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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, October 9 2002 

Exaggerating to make a point

One of my Pitt professors, at the Cathedral of Learning, not Johnstown, is remembered for nothing else than that he often said, "I exaggerate to make my point." I thought it was cute and not inappropriate at the time, though it might have been dangerous if he were teaching a scientific subject, not liberal arts. Having taken only one of those science courses (biology) at Pitt and that in Johnstown, I'm sure it wasn't.

Literature is replete with "exaggerations to make a point," and sometimes students and critics have trouble distinguishing exaggeration from true history, to know whether there's a qualitative difference between "Jonah and the big fish" from the Old Testament, and Paul Bunyan and his blue ox named Babe (I'm convinced there is a vital difference, but that's a somewhat different topic).

Playing "devil's advocate" is very close in quality to exaggerating to make a point, though ironically it's often done under oath. Attornies in criminal cases present fanciful scenarios to sway the jury for or against a defendant. If the fancy could be true, how can the jury find the defendant guilty? "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit" will probably go down in the annals as exhibit A of this type of defense, as used by Johnny Cochran for O.J. Simpson and it strikes most as exaggeration in the extreme.

Both exaggerating to make a point and playing devil's advocate are not exactly lies, if a lie is intended to deceive its hearers. Presenting a concoction as something made up, for purposes of trying to get at an underlying truth or as a hypothesis that may be proven if investigated can be helpful in many contexts, from quantum physics to theology. The trick is to know and recognize the difference, both when you use it on your audiences and when you're a member of the audience on which it's used.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Some computer problems can't be fixed

I was having trouble with my computer. So I called Rick the computer guy to come over. Rick clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem. He gave me a bill for a minimum service call. As he was walking away, I called after him, "So, what was wrong?"

He replied, "It was an ID ten T error." I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired: "An ID ten T error? What's that...in case I need to fix it again?" The computer guy grinned. "Haven't you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?" "No," I replied. "Write it down," he said, "and I think you'll figure it out." So I wrote out ...: I D 1 0 T.

—Sent by Bob Kennedy

Thought for today

This is the true and the Christian humility; in this you will be able to achieve victory over every vice: by attributing to God rather than to yourself the fact that you have won.

—Saint Martin
Sent by Fr. Antonious Henein

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