A Bit About Me

My photo
Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

15 September 2010

Time Travel and the Grandfather Paradox aka My Theory of Non-Relativity

I do not claim to be the greatest thinker of all time. I also do not profess to be in the top one million. When I think lately it's more or less about how my headache is never "just a headache"...it has to be brain cancer...and that not finding the mouth ulcer thingy on my tongue this time (even with a lighted magnifying mirror and a long-handed teaspoon in one hand and a Q-tip in the other) is highly indicative of me having tongue/mouth/throat cancer (thank you - neurotic tendencies). The fact that I've been abstaining from all alcohol for absolutely no reason whatsoever this past week...is again, in my clinical opinion...probably directly related to my tongue/mouth/throat cancer.

So when I thought the other day of a thought I've frequently thought, as I talked to someone whose name I can't even remember...on the phone - for hours and hours (Jimmy Stewart's filibuster scene in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is nothing compared to my ability to talk endlessly)...I decided I would type this out to get it out of my system.

Time travel as we know it has been the thing many movies have been built on. And I always find fault with them all - basically because I'm anal like that and I like to compare notes after the film is over with other anal people who, likewise, feel compelled to share their insight via the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

We all know "Back to the Future", "The Time Machine" (don't bother watching the remake I didn't even know was remade until I watched it the other day), "Terminator" (and the four or seven sequels), "The Time Traveler's Wife" (horrid, simply horrid), and so on and so on...with "Twelve Monkeys" probably being the best in my opinion along with "12:01 PM.", a short film which is absolutely brilliant...but not true "time traveling of your own free will"...but I thought I'd mention it as it really is great. And then there's "Doctor Who"...who could forget him?

But I'm rambling...kinda like I do on the telephone...

Basically, when I'm not talking on the telephone, I sit and I watch television - mainly old films, very old films...or documentaries.

Some of these documentaries are about time travel...and I tend to uber-analyze them as much as I do the films of the same "genre".

Typically, if you've seen any of these shows...they are way over the average person's head, yet they get the guy with the PhD in Astro-Biological-Time-Quantum Physics to explain to us "little people" about theories we've gullibly bought in above said movies. To do this they resort to convoluted things like bending pieces of paper (marked "A" and "B") over and there's usually a ball and a trampoline employed somehow (think MacGyver as the prop man) and always a flashlight.

Well, one of these theories in time travel is the "Grandfather Paradox". In a nutshell, if you aren't familiar, it's where you theoretically can't go back in time and kill your own grandfather as you wouldn't be able to go back in time as you weren't born if you killed him. It's loads of fun to think about...especially if you've drank enough alcohol to get loaded or taken an Ambien...but never at the same time.

So, people with IQs in the tens of the power of 2 or 20 (or some other such mathematical rot) have concluded their own conclusions and summarily tossed time traveling back to commit such an act -- as impossible. Some have further theorized you can't go back in time prior to the invention of the time machine...as you'd have to wait X years after the invention and then can only go back in time as far as the invention was invented.

Eh...whatever. If I'm going to invent a time machine...it darn well better go back to point one and go in the future and sideways and longways and all the ways that Willy Wonka glass elevator can go.

Now, I've paid as much attention to these programs as one can (given the circumstances)...and they never bring up MY theory:

(clears throat) This theory, which belongs to me, is as follows... (more throat clearing) This is how it goes... (clears throat) The next thing that I am about to say is my theory. (clears throat) Ready? (Oh, lookie there...I time traveled back to Monty Python days.)

Seriously, here it is:

Okay, but first...you know that question which anyone with a child answers the same? The "If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life...would you?" And they get all "George Bailey" on you and say, "Well, I wouldn't because that would mean my child/children wouldn't have been born."

Well, I claim bull crap on that generic answer...which happens to be my theory.

IF you could go back in time...how do you know you wouldn't have the same children? Sure, you can speculate they'd be different...but you wouldn't really know it as you wouldn't know any differently as you don't have a time machine. Perhaps they were destined to be born anyway...and they aren't so much a strand of DNA as they are some cosmic entity that is yours alone...and no matter how many years or dimensions you could possibly travel through...they'd still end up getting here.

So, in principle, you could go back and kill your own grandfather as he wouldn't necessarily have to be related to you.

Or...something like that.

Hey, I'm still working on it...sheesh!

It's a theory in the making...and if Hollywood can get away with a few liberties, well, so can I, right?

(A side note: I am neurotic and always think the worst...I can't tell you how many times over the years it was brain cancer or throat cancer...so I meant absolutely no offense to Michael Douglas...and would never ever joke about something like that. Michael Douglas is doing the brave and right thing to tell people about his throat and mouth cancer...and because of his celebrity...many people will listen...and be saved by early intervention due to what he's been sharing. I applaud him and I hope he wins his battle.)


