The 5 Most Brilliant Principles Pop Culture Gave Us

Categories: Random Ephemera

I have cropped this image to look like they're epic high-fiving over the ideas in the article
When people sit down and write out their brilliant thoughts in a logical, ground-breaking manner we call them philosophers and treat them like mind-wizards... unless they're Ayn Rand in which case we hurl scorpions at her from the house made of expired unemployment checks built on the rubble of a collapsed housing bubble. However, if someone says something brilliant but places it in the mouth of a fictional cat that wears a top hat then we tend to sort of dismiss it.

That's a mistake because genius is genius whether it aims for sober scholarship or thinks points are better made painting them with monkey poo. Today we celebrate the most brilliant of the latter.

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice: If you've never read a Discworld novel, stop reading this and go do that immediately. If you have, stop what you're doing and take a moment to give quiet thanks to Terry Pratchett. Without him we'd be short a library of great books, many orangutans, and his daughter who gave us the best version of Tomb Raider yet. Pratchett is a treasure.

He also gave us the character of Samuel Vimes, the hard-boiled Captain of the Watch responsible for keeping crime under control in the city of Ankh-Morpork. Vimes is a genius detective who knows the city so well he can tell where he is in the darkest night simply by the feel of the cobblestones under his cheap boots. Those boots, by the way, form a now famous theory about economics. It goes something like this...

Vimes earns $38 a month, and a pair of quality boots that lasts ten seasons costs $50. He can't afford $50 boots, but he can afford $10 boots that last a whole season. However, at the end of ten seasons he has spent twice as much on boots as a rich person who could afford to initially spend the $50, all the while still having wet feet because of the quality. This, to Vimes, explains how a wealthy person could have double the luxury as Vimes does by spending half as much.

For more information on this theory, please visit any shop in America.

Piece continues on next page.

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Just a nit pic - Douglas Adams gave us the answer to "The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", which every thinking man and woman knows is 42, duh! (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for those who don't know).  Scott Adams gave us Dilbert.  I'm a big fan of both.


>So while the two theories have different motivations, they do strangely end up with the same result.

This is not exactly true. The Peter Principle states that people who are competent are promoted to the point where they no longer competent. The net for the company is a negative, as an effective employee has been replaced with an ineffective employee. 

The Dilbert Principle states that people who are incompetent are promoted to the point where they can do the least damage (i.e., management). The net for the company is theoretically a positive, as an employee with presumably negative efficacy has been replaced with an employee of lesser negative efficacy.


@daniel.meeIn Adams' book _The Dilbert Principle_ he points out that theory and practice are radically different for a multitude of reasons. The biggest reason, of course, is that the process leads to a death-spiral as the incompetents promoted to management meddle in what the competent underlings are doing until the company is fatally crippled by commitment to useless tasks and forgetting what the company was supposed to do in the first place.

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