preemptive history revision
Monday, July 4 2011
Every night and morning that I sleep in my spot on the bed, I've smelled the unpleasant wafting fragrance of cat urine. Since Gretchen wasn't noticing it, I thought at first its source was the mattress; Marie (aka "the Baby") is known to be incontinent at times, and places where she sleeps can gradually take on the odor of cat piss. But further investigations determined that the smell was coming from beneath the bed. A week or so ago I sprayed some Resolve Pet Stain Cleaner under there, hoping its patented Odor Stop technology would discourage whatever activity was going on under there. But behavioral improvements, if they happened at all, did not last. So today I crawled under the bed to see for myself what was going on. Under my side of the bed, I found pieces of paper and perhaps one of Gretchen's old crossword puzzles, and all of it was soaked with cat urine. Evidently someone had pissed on it and then perhaps someone else had counter-pissed on it, launching a competitive cycle that typically ends with a house stinking of cat urine. I removed all the soggy paper (it went into the composter) and then used a combination of hot water and oxidizing carpet cleaner to attack the carpet. (To do this effectively, I had to partially-disassemble the bed, which is king-sized.) Then I vacuumed up the excess water with a wet vac. Unlike in the basement, I did not use any vinegar, as I don't know what effect that would have on the underlying carpentry.
Continuing on with the traditional Central American cooking she began yesterday, for lunch today Gretchen cooked up a number of corn patties using masarica corn flour, and we ate these with curdito and, sauce, and pickled hot peppers.
At some point this afternoon I came in from the garden and told Gretchen (who was reading Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit), "You're not going to believe this." I then held out to fists and asked her to pick one. She picked the left one, I opened it, and there was nothing. Then she picked the right one. I opened it and revealed a ripe cherry tomato. I said she could eat it and she did, though she said it wasn't very good. Still, it's rare to get a tomato of any description on July 4th. This particular one had grown on a vine Gretchen had bought at a greenhouse (so it wasn't one I'd grown from seed), but it was impressive nevertheless. Perhaps more surprising was that I hadn't even been looking for it. It had just appeared!
For much of the day I did what I could to reenter the world of iPhone development. The language is Objective C and the environment is entirely Macintosh. Just to make things easier on myself, I downloaded a little utility called DoubleCommand that makes it possible to reassign keys on the keyboard. Most importantly, I could make Control act like Command (keeping me from having to always execute that 200 millisecond pause of stopping to remember "It's command, not control!"). Little improvements like this can transform a slightly-miserable work environment into one that is reasonably pleasant. Other perks of the Windows environment were less easily-obtained, such as the ability to instantly navigate a folder window to a place in the file hierarchy by pasting in a location (the absence of this feature is a dealbreaker impedeing me from making OSX my preferred environment).
Those reading this page as an archived file years in the future will know what eventually became of Michelle Bachmann, one of the scariest know-nothing Christianists ascendant in American politics. Of course, for those of us whose present is in your past, history is still being written. And for Michelle Bachmann, there's an even deeper past that she is actively and extemporaneously rewriting as her sloppy education and wishful thinking conspire to forge an idealized founding for our country. It would be one thing if she kept these fantasies to herself, but she generously shares them with others and even defends them when they're shown to be dunderheadedly wrong. And it's not just her doing the defending of her bogus version of history; as was the case with Sarah Palin recently, she has minions who clean up and alter history to make it comport better with her version of it. In the past, when history was written in history books, this wasn't so easy. But now the chief source of historical information in our society is Wikipedia, which anyone can alter at any time.
The other day I'd read about an interview in which Michelle Bachmann had told George Stephanopoulos that John Quincy Adams had been a founding father of the country, though the indisputable fact is that little Johnny was only nine years old in 1776. Learning of this, I expected Bachmann supporters to modify John Quincy Adams' entry in Wikipedia. I didn't know how they would, but I just knew that they would. (Of course, the version of Wikipedia they'd prefer is one that doesn't track versions. This would make it easier to delude themselves that the current entry was created "perfect" in some Godly creation event, much like the human genome or the sanitized version of the Constitution read on the floor of Congress at the beginning of this session.) So I decided to get a jump on them and make a preemptive mockery of their edits. Under the heading "Life as a Child," I added the sentence "But even as an embryo, John Quincy Adams could feel pain and was a Founding Father." I was logged out at the time, but my IP address (188.8.131.52) was recorded. If you do a reverse lookup of that, you'll see it belongs to pool-68-237-191-33.pghk.east.verizon.net. "pghk" stands for "Poughkeepsie-Kingston."
Today, on a whim, I did a Google search for "But even as an embryo, John Quincy Adams could feel pain and was a Founding Father." I found my edit had been widely noted in the context of reporting a more straight-forward (unfunny) revision presumably made by Bachmann supporters. Somewhat distressingly, though, it seemed the story had only been written three or four times and then reprinted dozens of times as "content" used to fill out news sites. It made me realize that widespread syndication has pretty much destroyed originality in news reporting. An indication of the widespread regurgitation was the repetition of the phrases used to introduce my Wikipedia edit. It was "Another, more satirical edit added," "In a glorious counter-edit, someone added that," or "She also pointed out another, more amusing annotation." The best descriptions of my edit were actually in the user comments beneath news stories. People who had tweeted it to their Twitter followers had, for the most part, provided no additional insights, confirming my suspicions about the creative potential of a 140 character limit.
This evening Gretchen and I went up on the solar deck to watch several different fireworks displays off in the distance to the southeast. Looking at the map, I later determined one of these had been happening in Poughkeepsie, which, as a goose flies, is over 20 miles away.
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