The Nature of the Scorpion

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

There’s an old fable that tells of scorpion that begs a frog for a ride across the river. The frog replies, “if I give you a ride on my back, you’ll sting me!”

The scorpion assures him, “if I sting you, we’ll both drown!”

The frog accepts this as logical, and agrees to take him across the river on his back. About half way there, the frog feels a sharp pain, and his legs go numb – they both begin to sink.

“Why did you do it?” asked the frog, “Now we’ll both die!”

“I couldn’t help it,” replied the scorpion, “it’s in my nature!”

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In other variations, the frog is replaced with a fox. Perhaps this was to illustrate that even a creature as clever and resourceful as a fox is not immune to the cruel indifference of nature.

A modern retelling has the fox place the scorpion on the end of his snout where he can keep an eye on him, flinging him off at the moment he raises his stinger. Interesting, but I think it misses the point (pun intended); The fox learns no lesson and instead, confirms only what he already knew to be true.

The last variation of the story replaces the scorpion’s fellow traveler with a tortoise. According Bidpai (as retold by Maude Barrows Dutton):

Halfway across he was startled by a strange rapping on his back, which made him ask the scorpion what he was doing.

“Doing?” answered the scorpion. “I am whetting my sting to see if it is possible to pierce your hard shell.”

“Ungrateful friend,” responded the tortoise, “it is well that I have it in my power both to save myself and to punish you as you deserve.” And straightway he sank his back below the surface and shook off the scorpion into the water.

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The scorpion pretends to understand logic and can parrot reasoned arguments, but he is and will always be a slave to his nature. Is there any point to being upset at a scorpion for being a scorpion?

The lesson here (if there is one) is this: You can only trust a scorpion to be himself. And if you are going to try help him, you’d better have thick skin.

We Need to Establish the Cetacean Nation

We need to establish the ‘Cetacean Nation’. I nominate myself to be the United Nations representative to the cetacean nation. Then we will force the white man to give back what he has taken from us.

It is both a philosophical and cultural imperative to perform the seaweed dance prior to making contact with the dolphin spirits. Otherwise, our bodies will be unprepared to receive their awesome powers.

I, for one, have been performing a daily ritual of deep, transcendental meditation, followed by exactly three jimmy flips, two half-berpies and a Krispy Kreme enema to sharpen my senses.

Windows Fun

“It’s like that scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where that guy I kinda look like rips that dude’s heart of out of his chest and shows it to him before he dies. That’s some ‘Mortal Kombat’ finishing move shit right there!”

– Satya Nadella on Windows 10…probably

Windows 10 has brought with it some glorious new features as some users have discovered. One fine young gentleman in particular caught my attention:

w10_2

Don’t listen to Venkat, that ain’t legal advice, he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about! So here’s my legal advice (check your mail for my invoice):

 

  1. Bill Gates left Microsoft over a year and a half ago, and was replaced by Satya Nadella, who is clearly doing a fine job!
  2. Your mouse pad isn’t working because you haven’t upgraded its driver to Windows 10. The firmware is corrupt, so you need to take it outside and beat it against the side of your shed repeatedly until it becomes soft and pliable again.
  3. You don’t need speakers or the internet, both are obsolete features that Windows 10 no longer requires – these have been replaced by an infinite repair loop.
  4. You can’t restore your previous Windows because Satya threw a brick through them. He’s angry at you and wants your business to fail. You must appease him with a modest donation of two thousand pan masala wrappers while chanting, “Satya Ma! Satya Ma Shakti De!”
  5. You are indeed trapped by Microsoft and should accept your Karma. If you are lucky, you will be reincarnated into a Linux or Mac user.

Important Quotes

listen

“When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it.”

– Yogi Berra

Addendum A: If you’ve ever run out of forks, you will understand.

Addendum B: Also, it’s not stealing if you call, “dibs.”

Addendum C: You don’t even have to wash it first, germs are good for you and put hair on your chest!

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

A few years ago, I read a book by Joel Best called, “Damned Lies and Statistics.

The title is based on a phrase popularized by Mark Twain, though it’s origin isn’t firmly established….goes something like this:

“There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”

The book began with what Best described as, “The Worst Social Statistic Ever.” The quote was, “Every year since 1950, the number of American children gunned down has doubled.”

When taken literally, that would mean that 35 trillion American children were gunned down between 1950-1995. What the author meant to say was that the total number of child deaths by firearms in 1950 was half what it was in the year 1995.

Surprisingly, the US population grew by some 73% from 1950 to 1995, so it would follow that other counts, such as deaths would also be about double. Point being that statistics should not be accepted blindly. That brings me to a new one I saw today floating around the interwebs:

More Americans were killed by guns since 1968 than on the battlefields of all the wars in American history.

The specific figures are based on estimates from PolitiFact.com:

  • Firearms-related deaths between 1968 and 2015 was about 1,516,863
  • The total number of casualties related to all wars in US history was approximately 1,396,733

I’m not being paid to do this, I don’t have a professional research staff, and my Terminator Robot isn’t programmed to do that for me…yet. So, rather than gather and correlate 47 years-worth of data, I’m just going to pick on 1968’s mortality rates instead.

According to the US Census Bureau, the population that year was approximately ~200,700,000. Referencing the Vital Statistics of the United States 1968 Volume II – Mortality Part A , the total death count was 1,930,082.

That’s over half a million more deaths than all of the American casualties of every US war in American history combined! Impressive, huh?

Of those, 9,425 people reportedly died from “firearms and explosives.” It doesn’t break that figure down to gun-related deaths only, nor does it distinguish between homicide, suicide, war or accidents. That’s accounts for a whole 0.488% of the total death count that year. This is about 1/6th the number of motor-vehicle deaths, which came to 54,862, or about 5.7 times as many deaths by vehicle as there were by firearms and explosives.

The point (if there is one) is this: I can quote unqualified, out-of-context statistics based on incomplete/erroneous “data” to make bogus conclusions too!

In Summary

  • Think for yourself. Don’t rely on eye-grabby statistics
  • Do your own homework and take other facets into consideration
  • Terminator robots aren’t a good source of important information…yet