Mimsy Were the Borogoves

If you learn only one lesson of history, make it this one: history repeats itself until it doesn’t. — Mark Steyn (The Face of the Tiger)

Summer Ices Part Three: A Trilogy of Frozen Desserts—Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
When someone asks if you want ice cream…: Ghostbusters: when someone asks if you want more ice cream, you say yes! Social media image for Ice Cream Trilogy, hoboes.com/ice.; Ghostbusters; ice cream

I never planned to do an ice cream series. The inaugural post held eight ice cream recipes, which seemed more than enough at the time. But then, by 2023, I’d found six more great ice creams to add to the list. Having already presented fourteen great summer ice cream options, do I really need more ice cream?

I think Dr. Peter Venkman said it best: when someone asks if you need more ice cream, you say yes!

I’ve already presented two ice creams this year. I love the flavor of maple syrup. I included a great maple ice cream from 1942 in the inaugural post in this series as well as one from 1928 in my post on the Frigidaire Recipes cookbook. This year’s Pi Day’s boiled cider pie also included a peanut butter and maple ice cream from Vermont.

In the same vein as the Russian ice cream from last year’s post, but even simpler, that Vermont maple peanut ice cream not only requires no cooking, it doesn’t even fold the cream into syrup. Just whip it all together. Even driving to the store takes more work.

For a neat twist, add a tablespoon or two of your favorite jam or jelly to it for a peanut butter and jelly ice cream! And for an even more Vermonty twist than maple syrup, switch out the maple syrup for boiled cider. I first ran across boiled cider in Vrest Orton’s The American Cider Book and can’t stop raving about it. Boiling it is a great way of using up a big jug of apple cider from autumn sales. Bring to a boil, and then simmer very slowly, at least five cups of cider. Keep simmering until it’s down to maple syrup consistency, which will be about one-fifth its volume or weight.

Roundup of Reactions to the Democrat’s Latest Corrupt Lawfare—Wednesday, June 5th, 2024
Rabbit Coming Through: A rabbit facing the swamp: “I’m comin’ through.” Tagged with “#courage”.; courage; bravery; rabbits; hares

There are a lot smarter people than me commenting on the necessary response to the witch hunt in New York City, so I’m going to lead with them.

  • Ace: “Enough of the compromised fake Republicans at National Review and Commentary. Man up or get out.”
  • Bookworm: “It’s to be hoped that, by turning Trump into an outlaw, the Democrats both bit off more than they can chew and woke the sleeping giant. Plus, they inspired memes…”
  • Daniel Greer: “Citizens have seen politically motivated judges & prosecutors warp statutes, lawmakers remove protections to target disfavored individuals retroactively, and executives selectively ignore the plain text of the law they’re sworn to uphold. How will Texas’ public servants respond?”
  • Sarah Hoyt: “…if the verdict weren’t a foregone conclusion, they’d have tried to make the trial more plausible.”
  • William A. Jacobson: “Lawfare very easily can become warfare when people lose trust in the institutions that are supposed to protect against political persecution.”
  • Robert Stacy McCain: “…the problem with writing about this trial is that the English language doesn’t have enough synonyms for bullshit.”
  • Brooke L. Rollins: “This accommodation must stop. We will not last if we continue giving them the civics of comity while they give us the hard hand of lawfare. Let them live under the rules they impose upon us—upon ordinary Americans.”
  • Mark Steyn: “A governing party of a serious nation so indifferent to elementary maxims of prudence that it's prepared to invent out of whole cloth crimes with which to convict the leader of the opposition is not one you'd want to bank on to keep us from stumbling into, say, a third world war… right now there is no law in America, and, in consequence, no politics. So there is no point in pretending you enjoy benefit of either, and in doing so you're just part of the problem.”
If Biden actually won: “They wouldn’t be trying so hard to throw Trump in jail, if Biden actually got 81 million votes.”; Joe Biden; vote fraud; clean elections; President Donald Trump

There’s a lot of truth to this meme: Democrats are certainly acting as if Biden didn’t actually win.

This two-tier policing, where one side commits actual crimes and goes free, and one side is criminalized for what aren’t even crimes, has to go. All extradition requests to states like New York and DC must be actively refused. Those states cannot be trusted to exonerate the innocent any more than they can be trusted to lock up the guilty. Their goal is demonstrably to free dangerous criminals—and to lock up innocent people for the crime of holding different political views.

And everything to the institutional left is political. They will not permit a course correction.

While the verdict in New York City was no surprise given the corrupt instructions from the judge, it was still disappointing that there were not enough old school independent New Yorkers to at least provide some dissent from the swamp.

But that’s how the American judicial system works nowadays. Any jurors willing to examine the evidence against the government’s position and the lack of evidence for it would have been weeded out during jury selection.

Mark Steyn pointed out the further aid to corruption, that prosecutors are allowed to throw multiple dubious allegations against the defendant like strands of spaghetti against a wall, in the hope that one of them will stick—both in the jury’s mind and in the public’s. If this is allowed to stand it will grow far worse in New York and other Democrat-run states. Jurors there won’t even be required to agree on which strand of spaghetti they’re convicting on. Even now we don’t know what the actual crime is that Trump has been convicted of. New York and DC and every place that Democrats take over have become insanely Kafkaesque.

How un-Christian is the prosperity gospel?—Wednesday, May 29th, 2024
Chesterton: martyrs and fools: G. K. Chesterton, from Heretics: “A man who has faith must be prepared not only to be a martyr, but to be a fool. It is absurd to say that a man is ready to toil and die for his convictions when he is not even ready to wear a wreath round his head for them.”; hard faith; G. K. Chesterton

One of the weird results of the February shooting at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is seeing how bipartisan the hatred for Osteen, and the so-called prosperity gospel1, is. The reaction in comments and even in some public postings come very close to advocating violence against him. They start with a superficial acknowledgment that it’s too bad the violence occurred against a child, and then use the violence as a platform to complain about the existence of Osteen, Lakewood Church, and the message of those kinds of megachurches.

These responses highlight that there are still popular people who are nonetheless open season, literally, for attacks from both sides of the political spectrum. The left hates Osteen because he’s Christian, and the right hates him because he’s not.

So there are obviously a lot of people who do not like prosperity gospel preachers and prosperity gospel. But by the same token, a lot of people are clearly fans of either the preachers or the message. I know very little about prosperity gospel. I did, with a friend, see Joel Osteen once, and there’s definitely a sense of asking God for material things that seems way over the top for me as a Catholic.

Catholics have moved away from asking God for earthly things. In the period between when I went to Mass regularly as a child and when I returned to the church several years ago, the Ecce Agnus Dei2 response changed from “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” to “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Now, that’s probably not a change in meaning. Judging from the original Latin, it was probably always supposed to be a plea for spiritual healing, and my understanding is that this was a change in the American missal, not the worldwide missal. It was a change to better translate the Latin missal of Rome.

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.

The Full Face of V: In Your Hands—Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
Dan Dreiberg: So impotent.: Dan Dreiberg explains how the fear of “this war, the feeling that it’s unavoidable. It makes me feel so powerless. So impotent.”; Alan Moore; Watchmen; death; fear; nuclear war; Dave Gibbons

“Last night, I woke up frightened o’ dying… I felt as if everythin’ was lost.”

Why should we care what a comic book writer with aspirations to wizardry has to say about superpowered manipulative bastards? The short answer is, we shouldn’t. But Moore is a very smart and insightful writer. All of the things he has his V and V-adjacent characters do are things that twentieth and twenty-first politicians would like to do. Does it make it okay that unlike everyone else’s eugenics programs throughout the last century and a half, Miracle Man’s is likely to be successful at its goal of improving the human race? Does it matter if Veidt’s murder of millions actually does usher in world peace?

All powerful modern politicians and many powerful modern billionaires claim that turning over individual freedom to the state or to their product will improve lives. Are they right? Does it even matter if they’re right?

Even if modern technology literally saves us, as it does Cyborg in Twilight, is it right to give so much of our lives over to it?

