2005 Notebook: Weak XI
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13 March 2005
No. 5,857 (cartoon)
I miss you on occasion.

I miss you on purpose.

14 March 2005
Unstrung Theory
I’ve been avoiding learning a single thing about string theory for some twenty years. Eleven dimensions?! I’ve never made it past the seventh dimension without losing consciousness.

And now, ’twould appear my procrastination has once again been rewarded. Learned and skeptical scientific minds are casting dispersions on string theory, suggesting that the marriage between quantum mechanics and Einsteinian relativity is a troubled union at best.

Part of the problem is that string theory has become so complex that it’s now almost unfathomable. I can maybe imagine a parallel universe where my blind romp with Betsy Hooper in the haystack had a different ending, but ...

No, string theory has too many damn universes, maybe [the numeral one followed by five-hundred zeros] universes.

Good riddance to string theory; my head hurts a little less now.

15 March 2005
Catastrophizing Colleagues
A scientist I know laments the amazing ability of her insidiously treacherous coworkers to “catastrophize” anything and everything. To make matters worse, that’s about all they do well.

I never heard the word “catastrophize” before, but now, like “concupiscence,” it’s part of my vocabulary.

16 March 2005
Jacques Henri Lartigue’s Unfair Advantage
Like me, Victor has been winnowing through his negatives to scan his best work. Unlike me, he took the next step and made some lovely prints. Victor is understandably proud of his personal photographs, and suggests that perhaps only Jacques Henri Lartigue did a better job with the subject matter, adding that “Lartigue had an unfair advantage.”

“So what’s your disadvantage?” I asked.

“The same as yours,” Victor replied. “Lartigue was a child when he did his best work.”

17 March 2005
Homosexual Necrophiliac Birds
When the journal British Birds reported on the curious case of necrophilia involving a feral rock dove (more commonly known as a pigeon) in 1987, almost no one noticed. In fact, Jonathan Adams’ research received so little attention that a Dutch researcher, Kees Moeliker, received the Ig Nobel prize for his documentation of the “first” case of homosexual necrophilia in birds.

Admittedly, the mallard (anas platyrhynchos) is a more charismatic bird than the common pigeon, but Guardian writer Donald MacLeod laments the injustice as, “another example of a British research failing to follow up on an early breakthrough.”

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18 March 2005
Indo Curry Toothpaste?
Elizabeth returned from Japan today with two curious gifts. First, there’s a small, white, plastic jar of something—little things that rattle—labeled “Blackblack.” “Hi-technical taste and flavor” and “Sugarless” are the only other clues in English. And then there’s a slim tube of Indo Curry Breath Palette. I may or may not have chewing gum and toothpaste. I intend to leave the mysterious gifts sealed in order to preserve their inscrutability.

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart