CSotD: Picture This

Wallace the Brave is off to have a terrible picture taken of himself. I remember having a school photo taken and then, two months later, getting to see how horrible it was.

School photographers now offer “retake days” for those whose pics were truly ghastly, and I can pick out three or four of my school photos that might have led me to that, but I can’t imagine the second shots looking any better.

And it’s not just that middle school kids hate what they look like anyway, though that complicates things. There are certain kids who look good in school photos and then there are the other 97%.

On the other hand, since Wallace the Brave is set in the current day, his grandmother has plenty of pictures of him.  Perhaps even more than “plenty.”

We need to go back to film.

We also need to go back to cameras that were sometimes left at home.

Granted, we don’t need to go back to pictures where everyone stopped doing interesting things so they could stand in a line and grin at the camera.

It’s an improvement that many modern parents have learned the concept of “candid,” if only because they are taking pictures of their kids every 17 seconds and kids will only stand and grin for so long.

But back in the days of film, when you only had 12 shots or even 24 or 36, you made choices and decisions about what to photograph.

And you had to remember everything else.

Which we don’t do anymore.

As noted here before, my grandfather (1893-1978) remarked that, before phonograph records were widely available, people had much more well-developed audial memories, and would walk out of a vaudeville show singing the tunes they’d heard.

Today, not only do we need to hear a song multiple times before we know it, but, thanks to our phones, we no longer know anyone’s phone number, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find our way from one place to another without a GPS assistant telling us where to turn.

There are already too many weddings and vacations where we remember nothing that isn’t in the photographs we took. We’re closing in on the time when we will only recognize photos of our kids and won’t be able to pick them out of the crowd in three dimensions.

I was going to say “Put down your phone and live your life!” but the problem may be self-correcting. We’ve got some busy roads without sidewalks around here, and I see people walking on the shoulder, facing traffic.

Except that, while they’re walking towards the traffic, as they should, what they’re actually facing is their phones.

Those clips of phone-gapers wandering into lamp posts are funny. Not so funny when they start wandering into oncoming Chevys.


Speaking of things we only thought we needed

Tom Gauld suggests some things that might go wrong with the sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and, with all due respect to St. Margaret of Atwood, it does raise the question of whether we needed a sequel anyway.

There are, of course, children’s series, like the Little House Books or the Chronicles of Narnia, and there are pulp fiction heroes like Bond who generate numerous books of their adventures.

There were Updike’s Rabbit books, yes, but can we check the sales records in the past decade for those books and compare them to those of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” even before the TV series launched?

It’s rare that a serious novel for adults requires a sequel, or spawns one that anybody actually reads three years after it’s released.

The Columbo approach to authorship — “Oh, and just one more thing ….” — may be clever marketing, but it’s a sign of poor writing.

Which I didn’t think applied in this case.


Who’s out there?

I’m tired of exoplanets and it seems like xkcd is getting a little tired of them, too.

One of my weekly tasks is to find news briefs for the kid magazine I edit, and there was a time when a new exoplanet was interesting, particularly when they found one that could conceivably harbor life.

But now I think what we’ve discovered is that there are a whole lot of exoplanets out there and that, if you are flexible in your definitions of “conceivable” and “life,” a whole lot of them could conceivably harbor life.

Which means that we’re through the point of saying that, given the size of the universe, it’s inconceivable that there isn’t other life out there somewhere.

Instead of an infinite number of planets, some of which surely have the conditions necessary to support life, we have narrowed it down to an infinite number of planet which almost certainly have the conditions necessary to support life.

Which is important, but is becoming increasingly not news and more like walking on the beach with a four-year-old who keeps showing you interesting rocks.

His curiosity and enthusiasm is nothing you want to stifle, but there are only so many times you can turn a pebble over in your hands and agree that it’s really interesting.

So you hand him a plastic bucket and tell him to show it to you when it’s full of fascinating rocks.


But do let me know if you discover intelligent life on Earth.

Patrick Chappatte is only barely joking. This would work and nothing else seems to.

When I hear that Trump’s advisers have to give him toddlerized briefing papers with his name scattered throughout in order to keep him at all focused, it makes me think of Joe Gargery from “Great Expectations,” scanning the newspaper in search of his own name, J-O.

The critical differences being that (A) Joe was a gentle, good-hearted soul (B) whose influence and interests didn’t extend beyond the door of his forge.

Better to face an evil genius than a malignant nitwit.

It’s like brawling with an enraged drunk: A sober martial arts major is theoretically more dangerous, but at least you have some idea of what he’ll do next.


6 thoughts on “CSotD: Picture This

  1. My Mom always taught us to give a nice teeth showing smile for photos and generally that was a good idea. Turns out it wasn’t so good though in 7th grade when I got braces and the glint dominated the view

  2. Having been in my share of bar fights, I can tell you that I prefer a drunk over someone sober. A drunk will over-compensate and swing so hard that he’ll tire himself out in a minute or two max. A sober technician will not only have skill but endurance on his side.

  3. The PBS NewsHour aired an interview with Atwood last week : She said she was done with the Handmaid’s Tale after it was published because “we would never get there.”
    Yet now, here we are, and it required an addendum.

  4. I’m tired of “We’ve found an earth-like planet that’s a near neighbor! Only 78 trillion miles away.” We aren’t going there, okay?

    I don’t miss memorizing phone numbers. It’s like wishing that you memorized and typed in this site’s IP address instead of “dailycartoonist.com.”

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