Aphorisms For The ApocalypsePosted: May 25, 2011
Well, here we are at Rapture + four days. I don’t think there are many of us surprised by that. None of us except predictor in chief, Harold Camping. Camping has indicated he was, in fact, surprised. He then issued another date for the end (October 21, 2011) upon realizing that he had miscalculated.
Mr. Camping, let’s talk shall we?
I was taught to respect age, but I think my parents felt that in teaching me so, they’d also be teaching me to respect the wisdom that comes with that age. Since wisdom seems to be a missing piece in you, allow me to impart a few bits of common knowledge that you might want to consider before issuing another apocalypse date.
Check Your Work
I remember taking a math test when I was very young. I remember it more for the life lesson I learned than for the math knowledge I gained.
In my youthful zeal to not be involved in doing any math, I rushed through the test and turned my answers in before anyone else in the class. I then returned to my seat and started reading.
A few minutes later, the nun who was my second grade teacher came up behind me, smacked me in the back of the head and dropped my test paper on my desk. She’d indicated with a large red x each of the wrong answers I’d written. There was so much red ink on the paper that I am surprised she had enough left to write, “check your work”. She must have had a fresh pen, Mr. Camping, because it sure was written there. She pushed my head down until my forehead touched the words, so I remember them clearly.
Mr. Camping, you are an engineer. How do you say “the world is going to end” and not check your work? I certainly hope this is not the standard of care you used in your calculations in the more orthodox applications of your engineering education. Just in case it is, would you provide my friends and I the names of any building projects you might have been involved in, especially any bridges over deep gorges?
Check your work sir. I hear Sister Mary Theresa still has a wicked right hook.
Am I Crazy Or…
Sir, when you see something astounding, for instance, a calculation that indicates when the world will end, it is appropriate to ask someone else to verify what you see.
The other day I was in a car with a colleague. We passed a car that seemed to be driven by someone neither of us had seen for a long time. I said to my friend “am I crazy, or was that Gene in that Toyota?” My friend reminded me that Gene passed away a few years ago and would never have owned a Toyota. By asking that simple question, I avoided embarrassing myself by telling a larger group of people that I had seen Gene.
When you think you want to issue another prediction, say aloud “am I crazy, or is the world going to end on October 21, 2011?” Mr. Camping, the answer to that question is always “yes you are and no it is not.”
Measure Twice, Cut Once
Hey, you know who are really bright people? Carpenters. Give them some wood, some tools, some fasteners, bang – you’ve got a new chair, or maybe even a house. Can you do that Mr. Camping? Me neither.
Carpenters are not big fans of wasted material. If they cut a board to fit a particular use and come up short, they have wasted the money it cost to get that board plus the time it took to prepare it for use. Time and material are money to a carpenter. Because of that, carpenters measure their work meticulously and repetitively. Doing this ensures accuracy.
Think of this as checking your work, sir. In your case, inaccuracy doesn’t lead to wasted wood, it leads to wasting the world’s time. Before your next prediction, consider measuring twice and saving us all some time. Remember, according to you, we don’t have much of it left.
Three Strikes, You’re Out
Do you like baseball Mr. Camping? Me too. So it would be pretty elementary for us to discuss that if you swing and miss at three pitches during an at bat, you are out. You return to the bench and that opportunity is considered a failure.
Sir, with all due respect, you’ve had your three strikes. You’ve predicted our demise on May 21, 1988, September 7, 1994 and then this past Saturday, May 21, 2011. Three strikes, sir, please take a seat. No one is going to put a lot of stock in your idea that we’re all going to say goodbye to one another in October of this year. Only the most foolish of fools is paying heed to your prediction.
Ah, and what of the fools? They bring me to my final point.
What A Fool Believes
Sir, I’d bet that you and I could agree that Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest leaders the United States will ever have. Do you know what he said regarding making a fool of oneself? Lincoln said:
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.
Mr. Camping, there are a lot of us who think you might just be a fool. As I mentioned earlier, my parents raised me to respect age and wisdom. Generally, I think they’d be against me telling a gentleman of your age to stop talking. In your case, I know they’d make an exception. Stop talking. Stop now. You aren’t helping your case, but you’re making Abraham Lincoln look even smarter than we agreed he was.
Say goodbye, sir.