Dear Reader (including those of you who might get a literal Get Out of Jail Free card from Bill de Blasio),
When World War II was just gearing up, the British were ill-prepared. They couldn’t just wait for factories—at home or in America—to start churning out the arsenal of democracy. They had to get ready with whatever was on hand. To that end, they de-mothballed some light field artillery last used during the Boer War and assembled the five-man crew required to fire it. But when they drilled with the equipment there was something not quite right. According to procedure, three seconds before discharging the weapon, two of the men would stand at attention off to the side and hold position until after the shot was fired. No one knew why they did that. Ultimately, they had to call in an old retired artillery officer.
He watched the exercise for a while, and then a spark of an old memory struck and he recognized what they were doing: “I have it. They are holding the horses.”
They could tell the choreography didn’t make sense, but (like Chesterton’s fence) they couldn’t quite figure out why it was required.