George Carlin On Education

In accordance with the last post about standardized testing, here is George Carlin on education:

Then people wonder why 17 other countries graduate more scientist than we do. Education – politicians use that word, they use it on you. Politicians have traditionally hidden behind 3 things: the flag, the bible, and children – no child left behind, no child left behind.

Oh, really it wasn’t to long you were talking about giving children a head start. Head start – left behind, someone’s losing fucking ground here, but there’s a reason. There’s a reason for this. There’s a reason education sucks, and it’s the same reason it’ll never ever be fixed – it’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you got, because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now. The wealthy big business interests that controls things, and makes all the important decisions.

John Oliver On Standardized Testing

The always brilliant John Oliver on Standardized Testing in America.  Any teacher that I have ever talked to, and I know a lot, my Mom having been a teacher for her whole career, talks about what a waste of time this testing is.  It eats away at things that could be more beneficial to students, while giving a skewered look as to what is really going on in our schools.  There is huge difference between intelligence, learning, and just memorizing.

NPR’s Wits Behind the Scenes and The Comedic Genius of Fred Willard

I did a taping of the NPR show Wits last night, playing bass with Shinyribs.  The other guests on the show were Carrie Rodriguez and legendary comedian Fred Willard.  There were two things that really surprised me:

1.  The first was how much work went into the show.  The show was supposed to begin at 8pm.  We showed up at 1:30 to soundcheck.  Now, that is pretty common in the musical world, to soundcheck hours before a gig.  However, we were the first of many things that needed checking and the staff that was there worked from before we got there to after we had left the theater.  (11pmish)  Now again, for sound guys, roadies, this kind of long hours is normal.  I had never seen it done for a radio show though, just the insanely long hours put in for a one off taping.  Also, once we were done sound checking Carrie Rodriguez had to sound check and then they did a two hour script run-through.  The script run-through was the thing that really surprised me.  Every radio show I’ve been on we show up, set up our gear, right before we play the radio personality enters, and we do the thing.  However, everyone that was on the air got up and did parts of all the script, at times doing whole skits. It again took close to two hours.  Even Fred Willard, who could probably do whatever in his sleep, was game and did the whole run through.  I’m not saying that one could not deduce that an NPR show would be professional, but actually seeing the amount of work put into it was surprising to me for some reason.  This was show business in the sense that it was entertaining and fun, but people were clearly putting in a lot of work to make something as good as they could.

2.  The other thing was how fucking funny Fred Willard is saying just about anything.  I’ve seen stand-up comedy shows, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this, which is partly scripted and partly off the cuff.  He could say just about anything and the crowd laughed.  This wasn’t because he was famous, or because he had writers who gave him part of the script, or because he had spent weeks and months crafting his material like many stand-ups do; he just had great instincts, impeccable timing, and a quick mind.  There is a clearly a reason someone like that has gotten so many roles in comedies.  I’m not saying that when he is in a movie or TV show that good editing might not help him be even funnier, but in the flesh, just shooting things off the top of his head, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

I Love America

A great and strange satire of mindless American patriotism by Alice Cooper off of the highly underrated and bizarre album DaDa.  Singing in a voice that sounds like a redneck version of Beetlejuice, before that character existed, over synthesizers and guitars that seem cheesy by design, backed by a large choir singing the title, Cooper sends up the unthinking American male.  There is even a surreal break for Custer’s Last Stand.  (Where overconfident Americans were defeated by those that they thought of as their inferiors.)  We all know these people.  I think I have heard many of these same lyrics sung without irony in modern country music!  Cooper’s I Love America is more surreal comedy piece than song, but whatever it is, it works.  It’s Monday and I thought many of you could use a laugh.  However, unfortunately for all of us, this was recorded in the early 80’s and it still rings true today!

Laughter On High

Reading the Brendan Behan play Richard Cork’s Leg in the van today.  If I were to tell you a play featuring two prostitutes and two beggers pretending to be blind, among others, all taking place in a graveyard, was funny, you might not believe me, but it is.  One of my favorite George Carlin specials is Life is Worth Losing, where his stage set is a graveyard as well. 

There is that old saying that tragedy plus time equals comedy.  I think it is perspective too.  A war viewed from on high, where two armies butcher each other over nothing more than a disagreement in religious beliefs, is so absurd I can’t help but imagine some supernatural beings having a laugh in the clouds.  What would one think if they watched the battle of Gettysburg from far away, watching an army walk directly into cannon fire, largely over some misinformed ideas concerning the inferiority of certain people because they looked slightly different?  We do strange and horrible things down here.   If someone is watching from above, we surely have provided them with a lot of folly over the years. 

George Carlin On the Sanctity of Life

I’m reading Voltaire’s Candide right now, which is blowing my mind.  I will comment why at some point.  Anyway, it made me think of this piece by George Carlin.  I miss that fucker more and more every year.

Here is the transcript for those of you at work that can’t watch the above video. (Hey, I’ve been there!):

But you know, the longer you listen to this abortion debate, the more you hear this phrase “sanctity of life”. You’ve heard that. Sanctity of life. You believe in it? Personally, I think it’s a bunch of shit. Well, I mean, life is sacred? Who said so? God? Hey, if you read history, you realize that God is one of the leading causes of death. Has been for thousands of years. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians all taking turns killing each other ‘cuz God told them it was a good idea. The sword of God, the blood of the land, vengeance is mine. Millions of dead motherfuckers. Millions of dead motherfuckers all because they gave the wrong answer to the God question. “You believe in God?” “No.” *Pdoom*. Dead. “You believe in God?” “Yes.” “You believe in my God? “No.” *Poom*. Dead. “My God has a bigger dick than your God!” Thousands of years. Thousands of years, and all the best wars, too. The bloodiest, most brutal wars fought, all based on religious hatred. Which is fine with me. Hey, any time a bunch of holy people want to kill each other I’m a happy guy.

But don’t be giving me all this shit about the sanctity of life. I mean, even if there were such a thing, I don’t think it’s something you can blame on God. No, you know where the sanctity of life came from? We made it up. You know why? ‘Cuz we’re alive. Self-interest. Living people have a strong interest in promoting the idea that somehow life is sacred. You don’t see Abbott and Costello running around, talking about this shit, do you? We’re not hearing a whole lot from Mussolini on the subject. What’s the latest from JFK? Not a goddamn thing. ‘Cuz JFK, Mussolini and Abbott and Costello are fucking dead. They’re fucking dead. And dead people give less than a shit about the sanctity of life. Only living people care about it so the whole thing grows out of a completely biased point of view. It’s a self serving, man-made bullshit story.

It’s one of these things we tell ourselves so we’ll feel noble. Life is sacred. Makes you feel noble. Well let me ask you this: if everything that ever lived is dead, and everything alive is gonna die, where does the sacred part come in? I’m having trouble with that. ‘Cuz, I mean, even with all this stuff we preach about the sanctity of life, we don’t practice it. We don’t practice it. Look at what we’d kill: Mosquitoes and flies. ‘Cuz they’re pests. Lions and tigers. ‘Cuz it’s fun! Chickens and pigs. ‘Cuz we’re hungry. Pheasants and quails. ‘Cuz it’s fun. And we’re hungry. And people. We kill people… ‘Cuz they’re pests. And it’s fun!

And you might have noticed something else. The sanctity of life doesn’t seem to apply to cancer cells, does it? You rarely see a bumper sticker that says “Save the tumors.”. Or “I brake for advanced melanoma.”. No, viruses, mold, mildew, maggots, fungus, weeds, E. Coli bacteria, the crabs. Nothing sacred about those things. So at best the sanctity of life is kind of a selective thing. We get to choose which forms of life we feel are sacred, and we get to kill the rest. Pretty neat deal, huh? You know how we got it? We made the whole fucking thing up! 

The Future Will Laugh At Us

Watching a nature show about Ireland.  There is a section about bats on it.  The show is talking about how good bats are not only for the ecosystem, but also how much they help people because of all of the pests they eat.  The show also talked about how people have this fear of bats from all the years they have been associated with vampires and other horror stories dating back a longtime.

Because humans didn’t have a true understanding of nature for so long, until science started explaining things, all of these superstitious stories were allowed to infiltrate our cultures.  Some of these superstitions, or fallacies about the natural world, still persist.  We often look upon human behavior in the past with a kind of comic detachment.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail made great fun of the condemning of witches.  What exists today that people in the future will laugh at in disbelief?