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26 March 2013
No. 4,930 (cartoon)
Life is a game.
27 March 2013
Nadine Hairston sat on a life-sized sculpture of a fin whale outside the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California. Hairston should have known better, but, because she’s only eight years old, she didn’t know that one should never ever never ever get close to a whale, real or imagined. Hairston has since learned that lesson the hard way.
A lot of would-be hunters aren’t very technically competent. For the hunter whose aim isn’t good enough to hit an elephant, a whale provides excellent starter prey. That’s presumably why an archer decided to use the twenty-five-meter long whale for target practice. The little girl was lucky the shooter wasn’t using an explosive-tipped harpoon; she lived to tell the tale of being hit in the leg with an arrow.
28 March 2013
Smelling Jasmine on Linda
Here’s a line from a letter I sent to Judith tonight. “I smelled the Jasmine on Linda as I cycled by.”
I wonder how I’ll interpret that line in twenty years when I can’t remember the context. Who was Linda? And why did she smell like jasmine? And why did I cycle by her, presumably without stopping?
In fact, I was walking with Judith along Linda Street in Oakland after dinner tonight when we were overwhelmed with the smell of jasmine. I smelled the same jasmine when I cycled home, even while pedaling fast down the middle of Linda Street.
I don’t know why I bother to annotate my history. I’ve never remembered what actually happened in the past; why should I even consider starting now?
29 March 2013
Too Many Light Years
I recently noted that light takes some hundred thousand years to travel from one end of the Milky Way to the other. I have no idea why I thought that was worth consideration.
A hundred thousand years?! What was I thinking? I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow.
30 March 2013
Gratuitous Photo of the Weak: Rotting Fruit Revisited
A week ago I wrote about a peach that I photographed rotting on my desk. It’s still there, and still rotting. Unlike a rat or a potato, the peach generates a fine scent as it decomposes.
I rolled the fruity cadaver on its side and discovered a pleasing panorama of decay. I photographed the satisfying minutia then dispatched the peach to composting heaven. On rare occasions such as this, sometimes enough really is enough.
31 March 2013
Where the Big Money Is
Stephanie is happy to be working at the morgue this Easter Sunday. She gets paid almost three times her usual salary for working on a weekend holiday, and if any of her clients rise from the dead, she’ll be the first to know. And since she has access to all the corpses’ tissue samples and fluids, she can be the first to eat and drink the next messiah’s body and blood. She figures that will put her in an excellent position to start a new religion; that’s where the big money is.
1 April 2013
Elsie Marie Thompson née Calvert
Elsie Marie Thompson née Calvert used to be famous, but now she’s not. Elsie Thompson was born in 1899, and used to be the oldest living American. She died a few weeks ago and lost her notoriety along with her life. Now someone else is the oldest living American, until she too pops her clogs.
These stories about longevity always mention the number of months and days the person existed, i.e., time the heart and lungs pumped, but they never even speculate how long the person actually lived a rich, meaningful life.
2 April 2013
Some twenty-five years ago Penny Patterson told me that it was inevitable that gorillas would be unable to survive in the wild; they’d only be found in zoos. It looks like she’ll live long enough to see her prediction come true. The reports about the slaughter of megafauna in Africa are astounding, even to a cynic. Automatic weapons, new technologies, and old-fashioned greed are resulting in plummeting wildlife populations.
Even dead elephants aren’t safe.
A burglar with a chainsaw recently broke into the Museum of Natural History in Paris and lopped the tusk off Louis XIV’s elephant. Louis XIV, the Sun King, who died almost four hundred years ago in 1715. That Louis XIV.
The king of a Portugal gave Louis the pachyderm in 1668; it (the elephant, not the Portuguese king) lived at Versailles for the next thirteen years. The beast’s bones ended up at the Museum of Natural History and not in the catacombs of Paris; I guess the royal connections paid off.
The gendarmes caught the miscreant, and museum conservators will restore the tusk. And now, the punch line: the elephant never had tusks at Versailles; they were strap-ons added in the nineteenth century!
Ooh-la-la, strap-on tusks; what will those crafty French designers think of next?
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©2013 David Glenn Rinehart