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Month: November 2010

Remember to remember the 15th of December

Please excuse the blatant self-promotional nature of this post, but December 15, 2010 looks like it may become quite historic. According to SF Signal, it is the day I will have some of my fiction professionally published for the first time. (And, considering how undedicated I am to the craft, perhaps the last…?)

You can subscribe to Daily Science Fiction by email for free.

You’ll also see that a story by Eric James Stone is scheduled for the day before mine. If you recall my first post about Maker of the Twenty-first Moon, I mentioned that I got the idea for it (or at least a part of it) while reading one of his previous short stories, Taint of Treason. So it’s a fun coincidence that my story should come right after one of his.

Anyway, subscribe to DSF, mark your calendars, and prepare for much celebration… I think I’ll bake a cake that week… maybe write some music for it…

Pan and Worldshaker … future movies?

I also found this article to be interesting:

If you saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 this weekend, then you most likely marveled at the gorgeous animated sequence where Hermoine tells the tale of “The Deathly Hallows”. … Variety is now reporting that the director of that sequence, Ben Hibon, is attached to direct the fantasy action thriller Pan. Based on a script by Ben Magid and originally set up as a directing vehicle for Guillermo del Toro, “The film puts a dark spin on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan with Captain Hook as a haunted former police detective in pursuit of a childlike kidnapper.”

Hibon, along with his producing partners Renee Tab and Tarik Heitmann, have also optioned Richard Harland’s steampunk novel, Worldshaker.

That Harry Potter animation was the best part of the otherwise disappointing film. (The nude kissing was the worst part; entirely inappropriate for a Potter film; it’s awful how they’ve been trying to sexualize these stories, shame on you filmmakers! Shame shame shame!)

Anyway, Pan sounds very interesting, I look forward to it.

Worldshaker sounds even more interesting. I now really want to read that book. Then again, Hollywood tends to mess up steampunk-type books, like City of Ember and The Golden Compass. Something stylistically they just can’t get right about it… though they might actually get Hugo Cabret right, considering its director, who usually knows how to make a good movie.

No more princess fairy tales for Disney?

I found this article to be interesting. It states:

Once upon a time, there was a studio in Burbank that spun classic fairy tales into silver-screen gold.

But now the curtain is falling on “princess movies,” which have been a part of Disney Animation’s heritage since the 1937 debut of its first feature film, “Snow White.” The studio’s Wednesday release of “Tangled,” a contemporary retelling of the Rapunzel story, will be the last fairy tale produced by Disney’s animation group for the foreseeable future.

Actually, I think most of the “princess-ness” of Disney came about in the 90’s with The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas, all released in less than a decade, and all following a similar Broadway-influenced romantic comedy formula. I’m sure Walt Disney himself never meant for his company to be defined by fairy tales or princesses. They did Snow White in 1937, then didn’t do Cinderella until 1950, and didn’t do Sleeping Beauty until 1959. That’s only three princess-oriented fairy tales done in old Uncle Walt’s lifetime.

The article mentions that their Princess and the Frog didn’t do as well as they’d like. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but looking at the previews, it certainly didn’t look that great. It was tauted as introducing Disney’s first black princess just as the nation was getting its first black president. A film decision like that should never be made for political brownie points. And they were, dare I say, racist, playing to stereotypes and setting the film in New Orleans and making the music score jazzy. The film shouldn’t have been set in America at all. Unless the intent was to make the movie about racism (which I doubt, and there are already plenty of movies about that), the movie should’ve treated the princess just like any other princess.

Anyway, I digress. My point is, I don’t think this news is really all that breath-taking. It’s natural. It’s obvious.

I think it’s kind of silly to guess at what the public wants, because I don’t think you really can know, beyond certain genre generalizations. Like “vampires are popular now” or “wizards are popular now” … but that doesn’t tell you what sort of story people would be interested in seeing, or what sort of stories they would not be interested in seeing.

I think filmmakers should step away from looking at the profit numbers (as long as there’s a profit at least) and just do whatever interests them the most, whatever story gives them goosebumps just thinking about. The audience does matter, but only to a certain degree… not to the degree of dictating what sort of film to make next. Really, audiences have no idea what they want.

Not that that’s not what Disney is doing. I can’t really tell from the article what they’re doing; who knows how they’re making their decisions?