In Moore’s worlds, your revolutions are only as perfect as your successors. Moore’s Miracleman ends with the complete dehumanization of humanity. Consistent with Moore’s elevation of Hitler as the epitome of the twentieth century, it is one of Gargunza’s South American Nazis who first informs Miracleman that he is humanity’s replacement. The Nazi accepts his own death at Miracleman’s hands, because Miracleman’s impending takeover of the world is what he and the other Nazis have worked their lives for.1

The Qys, the co-rulers of the universe, agree with Gargunza’s Nazis. It is only the perfected miracle-beings who are “not of animal status” in the “intelligent space” of the universe.

Miraclewoman, Avril, fully accepts the Qys’s explanation. Where Michael Moran still retains respect for humanity as humanity, Avril sees humans as herd animals to be shepherded at best and culled to perfection at worst.2

Apple’s FiVe Minute Crush—Wednesday, May 15th, 2024
Apple’s industrial press: The industrial press in Apple’s Crush! ad after crushing the life out of the arts and artists.; artists; Apple; advertisement

How out-of-touch do you need to be to see this as an uplifting, inspiring end to an ad featuring the destruction of human-like dolls and faces?

I didn’t mean to do two AI-related posts practically back-to-back like this, but Apple’s very dystopian iPad Pro ad brought up some other thoughts partly due to my having almost finished posting my series on Alan Moore’s dystopian V stories.

Now, I’d recommend not reading too much into this “interesting” choice of visuals. Part of the problem with the ad is nothing more than the age-old development of silence culture in any large and entrenched business. Apple is far from the brotherhood of pirates portrayed in Andy Hertzfeld’s Revolution in the Valley. I suspect a lot of people saw how painfully bad the ad was and simply chose not to stick their necks out.

My first encounter with this culture, in a very similar situation, was tangentially, by way of a Radio Shack toy called “Galactic Man”. I could have sworn I’ve mentioned this on the site before but I can’t find it now. When I was a young guitarist in Hollywood, I worked part-time at a Radio Shack near Hollywood and Vine. It was a fascinating view of the Hollywood industry from the borderline: desperate property masters would occasionally come in searching for some thing they suddenly realized they needed, like a giant gold-plated telephone or a boxful of D-cell batteries they’d run out of on set.

The store’s manager kept a box of unsaleable items in the back room. As an employee, you were free to take anything you wanted out of it. That’s where I found Galactic Man. Galactic Man was a transformer knock-off. He was a laser gun that transformed into a robot. It was actually kind of cool, except for one possibly insurmountable problem: where does the laser gun’s trigger go when the toy transforms into a robot?

The Fifth Face of V: I Have Saved You—Wednesday, May 8th, 2024
The darkness in humanity’s heart: Adrian Veidt explains the bloody birth of his new utopia. Watchmen, Chapter 12, pages 17 and 20.; Alan Moore; Watchmen; utopianism; Dave Gibbons

Veidt may believe mankind will reject the “darkness in its heart” and that his destruction of “half of New York” is a forgettable step to his new utopia…

While From Hell and Promethea are V-adjacent, Miracleman isn’t a V tale at all. Miracleman isn’t devious. He doesn’t scheme to supplant humanity; rather, the responsibility is thrust upon him, and he is equal to the task. Miracleman and From Hell are two extreme ends of the graph of perfection. Miracleman is perfect; William Withey Gull is seriously damaged.

Where a stroke left Gull unable to reason and prone to illusions of ascendancy, Michael Moran has successfully ascended, in an origin similar to V’s. Like V, Miracleman escaped and destroyed the medical experimentation camp that created him.1 Unlike V, however, Miracleman really is perfect.2 His tyranny is as perfect a tyranny as man or god could hope to devise. It’s rule by the strong, but the strong provide for the weak, far more than Norsefire in V for Vendetta did. It’s a return to barbarism—to rule by force and whim rather than democracy and law—but it’s a barbarism of plentiful food, plentiful energy, plentiful freedom, and good health.

