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January 14, 2013 9:53 AM   Subscribe


 
I thought about asking approximately how many toddlers he could take in a fight but then I remembered he already goes up against 535 of them on a regular basis.
posted by elizardbits at 10:00 AM on January 14, 2013 [95 favorites]


Would you rather overthink 100 bean-sized plates or one plate-sized bean?
posted by notme at 10:02 AM on January 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


That's a surprisingly thorough and well-done analysis. Could have done without the descent into political commentary at the end though.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:08 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we're thinking this through wrong.

The real question is: How many duck-sized horses could take down the number of five year olds that could take down the President?

Figure that out, get a couple extra duck-sized horses as backup and hey presto, the President is now safe from preschoolers. Get on it, genetic engineers!
posted by ardgedee at 10:12 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


With a licensed firearm, he shouldn't have a problem with either.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:17 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You, sir, have clearly never played Duck Hunt.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


anates et equos aut panem et circenses?
posted by boo_radley at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Duck-sized horses.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone started a White House Petition on this yet?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:21 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wouldn't a horse-size duck's legs crumple under its significantly more massive bulk? Equally, Wouldn't the lil' horses quickly develop hypothermia?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:23 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


A tiny horse is basically a dog.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:24 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although I think it would be remarkably satisfying to drop-kick some belligerent duck-sized horses, I'm going to have to go with single opponent here.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:25 AM on January 14, 2013


2bucksplus: a tiny vegetarian dog with no sharp teeth.
posted by leotrotsky at 10:26 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is actually an interesting question.

So, if everything works correctly as scaled, I'd have to say I'd go for the 100 duck-sized horses. They won't be able to attack you all at once, and you can kick them away. They won't really have a meaningful attack (neither their kick nor their bite will work well for a small animal). Basically, just don't get knocked down. On the other hand, anything horse-sized is dangerous due to mass alone. A horse-sized duck won't have to bite you - it can seriously injure you just by falling on you or swinging its head into your body.

On the other hand, if things scale as if you'd expect from biology, take the horse-sized duck. Duck-sized horses seem reasonably possible; there are lots of mammals of that size already, so scaling horses down to that size seems like it might actually work. On the other hand, a duck scaled up to horse size is going to have huge problems. Those hollow bones are just not going to hold up something that size, and it won't be able to fly. You could probably push it over and have it die in a pile of broken bones and failure.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:27 AM on January 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


My point being, no one wants to see the president beat 100 dogs.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:29 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


A giant duck would bite the crap out of him, literally if it got its beak around his middle. Some knee-high shit-kickers to shield the shins from itty bitty hooves and tiny blunt teeth, and he can stomp his way to victory.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:29 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know the origin of this question? Because this is not the first time I have seen this theoretical battle established.
posted by TheFlamingoKing at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2013


Given my understanding of weight distribution, a horse-sized duck (if ever to exist) would collapse under it own weight due to having inadequate legs.

Then after putting it out of its misery I'd have to most delicious roast duck meal ever. And what I could do with all of that duck fat!
posted by magstheaxe at 10:36 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem with 100 duck-sized anythings is that being swarmed by 100 small creatures is fucking terrifying, no matter what they are. I have been stampeded by about 2 dozen fat waddly appallingly fucking adorable puppies and even then I had a brief moment of pure and paralyzing terror that I assume is genetically hardwired into all humans.

then i fell down and they gave me puppy kisses
posted by elizardbits at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


Does anyone know the origin of this question? Because this is not the first time I have seen this theoretical battle established.

Somewhere on Reddit but I can't pinpoint the first known occurrence.
posted by sourwookie at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2013


Clearly you have to pick the duck-sized horse. The risk/rewards are totally skewed.

Who wants to live on as the guy who massacred 100 duck-sized horses? You'd be a monster.

And if you manage to kill the horse-sized duck that would be delicious.
posted by mullacc at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


You could probably push it over and have it die in a pile of broken bones and failure.

Ahahahahah. This was great.
posted by resurrexit at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2013


Does anyone know the origin of this question? Because this is not the first time I have seen this theoretical battle established.

It's a running meme on the Ask Me Anything subreddit. Pretty much anyone who does an AMA gets asked this question. I'm guessing it grew out of the parameters of the group, which, obviously, are "ask me anything". As such, this was a question the President got asked when he did his AMA.
posted by dry white toast at 10:41 AM on January 14, 2013


With such a huge body, the problem of surface area to body volume comes into play. The terror-ducktyl would have a problem losing heat. Hence, a possible tactic would be to get it running around chasing me and it might overheat, stroke out, and die.

Clearly, people are ruining a perfectly good question by applying logic to it! And science! This is practically unamerican these days....

then i fell down and they gave me puppy kisses

Those weren't kisses! They were tasting you!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:44 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Atlantic should have talked to my friend, ornithologist Mike Dickinson, who has this to say. (Yes, he's the guy who wrote What If Anything Is Big Bird).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Is the fight on land or in the water?

If in water, I definitely fight the horses. Because, in water you're basically fighting a swimming dinosaur (Deinonychus is about that size), and I don't see that going to well for a single human.
posted by oddman at 10:45 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ducks are evil. A giant duck would be giant evil. Getting rid of it should be the main focus, no matter which you'd 'rather' do. That's the job. If preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States doesn't cover giant water fowl execution, then I don't want to live here anymore.

Politically, it would be the equivalent of killing Osama bin Laden. Probably harder than you might think (but easier to do than the real work that caused the giant duck in the first place, like cleaning up your toxic waste), but if you're president, relatively easy and a lot more likely to get somebody chanting "USA! USA!" than the other tiny massacre option.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:46 AM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Smaller than duck-sized horse (SLYT)
posted by aeshnid at 10:49 AM on January 14, 2013


If he killed the horse-sized duck, Fox News would claim that George W. Bush should be given the credit.
posted by Roentgen at 10:50 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The political commentary is what did it for me - what's a question to the President without the influence of special interest groups. If the President ignores the powerful ODSH or the OHSD lobby, you can be sure he won't get elected to a 3rd term (22nd notwithstanding).
posted by fragmede at 10:53 AM on January 14, 2013


Considering how hard fought these budget battles are becoming, Obama's gonna be fighting 100 horse-sized ducks for the next four years.
posted by three blind mice at 10:54 AM on January 14, 2013



A tiny horse is basically a dog.

Mistatim
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:02 AM on January 14, 2013


Now would he rather fight one horse-sized AR-15 or 100 AR-15-sized trillion dollar coins?
posted by item at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2013


Those hollow bones are just not going to hold up something that size, and it won't be able to fly. You could probably push it over and have it die in a pile of broken bones and failure.

What if they fought on Mars or the Moon? You'd be in it deep, then - mass is the same, it's just that the giant duck now has the benefit of gravity working with it, not against it, to flatten you with its mighty wings and terrible duck-bill.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:11 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The bill of a duck is adapted for picking and sieving. It has ridges called lamella - regular teeth like edges on its mandibles. Nothing to really worry about for a regular-sized duck. But scaled up 400 fold (2.5 pounds to 1000), those 0.02 inch long lamella would be 8 inch long crusher blades with 50-70 of these arranged along the edge.

That's now how you scale measurements. Weight is proportional to volume, which goes up with the cube of a linear measurement. A cube 1 foot on each side = one cubic foot, but a cube 2 feet on each side = 8 cubic feet. So the duck would weigh 400 times as much, but its tooth length (a linear measurement) would be 7.4 times longer (that's the cube root of 400). So those 0.02 inch lamella are now a fearsome... 0.148 inch. A little over an eighth of an inch, not eight inches.

I'd still probably prefer the horses.
posted by echo target at 11:11 AM on January 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I doubt reddit originated this, as that would make it the first thing ever originated wholly on reddit.

Nevertheless, definitely fight the giant duck. Ducks arent that tough. I aint scared of you, giant duck.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:16 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, if everything works correctly as scaled, I'd have to say I'd go for the 100 duck-sized horses. They won't be able to attack you all at once

All they'd have to do is Voltron.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:19 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Agreed, Obama fighting a horse-sized duck on Mars is a far more realistic scenario. Would the Mars-duck be adapted to a Martian atmosphere or would it need to wear a giant bubble helmet? That would render its beak useless, a serious disadvantage.

A giant swan would be a different story. I wouldn't even want to fight a regular sized swan. Those things are evil.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]




The Atlantic should have talked to my friend, ornithologist Mike Dickinson, who has this to say.

He is wrong, because the question asks about a horse-sized duck, not a Gastornis. At that point, you might as well say that Utahraptor is related to ducks and so counts as a half-ton duck.

Only a horse-sized duck is a duck.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:23 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nevertheless, definitely fight the giant duck. Ducks arent that tough. I aint scared of you, giant duck.

You should be, when you gaze too long into the giant duck, the giant duck gazes also into you. Battle not with the giant duck, lest ye become a giant duck. QVACK!
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:24 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Atlantic article fails to assume the most important caveat: the combat is hand-to-hand (or hand-to-hoof or hand-to-wing); the President doesn't get to choose a hellfire missile.
posted by Think_Long at 11:29 AM on January 14, 2013


Nightmare fuel: the cube-square law jokes we've all been making are wrong wrong wrong. According to the link there actually was a horse sized bird. Behold Dromornis stirtoni, three meters tall. Some of the Dromornithids only went extinct 20 000 years ago. It is not quite impossible that human beings encountered a horse sized bird.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:32 AM on January 14, 2013


...and also a horse the size of a terrier, Eohippus. Given that it also is extinct, it's safe to say that Obama could win either encounter.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Behold Dromornis stirtoni, three meters tall.

I didn't even have to fucking click to know that this monstrous beast was native to AUSTRALIA.

I bet the spiders rode them into battle.
posted by elizardbits at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


If the duck is the size of a horse, how long is the parasitic worm that fills up its innards?

No, I will never let you forget that video.
posted by Think_Long at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2013


Now that I think about it, Bush II was always seeking one big war against the Hitler du jour while Obama quietly drone-bombs purported terror cells in a hundred countries around the world. Bush was a duck man, Obama fights tiny horses.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's long been a meme.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Obama would whisper the tiny horses into adorable amiability and the sale therefrom would retire the national debt. I've seen him with toddlers and have NO doubt of his uncanny power.
posted by cookie-k at 11:42 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


isn't a horse-sized duck basically an ostrich? and i, for one, would not fuck with an ostrich.
posted by Mach5 at 11:46 AM on January 14, 2013


wait which one has the crossbow?
posted by The Whelk at 11:48 AM on January 14, 2013


I think the worst part of fighting the horse-sized duck would be knowing what the horse-sized duck would do to your broken corpse after it defeated you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:49 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Could have done without the descent into political commentary at the end though.

It even goes a weird way. I would have though the political consideration for Obama would be the PR results: it would look terrible to be filmed/photographed stomping on tiny horses. That's just not going to play well. Battling a clearly threatening foe like an enormous duck looks a lot better.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2013


This sounds like an evolution of the old Grudge Match, A Rottweiler vs. A Rottweiler's weight in Chihuahuas.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 AM on January 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Uh, yeah.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:55 AM on January 14, 2013


So we got that clears up. We still need to know if he's ever seen a ghost.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:01 PM on January 14, 2013


Does anyone know the origin of this question?

Someone's six year old boy.

seriously.
posted by edgeways at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2013


I think that simply enlarging a duck would give us a pitiful creature with multiple broken bones on the edge of cardiac failure.

But if we're going to magically change the definition of "duck" to include prehistoric moa-like birds, I think Obama should be fully unchained as well, with his disarming smile, power legs, and most powerfully, the magic words "please continue."
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:13 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't believe we're even having a discussion of this depth without some serious talk about shin trauma. If you've got a loaf of stale bread, you've disarmed the horse-sized duck. Whereas you'll only realize your error in picking a fight with the hundred duck-sized horses as you go down, clutching your fibula in agony, at which point your exposed temple sits at an elevation so perfectly described as duck-sized-horse-hoof-level that it may as well have a little bullseye drawn on it.

As the light fades from your eyes, I hope you'll remember how casually ignorant you were about critical shin trauma.
posted by gompa at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


isn't a horse-sized duck basically an ostrich?

Isn't a bat the big bug scourge of the skies?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:22 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would like to see Obama flip the bird.
posted by srboisvert at 12:28 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And what I could do with all of that duck fat!

I'm not sure what you'd do, but I'd make me some french fries.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2013


The point really isn't the final answer but what the person being asked reveals or doesn't reveal about himself. It's probably an even worse litmus test than one of those similar job interview questions, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2013


All I know is that the fight song from Star Trek is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

And that always makes things weird.
posted by MrVisible at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would have been really foolish for Obama to talk about anything that could be construed as cruelty to animals during the lead-up to the election.

People in the Middle East and Central Asia, on the other hand...
posted by dunkadunc at 12:36 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway, the only correct answer is "a horse-sized duck" because either way you would die, but chances are the big duck would be able to finish you off in one blow, rather than taking a few minutes to finally succumb to the tiny horses trampling and chomping.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2013


That ornithologist linked above totally mmisread the question and gives an analysis based on a flawed premise. The question was about a horse-sized duck, not a duck with the mass of a horse. Ducks are way less dense than horses. I bet a horse-sized duck would weigh more like 100kg than 500kg. Also, he makes a big deal out of allometry but I think most people are not envisioning some horse-sized duck descendant but rather an actual duck scaled up via "magic" to the size of a horse.

In which case yeah, it would probably just collapse and die.
posted by Scientist at 12:42 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would choose to fight the horses. But I would use non-lethal methods and aim for capture. They could live in the back yard while I tame them and recruit some baby chicks to form the cutest cavalry unit ever.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, a duck scaled up to horse size is going to have huge problems.

How about moas? They got pretty f'in big!
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2013


You, sir, have clearly never played Duck Hunt.

Is that the version where you shoot your lawyer "friend" in the face and instead of laughing at you they apologise for getting in your way?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:51 PM on January 14, 2013


Cows would be worse.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:56 PM on January 14, 2013


Also, he makes a big deal out of allometry but I think most people are not envisioning some horse-sized duck descendant but rather an actual duck scaled up via "magic" to the size of a horse.

In which case yeah, it would probably just collapse and die.


Your spells suck. If I'm using magic, I'm using a spell that accounts for the physics issues and creates a fully functional horse-sized duck.

Well, no, actually I wouldn't. I'd use a spell that creates a horse-sized duck confit, a cask of Macallan 18, a comfy couch, buckets of gold, superpowers, and awesome robot servants. Cause using magic to create horse-sized ducks would just be a stupid use of magic.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:57 PM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ehrmahgerd, Metafilter has turned into Reddit. Though comments like this are better than the variety in the Reddit discussions when this comes up:

Obama would whisper the tiny horses into adorable amiability and the sale therefrom would retire the national debt. I've seen him with toddlers and have NO doubt of his uncanny power.

Heh.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2013


But would Obama choose Centaur with a crossbow or Minotaur with a trident?
posted by Navelgazer at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2013


I believe you are all thinking of the great Who Would Win debate:
A Rottweiler
vs.
A Rottweiler's weight in Chihuahuas
from www.grudge-match.com
posted by wenestvedt at 1:36 PM on January 14, 2013


Damn you, Chocolate Pickle! *shakes tiny fist*
posted by wenestvedt at 1:38 PM on January 14, 2013


Who Would Win?

A Chocolate Pickle
vs.
A Pickle's weight in chocolate
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2013


A Chocolate Pickle
vs.
A Pickle's weight in chocolate


I'm certain an experienced chocolatier could turn this battle into a win-win fight for all of us.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:09 PM on January 14, 2013


I see I missed Chocolate Pickle's prior reference too, although in my defense, it was easy to overlook when scanning the thread for pre-jokes.
posted by JHarris at 2:16 PM on January 14, 2013


I would like to see Obama flip the bird.
posted by srboisvert at 12:28 PM on January 14


Here you go.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:22 PM on January 14, 2013


Agreed, Obama fighting a horse-sized duck on Mars is a far more realistic scenario.

