Humor: What does T"he Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" have to say about Y2k? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

As mentioned in a previous thread, I'm a big fan of the irreverant book by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As previously mentioned, there is an online version of the Guide.

Guide researchers have gathered much information and wisdom (and humor) about Y2k. Don't panic, hold on to your towel, and read about it here.

To get a "flavor" for the nature of the Guide's wisdom, sample "Cockroaches" for starters. Enjoy.

Zaphod Beeblebrox would be proud of the online guide. So would Benji, for that matter. And by the way, the answer is forty-two.

-- Steve (, November 26, 1999


I believe the appropriate response would have to be "So long", Y2kPro.

You set 'em up, I hit 'em out...

-- Steve (, November 26, 1999.

Hmmmmm. Is Y2kPro being deleted automatically these days? FWIW, s/he had written "Thanks for all the fish".

-- Steve (, November 26, 1999.

It would be very simple for Y2K Pro to write under a different handle or several different handles, so he would not get deleted.

Or maybe he would not be smart enough to think about doing that.

He probably would get recocnized by his writing style.

-- freddie (, November 26, 1999.

I'm sure the deletion is done by identifying the IP address.

Many of you have read Karl Feilder's musings on Y2k. Bet you didn't know he was a field researcher for the Guide. Here's his unusual white paper written especially for the Guide, entitled "Ancient History - What was / is / will be the Year 2000 bug or Y2K ?"

Here's a brief excerpt:

The history of the world - Part 1

In the beginning there were mainframes. OK, I grant you not quite at the real thunder, lightening, Adam & Eve definition of the word 'beginning', but pretty soon after. Anyway, these big old lumps of iron were expensive and thus the search for the Holy Grail of cheap computing was on. At the end of the 1970's, smaller, less powerful computers were starting to appear in kit form - assembled by hobbyists - and programmed with some pretty inane stuff.

Along came IBM with the first named "Personal Computer" and we were off. This was to be a rock and roll party, like nothing ever before or since. Here was the birth of a new world, run by enthusiastic youngsters with long hair and a desire to do things differently.

It all progressed nicely with the to-be-expected bumps in the road, and when 1983 started there was a nice plan being drawn up in the mighty corridors of Big Blue. IBM had decided that there might actually be a bit of revenue opportunity in this brave new world, and thus they worked hard to redesign their existing hardware. In conjunction with Intel and Motorola, they launched the PC/AT onto the world stage at the start of 1984.

This PC was different in a number of ways but, for our interest's sake, the key point was a relatively trivial component which had crept onto the motherboard.

The history of the world - Part 2

If you possibly have as many or more gray hairs than I, you will surely remember that in the "old days", before the AT, every morning you had to go through a very tedious ritual. No, I don't mean all that stuff about doing your teeth, ironing your tie, and shining your shoes - I mean having to type

Date mm-dd-yy Time hh:mm:ss

before your trusty (or not in those days) PC would come alive. Well, the PC/AT changed all that with the introduction of the cutely name MC 146818A Real Time Clock Chip from Motorola. But more about this later.

When the AT was successfully launched, there were a few major questions which designers were faced with. Unlike today, they were not, "What color should the curvy, aerodynamic box be?" or, "Do you think we can make it look like something out of Star Trek, and still have all those flashing lights on the front?" No, these were important questions, questions which would determine the way we used PCs for years to come and ultimately result in much of the mess which we now call Y2K.

Click through for the whole article. Don't panic.

-- Steve (, November 26, 1999.

2 x 3 x 7

-- dinosaur (, November 26, 1999.

Go to some place where the year is xx50.

-- A (, November 27, 1999.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy explained, sort of.

Totally inane testing follows:

Babel fish


-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Excerpt from How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, by Douglas Adams:

Because the Internet is so new we still dont really understand what it is. We mistake it for a type of publishing or broadcasting, because thats what were used to. So people complain that theres a lot of rubbish online, or that its dominated by Americans, or that you cant necessarily trust what you read on the web. Imagine trying to apply any of those criticisms to what you hear on the telephone. Of course you cant trust what people tell you on the web anymore than you can trust what people tell you on megaphones, postcards or in restaurants. Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we cant easily answer back  like newspapers, television or granite. Hence carved in stone. What should concern us is not that we cant take what we read on the internet on trust  of course you cant, its just people talking  but that we ever got into the dangerous habit of believing what we read in the newspapers or saw on the TV  a mistake that no one who has met an actual journalist would ever make. One of the most important things you learn from the internet is that there is no them out there. Its just an awful lot of us...

