from February 1, 2004
In our last column, we briefly mentioned the ingenious business scheme of Space Services Inc., of Houston, to send a scattering of the ashes of a deceased friend or relative into orbit at a reasonable price. Our interest in these services, as our regular readers will recall, was stimulated by the practical problem of how to dispose of the remains of our dear friend and editor, Arthur Unknown (1938-2004).
Having solved that problem to the satisfaction of all concerned, including Mr. Unknown himself, we at Myles Junior Think Tank turned our attention to a business scheme that is as ingenious as that of Space Services Inc. In short, we have begun to consider the possibility of offering weddings in space.
Over our traditional glasses of afternoon port, we concluded that such an enterprise was doable. And doable, we concluded, in a comprehensive sense. That is, we came to agree, deep into our second glasses, that if astronauts could float through the empyrean in a state of reported bliss, so could a pair of lovers, a justice of the peace and/or rabbi, minister, priest, or imam—and even the entourage of ten or twelve attendants without which no reputable wedding can be properly performed.
Near the end of our second glasses, one of us (I will modestly refrain from identifying that person) pointed out with the use of his admirable forefinger that this species of matrimony is but an advanced form of the newly-popular destination wedding.
Moreover, by the end of our fourth glasses of the aforementioned potent potable, we had determined that such a service could be offered at the reasonable price of $100,000 per celebrant, a figure well within the range of the average contemporary wedding, with its limousines, flowers, tuxedos, rings, bridesmaids’ attire, country club receptions, and ensuing bankruptcies. (This figure assumes, of course, that the use of such appurtenances would be rendered unnecessary. For example, we assume that all members of the wedding party would participate in the ceremony “in the buff,” to use the vernacular.)
The next afternoon, the Myles Junior Think Tank had finished the planning stage of our ingenious—is there another word for it?—enterprise. We had determined, first of all, that Space Weddings Inc., a subsidiary of MJTT, would offer two options. 1) For those who choose permanent bliss, we will guarantee that the bride and groom, as well as the officiant(s) and members of the wedding, will sail into deep space and in the direction of the galaxy of the bride’s choice. (Fine print: the satellite to be used in this unique operation will be pre-owned, though we further guarantee that its previous owner and/or manager will not be a former member of the Soviet Union.)
2) For those of a realist bent, i.e., those who do not see either the point or the possibility of permanent bliss, the wedding satellite will go into orbit and encompass Earth only once, twice, or thrice, depending on the depth of the bride’s father’s pocket.
In these days we find it necessary to point out that Space Weddings Inc., like its parent company MJTT, is an equal-opportunity service. Though the wedding herein described is by many accounts typical, SWI offers this outstanding opportunity to all, regardless of the status of the principals, be they bride and groom, bride and bride, or groom and groom. In fact, at its next meeting MJTT will consider the possibility of permitting other combinations of principals—threesomes, foursomes, etc., up to and including a mass orgy.
from January 15, 2005
The Myles Junior Think Tank has done it again.
Our subsidiary, the MJTT Cremation Services, has handled the delicate question of what to do with our recently-deceased colleague and editor, Art Unknown, with grace, dignity, and to the grudging satisfaction of all concerned, including his colleagues, quick or urn-bound, his fellow barflies, the MJTT, and Mr. Unknown himself.
Our growing band of happy readers will recall that after we cremated Arthur, we placed his remains in his customized urn for a month-long stint atop the bar of the Pueblo Watering Hole, located on the ground floor of Hôtel Adios in Large Southwestern City.
We at MJTT then gave our habitual great deal of thought to the vexing question of what to do with him after his cremation.
Our initial brilliant flash from On High (Yes, Virginia, there is a Higher Being!) was to use the services of the former Celestis Inc., now Space Services Inc. of Houston, to launch Arthur’s remains into orbit. (For Irene Mona Klotz’s short piece on this innovative service, Google “Space Race 2: Rest in Space.”)
Space Services, reports Ms. Klotz, regards their ingenious plan as “a good sound business because it can grow incrementally.” The thinking behind this entrepreneurial scheme is that the baby boom generation has grown tired of the traditional burial ritual, has embraced the practice of cremation, but now seeks more innovative ways to honor and dispose of their loved ones. The members of that generation are also thinking of their own demise, as did, presumably, their ancestors.
The price is also right. Space Services Inc. will stash seven grams of a former person’s cremated ash into a capsule the size of an antique lipstick tube and send it into orbit for a mere $5,300, less than the average traditional funeral, with its cemetery plots, fine coffins, blocks of engraved stone, black umbrellas, all-in-a-day’s-work morticians, and solemn clergy.
That is for the deluxe model. For the frugal or bankrupt away-passer, Space Services will cram a gram of his or her ash in a container approximately the size of a watch battery for a mere $995. This price includes the sendoff.
We broached this possibility with Mr. Unknown, emphasizing the less expensive model.
Our delicately-worded proposition was met with scorn; we were forced to suggest the deluxe model.
His scorn did not abate. He would have nothing of it. He was emphatic.
Asked for a reasoned case against our brilliant flash from On High, he replied that he wished to remain editor of DQWA. Besides, he went on, he enjoyed the company of his colleagues and fellow barflies, regardless of their wavering opinion of him.
There was much we could not say. After he urged us to read the fine print in our contracts, we quickly consented.
As the CEO of the MJTT, I am pleased to report that Mr. Arthur Unknown (1938-2004) will continue as editor of DQRA for the foreseeable future. And, as the COO of the MJTT Cremation Service, I am equally pleased to report that the urn of our astute, oft-equally-brilliant wit and former man-about-town has been equipped with a state-of-the-art robotic body.
N.B. For a full description of Unknown’s personal appearance, see his current column.
This has not been a lackluster month at MJTT. At the suggestion of my fellow blogger, Ms. Thalia Mews, we have been working on the problem of God’s intelligence.
This is a difficult problem, not least because to our knowledge no thinker, be he or she a philosopher or a scientist, has been able to solve it. A quick click through Google will confirm our initial guess that many have seen fit to tackle this conundrum, but the most elementary logic dictates that there is a vast difference between tackling a problem and solving it.
The initial phase of our solution, which the regulars at the Hôtel Adios Watering Hole have come to call Myles’ Theory of Ultimate Intelligence (MTUI), consisted of creating a two-column table (TCT). Column A on the TCT contains a list of facts that redound to God’s credit as creator and sustainer of the universe (FRGCCSU)—for example, Yosemite Valley, the Mud Pots in Yellowstone National Park, the sunsets at the Grand Canyon, and the healthy, hearty orgasms a young couple are wont to enjoy before that activity has borne fruit. Column B on TCT contains a list of negative facts that are attributable to God’s activity as creator and sustainer of the universe (NFAGACSU)—for example, war, poverty, illiteracy, social injustice, and child pornography.
Having finished this relatively awesome task, we considered the problem of choosing a post-TCT step in the construction of MTUI. This step consists of determining a method for working with our data.
After a thorough discussion we determined, a priori, that we should divide FRGCCSU by NFAGACSU. We then agreed, again a priori, that we would assign an IQ score to the result of this mathematical calculation, taking an IQ of 100 as our base. In other words, we determined that if the result of our calculation were >1, God’s IQ would be over 100, and by a factor the complexity of which is inappropriate for discussion in a short column. Contrarily, if the result were <1, God’s IQ would be less than 100, etc.
The discerning reader will immediately recognize that I have omitted the question of variables. That is to say, I have not mentioned the values that must be assigned to the items in both FRGCCSU and NFAGACSU.
We at MJTT were not unaware of this sub-problem. We solved it in the fairest, most accurate way we could: we polled the audience at the Hôtel Cherokee Watering Hole (HCWH), asking such questions as whether and to what degree the + of a Grand Canyon sunset overrode the – of the Iraq War. (For a copy of the results of this poll, please send a request and an SASE to:
Myles na Gopaleen, Jr.
Myles Junior Think Tank
Large Southwestern City
Large Southwestern State
But to the results of our labor. According to the MTUI, God’s IQ is 107.364.
from December 15, 2004
My last column concerned the problem of saving Planet Earth from the coming Big Meteor Hit. It also promised, at least implicitly, to solve this problem in the present column.
But as Karl Marx or one of his ilk said, “Promises are made to be broken.” We at MJTT have come across a problem that is arguably more terrifying than the coming Big Meteor Hit. Thus we defer that issue to another day, justifying this laggardly act with the Latin slogan, “Carpe diem”—Seize the day.
It has come to our attention that, as the European news agency Reuters succinctly puts it (November 22, 2004), “As Ice Thaws, Arctic Peoples at Loss for Words.” This clever headline points to the indisputable fact that the indigenous peoples that make the Arctic region their home are finding it difficult to invent names for such animals as hornets, elk, barn owls, and salmon, which are encroaching on their suddenly-balmy habitat. As felicity would have it, they have not yet spotted any flamingos.
The culprit is, as always, global warming.
The Reuters account goes on to point out the obvious villain: President George W. Bush, who says the Kyoto protocol “would cost too much and unfairly excludes developing states.”
The chief example of the devastation wrought by this short-sighted view is the struggle for survival of the Hudson Bay polar bear, which depends for its sustenance on the seal. It is becoming more and more difficult for the former to practice its main trick, pouncing on the latter when it (the latter) surfaces for a breath of fresh air.
After giving this problem the long, hard look that it demands, we at MJTT have come across a slogan that should please Republicans and environmentalists alike: Save the Seals!
from December 1, 2004
We at MJTT were taken aback by the recent news that a British schoolteacher in Manchester, northwestern England announced to 250 pupils at St Matthew’s Roman Catholic High School morning assembly that a meteor would smash into Earth within ten days. She used this occasion to urge her charges to return home and say a final farewell to their loved ones.
That warning was issued more than ten days ago. In the meantime, no dog has barked—a phenomenon that might mislead the casual armchair thinker into dismissing the good lady’s warning as either a stunt or a poor way to keep the children lined up at the confession booth on their repentant toes.
In our educated opinion, the schoolmarm was correct, in principle. Her mistake was in one minor detail: the schedule.
Our opinion was confirmed by a call to a friendly competitor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He agreed that statistical probability dictates that the world will eventually be struck by a giant meteor, probably wiping out the dominant species, Homo sapiens.
“We’ll go the way of the dinosaur,” he said cheerfully.
I inquired about the timetable.
“Anywhere from tomorrow to, say, 3.4 million years on.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. But then I wondered aloud: Was he doing the math in his head?
“My computer is an extension of my brain,” he replied off the top of his head.
“Well put,” I said sincerely—so sincerely that I jotted down his flippant aphorism, boldly meaning to take it as my own.
We chatted on, exchanging info on our latest projects. He informed me that he was working on the question of the existence of mental telepathy. I informed him, inadvertently, that MJTT was working on the question of whether neo-evolutionist thought was compatible with the theory of Intelligent Design.
This was true, up to a point. We have that question on our long-term agenda.
But first things first. Our planet must be saved. Immediately after bidding our mutual adieux, I fell into deep thoughts on the problem of defending the earth from the coming Big Meteor Hit.