Saturday, May 26, 2012

Towel Day

My Fellow Comedists,

Yesterday was Towel Day, the international celebration of the work of Douglas Adams. Like all other nerds who love comedy, Douglas Adams was my hero. His dry, smart, playful humor has made him a modern day Lewis Carroll.

My favorite passage:

The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambelweeny 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 — and such generators were often used to break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the hostess's undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance to the theory of indeterminacy.

Many respectable physicists said that they weren't going to stand for this, partly because it was a debasement of science, but mostly because they didn't get invited to those sorts of parties.

Another thing they couldn't stand was the perpetual failure they encountered while trying to construct a machine which could generate the infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship across the mind-paralyzing distances between the farthest stars, and at the end of the day they grumpily announced that such a machine was virtually impossible.

Then, one day, a student who had been left to sweep up after a particularly unsuccessful party found himself reasoning in this way: If, he thought to himself, such a machine is a virtual impossibility, it must have finite improbability. So all I have to do in order to make one is to work out how exactly improbable it is, feed that figure into the finite improbability generator, give it a fresh cup of really hot tea... and turn it on!

He did this and was rather startled when he managed to create the long sought after golden Infinite Improbability generator. He was even more startled when just after he was awarded the Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness he was lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had realized that one thing they couldn't stand was a smart-ass.

Two questions. First, your favorite Douglas Adams passage. Second, what is the difference between The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and an iPad rigged to only access Wikipedia?

Live, love, and laugh,

Irreverend Steve