What does it look like, when you are not solving the correct problem?

A senior consultant and a junior analyst are having a picnic.

It’s a beautiful day and they’ve spread their blanket and banquet out beside a sparkling rushing river — where a few big old willows, gracing said river’s bank, bask the two picnickers in the soothing whispers of the early afternoon’s breeze.

You can put your favorite food items here, when you retell this story, but the default menu in this retelling features bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches — one of which the consultant is blindly wolfing down with astonishing focus.

They must have been starved.

Meanwhile the analyst, who has the sometimes irksome habit of looking around, notices a baby rushing by in the river’s swift current.

Perhaps not obviously, the baby at least appears to be drowning.

Dropping their practically untouched sandwich, not even noticing where it fell, the analyst takes a running flying leap into the river–  noticing as they did so that another baby had appeared on the horizon, coming down towards them in the river’s rushing current.

There’s really no time to panic. Does the analyst even think about thinking? No, no, no.  It’s all about saving the babies now. There’s no time to loose.

But just as the analyst had grabbed the first drowning baby and reached for the second — a third, fourth and fifth baby now bobs up over that pesky horizon, rushing ridiculously towards them in the river’s rapid current.

Meanwhile, the consultant has somehow come to realize that a second pair of hands might actually be called for.

But. And you are not going to believe this.

What do you think the analyst does as soon the consultant begins to warily wade into the river?

“Where the hell are you going?” screams the consultant – momentarily falling prey to tiny pricks of panic as they start to feel the cold and very wet water soaking through the worsted wool of their very fancy tailored trousers.

“You stay here and do what you can,” the analyst replied softly, “I’m going up the river to see who’s throwing them in.”

. . .

“So but,” you may quite justifiably be asking, “what’s the so-called Modest Proposal then?”

Ready?

All learning is language learning. Regardless of whether the language is French, Economics or Genetics etc – they all start out as Foreign Languages. The technology for learning any of them is substantially the same for all of them.

You know this:

Depending on what “country” your audience hails from, you will either have the greenlight to speak of methylated Ribonucleaic Acids, or you’re going to be talking in terms of little messengers running around with little yellow stickies –covered in typos – and wondering whether that glazed-over angry bored look you’re getting means you should hurry up and change the subject.

. . .

“The Money. Show us the money.”


Again, for those among us still working on the English (myself included), A Modest Proposal was an essay written by Dubliner Jonathan Swift in 1729. The full title was A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick. If you can’t deal with gruesome, I recommend that you not go there. But. If you are interested in the sometimes fantastic ways in which history repeats itself, it’s kind of a no-miss.