Nothing Better To Do?

Browsing the BBC website this morning, I was struck by two items of widely differing subject, but with one obvious factor in common. They were both, it appeared, a complete waste of time and money.

I have the greatest respect for science; without it we’d still be living in mud huts and foraging berries, but when a group of Danish and Czech scientists turn their attention to digging up a 16th century astronomer, merely in the hope of discovering what he died of, then frankly they’re obviously short of something more productive to do.

Poor old Tycho Brahe, regarded by some as the father of modern astronomy, died in 1601. Three hundred years later he was exhumed for the first time, by a load of early 20th century alchemists curious to know if he’d been poisoned by his assistant, Johannes Kepler.

On that occasion, high levels of mercury were found in Brahe’s mustache hairs, but as he’d delved into chemistry and alchemy during his lifetime, it really failed to prove anything.

Now, one hundred and nine years later, Brahe is to be temporarily hauled back into societal circulation for the exact same purpose.

In these days of economic instability, global warming, and terrorists behind every lamp post, it’s good to know that science is focused on worthwhile issues. While he’s ‘out’, it’s also hoped to discover the metallic properties of Brahe’s nasal prosthesis.

That’ll be a bonus.

Professor Jens Vellev, from Aarhus University in Denmark, who’s leading the exhumation, says he expects modern technology will allow for a better guess at what killed the famous star gazer:

“Perhaps, we will be able to come close to an answer,” he told the BBC, “but I don’t think we will get a final answer to that question.”[1]

Never mind, they can always dig him up again in another hundred years.

There may seem little similarity between Tycho Brahe and a Renault ‘Zoe’, but on the BBC website this morning they’re only a click apart.

The ‘Zoe’ is a small, smart-looking, prototype electric car from the French motor manufacturer (eat your heart out General Motors) and it’s hard to imagine why it should become the subject of a private court case. But it has.

Apparently, girls called ‘Zoe’ throughout France are dismayed at having a car named after them. A French lawyer by the name of David Koubbi is making lots of money representing these ladies in court, demanding Renault drop the name in favor of something less, well – feminine?

From the BBC website:

“There’s a line between living things and inanimate objects, and that line is defined by the first name,” … David Koubbi told Associated Press.

“We’re telling Renault one very simple thing: first names are for humans.”

Following Wednesday’s hearing, Mr Koubbi told reporters that the judge had accepted Renault’s argument that Zoe “was not a first name, but just a common noun”. He said that logic was perverse.

He also argued that all of France’s thousands of Zoes could be affected, with playground teasing and, as they grow older, comments in bars such as “Can I see your airbags?” or “Can I shine your bumper?””[2]

David Koubbi had previously written to Renault’s chief executive arguing that the plans were an attack on the rights of his clients. If he’s correct, they’re also an attack on the rights of: an indigenous tribe of the Brazilian Amazon, a town in Lee County, Kentucky, United States, an alternative/psychedelic band from Mexico, an American independent record label, an American rapper, and a British singer best known for her hit “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” (all courtesy of ‘Wikipedia’).

And let’s not forget the American motor manufacturer, Zoe Motors, who built and marketed the……ah……oooops…’Zoe Zipper’……[3]

……sorry Mister Koubbi, it’s already been done. Back in 1983. And no-one objected. So, there’s a precedent.

Which may, or may not, be why the judge threw out the case.

Making the whole affair another huge waste of time and money.

Of course, there’ll be an appeal, so it’ll all be exhumed again – just like Tycho Brahe.

[1] “Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe exhumed to solve mystery” BBC, November 15th 2010

[2] “Renault can name new car Zoe as girls’ case rejected” BBC, November 11th 2010

[3] “Zoe Motors”

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3 Replies to “Nothing Better To Do?”

  1. These people must have PhDs in Time and Skill-wasting For a Fee, RJ. 😉

    By the way, I seem to remember a Citroen car from long ago called by a female name – The Citroen Diane – I googled and apparently it was spelt Dyane

    I wonder whether the spelling of Dyane was due to similar complaints back in the 60s/70s. Or perhaps Dyane just sounds like Diane and means something else.

  2. Twilight – apparently ‘Dyane’ is just a snooty way to spell ‘Diane’. It has no special meaning. Man, it was an ugly car, though!

    There was also the Citroen Clio – now that is definitely a female name. Clio was one of the muses, a daughter of Zeus. I believe she was the mother of Hyacinth – though the Citroen Hyacinth doesn’t sound like a seller. Anyway, Hyacinth was a boy – poor lad!

    WWW – nice little mover, the Zoe Zipper. They also made a pick-up version called the Zoe Little Giant. Whichever revs your engine fastest, I guess. 😉

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