Your Moment of Existential Horror

Skeleton Mirror is emo, reflects  only darkness

Skeleton Mirror is emo, reflects only darkness

I have no idea why we’re on this big Video Kick lately, particularly as we’re working on a computer that refuses to update Flash to something dating to this century, but we are. One is using the Royal We, of course. One wouldn’t mind using the Royal Wee on Prince Hot Ginge, whose birthday it is, should one ever get a chance with that nasty ginger, but it appears unlikely, as he does not travel in our elevated social circles. But I digress.

One digresses.

Here is one video that will simply creep you right the fuck out. It’s 1962 footage of the late Kenneth Stevens, Clarence J. LeBel Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, saying words. Saying words while being X-rayed. I’m not sure what possible super-powers one might receive from a session like this; perhaps alliteration? the ability to extemporize in rhyming couplets (rap)? But certainly the ability to live on as a creepy YouTube video. His official obit from MIT is interesting.

Stevens is best known for his “quantal theory of speech,” which explored why — despite the apparent diversity of sounds across different languages — human speech actually exploits only a small fraction of the sounds that the vocal tract can produce.

In 1952, while Stevens was completing his doctorate, the MIT linguist Morris Halle, together with colleagues Gunnar Fant and Roman Jakobson, proposed that all human speech sounds could be described as combinations of 20-odd “distinctive features,” such as the placement of the tip of the tongue, the shape of the tongue, whether the glottis (voice box) was opened or closed, the shape of the lips, and so on.

Stevens, who collaborated closely with all three men, observed that these distinctive features seemed to describe configurations of the vocal tract’s “articulators” — such as the tongue, glottis and lips — in which small deviations had little effect on the sounds produced. This is by no means true of all configurations: In most cases, small deviations would actually yield large sonic differences. But, Stevens argued, language users would naturally converge on the more stable configurations, which would lead to greater consistency in sound production.

Quantal theory was not, however, just a theory of speech production; it was also a theory of speech recognition. If humans had a limited repertory of sounds that they could produce reliably, then the auditory system may very well have evolved to key in on them. Stevens spent much of his career indefatigably investigating the implications of quantal theory, both experimentally and through mathematical modeling, frequently in collaboration with Halle and, later, with Samuel Jay Keyser, another MIT linguist.

In the pursuit of knowledge in this rarefied field, he produced and starred in the following creepy-ass video, asking that musical question, “Why did Ken set the soggy net on top of his deck?”

Transcript, courtesy of YouTube robots, who are comically inaccurate:

0:03 the fifth

0:05 protect

0:06 repair

0:08 rip-off

0:09 the top

0:10 ka

0:11the death

0:13 going there

0:14 beset

0:15 is there

0:17 asar [that can't be right!]

0:25 hock

0:26 that t

0:28 tier

0:29 attack

0:30 that uh…

0:31 the two

0:33 protector

0:34 the talks

0:36 tech

0:37 repair

0:39 hindi

0:40 he interrupts

0:41 the

0:42 he are

0:44 the are

0:47 why didn’t care will set the starting next week on top of his deck

0:52 i have put blood on her to clean your shoes

You WHAT???

About these ads

DramaSec: The Power Ballads (now with 20% more awesomeness!)

Fabulous llama iz fabulous!

Fabulous llama iz fabulous!

You know what they say: politics is showbusiness for ugly people.

Ladies and gentlemen of #DramaSec, fans of flamewars, internet drama divas, and audience members: we at the ol’ raincoaster blog are proud to present the first-ever roundup of #DramaSec power ballads. If Music is the universal language (although Money is making a strong showing lately) then let the universe ring with the sound of our over-the-top and senseless interpersonal drama, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

Cue The Ballad of Brett Kimberlin:

And now The Adrian Lamo Blues. Not so much a power ballad as political hipster neo-folk, but who can resist a banjo, eh?:

The next one is hard. It’s almost impossible to determine which of these is more awesome, but for very different reasons. And I’m too lazy to look up how to code a table in HTML so they go side by side, so here it is in order of jaw-droppingness, from the lesser to the greater.

The RonBryn Song. You remember Ron, right?

And now, the musical apotheosis of the internet phenomenon known as #DramaSec. If you’re an impatient type, start it at 3:31. If you enjoy insidery jokes about countries to which you’ve never been, watch the whole thing. And do not doubt me when i say this is the apotheosis of awesomenosity. Words, my friends: They will fail you as they failed me.

Julian Assange performing an 80′s power ballad with updated WikiLeaks lyrics while wearing a righteous mullet:

Selah.

It is the East, and Julian is the sun...

