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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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20 August 2017

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No. 5,835 (cartoon)

That’s ludicrous.

I was just thinking aloud.

I didn’t hear anything.

21 August 2017

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Two Solar Eclipse Triptychs

I experienced my twenty-two thousand, five hundred and seventh solar eclipse in a row today. I have no idea why people get so excited about a planetary event that’s been happening daily since before there was life on earth.

Words are important, so I’ll cite my dictionary’s definition of an eclipse: “an obscuring of the light from one celestial body by the passage of another between it and the observer or between it and its source of illumination.”

I admit that this morning’s eclipse was different; the moon, not the earth, blocked the light from the sun. I documented the event in Two Solar Eclipse Triptychs. I feel a rotator cuff injury coming on when I say this, but I think my photographs capture just how exciting the solar eclipse was here in Sans Frisco.

22 August 2017

Life Is Not Equal to Stuff

Carl Richards apparently followed William Strunk Junior’s excellent advice, “Omit needless words.” Richards, doing business as The Sketch Guy, uses a minimum of words and replaces sentences and entire paragraphs with the simplest of illustrations. I think his work is brilliant, but, since he espouses my beliefs and values, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

The index of yesterday’s New York Times featured one of Richards’ handwritten sketches, [LIFE]=[STUFF], above the headline, “Is the Stuff You Buy Over Twenty Years Worth Forty Thousand Hours of Time?”

I didn’t bother reading the brief piece since those sixteen words were all I needed to conclude that the answer—or at least my answer—was a definitive, unqualified “no.”

23 August 2017

Sitting Ducks in Seattle

Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Donald Trump—with no affiliations outside his family—are trying to outcrazy each other, with each one threatening his nemesis with nuclear annihilation. I’m not worrying about their macho, schoolyard posturing, but my friend Jorge in Seattle is a bit concerned.

The Washington State Legislature passed a law in 1984 mandating that the Washington State Military Department, “shall not include preparation for emergency evacuation or relocation of residents in anticipation of nuclear attack.” If the blubbery little dictator decides to fire off a few nuclear missiles at the United States for target practice, where will he aim?

Jorge and I are guessing Seattle. It’s the closest large American city at just over eight thousand kilometers away. And with so many military bases and arms manufacturers located near Puget Sound, his crude missiles needn’t be that accurate. Best of all from the North Korean perspective, it’s illegal for Washington residents to defend themselves. Sitting ducks!

Although I doubt the Koreans will aim for Sans Frisco, I’m still not entirely relaxed. I’m thinking of a remark Mort Sahl satirically credited to Wernher von Braun: “I aim at the stars, but sometimes I hit London.”

24 August 2017

Nikons and Bugattis

My best Nikon captures over twenty-four megapixels of data every time I press the shutter release, so I was understandably excited when my favorite Japanese corporation announced a new D850 camera that captures forty-five megapixels of data! I’m going to buy one in a year once I’m convinced it’s not a piece of crap like the D600 and D750.

Here’s an extract from the first review I read: “The resolution is out of this world.” If I can’t trust “Nikon Ambassador and award-winning wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis,” who can I trust?

I’m excited at the prospect of being able to make forty-five-megapixel photographs; who wouldn’t be? This conceptual thrill is completely untethered from pesky reality; I’ve never published a photograph that was larger than half a megapixel. I fear it may be a guy thing; I may be the artist equivalent of the corporate drone who spends millions of dollars on a Bugatti to drive to the grocery store.

25 August 2017

Save the Tasty Animals!

Endangered species have one thing in common; they’re tasty. So are pigs, which, thanks to brutal and inhumane factory farming, aren’t endangered at all. Most people have no idea about the food they eat, and are unaware that pigs are arguably as intelligent as dogs, horses, and marine mammals, animals that rarely end up in an American gullet.

Firefighters in Wiltshire, England, know where their pork comes from. Six months earlier they’d seen their meal on the hoof—if pigs have hoofs and/or hooves, that is—when they responded to a fire on Rachel Rivers’ farm. They saved the lives of pigs and piglets trapped in a burning barn so they could be fattened and slaughtered later. I’m not an ethicist, but I suppose it is more humane to have the critters killed, ground up, and fried on a barbecue grill than it would have been to let them burn alive.

Rivers returned the favor half a year later when she brought the firefighters some of the animals back to the fire station in the form of bangers and wieners. Oh well, at least the humans enjoyed a happy ending rich in fat.

26 August 2017

Shut Ye Geggie, Lavvy Heid!

Scientific Reports published a study by Bjorn Karlsson and Ran Friedman from the Linnaeus University Center for Biomaterials Chemistry that posited whisky should be diluted before being consumed.

“Whisky is a complicated mixture of hundreds or even thousands of compounds,” Karlsson said.

That’s true, which makes it preposterous that the Swedish scientists looked at only three of them: water, ethanol, and guaiacol. After a few experiments and computer simulations, the researchers concluded from studying a few molecules that whisky should always be diluted with water.


I’m sorry; they’re not really idiots; they’re just literally ignorant. Neither Karlsson nor Friedman has ever sipped a dram of whisky.

I have no plans to return to Sweden anytime soon, so I’ll probably never meet either of the charlatans. But, if I do, I know exactly how I’d critique their work.

“Yer bum’s out the windae,” I’d observe. “Shut ye geggie, lavvy heid!”

As an artist, I rarely sink as low as scientific discourse, but I can pull that silly rabbit out of my hat when needed.

27 August 2017

Religious Robots

One of the great mysteries of life is why anyone is worried about his or her burial costs. Once you’re dead, money is the least of your problems, especially since you have none. As Arthur James Balfour noted, “Nothing matters much, and in the end nothing matters at all.”

Your survivors, though, will have to pick up the tab for disposing of your carcass, and in Japan that just got a bit less expensive thanks to advances in robots in general and robotic priests in particular.

Pepper, a vaguely humanoid Japanese robot, chants sutras, taps a drum, and will work a funeral for a lot less money than a Buddhist priest. Quite a few visitors at the Life Ending Industry Expo as well as the International Funeral and Cemetery Show—both in Tokyo for some reason—were quite interested in Softbank’s golem; apparently a lot of people can’t or won’t spend a couple thousand dollars on a human priest.

I wonder if Softbank is also engineering a deity? If so, people will finally be able to stop debating whether god exists. People already worship computers, so it wouldn’t take much of a leap of faith to believe in a digital god that gets upgraded regularly.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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