The Fruit Fly and the Nymph of Time

This entry is part 22 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Another Monday, and another explanation of how the world works, behind the scenes. And, as with so many of these ‘things,’ we’re clearing out the backlog of topics from… well, 2007. I feel like I should be tracking things with Gantt charts.

Today, thankfully, we have a twofer. Two separate questions can be merged together into one tale. The first question was asked by… um… ‘burning.’ Which… makes me hope someone extinguished him and/or her between then and now, or else we’ll have to answer this question for ‘ash.’ The second question comes to us via old friend of many of our endeavors hight Goblinpaladin.

burning’s question is:

Why do we all get so annoyed when another driver drives below the posted speed limit? How does “maximum legal speed” get transformed into “minimum polite speed?”

and Goblinpaladin’s is:

I don’t have a specific question formulated, but: Tell us a story about Procrastination. The Lord of the realm. Why it is tied to stress and also relaxation. Something. Anything.

Two questions. Procrastination and speed. Politeness in the moment being determined by rulebreaking, versus putting things off until everything becomes stressful.

As it turns out, these are related concepts, as you’ll see after the break. It’s a long one, so hunker down.

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Where do babies come from? I mean, really come from?

This entry is part 20 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

One of the things about a five and a half-year absence is you get a certain… backlog. Especially when you do things like answer questions and explain things about the hidden world behind our own. Some folks have wondered if I’m nervous if the current myth calls are quiet. The answer there is, simply enough, ‘no,’ because I’ve got dozens of questions that stretch back into the mists of time.

Which is not to say I won’t answer a newly asked question in a timely fashion. Writing is many things, but it’s not fair.

Today’s question was asked back on Monday, September 7, 2007 by a gentleman (I unwarrantedly assume) hight Joel Wilcox. Mister Wilcox asked:

Where do babies come from? Not sex or cells or the stork … where do they really come from?

It’s a fair question. One that mythologists, hacks and eight year old children (and Piers Anthony, who at one time or another was each of those things) have been asking for roughly as long as the species knew what a child was. Now, having had the scientific explanation short circuited (and rightfully so), and the traditional stork answer forestalled, the question remains.

Where do babies come from? I mean… really come from.

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Mythology of the Modern World: Aren’t I Just Ripping Off John Hodgman?

This entry is part 19 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Welcome back to Banter Latte. We apologize for the brief interruption of service.

Long time readers will remember that we answer questions about the Mythology of the Modern World — the mythological underpinnings that lie beneath the surface, which explain how the universe works in a way that is comprehensible. That the universe is in fact explainable via science has little bearing, since as we all know science is only useful if you actually want to learn something, build something, do something or cure something. Myth has the advantage of doing none of these things, and often being entertaining in the process. Also, there is significantly less math.

We pause to let the engineers in the audience stop swearing. The physicists generally accept the above with good grace. After all, they know the score. And they’re calling the shots. And they know that too.

Regardless, in this weekly roundup we strive to answer questions — questions which often (but not always) begin with the words “why” or “how.” Why is the sky blue? (Answer: you’re seeing God’s enormous iris, and the sun is his pupil. Which is why you should only sin inside windowless rooms or on overcast days. Yes, he has blue eyes, and dark skin, and actually keeps his white beard trimmed into a lovely goatee. No, he is not a hipster, though admittedly he was into literally everything before it was cool. And no, sinning at night is no good, because he can see your reflection off the moon. That’s what it’s for.) Why is the grass green? (Answer: grass is trying very hard to camouflage itself so it can blend into the forests, so that ravenous packs of horses, cows and sheep don’t devour it. It is more effective than you might think — go into a dense forest and look for grass. Can you find it? Generally not. The problem is, they only have the one camo suit available, so sitting out in fields it’s dead obvious. Honestly, it seems like a waste of money to me.) How are babies made? (Answer: ask your mother.) And so on and so forth. You can ask these questions via the contact page you see over to the right. There are no guarantees, of course. All rights are reserved.

Today’s question comes from an old friend named Anonymous. Anonymous and I go way back — Anon (the preferred nickname. ‘Mous’ is frowned upon) is the author of many great poems, songs, stories and internet rants. In this case, Anonymous says:

“Hey — about the whole modern myth thing. It’s cool and all I guess, but aren’t you just ripping off John Hodgman’s deal?”

Now, you will notice that the question doesn’t start with “why.” I frown on answering those, but as we’re just returning, it seems like a brief discussion touching on where these myths come from is in order. Further, given the scurrilous attack upon my character that the question implies, I think it only mete that I respond, to defend myself and the integrity of the mythology that is being formed here, and the ways in which it is distinct from the seminal, brilliant work by writer, actor, advertiser, expert and bon vivant John Hodgman, of which much has been said. His books can be found here, if you’re willing to buy from Amazon, and… well, other places, if you are not.

But I am getting sidetracked. This impugnation upon my work must be answered. Am I just ripping off John Hodgman?

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Prosperina: A Mythology of the Modern World Holiday Special

This entry is part 18 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

We have returned, with a special myth. It’s also a long one, to warn — though I don’t think people will complain. Unless, of course, they do. People find the time to complain, sometimes.

This is a holiday special, though the holiday in question is somewhat vague. I don’t think we can call it Christmas, or Yule, or even Agnostica. I think it’s just ‘winter,’ since this is after all a myth about winter. This is a special, in part, because it steps away from the normal mission of these our myths of the modern world.

This is, in short, a recognizable myth to a lot of you. A myth of the ancient world. But I like to think that the retelling makes it a bit modern in other ways. And if it’s recognizable, I also like to think there are ways that it isn’t.

It concerns the changing of the seasons. Which sometimes means the changing of autumn to winter. And sometimes means changes of another kind entirely. It’s called Prosperina.

I hope you like it.

And yes, this should mean we’re back. Thank you for your patience, all.

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Why do people check the time on mobile phones instead of watches?

This entry is part 17 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

It was a week of system issues and exhaustion, but that is done and now it’s Myth Time again, and with a little luck we’ll be on the full on normal schedule again starting this week. Starting off, we’re going back to Banter Latte pal CrazyDave, who asks us:

Why have people stopped wearing watches and started dragging mobiles out of their pocket to check the time?

It’s something lots of people do. I do it myself. But it’s not ubiquitous. Lots of wristwatches are still out there and still being checked. Which makes it interesting, because it’s one of those rare things: a behavior in transition.

Which gives us something to talk about.

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Why are there Suburbs?

This entry is part 16 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

And good morning… to you.

Today’s myth comes to us from “zeruslord” (who, I am given to understand, is Lord of Zerus, and there is no doubt one does not want to be on the bad side of the Lord of Zerus, so you’ll understand if I answer the request, I trust. Mythologists have to err on the side of caution where Locii are involved). And zeruslord asks:

why do humans have cities and suburbs? I’m mostly talking about the outermost suburbs, like how all of New Jersey is a suburb of New York, and people are commuting from Front Royal into DC, and Los Angeles exists at all. Why are people willing to drive for hours to get to their job? why don’t the jobs move out faster?

It is a good question, really. After all, cities were meant to centralize humanity, giving them greater access to work, goods and services. So, why would men, women and families intentionally go farther afield, sacrificing convenience and adding hours to their workday in the form of “the commute?” Why would they restrict their potential mass transit options to what is in their suburb (or to their car), despite the price of gasoline and maintenance and the environmental impact and all the rest? What, in the end, is the deal?

Well, you probably shouldn’t be surprised to learn it’s all thanks to a jurisdictional dispute. So let’s leap right into it, shall we?

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Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry?

This entry is part 15 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Man, I love autumn. I just do, and you can’t stop me. And hand in hand with loving autumn please enjoy this myth. It comes to us from reader teckstphyle, who asks:

Why is there a disconnect between Art and Industry? Why can art not be “useful?” Why can’t industry “inspire?”

More correctly, why are few cases where they overlap the exception and not the rule?

