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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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17 December 2013

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No. 4,839 (cartoon)

I’m drinking the elixir of youth.

You’re drinking cheap vodka.

Same thing.

18 December 2013

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Sorry for the Inconvenience

The government’s health care Internet site was poorly designed and incompetently executed. As a result, it didn’t work very well when it worked at all. In lay terms, it was a fiasco.

Bureaucrats decided to hire an expert from the private sector to clean up the shambles, and chose Kurt DelBene, formerly the president of Microsoft’s “Office” division. Of course! It makes perfect sense, in a perversely illogically logical way: hire someone with lots of experience with third-rate software to oversee a shoddy software project.

Since Microsoft has a near monopoly in some quarters, I’ve had no choice but to occasionally use the company’s mediocre programs. The feature with which I’m most familiar is the error message I see every time the programs frequently shut down abruptly.

Microsoft Word [or Excel] has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

I suppose administrators hired DelBene to figure out how to make their site display the announcement, “We can’t get this crap to work and you probably can’t either. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”

As for me, I staying with my current health care plan: don’t get sick.

19 December 2013

Putin’s Ingenious Insult

Vladimir Putin’s, er, Russia’s parliament passed a bill yesterday that will free members of Pussy Riot and Greenpeace from Russian prisons. The legislation was Putin’s idea, so the vote in the Duma was predictable: four hundred and forty-six to zero.

I thought it was a clever move by a really nasty dictator. First, it freed the only Russian political prisoners anyone outside the country cares about before the winter Olympics next year. It also equates the brave Pussy Riot activists with some old, hackneyed Greenpeace hippies.

Members of the Pussy Riot have the courage to call a tyrant a tyrant. Greenpeace is a fat, old organization that hasn’t demonstrated a new idea in decades. Its well-paid employees fly around the world to attend meetings; its “protests” consist of hanging large signs during staged press events. The only innovation I’ve seen is unfurling a banner underwater, a move sure to enlighten and motivate passing divers and submariners.

I don’t think Putin could have come up with a better way of enfeebling the Russian activists than equating them with ineffectual western sluggards.

20 December 2013

Rudolph’s Nose

Nico’s six-year-old daughter Josephine looked bored at lunch today, so I decided to entertain her. I told her that her hamburger was really a reindeer burger. The insolent child called me a liar, so I upped the ante.

“That’s not any reindeer burger either,” I insisted. “The chef is a friend of mine and told me that’s Rudolph you’re eating.”

“Nuh-uh!” she replied.

“I can prove it,” I continued. “Here, you can have Rudolph’s nose; the cook didn’t want it.”

Josephine let out an eardrum-piercing shriek when I handed her a shriveled-up cherry tomato. That was the perfect sonic antidote to all of the purported holiday’s saccharine music.

Nico was predictably annoyed with me, but her irritation was a small price to pay for what will almost certainly be my only positive Christmas experience this year.

21 December 2013

The System

“Man, I figured out the whole system,” Sam Cook declared. “It’s designed, if you work, to keep you working, all you do is live from payday to payday—at the end of the week you broke again. The system is designed like that.”

Glenn, my father who died twenty-two years ago today, was familiar with how the system works. He never beat it—retirement at sixty doesn’t really count—but he adapted to it.

“How bad off can a guy be,” he asked rhetorically, “if he has five dollars in his pocket on payday?”

I embraced his positive philosophy. I’ve always had a few dollars in my pocket despite having successfully avoided a payday for several decades.

22 December 2013

Worse than Christmas

When Jana said she had a patient with necrotizing fasciitis, I asked her the obvious question: what’s that?

She told me the common name—flesh-eating bacteria—and what it does. In lay terms, the killer bugs are eating the man for whom she’s caring alive, slowly and painfully. There’s nothing she can do except to keep him drugged on opiates so he can withstand the pain of having his extremities, eardrums, eyeballs, and everything else chewed away. Surgeons have already lopped off part of his arms and legs, but that hasn’t halted the microorganisms’ slow-motion onslaught.

The poor guy, what a horrific, nightmarish way to go. On the bright side, at least I can now appreciate that there’s something worse than Christmas.

23 December 2013

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Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov

“There are many bad poets out there without me,” Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov noted. “I went along a different path.”

His path, like everyone else’s, ended at our common destination: death. Kalashnikov died today at ninety-four, much older than millions of people who found themselves on the wrong end of his most famous invention, the eponymously named Kalashnikov automatic rifle.

His AK-47 remains a favorite weapon among soldiers, terrorists, and men with small penises everywhere. It’s even featured on the Mozambique flag.

Although I despise execrable poetry, I wish Kalashnikov would have been yet another of those miserable poets whose work was so dreadful that I’d never hear of it.

Stare.

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©2013 David Glenn Rinehart

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