Number of the Month

December 2011

Letters to the editor


I have long admired your organ. After all you were virtually unique in announcing one of the most significant events of the century, namely the foundation of the PRU in 2002.

I would, however like to draw your attention to a continuing and ever increasing problem, which is the insidious spread of phlogiston denial. It is openly practised in many schools and even a political correspondent of The Times has baldly stated that phlogiston does not exist. This plague of rampant denialism is getting totally out of hand. It is up to people of good will like us to gather together in the name of science and persuade the Government that something must be done. Some of us have formed a committee to propose the setting up of an official body, to be known as OPHLOG, which will monitor the activities of these deviants and probe the origins of the substantial funding that they obviously have access to. I look forward to your support in this urgent matter.

Professor Marcus Membrane


Why do you persist in giving coverage to large well-funded institutions such as the University of Much Hadham and the Metropolitan University of Nether Wallop, while ignoring the vital contribution of smaller institutions that add such variety and richness to the higher educational scene?

Our students receive a rounded education in the vital subject of Media Studies and they are both expected to be awarded first class honours. In addition, they are given an intensive course in practical Domestic Science, which will grant them employment opportunities in the future. I trust that we will see a more balanced treatment from now on.

J Mycroft Shamble
Vice Chancellor
University of 27 Gasworks Road



I recently bought a new cooker and was pleased to find that it contained a carbon filter. Imagine my horror when closer reading of the manual revealed that it was not a filter for carbon, but one made from carbon. Is it not time that industry was banned from covertly insinuating such deadly substances into people’s homes?

Mildred Bracegirdle
Teetering on the Verge



One of the scandals that emerged from the current inquiry into nefarious activities of the press has received little attention. This is the admission that newspapers sometimes invent letters to their correspondence columns and allocate to them invented names. Is it not time to end this deplorable practice?

Mohammed Goldstein
New Palm Springs
Slough on Thames



The eleventh annual Numby Awards

Despite being held in one of the glamour spots of Europe, namely the Assembly Rooms above the Takeaway Kebab in London’s sophisticated Balls Pond Road, the Numby ceremonies have always been sensitive to economic conditions and recession in particular. As was the case in recent years, the traditional decorations of the hall were in low key. The number of awards was also much reduced than before.

The progress of your somewhat less-than-abled reporter up the rickety stairs is not something he would wish to dwell upon, but thanks are due to two large anonymous ladies for their sterling efforts.

The atmosphere was not quite as lighted hearted as is usual on these occasions. This might have had something to do with rumours that had been flying around about a split in the organising committee. It was said that it had broken into two warring factions, the Faith-based Science group led by Dr Trend, who chaired the last ceremony, and the Intrinsic Knowledge group, who were a new faction with different beliefs. The first group had promised change while the second promised to change the change.

Whatever the truth of these reports, this year we had a new chairpersonage. He is Jim Frutecake, Professor of Alternative Science at the University of Much Hadham. His opening address was on the subject of Intrinsic Knowledge, a theory that he was largely responsible for developing. Briefly, it is based on the huge waste of time and money that scientists impose upon the population by their endless quest for evidence, when much of the knowledge they seek to establish is already in the possession of certain People of Wisdom. He cited the Large Hadron Collider, which absorbs billions of euros that could be used for more constructive purposes, such as the erection of thousands of giant wind turbines that would demonstrate to future generations the power of our culture. Here is a much shortened précis of his further remarks:

 For this reason we are returning to the two most important recipients of our awards at the tenth ceremony and making further awards to them in order to adjust unfortunate ambiguities in the original citations.

First there is His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, Knight of the Garter, Knight of the Thistle, Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen's Service Order, Privy Counsellor, Aide-de-Camp, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. He is one of the People of Wisdom of whom I speak. When he makes critical statements about, for example, sceptics, without having spoken to one, he is not, as the New Theologians would have us believe, merely expressing a belief. What he is doing is granting us a glimpse of the Intrinsic Knowledge with which he is endowed. When he puts forward the undoubted advantages of alternative medicine, he is not just spouting an opinion but making a revelation to those of lesser ilk, that they too might enjoy the benefits of being exposed to rhinoceros horn, tiger’s testes or various perfumes.

It was felt that it would be lese-majesty to label the award to His Royal Highness, but the inscription engraved around the base of the next statuette to be awarded is "Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" The recipient is none other than Chris Huhne, the de facto moral leader of our nation and a world figure. The inscription refers to his bold plan to build 32,000 more wind turbines. Ordinary people, inspired by his leadership, are glad to pay for this through their ever-rising energy bills, especially pensioners and others of restricted means who are grateful to be allowed to contribute their widow’s mite. As they turn down their thermostats and shiver in their triple overcoats, it must be heart-warming for them to know that they are part of this magnificent project that will prove for generations to come the power of our civilisation.

His dramatic achievement of this year is that he has got rid of yet another nasty energy-hungry business, namely aluminium smelting, and sent it off to other countries and continents that are less fastidious and more motivated by petty hope of economic prosperity.

 The next statuette bears the inscription “He doth bestride the world like a colossus.” The new Numby Laureate is none other than Herman van Rompuy, the charismatic president of the EU. Though, as always, there are dissenters, he has clearly demonstrated Intrinsic Knowledge as he gives decisive leadership to the world and demonstrates that the new Europe is a power to be reckoned with. In the pubs of Britain, where he is the constant topic of conversation, he is known affectionately as Rumpy-pumpy. Along with stalwarts like Baroness – er – her name escapes me, but you know who I mean, he has set an example to the squabbling world leaders of how to rule.

Europe is now the harbinger of the Green World Government to come: something of which all Europeans can be proud.


At this point there was some sort of disturbance at the rear of the hall. Stewards were seen escorting out a dishevelled figure, who seemed to bear a startling resemblance to Dr Trend. I had not noticed before that along the outer periphery of the hall stood at regular intervals large men with shaven heads. It is good to know that the traditional order of these ceremonies is in good hands.


The next engraved slogan is “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives”, which has some form of Welsh reference that escapes me. Perhaps it is a reference to the surname of the recipient. Steve Jones is a regular columnist on science in the new green Daily Telegraph. Although a geneticist by trade, he likes to lecture us on matters of physics. One of his trademark interventions is on the subject of centrifugal force. Now I am sure many of you are aware that old fashioned physicists will tell you that this force is fictitious, citing Newton’s first law of motion. Most ordinary people know that this is untrue – they have experienced centrifugal force themselves, right from early childhood in the school playground. Yes, even ordinary people have their share of Intrinsic Knowledge, though, of course, not to the extent of an expert like Prof. Jones. Newton’s laws are over three hundred years old and it is about time they were repealed. Jones and his ilk are just the people to do it.

I am sure that you will all accept that this year’s list, though low in numbers, is high in quality. The deliberations of the organising committee have been long and arduous, but the results are more carefully reasoned than in the recent past. Long May it continue.


Again the audience seemed subdued as they filed out of the hall. Over the years, no two ceremonies have been the same, yet they are all memorable. As for those stairs, the less said the better.


Number of the month and the year and, unless someone stops that madman, a generation 32,000

This is the number of worse-than-useless wind turbines that Chris Huhne plans to import and erect throughout Britain. They will wreck the power supply system, even further impoverish the nation and kill people.

Index, searchbox and begging bowl


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