Whoa, deja vu.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:29 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I received a weird and hateful email regarding my tossed-off (and admittedly unfunny) comment upthread about a hundred AR-15-sized trillion dollar coins and a single horse-sized AR-15. Since the message writer obviously went through the minor trouble of protecting his/hers/its anonymity and since my email address is only viewable by logged-in members, all I can say at this point is congratulations. Your ugly screed has made me realize the errors of my ways, whatever you think those ways were. I will not only subscribe to your newsletter, but I will from here on out donate the majority of my earnings to whatever you believe your cause to be. You know how to reach me, of course - my email's in my profile.
posted by item at 2:54 PM on January 14, 2013


Ducks are really really small. They look big, but they're mostly feathers. A duck-sized horse, provided we're assuming one of the largest species of duck, would maybe be the size of a small cat, but maybe even smaller - chihuahua-sized seems about right. The horse's flat herbivore teeth would be useless as weapons, as would their hooves, which would also make them slower, if their feet are proportionally the same size - because the feet would be way too small to give them much push or traction. So, provided that all the President has to do to "win" is not get injured/killed, he could just stay out of their way until the game was over. Then he harms no animals, pissing no animal-rights groups off, and can pardon them all when the game is over.

A horse-sized duck, though, could use its beak, closed as a battering ram - a typical horse weighs about a ton. Just swinging its next and smacking The President would be enough to seriously injure of incapacitate him, game over.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:03 PM on January 14, 2013


My MMORPG experience tells me to go for the 100-pony swarm. They're always the precursor to the big boss, which I could never take on alone.

But this is why I'm a healer and and not a president.

Among other reasons.

(mainly that big bosses scare me)
posted by iamkimiam at 3:41 PM on January 14, 2013


Would you rather fight a horse or 100 ducks? The horse would kill you in half a second. Obviously, you would stand a better chance against 100 duck sized animals of any type.
posted by delmoi at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2013


Wait a minute. Do the tiny horses have metal horseshoes or are they bare-hooved?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:30 PM on January 14, 2013


Would you rather fight a horse or 100 ducks? The horse would kill you in half a second. Obviously, you would stand a better chance against 100 duck sized animals of any type.

If you do a run, crouch, double-jump move, you can land on the horse's back and ride it around the arena trampling all the ducks. At 10 points a duck, that gives you enough to bribe the gatekeeper to let you ride out of the arena on the horse. Once you're out of the arena, you can spin around and the horse will kick the gatekeeper in the head and you can get all of your points back, plus the gatekeeper's skeleton key, which you'll need later when you have to face off against the grizzly bear armed with only a 7-inch blade and a pancake. SPOILER [Mush the pancake into a dough ball, then insert the key and toss to the grizzly, who will choke on the improvised gorge. I know, it's not at all realistic - the key is too small, and besides, everybody knows grizzlies won't eat pancakes without genuine maple syrup, but hey, I didn't invent the game.]
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:37 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the horses get you on the ground, you're history.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:59 PM on January 14, 2013


I think I've been very good in that I haven't yet said that Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash could kick Obama's ass all by themselves.
posted by JHarris at 5:05 PM on January 14, 2013


It's high time that the internet realizes you're fucked either way.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:06 PM on January 14, 2013


Cause using magic to create horse-sized ducks would just be a stupid use of magic.

Except the Laws of Magic clearly state that "should you ever say or read your name backwards, all your magical servants become horse-sized ducks."

It's in the Laws, nosredneh ecnerolf gniniar s'ti!

OK, then, horse-sized ducks for everyone!
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2013


IRFH, I would play the shit outta that game.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2013


Ducks are unsettlingly aggressive.

Geese are bastards.

Swans are absolutely terrifying motherfuckers.

If there's one thing I know about the Anatidae, it's that the bigger they are, the more terrifying and malevolent they are. No power on Earth could convince me to go up against a horse-sized duck; certainly I wouldn't do it just to avoid a run in with a field full of adorable tiny herbivores.
posted by moss at 6:20 PM on January 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


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