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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak III


15 January 2017

gratuitous image

No. 9,438 (cartoon)

You have no convictions.

But lots of arrests!

16 January 2017

Die a Happy Chili Death

I try not to repeat myself, but I’m going to do so now because it’s literally a matter of life and death.

Researchers at the University of Vermont concluded that consuming lots hot chili peppers decreases mortality. I still think we’re all mortal and that all of us are certainly going to die, but that’s not the point.

Here’s the important thing: read only medical reports and news stories that support what you’re already enjoying or would like to try. If you like fiery meals, then enjoy the results of the University of Vermont study and pour on the capsaicin.

If you dislike spicy food, then read about the idiot who burned a hole in his esophagus by overdosing on ghost peppers.

We’re all going to die someday, so you should do what you enjoy while you’re alive and cross the great divide with a smile on your face. That’s a scientific fact; I read it in some medical journal.

17 January 2017

When Bikes and Dogs Collide

Mountain Lake Trail really isn’t a trail at all; it’s what part of West Pacific Avenue on the southern border of the Presidio is called. The road is bordered by a ten-meter wide play area for dogs. So far so good, but ...

A very small percentage of cyclists and dog owners are jerks; I figuratively ran into one of the latter when I almost literally ran into his little weasel dog. He started to lecture me about why I should ride slowly when there are dogs around. The proper intellectual response would have been to point out that dogs are supposed to be on a leash or under control, not playing on the road while its owner’s eyes were glued to his phone. This guy clearly wasn’t an intellectual, so I decided to provide a more emotive argument: I explained that it was inhumane to ride slowly past a dog running out of control.

“It’s cruel to ride slowly past a dog running out of control,” I explained. “When you run over a dog slowly, you’re going to break some bones, perhaps take some internal organs out of service, and send it to the animal hospital for weeks. I just couldn’t do that, even to a dog.”

He seemed confused.

“I ride fast by dogs running loose in order to minimize the chance of hitting one,” I continued, “and if a collision can’t be avoided, the mutt’s going straight to doggie heaven after being run over by almost a hundred kilograms of man and machine going twenty-five clicks an hour. It’s the only humane thing to do.”

He didn’t know how to respond; that was the point of my specious argument.

“I haven’t hit one yet,” I said as I smiled and started to ride away, “or at least I don’t think I have. I can barely feel bumps with these big, fat tires.”

18 January 2017

Bungling Reporters Get My Goat

I don’t know why I bother to decry sloppy, inaccurate “journalism.” With a handful of notable exceptions, that’s about the only flavor on offer.

Today, I’m thinking of a news report from Pakistan, where The Express Tribune reports that Pakistan International Airlines employees slaughtered a goat beside a twin-engine turboprop before it left for a scheduled flight. They followed the ancient Pakistani tradition of sacrificing a goat for good luck after one of the company’s planes crashed last month, killing everyone on board. The story also noted that they killed a black goat for maximum effectiveness.

There’s only one problem with the quaint anecdote: it’s simply not true. Gareth’s friend Hamza, who works at Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad, had the real story.

First, Flight PK-661 didn’t fall out of the sky because of bad luck. A corrupt airline official accepted a bribe and bought “refurbished” hydraulic fluid, which proved to be a spectacularly bad example of false economy. (Or would that be a spectacularly good example of false economy?)

And there was no animal sacrifice, that was just a foreign reporter’s misunderstanding after seeing Pakistan International Airlines’ caterers at work.

Fake news blurs into bad reporting morphs into our worldview, and that’s a fact. I couldn’t say that on the Internet if it wasn’t true, could I?

19 January 2017

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Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association to the Rescue!

The standard toilet interface is fairly straightforward: it’s a seat with a hole in it, innit? Unless, of course, you’re in a country that dispenses with the seat altogether in favor of an elegant, minimalist hole.

And then there’s Japan.

As I noted fifteen years ago, Japanese toilets scare me; they’re designed to do everything from chopping off genitalia to applying anal perfume to sucking out a recalcitrant fetus, and more. How much more I do not know; the control panels resemble the flight deck of a modern jet, and all the instructions are in Japanese.

I’m not the only one confused—and a little scared—by the futuristic technology, so what to do? Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association to the rescue!

Earnest salarymen have come up with a series of pictographs that, in theory, obviate the need for words. In practice, though, it’s quite different; I still have no idea what’s going on.

Take the illustration of the testicles, for example: what’s happening to them? Are they being blasted with a spray of soapy water, warm air, or perhaps some fast-acting depilatory? And why is a person suspended in midair on a column of water? Do Japanese toilets have as much water pressure as a fire hydrant?

I’m sure the Japan Sanitary Equipment Industry Association meant well, but a hole in the floor that requires no explanation, translation, or documentation keeps looking better all the time.

20 January 2017

Herr Hair and the Breitshirts

The United States now has a führer, er, new president; all hail Herr Hair and the Breitshirts!

Oy ...

Corey Doctorow, who has a mastery of words that I can’t even begin to imagine having at my disposal, had the most succinct description of the dawn of a new error: Huxleyed into the Full Orwell.

Oy redux ...

21 January 2017

Wicked Orange Imperialist Orangutan

Obligatory, pro forma congratulations from world leaders are pouring into the White House saluting the new president’s coup: being “elected” despite receiving over three million fewer votes than his main opponent.

Almost all of the notes were sent on selections from the Hallmark Cards “So You Just Got Elected!” collection. In something of a diplomatic faux pas, Belgium, Thailand, and Columbia all made identical selections. North Korea sent the only interesting one; it featured a blubbery young man with a comical haircut standing in front of a wall of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Wicked Orange Imperialist Orangutan:

Now who’s got the crazy leader?

—Dear Respected Comrade Kim Jong-un, Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army

Buckle up, insurgents; we’re in for a rough ride.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart