Living life to the Max

In the story of Maximilian Ambergis, inventor of the delete button, we left it with one large, unexplained gap: “Eventually, Max drifted to Russia, via Alaska, and disappears from history, until he emerges, relatively intact, in 1917 in St. Petersburg, alongside Lenin.” Now, new papers have emerged which show, in fact, that during this period Ambergis reached a crescendo of creative endeavour unparalleled in the modern world. The crucial papers are letters he sent to his sister, recently discovered in an attic in Leeds and hinted at in his autobiography, “Delete My Mistakes, Inspire My Spirit”.
Shortly after his arrival in America, in 1894, Max became frustrated with the slow means of communicating with his sister back in Leeds. To this end, he founded a cross-continental system involving spirit mediums. His company was called Spiritcom and rested on a simple premise: spirits in the after-life face no barriers of distance in travel. If you could transmit a message to one spirit, via a medium, asking them to pass it on to another spirit, then get that spirit to further pass it on to another medium in a far distant place, then you could – theoretically – organise for messages to span the globe, instantaneously.

Spiritcom Promo Poster 1895 – “One World, One Message”

Spiritcom opened to huge public acclaim, transmitting the first messages from San Francisco, on  April 22nd, 1895. The venture soon ran into trouble. Max claimed that reliable spirits were hard to employ for the relatively mundane tasks of passing on messages. Many simply wanted to bemoan their eerie state or whine miserably about Hades and the eternal fire. Many messages got garbled along the way, with a simple message like “Arrive Friday. Stop. Prepare Reception. Stop.” Being passed on as “Arrive Friday. Stop tormenting me with those forks, I only wish to repent my sins and escape this eternal hell fire…” etc, for another 22 pages of text, before finally ending with “Prepare Reception. Stop.” Despite employing his newly invented delete button to expunge such irrelevant nonsense from the actual messages being passed, the end result was often unfortunately garbled.

The final blow to Spiritcom came in August 1896, when due to a mix up with a pair of psychics, a message to a customer in New York sent on August 5th, saying that his nephew had died, actually arrived on August 3rd, to much consternation. Facing public humiliation, Max fled in September of that year.

Burdened down with debts, he trekked north to Alaska. He spent his time inventing new mining gear, including conducting experiments into mine canaries. He was fascinated with one particularly clever canary called Canute. Indeed, visitors to Max’s camp in the far north of Alaska were greeted to the amusing sight of Max, typing away on Max TWO or Max THREE, with the canary standing on his shoulder.
Canute and Max start training

After many years of elaborate training, where Canute was taught to recognise every word in the English language, he would cheep twice if Max mistyped a word. Hence, the world’s first working Spell Checker had been invented! (Patent pending…) However, attempts to replicate this success failed. Finding canaries clever enough to recognise words, beyond the rudiments of the word “seed” and the phrase “juicy morsel of insect” proved impossible. Canute was one of a kind.

Max derived his Law of Universal Canariability – which roughly states that “If a canary can do it, anybody can do the can-can”, which is just a derivation of Hilbert’s Entscheidungsproblem.

It was during this period that Max, newly flushed with money from his canary venture, visited Europe. He paid a visit to Sigmund Freud, then interested in theories of mesmerism (or hypnotism). Max and Freud struck up an instant friendship and a mutual love for cocaine. Fuelled by one particularly large consignment of highly-pure Colombian nose powder, Freud persuaded Max to allow him to hypnotise Canute. Freud had already hypnotised bees, mushrooms, and goldfish, with mixed results. This experiment in animal hypnotism ended badly when Canute became convinced that he was the King of Persia. Scorning mere bird seed, he would only eat cake and drink fine champagne. Despite every attempt to keep Canute alive, he passed away within two months of their visit to Vienna. He did, however, die a happy little bird.

Part Three to Come Soon….



  1. David said,

    December 11, 2007 at 4:00 am

    Most historians agree that what probably killed Canute were the hypnotized mushrooms. Freud was not a very skilled micologist, and had accidentally poisoned 3 of his cousins with improperly identified wild species he’d thought were black chanterelles. God knows what they really were, since Sigmund was probably under the influence of other fungi. He thought that he could hypnotize the mushrooms stronly enough to transpeciate them. Like the alchemists thought they could do with rusty nails.

    What a dope!

    But Canute did die happy, if not hallucinating.

  2. Shazgood said,

    December 11, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    New evidence has emerged to show that the bees ended up hypnotising Freud, not vice versa. He was seen hoarding honey and used to endlessly buzz his neighbours front door bells…for a while he even wore stripy jumpers.

  3. David Levine said,

    December 12, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Well strike me pink!

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