I’m doing Facebook, and a friend wants to know how to “expand her browser” to see a Facebook story. I answer the question (zoom out) and add that I never look at Facebook stories, as when I zoom out to see them, they are rinky-dink.
I startled myself with my own memory of that expression. I last used it over 55 years ago.
Rinky-dink was an expression kids in the 1950s had for describing inadequate or unimpressive products or productions. You could also use “Mickey Mouse,” “cheesy,” “faky” or “phoooooony.” (“Phoooooony” is pronounced like “phony” but drawn out about 10 times longer. This word usually applied to movie monsters. More emphatic than merely faky, it implies the viewer suffered insult or injury.)
Rinky-dink warrants revival. It has lots of applications today. So much TV fare today fits the descriptor: “Jeopardy” hosted by Dr. Oz. “Fox & Friends.” Whatever Disney is up to lately, especially connected with “Star Wars” or princesses.
Derek Chauvin’s defense team is rinky-dink. The defense has been to show that George Floyd committed two criminal acts that day: namely, taking an illicit drug and trying to spend a fake $20 bill.
Neither of those criminal acts warrants near a death penalty, but Chauvin wants to use them in defense against a murder charge. The only way that works is if Chauvin’s job included judge, jury, legislator and governor so he could instantly change the law to make the death penalty apply to those crimes, pass the bill without veto, try Floyd before himself and himself convict him and then sentence Floyd to death. And then execute him — which he did.
In fact, Chauvin’s whole job once Floyd was deemed unarmed and in restraints was to make sure medics arrived at the scene, as the man was in distress, and after Floyd was treated, either give him a citation or warning or help get him to the police station for booking. That is all.
Rinky-dink philosophies date back to Plato’s “Meno,” in which Socrates reaches into a slave’s mind, or minds of previous incarnations, to show the slave that he already knew a special case of the Pythagorean Theorem. This is where Socrates, speaking Plato’s words, demonstrates the now-famous “Socratic method” for squeezing hidden knowledge out of people by asking them questions.
Since Socrates only asked questions, the reasoning went, any true answers the victim coughs up must have already been within said victim, and if they had never learned that truth in this life, well, that proves reincarnation.
According to Plato’s thinking (expressed through his attempt to reincarnate Socrates) followed to its awesome extreme, all mathematics was already known to us because there are no discoveries, only re-discoveries (and teachings — but then, how’d the teacher know?). With this, I’ll contemplate the period before multicellular organisms existed. Prehistoric organisms must have had all knowledge jammed into their DNA or RNA or both. How it all got there, Plato’s theory doesn’t say, thankfully. At least there’s that limit to all this nonsense.
I also blame my Philosophy 101 professor, whose name I will say was Frank. Frank made us freshpersons read the dialogue as a warm up to “Gorgias,” in which Socrates dialogues with himself (everybody else was by then fed up with him) — the real torture of the first half of the fall term. The second half, we were tormented by John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty.” By the time Frank was done with us, we all knew we had never understood philosophy in all our previous lives.
My theory departs from Frank, Plato and Socrates. I say none of us need to be taught what is stupid. We already know it. We are all experienced in it. You don’t have to contemplate past lives. You thought incredibly stupid ideas countless times before you were a year old. Remember? Try to remember; you’ll thank me for it. Then, when you remember all the wrong things you have thought, all you’ll need to do is subtract those out, and if there’s anything left, it’s gold.
OK, maybe not gold. Maybe Mickey Mouse. But not wrong.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of the Apr. 14-20, 2021 issue.