Adolf Ceska aceska at
Sun Apr 1 04:31:51 EST 2001

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. CCLXVII                          April 1, 2001

aceska at                Victoria, B.C.
 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

                   This issue is dedicated to

                        JARA da CIMRMAN

                  the world's greatest genius,
          on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of
                        his canonization
         as the world's first multidenominational Saint
                        on April 1, 1997

From: Alexander Fichtenwalder <ua387 at>

Do  you remember the frozen body of Jara da Cimrman found in the
Siberian permafrost (BEN # 132, April  1,  1996)?  We  have  not
heard  about  what  happened  when  the panel of medical experts
tried to revive this body.  The  Atomic  Commission  of  the  US
Congress  was  eagerly  waiting  to  question Jara da Cimrman in
connection with the so-called Tunguska affair.

In the letter found in the estate of German philosopher  Norbert
Schmutzkopf, Jara da Cimrman wrote:

   "Dear Norbert,

   I have decided to go to Siberia. I have to prove to Albert
   [Einstein] that my equation for the speed of light

                      c = SquareRoot (E/m)

   is correct. Albert was trying to convince me that there is
   no relation between the mass, energy and speed of light! I
   don't  understand  why  he  doesn't  see  this connection.
   [Later on, Albert Einstein got the  Nobel  Prize  for  his
   famous  rearrangement of the Jara da Cimrman's equation! -
   AF] On my trip I am taking some water (you cannot  imagine
   how heavy it is) and Polish kolbasa and I hope I will have
   enough  energy  to set up an experiment with which I would
   be able to estimate speed of  light  more  precisely  than
   ever before, maybe to one inch per minute!

   Let's cross our fingers!

   Always Yours,


The  rest is history. Since June 30, 1908 nobody heard from Jara
da Cimrman again. His body was found frozen  in  the  permafrost
about 120 miles north of the village Tunguska.

The  panel  of medical doctors and scientists brought his frozen
body to his village Liptakov where they attempted to defrost it.
For details see BEN # CXXXII - April 1, 1996.

Well-informed sources leaked to us  that  during  the  microvawe
defrosting,  Jara  da  Cimrman's brain, which contained more ex-
citable molecules than the  rest  of  his  body,  defrosted  too
quickly.  One  eyewitness  told us that five minutes and twenty-
four seconds into the defrosting cycle, Jara da Cimrman's  brain
reached  normal body temperature, Jara got several bright ideas,
but five seconds later, his brain  exploded,  leaving  his  body
useless.  Larry  Kinkg,  who waited to interview the Genius, was
later found staring at Jara da Cimrman, pointing a finger at him
and shouting:  "Don't go away, don't go away!" But in vain, Jara 
da Cimrman  was dead.

Jara  da  Cimrman  was  canonized  as  the  world's first multi-
denominational saint on April 1, 1997
(see )
and his house in his  village  Liptakov  was  converted  into  a
shrine  dedicated  to  this  great saint. During the renovations
many new documents were found. Among those  are  some  important
political  documents,  Cimrman's manuscript of a book on "Speech
therapy  for  ventriloquists",  and  several  other   scientific
papers.  In  this  newly  found  material was an almost complete
manuscript  dealing  with  the  Universal   Physiognomic-Subject
Classification  of  Books.  It  is our great pleasure to present
Jara da Cimrman's book  classification  system  to  the  learned

From: Jara da Cimrman [forwarding address not avialable]

When  I was a librarian at the castle at Dux, I realized that my
predecessors left the library there in a great mess. It  started
with  that  shameless  Giovanni Jacopo Casanova de Seingalt, who
did not give too much thought to the classification of books  at
all.  Those  who  came after him spent most of the time studying
what Casanova wrote, but they were unable to find any mention on
how to handle books. When I  came  to  Dux  castle  as  a  chief
librarian, books were everywhere, except on the library shelves.
It was obvious that some order was in order.

Quite  a few people tried to organize books before me, but their
systems were either too simple or too  complicated  and  it  was
necessary  to  devise  such  a  classification system that would
satisfy both the sophisticated and illiterate  readers.  When  I
consulted  my  client,  the  Duke Waldstein, who was neither too
sophisticated, nor too illiterate, I decided that the  universal
classification  of  books  would  have to have several levels in
order to satisfy a variety of users.

The  first  level,  the  so-called  physiognomy   level,   would
categorize  books  by their size. In most castle libraries, even
nowadays, the large books were close to the floor and the  smal-
lest higher up on the shelves, close to the ceiling. Some people
call  this  classification  system  "classification from above",
even though it actually starts from below.

I originally recognized  the  following  three  classes:  Large,
Medium,  and Small. Later on, when I started the real sorting of
books, I had to add two more categories:  Oversized  books,  and
Hummingbird  books (also erroneously called "colibri books" - in
my opinion "libri colibri" would sound ugly).

The second level of my book classification is classification  by
the  language  in  which  they are written. As an example of the
categories in this level, I present here a  part  of  my  class-
ification of 78 Dravidian languages:

Dravidian (78)
   Central (5)
      Kolami-Naiki (2)
          KOLAMI, NORTHWESTERN [KFB] (India)
          KOLAMI, SOUTHEASTERN [NIT] (India)
      Parji-Gadaba (3)
          DURUWA [PCI] (India)
          GADABA [GDB] (India)
          OLLARI [OLL] (India)
  Northern (5)
          BRAHUI [BRH] (Pakistan)
          KUMARBHAG PAHARIA [KMJ] (India)
          KURUX, NEPALI [KXL] (Nepal)
          KURUX [KVN] (India)
          SAURIA PAHARIA [MJT] (India)
  South-Central (24)
          etc., etc.

