G A P M I N D E R: HOME

Pepi Longsocks was sad because his schoolmates excluded him from the game “Jump The Weed!”

‘You are very unusual! Ha ha ha!’

Those filthy Swedes, they got me again.

Obviously the gateway to Swedish evil is Ikea. I like the prices. I like the cleanliness. The meatballs are good. I don’t even mind that every purchase contains the random possibility of some kind of Swedish sting–a missing piece, screwy instructions. You know, the kind of thing where you go, my god, that is so cheap, but what if the legs fall off and the voices say, don’t worry, there are web sites with lots of jolly good people having good-natured fun about Ikea’s quirks. You know, don’t be such a fraidy cat.

Okay, so my bookshelf turns out great. The second one falls into the lapse of ennui because more fun things hurry to the front of the line and demand attention. Scott decides to surprise me and put it together for me while I’m gone and BINGO! Someone dropped the package on a railroad spike or something and there’s a big puncture on a big, visible part of the unit.

Okay, whatever. I drive 50 miles to the returns department and the guy steps in back for a few seconds, returns with the correct piece (no receipt required) and says have a nice day. Oh my god, I might actually get out of here without spending money! Okay, just a little lunch and then I’ll plan my escape so I don’t end up in that wretched one way maze of humanity you have to endure, like a piece of corn being pushed through the upper GI tract.

After checking out, I see the little Swedish products shop. Blech. This is about as enticing as the old “intourist” shops for tourists to the Soviet Union. Vodka, dolls and lacquered stuff. Blech. I glance around at the little tins of cookies, and I think, the only Swedish thing I really want is their health care and government.

I would sacrifice my furniture for socialized health care, even though Swedes have told me that citizens can step over homeless people (how’d they get there?) because someone else is bound to take care of him. There has been a creeping ennui of muted compassion.

Whatever. I already step over homeless people. Why can’t I simply step over them on the way to the drugstore where I buy my $1,000 worth of prescriptions that keep me alive?

So.

This morning as I’m working in my garden (surfing the web), I leapfrog onto this google tool that allows you to visualize global statistics through a google interface.

This might not be so interesting–the little blue dots that inform you that Bangledsh has a high birth and infant mortality rate, there are some hidden gems. Let me mention that when I was doing a little “Harper’s Index”-like statistics column, I spent HOURS at the library trying to track down the answers to estoric blends of possibilities: how long would it take a goat to eat a one gallon pail of M&M’s? That was fun. And now, thanks a lot, the Internet has both ruined AND exacerbated my hunts.

If the census date about global poverty and economic development (see “Human Development Trends 2005”) isn’t enough for you, and the amazing design doesn’t dazzle, look under “experiments” and you’ll find some stat wonk’s idea of a fun game: “A pilot study on how pregnant women navigate through a virtual delivery ward.”

The cherry however is “The Bird Game.”

“A small game where the birds shall not steal the fruits from you…”

Goddamn Swedes.

Why are they taking so long to come conquer us with their loveable slingshots?

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