The Sky Is Falling...Maybe.

The Sky Is Falling
Henry here, once again filling in for my son Stephen. His friend moved into a place with a hot tub. We have not heard from him in some time, nor do we expect to for some time to come.

I have been managing my financial portfolio since I was a young man. A very, very young man. Back then my investment bank of choice was shaped like a pig. When I was about 4, I started to collect old coins. They were donated to me by people who had been holding them for years. Mostly they were old pennies which were in use before legal national tender was created. There were still a few of those kicking around. I had a piggy bank which gave of a very satisfactory rattle when I shook it. I felt as rich as King Midas. Then disaster struck.

I came home from school one day to learn that my sister had raided my investment pig and taken my coins to buy ice cream. I was shattered. A whole piece of my world had crashed down on my head. My sky had fallen in. Of course, in the end it wasn’t as bad as all that and I did eventually get my investment portfolio back on track, though I have never again felt quite so rich as I did back then. I learned two important lessons from this experience: One, problems with the bank are not usually as severe as the innitial shock would make them appear; and two, never trust a girl, especially if she's your sister.

Recently I have revisited this experience and have once again been handling my own investments, hopefully with more success (my sister is being closely watched). I spend a lot of time listening to CNBC television. Like many people, I often want to take the easy path and believe the "experts," because they sound like they know what they're talking about, but this is not always the case. With the recent correction in the stock market I have heard endless "experts" testify that the financial markets have fallen in. To hear them talk, it is the stock market crash of 1929 again and we are all going to be in the poorhouse.

Hopefully there's not much chance of that: They seem to have been wipping each other up in a frenzy of panic. There have been incesent calls for the Federal chief Ben Bernanke to rescue everybody. Recently he, along with the President, seem to have calmed the market and reassured everyone.

This episode reminded of an old fable, which we all learned as children, which comes from a large body of folklore dating from around around the 6th century BC: The Sky Is Falling.

The story goes that as Chicken Little is eating lunch, an acorn falls on her head. Being a little slow on the uptake and prone to panicking, Chicken Little runs around the country telling everyone the sky is falling and eventually even the king is panicking, all over an acorn. The fox is there to reap the benefit of this collective hysteria. As Wikipedia says:

In (some) versions the moral is usually interpreted to mean "do not believe everything you are told". In the latter case, it could well be a cautionary political tale: Chicken Little jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox uses to manipulate them for his own benefit.”

The experts were all acting like someone had raided their piggy bank and left them penniless. But despite their opinion, the sky had not fallen in. We would have been foolish indeed to believe everything they told us.

I think this ancient fable reminds us of repeated experiences in our own lives when we would be very foolish to listen to the "experts". What about you? Have you run into Chicken Littles in your travels? What were they like and what were they panicking about?

Henry Sharam

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The most interesting thing

The most interesting thing about this post, and something you might well look into is your problem with trusting women. Or girls. Hard to say which is more of a problem--not trusting grown females or juveniles. Anyway, well done with the casual sexism.

It's a well known problem in

It's a well known problem in guys, I believe it's been officially designated as 'self preservation with a healthy dose of common sense'. I mean, the girl in this article is obviously cruel to animals, the poor piggy getting all broked like that.

chicken Little

Perhaps anonymous is right I am too distrustful of women. I have to say However that when what feels like all your earthly goods are stolen you do tend to be somewhat more distrustful.
My point of course is that that episode felt like the end of the world as I knew it.
Isn't there a song about: "The end of the world as I know it?"
On the other hand, who hasn't lived with a sister or brother and at some time been alienated from them? You love them and at times you want to punch them in the nose.


Right on. Especially now that pigs are being kept as household pets.

Henry Sharam


So, ONE INDIVIDUAL did something bad to you, and now you blame half the human race for it? You blame three billion people for the act of one person?

Your piggy bank was not raided by "girls". Or by "women". It was raided by an individual person. Had you had a brother instead of a sister, and the brother raided your piggy bank, would you now make blanket comments deriding men? Is a woman justified in insisting that men, all of them, (or at least most) "are pigs" if one man did something harmful to her at some time in her past?

By YOUR logic she should carry a chip on her shoulder about each of the three billion men on the planet for the rest of her life.

(Well, now at least we see where your son gets his attitudes from...)

Do you really think it's reasonable to make generalizations about three billion people based on the actions of one? Do you do this based on race, religion, and national origin as well, or is your over-generalization limited solely to gender? How about based on someone's height? hair color? nose-shape? eye color? weight? Favorite baseball team? Favorite sport? Or is it just gender?

Well, I think we ALL know

how much trouble all short, skinny, brown-eyed, patrician-nosed redheads who like baseball - especially the Red Sox, can be! :) Oh wait, that's just guys, not ALL of them...

Please. A quick glance towards reality would help here.

Okay, everybody take a deep breath...

O.k., one last time and this is my very last comment on this (please note the various other comments I have already made on this issue). This was meant to be a joke. A small joke. Apparently, it wasn't a funny joke. Dad didn't write that part, I did. In an attempt to be humorous. Using a joke. Ha. Ha.

I was just referring to how young siblings don't trust each other. When they're young. It was meant to be cute. Evidently "cute" is relative. Speaking of relatives, you're absolutely right: I still don't trust my brother and he's a doctor. These things take time I suppose.

I should say that my Dad doesn't have trusting issues with people of any races, sexes or religious creeds...though he may not entirely trust me anymore, since I messed up his column. Oh well, live and learn.

Steve Sharam

Note to self: Never post

Note to self: Never post when I'm stressed out after a long week at work and I'm about to rush out the door. =^/

I apologize for going apoplectic in the parent post. (I am the anon from the parent of this post, but I am not the same person as any other anon(s) in this thread).

You know how things can just sort of build up, and if you're not careful you can take it out all at once on the wrong person? Um, yeah. Sorry, again.


I also apologize, Anonymous. I have seen a few too many responses to something that, to me, is obviously humor and/or sarcasm, so perhaps jumped down your throat a bit too quickly. Sometimes we ALL need to just step back and take a breath.

It's o.k.

Group hug:)

Steve Sharam

Casual sexism

Yeah, I thought that was pretty insulting too. I've managed my own portfolio since I was 21 and do a fair job of it, thanks.

Ah yes, but should you be

Ah yes, but should you be trusted not to raid your brother's piggybank?

If you're referring to me

If you're referring to me mivok, the answer is no, definitely not. I'm the least likely person to raid my 3 brothers piggy banks but only because they happen to be on the other side of the country.
Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job- Douglas Adams

Well, I was referring to the

Well, I was referring to the people without a sense of humor and those who mistakenly took the post to say that women can't be trusted with investing as opposed to never trust your sister with your piggybank, but hey. The same goes for my sister - she's probably the least likely to raid my piggybank because she and the rest of my family happen to be in a different country. They are suitably be replaced by my wife though, who may well raid said piggybank. The fact that said piggybank is also hers has no bearing on the matter, honest!

Wow, feel the love...

Wow, not quite the response we were going for there. I should probably take responsibility for that little addition to Dad's column, which I edited before posting it to the site, as I always do. I decided to jazz it up a little and that comment about his sister was meant to be, I note carefully, humorous. I have made a number of humorous comments in the past, from time to time, when the fit took me, and I felt that this would be an appropriate time to make another one. I didn't mean to offend anybody. I just wanted to make a joke. Just a joke. That's all. Ha ha and so forth. Maybe it wasn't funny, but I wasn't going out of my way to hurt anybody's feelings. Having been a child with a brother myself, in the past, I can say that it doesn't much matter whether you have a brother or a sister, you never, ever trust them with your piggy bank. I say this having been the one who raided my brother's piggy bank once upon a time:)

Pyramidiology: What you get when you mix pyramids and idiots.

Steve Sharam

Female Opinion

While it seems not everyone was amused by your column, you can rest assured that there is at least woman who has no problem with the bit about not trusting your sister. Siblings are not to be trusted. Loved, forgiven even but never trusted when piggy banks or toys are involved.
Save the dodo!

i must say i agree. i dont

i must say i agree.

i dont trust sisters with my piggy bank, i also dont trust experts

Levenger stole ALL of my money, but they left me all these nice, shiny organizational tools.

I laughed.

I laughed. I'm a female in a male dominated profession (electrical engineering). I've very good with money. I'm also a sister.

My Blog

piggy bank

I'm confused as well. I thought the point of my post was the danger of trusting in "Experts",especially self proclaimed ones, but no body else seemed to think so.

Henry Sharam


I guess we side-tracked a little there.

Steve Sharam

I did actually have an

I did actually have an example of a chicken little in my life and unfortunately haven't the slightest clue what it was or even what the subject matter was. If I do manage to remember, I promise to post it.

We're sorry for hijacking the discussion on a trivial matter. It was, as always, a great atricle.
Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job- Douglas Adams

I do that all the time

I frequently remember something and then forget that I've remembered it. Currently that something is my glasses, which have been missing for two weeks. Apparently I've missed a number of nice sunsets:P

Susan Sontag I believe said something to the effect of anyone who reads history can't take politics too seriously. A good point there. In constantly trying to score short-sighted political points and whip up the public, most politicians could probably be seen as Chicken Littles.

Has anyone seen my glasses? Or have any other examples?:P

Steve Sharam

Trusting girls

While I had the same intial reaction as "Anonymous" did, I immediately re-read that section for context then finished reading the whole article.

At the risk of over analyzing this, the conclusion I reached is that the childhood lesson he learned is not to trust "girls" (not females or women) and that as an adult he is keeping an eye on his sister, not females in general. So I took the humor as a "girls have cooties" kind of thing that he outgrew, while the distrust of his sister reportedly lingered. Although I think he's taking some artistic license there.


Yeah, that was what I was going for there. It's widely documented that, while all little girls have cooties, none have it worse than your sister. Sad.

