There’s Nothing Wrong With “Dwarf Pride,” But When It Means Making Sure Your Kids Don’t Grow, It’s Unethical

Yeah, I know I’ve been using this clip and the “Blazing Saddles” “You, know, morons” clip too often lately, but it is because people proclaiming objectively stupid positions that are being taken seriously is becoming an epidemic, and one that has the potential to do more damage than any virus.

Today’s example: a study published  in the journal The Lancet reveals that an experimental drug called vosoritide increases growth in children with the most common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia. Taken early enough and long enough, such children can grow at nearly the same rate as  children without the malady. Achondroplasia leads to eventual back pain and breathing difficulty in addition to guaranteeing that its sufferers will look up to jockeys and call Mickey Rooney imitators “Stretch” for their entire lives. Yet the existence of a treatment has sparked opposition among some parts of the “Little Person” community, which insists that being only four feet tall  is “a unique trait to be celebrated, not a problem in need of a cure.”

See Rationalization # 64, “”It isn’t what it is.” Continue reading

Zombie Ethics, Spoiling Things For Everyone, And The Barn Door Fallacy

With so many terrible news stories going on around the world, it is not surprising that a bumper crop of strange and stupid ones this week went almost unnoticed. In Indiana, a truck crashed and spilled 45,000 pounds of butter, whipped cream and other dairy products on an interstate. In the skies, an elderly woman went berserk on an airplane and began beating everyone is sight with her artificial leg. This, however, wins the prize: the annual Comic Con  “Zombie Walk” in San Diego went horribly wrong when a group of rogue zombie portrayers, dressed like rotting corpses and moaning, carried their method acting too far and swarmed a car containing a family with young children—a deaf family with deaf children. Ignoring the obvious alarm and terror on the faces of the car’s occupants, the Walking Dead Wannabes pounded on the car, broke its windshield, and one zombie jumped onto the hood. At that point the driver panicked, and tried to pull away from the crowd, running down a 64-year-old woman who was seriously injured as a result. Continue reading

The Fake Japanese Beethoven And Musical Cognitive Dissonance

Not a composer, not deaf, and maybe Irish, female, and 12-years old, for all we know.

Not a composer, not deaf, and maybe Irish, female, and 12-years old, for all we know.

There need be no debate about whether this was unethical, or why. It is obviously one of the great arts hoaxes of all time.

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven,” was exposed this week as being more like a Japanese Milli Vanilli. A double fraud, he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf, which was a large element of his fame and notoriety. Samuragochi has perpetrated a long, elaborate, audacious hoax, hiring a musical ghostwriter to compose for him over nearly two decades. The Man Behind the Curtain revealed himself as Takashi Niigaki, a  lecturer at a Tokyo music college, who admitted to writing more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996, receiving the equivalent of about $70,000.  Samuragochi’s  most famous works include Symphony No. 1 “Hiroshima,” the theme music for the popular video games “Resident Evil” and “Onimusha,” and especially the “Sonatina for Violin,” which is the program music for the Japanese Olympic figure skater Daisuke Takahashi.

What interests me most about this strange story is how it illustrates the power of cognitive dissonance in the arts. Continue reading