Eiron’s Archives 08

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Although I have absolutely no intention of testing your wretched .exe file, I will take it at your word that it performs the ‘filesize indexing function’ flawlessly. My advice would be to post it to one or other of the innumerable ‘shareware’ bartering sites on the www. You will probably make a fortune.


Dear 22_zephyr_battler.

I am deeply flattered that you have seen fit to put my name forward to the Worshipful Company of Viticulturists ; but, if I may be permitted to explain –

As you may be aware, I spent several years in the investigation of the possibility of growing grapevines in controlled climatic indoor conditions. In Ireland to be precise. To cut a very long story short the project was a failure. Although we developed some interesting new techniques, including the use of molasses ( 0.5Kg / sq. Mtr ) to artificially enhance the fructose content, we eventually came to realise that the vine simply cannot be constrained in this way and remain happy. Even Guyot’s pruning and Žpamprage cannot recompense.

We belatedly realised that the vine is a truly complex being, with needs and aspirations far beyond our current supply capabilities. The vine strives to be free, to ‘see’ if that’s not too fanciful a concept, the open horizons, the sky, the changing meteorological conditions, and of course the landscape. Constraint in a man-made ‘shed’, however well thought-out and constructed, will leave the vine, in a word, unhappy.

And, as I am sure I have no need to tell you, an unhappy vine can only produce unhappy grapes – which will, and I can now say this without the slightest doubt – produce an unhappy wine.

Who, in all conscience, would wish to promulgate infelicitousness upon the world with such a potion? A wine with undertones, if not overtones, of constraint, myopia, and artificiality ? It is true that the great majority of wine drinkers may not have the exquisitely tuned palate required to perceive these latent properties – but that is not the point – no-one of sound virtues could allow such a concoction to be produced under their stewardship.

In hindsight, I now consider that my exploration in the field of indoor viniculture – however well meaning at the time – was, in fact, a crime against the ‘personality’ of the genus Vitis. I regret, therefore, that I must turn down your kind offer.

I wouldn’t mind one of those aprons though, if you have a spare.


Dear flat&underscore3317

It’s timely that you should enquire as to my views on the pressing problem of the UK’s rapidly expanding prison population, as I have been resolutely pondering the matter of late – I offer the following solution.

It’s somewhat radical , so take a deep breath.

It is currently estimated that each one of the present incumbents of Her Majesty’s penal institutions costs the UK taxpayer around £30,000 per year, considerably more than the wages that a working person may expect to gain in a low-level menial job, but basic mathematics shows that if the government were to pay the criminal, say £20K, to stay out of prison, on the solemn condition, of course, that he/ she would promise to commit no further crimes, then the authorities, and thus the taxpayers, would save a great deal of money, although without wishing to be overly pessimistic, we should obviously bear in mind that a certain proportion of the n’er’do’wells would undoubtedly renegue on their promise, and so we would need a backup strategy, which would perforce have to be severe enough to discourage all but the most determined of scallywags, to whit I propose, as a last resort, deportation to Howard Island, 80Km off the northeast coast of Australia, which would be preferable surely to a very expensive, and perhaps very long and tedious unproductive . . . . sentence ?

And relax . . .

[ we’ve already made the Howard Island ‘joke’, archives, Oct 03. Ed.]


Dear Rhodoandron

Newly refreshed, it is with the greatest delight that I undertake to endeavour to try to manage to elucidate for you the subject of – ‘nano’.

Nano’ comes between ‘micro’ ( very small ), and ‘pico’ ( astonishingly tiny ), – so ‘nano’ must, and does, clearly, mean, extremely very minute. I believe though, that we should carefully beware of overuse of the ‘nano’ prefix – because so doing may well lead to a devaluation in the concept of smallness.

Somehow, we managed, before nanophily became fashionable, to describe diminutive objects, such as bacteria, fungal spores, and radiolaria etcetera without having to imbue them with this ephemeral quasi-occult property ‘nano-ism ’ that is so ubiquitously prevalent today.

They were just small things.

As you will be aware, I am an ardent supporter of reductio ad absurdum , and therefore I would suggest that it would be tiresome in the extreme, would it not, if we were to label every very large object with the prefix ‘mega’ or even worse ‘giga ’ ? So, a new estuary crossing would become a ‘gigabridge’. A new office building a ‘gigablock’. A political gathering a ‘gigarally ’ and so on and so on.

All the foregoing is compounded, of course, by the simple truth that ‘size’ is, de facto, a relative measurement, thus rendering meaningless any man-made conceits regarding ‘classes’ of size. It’s merely a sliding scale, a vector, from the quantum vacuum at one end to the entire universe at the other.

We must shrug off these awkward and constraining ‘power-of-ten’ anthropocentric anachronisms and leave them behind with their inventors, the ancient Greeks. Hope that clears it up for you.


In answer to your supplemental query, 500mg twice a day at the very most.

Dear Malchato

I don’t know how many transistors there in your new processor. Why don’t you purchase a microscope and try counting them ?

You will, of course, first have to remove the chip’s protective casing ( usually ceramic in nature ) without damaging the internal silicon wafer. I would suggest that a local university’s geology department may be able to provide you with the chemicals suitable for dissolving ceramics. If you are extremely careful, the device may still function afterwards, but you’ll have to operate your computer in a darkened room, as photons can interfere with the exposed semiconductor’s normal function. P.S. Wear rubber gloves.

Dear FeckTheEd.

I am only allowed to discuss technical and scientific matters in this column apparently, and so I shall endeavour to appraise – purely from a scientific viewpoint you understand, last night’s rendition of Schniztler’s – Der Reigen, at my favourite ‘Ciba’ theatre at Lucerne, overlooking lake Geneva.

I shan’t hesitate to give it four stars. That’s ****. Four asterisks to you dear magazine and readers ! Ha ! no-one has the faintest idea what I’m talking about do they ? ( Purely from a scientific viewpoint you understand . . . )

As ever to the question. This time, the riveting ‘ Is a grape a vegetable or a fruit ?’

Well, yes and no. Some researchers define a vegetable as ‘any living thing which relies on chlorophyll to survive’. On the other hand, a grape is, of course, a plant-based seed-bearing container, and so is undoubtedly fruitish.

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