quarrel: Engraving of Thoth from the Luxor Temple. (fables)

One day, the Hero came upon a burning house. A crowd of townsfolk watched from the yard.

“Help me!” cried the Homeowner from an upstairs window.

“Call 9-1-1!” said the Hero.

“We did,” said the crowd, but the fire trucks were not yet there.

“Save me!” yelled the Homeowner as smoke poured from the window.

The Hero moved toward the house, but the Blacksmith stood in the way.

“Let me by,” said the Hero. “I need to save the Homeowner.”

The broad-shouldered Blacksmith stood fast. “Think it through. If we do the firefighters’ job, they will get lazy. Saving the Homeowner now will make more of us die later. We don’t want to die.”

“But the house is on fire!” said the Hero.

The Fishmonger stood beside the Blacksmith. “Think it through. The less the Homeowner gets hurt, the less careful people will be about fire. Saving the Homeowner now will make more of us get hurt later. We don’t want to get hurt.”

“Save my cat!” begged the Homeowner, cradling a frightened tabby.

“At least let me catch her cat,” said the Hero.

The Schoolteacher stood beside the Fishmonger. “Think it through. For every cat that dies, two wives are beaten and three children go hungry. Saving the cat means letting other problems harm us. We don’t want to be harmed.”

“You’re crazy!” said the Hero. “Why won’t you let me help?”

“We’re rational,” said the Blacksmith.

“We’re responsible,” said the Fishmonger.

“We won’t let you hurt us,” said the Schoolteacher.

And so the Homeowner died a hero.

quarrel: Engraving of Thoth from the Luxor Temple. (thoth)

"Who here understands science? Raise your hand."


"Hmm. That's not many. Okay, let's start over. Different question. Who here has ever driven a car? Raise your hand.

"Ah. I see that's more. Good. Okay, those of you with your hands up, keep them up up if you ever got in your car, turned the key, and nothing happened. Dead. Wouldn't start.

"Now keep them up if you thought to yourself, 'The battery's probably dead.'

"And keep them up if you then tried flicking on the radio or the headlights or something to test if the battery really was dead or if it was something else.

"All of you with your hands still up: guess what. You understand science."

quarrel: Engraving of Thoth from the Luxor Temple. (knowledge)

Aesop tells a story about a disagreement.

The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said, "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin."

So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.

Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.

From this, we may derive three important lessons:

  1. Both the Wind and the Sun were screwing with the traveller. Specifically, they were trying to force him to do something he did not want to.
  2. One of them succeeded.
  3. The traveller never realized it.

Text from The Fables of Æsop edited by Joseph Jacobs.
quarrel: Engraving of Thoth from the Luxor Temple. (knowledge)
This is a rewrite from scratch of something I posted a year or two ago to the City of Heroes forums. It was a sort of affirmation of the basic free-market principles I myself was rediscovering from following the threads there, particularly threads regarding flipping, or buying items that had been listed on the global market at less than their going value and immediately relisting them at a higher price oneself.

The Customer was hungry. It was lunchtime, and time for his sandwich. The Customer liked sandwiches, which was good, since he worked on a street full of sandwich shops. These shops ran up one side and down the other, all right there on the Customer's block, all within easy walking distance. And they all sold all their sandwiches for four dollars, each and every day.

So the Customer was surprised to see a six-dollar price tag one day, not just on one sandwich but on every sandwich on every shelf in one particular shop. The Customer called the Shopkeeper over. "Is this a mistake?" he asked. "Why do these cost more?"

"Oh, it's no mistake. I charge more because of the special service I provide," replied the Shopkeeper.

Now the Customer was polite, and since he didn't wish to wear out his welcome, he bid the Shopkeeper good afternoon, walked to the shop next door, and bought a four-dollar sandwich.

But the Customer was also curious. "Special service?" he wondered as he ate his sandwich on the walk back to his office. What special service? That shop was no closer than any of the others, or at least not closer by enough to matter. Neither was it any larger, nor any cleaner, or any more attractive or brightly lit. Their sandwiches were all the same size, on the same style bread, with the same meats and cheeses and slathered with the same brands and amounts of condiments. The Customer dug further into its business practices yet still could not discern what set that one store apart. All the shops paid the same rent. They all used the same amounts of electricity and water and gas, supplied by all the same utility companies. They all had the same number of employees and paid them the same wages.

Defeated, the Customer returned to that one store the next day. "Excuse me," he said to the Shopkeeper, "but what you said yesterday confuses me still. I've looked at your sandwiches, and I've looked at your shop, and I've looked at your business. I simply do not see what sets yours apart. If you don't mind my asking, exactly what is this special service of yours?"

The Shopkeeper leaned back and smiled. "Ah. That. It's actually quite simple. The special service I provide is that my store still has sandwiches for sale when everyone else is out."


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