In a 1970s short story in The Star Diaries by Stanisław Lem, prof. Dońda received a telegram:
Will you be appointed professor of svarnetics at Kulaharian university ten kilodollars yearly answer please immediately colonel Droufoutou Lamblian Bamblian Dramblian security police
Dońda, in financial troubles, accepted, reasoning that he would find out what svarnetics is when he got to University of Kulahari. He was pretty sure that his three university diplomas would be enough to lecture on any discipline of science. When he got there he learned that “svarnetics” was the telegraph operator’s rendering of “cybernetics”, but by then it was too late. His contract was to teach svarnetics. Dońda invented the discipline (Stochastic Verification of Automatized Rules of Negative Enchantment), and this eventually led to destruction of the civilization.
So when I saw this tweet, it was pretty obvious that I would reply with the Dońda story:
But there was no way to put the story in 140 characters, and Dońda and his svarnetics are pretty obscure. I could not find anything to link to to explain Dońda’s story, so I had to write this post. This takes time. I’m in the middle of nowhere, on the very edge of a pretty wild (for Polish standards) national park, and the web comes here using CDMA, an early nineties technology (based on a 1940’s idea developed by the first actress to portray orgasm in a movie) which is slow and has serious transfer limits. The only thing I could send immediately was this:
Copyright traps are fun, and esquivalience — the wilful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities — is one of my favorites, and it sent a clear message, better than biosvarnetics.
The parallel between Lem’s short story and a real offer is amazing: a message form an authoritarian country, asking to lecture on a weird sounding (well, we know what bioequivalence is, basically it says that a liter of wine is something like three liters of beer (four or five in the US)) subject.
Now we have to find out what bioesquivalience is — the willful avoidance of one’s biological responsibilities?