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SAP

Damn.

Excellent post, Mr. Mannion.

Ken Muldrew

"These people are incapable of differentiating between ... thinking about a thing and the thing."

Some people are really put off by self-referential statements that lead to paradox (e.g. "I am lying"). The easiest way to avoid such statements is to simply assert that self-reference is forbidden. This is not to say that they don't have an internal model of themselves; quite the contrary in fact, the model is the self. This prohibits infinite regress by disallowing a conversation to ever develop between the person and the mental representation of the person. Thus there is just the thing (though it's not a real thing) and thinking about the thing doesn't happen. At the other end of the spectrum are people who are insatiably curious about self-reference. When they look in the mirror, they don't look at the physical characteristics as if they were looking at a painting, they look straight into their eyes and, much like turning a video camera toward the screen where its image is being projected, try to peer down that endless corridor.

It's not just authoritarian-loving wingnuts who don't like self-reference, though. Bertrand Russell laboured mightily to remove self-reference from set theory. But this was to put mathematics on a foundation that did not admit paradox, so that mathematical truth would remain true for all time. It may be that an abhorence of self-reference in logic is quite different from avoiding self-reference with respect to oneself. Russell appears to me to have been highly introspective in his humanist writings.

I've bookmarked Bob Altemeyer's online book about authoritarians,

http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf

but I haven't read it yet. I wonder if this avoidance of personal self-reference is a defining feature of these people. It could explain a lot. One could liken them to the kind of computer programmer who cannot stand the thought of self-modifying code. After all, a computer program obviously needs a strong, authoritarian programmer to decide what it should be doing, and to hunt down any bugs that might keep the program from its appointed task should some noisy external influence show up in the program's environment. And who knows where a program might go once it gets started, if it can modify it's own program? Obviously it will turn itself into gibberish, so what a complete waste of time to allow such frivolity! At the other end of the spectrum are programmers who are immensely curious about what will happen when a program begins modifying its own code. These two types of programmers are worlds apart, but asymmetrically so. The "authoritarian" programmers do not even recognize the recursivists as even being programmers (and after all, if the programs are doing the programming, who can blame them ;-) ?), while the recursivists see the authoritarians as simply focussed on a subset of programming (they wouldn't dream of denying the validity of that focus).

One could get a lot of mileage out of this... (but be careful, recursion can make your head hurt if you're not careful).

Campaspe

The one I am trying to figure out now in the odd free moment is the antipathy toward "The Kite Runner," a movie about the horrors visited upon Afghanistan by the Taliban and how some characters eventually find refuge in America. Ah yes, the folks at Libertas are working to free Hollywood from the straitjacket of ideology--that is why they are openly rooting for the movie to tank on the grounds, one can only conclude, that it was made by liberals and contains the occasional nice Muslim.

Ken Houghton

Things I learned from the NY Post in the past few days:

(1) It's not that Randi Rhodes was mugged; she "fell."

(2) The Dems failed to "KO" the S-Chip veto (fairness note: the article admits that the bill had "bipartisan support"), and

(3) The attack on Ms. Bhutto yesterday was by Al Qaeda, because she opposes Muslim terrorists and wants to help in the search for ObL.

Consider carefully that last, and you will understand why The Kite Runner is objectionable; it does not allow you to Objectify the Enemy.

Karen

Love the post, Lance, and think you're on to something quie true about the Right and its perception that typing is the same as fighting.

But, for what it's worth, Jolie's physical appearance has given me the creeps since she first burst on to the scene. I can't help it. I get why people think she's the hottest thing on two legs, but I literally can't look at her without getting squicked.

Tho' Donald Trump, like the Law, IS a Ass.

Neil

Though I'm a fan of Ms. Jolie I wished, after viewing the film, that the film used instead someone like the excellent British actor, Sophie Okonedo, in the lead role. The politics wich ruined the film weren't the politics of the film's subject matter.

rw

Thank you for the outstanding post. I've been reading your blog for quite awhile now, and it's time that I thanked you for your excellent work. Please keep it up and know that there are numerous lurkers, like myself, who appreciate your work. Well done sir!

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