Sunday, December 6, 2015

What does white fade to, and other idle thoughts

Idle Thought No. 1

While Christmas shopping for towels, I found one that was guaranteed “not to fade.” It was white.

Idle Thought No. 2

There is an app that helps teach scat singing. This is not something I need, but while listening to an example, it occurred me to ask, did scatting evolve out of glossolalia, the speaking in tongues practiced by some religions?

Forty years ago, I read William Samarin’s “Glossolalia,” which proved that tongue-speakers are not communicating — their babble sounds like a language but it does not have the characteristics that make language work. No ideas are transmitted from one person to another, although perhaps emotional states might be.

(An aside: Samarin went to a lot of work to prove a point that can be made more easily. Despite what Chomsky says, there is no “deep” structure in language. It’s a convention. You can no more have a language with one speaker than you can clap with one hand.)

A few minutes spent with Wikipedia’s article on scat-singing places its origins simply in musical, not religious, traditions; but it does point to the article on glossalalia.

Curiously, both articles place the origins of their topic at the same moment: The often unreliable Jelly-Roll Morton said scatting began in New Orleans in 1900; and modern glossolalia is said to have started among Kansas Pentecostalists in 1901.

Hmmm. I suspect there were earlier antecedents, and that the religious practice was prior.

American religious traditions show up in strange disguises. I once saw a clip of the teevee hostess Tyra Banks becoming excited and writhing on the floor, kicking and screaming. It was exactly like a religious ecstatic becoming possessed in the spirit.

Idle Thought No. 3

After each shooting atrocity, the gun nuts tell us it is too soon, emotions are too tender to have a discussion about arming America. For example, the San Bernardino massacre was Wednesday, and political pundit and Ronald Reagan fantasy girlfriend Peggy Noonan wrote this on Thursday:

“Here’s an odd thing. If you really are for some new gun-control measure, if you are serious about it, you just might wait a while, until the blood has cooled, for instance, and then try to win people over to see it your way. You might offer information, argument, points of persuasion.”

OK, Noonan. It has been only hours (about 100 as I write) since the shootings. The blood still seethes. But it has been over 100 days since the Charleston church massacre. Can we talk about guns in the context of that one?

When I asked Mr. Google what Peggy Noonan has said about that, there was just one hit. She did not wait long, though. Apparently  her blood cools quickly, except for the torch she continues to carry for hunky Ronnie. Just four days after that slaughter, Noonan wrote in her Murdoch-owned rag, the Wall Street Journal:

"A Northerner bows, deeply, to the South. ... Did you hear the statements made at the bond hearing (for Roof)? ... Nine beautiful people slaughtered ... and their relatives were invited to make a statement (Friday) in court. Did you hear what they said? ... They spoke of mercy. They offered forgiveness. They invited the suspect, who was linked in by video from jail, to please look for God. There was no rage, no accusation — just broken hearts undefended and presented for the world to see. They sobbed as they spoke. ... It was people looking into the eyes of evil, into the eyes of the sick and ignorant shooter who'd blasted a hole in their families, and explaining to him with the utmost forbearance that there is a better way. What a country that makes such people. Do you ever despair about America? If they are America, we are going to be just fine.”

Nothing since. No information, arguments, points of persuasion in favor of arming America’s ammosexuals to the teeth.

Just sweet, deep oblivion.

And, no, Robert Adams, Isaac Amanios, Bennetta Betbadal, Harry Bowman, Sierra Clayborn,  Juan Espinoza, Aurora Godoy, Shannon Johnson, Larry Daniel Kaufman, Damian Meins, Tin Nguyen, Nicholas Thalasinos, Yvette Velasco and Michael Wetzel are not just fine.

They’re dead.

The blood’s on your hands, Noonan.

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