  1. Good Lord, woman! Take an Ambien, have a glass (or five) of merlot, and call me yesterday morning.

    Ha! Fun post. I always enjoyed the paradoxical themes used in movies and television shows - yeah, it give you a headache, but it makes you think.

    It's also fun to try to explain it to someone else who knows even less than you do.

  2. Oddly, Mariann, this makes a kind of goofy sense to me. So that said, I'm going to pour a glass of gin and drink it and read it again. That could be the difference between goofy and genius, you know.

  3. 00dozo - Sounds like a plan - if I had any. :(

    Linda - Whenever I drink I know there's a point where I cross over to genius...and everything is soooooooo much funnier with alcohol...unless you or someone you're with is an angry drunk.

  4. There, I commented. Well, actually I commented years ago, but the time machine I used had a glitch in it. Meaning, the substance of my comment, more than likely, you know, the first time around, was probably funnier than this one.

  5. Site stats:
    45,032 visitors since 2027

  6. Yeah yeah Anon...and back then you also had an actual screen name. :)

    About time, Nick...I was wondering what you'd say when you commented. :)

  7. I've always been of the opinion that time travel is a load of hooey and an utter impossibility. It's fun to think about, in the same way that leprechauns or unicorns might be, but possible? Not in the least.

    (I've expounded upon same, over at my place, in the past. I'd provide a link to that, but I've pretty much stated the whole thing in 39 words, above, while it took me about 1,500 before, so no need.)

  8. I started reading this hilarious entry but got caught up in the time machine that is my life, thrown around and spit out a few places I didn't want to be and finally was able to land back here tonight. I truly enjoyed the diversion. Looking forward to reading more.

  9. I have tagged you to complete a meme. If you have any intelligence whatsoever, you'll ignore it and go about your daily business as though I never told you.


  10. Some scientists (I'm thinking Gene Roddenberry) say that if you go back in time and kill your grandfather, you disappear as if you never existed. But that didn't happen to me, I just turned into a gorilla.

  11. What I'm getting out of your theory is that if I go back in time I need to stay from women or have a vasectomy or something that will keep me from having the same kids I've got now. Because I hate my kids and can't the thought of having them again.

  12. Back to the Future covered it perfectly. Once Marty pushed George out of the way of Marty's future grandfather's car, it screwed up the whole space time continuum because Lorraine then fell in love with him (Marty). This was evidenced by Marty's brother Dave (how do I remember THAT name?) slowly fading in the photograph.

    Change one thing, you change everything.

    Still, I'd like to go back in time to 2004 and have the Red Sox's Dave Roberts get picked off first base.

    Yankee fans and Boston fans know what I'm talking about.

  13. Wow. Over 2-1/2 months since an HMO update. Kind of expected. But to go 13 days from your last blog! Shocking, I say. Shocking!

  14. I was wondering if anyone would care.

  15. You got me this time.. Had to think about the potatos yesterday, but I figured it out, sorta. The time travel has me ready for a drink

  16. Drinks! See what we miss if we don't stay alert!

  17. Suppose that you went back in time and tossed your great great grandfather off a cliff. Would that mean that you would never be born? Since you had to be born in order to go back and chunk the old bugger off a cliff, then it didn't affect your existence or you couldn't have done it. How, you may ask, is that possible?

    Well, look at it this way. Suppose your great great grandpa had a good friend who was a butcher. And suppose this butcher decided to visit his dead friend's widow and carry her a nice tender country ham as a token of his sympathy. And suppose that your great great granny had, in her grief and despair, tossed back a few too many jars of that peach brandy that she and your great great grandfather had put up the spring before your infamous little murderous visit. Just think of it, she and the butcher sitting at the kitchen table, eating ham biscuits and drinking peach brandy like it was water. Soon they start to talking about this, and that, and the other. Your great great grandmother realizes that the butcher, not withstanding his bandaged up fingers and curious aroma of veal cutlets, is actually a lot like your great great grandfather. The butcher puts his arm around her in the shabby pretense of comforting her in her time of loss. She lays her head on his shoulder while the half-gallon of peach brandy, coursing through her veins, washes away the last vestige of her modesty, and dissolves the resistance ingrained in her frail femininity by so many long and lonely years of living with a cold and insensitive farmer whose distorted idea of love was a flea bitten old Border Collie named Mack and a secret fishing hole that he once drowned a rival in. I think you can see where this little episode is going so I'll move on.

    Time is like a bucket of sand. You can reach in and grab a handful and throw it back in and it's still a bucket of sand. Grains of sand pretty much all look the same. You can move some around in the bucket but no one will ever know. Time is like that too. Move some grains of time around here, change some there, and who will ever be the wiser? I mean, besides the butcher and your great great grandmother.