Man is a self-balancing, 28-jointed adapter-base biped, and electro-chemical reduction plant, integral with the segregated stowages of special energy extracts in storage batteries, for subsequent activation of thousands of hydraulic and pneumatic pumps, with motors attached; 62,000 miles of capillaries, millions of warning signal, railroad and conveyor systems, crushers and cranes, and a universally distributed telephone system needing no service for seventy years if well managed, the whole extraordinary complex mechanism guided with exquisite precision from a turret in which are located telescopic and microscopic self-registering and recording range-finders, the turret control being closely allied with an air-conditioning intake and exhaust, and a main fuel intake.
R. Buckminster Fuller, “A Definition of a Man”
So far, so good. You’d think that so sophisticated a piece of kit might engage with the world to generally purposeful and efficient effect. Consider…
Commenting on a complaint from a Mr. Arthur Purdey about a large gas bill, a spokesman for North West Gas said, “We agree it was rather high for the time of year. It’s possible Mr. Purdey has been charged for the gas used up during the explosion that destroyed his house.”
(The Daily Telegraph)
After being charged for a overdraft, 30-year-old Michael Howard of Leeds changed his name by deed poll to Yorkshire Bank PLC Are Fascist Bastards. The bank has now asked him to close his account and Mr.Bastards has asked them to repay the 69p balance, by cheque, made out in his new name.
Irish police are being handicapped in a search for a stolen van because they cannot issue a description. It’s a special branch vehicle and they don’t want the public to know what it looks like.
Finally one from 30 years ago that has gone down in Air Traffic Control legend.
The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport were renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expected one to know one’s gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, callsign Speedbird 206.
Speedbird 206: “Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway”.
Ground: “Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven”.
The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: “Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?”
Speedbird 206: “Stand by, Ground, I’m looking up our gate location now”.
Ground (impatiently): “Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?”
Speedbird 206 (coolly): “Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark and I didn’t land.”
(Reigate and Redhill Advertiser, in interview with a recently retired Gatwick Airport ATC operative.)