Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heads or Tails #69 -- anything round

Today's Heads or Tails is to write about anything round. I hope Barb is unafraid of a little circular logic....

If you say this with just the right touch of menace in your voice, this is a threat: "The world is round."

It is the snarl of the temporarily disadvantaged, the statement uttered to give the seeming victor pause, to make the one temporarily on top realize that, as the world turns, he or she may wind up on the receiving end of whatever he or she is dishing out now. Oddly enough, when I was first on the receiving end of this statement, it came from someone who always expected to finish on top. Big over little. Strong over weak. In such a case, the phrase means not just that we will take turns clubbing each other over the head, but that, when the normal order of things is restored, the speaker will be in a position to return the disadvantage many times over.

It is a promise of vengeance. Of retribution. It is never shouted -- well, maybe Chris Columbus shouted it in Queen Isabella's court -- but never shouted in this context. It is spoken in a dry, matter-of-fact way. Say it with me again. "The world is round."

It's not true, of course. According to that branch of applied mathematics known as geodesy, the actual shape of the Earth is called the geoid, not a sphere at all. Actually, the true shape of the Earth is more like an ellipsoid. An ellipsoid created to approximate the shape of the Earth would be called a reference ellipsoid. There is a particular reference ellipsoid, for example, which serves as the basis for GPS determinations. (Because this is a mathematical model and not always and everywhere synced up with the exact shape of this Earth, this may explain why sometimes your dashboard direction finder tells you to turn left where there is no road. Or maybe not.)

Anyway, if anybody ever tells you "the world is round," with all the threat and menace with which that phrase is often used, you might want to challenge that person with these facts.

Please note, however, Second Effort takes no responsibility for any physical injury or dental work which may result.

7 comments:

Skittles said...

A fair warning to anyone who says ANYTHING to me.. even that. I have little to no human contact in my day to day life and will then feel free to talk your ears of. :P

Skittles said...

P.S.

Thanks for the video. I sent it to my DIL. :)

Tumblewords: said...

I'll neither argue nor challenge anyone else... but I'll sure be thinking...

Dave said...

Is this the tough guy equivalent of "what goes around comes around?" Or is there a distinction, other than menace?

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I thought it was flat.

centralscrutinizer said...

Fascinating...and much more succinct than my pseudo-Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

The Curmudgeon said...

Dave: Yes.