The Special Category

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An optional explanation about the anagram in green, the subject is in black, the anagram is in red.



Keep this philosophy in mind every time you hear, or are thinking of spreading, a rumour.

Back in ancient Greece in 420BC, Socrates had become widely known and lauded for his wisdom.

One day the acclaimed philosopher chanced upon a favoured acquaintance, who dashed up to him excitedly and announced, "Hey, Socrates! Do you know what I've heard about one of your students...?"

"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Now, before you tell me, I would like you to take a small test. It is called the Test of Three."

"The Test of Three?"

"That's right," Socrates replied. "Before talking of my student let us take a moment to test what you're going to say. The first test is: Truth. Have you made sure that what you're going to tell me is true?"

"No," the man replied, "in fact, I have only just heard about it myself."

"Right then," added Socrates. "So you don't really know if it is even true. And now let us try the second test: the Test of Goodness. Is what you're intending to tell me about my student something good?"

"No, on the contrary..."

"Right," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you don't know for certain if it's true?

The man looked down awkwardly at his feet, and it was obvious he was now growing decidedly embarrassed.

The wise Socrates continued: "You may still pass though because there is a third and final test, named the Filter of Usefulness. Now, is what you wish to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?"

"Er, I think, probably not..."

"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to relate is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, then why even tell me at all?"

The man was now deflated and ashamed, and he decided that he'd say no more.

And this is why Socrates was a great philosopher and why he was held in such high esteem.

It also explains why Socrates never found out that Plato was banging his wife.


Dear Son,

I am writing slowly because I know you can't read too fast.

We do not live where we did when you left home. Your Dad read that most accidents happen within 20 miles of your home, so we moved. I can't send you the exact address, as those snooty folk that lived here last took the house numbers when they left so they wouldn't need to change their address.

This place is really nice though. It's actually got a washing machine! I'm not sure that it works too well though. Last week I put a load in, pulled the chain, and haven't seen it since.

The weather's not too bad here. It only rained twice last week. The first time it rained for three days and the second time for four days.

The coat I said I'd send you, your Uncle George said it would be a little too heavy to send by mail with those metal buttons on, so I cut them off and put them in the pockets.

We got another cross letter from the funeral people today. They said if we can't settle the last payment on Gran's grave, up she comes.

John locked his keys in the car yesterday. We were quite worried because it took him two hours to get me and Oona out.

Your sister Sal had a baby this morning but I haven't actually found out the sex yet, so I don't know if you are an aunt or an uncle. If it's a girl Sal is going to name it after me and call her Ma.

Your Uncle Stan fell into a whisky vat last Thursday. Some guys tried to pull him out but he fought them off and drowned. We had Stan cremated and he burned for 4 days.

Three of your friends went off a bridge in a pick-up truck. Gus was driving. He managed to roll down the window and get out, but your two friends in the back drowned because they could not get the tailgate open.

There's no more news at this time, son. Nothing much has happened.


P.S. Oh, I was going to send you some money but the envelope was already sealed.