Smart, very smart
For reasons we can only put down to the universe’s trend towards higher disorder, we have arrived on the mailing lists of ever more PR agencies. So Feedback is used to seeing importunate subject lines such as “Are you looking for experts to test your enzymes?”. No, as a matter of fact.
A peculiar new sub-genre involves PR operatives suggesting that articles we wrote some time back in the Mesozoic era contain outdated web links. Fortunately, they have just the client with just the web link to restore cosmic order.
Since one such correspondent recently took the trouble to write a second time, in case we missed the initial communication, we feel bound to respond to their thoughtful kindness. A while ago we wrote about the revolutionary product Midnight Sun, which promised you could power your home “24 hrs a day with green energy generated by your solar system” (23 November 2013).
We also highlighted the claim that those blessed with excess solar system energy might use it to supply the grid and benefit from the UK government’s electricity feed-in tariffs. We are happy to clarify that the feed-in tariff was replaced on 1 January 2020 by the Smart Export Guarantee. Do let us know how you get on with that, and may the planets direct you to the correct link.
Probably still out there
A sense of deflation hits as, half a year after a mandate from the US Senate, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena.
UAPs are what used to be known as UFOs before being rebranded to attract a less select group of people. The US Department of Defense UAP Task Force analysed 144 reports from US government (USG) sources between 2004 and 2021, promising a neat categorisation into “Airborne Clutter”, “Natural Atmospheric Phenomena”, “USG or Industry Developmental Programs”, “Foreign Adversary Systems” and a handily sized “Other” pot.
In a robust confirmation of brand Unidentified, the report concluded that, while there was undoubtedly something there in most cases, only one UAP could be identified with high confidence. “In that case, we identified the object as a large, deflating balloon,” the report stated, we assume happily. Or, in the precis of Twitter user Jerry Gamblin: “Um… We saw some stuff, one was for sure a balloon not sure about the rest.”
Feedback admires the apparent transparency with which the US authorities are laying their ignorance bare. Unless of course the official report equivalent of “IDK” and a shrug emoji is an elaborate double bluff, in which case we also admire it, with our tin foil hat on.
We’re also pleased the declared next step is putting AI on the case. If we’re holding out for the “Other” category, this seems a sensible way to make a breakthrough. Given the arduousness of the journey to Earth, little green AIs are perhaps the most likely candidate for paying a state visit, and it might take one to know one.
An onion breath away
Covid vaccine incentives are this season’s social distancing measures, in the sense that the bribes being given out to persuade the reluctant to get their jabs also have a distinct cultural slant.
Efforts last year to assist people in estimating a safe 2-metre distance brought us units such as the ice hockey stick and the caribou (Canada), the alligator (Florida) and the kangaroo and the angry cassowary (Australia). The still growing list of vaccine incentives, for which we welcome further input, includes hunting and fishing licences (Maine), a pre-rolled spliff (Washington state), a lottery to win a cow (Thailand) and new season soused herring (the Netherlands).
This last one is a win-win: in our one-time experience, Hollandse nieuwe, consumed in the traditional manner raw on bread with equally raw onion, is also a highly effective social distancing measure.
Dave Cross writes that he has been scouring the Amazon for door handles of a particular size. Our reverie on intrepid rainforest expeditions in search of a rare and prized natural wonder is cut short by realising we added in the “the” in haste, but let’s hold that thought for another time.
So what wonder has Dave found? Under the “Technical Details” of the “Aexit Cabinet Cupboard Drawer Flush Mount Round Ring Pull Handle” – as fine a concatenation of nouns as you’ll see outside the headlines of a mid-market tabloid newspaper, although lacking “fury”at the end – comes the puzzling entry “Horsepower: 0.01 hp”.
This rating equates, of course, to roughly 330 imperial foot-pounds per minute or, in our favoured, over-complicated experiential units, the power expended to lift the contents of a standard wine bottle, but not the bottle, to the level of a cupboard door handle 1 metre off the floor in 1 second.
Yet we’re still left slightly perplexed. According to a diagram we’ve just drawn, you’d still need a horse, similar beast of agency or electric motor at the other end of the rope. Or possibly a poltergeist.
In the hope someone has finally made a perpetual motion machine in the form of a door knob, Dave is waiting for the turbo version. Wire it up to the grid, Dave, and remember: what you’re looking for is the smart export guarantee.
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