Plumbing philosophy

A commenter left a link to this comic here; now we know what happens when you combine plumbing and philosophy.



Good timing, too. On my to-do list for today is to pop off the trap for the bathroom sink — we think the satanic cat who is lurking in our house knocked something into it, clogging it hopelessly. Now I’m going to have to tell my wife I can’t do it, and I’ve got a good reason: existential dread.

And what does a mere obstructed pipe have to do with the Grand Scheme of the Cosmos, anyway?


  1. otrame says

    PZ, they make little plastic doohickeys that allow water to pass, but screen out hair and larger items that you can put in your sinks. They aren’t called Cat-Plumbing-Problem-Preventers, but they ought to be.

  2. Alverant says

    No death will not be identical to before birth because we would have lived and know what living is like. Death would be surrendering live as opposed to not ever having it.

  3. Sven says

    Death is nothing to us,
    for when we are, death has not come
    and when death has come, we are not.

  4. Randomfactor says

    The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

    John W. Gardner

  5. Lithified Detritus says

    Randomfactor @5:

    Where shall I send your internet? Or perhaps I should send it to John W. Gardner.

  6. yazikus says

    Once I found a test tube down the bathroom sink. Had to be a little creative to get it out. (The sink currently does not have a stopper, which would have prevented this particular issue.

    what was in there?

    My money is on hair. Lots of hair.

  7. pikaia says

    Dean, to the physics department. “Why do I always have to give you
    guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and
    stuff. Why couldn’t you be like the math department – all they need
    is money for pencils, paper and waste-paper baskets. Or even better,
    like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

  8. unclefrogy says

    that is a funny cartoon and has some truth in it. As someone who has worked in construction for a long time I have seen similar things. Many of the trades require a lot intelligence and creativity to solve the problems encountered but the work itself does not. It leaves the mind free to think about things unrelated to the work. I have been involved and overheard many very thoughtful conversations on many far flung subjects

    uncle frogy

  9. michaelstone-richard says

    So, Christian lurkers, if, as you believe, there is some god up above us in a place called heaven, then we can blame that god for all our problems — as any plumber can tell you, shit flows downhill.

  10. John Small Berries says

    Many of the trades require a lot intelligence and creativity to solve the problems encountered but the work itself does not. It leaves the mind free to think about things unrelated to the work.

    Scott Adams did a Dilbert strip which started with that premise, but of course came to the conclusion that non-techie workers would merely waste the opportunity.

  11. unclefrogy says

    @13 I am not sure the kind in attention required of a plumber, carpenter, electrician , air-conditioning tradesman or other skilled trades is equivalent to a security guard.
    Once the design problems are worked out like the sizing and layout particular to the location and job the work is mostly physical. If the particular tasks are already mastered the mind is free to explore the more existential aspects of life and work. just like the plumber in the cartoon.

    uncle frogy

  12. michaelstone-richard says

    While planning and layout is the most mentally demanding part of many skilled trades, paying attention to what you, and others around you, are doing does not end there. As retired cabinet and furniture maker — with 10 relatively scar-free fingers– I can tell you that working with carbide-tipped blades spinning at thousands of RPMs, only a fraction of an inch from your fingers, does not leave a much time to contemplate the nature of life. Other tradespeople face similar dangers, in much of their work, which requires focused attention to the task at hand.

  13. JohnnieCanuck says

    That reminds me. There’s a bathtub drain upstairs that’s been getting slower and slower. Hair.
    Long beautiful hair
    Shining, gleaming,
    Steaming, flaxen, waxen
    Covered in slimy gray soap residue.
    No doubt.

  14. Dick the Damned says

    Yeah, Chigau, kinda tricky without opposable thumbs. Must’ve used her mouth, i guess.

  15. unclefrogy says

    I would also add that being 20 feet up a ladder is also a time and place where a wondering mind is not an advantage but there are still much time where the tasks are simpler and safer.
    It might be just me though the ability to focus on a single thing at a time has always been a challenge so having a physical task to do lets the mind do other things.
    which is very different from audio engineering for live performance which leaves no time at all as there are already too many things going on to catch them all perfectly. all very different from a security guard as illustrated by dillbert

    uncle frogy

  16. No One says

    Cats are totally different creatures when out of sight of humans. They walk on two legs, HAVE opposable thumbs, and speak all languages. Don’t try holding a mirror around the corner to try and catch them in the act … they are on to that. The only time they fall out of kitty character while in plain sight, is if you take hallucinogens. That way they have deniability.

  17. chigau (違う) says

    No One
    Cats can also teleport.
    Have you ever been alone in the kitchen and opened a can of … anything?
    or even just taken the can-opener out of the drawer?
    What is suddenly at your feet?

  18. redwood says

    Hmm, change one letter and that cartoon isn’t “plumbing the depths” but “plumbing the deaths.” Okay, I’ll leave now . . .

  19. unclefrogy says

    No One, I had a friend who “owned” a cat the he called Nothing and I swear I came in one night late and he said called me by name and said Hi it took me by surprise at first as because of the shape of his mouth he had a speech impediment in english. I swear I was not under the influence of anything at the time
    uncle frogy

  20. machintelligence says

    For plumbing nightmares, you haven’t seen anything until some 3 year old has flushed a quarter of a cucumber down the toilet.

  21. sundiver says

    If you have to ask what an obstructed pipe has to do with the Grand Scheme Of the Universe, you’ll never know. Seriously though, you haven’t experienced a plumbing nightmare until you’ve had to deal with a toilet that has had a pager flushed down it followed by a tampon, in an inner city hospital women’s restroom.