Tuesday, December 7, 2010


When I discussed with my wife the topic I had in mind for this blog post, she told me I might come off as sounding a bit pedantic - to which I responded, "Have you read my blog? Pedantic is kind of my thing." Still, knowing that she has read my blog and, moreover, actually knows me; I'm lead to suspect that "a bit pedantic" may have been a euphemism for "wildly self indulgent and anal to the point of cruelty". Now, chances are, if you're reading this at all, you're a very near relative or friend of mine, and a single blog post, no matter how painful, will not create an unbridgeable schism in our relationship. However, if you're on the fence about me, you may want to skip this one.

Yesterday, I saw an image floating around on the Internet that gave me pause. Incidentally, when I say I saw an image "floating around", I really mean my web browser interpreted a file which was complied using the JPEG standard - as defined in RFC 1341 - that was stored on at least one of millions of interconnected computers and made publicly available via the HTTP protocol. (I just got pedantic goose bumps.)

Anyway, the image I saw was a depiction of a bumper sticker that stated, "Lemmings for Obama 2008". As I'm sure was the intention of the bumper sticker's author, the message got me thinking. However, it was not about Obama's proponents, but about actual lemmings. I realized, for the first time, that the idea of an entire species being genetically inclined to commit suicide en masse in order to control its own population was a bit hard to swallow - or rather, there was a disparity between that notion and my perception of rationality.

I decided to do some research on lemmings and, with surprisingly little effort, discovered that, in fact, lemmings are NOT innately suicidal at all. Not only do they not blindly follow each other over cliffs to their deaths, they show the same desire for self preservation as does every other species of animal on the planet.

Suddenly I was filled with the sort of holier-than-thou giddiness that only the truly self important can attain. Why? Because I enjoy irony nearly as much as I do pedanticism. See, lemmings are used as a metaphor to portray people who unquestioningly go along with an incorrect but popular opinion, but, in itself, the idea that lemmings unquestioningly follow each other is an opinion which is popular but incorrect. So, essentially, those who accuse others of being lemmings are, themselves, in fact... well, I suppose I can't call them lemmings - but whatever they are, it isn't as clever as me.