In this classification level I have also included a totally new,
entirely  artificial  language  Experranto that I taught my poor
Polish friend Dr. Lazarus L. Zammenhof when we rafted the Polish
river Bug in his grandmother's wooden wash-tub.

This second level has proven too  difficult  and  required  deep
knowledge  of  a  vast number of languages. This level of class-
ification requires excellent linguists  that  are  difficult  to
find,  and  the ordinary users would be flummoxed if they had to
use it. I have tried several  options  and  found  that  nothing
really happens if one leaves this second level of classification
out.  On  the  other hand, I feel sorry to exclude this level of
classification just for the practical reason.

I discussed another possible classification  criterion  with  my
niece,   Edith   Schwartz   (she  later  married  some  American
echologist [sic!] Frederick Clemends [sic!]). The  question  was
whether  to  put  hard-cover books into a separate category than
soft-cover books or books still in wrappers. I  convinced  Edith
that  given  enough  time, all books would eventually reach some
stage when it would not be possible to say whether or  not  they
had  been  or  had  not  been bound. I suggested that this final
stage should be called "kleemex" and this concept does not  have
any  place  in my physiognomic-subject classification. We should
classify book by what they are and not by what they will be.

The third level of my physiognomic-subject classification is the
Subject Level. I have tried  several  so-called  decimal  class-
ifications, but they all proved too complicated for the Duke. It
was  necessary  to cut the long numbers and I replaced some num-
bers with the combination of one or two alphabetical characters.
This system that I call hacksaw-decimal is much simpler than the
decimal system and at the same time it covers all subjects.

This is an example  of  my  LC  ("Library  of  Cimrman")  class-

   A - General Works
   B - Philosophy, Psychology, Religion
   C - Auxiliary Sciences of History
   D - History: General Works
   G - Geography, Anthropology, Recreation
   H - Social Sciences
   J - Political Science
   Z - Library Science & Information Resources

The  following  is  a  sample  of my classification of botanical

   QK 1-989 Botany
   1-474.5 General
   91-97 Classification
   101-474 Geographical Distribution, Phytogeography
   474-495 Spermatophyta, Phanerogams
   474-493 Trees and Shrubs
   494-494.5 Gymnosperms
   495 Angiosperms
   504-638 Cryptogams
   509-519.5 Local
   520-532 Pteridophyta (Ferns, etc.)
   532.4-563.7 Bryophyta, Bryology
   564-580.5 Algae, Algology
   580.7-597.5 Lichens
   600-638 Fungi
   640-707 Plant Anatomy
   710-899 Plant Physiology
   746-791 Chemical Agents Affecting Plants

Shelving books and locating them on the  shelves  is  relatively
easy. Again, large book are at the bottom shelves and small ones
higher.  Then  all items are reshelved by call numbers - in both
alphabetical and numerical order. The letters at  the  beginning
of  the  call  number  are alphabetical. The numbers immediately
following are in basic numerical order, i.e. 5  then  6,  50  is
after  49  and  before  51,  and 100 is after 99. Even if you're
going to classify books  in  your  personal  or  small  library,
you'll  want  to  use  an  established  classification system. I
recommend my Universal Physiognomic-Subject  Classification  due
to the ease of classifying.

Editorial  Notes:  Jara  da  Cimrman's  Universal  Physiognomic-
   Subject Classification System  has  been  widely  adopted  by
   numerous  libraries.  As the literacy of librarians improved,
   the importance of the "physiognomic level", so crucial at the
   beginnings of LC ("Library of  Cimrman")  classification  has
   faded  out.  Now in most libraries, only the shelves with the
   so-called Oversized Books remind  us  of  Jara  da  Cimrman's
   genial attempt.


In  order  to  avoid  class  action  initiated by BEN, The Royal
Canadian Mint is recalling all pennies  issued  since  the  year
1938. For over sixty-three years The Royal Canadian Mint and the
Federal  Government  of Canada misled all Canadians and visitors
of  Canada  by  pretending  (and  falsely  advertising  in  coin
catalogues) that the plant on the reverse of Canadian pennies is
maple.  BEN  has  recruited  several experts to testify that the
image is definitely NOT maple, since the  branch  has  alternate
and  not  opposite leaves. One expert witness concluded that the
picture is actually that of _Platanus acerifolia_ (Ait.) Willd.,
although we cannot exclude some  other  plants,  such  as  stink
currant (_Ribes bracteosum_ Hook.).

The  Royal  Canadian  Mint  is  planning to strike a disclaimer:
"THIS IS NOT A MAPLE" onto each coin. In order to  simplify  the
process,  this  inscription will be printed [?] on both sides of
each penny.

The International Court in The Hague follows this  process  with
great interest because a similar court action is expected in the
case of a German 10-Phennig coin which displays a branch of oak,
this time with opposite leaves.  The  inscription  "Keine Eiche" 
was suggested to avoid this court case.


It  is  hard  to  imagine  that only over a year ago, we had all
hoped that the Y2K bug would bring the whole world  to  a  total
collapse.  We all looked forward to the moment when we would not
have been officially born yet, when we would see the total power
blackouts, and  trains running backwards,  but it is a pity that 
nothing  like  that ever happend.

Now,  a  year after, the Y2K bug has struck BEN. We [please note
the _plural majestatis_!] failed to change the  date  stamp  and
BEN  issues  263,  264,  and 265 have the wrong date, "2000". It
would be a punishment to resend you the same BEN's with  a  cor-
rected  date,  and  you  have the following two options: You can
keep in mind that the dates of those three issues are wrong,  or
forget all about it.

Many thanks,

   Your Editorial Plank (or is it a Board?)


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