Entry 773: Don’t Go Near the Water

Bonjour, everyone. Jacques Custárd here to tell you about the latest news from the seas or, as we say in France, “the seas,” because we all speak English except when there are Americans around.

We begin our tour off the coast of Taiwan, where researchers have inadvertently netted five rare, glowing sharks. I say “inadvertently” because, judging from the pictures, there’s no way anybody would want to catch one of these on purpose.

They are called viper dogfish, and they are known for their spindly teeth, extendable jaws, and the ability to light up in the dark. The extendable jaws are used to trick prey. For instance, a fish might come along, wonder why that really ugly thing is lit up like a glowstick at a Spongebob Live! event, and swim over to investigate further. Then it would cautiously look into the creature’s mouth from a couple of inches a way–a safe distance, it stupidly thinks–when the dogfish’s jaw shoots out like the things on the game Hungry Hungry Hippo (I have grandchildren, you know) and the poor food fish is suddenly inside the dogfish’s mouth, saying, “Oh, shit!”

I should point out that, as gruesome as these fish look, they are of little danger to humans because their maximum size is only 20 inches and because, on the infrequent occasions when they are spotted near the surface, their condition–mostly dead– usually precludes them from attacking. Of course, there’s always the chance that a school of horrifying glow-in-dark, extend-a-jaw sharks could get swept up in a storm and rain down upon a U.S. city during a tornado. (Hey, great movie idea!)

We move on now to the lamprey, which many Americans think is an eel, but which is actually a fish, because Americans are morons. Lampreys can grow twice as long as a glowing viper dogfish (unless the dogfish’s jaw is extended) and have cool holes on their sides like a 1955 Buick.

But the best thing about the lamprey is its mouth, which always reminds me of the alien in the very first Star Trek episode (the first one broadcast, not the pilot, which was later made into a two-part episode where Spock looked weird).

The lamprey’s mouth is much more horrifying than the creature from planet M-113 because it has many more teeth (a function of the small production budgets of the original Trek), but it uses its mouth in much the same way–to suck stuff from its prey. In the case of the Trek thing, it was salt. In the case of the lamprey, it’s, well, just about everything. Here’s a really gross description of how it eats:

“The lamprey’s teeth hook onto its prey. It then grates its tongue against the fish to remove its skin so it can feed on its blood and body fluids. Studies have shown that lampreys also feast on all parts of a fish, from scales to flesh to bone.”

The lamprey also uses its suction cup mouth to latch onto other fish like an insurance salesman at a cocktail party. By glomming onto faster swimmers, the lamprey can get from one place to another at warp speed.

Our next stop is in the Atlantic Ocean, where an invasive species called the lionfish is taking over. The lionfish is native to the waters of the Pacific Ocean, but somehow got to the other side of America, possibly on a Jimmy Buffett tour bus. It was a worthwhile trip for the lionfish because it has no known predators in the Atlantic. And since female lionfish (which should be called lionessfish but aren’t) can spawn nearly 2 million eggs per year, there were soon a lot of lionfish in the Atlantic. Plus, they were spending their days killing all the other fish with their venom.

Humans simply had to step in and do something about the lionfish. And because many of the humans happened to be Americans, the obvious solution was to eat them. So chefs began creating lionfish recipes. But there was still a problem–the fish were difficult to catch, what with their poisonous spines and all.

Thank goodness Colin Angle was able to come up with a solution.

Angle is executive chairman of iRobot Corp, the company behind the Roomba robotic vacuum and dog toy. He is working on a similar device, except instead of dust bunnies, his new robot, called The Guardian, would suck up lionfish. Here’s his description:

“We basically drive the Guardian up to the fish, position it between two electrodes, apply a current and stun the fish, knocking the fish out. Then there is a motor at the back of the robot which creates a current into the robot and it sucks that fish into the robot.”

Then I guess someone has to remove the cup which will be filled with precooked lionfish pieces.

I imagine that soon, the Atlantic will be full of Guardian lionfish-sucking robots. Which could be a problem in itself, because they have no known predators.

See you soon.

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Entry 772: Banana Spiel

Philosophers and scientists throughout the millennia have wondered what exactly separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Some think it is self-awareness: the ability to look in a mirror and recognize your own face with a really ugly pimple on its nose. Others think it’s language: the ability to say, “Holy, shit, I have a really ugly pimple on my nose.” Still others think it’s opposable thumbs, without which we would not be able to squeeze the pimples on our noses until they turn red and pus oozes out of them.

I have another theory. I think what separates humans from other animals is our tendency to find humor in the misfortune of others.

Think about it. Jane Goodall, in all her years living with primates, and with doubtless thousands of opportunities, never once reported seeing a chimpanzee laughing hysterically when another chimp slipped on a banana peel. Cesar Millan, the “dog whisperer,” never tripped on a leash and looked up to see a cocker spaniel pointing at him and chuckling.

And yet humans find suffering so amusing that we have a whole genre of comedy–slapstick– devoted to it. We have always found hilarity in other people’s loss, injury or even death.

We can all come up with dozens of examples. Buster Keaton. The 3 Stooges. Wile E. Coyote. Home Alone. But for demonstration purposes, let’s just look at Saturday Night Live.

SNL has never shied away from the cheap, painful laugh. Remember Chevy Chase’s pratfalls? Remember Mr. Bill, the tiny clay being who was always getting run over, squashed or dismembered to the delight of the audience? Remember the recurring bit with Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest as two hapless shmoes named Willie and Frankie who managed to get the laughs of physical comedy just by talking about it?

  • Willie: My shoulder hurts. You know that narrow hallway in the boiler room, the one with the, uh . . .
  • Frankie: Exposed bolts coming out of the wall?
  • Willie: Yeah, well every time I walk past it the bolts dig right into my shoulder. It’s very painful.
  • Frankie: Oh, boy. You wanna talk about some pain, I bought one of them linoleum knives the other day, you know . . .
  • Willie: With the double edge?
  • Frankie: Right. So I go home, you know, and I spread my toes apart, and I just start sawing, back and forth and back and forth, you know, and then I take a little thing of . . .
  • Willie: Tabasco sauce?
  • Frankie: Yeah, and I just dump it on there. Talk about a Hot Foot.
  • Willie: I know what you mean. The other say I took one of those . . .
  • Frankie: Meat thermometers?
  • Willie: Yeah. And I just shoved it into my ear, you know, as far as it could go, you know, but then I took one of them . . .
  • Frankie: Ball peen hammers.
  • Willie: Yeah and just whacked it a few times right in there.
  • Frankie: Boy, that must smart.
  • Willie: I know. I hate when that happens.

SNL still falls back on slapstick from time to time. Last year’s holiday episode featured James Franco manning the gift wrap desk at a department store and spouting fountains of blood as he severed various body parts.

How funny is that?

Slapstick comedy is by no means a modern invention. It dates back at least to 16th Century Italy, when the famous Commedia dell ‘arte featured broad physical comedy in which one performer would hit another with a double-slatted stick that made a loud slapping sound upon impact. Punch & Judy puppet shows from the time frequently used a similar device.

Even Shakespeare was not above some slapstick. Here’s an actual line from Hamlet:

“A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.”

An original draft had Hamlet dropping Yorick’s skull as he said “Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs?” and then tripping over the skull and impaling himself on a knife. Shakespeare’s early drafts were always funnier than the final ones.

While those are some of the earliest recorded instances of slapstick, the genre relies so heavily on a cruel streak that must be genetically encoded into humans, I suspect laughing was invented when a Neanderthal fell into a tar pit to the delight of his tribe.

And, when you think about it, maybe what separates humans from other animals is cruelty. What other creature engages in torture? When has a lion ever dropped a chemical weapon on its own pride? When has a bear ever captured a salmon but, before eating it, held it out of the water while revealing his evil plot to take over the world?

Only humans do stuff like that. And, really, it’s not funny.

Unless it happens to someone else.

See you soon.

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Entry 771: I Personally Pissed Off Putin

I’ve been banned in Russia!

Well, not me (although, for all I know, maybe me), but this blog. Or at least one of my posts.

Seriously.

I received an email from WordPress, which is the site that hosts this blog. Actually, the email was from “court-orders@wordpress.com,” and the subject line read, “Important legal notice regarding your WordPress.com site in Russia.”

The content began cheerfully enough, with a bright “Hello.” But then it turned foreboding:

A Russian authority — the Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Telecom, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (ROSKOMNADZOR) — has demanded that we disable the following content on your WordPress.com site: https://theupsizers.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/entry-701-just-shoot-me-now/exit-bag-11/

Unfortunately, we must comply in order to keep WordPress.com accessible for everyone in Russia. We have disabled your site only for Internet visitors originating from Russia. Visitors from other countries are not affected.

Wow! I got an entire Russian sphere angry at me! And not just any sphere, but one with arguably the worst acronym ever!

I had caused an international incident of the type usually perpetrated by Donald Trump, except with no nuclear weapons involved (I hope). Imagine little ol’ me with my little ol’ blog actually getting the attention of the Russian government, and in a way that had not yet resulted in me being poisoned!

This was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to me, right after getting married (to the second, good wife–a keeper), having a daughter, having a granddaughter, and the Mets winning the 1969 World Series!

The thing is, I didn’t even know I had any readers in Russia. So I looked it up (WordPress gives you all sorts of stats), and it turns out that there actually are five people in Russia who have read my posts, which means getting banned in Russia is only a little more devastating than getting banned in Finland, where I have four readers (although it’s possible that one of them is a herring).

But what had I done to get the Russkies to react so strongly, with spherical demands and everything?

It so happened that I had just done a post in which I strongly implied that President Putin has been taking advice from Adolph Hitler’s teeth (long story). So, naturally, I assumed ROSKOMNADZOR might have taken issue with that.

But then I read the notice again and realized that ROSKO (which I’m calling it for short) was objecting to a post from October of last year entitled “Just Shoot Me Now” which had absolutely nothing to do with Russia. It was about a new study which found that losing your sense of direction could be an early sign of dementia. I also brought up what is a recurring theme in this blog, which is that I believe it should be easier for people to kill themselves when they become old and decrepit.

Could Russia have found that offensive? Was that a no-no in Novosibirsk? Taboo in Tomsk? Unmentionable in Moscow? Does Putin want to reserve all the killing for himself?

Fortunately, court-orders@wordpress.com included the original complaint. Here are just the first two paragraphs, which I am quoting verbatim:

Even more fortunately, court-orders@wordpress.com included a translation. Here are the same two paragraphs, in what court-orders@wordpress.com considers to be English:

It is notice of making an entry into the “Unified register of domain names, Internet web-site page links and network addresses enabling to identify the Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for public distribution in the Russian Federation” the Internet web-site page (s) link (s): https://theupsizers.wordpress.com/2017/10/23/entry-701-just-shoot-me-now/exit-bag-11/ .

In case the hosting provider and (or) the Internet web-site owner fail to take these measures, the network address enabling to identify Internet web-sites containing the information prohibited for distribution in the Russian Federation will be decided to be entered into the Register and access will be limited.

When I read this, I realized two things:

  1. It’s possible that the same people doing translations for WordPress also get work translating instructions and product descriptions for Chinese companies.
  2. It was not my entire post that Russia had issue with, but an image in that post–the “exit-bag-11″ referred to in the complaint.

If you’re wondering, it was a picture of a suicide kit that is basically a tank of helium and a plastic bag. I would show you what it looked like here, but then I’d probably get another nasty complaint from Putin’s goons.

Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy my notoriety as yet another writer banned in Russia, like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Boris Pilnyak. Perhaps young rebels will share my future posts in the Russian Underground and spark a revolution . . . or the release of thousands of helium balloons.

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Entry 770: It’s Not Like They Were Going Swimming Anyway

So you’ve probably heard that this year’s Miss America contestants will not be wearing swimsuits. Apparently, television ratings have gotten so low, the contestants will be naked and the event will stream live on Pornhub.

Just kidding. But it has been announced that the pageant will no longer include the swimsuit competition. This announcement was met with the same level of excitement that might accompany the news that the phone company is going to install additional pay phones.

Who the hell cares?

Gretchen Carlson, chairperson of the Miss America organization, stated that “We will no longer judge our candidates on their outward physical appearance.”  Yeah, well it’s going to make for a disgusting pageant if candidates are going to be judged on their inward physical appearance. (“And now, Miss Vermont’s colonoscopy . . .”)

With the focus off looks, presumably the Miss America 2019 website won’t feature a bunch of pretty, smiling faces as it did last year (below). I can’t wait to see the array of acne-covered, buck-toothed faces when this year’s contestants are revealed.

Gretchen Carlson, meanwhile, whose career has had medium highs (she was a Miss America winner herself) and very low lows (she was a Fox News host), has now settled into stable mediocrity as head of an American institution that is about as relevant today as the print edition of Newsweek.

She explained the decision to eliminate swimsuits (#byebyebikini):

“We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, ‘We’d love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit’ So guess what? You don’t have to do that anymore. You’re welcome. Please come join us.”

The young women do still have to be out there in high heels and an evening gown. Or not. Carlson said they’d be allowed to wear something other than a gown if they want. I’m thinking maybe a bikini.

The talent part will stay, because where else can you see amateur ventriloquism these days? But instead of strutting around in a bathing suit, each contestant will interact with the judges to “highlight her achievements and goals in life and how she will use her talents, passion and ambition to perform the job of Miss America.” I’m sure that will make for some riveting TV viewing, because you never know when one of the contestants might reveal the solution for a serious social problem, such as this proposal for equality in the workplace from a recent Miss Utah:

“I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are … continuing to try to strive to . . .  figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem. And I think, especially the men are . . . um . . . seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to create education better so we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

No, thank you. We’ll start working on creating education better right away!

In case you’re worried, the Miss America Parade has not been canceled. It will be held, as always, on the Atlantic City boardwalk the day before the pageant. If you care to attend, I’m guessing you’ll see women in sensible clothes reciting Shakespearean soliloquies or explaining string theory rather than something like this>>>

Carlson also said that, henceforth, “Miss America will be a competition, not a pageant, and will strive to change its public perception by emphasizing its role in providing scholarships to young women and honoring talent.”

Ms. Carlson’s Fox News experience is serving her well in her new role, because it fully qualifies her to dispense such bullshit with a straight face.

Look, I have nothing against handing out scholarships to bright, talented women. But then why do they have to go through the whole local pageant ordeal, becoming Miss North Texas, and then Miss Amarillo, and then Miss Texas before getting shipped out to Atlantic City? Why don’t they just send in a talent video, an essay and their school transcripts? What’s up with the gowns and the smiles and the parades? Why be forced to sashay around a stage in any attire?

I know it’s difficult for any entity, whether it’s a person, an organization or a corporation, to acknowledge that it is obsolete. But it’s time Miss America comes to the realization that it’s not only the swimsuit competition that plants it firmly in the last century. In addition to #byebyebikini it should also be #solongsashes and #tatatiaras. Heck, the thing should have become Ms. America about four decades ago!

However, if you’d like to support the ideals of Miss America and make a donation to the Miss America Foundation, you can click on this link. They’ll make sure deserving young women will receive scholarships, regardless of their appearance, as demonstrated by the photo below from the website.

See you soon.

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Entry 769: No Instructions Needed

It happens in almost every space movie you’ve ever seen. In the midst of a battle, our hero manages to get control of an alien ship and use it against the invaders. Or the helmsman of a Mesentarian refugee ship with hundreds of Mesentaries aboard is injured while navigating through a solar storm and the captain of the ironically named Starship Carpathia, which just happens to be in a quadrant nearby*, teleports onto the bridge and saves everyone by activating the solar umbrella. Or, in a galaxy far, far away, a young rebel finds a ship from a 40-year-old movie and instantly knows how to fly it.

Meanwhile, on the evil and ancient planet of Ft. Lauderdale, where the hostile climate has long ago turned the inhabitants into imbeciles and the excessive gravity makes everything sag, I am seated in the cockpit of a rented 2017 Chrysler 200 trying to figure out how to shift into drive.

Yes, that’s right. I cleverly structured the opening of this post to make two totally unrelated points:

First, why doesn’t anyone ever question the ability of movie pilots to fly any vehicle, no matter how technologically advanced or alien it is? For instance, remember Will Smith in Independence Day? Smith, who no longer even seems to be able to pilot a big-budget film to a reasonable opening weekend gross, had no trouble adapting his training in the McDonnell Douglas F/A 18 Hornet to enable him to fly the alien fighter right into the mother ship.

More recently (although it wasn’t a space movie), even Bilbo Baggins had no trouble piloting the mystical Wakandan plane in Black Panther. I realize he was being helped by T’Challa’s sister, but still you’d think there would be a little bit of a learning curve when flying a vibranium-powered vessel for the first time.

Come on! Am I to believe that every vehicle in the universe, no matter the propulsion method, is just so intuitive that anyone who knows how to fly anything more sophisticated than a kite can hop in and take off with a confident “I can fly anything, sir”? Do you mean to tell me that a rogue interplanetary junk barge pilot from the planet Tam Pax XL has the manual dexterity to pilot a ship designed for the 20-armed reptilian residents of Lil Uzi Vert IV, a planet some 376 light years away from Tam Pax XL whose scaly denizens are known throughout the cosmos as much for their unique asslessness as for their overabundance of limbs? (And why in the world would their spaceships even have seats?)

The buttons on these ships sometimes have strange markings, but our stalwart hero always says something like, “Oh, well, let’s see what this one does, har har,” and off they go.

Second, why do rental car agencies use vehicles that have weird controls? It’s one thing if you buy a car with unusual designs; you’ve got plenty of time to learn how to use them. But if I’m renting a car for a day or two, I don’t want to spend some of that time figuring out that the gear shift is a friggin’ knob on the console! I’ll bet Rey in The Force Awakens wouldn’t have been able to fly the Millennium Falcon if the gear shift was a knob on the console! And then, when I finally shift into drive and get where I’m going, it takes me another 15 minutes to discover that the damn parking brake is not a lever or a pedal but, instead, a button next to the gear shift knob! A button! Who the hell makes a car like that? And why would Hertz rent you one?

I have the same problem with hotels. I’m not moving in, damn it. Don’t make it so the shower needs instructions. Don’t give me a TV remote with a pause button that doesn’t work. And, for Pete’s sake, don’t install a toilet bowl like the Toto Washlet G500, which I covered extensively in a previous post.

Toilet bowls should absolutely not come with remote controls.

I can guarantee Hertz that no starfighters are picking up any cars at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. So use vehicles with controls that are where they’re supposed to be. Don’t purchase automobiles for your fleet whose designers were sitting around a conference room saying, “I know! Let’s not put the audio controls adjacent to the infotainment screen where people expect them to be and sell 10,000 of these cars to Hertz so their prep guys can tune the radios to the local hip-hop stations before renting them out!”

Just give me a car like the plain, old, humdrum Nissan Altima I rented on my last trip. All the controls were almost exactly in the same places as they are on the Toyota Camry I have at home. Sure, car enthusiasts might not find that exciting, but when you’re driving through one of South Florida’s famous 30-second monsoons, it’s good to know how to start the windshield wipers.

