Friday, December 21, 2007

The Drake Equation

I'm giving a lecture on the Drake Equation at the Port Washington Public Library, Port Washington, NY, on Friday December 21 2007 at Noon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Tennessee Waltz

The lyrics to the song "The Tennessee Waltz" go like this:

I was dancing with my darling
To the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
I introduced her to my loved one
And while they were dancing
My friend stole my sweetheart from me.

A sad story which clearly takes place in the past. Possibly the recent past, but the past nonetheless. Now, if the friend stole the sweetheart during the Tennessee Waltz, then how could this song be the Tennessee Waltz? How can the song influence an event in the present (like causing a friend to steal a sweetheart) while simultaneously describing the exact same event which had taken place in the past? This is a self-referential loop that should destroy itself the moment energy is applied to the system, such as when the song is sung. Every performance of The Tennesee Waltz should go "I was dancin- BOOM!"

Don't even get me started on the self referential nature of "Roll Over Beethoven".

Saturday, December 1, 2007

and the spelling isn't so bad either

The best thing about the writer's guild strike is that it's a writer's strike. In most strikes, I barely understand what the real areas of contention are -- media reports boil them down to the classic "The workers want more money, and the owners don't want to give it to them."

But these strikers are writers, and are able to explain what they want in a way that anyone can understand, using all the rhetorical tropes of the writer's trade. So far, this strike has produced such gems as the Parable of the Tires, or the Parable of the Four Cents.

They're not Joe Hill, but they get the message across. The next time workers in any industry go on strike, I recommend they hire a screenwriter to create a pithy explanation of their complaints and demands. They might not win at the bargaining table, but they'll definitely win in the court of public opinion.