Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Ferret and a Calculator

There's a new show on SyFy (what used to be the SciFi channel) called Warehouse 13. (No, I didn't link to the SyFy official website for the show because I find it amazing annoying!) I haven't been able to watch it yet, but merely from a *description* of *one scene* I'm already a fan. It's a cross between the X-Files and Sanctuary with a little Eureka thrown in for good measure, and features two secret service agents (a la Mulder and Scully temperaments) being assigned to work in a warehouse full of... unique... artifacts. The scene is this: a magical teapot that grants wishes. But if you wish for something impossible it gives you... wait for it... a ferret. ::SNORT:: I have it downloaded on the computer at home, and I plan to watch it this weekend. But just from that alone, I give it a thumbs up!

Of course, it helps to understand that I'm someone who loves this kind of random behavior from inanimate objects. I am also a huge fan of Douglas Adams, in particular his Dirk Gently books. There's one scene in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency where Dirk buys a calculator, an "i ching" calculator. Let me quote:

The electronic I Ching calculator was badly made. It had probably been manufactured in whichever of the South-East Asian countries was busy tooling up to do to South Korea what South Korea was busy doing to Japan. Glue technology had obviously not progressed in that country to the point where things could be successfully held together with it. Already the back had half fallen off and needed to be stuck back on with Sellotape.

It was much like an ordinary pocket calculator, except that the LCD screen was a little larger than usual, in order to accommodate the abridged judgments of King Wen on each of the sixty-four hexagrams, and also the commentaries of his son, the Duke of Chou, on each of the lines of the hexagram. These were unusual texts to see marching across the display of a pocket calculator, particularly as they had been translated from the Chinese via the Japanese and seemed to have enjoyed many adventures on the way.

The device also functioned as an ordinary calculator, but only to a limited degree. It could handle any calculation which returned an answer of anything up to "4".

"1 + 1" it could manage ("2"), and "1 + 2" ("3") and "2 + 2" ("4") or "tan 74" ("3.4874145"), but anything above "4" it represented merely as "A Suffusion of Yellow". Dirk was not certain if this was a programming error or an insight beyond his ability to fathom, but he was crazy about it anyway, enough to hand over £20 of ready cash for the thing.

So hurrah for the strange and unexpected! (Like two posts from me in a single day!)

1 comment:

the Joneses said...

Look! Two comments from me in one day! I've just started following a scifi (SyFy is SO stupid) blog, so all of a sudden understood references to Warehouse 13 and Eureka. So that made me feel all in-the-know and stuff.

I haven't read the Dirk Gently books. Not sure why. Great excerpt, although Adams tends to be just a little too gonzo surreal for me to take in large doses.

-- SJ