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Thursday, March 08, 2012

National Lampoon's Vacation

While watching National Lampoons Vacation, I could not help but notice that the luggage was tied to the roof of the car, while the family dog rode inside. Reflecting on the situation, I realized that I have a number of images - iconic images - of the family station wagon or estate car with gear tied down on the roof, sometimes under a water-proof bit of fabric to protect it. Nowadays there are plastic containers which one can fix to the car roof, and they are sort of torpedo shaped... to be honest, they remind me of the container used in the funeral ceremonies aboard the Enterprise for Spock in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and every time I see a car coming at me with one lashed to the gunwhales, I hear the mournful piping which accompanied that poignant scene.

Of course, the first time I heard about Romney's Dog, I assumed it was an oversight, just like in Vacation, where Chevy Chase forgets that the dog is tied to the bumper, and then proceeds to drive a couple hundred miles.

No, it was all a plan; there was a spreadsheet somewhere with all the possibilities figured out for their trip from Boston to Grand Bend, Ontario. Obviously, Romney must have taken into effect the chance that Canada Customs might have been a little more Animal Rights PC, and they might call the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police... we were always down with the OPP) and force him to change things around. It was in one of the scenarios covered in the spreadsheet...
The article I read said the Year of Romney's Dog was 1983, and that was one year before the Business School at the University of Michigan got their first desktop computers; hitherto, we worked via Hollerith (IBM) cards or DEK writers... I did all my GPSS work on DEK writers. (DEK writers connected us to the mainframe computer for input and output and was a large, high speed printer at which one sat. Since the results of a GPSS program could be printed as we sat there, it was an improvement on the old method of sitting at a keypunch machine, taking the Hollerith cards to the computing center, and checking back later in the week.)
Lotus 1-2-3 was released in January, 1983 and it rocketed past VisiCalc, so it may have been Lotus that Romney used to make his canine projections.

Regardless of all that, one can either be amazed at Romney's fortitude at sticking with a plan (ill thought out as it was), or may be appalled at his callousness towards animals. It is a free country.
However, if Romney were to be elected, and it came time to balance budgets, I know whose backs it would be balanced upon... and I know what groups of people would be inside the station wagon, and which groups of people would be in an animal crate tied to the roof.

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