Monday, 5 March 2012

The Quest for Truth, Or, Why Do I Go On These Crusades?

My crusade against misconceptions and fallacies being perpetuated is by no means limited to Robert E. Howard. My hatred of rumour being presented as fact is at least in equal measure to my appreciation of the Man from Cross Plains, and why I tend to get pretty passionate about the misrepresentation of the Hyborian Age, Middle-earth and the like.  The difference is that most of the time, I don't post it on my blog.  I thought I'd share this recent exchange to give you an idea of why I do what I do.

Yes, That Guy With The Glasses again, but this time it's the Nostalgia Chick, aka Lindsay Ellis.  While I may disagree with her on certain issues, I generally appreciate her more analytical approach as opposed to her distaff counterpart's more comedy-minded antics.  However, every so often I just can't help but voice my disagreements.  Such was the case with The Adventures of Milo & Otis, a fairly inoffensive little film which has a long history of dark, horrible rumours.

Rumour has it that no less than ten kittens died during the production, sometimes even more; one kitten had its paw broken to simulate "uneasy footing"; a pug was forced into fighting for its life against a bear.  It's the stuff of nightmares to those who love animals, and sure to engender resentment for those responsible. However, one really has to keep in mind that (as Lindsay herself points out) none of this cruelty and exploitation was actually verified.

I've been interested in rumors about "Milo and Otis" for some time, but I've never been able to resolve this to my satisfaction. Pardon me while I ramble on, however. (In the end, I think we need to enlist the help of someone who's familiar with Japanese and has access to Japanese press clippings.)
In any event, if it were up to me, I'd have to give this an "undetermined" status.
In a nutshell, it seems to come down to the issue of why Masanori Hata had to use so many darned cats in the making of his film. Were thirty "Milos" needed because so many kittens were killed during the filming of dangerous stunts? Or did the filmmaker need multiple kittens because each cat aged over the four years it took to complete filming? Or, were some kittens better at performing certain tasks (like scampering) while others were needed for other acts (like looking adorably into the camera)?
Perhaps the answer lies in a melding of all three.
In August, 1989, Columbia Pictures released "Milo and Otis," a revamped version of the enormously popular Japanese film "Koneko Monogatari: The Adventures of Chatran," which had debuted in Japan three years earlier. As I understand it, "Koneko Monogatari" ("A Kitten's Story") was somewhat less about plot than it was about visual aesthetics; in essence, this was an arty film and not a children's film.
As early as October, 1986, a few months after "Koneko Monogatari" debuted in Japan, rumors about animal cruelty began popping up in Japan and elsewhere. The Economist [1] noted that,


Chatran's life is full of trials and tribulations, many of them to do with being soaked to the skin, like falling over a waterfall in a wooden box or plummeting from a cliff into the sea. It is hard to see how he survived. Indeed, according to Japan's biggest animal-rights group, he did not. Or, to be accurate, a third of the 30 Chatrans used did not.

Such allegations notwithstanding, a few US studios looked at the amazingly successful movie with a view toward releasing it in the States as a children's film. Executives at Columbia picked it up, working on it in their spare time with a limited budget.
In September, 1989, a month after "Milo and Otis" debuted here, The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy piece [2] on Columbia's handling of the film:


The movie germinated when well-known Japanese author Masanori Hata, who owns a huge ranch abounding with animals, made a series of nature films with Japan's biggest commercial TV network, Fujisankei's Fuji TV unit. The films were so successful that Fuji made "The Adventures of Chatran," a movie about a young cat who finds himself floating down a river in a box and spends nearly a year away from home, all the while pursued protectively by a pug dog.[...]
Executives on both sides of the Pacific agreed the film needed to be overhauled, Americanized. "It needed to be tailored to American kids who watch 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' " says Brandt Reiter, an account executive at Fujisankei.
And there began the real adventures of Milo and Otis.
Jim Clark, the Oscar-winning editor of "The Killing Fields," was assigned to re-edit. Fuji supplied him with almost 70 hours of extra footage. "Some might say we vulgarized it," says Mr. Clark, "but we felt it was on the arty side." The recipe? Lose the poetry. Quicken the pace. Add a long, zany sequence wherein the dog and cat adopt a newborn chick. Add a sea turtle. Bring in a star, Dudley Moore, to narrate the film and do animal voices.
With [children under 10] in mind, Columbia's editors removed graphic scenes of animals fighting and toned down other scary parts. The cat, renamed Milo, still takes a long plunge off a cliff into the ocean, but scenes of him trying in vain to climb back up were cut. (Taming such scenes was also done with animal-rights activists in mind. Studio executives "were terrified of the animal-cruelty people," says Mr. Clark, hastening to add that Columbia hasn't any reason to believe there was any mistreatment involved.)

Despite Columbia's position that there was no basis to the allegations of abuse during the filming of "Koneko Monogatari," however, rumors about animal cruelty -- particularly with reference to the number of animals used -- were at least acknowledged immediately after the debut of "Milo and Otis" here. A review in a New Jersey newspaper [3] noted that:


All [the scenes in which Milo and Otis appear to be in danger] may be momentarily unsettling for young viewers, but, as one might expect, a happy ending is forthcoming. (The entire film runs 76 minutes). Then, too, it's comforting to see in the closing credits that "the animals used were filmed under strict supervision with the utmost care for their safety and well-being."Director Masanori Hata, a trained zoologist and author who writes under the pen name Mutsugoro, cast the movie from a private menagerie of almost 300 animals that he keeps on Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. It took Hata, who wrote the story on which the screenplay is based, four years, more than 400,000 feet of film, and dozens of animals (30 different cats played Milo, for example), to complete "The Adventures of Milo and Otis."

I'm unsure where the film reviewer for The Toronto Star [4] got the following bit of information (but it's a claim repeated by a reviewer for The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette a year later), but here's a possible explanation for why Hata may have used so many cats:


The secret is that Hata is not just a director, but a trained zoologist with a private farm of hundreds of animals. Even so, getting the right shots and movements from his menagerie was a painstaking process that turned "Milo And Otis" into a four-year endeavor.And because the movie revolved around a kitten and puppy, Hata had to keep replacing the aging animals with younger ones as the project stretched on. In the end, dozens of Milos and Otises played the two parts.

In the summer of 1990, The Washington Times [5] looked at the rumors:


["Milo and Otis"] was released in New York and Los Angeles last year, and ought to have made it down to us by the end of that summer. It waited a while, however, and for unclear reasons. Perhaps not coincidentally, it was around this time that animal-protection groups heard about an article in a Japanese newspaper reporting rumors that animal being used had somehow died during filming. And indeed, a look at the movie's script revealed scenes in which Milo, the cat, falls from a high sea cliff, while Otis, the dog, is seen trudging, naked-pawed, through drifts of real snow.

Had the filmmakers committed acts of lethal cruelty? Along with groups in Europe, the Hollywood branch of the American Humane Society investigated -- but found nothing suspicious.
The Humane Society continues to harbor doubts about the whole idea of showing domestic pets at large in the wilderness. Humans may get the impression that dogs and cats can survive under harsh outdoor conditions, and unintentionally endanger their own pets. A casual aside in press materials noting that the filmmakers had "bred" cats to serve as additional, backup Milos might also prompt concern.

(The Humane Society doesn't seem to have section on use of animals in films, and for some reason "Milo and Otis" isn't included in The American Humane Association's current index of film ratings, though this may have been the AHA's position when the film debuted in the States.)

While the rumours and insinuations might sound convincing, without actual evidence or proof - even after investigations by animal rights authorities - it seems extremely ill-advised to perpetuate these rumours, and it's very irritating to use logical fallacies ("but it looks so real!" "just because you can't prove it happened didn't mean it didn't happen!" "but the Japanese eat cats, don't they?") to support the horrible idea that animal cruelty was happening in a film.

I'm not going to deny that there are some things that wouldn't fly with the AHA like the cat in the water and so forth. But it's a slippery slope fallacy to say "well, if they throw a cat off a cliff (noting that cat's righting reflexes mean that a fall that would kill another animal won't harm a cat - again, not saying it should've been done under any circumstances, but there is a difference between tossing a cat and a dog of the same size from a cliff in that the cat will probably survive) then they'd probably be willing to kill twenty kittens for a shot!" It's a dangerous route to go down. "Well, they didn't have anyone from the AHA there, that means they must have been treating animals cruelly!"

Case in point, that "fight" between the pug and the bear, which looks nothing of the sort: if that bear was actually fighting that pug, you wouldn't be able to show it on Blip for all the blood and dog limbs. That looked like two animals playing, nothing more. The suggestion that scenes were cut because they depicted animal cruelty - as opposed to being cut for being scary, violent, or just because of the US's editing ideas - kinda falls apart when you consider the scenes cut that don't depict supposed cruelty. Lindsay also talks about "speculation into just how many kittens died during filming" - a phrase implying that kittens did die, but the ambiguity is about how many, instead of being ambiguous about the fact that any kittens died in the first place. Another was the kitten with the alleged broken paw: again, even if you didn't acknowledge that a kitten would not lick a broken limb, it's common practise to simply put a dab of water on a cat's paw to simulate such limping - and you see the cat doing pretty much what it would do in that situation.

Again, I'm not denying that the stuff we see on screen is uncomfortable and I doubt would be done if the AHA were present. These are the people who demanded that a maggot being fed to a bird be replaced with one made of baby food in The Shawshank Redemption. Keep in mind that they give some films "Unacceptable" ratings even if they weren't present, relied entirely on second hand information, or even if the animal cruelty didn't have any effect on the film itself: Ferryman because of "reports" that thirty sheep were burned alive during production, The 40-Year-Old Virgin because the production accidentally killed some aquarium fish after filming had ended, while some films like One Man's Hero, Conan the Barbarian, and The Long Riders had the rating simply because it looked like the horses were tripped with wires. They even objected to the entirely lawful and humane slaughter of pigs in Southern Comfort. On the other hand, they are willing to reassess their position when evidence comes to light, as in the case of Lucky Duke: Daisy Town. These people did not find any evidence of animal cruelty in Milo & Otis, and if anyone was going to find it, it would be them.

I certainly don't think it's fair to compare it to something like Cannibal Holocaust, when the AHA itself didn't find any evidence. I just believe there's a significant difference between putting an animal in questionable and possibly dangerous circumstances, and torturing, murdering, and dismembering an animal on camera, regardless of whether it's going to be eaten or not. Unless you're going to claim some sort of O.J. Simpson type situation occurring, but given how passionate and notoriously specific the AHA and other organizations are about animals, I don't doubt they weren't thorough.

Now, do you know what's weird about this?  I've never seen The Adventures of Milo & Otis.  I have exactly zero nostalgic connections and no warm fuzzy childhood memories, and frankly, it doesn't look that interesting a film to me, even though I love media with animals anthropomorphized through narration.  I have no interest in it, no investment, no care in how it's received.  So why did I react so strongly to the presentation of the animal cruelty rumours as all but factual, if I wasn't personally invested in the film?

Here's another example, albeit naturally a bit closer to home: Cracked's article on 6 Historical Villains Who Were Actually OK Guys.  Number 1 on the list is... Edward 1st.  Of EnglandThat Edward 1st.

For starters, Longshanks didn't just storm into Scotland because he felt like taking over; he went in to mediate a matter which was on the verge of causing civil war. "So?" you may well ask, "Who asked him to butt into Scotland's business?", Scotland. Scotland asked.
That's right, Scotland more or less begged Longshanks to come over and start meddling in their affairs. Here's a compressed version of how it all went down:
Scotland: Help us, Edward Longshanks, you're our only hope!
Longshanks: Sure, I'll be glad to help. But first, I'll be needing Scotland.
Scotland: You'll be needing Scotland to do what?
Longshanks: To belong to England. I'll be needing you to give me Scotland.
Scotland: Oh. Er. Hm. OK, you can have our country, as long as you give it back when you're done.
Longshanks: ...Sure. I'll give it back. (rolls eyes)
Scotland: Huzzah! I don't see how this could possibly go wrong!

Seriously, Scotland? Had you even met England before? Sure, Edward broke his word, but in the history of hostile takeovers, this one ranks just about highest in "They were fucking asking for it."
Anyway, the whole Scotland fiasco was just the very end bit of Edward's reign. He spent the first 20 years or so at home writing a crapload of laws that revolutionized England forever. Most of them are pretty abstract to the lay person, but for example, did you know he helped implement several statutes which essentially made up England's first constitution? Wow! Or that he eased debt with a series of stringent anti-usury laws? Holy balls!
Braveheart fans, consider this--which is the more noble sacrifice to make for your country: leading your people in battle against an unbeatable enemy, inevitably dying in a blaze of glory? Or being the f****** King of England, and using that insane godlike power to spend decades drafting complex legislation so that the people can enjoy stable governance after you're dead? Yeah, we thought so.
Wow, where to start?  First of all, Craig Sheehan leaves out some pretty vital pieces of information regarding the succession crisis in Scotland:
  • Scotland and England were at peace for almost a century
  • Alexander III was a great king who died young and unexpectedly, as did his heirs, leaving the land in turmoil
  • Edward breaking his solemn oath not to interfere in another nation's affairs and respect that nation's traditions and laws is the sort of thing that gets countries excommunicated - which is the last thing you'd want in Medieval Europe
  • Setting up a puppet vassal to present false acquiescence of a realm to an overlord 
  • Demanding the Scots to support him in wars against France, with whom the Scots were at peace

Secondly, Sheehan completely ignores the many acts of brutality Edward did enact. Here's a sampler:
  • the conquest and subjugation of Wales
  • the wholesale destruction of Wales' royal legacy
  • Hanging, drawing and quartering a childhood friend for resisting his attempts to annex his homeland
  • the destruction of a monastery containing the remains of a Welsh king, culminating in the desecration of said remains and disposal in the sea
  • The execution of an unspecified number (usually 500) Welsh bards who refused to sing his praises
  • the expulsion of the Jewish population of England, who wouldn't return until Cromwell's time 
  • The Capture of Berwick
  • Assaulted Edinburgh castle even after it surrendered just so he could try out his new toy, which is bordering on comic-book supervillainy
  • Rounding up and imprisoning Scottish aristocracy, including children
And finally, the idea that resisting England was resisting an "unbeatable enemy."  So unbeatable, I guess, that the Battle of Bannockburn and reaffirmation of Scotland's independence which lasted until the Union of the Crowns was only won through... what?  Unexpected allies?  Magic?  Time-travelling benefactors?

Sadly, history does not recall the Bruce saying "Oh boy" as he rode to face Henry de Bohun...

Now, I'm not under any illusions that the Scots or Welsh were free of their own atrocities.  The Middle Ages is one long, sad litany of rape, massacre and torture.  But saying Edward was "an ok guy," blaming Scotland for being betrayed (how the heck does that work?) and carefully making a point not to mention the Welsh/Jews/French/Berwick/Daffyds is the sort of thing that gets my goat.  One can acknowledge the great advances Edward made in legislation and his hyper-competent rule of England and also the fact that he was a brutal, violent, relentless conqueror: the fact that he was a great king to the English People doesn't change the fact that he massacred hundreds of thousands of Welsh and Scots and treated the survivors as conquered subjects and rebelling vassals respectively.  As the biography says, he was a great and terrible king.  Maybe not Patrick McGoohan's moustache-twirling villain in Braveheart, but neither the whitewashed misunderstood monarch Cracked presented, even in jest.

Of course, considering Genghis Khan is also on the list, combined with the date of its original posting, I have to wonder if it isn't just one giant troll.  Nonetheless, a lot of people go to Cracked for historical knowledge and tidbits, but unlike better articles that actually site sources (sometimes even ones that aren't Wikipedia!) this is vigorously unsourced.  Argh.  Just bugs me, is all.

Over at PJ Lifestyle,there was this somewhat backwards defense of pulp fiction, taking the idea that people shouldn't even try to find deep intellectual elements in pulp:

Schools never assign the books you actually want to read. Or, if they do, they don’t read them the way you want to. Recently, pulp fiction seems to have been getting a bit of an airing on campuses, in classes with names like Pop Literacy and Cultural Trope Analysis, classes I took enthusiastically when I was in college. Still, they seem to miss the point. I’ve written papers trying to find the deeper intellectual elements of a pulpy book that prove, in the accepted academic terms, why it’s as great as I’d always suspected.
The problem, I realize now, is that the reason pulp fiction is great is because it’s fun, and fun is not something you can intellectualize very far. We study classic novels because they unlock deep, serious emotions or reveal uncomfortable truths about the human condition or represent a significant period in history. That is the stuff of seminars, theses and entire departments. We read pulp fiction because it’s fun.
Of course you can analyze pulp fiction. You can talk about how an author makes his or her book uniquely fun; the technique, the style, the subject; you can talk about different kinds of fun and how they might make us grow at the same time; you can delve into cultural themes in the content; but you can’t really explain a pulp novel’s greatness except with some variation on “It’s damn good fun.”
I’m on a crusade to prove that entertainment has value in itself, not just as a dose of sugar to help audiences swallow more important themes. Entertainment allows us to temporarily shut down our brains and waken later with emotions refreshed. Entertainment allows us to feel Big Emotions without shame; in the postmodern era, earnestness is considered a weakness, but entertainment gives us the opportunity to feel, earnestly.
I wrote in the comments:

