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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XI


13 March 2011

gratuitous image

No. 4,913 (cartoon)

I revile you.

You know nothing about revulsion.

But you could teach me, no?

14 March 2011

Yummy Castoreum!

Once upon a time, I had an appetite for sweets. I don’t know what happened, but it’s not here any more. That’s why I wasn’t bothered when I read that castoreum is used as raspberry and vanilla flavoring in a variety of alleged foods.

To save anyone reading this from a trip to the dictionary, castoreum is an extract of the anal glands of a beaver.

Yummy, I suppose.

15 March 2011

Russian Beer Isn’t Food

Russians drink vodka; everyone knows that. Russians also drink beer; but everyone doesn’t know that. Russians have generally regarded beer—and every other beverage with less than a vodka-sized payload—as flavored water. That’s why Russians classified beer as a food, not an alcoholic beverage.

Until now. Russian apparatchiks have joined the rest of the world in legally defining beer as an alcoholic drink.

(The drugs-are-food argument isn’t a uniquely Russian rationale. Frank Zappa, who railed against drug abuse, used a similar argument to justify his tobacco addiction. “To me, a cigarette is food.”)

Russian law is one thing, and Russian culture is another. Based on my travels there, I can easily imagine a worker downing a couple of beers en route to work, but not believing he’s had first drink of the day until the first bottle of vodka is opened at lunch.

16 March 2011

Nuclear Damage Control

“Hamburgers, things just keep getting worse!”

Butters from South Park said that about a completely different situation, but, substituting “sushi” for “hamburgers,” that succinctly describes the horrific yet farcical tragedies at Japan’s nuclear power plants. Despite the fires, explosions, and spewing radiation, Japanese government and nuclear industry are trying to put a happy face on the fiasco.

The ridiculous arguments have spread to this side of the Pacific, where forty billion dollars in government grants for the economically untenable nuclear power industry are at stake Lindsey Graham, a nuclear proponent and senator from South Carolina, tried to put some clear, blue water between Japan and the United States.

“Look, you can’t draw parallels between an accident in Japan and here, where we’re prepared for any possible eventuality,” he argued. “They simply weren’t ready to deal with a tidal wave. In fact, there’s no equivalent word for “tsunami” in Japanese.”

17 March 2011

St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day. Curiously, the patron saint of Ireland wasn’t Irish. Or perhaps it’s not curious at all. Since I’m not Catholic (or any other religious flavor), how would I know?

As always, there’s a very good chance I don’t know what I’m talking about. Judging from the nature of the widespread celebrations, Patrick may in fact be the patron saint of the color green or the color drunk.

18 March 2011

Italy at One Hundred and Fifty

Italy, in its present configuration, was one hundred and fifty years old yesterday. I’m not sure where I read that, but it certainly wasn’t in the headlines. Michelle’s lived in Vicenza for years, so I called to ask what the celebrations were like there.

“As a nation,” she replied, “we’re ignoring it. The northerners here want nothing to do with the lazy criminals in the south, and the southerners despise the arrogant northerners. The only thing on which we all agree is that we loathe our embarrassment of a prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi. Not much to celebrate, really.”

She went on to explain that one of the many reasons she left the United States was to escape the mawkish celebrations of hollow patriotism. She concluded by saying that she’s celebrating a century and a half of Italian chaos the same way she usually does: with a great meal and a bottle or two of tasty table wine.


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©2011 David Glenn Rinehart

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