Friday, November 05, 2004

Ultimate Answer Theme of This Year's Phil Fest

Today is the First Friday in Phil Fest.

For those without proper calendars, Phil Fest begins this Friday, November 5th
and culminates this year on Sunday, November 14th.

I am delighted to announce that the theme of this year's Phil Fest is:
The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything.

To understand why this theme was selected, please take a few moments to read and contemplate the following passage:

Extracted from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,
by Douglas Adams.

"O people waiting in the Shadow of Deep Thought!" he
cried out. "Honoured Descendants of Vroomfondel and
Majikthise, the Greatest and Most Truly Interesting
Pundits the Universe has ever known ... The Time of
Waiting is over!"

Wild cheers broke out amongst the crowd. Flags,
streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air.
The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes
rolled over on their backs and frantically waving
their legs in the air.

"Seven and a half million years our race has waited
for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried
the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer!"

Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd.

"Never again," cried the man, "never again will we
wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my
purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking,
matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we
will finally learn once and for all the plain and
simple answer to all these nagging little problems of
Life, the Universe and Everything!"

Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the
terminal and waited.

"The time is nearly upon us," said one.

"Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors
set this program in motion," the second man said, "and
in all that time we will be the first to hear the
computer speak."

"An awesome prospect, Phouchg," agreed the first man.

"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the
answer to the great question of Life...!"

"The Universe...!" said Loonquawl.

"And Everything...!"

"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, "I think
Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"

There was a moment's expectant pause whilst panels
slowly came to life on the front of the console.
Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled
down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came
from the communication channel.

"Good morning," said Deep Thought at last.

"Er ... Good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl
nervously, "do you have ... er, that is..."

"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought
majestically. "Yes. I have."

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting
had not been in vain.

"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.

"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.

"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the
Universe and Everything?"

"Yes."

Both of the men had been trained for this moment,
their lives had been a preparation for it, they had
been selected at birth as those who would witness the
answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and
squirming like excited children.

"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonquawl.

"I am."

"Now?"

"Now," said Deep Thought.

They both licked their dry lips.

"Though I don't think," added Deep Thought, "that
you're going to like it."

"Doesn't matter!" said Phouchg. "We must know it!
Now!"

"Now?" inquired Deep Thought.

"Yes! Now..."

"Alright," said the computer and settled into silence
again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was
unbearable.

"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep
Thought.

"Tell us!"

"Alright," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great
Question..."

"Yes...!"

"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep
Thought.

"Yes...!"

"Is." said Deep Thought, and paused.

"Yes...!"

"Is."

"Yes...!!!...?"

"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty
and calm.

qv: BBC: The Ultimate Answer
More Phil Fest Updates to follow...

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