Regulars and Shorts, Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: November 2013

By Dennis Hinkamp

Surfing dogs and Roomba cats.
by Dennis Hinkamp


Despite my liberal leanings, I want to go on record that I fully support whatever loss of privacy it takes to keep providing us free internet access to surfing dogs and Roomba-riding cats. I’d even give amnesty and a free iPad to Snowden if that’s what it takes.

We need to keep the Internet free and weird to counterbalance a numbingly absurd, yet brutal, reality that lately seems to be scripted by failed Saturday Night Live writers. Are Internet memes any weirder than the so-called real news? Something that seemed like a joke last week is this week’s legitimate headline.

Consider these: The United States just changed its international policy based on a nearly incoherent and unintentional rambling blurted by John Kerry when he was trying to kill time at a news conference. A couple months ago, Putin was most famous for posting photos only slightly less embarrassing than Anthony Weiner’s. Now he is publishing editorials in the New York Times that mock the U.S. and he’s taking credit for brokering world peace.

Building on this, I predict that next week Putin, emboldened by his re­cent success, dares President Obama to lick a frozen flagpole. It is unclear if it will be a double dog dare. There is also probably some truth to the rumor that the White House has ordered Kerry to keep blathering filibuster style in hopes he will cough up another hair ball of wisdom to end the economic crisis and produce a coherent cost/benefit analysis of fracking.

I admit that surfing dogs and Roomba-riding cats might require a mild amount of animal cruelty or at least humiliation; I just look at it as their contribution to free food and a warm place to sleep.

These momentary bites of silliness break up the seriousness of the day the same way a smoke break or a shot of vodka in your orange juice used to. Now you don’t even have to leave your desk or deploy breath mints. Maybe if I were younger I would care more about what Miley Cyrus isn’t wearing, but I’d rather stick with cats and dogs. It’s not that I have no libido left, but honestly I don’t want to die with one of her videos on my browsing history. I want something entertaining that is also conducive to watching in public.

I don’t know how many times stuff like this has saved me from becoming irritable while waiting in line for some sullen coffee shop kid or bike shop technicians who think I am too old to bother with.

When I’m at the grocery store I say “No, fine, go ahead and take your 35 items through the Express line; I’m content here watching this pug learn to surf.”

Or, when waiting for my car: “My oil change will take how long? That doesn’t sound very jiffy to me, but that’s fine, I’ve got 10 more Catur­day videos to catch up on.”

Sure, the Internet is full of time-wasting features, but let’s give more credit to the sanity-savers that get us through the day. u

Dennis Hinkamp has a dog that was born in Russia, but she does not surf.

This article was originally published on November 1, 2013.