The Analogist: Back in Session


After a healthy break, I'm happy to say The Analogist is in "“ with a backlog of reader-submitted situations to be Analogized.

Does this remind you of anything or anybody? Earlier this year I convinced my law firm to let me start a law blog on our website. While it sounded like a great idea and has been fairly successful, they haven't let me scale back any of my lawyer duties. I'm working harder and longer than ever and totally drained. Now I'm almost certainly going to have to quit.

New York, New York

It sounds like you were (metaphorically) killed by your own invention. Surprisingly, this is not uncommon. Otto Lilienthal was killed while testing a hang glider he'd invented. Franz Reichelt was killed after jumping off the Eiffel Tower to test his overcoat/parachute. William Bullock's foot was crushed by his rotary printing press and died from the subsequent infection. Wikipedia has a whole entry on this: List of inventors killed by their inventions. At least you've lived to tell your story.

After losing some key accounts, my company has laid off thirty people so far this year. Lots of good friends have been let go. There are only twenty of us left. As you'd expect, morale is low. Any analogies to make us feel better?

Name withheld
San Diego, California

This is a tough one. Watching your friends get shown the door is obviously painful. And you're all probably wondering who's next. I doubt this will help, but here's an explanation of forest rebirth posted in Muir Woods, outside San Francisco:

muirwoods.jpg /

In case you're having trouble reading, the last line says, "Rather than an area of death and destruction this is a wonderful place for us to watch the rebirth of the forest. The debris [from the felled tree] created new habitat for animals, while the new gap in the canopy allows sunlight in, encouraging plant growth. This is not an end, but a beginning."

Sure, comparing your fired friends to old, dead trees is a little callous. But there's a possibility your company can turn things around. Maybe a more helpful place to look is the slogan of New York Lotto: "Hey, you never know."

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On occasion, I will survey the audience on a situation that has me stumped. Got anything for Michael from Kansas?

An ex-girlfriend and I used to get on famously. Then, one day, she wrote to me explaining that we had to break all contact. She gave no reason, but most people close to her could only surmise that her husband felt threatened by our continued friendship. Though angry, I agreed to her request and since then have only written her trying to work out how to make this ridiculous request possible, as we frequent some of the same social circles. Since then, she's gone behind my back and very deliberately interefered with my career for fear of the two of us working in the same office. I absolutely have no interest in maintaining contact with her, but in my field options are few and it only makes sense to apply. I don't like to rinse out my sour grapes in public, is there a way to explain to our mutual friends what's happened without it sounding like I'm trying to win them over to my side?

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Here are installments one and two of this semi-regular feature.