Eiron’s Archives 06

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“ When does a ‘ fence ‘ become a ‘ wall ‘ and vice versa ? “.

After considerable pondering, I have come up with my own definition – which, though perhaps not quite the last word on the subject, will, I believe, serve us reasonably well for the time being.

A ‘ fence ‘ is a ‘ wall ‘ that you can kick a hole in.

Dear GigtonRok

No, I cannot answer your question as to the reasons for mankind’s fascination – some say obsession – with all things spherical. As you point out, the media ( which can be viewed as an alarmingly accurate fine-tuned reflection of the public’s interest ) is simply packed chock full with balls of all kinds. Especially at weekends. Even the most erudite newspapers have whole supplements devoted to analysing spherical exploits.

Why this should be I cannot say – all I can provide is the information that I, like yourself, was evidently sidelined at some evolutionary bifurcation in the past, and that I have not the faintest idea why anyone would find knocking, throwing, kicking, or whirling balls around on strings of anything but passing minimal concern.

It may be of interest to you though that an old colleague of mine – who also suffered from ( or should I say was gifted with ) the same evolutionary bypass, once tried to orgainise a national counter-event which he was planning to call No Balls Day. Sadly, it was a complete flop.

Dear Bslfoe5555_I

You asked “ Should I drink milk ? “

Let me first assume that since you contacted me via a rather well-formed e-mail, you are ( or at least should be ) already weaned.

And next, can I also assume that by ‘ milk ’ you might mean cows’ milk ? Then I really wouldn’t think so. Have you seen where it comes from ? There are plenty of other mammals on the planet, and I don’t see at all why we should be obsessed with the lactational products of slobbering inbred cattle.

Don’t you realise you could even be inheriting their one-fencepost-short-of-a-paddock personality by some as yet undiscovered biochemical route ?

Now, at the risk of offending all and sundry ( including my editor ) can I suggest that you try [ ███████ ] milk instead ? And, may I take things a step further. If my guess is correct, and that idea does indeed offend your sensibilities, I urge you to ponder, with all your concentration, as to why that should be – if you cannot come up with a realistic answer, then stop drinking it.

Dear QuinCycle

I am substantially puzzled by your question “ Is faster-than-light travel an untested theory ”

How can something be untested ? That is like saying ‘ un-sawn-in-half ‘ It has either been tested or it has not.

Dear ClueDoh

Yes, as it happens, I have a failproof method of preventing burning in the eyes whilst chopping onions. Forget all that nonsense about chewing gum, wearing swimming goggles and other such tomfoolery. The trick is to disconnect yourself from the acrid source of sulphurous fumes in the kitchen – and I guarantee my method will work with 100% efficacy. It’s called a restaurant.


Dear TrofiLigure

I regret that I cannot answer your question because I have no idea what you mean by “ clockwise ”.

The word is of course derived from the direction in which clocks run – and that in turn comes from the direction in which the shadows on sundials ( humanity’s first clocks ) rotate.

I’m sure that I don’t need to point out to you that they only rotate in ‘that’ direction in the Northern hemisphere. If you build a sundial in the Southern hemisphere you will rapidly [ shouldn’t that should be ‘slowly’ ? Ed. ] see that it rotates the other way.

We urgently need another word to represent ‘that’ direction – and in my opinion it should not be at all clock-related. I admit that I am temporarily at a loss to come up with better definition though.

Dear Defenistractor

No, I do not see why “ ‘ Better safe than sorry ‘ is a reasonable strategy by which to approach life in general. “

Allow me illustrate with a practical example.

When I arrived at my office this evening I took the lift ( elevator if you must ) to the nth floor as usual. Now, if the lift had suffered a catastrophic failure I would have plummeted to the ground ( and, much as I should like to experience weightlessness, I would prefer that it would last longer that a second or so, and not be followed by a possibly fatal bone-crushing jolt ). Clearly, I am well aware of this risk, but am reassured somewhat by the fact that I happen to know that there is a regular maintenance contract on the lift equipment. Unfortunately though, I do not have routine access to the maintenance logs – so how can I ensure that the job is being performed to a satisfactory standard ? Perhaps I should ask to see them ? But, even if I do gain sight of them, how do I know for certain that some lackadaisical individual in the firm hasn’t been forging the results – to save money and/or time ? Perhaps I would be better off considering undertaking my own independent inspections ? Although I am not an expert in elevator machinery, I am confident that if I attended a course I could soon . . . [ Sorry to interrupt Eiron, but I think we probably all get the point by now – thanks Ed. ]

Dear Tunn3lPillar

I am sorry to hear that you are ‘ a compulsive gambler ’ and, though I am not a qualified therapist, I can perhaps offer you my non-expert thoughts on the subject, in the sincere hope that they may be of assistance.

Would I be correct in guessing that maybe you are finding that on average, you are losing more than you are winning ? Am I wrong ? I will be most surprised if I am – because I am quite convinced that you would not have contacted me if the opposite were true.

No, compulsive gambling is not the problem. It’s compulsive losing that you need to look out for.

Dear TracListless

You asked “ Is there a scientific method to prevent snoring ? “ .

I would like to begin by asking you to imagine a primeval scenario – where a small group of protohumans has decided to bed down at some favourable spot on the Savannah. Now, assuming that these folk suffered from snoring in the same way that we in the present-time do, we can be sure that this appallingly trenchant and loud cacophony will have attracted the attention of all and sundry : viz. birds, mammals and reptiles in the environ – especially those of a predatory nature !

It seems clear to me that this din would have been the equivalent of an advertisement – screaming ‘ I am asleep and semi-comatose – please come and devour me.’

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