|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
No. CXXXII April 1, 1996
[Jara da Cimrman was a well known Czech genius and polyhistor (cf. Sebanek, J. 1991. Ja, Jara Cimrman. Zapadoceske Nakladatelstvi, 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 conclusions 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 already 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 therefore 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...
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.
Greater Victoria councils should consider emulating a new Vancouver 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.
[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."
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 continues 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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