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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Now It Can Be Told, A Biography Of Lord Ockett

It is still deucedly hot out and I am confined by my physician to areas well away from whatever he prescribed that turned me into an idiot. But I am recovering and even got out to see my optometrist today, where I spent a great deal of time staring at a wall socket while waiting for my eyes to dilate. It was during this meditation I realized there has never been a proper biography of Lord Wallace Ockett, discoverer of pareidolia . Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a random stimulus being perceived as significant, like seeing a man in the moon. Here is a photo of Lord Ockett as an infant.

Even at this early stage, Ockett was said to exude a special aura of competence. When the attending physician completed delivery and got a good look at Ockett, his appraisal was enthusiastically expressed by shouting, "GOOD LORD!" The doctor's opinion was often echoed spontaneously by others throughout Wallace's childhood. He could have made excellent use of his privileged birth and led a life of idleness and comfort, but chose instead to pursue scientific research. He grew into a round-cheeked, inquisitive, vigorous young man.

He was ambivalent in regard to peerage. When addressed as "Dear Sir" in a letter suggestting he had violated the British Corn Law, he replied: "'Sir' is a title confined to Baronets and Knights, neither of which am I. Nor am I 'Lord Wallace'. For public purposes, I am Wallace Ockett, and only privately 'Lord Ockett'. I am 'Earl Ockett', but the word 'Earl' is never used in conversation. I therefore am hopelessly confused and have no idea what to do with your letter."

At this point, Ockett went abroad to research fuels cleaner and less noisome than that used in the new diesel-powered typewriters that had just come on the market and were suspected of causing hearing-loss and secretarial dementia. He was gone twenty years and returned somewhat worse for wear.

He recovered sufficiently to spread his ideas about electricity, which he'd seen in his travels and accepted as a safe, viable means of fueling typewriters. He also married and had six children.

The six little Ocketts grew into their father's enterprise and carried both the popularization of electric typewriters and the abolition of diesel ones to other continents, chiefly Europe and America. Lord Wallace was able to retire and enjoyed talking with the press. At one memorable conference he was told about pareidolia. He asked what it meant.

"Well," said the reporter. "It's when billions of meteors, over billions of years, accidentally carve a human face on the moon."

Ockett replied, "Oh! Do they? Do they really?" Which threw the whole idea into the productive doubt it enjoys today.

For this and his contribution to electric typing --which I'm doing right now-- Lord Wallace Ockett was awarded the perpetual honor of having dual portraits of himself framed singly on walls all over the world.


  1. We have several of those portraits on our walls. DeLIGHTful chap.

  2. Words seldom fail me, but at the moment I'm speechless and overwhelmed. And I'm wondering exactly what was in that medication to dilate your eyes.

    In my complete innocence and admitted ignorance, I never realized that I had dual portraits of Ockett in my home.

    Deliciously amusing post!

  3. Great imaginative humor wafted me away once again! Thanks!

  4. Delores, Jon, Will-- Thank you! Your approval confirms that my silly ideas have found a proper outlet.

  5. Enlightening and geounding post, Geo. And I want what you've got.

  6. Most kind, Austan! I believe the geounding terminal is the middle one, usually misspelled with an "r".

  7. I will never again see plug sockets in the same light.

    (Genius and hilarious.)

  8. I say, is there anything you won't stick your finger into to come up with an entertaining post? Shocking! (Loved it!)


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