Hi, my name is D and this is my writings on subjects. I'm no rapscallion or anything at all. If you want to you can read my writings on subjects if you have free time. If you want to argue with me or call me names then please comment. Negative feedback is very welcome...I love dat shit. Me? I'm not even a noun, I'm a fucking verb, dude.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stayin' Up All Night? Oh, That's All Right....

The great ham radio enthusiast Jean Shepherd once said,

"night is the time people truly become individuals because all the familiar things are dark and done; all the restrictions on freedom are removed." -Shepherd, J.

Jean hosted a radio show late at night where he said whatever he felt like saying and developed a following of other "night people" who listened and called in to the program. I think I happen to agree with his assessment on "night people" because it it really does seem to be the case.

I think there's a lot of people who finish their daily trials and tasks in the heavily constrained hierarchical red-taped "outside world" and then come home to their little corners they have carved out in this crazy place. The little corners that are the only place on this earth which is all to themselves with no distractions. It's in these secret little corners that these night people read quietly and think about stuff.

I Like to Stay Up All Night Myself...

For as long as I can remember, I have been a night style person. I've been thinking hard to try and remember my first self-aware "all-nighter" and I think I got it.

It still works to this very day...
When I was 3 and a half years old back in 1986, my paternal grandfather (who referred to himself by the self-monickered title "Paw Jack") gave me an Atari 2600 and it was the hands-down highlight moment of my third year on this world.

I had some cool games for it like a baseball one (I threw a no-hitter to my next door neighbor once in this one), one where some bear collected precious gemstones, and this one where a little white triangle shot little dots at different colored shapes which exploded into smaller different colored shapes.

The Legend: Scott Safran
It was the little white triangle game that kept me up all night for the first time in my life. This game (if you haven't guessed yet) was called Asteroids and it was as addictive as all heck. How addictive was that silly game? Well, for example, according to the internet a guy once played Asteroids for 3 straight days and racked up an unheard of 41,336,440 points. This man's name was Scott Safran and this name will forever be remembered through the ages. Sadly, Safran passed away in 1989 while trying to save his cat Samson from a third story ledge. Safran is a hero in every sense of the word. RIP Scott...

Anyway, I got pretty good at Asteroids myself back in 1986, certainly nowhere near the level Safran played at, but for my age I wasn't too shabby. I clearly remember going to the basement to play it while everyone was asleep and playing it all night long. When my mom woke up the next morning and came down to find me already awake and playing Atari 2600, I totally straight up lied to her and said I just woke up fifteen minutes ago. Not only did I successfully stay up all night, but I didn't even get in trouble for it thanks to my expert 3-year old lying skills.

By 1991, I was doing it regularly. There were two cartoons I wanted to watch saturday mornings, Fantastic Max and Mr Bogus to be exact, and they started at 4:30am and 5:00am respectively. I noticed I was having trouble waking up at 4:30am on Saturday and was missing the opening end of the cartoons...so my idea was to stay up all friday night and that way there was no way I'd miss Fantastic Max and Mr. Bogus.

I used to play videos game all night long when I was a kid. I developed good cover up techniques to get away with it too. I remember later on in the Super Nintendo era it became a problem because there were games that needed to be "saved" before you could shut it off. One technique I developed was to have a pillow near by to put over the blaringly bright and very noticeable red power light that shone when the SNES was on. I certainly didn't want to lose my progress by shutting off the machine before I shut off the TV, and jumped onto the couch to feign sleep. The pillow (or sock sometimes) kept the red light hidden in the dark and the SNES powered up so no progress was ever lost.

My parents constantly developed and deployed anti-stayin'-up-all-night-counter-tactics against my stealth procedures and eventually they succeeded in thwarting my endeavors roughly around 1994. Subsequently, the year 1995 was probably the only year in my life that I was ever on a "get up in the mornin' and go to bed at night" style regimen.

Then in 1996 I got right back into stayin' up all night. During a holiday from school, I managed to stay up and catch an episode of a show called Late Night with Conan O'Brien and there was a cliffhanger going down on this show that implored me to see the conclusion of it. The next day was once again a school day but I had to stay up to 12:35 in the morning to see if Conan and Andy had resolved this issue that captivated my attention the night before.

What implored me to once again become a night person? What could possibly have been so edge-of-yer-seat exciting that I had no choice but to develop new stayin' up late stealth methods?

The search for Grady Wilson....

Yes, call me insane, odd, or even dumb but I gradually regressed into not sleeping again because I had come down with an extreme case of the Grady Fever.

Conan had many old obscure celebrities on his show like Abe Vigoda and Nipsey Russell. It seems he wanted to get Grady on his show too but to his dismay, no one knew where Grady was. Was he okay? Was he dead? What happened to Grady? It was too much for me to handle, I had to know where Grady was. I had to stay up each night and follow the Search for Grady. The search for Grady went on for 47 days, and I managed to stay up (despite all efforts to stop me) for each of those 47 nights.

The show ended at 1:35 in the morning, so then I thought, "hey now, I hafta be up for school in like 5 hours, what the hell is the point of going to sleep for 5 hours?" Naturally, the sanest thing to do was just to stay up all night long. After Conan, I'd switch to the cable channel 18 who had the GREATEST all night programming I'd ever seen to this day...

1:30 am to 2:00 am: Rocky and Bullwinkle (this show had class)
2:00 am to 2:30 am: The Young Ones (starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson)
2:30 am to 3:00 am: Bottom (also starring Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmonson)
3:00 am to 3:30 am: Speed Racer (oh man, this song was so catchy!!!)
3:30 am to 4:30 am: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (with Captain Lou Albano!)
4:30 am to 5:00 am: Muppet Babies (shit's tight yo...)

Shhhh be quiet...Toshiro is sleeping.
Then I'd go to school and sleep with my eyes open in class. I heard of that technique in a late night movie once where Toshiro Mifune and Charles Bronson were walking through a desert. Mifune said he can sleep while he walks...so I figured if he can do it while he walks, it shouldn't be too hard for me to sleep while faking to pay attention in class.

When I was sixteen years old, the first job I got was an 11pm to 7am shift at my local greasy shitty Tim Whoretons donut shop. I liked that shift because I was the only one in the store and I could do my duties myself and my way without any other people or "managers" around.

Slowly I started to notice that the world was full of night people and they all seemed to hang out in bars, drink, and have fun. Staying out late and getting into zany adventures around town with other "night people" is a nice break from quietly absorbing data from time to time.

Hey, it's like Neil on the Young Ones once said...

"Listen, man. Sleep gives you cancer. Everyone knows that." -Neil (Young Ones - Oil...(listen here))

Why Would Night People Do This?

I dunno, maybe it's like that movie Lawnmower Man and we're just trying to absorb as much data as possible into our brains with books, tv, radio, and internet and become really smart or something. Or maybe there's something more to it than that.

I mean life is pretty short, why would you want to waste time sleeping? It seems like a bit of a waste, no? That guy from the film Roadhouse put it best when he said,

"I got plenty of time to sleep when I'm dead..." -Guy from Roadhouse (hear it: here)

Patrick Swayze's bouncing mentor from Roadhouse is dead on with that statement. You will have more than enough time to do sleeping when you are dead in the cold ground, so what's the big rush to do sleeping while you are alive?



Monday, August 13, 2012

This H.L. Mencken seems like a Pretty Chill Guy...

October of last year, I wrote a little article about how the internet is filled with lies and nonsense, about how recorded history is mainly erroneous, and about the trouble with wikipedia.

(here: http://writtting-d.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-deception-and-counter-deception-also.html)

After I wrote that crap, I re-read it once to look for spelling mistakes and while I was re-reading it...I started to think to myself along the lines of, "wait a sec, this is pretty interesting. I got some good little anecdotes here. I might not be as dumb as I think I am."

I thought I was being pretty original and interesting when I wrote that. I thought I was a pretty smart guy. Turns out, truth be told, that someone wrote exactly what I was thinking on December 28 of the year 1917. Yup, almost 100 years prior, someone beat me to those opinions. I guess it just goes to show that it really is hard to think of something that hasn't been said or done before.

I was browsing a very interesting website today called The Museum of Hoaxes which chronicles many of the most whackiest, zaniest, stupidest, weirdest hoaxes in history and came across an article entitled, The History of the Bathtub, which details how an absurdly fictitious history of the bathtub began being accepted world wide as fact. The absurdly fictitious account was typed by a guy name Henry L. Mencken for the New York Evening Mail. 

Here is Mencken's purposely self-aware erroneous article in its entirety from google newspaper archive:

The first bathtub in the United States was installed in Cincinnati December 20, 1842, by Adam Thompson. It was made of mahogany and lined with sheet lead. At a Christmas party he exhibited and explained it and four guests later took a plunge. The next day the Cincinnati paper devoted many columns to the new invention and it gave rise to violent controversy.

Some papers designated it as an epicurian luxury, other called it undemocratic, as it lacked simplicity in its surroundings. Medical authorities attacked it as dangerous to health.

The controversy reached other cities, and in more than one place medical opposition was reflected in legislation. In 1843 the Philadelphia Common Council considered an ordinance prohibiting bathing between November 1 and March 15, and this ordinance failed of passage by but two votes.

During the same year the Legislature of Virginia laid a tax of $30 a year on all bathtubs that might be set up. In Hartford, Providence, Charleston and Wilmington special and very heavy water rates were laid on persons who had bathtubs. Boston in 1845 made bathing unlawful except on medical advice, but the ordinance was never enforced and in 1862 it was repealed.

President Millard Fillmore gave the bathtub recognition and respectability. While Vice President he visited Cincinnati in 1850 on a stumping tour and inspected the original bathtub and used it. Experiencing no ill effects he became an ardent advocate, and on becoming President he had a tub installed in the White House. The Secretary of War invited bids for the installation. This tub continued to be the one in use until the first Cleveland Administration.

These tidbits of seemingly true and researched information on the history of the bathtub began showing up everywhere in the following years. They showed up paraphrased or verbatim in other newspapers, in academic medical journals, in encyclopedias, and other media information outlets.

Eight years after Mencken ran the article, he wrote a follow up piece for The Chicago Tribune, in which he states that NOTHING in his his original article was even a little bit true. In his follow-up piece he basically says EVERYTHING I wanted to say in the article I tried to write, except he does it much better...

On Dec. 28, 1917, I printed in the New York Evening Mail, a paper now extinct, an article purporting to give the history of the bathtub. This article, I may say at once, was a tissue of absurdities, all of them deliberte and most of them obvious...

This article, as I say, was planned as a piece of spoofing to relieve the strain of war days, and I confess that I regarded it, when it came out, with considerable satisfaction. It was reprinted by various great organs of the enlightenment, and after a while the usual letters began to reach me from readers. Then, suddenly, my satisfaction turned to consternation. For these readers, it appeared, all took my idle jocosities with complete seriousness. Some of them, of antiquarian tastes, asked for further light on this or that phase of the subject. Others actually offered me corroboration!

But the worst was to come. Pretty soon I began to encounter my preposterous "facts" in the writings of other men. They began to be used by chiropractors and other such quacks as evidence of the stupidity of medical men. They began to be cited by medical men as proof of the progress of public hygiene. They got into learned journals. They were alluded to on the floor of congress. They crossed the ocean, and were discussed solemnly in England and on the continent. Finally, I began to find them in standard works of reference. Today, I believe, they are accepted as gospel everywhere on earth. To question them becomes as hazardous as to question the Norman invasion.

* *

And as rare. This is the first time, indeed, that they have ever been questioned, and I confess at once that even I myself, their author, feel a certain hesitancy about doing it. Once more, I suppose, I'll be accused of taking the wrong side for the mere pleasure of standing in opposition. The Cincinnati boomers, who have made much of the boast that the bathtub industry, now running to $200,000,000 a year, was started in their town, will charge me with spreading lies against them. The chiropractors will damn me for blowing up their ammunition. The medical gents, having swallowed my quackery, will now denounce me as a quack for exposing them. And in the end, no doubt, the thing will simmer down to a general feeling that I have once more committed some vague and sinister crime against the United States, and there will be a renewal of the demand that I be deported to Russia.

I recite this history, not because it is singular, but because it is typical. It is out of just such frauds, I believe, that most of the so-called knowledge of humanity flows. What begins as a guess -- or, perhaps, not infrequently, as a downright and deliberate lie -- ends as a fact and is embalmed in the history books. One recalls the gaudy days of 1914-1918. How much that was then devoured by the newspaper readers of the world was actually true? Probably not 1 per cent. Ever since the war ended learned and laborious men have been at work examining and exposing its fictions. But every one of these fictions retains full faith and credit today. To question even the most palpably absurd of them, in most parts of the United States, is to invite denunciation as a bolshevik.

So with all other wars. For example, the revolution. For years past American historians have been investigating the orthodox legends. Almost all of them turn out to be blowsy nonsense. Yet they remain in the school history books and every effort to get them out causes a dreadful row, and those who make it are accused of all sorts of treasons and spoils. The truth, indeed, is something that mankind, for some mysterious reason, instinctively dislikes. Every man who tries to tell it is unpopular, and even when, by the sheer strength of his case, he prevails, he is put down as a scoundrel.
* *

As a practicing journalist for many years, I have often had close contact with history in the making. I can recall no time or place when what actually occurred was afterward generally known and believed. Sometimes a part of the truth got out, but never all. And what actually got out was seldom clearly understood. Consider, for example, the legends that follow every national convention. A thousand newspaper correspondents are on the scene, all of them theoretically competent to see accurately and report honestly, but it is seldom that two of them agree perfectly, and after a month after the convention adjourns the accepted version of what occurred usually differs from the accounts of all of them.

I point to the Republican convention of 1920, which nominated the eminent and lamented Harding. A week after the delegates adjourned the whole country believed that Harding had been put through by Col. George Harvey: Harvey himself admitted it. Then other claimants to the honor arose, and after a year or two it was generally held that the trick had been turned by the distinguished Harry M. Daugherty, by that time a salient light of the Harding cabinet. The story began to acquire corroborative detail. Delegates and correspondents began to remember things that they had not noticed on the spot. What the orthodox tale is today with Daugherty in eclipse, I don't know, but you may be sure that it is full of mysterious intrigue and bold adventure.

What are the facts? The facts are that Harvey had little more to do with the nomination of Harding than I did, and that Daugherty was immensely surprised when good Warren won. The nomination was really due to the intense heat, and to that alone. The delegates, torn by the savage three cornered fight between Lowden, Johnson, and Wood, came to Saturday morning in despair. The temperature in the convention hall was at least 120 degrees. They were eager to get home. When it became apparent that the leaders could not break the deadlock they ran amuck and nominated Harding, as the one aspirant who had no enemies. If any individual managed the business it was not Harvey or Daugherty, but Myron T. Herrick. But so far as I know Herrick's hand in it has never been mentioned.
* *

I turn to a more pleasant field -- that of sport in the grand manner. On July 2, 1921, in the great bowl at Jersey City, the Hon. Jack Dempsey met M. Carpentier, the gallant frog. The sympathy of the crowd was overwhelmingly with M. Carpentier and every time he struck a blow he got a round of applause, even if it didn't land. I had an excellent seat, very near the ring, and saw every move of the two men. From the first moment Dr. Dempsey had it all his own way. He could have knocked out M. Carpentier in the first half of the first round. After that first half he simply waited his chance to do it politely and humanely.

Yet certain great newspapers reported the next morning that M. Carpentier had delivered an appalling wallop in the second round and that Dr. Dempsey had narrowly escaped going out. Others told the truth, but what chance had the truth against that romantic lie? It is believed in to this day by at least 99.99 per cent of all the boxing fans in Christendom. Carpentier himself, when he recovered from his beating, admitted categorically that it was nonsense, but even Carpentier could make no headway against the almost universal human tendency to cherish what is not true. A thousand years hence schoolboys will be taught that the frog had Dempsey going. It may become in time a religious dogma, like the doctrine that Jonah swallowed the whale. Scoffers who doubt it will be damned to hell.

The moral, if any, I leave to psycho-pathologists, if competent ones can be found. All I care to do today is to reiterate, in the most solemn and awful terms, that my history of the bathtub, printed on Dec. 28, 1917, was pure buncombe. If there were any facts in it they got there accidentally and against my design. But today the tale is in the encyclopedias. History, said a great American soothsayer, is bunk.

Yup. That is what wanted to say in my article alright, I wanted to say cool things like...

"It is out of just such frauds, I believe, that most of the so-called knowledge of humanity flows. What begins as a guess -- or, perhaps, not infrequently, as a downright and deliberate lie -- ends as a fact and is embalmed in the history books..."

Embalmed into the history books. Embalmed. What a good word to use. I can't generate quotations like that. Heck, that's a type of quote to conclude an article with.

So without further ado, I would like to conclude with one of my favorite quotes. It is a quote from a pretty chill guy who was named Henry L. Mencken and it goes a little something like this:

"It is out of just such frauds, I believe, that most of the so-called knowledge of humanity flows. What begins as a guess -- or, perhaps, not infrequently, as a downright and deliberate lie -- ends as a fact and is embalmed in the history books..."

-H.L. Mencken