What’s the best analogy you’ve heard to explain something complicated?

  1. One day I told my boss I thought automating a tax calculation in Excel wasn’t a good idea because people would eventually forget how to calculate it manually. Without missing a beat he replied “Well, I don’t know how to crank-start my car either. Sometimes it’s just time to simplify a process.”

    Edit: Just a bit of clarification. This was a formula to automatically calculate gross rental tax on certain leases in FL and CA.

  2. In a situation where whatever you do it is going to hurt you we say “it is like you have a saw stuck in your ass”. It is true that if you push or pull it is going to hurt you, but there is no point in pushing, so you have to do the right thing and pull (it is something we say in Persian).

  3. Open Source development is like building lego castles with a small child:

    We like building castles together. I’m experienced at wall building, so I go fast, and the child works on small pieces, and puts them on my larger wall at intervals. I tweak his contribution slightly to maintain structural integrity, and we continue. His lack of experience and ability isn’t a barrier to his participation.

  4. Your hard drive is your filing cabinet of storage. Paper goes in vertical so it can fit a lot.

    Your ram is like your office desk, where you take paper out of the hard drive and lay it flat on your desk. The bigger the ram, the more papers you can take out and lay across your desk and work on at one time.

    I might be completely off, but it was explained to me this way one time and I never questioned it.

  5. On why restarting a computer generally fixes software issues:

    Imagine a computer is like a game of chess. Every piece and the moves they make are like processes (programs) in a computer, and the calculations they do.

    Now imagine you’ve been playing a very long game of chess, and you’re coming up on the end. Suddenly, you realize that both of your bishops are on white. You don’t know how or when it happened, but you know that it’s wrong. You know they were in the right places when you started the game, but somewhere along the way a mistake was made and suddenly the game is wrong. At this point, you can try to continue the game, but the game won’t play out properly anymore. You could try to go back through the moves, but you don’t know when it happened or what mistake was made, so you have no guarantee you’ll be able to fix it even if you retraced the moves.

    At this point, the only option to fix the game is to start over. Restart the system and begin from a correct setup, and hope you don’t make the same mistake again this time.

    And that is why restarting your computer will fix most issues.

  6. I always liked this one about religions being a movie series:

    The Torah(or Old Testament) is like the first movie, the New Testament is the second movie, and the Qu’ran is the third. The Qu’ran basically retcons the second movie like it never happened – Jesus exists, but he’s not the main character anymore, and the messiah hasn’t shown up yet.

    Jews only watched the first movie, but ignored all of the sequels. Christians watched the first two movies, but think that the third movie should be ignored. Muslims think the third movie was the best. Mormons liked the second movie so much that they started writing fanfiction that doesn’t fit with ANY of the series canon.

  7. A friend of mine has OCD pretty bad. Well, one day I asked him
    >Why don’t you just not go through with your ticks? You know nothing bad will happen.

    So he says
    >I see where you’re coming from, but let me show you something.

    So he grabs a sheet of paper, and tells me to write the name of my parents and any siblings I may have. I write down the name of my mom, my dad, and my little brother. Then, he tells me to flip the paper over, and write out entirely:
    >I want these people to die.

    I told him no, I didn’t want to do that. He asked me why I didn’t want to, of course nothing bad will happen.

    I immediately got the point he was trying to make. Yeah, I knew nothing bad was going to happen, but did I want to jinx it? No.

  8. Arguing with an idiot is like playing chess with a pigeon. It will shit all over the board and strut around as if it won.

  9. Oldie but a goodie:

    An essay should be like a miniskirt. Long enough to cover the important bits, but short enough to keep it interesting.

  10. An analogy is like a thought dressed up like another thought.

  11. The Laws of Thermodynamics in 10 words:

    You can’t win

    Can’t even break even

    You must play

  12. To say “we only use 10% of our brain’s capacity” would be the same as saying “we only use 33.3% of a stoplight’s capability”.

    We use 100% of our brain’s capacity, just not at once. If you used 100% at once, you would have seizure.

  13. Particle Accelerators that are trying to find more sub atomic particles.

    Imagine you want to know how a clock works, but you don’t have the required tools to open it. So as an alternative, you blow it up, and watch all the parts fly past, and then reverse engineer the clock.

  14. You are not required to light yourself on fire to keep others warm.

    Edit: Alternatively, the memes are always dankest just before the dawn.