2002 Notebook: Weak XXXV
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28 August 2002
No. 99 (cartoon)
I’m mesmerized by so many opportunities.

Why do you call every trap an opportunity?

Ignoring grave peril makes it bearable.

29 August 2002
Vices Are Vicious
I just learned that the word “vicious” comes from the French word “vicieus,” which was derived from the from the Latin “vitiosus,” a permutation of the Latin word “vitium,” or vice.

Although I’ve never considered the relationship between viciousness and vices before, the correlation seems obvious in retrospect. Sid wasn’t particularly ferocious, but the late Sex Pistols bass player certainly was full of vices.

30 August 2002
The Ten-Second Rule
I had all sorts of problems cooking dinner with Barbara that had nothing to do with tonic water and gin. Whenever a bit of food would inexplicably jump off the cutting board and hit the floor, Barbara announced, “Ten-second rule,” before sending the escapee back to the frying pan.

“What’s the ten-second rule?” I finally asked.

“If a piece of food spends less then ten seconds on the floor, it’s still edible,” she explained.

“At the lab, we have the five-second rule for such events,” I replied.

“That seems overly cautious,” she said. “There’s not much that can contaminate food in ten seconds.”

“I’m not talking about contamination,” I explained. “If you don’t grab food within five seconds of the time it hits the floor, some other lab creature will.”

31 August 2002
Puss Television
Georgia sent me a clipping about “Meow TV,” an American television program for cats currently under development. Like almost every other television program, Meow TV’s raison d’être is marketing and advertising.

According to the cat food magnate who’s producing the show, twenty-two percent of pet owners watch TV shows they believe their pets will enjoy. Since some 85 million cats live in 35 million American homes, that suggests a relatively easy audience of seven million households.

I doubt the evil scheme to turn cats into television addicts will work. Unlike silly dogs, cats know better than to waste any of their nine lives watching television.

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1 September 2002
Nagasaki Barbie
One of the myriad rituals of returning to Lake Cleawox is greeting Nagasaki Barbie. This particular doll has never been to Japan; her nickname is a reference to her gruesome appearance. Many years ago, hungry rodents chewed off much of Barbie’s face, giving her the appearance of someone who suffers from severe radiation burns.

No one can remember how Nagasaki Barbie was splattered with molten wax.

2 September 2002
Unreadable Ulysses
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a vacation home of some very wealthy people. I looked at their bookshelves, and discovered an unusual edition of James Joyce’s novel, Ulysses. The book was bound in a leather cover, with the name of the book and the author stamped in gold lettering. The spine of the book was in perfect condition; no one had ever opened this particular volume.

I knew that no one had read a single word of this ostentatious copy of Ulysses; the book was shrinkwrapped in the same plastic prophylactic in which it was sold.

Unreadable literature is art.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart