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Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Adams

“It’s the end of the world as we know it”*…

 

From The Road

As humans, we tend to construct narratives around things we don’t understand, especially when such things appear to have an arbitrary, limitless power. Dramatic, civilization-shaking events seem too meaningful to happen by pure chance — they seem like some sort of divine punishment. As a result, apocalypse narratives throughout history have often come with strong moral connotations. There are recurring themes in the eschatological mythology of many different cultures, often concerning a final battle between good and evil, with the righteous ascending to paradise and the latter condemned to hell. (Or, alternatively, they’ll be left behind on a godless and righteous-less Earth, which is implied to be pretty much the same thing.)…

Tom Hawking explores our fascination with apocalyptic story-telling, and asks why it so rarely addresses the actual dangers we face: “Not With a Bang: What If the Apocalypse Already Happened, and No One Noticed?

* REM

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As we batten down the hatches, we might send pointedly-ridiculous birthday greetings to Douglas Noel Adams; he was born on this date in 1952.  A writer and dramatist best remembered as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (as well as the Dirk Gently novels), his melodramatically-apocalyptic tales are both insightful and hilarious.  Adams passed away in 2001; still, one can honor his memory in a couple of month’s time by celebrating Towel Day.

 source

 

Written by LW

March 11, 2016 at 1:01 am

“So many books, so little time”*…

What’s a reader to do?  The disciplined Matt Kahn has a plan:  he’s reading– and reviewing– every one of the novels that reached the number one spot on Publishers Weekly annual bestsellers list, starting in 1913. All 94 of them.

Check out the list, and follow Matt’s progress at Kahn’s Corner.

On a related note, readers who followed last year’s Tournament of Books, might want to check in on this year’s.

* Frank Zappa

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As we renew our library cards, we might send wistful birthday greetings to Douglas Noel Adams; he was born on this date in 1952.  A writer and dramatist best remembered as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Adams surely, by merit, belonged on Kahn’s list.  That will never be; Adams passed away in 2001.  Still, one can honor his memory in a couple of month’s time by celebrating Towel Day.

[bookshelves photo sourced here; Douglas Adams, here]

Written by LW

March 11, 2013 at 1:01 am

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so*…

 

source

From Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Cal Tech and author of From Eternity to Here, a report from Setting Time Right, a conference that he kicked off in Norway late last month…

“Time” is the most used noun in the English language, yet it remains a mystery. We’ve just completed an amazingly intense and rewarding multidisciplinary conference on the nature of time, and my brain is swimming with ideas and new questions. Rather than trying a summary (the talks will be online soon), here’s my stab at a top ten list partly inspired by our discussions: the things everyone should know about time. [Update: all of these are things I think are true, after quite a bit of deliberation. Not everyone agrees, although of course they should.]

Sean’s list– like his books, clear and provocative– is at “Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Time.”

* – Douglas Adams

 

As we wind our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 2008 that two of Carroll’s ten points– #4 (“You live in the past”) and #9 (“Aging can be reversed”)– were illustrated, as MTV threw the full weight of its VMA Awards behind Britney Spears’ comeback.  Spears performed on the telecast and won three awards, including video of the year for “Piece of Me.”  The following year she completed her highest-grossing global concert tour.

Oops!… I Did It Again (source)

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, to your washers!…

Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space…

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter Eight

Towel Day, Innsbruck, 2005 (source)

On May 25 of each year (that’s to say, Wednesday), the world observes Towel Day— a celebration of the life and works of Douglas Adams…. which means, Dear Readers, that one has only three days left to wash and fold!

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value – you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you – daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost”. What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter Three

As we shift a load to the dryer, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that the revolving restaurant atop Seattle’s Space Needle opened.  It was reputedly both the first revolving restaurant (though that honor arguably belongs to La Ronde, designed by the same architect before the Needle, but opened, in Honolulu, later) and the inspiration for the title location in the second novel in the Hitch Hiker series, The Restaurant of the End of the Universe… though Adams dedicated that book to the 1980 Paul Simon soundtrack album, One-Trick Pony, which, Adams says, he played “incessantly” while writing it.

Top of the Needle Restaurant (source)

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