G. K. C. opens the cruellest month

Today would have been my father’s ninetieth birthday. He expected to live to see it; many of his close relations had lived that long, or close to it; he was in robust physical health till his mind gave way. But a house untenanted falls sooner into dilapidation, and I had to say my goodbye to him more than two years ago.

Because the first of April was, for our family, the date of a celebration not fitly met with mockery, I have never gone in for April Foolery myself; though I can appreciate a good jape when performed by a genuine artist.

This, for instance:

‘G. K. Chesterton on AI Risk’

The followers of Mr. Samuel Butler speak of thinking-machines that grow grander and grander until – quite against the wishes of their engineers – they become as tyrannical angels, firmly supplanting the poor human race. This theory is neither exciting nor original; there have been tyrannical angels since the days of Noah, and our tools have been rebelling against us since the first peasant stepped on a rake. Nor have I any doubt that what Butler says will come to pass. If every generation needs its tyrant-angels, then ours has been so inoculated against the original that if Lucifer and all his hosts were to descend upon Smithfield Market to demand that the English people bend the knee, we should politely ignore them, being far too modern to have time for such things. Butler’s thinking-machines are the only tyrant-angels we will accept; fate, ever accommodating, will surely give them to us.

(Hat tip to Nancy Lebovitz for mentioning this jewel in the comment box.)

‘Beowulf Meets Godsylla’, by Tom Weller

I’ve been reading Beowulf in the original, and as you can imagine, having a wee bit of trouble with the language. Still, the stirring descriptions of combat and the thunderous roll of the alliterative metre fully justify the poem’s reputation as the fountainhead of English literature:

Meanehwæl, baccat meaddehæle,     monstær lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce,     hie luccen for fyht.
Ðen Hreorfneorhtðhwr,     son of Hrwærowþheororthwl,
Æsccen æwful jeork     to steop outsyd.
Þhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom!     Ðe bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak,     byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla     wæld on his asse.
Monstær moppe fleor wyþ     eallum men in hælle.
Beowulf in bacceroome     fonecall bamaccen wæs;
Hearen sond of ruccus     sæd, “Hwæt ðe helle?”
Graben sheold strang     ond swich-blæd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht     ðe grimlic foe.
“Me,” Godsylla sæd,     “mac ðe minsemete.”
Heoro cwyc geten heold     wiþ fæmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe     bac to fen
Beowulf belly up     to meaddehæle bar,
Sæd, “Ne foe beaten     mie færsom cung-fu.”
Eorderen cocca-cohla     yce-coeld, ðe reol þyng.

—Tom Weller, Cvltvre Made Stvpid

But somehow methinks Tom Weller, þætte rihte ealde Englisce scop, could have spun out England’s national epic to more than eighteen lines. Still, not bad for a culture that only emerged from the barbarous night of the Dark Ages in 1987, when Þacere ruled in Heorot.

Both Cvltvre Made Stvpid and its companion volume, Science Made Stupid, are unfortunately out of print, but they are now available as free downloads — with the author’s permission! Find them both here:




I just heard the dandiest bit of verse. Apparently some of these fantasy guys do rhymes from time to time — who knew? Anyway this guy, who wrote the novelization of the Lord of the Rings films or something, wrote a few lines about trying to get hold of his agent or something. They went something kind of sort of like this:

Dial Nine for an outside line, under the sky,
Seven for a techie in his hall of stone,
Three for an Elf-king who’s probably high,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
in the deep Long Distance where the Phone Bills lie.
One Ring to call them all,
One Ring to bind them,
One Ring to go to voicemail
where you’ll never find them,
in the deep Long Distance where the Phone Bills lie.

Mitchell and Webb on reality TV

That Mitchell and Webb Look presents the biggest thing on television since Pimp My Iron Junkyard Surviving Brother:

The Spam

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe.

See my inbox full of spam —
Email spam!
What a world of cluelessness in each pathetic scam!
How they babble, babble, babble,
As their packets are discharged!
Now they’re promising me Venus,
But they’re not sure if my penis
Or my breasts should be enlarged!
See them sell, sell, sell,
In a sort of hacker hell,
Texas Hold ’em and Viagra by the kitschy kilogram
With their spam, spam, spam, spam,
Spam, spam, spam —
As my filter fights off gigabytes of spam. [Read more…]