Having a spot of difficulty at the house today; child does not want to be in a Brownies Play, because she doesn’t like the role she was handed, and regards the lines as “stupid.” I keep telling her it’s not the role, it’s the performer – why, it’s an actor’s job to breathe life into the inert dross that unspools from some playwrite’s pen. Here, let’s practice –


Yes. Yes, that’s exactly what I was meant. It was a devious and rather complicated way to show disinterest in your happiness. For my next act, I will make you supper to show how little I care about your empty stomach.

Actually, if I hadn’t made supper, it would have been fine. It’s not my cooking that’s the problem; it’s the eating of my cooking. It’s that last final step that ruins everything.

(PS for the pedants, however well-meaning: Disinterest = not interested. It’s the secondary meaning, but it’s acceptable. Even if it’s not acceptable to you, the battle was lost long ago. Concentrate your fire on bemused, and do what you can there.) 

Anyway. One of those days that begins with writing, continues with writing, more or less deals with writing for a while then gives up writing for a few hours before continuing with writing. Much to do. Let’s fill space with an old ad I’ve had cluttering up the Nov 08 folder for some time:

Infantile paralysis would describe half the internet when confronted with new facts or opinions. A vaccine is not ready for 2009, and there is no hope for the future.

The ad ran in a comic book, just to remind kids that their lives could be over pretty quickly if they were dirty, fatigued, cold and handing around with new groups. Even though Polio was off the stage by the time I came around, it cast a long shadow, and we all heard dread tales of kids who had to live in an iron lung. Could they have possibly chosen a worse name for the thing? You’re going to spend the rest of your life in a metal organ. You had to watch TV through a mirror. You couldn’t do anything. You couldn’t leave. Ever. It was like being strapped to a torpedo aimed at the graveyard. You could also end up in an IRON LUNG if you broke your back, and the preferred method was jumping into a shallow body of water, i.e., the ol’ swimmin’ hole, which was either down by the river, or in a quarry. It’s remarkable to think that parents let kids play in a flooded quarry. Mind the blasting caps! (That was another thing we feared, for some reason. Blasting caps. Our parents made it sound as if drunken construction workers staggered nightly through the playgrounds and empty lots, live blasting caps pouring from holes in their filthy coveralls.)

The ad shows how the WW2 vocabulary survived for a long time – V for victory, Victory hand-signal =  peace through dedicated butt-whipping of whatever malefactor raised its pustulating head. Victory through research, through science. Victory through vaccines, part of mankind’s relentless march to conquer the ills of the world and bring about the reign of white buildings filled with rise rulers who had graying hair at the temples and wore white tunics. How did you get a vaccine? Well, it came from a formula. How did you get a formula? From your experiments. Which took place in your laboratory. If you were a bad scientist, of course, your work was condemned by the Scientific Community, who were a sub-set of the Authorities. But you’d show them. If you didn’t want to Show Them, but preferred to serve humanity, you didn’t care what they thought, and enlisted the help of an older, skeptical scientist who initially distrusted your Methods but found your Discoveries to be Incredible, and was thus won over by his own scientific curiousity.

And that’s how they beat polio.

Stocked up on old ads for the Buzz.mn Festival of Retro Xmas ads – I’m doing 1928 and 1930 over the next few weeks. The place was full of people working away at the next paper, as usual. I am bemused by the people who want my paper to fail. They’re happy that we’re having financial complications, and they presume it will end with the paper going Poof at some point soon. They will be disappointed, and possibly compelled against their will to click on a link to the paper now and then.

If the Strib edit page was like the WSJ edit page, the people who criticize if for its bias still wouldn’t like it, but somehow the Journal is the gold standard because the editorials go right – even as the newspages don’t, and the actual editorial section features gargantuan pieces by Ralph Nader calling for a Global Carbon Tax. (Sweet timing, Ralph.)

I know it’s not meant as such, but it’s hard not to take it slightly personally when someone says “I hope you lose your job.” Okay, noted; good luck to you, too.

It's Restaurant Postcard Day here at lileks.com - ten more shots of old chrome-and-more-chrome cafes from the days before plastic and chains made every city Everycity USA. There's a then-and-now that's particularly sad. The update starts here - enjoy, and we'll see you at buzz.mn for a Lance Lawson Thursday. And of course nattering away on Tweeter, as my favorite local radio host called it this morning.