In the darkest days of the Reign of Terror, three aristos were pushed off a tumbril for their turn with Madame Guillotine. The first was a priest, who turned to the crowd and said, 'I am innocent and have nothing to fear. I await the will of God.' He was laid out face down and the lever thrown, but the blade did not fall. The crowd cheered and shouted, 'A miracle! A miracle! Release the priest!' Accordingly he walked away a free man.
The next man was a lawyer, who delivered an impassioned summary of his respect for the law, then finished by shouting, 'Let true justice be done!' laid himself down to await death. Again the lever was thrown and again the blade didn't fall. And again the crowd demanded his release on the grounds that he was truly a just man. The lawyer walked free.
The third victim was an engineer. He said nothing but walked over to the guillotine and started looking at the mechanism. The executioner snapped, 'Stop wasting our time. You are neither a man of God nor a seeker of justice. Nothing will save you.' The engineer replied, 'Very well, but I wish to face upwards, that I may see the blade.'
The crowd was amazed. 'Such courage. Such resolve! I would never have thought it possible!' they said among themselves. As the executioner reached for the lever, the engineer, who had been looking steadily upward, said, 'Hold on just a minute--I think I see your problem.'