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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XI


13 March 2024

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No. 4,667 (cartoon)

That’s disgusting on the face of it.

You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

I was afraid of that.

14 March 2024

A Warped and Wobbly Pi Day

Forget pi day, we’ve got a serious matter to observe today. Or maybe we don’t. I’m talkin’ about the dark matter thing. Or maybe there ain’t no dark matter thing; that’s suddenly up for debate.

According to conventional physics, dark matter accounts for eighty-five percent of the universe. In theory, that seems to make a lot of sense. In practice, researchers have looked in every conceptual corner of the universe as well as under the bed and behind the couch and they can’t find so much of a smidgen of a speck of the consarned stuff. Not a molecule, not an atom, not even a hint a faint whiff.

Richard Feynman had a good explanation of why dark matter is so deeply entrenched in the scientific canon despite any empirical evidence: the limited imagination of physicists.

“When we see a new phenomenon we try to fit it into the framework we already have. It's not because Nature is really similar; it's because the physicists have only been able to think of the same damn thing, over and over again.”

And then along comes Jonathan Oppenheim from University College London with a new proposal: “We show that our theory of gravity … can explain the expansion of the universe and galactic rotation without dark matter or dark energy.”

I can’t summarize what I don’t understand, so the best I can do is share a paragraph of what I read.

Oppenheim’s theory envisages the fabric of space-time as smooth and continuous (classical), but inherently wobbly. The rate at which time flows would randomly fluctuate, like a burbling stream, space would be haphazardly warped and time would diverge in different patches of the universe. The theory also envisions an intrinsic breakdown in predictability.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve personally never experienced dark matter, but my life has been warped and wobbly more than I’d like to admit, so the boffin’s theory makes perfect sense to me, especially since I’m untethered to a commitment to traditional conceptual physics in particular and rational thinking in general.

15 March 2024

The Abominable Jalapeño

“They’re tasteless, like crunchy lettuce,” Juanita cautioned.

I was grateful for the warning about the emasculated jalapeños Samantha brought to the potluck. I don’t blame her, though; I’m pointing the fickle middle finger of constructive criticism at the damn Texans. Evil chemists and botanists at Texas A&M University developed an abomination: a jalapeño pepper with no flavor, no spiciness, and no heat.

But they didn’t stop there, no sirree they didn’t. They unleashed their crime against nature into the wild where it mated with real jalapeños to create zombie peppers that are overrunning produce shoppes across the United States.

The reprehensible vegetable vermin haven’t made it south of the border; the Mexicans have done an admirable job of protecting themselves from the foreign menace. As a result, you can still buy real imported jalapeños, but since they come with an efficacious coating of herbicides and pesticides that’s a bad tradeoff.

What to do? In a word: use habanero peppers.

(Yes, that’s three words, but this is no time to quibble.)

Habaneros can deliver almost anyone to the threshold of pain; what sensible person could ask for more from a pepper?

16 March 2024

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Death to Liquid Death!

Dr. Roberts shares my appreciation of all things aquatic: coffee (the water of energy), whisky (the water of life), wine (the water of the immortals), tea (the water of bad poetry), et cetera. Thus I was delighted when he warned me about Liquid Death Mountain Water, a rare example of truth in advertising.

Liquid Death contains no caffeine, no alcohol, and no ingredient that would justify letting it occupy a cubic milliliter of precious bladder space. The “natural artesian water,” pumped from an abandoned coal mine in Lavadina, Liechtenstein, does contain trace amounts of arsenic and mercury, but not enough to make it interesting.

Death to Liquid Death!

17 March 2024

Malarkey Toasts

It’s Saint Patrick’s Day, the only holiday of the year (except perhaps New Year’s Eve) where stumbling around drunk is not only encouraged, it’s celebrated. I’m pretty sure that Joey had three sheets up his hoosegow when he sent me an annoying note, “May you live as long as you want and not want for as long as you live!”

“What kind of blarney is that?” I asked.

“Irish toast,” he explained.

“Bread, eggs, butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup!” I replied. “That’s French toast.”

18 March 2024

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Bucatini no. 15 and Oak Grafting

I love Bucatini no. 15, but it costs four times as much as usual pasta. I was pondering what to do about the bump in my budget when I remembered Gregor Mendel’s 1865 pea plant experiment.

Of course!

I documented my innovative research when I followed Mendel’s work with Bucatini no. 15 and Oak Grafting. How will I boil a new species of pasta that’s a meter in diameter if my trial is successful? I’m not worried. As Ted Kennedy never said, “We’ll drive off that bridge when we come to it.”

Coming next weak: more of the same.


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©2024 David Glenn Rinehart

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