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Saturday, March 11, 2017

BIRTH | Mar 11—Douglas Adams ("Hitchhiker") Would Be 65

Mar 11, 2017—This day would be the 65th birthday of British humorist and science fiction writer Douglas Adams, born in Cambridge, England.

He died in 2001 of a heart attack in Montecito, Santa Barbara County, Calif. He was resting from his regular workout at a private gym. He had been suffering from an undiagnosed gradual narrowing of the coronary arteries, which led to a myocardial infarction and fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

His five-part "trilogy", The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, is told by a Candide-like character named Arthur Dent, who is saved from Earth's imminent annihilation by catching a ride on a spaceship operated by an alien travel journalist. It was originally produced in 1978 as a BBC comedy.

Arthur meets many interesting inhabitants of space, including
  • the two-headed Galactic President, 
  • a pathologically depressed robot,
  • the other human survivor in the universe, a woman Arthur had met once at a party in England, and
  • the Vl'Hurgs.
The Vl'Hurgs are of special interest because Arthur ignited their outrage with his statement, carried to the Vl'Hurgs by a wormhole (possibly, given where the news is taking us these days, facilitated by Russian cybertappers), "I seem to be having difficulty with my lifestyle." This phrase happens to be, in the Vl'Hurg language, the most dreadful insult imaginable.

The insult was attributed by the Vl'Hurg negotiators to the G'Gugvunts and they immediately declared war. Vl'Hurgs typically wear black, jewelled battle shorts as part of their uniforms. The Vl'Hurg mathematical system is based on entrails and a dried velohound penis.

The events described in the trilogy have presumably not yet occurred, since more than two humans are for the moment alive. The self-certified Emperor of the Vl'Hurgs is meanwhile living in Oxford and goes by the name of Chris Oakley. A 30-year-old photo of him punting on the Cherwell River is the best I can come up for the moment as further identification.