You’ve probably heard of Epimenides’ Paradox. Epimenides was a Cretan, and the paradox that bears his name goes like so :

“All Cretans are liars.”

Of course, if the statement is true, then Epimenides is a liar, and thus the statement is false. If it’s false…well you can see where that one’s going. The same paradox is manifest if you say “I am lying” or “This statement is false”.
This is simpleminded stuff, the kind of thing that was intellectually thrilling when we were ten years old. I know. The self-referential frisson. Bear with me.
Let’s stretch out old Epimenides a bit into something that’s also very familiar :

The following sentence is false.
The preceding sentence is true.

Taken separately, each of these sentences is perfectly fine, potentially useful, unremarkable. Taken as a unit, though, we’re back at the bar with old Epimenides, swilling wine and scratching at our verminous beards in bemusement, back in Paradox City, Arizona.
It would be possible, of course, to build a group of 3 or 4 or more sentences, each of which in isolation is perfectly acceptable, but which as a group leads us into botheration again. The way in which these sentences point to one another spawns the whirling core of chaos from which the paradox emerges. The way in which they refer to one another generates all the heat.
There’s a quote, or just a bit of homespun wisdom, I’m not sure which, that surfaces from time to time, one that I seem to recall deploying here sometime in the last year or so, in relation to something or other. It’s also something most of us have experienced at least once, which is why it’s juicy. It goes like so :

If you point at something, a dog will look at your finger, rather than the thing at which you’re pointing.

I used this, as I think most do, to poke fun at people who ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’ or ‘can’t see past their own noses’, or just to make myself feel clever. I don’t recall, exactly.
But I’ve been thinking this morning about Epimenides, and my growing dissatisfaction with a whole range of things in my life, and I realized that I’ve been completely wrong all this time.
You see, the dog is right.
It’s the act of pointing that deserves the attention. The actor, who by pointing, attaches significance to that at which he points. It’s the relationship between the pointer and the pointee, if you will, and the fact that the pointee is frequently pointing back – this is where the Good Stuff comes from.
Now that I’ve gotten out of the bathtub and written this down, I realize that what I’ve been saying here applies in good measure to this weblogging stuff as well.
I really was only thinking about my own life, as I tend to do. Your results may vary.

This is a Test. This is only a Test.

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.
Poop. The upgrade to MT 2.2 has borked my categories a bit, no doubt due to something stupid I did. Please stand by.
Edit : I’m reflagging entries with categories by hand. This is going to take longer than I thought.


Koan :
A monk asked Nansen : “Is there a teaching no master ever taught before?”
Nansen said : “Yes, there is.”
“What is it?” asked the monk.
Nansen replied : “It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”
Mumon’s Commentary :
Old Nansen gave away his treasure words. He must have been greatly upset.
Mumon’s Poem :
Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure.
Truly, words have no power.
Even though the mountain becomes the sea,
Words cannot open another’s mind.

Like Young Dogs

“For the sake of Korean football and the Korean people, we will go like young dogs at Germany,” says Guus Hiddink, the recently-deified coach of the Korean football team.
I’ve considered and discarded about half a dozen silly jokes, but I feel it’d be best if I just leave a space for you to come up with your own, as mine were invariably rude.
Please take this opportunity to insert own humorous comment here (results may vary, void where prohibited by law) : _________________________________________________________.
There, now – wasn’t that fun?
The game match kicks off in about 4 hours.
Edit : Well, they lost, but it was a good, clean game, and the Koreans have done phenomenally well by getting as far as they have, so no disgrace. Congratulations to them, and to hell with the whiners. In other, related news, North Korean state television picked today to reveal to their citizens that South Korea was actually hosting the World Cup. No mention was made of Japan.
Those North Korean apparatchiks would be a laff riot if they weren’t so determinedly nasty, dim-witted and inclined to wax corpulent like giant bouffant-sporting post-apocalyptic aphids on the refined agony of their own people.

Daehan Minguk! Again!

That was an astonishing semifinal game, and the Korean team makes me proud to be…
…well, you know. Canadian. Got caught up in it for a second, there. But honestly – what a well-fought, sportsmanlike, pulse-pounder of a match. sh-t like this might just make a sports fan of me after all these years.
(Edit : Although, clearly, there are some questions about the accuracy of the officiating.)
There’s going to be one hell of a party here tonight. The game just finished, and it’s cocktail hour on a Saturday night.

Wonderchicken vs (ex-)Space Nerd!

