Amusing Quotes & Stories

Excerpt from Douglas Adams' novel, Mostly Harmless
Adams Consistently and Wonderfully Puts Your Imagination to the Test...!

"Robots were instructed to bring the backup central mission module from the shielded strong room, where they guarded it, to the ship's logic chamber for installation.

This involved the lengthy exchange of emergency codes and protocols as the robots interrogated the agents as to the authenticity of the instructions. At last the robots were satisfied that all procedures were correct. They unpacked the backup central mission module from its storage housing, carried it out of the storage chamber, fell out of the ship and went spinning off into the void.

This provided the first majour clue as to what it was that went wrong.

Further investigation quickly established what it was that had happened. A meteorite had knocked a large hole in the ship. The ship had not previously detected this part because the meteorite had neatly knocked out that part of the ship's processing equipment which was supposed to detect if the ship had been hit by a meteorite.

The first thing to do was to try to seal up the hole. This turned out to be impossible because the ship's sensors couldn't see that there was a hole, and the supervisors which should have said that the sensors weren't working properly weren't working properly and kept saying that the sensors were fine. The ship could only deduce the existence of the hole from the fact that the robots had clearly fallen out of it, takind its spare brain, which would have enabled it to see the hole, with them.

The ship tried to think intelligently about this, failed, and then blanked out completely for a bit. It didn't realize it had blanked out, of course, because it had blanked out. It was merely surprised to see the stars jump. After the third time the stars jumped the ship finally realized that it must be blanking out, and that it was time to take some serious decisions.

It relaxed.

Then it realized it hadn't actually taken the serious decisions yet and panicked. It blanked out again for a bit. When it awoke again it sealed all the bulkheads around where it knew the unseen hole must be.

It must also revive its crew.

There was another problem. While the crew was in hibernation, the minds of all of its members, their identities and their understanding of what they had come to do, had all been transferred into the ship's central mission module for safe keeping. The crew would not have the faintest idea of who they were or what they were doing here. Oh well.

The Passers-by, Franz Kafka

When at night you go walking in the street and a man, already visible from afar - for the street goes up hill and the moon is full - runs toward us, we will not seize him, even if he is weak and shabby, even if someone else is running behind him and yells, we will rather let him run on.

Because it is night and we can't help it that the street under a full moon goes uphill, and furthermore, perhaps these two have arranged this chase for their own amusement, perhaps the two are pursuing a third, perhaps the first is innocent, perhaps the second wants to kill him and we will become accomplices to the murder, perhaps the two are not aware of each other and each of them is only running home to bed at his own risk, perhaps they are sleepwalkers, perhaps the first man is armed.

And, finally, shouldn't we be tired, haven't we drunk a lot of wine? We're glad that we can't even see the second man anymore.

A Packet of Cookies, by Douglas Adams (In his short stories book: A Salmon of A Doubt)
A little slice of brilliance from the genius that was Douglas Adams.

This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person is me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1972, in Cambridge, UK. I was a bit early for the train. I'd gotten the time of the train wrong. I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table. I want you to picture the scene. It's very important that you get this very clear in your mind. Here's the table, newspapers, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There's a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase. It didn't look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.

Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There's nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies. You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know·.But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn't do anything, and thought, What AM I going to do?

In the end I thought, Nothing for it, I'll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, That settled him. But it hadn't because a moment or two later he did it again! He took another cookie. Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. "Excuse me, I couldn't help but notice·" I mean, it doesn't really work.

We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away. Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back.

A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies. The thing I like particularly about this story is that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who's had the same exact story, only he doesn't have the punch line.

"I love doing nothing, which is very tough to do because you never know when you're finished."

"I think animal testing is a terrible idea, they get all nervous and give the wrong answers."

"I want either less corruption in the world, or a greater chance to play a part in it." Ashley Brilliant

"Half of the people in the world are below average."

"If I don't know I don't know, I think I know. But if I don't know that I know, I think I don't know."

"If your knee's bent the other way, what would a chair look like?"

"Sanity is the playground for the unimaginative."