Oh, and did they really want “Tangled” to appeal to boys? Firstly, its style is all wrong for that, from the colors to the guy’s facial hair pattern. Secondly, the preview doesn’t show enough thrilling action. Instead it shows “Here comes the smolder…”

The article also mentions that they’re no longer doing Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen. Though it’s been dramatized before, I’m rather happy about this. Firstly, I’d hate to see the story Disney-ified. The story has a darkness to it that Disney (or Pixar) would probably ruin, even if they ruin it well. Secondly, I’d like to do it myself. Not ruin it, that is, but turn it into an animated feature. I guess there’s really not much of a chance of that, but if Disney had done it, there’d be no chance, so at least now there’s a one billionth of a percent chance.

Birthday and shopping and such

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We had a bunch of family over, which was really nice. It did, however, prevent me from spending as much time as usual on my Animation Mentor homework… but oh well!

‘Twas also my birthday on Thanksgiving, so I’m now 25 years old, quarter of century! Let’s look at my list of accomplishments thus far in my life: hmmm, empty. (Is that self-deprecation, humility, or honesty?) Let’s look at my list of future accomplishments: hmmm, empty as well. When you’re a quarter of the way to nowhere, you’re actually already there! And so I regret to announce… this is the end. I’m leaving now… I bid you all a very fond farewell. (I’ve put this off for far too long.) Goodbye.

Oops, nevermind, I lost the ring.

OK, on to other matters that don’t matter. Black Friday! There were… no deals. No deals I was interested in, anyway. I only got the fifth season of House on DVD for $15 and Total Recall on blu-ray for $7 or $8 at Best Buy… those were the only interesting deals I could find. What’s happening to the economy?! Not that I looked very hard… I don’t need or want much at the moment. Amazon had the best deals. Bought some blu-rays from them, including the first season of Dollhouse on blu-ray for only $14… excellent deal. Now if only the second season was that price too… argh, I’m still disappointed they cancelled that show, it was great.

(On a side note, since I referenced Lord of the Rings, I’ll admit it was very tempting to buy the Lord of the Rings trilogy on blu-ray seeing them marked down to only $7. But I resisted. I want the extended editions, not the theatrical editions!)

Hey, it’s Advent! Which means we can start counting down to Christmas without seeming too desperate. 26 days!

The crime-twins problem

I had a weird dream the other night. (It was random and dream-like, like dreams often are, but for the purposes of this post I’ll pretend like it was more understandable than it really was; the gist of it is the same.) I was the judge of a no-jury court case. It involved a man who had stolen priceless paintings. All of his illegal activities of breaking and entering and stealing these paintings from a museum were all recorded by security cameras. His face could be seen very easily.

Unfortunately he had an identical twin brother. They were both sitting there in the court room before me, both claiming innocence, both with the same solid alibi of walking around a bookstore that night, which was also caught on camera. They both knew exactly what one of them was doing at the bookstore. I questioned them separately (I’m not sure if that’s really something a judge would do, but I did), and they both told the same story, which supported what was on camera.

There was no DNA evidence left behind by either man.

Lastly, I did not have the lie detecting skills of that guy in Lie to Me, so I couldn’t do anything very dramatic involving catching one of them in a lie or giving them the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

And in the dream I thought it was a riddle, as if there definitely was a way to solve the conundrum and I just had to figure it out.

But I woke up with the riddle unsolved.

Is there an answer? Or is that the perfect way to get out of a crime?

The dream made me wonder if DNA would really help such a case anyway. It might! According to this article from Scientific American:

The discovery of this genetic variation gives hope for an obscure but pressing issue in the case of a criminal suspect who is an identical twin. “If one twin is a suspect and the whereabouts of the other twin cannot be determined, then the jury is often left without the ability to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt” in cases that rely on DNA evidence, says Frederick Bieber, a pathologist at Harvard Medical School.

“If the twin issue comes up in a criminal investigation it’s possible that if there are [copy number variants] that differ between the two twins that might help sort that out,” Bieber says.

Given that there are 80 pairs of identical twins in Virginia’s convicted offender database alone, this might not be as small an issue as it may sound. And such genetic variation also matters to the population at large.

Ha! Not a very original idea for a dream at all, I guess. Subconscious fail.

The Bill Nye incident…

According to this article:

Popular TV personality Bill Nye collapsed onstage Tuesday night in front of hundreds of audience members during a presentation at USC, campus officials said.

“Nobody went to his aid at the very beginning when he first collapsed — that just perplexed me beyond reason,” USC senior Alastair Fairbanks said. “Instead, I saw students texting and updating their Twitter statuses. It was just all a very bizarre evening.”

