Fuzzy Coyote Logic

©1999 -- dennisy@peak.org

Steel traps are among the many hazards that keep the coyote gene pool honed to a razor's edge. There is little room in the wild for an animal inept enough to blunder into man's snare. Once trapped, a coyote's choices are few and bleak. The animal can wait for death at the hand of man, wait to starve to death in the trap, or amputate its own leg and attempt to survive on three legs.

Humans live in a much more forgiving environment. Our gene pool has been steadily degraded through centuries of relatively easy living. In the last 100 years technology has made significant strides and further degraded the sharpness of our species.

For instance consider the problem of myopia in primitive man (and woman). "Is that old Shep over yonder, or is it a saber tooth cat?" "Is that Ted or Alice over there under the bear skin, or is it a bear?" A fuzzy view of a primitive world could prove embarrassing, or worse.

Today we have it easy. We have glasses, contacts, and even laser surgery. Myopia is no longer a fatal disease. Yet, at times, technology can fail us. Our glasses can fog, get broken, or get lost. Our contacts need to be removed and cleaned, less they infect our eyes or permanently bond themselves to our corneas with a film of semi-transparent slime. And who can afford laser surgery without going to Mexico? And if you go to Mexico for a really good deal, do they use lasers or soldering irons?

Sometimes our wits can fail us. We can get so drunk and have such a good time in this relatively safe society that we wake up in strange surrounding without our glasses or contacts. If we wake up alone, we find our glasses, look for our valuables, and then report to the clinic, the police station, or both.

But sometimes it's just not convenient to put the glasses on. Suppose you wake up with only one arm free. You peer into the blurry world and gather that you are not alone. Something or someone is sleeping on your arm. You look around in a panic. You cannot identify your glasses anywhere within the range of your visual acuity and your free arm. Should you grope for them in the headboard? If you do you may knock things over and awaken your partner. Best to consider the alternatives further before taking any action. It's time for "fuzzy logic."

Fuzzy logic is a term coined by white-collar swindlers. They have used it to successfully bilk millions and millions of dollars from greedy venture capitalists. It is right up there with pen computing, artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and cold fusion in its ability to generate capital without any prospect for return. Advocates of fuzzy logic will tell you that just over the horizon computers will be able to make well-reasoned decisions based on insufficient and flawed data. What they don't tell you is that computers, people, and white rats have been doing this for years. It's just that the answers aren't necessarily right. Yet, you are now as desperate as a venture capitalist is greedy. You are ready to try anything.

The diagram below is a fuzzy logic grid. It will allow your finely tuned but optically disadvantaged brain to make the best possible decision even if it is wrong. Memorize the image. You never know when you will need to go through the process below.

Incremented Coyote Scale Diagram

First, place yourself at the origin of the picture. It is likely that you already know what an origin is. We have established that you are three-sigma myopic. Based on your eyesight and some iffy statistics and very limited information, fuzzy logic tells us that you are probably male and that you have better than average mathematical and spatial abilities. You are a nerd. If you do not know what an origin is or think nerds are disgusting, just wake your new friend up and wing it. The rest of this will do you no good.

If you are still with the program, move four increments to the right. A nerd can't be too hopeful.

If you had lived your life in a hostile, primitive, non-technical environment you would either be dead long before having an opportunity to reproduce, or your other senses would have become so sensitive as to make sight almost unnecessary. But you have lived a pampered, technically sophisticated life and your non-optical senses aren't worth a shit. None the less, we will have to make the best possible use of them.

Try to assess the damage to your trapped arm. Can you feel anything downstream of the blurry hulk next to you? Have you been here so long that either gangrene has set in or blood clots have formed? If either of these conditions is likely, move six spaces to the right. If circulation is suddenly restored, the poisons or blood clots or both will probably kill you. If your arm still feels relatively connected, move two spaces left. This is a good sign in that it implies your partner weighs less than Moby Dick and that you may not have been there in a drunken coma for more than a few hours. You may have even been somewhat in control of your faculties when things got interesting. Move another increment left.

Smell your surroundings. If the smell is completely and totally offensive, try to determine the source. If the source is you, move six increments left. If the source is your partner move six increments right. If the source cannot be determined, move three increments right. If the smell is pleasant, move two increments left.

Now, using your free arm, ascertain your own gender. Be careful not to disturb your partner. On the off chance that you are a female, myopic, nerd, try to remember if you are on or off the pill. If you are absolutely certain that you are on the pill, move two grid points to the right and skip the next paragraph. If you are absolutely sure you are not on the pill, move six grid points to the left. If you don't know, just poke whatever is next to you and hope for the best.

As a female and a believer in everything Ophra and Rickie Lake say about sex, take another whiff. According to a Swedish study, women are able to pick genetically compatible mates by sense of smell as long as they are not on the pill. Give it a go and take as many steps left or right as your intuition tells you to.

Can you hear anything? Is your partner still breathing? If not, jump to the left origin, jump out of bed and get the hell out of there. Is your partner snoring like a grizzly with indigestion (or could it be a grizzly with indigestion)? Move two spaces right. If your new acquaintance is breathing softly, move two increments left. Is there any music playing? For Satanic Heavy Metal Rap, move four steps right. For Beethoven, move four steps left. Interpolate as best you can for Donnie and Marie. Can you hear civilization traffic, other people? If you can, your chances of survival with one arm missing are slightly improved. Move one step right.

Well, where on the scale are you? If you are far to the right, start gnawing. If you are far to the left attempt to find your glasses and make a final disaster check before doing anything else you might regret. If you are in the middle, just be thankful you did not invest your money in fuzzy logic or did you make that mistake as well?

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