The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Friday, December 3rd, 2004
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?  editor@nossiter.net
San Francisco private eye Christopher Smart is on the trail of 59 million brains, lost on 11/02/04, the biggest case he’s ever had.  His client, George Soros, has just left him…

The Case of The Missing Gray Matter, Part II

Every shamus has his own way of doing things;  I generally start my investigations in Chinatown, especially if it happens to be lunch time.  As I sauntered down the Vallejo Street steps towards Grant, the fog swirling around me, as carefree as any man with an unlimited expense account and an impossible job, I weighed the odds on 59 million people losing their brains on the same day.  A sucker bet, sure, but the payoff was what dreams are made of. 
Cui bono? That question was on my mind as I slipped through the bead curtain at the entrance of Young Palace, the best dive in Chinatown.

“Who had the smart money on November 2nd?”

Young Lo, Young Palace’s wizened owner, looks like a relic from a couple of dynasties back.  But one bite of his steamed ginger crab and you’re prepared to die happy.  Furthermore, what he doesn’t know, about pretty much everything, isn’t worth knowing.  He shook his head at my question.

“Your approach is not correct, Chris.  What is a brain?  Seventy-five percent water.  What is 59 million brains?  A very great deal of water.  Take a left turn down Broadway, and at the end of the street you will find a large bay full of the stuff.  But will that furnish you with answers?  Here is the essence of your quest:  you are seeking not brain matter, not material substance, but the brain’s product, which is to say, intellect.  Or the lack of it.  Therefore you must search for manifestations of the lack of intellect.  These will be your clues, to guide you to those lost brains of November 2nd.”

“How did you know…  I get it.  Soros stopped here for an early lunch.  He mentioned his problem, and you directed him to me.  Small town we live in. I don’t need to ask if he liked the crab.  Sheesh, and I thought it was my international reputation as a sleuth.  No matter;  I get you.  Look for signs of brainlessness, on a grand scale, and I’ll be on the trail of the lost brains.  Thanks Lo.  Your advice, like your food, gets better the more it’s sampled.”

Lo’s crab improved my outlook, as did the sun, cutting through the fog like a witty remark in a room-full of Republican voters.   The sunshine seemed to have brought out a bustling crowd, buying and selling, striking deals or just shooting the breeze, thronging the sidewalks of Chinatown.  Clearly I’d have to look elsewhere for any signs of large scale brainlessness.

I picked up a copy of the local rag and scanned it over an espresso at Vesuvio on Columbus.  Congress just cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, birthplace of countless smart ideas.  Funding was directed instead to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the Punxsutawney Weather Museum in Pennsylvania, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and bathhouses in Hot Springs, Ark.  Bathhouses, for crying out loud.  Representative Vernon J. Ehlers of Michigan, a physicist, said it was a bad move that showed a disregard for the nation’s future.  Surprisingly, Rep. Ehlers is a Republican.

And there’s the problem.  The story was a perfect example of brainlessness on the grandest scale, but where exactly do you pin the blame?  The Republican dominated Congress, or the people who voted for them, Ehlers and his constituents excepted?  How about the people of Cleveland and Pennsylvania, or Alabama and Nashville and Arkansas?  They’re probably delighted with the extra dough for their local boondoggles.  And how about the tourists who patronize their boondoggles, or the merchants who live off the tourists?  As for the bright boys at the National Science Foundation, shouldn’t they be screaming blue bloody murder at having their budget cut to subsidize pork for dummies, shouting for redress from the ramparts and the rooftops, mobilizing a national protest against stupidity in general and this monstrous folly in particular?

Dream on.  This “manifestation of the lack of intellect” wasn’t going to help my investigation much.  The best thing about Vesuvio is that while their coffee is pretty good, they also serve a nice selection of grappas.  Mr. Soros would be pleased to know that his money was being well-spent.

The Case of the Missing Gray Matter will continue...


.©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2004
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