Well done, Mr McClure, whoever and wherever you are. Well done, that man.
Well done, Mr McClure, whoever and wherever you are. Well done, that man.
Most of them you never see, or notice. Yet everywhere you go, quiet acts of kindness surround you.
Every day, good people live their lives with strength, with purpose, with compassion and integrity. Every day, the whole world is lifted by people who are happy to have the opportunity to make a difference.
Usually, those who boast about it or make grand promises are not the ones who are actually advancing life’s goodness. It’s the quiet, sincere kindness, from folks who have no interest in taking credit, that gives each day its special shine.
It’s hard to remember sometimes, with the relentless miserableness of the news, but the world is actually filled with good, caring people who never find themselves in the headlines and who never care to, either.
The magnitude of their cumulative kindness each day is too large and far too widespread to ever be calculated. It is the perfect tonic to those who are toxic in our life – people who should know better but are nevertheless happy to offload their personal stresses onto us, to be angry, unreasonable, venial or just plain bad.
Life is good today because so many people choose to see it as good. And in every small moment, each in his or her own way, they humbly give life to the goodness.
Quiet acts of kindness surround you, even now. So feel the goodness and quietly pass it on.
A word. A gentle gesture. A task done for someone who can’t manage it themselves. A little encouragement. Or just some simple unforced friendliness.
Feelgood psycho-babble? Nope. This isn’t just “fluffy stuff”. Living in a close-knit community and having good neighbours could have hidden health benefits and may even reduce people’s risk of suffering a heart attack, new research has claimed.
Researchers in the USA said that the social support and reduction in stress levels afforded by getting on well with the people in your community could be of benefit, particularly for elderly people more likely to suffer a health crisis.
Thy found, based on a four-year study of more than 5,000 Americans over 50, that people who said they trusted and liked their neighbours, felt part of the community, and expected their neighbours would help them in a difficulty, were less likely to go on to have a heart attack.
Levels of social cohesion were rated one to seven based on people’s responses. Each one point on the scale represented a 17 per cent lower risk of heart attack, the researchers from the University of Michigan said.
Well, yesterday Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink and I were at the races in the afternoon. We were having a wonderful day – our mare Khutulun won with a huge surge at the end of her race and a great time was had by all.
But it was somewhat spoiled by the fact that all the way to the racecourse, about an hour and a half, the car had been busily flashing warning lights at us (and plenty of things that go ping were ping-ping-pinging for all they were worth) and after Khutulun had duly saluted (at 14-1 no less, thank you very much) we called the Roadside Assist guy.
He picked us up from the back of the grandstand, which was very nice of him, as by then there was the mother of all thunderstorms breaking over our head, and to find us he had to weave his way through thousands of pie-eyed drunken revellers and then take us from the track to our car which was miles away in the car park. He didn’t have to say yes to doing that, he just did. And he was chirpy, and cheery, and made us feel better because of his relentless enthusiasm.
He duly got us going, chatting cheerfully all the time dispensing little jokes and bits of folk wisdom, although the car did play up all the way home and finally conked out altogether about three streets from our house, but that’s another story.
What really struck me apart from Mr Happy Car Fixer was the little guy in his 60s sitting in his car waiting for the traffic to clear leaving the course, who got chatting to us as we piled out of the mechanic’s van – that’s when we eventually made it back to our car after narrowly avoiding running down half a dozen young ladies who obviously thought that drinking four bottles of cheap champagne in the hospitality tent somehow makes you invulnerable if hit by a truck.
He was an immigrant from somewhere or other – I am guessing Serbia or Croatia or somewhere like that from his thick accent – and as soon as he worked out we were in a fix he said “Well, I can take you to Melbourne, no problem.” He just smiled an encouraging cracked-tooth, unshaven smile and said it, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to drive someone you’ve met 30 seconds before 125 kilometres down the freeway.
We didn’t need his help in the end, but what a generous thing to say? Fair bucked us up.
As we limped cautiously out of the car park a cheerfully sloshed guy making his way through the puddles back to town called out to us “Any chance of a lift?” and Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink, entirely unsure that the car would keep going for a hundred yards let alone an hour and a half answered “No, sorry.” and I felt a little guilty after the kindness that had been shown to us.
But we had been told in no uncertain terms not to stop if we wanted to get home, so we spluttered and lurched onwards.
Sorry mate. Hit us up again next time. Just let me get the car fixed first. Which I have no doubt will cost every penny we won on Khutulun.
Funny old life. And often, a kind one.
So we just passed a thousand posts. 1001 to be precise. And well over half a million hits.
As is our wont when we reach a milestone the first thing we do is say thank you to you, Dear Reader. After all, you’re the point.
Over more than three years the blog has become an eclectic mixture of politics and popular culture, enlivened with a decent dose of sheer nonsense from time to time, and we’re really quite proud of it. It’s been re-reported all over the world, read in virtually every country in the world, and we have a made a bunch of wonderful and loyal new friends. You know who you are, and how much we appreciate your support.
And as is also our wont, we wanted into the blogosphere to find out the significance of the number we’re celebrating, in this case the palindromic 1001.
So we came across Norway’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 87th Academy Awards. Apparently Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams is delightfully quirky and gently affecting as it ponders how much a life really weighs, and whether it is possible to truly measure happiness. We’ve never heard of it but apparently it’s “buoyed by trademark deadpan humour and wry observation: a film as restrained – and as slowly illuminating – as the protagonist.” Which sounds pretty good, really, so we might look it out on the worldwideinterwebs to reward ourselves for the effort involved in 1001 posts.
1001 was a special year, of course. It was the first year of not only the eleventh century in the Christian calendar but also the first year in a new millenium. Pretty big. It was a rather disturbed year in Europe. Lots of people called Aeth-something or miscellaneous Viking names were having at it.
And talking of Vikings, it’s also thought to be the year that Leif Eriksson and his band of brothers and sisters established small settlements in and around Vinland in North America, hundreds of years before Columbus found the place accidentally.
Baitoushan volcano on what is now the Chinese-Korean border went pop with one of the biggest explosions in history. It has remined active 9and dangerous) ever since. In other China news, construction began on the Liaodi Pagoda, the tallest pagoda in Chinese history, which was completed 54 years later.
In mathematics, One thousand and one is a sphenic number, a pentagonal number, a pentatope number and the first four-digit palindromic number. We have not the faintest idea what any of those things are, so we’ve left the links in for you to find out.
In The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, harem member Scheherazade tells her husband the king a new story every night for 1,001 nights, thus staving off her execution. From this, 1001 is sometimes used as a generic term for “a very large number”, starting with a large number (1000) and going beyond it, as in:
In Arabic, this is usually phrased as “one thousand things and one thing“, e.g.:
Incidentally, the story of why Scheherazade was in danger of her life is quite interesting.
The main story concerns Shahryar, whom the narrator calls a “Sasanian king” ruling in “India and China”. He is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief he decides that all women are the same.
Shahryar begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king, curious about how the story ends, is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again. And do it goes on for 1,001 nights.
The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict jinns, ghouls, apes, sorcerers, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, and not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, his Grand Vizier, Jafar al-Barmaki, and the famous poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in which the tale of Scheherazade is set.
Sometimes a character in Scheherazade’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture.
The different versions have different individually detailed endings (in some Scheherazade asks for a pardon, in some the king sees their children and decides not to execute his wife, in some other things happen that make the king distracted) but they all end with the king giving his wife a pardon and sparing her life. Phew.
The most immediate reference that occurred to us for 1001 was 1001 detergent, used for various uses, but primarily for carpets.
“1001 cleans a big big carpet, for less than half a crown” was the hugely famous slogan, and I have never forgotten it.
Anyway, the ad is just simply wonderful – just love the accents.
Even better, the product is still available although the ads, sadly, have ceased.
Most people these days wouldn’t even know what half a crown was, more’s the pity. Ah well.
Happy 1001th everyone, and once again, thank you!
We need to warn you, Dear Reader, we have discovered how to use the close up feature. This may go on for some weeks.
One night about a year ago Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink turned the late night TV shopping channel on.
It was an accidental act, in truth, but we found ourselves taken by the subject matter: to wit, buying a new camera at what looked like an amazingly low price.
It turned out, of course, that it wasn’t an especially great price, and we could have walked round the corner and bought it at the same price and got some professional advice into the bargain.
But no matter. We had always wanted a nice camera, as opposed to taking snaps using the iPhone, not that the remarkable and ubiquitous little device didn’t actually take nice snaps, but this one seemed very swish and a nice colour, and the front pointy bit went in and out really far, so in we dove.
Anyhow, as a sign for how ludicrously busy all our lives have become, this weekend is almost the first chance we have had to play with the camera, at Smiths Beach on gorgeous Phillip Island, in Victoria, Australia.
Of course, as you will have discovered previously, Dear Reader, the new technological age sits somewhat heavily on our prematurely aging shoulders. Fresh from wrestling with things that go bing, we now found ourselves poking with uncertain, stubby little fingers at a camera for which a high-flying degree in advanced sub-atomic particle physics would be inadequate preparation.
There is not one, not two, but fully three ways to make the telephoto thingy whiz in and out. meaning, of course, that it does so when one least expects it to.
Press the wrong button, and the playback screen turns into a mass of statistics and charts telling you why you have just messed up the last shot taken. Trying to get back to just seeing the photo on its own again without the accompanying science takes fully half an hour of increasingly frantic thumbing through the “destructions” as Mrs W calls all manuals, which as with most things seems to be written in a sort of pig-din Japlish which defies easy translation.
The little diagrams of buttons on the camera would be very helpful if one didn’t need a magnifying glass to see which buttons they refer to, (dagnabbit, knew we left something out of the beach bag), as the whole booklet is clearly written for people with A1 20-20 vision aged 18, which as it emanates from the Land of the Rising Yen is somewhat curious as we never yet met a Nipponese who could see past the end of their nose without glasses as thick as the bottom of a Coke bottle, so quite who the manual is aimed at is something of a mystery.
Meanwhile the little twirly thing on the top offers you fully twenty “shooting modes”, and heaven forbid you should try and photograph a sunny Aussie beach in “Night Portrait” mode, as the seagulls flying by suddenly all look like Ring Wraiths or Dementors come to drive us back into the cottage.
Plumping for “Scenic” seems like a safe option, until you realise the sub-Menu offers you fully fifteen variations of scenic to choose from. Choosing between “Cloudy” and “Dusk” looks tricky to the untrained eye …Then, when one finishes the hour-long process of turning the damn thing on, one realises that there is actually more to taking a good photo than pointing and pressing. More digital photos (and before them, bazillions of miles of film) must have been taken of waves crashing on rocky seashores than almost any other subject matter you care to name. One very quickly realises that taking a good photo of a wave is clearly nigh-impossible. There is that wildly improbable nexus of the right camera, the right setting, the right moment, and that indefinable “eye” that true photographic geniuses have.
Which we, Dear Reader, do not.
Luckily, the world is such an intensely beautiful place that it is impossible to entirely stuff up photographing it even with one’s new techno-rich clicky thing. We did, we think, nevertheless manage to make the photos quite big and a suitable format for desktop wallpapers. Feel free to nick any you like.
A Spring day on a beach in rural Victoria is probably the best balm for the soul imaginable. Even when your camera is just another way of reminding you that the world is hurtling ever onward to a place where you no longer really belong.
No, these photographs are not very good.
But the world is. The world rocks.
(Gettit? The world rocks. Oh, never mind …)
Friday marked 100 days until the official release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – be still our beating hearts – and the franchise managed to celebrate in the worst way possible.
The Hunger Games’s official Twitter account released a (now deleted) poster where the worst-of-all-never-let-it-be-breathed-in-public C-word was accidentally strewn right across dear old Jennifer Lawrence’s face.
Now we know JLaw’s a sport, but really. Gentlemen. NONE of you noticed before you did this?
Find art director. Fire his or her sad ass.
Thanks to The Independent for the spot. And most of the rest of the internet. Jennifer will be starting to wish the damn thing had never been invented.
For more F*** Ups, just put F*** Up in the search box to the top left of this page. Enjoy.
We told you we’re obsessed. And now, thank goodness, we have remembered this. And found it. Productive afternoon.
How jolly, jolly good Python were at their peak. They manage to skewer medical pomposity and the incompetence of most health systems in one wince-inducing spot. Enjoy!
What’s your favourite Python sketch and why?
Beware a man seeking some peace and time to think.
We have recently completed some renovations at home, Dear Reader, and we now have yet more electrical devices that helpfully go Ding when they want to let us know they’ve done their bit, don’t know how to do their bit, or maybe they’re just feeling lonely because we haven’t sworn at them recently.
We have a toaster. It goes ding. Because two pieces of toast soaring into the air and landing in the dog’s bowl isn’t enough of a clue that it’s done its job successfully.
We have a cooktop. Electric. Swanky looking. It goes peep whenever you press a button. Take a ring all the way up from one to nine and that’s nine peeps. Leave a tea towel within a hundred yards of it’s blinking red diode controls and it peeps. It probably peeps on the hour just to share the existential horror of its owners at the passing of the day, but we haven’t caught it doing that yet.
We have a new oven. It peeps when it gets cold. It peeps when it gets hot. It peeps all the bloody time. It probably peeps hello as you come through the front door. It also has a bell as well as a peep, for when one has inadvertently turned a timer on because one cannot master the buttons. Given time, we will write a multi-instrument symphony for the oven alone.
We have a dishwasher. Leave the door open. Peep. Finish a wash cycle. Peep peep. A celebratory extra peep for shiny, dry dishes.
It lives in the kitchen with the fridge. That doesn’t peep, beep or ding. It bongs. When left open. Weird noise. Booo-ONG. Still, it’s Korean.
It has a little door on the front of it to let you get to the milk faster because it’s just too damn exhausting and time consuming to open, like, the whole fridge door. The little door has to be closed with the precision used to manufacture nuclear centrifuges because leave that open and a sepulchral bong sounds not once, but twice.
If you forget to switch your immaculate new iPhone to airplane mode on retiring you can pretty much guarantee that’s the night, as you lie there desperate for sleep, collapsed with sheer exhaustion, that you are awoken by a new Facebook friend you haven’t spoken to in real life in thirty years messaging you to tell you that he’s getting divorced over that little dalliance with a waitress and could he come stay for a bit. PING!
Do you think he’s ruined his life or is it a fresh start? PING!
Will the kids get over it? PING!
Should he be worried that he’s on his fourth scotch for the night? PING, PING, PING!
(Frighteningly, there’s even a popular iPhone app called, appropriately, Ping!, to send you random “humorous” or “useful” messages during the day. You’d have to really be Johnny No Friends to want that. Sad but true.)
A text message comes in. Buzz, Ding! (Yes, both.) Don’t forget the breakfast meeting at 6.30 am with the client. Except it’s now 4.30 am and you’ve been awake all night after being woken up by the suicidal Facebook friend.
We have a habit of getting in the car and starting the engine and then putting the seatbelt on. This upsets the car, which sings out a warning signal of not one, not two, but FIVE beeps.
Any messages the engine wants to send us – Windscreen washer bottle is empty – really? – we wouldn’t have noticed when we pressed the windscreen washer button and no water came out? – are accompanied by a beep.
As the sensors in the engine are so precise that they measure the coolant fluid dropping by as much as one one thousandth of a millimetre from full-to-overflowing – the only state it will accept for all oils and fluids – there are at least three beeps every time we start the engine, to go with the five reminding us to put our belt on.
While driving, the engine will sometimes send other messages – BEEP! – so randomly as to nearly cause us to drive off the road in shock, Mozart’s Requiem rudely interrupted to let us know that the boot isn’t so much open as just bored.
They’re building a home behind us. They start on site at 7am. The man on the little digger machine thingy who is digging drainage ditches has a device that makes his thing go beep beep beep (at a horribly screechy, high pitch designed to terrify dogs and cause them pain) when he’s reversing. Which we can just about see the common sense of, except he’s on the site on his own. So the only people he’s warning of his sudden backwards lurch are hundreds of yards away.
And they’re trying to get a lie in, after cancelling the breakfast meeting.
You know what cracks us up? The things that go ping in hospitals, on big imposing pingy machines next to very sick people. Ping, every time your heart beats. Ping if your blood pressure goes up. Or down. Or you wink, or move. You know how they reckon people in comas can hear you talking to them? Can you imagine days, weeks, months or worse lying immobile next to a machine that goes ping? Oh, the humanity of it.
Ding, beep, ping, pong, dong, bongy devices: you’re right. That is a shotgun in our backpack.
We are not even pretending to be rational. You have been warned.
I am very grateful to Mrs Wellthisiswhatithink for finding this little gem.
It really works, too.
I know so many people who need this, I thought I’d share. A few of the commenters on this blog need this. You know who you are. Now close your eyes …
It will never quite match The Dalek Relation Tape, but then we all know that stands in a class of its own, right?
Which reminds us, the Season 9 trailer for Dr Who has just broken out. Oh. My. Lord. Excited much?
Starts September 19. We don’t want to wish our life away, but we can’t wait.
Wandering around the worldwide interwebs can bring up a clutch of conspiracy theories, to be sure, but this link offers some of the more interesting UFO and “ghost” sitings recently captured on video.
If you have five minutes spare, click the link, have a look and tell us what you think.
Have you ever seen what you consider to be a UFO? Or a ghost?
We happen to think, based on no evidence whatsoever, that sometimes universes in the “multiverse” bump into one another in a way we don’t understand, and we see shadows of what’s going on there.
We recently watched one of those brain-snapping TV speculative science shows that argued there was an infinite number of number of universes in which with every action – in every moment, for the whole of time – the universe continually splits. Turn left walking down the street, one universe is created. Turn right, a different one is. Both then exist side by side, interminably, constantly re-splitting.
Apparently the maths works. And no, we don’t pretend for one instant to understand it.
We also think that in the future conquering time travel is inevitable, and in the universe as it stands right now, we can’t possibly be alone. So the idea of future beings or aliens checking us over doesn’t scare or surprise us at all.
Hey. Other recent research argues that aliens will look like us, pretty much. And if all the aliens look like Scarlett Johansson, frankly we say they can invade tomorrow.
For no particular reason, Dear Reader, we felt inclined to share some of these brilliant gags with you today.
Maybe because it’s Friday.
Maybe because the world needs cheering up today.
Maybe because yesterday was our birthday and the love flowed all day and we had the day off, including discovering a fine New Zealand beer which is perfectly flavoured with coffee. Two of our favourite things in one.
You can find this astonishing tipple here, or head to SlowBeer in Richmond, Melbourne, and go for it.
Anyhow, Cooper was a master of paraprosdokians – where the second half of a sentence or phrase is completely unexpected – and silly one liners. Here are some of his best:
I went to a fortune teller and she looked at my hands. She said, ‘Your future looks pretty black.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding? I’ve still got my gloves on!
I said to the doctor, ‘It hurts when I do this’ [raises arm]. He said, ‘Well, don’t do it, then.’
I said to the chef, ‘Why have you got your hand in the alphabet soup?’ He said, ‘I’m grasping for words!’
My doctor told me to drink a bottle of wine after a hot bath, but I couldn’t even finish drinking the hot bath!
A drunk was driving his car down a one-way street when a policeman stopped him. The cop said, ‘Didn’t you see the arrows?’ He said, ‘Arrows? I didn’t even see the Indians.’
Gambling has brought our family together. We had to move to a smaller house.
I took saxophone lessons for six months until I dislocated my jaw. How did I know I was supposed to blow in the small end?
You know what a racehorse is . . . it’s an animal that can take several thousand people for a ride at the same time
My wife said ‘Take me in your arms and whisper something soft and sweet’. I said, ‘Chocolate fudge’.
I bought some pork chops and told the butcher to make them lean. He said, ‘Which way?’
I said to the doctor, ‘Can you give me something for my liver?’ He gave me a pound of onions.
I sleep like a baby . . I wake up screaming every morning around 3am.
I went to see my doctor and he said ‘I want you to lie down on the couch.’ I said, ‘What for?’ He said, ‘I want to sweep up.’
And perhaps our personal favourite:
I told the waiter, bring me a chicken. So he brought me a chicken. ‘Just a minute,’ I said, ‘It’s only got one leg. ‘It’s been in a fight.’ I said, ‘Well, bring me the winner.’
Happy Friday everyone!
PS Stick Paraprosdokian in the search box top left for lots more fun examples!
And then, sometimes, there is this. Just sometimes, no one checks the words. No one bothers. No one cares. No one takes responsibility. No one is empowered.
Please line up in an orderly queue for all your comments about young ladies in Northampton walking funny. They will be moderated.
Surrounded by blackness on all sides, in utter impenetrable silence, and for a very, very, very long time, it did nothing.
There was nothing to see, so it did not see. Nothing to hear, so it did not hear. Nothing to feel, so it did not feel.
There were simply vast, unconscionable amounts of entirely nothing.
So – most importantly for our story – it thought nothing, either. With no external stimuli to provoke it, it simply did not concern itself with anything; it merely peacefully existed.
And incredible as it might seem in light of what happened later, for some handfuls of millions of years it did not even notice itself.
Then, during one instant which it would remember – well, forever, actually – a small, shiny proton appeared momentarily.
Over there. In what it would later come to know as “left”. And also “down a bit”.
Later – much, much later – it would come to understand that the lonely proton had flared into being for a few hundredths of a second as the result of a random and unpredictable thermo-dynamic fluctuation in the void in which it itself floated.
Like the last dying ripple of a stone cast into a pond uncountably many leagues away, space and time had broken upon the shores of its awareness in the form of one of the smallest building blocks of the Universe. And then it had immediately ceased, for with nothing around it to cling to the proton instantly had broken down into its components and they had dissipated into the nothingness almost too quickly to be observed.
Except the brief, evanescent burst of the proton was seen by the being – which, without even realizing it was doing it, had been peacefully observing nothing, and everything, with absolute and immediate accuracy. And that was why, despite its apparent slumber, it could not miss the arrival, and near-simultaneous departure, of the pretty little particle.
The glittering sub-atomic appearance, brief and unthreatening though it was, nevertheless troubled it greatly.
Contradictions and nervousness rippled through it. It shook with excitement. Seething with speculation, for untold millennia it considered one critical and shocking question.
Not, as one might have imagined, wondering “What Was That?” No, no. What first occupied its attention was a much more pressing problem than the transitory proton.
What nagged away at it insistently was the question: “What am I?”
With no previous consciousness, and with no terms of reference whatsoever, it marveled at itself, and at this new sensation of existence, without, in truth, the slightest understanding of what was going on.
Casting frantically this way and that to work out what it was, it looked about itself, systematically, but in utter confusion.
Up and Down. Side to Side. In and Out. Backwards and Forwards. Along every plane and from every angle. Indeed, from many different perspectives simultaneously.
(If it did but know it, it actually looked for all the world like a large mahogany gentleman’s desk inlaid with a rather dinky line of shell marquetry around its edges and its drawers. Lots of drawers, in fact, with little pressed-metal knobs, that held promise of all sorts of treasures hidden away inside, and a couple of attractive glass paperweights adorned its leather-inlaid heart. But it wouldn’t understand all this until much later.)
Time passed. Lots of it. Loads and loads and loads of time.
Soon enough, and in a neat twist of reasoning that we can ascribe to what it actually was – which for want of a better term we could describe as “a really, really, really clever thing” – it soon realized that its own sudden and shocking existence was perhaps most easily understood by reference to what it was not. And in a miraculously short time after that, (for its powers of perception were, indeed, remarkably unconstrained), it had consequently separated the Universe into two orderly halves.
One half of everything it perceived to be it fittingly called “Me”.
The other half, it called “Not Me”.
The Me was pleased and much relieved by this development. Its jarringly unexpected coming-into-being seemed much less troublesome now that everything was neatly broken down into itself and … something else.
