Sunday, June 15, 2014

2 Parables

Resurrecting some old posts to fill space. These tales have no point and may not even be comprehensible unless you have witnessed the shenanigans from the internet flame wars on r-ma during the late 90's and the wc forums on wcml and kfo during the late 90's through the 00's.

Parable #1

Thus I have heard:

Once upon a time there was a driver who owned a Porsche 911. He could drive it pretty much everywhere he wanted to go, swiftly and without fuss. And life was good.

Then one day he heard on the radio that 95% of the cars on the road are front-engined, and he began to worry. In a moment of panic he opened up the front hood, and found (gasp!) there was no engine there. He ran around like a headless chicken until he remembered the Porsche had its engine in the back.

But the panic did not go away and the idea that he was missing something important in life began to gnaw at him. He continued to drive his Porsche but the fun went out of it.

And then he heard on the radio the even more disturbing story that "real" drivers race. Those who don't race are sissy "dry land swimmers".

He began to imagine all the insulting stares he received from the surrounding drivers whenever he stopped at a red light. "How could I ever go out and face the V12 stopped next to me at the light" was his constant nightmare.

Then one day the idea popped into his head that he could use the empty space in the front of the Porsche to drop in a V8 engine. With both front and rear engines revving he would have a total of 14 cylinders working at once! Even a V12 wouldn't be able to beat that! So with power tools in hand he proceeded to perform the grafting of a V8 engine into the Porsche. When the dust settled, his creation looked like nothing Ferdinand Porsche ever dreamt of.

We are not sure how the car handled or whether it had maintenance issues, but the sound of 2 engines running at once was supposed to be great. The last thing we heard from our hero was he was thinking of jacking up the chassis and adding monster tires so it could go where humvees fear to tread.

The moral to this story? I'm not sure there is any.

And now we return you back to your regularly scheduled programming. ;-)

Epilog: by some weird coincidence of fate, this article appeared some time after the original article above was written.

Here's what the outcome may possibly look like:

Dr. Porsche's revenge

Parable #2

The following is a work of fiction, any resemblance to actual events and persons, living or dead, is totally coincidental (as always).

Thus I have heard:

Food exists in many forms. Ingredients come from many countries, and get prepared in a myriad of ways. There are many different schools of thought regarding how food should be prepared, even when using the same ingredients (cf Iron Chefs), and of course regional palates differ (some Canadians even prefer poutine) as well as the indigenous cooking style.

Food can cost from the expensive haute cuisine to the pedestrian tacos, yet each has its own adherents, for while some may prefer fish, others may enjoy beef or poultry, and some may even be vegetarians.
While food fights do occur (mostly in school dining halls), seldom does one see fights over which food is "better" or more "authentic".

Until the advent of the inconvenient "series of tubes".

All of a sudden the marketing space expanded from a small local region where reputations get spread by word of mouth to a global broadcast where fortunes can be made through the careful choice of buzzwords.

One such example is a small chain of bistros which sells hamburgers. Its hamburgers look no different than those of a famous large chain down the street, nor does it taste any better. So what does it do to distinguish itself from its peers? They came out with a brilliant marketing campaign:

Check out the original hamburger, as perfected on the voyage of the Mayflower. Thanks to this advanced scientific recipe, the passengers and crew of the Mayflower made it safely all the way across the ocean to Plymouth Rock, a great span of space and time (not to mention the energy involved). What's more, both the Pilgrims and the Indians depended on this staple until that first Thanksgiving. The secret recipe was preserved and passed down through the generations as a closely guarded family secret, which is why it was never known until now. The guardians of this jewel of Food Science were named Tom, Dick, and Harry, who preserved this unique gift, unaltered, for over 400 years. (When it was pointed out TDH must have extraordinarily long lives due to the very few generations listed on the family tree, they came up hastily with Huey, Louie, and Dewey somewhere in the middle of the chain, who were left out of the original history by mistake). The hamburger you see now was stolen from TDH some 100 years ago. Some short-order cook from Hamburg saw the ground beef patties and tried to duplicate it. But of course, without the recipe (aka The Formula), he could not reproduce the special sauce and hence the authentic flavor.

With this bit of marketing gimmick in place, the Mayflower Hamburger (MFH) chain is able to garner a small but fanatical following. They must really have some special ingredients in the recipe, for these supporters of the chain are fond of throwing esoteric non-sequitur jargon to describe the experience of a MFH burger meal, e.g. extra extraterrestrial energy suitable for astronauts (who are the modern day analog of the passengers of the Mayflower) in space, where they can commune with heaven and earth, etc. etc. and yet somehow they could never manage to convince the great unwashed how it is superior, let alone be able to describe the taste experience. They always wind up crying in unison, "I am not worthy!"

One day a French visitor came into town. He has heard of the famous MFH burgers and decided to try one for himself. When he reached the establishment, he was greeted by the proprietor. He mentioned that he's familiar with the Big Macs (le Big Mac) and Quarter Pounders (Burger Royale) from the chain down the street, since he's a regular customer of a local franchise in his home country. At the sound of that, the proprietor's face flushed and his eyes bulged out, as he's in the middle of a deadly price war with the other burger joint, and he shouted, "No Big Macs! No Burger Royales! No burger for you!" and slammed the door in the poor visitor's face.

As usual, there's no moral to this story, just something to tide you over while the Hollywood writers are on strike.

What? The strike's over? Never mind then.

Pity. Guess my sequel about the food critic who shouts "I can kick Rachel Ray's @$$" will never be made.