Monday, May 26, 2008

Irish Rail Redefine Laws Governing Space, Time and the Physical Universe

It's no wonder that Irish rail are having trouble getting that Bolshevik down in Cork to drink his pint of salt and respond to the driver's lash. It seems they have considerably bigger fish to fry.

Your faithful narrator of contemporary Irish life was on the DART last week, and spotted a remarkable poster on the wall of the carriage. Irish railways were never noted for their ability for arriving on time, of course. You may remember Percy French’s thoughts on the matter, or perhaps the discussion of the steam-men at the start of The Quiet Man. But this new poster takes the biscuit, plate and all. It does nothing less than subvert the very laws of physics themselves, challenging all we understand about the fundamental nature of the universe.

The poster features a picture of a conductor conducting an orchestra. Below that, there is a green field with black lettering. The lettering reads:

Reliability 99.8%
Punctuality 93.3%

At this point, the eyebrow should be rising in proportion to the dropping of the jaw. It’s the decimal points in the percentages, you see – so reminiscent of the elections in the halcyon days in Iraq, when Saddam would win by 99.8% of the vote, the .2% showing that Iraq was indeed a free society. At the bottom of the poster, the small print says that the statistics are independently verified. It does not say by whom. Could there be something in this?

There is no need, however, to petition the Government under the Freedom of Information Act to find out just who has been doing Irish Rail’s 'rithmetic. The problem is much worse than that. Because, just above that small print, Irish Rail defines what it means by punctuality.

Punctuality, as defined by Irish Rail, means arriving at the destination not later than ten minutes after the scheduled time.

Not on time. Within ten minutes of being on time is what Irish Rail defines as punctual.

How astonishing. The problem is even worse than is immediately obvious, as a glance at the schedule will immediately make apparent. A train leaves Dublin Connolly every morning at 8:27, arriving at Lansdowne Road at 8:36. This is a nine minute journey, one minute less the ten minutes bounded by Irish Rail’s definition of “punctual.” And that means that, as far as Irish Rail are concerned, when the train is still at Dublin Connolly, it is also and at the same time at Dublin Tara Street, Dublin Pearse, Grand Canal Dock and Lansdowne Road. Simultaneously.

Has anybody alerted the Massachusetts Institute of Technology about this extra-ordinary local phenomenon in Dublin, Ireland, where finite matter (a train) exists in multiple space (five different train stations, about a mile and a half apart) at the same point in time? Somebody ought to - a great jagged hole in the space-time continuum like that is exactly the sort of stuff they’re interested in at MIT. Dr Einstein famously posited a scenario where time was like a stream, and a traveller traveling at almost light speed could in theory leave his boat, walk back along the bank of the stream and meet himself on the way down. But one senses even that great man would have to throw his hat at what's going on in Irish Rail's particularly peculiar physics laboratory.

This view of material reality would suggest that Ireland is sitting at the edge of a vortex into another parallel dimension, that will completely revolutionise the way we understand the physical world, the universe and humanity’s place in it. It's no wonder that Irish Rail cannot deal with simple industrial relations when they're so busy trying to take on the very laws of physics themselves, the ancient bonds which hold material reality together, the very stuff of the universe itself. Who'd be bothered putting smacht on some Red when you've all that quantum physics in the inbox?

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