Friday, November 10, 2006

The problem of the three cakes

A Norwegian, a Swede, a Dane, and an American were attempting to solve a problem. They were trying to decide who is best qualified to split three cakes into four equal pieces.

The Swede said, "I think I should be the one who cuts the cakes. Everyone should know that Swedes are blessed with the ability to come up with many ideas, and then to select from them the ones best capable of solving the problem. Do not forget that it was a Swede, inventor Alfred Nobel, who said, 'If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.'

The Norwegian said, "No, It should be me who divides them. We do not need several methods to solve this problem, just one. After all, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen said, 'The great secret of power is never to will to do more than you can accomplish.'

The Dane had had enough, and she spoke. "It is obvious that I should be the one who slices the cakes. You are both looking at the problem entirely wrong. Who would not remember that it was Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard who said, 'Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.'

The three then turned to see what the American would say, but he was nowhere to be found. In addition, all three cakes were missing.

A small child was standing nearby and spoke. "While you were arguing over who should cut the cakes, your companion has walked off with them."

"Did he say anything before he left?" asked one of the remaining.

"Yes," the child began, "Actions speak louder than words."