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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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28 May 2019

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No. 4,553 (cartoon)

Am I losing my mind?

How could I tell?

I was just wondering that myself.

29 May 2019

Emmy the Survivor

One hundred and five years ago today, the SS Storstad rammed the RMS Empress of Ireland in heavy fog at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in Canada, eh? Over a thousand people died after the ocean liner became a bottom liner in only fourteen minutes.

Emma wasn’t one of the people who died; she couldn’t have been. Emma was the Empress of Ireland’s cat. Emma jumped ship the previous day in Quebec City. Crewmembers returned her to the boat, but she escaped again and avoided a watery grave.

I mention this because Ali will be going on a cruise in less than two weeks, and I wanted him to know how important it is for him to confirm that the ship’s cat is happily settled in before the crew pulls up the gangplanks.

30 May 2019

Infinite Strangeness

I love mistakes; I make ’em all the time. Almost no one notices my myriad errors because almost no one reads this flapdoodle. Conversely, millions of people read The New York Times, and they never find mistakes because the writers and editors don’t make ’em.

Unless they do.

I’m thinking of Murray Gell-Mann’s botched obituary. Apparently no one at the newspaper understood his work with theoretical particle physics, and who can blame him and/or her? Here’s the august rag’s correction:

An earlier version of this obituary overstated a law about the conservation of a quantity in physics called strangeness. It is conserved in strong interactions and electromagnetic interactions but not in weak interactions. It is not the case that “like energy, strangeness must always be conserved.”

I don’t know particle physics from particleboard, but even I understand that strangeness needn’t be conserved; it’s infinite.

31 May 2019

Macadamia Malarkey

I should have known better. I wish so many of my stories didn’t begin that way ...

It started when I read the headline, “Nut of note: seventy percent of world’s macadamia can be traced back to single Australian tree.”

I’ve never seen a macadamia tree, so I imagined some massive botanical Goliath. I decided to look at the piece and see the presumably ancient arboreal wonder. The article featured a single stock photograph of five measly macadamia nuts. No tree, not even a modest macadamia shrubbery.

Hoo boy, the charlatans hoodwinked me again. There is no gargantuan macadamia übertree covering more than an acre. In fact, seventy percent of the world’s macadamia nuts come from clones(?) of a single, nondescript tree in Gympie, Australia. And with that, I’m done talking about all things macadamia.


1 June 2019

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Aldus PageMaker 1.0

In 1985, I paid four hundred dollars for a single computer program. The only reason that fact is of any interest is that the figure probably represents more than eighty percent of what I’ve spent on software in my entire life.

I’m talking about Aldus PageMaker, the then revolutionary program that launched “desktop publishing.” With PageMaker running on my three thousand dollar computer, I was able to underbid skilled typesetters and made rather a lot of money until everyone else had the same tools and put them out of business. It was worth four hundred dollars to be first on the gravy train.

I was reminded of those days when I ran across one of the original disks from over a third of a century ago. Since then, I’ve acquired virtually all of my software through passive donations. In practice, that means using my artistic license to appropriate an unregistered software license from some megacorporation without asking them to fill out all those pesky donation forms in triplicate.

I’d gladly pay cash for software that pays for itself, but that hasn’t happened since 1985 and probably never will again. In the unlikely event there are any corporate types reading this, thanks for giving me all the digital tools I need to make worthless art!

2 June 2019

Making and Avoiding Making Art

I was pleased to get a note from Iris; I hadn’t heard from her since she moved to Berlin. She gave me a most concise one-sentence summary of what she’s doing now: “My life pretty much revolves around making art and avoiding making art.”

I suppose I could say the same thing, but I won’t. That came off as brilliant when she wrote it, but I fear the same words would sound pathetic coming out of my digital mouth.

3 June 2019

Academic Bullshit

Ling Huang, Chong Liu, Xiaowen Liu, and Zhiliang Chen retracted their article in the scholarly journal Water, Air, & Soil Pollution because it wasn’t the bullshit they claimed. The cattle manure biochar cited in the piece was actually rice straw biochar!

How embarrassing!

Derek works in a university research lab, so I asked him if bullshit was a prerequisite to having an academic paper published. After a long, thoughtful pause, he replied that although it wasn’t strictly necessary, it’s certainly the most reliable way to further one’s career in academia.

4 June 2019

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Burying Twenty Desiccated Banana Peels and Two Ephemeral Columns

I made Twenty Desiccated Banana Peels almost four years ago. I kept the original peels until today; that was long enough. I knew I’d never exhibit them, so I buried them this afternoon. Since I was going through all the toil of digging a deep hole, I decided to bury Two Ephemeral Columns as well. The columns were made from a roll of toilet paper; that’s why they were ephemeral.

I’m quite satisfied with Burying Twenty Desiccated Banana Peels and Two Ephemeral Columns. I’m not referring to the two photographs documenting the burial; I’m pleased that I now have two fewer boxes cluttering my studio.


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©2019 David Glenn Rinehart

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