Not so fast Murphy!
You don’t need Zorro-like precision to slice off an ear with Surgical Precision.
You just need luck or chance to take effect.
Take me for example: I have never handled or used a Foil, Sabre, or Épée. Place me one metre away from a person my height, and let me have a shot at slicing off their left ear (I am right-handed).
What do you suppose are the chances that I miss the ear and head completely, way off to my right? Say about 50%.
What do you suppose are the chances that I miss the ear but am way off to my left (so that I leave a nasty vertical scare on the human’s face)? Say about 50%.
What do you suppose are the chances that I slice the ear off cleanly down the side of the head, as clean as, or cleaner than the drawings recently uncovered, the doctor’s sketches? Say about 0%.
So far so good.
Now, assuming that I am not suffering from a terminal aversion to disfiguring another human being, give me, say, 10,000 shots at this, and my strokes would fall along a Bell-Curve. Of those 10,000 shots just less than a half would scar the human, just less than a half would make a whooshing sound through the air, and one, or possibly two, would slice off the ear with surgical precision.
My chance of slicing off the ear with surgical precision would then be calculated as 2 out of 10,000 or 0.01%.
I need Zorro-like precision (like an Olympic competitor) only if I am given just one shot at slicing off the ear.
So given two artists, one willing to take the chance of having his ear sliced off (or even hoping to get his ear sliced off) and another willing to give it one shot, it is quite possible (although improbable) that the swordsman could slice off the ear with surgical precision.
Of course, on his first attempt, the swordsman, if nervous, might have missed all together.
Van Gogh (who, let us assume, wants to make a statement by having his ear sliced off) says “Chris! Take another slug of Absinthe and try again), which I do. Another miss. This continues for a while until mirable dictu I get lucky, and my first contact does the surgical job.
Suppose I succeeded on my twentieth attempt, then the odds shift from 2 in 10,000 to 20 in 10,000, or about 0.1%.
Of course, on his first contact, the swordsman, if nervous, might have missed collecting all the ear but sliced off just the lobe.
Van Gogh (who, let us assume, wants to make a statement by having ALL of his ear sliced off) says “Chris! Take another slug of absinthe and try again), which I do. Another fragment drops to the floor. This continues for a while until by a succession of misses and closer shaves (to coin a phrase), I manage to slice off the remaining razor-thin chunk of flesh, completing the surgical job.
At this point, perhaps my 200th attempt, then the odds have shifted from 2 in 10,000 to 200 in 10,000, or about 1.0%.
It’s all a matter of Probability and Statistics.
Construction Sites – Yonge and Alexander streets
Our fifth construction site, marked with a purple blob, is on the south east corner of Yonge street and Alexander street.
The traditional buildings were knocked down about six months ago, the site was bulldozed flat (and rolled, too, I recall) and Excavation is in progress. Can the Tower Cranes be far behind?
Here is a photo looking towards the site from the north-west corner. The Big Yellow Thing is a Pile-Driver-that-isn’t; it drives an auger about one metre in diameter and screws out the clay until bedrock is reached, at which point a steel mould is used to form the concrete piers.
A Blue Mobile Crane has been put there to keep Yellow Thing company until the tower cranes arrive.
The Marriot Courtyard is visible a block to the south. It was an information session for its demolition and reconstruction that gave me the idea to build this set of pages.