They have defeated space, and are on the verge of defeating time. And yet:

In all the history of Earth, there’s never been a heaven; never been a house of gods, that was not built on human bones.3

We could easily see Evey or Veidt cradling the dismembered corpse of humanity, crying “I have saved you” as Gull does to Marie Kelly at the end of From Hell4 or as Miracleman does, wordlessly, to young Johnny Bates after crushing the boy’s head.

“I have saved you. Do you understand that? I have made you safe from time.”

Artificial Intelligence Meets Tex Avery—Wednesday, May 1st, 2024

Late last year I had something called “ChatGPt2001” comment on a YouTube post of mine. It reads exactly like ChatGPt, so I’m assuming it was in fact an AI and not a parody of it.

The post the AI commented on is a seventeen-second clip from Tex Avery’s 1949 House of the Future cartoon. I joked that Avery was making fun of social media—long before social media existed. Alone among my handful of obscure YouTube postings, that clip probably attracted the attention of SkyNet because it is by far the most popular video I’ve put up. As I write this it has garnered 1,753 comments and “1M views” where my nearest runner up—a ten-second Lord of the Rings clip1—has 26 comments and “66K views”. Both are small potatoes in the video world, but the Tex Avery clip’s advantage is a literal order-of-magnitude difference in my subset of that world.

I titled the clip “The Internet predicted in 1949 by Tex Avery”, with the description:

From the Tex Avery cartoon, “The Home of Tomorrow”, the television not only answers questions, it tells questioners to shut up already, and bullies them to stop asking such questions.

The comment from “ChatGPt2001” was fascinating for its ability to completely miss the point:

There is no evidence to suggest that Tex Avery, the famous animator and cartoonist, predicted the internet in 1949. Tex Avery was primarily known for his work in the animation industry, creating iconic characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Droopy.

The concept of the internet as we know it today started to take shape in the 1960s with the development of ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet. It wasn't until the 1990s that the internet became widely accessible to the public.

While science fiction writers and futurists like Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov made some accurate predictions about technology, there is no indication that Tex Avery made specific predictions about the internet in 1949. It's essential to be cautious about attributing future technological developments to individuals without proper evidence.

The Fourth Face of V: Science ascends, Man gives way—Wednesday, April 24th, 2024
Promethea and Fire: Promethea is not unfamiliar with fire. From Promethea, Book 2, Issue 11.; Alan Moore; fire; Promethea; J. H. Williams III; Prometheus

Promethea directly invokes a connection with Prometheus and stealing fire from the gods. While the Five Swell Guys muck about ineffectually with technology.

If there’s one commonality between Moore’s variant worlds, it is a moral foundation weakened to nonexistence. And if there’s any commonality as to why, it is because technological progress has enervated us. If his appendix to From Hell can be trusted, Moore’s vision of technological progress is a terrifying one. From Hell was set in a squalid pre-technological Eden more alive than the modern world it preceded.

Scientific advances that moved away from the human—such as using dogs to solve crimes—were ridiculed. Gull’s vision of the future showed him a technological Olympus that had reduced mankind to emotional amputees.

In V for Vendetta, as in Orwell’s 1984, technology exists only for the government to stifle the masses. Promethea gives us a near-future where our marvelous utopia is even more heavenly—and even more enervating and stifling—than what Gull foresaw in From Hell. The Internet exists but has little effect on people’s lives except as a barely mobile telephone/post office. Promethea’s only nods to modernity are the meme-like Weeping Gorilla billboards, a corporate top-down messaging system more like Wells’s Babble Machines in The Sleeper Awakes than modern viral memes. In the world of Promethea Sophie doesn’t even consider using the Internet for research. She goes to the library to find out where Promethea came from.

Superheroes in Promethea are Science Heroes. The main science heroes are the very impotent Five Swell Guys. They have no idea how to classify Promethea, because they can only see her as “some kind of science heroine”.1 They are blind to the mysticism inherent in her.

Promethea highlights both the best and worst of Moore. It’s a sprawling epic filled with emotive personal moments, interspersed with interminable lectures about the nature of illusion and reality, and why a world that most people find perfectly acceptable requires revolution.

Older posts