319: Engineering Hubris
Title text: Chuck Jones is a vengeful god.
This comic starts with a philosophical musing about engineering. The last panel reveals a joke about Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner, a cartoon series created by Chuck Jones. In the cartoon, the Coyote is constantly building odd contraptions (with parts ordered from the Acme Corporation) to catch the Road Runner. The Coyote never succeeds, often because his devices don't work as intended.
The word Hubris from the comic title means extreme pride or arrogance. It is a theme from the classic Greek plays, and is usually severely punished by the gods. The title text is implying that Chuck Jones would not let hubris go unpunished; the engineer might be able to construct 'better' traps than Wile E, but they would still be doomed to fail.
From the second panel, Murphy's Law can be simplified to "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." It was originally developed as a guideline for accident prevention starting at the design level. In the common vernacular today, it is interpreted more liberally: "If there is even the slightest chance of an unfortunate accident occurring, despite all your attempts to prevent it, the accident will happen anyway, purely out of spite." The namesake Edward A. Murphy Jr. has since evolved to mythic proportions, being cast as a vengeful god of misfortune and ruin.
- [This comic is illustrated in color. Landscape in the background, canyon with a winding road.]
- Maybe engineering is the pursuit of an unattainable perfection.
- Maybe it's impossible to create something bug-free.
- Maybe I'm a fool
- Maybe the tyranny of Murphy is the penalty for hubris.
- But I just can't shake the feeling
- [Cueball standing on boxes labeled "ACME."]
- With all those supplies
- I could have caught that roadrunner.
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