Monday, August 3, 2009

Fershluggener Washing Machine

While dog-sitting at my daughter's house, we took the opportunity to wash some clothes. While the machine was running, I tried to do some plastering around the new shower. I had to stop after awhile because the washer was driving me crazy. It kept repeating "Running bear. Running bear. ........" I'm sure you've all had that kind of experience. It recalled to me camping in a tent along the Loire river and being awakened in the morning to the cooing of doves that repeated over and over, "You're so damned stupid. You're so damned stupid." If you search the web you'll find among other sites the following one:

A most interesting one is "Phantom Words", a repeated sound that eventually become a word in your own mind. When I played it this morning, all three dogs snapped to attention and a normally silent dog began to bark.

Although most auditory illusions refer to music, some are based on "defects" in our mental interpretation of sound into words. It would be interesting to be able to separate L-minds from C-Minds in this way, or at least as an IQ test that would distinguish intellect from indigestion.

On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang "Willow, titwillow, titwillow"
And I said to him, "Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing 'Willow, titwillow, titwillow'"
"Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?" I cried
"Or a rather tough worm in your little inside"
-Gilbert and Sullivan

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ferstunkener Media

There is a certain irony in the fact that between Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson's deaths, there is almost a complete blackout of news from or discussion about Iran. At a crucial moment in history, one has to wonder about whether the fundamental premise of the mullahs is right. That premise (as relayed to me by an Egyptian colleague) is that men are dogs and need a strong leash to prevent them from descending into degeneracy. While Iranian students try to wrest a bit of personal freedom from their government, we see that the worship of pop icons move them off center stage. In the end will the death of Michael Jackson do more to muzzle the revolution in the strrets of Teheran than the shutting down of the internet? Is humanity doomed to oscillate between slavery and liberty, neither of which they can handle? Were Plato and Aristotle right about the impossibility of sustained democracy? With respect -Joel

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waste Not

Being retired to Florida is great except for the fact that my wife and I are busier than ever. We look forward each year to escaping for a few months to the little, laid-back town of Tawas, Michigan. One of the luxuries we enjoy is sleeping late every morning. We are definitely not the kind of people who pop out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. The clock radio goes off at 9 AM to an oldies music station sponsored by the local mortuary. Sometimes, instead of Benny Goodman and his orchestra, we wake to the sound of a deep voice reading the obituaries of all the folks in the county who met their maker the previous week. The first time it happened my wife nudged me and said, “I didn’t hear them call our names. I guess we have to get out of bed.” Now it’s our tradition to lie there until they’ve read all the names to make sure we’re not getting out of bed unnecessarily.