Friday, April 30, 2010

Guest post from Ijon Tichy

The conference in Melbourne the other week was a bit of a downer. The keynote speaker told us that the most optimistic scenario (down in Fig. 13 in the lower right) is one where the present state of the world leads to D and E. But the tension between D and E gives rise to F and G, and they in turn engender M and L, and those inexorably lead (through K) to Z, which translates -- as you see if you turn to Page 28 of the Conference Program where all these abbreviations are spelled out in full -- to "Complete collapse of civilisation and billions of people dying".

In a less optimistic scenario (Fig. 5) A [depletion of soil fertility, according to page 28] is staved off for a while by C [which was on page 29 which the cat peed on], but C introduces the countervailing problem of D, and in no time at all we are back through situations B and G to Z again.

In fact whichever scenario you think of -- Fig. 1, Fig. 3, Fig. 4 and so on -- it leads sooner or later to Z, or Z, or again Z.

This was so depressing that even the prospect of a new conference tote-bag and a University of Melbourne pen could not cheer me up, which is why the speaker was trying to lighten the proceedings by wearing a manic pigeon glove-puppet to explain the figures. You can't do that in Powerpoint!

14 comments:

merc said...

That's cleared that up for me, thanks.

aledra, goddess of beer.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

entropy insists on complete collapse of civilization at some point.

we zombies like to consider ourselves as helpful in this regard.

Substance McGravitas said...

"Complete collapse of civilisation and billions of people dying".

Duh, you go back in time and reinvent the universe.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I'm pretty sure the billions of people dying is already a given, regardless of the status of the zombocalypse.

Another Kiwi said...

The Chaos pigeon is a bit Undead looking, if you know what I mean. You know, how those people look.
A pen and Tote bag eh? Some people go swanning about the world loaded down with free gifts whilst the rest of us struggle through the Friday Gin and Tonic session BY OURSELVES!!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

the rest of us struggle through the Friday Gin and Tonic session BY OURSELVES!!

May I join you?

Another Kiwi said...

Of course dear Zombie. You'll bring your own glass or empty jam-jar, I presume?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

given the recent comments at sadly, no, the mention of a jar has just triggered me like fuck-all.

I will now have to upgrade from wine to cuba libres, except I make 'em in pint mugs.

Smut Clyde said...

the Friday Gin and Tonic session

Tonic always gives me a terrible hangover.

Smut Clyde said...

The Chaos pigeon is a bit Undead looking, if you know what I mean. You know, how those people look.

To be fair to the speaker, a live pigeon does not work so well as a glove puppet, what with the flapping and the squawking and the feathers everywhere.
The dead one could certainly have been fresher, though.

Another Kiwi said...

Flapping and Squawking, Ah the golden years of Music Hall comedy.
"I say, Flappers, old chum, I've had an aneurysm!"
"Ooeerr Mr Squawker, you don't 'alf go on. I'll just drill an 'ole in yer 'ead, eh?"

mikey said...

Whence 'round the fire th' Royal Rifles sat
Some ate, some cried, one just shat
Out 'ere y'march o'er hill 'n dale
And y'do your killin strictly wholesale
'Er Majesty says it's glory, boys
'Ere but we're naught but her gory toys

Damn - Ol' Rudyard made that look a lot easier than it is...

M. Bouffant said...

Once you've gone from A to Z, it is pretty much over but for the closing ceremony.

WV: mingrang. Heh.

Smut Clyde said...

One can only hope that the closing ceremony for the human race involves GIANT INFLATABLE BEAVERS.