This led some people to blame this bizarre event on mobile technology and social media. Actually, I think it’s more a case of the bystander effect. If you’re part of a large group of people, you’re less likely to take certain actions, thinking someone else will do it, or someone else is in charge of it. And what exactly do you do with someone who passes out anyway? A medical reaction is not common sense… we’d probably just go to his side, try to wake him up, ask if he’s OK and if he wants some water, and maybe call an ambulance if it seems like something we can’t handle. That’s not a very trained response.

Furthermore, what do you do when you’re not even sure what’s happening? According to one comment on the article:

When he first collapsed he was talking about gravity, and the audience believed it was part of his act.

Perhaps this is a risk for anyone who likes to joke… what if you’re not joking? How will people know? There was that British comedian Tommy Cooper who died of a heart attack during a performance on live television, and the audience just laughed because they didn’t realize what was really going on.

Anyway, the point is that I think this phenomenon is rooted in our psychology, not so much our technological culture, not our desire to update twitter.

Garritan World Instruments coming soon…

Today on the Garritan forum, Gary Garritan posted a link to the catalog of instruments that will be available in his upcoming World Instruments library: World Instruments List.

There are plenty of instruments to look forward to here. Irish whistles, bagpipes, panpipes, celtic harp, didgeridoo, the various Chinese, Japanese, and Indian woodwinds, ocarinas, bamboo flute, bone flute, fife, conch shell, temple bells, temple blocks, lava stones, Tibetan singing bowls, rain stick, plenty of percussion I’ve never even heard of before, koto, hurdy gurdy, mandolin, dulcimer, ukuleles, harmonium, steel drums, melodica, and plenty more. Definitely check out the list.

I have no idea what I’ll compose when I get my hands on this new set of sounds, but I’m really looking forward to it!

What school should be like…

What it shouldn’t be like…

It’s easy to say what school should not be like. A lot of people agree that the current US education system is awful. So we ask: Well, why is it awful? And then we have hundreds of different answers. We don’t agree on what’s really wrong with school, what the purpose of learning truly is, or how a child or teenager should be spending his time. So our agreement that school is awful is almost meaningless. A lot of people think it should be worse than it already is!

A couple days ago I was exploring “democratic education.” (Not schools for democrats… that’s normal schools, considering how many teachers are democrats.) These are schools based on the idea that students should have more, if not the most, power in regards to what they do with their time at school. There is no mandatory curriculum, class times, grades, etc.

I came across this video. I’m not exactly sure when it was made, but I reckon some time in the early 2000’s, as the Lord of the Rings movies are referenced by a student…

(It’s a long film… it’s a documentary, after all…)

Free to Learn: A Radical Experiment in Education from Isaac Graves on Vimeo.

I certainly would have much preferred going to a school like that! But I do not see this as the ideal sort of school.

However, I think they are closer to my ideal school than most schools. A few things they get right: 1) Student directed. 2) No grades. 3) No mandatory curriculum. (Knowledge that you don’t use is useless after all.)

But there are some important things I think the school lacks. The first thing is societal support. That’s not really the school’s fault, it’s society’s, the sort of society that’s surprised and dumbfounded and scared by this sort of education. (It still boggles my mind how so many parents think that their children should be forced to learn things that the parent doesn’t remember. If the parent doesn’t know or remember it, that’s pretty good evidence that you can get along fine without it. But there still seems to be a deep fear that something will go horrible wrong with a student if they don’t learn it anyway, even though they’ll later forget it.) The school would be so much better if it had more resources: a bigger building, more technology, more books, more teachers, etc. As of now, it does seem like a poor run-down place. They need Extreme Makeover: School Edition. Again, this is not really the school’s fault, they’re probably doing the best they can with their financial limits. But it does prevent the school from being my sort of ideal school.

Secondly, I feel there does need to be a wee bit more “discipline.” They don’t need to be nearly as strict as normal schools, but I think the students do need to have some sort of deliverables, some sort of tangible product by the end of the year. They need to choose what to study and stick with it, follow through with it, actually get something concrete done. I think this could work by having the student create their own schedule / guide / list of goals for what they’re going to study and then be somehow forced, or at least highly encouraged, to follow it. As it is now, they run the risk of, you know, not learning anything. If given the chance to play all day, they run the risk of taking it. (Not that play can’t be educational, but it can certainly be less educational.)

Lastly, the “council meetings” feel very odd to me. They could be great for social development (much better than an adult saying “you do this, you do that, and a time-out for you!”), but they also seem somewhat hippy-ish, and could be a major time-waster for students not involved in the main argument.

