Stare.
 
2009 Notebook: Weak XX
 
   
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15 May 2009
No. 3,323 (cartoon)
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16 May 2009
A Better Obituary
When Maurice Jarre died, he left behind lots of music and a great quote.

“My life has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life. Music is how I will be remembered. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear.”

The curious thing about that Jarre quote is that Jarre never said it; he never even heard it.

Shane Fitzgerald, a twenty-two year old Irish student, wrote those grammatically-awkward words. As soon as he leaned of Jarre’s death on 28 March, he posted the lines on an Internet site where members of the public maintain a communal encyclopedia. Others involved in the project spotted the unattributed quote and deleted it. So Fitzgerald posted it again. So they deleted it again. So he added it again. So they deleted it again. And that was that.

Except ...

While the faux Barre quote was publicly available, a number of obituary writers went to the site, copied the quotation, then published it. And then other writers copied the quote from the obituaries and disseminated it again and again and again.

A month after Barre died, Fitzgerald announced his hoax. Even after the disclosure, the false quote is still on the Internet sites of several “reputable” newspapers. The editors of one periodical acknowledged that they’d been fooled; the other publishers acted like nothing unusual had happened.

And that’s the point: nothing unusual had happened. Someone lied, the fabrication was repeatedly repeated, and now more people believe it’s true than don’t.

That’s why I believe nothing and everything. If a twenty-two year old student with a rudimentary computer can pull off a clever hoax like this, just imagine the kind of villainy governments and corporations get away with.

17 May 2009
Buzzard’s Belch Oven Cleaner
This afternoon Iris explained what happened on our previous visit.

The last time I dropped by her place, I discovered a bottle of Buzzard’s Belch bourbon among the containers of cleaning supplies in the bottom of the kitchen cabinet when I was looking for dish soap. (Everyone appreciates a visitor who washes dishes.)

I mentioned this discovery to Iris; she wasn’t sure where the bottle came from. That wasn’t surprising; Iris is generous enough not to keep a close eye on her liquor cabinet.

Where was I?

Anyway, she explained this afternoon that the Cambodian immigrant who cleans her place found the bottle on the deck. Since he couldn’t read the label, he concluded that the bourbon was a solvent. He’d been using the Buzzard’s Belch to clean her oven.

I lamented the waste of good whiskey. Iris agreed, and suggested that I take the bottle with me for safekeeping.

I couldn’t say no, so I didn’t.

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18 May 2009
Negroes and Colored People
Here’s what my piss-poor dictionary has to say about negroes.

    Negro has dropped out of favor and now seems out of date or even offensive in both U.S. and British English.

I had occasion to think about that archaic word when I happened to walk past the offices of the United Negro College Fund in a Boston office building this morning. Dang, what a name to be saddled with. I imagine most if not all of the people who came up with that antiquated name died some time ago; they lived in a very different era. (The United Negro College Fund was founded in 1944.)

I wonder if the institution’s employees find it difficult to say that they work for the United Negro College Fund? Oh well, at least they’re not employed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (founded in 1909).

19 May 2009
Big Bottles of Hamburger Wine
Derek’s wine dealer complains that Derek only buys the cheapest wines, or “hamburger wine.”

“I like hamburger wines myself,” I replied. “That’s why I generally buy the economical magnum bottles instead of those normal little bottles.”

“How European of you,” Derek commented.

“Because Europeans drink cheap wine?” I asked.

“No, because it’s better for the wine,” he explained.

Derek then jabbered on with some convoluted monologue of how wine ages better in large bottles. I didn’t understand what he was saying, but I wasn’t really trying. I rarely keep a bottle of wine—hamburger or otherwise—around for more than a few days, so learning how wine ages is of very little interest.

20 May 2009
The Begathon Continues
After returning to San Francisco from a pleasant trip to Boston, I thought it would be safe to listen to the local radio station again. As is so often the case, I thought wrong.

The radio station has been interrupting its programs for weeks to ask for donations to keep the “public” radio station on the air. It’s annoying in so many ways; where shall I begin?

Perhaps the most irritating thing is that the head of the “public” broadcasting station is paid some four-hundred thousand dollars a year for his services. I’m a generous person, but my largess does not extend to giving money to someone who’s paid more in one year than I’ve made in my life.

I suppose he’s earned his lavish salary by bringing lots of “sponsors,” or advertisers, to the station. Every little snippet of programming, such as a thirty-second traffic report, is followed by a sponsorship credit (advertisement) that’s longer than the piece being sponsored.

I shouldn’t complain too much about the cuts in programming, since station’s content is increasingly mediocre. The station boss has eliminated some of the few good local shows, thus saving enough money to guarantee his high income. The best programs, which are repeatedly repeated, are syndicated from other stations.

And that brings me to the irony of the salary begathon “to keep the station on the air.” For me, the station isn’t on the air, it’s on the Internet. So instead of listening to programs I enjoy interrupted by hours of pleading for money, I listen to the original, uncut programs on my computer. There, I can listen to actual programming from around the world, not advertisements and whining.

My radio died a few months ago, and I doubt I’ll replace it. At least not until the people running the local radio station are more interested in programming than they are in remunerative sponsorship deals.

And that concludes today’s whiny whinging.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart