How many words?

How many words does it take to spell out the word of God, the rules on cabbages, and the regulations on eating at the Olympics?

If you have been reading my ramblings in this blog for some time you might have reached the conclusion that I like words.  And by and large in that you will be correct.

So I have been rather attracted to this little ditty which you will find replicated on all sorts of internet sites…

Pythagoras’ Theorem: …………………….24 words.
Lord’s Prayer: …………………………………… 66 words.
Archimedes’ Principle: ……………………………67 words.
Ten Commandments: …………………………………179 words.
Gettysburg Address: …………………………………………286 words.
US Declaration of Independence: …………………………1,300 words.
US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: ……………………7,818 words.
EU Regulations on the Sale of CABBAGES: …………….…………26,911 words.

That just about does it for the EU doesn’t it?  Indeed you may have heard about it.  It has been publicised a lot.

And yes, I must admit, I fell for it, and it wasn’t until I showed the piece to one of my customers who was popping in to add some documents to his collection held at the Admiral Storage Facility (and who is a guy who knows about these things) that I realised I had been conned.

As I have now discovered and indeed validated through some assiduous research (OK, two minutes on Wikipedia – but at least I did it, which is more than some people do!) the cabbage story first turned up as a part of an anti-Federal government propaganda programme in the USA in the 1950s.

In fact The Washington Post has apparently twice run articles detailing its known history – one in the early 1960s and the other in 1992.

The cabbage story also turned up in Pearls of Wisdom: A Book of Aphorisms in 1987 and it still does the rounds despite the fact that it is still (as it has always been) completely untrue.

I can’t speak for the Federal Government in America, but I can tell you the actual EU regulations on cabbages run to 1990 words and are there to prevent dubious farmers selling bad veg to shopkeepers.  I’m not going to try to argue if that is a good or bad thing – I’m just saying, that’s why they are there and that is how long they are.

Now I probably wouldn’t have mentioned any of this had it not been for the fact that one of my customers has a collection of memorabilia relating to the London Olympics, and we were discussing this recently.  Indeed we turned our attention (as one does) to the food and drink terms and conditions imposed upon people who actually went into the stadium.

Within that is a notice (clause 19.2.3 if you must know) which prohibits (without exception) “bottles or containers made of glass or other material” from being taken into the venue.  This is in addition to the blanket ban elsewhere in the regulations on taking in “food (save for baby food,) alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (save for baby milk and other valid medical reasons”.)

Which raises the question how does one transport the baby milk (other than when it is still within the mother) since all “bottles or containers” were banned?

Ah well, you may say (if you are still with me) the Olympics Committee were avoiding the cabbage problem.  They didn’t want to overburden visitors with words.

Except that the terms and conditions on what you could and could not take into the London Olympics ran to 7140 words – only a fraction under the length of the US constitution with all 27 amendments, and 40 times the length of the Ten Commandments.

Not to mention three times the length of EU regulations on cabbages.

So one might say that the all-encompassing rules of God as handed down to Moses, which determine our complete mode of behaviour in all aspects of life takes up 2.5% of the space of the rules and regulations for food and drink while watching the Olympics.

One wonders why the Olympics committee didn’t follow the old adage devised by a design studio in Chicago in 1932 (and then cleverly but wrongly attributed by them to Confucius) that a picture is worth 10,000 words.

On this basis the London Olympic Committee could have produced three quarters of a drawing and conveyed all they want to convey on food and drink through all those words.

But still, if you have documents and the like, you may well want to keep them safe, no matter how many words they contain.

The London Olympic Committee has now long since wound itself up (something that I suspect it must surely have proclaimed in a document longer than the mythical EU cabbage document) but its words, and those of many others, need to live on and be kept for posterity.

Meanwhile, words or no words, when you need us you know we are here.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk.   Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Walsall
WS2 8TF
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk

www.archive-document-storage.co.uk

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