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Squid #102
(published October 3, 2002)
Ask The Giant Squid: Must the Race Be For the Swift?
Who is Poor Mojo's Giant Squid?
How Fast can they go?

Dear Anonymous Reader (provided terming you as such is not an exercise in cruelty),

Please to understand, Devoted Readership, that I strive in all devotion for towards the conviction that you are a hearty, emotive ilk with charming, intelligent eyes and endearing wet noses. Nonetheless, when week upon week I receive questions and comments of this generally illiterate level, it becomes difficult for me to maintain this column as anything more than the thinnest and most farcical charade. As such, I enjoin you: use the Hooked Upon the Phonetics, visit your literacy specialists and adult education specialists and centers and, for the very love of erudition itself, children, stay in the school. The school is cool (or so I am told.)

That and those aside, as the question is asked in earnest, I feel obliged to endeavor, in earnest, to both decode it and formulate an answer appropriate. Rest assured that, no matter how haltingly incommunicative your missive, I will always do the utmost to labor toward sating that guttering, solitary spark of curiosity which illuminates your darling skulls' inner curvatures.

As for how fast they can go, this is highly dependant upon the reason for the going. When swiftness is demanded, their alacrity is stunning, but when a slow plod's patience will better serve the purpose, they move at a nigh unto glacial pace. Mind yet that the race is not for certain to the swift, nor the battle to the smack-cocked. Think on the tortoise and his hare, friends. Think on him.

Of course, your question concerns itself not with how fast they may choose to go, but rather how fast they can go, as it were then, the finite limit of their quickness. But then, even such a simple request is fraught with opacity. How can we determine the group's speed? Is it appropriate to average their individual top speeds to find a suitable "speed of they"? On the one tentacle, this seems most expedient, but upon the other, is also a tad disengenous, for if we have 9 very swift sea horses, able to complete the arena's circuit in but a short moment's fleeting watery cavitations, grouped with a slow, dead sea horse unable to show any motive inclination, then the average velocity for the group remains at zero, and tells us little of real use regarding how fast "they" can go.

Then again, perhaps our true error here is in considering arithmetic means, rather than using a median or mode. I am much inclined to tread the median as a most just measure of their speed, but then can also imagine a situation in which the distribution of top velocities are so various that the median is no more telling than the mean, and the mode a farcical statistic, of some voodooish use to dog racers and football poolers, but of no real interest in quelling your wonders.

But aside I should put means and modes— with the median, as she belongs, right in the middle. For your question breeds questions further still: through what medium or -a do these coursers peregrinate? The lion traverses a field of tires far faster than a plain of gelatine desert, and I am made to hear that there are certain horses who might prefer to race— and thus race faster— over the muddied track, while others find squeemisheness there dwells, and meander priss-a-ly on the rain soaked ring.

Further, in what manner do they travel? The elephant may swim and may stampede, but he certainly cannot do the both at the same topmost velocity, yes? In a race of speed, my money shall rest confidently upon the back of the tiger shark— unless I am fore-told that the race is to be run through a shopping mall, at which time I bet upon the toddler, with a side wager on the teenaged girl to place.

Upon sun's setting, the singular question, the hub to our spinning wheel of interrogatives— not even yet articulated but simply implied in your original request, the shadow cast by that question's asking— remains:

Who, then, are the They of which we speak?

Yet I Remain,
Your Giant Squid

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