2007 Notebook: Weak XXIX
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17 July 2007
No. 2,408 (cartoon)
How did you get so far away from me?

As quickly as I could.

18 July 2007
Assinippi, Massachusetts
Angelina said that she didn’t find the name, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, very amusing. She went on to explain that after visiting her friend Freddie in Assinippi, Massachusetts, the name of every other city seems relatively staid.

19 July 2007
Stadium Air Not in the Spirit of Duchamp
It’s a good thing Marcel Duchamp wasn’t Chinese.

The Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce quashed the Beijing Lunar Village Aeronautics Science and Technology Company’s attempt to sell bags of air collected from the Berlin stadium that hosted last year’s international football competition. (The company’s name came from a previous business idea—also killed by prosaic bureaucrats—to sell lunar real estate.)

I suspect that Li Jie, the company’s chief executive officer, got the idea from Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s 1919 piece, Air de Paris, was, in fact, fifty cubic centimeters of Parisian air. The Chinese entrepreneur’s mistake was primarily conceptual. As David Hockney noted, “It’s not in the spirit of Duchamp to be Duchampian.” And it’s certainly not in the spirit of Duchamp to make anything in wholesale quantities.

It’s a good thing Marcel Duchamp was Japanese, not Chinese.

20 July 2007
Evelyn’s Discordant Point
My old friend Evelyn winced and flinched while she played her guitar, as did everyone within hearing range. Later, over drinks, I asked Evelyn why she kept playing her guitar without any making any discernible progress in decades.

“I enjoy it,” Evelyn replied, “and find it very relaxing knowing that I can only improve.”

I like Evelyn’s approach; it sounds a lot healthier than worrying whether current work is as good as past efforts.

21 July 2007
Breast-Feeding Fatwa
Whenever two single people are together, there’s always the theoretical possibility of some sort of romantic and/or sexual involvement. Apparently, this facet of human nature concerned Ezzat Attiya, the head of the Department of Hadith (teachings of the Prophet Muhammad) at Cairo’s Al-Azhar’s University. Attiya issued a religious decree, or fatwa, that unmarried women and men could work together if the man sucked the woman’s breasts on five occasions. If I understand Attiya’s reasoning, such acts would establish a maternal relationship and thus skirt Islamic rules that don’t allow men and women to be alone together.

I’m speechless.

If I side with Attiya, then half of my learned friends would call me a sexistpigdog. If I pooh-pooh the fatwa, then I could be considered to be an Islamophobe. And so, all I can say is this: some people are for it, some people are against it, and I tend to agree.

22 July 2007
Man-eating Badgers in Basra!
It seems that every day the Iraqi people suffer some new horror during the American occupation, and today is no exception. Basra residents are complaining about vicious badgers introduced by soldiers to terrorize the populace.

For example, Suad Hassan reported that she had been attacked by one such beast during her sleep.

“My husband hurried to shoot it, but it was as swift as a deer,” the housewife explained. “It is the size of a dog but his head is like a monkey.”

Some locals are blaming the British forces, a charge vehemently denied by a military spokesperson.

“We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area,” Major Mike Shearer claimed.

I’m not sure I believe him. After all, the Brits have goats as well as humans in their army, why not a secret battalion of badgers? And anyway, Shearer never denied that the Americans brought in the bloodthirsty vermin.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart