ISSN 1188-603X

No. CCLXVII April 1, 2001 Victoria, B.C.
Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2

This issue is dedicated to


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 []

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 excitable 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 public.


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 smallest 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 classification of 78 Dravidian languages:

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 classification 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 classifications, but they all proved too complicated for the Duke. It was necessary to cut the long numbers and I replaced some numbers 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") classification:

The following is a sample of my classification of botanical books:

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 corrected 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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