Pharyngula

A logic puzzle for Martians

Don’t worry about what it means. It just came to me in a dream last night, so I wrote it down. I often have very odd dreams.

Al, Bill, Chuck, and Dave have a weekly Gourmand’s Club, and this week Al has baked a perfect and delicious cherry pie. However, Bill has invited a friend, Ed, to join them, creating a group of five and creating some difficulty in dividing the pie fairly. As their guest, they’ve given Ed the knife and asked him to do the honors. How should Ed handle the situation? Assume everyone is equally hungry and that the pie is perfectly circular with a uniform distribution of mass.

A.   As it turns out, Ed is a Libertarian. He uses the knife to hold the other four at bay, while he uses his left hand to stuff great gooey fistfuls of pie into his face until it is all gone.

B.   Ed is a Libertarian who eats the whole pie. Al, Bill, Chuck, and Dave let him finish, then smile wolfishly and pull out an array of handguns and knives and axes. “What Bill didn’t tell you, Ed,” says Chuck, “was that the club had a hankering for barbecue this week, and your sweet marbled flesh is on the menu.” Ed is quickly cleaned and jointed, and the meat is distributed fairly using a butcher’s scale, and a rack of ribs is soon sizzling on the grill for the afternoon’s repast.

C.   Ed eats the pie, and the remaining four cut Ed into equal parts for distribution and consumption. Sirens wail; there is a pounding on the door; a megaphone blares. “THIS IS THE POLICE. IT IS IN THE INTERESTS OF A SECURE AND STABLE STATE THAT CITIZENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE AND LIBERTY. GIVE YOURSELVES UP, CANNIBALS!” There is a brief flurry of violence, followed by trial, incarceration, and eventually, death. The right of 300 million Americans to bake and consume pie without fear of death and dismemberment by roving bands of cannibals is preserved.

D.   A concentrated mass of complex sugars and fats is rendered temporarily inhospitable by high temperatures. As it cools, new bacteria settle on it and begin to colonize it. They are interrupted briefly by the intrusion of a few metazoans who, in a brief flurry of activity the details of which are insignificant and inconsequential, assist in the breakdown of the nutrients by first distributing them to massive internal colonies residing in their guts, secondly sharing the remaining nutrients in the form of a fecal slurry to bacteria outside the organisms, and eventually by dying to deposit great rich lumps of protein for consumption. The bacteria win. The bacteria always win.

E.   The planet is in a state of dynamic equilibrium with respect to carbon, with complex cycles of release and sequestration.