dynamite exploding. A big bang indeed.

Patrick writes --
May I be so bold as to add other amendments?

For cartoons dating after about 1970, any character attaining sufficient horizontal velocity will transform normally flat Euclidean space into a cylindrical space in which the same background scene appears to be recycled. This is a physical law in space C* analogous to transformation of length at high velocities in relativity. It is not because the cartoonists were trying to save money.

For cartoons dating after about 1970, when speaking, cartoon characters are only capable of moving one part of their face at a time. This is known as the conservation of energy law in space C* and is not due to cartoonists trying to save money.

Space C*, of which space HB (Hannah Barbera), is a subspace, was spontaneously generated in the 1970's due to the discovery of the Jiggs boson in the 1960s. It is not a result of cartoonists trying to save money. Many older cartoons, such as Popeye, were pulled into this space and transformed by it. This raises interesting epistomological quandaries, such as one encounters in our own QM. For example, when Popeye says "I am what I am and that's all that I am" this implies that the denizens of space C* are not aware that they have undergone a transformation. They would have no basis for imagining that their creator was trying to save money.

We'll see if these Laws hold when Looney Tunes comes back to the screen on July 30!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wait, what did she say???

Michelle admits it - Barack's home country is Kenya

A warning from the past

Make mine freedom

What can a cartoon, produced in 1948, teach us today, that's of any value?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tea partiers? Nah.

Black Activists Comment on Kagan Nomination to U.S. Supreme Court

Washington, DC - Members of the Project 21 black leadership network are speaking out about President Barack Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mychal Massie: "After all of the division he has foisted upon America in his short tenure, Obama had a perfect opportunity to show he could be conciliatory and moderate. With the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, Obama failed miserably. Obama condemned his nominee, his colleagues in Congress and himself to a long, hot and bitter summer in which the full radicalism of his agenda will be on full display. Obama is rapidly running out of opportunities to convince the American people that his presidential campaign was not simply a collection of hot air and empty promises." (Mychal Massie is chairman of Project 21, a syndicated columnist whose work appears at WorldNetDaily, and a former talk show host and businessman.)

Horace Cooper: "Observers say Kagan is meant to be an 'intellectual counterweight' to Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia. Intellectual counterweight? She'd be better described as marginal and outside the mainstream. In the signature case she led as dean of Harvard's law school — preventing military recruiters on her campus — she not only lost, but she lost big. Not one justice took her side. Is Kagan truly the best candidate Obama could find, or the one most palatable to his far-left base?" (Horace Cooper, a member of Project 21 and an adjunct fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, is a former visiting professor at the George Mason University School of Law.)

R. Dozier Gray: "As painful as it is for me to accept his choice, President Obama does have the constitutional right to nominate whomever he wants to the Supreme Court. And, with this Senate, he has a reasonable expectation that Elena Kagan will be confirmed. But he should not consider it a certainty. Obama and Harry Reid should not try to game the process as we've seen tried so often in this Congress. Obama voted against Samuel Alito when he was in the Senate, so he should naturally be willing to afford each senator that same privilege of advice and consent he once enjoyed." (R. Dozier Gray is a member of the national advisory council for the Project 21 black leadership network and a combat veteran.)

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy Research (
A soldier returns home

Saturday, May 8, 2010

For all you kama'ainas out there

VJ Day, Honolulu August 14, 1945
This will make your day.

About this video, the owner wrote:
"My Dad shot this film along Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki capturing spontaneous celebrations that broke out upon first hearing news of the Japanese surrender. Kodachrome 16mm film. This is what Waikiki used to look like, before all the high rises. Notice the street car tracks in the pavement."

Math for the attention-challenged student

Yes, this seems to be an actual math instructional DVD.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Frugality - Obama style

You have to read this in the foreign press because you'll never see it reported here in the U.S.!

Nothing like a good boycott

Actual newspaper clipping from Victoria, TX last year.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Guess who I am?

I was born in one country, raised in another. My father was born in another country. I was not his only child. He fathered several children with numerous women.

I became very close to my mother, as my father showed no interest in me. My mother died at an early age from cancer.

Later in life, questions arose over my real name.

My birth records were sketchy and no one was able to produce a legitimate, reliable birth certificate.

I grew up practicing one faith but converted to Christianity, as it was widely accepted in my country, but I practiced non-traditional beliefs and didn't follow Christianity, except in the public eye under scrutiny.

I worked and lived among lower-class people as a young adult, disguising myself as someone who really cared about them.

That was before I decided it was time to get serious about my life and I embarked on a new career.

I wrote a book about my struggles growing up. It was clear to those who read my memoirs that I had difficulties accepting that my father abandoned me as a child.

I became active in local politics in my 30's then with help behind the scenes, I literally burst onto the scene as a candidate for national office in my 40's. They said I had a golden tongue and could talk anyone into anything. That reinforced my conceit.

I had a virtually non-existent resume, little work history, and no experience in leading a single organization. Yet I was a powerful speaker and citizens were drawn to me as though I were a magnet and they were small roofing tacks.

I drew incredibly large crowds during my public appearances. This bolstered my ego.

At first, my political campaign focused on my country's foreign policy. I was very critical of my country in the last war and seized every opportunity to bash my country.

But what launched my rise to national prominence were my views on the country's economy. I pretended to have a really good plan on how we could do better and every poor person would be fed and housed for free.

I knew which group was responsible for getting us into this mess. It was the free market, banks and corporations. I decided to start making citizens hate them and if they were envious of others who did well, the plan was clinched tight.

I called mine "A People's Campaign" and that sounded good to all people.

I was the surprise candidate because I emerged from outside the traditional path of politics and was able to gain widespread popular support.

I knew that, if I merely offered the people 'hope' , together we could change our country and the world.

So, I started to make my speeches sound like they were on behalf of the downtrodden, poor, ignorant to include "persecuted minorities". My true views were not widely known and I needed to keep them unknown, until after I became my nation's leader.

I had to carefully guard reality, as anybody could have easily found out what I really believed, if they had simply read my writings and examined those people I associated with.

I'm glad they didn't. Then I became the most powerful man in the world. And the world learned the truth.

Who am I?

Adolf Hitler - who were you thinking of?