Caught On Morton’s Fork

We’ve all had to make decisions in circumstances where we’ve got no good options. We’re confronted by a true dilemma, weighing the frying pan versus the fire, and stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, with no good way out. Philosophers might describe the situation as Morton’s Fork: a choice between two equally unpleasant alternatives.

As the article linked above explains, that name “comes from the tax-collecting practices of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor under Henry VII. He reasoned that anyone who was living extravagantly was rich, and so could afford high taxes, whereas anyone who was living frugally had saved a lot, and so could afford high taxes.”  In other words, you’ve got to pay the tax man, no matter how you decide to live your life. (Morton’s stated philosophy suggests that the views of tax collectors haven’t changed much since the days of Henry VII, incidentally.)

A man in Brazil was faced with Morton’s Fork and put in a no-win situation recently while fishing on a lake with friends. The fishermen were attacked by a swarm of bees in their boat. And while normally the option of jumping into the lake to avoid being repeatedly stung by bees would be a good one, unfortunately this particular lake was home to piranha–those flesh-eating fish whose frenzied feeding can quickly strip a cow or a human to the bone.

So what did the guy do? He jumped in the lake to avoid the bees and was eaten by piranha. It’s not clear whether the eating occurred before or after he drowned–which would have been another unpleasant tine on Morton’s fork.

Sometimes life comes at you fast.

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