Tag Archives: HHGTTG

The wrong lizard might get in

Apropos of nothing, from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (Chapter 36), HHGTTG:

[An extraterrestrial robot and spaceship has just landed on Earth. The robot steps out of the spaceship…]

‘I come in peace,’ it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, ‘take me to your Lizard.’

Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this, as he sat with Arthur and watched the nonstop frenetic news reports on television, none of which had anything to say other than to record that the thing had done this amount of damage which was valued at that amount of billions of pounds and had killed this totally other number of people, and then say it again, because the robot was doing nothing more than standing there, swaying very slightly, and emitting short incomprehensible error messages.

‘It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…’

‘You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?’

‘No,’ said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, ‘nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.’

‘Odd,’ said Arthur, ‘I thought you said it was a democracy.’

‘I did,’ said Ford. ‘It is.’

‘So,’ said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, ‘why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?’

‘It honestly doesn’t occur to them,’ said Ford. ‘They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.’

‘You mean they actually vote for the lizards?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Ford with a shrug, `of course.’

‘But,’ said Arthur, going for the big one again, ‘why?’

‘Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,’ said Ford, ‘the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?’


‘I said,’ said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, ‘have you got any gin?’

‘I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.’

Ford shrugged again.

‘Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,’ he said. ‘They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.’

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Douglas Noel Adams (1952-2001)

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 bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

Preface, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, HHGTTG

Today would have been the 60th birthday of Douglas Noel Adams, a writer who has had a profound impact on many people’s lives (including my own) due to his famous trilogy in five parts: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He was a staunch atheist (“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?“), a serious fan of technology (especially the Apple Macintosh) and a passionate advocate for environmental and conservation causes.

DNA sadly died in May 2001 at the age of 49 (with his life celebrated every year on the 25th May by Towel Day), but his contribution to science fiction, comedy and satire lives on. I would have no hesitation in naming HHGTTG as one of my most treasured books; I regularly re-read it and it would certainly be top of my Desert Island Discs book list. If you have not yet had the pleasure, I urge you to do so.

Happy 60th Birthday DNA.

Douglas Adams

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

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A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Chapter 12, Mostly Harmless, HHGTTG

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Sunday afternoons

I agree with Wowbagger the Infinitely Prolonged (who has unlucky to have immortality inadvertently thrust upon him by an unfortunate accident with an irrational particle accelerator, a liquid lunch and pair of rubber bands) regarding Sunday afternoons :

It was the Sunday afternoons he couldn’t cope with, that terrible listlessness that starts to set in about 2:55, when you know you’ve taken all the baths that you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o’clock, and you will enter the long dark teatime of the soul.

Chapter 1, Life, the Universe and Everything, HHGTTG

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Angry people

From The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Chapter 1), HHGTTG:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

I’m not trying to espouse nihilism or trivialise recent events (especially in conjunction with my previous HHGTTG post) — I’m well aware I have a penchant for describing current (any?) events and people’s actions through the medium of xkcd or HHGTTG — some of the sights over the past five nights have been profoundly distressing and frustrating (as has some of the reporting).

I’m just not quite sure how to reconcile how I feel about the recent riots (but yes, I truly believe it is rioting/looting and most definitely not “protesting”), without going all Daily Mail (which appears to be fairly standard practice across a number of social media platforms of late).

Comments gratefully received…

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Natural leaders

From The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Chapter 28), HHGTTG:

The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

To summarise: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarise the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

To summarise the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

N.B. I had always thought this was a truism (albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek), which (cynically) went hand in hand with “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”.

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The Universe

Population: None.

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.

Chapter 19, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, HHGTTG

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Eddies in the space-time continuum

In what may turn into a semi-regular series of HHGTTG quotes, I was reminded of this little gem from Life, the Universe and Everything (Chapter 2):

“I have detected,” he said, “disturbances in the wash.”
“The wash?” said Arthur.
“The space-time wash,” said Ford.
Arthur nodded, and then cleared his throat.
“Are we talking about,” he asked cautiously, “some sort of Vogon laundromat, or what are we talking about?”
“Eddies,” said Ford, “in the space-time continuum.”
“Ah,” nodded Arthur, “is he? Is he?” He pushed his hands into the pocket of his dressing gown and looked knowledgeably into the distance.
“What?” said Ford.
“Er, who,” said Arthur, “is Eddy, then, exactly?”
Ford looked angrily at him.
“Will you listen?” he snapped.
“I have been listening,” said Arthur, “but I’m not sure it’s helped.”

It looks like I will have to read this trilogy in five six parts once again.

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