Borderline Insanity

stringstersOnce  in a while Guido brings home this stuff called “Stringsters,”a package of individually-wrapped cylinders of mozzarella or provolone string cheese.  Good for a quick snack.

Each stick has a “trivia question” on the outside of the wrapper, with the answer inside.  The theme is geography.  Normally I ignore these (especially if my reading glasses are nowhere to be found) but the other day I accidentally read the question: “What two countries share a border with the United States?”

Well, that’s easy, right?  I tear it open and read what I expect to find: Mexico and Canada.  That’s what you think as well, right?

Well, you and Professor Stringster are wrong.  Sort of.

Mexico and Canada do not share a border with the U.S.  Each has its own completely separate border with the U.S.  It is accurate to say each country shares a border with the U.S., but phrased the way the package presents it, it’s ambiguous.

Wait there, you say.  Interpreting it this strictly, NO two countries “share a border” with ANY other country; each has its own.  Only two countries can ever “share a border.”  Let’s imagine that Mexico is where Quebec is, a separate nation bordering the northern U.S. — each would still share its own border with the U.S.

And you’d be right.  The Stringster question is phrased incorrectly.  No more than two nations can share the same border, unless those two nations aren’t geographically separate, which doesn’t sound like reality.  Then again, what the hell is (are) Bosnia and Herzegovina?

I rehearse all this with Guido whose reaction is predictable — she threatens to shove the little cylinder of cheese so far up my ass it comes out my nose which, she points out, is so damn big it could border three Central American nations.  “This is why you can’t follow simple directions,” she adds.

She’s right about that.  It’s my infernal training as a logician.  Misstated instructions, ambiguities, etc. completely flummox me.  It’s why I constantly crash on-line forms and end up berating service personnel by telephone.  It’s why when people ask me (e.g.) if I live in Hollywood or Dania, I answer Yes: to my hard-wired neurons, it’s the same as asking me if I walk to school or carry my lunch.

I have discovered that this annoys people.  Well, it annoys me, too.  Tough tittie.

True or False: The present King of France is bald.  Discuss.

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3 Responses to Borderline Insanity

  1. Elemenno P says:

    Nitpicking at its finest. In fact, even you knew what was meant by the question, which suggests (to me, anyway), that in its simplicity and common usage, it achieved the objective of being understood.

  2. Beardsley says:

    You know the tale of Buridan’s Ass? Not a body part, but a perfectly rational donkey which, when placed equidistant from two stacks of hay starved to death because there was no logical reason to walk towards one ratrher than the other. I love and respect logic, but I recognize its limitations in a world of 3 dimensions as well as billions of ideas.

  3. One Man's Opinion says:

    Quit your complaining, expand your mind and fuck logic. Language is forever changing. What was considered wrong and unacceptable in 1950 “ain’t” wrong today. Stop dating yourself by being such an old school grammarian. If you would just relax and go with the flow you’d be less miffed all the time.

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