To be frank, I profoundly disagree with this statement, and the notion that pulp is incapable of “unlocking deep, serious emotions or reveal uncomfortable truths about the human condition or represent a significant period in history,” or that if they do, then it isn’t part of what makes it great. What I believe is that some authors are both excellent yarn-spinners and have something meaningful to say.
Robert E. Howard is a perfect example of this. Let’s take a famous story, “Beyond the Black River.” Taking it purely on its merits, it’s a fantastically-written story, perfectly plotted, expertly conceived and executed, with an incredible pace. However, it’s also an encapsulation of Howard’s many ruminations on the interplay and relationship between barbarism and civilization, the politics of colonization, the nature of man and beast, and so forth: it’s basically the story of America encapsulated in a microcosm. Several of the authors you mention on the list I would say are similar to Howard, in that they engage both on an intellectual and emotional level.
All this is not to say I disagree that there aren’t examples of good ripping yarns which simply are well-written pot boilers, just that I do not believe that is all they are capable of. For this group of authors, I’d say folk like Seabury Quinn, Lin Carter and Doc Smith are excellent examples of yarn-spinners. Howard, Lovecraft, Smith and others, on the other hand, have just as much business being discussed in seminars and theses.

Though really, I should've just linked to Taran's post.

Angry Al Harron and the Quest for Truth

I hasten to point out that my hatred of misconceptions is not borne from a hatred of fiction (far from it), nor a dislike of rumour, myth, legend or folklore.  I consider there to be a difference between misconceptions borne of ignorance or malignancy, and ideas created in the absence of truth and facts. One is based on ambiguity; the other is based on denial.

Misconceptions are falsehoods perpetuated despite proof to the contrary. This is sometimes scandalous rumour-mongering of a mean-spirited nature, reliant on humanity's more sordid side: the deaths of Lupe Velez and Catherine the Great, the word "picnic" having an offensive origin, or Walt Disney being anti-semitic. Other times it's a ham-fisted attempt to subvert expectations: claiming Albert Einstein failed maths in school and had a low IQ, humans only using 10% of their brain, Hitler being a vegetarian. Then you get outright falsehoods that put lives in jeopardy like the MMR controversy which continues to endanger the lives of children through ignorance and fear.
This sort of thing is different from tall tales, shaggy dog stories, ripping yarns and similar mysteries.   Ancient aliens, lost civilizations, mysterious occurrences, cryptids, legends, folklore, fairy-tales.  Sure, they might have their share of misconceptions and misapprehensions, but there's at least a smidgen of possibility that there might be some kernel of truth* in the legend of Atlantis, even if it turns out to be mundane. But when the truth has been obscured by half-baked falsehoods, any interest is submerged by fusty old indignation. Thus, continuing the allegations of animal cruelty when investigations by experts have proved nothing, presenting a brutal conqueror as "an OK guy" and that pulp fiction simply has no deep intellectual meaning is fundamentally different from ideas that practically engender a thirst for knowledge.

Perhaps it's a matter of intent: some ideas are about finding the truth, while others present a lie and demand you to accept it.  Hence why I can enjoy something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind or The X-Files, but despise The Da Vinci Code and Anonymous: while all four have some basis in factual events, at least the first two aren't purporting to present a "true story" that's completely fabricated and full of stupid errors passed off as fact. Or maybe it's quality of execution: the first is one of Spielberg's finest films and one of the greatest science fiction films ever put to screen, the second is an outstanding television series, and the other two are substandard hack-jobs that make a mockery of history while pretending to audiences that they're getting an education.
There's one exception: I greatly enjoy reading about conspiracy theories.  Regardless of their credulity, I find some of them to be just fascinating stories.  The moon landings being a hoax: definitely not proven, and given the choice of the moon landings being real or fake I'd unquestionably prefer the former to be the reality. On the one hand, it does seem disrespectful to the many astronauts, scientists and visionaries who worked so hard to Boldy Go Where No One Has Gone Before.  On the other, the imagination runs wild thinking of how someone could possibly pull it off. I like to view such ideas in the same vein as alternate history: just as one wonders what history would be like if America didn't split from the British Empire, or, what if the moon landings were an elaborate hoax.
That said, Capricorn One took the basic idea and ran with it brilliantly without stepping on anyone's toes.
More than can be said for tripe like The Da Vinci Code or Anonymous.

Ultimately, it's a question of how highly you value truth - or how much of a stickler you are with details - and how you deal with things. I know that whenever something piques my interest, I want to know more about it.  When knowledge is just a Google search away, there is no excuse for the ignorance I see every day on the internet, be it the umpteenth time someone actually claims John Carter to be derivative of Star Wars (usually defending themselves by saying "but it was first cinematically," as if that made a bean of difference to the argument, that visual media overrides print in terms of who got there "first," or that John Carter would somehow not look like Star Wars if Star Wars didn't exist) or someone else trots out the Flat Earth Myth which has been driving me insane since I first learned of it.

Perhaps others are different: they can let go of things like this, or not even see them as a big deal at all.  But I don't: I think things like this are important.  What can I say, it's a thing.
*At least, that's where I place my bets.


  1. It's a fascinating subject in and of itself really! I wonder at times if there is a deliberate attempt to sanitize or spin Historical facts for Nationalistic Motives or it's just a case of plain laziness on behalf of the generations coming through the system. Writers,Poets,Musicians all seem to garner special attention when it comes to their personal politics and beliefs. The recent release of Mark Twain s personal Diaries for example and his subsequent exile due to his ongoing arguments about American Colonialism in the Philippines..Perhaps it's just political correctness gone mad but it's a sad reflection on the keepers of the knowledge that this has been allowed to continue.
    Great reading,

    1. It could be true. I'll admit, being a Scot I'm more sympathetic to the Scottish side of things like the Wars of Independence, but the fact remains that England (or more properly, Edward) was the belligerent in those conflicts. Thus while the Scots engaged in their own share of atrocities, this was against the threat of foreign invasion and domination. Not excusable by any means, but it's history.

      I actually think Edward is a fascinating, badass individual, and would love to see a biography of his life that shows the many audacious things he did. Certainly he could be viewed as a hero to England, but definitely a villain to the Scots, Welsh, French, Turks... basically anyone who wasn't English. Plus he was noted for being tall, fiery-tempered, an accomplished warrior, a canny manipulator. The sort of bad guy you can't help but respect as a worthy foe.

      I didn't know about the controversy with Twain's diaries, but having read up on it... man.

  2. Well, Al, this was a long and somewhat rambling post, but I think I've got the gist of of your discontent.

    All I can say is to repeat what I have said here before: Most people are stupid. In fact I will go further (because I recently heard John Cleese say it) most people are so stupid they don't even realize how stupid they are.

    Regarding the animal cruelty issue, and how people feel that if it looks cruel then, ipso facto, it is cruel, witness the recent hue and cry over the youtube video where a man taunts his dog with the things he ate from the refrigerator and didn't share them with his dog. Some folk thought that it was so cruel that they tried to get Youtube to take down the video.

    As I said: Most people are stupid.

    1. I'm glad you got the gist: you can probably tell it took ME a while to get the gist of my own discontent! That's why the post was rambling, most of it was trying to explain why I think there's a difference between these sorts of things.

      Hanlon's razer seems to apply, of course: never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. I think animal welfare issues are particularly sore because (in the UK especially) some people love animals more than people. Looking at some of the things I see, I can see their point: after all, tortoises never gave us reality television.

  3. The more I blog these days the more I get slowed down in the fact checking. It's almost tedious but I can't imagine not doing it. It's dull but not hard, yet all the time I encounter things so ludicrously ill-informed I'm floored. So keep on crusading.

    I totally get the conspiracy theories. Through all my book cullings, Jim Keith's "Secret and Suppressed" and "The Octopus" have survived. Some of them are fascinating looks at how people force facts into some version of reality in order to not upset their pre-existing conceptions of the world.

    1. Thanks, Wasp! I just hope to continue tempering my fervour with respect to the facts. Mindless knee-jerk reactions do no good.

  4. I for one appreciate your hard, often thankless work of rebutting non-factual and/or poorly argued essays. It's very similar to what Mark Finn said in his new Robert E. Howard Manifesto: We encourage everyone to enter the arena of ideas, but please come with facts and/or sound logical reasoning to back up your case. In other words, do a little homework first.

    And if you come ill-prepared and throw out unsupported opinion and false premises be prepared to be called out on it.

  5. Hurray! Taranaich. Keep your interesting style for this blog. There are enough compendious essays out there. Write on!