The Future is Nigh!

In these latter day times of inkle going Kindle, Vorple updates, and iPhone releases, I happened to stumble on this 1979 quote (I’m sure you know it):

Yeah. As I said, Adams anticipated the Web, except the Guide had more editorial standards.

I have always thought that Wikipedia is pretty much the realization of the Hitchhiker’s Guide (to the Earth at least).

It’s a pity Adams didn’t live to see e-book readers. The things he didn’t predict is in a way quite as striking as those he did: like not even the Kindle looks complicated enough to need that DON’T PANIC sticker. (As for the web, I guess it’s the content that stricks panic rather than the interface.), and a mere million ‘pages’ (the word needed scare quotes in ’79!) … well, there was no way to guess.

I always thought that was what the original “Don’t Panic!” slogan meant too. Or rather not the content of the Guide, but the real world, which the Guide always recognized were two different things.

It also sounds funnier if it’s complicated.

The content of Life, the Universe and Everything is indeed highly panicable (or would be, if there were such a word (or is, even though there isn’t)).

Funny the way things that wouldn’t be at all funny were they real are funny when they are not. (Now that’s a sentence I’d like to see in Latin!)

On the other hand, with things that are not at all funny, sometimes all you can do is laugh at them.

That reminds me of the bad joke about the stand up comedian and the cannibals: they didn’t laugh with him but ate him.

That joke doesn’t work in English, does it? Or does this post betray my lack of knowledge regarding the English language?

I certainly can’t see the punchline and I’m the fastest punman in the west.

(In Swedish, it does work as a pun: “De skrattade inte med honom, utan åt honom.” Which can be translated both as laughing at him, and eating him. My reason for asking was if it can be read in a similar way in English, or if my countryman was momentarily confused.)

Shouldn’t the sentence read “The cannibals didn’t laugh at the comedian’s jokes, but they ate him up all the same.”? I think that construction works.

My understanding is that it’s a play on “not laughing WITH you, laughing AT(E) you”.

It can – most puns in English rely on pairs of words that are almost homophones, not exact.

That may be why some (so many?) people hate them…

Confusion is more like part of my essential being.

Actually, I wasn’t at all sure whether the joke was comprehensible in (any native dialect of) English. But it reminded me of the Swedish joke anyway, and I found it kind of funny to translate it into English: puns have a charming habit of getting even worse when translated – they’re no longer just not funny but not even punny.

After all I am a Gothenburg guy.

(In Swedish folklore, Gothenburg is a city notorious for its obsession with bad puns, just like – well, just like whatever place is notorious for something or other in this or that part of the world … like Arlington is notorious for the tea, sympathy, and sofa the inhabitants provide, for instance. :wink: )

Welcome to the club. :slight_smile: The status text of my GMail has been “confused but happy” for years now.

Also thanks everybody for the explanations.

Yes it works, depending on one’s understanding of the phrase “to eat something up”. I like it :slight_smile: