An e-mail to Jerry Weinberg, Paul Coyle and others who may contemplate systems from time to time

By Dwayne Phillips

14 November 2006

On page 152 of "Rethinking Systems Analysis and
Design," Paul Coyle states, "Try telling the fire brigade that your
orange is on fire." This statement is part of a passage about trying to
find words that rhyme with "orange" and "chimney." Mr.
Coyle encourages that "there exists an individual who pronounces ‘orange’
as ‘chimney.’ "(See the Reference section for more from the book.)

Well, of course I will find another culture where
‘orange’ is pronounced as ‘chimney’ and vice versa. I am confident of this
seemingly odd culture because I know that my "orange is on fire."

Try this experiment. Hold a piece of orange peel
between your thumb and pointer finger. Gently squeeze the orange peel and
notice how some liquid squirts from it. That juice must be water(?).

Now try this experiment next to an open flame. Ask
someone to hold a match next to the orange peel as you squirt liquid from it.
Another method is to squirt this liquid into the flame of a lit candle.

Aha! The liquid is inflammable, i.e. it burns. The
liquid causes the nearby flame to grow for the moment that the liquid passes
through the flame. This liquid isn’t water, but some type of oil, sugar, or
alcohol (or all three) that burns.

Truly, my orange is on fire.

I have observed a few other non-sensical "my
blank is on fire" cases. One I read several years ago in Field and Stream
magazine on one of those "little tips" pages. It was a note to help
people survive who find themselves

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