Archive for July, 2010

Sermon on the mount(8).3

July 22, 2010

A Workaround

‘Boss, I think we’re stuck.’
‘What’s the problem?’
‘A chasm. We can’t get across it. But I have a solution: we should build a lightweight metal bridge on our side, then winch it across the gap.’
‘Can’t you just leap over it?’
‘Nope, this would be a two-jumper.’
‘You could climb to the bottom and then up on the other side.’
‘That would take ages.’
‘Yes, but it would only be a temporary workaround. It’s better than nothing after all.’

Streamlining the Process

‘Boss, this whole climbing-down-and-up business works better than I expected. I’m getting used to it.’
‘But it’s too slow.’
‘Told you so.’
‘Can’t we do something about it to partially streamline the process?’
‘Like what?’
‘Weeeell, I saw a programme yesterday about base jumping…’

The Ultimate Solution

‘How’s your ankle doing?’
‘It’s healed mostly.’
‘You’d be glad to hear then that I showed the x-ray of your fracture to management and convinced them that the base jumping workaround, although admittedly faster, is a bit less stable.’
‘So will they fund the bridge at last?’
‘They rejected the business case as our workarounds work too well. But to speed your climb up, we hired some consultants who promised to carve steps into the rock face for you.’


July 16, 2010

If you hear a Zen kōan and post it to Yahoo Answers, does it make sense?

The Too Small World Theory

July 8, 2010

The idea of ‘six degrees of separation’ was probably first coined by Frigyes Karinthy, a brilliant Hungarian writer in the early decades of the twentieth century. He realised that humankind was fully connected, and for probably the first time in history it took no more than 5 “hops” of acquaintance to reach literally anyone on Earth. (Interestingly, in the same text, he also mentions Martians.)

Today all social networking is built on this concept, “friends” and “liking” and all that. Some even claim that social networking is therefore an accurate reproduction of our real networks. But our real relationships with people and things aren’t always positive, our virtual relations are blatantly asymmetric.

I like to think it’s because Karinthy, despite his razor-sharp observational satire, was an idealist at heart. He believed in Humanity and Progress and wouldn’t even think of including hostilities in his all-encompassing human network.

But think how different the Web would be if he had been a miserable bastard! Is that film any good? Let’s check the ratings: “12 people liked this, 8 morons hated it”, and you know you’re onto something good here. You could even organise your enemies into groups and send group-specific hate mail or threats. You could forge friendships or alliances with your enemies’ enemies and so on, the opportunities would be endless.

Maybe one day we’ll realise that every living person on this planet is just six punches away.


July 5, 2010

I met a professional dominatrix once and naturally I asked her what kind of people made up her clientèle.
‘There are a lot of misconceptions about BDSM.’, she sighed. ‘Despite the image the general public has of this genre, not all my clients are married, middle-aged, middle-class, middle-management men. There are some proper nutters and perverts too.’