Stare.
 
2003 Notebook: Weak XXXIV
 
   
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20 August 2003
No. 8,420 (cartoon)
You can’t imagine how much I love you.

Neither can you.

21 August 2003
Dubious Hospital Experiments
Juanita returned from the hospital with amazing stories to tell. She was having trouble breathing, so a specialist had her snort some sort of selenium powder, drink a barium milkshake, immerse her head in a large container of alcohol, then blow bubbles from her mouth.

“Isn’t that about the weirdest medical stuff you ever heard of?” asked Juanita.

“Not even close,” I replied. “I’m thinking about sex in the magnetic resonance imaging unit.”

“I should know better than to ask but I will anyway,” Juanita responded.

“There wasn’t much to it,” I explained. “A couple had sex in the MRI in order to let doctors observe their organs during intercourse.”

“Sex isn’t weird,” opined Juanita.

I was going to suggest that she wasn’t using her imagination, but instead decided to let her win the argument. After all, it was thoughtless of me to try to better her selenium-barium-alcohol story.

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22 August 2003
They Don’t Make Robots Like They Used To
I met Xeeliz at Rx Gallery for the opening of what turned out to be a rather disappointing “robot art” exhibit. The trouble started at the door, when the bouncer pointed to the cashier and informed us, “There’s a suggested ten-dollar donation.” I declined the bad suggestion, since I distinctly remembered that the invitation used one of my favorite words, “free.”

Feh.

The small gallery featured a few genteel robots, most of which weren’t broken. Even cheap wine couldn’t help the show; something was missing. I thought and drank and thought and drank and thought some more until I finally figured out what was missing.

In a word, art. I finally realized that I was in a robots craft show. Double-feh!

Every medium has a history, an aesthetic context in which new work is experienced. And so it was that I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed that these machines didn’t carry the weight—conceptually and literally—of the work by Matt Heckert, Mark Pauline, and Stelarc from a decade or two ago.

Although I know this is a completely unfair comparison, I’ve never been to a better opening than Mark Pauline’s San Francisco solo show in nineteen eighty-something. Somehow, a woman at the opening got a bloody nose from one of Mark’s machines, so someone called an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived, they saw the flames coming from one of the machines and called the fire department. When the fire people arrived, they heard what they thought was gunfire. As a result of this memorable exhibit and a bloody nose, all five lanes of Folsom Street were blocked by three ambulances, four fire trucks, and half a dozen police cars.

They don’t make robots like they used to. Actually they do make robots like they used to; they just weren’t on exhibit tonight.

23 August 2003
Leo T. Englert Remembered
John sent me a copy of his uncle’s obituary that contained a litany of remarkable achievements over a long life. For me, the most memorable thing about Leo T. Englert was that he “could easily debate anyone willing to commit to eventual persuasion.”

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24 August 2003
Psychotic Operations
The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is not going well; it’s not going well at all. It’s open season on the occupiers; the Iraqis have been killing a soldier a day or so.

The U.S. military is fighting fire with ... very silly posters!

We’re talking psy-ops here. That’s military shorthand for psychological operations, and my slang for psychotic operator. The U.S. is responding to bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, and well-orchestrated attacks with images of Saddam Hussein’s face grafted onto the digitized bodies of Elvis Presley, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rita Hayworth, and Billy Idol (above).

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Russell explained the military’s “devious” strategy thus: “Most of the locals will love ’em, and they’ll be laughing. But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are.”

Presumably, anyone walking around Tikrit without a smile on their face in a city with no electricity, water, jobs, or law may be suspected of not appreciating the presence Operation Cheap Oil’s occupiers.

Very psychotic operations indeed!

25 August 2003
Stuped Story
I asked Don why he had a framed receipt above his desk, so he told me.

Once upon a time, Don bought a great many widgets from a large, American chain store. After he realized he’d foolishly bought more widgets than he could ever use, he took the surplus widgets back to the store and asked if he could return them for a refund.

The artificially cheerful clerk replied yes, then began filling out the paperwork. Everything went fine until the sales drone asked Don what to put in the box labeled, “Reason for Return.”

“Just put ‘customer stupid,’” Don suggested.

“I can’t do that,” protested the employee.

Don and the customer argued for a while until a low-caste manager finally stepped in and approved Don’s request. And that’s why Don has framed receipt above his desk that clearly states, “customer stuped.”

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26 August 2003
Paul’s Nth One True Love
Paul’s an unrepentant slut when it comes to guitars; here’s how he works. He meets a guitar, he tells her that she’s the one true love of his life, his missing half, his soul mate, et cetera. Then, after the infatuation’s faded in a few months, he dumps the guitar after he meets the next one true love of his life, missing half, soul mate, et cetera.

He’s getting worse, much worse. Shelley and I were horrified to hear him singing a ribald love song to his guitar in the shower. After that, he traipsed into the living room—dripping wet—in an open cotton robe, grabbed his new guitar, and flopped down on the couch. After that, he proceeded to interact with his “axe” in a manner that would appall the upright workers at the Gibson Electronic Guitar Corporation.

Shelley and I scurried off to La Casita, blushing all the way.

27 August 2003
Scientific Mating
I always liked Orson Welles’ observation, “If there hadn’t been women, we’d still be squatting in our cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization to impress our girlfriends.” I always liked it, that is, until a friend pointed out that it’s rather sexist in that it assumes men built civilization.

Oops.

Still, the correlation between sex, courtship, and everything else can’t be underestimated. Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science, might agree with me. (I can’t be sure without reading his entire paper, and I’m just too lazy to do that.)

Kanazawa hypothesizes that scientists and criminals do their best work when they’re young. According to Kanazawa, “We’ve evolved these big brains partly to attract mates.” After mating season’s over, why bother?

His theory is full of holes, in part because it’s based almost entirely on observations of the least intelligent sex.

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart