“The three fundamental Rules of Robotics…One: a robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm…Two:..a robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law…Three: a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First and Second Laws.” – Isaac Asimov
“That being said, this morning my toaster tried to kill me and the waffle iron was looking at me funny.” – Isaac Asimov, moments later.
“Good morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out farther than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”
“All of them at once,” said Bilbo.
— The Hobbit (1937)
“Although we at Soylent do not have a long association with the Olympics, we do have deep roots in the celebration of global competition, which is the core value of the Olympic spirit. This allows us at Soylent to build deeper relationships with people and with the nations, whose very lives are sustained by our many protein food products.
As Dubai provides the world’s most complex and leading high-tech artifices of winter sports during this on-going global drought, we at Soylent are providing struggling nations the sustainability of life and prosperity through our new plankton based food product: Soylent Green. Through our sponsorship of Dubai 2022 we pledge to provide this same quality of care for the nutrition of our athletes as we strive for the restitution of our planet’s ecosystems.”
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.”
—Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy