Letter From the Editor

Looking Out My Window

Article from Issue 122/2011

One of my memorable moments as a homeowner was looking out the window at a pair of neighborhood kids in my backyard, who were immersed in some sort of water fight. Never mind that my own kids weren’t with them, or that they didn’t have any kind of permission to be in my backyard – I’ll save those topics for the child-rearing magazines. In this case, the fight itself was what I most remember.

The two kids were brothers – an older brother and a smaller, younger brother. As you might expect, the big brother had already nailed down the prime spot with the most formidable weapon (the garden hose – which he brandished with intimidating bravado). The little brother had a very different role. His focus was on dislodging the hose from the big guy’s grasp or forcing the older one to abandon the spot where he could deploy the hose effectively, and to that end, he applied a variety of tools and strategies, including frontal assault with a full water bucket, flanking action with a plastic whiffle ball bat, and an assortment of other techniques. Of course, his attacks tended to be unsuccessful (he was, after all, the little brother), but he could keep attacking as long as he wanted – using any techniques he wanted – and my mathematical mind quickly concluded that, if he attacked long enough and applied a sufficiently broad range of strategies, something would eventually happen that would change the stakes of the encounter.

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