See you soon.

*Doesn’t there seem to be an awful lot of quadrants in space? Shouldn’t there be only four?
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Entry 768: Breaking News–Hitler Dead!

World War II loser Adolf Hitler has been found dead in, of all places, Moscow, where it was suspected that the fascist and painter had been advising Vladimir Putin and possibly had a hand in rigging America’s 2016 Presidential election. Upon hearing the news, President Trump tweeted . . .

Wait! I’ve just learned that some of the information in the preceding paragraph may be incorrect. It appears now that only Adolf Hitler’s teeth have been residing in Moscow, although they may, in fact, have been giving President Putin some helpful hints.

Let me back up a bit.

You may recall that, in 1945, Soviet troops swarmed into Berlin, eating schnitzel and spreading Communism. Legend has it that, rather than allowing himself to be killed while watching TV a la Osama bin Laden, Hitler committed suicide and ordered that his body be burned, although you might wonder why the German soldiers thought the order needed to be followed, what with the Fuhrer being dead and all. (I’ll solve that mystery in a moment; keep reading.)

I guess the SS guys with the Zippos didn’t think to grab some Hitler souvenirs for later sale on eBay. Considering that a pair of Hitler’s underpants recently sold for $7,000 (as reported here back in October), I can only imagine what the price would have been for his mustache.

Where was I? Right–Adolph’s ashes. So by the time the Russians stormed into the Fuhrerbunker, all that was left of Hitler were a couple of teeth, which is to say all of his teeth, because–and you may not have known this about the guy–he had notoriously bad teeth. Some historians even postulate that Hitler invaded Poland because of some cold sensitivity in an upper molar while eating ice cream in 1939.

Anyway, the Soviet soldiers grabbed Hitler’s teeth and brought them back to Mother Russia, only to have them confiscated by Stalin, who made a nice shadow box with them.

Fast forward seven decades or so, when Russia allowed some French people to examine the teeth. The French folks were not dentists–otherwise they would have immediately begun doing a root canal. Instead they were pathologists who compared the teeth to descriptions from the files of Hitler’s dentist Hugo Blaschke, and his assistant, Kathe “More Nitrous” Heusermann.

“The teeth are authentic — there is no possible doubt,” said lead pathologist Philippe Charlier, concluding that the 129- year-old dictator was, in fact, deceased.

“We can stop all the conspiracy theories about Hitler,” Charlier added. “He did not flee to Argentina in a submarine; he is not in a hidden base in Antarctica or on the dark side of the moon.”

Left unsaid by Charlier is what really happened, and why the German soldiers had to burn the body: it wasn’t Hitler’s! The clever fuhrer had his teeth pulled at the last moment and left them behind while he clandestinely hopped on a u-boat and sailed to San Diego, where he lived for many years on a U.S. naval base on Coronado Island, in the building pictured at right, which, I kid you not, actually exists. On, I repeat, a U.S. naval base.

He lived in San Diego until he broke his hip, at which time he was transferred to the Oakeson Physical Therapy building in Glendale, Arizona (left). Ultimately, at age 112, Hitler became senile and was moved to the restful-looking Wesley Acres Methodist Retirement Home in Decatur, Alabama (below), where, for all anyone knows, he may still be living, sans teeth, like most of the other residents.

While we may never know for sure when or if Hitler passed away or why architects design swastika-shaped buildings, there is one thing we do know: when Hitler’s death is proven beyond doubt, President Trump will issue something resembling the following statement:*

“I think there is blame on both sides. Not all of those people were Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”

He will then tweet his hopes and prayers to Hitler’s family.

See you soon.

*Add the prefix “neo” before Nazis, and this is Trump’s actual statement after the Charlottesville demonstration.
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Entry 767: Do Babies Dream of Little Lambs?

I was holding my granddaughter in my arms, watching her sleep. This was back on Day One, when she was brand new (she still had the store tags on), and Sydney was sleeping like an angel, albeit one who has not yet learned to fly and was flapping her wings ineffectually.

Syd’s legs and arms were moving and stretching in various, uncoordinated directions and I could see her eyes moving frantically beneath the lids, which were shut tight.

“She’s dreaming,” I said.

“She’s a couple of hours old,” replied her father, Alex, “what could she possibly have to dream about?”

Alex, it should be mentioned, is possibly not the source of any sentimental genes his daughter may have.

Nevertheless, it was a good question. “It may be something archetypal,” I said. I thought I recalled reading something about how babies have embedded memories of our primordial ancestors. I imagined it was the universe starting the baby’s life with a “previously on” segment like they have on TV shows.

So I did some research. Well, what I did was a Google search. And the first result was about a psychologist named David Foulkes who thinks that babies are dreamless for the first few years of life. According to the article:

“That’s in spite of the fact that, from birth onward, sleeping babies enter the REM (rapid eye movement) sleep phase — the one in which adults dream. And boy, do they: Newborns spend half their sleep time in REM, accompanied by jerking eyeballs, twitching bodies and a characteristic saw-toothed pattern on brain scans.”

And yet, even with all this dreamlike movement, the Alex-like Foulkes believes that babies can’t be dreaming due to their limited pool of experiences and their brains’ immaturity.

Well, first, I know plenty of people with immature brains who dream just fine, although those people tend to be of limited use during their waking hours. And second, what Foulkes is really saying is that he lacks the imagination to picture what a baby’s dream might look like.

Foulkes really pissed me off, I can tell you. I wanted to think my beautiful granddaughter was having wonderful dreams!

Fortunately, there are many other experts who will back me up. One site I found said:

“Babies dream, even in the womb–By the third trimester, fetuses spend most of their time asleep, and at least 50 percent of this is in REM…Newborns also spend half their sleep time in REM (while adults spend roughly 25 percent). Most sleep experts agree this means that babies dream a lot, but what they dream about . . . is still a mystery.”

Then I found another:

“‘We can’t know exact subject matter, but their dreams are most likely silent,’ says Jodi Mindell, Ph.D., the associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. ‘Since infants don’t have language, their dreams probably consist of imagery without any dialogue.’”

The obvious conclusion of my research is one President Trump discovered a long time ago: it’s easy to find online experts to support your point of view, even if it’s stupid.

In this case, however, there really can’t be any experts, can there? I mean, how could anyone possibly know what’s going on in that tiny head? (I’m talking about my granddaughter here, not President Trump.) Maybe she is seeing a movie of the first creature crawling out of a bubbling sea to make its way onto land. Perhaps she’s having a nightmare about the time when, while pregnant during the Jewish holidays, her mother ate fresh horseradish. For all anyone knows, she could be having visions of her future as a popular stand-up comic and/or inventor of a perpetual energy machine that saves the Earth.

From what I can tell from my Google search, that grinchy David Foulkes is actually the outlier in the field, and it’s truly a shame that the article about his dumb theory was at the top of the search results and got me all upset. It seems that most “experts” believe infants do dream, and also, as I’ve often theorized, that most experts make stuff up.

On the other hand, Foulkes has another theory about what all that rapid eye movement is for if the baby isn’t dreaming: “It allows their brains to build pathways, become integrated and, later, helps them develop language. (Similarly, juvenile birds learn songs during REM sleep.)”

So it seems I have a choice: either Sydney is having sweet, adorable dreams but will end up a mumbling adult (like, it so happens, her father), or she isn’t dreaming about anything but will grow into a talkative singer with a large repertoire.

Or I can do what I usually do, and just ignore all the experts.

See you soon.

P.S. In case you were puzzled by the title of this post, it’s a take-off on “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” the Philip K. Dick short story on which the movie Blade Runner was based.

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