For the Love of Seuss

I am a bit bothered by the decision of Dr. Seuss Enterprises to stop publishing six of the great man’s books, especially as a few of them are among my favorites. There is a particular kind of thing Seuss does, starting with a simple leap of the imagination and then building on that and then building on that. The Cat in the Hat is like that, and fortunately it’s not on the list, but books like McElligot’s Pool, Scrambled Eggs Super, and To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street are like that, too. I remember thinking (at a very young age, his target age) “Now, here is somebody who understands how imagination works,” one thought leading to another thought leading to another thought and you’re on the journey to forever that began with a single step, you’re climbing a ladder that goes right up into the sky. It’s a very different thing to just being somebody with a good imagination.
Of course, similar to the Potato Head case, it’s a company decision, there was no outside pressure brought. And, it appears to be a done deal. Nonetheless, as a Dr. Seuss fan, and someone whose life has been, at a very formative level, shaped by his words, I must object. Seriously, “a Chinese boy who eats with sticks…” How is that offensive? Do Chinese people eat with chopsticks, or do they not? There was no meanness in it, at all. And in McElligot’s pool, the offensive part was some Eskimo fish swimming down from the North Pole. In Scrambled Eggs, I couldn’t see the problem at all, except maybe the character named Ali, who was wearing a turban as he carried his basket into the mountains to fetch a rare egg. But mere ethnicity itself should not cause offense.
The other books are If I Ran the Zoo, On Beyond Zebra, and The Cat’s Quizzer.
I’m not sure how much of an effect not publishing those books will have. There are pdf versions of them online and plenty of teachers have them as a resource. But, we will see. We are moving into a Puritanical, or Victorian era type of mindset, where any impure thoughts cannot be expressed in public. And things can retroactively become taboo.

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Brave New World

I’m going to try and do this without too many spoilers, because I do recommend that everybody watch Brave New World on Netflix, whether you’ve read the book or not. It stands up on its own right.
I was a teenager when I read Brave New World, approximately half a century ago, so some of the details of the book were blurry anyway, but I was pretty sure some things were changed. No reference at all to Ford, for instance. Neither Helmhotz Watson or Mustapha Mond were female, in the book. A few other things. And the ending. The ending was very different. Like night and day different.
But, I remember having the same feeling about it as I did when I read it. This may not have been Huxley’s intention, but it struck me, in both cases, that some aspects of society in New London were not that bad. The architecture and technology were totally futuristic and classy (I like that in a sci-fi movie), the public orgies were awesome, and the whole idea of life being a non-stop party with lots and lots of drugs appealed to me greatly.
If you could have the same society without the genetic engineering, and rigid enforcement of the caste system, and with better music, it would be awesome.

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Population Extrapolation

One thing that bothers me about Facebook is that I’ll be scrolling through, because despite the obvious impossibility of it, I’m still trying to read the whole thing, and a few seconds after passing a headline I think of the perfect witty thing to say in the comments thread and then I can’t find it again, no matter how far back I scroll.
That was the case this morning. The headline said something about how trying to reduce the world’s population is inherently racist, I guess because if you’re trying to reduce birthrates, you are trying to reduce birthrates of Black and Asian people, who are more than half the world’s population. Once I’d written the scathing comment in my head, about how not everything is racism and this really would be a bit of a stretch, I went back looking for the article, thinking I might even read it, and I came across another article bemoaning declining birth rates, this time making the argument that old people are not going to have enough young people to take care of them.
Both of these arguments are pure bunkum. Obviously, there is an upper population limit. If the world had 100 billion people, there is no way the earth could feed them all. There is not enough topsoil, there is not enough water. These are finite things, and mathematically calculable. I haven’t done the calculations, but nonetheless…So, we can’t get to that point or we all would die, or live in a nightmare world of Soylent Green. If the world had, contrariwise, 98 people we might start worrying about an insufficient gene pool and the viability of our species, but I see little danger of that happening.
I submit that the ideal world population is about 2 or 3 billion. Certainly enough to have big cities with their operas and museums and major league sports teams, but it’s a low enough figure that even the current infrastructure would have everybody living in luxury. I’m not too worried about what skin color people of the future will have. They will be our descendants, one way or another, and I want them to be happy.
As to the argument that old people, in the near future, won’t have enough young people to take care of them, that’s a pretty feeble argument as well. For one thing, that’s going to even out over a generation or two. If fewer people are born now, then there will be fewer old people 80 years from now. Also, there are many creative solutions, like putting old age homes near college campuses, providing students with part time jobs and the residents with plenty of attention, designing communities which are more accessible to the elderly and the handicapped so they can take better care of themselves and each other, giving them rescue pets for companionship and having more robots to do a lot of the work people do now.
The arguments for reducing the world’s population are many and compelling. The arguments for letting the world’s population continue to grow unchecked are basically only there because people like to argue about any damn thing. Stop it.

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The Devaluation of Gold

I haven’t actually paid too much attention to the CPAC conference. Trump spoke. Lots of very conservative people were there. No real surprises that I’ve heard of. So, I probably wouldn’t be commenting on it at all except OMG, that statue. A golden statue of Donald Trump, over six feet tall, carrying a magic wand and wearing a jacket and tie on top and U.S. American flag boxers, looking for all the world like Rocky Balboa. And sandals for some damn reason.
This seems a bit over the top. A life size, or maybe a little bigger, gold (well, fiberglass painted with gold) statue seems the kind of thing one would make to mock Donald Trump, not to seriously praise him. And the boxer shorts. I mean, seriously, that’s mockery, right? Well, it doesn’t seem that Donald Trump minded at all, and the crowd loved it.
Donald Trump would have fit right in, would have made a totally normal ruler, in like ancient Egypt or Babylon or something, putting up gold statues of himself all over the place. He could have gone ahead and married Ivanka, and had a whole brood of retarded offspring. Ancient history’s just full of that shit.
But, no, he is, and remains, a very real element in 21st century American politics. To everybody’s shame and embarrassment.

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What’s in a Name? Potato.

Farewell, Mr. Potato Head. Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. They’re changing the name of the product to Potato Head, so it will be in a box that has Potato Head in really big letters, but there will still be a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head as actual characters, so I kind of can’t see the point, it’s like Prince using a symbol for a name with no clue to pronunciation just to fuck with people’s heads.
It’s Hasbro’s choice, of course, and they weren’t even under any pressure to do this, so I suppose it’s to their credit. You could say they are being proactive, or that they are just keeping with the current trend. However, it has stirred some controversy, because damn near anything does any more, we are all secure in our positions and firing outward, and the marketplace of ideas has been transformed into a battleground of ideas by the internet. So, all the pronoun people are praising the decision and all the rednecks think this is PC gone wild.
(I don’t actually know which side this is going to support, but I’d just like to point out that neither Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head is anatomically correct or endowed with genitalia of any kind)
Anyway, I kind of find myself siding with the rednecks on this one, and that does not happen often. Mr. Potato Head has always been Mr. Potato Head and should continue to be, just like Mr. Clean (or, as the Brits call him, Mr. Proper) should not just be Clean (or Proper), Mr. Brown’s Iced Coffee should not just be Brown’s Iced Coffee, which doesn’t have anywhere near the pizzazz, and poor old Mr. Bean should not just be Bean.
But, whatever. It’s still a great toy.

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