It’s a good question, and one I’m happy to answer. It also leads us to our first myth callback, because we actually touched on this, at least briefly, back on July 9, when we answered the question Why can we walk past beautiful artwork without noticing it?.

The answer, as you’ll recall, involved a union dispute.

And that brings us to today’s myth.

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Manannán mac Lir and the Isle of Ninjas.

This entry is part 14 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

As you know, I didn’t write a myth last week. It was that sort of a week. The sort where you work, oh, fifteen days in a row, mostly longer than eight hours in a given day, and feel the burn of exhaustion. But it seems people liked the retelling of the Viscountess, which is always nice to hear.

Still, that’s a question we’re missing in the lexicon, so it makes some sense that this week we would in fact answer two questions. And as it turns out, there are three — count them three — questions that directly correlate to one another.

The first of these questions comes from Filipe Cadete, who asks us:

Pigeons. How come those flying disease vectors and overall polluters are fed by thousands of people all over the world?

The answer, of course, is “ninjas.”

But that leads us to a question by long time reader, friend, and Superguy-gadabout-town LurkerWithout, who asks us:

Ninjas. Why the hell them and not one of the other pseudo-religious/mystic cults of killers?

And the answer to that is, as you can imagine, is “Manannán mac Lir,” sea god and psychopomp of Manx mythology.

Oh, this surprises you?

Well, we’ll elaborate on all of this soon enough. Because we still have a third question that was asked, in direct response to LurkerWithout, this time by Joel Wilcox:

In addition to Lurker’s comment: Why pirates vs. ninjas?

See, now we’re getting into details and that means that really, we should just be starting the myth already and not being all stressed out about the whys and wherefores. And that brings us, inexorably, to:

Manannán mac Lir and the Isle of Ninjas.

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The Princess and the Wyverns

This entry is part 13 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

Many of you have read this before. It first appeared on Websnark, and while I considered it a part of the Mythology after starting it, it hadn’t explicitly been put here. And as I had no time to write a myth this past week, this is what we have for today. I figured you would all forgive me.

This story was written on IM, actually, and was written jointly by action fiancee Wednesday White and I. In fact, the conversation you’re reading here is almost verbatim what we actually IM’d to one another. Needless to say, this story means a lot to me.

And, like many good myths, it does answer a question:

Why are there thunderstorms? And dust bunnies to boot?

This one means a lot to me. And it was well received — as evidenced by the following children’s book cover a ‘Tayley-Chan’ designed for it. Click for full sized — and it’s totally worth it:

The Viscountess and the Wyverns

One last thing. This story was tweaked very slightly for this version. A good man and a good friend was legitimately hurt by a bit included to be a bit silly the last time, and that’s not what this is for. The curse should be off this one, so when he rereads it (and I hope he does — he reads Banter Latte), I hope he’ll find it less discordant.

For Weds, and her for me, and now we share it once more with you: The Princess and the Wyverns.

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Dog Reincarnation

This entry is part 12 of 26 in the series Mythology of the Modern World

It’s Monday and therefore the Myth. And the Myth is a thing that comes with a Monday.

This week, we get our Myth from long time friend of the writing Kirabug, who asks us:

Why does every small (15lb or less) dog I meet seem to think she’s 150lbs?

Now, interestingly enough, there is a specific answer to the specific question that Kirabug’s asking. That answer is, of course, that Kirabug is to dogs as mushrooms are to Mario. When a dog gets near her, it immediately grows 10 times its size — at least emotionally. So, if I’ve managed to make Kirabug subconsciously hear the theme music to Super Mario Bros. as she walks down the street from now on, I will consider myself a success in life.

But there is a much more general principle at work here. I mean, for such expansive thoughts to be triggered by Kirabug walking by, there is clearly a universal element at work. And we have all seen examples of tiny dogs acting like they’re huge. And for that matter, huge dogs thinking they’re tiny. The animals clearly don’t have a coherent body image, and while it’s easy to think that stems from their brains being far less developed than human brains and therefore incapable of really good complex thought, as it turns out that’s only part of the story. The rest of the story really rests on the story… of Dog Reincarnation.

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