Eiron’s Archives 07

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[ With kind regards to The Right Honourable Joseph Addison, c. 1709 ]


Dear Rumenescent-gascloud

My advice to you would be to stop thinking about infinity. It will just cause you mental fatigue, and I can ( almost ) guarantee it will get you nowhere. The hackneyed old example which you cite – ‘given an infinite time, would a troupe of monkeys with typewriters eventually type the entire works of Shakespeare ’ – misses the point. Yes, of course they would – but they’d all have to finish at the same time, and someone would have to collect the folios right then – otherwise they’d be certain to rip all the paper to shreds, and would have to start again.

It’s somewhat reminiscent of those famous ‘life forms from primordial soup’ experiments which ‘proved’ that amino acids – the basic building blocks of protein, and so life itself, – could be formed in a tank with some methane, water, ammonia and which was bombarded with ultra violet light and electrical discharges. The experiments were supposedly trying to simulate conditions on a very young Earth. It’s commonly overlooked though, that when the amino acids formed, the experiment was promptly terminated – if it had been left to run, the intense ultra violet radiation would have undone everything rather pronto one suspects.

Having said that, the concept of infinity isn’t overthrown by the foregoing. It’s simply that we may have to wait considerably longer than expected for satisfactory results.

In other words, infinity will have to be very much larger than previously anticipated.

By the way, your e-mail ‘handle’ is quite appalling – unless, that is, you’ve invented an entirely new branch of science – veterinary astronomy – in which case you have my apologies.

Dear 357&deamon

Thank you for sending me the ‘elongated cuboid structure’ which apparently fell from the sky and stove in the roof of your car recently.

Like yourself, I am a great admirer of Arthur C. Clarke, but I have to say that the chances of the object being a monolithic communication device from another galaxy are somewhat remote.

I’ve been trying to piece together clues as to the possible origin of the object – which appears to be some kind of ceramic. I did note, however, from your address, that you are resident in a large block of flats located on what I believe is called a ‘council estate’ in Mosside, Manchester UK.

I am returning the object to you, and my suggestion is that you keep it – as an enigmatic curio. To preserve its mystery, I would advise against sending it to any other authorities for identification. Some unromantic boffin somewhere might mistakenly tell you it’s a house brick.

Dear scargoyle77

Yes, there are a number of companies producing tablets which contain ‘Polyphenols’ – the active ingredients which have been identified in red wine as powerful antioxidants. Specifically Trans-3,5,4′-trihydroxystilbene, also known as Resveratrol. ( It’s also found in Giant Knotweed, which as you may imagine, is quite a bit cheaper than a decent Labrusca, and so has suddenly become extremely popular with ‘supplement’ manufacturers ).

Whether or not the tablets would help to prolong the life about which you appear to be complaining, I couldn’t say. I can assure you though, that if you use them in place of a perspicacious intake of a suitably harmonious red – it will seem longer . . .

As Shakespeare put it :

Wine, Wine Wine ! ( First Servingman , Act 4, Scene 5, Coriolanus )

Dear Schopenhauersleftbank

Various European Governments have implemented schemes, in their drive to – ahem ! – ‘empower stakeholders’, so that you automatically have the right to ‘sell’ any electricity, which you generate, back to the grid. And yes, I see no reason why this strategy shouldn’t also apply to the other ‘utilities’, such as gas and water.

With regard to your query though, I’m unclear how it could be that your household is ‘generating water’. My only guess is that you are making far too many trips to your local hostelry than can be good for your health.

Dear plexigloo24

One of the problems with this engagement is that I’m constantly asked the same questions. I have come to thoroughly sympathise with celebrities who get agitated with queries like “ So Paul, did you and John write the songs together, or did you write them separately ?”.

But we all have our cross to bear don’t we ? When I was in Equatorial New Guinea we had a motto which was “Mbeckamba dingwe beza n’koto” which loosely translates as : ‘Your donkey works harder than you do’. And so – to work.

Yes, you are entirely correct in assuming that the Earth has a core which is liquid. In fact, our planet Earth is almost entirely molten. The wonderful Science Museum in London has a figurative example in the form of a football. A postage stamp is affixed to its surface, and the exhibit text reads “If our planet were this size, the Earth’s crust would be the same thickness as this postage stamp”

So you see, we are not entirely dissimilar to Gerris Lacustris. That’s the Common Pondskater – as I’m sure you knew. If we could interview such an insect, I’m sure we’d find that they firmly believe that the surface of their pond is a solid as granite. As evidence, they could cite the fact that in the whole history of pondskater-dom , not one individual has ever fallen through the surface.

So, there you have it. You need not concern yourself about falling through the crust.

p.s. If you do, ask your next of kin to write and let me know, and I’ll make a donation to the Pondlife Protection Society.

Dear Elastopragmatist

I’m disturbed to learn that you are still waiting to receive your new ‘software patch’ . Especially as it is, apparently, a fix for the previous two patches – which, although fully addressing a newly discovered firewall encumbrance, unfortunately introduced a new security vulnerability.

It’s not easy I know, but I suggest that it may be less frustrating if you were to change professions. A friend is opening a duvet franchise in Riyadh if you’re interested.

Dear &&%flanngernaught23

In the old days, when I saw a particularly arrant example of a dumbed-down-to-the-gutter TV advertisement – I was apt to become a trifle despondent. This was because I had surmised that – after several decades of meticulous fine-tuning and demographic focus-group profiling – the ‘Huge Ad Agencies of the World’ had discovered, despite all hopes to the contrary, that the general population had the IQ of molluscs and should be treated as such.

Not a happy concept I think you’ll agree.

Then ‘pop-ups’ arrived. As you point out in your query, everyone ( as you say, ‘every last damn one’ ) hates them. All they serve to do is irritate the bejayzuz out of any web-using person who has more than seven operable neurones.

That is when I awoke to the conclusion that – all along – the ‘Huge Ad Agencies of the World’ – did not, in fact, have the faintest idea about what people like or dislike. They appear to inhabit that make-believe city in the air, first conjured up by the ancient Greek satirical dramatist Aristophanes – the municipality known as ‘Cloud-Cuckoo Land’ .

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