Fables for a New Age, #3

    As I was going to St. Ives,
    I met a man with seven wives.
    Every wife had seven sacks,
    Every sack had seven cats,
    Every cat had seven kits.
    Kits, cats, sacks, wives:
    How many were going to St. Ives?

Well, how many? In the early Eighteenth Century, the answer probably was one: the narrator is on his way to St. Ives, all the others are coming back.

But wait. Does that second last line mean to count only kits, cats, sacks, and wives? If so, the answer is none.

Then again, it could be that the whole gang is headed that way. Then the total is 2802.

Or, count only those who are going, and not those who are being carried. Answer there is nine.

Play with it for a minute. You can tease out other possible answers.

Okay, I think you are ready. Here is the real challenge. Tease out the correct reading of this quotation:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Now you are qualified to guess how long it will take Congress to address the need for definitive and effective federal gun control legislation.


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