Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sippo lays down the law!

In medical school and residency, there was an old dictum:

"See one, do one, teach one."

This was how you learned to do procedures and then spread the wealth of your knowledge and experience to other physicians-in-training.

When I was a med student at Vanderbilt, I expanded this dictum to encompass a the totality of a medical career. This became Sippo's Rule for Success in Medicine:

"See one, do one, teach one, publish one, name one after yourself."

Well, I have published several things, but I have never officially named anything after myself. That changes today. I have decided to formally introduce Sippo's Laws concerning life, Sippo's First Rule of Parental Discipline, an interesting mathematical conundrum that I call Sippo's Pizza Paradox, and finally Sippo's Lawyer Joke which has an interesting story behind it.

At this time there are three rules about life that I have developed which I call Sippo's Laws:

1) Sippo's First Law:

Anytime someone says "Everybody is {X}", it is an autobiographical statement.

Basically this rule states that pundits who make sweeping statements about human nature are actually talking about themselves, not other people.

For example, Sigmund Freud claimed that all boys want to kill their fathers and marry their mothers. This is the (in)famous Oedipus Complex which subsequent research has shown DOES NOT EXIST! The desire for patricide and maternal incest were Siggy's personal problem. He just felt less dirty if he could say that all boys have the same fantasy.

Another example is John Calvin's claim that all human beings are "totally depraved". In reality, we all have our faults, but "total depravity" overstates the condition of mankind. But go back and check out how M. Calvin treated his opponents (e.g., Bolsec, Servetus, and Castellio). If anyone could be described as follows, it was Calvin:

Romans 3:13 "Their throat is an open grave, they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips."
Rom 3:14 "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness."
Rom 3:15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Rom 3:16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
Rom 3:17 and the way of peace they do not know."

So ask not to whom the pundit refers. He refers to himself.

2) Sippo's Second Law:

Paranoid ideation is the projection of a guilty conscience.

This law says that what people fear the most from other people is exactly what other people need to fear the most from them. When Islamic terrorists say that they fear being polluted by Judaism and Christianity, having their families slaughtered, and their religion undermined, you can GUARANTEE that this is exactly what they plan to do to us.

3) Sippo's Third Law:

Life is a Chess Problem.
While it might be interesting to figure how the board got this way, the only really relevant question is, "What's the next move?"

In the breech, look forward into your problems, not backward into their causes. There will be time enough for that once the crisis is over.

Next we have Sippo's First rule of Parental Discipline:

Make Daddy (or Mommy) happy.

On those long car trips with kids, parents are always having to make up new rules on the fly for child behavior: "Stop looking at your brother. Quit blowing in her face. Stop touching his arm. Don't smile at her...." You feel like you are holding a Constitutional convention in a third world country populated by creatively malignant yet subtle sociopaths. We've all been there.

The above rule has several advantages over the usual ever-expanding list:

  1. The rule is simple and uncomplicated. So much so that even TEENAGERS can understand it.
  2. It selects one parent to be the disciplinarian: either Mom or Dad. That way there is no separate court of appeals.
  3. There is no need to elaborate on specific do's and don't's. If something is not going to make Daddy/Mommy happy, then it is wrong.
  4. It is designed to maximize parental satisfaction and not cater to a child's creative casuistry.
  5. It allows the parent a very wide latitude in determining which behaviors are and are not acceptable and whom to blame for the disruption.
  6. You don't have to care about who did what to whom. What counts is how it makes YOU -- the designated parent disciplinarian -- feel.
  7. Instituting this makes you look and fell feel smarter than both Dr. Spock AND Mr. Spock.

Now, on to Sippo's Pizza Paradox:

When you get a round Pizza Pie, it may have 6, 8 or even 12 slices.
In any case as you and your cohorts eat the pizza, you will inevitably reach a point where eating one more piece from either one side or the other of the remaining pie will leave you with half of a pizza.

The Paradox: Invariably the two pieces from which you can choose will be of different sizes!

In other words, taking either a larger or smaller amount from the same partially eaten pie will leave you with the same amount at the end: half a pizza. I know this sounds crazy, but like every rule of nature, this one always applies. I think it is a variation on the Banach-Tarski Paradox:

Pay attention next time when you get a pizza.

BTW, there is a solution to the Sippo Pizza Paradox: Eat the Bigger Piece and you will still have half a pizza left! By eating the bigger piece, you make your pizza larger!

Finally we have Sippo's Lawyer Joke. There is a story behind this one. When I was teaching the US Army Flight Surgeon's Course section on Chemical Warfare back in 1984, we had a woman in the class from the Southern California National Guard who was also a practicing attorney in Los Angeles. The folks in the class were teasing her about being a lawyer and one guy told this joke:

Q. Do you know why they are thinking of using lawyers instead of white rats for medical experiments?

A. Because there are more lawyers than there are white rats!

I overheard this exchange as I was setting up my notes and I chimed in. "No, the joke is okay, but it needs multiple punchlines reaching a climax." And on the spot, I told Sippo's Lawyer Joke:

There are three reasons why we should use lawyers in medical experiments instead of white rats:

  1. There are more lawyers than there are white rats.
  2. You don't get as attached to them.
  3. There are certain things that white rats will refuse to do!

The reason I bring this up is that 6 years later in 1991, I took my children to see the movie Hook starring Robin Williams as a grown-up Peter Pan. During a banquet sequence, he told my lawyer joke! I was incensed! Flattered. But incensed! It was a great joke, and now HE would get the credit for it. Well, this is my opportunity to tell everyone where that joke REALLY came from. I am not looking for royalties. I just want to set the record straight.


Turretinfan said...

Has someone taken over your blog and starting posting lampoons in your name?

That's one of the two possible conclusions I've arrived at.


Art Sippo said...

Nope. It's my blog and I'll post what I want to.

Besides we over in the Catholic Church have a sense of humor.

I always liked Mencken's definition of a Puritan: "A person who is worried that somewhere, somehow, some one is having a good time." This always seems to be a worry of the so-called "reformed" crowd in general.

Yes, I am having a good time with my blog.

No. it is John "pain-in-the-soul" Calvin who is being lampooned.

Anonymous said...

Hi Art!
I'm enjoying reading your blog...welcome to the blogosphere!
Tim Ouellette

Art Sippo said...

Hi Tim!

Thank you. I am glad you like it. I am enjoying blogging quite bit. I just need more time in the day to write!