Never mind laser swords, I’m looking for Ockam’s Razor

In Absurdlandia, Circus, Drafts, En français dans le texte, Hautvoir, Local projects, Names and Titles, Revision, Sundays on December 27, 2015 at 10:40 am

I have a great fondness for the Swiss team of ironists known as Plonk & Replonk. Should their name be new to you, you can check them out (in French, I’m afraid), here. French notwithstanding, you should find the visual element of their puns entertaining, subtitles or no.

On my last visit to their website, I was quite taken by an unusual item called a Pinaillette. Quite taken because, the brothers Plonk and Replonk applied Ockam’s Razor to a vexing question: how does one successfully split a hair in four. (Couper les cheveux en quatre, being the French hairsplitter’s passion. You call a French hairsplitter un pinailleur – the closest translation in English would be a nitpicker or a quibbler.)

Back to the pinaillette. Whenever the notion of hair splitting came to mind, I always envisioned the process of Ockam’s razor operating lengthwise. The brothers have found a neater, simpler solution as you will discover if you return to the website link above and look up La Pinaillette.

How this applies to the vexing question of Ethics vs The Rule of Law… ah, mes amis. Once again, my eye is drawn to the letter next to my computer. A letter received yesterday in which paragraphs 6-1 and 6-2 of a French law relative to age limitations in public services are carefully poised on both sides of a mini-scale, and the necessary conclusion thus arrived at: I cannot work on a contractual basis in the French educational system but I can be paid for those hours I devoted to the betterment of young minds. If I will be so kind as to forward my business registration number along with my bill etc.

The letter ends on my favorite variation of the French art of the final salutation. This one begs me to accept the signatoree’s “perfect consideration”. (Should you ever need to sign off a letter in French, this reads : Je vous prie d’agréer, Madame, l’expression de ma parfaite considération. For a modest fee, I can write the entire letter for you if you provide the particulars of your case.)

Which brings me back to the more basic question no Pinaillette will ever resolve, no matter how the human hair and Ockam’s Razor meet: when and where do natural law and statutory rights and obligations part ways? How do people deal with moral choices involving a lot more than a filament of protein, be it blonde, white, black, brown, rusty-colored, thick, thin, smooth, wavy or kinky.


Is the revision finished yet? Almost. Close but not quite.



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