What it should be like…

I think I agree with everything in this post. Especially what he says about grades:

Grades are demotivating for students. First, they end the learning process. Once an assignment is graded, it is no longer worth improving upon. Second, grades lead naturally to ranking of students, which leads to students self-image being hurt. Nothing is more demoralizing than recognizing that a person of authority thinks you aren’t as worthy as your peers.

Yes, thank you! Finally! Someone who agrees with me! “But then we have no way to assess…” they all say. Not buying it; grades must go.

He’s a bit vague in some parts:

The curriculum itself would be at least 50% self-directed by the students with some essentially skills taught along side completely personalized learning. Our emphasis would be on skills, not content.

I could agree or disagree with that, depending on the finer points of the curriculum. Of course, that’s something that would probably change year to year, as both teachers and students gain experience in using the school. And I think “skills, not content” is a vital point, an awesome point to make. Skills are by their very nature useful. Content may or may not be, and, in our modern schools, usually isn’t. When I say “knowledge that you don’t use is useless” I’m mostly talking about content. Of course, some skills are also more important than others. It would be silly to force all students to have cooking skills, for instance. But critical thinking skills, research skills, project management skills, social skills, etc., these are extremely important, they can be used everyday, and they naturally lead the student to the specific content they need. The Free School mentioned above seems to lack instilling these sorts of skills (at least, from what I could tell).

Again, the finer points would have to be worked out, but I would envision students (and “teachers”) taking on some sort of interesting and useful projects; research projects, science projects, art projects… whatever people are interested in. Working on the project(s) should encourage development of the aforementioned skills. (You cannot do an art project consisting of randomly splashing paint on a canvas. Sorry. You’re really just wasting time.) A student would not be free to play all day, but would have academic freedom in the sense that he could explore the areas that interested him, and ignore the subjects that didn’t (after all, working adults are allowed to do that).

Projects could, of course, be shared among students. That is, you could have a group of students all working on the same project.

Students would have to keep track of and report their project’s progress. The point is not necessarily to reach their goal, but, obviously, to learn. And other students would probably be quite interested in each other’s projects.

Students could of course switch projects, change projects, etc., as their interests shift naturally, or as projects prove to be more difficult than once thought. Projects would be like… amorphous solids… or something.

The big points are: 1) No grades. Progress reports of a sort, perhaps, but no comparable structured grading systems. 2) No mandatory curriculum, at least for the most part, content-wise. You don’t have to learn the phases of the moon or the date George Washington died, etc. And thus 3) no paper quizzes or tests or busy-work. 4) Student directed; students get to decide what particular areas to study. Making them study a little of everything is useless. (Plus it will happen to an extent naturally. A topic is infinitely more interesting if you’re studying it because you want to.) 5) Age mixing. Why do schools so often split students up by age? All ages are capable of working together. That’s what us adults do in the real world anyway. Every kind of mixing, really. 6) Flexible times. It would probably make more sense for most people to start at 10 AM or so and get off later in the evening. Getting up at 6 AM isn’t helping much.

If there existed a school like that, I would desperately want to work there. Except I’ve never been a parent or a teacher or a school administrator and I don’t have a degree in education. Will you still let me in? Heck, I’d even love to be a perpetual student there…

Is education for employment?

masseffect

A blog post I wrote back in September titled The Khan Academy is not that good suddenly made some small rounds on Twitter the past couple days, giving me a couple hundred views, spiking my otherwise modest traffic, woohoo! Many thanks tweeters! It is now the most popular blog post I’ve ever written. Which isn’t saying much, but getting comments and other people’s opinions is always nice. Although, you know, this is about education which, like religion and politics, people naturally have very strong opinions about (myself included).

One guy tweeted something like “I quit reading when he said education was about jobs” (though I’m not sure why you would tweet a link to a post you quit reading). Which is too bad, because that’s a very interesting point… I stated:

The big thing people seem to forget or ignore is that everything ultimately comes down to employment… whether or not you can do a job, and whether or not employers will recognize that you can do a job and hire you.

This is a vital point. That this made at least one person quit reading might be the source of most of our educational problems (here in the US, at least).

Firstly, I’m not sure how this view is wrong. I’m certainly not saying that one cannot pursue topics they are interested in. If the person has an ounce of intelligence, they will probably try to pursue employment in an area that interests them anyway or become a teacher. Ultimately, if you want to live, you need food, and usually shelter. You will have to pay for those. You will have to get the money from somewhere. You will, therefore, have to work for a living. How will you be able to work? You will have to learn. How will you learn? You will go to school. If there are no employment opportunities in an area that interests you, and you do not have the resources to create your own, you will have to convince an employer that you can do some task for them. You need to do this to live. If you don’t do this, you will die. Live or die, make your choice.

So, there’s student directed interest and employment needed to live. What else could education be for? I can’t think of anything else. What else is there?

But then a group of old people sitting around a table say “Hmmm… what should we make kids learn? How about the phases of the moon and the names of the local rivers? Yes. Yes, that seems good. We will be smarter than Japan in no time.”

Um… WHY? If you’re interested in the phases of the moon, you can Google it. If you’re interested in the names of the local rivers, again, Google it, bam, you’re done. (If you’re really interested, you’ll memorize such things on your own without being forced institutionally.) When are you ever going to be in a situation in which you have to know the phases of the moon or the names of the local rivers and have no way to look them up? Why is that so important to prepare kids for? Without interest from the student or a need from employers, that material is not educational. It is useless. It is Hannifin’s Supreme Law of Education: Knowledge that you don’t use is useless.

Secondly, don’t most people already agree that this is what college is for? If someone was able to get a great (and secure) job with a great salary right out of high school, what parents would still recommend going to college? Isn’t good employment the entire reason our culture makes such a huge fuss about having to go to college? About having to get a degree?

Thanks for reading!

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EDIT: I guess I should point out that I’m not trying to imply that employment needs to be thought of as separate from life, as if it has to be some institution you’re trapped in for certain times of the week instead of living your “real life.” And I’m also not trying to imply that you must have a boss. Perhaps instead of using the word “employment” I should say that education ultimately comes down to “a means to live.” And preferably “a means to live well.” Maybe that will make more sense. (Nor am I trying to imply that huge salary is the most important thing. But you will obviously need a salary of some kind.)

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EDIT: I think a lot of traffic came from this particular tweet. The tweeter, David Wees, has many other interesting tweets and an interesting blog which I hope to explore more of at David Wees’s Blog. So a thank you to Mr. Wees for the traffic.

Paradoxes

I was reading a book called Dream, Death, and the Self by J. J. Valberg. (Lately I’ve been enjoying reading rather random selections from random books that look interesting, always wishing I had time to read more.) At the beginning, the book is talking about philosophy, and mentions a list of paradoxes. I knew what some of the paradoxes were, but didn’t recognize all of them, so I done gone went and looked ’em up! So here they all are, for your mind to consider and my mind to remember:

Zeno’s paradox

This could really could refer to a set of similar motion paradoxes, but here’s one:

This ancient paradox reveals how we don’t understand the nature of motion, space, and time. If you walk a mile, you must first walk half a mile. If you walk half a mile, you must first walk a quarter mile. But first a 8th, a 16th, a 32nd, a 64th, on and on… you must pass an infinite number of halfway points! How is it possible to move at all?

(Along the same lines, we might just ask: is it really possible to divide something (time or distance) infinitely? What is an infinitely small distance or moment of time like? Could we give an infinitely small entity a numerical value to let us now where it goes in a sequence? Wouldn’t that be impossible since each infinitely small entity would be sandwiched between an infinite amount of other infinitely small entities on either side? Is it possible to take two thirds of those infinitely small entities, when two thirds and one thirds would both be made up of an infinite amount of entities and thus be equal? And then we could get into the nature of infinity… what is infinity minus infinity? Is infinity times infinity more than it already was? Why does saying “infinity” instantly win any argument? (Yes, it does, infinity.))

The Ravens paradox

You accept that “All Ravens are black.”

You accept that this means “All things that are not black are not ravens.” (And vice versa. These statements imply each other.)

But what if you apply specific examples?

You accept that “My pet Nevermore is a raven, and is black.”

Well, good, this seems to support our first premise that “All ravens are black.”

Finally you accept that “This green thing is an apple.”

Ah, good, and this seems to support our second premise that “All things that are not black are not ravens.” Which then implies our original premise that “All ravens are black.”

Woah, does it really? The sight of a green apple is evidence that all ravens are black? What if our premises said that all ravens were white? It seems the site of a green apple should support that all ravens are any color we want! Ahhhh! Paradox!

This paradox reveals the problem of induction. Does inductive reasoning really lead to knowledge? If all you ever see are white swans, you might conclude that “all swans are white.” But that’s a false assumption; you really can’t assume anything about the swans you have not yet observed. This also applies to many complex (or chaotic) systems, such as how well a movie does, how the stock market works, when terrorist attacks will happen, etc. (That is, you can not find things that hold true for every terrorist attack and then conclude “aha, a terrorist attack happens when such and such happen.” Even though this is what historians love to do in retrospect. Or you can not say “aha, this movie or book did so well because of these few factors… blah blah blah” even though that’s what news anchors and magazine articles like to do all the time.) Check out the book The Black Swan. It is all about this problem of induction. And most people live their whole lives unaware that they’re using this faulty logic daily. It’s natural, after all.

Surprise examination

Or the Unexpected hanging paradox

Can you really expect the unexpected? If someone tells you that you will have a surprise exam at an unexpected time, or you will be executed at an unexpected time, or the end of the world will occur at the least expected time, won’t that lead you to constantly expect it? And if you constantly expect it, does that mean it will never happen? Or does expecting it lead you to not expect it?

What if there’s even a time limit? Someone says “you will have a surprise exam sometime this week, but on an unexpected day.” OK, if you haven’t had the exam by Friday, you know it has to be Friday, and thus Friday would be expected, so it can’t be Friday. And then can’t you just use the same logic to rule out all the days?

Sorites paradox

How wide can a chair get before it becomes a sofa? How many hairs does a man have to lose before being considered bald? How many grains of sand make a heap? (If you’re pro-choice, how many days of existence in the womb make a human?) The old Sorites paradox deals with the problem that some of our ideas have no defined boundaries; they’re vague. And then we wonder: how do we come to understand such vague ideas so well?

Preface paradox

This paradox basically says: aren’t there situations in which an individual would rationally hold two contradictory beliefs? For instance, in a book’s preface, an author might apologize for mistakes contained in the book, believing that there is likely at least one mistake just due to chance. At the same time, he might’ve fact-checked his book very carefully, and so know that there are no errors. So he believes that there both are and aren’t errors at the same time.

I don’t fully understand this paradox, as I don’t accept the second premise; an author could carefully fact-check his book and still believe it’s likely that he missed something.

Perhaps this paradox can be better illustrated with religious hypocrisy; a believer rationally believes it is right to donate to the poor for instance, but upon leaving his worshiping session he donates nothing. (Or he votes to raise taxes; the wonderful virtue of donating other people’s money!) But even in this case, someone would argue that he is being irrational in at least one belief.

Lottery paradox

This is the paradox you think of when you buy a lottery ticket. The chance of any one certain ticket winning is extremely small. Yet the chance of one ticket somewhere winning is extremely high. So you can safely conclude that your lottery ticket won’t win. Yet someone somewhere must have the winning ticket, and therefore must be wrong.

Russell’s paradox

From good old Bertrand Russell. Basically, we have two kinds of sets: normal and abnormal. Abnormal sets include themselves, normal sets do not. For example, the set of all squares would be a normal set; a set of all squares is not a square. However, a set of all non-squares would be abnormal; a set of non-squares is itself also not a square.

The paradox comes when we ask: is the set of all normal sets normal or abnormal? If the set includes itself, it’s abnormal. But if it doesn’t include itself, it’s normal, and should then include itself. Ahhh!! Paradox!

This is related to the more popular barber paradox: A barber only shaves all gentlemen who do not shave themselves. Does the barber shave himself? If he doesn’t, he should; if he does, he shouldn’t.

The Why paradox

I made this one up, though someone probably philosophized about it before me, and it probably has a more formal name (if you know, I’d love book recommendations on this paradox… Godel maybe?). Basically, if you can always ask “why?” to any statement and then any proceeding answer, where does logic end? If we can’t give reasons for everything, then does that mean we just have to assume certain things? Does that mean all logic is based on illogicalness?

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The main point of all these paradoxes is that they don’t really manifest themselves in the real world; we don’t directly observe anything tangible that makes no sense; we’re not observing magic. As Dream, Death, and the Self says, the generation, analysis, and solution of such a paradox are all purely philosophical. They don’t really create any problems in our everyday life, only problems in how we perceive and understand the world, only inner-conscious problems. (As opposed to, say, an optical illusion, or a limited understanding of some tangible science like physics. Gravity is a paradox, for instance, and not a purely philosophical one. As is the uncertainty principle.)

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In the film Inception, I’m not quite sure how an optical illusion involving a staircase is a paradox… ?? Makes a nice one-liner thought, I suppose.