I might investigate the cocktail and the rock band later, but for now I’ll stick to the reasoning theory. Fuzzy logic has fascinated me ever since I was introduced to the concept. At last – an expression for life’s absurdity!
Fuzzy logic reflects the quirky way we humans have of doing things. Take language, for instance. Adjectives like “bright,” “dark,” “small” or “unusual” work fine for most of us, but computer programmers have trouble basing a digital platform on that kind of terminology.
My own personal application of the term has come to mean any practice or deduction based on faulty, missing, accidental or unexplainable information. And like the guy back in ancient times who decided that his own “foot” was a handy standard unit of measure, oftentimes fuzzy logic catches on and becomes the status quo.
A good example of this was the development of the common length of the average popular song. Before the invention of recorded music, songs could last pretty much as long as one wanted, so storytelling troubadours piled on the verses ad infinitum.
But when a medium was invented to play recorded music, the standardization of materials required a limit on the length of the presentation.
Wax cylinders of the early 20th century played for about two minutes. Next, 10-inch “78 rpm” records lasted about three minutes per side, but their impact on our lives has lasted much longer. The result of that fuzzy logic: ever since then, most popular songs are about three minutes long. In the 1950s, the introduction of the 12-inch vinyl LPs (about 20 minutes per side) didn’t change the half-decade of listening habits that held us to that old three-minute mindset. The average length of a pop song didn’t change, and still hasn’t – all because Thomas Edison’s invention happened to hold just that much information.
Classic fuzzy logic story: at Thanksgiving, a girl sits in the kitchen and asks her mother why she’s slicing off the top of the turkey breast before putting it in the oven. Her mother answers, “because my mother always did, and her mother before her and her mother before that.” So when the little girl grows up, she’ll probably bake her first turkey and cut off the top, never knowing that the only reason her great-great-great-grandmother did that was because their oven had been too small.
So the next time you find yourself wondering why there are nine innings in a baseball game or why your sandwich is called a sub, you might very well have fuzzy logic to thank – or blame!
Speak of which, I’m using my own brand of fuzzy logic to qualify the suspension of these weekly articles, which I’ve been writing for about a year now. People measure the passing years with their birthdays and make resolutions to do this or that starting on January 1st. So to help me frame my experience, I thought the beginning of the new year was just as good a time as any to take a break and begin anew. Exactly what I’m beginning, I’m not sure! But if you’ve enjoyed my stories (or even if you haven’t!), don’t be surprised if more manifestations of fuzzy logic from yours truly pop up soon from the pages of your Shopper-News.
In the meantime, Happy New Year! OR — Happy 17th day of the 11th month of the Chinese Lunar Year!
1. The Logical Song — Supertramp
2. Like Humans Do — David Byrne
3. Just Because — Anita Baker
4. The Song Remains the Same — Led Zeppelin
5. Is That All There Is? — Peggy Lee
6. Stop! In the Name of Love — Diana Ross and the Supremes
7. The End — The Doors
8. I’ll Be Seeing You — Frank Sinatra
9. Happy Trails — Roy Rogers and Dale Evans
10. Tomorrow Never Knows — The Beatles