BEN # CCLXVII
aceska at victoria.tc.ca
Sun Apr 1 04:31:51 EST 2001
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No. CCLXVII April 1, 2001
aceska at victoria.tc.ca 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
as the world's first multidenominational Saint
on April 1, 1997
JARA DA CIMRMAN - DEFROSTING OF THE FROZEN GENIUS FAILED
From: Alexander Fichtenwalder <ua387 at victoria.tc.ca>
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:
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!
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 http://lide.pruvodce.cz/minibylt/deb/index.htm#97 )
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
CIMRMAN'S UNIVERSAL PHYSIOGNOMIC-SUBJECT CLASSIFICATION OF BOOKS
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:
KOLAMI, NORTHWESTERN [KFB] (India)
KOLAMI, SOUTHEASTERN [NIT] (India)
DURUWA [PCI] (India)
GADABA [GDB] (India)
OLLARI [OLL] (India)
BRAHUI [BRH] (Pakistan)
KUMARBHAG PAHARIA [KMJ] (India)
KURUX, NEPALI [KXL] (Nepal)
KURUX [KVN] (India)
SAURIA PAHARIA [MJT] (India)
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
101-474 Geographical Distribution, Phytogeography
474-495 Spermatophyta, Phanerogams
474-493 Trees and Shrubs
520-532 Pteridophyta (Ferns, etc.)
532.4-563.7 Bryophyta, Bryology
564-580.5 Algae, Algology
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
THE ROYAL CANADIAN MINT IS RECALLING ALL PENNIES FROM 1938 ON
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
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.
THE Y2K BUG STRIKES BEN
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.
Your Editorial Plank (or is it a Board?)
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