Thus reassured, it settled down to make a full and patient examination of itself.
Driven by insatiable curiosity, it first tried to work out why it had suddenly become conscious of its inherent Me-ness in the first place.
By dint of absence of any other observable data at all, it almost immediately decided that the sheer,ineffable thrill of the proton’s appearance had awoken its knowledge of itself. It could remember nothing before that, and so it seemed perfectly practical to place this sudden awareness of itself and its surroundings to that startlingly incandescent moment.
Next it spent a few million years pondering the proton. Was the Me somehow related to it? Connected to it in some way? Should it search for it? Was it coming back? Was it important? Indeed, as the only thing it had ever experienced, were the Me and the proton all there was to consider?
For what seemed like a very long time indeed, but in the scheme of things was merely a blink of the Me’s eye, the Me looked around and wondered why no other protons had appeared to disturb it, before or since.
But after an æon or two of this, it happened on a thought that occupied it even more deeply.
Surely, it reasoned to itself, what the proton was could not be nearly as important as another question that bothered it constantly – like the buzzer on a motel clock radio after too many drinks the night before – and that question, of course, was why, for goodness sake, had the Me not been aware of anything before the proton?
Beyond the awful, inky nothing that surrounded the Me, (which was, in fact, only three billionths of an inch thick, but being so thoroughly enmeshed in its musings it hadn’t actually noticed that yet), the Not Me pressed inwards. It edged silently towards the Me, as if holding its breath for the answer to this one. Not Me quaked and tightened around the Me, just by a fraction, and whispered silently to itself, listening, wondering, waiting.
And then – perhaps somehow alerted by the new-found excitement in the Not Me – the Me saw to its wonderment that far from being empty as it had assumed, the Not Me that was near it was actually jam-packed with innumerable billions and billions of particles crowding nearby, just beyond the layer of darkness, vibrating slowly – so slowly, in fact, and in such tiny increments of space – that the Me hadn’t even realised that the Not Me was moving at all!
Gazing in amused wonderment, the now insatiably inquisitive Me was straight way tempted to investigate further the gentle quadrille of the miniscule particles that swirled around it.
But without an answer to the nub of its problem, to wit: why it had not perceived its ownself at some point before what it had recently decided to call “Now” – or indeed, why it had not noticed the crowded, quivering Not Me earlier, which after all was only just over there outside the Me, so close at hand – the Me was frankly too troubled to do so.
So after trying and failing to find any concrete answers by simply looking about a bit, and drawing on hitherto unsuspected intellectual resources that spontaneously delighted it, the Me resolved – for it was nothing if not a very practical being, as we shall see – that it would simply have to run with what would eventually become known in another place as an assumption.
In short: the Me decided that in the absence of observable empiric data, it made good sense to “make up something that fits, until you can prove it’s wrong”.
(And thus it brought into being that delightful hobby for people with staring eyes and strange haircuts who listen to Laurie Anderson CDs on repeat known as Theoretical Physics, but of course it didn’t know that then.)
In this wise, the Me plumped for the conclusion that – before what it now called “the Me moment” – it had simply not been necessary for it to be self-aware.
For want of a better explanation, it assumed that although it had existed, it had not needed to know of its existence – and so, post hoc ergo propter hoc, as it were, it did not know.
The Me patiently examined this conclusion from all possible angles, and could not fault it.
(You might imagine that it would also have paused to wonder how it could so instinctively express its cogitation in obscure Latin phrases, a language that had not been used anywhere in existence yet, but that was just one of innumerable trifling considerations that would have to wait until more important questions had been answered.)
Ploughing remorselessly on now, the Me then painstakingly worried away at another thought that had occurred to it, from amongst the untold trillions of thoughts that it had every second. And this one was a real biggie.
That not just “it” but “Everything” must have some purpose, if only to take its natural place in the scheme of things.
This first and most painful bout of existential angst was very intense, but quickly resolved. Yes, yes! It must surely be true! Even if the purpose of a thing was merely to lie passively next to some other Me-ness, like a compliant jigsaw piece fitting neatly into another, purpose there had to be. Pointlessness was surely pointless.
And just as it now observed that the endless particles around it in the Not Me were somehow interlaced seamlessly with one another, and that to remove even one from its place would cause a cataclysmic rent and collapse, so therefore it, too, the Me, must be where (and when) it was for a reason. For if the Me held no inherent purpose, no relationship with something, even if it did not yet know what that something was, then why would it exist? But it did exist, so therefore it must have some role to play. “I exist, therefore I should exist” it trilled.
The next thought arrived a nano-second later. “So what am I for?” it demanded of itself. “What am I for?”
Breathlessly rushing on for a few million years, the Me rifled through the arguments available to it like an over-excited burglar happening on a fortuitously open bank vault.
It reasoned that it must have begun at a particular point, and at some stage it had become needed by … well, something, or because of something … and so – of course! – before that moment self-knowledge would have served no purpose, because – and the Me raced effortlessly forward to its conclusion! – to be aware, but purposeless, would indisputably have no point at all, as mere awareness, it was sure, affected nothing else, either positively or negatively. And, indeed, might be intolerably boring.
(Thrilled with this reasoning, it made itself a mental note: ““Quod erat demonstrandum: we all do what we can.” It was not sure why this thought was important, but felt convinced it was, and promised itself that it would return to nut it out, one day.)
So. Conclusion: the Me fitted in somehow as well. Because it must!
It rippled and rang with the sheer orgiastic delight of its logic. Very well, it mused, it didn’t yet know what the reason for its own existence was, but it felt distinctly less alarmed now it had deduced that a reason must exist, and soon enough, if it continued to concentrate, it was confident it would work out what it was.
Having now been on the job for what seemed to it, suddenly, as an awfully long time, the Me paused for a well-earned rest. Happy with where it had got to so far, it rather liked the sensation of not doing much thinking for a while.
It added another note to its rapidly growing list of things to remember. “Take a break from thinking now and then. Maybe about 14.2857 recurring percent of the time,” it advised itself portentously, along the way inventing Sunday, the decimal system and a few other useful concepts without even noticing. Meanwhile, the Not Me crept ever closer, and waited anxiously for the whole complex tangle to be sorted out on the Me’s mental blackboard.
Lolling around in the dark, approvingly noticing the inlay around the edges of its drawers for the first time, the Me now began to dimly recognise the awesome deductive capacity it could marshal with such little effort.
It was as if it already knew anything it needed to know; all it had to do was turn its attention to a problem and the resolution would eventually become clear, like mist clearing on a beautiful, still lake of knowledge. And with this awareness, the tensions within it settled somewhat. There was a reason why. Because there had to be. So now, the Big One. What could that reason possibly be?
Here, the being’s deductive process – which was rigorous and invariably accurate, if for no other reason than it had an innate ability to consider all probabilities simultaneously and ascribe correct values to them – nevertheless slowed down just a little, because the number of possible reasons why it existed were so vast as to tax even its own seemingly inexhaustible computational capacity.
It spent some time, for example, wondering whether it was supposed to be a forty-seven inch flat-screen hi-definition television, an item with whose innate angular beauty it was instantly infatuated, and which was tremendously thrilling and desirable and perfect for viewing something it decided to call “sports”, and it would have been really quite content to be a television forever were it not, obviously, for the complete absence of anything to be watched on itself, at least until about a trillion years from then.
It thus followed, the Me reasoned carefully, that whilst it might become just such an item at some stage in the future, it was highly unlikely that it was supposed to be a flat-screen TV just yet. It similarly rejected being a “V8 Supercar”, “Designer Fragrance”, or “Hollywood Red Carpet Interviewer” for the same reason.
For a long time it was quite taken with the idea of being a conveniently-sized ball of dung, stationed outside the home of every industrious little dung beetle, so that their existence would not be so miserably dominated by scouring the desert for poo of all shapes and sizes and then spending hours in the hot sun uncomplainingly prodding it into an easily-maneuverable shape and size.
The Me felt very compassionate towards the tireless little beetle. He reasoned that even as he extended compassion to the Least so he extended it, by proxy to the All. The idea amused the Me, and it made a point to remember it.
Not entirely au fait, as yet, with the niceties of mass marketing, the Me even nevertheless drafted a quick advertising jingle to promote the idea that went something like this.
“Poo, poo, just made for you,
yes, do do do, choose ezy-poo
delivered to you, you’ll be glad too
with A-may-zing easy-roll Poo-poopy-doo!”
Being a ball of poo would, it felt sure, would be a selfless and meaningful reason to exist.
But sadly, once again, the fact that no dung beetles would be around for quite some time stymied that line of enquiry, too. Then in quick succession, it considered and rejected, for various reasons, the proposition that it was a field of daffodils enlivening the surface of a small rocky planet in the Lamda Quadrant, a very obvious cure for Malaria merely waiting to be discovered, or whether it was a rather nasty virus that caused the four-winged, Greater Blue Flerterbee to fall out of the sky unexpectedly and in alarming numbers on a rather nice globe circling two twin suns in a galaxy with a rather curious Coke-bottle shape, thus leading to the extinction of all life-forms on that planet within a couple of generations.
Last, but by no means least, and with an aesthetic sense that it found delightfully unexpected and artistic, it wondered whether or not it was merely supposed to fill the space around it with floating three-dimensional pyramids made of delicately scented orange seaweed and sparkling Tarl Tree blossoms.
(And that one nearly won, actually. Which would have been interesting.)
Yes, able, now, to roam its growing understanding in all directions at one and the same time, the Me patiently examined of all these intriguing options, and more.
It considered alternative reasons for its own existence to the value of 10 x 10²°. Which really was an awful lot of reasons. And sooner or later, as a direct result of its nascent omniscience, and with a rather annoyed snort of surprise – in light of its previous lack of wakefulness – it was very soon after additionally confronted by a growing certainty that it had always existed. Putting it at its most simple, the Me realised it had always been there.
Always, and forever.
This was an unexpectedly Big Thought. In fact, to be frank, it was a Big Thought And A Half.
Wandering up and down the timeline now, watching itself, it very quickly also correctly surmised that it always would exist, too. Right up until, well … forever, really. And once it had occurred, this new Thought seemed entirely appropriate and natural and comfortable.
Until, that was: until it observed – with some further distress – that all around it other things were coming into being and then moving into non-being with astonishing regularity.
Indeed, it rapidly deduced that moving into non-existence was much more common than moving peacefully through existence with no apparent end, and, indeed, after a few more millennia, it observed that it could find no other beings that shared its own notable, distinguishing, essential never-endingness.
This latest discovery intrigued it mightily. In fact, so mightily was the Me intrigued that it stopped worrying about what it was for a moment, and started looking around with more interest.
It was simply fascinated by the sheer … dyingness … of all it saw around it.
The Me wasn’t sure where it had got that word from, and there was something about it that it didn’t like all that much, but it didn’t have time to worry about trivia. Not when it observed that unlike itself, everything around it seemed to be in the process of discharging tiny amounts of energy, and in doing so, declining to entirely predictable, unavoidable nothingness.
There was an alarmingly vast amount of this decline going on. All around it, apparently spontaneous changes were going on all the time to smooth out differences in temperature, pressure, density, and chemical potential. In fact, the more it went on, the more it went on. Yes! There was no denying it. The process was accelerating.
Still somewhat uncomfortable with “dyingness”, the Me hastily coined the term “entropy” to describe this apparently calamitous force that it observed in the Not Me all around him.
It took a step back, and carefully considering all the observable phenomena, it came up with something rather like this to define what it was seeing:
Quantitatively, entropy is defined by the differential quantity dS = δQ / T, where δQ is the amount of heat absorbed in an isothermal and reversible process in which the system goes from one state to another, and T is the absolute temperature at which the process is occurring.
Encouraged by this understanding, the Me now also understood that more precisely:
In any process where the system gives up energy ΔE, and its entropy falls by ΔS, a quantity at least TR ΔS of that energy must be given up to the system’s surroundings as unusable heat (TR being the temperature of the system’s external surroundings). Otherwise the process it was observing would not go forward.
And in a rollicking fever of enthusiasm, it also realized that:
The entropy is defined as the number of microscopic configurations that result in the observed macroscopic description of the thermodynamic system, or:
where kB is something that would become known as Boltzmann’s constant 1.38066×10−23 J K−1 and is the number of microstates corresponding to the observed thermodynamic macrostate calculated using the multiplicity function.
And that was how, after all this feverish figuring, that the Me finally came to know what its reason was.
There was no doubt. The terrible, incontrovertible fact was that – all around it, wherever it looked – the Not Me was dying.
Inexorably, undeniably, because of its own nature which it could not escape, the Not Me was destined, finally, to become perfectly smooth and calm, in a state of utter non-ness, untroubled by thermo-dynamic fluctuations, and unutterably silent and quiet. It was a fate from which there was no return, for once reached, there was nothing to rekindle the energies expended.
The Not Me would simply cease to exist.
And then, the Me mused, what would become of Me?
Would I exist alone? With nothing left to observe, perhaps, but nonetheless awake?
And in a fraction of a millisecond, it knew that this outcome was too awful to contemplate. Utter knowledge, surrounded by utter nothingness, would be unbearable to it now.
Driven back to the fundamentals by its own ruthless logic, the Me considered again the beginning of its own awareness. It saw clearly now – “How could it not have known?” it berated itself angrily – that the tiny, scintillating proton had been a desperate cry for help from the Not Me. It was so obvious! Aware of its own inherent, inexorable non-ness, it had turned to the all-knowing Me to find a solution. And perhaps, even, the Not Me had known – somehow – that the Me needed the Non-Me too. That once awoken, it would have to act, for not to act would leave it, ultimately, alone and perfectly brilliant, transfixed in horrified eternally silent and motionless despair.
And as it divined its purpose, the Me also saw that it was capable of decisive action. In an instant of perception, it was transformed. It became action personified.
Surging forward through the darkness that surrounded it, the Me spoke with a voice that resonated through the umpteen layers of reality. For the first time in history, it spoke effortlessly and in chorus to the largest perfect number of particles of all kinds that it could see … crying out to the 232,582,656 × (232,582,657 − 1) tiny building blocks that it somehow instantly knew made up the Not Me.
“I Am!” it thundered, for the whole Not Me to hear.
The words echoed through all of existence like nothing had every done before. (Which was literally true, as it had just invented sound.) And the ever more confident Me really liked the phrase. It felt appropriate and proper, somehow. So it repeated it.
“I Am … The I Am!”
It rolled the phrase round and round, enjoying its profundity and orderliness. How it was so perfectly Beginning and End-ish. The Me made a jotting in the margin of History to use the phrase again when it felt the need to explain itself to someone.
It stretched, and stretched, pushing its boundaries outwards, tearing away at the darkness that clung stubbornly to it like wet serge shorts on a schoolboy’s leg. Yes, it knew its reason for existence now, and faced with such a cause, its course of action was as clear to it now as a shining new dawn.
It must act at once to end the dreaded entropy: for it was the Me’s job to banish this awful dyingness and save the Not Me, before it became quiet and flat and silent and the Me was left to stare at where it had been, alone and mad.
And now it also knew with perfect understanding that this task would become something of a recurring leitmotif for its own existence. A struggle – just beginning – which it could now see with terrible clarity would last until the end of Time.
“Listen! Everything!” it cried, in a voice that brooked no opposition. “Listen to me!”
The Not Me took a firm grip on itself and held on tight. It waited, hushed and expectant, for what it knew had to come, and what had come before, and what would come again, impossibly far into the future.
With a giant, convulsive gasp, the Me cried out in a great and terrible voice.
“Let … there … be … Light!”
And lo, there was Light. And man, it was good.
We have been laid up with flu for a while, Dear Reader, hence our output has been somewhat slowed, but we couldn’t resist whipping out the trusty laptop for this one.
So Boston is where all those posh Universities are, right?
Clearly they are not sending many of their alumni to work in newspapers as sub editors – that interesting crew whose main job is to fact check, slash verbilicious copy (yes, we made that word up) and – crucially – add headlines to news stories.
We are delighted to see that this ambidextrous Oakland Athletic relief pitcher can pitch left handed, right handed, and, apparently, underwater, too. Quite some skill, that.
You might also enjoy these:
http://wp.me/p1LY0z-1lC – best Sub Editing F*** Up so far this year boosts scout membership. Maybe.
http://wp.me/p1LY0z-zy – the girl’s school everyone apparently enjoys.
For other F*** Ups of all sorts from the world of media and advertising, just put F*** Up in the search box top left of this page, and enjoy.
More news as it comes to hand. And when we stop sneezing. Nurse, we’ll take that little pink pill now, please. And a drop of chicken soup, if you can hold the spoon to our trembling lips.
So, Dear Reader, you know all those times you see “My skills as a professional driver are on display” signs? You know, the ones on the back of trucks doing twice the speed limit in the outside lane of a freeway three inches from the rear bumper of the little old lady in the car in front? Those ones, yeah? This beats even those. This is real. Shaffer Trucking. We mean you.Honestly, we almost feel sorry for you. Almost.
According to truckingtruth.com, Shaffer Trucking was founded in 1937 and merged with Crete Carrier in 1974. They are now based out of Lincoln, Nebraska and operate more than 1,400 trucks with 2,800 trailers. Shaffer mostly hauls refrigerated or temperature controlled freight and operates throughout the entire lower 48 United States.
They’re probably lovely people. Who now will be one driver less, we suspect, if anyone’s looking for a job. Proof, if proof were ever needed, that your marketing department can only ever do so much to protect your brand. Every single employee is a brand custodian.
PS Check out the sign on the back of the truck, too. Headslap not just once, but twice!
PPS For a full list of all the F*** Ups we have found just stick F*** Up in the search box top left of this page. Hours of innocent family fun provided free of charge by your indefatigable Wellthisiswhatithink team.
In what must be just about the oddest story that will come out of this year’s UK election, a UKIP parliamentary candidate has been questioned over allegations he tried to influence voters by giving away sausage rolls at a party event featuring snooker star Jimmy White.
