BEN # CXXXII

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Mon Apr 1 03:36:35 EST 1996


                                                   
BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             ISSN 1188-603X
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BBBBB    EEEEE    NN N N             BOTANICAL
BB   B   EE       NN  NN             ELECTRONIC
BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             NEWS

No. CXXXII                           April 1, 1996

aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca        Victoria, B.C.
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 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2
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THE CZECH GENIUS - JARA DA CIMRMAN - DISCOVERED IN SIBERIA
From: Jan Rehacek <jrehacek at MATH.GATECH.EDU> originally posted
  on Jara da Cimrman discussion list <JDC-L at EARN.CVUT.CZ>

[Jara  da  Cimrman  was a well known Czech genius and polyhistor
(cf. Sebanek,  J.  1991.  Ja,  Jara  Cimrman.  Zapadoceske  Nak-
ladatelstvi,  Pardubice  -  sic!).  Little  is  known  about his
botanical works, but his achievements in botany  and  vegetation
science  were  -  without  any  doubt - as important as in other
fields of arts and science his genius ever touched.  I  am  sure
that for instance the discovery of Rafflesia arnoldii in Central
Bohemia  (cf.  Ziva  24:  210-211.  1976) will be eventually at-
tributed to Jara da Cimrman. - AC]

Czech officials confirmed yesterday that the male body  found  a
week  ago in East Siberia belonged to the long lost Czech genius
Jara da Cimrman. Cimrman was positively identified by prof.  Jan
Ceplecha (born 1906) who was one of Cimrman's last pupils in the
North  Bohemian  village  Liptakov shortly before his mysterious
disappearance in 1914. No one is sure yet what  exactly  brought
Cimrman to Siberia, but some sources indicate that he might have
been  dragged  there by the Bolshevik Secret Police. Any conclu-
sions in this matter, however, would be premature at this time.

As we have already informed you,  the  appearance  of  the  body
itself  has  caused  a  great  deal of excitement throughout the
world, since according to Russian health authorities the body is
in a state of suspended animation and there is an  89.3%  chance
that  he  can  be  brought back to life. Since a little notebook
written in Czech was discovered in  his  pocket,  the  body  was
promptly  flown to Prague, where it now resides in the "Bulovka"
hospital. From then on, the eyes of the world's media have  been
riveted to Cimrman's fate and all the major networks are already
negotiating  with  the  Czech  government  for  the price of the
"interview of the century". So far it seems that the man who lay
frozen for more than 80 years will appear on a Larry  King  Live
special, broadcast from Prague.

As  a  gesture of solidarity, Japanese electronic firm Panasonic
shipped to Prague its giant  microwave  oven  with  a  specially
designed  slow  defrosting regime, while most of world's medical
schools are sending their best experts  there  to  assist  their
Czech  colleagues  in  what  is  supposed  to be one of the most
difficult tasks of modern medicine. Among the first to arrive in
"Bulovka" were  representatives  of  Kansas  University  Medical
Center,  Miyazaki  Medical  College, Yale Medical School and the
Rheumatology Department of the University of  Florida.  The  al-
ready  huge  interest  in  this  miracle  of modern medicine was
greatly amplified after it was disclosed that the  body  belongs
to Jara Cimrman, who is thought to have taken many revolutionary
inventions with him to his grave.

As  a  result of this disclosure, the stock market is now in its
most unstable position since the 1930s,  since  nobody  is  sure
which  technologies  will be deemed by Cimrman as viable for the
next century. Bill Gates is calling Cimrman's personal physician
Dr. Vrbsky every 5 minutes to  inquire  about  the  progress  of
Cimrman's  healing.  Industry  forecasters  projected that phone
calls to Prague will be the biggest item on  MicroSoft's  budget
this  year. Gates is primarily interested in Cimrman's operating
system "Appendix '98", which Cimrman devised in 1898 during  his
internship  in  Tanvald Municipal Hospital. Cimrman's system was
one of the fastest at the time, allowing doctors to  perform  up
to  5 operations per minute. At such a speed, of course, not all
of the operations were successful, which is probably the  reason
why Cimrman's system was later renamed to "Widows '99".

But  other  companies  are taking notice too. All the major cor-
porations  from  Silicon  Valley  are  moving   their   research
facilities to the Liptakov area, which is supposed to become the
future  hub  of  the  semiconductor industry. Representatives of
IBM, HP and Novell Inc. are trying to locate sites in  the  area
suitable  for  construction,  while  Silicon  Graphics  Inc. has
already started building its headquarters in nearby Tanvald.  It
is no wonder, because semiconductors were Cimrman's favorite toy
(before he invented the squirt gun).

The  officials  of the University of California decided today to
set up another campus  of  the  UC  system,  this  time  outside
California  in Liptakov, where Cimrman is supposed to reside. It
is well known that Cimrman is an ardent patriot and it  is  thus
very  unlikely  that  he'd  accept  a  position at Berkeley, Los
Angeles or Santa Barbara. As the  spokesman  of  the  University
told  the  press today: "Since Cimrman won't come to the UC, the
UC has to come to him." Because Cimrman's reputation is expected
to attract high quality research it is  possible,  that  in  the
future  the University of California at Liptakov will become one
of the top ranked US schools.

The chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nobel  Foundation,
Mr. Bengt Samuelsson, proposed yesterday that all the capital of
the  Foundation  be transferred to Cimrman's personal account at
"Zivnostenska Banka" in Prague. According to his report, all the
Nobel prizes from now on would go to Cimrman anyway, and  there-
fore  it  would  be technically much easier to just give him the
whole amount, rather than make complicated annual  transactions.
"With  Cimrman  alive,  it would be a farce to give the same man
all the prizes every year" he concluded. Other  members  of  the
Board pointed out, however, that Cimrman might perhaps choose to
give  some  pocket  money  to the outstanding researchers of his
choice. Mr. Samuelsson  expressed  hope,  that  this  allowance,
tentatively  called  "The Cimrman-Nobel Award" will continue the
spirit of Alfred Nobel's will.

The story unfolds as we print, so stay tuned...


BETA CAROTENE STUDY STOPPED
From: The Oregon Scientist, Spring 1996, page 8.

The 4,565 Oregonians  participating  in  the  Kaiser  Permanente
national  study  to  test the effectiveness of beta carotene and
vitamin A in reducing lung cancer have been told to stop  taking
the study vitamins after it was found that there are more deaths
among participants than among those taking inactive placebos.


WELCOME GREEN THUMBS
From: Times-Colonist [Victoria's daily newspaper] March 19, 1996

Greater  Victoria  councils should consider emulating a new Van-
couver parks board  policy  that  allows  community  gardens  in
parks, even if it means plowing up a bit of park lawn.

There are already allotment gardens in Greater Victoria, most on
provincial  land,  but demand has far outrstripped the number of
plots available. Last year, for example, there were as  many  as
40   names  on  the  waiting  list  for  the  James  Bay  Garden
Association's 30-plus lots, though the average is usually  about
15 names.

Although  association past-president Don McGregor said there are
some parks he personally wouldn't want to see touched, there are
others with little corners that would be perfect  for  community
gardens.

People  who  fear  that community gardens would detract from the
natural beauty of parks should visit the  allotment  gardens  in
the  area.  What they'll find are attractive, well-managed oases
of plenty that would enhance any park.


JIM POJAR AND ANDY MACKINNON WON BY CUTTING CORNERS
From: Dr. Rudolf Schmid's review in Taxon 45(1996): 159-161.

[Dr. Rudolf Schmid published  an  almost  three-page  review  of
three   plant  guides  for  the  Pacific  Northwest:  Pojar  and
MacKinnon's  "Plant  of  coastal  British   Columbia   including
Washington,  Oregon  & Alaska" (see BEN # 75), Lyons & Merilees'
"Trees,  shrubs  &  flowers  to  know  in  British  Columbia   &
Washington"  (BEN # 112), and Taylor & Douglas' "Mountain plants
of the Pacific Northwest: A field guide to  Washington,  western
British  Columbia,  and southeastern Alaska" (BEN # 110). In the
last paragraph of the  review  (abbreviated  here),  Dr.  Schmid
tries to select the best from the three guides. - AC]

"In  conclusion,  which  book  is  the best? It depends on one's
preference for words versus pictures, among other  factors,  for
instance,  the  rounded corners of Pojar & MacKinnon, which make
it better pocket or knapsack stuffer, or the old-fashioned charm
of Lyons & Merilees. Which would I have most? Well, I have  them
all, though if my life depend on it I'd take Lyons & Merilees or
especially  Pojar  &  MacKinnon.  On  the  other hand I like the
mountains better than the coast [i.e., Taylor  &  Douglas],  and
Lyons  &  Merilees is the sentimental favorite. All three works,
however, are most welcome and very inexpensive field  companions
to identify common plants of the area."


NEW BOOK FOR DILLETANTES AND EXPERTS ALIKE

Nuwer,  Hank.  1995. How to write like an expert about anything:
   bring a factual accuracy and the voice of authority  to  your
   writing.  Writer's  Digest  Books,  Cincinnati, OH [toll-free
   phone number: 1-800-289-0963] ISBN  0-8979-645-8  [hardcover]
   Price: US$ 17.99

This  is a useful book for all the dilletantes who want to sound
like experts. On the other hand, experts too will  have  to  buy
this  manual,  since  after  all the dilletantes will sound like
experts, the real experts will have a hard time  to  bring  "the
voice of authority" to their writing. I skimmed through the book
in  a  bookstore;  it's hard to find out if the author is a real
expert or just a dilletante. The only thing I am can  say  about
him is that he likes rhubarb.


ALL FOOLS' DAY EDITORIAL

Few  BENs  ago  I  asked  the readers to send me their favourite
laws, axioms, rules, dicta, or  principles  that  are  known  to
govern  our Mother Nature. I received only one answer that dealt
with a relationship between one animal, and one  plant  species,
and  I  had to drop the idea to publish a collection of "Laws of
Nature" in this special issue. I found that it is  difficult  to
fight  the  first Newton's law of motion that says: "A body con-
tinues in a state of rest or uniform motion in a  straight  line
unless  it  is  acted  upon by external forces." Please, send me
your favourites. I can post them in the Mothers'  Day  issue  of
BEN.  (Or  in  the  Fathers'  Day issue, if you believe that the
Mother Nature is actually a Father.)- AC

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