Am I the only Adams fan here , or is it just too early in the morn?

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

What, you may ask, is a Babel Fish?

'The Babel Fish is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. 'The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel Fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything said to you in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel Fish. Meanwhile, the poor Babel Fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.'

The real life Babel Fish can be found at Alta Vista's online translation service.

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

The description of the Babel fish translated into Portugese, then back to English:

The fish of Babel is small, yellow and leech-as, and probably the oddest thing in the universe. It feeds in the energy of brainwave received not from its proper carrier but from those in lathe from it. It absorbs all the unconscious mental frequencies of this energy of brainwave for nourish with. Excretes then in the mind of its carrier who an array telepathic gave to form matching the frequencies conscious of the thought with the signs of the nerve chose above of the centers of the speech of the brain that supplied them. Upshot practical of all that is that if you to pierce a fish of Babel in its ear you can immediately understand any said thing you in all the form of the language. The speech shaped really hears it to descodificar the array of brainwave that it was fed in its mind for its fish of Babel. Meantime, the deficient fish of Babel, efficiently removing all the barriers to a communication between different races and cultures, caused more and bloodier wars of the one than any or

It got cut off there. Bloody dangerous creature, non?

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

More fun with the Babel Fish, then on to other things. Here's a partial translation to German and back from hank reardon's post from the Who Is John Galt thread:

The response to your question, which applied to John is. Many of us are John applied. It represents the spirit and the intellect of the Quite.a.fewleute, which visit this forum. I am John applied. They can to John applied its. IF the SHTF is necessary we to regulate things. I have a thought for whole you this evening. Many people said that Y2K is no large agreement, because we would have already seen problems in the calculations those the Y2K-Threshhold. crossed (view into the future behind 01/01/00. I struggle that it gave many and December can strike 1 many more. The software, which does my business no more calculations run lets, than 30 days think out and I that quite.a.few business falls into this. If after the first week or in such a way of December it gave not a number of failures, we can all taking a small sigh of the discharge. But, which said that the end is not play above to probably middle to late February...

Clearly, Alta Vista's Babel Fish lacks the stamina needed to translate anything more than a few sentences in length. Don't accept imitations.

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Since you insist, here's the rest of the translation of hank reardon's post:

A last thing for Andre. As you after maintenance of John this applied in the understanding looks up. Edge Ayn according to my opinion does not possess it. There are and always very large drillings in their philosophy were. Over the last pairs of years I tried to even judge a pair from them my. And I must say, I think that I was to a certain extent successful. I am John, who applied you John applied are? Those is the real question.

Time for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Is this thing on?

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Steve, I very much enjoyed the Hitchhiker's trilogy in 5(?) books. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dirk Gently's books. Thanks for a thread and link to Adams on the net - I hadn't even thought of looking for him here. (Hmm, I wonder who else I can find...)

-- Tricia the Canuck (, November 27, 1999.

Never heard of the Hitchhiker's Guide. But maybe you can tell me what is the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything? In 42 words or less, preferably.

Seen the radio broadcast?


-- Al K. Lloyd (, November 27, 1999.

Al: The answer to your question is in the original post. A more detailed "answer" comes only with a full reading of the 5-book "trilogy".

Kinda hard to see a radio broadcast, isn't it?

I've read the original radio scripts, and I've seen the BBC TV series, both of which were superb, but I enjoy the printed versions the most.

The online version of the Guide should hopefully find a whole new generation of fans to Adams' wacky "h2g2" world. It's a great place to surf, and is the fulfillment of Adams' concept of what the Guide was meant to be.

How can you not like a book/website that prominently features "Don't panic!" on the cover?

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Excerpt from "Predicting the Future", by Douglas Adams:

Trying to predict the future is a mug's game. But increasingly it's a game we all have to play because the world is changing so fast and we need to have some sort of idea of what the future's actually going to be like because we are going to have to live there, probably next week.

Oddly, the industry which is the primary engine of this incredible pace of change - the computer industry - turns out to be rather bad at predicting the future itself. There are two things in particular that it failed to foresee: one was the coming of the Internet which, in astonishingly short time, has become what the computer industry is now all about; the other was the fact that the century would end.

So as we stand on the brink of a new millennium peering up at the shiny cliff face of change that confronts us, like Kubrick's apes gibbering in front of the great black monolith, how can we possibly hope to guess what's to come? Molecular computers, quantum computers - what can we dare to say about them? We were wrong about trains, we were wrong about planes, we were wrong about radio, we were wrong about phones, we were wrong about... well, for a voluminous list of the things we have been wrong about you could do worse than dig out a copy of a book called The Experts Speak by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky. (This book has been published in the US, but will not be published in the UK until 3 April, 2000 when it will be released by Harper Collins under the new title I wish I hadn't said that)...

Click through for what Paul Harvey would call the "rest of the story".

I'm disappointed there aren't more fellow hitchhikers and/or Guide researchers out there in "TB2kLand". Or are they all at the pub? Or perhaps their brains are having "out of body" experiences?

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

If you'd rather not take the time to read a 5-book "trilogy", Al (and who has time for such nonsense these days?), a more succinct explanation of the "answer" (42) can be found at Deep Thought. Should clear things up rather nicely.

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Vogon Heavy Industries is proud to make the Guide available to Earth Internet users under licence from Megadodo Publications, Ursa Minor.

-- Steve (, November 27, 1999.

Eddie's in the time continuum.

-- ZB (42@42.42), November 28, 1999.

Is that you, Zaphod?!

Some select and rather random quotes from H2G2:

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

"`You know,' said Arthur, `it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die from asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young.' `Why, what did she tell you?' `I don't know, I didn't listen.'"

"`The first ten million years were the worst,' said Marvin, `and the second ten million, they were the worst too. The third ten million I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline.'" [Marvin is a rather depressed and paranoid robot.]

"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, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons."

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarrely inexeplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

"The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair."

Well, that should give you a feel for Adams' style and wit (or lack thereof). Just read the book(s), as everything needs its proper context. Above all, remember: Don't panic!!

-- Steve (paranoid@and.roid), November 28, 1999.

This picture, stolen from the Guide is worth maybe ten words or so (personally, I'd never pay more than 100 words for a picture):

-- Steve (, November 28, 1999.

Seriously, Steve, I did read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy. Many years ago. I am not aware of more than three books, though. Did Douglas Adams write two more after the trilogy, or what? Last one I read was The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, if I recall correctly.

I'm a big sci-fi buff, and I enjoyed the trilogy, but only mildly. Nevertheless, I highly recommend it, because the first time I heard the story on the radio (NPR, fifteen or twenty years ago), I had a hard time following the story line, as I was never able to hear every episode (it was a serial).

If you read the books, you'll be able to get more out of the radio series, which is a TOTAL RIOT!


-- Al K. Lloyd (, November 28, 1999.

Steve, the magic is in the delivery. Adams's humor is impeccable. But the actors on the NPR version are absolutely wonderful. Even their accents (british) add to the humor, in a kind of Monty Pythonesque way...


-- Al K. Lloyd (, November 28, 1999.

Al, I agree that there is something Monty-ish about Adams.

Steve, thanks for the posts, I've been sitting here ROTFLTIP - so I guess I should go get changed now.

-- Tricia the Canuck (, November 28, 1999.

Thanks Steve,

Gonna bookmark this and get back to it.



-- Diane J. Squire (, November 29, 1999.


Book 4 of the "trilogy" is/was So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish. "The fifth part of the increasingly inaccurately named Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy" is entitled Mostly Harmless, which, you'll recall is the 2-word entry in the Guide Ford wrote about the planet Earth, following his many years of research.

I enjoyed SLATFATF a great deal more than MH. It's been about a decade since I've read all the books, though, and I may need to go back and reread them all once more.

These days I need a good laugh, and Adams is as good as it gets.

-- Steve (, November 30, 1999.

Book 4 of the "trilogy" is/was So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish. "The fifth part of the increasingly inaccurately named Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy" is entitled Mostly Harmless, which, you'll recall is the 2-word entry in the Guide Ford wrote about the planet Earth, following his many years of research.

I enjoyed SLATFATF a great deal more than MH. It's been about a decade since I've read all the books, though, and I may need to go back and reread them all once more.

These days I need a good laugh, and Adams is as good as it gets.

-- Steve (, November 30, 1999.

Thanks a lot, Steve, for the titles, and for the reminder of these books in general.

I remember "mostly harmless". In fact, I remember a bit more. Arthur Dent, I believe his name was, is outraged that the only entry in the Guide for "Earth" is "Harmless". Whoever it was that was showing him the guide, (Beblebrock??) says, well, this is the old addition. There's more in the new one. Dent says, "Oh, yeah, what does the new one say about Earth?" The answer: "MOSTLY harmless"

I'm going to go fine the two books I haven't read.

Watch out for the intergalactic bypass, Steve...


-- Al K. Lloyd (, November 30, 1999.

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