2002 Notebook: Weak IV
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22 January 2002
Support Breasts, Not Dictators
Although I’m usually reticent to admit it, I like good advertising. Smart, clever advertisements make my pasta tastier, my computer faster, and my future brighter. Advertising really does work.

And so it was that I was pleased to see a new advertisement that not only met my criteria for good advertising, it also was for a good cause, one arguably better than my pasta, computer, or future.

It seems that a company with the self-aggrandizing name of Triumph International set up shop in Myanmar, née Burma. Although no country is run by saints, the thugs doing business as “The State Peace and Development Council” have earned one of the worst human rights records in the world. The dictators, whose regime has employed slave labor, apparently hired a good public relations consultant; they used to refer to their regime as “The State Law and Order Restoration Council.”

Triumph International is owned by a large German company; its flacks claim it uses no children or forced labor in its factory. The article I read didn’t elaborate on whether this was a reference to the third Reich’s labor practices, or whether the statement was a response to rumors that the Triumph International factory was refurbished by child labor.

The people who are trying to starve the Myanmar regime of outside financial support had the services of some very good advertising help; the anonymous copywriter came up with the uplifting boycott phrase, “Support Breasts, Not Dictators.”

Who could argue with that?

23 January 2002
Re-Grand Opening
The proprietors of a local grocery store are displaying a huge banner across the front of the shop announcing, “Re-Grand Opening.” I like the sign. If you’re going to make a typo, you may as well as do it in two-meter high red letters. (Or, like the Typo of the Millenium, preferably in neon.)

I was tempted to make a photograph of the sign, then thought, “Why bother?” Photographs don’t really document anything any more, if they ever did. I could put a “Live Alien Dancing Meat Salad” sign on the front of the store, so it didn’t seem worth the modest effort to document someone else’s typo.

So I didn’t.

24 January 2002
Happy Bierthday!
Gareth suggests we have a birthday party, right here, right now!

“I didn’t know it was your birthday,” I admitted.

“It’s not,” Gareth confirmed. “I’m afraid that I stopped having birthdays decades ago.”

“Then whose birthday are we celebrating?” I asked.

“I wasn’t thinking of any particular person,” Gareth said. “I was talking about my new invention; I spell it b-i-e-r-t-h-d-a-y.”

“Aha!” I replied. “So every day’s a bierthday, isn’t it?”

“It’s purr-fect, in a puma sort of way,” Gareth proclaimed.

We enjoyed a very happy bierthday indeed.

25 January 2002
Chicken Conspiracy
The earth is home to more chickens than humans. That explains a lot.

26 January 2002
Stu’s Stupormarket
Stuart Dingwall, a ferocious gentleman from Scotland, has just opened a liquor store a few blocks from my laboratory. He calls his store Stu’s Stupormarket. Stuart Dingwall sells Rainier Ale in Stu’s Stupormarket; that’s all I need to know.

27 January 2002
Patchouli Oil Wake
I was passing through San Francisco’s financial district when I found myself walking several meters behind a young woman covered in patchouli oil. At least she smelled like she was covered in patchouli oil; she may have only used a few drops of the potent stuff. The woman looked . To use the colloquial parlance of the last few decades, she looked like a hippy chick, like someone who would wear lots of patchouli oil.

We both ended up walking up Battery Street, where I saw an amazing site. As the young woman enveloped glum business workers in her odoriferous wake, the office drones stopped walking, glanced at the source of the patchouli oil, then stared into space for a few seconds.

I had a pretty good idea that each of them were asking themselves the same question: how did I get here from there? None of the businesspeople smiled; but then they rarely do when they’re on the street.

28 January 2002
Wedding O
Dr. Allard is making some sort of printed matter for his sister’s wedding, and he’s suffering from options paralysis. He’s trying to choose an illuminated capital “O” from a huge type library, and so far he’s only narrowed in down to a few hundred candidates. In desperation, he asks for my advice.

I give the problem maybe ten seconds of thought, then pick a character at random.

“That one will work just fine,” I advise.

“Why did you choose that one?” he asks.

“Basic design considerations,” I explain. “For a project such as this, all you have to do is avoid doing something wrong. And if your design isn’t wrong, then it must therefore be right.”

Dr. Allard looks skeptical.

“If you’re really concerned about your sister’s wedding,” I advise, “don’t waste too much time on printed matter that no one’s going to read. Just make sure there’s plenty to eat and drink, and everyone will live happily ever after.”

29 January 2002
Mustard on the Prime Minister’s Jacket
I just finished Cryptonomicon, the most recent of the three Neal Stephenson novels I’ve read. Although I don’t know much about what Umberto calls “litterture,” the absence of a boyish-yet sexy young heroine makes Cryptonomicon seem like Stephenson’s most mature work. I should also note that Cryptonomicon, at over nine hundred pages, is by far the longest novel I’ve read since I was forced to skim all those damn Russian novels in my high school labor camp.

I was surprised to find two typos: “track” instead of “truck,” and “4069” instead of “4096,” or two to the twelfth power. Or perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, since I probably have at least one typo on almost every each page I write.

I suppose seeing a typo in a big-budget book is like seeing mustard on the prime minister’s jacket. Mustard spills are common, natural, and everywhere. Everywhere that is, except on the prime minister’s jacket.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart