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Terror alert

By Tom Toles


The tie that doesn't bind

I was in a hotel room over the weekend for a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding, by the way, although I am a big sucker for weddings. But I brought a tie to wear that is so slippery it can't be placed on a chair, in any place or position, such that it will not slide off onto the floor. Whichever end is even ONE MOLECULE longer than the other end will proceed to drag the whole thing over chair arm or seat in its tireless attempt to proceed downward. In Science class they ask you to imagine a world without friction, and this tie illustrates it. The tie can't really be put anywhere, except on the middle of a bed that has a depression in the mattress, where the tie will gather itself in repose. On a perfectly flat bed, the tie will sense the gravity over by the edge, and begin its restless creep in that direction.

The tie looked very nice when I put it on, until at dinner I noticed that it had slid out of its knot and was resting on my napkin, only long enough for a glimpse before it made its way to the ground on its way out of the dinner tent, sliding relentlessly toward the Chesapeake Bay.

In English class they tell you to use an appropriate metaphor to illuminate a larger theme. I'm trying to find a positive way to connect this tie to martial bliss, but it's getting away from me. I'll go with the Shared Purpose that Holds this Country Together. --Tom Toles



By Tom Toles  | October 5, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  International  
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For a science critic you seem to be short on information. There is such a thing as surface tension that draws liquid up where the liquid edge is at a drinking glass wall.

The "Tie Metaphor" is an important concept because it reminds people that just as the moth is drawn to a flame despite the great danger of being consumed by the flame; it is true that people are susceptible to being drawn into actions that are self-destructive.

You need to understand that science is also susceptible to getting drawn into wrong conclusions due to "mob Psychology".
Tom Toles statement, "On a perfectly flat bed, the tie will sense the gravity over by the edge, and begin its restless creep in that direction" is a good reminder of human tendency even if it would not pass the "Scientific Method" test. There are a lot of realities that could not pass the scientific method test.

There are both physical and mental applications to the Tie Metaphor.
You need to give Tom credit where credit is due.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 6, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

"On a perfectly flat bed, the tie will sense the gravity over by the edge, and begin its restless creep in that direction."

Will sense the gravity over by the edge? Anyone this ignorant about science shouldn't editorialize about scientific controversies--like global climate change.

Posted by: Gradivus | October 6, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Ok, I'll try to respond more clearly.

First, Ghandi's "eye for an eye" is an analogy relating to ANY violent act, not just eye gouging.

Next, like everyone, I do not feel I am confused. I believe we need first and foremost to defang the terrorists. The first tool we need to deploy is language. We need to stop calling them terrorists. In addition to not being necessary, it is truly counterproductive. When we call them "terrorists" we give them power and publicity, the very mother's milk on which they thrive. They are CRIMINALS and MURDERERS. They should be called out as criminals and prosecuted as such.

Finally, we need to decide what we are fighting for. I believe we should be fighting for the rule of law, the power of our principles of democracy and the value of each of our citizens. With a nod to Benjamin Franklin, those who would give up liberty for a modicum of security receive neither. We need to remember this in any conflict with criminals and not sacrifice our souls on the dual altars of security and vengeance.

Posted by: DougMUSN | October 5, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if people would just wake up and see you can't have your candy and eat it too? The same people who want date time and place of the next attack are the same ones who babble because they "only a warning to be vigilant" is given ?

Posted by: peep1935 | October 5, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

A True Christian?
If you were a true Christian, You would understand that Christ was a liberal and a pacifist. His similar metaphor was "Those who live by the sword, die by the sword".

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 5, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

To Tom Toles,
Smoke screens are not natural phenomena (Fog) they are man made.
There are no realistic solutions to problems when truth becomes what ever people want it to be.
WE have two serious problems...
One is the corruption of communications and the other is the corruption of politics.
We need accurate information that is consistent with reality and statesman that do what is right for the people.
We do not need not lies, deception and politicians bought and paid for by corporations.
The Democrats need to keep their promise and provide jobs for people not hand outs for corporations.
Otherwise! They lose and so do we and our nation falls into chaos.

Posted by: OchamsRazor | October 5, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Ghandi's admonition: "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

Obviously you have NEVER thought about how ridiculous that quote is. "Eye for an eye" is exactly that, you gouge out someone's eye on purpose, the punishment is that you get yours gouged out. How many eyes have you tried to gouge out in your lifetime? I was in many fights, growing up, never have I had anyone try to gouge my eye out, nor had I ever tried to do that to my opponent. So, unless the "whole world" participates in gouging people's eyes out, in fact, the world will not be blind, or even have one eye gouged out.

Ghandi was a smart man and either something did not translate over well or it was something quick and off the cuff, because that quote makes no sense when you know what is meant by "eye for an eye".

Posted by: ATrueChristian | October 5, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I had an enjoyable cup of coffee this morn. Interesting blend of beans gathered from around the world. Full bodied, bold tasting with no bitter aftertaste. Only thing lacking was a bit of that robust kick that I so look forward to. I made frog legs last eve. Gathered up a few home grown frogs and threw them in a pot of water…
Toles, clearly, you tied one on, hence the reason for all that fog.

Posted by: bertzel | October 5, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

It is quite the careful balance of losing control and choking people. Unfortunately,
the media shows us a facade of a clip-on.

Posted by: zeprider | October 5, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Wedding in a hotel room? Must've been small XD

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | October 5, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles,

Wiggy as ever, Did you mean "martial bliss"?

Posted by: jkatze1 | October 5, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles,

Wiggy as ever, Did you mean "martial bliss"?

Posted by: jkatze1 | October 5, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Gee, I feel so enlightened, now that I've read the tale of Tom's tie. Maybe next week he can regale us with sagas about missing socks in the dryer, and other fresh and original insights.

Posted by: mbrachman | October 5, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse


I'm having trouble with "Shared Purpose that Holds this Country Together." Is that the "Science of Evolution?" Or is it the "Fable of Creationism?" Your tie is more like "East is East!"

Posted by: quiensabe | October 5, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Dear erikavanheusen, I am sure that it is the same speculator that will make a fortune on buying and selling carbon credits from the cap and trade scam.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 5, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Dear DougMUSN, Mohamed Atta, the Saudi, who flew the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, was involved in a terrorist cell in Hamburg. He spent several months in Afghanistan where he met Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders. Atta finished his pilot training at Huffman Aviation in Florida. He spent time in Maryland before the attack. I am sorry that you are confused as to where we should attack but I think that the base of operations, where the leaders are and the money is directed from might be the best place, Afghanistan. These cowards use the freedom and resources of Western Nations to plan their attacks, but the real support comes from the base of operations. Nations that allow the terrorists to operate are the enemy. The Germans did not support Atta, nor did Huffman Aviation and the State of Florida. The Taliban of Afghanistan allowed al-Qaeda to operate unhindered in that country. We resonded. Pakistan does not want al-Qaeda on their soil but as a sovereign country they are reluctant to have us respond as necessary. We need cooperation from reluctant Nations and we need to squash those who are willing to harbor the bad guys. Maybe the United Nations will help. But they are as confused as you are.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 5, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

I am 1000% sure than some speculator in Wall Street is making a lot of dough with this stupid "alert" that is making all the people in Europe (people not governments) laugh their socks off. Most likely that "financial marvel" is betting on currency exchanges rates, has a hedge on the USDollar-Euro fluctuation and IS A BIG CONTRIBUTOR TO THE CAMPAIGNS OF BOTH, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS and is getting his money back through this charade.

Posted by: erikavanheusen | October 5, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the comment about "squashing the terrorist groups and their havens once and for all": GREAT IDEA. Now the hard question--exactly what/whom/where do we "squash"? We are increasingly smashing North Waziristan already. After we vitrify Afghanistan, should we move into more of Pakistan? Bin Laden was said to be hiding in Peshawar--move there? The Mumbai attackers came from Karachi--poof! What the heck--let's just detonate a goodly chunk of our nuclear arsenal over all of Af-Pak. But wait! The 9-11 attackers came from Hamburg--it will be Duetschland unter alles after we get through! Uh oh. The Times Square non-bomber came from Connecticut--the Nutmeg State must be full of nuts--let's blow them all away, too.

I understand lashing out. It feels good for a while until you think about it alongside Ghandi's admonition: "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind".

Posted by: DougMUSN | October 5, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Lord, there are a lot of humorless people in the world, or maybe they are only online. Tom, loved your metaphor. Reality is slippery as is a tie at a wedding. This is why it is dangerous to march in lockstep, repeating what we have heard, without taking the time to reach out and explore where the heck that tie could have slithered off to...not to mention the country. Too much? Well, it has been a long day.

Posted by: shererwise | October 4, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that the tourist boards of the European Nations are not too happy about the terrorist warnings. Maybe if we squashed these terrorist groups and their havens once and for all, people could visit anywhere they wanted without fear. The lowest coward on earth plants a bomb on a city street. The only response is overwhelming force. We allow terrorists to operate.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 4, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen the poll results on Congressional term limits in the Post? Seventy seven percent in favor of term limits and twenty three percent in favor of letting people make it a career.

Posted by: bobbo2 | October 4, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Ah! I wondered where that tie went. I'm sure that's one I had a few years ago, but, of course, it kept sliding away, always downhill. Not sure how it got over the Continental Divide from here (Tucson), rather than heading downhill to the west coast, but I'm pleased to hear it's still slithering along toward its lowest gravitational state.

Posted by: 9721Norm | October 4, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible Dem Senator Chuck Schumer is married to his $23 Million in campaign contribution war chest? Could he be considered a corporation? Does he have to pay any taxes on the $23 Million in his campaign war chest?

Posted by: bignoisylawnmower | October 4, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The military and industry are quite happily married, thank you.

Posted by: duke5 | October 4, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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