Wonderchicken vs Space Nerd!
I’m not sure how happy I am to be cast as a Bad Guy in Dune, The Musical, but hey, I’m happy to be cast at all. Beats waiting tables. You take the luck of the 268-million-strong draw, or you go home empty-handed. It’s not lost on me that the casting process occurred under the auspices of a bottle of The Macallan, either, which might explain my inclusion amongst the ranks of the better-known and slightly less prone to outbursts of borderline psychosis.
But it does make me especially happy to be slated to engage in mortal combat (whilst singing something heartstirring and suitably martial, one hopes) with Wil Wheaton. That oughta be heaps o’ fun… but now I’d better start reading his blog a little more often, to study up on his moves! Them Hollywood types is full of devious trickery, I’ve heard tell….
Put up your dukes, El Whea al’ Ton!

You reckon?

“How weblogs straddle personal and social spaces and the potential implications for developing new communities.”
Tom from Plasticbag.org says some pretty cool stuff about some things. Powerpoint, 2.8 Mb. (That’s funny, isn’t it? I wonder who the presentees were…)
Anyway, a quote :

The best, the strongest, the most creative communities can emerge out of the interconnected nature of individual spaces.
Making great communities is about celebrating the individuals within them – giving them spaces that they can use to show off their creativity and passions…
And in return these individuals will themselves build a vibrant, creative and passionate community…

No argument here.


Jonathon’s talked recently about the way his name is modified by Japanese speakers to make it a word they can more easily pronounce. This is probably why, while watching the World Cup game between Brazil and England this afternoon, I noticed the oddball way that the name ‘Ronaldo’ (who’s still an idiot, as far as I’m concerned) is rendered in Korean.
It’s doubly odd, because Han’gul (the Korean alphabet) is perfectly capable of rendering the name perfectly.

The right way to spell ronaldo in Korean...

which sounds like Ro – Nal – Do, would be the perfect way to go, I’d think. Sounds almost identical, bar the minor differences in the way the ‘r’ sound and the ‘o’ sounds are pronounced in Korea.
But noooo……
For some reason, the Korean spelling of his name on TV today (and all the other times I’ve seen it) looked like this :

... and the wrong way to spell ronaldo in Korean

This sounds like Ho – Na – Oo – Doo.
What the hell is up with that? I have no idea.
But this creative mangling of the sounds of names and other words imported from other languages drives me moderately batty sometimes, as one of the things I have to do in my work is (for example) to disabuse my students of the notion that the proper English pronunciation of ‘sports’ is ‘suh-PO-chuh’, which is the correct way to pronounce the word as it is written in Korean. This tends to be difficult, as they’ve seen and heard the word in all its Konglish glory every damn day of their lives for 20 years, on the evening news.
Don’t even get me started on ‘Fighting!’
Ah well. That’s what they pay me the big bucks for.

Self-Link Love

My design for 9622.net – which is a MeFi-offshoot community blog created by a bunch of groovy and determinedly silly Metafiltrons who outgrew their cult thread and have been demonstrated to harbour an unhealthy obsession with monkeys – has gone live.
The design strikes a fine balance between a total absence of useability and, well, determined silliness, I think. I just thought I’d link it to toot my own horn, as I’ve never done something like this for a group of people before, and I think it’s pretty spunky. Considering I don’t know jack about design, and just make sh-t up as I go along.
[Please note the liberal use of #006699, which is an homage to you-know-where, of course.]
Edit : [Warning – self-obsessed wankage ahead] It strikes me as I wander around, reading the words of people who know so much more than I about, well, stuff, that it would be, with the kindness dial turned up to 11, charitable to describe me as ‘an enthusiastic amateur’.
I leap into stuff with both feet, I do, like that ‘design job’ I pointed to above, but it seems that I am almost never equipped with the training or tools to attempt anything but make sh-t up as I go along. I keep going at it with guns blazing, but I do wonder if my mock-buffoonery is just a cover to deflect accusations of real buffoonery. In my decision many many years ago to just wander the planet and see what happened (with 10 kilos of books in my backpack, naturally) I couldn’t forsee that the truly Towering Influences in my life, the people that I’d meet in out-of-the way corners of the planet who would shape my vision of the person I wanted to be, would be the mad bastards, tinkerers, and yes, the enthusiastic amateurs.
On nights like tonight, though, when I’m exhausted, drained, and sweating like Corky The Magical Sweating Bear, when I’m reading things people say that I understand, dimly, but that are clearly just signposts to deeper and more tangled thickets of learning, it’s times like this that I begin to suspect my approach to knowledge hasn’t panned out to be as good an idea as it seemed at the time that I devised it. Which was probably on a nude beach in Greece or some damn place like that.
Is this the mid-life crisis of the childless? Damned if I know. I’ll keep you posted.