2002 Notebook: Weak II
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9 January 2002
What Is It About Easels?
I dropped by a computer trade show today, and saw that some high-tech hucksters had attached expensive flat-screen computer monitors and keyboards to dozens of easels. The perky presenter assured the potential customers who sat down for a demonstration that his company’s expensive “painter” software would allow even the least-talented among them to produce results almost indistinguishable from drawings made with a ten-cent pencil on a sheet of paper. Flush with the glow of new technology, no one seemed particularly frustrated that they lacked the ability to make a drawing of a deformed woman in a bathing suit similar to the one exhibited by the speaker.

I’ll never understand why computer mountebanks love easels and hackneyed illustrations. They must be disoriented by the smell of money.

10 January 2002
Twenty oh Two
Well into the new millennium, I finally learned how to pronounce the new years’ colloquial names from an astute BBC radio announcer. This isn’t two thousand and two, it’s twenty oh two! Perfect! After all, the last really huge San Francisco earthquake struck in nineteen oh six, not nineteen hundred and six.

I’m much happier now that this century’s dates have the same number of syllables as I’ve always used. As I’ve previously noted, a low entertainment threshold really is the best thing since sliced bread.

11 January 2002
A Strange Map of San Francisco
I found a strange map of San Francisco at the airport today. The discarded map, published by the Irish Ministry of Travel, divided San Francisco into four distinct zones: literal (grey), tourist (green), dangerous (red), and surreal (plaid). The map had no correlation with reality.

12 January 2002
Grow, Industry, Grow, Grow, Grow!
I was poking around inside my old computer, and noticed that my DVD drive (model SR-8182) was made by the Matsushita Electrical Company. I don’t know why I remembered this, but some time ago I’d copied the words to the company’s official anthem:

For the building of a new Japan
Let’s put our mind and strength together,
Doing our best to promote production,
Sending our goods to the peoples of the world,
Endlessly and continuously,
Like water gushing from a fountain.
Grow, industry, grow, grow, grow,
Harmony and sincerity. Matsushita Electrical.

After rereading the words to the company anthem, I looked at my run-of-the-mill DVD drive differently. Suddenly, it wasn’t a mere computer peripheral, it was part of an endless, continuous stream of electronic gizmos pouring out of the Matsushita Electrical Company’s happy factories.

13 January 2002
Tormenting Ungenius
Anita didn’t know I was trying to sink enemy ships on my computer monitor when she made fun of my furrowed brow.

“What’s with the squinched face?” she asked. “Are you trying to be a tormented genius or something?”

“Not at all,” I replied, without letting on that I wasn’t doing anything more creative or demanding than playing video games. “After all, what chance do I have of convincing you that I’m a genius?”

Anita smirked in agreement.

“And I’m anything but tormented,” I said as I took another sip of beer. “On an occasion such as this, however, an objective observer might describe me as a tormenting ungenius.”

And with that, I catapulted a spoonful of chili across the room; I was aiming at Anita’s face. She shrieked as she ducked; the chili splattered against the wall with a satisfying thwat.

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14 January 2002
Just a Little Bit Sexy News and Naked News
The fortunes of television newsreaders are largely determined by their physical appearance and not their abilities—if any—as journalists. An American television network promotional announcement described one of its newsreaders as thoroughly professional, competent enough to read the right press release on cue, “and a just a little bit sexy.” And just in case that was too subtle for dimwitted viewers, the producers flashed the words “provocative” and “sexy” on the screen, then ended the advertisement with the sound of a zipper.

The featured newsreader may or may not have been just a little bit sexy, but she was definitely more than a little bit annoyed. She protested so loudly that the network changed the promotional copy in order to maintain a façade of respectability.

Other news organizations have given up trying to pretend that they’re journalists, not entertainers. The Naked News program delivers exactly what it promises. Viewers may choose between watching either an attractive young woman or a handsome young man undress as s/he reads the same generic wire stories and minimally-edited corporate and government press releases featured on other stations. Unlike their more traditional counterparts at other television networks, the Naked News presenters are not ashamed to acknowledge that their employers hired them to provide entertainment.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart