Cthulhu Sings!

If you’re familiar with the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and with the musical Fiddler on the Roof, then you should enjoy this delightfully insane musical, Shoggoth on the Roof, which sets characters and situations from the former to the music of the latter. (If you’re unfamiliar with either or both, you’ll be somewhat baffled ….)

Cthulhu wants you Here, for example, is an excerpt, to the tune “Sunrise, Sunset”:

Arkham, Dunwich, Arkham, Dunwich
filled with haunting fears
neighbors who hide up in the attics
inbreeding happily for years

Or this, to the tune of “If I Were A Rich Man”:

If I were a Deep One
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub blub
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub
all day long I’d swim beneath the sea
if I were a Dee-eep One
terrify the tourists
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub blub
blub blub blub blub, blub blub blub
if I were an icky icky fish
scaly slippery frog-eyed kind of man

But my very favourite is this adaptation of “To Life”:

To life! to life I’ll bring them
I’ll bring all these dead men to life
and if that life has no quality
still there’s the quantity
I will bring them to life!

To life, to life I brought him
I brought Dr. Halsey to life
of course I first had to kill the man
with some ingenious plan
(He just shot him!)
Okay, it’s true, I shot him
I shot him but brought him to life ….

The sound is very professional, and the voices are excellent.

When I tried to buy the CD from the website the link wasn’t working, so I bought it from Froogle instead. But the official site seems to be working again now. (And you can listen to audio samples.) So buy your copy now! Otherwise, unspeakable horror awaits you ….

A Show of Hands

According to this guy who was on The Colbert Report tonight, straight men and gay women are more likely to haveMichelangelo's hands ring fingers longer than index fingers, while gay men and straight women are more likely to have index fingers longer than ring fingers. Result: I have gay hands!

Since, according to so many religious conservatives (see, e.g., here and here), we’re supposed to let our bodily parts define our moral obligations, does this mean I’m now morally obligated to become gay?

The Philosopher’s Stone

Hogwarts Express I’m a fan of the Harry Potter books. Not a maniacal fan, mind you – I grew up reading books of the same general genre by C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit, Susan Cooper, Edward Eager, Ursula K. LeGuin, Madeleine L’Engle, Diane Duane, Mary Norton, George MacDonald, etc., and it’s not obvious to me why J. K. Rowling’s books have skyrocketed to such greater heights of popularity than theirs.  But they are good.

There is one feature of the series that I especially identify with, however. The idea of a world of wizards existing right alongside the world of ordinary people, reachable from but invisible to the mundane world, feels very familiar to me, because it’s actually rather like being an academic, and particularly an academic philosopher. We hold our conferences in places where ordinary people also meet, but they have no idea who we are or what we’re talking about as we move about in our magical world of Chinese rooms and people seeds ….

But anyway: tonight on Countdown Keith Olbermann offered his theory of how the last Harry Potter novel, out next month, will end: Harry discovers that the scar on his forehead is one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, and that to destroy Voldemort he must destroy his own scar. He assumes that he can do this only by destroying himself, and is about to commit suicide when Snape shows up to reveal that the scar can be destroyed without killing Harry, but doing so will cause Harry to lose all his wizardly powers. And so that’s how the book ends – with Voldemort dead, Snape redeemed, and Harry alive but forever a Muggle.

Harry Potter All of which sounds possible enough. What I don’t buy is Olbermann’s reasoning as to why Rowling won’t kill off Harry. His argument is that doing so would hurt the film franchise, since fewer people will want to watch the final three movies if they already know Harry’s dead.

Sure, killing off Harry probably would cut into the profits of the later movies. But does anyone really think Rowling would make her decision on that basis? I would point out that a) Rowling has shown no sign of lacking artistic integrity, and b) in any case she’s already one of the wealthiest authors on the planet.

Maybe Harry will die and maybe he won’t, but I think Rowling’s eye is on the plot, not on the pocketbook.

Spooner Article Resurrected

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power and Mises Blog]

Lysander Spooner was the foremost legal theorist of the 19th-century American individualist anarchist movement. His 1882 open letter to Senator Bayard is fairly well-known among Spooner fans; but an 1884 sequel, A Second Letter to Thomas F. Bayard, which originally Lysander Spooner appeared in Benjamin Tucker’s anarchist journal Liberty, is much more obscure; it was omitted (like most of Spooner’s periodical work) from the Collected Works, and indeed has never (so far as I can determine) been reprinted anywhere else. Now at last I am happy to announce that it is available in the Molinari Institute online library.

I can’t claim that this is one of Spooner’s more important works. Apart from a more than usually irascible tone, it contains little that isn’t already covered in the first letter, or still more fully in other works such as No Treason or Natural Law or the Letter to Grover Cleveland. But hey, it’s Spooner.

And speaking of material from Tucker’s Liberty, hurray for Shawn Wilbur! He’s been scanning issues of Liberty (including the one containing this Spooner piece) and placing the PDFs online. Check out what he’s got so far.

A River Runs Through It

Amazon Miraculous news from the jungles of South America (conical hat tip to LRC):

The Brazilian scientists’ 14-day expedition extended the Amazon’s length by about 176 miles (284 kilometers), making it 65 miles (105 kilometers) longer than the Nile.

This will be a good example to use to explain “direction of fit” the next time I’m teaching the Euthyphro.

Polly Want a Clarification

Would you trust this parrot? Remember my earlier post about the “rational parrot”? Well, the BBC link that used to point to that amazing story now points instead to this not-so-amazing story. In a brief note the BBC explains that the original story “contained factual inaccuracies we were unable to correct” and is “no longer in our archive.”

So what was true and what was false in the original story about N’kisi the grey parrot? Apparently not everything was false, since the replacement story does mention N’kisi in passing as having an impressive vocabulary. But it would be nice to have a more informative retraction, if that’s what it is.

In the meantime, check out this mile-wide parrot. Or whatever.

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