- 15 January 1997
- Thirteen Unprintable Words
(Unprintable Word No. I)
- My biggest problem with making Thirteen Unprintable Words is that I'm not sure which words shouldn't be printed. I suppose I should think of the selection process as curating or editing instead of censoring.
Thirteen Unprintable Words is available in the PDF format. (Please refer to the technical bits to discover the wonderful and somewhat intimidating implications if you're unfamiliar with PDF.)
- 16 January 1997
- Pharisees and Sadducees Disagree
- When I was a boy my mother bought the "50th Anniversary Edition" of The World Book Encyclopedia. I think it cost quite a bit, but I'm sure she viewed it as a good investment in our education. Looking at the volumes some thirty years later, I'm not so sure. It's not that it was a bad encyclopedia; it's just that I've never been much of a scholar.
I was reminded of my deficiency when I leafed through volume J-K of the encyclopedia. A number of the larger entries were accompanied by questions to facilitate studies, such as:
Why do the Japanese wash themselves before entering the bathtub?
What is Kentucky's most famous natural wonder?
How did the Kennedys change White House life?
What famous American grew up in Abilene?
What was the period of personal journalism?
Why did the Pharisees and Sadducees disagree?
Where was jazz born?
- Except for empirical evidence suggesting that Kentucky's most famous natural wonder is sour mash whisky, I still don't know any of the answers, including whether the encyclopedia was a good idea. I wonder if that's the subject about which the Pharisees and Sadducees disagreed?
- 17 January 1997
- Very Unappealing
- I've never been to Disneyworld, Disneyland, or any of Disney's other prefabricated saccharine little hell holes. What's not to like about the Disney conglomerate? Just about everything. I can't imagine paying to visit little fascist worlds that discriminate against men with facial hair, each and every homosexual, and generally anyone who isn't as white and bland as lard.
Most recently women's breasts have been added to the long list of things Disney's despots have deemed unsuitable for right-thinking citizens.
The problem arose on a portion of the "Splash Mountain" ride. At the climactic moment when the visitors are sent down a fifteen-meter flume, reporter Giles Whittell notes that the thrill (and the photographers ready for a decisive Disney moment) "induces some flumers to raise their shirts."
"This is something we obviously can't condone" said an appalled Disney spokesperson.
Disney's response has been to prerecorded response which is broadcast whenever a woman's breast is sighted: "Please put your shirts back on. It's very unappealing, and frankly it's making me sick."
This bizarre corporate response has left me at a loss for words, which is always a good time to stop writing.
- 18 January 1997
- Familiar Scenes from Popular Fiction (His Fate Was Sealed)
- Would the night watchman ignore the other-worldly tentacle as he returned to his shack to have another cup of coffee? His fate was sealed.
Was he mesmerized simply by just a glimpse of her thigh? His fate was sealed.
He had to choose: would cutting the dark wire or the light wire defuse the bomb? His fate was sealed.
Should he risk being captured by the Nazis to rescue his lover? His fate was sealed.
Was the ancient map showing the location of the treasure authentic? His fate was sealed.
Was the gun all he needed to solve his problems? His fate was sealed.
Could he have another drink with impunity? His fate was sealed.
Should he open the letter from his old lover? His fate was sealed.
Was he just a precocious child, or was he possessed by the devil? His fate was sealed.
Could he resist throwing the cream pie in the banker's face? His fate was sealed.
- 19 January 1997
- Seven Perfect Numbers
- There are only seven perfect number less than forty million:
For a while I wondered if seven out of forty million was too few or too many, but then concluded that seven was, by definition, the perfect number.
- 20 January 1997
- Why Doesn't Everyone Have One?
- It happened tonight, it's happened before and it will certainly happen again. I was at a party, and a sad man in a corner was trying to get the top off a bottle of beer using his car keys. I introduced him to my Swiss army knife; he said it was the highlight of his evening.
"Use the right tool for the job," seems so obvious, yet time and time again people put themselves at risk of thirst and embarrassment simply because they don't carry a Swiss army knife. (Did Mister Natural die in vain?)
If it weren't for the fact that the tweezers get lost the first or second time you use them (for obvious reasons), the Swiss army knife would be a perfect tool.
- 21 January 1997
- The Three Proper States of Underwear
- Monica expressed considerable dismay at a former roommate's sloppy housekeeping, particularly the random underwear dispersal. This was simply wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.
As Monica observed, underwear should only be in one of three proper states: neatly folded in a drawer, worn on the body, or in a dirty clothes hamper.