Ask Dr Plokta

Dear Dr Plokta

My 'BIC Crystal Medium' seems to have developed an interface fault. Any continuous lines I attempt with it produce only an intermittent result on the hard copy. Is this all related to the ill health of the little black worm that lives inside it, as it appears to have now turned completely white?

Someone whose signature faded out half-way through

Dr Plokta replies: This is a common problem and one which, fortunately, now has a solution. Simply use Dr Plokta's Famous Worm Restorative, only £100 per bottle (not including shipping and tax). One application and no more dead worm misery!

Dear Dr Plokta

I'm running a convention with only 400 attendees but 5 PCs and a Unix workstation. Am I suffering from superfluous technology?

Claire Goodall

Dr Plokta replies: Quite the converse; you are suffering from insufficient technology. It takes more equipment than that just to produce a 14 page fanzine. Go out and buy a dozen more PCs, a colour laser printer and a LAN immediately.

Dear Dr Plokta,

At a recent event in the fair city of Birmingham, I became aware of a problem not susceptible to solution by conventional technologies. This is a problem definitely requiring a cutting-edge approach, I refer, of course, to the phenomenon of the Pushy Pregnant Woman.

Those at the event in question will no doubt have their examples, but just off the top of my head, I can recall being subjected to many strident commands, e.g.:

"Gimme that chair, I'm 8 months pregnant,"

"Hold that lift, I'm 8 months pregnant,"

"Gimme a seat at the front, I'm 8 months pregnant,"

"Gimme a jaffa cake, I'm 8 months pregnant,"

And that's just a random sampling from one attendee. Please, Dr Plokta, can you suggest a suitable behavioural modifier? I had considered one of them taser, stun-gun things, but they're a tad difficult to get hold of. There are increasing numbers of pregnant women in our little milieu, and unless you help this problem could spiral out of control.

Harassed of Cumbria -- Mike Siddall

Dr Plokta replies: We in the Plokta cabal are only too familiar with the symptoms that you mention, and I suspect that you may have found one of those rare problems that cannot be solved with the application of sufficient superfluous technology. The taser's not a bad idea, though, or you could consider anaesthetic darts. A sadly low-tech solution that we have also found helpful is ear-plugs, available from... ouch... oof... no, please don't sit on me... that is, what I meant to say is that pregnant women should be shown every consideration and the rest of the human race should act like their personal slaves at all times. I hope you're suitably ashamed of yourself.

Dear Captain Pedantic,

Could I direct your attention to "Who's Who in Plokta" -- just one column to the right of your own feature in Plokta 1.4? In the description of Giulia de Cesare, the phrase "...cuddling both Steve & George to their mutual embarrassment" appears. To quote Fowler's Modern English Usage "mutual is a well-known trap. The essence of its meaning is that it involves the relation x is or does to y as y to x, and not the relation x is or does to y as y to z." Clear? Plokta's usage means that Giulia's cuddling causes Steve to embarrass George, & George to embarrass Steve, which I'm sure wasn't what was intended. For the required sense, replace "mutual" by "common" (or "shared" if you don't like the ambiguity of "common").

Peter Wareham

Dr Plokta says: I go away for one issue, and look what happens! Pedants!

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