Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waxing philosophical at the O.K. Corral

In our last session, we began by quoting Abraham Lincoln’s statement that if you call a tail a leg, a dog would still have four legs, not five, because calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.

In the comments section, people began waxing philosophical.
I thought it would be good to elevate the discussion to full-post status.

Carolina in Nederland said it was a trick question and she didn’t like trick questions; they make the people who ask such questions seem smart. But it doesn’t mean that they are smart, although you could argue that it is smart to ask questions that make you seem smart. Carolina is a deep thinker.

Putz from Utah agreed with me that Abe Lincoln was one smart cookie and thought the question was clever, not tricky.

Then Snowbrush out in Oregon chimed in with that old conundrum, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, did it make a sound?” Let me just say here that it certainly would have had the capacity for sound, sending out sound waves and all, but if no ear or device capable of receiving the sound waves was anywhere in the vicinity, then no, it didn’t make a sound in the traditional sense, although it could have made a sound in the non-traditional sense. Do I make myself clear?

Katherine from Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (a country in the Southern Hemisphere) presented the possibility that Abraham Lincoln might have invented the wink-smiley emoticon. What that has to do with anything, I’m not sure. Also, the link begins by saying, “While most people believe that Scott Fahlman was the first person to suggest the use of the :-) symbol for representing a smiley face,...” but I challenge that statement. Most people do not believe that Scott Fahlman was the first person to suggest the use of the :-) symbol for representing a smiley face. Most people have never heard of Scott Fahlman.

Then Anonymous, whose origin and whereabouts remain uncertain, posed another rhetorical question: “If snow falls, brushing against the trees in the woods, but no one sees or hears it, does it exist?”

That one’s easy. It most certainly does.

It just doesn’t make a sound.

Next, Elizabeth in the U.K. told us that living in a garage doesn’t make you a car.

I hastened to add that it is also important to remember that a kitten born in an oven is not a chocolate-chip cookie. Elizabeth replied that that was precisely the point she was making.

I asked Snowbrush if he was high on some substance when he made his usual wisecrack (his word) and said that I myself am high all the time without the aid of some substance. He replied, “Wow! You must save a ton of money. Then again, if you tithe, probably not.”

Leaving aside for the moment the question of my financial status and contributory habits, nobody tackled another of Snowbrush’s questions: “What--if anything--might a person’s answer to Lincoln’s question tell us about that person?”

Let me try to formulate an answer to that one.

Persons who answer “Five” find it difficult to focus on the task at hand, are easily led astray, tend to put their hope in unworkable solutions to the dilemmas facing society, and may have used marijuana. They are almost always Democrats.

Persons who answer “Four” harbor no illusions about the total depravity of humankind, are solid as a rock in their personal relationships, refuse to deviate from majority opinion even after it has become a relic from another age, have never let their automobiles drift cross the double yellow line on a highway, and may have sold marijuana. They are invariably Republicans to the fourth generation.

Persons who answer “Seven,” “Nine,” or “I don’t know” attend Star Trek conventions, believe that aliens from another part of the galaxy have been kept alive in Area 51 for at least a half-century, would rather watch a reality show on television about bored housewives in Oklahoma City than attend a concert of live zither and dulcimer music, sit out general elections in a pout because there is not a dime’s worth of difference in the candidates, and may have grown marijuana. In primaries and caucuses, they vote for Ron Paul.

Persons who answer “Twenty-three” obviously did not understand the question.

How am I doing?

Jump in at any time.

I beg you.


  1. Ah yes, but if you put lipstick on the dog...?

  2. Abraham L. wanted to make a point. Point taken. My answer to his question would have been 'probably four, but it depends on which dog we're talking about, because I know a dog that has three legs', and I'm not a Republican.

    I hope you're doing fine.


  3. Shooting Parrots, you would have one very attractive dog.

    Carolina, I like the way you think. I have also seen a dog with only two legs; it walked upright on its two hind legs. I once worked with a woman named Heidi Chan whose answer to almost every question ever posed to her (she taught programming classes) was, "It depends." She would then go on to explain all the various possibilities. You remind me a lot of Heidi Chan.

  4. Elizabeth: Fahlman. You can read about him here.

  5. Who is this Anonymous who dares to wonder if I exist if no one sees me when I brush against trees in the forest? Maybe I'm in the forest to harvest my marijuana. What would he have me do, take a crowd along?