Sunday, October 07, 2007


The telltale scent of bitter almonds....
I’ve been dipping into the novels of Charlotte Macleod, of which the Child Bride seems to have many. Because we are married, they have become my possessions as well – which is probably why I’ve decided to read them. It’s kind of like walking the grounds of the vast estate, to see the extent of our holdings, if you know what I mean.

Macleod’s one of those Agatha Christie-ish writers (although a bit more able, if I may say so): solving murders of scholars, eccentric aunts at Renaissance Faires, etc. I haven’t approached this genre in a while, and there’s something very exotic about now. It’s like visiting another planet. Not even Mystery! on PBS explores this world much any more. On the first page, for instance, a character says (or “expostulates,” I suppose) “Now what in tarnation am I going to do?”

Who talks like that? I come from a line of people who SHOULD talk like that, but don’t. “Land’s sake,” this same character says at another point, and “I’ve a good mind to…”

I’m fascinated. What if characters in porn talked like that? “Land’s sake but you’re large! Tarnation! I’ve a good mind to put my mouth around that thing….”

Stop presses!
The appendix has a function after all, according to a new study from Duke University Medical School. AP informs me:

“The function of the appendix seems related to the massive amount of bacteria populating the human digestive system, according to the study in the Journal of Theoretical Biology. There are more bacteria than human cells in the typical body. Most of it is good and helps digest food. But sometimes the flora of bacteria in the intestines die or are purged. Diseases such as cholera or amoebic dysentery would clear the gut of useful bacteria. The appendix's job is to reboot the digestive system in that case.”

But what about tonsils? That little groove above the lip and below the nose? Why two nostrils? Why two testicles? Why four fingers, and not just three? Why do we have two sexes?

Neighborhood moment
I was down to the Chainsaw Market buying some beer. One of the kids who runs the register was sitting with one of the Chinese butchers, who was tying a necktie on him. I watched as the kid loosened the tie, lifted it over his head, and hung it from the back of a stool.

I asked: “Learning how to tie a tie?”

“Yeah,” he said. “I’m going to visit my family, and I can’t show up with just white tee shirt and baggy pants."

Then he smiled, and added: "Fucking Arabs.”

Umbrage War
Last Friday, Slate ran a tally of Republicans and Democrats, and which were trotting out indignation at (“General Betray Us”) and/or Rush Limbaugh (protesting soldiers are “phony”). Apparently the GOP is winning, as Democrats decline to get all that upset about the bloviations of Rush Limbaugh. Though Keith Reid did send a letter to Limbaugh’s bosses, asking that he disavow what he said. He did not. And Move On, as of this writing, moves on.

Can I move to a different planet now please dept.
AP “It can take your pulse, check your body fat, time your jogs and tell you if you have bad breath. It even assesses stress levels and inspires you with a pep talk. Meet your new personal trainer: your cell phone.”

Can I have sex with it? Then what's the point?

“And here’s Johnny to tell them what they’ve won!”
AP “The Saudi Arabian government will temporarily release 55 prisoners recently transferred from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and will give each of them about $2,600 to celebrate the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, a newspaper reported Saturday.”

After the holiday, though, they have to go back in the clink.

Here we go again, dept.
Seymour Hersh, in the New Yorker: “First, the President and his senior advisers have concluded that their campaign to convince the American public that Iran poses an imminent nuclear threat has failed (unlike a similar campaign before the Iraq war), and that as a result there is not enough popular support for a major bombing campaign. The second development is that the White House has come to terms, in private, with the general consensus of the American intelligence community that Iran is at least five years away from obtaining a bomb. And, finally, there has been a growing recognition in Washington and throughout the Middle East that Iran is emerging as the geopolitical winner of the war in Iraq.”

New angle? Iran is why things are going so poorly in Iraq. Let’s go get ‘em! And then when things go south there…. well, we’ll find somebody to blame. The Uzbeks maybe. The neocons.

New insult.
According to a New York Times editorial, “neocon” has replaced “liberal” as the worst thing you can call somebody, politically.

The last week has been host to dozens of articles and features about the launching of Sputnik back in 1957, and what that meant to the Cold War, the stepping up of our space program, and its effect on popular culture. Everybody seems kind of nostalgic about it. I do not share that nostalgia.

I was seven years old when Sputnik was launched, living in North Dakota, surrounded by missile silos. You know those “Duck and Cover” films that were shown back in the fifties, that everybody mocks today? We never even got to see those. What was the point? In the event of World War III, North Dakota would be Ground Zero, and everybody knew it.

Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush may be major assholes (may?), but at least the kids in North Dakota today don’t drop into slumber at night wondering if they’re going to be vaporized in their sleep.

On the other hand, President Bush isn’t out of office yet, is he? He has a real gift for alienating world powers, I think. One could even call it a talent.

Good news?
UK Guardian: “Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.”

Can we eat it? Have sex with it? Well then, what good is it?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading your blog, and watching the 60 Minutes segment this week on the remarkable inventor of the RESPIRATOR, I think the world just might be ready for the ARTIFICIAL APPENDIX....

(And, no, you can't have sex with it!)


1:52 PM  
Blogger Liberal Seagull said...

Remember when the Soviet Union broke up, and all those little republics were suddenly nuclear powers? That got me wondering. If North Dakota had seceded, where would it have ranked in the world as a nuclear power? I'm guessing I'll never know the answer; it's probably classified.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Merle Kessler said...

By a strange coincidence, I'm working on a play in which North Dakota secedes from the union, just because (a) it's tired of being ignored (b) it has oil and (c) it has nuclear weapons. Where it will rank as a nuclear power is debatable.

5:10 PM  
Blogger BonzoGal said...

I too am a fan of the Macleod books, especially the ones set at the agricultural university. The Child Bride has good taste in cozies!

11:37 AM  

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