It is the East, and Julian is the sun…

UPDATED TO ADD:

Plus bonus lyrics to The RonBryn song, courtesy of Elvira:

Open your web browser

Pretend you’re Neal Rauhauser

That’s one way to meet Ronbryn

He is a one man PRISM

Calls tweeting journalism (He does)

Though its just a lot of jizzim, Ronbryn

If your Mercedes is explodin’

You can’t find Edward Snowden

Who ya gonna call?

Ronbryn.

Barrett Brown, Julian, Patterico, Kimberlin

Troll ‘em all, fuck ‘em up

Ronbryn

You’re a sock

What a crock

Call the doc

What the fuck

SWAT ‘em all

Troll ‘em all

Ronbryn……!

Brett Kimberlin is plottin’

Another case of SWATing

Who’s he gonna call?

Ronbryn

He’ll tweet your misdemeanor

You’ll look like Tony Weiner

Tryin’ to humor Huma Abedin

Smearing smearing smearing

All the way to Barrett’s hearing

Ever thought of disappearing, Ronbryn?

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but broccoli is a robber’s best friend.

Emeralds for elephants yes you read that right

Emeralds for elephants yes you read that right

Just a couple of jewel robbery anecdotes, the first from the Tatler magazine, which used to be the most breathtakingly glamorous and vaguely scandalous thing out there. Ah, that was a long time ago. Now it’s Town and Country, with worse teeth. Both posts inspired by this dazzling jewel robbery on the Riviera, where by tradition all dazzling jewel robberies take place.

You know, on the one hand crime=bad. On the other, COOOOOOOOL!

I don’t know why, but why not? Non-violent jewel robberies are beautiful, beautiful things. There are some great stories out of London; in one case, a big emerald stone went missing while a shifty, Arab-looking man had been looking at a tray of loose stones. They stopped him, locked the doors, called the police, and had him searched thoroughly. The entire time he loudly protested his innocence and outrage and threatened to sue them. They couldn’t find a thing, inside him or out, so they had to let him go. A week later the cleaning woman found a wad of gum under the counter where he’d been looking at the gems, with the outline of that emerald pressed into it. He had a conspirator come by later and retrieve the stone from its ingenious hiding place.

and the second story, more a piece of advice really. But thanks, Officer Friendly!

I was working at Starbucks, and one day the bank a few doors down was held up. The bank staff holed up at our store, drinking cocoa and shaking, and the cops holed up at another table to discuss the case. One went up and placed their order, and I was working bar, which gives you a chance to chat to people. The cop came up to me to pick up the drinks and he said, “Promise me something.” I said okay, because I have a thing for men in uniform, and he said, “Promise me you won’t rob a bank.”

I said OK, because that had not been in my plans anyway.

He said, “Promise me you’ll rob a grocery store instead.” All of a sudden this conversation had become MUCH more interesting. I asked him why a grocery store.

“Because if you rob a bank you’ll get, at most $1800 and a minimum of five years. If you rob one of the big grocery store chains on a Friday night, you’ll get $20,000 minimum, and a maximum of 18 months.”

Well, thank you Officer Friendly. Noted.

Make your career plans accordingly.

Spirit Animal

It has been a long, hard day of work…no, wait. That’s not quite right. It has been a long hard TWO days of work packed into one from-10-am-Monday-to-5-am-Tuesday stretch, thanks to getting three article assignments after 9pm, due by dawn. Gee, thanks. Remind me to delete all article pitches at 7pm sharp and simply re-post them the next morning.

Anyhoodle, I ran across the Dancing Queen of Eastleigh here and I just wanted to say that she is my spirit animal. I haven’t got the strength to do this right now, but if I did, I would. Because this queen needs some backup princesses to really make this look work.

  • Tim Wayne

    Tim Wayne 2 weeks ago

    I wonder if this woman knows she put a smile on the faces of over a hundred thousand people.

    · 21
  • Jane Rowland

    Jane Rowland 2 weeks ago

    Hi Tim, yes she does know, through me taking this video I have now met her and we have become friends… she is so pleased she has made people happy and she still dances at the bus stop every day. :D

    · 27 in reply to Tim Wayne

The Prancing Pony of Penticistan

First Nations pony is also overjoyed

First Nations pony is also overjoyed

When I mentioned on Facebook that I was coming to the wild Penticistan steppes above Ruralopolis, I never thought that the locals would take it upon themselves to create a Welcome video for me. Apparently, they were so overcome with joy at the thought that soon the mighty raincoaster would roam the sagebrush slopes above the lake, gibbering softly and occasionally making nameless sacrifices on mysterious altars on the hilltops, that they created this gloriously Canadian multiculti work of art to welcome me.

It appears they think I do not know what is meant by the term “Indian pony” but we will let it slide. After all, OMG PONIES!