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3 April 2014
No. 6,114 (cartoon)
The journey is the thing.
The thing is the trip.
The journey is the trip!
4 April 2014
One Less Than Two Hundred and Twenty-Two
Why are journalists so negative? It’s been ages since I saw a positive story such as, Cat Catches and Devours Rodent Then Enjoys Three-Hour Nap in the Sun.
Yesterday’s reportage from Arizona provided a typical example of what passes for journalism these days. The Reuters news agency recounted what happened when two hundred and twenty-two people gathered to set a new record for the largest number of skydivers to make a group-formation parachute jump. The story provided all the gory details about how Diana Paris died when both of her parachutes failed to open; what kind of thorough report is that?
The story barely mentioned the two hundred and twenty-one people who completed the stunt, breaking the previous record of one hundred and ten. The authors also failed to note that Miss Fluffy Pantaloons, a gregarious feline of uncertain lineage residing in Eloy, Arizona, contemplated a somnambulistic desert serpent before succumbing to blissful slumber, oblivious to the pointless human endeavors unfolding kilometers above her.
5 April 2014
Peter Matthiessen Never Wrote That
Peter Matthiessen died today. I’ll always remember him for his description of an Alaskan stream, “viscous with salmon.” I’ve used plagiarized variations of that many times, and now I can do so with impunity.
Except that I can’t just quite yet.
I don’t know what got into me, but I searched the Internet for “viscous with salmon.” That’s when I discovered that Peter Matthiessen never wrote that. John McPhee did, and he’s still alive.
Sorry for the botched obituary, Peter. I’ll do better next time.
6 April 2014
Lynn’s Chickens’ Eggs
There’s only one thing to know about Petaluma, California, and that’s chickens. Actually, I suppose chickens, by virtue of being plural, are more than one thing, but that’s neither here nor there. In any case, chickens and bad puns are eggzactly Petaluma’s raison d’état. (Sadly, egg puns are de rigueur in that formerly quaint town.)
I had a lovely visit with Lynn at her sprawling Petaluma estate today. She has half a dozen hens, the minimum required under local zoning ordinances. There’s not a rooster in sight, but the chickens keep laying eggs. They may be hoping for a virgin birth, but I doubt chickens hope for anything except food and not being shredded by a fox.
Lynn gave me some eggs, and dang, they are most tasty! I’m a peasant with a crude palate, so I can’t tell if they’re delicious because they came from reasonably happy chickens (can a chicken be truly happy?) instead of being produced by the poultry prisoners at a horrific factory “farm.”
It might be a personal connection, since Lynn introduced me to hens 285, 294, 395, 419, 620, and 651. (Given the biological nature of the chickens’ arrivals and departures, she finds it more expeditious to give them numbers for names.)
I’m done thinking about why the fried egg I just ate was so scrumptious; it’s gone.
7 April 2014
Why do zebras have stripes? The authors of a definitive study published in the august periodical Nature Communications have arrived at a conclusive answer, and here it is.
The black and white stripes repel biting flies.
I can’t think of a better example of bad science. I’ll admit that the hypothesis that the zebras’ stripes are an evolutionary result of large horsey mammal versus incredibly bothersome insect may be true, but the explanation is boring and completely unimaginative.
Study a herd of zebras, and this is what you’ll see: some of their stripes are negative, and some are positive for reasons unrelated to gender or sexual preferences. I’m developing a hypothesis about positive and negative zebras; I’ll publish the results of my research in a few years. I don’t know if it will be accepted for publication in Nature Communications, but I can guarantee that it will be rich in entertainment value.
8 April 2014
Airline Expectation Management
Commercial air travel is horrific and getting horrificaller, so I’ve lowered my expectations accordingly. Once upon a time I planned on decent food and free drinks; now I don’t expect anything I don’t bring along. I used to anticipate a reasonably comfortable flight, now the best I hope for is that the humiliation and physical pain is not completely unbearable. I gave up checking any luggage a long time ago; now I’m reasonably satisfied if the plane lands within twenty-fours of its scheduled arrival at or within a hundred kilometers of the intended airport.
Today, the only thing I count on from an airline’s employees is that they won’t kill me.
The managers at AirAsia, a low-budget airline, appreciate that’s all a passenger can dream of these days. A recent article in Travel 3Sixty, the company’s magazine, offered a reassuring promise to its self-loading cargo, er, passengers.
“Pilot training in AirAsia is continuous and very thorough. Rest assured that your captain is well prepared to ensure your plane will never get lost.”
Bureaucrats at Malaysia Airlines cried foul, since one of their jets with hundreds of people aboard mysteriously vanished without a trace somewhere between Kuala Lumpur to Beijing a month ago. Rather than complain, I think the Malaysia Airlines administraitors should up their standards and promise not to lose any more planes. I’d be satisfied with that.
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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart