2008 Notebook: Weak XXI
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22 May 2008
No. 3,360 (cartoon)
Will you always hate me?

Only when I think of you.

23 May 2008
Neither Bad Nor Good
I don’t know where this idea came from; I suspect it’s either from reading a biography of John Cage or perhaps from quaffing a tainted batch of Rainier Ale I was drinking with Abbie.

“Guns are musical instruments,” I posited.

“That’s not a bad idea,” she replied. “It’s not a good one, either.”

I liked Abbie’s stance. I rarely appreciate aesthetic perspectives that seem too right or wrong, unless they’re shamelessly wrong.

24 May 2008
The Expensiver the Better
I drink fairly good wine; it costs less than two dollars a bottle or so. It seems that many people and institutions disdain such cheap wine because, well, it’s cheap. And so, they serve mediocre wine that costs four or five times as much and tastes maybe a fourth or a fifth s good.


Learned scientists at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the California Institute of Technology have investigated this unfortunate phenomenon, and discovered that mindless consumers conclude that the more they pay for something, the better it is. That explains why morons buy twenty-thousand dollar watches that don’t keep time accurately, and drink wine that should only be used for dog enemas.

The researchers’ work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that expectations of quality trigger activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, and suggests that spending money pleases the neighborhood of the brain that generates pleasant feelings.

Taste has little to do with watches, wine, or, I suspect, anything except art, and I have my doubts about that.

25 May 2008
Towel Day
Today is the eighth annual Towel Day, a remembrance of the late author Douglas Adams. The commemoration comes from a couple of paragraphs in his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value—you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you—daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

To celebrate Towel Day, I used a towel after a shower, then watched a drama featuring Towelie, probably the only talking towel in the known universe.

And, of course, I was grateful for all the fish.

26 May 2008
The Most Difficult and Precious Thing to Achieve
I recently ran across a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe quote I quite liked: “An interesting plainness is the most difficult and precious thing to achieve.”

Mies has been dead for going on four decades, but his observation was most prescient. I’m reminded of Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno’s observation, “The tedium is the message.”

And so, I shall spend the rest of my life addressing Mies’ challenge of how to make boredom interesting.

27 May 2008
Gravity Is Dangerous
Byron recently noted, “Bloody legs and bicycles go together like bicycles and bloody legs.”

After much too much rum, Byron should know. As his scarred and disfigured arms and legs show, gravity is dangerous, no matter how inebriated you are.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart