You’re Wise, Here’s Your Word

By John Hertz:  As you probably know, a word can be a whole utterance or one of its building blocks – a molecule or an atom.

In the famous story about Calvin Coolidge, that a Society matron accosted him with “Oh, Mr. President, I’ve just bet someone that you’d say more than two words tonight,” which he answered “You lose,” he could be counted as giving her two words (atoms) or one (molecule).

So I’m calling this one; but you can call it seven.  It has one in it, and you can even bring in Seven at one blow  jokes.

I’ve warned you I’m becoming a man of maxims.  My grandfather was a man of maxims (like “If it weren’t my fool, I’d laugh”).  Some day I may tell you the Fortune Cookie Story, with my Uncle Bob in it.  He’s gone now, but Bob really was my uncle.

Anyway, here’s a maxim from me.  Call it my thought for the day.


Even to a disaster one can overreact.

We now return you to our regular program.

8 thoughts on “You’re Wise, Here’s Your Word

  1. The 7-at reference calls to mind the folk song “Nine Times A Night,” sung by many, like Frankie Armstrong (who, IIRC, was the first person I heard sing Peggy Seeger’s “I Was Going To Be An Engineer” (1), and here by Tony Roberts & John Barrand.

    (1) In England, at least back then (a few decades), engineer had a more general meaning of “works with machines”

  2. One can also underreact: as has the US Government thus far. This is the most serious public health crisis since the killer flu epidemic of 1918-9.

    The only people overreacting here are the self-centered idiots hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer; eggs and surgical masks…

  3. It’s the old “Pascal’s Wager” cost-benefit chart. The cost of over-reacting is economic disruption, restaurants and shops going out of business. The cost of under-reacting is tens of millions needlessly dead. Since we don’t know for sure what the right level of reaction is, it seems wise to err on the side of caution.

  4. While I think David Goldfarb is making an argument that is utterly correct, I think he is far off-base in comparing it to Pascal’s Wager. The point that Pascal was making was completely based on there being no downside to being wrong in one direction.

    In any case, I’m happy to see that David is still around and trying to stir up trouble in his own unique way.

  5. None of the explications of Pascal I’ve seen have ever claimed that there was no downside to being wrong in one direction. If you become a Christian, and it turns out that the atheists are right and we just go out like a light after death, then during your life you will have wasted time and energy and money that you gave to your church and that could have gone to better uses. Pascal’s point was that on the other side there was an infinite upside and infinite corresponding downside, which infinitely outweighs the finite downside on the other half of the chart.

    (I don’t agree with that myself, but this is maybe not the place for that argument.)

  6. John Hertz replies by carrier pigeon:

    Thanks to Dan’l for agreeing with me even though he had to get there by finding fault with something I didn’t say.

    No thanks to people who apparently think that I said YOU are overreacting yes YOU or that by “disaster” I meant “something trivial which can be left unattended”.

  7. @David Goldfarb, of course, that ignores the infinite downside of choosing the WRONG deity. Ahura Mazda might well be very angry with you.

    And since the premise of Pascal’s Wager is to become Christians for self-serving reasons, some branches of Christianity would say that Jesus would find serious fault with that as well….

Comments are closed.