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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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2 July 2014

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No. 5,808 (cartoon)

Have another drink!

Alcohol never solved any problems.

Milk never did either.

3 July 2014

The Tragedy of the Commons’ Blackberries

I’ve been watching the blackberries grow along a popular trail in Golden Gate Park. First came the flowers, then the tiny berries, then, nothing. None of the berries fully ripen; the reason has nothing to do with botany.

The problem, as usual, is human nature. Anyone walking along the path knows that someone else will eat a perfectly ripe blackberry, so the only way to get free fruit to pick it before it’s ripe.

It’s also a problem with supply and demand. In San Francisco, hundreds of humans and a handful of blackberries share the same real estate. In rural Oregon, it’s the other way around. I can remember gorging on a wall of juicy berries along a country road without making a discernible impact on their numbers.

Free fruit is a great reason to live in the Oregon woods. I used to have reasons other than bountiful berries for living there, but I forgot what they were long ago.

4 July 2014

Independence [sic] Day

Alicia considers herself to be part Scottish because she had a spectacular romance with a man in Edinburgh when she was a teenager. Never mind that her exotic boyfriend was Italian, she insists that she has Scotland in her blood. I don’t know about that, but she certainly has a lot of Scotch whisky in her blood tonight.

Americans celebrate their independence from England on the fourth day of July, and Alicia is prematurely celebrating the 18 September referendum on Scottish independence from the same nefarious parasites. She drunkenly insisted that her slurred speech was a Scottish accent, but I too have been to Edinburgh, and remember meeting several people there who weren’t inebriated.

I too hope the Scots secede from England and that the Americans appreciate that living like serfs and sharecroppers is not independence.

[Full disclosure: all the land I own is on the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides. In Scotland.]

5 July 2014

It’s All Relative

I was conceived about the same time that Albert Einstein died, and that tells me a couple of things. First, he died before he could personally ’splain to me how the theory of relativity works. It also suggests that, as I suspected, souls don’t transmigrate. (Given that my long hair is so rich in entropy, though, it’s possible his hair follicles made their way inside my head. As for his actual brain, it’s still around here and there in tiny bites and slices.)

Helena told me she’s going into the future by taking her mother Mabel to Sweden. I acknowledged that the Swedes were arguably more progressive in many ways, and that they were nine time zones ahead, but that wasn’t what she was talking about. Nope; she was talking about that damn theory of relatively.

She said that by leaving the surface of the planet and traveling at a relatively high rate of speed, she’d be literally moving ahead of me in the space–time continuum. Since I long ago gave up trying to understand complicated physics, I asked her to send me a postcard.

6 July 2014

Chicken Feces Theory Du Jour

Health advice is fairly predictable; it’s going to be the opposite of what it was in the past. Not that long ago health experts warned that butter is dangerous and margarine is healthy; now it’s the other way around. And that brings us to chicken feces.

Russ, my late uncle, worked as a government meat inspector. He warned me that chicken cadavers were bathed in a fetid fecal bath before being sold, and advised me to thoroughly wash any animal carcasses I was foolishly considering eating.

And now, of course, it’s the other way around. The chicken feces theory du jour is that washing poultry corpses splashes poisonous fecal droplets thither and yon. The new premise is that it’s better to cook and eat the bird excreta.

Bone appétit!

7 July 2014

This Saturday or Next?

Let’s say that today is Monday (because it is). That means that it will be Saturday in five days, but is that this Saturday or next Saturday? Sally and I couldn’t answer that question, and became profoundly confused when she invited me to dinner “next Saturday.” I assumed she meant the twelfth, which is obviously the next Saturday on the calendar. She corrected me: the twelfth is “this Saturday,” and the nineteenth is “next Saturday.”

Oy. Arf. Repeat as needed.

Sally called me a few hours after we’d finally agreed on a calendar date and asked if we could move our dinner “up a day.” I checked my calendar and said I’d be happy to get together on Friday. She replied that I was mistaken; she wanted to move dinner up a day to Sunday.

I may or may not have groaned audibly. After a pause, she confirmed that she looked forward to seeing me on Saturday, adding that she couldn’t resist the temptation to torture me. I think she was using the past tense, but I was too afraid to ask.

8 July 2014

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Redundant Humans

Human labor is becoming increasingly redundant, and that has to be a good thing, mostly. These days it takes one person in an expensive excavation contraption to dig a ditch instead of a dozen unskilled workers. (How the manual laborers will survive economically is another story.) With the rapid evolution of self-driving vehicles, truck drivers, chauffeurs, et cetera, may also soon find themselves among the ranks of the unemployed.

And then there are airplanes.

Airbus just patented a design for a plane with a windowless cockpit. That’s shocking, and it’s not. My pilot friends who fly commercial jets don’t do much except during takeoff and landing. This I suppose it makes financial and engineering sense for the pilots to sit in a windowless cabin in the tail of the new Airbus plane; that means more room for paying cattle, er, customers in the fuselage below.

What seems strange about the Airbus illustration is the premise that the pilot needs to on the plane at all. Military aviators already fly thousands of drones all over the world without leaving their base; it’s not hard to imagine dozens—hundreds?—of pilots in a cavernous room flying a fleet of aircraft around like an expensive video game. In any case, that will be a temporary phase until intelligent machines render humans unneeded for anything except meat.


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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart

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