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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak VI


5 February 2018

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No. 3,446 (cartoon)

At times like this I just have to laugh.

Shut up and take me to the hospital.

6 February 2018

Safe Dining

Andrew cleaned out his refrigerator and gave me a lot of food that was unsafe to eat. I appreciated the gift. As I predicted, I went down my four-question checklist and concluded that there was nothing wrong with it.

One: Is it moving?

Two: Is it covered in blue and/or green fur?

Three: Does a quick whiff result in projectile vomiting and/or diarrhea?

Four: Are maggots or other parasites crawling in and out of it?

Since the answer to all four questions was “no,” I enjoyed a scrummy free dinner. Thanks Andrew!

7 February 2018

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The First Blog

I have a long list of unacceptable words, and “blog” is near the top of the list. First of all, it’s a contraction of “weblog,” and thus should be spelled ’blog. Also, the word “weblog” did not exist when I started making these daily entries eight thousand and seventy-four days ago. In addition, this isn’t a weblog. Finally, and most importantly, I just hate it because I hate it.

Tonight, I finally discovered where the word really came from: One More Pallbearer, an episode of The Twilight Zone originally broadcast twenty thousand, four hundred and eighty days ago today.

In Rod Sterling’s story, Paul Raoin, a zillionaire madman, runs the Raoin Blog. Now that makes sense; most things in the twilight zone do.


8 February 2018

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Two-Minute Life Expectancy

Have you ever thought about what you’d do if you suddenly found yourself in the vacuum of space with no protection? I’ve given the matter a lot of thought so you won’t have to do so.

This might seem counterintuitive, but the first thing I’d do would be to exhale completely; that should add a couple of minutes to my life expectancy. If I kept the air in my lungs it would destroy them and push the gas into my arteries. That’s the sort of thing that would really hurt in the morning, except that there are no mornings in space. And even if there were I’m not going to live that long.

Similarly, sunburn won’t be a problem either despite the massive amount of radiation. Having only a couple minutes to live sure does solve a host of problems!

At least I won’t freeze to death. An optimist to the end, that’s me! Despite the inconvenient fact that the temperature is almost absolute zero, there’s not enough convection in a vacuum to conduct the heat from my body very quickly. I’d suffocate before I got that cold.

In conclusion, I really have nothing to worry about should I unexpectedly find myself floating in space. As is always the case, there’s no point fretting about forces completely beyond my control whether I have a couple of minutes or a couple of decades left to live.

9 February 2018

Joseph Polchinski May Be Alive and Well

The New York Times is renowned for its journalism in general and its obituaries in particular. Everyone screws up on occasion, and Dean Baquet, the rag’s editor, just did. Here’s the paragraph in question.

Joseph Polchinski, one of the most creative physicists of his generation, whose work helped lay the mathematical foundation for the controversial proposition that our universe is only one in an almost endless assemblage that cosmologists call the “multiverse,” died on Friday at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Polchinski posited that there are over ten thousand universes at this very moment. Did the hacks report on how the Polchinski is doing in any of the others? They did not. That’s the kind of sloppy, lazy, and misleading reportage that gives members of the fourth estate a bad name.

In a parallel universe, Polchinski might be reading my snarky remarks about the dubious obit the paper he edits recently published about the late physicist Dean Baquet.

Whether I’m right or wrong, that still leaves at least another ten thousand possibilities, and I don’t have time to do that much conjecture let alone research tonight.

10 February 2018

John Perry Barlow’s Mother’s Great Insight

John Perry Barlow’s dead. As one of the cofounders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I should have liked him but I didn’t. He wrote the lyrics for the Grateful Dead, more commonly known as the world’s most famously wretched musical ensemble, and thus always had the stench of mediocrity about him.

I shouldn’t have been so harsh. It’s ironic, but reading obituaries is a great way to get to know someone. Curiously or not, the best thing I learned about him wasn’t about him at all; it some brilliant advice his mother gave him. “Anyone who’s bored isn’t paying close enough attention.”

11 February 2018

Stopping the Plastics Pollution Truck

The Ocean Conservancy claims that polluters dump “a garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day.” I don’t believe it. That sounds like the kind of hyperbolic flimflam “environmental” hucksters use to bilk gullible do-gooders.

If that was true, I could personally end plastics pollution in the oceans. It would be easy, all I’d have to do is find the truck that’s dumping all the plastic ever minute, remove the spark plugs, slash the tires, cut the hydraulic lines, smash the windshield, put ten liters of molasses in the fuel tank, and that truck wouldn’t be doing any more polluting anytime soon.

I sent a letter to Janis Searles Jones, the Ocean Conservancy’s chief executive officer, asking her where I could find the truck. She hasn’t replied, and I’m not surprised. If I destroyed the truck I’d also ruin her fundraising campaign, and no alleged conservationist will ever allow that to happen.


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©2018 David Glenn Rinehart