The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

is an excellent book by Douglas Adams (isbn 978-0-330-49119-8). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages.

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
The Guide also tells you on which planets the best Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters are mixed, how much you can expect to pay for one and what voluntary organizations exist to help you rehabilitate afterwards.
People of Earth, your attention please. This is Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz of the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council...
The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language.
The prisoners sat in the Poetry Appreciation chars - strapped in.
'Space', it says, 'is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. Listen...' and so on.
The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) were of course well understood.
Here I am, brain the size of a planet and they ask me to take you down to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction? Cos I don't.
For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch sensitive - you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot muscular expenditure of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same programme.
'Oh God,' said Zaphod. He hadn't worked with this computer for long but had already learned to loathe it.
'Computer!' shouted Zaphod. 'Rotate angle of vision through one-eighty degrees and don't talk about it!'
Many men of course became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor - at least no one worth speaking of.
'Hi there! This is Eddie your shipboard computer, and I'm feeling just great, guys, and I know I'm just going to get a bundle of kicks out of any program you care to run through me.'
'You just let the machines get on with the adding up,' warned Majikthise, 'and we'll take care of the eternal verities, thank you very much. You want to check your legal position you do, mate. Under the law the Quest for the Ultimate Truth is quite clearly the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers.'
'I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is.'
R is a velocity measure, defined as a reasonable speed of travel that is consistent with health, mental wellbeing and not being more than say five minutes late.


No comments:

Post a comment