Re: Purchase

1

as long as Ogged asks BPL to marry him sometime this summer

I would cut out the middle step and just aim to qualify for the Child Tax Credit.


Posted by: disaggregated | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:41 PM
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as long as Ogged asks BPL to marry him sometime this summer

I take it that this means that the five-toed shoes come in summer colors.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:44 PM
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"Do you want this so badly that you're willing to pack and move it three times?" It seems to work

Absolutely. I use this strategy and it's great for not accumulating crap. Unless you desperately need it and don't mind lugging it all over creation, you can do without it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:48 PM
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Good for you. De-crapping is wonderful. A friend of mine used to ask himself "if I can't fit in my car and make it to my new place in one trip, I'm not buying it." He drove a bug too. Go figure. And Becks, that's sweet about the wedding, but you wouldn't have to buy anything. You'd never guess it, but Ogged and I are nudists and we'd want our guests to be too- at least on that day.


Posted by: BPL | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:48 PM
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Jesus, she's everywhere!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:49 PM
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A friend of mine used to ask himself "if I can't fit in my car and make it to my new place in one trip, I'm not buying it."

But that's not a question.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:50 PM
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as long as Ogged asks BPL to marry him sometime this summer

Fool me once, shame on you ... fool me twice, uh, you're not, you're not gonna fool me again.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:50 PM
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5: Ogged converts to feminist Christianity.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:51 PM
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6: sure it is. And the answer was always "no, I'm still going to buy it."


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:52 PM
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4 - well, that would finally make sense of the washing his clothes in the shower business.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:53 PM
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Ogged inverts this, though. I can't search the archives right now but I remember him saying he couldn't move because he'd just bought a cast iron frying pan.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:55 PM
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At the register when I was paying for lunch today, I realized I had forgotten to pick up a bag of potato chips to go with my sandwich. And I didn't go back to get the chips. Dieting and anti-consumerism through a combination of absentmindedness and laziness.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:55 PM
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But that's not a question.

And who can blame bpl for falling for such a charmer.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:55 PM
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I remember him saying he couldn't move because he'd just bought a cast iron frying pan

I don't own a cast iron frying pan, you big liar.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:56 PM
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I'm kidding about the nudist thing. Ok this blogging stuff is like chain smoking. I must work now.


Posted by: BPL | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:57 PM
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If BPL is still reading, I have a question: Chris Noth or Jeff Goldblum?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:57 PM
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bpl, it's exciting that you are up in here! and yea, while it is sort of like chain smoking it does not satisfactorily stand in for chain smoking, which is the pisser.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 2:58 PM
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If it's crap, why are you moving it at all?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:00 PM
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In fact ogged specifically rejected cast iron because it's too heavy to move.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:01 PM
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It's all crap---even grandma's china and essential electronics---when you're lugging it up three flights of stairs.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:02 PM
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I have way, way too much crap, but given that the last two times I've moved I've managed to move it all myself without being driven to throw things out, I guess I want to have way, way too much crap. I do wish my speakers didn't weigh like 75 pounds each. That's problematic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:03 PM
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Becks drives a bug?


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:03 PM
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What are you doing with grandma's essential electronics? She needs that stuff!


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:03 PM
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How hilarious would it be if Ogged shot down an overture for sex in the shower with: "In a minute, baby. Let me do my laundry first."


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:04 PM
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Grandma's pacemaker are belong to Jackmormon.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:04 PM
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23: well she's certainly not hauling that goddamn dialysis machine back down three flights of stairs. Grandma'll just have to make do.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:05 PM
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Dammit! BPL tell ogged not to pwn me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:05 PM
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Jackmormon, you would have left Grandma's china somewhere on the Plains rather than push it in your handcart, wouldn't you? And her essential electronics, too.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:06 PM
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Once, when helping a friend move, I discovered that many of the boxes I was carrying up four flights of stairs were boxes of used videotapes that hadn't been opened since the last time I'd helped him move, five years before. I felt somewhat abused.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:07 PM
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dammit 25


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:07 PM
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29: at least they weren't new videotapes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:08 PM
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28.---I woulda stayed up in Nauvoo and tried to make nice with the locals is what I woulda done.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:08 PM
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Ok this blogging stuff is like chain smoking. I must work now.

Any bets on how long till unfogged is the proximate cause of a death by drowning at the pool?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:09 PM
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I think Ogged and BPL should get married in an online ceremony. I'm sure it's legal in some state or other.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:09 PM
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32: And live without sister wives? How could you?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:11 PM
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You'd never guess it, but Ogged and I are nudists and we'd want our guests to be too- at least on that day.

We could totally stretch the boundaries of the traditional "all rise in honor of the bride".

However, I foresee certain difficulties when ogged and his groomsmen unf and fontana labs have to pin boutonieres on their bare chests.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:13 PM
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I could only resist for 5 minutes, dammit!! Jeff Goldblum all the way. They're both just kind of blah, but there's a weird sex appeal about Goldblum. Noth does nothing for me.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:13 PM
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After moving flat three times in six months, I decided on a 'no durable possessions' rule. Two years later, I still don't buy too many of them, but I have put on quite a lot of weight.


Posted by: RobDP | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:14 PM
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38: no NEW durable possessions, that is. I still wear clothes, they're just more faded.


Posted by: RobDP | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:15 PM
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35 to 34.


Posted by: Ardent reader | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:15 PM
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Jeff Goldblum all the way.

He wasn't asking which you prefer, he was asking which I look more like. The reference is here.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:16 PM
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Two years later, I still don't buy too many of them, but I have put on quite a lot of weight.

I'm failing to see the causal link. Instead of buying durable possessions, you eat them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:17 PM
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However, I foresee certain difficulties when ogged and his groomsmen unf and fontana labs have to pin boutonieres on their bare chests.

Nah, ogged can just velcro it to his chest.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:17 PM
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About to book a flight just now, I mistyped a URL and then found myself thinking maybe I shouldn't see whether expaedia.com was a real website.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:18 PM
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So from 37 we can deduce that ogged is sporting his gaunt runner's look these days?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:19 PM
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I thought Ogged was supposed to look like Cyrus the Great.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:19 PM
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Becks -- I envy you.

I am all too aware that I have too much stuff and that I need to let go, but the clarity of that realization never actually results in getting to less stuff.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:20 PM
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So, BPL, is it A or B?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:20 PM
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38: wait, so you buy all non-durable (i.e. disposable) possessions now?


Posted by: wrenae | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:21 PM
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Soon I will go from 2 to 0 pieces of non-plastic furniture. Before I leave my furnished apartment in Austin, I'm giving away my bed and a big rack for kitchen stuff.

Envy me, crap-burdened people! When I move to Singapore, all I own will weigh less than me. And I'm a skinny boy.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:23 PM
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Even after the archive link clarified things, I'd still say Ogged resembles Goldblum. But that's with seriously using my imagination. Noth!!??? I don't get it. Not even close. But how many commenters have actually met Ogged? This is kind of unfair. And I guess in the case of having Italians assume he's a native, he could feasibly pass for a tall Sicilian.


Posted by: BPL | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:24 PM
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But I like my crap.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:24 PM
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51: wait 'til he gets fat again.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:25 PM
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I thought Ogged was marrying Sibyl. No on tells me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:29 PM
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44: It's not. Yet.

Ben, email me - I have a great idea for a business.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:29 PM
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I own like 300 feet of books. My honey owns a piano. After that, we might as well start collecting porcelain figurines because we are going to need movers wherever we go.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:30 PM
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Despite my admiration for Thoreau, I'm not self-loathing about my crap. OTOH, I have vowed repeatedly to die in this house, so that I won't ever have to move out.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:31 PM
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I thought Ogged was marrying Sibyl. No on tells me.

Well, that's what you get for agitating for a site-wide no-relationships policy, John.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:32 PM
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56: besides, they're adorable.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:32 PM
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Thoreau's description of the Irishman carrying all his belongings is probably one of Mary Catherine's favorites.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:38 PM
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Chris Noth or Jeff Goldblum?

My mind just went right to cock size.

Mr. Big or The Fly?


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:45 PM
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I feel ya, Becks. I moved three times in 1.5 years. The first time across state to start school--had to buy new bed, furniture, everything. The second, across town to a shared apartment. Six months later, to the town next door to my own apartment. I learned to hate everything I owned and wished that I owned nothing at all.

I eliminated tchotkes and knick knacks when I moved to my parents after law school (I have tons of stuff there too). Then I learned not to buy more knick knacks or souvenirs. Then I stopped buying clothes that weren't of good quality and frequent use, like for everyday hanging out or work. If I don't wear it within a year, I donate it. Finally, I even stopped buying books, my biggest weakness. I buy only dissertation related books and go to the public library for fiction. Sigh. It is sad. But it's easier to move around this way.

My other weakness is cookware. While I am happy to leave behind Ikea crappy furniture when I move across state lines for a job, it'll be hard to leave behind the Nordicware bundt pan and assorted sentimental "aw, I made this ___ for this occasion" cookware. Bundt cakes are like hugs. I'm sentimental, and that kills my asceticism. Also, my consumerism.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:47 PM
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Ascentimentalism is a confusing thing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:49 PM
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Neil, are you going to be working alongside Holbo?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 3:55 PM
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64: Yes!


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:02 PM
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Congrats, Neil. Singapore!

How long are you in town for? We should have an Austin meet-up before you leave.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:04 PM
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I have a feeling that when I move out of this apartment at the end of May I'm just going to leave almost all of my stuff at my mom's house and make my next several moves (Boston, then Chaco, then other places I haven't even figured out yet) with minimal possessions.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:05 PM
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Every time I read "cookware" it scans as "cockware."

Movers are worth every penny. With God as my witness I will never move my own stuff again.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:07 PM
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GOOD Movers are worth every penny. Most movers show up late, break your shit and charge you far more than quoted.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:09 PM
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||

Yglesias:

Romney's a hugely unpopular phony loathed by most Americans.
The problem with the conservative movement is that it's fundamentally malign.

The boy seems to be learning. I claim the credit. I've taught him everything he knows.

Next lesson: the proper use of word "motherfucker".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:15 PM
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Hey, congrats teo! Boston and Chaco should be a lot of fun, and being a nomad is fantastic for a while so long as you've got a few bucks tucked away in a bank account and sufficient couches to crash on.

Neil, you too!

Now I really want to move somewhere for a while once the fall's over and my roomies move out. That'll be sad times.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:16 PM
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Thoreau made some condescending remarks about an Irishman (named Fields, I think), but his real crime from the Brahmin POV was associating with Irishmen at all.

One of the counts against him was wearing corduroy, which was associated with the Irish. Another greta artist who wore corduroy was Erik Satie. (Many say it was velvet, but that's a mistranslation. )


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:20 PM
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He wasn't asking which you prefer, he was asking which I look more like. The reference is here.

To be fair to bpl, I left the question ambiguous on purpose to allow for just the sort of answer she gave. It makes me happy to think that your favored conception of yourself might be at nearly direct odds with what she finds appealing about you.

Thanks, bpl, both for answering the question and for the answer you gave.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:22 PM
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64: Yes!

Congrats, Neil! That's fantastic.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:24 PM
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Hey, congrats teo! Boston and Chaco should be a lot of fun, and being a nomad is fantastic for a while so long as you've got a few bucks tucked away in a bank account and sufficient couches to crash on.

Thanks. It should be a fun year.

Congrats to Neil as well.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:29 PM
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my next several moves (Boston)...

You're a little late, Teo. Sifu has dibs, now.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:32 PM
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No one can rightfully dispose over another's favors, Knecht.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:34 PM
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72 is a pretty good Emerson imitation.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:35 PM
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Chaco, sounds great, teo. What a place.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:40 PM
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What a place.

Yeah, it's incredible.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:41 PM
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My people's prejudices are perhaps regrettable, but we do have our reasons.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:43 PM
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Furthermore, Sifu's dibs-having is, as it were, a matter of continuous recreation on Blume's part; anything less would deny her autonomy just as much as the perdurance of matter would deny God's omnipotence.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:48 PM
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continuous recreation on Blume

Keep it clean, youngster.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:50 PM
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(And with things reversed, naturally, with regard to Blume's dibs-having Sifu vis-à-vis.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:51 PM
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That's some selective quotation there.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:52 PM
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85: ass selection here

Sigh. Permanently in the gutter.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:58 PM
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No one can rightfully dispose over another's favors, Knecht.

The law distinguishes between conveyance and bailment.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 4:58 PM
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My dibs have never been so exposed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:00 PM
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87:...and between a beneficial owner and a broker-dealer, for that matter.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:00 PM
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That's some selective quotation there

Oh, as if the untruncated "continuous recreation on Blume's part" would make it any better?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:04 PM
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Bailment describes a legal relationship in common law where physical possession of personal property (chattels) is transferred from one person (the 'bailor') to another person (the 'bailee') who subsequently holds possession of the property. However, it is distinguished from a contract of sale or a gift of property, as it only involves the transfer of possession and not its ownership. In order to create a bailment, the bailee must both intend to possess, and actually physically possess, the bailable chattel.

In addition, unlike a lease or rental, where ownership remains with the leasor but the lessee is allowed to use the property, the bailee is generally not entitled to the use of the property while it is in his possession.

Sifu only physically possesses, in one sense, Blume at intervals (or so I assume), even during those intervals she continues to possess, in another sense, herself. It's somewhat hard to ignore the physical possession angle here, but even so, if the bailee isn't generally entitled to use the property, I assume he also isn't entitled to dispose over it in other ways. Obviously there might be case-by-case subtleties here; the wikipedia article uses leaving your car with a valet as an example, and clearly the bailee in that case is entitled to use the car—but only for some purposes, as was established in In Re Bueller.

Maybe what you mean is that Sifu has a presumptive right to Blume's favors, or something like that, but then my other point comes in—that doesn't endure in the absence of Blume's continuous (counterfactual if need be) creation thereof.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:05 PM
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90: I guess not.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:06 PM
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Oh, my first paragraph in propria persona was actually supposed to conclude by saying that we await a determination of what the special circumstances might be in this sort of relationship, etc. Of 91.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:08 PM
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Sifu only physically possesses, in one sense, Blume

And in what sense would that be?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:10 PM
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I don't think it's going to work, Ben.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:11 PM
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And in what sense would that be?

5b, of course. (The note attached to the illustrations, "In some quots. difficult to distinguish from sense 6.", is pretty funny.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:14 PM
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91: You realize it's been almost 10 minutes since I implied that women are chattel, and LB hasn't come roaring onto the scene to smack me around? Representing the state of New York must be some interesting job!


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:14 PM
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5b, of course.

Non-responsive. I'm aware of the usage; I wanted to know in what sense that's properly called "possession," and hoping for an answer other than "in the sense of conventional usage."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:17 PM
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I have to ask, why is no one blogging about this article? (not that it hasn't been blogged about enough in just one day) But two people sent this to me, and one said "i feel like this could have been written by you. 'cept for the part about the dudes. and gawker."

And I'm thinking, is my blog _that_ personal just because I complain that TD has to work late and this is so illustrative of the work/life conflict that my dissertation explores? Or that I had a strict, poor upbringing, which has affected my view of social/economic justice and thus how I approach my gender discrimination work? This is more personal than most profs get, I admit.

But, I mean, I go wayyyy more personal on Unfogged threads. But two people emailing me this makes me really nervous, since so many profs read my blog and know who I am. This is why I panicked when I thought maybe they were reading deep into the Unfogged threads, too.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:17 PM
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I thought about blogging that, but it seemed so 2005.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:19 PM
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Ogged, A.S Byatt's Possession is now available in handy 2-hour film form, to satisfy all your questions about this type of thing.

"Byatt" is one syllable rhyming with "Ratt", by the way. Or at least, if you never try to read the book, you never need to try to pronounce it correctlyA!!AQA!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:19 PM
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101: that was a blah movie, but a good book. And whoa, I didn't know that was the correct pronunciation.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:21 PM
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well, I made up the pronunciation. Because it doesn't matter unless you go for the rich, snobby, BOOK version of the movie!


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:22 PM
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98: I don't understand. I don't see why one sense of the word has to be primary, and the other senses have to be referred back to it in order to be based on something more legitimate than "conventional usage".

What would it take for you to acknowledge something as properly being called possession?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:22 PM
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Another greta artist who wore corduroy was Erik Satie.

Mogdaliani---whose paintings I'm not wild about, really---had an AWESOME three-piece corduroy suit, according to one photo I've seen. WANT.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:22 PM
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Go ahead, keep using your americanized two-syllable pronunciation of "Byatt", bastardized from her original Bengali heritage.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:23 PM
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Any anyway, she totally gave into the patriarchy by continuing to use that name in the first place. She's Antonia Drabble to me.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:24 PM
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If someone says he or she is possessed by a strong emotion, is that properly called possession? Or if I say that the speech patterns of the [note article] typical NPR announcer possesses the power to annoy me?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:25 PM
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I don't see why one sense of the word has to be primary, and the other senses have to be referred back to it in order to be based on something more legitimate than "conventional usage"

Because we follow Aristotle and the doctrine of pros hen equivocity.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:25 PM
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I thought about blogging that, but it seemed so 2005.

Thank you. I only got halfway through before I had to abandon it. Annoyingly edited, and the question that one wondered at the beginning -- what interesting or insightful thing does this person have to say that she deserves this pulpit? -- was never answered. I waited and waited until page 5 and there was NOTHING and I gave up.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:27 PM
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You're getting neologism all over your blog again, ogged.

I suppose you have at least this advantage, that, insofar as you're employing a mixture of Greek and cod-Latin, it's not premature vernaculation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:27 PM
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Plus, it's surely one of the endoxa that one can possess a woman in the sense under discussion.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:31 PM
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In order to possess a woman, it is not necessary to purchase her, or even for your seed to find purchase in her soil.


Posted by: Auto-banned | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:33 PM
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105: are you by any chance thinking of modigliani?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:33 PM
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110: That's what this blogger said, and this is a really good post.

I feel sooooo bad, though, and am hoping that my boyfriend doesn't read the article. He doesn't seem to be bothered by my blog though, and if he reads it, encourages me to blog our debates on bourgie on bourgie hatred.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:34 PM
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Or, for that matter, a man!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:35 PM
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neologism

Google it, slice.

As for senses of "possession," note that your examples include an element of control over the disposition of the possessed--that's not a sufficient definition of "possession," but it does seem necessary, and I don't see how it applies to consensual sexual relations in aught-eight, although I freely grant that it might have applied back in the day.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:35 PM
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note that your examples include an element of control over the disposition of the possessed--that's not a sufficient definition of "possession," but it does seem necessary,

He has her in thrall.

she wishes she could break free, but his allure is irresistible.

Or more seriously, perhaps one person is being emotionally manipulated by the other.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:37 PM
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114: Couldn't let that one rest, could you. I love Modigliani. Especially this one. Also, re corduroy suits: I was looking for this picture, and found this one. Andy Garcia?!


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:38 PM
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Well, really, I just included the idea that Sifu ever possesses Blume physically as a sop to Knecht; I wouldn't have wanted him to be able to retort, had I said that there was no physical possession at all, that I was overlooking a relevant sense, or something.

I agree that to talk of possessing someone, sexually, is—at least as we like to think about things these days—at best antiquated.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:38 PM
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Holy shit, I need to read the OED more often.

(/ejaculation)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:40 PM
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You've gone soft, rapidly aging Ben. The old you would have argued your lost cause with increasingly absurd epicycles all night. But! Comity!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:41 PM
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117: Some words, no matter how old they are, never stop being neologisms. (After Pound: jargon is neologisms that stay neologisms.—"Jargon" isn't the best word there.)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:41 PM
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My first instinct was to spell it Magdaleoni, so my internal editor is doing better than you would think.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:42 PM
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122: but that was never really my cause.

I do think it's interesting that there are two rather different ideas joined in the definition in 5b: "To gain sexual possession of (a woman); to have sexual intercourse with." Now the first one is what you (and I) are objecting to, I think. But, while we have to think of the second one metaphorically, and its origins might not be so friendly, I don't think we need reject the second part of the definition.

Think of the way "possess" and "enjoy" can, in some situations, be synonymous, for instance.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:45 PM
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The paucity of the charge remaining to my battery means I won't be able to add epicycles ad infinitum, at least not without changing my location.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:46 PM
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"Ravish" is the word people are looking for.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:48 PM
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Think of the way "possess" and "enjoy" can, in some situations, be synonymous, for instance.

I open to the notion that there's a good answer to 94.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:48 PM
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I agree that to talk of possessing someone, sexually, is--at least as we like to think about things these days--at best antiquated.

Yes, the traditional vocabulary of common law property rights is of limited utility once it is established that women are not chattel.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:48 PM
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Think of the way "possess" and "enjoy" can, in some situations, be synonymous, for instance

I don't remember the precise wording, but IIRC Blacks Law Dictionary defines "property" in pretty much that way: as the bundle of rights to enjoy the object.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:51 PM
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128: I'm not sure, though, that possession in actu in this sense will be adequately connectable to whatever solid basis of "possession" you're looking for.

However! I should get back to reading Lucinde, probably. Hot tip, kids: Lucinde sucks.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 5:53 PM
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That is a truly excellent analysis in Belle's link in 115.

Gentlemen, perhaps it's time to move on from this other -- I hesitate to dignify it with the word -- topic?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:00 PM
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I enjoy Witt.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:04 PM
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132: That link is worth clicking on just for the WordCloud or whatever you call it on the right-hand side


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:06 PM
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It's a good thing BPL has been dating you long enough to understand your sense of humor.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:06 PM
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It's a good thing BPL has been dating you long enough to understand your sense of humor.

Take my word for it: you can be married to someone for many years and still have that kind of banter come back to bite you, like, really hard.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:08 PM
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Take my word for it s/b Ctrl+F the archives for Fleur's first appearance.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:09 PM
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I also enjoyed the public unraveling of Knecht's marriage, but of course I mean that in a different sense.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:10 PM
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Ctrl+F the archives for Fleur's first appearance

In those grim days she went by "Mrs. Ruprecht".

I also enjoyed the public unraveling of Knecht's marriage

Although it was something approximating a near-death experience from that standpoint, it did precipitate some modestly positive changes in my life and in our relationship.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:13 PM
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I understand the felt need to move on, but a pros hen equivocity for "possession" or "to possess" surely can't be established by fiat. Despite the fact that I'm attracted to the notion.

Oh, interesting. Thanks for the instruction to "google it ... slice."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:14 PM
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I was thinking about how to get a covenant of quiet enjoyment worked in here, but have to do some real legal work. Maybe later . . .


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:17 PM
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I was thinking about how to get a covenant of quiet enjoyment worked in here

Better yet: a prescriptive easement.

And now I'm going out for a beer.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:20 PM
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Thanks: Heebie, Polymath, Tim, Teofilo, and anyone I missed.

The itinerary, for anyone interested in hanging out (or avoiding my lycanthropic wake of utility-maximizing destruction) is: Austin until 5-28, Ann Arbor until 6-3, Seattle until 6-7 or so, SF until 6-30, Singapore.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:31 PM
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Are you people still talking about my sex life?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:55 PM
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144 to 143.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 6:56 PM
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smiles at 144.

By the way, anyone who danced with me at a past UnfoggedCon might be amused to know how I got the job (last 4 paragraphs).


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:00 PM
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I have been attempted to be better about my need to possess books. I've been giving away books.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:02 PM
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I apologize if I precipitated all of that.

By way of explanation: the pros hen equivocity thing, for those disinclined to google it, is just what Ben described in 104 as: I don't see why one sense of the word has to be primary, and the other senses have to be referred back to it in order to be based on something more legitimate than "conventional usage".

Now this is interesting on a number of fronts: if you think that the sense of "possess" in 'possessing a distaste for a certain set of NPR commentators' speech patterns', for example, must derive from some fundamental or central sense of the term, you have a case to make. Not that you can't make it.

It's a question of whether you're willing to grant such differing trajectories for the drift of meaning that occurs for many, many words that some current uses have no important relation to the very mundane, ordinary sense we tend to assume was original. To be plain.

I'm more interested in this question broadened: if, say, current standards of (female) beauty are so divorced now from their origins that they bear no relation to them, I have no business suggesting, as I occasionally do (though half in jest), that they advert back to them despite what you think. Then we get the view advocated by many that it's just a a thing, fashions change, it's, well, conventional. Conventional usage.

Ha! So the pros hen equivocity notion has proven useful.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:05 PM
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146: That was you? Someone at Stanford was telling me about that!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:05 PM
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Neil:

Congrats!!!! Can we have the next Unfogged in Singapore????


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:06 PM
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You all realize that I fail to preview fully before posting.

Kudos to Neil.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:07 PM
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148: apologize to whom?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:08 PM
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Neil is awesome.


Posted by: Belle Lettre | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:18 PM
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152: Oh, the fleeing starting at approximately 141. Don't worry about it: I just became interested in the topic.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:28 PM
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I want Neil to be my teacher. I'll ask good questions so that he can dance!!!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:42 PM
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You can apologize to a fleeing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:47 PM
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I think that Ben w-lfs-n's right, here. A well-known sort of line to take would be to invoke a semantics/pragmatics distinction, in such a way that it is not the case that there are two senses of "possesses" - where the one sense involves a notion of control, so that "Bill Gates possesses a large fortune" is true and "Bill Gates possesses the property of being human" false, while in the other more abstract sense the latter sentence is true and the former false (or both are true). Rather, the idea would be that "possesses" need have only the one literal meaning in the situations in question, a very general meaning with respect to which you can non-metaphorically use "possess" truly in most places where you can use "have" - e.g. "Teddy and Bobby have the same phone number". But it would be used pragmatically to communicate different notions.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:49 PM
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Philosophers are weird.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 7:58 PM
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You're a little late, Teo. Sifu has dibs, now.

Well this whole discussion got started off wrong, 'cause Sifu already had dibs back at that linked comment. So there.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:13 PM
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You're a little late, Teo. Sifu has dibs, now.

Well this whole discussion got started off wrong, 'cause Sifu already had dibs back at that linked comment. So there.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:14 PM
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158: Well, Amit is right to introduce literal meaning.

My 148 was sloppy as hell! Did someone say recently that their writing had improved with blog commenting? Mine deteriorates, because I assume a disparate, flighty, disinterested audience -- with a very short attention span. This is not good overall.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:15 PM
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My dibs, affirmed!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:16 PM
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158: Say what?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:16 PM
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158 s/b 161


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:17 PM
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Amit is right to introduce literal meaning.

Indeed, but it's weird (from a linguist's point of view) that it even had to come to that. Amit's argument is where linguists start with this stuff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:21 PM
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Can Napi or one of the lawyers rejoin the conversation to elucidate the meaning of "dibs" from a common law perspective?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:21 PM
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There are two ways of looking at dibs.

1 is kind of a common-law thing. It depends on being established for at least a certain period of time before anyone disputes it.

the other is like patents. I hesitate to suggest this because of all the would-be dibs trolls out there who will put dibs on vast quantities of things that they have no real interest in at the time of claiming.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:30 PM
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159-160: So y'all were consorting in secret? Sweet!

Any other unacknowledged unfogged couples care to unburden yourselves of any secrets?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:31 PM
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It's not the sort of thing you immediately share with the internet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:32 PM
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Congrats, Neil! And very clever teaching/job talk strategy.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:33 PM
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158: Well, Amit is right to introduce literal meaning.

Fuck literal meaning.

Indeed, but it's weird (from a linguist's point of view) that it even had to come to that. Amit's argument is where linguists start with this stuff.

Amit's argument is where statistically all philosophers start, as well.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:34 PM
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Any other unacknowledged unfogged couples care to unburden yourselves of any secrets?

Now that you ask …


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:36 PM
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That's some really horrific sound quality in that video.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:37 PM
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167: So is dibs in the first sense descended from the common law principle of adverse possession? And does the doctrine of "move your feet, lose your seat" conflict with dibs, or does the doctrine of worthier title apply?

Also, does calling "shotgun" entail the same rights as dibs, or do different rules apply?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:38 PM
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Also, does calling "shotgun" entail the same rights as dibs, or do different rules apply?

Depends whether the priest gets there before she runs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:39 PM
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171: Yes, and that may be why some of us tried to avoid it. But hey. It's helpful. To fix ideas. You really can't just elide or jump way the hell over all the literal meaning-metaphorical meaning, or semantic/pragmatic, as Amit put it, and expect people to remain clear. It doesn't mean you're stuck there. But that discussion was becoming lost.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:45 PM
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Also, does calling "shotgun" entail the same rights as dibs, or do different rules apply?

Clearly different rules apply; the question of whether the same rights are entailed awaits an exposition of what rights are entailed. As has been established, "shotgun" may only be called when the party is immediately en route* to the automobile, and, furthermore, any reasonable person would be able to tell this—ie, it must be public and notorious that a driving is shortly to be underway. If dibs were goverened by analogous rules, one could only have dibs if it were already known that a sexing were to take place, the identity of one of the parties were known (because dibs have to be called in a particular relation—just as "shotgun" has to be called in relation to a particular car—the offensiveness of the parallel is just one more reason for rejecting it), and the identity of at least one other party were unknown.

But that is absurd.

*I find it interesting that I wrote that "<em>immediately</em> <em>en route</em>".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:46 PM
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Your reasoning in 177 might convince a jury, Counselor w-lfs-n, but there is ample precedent--Blume's comments 159-160 being only one recent example--for claiming dibs when the sexing is neither public nor notorious.

Indeed, some jurisdictions recognize claims of dibs where no sexing has yet taken place (though bitter litigation with counterclaimants is often the result).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:52 PM
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If dibs were goverened [sic] by analogous rules, one could only have dibs if it were already known that a sexing were to take place

This rules out any close relationship between dibs and adverse possession as suggested in 167/174. Adverse possession must be public and notorious.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:54 PM
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But that discussion was becoming lost.interesting.

Saying "oh, well, the literal truth conditions are such and such, but this is a pragmatic effect/implicature" is so ... boring.

But then I'm one of those people* who thinks that if you're familiar with two-dimensional solids, but don't know your way around a map of Europe and want to locate France, and I tell you "France is a hexagon", then I have not just said something useful, but something true, but, contrariwise, if you know you've got your European geography down pat and need some help with elementary geometry, so I tell you "France is a hexagon", I have not.

*"crazies"


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:55 PM
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Blume's comments 159-160 being only one recent example--for claiming dibs when the sexing is neither public nor notorious.

... which is a difference between dibs and shotgun.

Counsel appears to be confused as to which side of the case he is arguing.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:56 PM
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Amit's argument is where linguists start with this stuff.

Amit's argument is where statistically all philosophers start, as well.

E.g. Kripke famously used the distinction to interesting effect in "Speaker's Reference and Semantic Reference".


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 8:59 PM
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179: Quite right. This leads me to wonder whether there is any sound common law basis at all for claims of dibs to parking spaces. Is the "first one to turn on the turn signal" rule dispositive? Or does the proximity rule obtain? And what of the oft-asserted, but jurisprudentially shaky "right turn over left turn" privilege?

This stuff doesn't get nearly the treatment it deserves in the law school curriculum, if you ask me.

And don't even get me started on the confusing caselaw of dibs as applied to non-integer ratios of pizza slices to pizza consumers.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:00 PM
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Blume's comments 159-160 being only one recent example

Failure of the reader to understand sarcasm.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:07 PM
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non-integer ratios of pizza slices to pizza consumers.

Like when you have four slices, and e consumers?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:07 PM
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Wait, I don't have dibs?

Aw, man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:09 PM
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No, Sifu. You have crabs. You must have misheard somewhere.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:11 PM
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I love crabs!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:13 PM
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180: Saying "oh, well, the literal truth conditions are such and such, but this is a pragmatic effect/implicature" is so ... boring.

Ben, we don't have to yell at each other about this. You know, or should know, that I agree with you.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:16 PM
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And if you don't know that she agrees with you, you should GET YOUR FUCKING HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS, BEN.

Oh, don't yell? Geez. My bad.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:17 PM
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I WASN'T YELLING GODDAMMIT


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:19 PM
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190: dude, ben already knows that I agree with him, okay?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:20 PM
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192: YOU'RE FUCKING RIGHT HE DOES.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:24 PM
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I LIKE CHEESEBURGERS.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:26 PM
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O HAI DICKFACE


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:28 PM
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I RATHER LIKE FOOTBALL!!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:29 PM
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COPYCATS.


Posted by: OPNIONATED GRANDMA | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:29 PM
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SHUT UP, ALL OF YOU.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:32 PM
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191: Yet there is a difference of opinion.

DAMN, this is either really entertaining or heroic. We should stop yelling now!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:32 PM
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200.


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:38 PM
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P=.9L


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:38 PM
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And that is just about all there is to say about 'dibs.'


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:39 PM
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200: you can get a little excited about it, read.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:42 PM
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Read has understated elegance.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:43 PM
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wow, i'm like shining now, thanks for the compliment
so, Sifu's dibs?
Congratulations with your upcoming marriage, Sifu's and Blume's, Ogged's and Bpl's
i like happy people,
good night


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 9:48 PM
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180: One option for dealing with "hexagon"-style cases without jettisoning the semantics/pragmatics distinction is to identify the literal meaning with something like a Kaplanian character, a function from contexts of utterance. "is hexagonal" then has different extensions in different contexts but the same literal meaning/character.

My own views (which it would be a bad idea for me to go into) deal with this situation in a different way, but still one that retains the semantics/pragmatics distinction.

This is not, however, to say that perspectives that dispense with the distinction are uninteresting.



Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 10:08 PM
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206: The distinction is instructive, very. I'd never be able to get beyond it without it. That's in part because of my early training. There's a lot going on with people who eschew those terms: some never spoke that way*, some did once. The problem with the terminology comes when you seem as though you're still trying to run an algorithm, as it were, on literal meaning, in order to generate extended meanings (whether this is framed in terms of conversational implicature or contextual meaning or whatever).

* Though they might have in other, incommensurable terms.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 10:31 PM
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207: I think that's right, which is why I'd like to eschew the idea that context-bound contents are
deducible algorithmically.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:37 PM
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207: I think that's right, which is why I'd like to eschew the idea that context-bound contents are
deducible algorithmically.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:37 PM
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Everything is deducible algorithmically. We've deduced it, haven't we?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:38 PM
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The problem with the terminology comes when you seem as though you're still trying to run an algorithm, as it were, on literal meaning, in order to generate extended meanings

I also hope that "as it were" is doing as much work as I think it is here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:40 PM
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180: Your views on this have changed since June of 2005.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:49 PM
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Everything is deducible algorithmically. We've deduced it, haven't we?

I also hope that "as it were" is doing as much work as I think it is here.

Unless I misunderstand you, I think it's "algorithmically" that's doing the work. Einstein worked out the theory of relativity, but he didn't work it out using any method except genius.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:50 PM
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211: It is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:51 PM
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213: the brain works algorithmically, would be my point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:52 PM
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215: OK, I think then that we're understanding "algorithmic" in different ways.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-22-08 11:57 PM
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216: could be. I'm willing to argue I'm understanding it in the correct way, although it's not an algorithm (or set of algorithms) we know yet.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:00 AM
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217: Maybe for a definition of algorithm broadened to the point of meaninglessness.

Human brains possess algorithmicity.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:21 AM
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218: no, for the commonly accepted definition of algorithmic. You had to catch me right as I'm going to sleep, but I'll happily elaborate tomorrow-ish.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:27 AM
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217: I'm not sure I can say anything very sensible, but I'll give it a try in a little while. Right now I've got to go give someone a lift, unfortunately. It's nice that you're interested.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:29 AM
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219: but I'll happily elaborate tomorrow-ish.

Sure, I almost started my comment with "tune in tomorrow for a discussion of ..." I'm sympathetic to what I suspect is your position, I just think it pushes "algorithm" out to a different concept.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:34 AM
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219, 221: And I am only up since I am stretching the concept of an "end of day Thursday" due date beyond its commonly accepted meaning.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:41 AM
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180: Your views on this have changed since June of 2005.

Evidently! So, in fact, have my views about what Austin might have been up to.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:44 AM
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I would like to witness and even be party to this discussion, if it happens tomorrow, but I won't be able to, and that's probably for the best.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:46 AM
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Oh, hell. I too think Sifu's position is either vacuous or hopeless.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:50 AM
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225: Well you know how it goes, when all you have is a KILLER ROBOT, everything looks like a [replace with a signifier for a thing to be killed].


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:56 AM
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Okay, here goes. I make no claims for its cogency:

The intuitive idea of an algorithm or method for answering questions of a given class is one where using the algorithm to find the answer doesn't require anything like luck or insight or genius. Now it's easy to think that if anyone reliably or often comes up with the correct answer to questions from the class, that this must be because somewhere somehow an algorithm is applied. If John manages to reliably come up with the right answer and if he himself doesn't consciously apply an algorithm then he must have access to someone, Jill, who uses the algorithm and tells him the answer. This seems to be the rationale to your view that if you reliably come up with the right answer and yet you can't consciously describe a method, your brain must be subconsciously implementing an algorithm. Your brain is playing the role of Jill.

But with respect to the one rigorous notion of algorithm we have - where the existence of an algorithm corresponds to the existence of an appropriate Turing machine or whatever - there demonstrably can be no algorithm for answering questions of the form "Is well-formed formula x a theorem of first-order arithmetic?" Yet people often manage to come up with the right answer in particular cases of x, via cleverly working out a proof of x. What is impossible is a general algorithm that will work for all values of x. I don't think that this means we need to postulate occult powers to explain how that people often come up with the right answer. Yet your brain can't be implementing an algorithm, because there isn't any. Unless some other notion of algorithm is meant.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 5:36 AM
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180. Tadjikistan looks like a running rabbit. Fact. Look at a map.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 6:28 AM
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227: my answer would be that luck, insight and genius are all implementation properties of the brain, which operates algorithmically.

There is no algorithm in the brain for answering questions of the form "Is well-formed formula x a theorem of first-order arithmetic?". There are, instead, general purpose algorithms for approximating little functional chunks of that question, and algorithms for integrating little functional chunks into a coherent answer, and so on. The fact that there's no general answer is irrelevant, as the brain as a computing device operates to produce the best guess -- or the most useful guess -- as to the answer of any given problem. The fact that the algorithm is probabilistic and nonlinear in this way doesn't make it not an algorithm; if that were the case any kind of cognitive modelling would be impossible (and, while that might be true (fuck Penrose, though) I think there's excellent evidence that it's not).

Hopefully this, as well, was coherent. I know it's vague, but contra Ben I don't think it's pointlessly vague; I think the dichotomy between algorithmic processes and insight is a false one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 7:39 AM
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What is impossible is a general algorithm that will work for all values of x. I don't think that this means we need to postulate occult powers to explain how that people often come up with the right answer.

You would presumably only need to resort to occult powers if people always, rather than often, came up with the right answer.

(And not even then, since it could be the case that the algorithms employed to work out the right answer are not algorithms for definitively working out the right answer.)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 7:52 AM
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ugh, very pwned.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 7:52 AM
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Late to the thread, but was this the first appearance of BPL in comments? Maybe she's showed up before and I missed it.

46: I can't say for sure because I've never met Ogged, but I doubt it. I'm not very hairy. I was at UnfoggeDCon 2.0, though, so maybe someone there can verify that I don't look much like him.

(Yes, I know "Cyrus the Great" doesn't usually refer to me. But it's such a rare name, and instances of it pop up in such weird places, that I associate almost every mention of it with myself. With the current importance of Iran in political discussion, this actually has led to confusion once or twice.)

Also, congratulations, Neil!


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 9:09 AM
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Thanks for that, Sifu. I don't know anything about real cognitive science, but for what it's worth I wouldn't want to deny that brain-functioning involves processes that underlie our making educated guesses, or that in some valid sense they can be described as algorithms. On the other hand, in what I was saying originally I was thinking of what I was saying as premised only on the existence of some interesting distinction between processes that involve something like a dice roll or a guess, and processes that are algorithms in a stricter sense. This doesn't contradict the idea that brain-functioning is algorithmic in some looser sense, which is why I thought maybe we had different ideas of algorithmicity in mind. Of course, you may well disagree that there is any interesting such distinction between a looser sense and a strict sense, which is a whole other argument. But I suspect we've reached one of those philosophical stalemate points where each understands the other's position well enough, and disagrees with it at a not-easily-resolvable level. Dr./Mr. Tweety, it has been a pleasure and a privilege.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 9:34 AM
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Well, I think we're coming at it with fairly different frameworks, and fairly different toolboxes. For instance, I don't really have any problem with thinking of algorithms as operating fundamentally probabilistically, because so much of machine learning and cognitive modelling works that way; Bayesian spam filters are a great example of an algorithm that produces a "best guess" as its output. Similarly, I could write you pseudocode right now to simulate a dice roll that wouldn't be truly random, but would approximate the distribution of a real dice roll closely enough for any possible application.

On the other hand, maybe there's a stricter definition of algorithm that excludes those cases, that I'm not familiar with.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 9:42 AM
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The implication in my above comments that there is a significant difference in how linguists and philosophers approach these issues is actually pretty misleading. For the most part they approach them in exactly the same way.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 9:56 AM
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235: if that's in (at least) partial reference to my discussion with Amit, I'm curious what you mean.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 10:09 AM
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It's not.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 10:19 AM
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Well, darn.

Nobody will talk to meeeeeeee about aaaaaaalgorithms.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 10:20 AM
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Hi, Sifu. For what it's worth, what you're talking about doesn't have very much to do with the original discussion -- not that it's supposed to. My fault for that "running an algorithm, as it were, on literal meaning" in 207. I, uh, didn't mean that literally.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:03 AM
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239: nah I basically knew what you meant. The "as it were" was, in fact, doing a lot of work, as you pointed out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:05 AM
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i wonder what are intuition, superstition, belief
are they all algorithms? irrational, random ones? irrational algorithms, are they still algorithms, if they answered not yes or not, but maybe?
luck is not the property of the brain imo, it's external, though it's not maybe always something occult, just some kind of unconscious knowledge, again like intuition,guess, if then, it is maybe that, the property
more on probabilistic algorithms, please, how they work, interesting


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:18 AM
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thethethe wherever it is needed, please


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:18 AM
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There you go, Sifu. Read will talk to you about algorithms.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:22 AM
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not talk, but listen


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:26 AM
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Even better.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:28 AM
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241: algorithms can absolutely answer maybe. To go back to the Bayesian spam filter example, that algorithm is used to estimate the probability that a given piece of e-mail is spam given the content of previous spam e-mails. So really, every answer it gives is a "maybe", but assuming a large enough volume of known spam and great enough homogeneity in the content of spam you can get plenty of accuracy.

As far as intuition and belief being fundamentally algorithmic processes, I would say that the brain, in general, can be described algorithmically. The processing of memory and sensation is controlled by the relative activation of weighted networks, and everything from the weighting of those networks to early brain development and axonal guidance is rule-based and goal-directed, either by the nature of the structure of the brain or by evolution. It's not a deterministic system because the inputs are a non-deterministic, biological processes.

I also think "rationality" per se is vastly oversold as a mechanism by which we form conclusions about the world, but that's sort of a different conversation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:30 AM
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238, 246: Nobody will talk to meeeeeeee about aaaaaaalgorithms.

I'd like to, but busy day with meetings where I have to be present, conscious and conversant.

I will just say that I am OK with random components in algorithms, but when I look at the parallellism and distributed control function in the brain, not to mention the influence of things like the endocrine sstem and other "less cognitive" inputs, and its functioning seems pretty distant from something I would call algorithmic. It can "mimic" algorithms for certain sets of conditions (or alternatively, as you mention it can be modelled under a certain set of assumptions) , but I think its functioning is best described differently. Is a herd algorithmic? A city? A firm? A government?

BTW, I also agree that the myth of rationality is probably the biggest hoax we have ever perpretated on ourselves. Probably a useful hoax (as religion was for a time), but a hoax nonetheless.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:34 AM
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I also think "rationality" per se is vastly oversold as a mechanism by which we form conclusions about the world, but that's sort of a different conversation.

I'd agree with you. It's a fairly commonplace view these days, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:36 AM
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Is a herd algorithmic? A city? A firm? A government?

I'll turn this around at you: is a flocking algorithm not algorithmic?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:37 AM
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I also think "rationality" per se is vastly oversold as a mechanism by which we form conclusions about the world, but that's sort of a different conversation.

I'm on the record agreeing with this. I wonder how widely accepted this position is (around here anyway).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:37 AM
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I'll turn this around at you: is a flocking algorithm not algorithmic?

Sure. But do birds use such an algorithm to form flocks?

You've read the paper about using genetic algorithms to program FPGAs to recognize the difference between a 1 kHz and a 10 kHz tone, right? Is it fair to describe the system resulting from the genetic algorithm [1] as algorithmic?

[1] it uses the logic gates as analog amplifiers, with the added bonus of "unused" cells next to the active region apparently heating the transistors to get the current gains just right


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:43 AM
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251: on the evidence birds do use something similar, yes.

On that paper, I have, and I think you've got me, at least on my argument about brain development; while neural networks can, I think, appropriately be described as algorithmically driven, things like chemical gradients in the brain development process really don't have much to do with the kind of discrete stepwise process "algorithm" should refer to.

Oh well! I take that part back. Still, I do think that most information processing done by the developed brain can be meaningfully described as algorithmic.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:48 AM
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250: I wonder how widely accepted this position is (around here anyway).

I don't even know what it means.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:48 AM
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253: well, what I meant is that the stories we tell ourselves about how we come to know things (e.g. "I was thirsty so I decided to pick up the glass of water") generally don't have much at all to do with how the brain actually mananges the process of picking up the water, and is created ex post facto by the prefrontal cortex so that you have a coherent narrative for why you're doing what you're doing. This is also why introspective and formal-logic based approaches to understanding how thinking works always fall apart, because we really don't have conscious access to the mechanisms of thought.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:55 AM
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I think that Sifu is misusing the term algorithm. I understand the term algorithm to be any procedure that can be applied mechanically to get a definite answer. An algorithm with a probabilistic component may still be an algorithm, but that doesn't get you to insight. I think that any new successful algorithm just takes you to the frontier where there's no algorithm. The various exploratory and constructive and inventive processes you use at that point are non-algorithmic. If they're algorithmic, it just means that you haven't found the frontier yet.

Fact: the word "algorithm" was originally "algorism"; "algorithm" is a corruption on the model of "arithmetic".

"The words algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latinization of the name of [the mathematician al-Khwārizmī]".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:55 AM
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"Most". Ha.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:57 AM
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251: I loved that idea. So fun.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:59 AM
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255: but no, I'm not. It's just that the question you get the answer to has changed from "is this e-mail spam" to "what is the probability that this e-mail is spam". And when you extend that to "given the relative pattern of sensory input, what are the most relevant syncretic concepts partially matched by the variously activated parts of the cortex?" you do get to insight.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 11:59 AM
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254: "is" s/b "are" Mr. High-talkin'-guy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:00 PM
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OK, but part two is that just throwing in probability doesn't get you as far as you want to go.

I also think that in most usage "algorithm" means more than "routinized kludge". Spam filters are tremendously crude -- I recently lost a moderately important email.

There are


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:04 PM
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Spam filters aren't routinized kludge, and there's mounds of evidence that this kind of statistical matching is exactly how the brain processes information. Spam filters are crude, but the basic principle behind them is tremendously important to cognition.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:07 PM
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There are many problems for which a solution can be found, but not one which is provable to be optimal. Essentially, the original problem is replaced with a more easily-understood approximation.

I don't think that applying formal methods to natural-language processing (spam filters) can ever be understood as more than a kluge; I would argue that thinking about natural language is a bad example for thinking about algorithms and probability since natural language is poorly understood and complex. I only make progress in thinking about methods by keeping examples simple and definite, myself. Gary Marcus' books about cognition seem well-reasoned and certainly full of interesting facts.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:10 PM
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Why don't they work, then? Spam filters seem like a perfect example of a laborsaving kludge for people willing to accept a suboptimal result.

I'm just saying that 1.) sure, there may be spam filter type processes in the brain, but people usually think of "algorithm" as something more exact and successful than that, and 2.) putting in randomness doesn't get you to "insight".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:13 PM
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Spam filters seem like a perfect example of a laborsaving kludge for people willing to accept a suboptimal result.

Kind of like human cognition.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:15 PM
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253: 254 explains it, but it goes further than that (for me, at least). We retcon our own lives continuously, explaining our preferences for candidates on the bases of policy positions when they're nothing more than gut reactions, or claiming to have voted for the winning candidate whether we did or not.

Essentially, we aren't rational creatures so much as we are rationalizing creatures.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:17 PM
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1.) sure, there may be spam filter type processes in the brain, but people usually think of "algorithm" as something more exact and successful than that

This is a weird definition of "algorithm", is what I'm saying. I understand that's how people are using it.

2.) putting in randomness doesn't get you to "insight".

That's not what I'm saying. Mostly it's scale that gets you insight, although "randomness" (really, probability) is a key mechanism.

Take water moccasin's example; did the genetic algorithm have the "insight" that FPGA cells could be used as analog amplifiers, something that had never occured to any human (because it's a ridiculous way to solve the problem, but anyhow)?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:18 PM
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265: some of my favorite fMRI studies are the ones that show that activation of the prefrontal cortex during performance of simple tasks happens significantly after the task performance begins. Our whole sense of present reality is lagged!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:20 PM
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Because to work well they would have to understand much more than language, they would have to understand something about the world, and something about people.

The only way I know to address the claim that randomness is contrary to insight is to cite counterexamples, and the ones I know well are problem-specific; maybe others can point to something generic.
The Metropolis algorithm for Monte Carlo solution of the Ising model, or Giorgio Parisi's replica method for spin glasses are both ingenious examples of random algorithms that spark insight about the underlying physical system.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:20 PM
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Why weird? Most people learn the term from math, where I'd guess probabilistic algorithms were only recently accepted.

an algorithm is a type of effective method in which a list of well-defined instructions for completing a task will, when given an initial state, proceed through a well-defined series of successive states, eventually terminating in an end-state. The transition from one state to the next is not necessarily deterministic; some algorithms, known as probabilistic algorithms, incorporate randomness.

With enough coin flipping this could describe almost any routinized procedure, canon law, astrology, whatever, so I suppose I should concede.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:24 PM
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Most people learn the term from math, where I'd guess probabilistic algorithms were only recently accepted.

Well, Bayes did his work in the 18th century. It's true that this kind of thing has become much more prominent lately, after the collapse of classical AI, and due also to the influence of statistical physics on other disciplines, but this isn't particularly new stuff.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:28 PM
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Yeah, but wasn't Bayes ignored for a long period? And so were Poincare et al, outside physics.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:30 PM
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Man, I love the metropolis algorithm. Everyone is talking fun stuff today.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:30 PM
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Poincaré was in the Académie française and used his political prominence for the side of justice in the Dreyfus trial. Try Levy for a late-to-be appreciated French mathematician who did probability. Also, his great work was published when he was in his fifties, an exception to the young genius model for the exact sciences.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:36 PM
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every answer it gives is a "maybe", but assuming a large enough volume of known spam and great enough homogeneity in the content of spam you can get plenty of accuracy
this is so so matches my very mechanistic chaos-order-chaos zebra like 'theory of U" :)
it's like we don't know how the brain works, all those neurons how they generate thoughts, but one can study the individual neuron and find some rules how it functions, or one can understand an individual's brain and its motivations somehow, but all individuals differ from each other, it's impossible to track all their individual motions, physical and mental, but put them like all together, they form some kind of society and sometimes pretty rigid etc
what algorithm, probabilistic? could be working during the chaotic states of anything then, material and immaterial, coz anything can be thought in that fashion maybe
the orderly states function in that just yes or no algorithm, i suppose


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:39 PM
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I was thinking of the three-body problem. Poincare was plenty famous, but it took a long time for people to notice that the three body problem was a serious problem.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:40 PM
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A relatively useful tactic is to read the work of pre-computer geniuses for mention of intractable but interesting problems. JW Gibbs and Maxwell are both good, but 19th century science prose is terrible.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:43 PM
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some of my favorite fMRI studies are the ones that show that activation of the prefrontal cortex during performance of simple tasks happens significantly after the task performance begins

Peter Watt's Blindsight has this as one of its central premises. Kind of a weird sci-fi novel, and available as a free download.


Posted by: CJB | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:48 PM
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254: what I meant is that the stories we tell ourselves about how we come to know things (e.g. "I was thirsty so I decided to pick up the glass of water") generally don't have much at all to do with how the brain actually mananges the process of picking up the water, and is created ex post facto by the prefrontal cortex so that you have a coherent narrative for why you're doing what you're doing.

Oh, well, of course they don't. Those are reasoned explanations, one among many available explanations for why one does things, or how one knows things. I flipped the light switch because ... it was dark in the room; I knew the light switch would turn on the lights; my friend asked me to; my arm and finger bones and muscles flexed in these certain ways; and so on.

A myriad of forms of explanation, none of which is privileged. We choose among them depending on our explanatory needs.

The brain's algorithmicity is another such form of explanation. You've said repeatedly above that things 'can be described' in that way. Sure, maybe (I know nothing about it) -- and if so, it would be another type of description about why I flipped the light switch. Why would I suppose that it's the one true right explanation (narrative)?

Further: in the range of explanations about the light switch, I could say: I flipped the light switch because my friend asked me to, because he couldn't find his keys and needed to, and he couldn't do so in the dark, and because he and I knew that my requested action would shed light, and because I knew that walking over and extending my arm and hand in just such a way toward the wall would (etc.) ... because my brain executed algorithms enabling all of this to take place.

That's a chained explanation that what? Drills down to the ground: how the brain actually manages the process, as you put it? (You're a form of materialist?) It's just another level of description, and there's no reason to think that it's the ground level absent a lot of assumptions about why these levels of description would be hierarchized in the first place.

Just a reminder: this was about why "rationality" per se is vastly oversold as a mechanism by which we form conclusions about the world (your 246). Do you see why I have trouble with the phrase "mechanism by which we form conclusions"? I never thought that rationality as you explain it was offered as a mechanism.

Eh ... I got carried away.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 12:52 PM
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Why would I suppose that it's the one true right explanation (narrative)

Well, because this is the one that the evidence points to, speaking in neurological terms.

The point is that the initial decision to flip the light switch is made unselfconsciously, as essentially an emotional reaction to a familiar state. This explanation is privileged because, insofar as we understand it, this is actually what happens on a neurological level. Everything else is, as you say, there to serve an explanatory need.

I'm trying not to get into a lot of larger questions of epistemology, here, and just take the first principles of scientific inquiry as given. Am I a materialist? Well, I guess so, but I've always found that categorization to elide a little bit of the complexity of a continuously varying electrochemical system of vast scale, and the ways in which describing that sort of system as equivalent to e.g. a watch are misleading.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:01 PM
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A few weeks ago I took part in one of those fake car crash things they do to scare teens from drinking and driving.

As the "victim Father" my clothes were going to be spattered with fake blood. As an aside the fake blood, being colored corn syrup, was sweet but sticky. I complained about the corn syrup flavor and wanted the old fake blood sweetened with sugar but you can only get that at a kosher theatrical supply store and it was too late.

Back to the story, though. To get my clothes I stopped at a local "Goodwill" store and I was pretty amazed. I bought a really nice dress shirt with a collar, one I would wear in real life. Since the shirt had a blue tag and it was Tuesday it was only $1.50, something I didn't know until I checked out.

I felt kinda guilty paying so little but it did show me that in many ways we throw away some really good stuff that is totally re-usable. Seriously. I know our economy relies on retail sales but damn. I think many of us could cut back with no problem at all.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:04 PM
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Our whole sense of present reality is lagged!

This is more true for some than for others. Sifu.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:06 PM
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I complained about the corn syrup flavor and wanted the old fake blood sweetened with sugar but you can only get that at a kosher theatrical supply store and it was too late.

See, Tripp, I told you you still fit in fine.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:07 PM
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279: We're just talking about differing needs and interests in the forms of explanation available. You're interested in speaking in neurological terms; that's not my area of interest, as it happens.

This news about the prefrontal cortex forming explanations moments after an 'unselfconscious' act is interesting.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:13 PM
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You're a form of materialist?

I guess so, but I've always found that categorization to elide a little bit of the complexity

Sifu thinks of himself as more of a post-emo, electronicore, dancehall materialist.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:13 PM
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I need Teo to tell us again that philosophers aren't that weird!

Also I have just idly wondered whether "to know" or "knowing" or "knowledge" is something we must treat with pros hen equivocity. I've decided that that term has limited value.

Damn good thing ben's not here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:28 PM
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I need Teo to tell us again that philosophers aren't that weird!

My knowledge begins and ends with language, unfortunately. Epistemology and cognition more generally are outside of the purview of linguistics (though there are of course individual linguists who are interested in them).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:33 PM
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283:

This news about the prefrontal cortex forming explanations moments after an 'unselfconscious' act is interesting.

You don't have to believe me but I've always said people do what they want and rationalize it later. It sounds like they may have found an explanation of that.

In acting you can be more convincing if you first decide what your character wants. In real life the first step in understanding someone else is knowing what he/she wants.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:35 PM
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285: Damn good thing ben's not here.

Actually I rather like football.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:35 PM
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Actually I rather like football.
Do you? Or do you merely think that after watching it for hours each Sunday?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:47 PM
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289: Merely? My after-the-fact time investment rationalization algorithm works very well, and appropriately so.

Actually I love reading Unfogged.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 1:57 PM
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Actually I love reading Unfogged.

I only come here for the pictures. Being a manly man and all.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 2:15 PM
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"I'm also not buying any clothing unless I already know an occasion or situation when I would wear it. "

The advantage of being a man with no sense of style and relatively few clothes is that there's always an occasion - it's called "tomorrow".


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 3:53 PM
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Sorry if my silence seemed pointed. I was asleep all this time, being in a very different time zone to you all. In any case, I don't think I can say anything much useful, the discussion having moved beyond what I'm familiar with. Nevertheless, a few thoughts, for whatever they're worth, in an attempt to clarify my position without annoying anyone (i.e. sorry about the Aspergery brain-dump that follows):

In re 266, unless I misunderstand, which is entirely likely, there can't be anything weird about the stricter notion of algorithmicity or computability, with respect to which, if you have to throw a die in the process of getting to the output, then the process is not algorithmic. This is what John Emerson has been saying too.

It is, after all, famously Turing's (resp. Church's) thesis that every function on natural numbers that would intuitively be regarded as computable algorithmically is Turing-machine computable (resp. recursive). Why this particular intuitive notion of computability or algorithmicity is interesting is that it seems to cut the phenomena at the joints, in that it turns out that the recursive functions just are the Turing-machine computable functions. That is, Church's thesis and Turing's thesis don't have to be treated as true of different intuitive notions of computability, but are instead true of the same intuitive notion.

This is in no way implies that there is something deficient about a science of the human brain that describes it as implementing algorithms in a less strict sense. But it does mean that it is an interesting fact if it doesn't work entirely algorithmically in the stricter sense. It is interesting if our brains aren't implementing Turing machines, even if they are implementing algorithms of a less deterministic sort. I'm perfectly happy to use the unqualified word "algorithmic" for the less strict sense and always say "strictly algorithmic" for the intuitive notion that the Church-Turing thesis tries to capture.

Re 239, 240, yes, it is very unclear what it exactly it would amount to, to speak of a function over meanings or discrete brain-states, as opposed to natural numbers, as being algorithmic in the stricter sense, but maybe it's not entirely obvious that it couldn't be made sense of. We'd need to know what meanings or brain-states are, and then [waves hands] Godel code them or something.

In any case, even if the strict Church-Turing notion can't be applied to this sort of situation, what the Church-Turing notion does provide is a model for the possibility that in some interesting sense (a) we can make rigorous the notion of our brain-processes being algorithmic and yet (b) in that sense our brain-processes aren't algorithmic. I guess all I wanted to say originally was that we shouldn't rule that possibility out a priori.


Posted by: Amit | Link to this comment | 05-23-08 6:09 PM
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