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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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26 March 2017

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No. 4,719 (cartoon)

A wish there was a way to stop aging.

There is; it’s called a bullet.

27 March 2017

Whaler’s Rum

There’s a reason I use Whaler’s Rum for all my rum cocktails. It’s cheap, and there’s another reason: provenance. The story goes back to the heyday of the American whaling fleets.

The whalers were very efficient at hunting the giant meatballs of the sea. They massacred many species of whales to the point of extinction. As a result of the resulting severe economic downturn, whalers had to move to less expensive ports farther and farther from the coast.

The last of the American whalers sailed from Bardstown, Kentucky, where Whaler’s Rum is still distilled. I can almost taste the salt air with ambergris overtones in every glass of the inky elixir.

28 March 2017

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Shrouded Building

I’ve been using digital cameras since Apple introduced one of the first consumer models in 1994. It featured a mediocre “focus-free” lens paired with what could only be described as a dreadful sensor by today’s standards.

Apple still sells digital cameras; they’re all embedded in the company’s current line of phones. The quality of the images they produce has improved by orders of magnitude order the decades, but they’re still technically inferior to the Fuji, Leica, and Nikon cameras I use today that deliver results technically superior to film.

Having said that, it remains true that the best camera in the world is the one you have with you. I was reminded of that on Saturday when I saw a building wrapped in plastic penetrated by utility lines. All I had with me was my Apple phone/camera/whizzythingie, so that’s what I used to make Shrouded Building.

The image would have been sharper with a smoother tonal range had I used one of my large cameras, but it wouldn’t have necessarily been better. I rather liked the grittiness from the sensor “noise.” It was a needed reminder that the next photograph I like should perhaps look very different the last few hundred I’ve made.

29 March 2017

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Voracious Spiders

Almost five years ago I noted that humans weigh a total of some two hundred and eighty-seven billion kilograms. That’s a lot of meat, but we weigh collectively less than ants. I haven’t bother with any pesky research, but I’m fairly certain that we’ve passed the three-hundred-trillion-kilogram mark. And even though ants don’t enjoy the same ready access to grilled cheese sandwiches that we do, I’d wager they’re still heavier since they have sex more than humans do, at least more than the repressed Homo sapiens.

I just read that spiders also weigh more than we do. “So what?” one might ask, and rightly so since that’s a good response to almost any statement. Here’s what: spiders eat ten percent of their body weight every day. That’s the equivalent of me having a succulent burrito every hour of the day and night. In practice, that means that spiders could eat every human on the planet in less than a year.

That’s why I’m among the many people who capture spiders and release them outside instead of squishing them. I figger they won’t equate me as a smorgasbord as long as I don’t antagonize them and keep them gorging on the insect buffet.

30 March 2017

Cheech and Prong

“The way museums work,” Cheech Marin explained, “is that whoever pays for the museum decides what goes inside.”

I suppose that wouldn’t have struck me as both obvious and insightful if I gave any thought to those bloated financial enterprises. (I define the alleged art world as whatever I’ve empirically perceived in recent years, and that doesn’t include museums.)

’twould appear that I’m not the only one who got tired of marijuana jokes after the first few decades. Marin is now championing Chicano [his adjective] art and Latino [his adjective] culture. He’s working on a book of essays about the latter, We Come in Peace and We Have You Surrounded.

¡Muy sabio!

31 March 2017

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Internet Archive Catometer

As I noted before, cats played a critical role in the development and early days of the Internet. No one could have foreseen how popular and ubiquitous the network would become over the next third of a century, and today the digital pipes are clogged with digitized cats. It’s a serious problem. Why, just the other day the Internet Archive’s powerful servers crashed from the weight of puss packets and pixels.

What to do? The Catometer, that’s what.

Servers monitor a huge number of metrics, but there’s really only one that matters: feline traffic. I designed the Internet Archive Catometer as a simple multimedia program for computers and pocket devices that only monitors kitty data. A green cat illuminates when systems are stable; the yellow cat lights up when there’s trouble on the horizon. When the network is in trouble, the red cat flashes and blinks as a loop of the chorus from Cat Scratch Fever that blasts at full volume regardless of the device’s settings or the user’s preferences.

Once I’m done coding the application, we’ll never have to worry about digital cats in the future, just the fur from our librarian cat Bookend clogging up the cooling fans again.

1 April 2017

No April Fools’ Day

I told Alphonse that there is no April Fools’ Day this year because 2017 is a leap year. And he believed me!

This would be my favorite holiday if Thanksgiving didn’t exist. Or maybe neither are holidays since every day is a day of foolishness and thanksgiving for me.

2 April 2017

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The Voice of Dead Babies

I think the most difficult job in the world is being an American satirist; there’s too much competition from what passes for real life. For example, take Iowa. Take it, dump it in the Atlantic, and replace it with a big lake.

Shannon Lundgren, an Iowa legislator, wants to force women who miscarry after twenty weeks to carry the dead fetus to term. (I read this in a news report in late March; that’s the only reason I don’t think it’s an April Fool’s prank.)

John Forbes, whose daughter is twenty weeks pregnant, asked Lundgren how the proposed legislation would apply to her if her baby had no heartbeat.

“This [anti-abortion] bill wasn’t written for the intent to protect or govern on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives, giving the choice and being the voice of those babies ... that don’t have one,” Lundgren explained. “I understand what you’re saying—this fetus, this baby, is not alive. I would concur that in that instance, if your daughter’s life is not in danger, that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”

Shannon Lundgren proclaimed herself to be the voice of dead babies who can’t speak for themselves. I think such colossal stupidity can’t be satirized; that’s one of the myriad reasons I’m not a satirist.

I can’t imagine that anyone will say anything more imbecilic tomorrow, but some cretin like Lundgren always does.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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