Home / Around DB Articles / DB Lampoon: Nano Nonsense for National Days

DB Lampoon: Nano Nonsense for National Days

Posted in : Around DB Articles, Out there on by : Around DB , , Comments: 0

Forget the joy of small things. Big is best, says Peter Sherwood [PHOTO COURTESY OF Adobe Stock]

A touchingly old-fashioned announcement for a certain country’s Independence Day appeared in the South China Morning Post. The 35cm x 25cm half-page was about 3,500 words, about 12 pages of a paperback novel, defying anyone to read it. Reading it, you would risk blindness and insanity, the only saviour being narcolepsy from excruciating boredom. I’ve been around publishing since Trump told his first lie and had no idea that print could be so tiny. But the announcement would also be unreadable in 64-point type over 20 pages, such was the epic tedium. Likely it began as a full page until cost was mentioned.

I’m hardly innocent when it comes to national day features in the press, having written a few of these dreary pieces after interviewing embassy officials stuck for a lifetime in a bureaucratic quagmire. The interview process is inevitably followed by nightmare encounters – to-ing and fro-ing with embassy wives conscripted into this farcical enterprise to proofread in between Bridge games. Anyone forced to read this stuff would prefer the 1963 Turkish telephone directory or a book on quantum physics in Swahili.

Depressing? An arm full of heroin and a pile of Prozac couldn’t fix the ennui that such articles produce. Sad too that the jokers who initiate it think we’re excited to read about their trade figures and history of the national flag. Hey! No. One. Cares. Sherwood’s Law of Readership states: “The level of intellect required to read a national day supplement equals a pork chop.”

Of course, there are curious pedants hellbent on using a magnifying glass to decipher this drivel just to be sure that the writer’s got his facts right. I imagine these supplements are used as a form of tor ture for prisoners in solitary confinement and with only the toothpaste tube to read – and as a substitute for waterboarding. (These methods of inflicting suffering can be replaced by audio misery: Mamma Mia on a 24-hour loop).

Competition in the nano world is fierce: a leatherbound version of The Lord’s Prayer in eight languages was published by the Gutenberg Museum in 1952. It measured 5mm x 5mm, the size of the end of a pencil. A nano Bible with 1.2 million letters has been created on a disk the size of the tip of a pen and requires an electron microscope to read it. An ad for Netflix’s Busted in Variety measured 1.712cm x 2.529cm. A special edition of the Portuguese language weekly Terra Nostra, measuring just 18.27mm x 25.35mm, was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest newspaper.

What’s the point, you ask? But we could ask the same of national day nonsense, which brings me to the small brains department. The nematode worm is a 1mm-long non-arthropod invertebrate with just a 302-neuron brain compared to the human version of 80 to 90 billion. Note: 298 neurons are required to produce a national day supplement.

But enough quibbling. Let’s end with a powerful and internationally important reflection on something seriously big and vastly more interesting than any national day: the biggest pineapple ever recorded was grown by Christine McCollum from Bakewell, Australia. It measured 32cm x 66cm and weighed 28kg, a pineapple pinnacle.

Peter Sherwood has lived in DB for 20+ years. The former head of an international public relations firm, he is the author of 15 books and has written around 400 satirical columns for the South China Morning Post.

Tags: , ,

Add New Comment


× Thank you for your comment. Your feedback has been submitted to an administrator for approval.