The other way round

Female models advertise cosmetics and thus, many female consumers believe that these products make you beautiful. But it is not the cosmetics that make these women model-like. Quite simply, the models are born attractive and only for this reason are they candidates for cosmetic advertising.

– Rolf Dobelli in ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’

Your right way vs my right way

A boy caught for stealing was in the police station again. The inspector told the father, “Your kid has been in this station too many times already, and frankly I’m tired of seeing him here.”

“Yeah, I feel the same way too,” said the father. “I am tired of seeing him here too.”

“Then why don’t you teach him? Teach him the right way and he will not be here anymore.”

“Yeah, I have already taught him the right way,” said the father, “but he just can’t learn. He keeps getting caught!”

Belief vs faith

“We must here make a clear distinction between belief and faith, because, in general practice, belief has come to mean a state of mind which is almost the opposite of faith. Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would ‘lief’ or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on the condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go. In this sense of the word, faith is the essential virtue of science, and likewise of any religion that is not self-deception.”

  • Alan Watts

Artist’s pride

To be able to appreciate Vincent’s painting, you must have at least the eye of Vincent’s calibre. If not, his paintings would seem strange. And because his standard was so high, few could appreciate his work and no one bought a single piece from him for many years. When his brother heard of Vincent’s plight, he secretly arranged for a lady to buy one.

The lady was not known to Vincent, and so when she came, Vincent was happy. But soon his happiness turned into sadness and anger. Because the lady simply looked around and casually picked the piece right in front of her to buy.

“You are sent by my brother,” Vincent said. “You don’t understand paintings. You never bothered to look at them. I can’t sell my work to one who has no eye for paintings, sorry. I can’t exploit a blind person. Please also tell my brother that he does not understand painting, otherwise he would not have sent you.”

Later the brother came to apologize. “I wanted to encourage you but instead I have insulted you. I am sorry. I will not do such a thing again.”

Herd instinct

A guy decides to prank his friends by spreading the rumour that there’s a huge discount sale going on at Funan IT Store. The fake information spreads over the social media, and soon the guy begins receiving back convincing variations of his original message. But there are so many and they are so realistic that the guy is starting to wonder if there maybe is a real sale going on at the IT Store.

And as the messages keep on coming, as the doubt keeps on mounting, the guy finally gives in and takes a trip down to Funan IT Store. Indeed there is no huge discount sale. He is satisfied.

Indulge yourself in hell

A journalist died and arrived at the gates of heaven. But the gatekeeper told him:

“Sorry, the quota for journalists has been filled. I have to refuse you entry.”

The journalist was shocked that there’s such a quota and asked for an explanation.

“You see,” the gatekeeper replied, “journalists are useless here. Because nothing juicy ever happens in heaven. They tried to publish a newspaper but only one issue appeared – no murder, no suicide, no love affairs, no crime, no politics, no struggle for power. Everyone’s a saint here.”

The journalist was rather hesitant about gaining entrance to heaven now. “Hell is perhaps more exciting then?” he asked.

“Oh yes, of course, the inhabitants there all get to suffer for their addictive indulgence. Heaven is peacefully quiet. Only dull foolish saints. None of the juicy impressive personalities that people like to read and gossip about. So why don’t you go to hell and indulge yourself, you will find everything that you may have missed on earth.”

And so the journalist went to hell.

Agloe -a town at the brink of virtuality and reality

Before GPS and Google Maps, paper road maps were in high demand. Competing cartographers would sometimes not bother to survey actual locations but simply copy existing maps and sell the copies as their own to save time and effort.

As a way to try and spot these forging cartographers, some mapmakers would write fake town names into their maps, usually in little known desolate areas, and if the name of that paper town showed up on another map, they would know for sure it was plagiarized.

In the 1930s, General Drafting founder Otto G. Lindberg and an assistant, Ernest Alpers, assigned an anagram of their initials (AGLOE) to a dirt-road intersection in the Catskill Mountains north of New York. The town, Agloe, was designed as a copyright trap to catch others who might copy their maps.

Decades later, a competing map company – Rand McNally – included Agloe on one of their maps. When the General Drafting Company tried to sue them for copyright infringement, Rand McNally pointed out that the place had now become real and therefore no infringement could be established.

It turned out that the once empty spot marked Agloe now stood a real General Store – named ‘Agloe General Store’. In the 1950s, the owners of the General Store had seen the town name on a map, so when they decided to open up the store, they used it.

Eventually the store went out of business; Agloe continued to appear on maps as recently as the 1990s, but has now been deleted. It still appears in Google Maps though.

Polarization amidst globalization

“Especially in the world that we live in now, where many people are in their own social media bubbles, and in their own echo chambers… We just keep reaffirming our own beliefs within that echo chamber, and very rarely do we look across and engage in a conversation.”

– Boo Junfeng

The world’s a pilgrimage

An American tourist, having heard that a Sufi master was staying near his hotel, decided to pay the sage a visit. Upon arrival, he was surprised to find the Sufi’s room utterly empty.

“Old sage, where is your furniture?”

The Sufi laughed and asked in return, “Where is yours?”

“I’m only a tourist here,” the American replied, “I don’t go around carrying my furniture.”

And the old Sufi laughed again. “I’m also a tourist here. And then I’ll be gone, just like you.”

*

天地者 万物之逆旅
光阴者 百代之过客

  •  李白

Sky and earth, a spacious guesthouse for thousand things
Day and night, a time-traveller across hundred generations

  • Li Bai

If you’re tired of fighting, come rest by this tree

While wandering about the Heights of Shang, Nanbo Ziqi saw a large and extraordinary tree. Teams of thousand chariots were sheltered under it, and its shade covered them all. Ziqi said, “What a tree this is! It must be of extraordinary timber!”

When he looked up, however, at its smaller branches, they were so twisted and crooked that they could not be made into rafters and beams; when he looked down to its root, its stem was divided into so many rounded portions that neither coffin nor shell could be made from them. He licked one of its leaves, and his mouth felt torn and wounded. The smell of it would make a man frantic, as if intoxicated, for more than three whole days together.

“This, indeed,” said he, “is a tree good for nothing, and so it has attained to such a size. Ah! and spirit-like men thus acknowledge this worthlessness.”

*

Huizi said to Zhuangzi, “I have a large tree, which men call the Ailantus. Its trunk swells out to a large size, but is not fit for a carpenter to apply his line to it; its smaller branches are knotted and crooked, so that the disk and square cannot be used on them. Though planted on the wayside, a builder would not turn his head to look at it. Now your words, Sir, are great, but of no use – everyone will eventually forsake them.”

Zhuangzi replied, “Have you never seen a wildcat or a weasel? There it lies, crouching and low, till the wanderer approaches; east and west it leaps about, avoiding neither what is high nor what is low, till it is caught in a trap, or dies in a net. Again there is the yak, so large that it is like a cloud hanging in the sky. It is large indeed, but it cannot catch mice. You, Sir, have a large tree and are troubled because it is of no use – why do you not plant it in a tract where there is nothing else, or in a wide and barren wild? There you might saunter idly by its side, or in the enjoyment of untroubled ease sleep beneath it. Neither bill nor axe would shorten its existence; there would be nothing to injure it. What is there in its uselessness to cause you distress?”

(taken from the Inner Chapters of Zhuangzi)