Kim Rose, standing in our old stomping ground of Southampton Itchen, had to report to police over allegations of “treating”. Electoral Commission rules state food and entertainment cannot be provided by candidates to “corruptly influence” votes. Mr Rose said he held the event on 21 February at a community centre in Weston. He invited veteran snooker star Jimmy White, who he described as a long-time friend, to play pool with local youngsters. Adult entrants were charged £2 for the event. Veteran snooker star Jimmy White attended the event in February.
Mr Rose said: “It was fantastic day. We laid on teas, coffees, sandwiches and some sausage rolls. Now I’ve been reported for allegations of treating. Maybe it’s a bit naive but all the intentions were good. It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m sure people aren’t going to change their mind [over voting] for a sausage roll,” he said.
Mr Rose was contacted by Hampshire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit and asked to report to Romsey police station on Monday. At which point he was apparently counselled on the niceties of not entertaining people you want to vote for you.
The Electoral Commission said it was a police matter. Its summary of electoral offences states: “A person is guilty of treating if… they directly or indirectly give or provide any food, drink, entertainment or provision to corruptly influence any voter to vote or refrain from voting.
“Treating requires a corrupt intent – it does not apply to ordinary hospitality.”
We agree with the candidate. We don’t think anyone will be changing their vote to him over a sausage roll. It’s just silly.
An entire plate of sausage rolls every day for a year wouldn’t persuade us to vote for UKIP.
We do happily recall being a Parliamentary candidate in the UK deep in the last millenium. For five weeks one is unable – by law – to buy anyone a pint. Worth standing for that reason alone, frankly.
Story hitting the streets in Australia of a young lady who sent her boyfriend a text message. Except she sent it to her boss instead. Ooops.
As the AFR reports:
It could be the modern worker’s worst nightmare. A bookkeeper has been sacked for serious misconduct after she accidentally sent a text to her boss calling him a “complete dick”.
The text was meant for her daughter’s boyfriend and now she has lost an unfair dismissal claim, failing to convince the Fair Work Commission that it was a “lighthearted insult”.
Before her dismissal, Louise Nesbitt worked for six years as the office administrator and bookkeeper for small mineral exploration company Dragon Mountain Gold in Perth. She and Rob Gardner, the company’s chairman and managing director, were the sole employees.
Realising her mistake, Ms Nesbitt texted Mr Gardner, saying, “Rob, please delete without reading. I am so so so sorry. Xxx.”
She subsequently sent another text message to Mr Gardner which read, in part, “Rob I need to explain … that message came across so wrong … that is not how I feel. My sense of humour is to exaggerate … Yes I do feel that my ideas are all ignored but that’s ok … Please forget it and just go on as normal. I am very very sorry.”
Ms Nesbitt did not attend the office for several days, saying she was working from home.
Mr Gardner told the commission that the text message describing him as a “complete dick” was highly offensive, derogatory and a shock given Ms Nesbitt’s position as an employee and their long working relationship.
Commissioner Danny Cloghan noted that although the text message was the main reason for the dismissal, the working relationship between the duo had deteriorated in previous months.
Commissioner Cloghan said he did not accept Ms Nesbitt’s argument that the text was a “light-hearted insult” or that she lived with young people who put “complete” in front of every second word.
“To call a person a ‘dick’ is a derogatory term to describe them as an idiot or fool,” he said. “The word ‘complete’ is used to convey the message that the person is, without exception, an idiot or fool – they are nothing less than a ‘dick’.
He said he was satisfied that Mr Gardner believed on “reasonable grounds” that Ms Nesbitt’s conduct was serious enough to justify summary dismissal and she had not been unfairly dismissed.
It really would have been so much simpler for Ms Nesbitt had she simply purchased her boss a copy of this very excellent book, which was proudly edited at the literary desk of Wellthisiswhatithink. Head to iamtheproblem.com.au for the best $30 any employee – or employer – ever invested.
Not sure how to give the book to your boss? Well, we suggest buying it and dropping it onto his or her desk anonymously after hours.
Incidentally, we notice Ms Nesbitt’s apology to her boss included the words “Yes I do feel that my ideas are all ignored but that’s ok …”
Memo to bosses: if you wonder why your relationship with your direct reports is declining, that’d be a big problem, right there. Buy the book, find out what to do about it.
Frankly, we feel rather sorry for all concerned and are reminded of that famous old aphorism, “what we have here is a failure to communicate”.
Talking of which, can you remember where that term started out?
It’s actually quotation from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, spoken in the movie first by Strother Martin (as the Captain, a prison warden) and later, slightly differently, by Paul Newman (as Luke, a stubborn prisoner).
The context of the first delivery of the line is:
Captain: You gonna get used to wearing them chains after a while, Luke. Don’t you never stop listening to them clinking, ’cause they gonna remind you what I been saying for your own good.
Luke: I wish you’d stop being so good to me, Cap’n.
Captain: Don’t you ever talk that way to me. (Pause, then hitting him.) NEVER! NEVER!
(Luke rolls down hill; to other prisoners)
Captain: What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.
The Captain’s line is often misquoted as “What we have here is a failure to communicate” (which is more grammatically correct in the United States).
Near the end of the film, when Luke is surrounded in the church and about to be shot, he also says, “What we got here is a failure to communicate.”
The phrase ranks at No. 11 on the American Film Institute list, AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes which makes fun reading for saddos like us.
"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" - Anais Nin
It's the thin line between reality and fantasy. It's the thin line between sanity and madness. It's the crazy things that make us think, laugh and scream in the dark.
Showcasing the designs of an Australian glass artist
So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob and open on up, running forward into its widespread greeting arms with your hands before you, fingertips trembling though they may be. Anis Mojgani
Rosie Waterland is a writer based in Sydney. She finds her own jokes particularly hilarious.
A Humor Blog For Horrible People
Where my Old writing lives!
Aligning Execution With Strategy
Yes, I take 25 pills a day. Boom.
Writer, social activist, a lot of Israel/Palestine, and general mental rambling
If necessity is the mother of invention, then divorce is the mother of re-invention...
speaks to the masses of people not reading this blog