Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trading Places

     I miss the Lone Ranger.  When I was a kid I could visualize the Lone Ranger and Tonto chasing down the bad guys on the radio.  I still remember the “thundering hoof beats of the great horse Silver” accompanied by the William Tell Overture.  My imagination came up with several possible definitions of Tonto’s name for the Lone Ranger, “Kemo-sabe.”  I think it was a profane Indian epithet unbeknown to the masked man.  Something like “pale-face horses ass.”

            I could visualize the Cisco Kid and Poncho, the Green Hornet, and Spiderman stuck in a cob web. I could visualize all of those radio characters prior to TV.  Sometimes the imagined characters were bigger than life and the later actors on TV didn’t measure up to the images in my mind. Television can usurp the imagination.

            Sex in the black and white movies left something to the imagination too, but no more.   Alfred Hitchcock was a master at creating suspense, thus stimulating the imagination.  Gayle and I watched one of his old movies last night.  As you know, Hitchcock always appeared in one scene, usually in a crowd.  Part of the fun was trying to find him during the film.  The suspense in his films allowed the imagination to amplify the tension, as in the 1960 film, “Psycho.”

            Today computer games do all the imagining for the kids playing them. 

            I’ve written on how the brain processes humor, the encouragement of creativity, the impact of music on cognitive development, and other related topics, including how science is bent on putting our brains on a computer.  Now scientists think they have discovered the source of human imagination.  And guess what they want to do with this knowledge.  Yep.  Put it on a computer.

            Without getting into how the brain manipulates imagery, suffice it to say that scientists think their findings move them closer to understanding how the organization of our brains sets us apart from other species, providing a playground for us to think “freely and creatively.” 

            You might think that all of this research is designed to better human beings, but the truth slipped out when it was stated that this information will help us design more intelligent and “imaginative” machines.  Remember my article on the scientific attempts to put you, i.e. your brain, on a computer?  This will be a new and improved computerized “you.”  The computerized you will soon be given an imagination.

            I guess someday we can own a robot that might cook more creatively than the best chefs and write more poignantly than Shakespeare. Maybe it can even imagine life as a human being.  That is unless we humans have become so well programmed and controlled that we aren’t much different than robots.

            But aren’t we seeing that now?  College teaches kids what to think – not how to think.  Laws teach us what not to do.  Political correctness teaches us how to speak and act.  Leaders even tell us what to eat and how much soda to drink.  The media tell us what to believe.  Now we find that the government can monitor our every move, as well as our communications.  True freedom has become an illusion relegated to what’s left of our imagination.

            So why do we need imaginative computers?  Maybe we are being programmed so well that we need “imaginative” computers to replace what we are losing.    

            Kinda like trading places…


  1. So what did Tonto tell the Lone Ranger when the indians attacked?

    What do you mean me, White Man!!!!

    1. Ed - I remember that joke. It was when Tonto and the Lone Ranger were surrounded by Indians and the masked man said something like, "It looks like you and I are in trouble."

  2. Ralph, you took me down memory lane. I remember listening to all those old radio programs in the late forties and early fifties. Our Miss Brooks, Pepper Youngs Family, Richard Diamond, Boston Blackie, etc. And yes, you are right. We had to use our imaginations. Heck, that was the fun part. Also, I remember my sister and I would be playing outside and would somehow know when the programs were ready to start. Didn't need a watch. We would race to the house and head for our favorite spot in the old leather arm chair in front of that big old tube radio. Of course we both had the same "spot", so a fight would break out to see who would get it. Our mother never interfered because as soon as the programs would begin we would settle down. Of course then we would argue about which program to listen to. The good old daze. Now we grab a beer, a bag of potato chips, and flop in front of The Tube and go brain dead for the evening. Oh well, guess I'm getting (got) too old.

    Bob R.

    1. Man, I can relate to going "brain dead" in front of the TV. But those old days are indelible in our memories. I'll bet you can't listen to the William Tell Overture and that great trumpet part without hearing the hoof beats of "the great horse, Silver."

    2. You're right ralph, I still think of the Lone Ranger whenever I hear the William Tell Overture. Hey, did you ever listen to Red Blanchard out of San Francisco on KCBS radio? He was the one who coined "Zorch". I remember building a crystal set and he was the first DJ I picked up on it. I got hooked and would listen to him every night until my ears hurt from wearing headphones. He was a real character.


    3. I had forgotten about Blanchard and "Zorch." But I do remember playing the trumpet part of the William Tell Overture in my bedroom, driving my parents nuts.