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???

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Why it’s called “Meatspace”

Oh, Elsie is in for a rude shock

Oh, Elsie is in for a rude shock

Have you noticed that we have no difficulty believing we are spiritual beings, but we simply cannot wrap our heads around the actually demonstrable fact that we are, in fact, made of meat? Why, even on this very blog, we’ve had suggested wine pairings for cannibals, whom we have also covered. Repeatedly, in fact. We’ve even covered fake me-meat, as well as munch-by-munch reports of ursine-sapien dining and a scientific investigation into just how Modest a Proposal Jonathan Swift‘s little suggestion really was.

Well, it’s time for a refresher. We are nothing but wetware in meatspace, and even the aliens abducting and probing us, anal fissures first, find it distasteful. Observe:

Close observers will observe the observer observing them observing us; he is the Venusian Martian from the original 1961 Twilight Zone episode, Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up;

I for one am relieved he got away. And more relieved not to have the gory details.

Happy Birthday, Paul Rudd!

Paul Rudd covers up his Rudds

Paul Rudd covers up his Rudds

Give the man what he asks for: a cure for cancer!

“I know it’s the thought that counts, but…the money counts too!”

Normally, as you know, I am so NOT all about the self-conscious hipsters (apologies: I repeat myself) particularly those of ironic eyewear, but in this case I must give it up to Mister Paul Rudd, who suggests that on your birthday, you ask your friends to donate your age in dollars to the Cancer Society. Now, this may well bankrupt my friends, but you, according to Quantcast, are younger, and you should be doing this. I mean, if they spend that money on PBR you’re just gonna have a beer belly and a hangover to show for it the next day, right? Whereas fighting cancer provides a glow which makes one irresistable to the opposite sex (as several cancer fakers of my acquaintance know and have taken advantage of, and don’t worry, I’ve taken care of them in ways they don’t even know yet).

Am I ranting? Oh, let me rant. I beat cancer: I’m entitled to rant a bit. If you’re feeling ranty right along with me, here are some infuriating, medically-themed gossip links for you to read and ensure that your blood pressure remains elevated. If you get angry enough, it even counts as aerobic!

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Crowning Glory

From nearby in the blogosphere comes news that the stars are nigh unto aligned and the glorious new era is upon the threshold. From news sources and historians comes evidence that the allies are preparing, making smooth the way for the return of the Great Old Ones.

From Olde Strasbourg:


This was during the Krakatoa eruption, when Rlyeh briefly surfaced

This was during the Krakatoa eruption, when Rlyeh briefly surfaced

Yes, the allies from the kings of the jungle even unto the smallest vermin that crawls, unseen yet lathesomely felt, through the teeming maze of our urban decayscapes, have begun to unite in expectation of The Great Rising!


Why is it always Germany? Are their rats particularly activist?

Why is it always Germany? Are their rats particularly activist?

Science shows that, in at lesat some cases, rat kings/crowns have been formed while the attached rats were still alive and growing, indicating strongly that these rats were holy, set apart, and that servant rat classes brought them food and attended to their every sordid bodily need while they awaited the glorious Return of the Great Old Ones.

Evidence (you KNOW we’re all about the evidence around these parts):

rat crown xray is all sciency and irrefutable, so there!

rat crown xray is all sciency and irrefutable, so there!

As well-documented in the manuscript known as The Call of Cthulhu, such a pivotal time affects not only the lower orders, but also the sensitives among us, from the most Strindbergian slam poet to the dandies of the Royal Portrait Gallery.

Rat King, the watercolour

Rat King, the watercolour. Somewhat Twomblyesque, non?

Even innocent embroiderers have had hideous glimpses of the godless Gordian knot:

And in another age, these would have been daisies!

And in another age, these would have been daisies!

Truly a motif for our time. We can only shudder and whisper horror-struck guesses at the unspeakable, Transformer-like superpowers to be unlocked by a successful unification!



Rat King Perfection ACHIEVED unlocking superpowers now

Rat King Perfection ACHIEVED unlocking superpowers now

Soon, very soon, Cthulhu will rise again.

Okay, whose job was it to bring the vaseline?

Okay, whose job was it to bring the vaseline?

Just as soon as we get this situation straightened out.

Nuclear Boy Has a Stomachache

Nuclear Boy better not poop!

Nuclear Boy better not poop!

Nothing ruins a good day at nursery school like a pile of radioactive shit, eh? The Japanese, faced with the biggest pile of radioactive shit the world has seen since Chernobyl have come up with this charming little cartoon starring everyone’s favorite incontinent anthropomorphism. Soothing? Appalling? Amusing? Inspiring? If nothing else, it makes me wonder about what they’re making Japanese diapers out of.