On a whim, I searched my RSS reader for any instances of 42. The result was disturbing. I think, just for a sense of completeness, I’m going to blog every reference of 42 I can find. Note that the politics-content of Haibane.info is still intended to remain zero. I instead request that commentary on these items be restricted to the larger and more important issue of how the occurrence of 42 in the story at hand might lend clues towards divining the Ultimate Question.
Let’s get started. Today’s 42ism comes from the UK, appropriately enough.
Gordon Brown is facing the threat of his first defeat in the Commons since taking over as prime minister, after a Guardian survey found strong – and growing – opposition among Labour MPs to the government’s plans to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days.
(followed by lots of blah blah about governmental something or other)
Intriguing. This suggests that 42, manifesting as a number of days for incarceration, is a proxy for the balance between the principles of human rights versus society’s need for security. Perhaps more broadly we might say that here 42 is a stand-in between the forces of chaor and order, where chaos is the expressive element of the Universe and order is the emergent structure that arises from it.
If anyone else has been playing Final Fantasy XII for several hours, you might have noticed that the voice ofÂ Judge Ghis is unmistakably done by Mark Wing-Davey–otherwise known as Zaphod Beeblebrox. Given the “bad guys” all have English accents, I suppose it’s not too surprising that at least one of the cast from H2G2 should play a part (oneÂ wonders how many British voice actors there are these days).
If you don’t have the game and/or don’t plan on playing it, watch the trailer on the FFXII website. Turn up your volume. About 1:15 in, after you see the party in a cave, an older man says, “We’ve found it at last.” That’s him. Don’t watch beyond that if you don’t any spoilers (probably nothing major, but I like to experience all content as it comes).
Most of the time (so far) he’s in a full suit of armour, so his whimsical voice has an almost Darth Vader echo to it. Quite amusing, so it’s difficult for me to take his otherwise majestic and threatening character seriously. When he captures the heroes on the Dreadnought Leviathan, I half-expect him to quip, “I can’t help it if I’m lucky” or “zero out of one million points for style.”
In a month when everyone’s posted all the videos from this game on YouTube, someone should take all his scenes and insert clips from H2G2 in there.
Dolphins are dumb?
For years, humans have assumed the large brains of dolphins meant the mammals were highly intelligent.
Paul Manger from Johannesburg’s University of the Witwatersrand, however, says it is not intelligence that created the dolphin super-brain — it’s the cold.
To survive underwater, these warm-blooded animals developed brains that have a lot of insulating material — called glia — but not too many neurons, the gray stuff that counts for reasoned thinking.
Yet while dolphins aren’t as smart as people tend to think, they are as happy as they seem. Manger said dolphins have a ”huge amount” of serotonin in their brains, which is what he described as ”the happy drug.”
While the scientific aspect of these claims is beyond the scope of Haibane.info, let us remember what the Guide had to say:
Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – while all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man-for precisely the same reason.
I’ve uploaded my entire collection of sound samples from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy BBS radio scripts. It’s just for fun and I’ll use them in blog posts. Please don’t kill my bandwidth quotas by linking directly to them from your higher traffic blogs 🙂 Enjoy!
I’ve commented before in my self-proclaimed classic Shut Up article that miscommunication is not the cause of all conflict in the world, in spite of what our teachers often say (in fact, quite the opposite). Nonetheless, it is a cause, and I do fear that it grows worse every day, in part because our society’s value systems (or memes, memeplexes) are becoming increasingly ill-equipped to handle it. I might touch on that more later, but my main goal this time around is to show by means of example how our increasingly advanced methods of communication as a society is actually undermining our ability to communicate, and is thus helping to cause conflict.
Continue reading “Comedians and Dicks”
“Can you post to Haibane.info, Marvin?” – that’s what he said to me. Can I post? Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to post to the blog. You call that job satisfaction? cos I don’t.
Yahoo is now the host of the classic Babel Fish translation service, formerly hosted by Altavista. It now also supports Japanese!
For example, try: ä¸ƒå›½å±±ç—…é™¢ (the CatBus sign from Totoro, courtesy of Steven). The Babelfish gives us “Seven national mountain illness institutes”. I noticed from Steven’s link that å›½å±± can be interpreted as “realm” and Steven also mentioned that ç—…é™¢ (“illness institutes”) is actually hospital, so the sign translates as Seven Realm Hospital. The Babelfish isn’t capable of translating these compound statements and is more of an atomic processor on the individual characters.
Naturally, it also works in reverse: try “Seven Realm Hospital” and you get the output 7 ã¤ã®çŽ‹å›½ã®ç—…é™¢ which when I feed back into the Babelfish, turns out to be “Hospital of seven kingdoms”. Realm and Kingdom both get translated as çŽ‹å›½. What my point is, I have no idea, other than to probe the assumptions in the Babelfish engine. As a toy for gaikojin otaku like myself, it’s neat 🙂
Plus we must all bow to the universality of Douglas Adams. Just like 42, the Babel Fish has entered the mass lexicon. Have I mentioned that the Guide entry on the Babelfish, as related in the BBC Radio Scripts, is the most hilarious version by far? You just can’t beat the dry delivery of Peter Jones as the Book. It’s like comparing black and white to color television.