Steve Sharam

Boy Cooties

In the interest of fairness please note that brothers have Boy Cooties. I should be careful about how I say this since I wouldn't want to be accused of casual sexism but I'll just say it. Strong anecdotal evidence suggests Boy Cooties is way worse than Girl Cooties. It has something to do with snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.

Unfortunately the scientific community is not yet taking Cooties seriously. I can only hope that when they do they will start working on a vaccination for Boy Cooties first.


I'll second that.

Cooties have Sex ?

I mean gender. Well, I guess that they would have to in order to continue the species.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

They're working on that

Evidently Dow Chemical is working on a treatment for boy cooties, but it's not available yet. You're very right to point out the seriousness of boy cooties, but it's even worse than is generally realized. While girl cooties usually clear up during puberty, boy cooties gradually transform into acute testosterone poisoning in grown men. Sad.

Steve Sharam

as a girl

as a girl i will say that all OTHER girls have cooties, and my sister has the worst case of cooties ever, ever in well ever.

Levenger stole ALL of my money, but they left me all these nice, shiny organizational tools.

but sometimes the sky REALLY is falling.

About 200 villagers have fallen ill from mysterious gases that spewed from a crater after a meteorite crashed in southeastern Peru, but no radiation has been detected, officials and scientists said Tuesday.

Scores of residents of the farming village of Carancas began vomiting and complaining of headaches and dizziness after the space object struck the area Saturday, creating an eight meter (26-foot) deep, 20 meter (65 foot) wide crater.

"We have determined with precision instruments that there is no radiation," engineer Renan Ramirez of the Peruvian Nuclear Energy Institute told AFP.

the rest of the article is one the link.

Levenger stole ALL of my money, but they left me all these nice, shiny organizational tools.

I saw that

I saw that on the news. I hope those folks are o.k. I certainly don't understand the chemistry of it, but I can imagine that a lot of garbage would get thrown into the air when a planetary object hits the ground at Mach 20 or something.

Pyramidiology: What you get when you mix pyramids and idiots.

Steve Sharam

Hi Henry, interesting post

Hi Henry, interesting post as always. :)

I think part of the problem is we want fast and easy answers to all our questions and there are none, So what do we do? Well we could make up our own story around the facts as we see them, just as Chicken Licken and anonymous have done or we can find an expert... Of course the expert can not simplify a complex matter anymore than a non-expert, but as an expert we are more inclined to believe them especially if their opinion seem to agree with our own. Hence we have 'the Emperor's new clothes' where no one wants to be seen to disagree in public in case it damages their reputation.

I've noticed

I think that it's up to yourself to judge the veracity of what someone is saying. I've noticed that a number of cable shows featuring "experts" in a number of areas seem to more of a shouting contest then a forum for giving helpful advice. Being the loudest doesn't necessarily mean you know the best course of action.

Pyramidiology: What you get when you mix pyramids and idiots.

Steve Sharam

chicken little

A fascinating discussion despite the meandering. Actually my sister was the one I felt closest to in our 6 member family.

One of the places where I see Chicken Little kind of experts is in the area of health. People with multiple allergies often go to their GP, have blood tests and get told their is no problem. The MD seems to think and often communicates that the problem is "IN THEIR HEADS."

To change the metaphor, as Kermit the frog said: "It ain't easy being green."

Henry Sharam

It's timeless

Hey, people doing and saying things that don't make any sense is timeless. I read today in the Darwin Awards (Vol. II) about an example from 16th Century Hungary. One village wanted revenge on the village down the road. Lacking the skills to produce a proper iron cannon, the mayor told them to make a cannon out of a tree trunk. The explosion of the wooden cannon killed 20 people. The mayor said that, considering how many of their own people had been killed, the enemy must have suffered even worse losses.

No word on the repercussions, but I expect if they ever did get a cannon, they aimed it at him.

Steve Sharam

So true

Like many people, I often want to take the easy path and believe the "experts," because they sound like they know what they're talking about, but this is not always the case. With the recent correction in the stock market I have heard endless "experts" testify that the financial markets have fallen in. To hear them talk, it is the stock market crash of 1929 again and we are all going to be in the poorhouse.

Yes, I'm getting rather sick of hearing "it's never been..." at the start of statements from supposed experts.
'It's never been this warm' - what, not even when the earth was covered in volcanoes? ;D
'It's never been this cold' - OK, so the mammoths had big coats because it was fashionable?! ;D
'The stock market has never been this bad in my memory' - Yes, well you are a 25 year old stock trader and the last moderate crash was more than 5 years ago. ;D

P.S. The experts may well be panicking because their personal stocks have dropped. But "headless chooking", as we Aussies like to call panicking, is very counter productive

I like that one

Headless chooking...You Aussies have the best expressions:P

Steve Sharam

Chicken Little

I always learn something from these rambling discussions. "Headless chocking" I will treasure. This is especially true for someone who was forced to kill chickens by chopping their heads off. They do some serious headless chocking! Thanks.

Henry Sharam