A gutn moyed (Happy Holidays)
Posted 4 Weeks Ago
What would happen if Marvin wrote a Christmas carol?
Might it sound like this?
I picked the Youtube version because the Vimeo original kept rebuffering on me, which somewhat spoiled the experience.
This song was composed by an AI. It recognised the image on the screen - er, sort of. We're not sure whether the 'flowers' are Christmas lights or presents. Anyway, the AI program used its store of holiday cliches to churn out this ditty. Amazing.
I don't think Irving Berlin has anything to worry about.
Speaking of Berlin, it is a well-known fact that we couldn't have Christmas without the Jews. After all, the holiday celebrates a Jewish baby.
But did you realise that many of our best-loved holiday tunes are by Jewish songwriters? Here's a top-ten list:
1. White Christmas by Irving Berlin (Israel Isidore Baline), natch.
2. I'll Be Home for Christmas, by Buck Ram and Walter Kent. It got them all through World War II. Kent also wrote the words to my all-time favourite WWII song, 'There'll Be Bluebirds Over the White Cliffs of Dover', so thank him.
3. Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, by Mel Torme.
4. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, by Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne.
5. Winter Wonderland, by Felix Bernard (Bernhardt).
6. Santa Baby, by Joan Ellen Javits and Philip Springer.
7. Sleigh Ride, by Mitchell Parrish (aka Michael Hyman Pashelinsky), who also wrote the words to 'Stardust'.
8. Silver Bells, by Jay Livingston (Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (also Jewish), two guys who met at the University of Pennsylvania and became a famous songwriting team.
9. I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm, Berlin again.
10. The Christmas Waltz, Cahn and Styne again.
Now we know why there aren't more great Hanukkah songs - the composers were busy singing about snow and Santa.
The End of Civilisation Will Be Live-Streamed
Posted 4 Weeks Ago
Back in the 1960s-1980s, science fiction writers wrote about 'the Future'. You know, the place where Criswell said we'd spend the rest of our lives.
The weirdest futures were imagined by that prophet, Philip K Dick. In his futures, appliance *talked* to you. Vehicles were self-directing and bossy. And television was everywhere, with appropriately-dressed 'news clowns'.
That future has arrived, my friends.
Today, I turned on my tablet and heard a voice. It was the voice of Alexa. She's on Fire now. She wanted me to buy something. I said no.
My cable company sent me a new router. I read the directions and made the switch. I got re-authenticated, so I could use my internet. And I discovered the new features...
I can watch TV on my computer now. I don't have to go downstairs and mess with that miserably complicated set down there. The one I never watch more than three times a year, usually when 'Sherlock' has a new episode.
I took a look at the offerings on my screen. I checked the weather in Pittsburgh, courtesy of KDKA-TV.
I passed on 'Father Knows Best' (a horror from the 1950s) and 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban' (a more recent horror). I decided to watch the Pennsylvania Electoral College, which was in session in Harrisburg.
Watching electors is like watching legislators - which is like watching paint dry while sitting beside house painters dressed in formal clothing.
'Ew,' Elektra said. 'The state capitol is amazingly ugly inside.'
I agreed. 'It looks like an Asamkirche.' It's a Beaux Arts building of exceedingly ugly excess. An Asamkirche is a church designed by Johann Nepomuk Asam, a baroque architect with no taste. Think what might happen if Liberace redecorated your bathroom, then add corkscrew marble pillars. That's an Asamkirche.
Asam loved his Munich church so much, he moved in next door and built a window into his house so he could look through it into the church sanctuary. Asam was insane. He would have liked the Harrisburg capitol.
What? Oh, the Electoral College? All 20 votes went to Mr Trump. No elector broke ranks. The assembled delegates applauded. Some people in the gallery shouted, 'Shame on you!'
All of this I could watch from my home computer thanks to my new router.
Oh, well: tonight, I can watch another episode of Philip K Dick's 'The Man in the High Castle', thanks to Amazon Prime.
Philip K Dick, thou shouldst be living with us now. At least thou wouldst have got residuals from the end of Western Civilisation.
The apocalypse will be televised and live-streamed.
Thanks for the NaJo Memories!
Posted Dec 1, 2016
I'd like to voice a personal vote of thanks to everybody who participated in this year's NaJoPoMo. The journals were fun to read. Y'all do such a good job of writing, reading, commenting, and solving puzzles like the brainiacs you are that I was actually sorry to see the month go by.
Some final NaJo updates are available in this week's issue of .
Now, on to December...
This month's challenge can be found at A87881746 or from the h2g2 Front Page. It involves greeting cards. You still send those, right? At least the e-versions?
So far, the ones that will be coming up in are Christmas, generic (me), and pagan. Bluebottle's celebrating Mithrasmas, and why not? Walking Hadrian's Wall is apparently evocative.
So what will you celebrate? There's a lot of merriment in December. Or you can make up your own. You can photoshop something, slap a picture in the old Paint program, or just send us a suitable sentiment in prose or poem format and let the Editor decorate. (Within reason.)
If you go video on us, however, you'll have to Youtube it and send the link. Any way you choose to go, have an uproarious whatever!
I liked this one:
In Praise of Circularity
Posted Nov 17, 2016
This is amazing news. Astronomers have found a Round Thing in space:
As you know, I am a big fan of Round Things, having made many of them lately with my round knitting loom.
I have a big argument going with engineers, because I make them mad when I say that Nature does not like to make Square Things. This makes them scurry to find Square Things like salt crystals...I didn't say 'never'. Just 'not usually'. But the astronomers found an almost perfectly Round Thing. How cool is that?
Have you ever seen a square turtle? Yeah, they call it a box turtle, but...
That one looks cross. Probably because somebody tried to fit it into a square box.
Let us now praise circularity in the universe...
Non-NaJo Special: Are You Tempted to Join a Pyramid Scheme?
Posted Nov 7, 2016
You probably know what a pyramid scheme is. If not, watch John Oliver's video.
If nobody's ever tried to enlist you to sell cosmetics, household cleaners, or those terrible vitamin supplements yet, you might want to watch John Oliver's video to see how that works. If they have, you will laugh yourself silly remembering. Or get mad about it.
If you want the best microeconomics lesson you've ever had, watch John Oliver's pyramid scheme video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MwGeOm8iI Heck, watch it for the jokes. I'll bet that soup does taste like the wood shavings in a gerbil cage. . .
Oliver's asked people to pass on the video - as he explains at the end of the show, this is HIS pyramid scheme. So I'm doing my bit.
I think it's a public service, and it won't cost anyone a red cent.
Also, the employment of sheer logic to the ridiculous claims of these get-rich-quick people is worthy of h2g2's attention, because even the Post Editor is smarter than that. Oliver will help you explain it to the rest of the world - besides, he's British, and speaks beautifully.
I think Oliver is on to something here. You can help save the planet from American 'free' enterprise. Also, it's almost as funny as the time he started the megachurch 'Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption'.