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Collected editorials

Almost forever

Memorizing pi

A friend of mine, call him Ishmael, told me that he has memorized pi. I challenged him on that, saying that pi has an infinite number of digits and cannot be stored in a finite brain. He said, no problem, and explained that he stored the extra digits in a black hole in his brain. Isn’t science wonderful?

Words of Wisdom

“An extrapolation of its present rate of growth reveals that in the not too distant future Physical Review will fill bookshelves at a speed exceeding that of light. This is not forbidden by relativity, since no information is being conveyed.” –David Mermin

The Red Hat Society

The other day a lady yclept Wendi Rinehart (sister in law of Our Lady of the Large Black Dog) celebrated her fiftieth birthday. Naturally Deborah and I set out to purchase gag gifts for the occasion. We thought of the usual – metamucil and anti-sagging cream – and then Deborah had an inspiration: We would get her a red hat.

I responded to this excellent suggestion with my usual blank look of incomprehension. She went on to explain that since Wendi was now over fifty she was eligible to be a member of the Red Hat Society. Oddly enough this explanation did not illuminate my mind greatly. She was quite charmed to discover that I knew nothing of Red Hats and the Red Hat Society. It seems that Highmore has an active Red Hat Society chapter. There are all sorts of things that go on in Highmore; it is just as well that I am unacquainted with many of these goings on. Some of them are not at all respectable.

I suspect that the large majority of my readers also have no notion of what the Red Hat Society might be. From their official home page at http://www.redhatsociety.com/ we learn:

“The Red Hat Society began as a result of a few women deciding to greet middle age with verve, humor and elan. We believe silliness is the comedy relief of life, and since we are all in it together, we might as well join red-gloved hands and go for the gusto together. Underneath the frivolity, we share a bond of affection, forged by common life experiences and a genuine enthusiasm for wherever life takes us next.”
But what do they do at the Red Hat society? As far as I can tell, they wear red hats and purple outfits to tea. Please don’t ask me to explain why they do this. If I explained, I would have to kill myself.

Apparently this sort of thing is all quite recent. If I understand their web site correctly, it all started in Tucson in 2001, and has spread like, well, like red hats blowing in the wind. They’ve already held three major conventions, and will be having an international convention in 2007. International, you ask? Why, yes. According to their news pages Red Hat ladies will be marching in the 2007 London New Year’s Day Parade.

I’m sure it’s all right and proper, but it leaves me feeling so twentieth century.


“The Wal-Mart chain is refusing to sell a book written by WWF superstar Mankind because the book contains a picture of a naked elf. Everywhere Wal-Mart shoppers are asking themselves the same question, “What’s a book?” —Craig Kilborn

Salt of the Earth

Life is full of little mysteries that I am seldom able to resolve. For example there is this matter of Morton salt. Here you are, almost out of salt. It’s time to go to the grocery to get a ???? of salt. A what of salt? What does salt come in? It’s not a carton – cartons are rectangular. It’s not a tube – toothpaste comes in tubes. It’s not a container – that’s too generic. It’s not a cyclinder – that’s too dweebish. So how can you buy salt?

The answer’s simple. You go to the store, pick up a ???? of salt, and put it in your shopping cart. The checkout person rings it up and there you are – no words needed. Problem solved, except – whatever do you call a ?????

A double barrelled scam

I have had the same email address for the past ten years or more. I include it in my signature files. It appears in thousands of web pages and Ghu only knows how address books. I get a lot of spams and scams in my email.

Most are merely boring. Some are particularly striking in their assumptions about the lowness of my moral character. I’m not sure but what they are correct in their estimate, but if they are, they considerably underestimate my intelligence.

Every once in a while I get one that is distinguished by its oddity. For example, I recently received an email purporting to be from Mr. Pui Chinlee, the CEO of China HuaMao Arts &: Crafts Organisation. They were looking for agents to collect money for them. So far, standard. Then I read further and this is what I saw:

The Lottery Company
P.O Box 789
Harrogate HG1 2YR
Apparently somebody messed up in a cut and paste job. Either that, or else Mrs. Rose Wood runs an Arts & Crafts organization in her spare time.

This page was last updated December 1, 2006.

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Collected editorials