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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Fly In The E-Mail Fly Bottle

I was lucky enough to get an email from Powderfinger  the other day, and like a miracle of winter, it was a conundrum that assaulted me with its puzzling powers.

In the coming days, DO NOT open  any message  regardless of who sent it to you with  an attachment called:
It is a virus that opens an Olympics torch that burns the whole hard disk of your computer.
Directions: You should send this message to all  of your contacts.
It is better to receive this e-mail  2 dozen times than to receive the virus and open it.
If you receive a message called BLACK MUSLIM  IN THE WHITE  HOUSE even if sent by a friend, do not open  and shut down your machine immediately.

I told him how jealous I was that in the midst of winter I stumble across a quasi-Bertrand-Russell-type paradox. I mean, sort of like "the set of all sets which are subsets of themselves" and what have you.

I mean, isn't this a superlatively enigmatically Wittgensteinian trek leading the fly from the 4-dimensional Klein bottle of paradox?

Of course, I read it as:

Do NOT open any message with the phrase
in it.

and that is a bit diff from an attachment, but it was great: an email containing "black muslim in white house" warning me not under any circumstances to read an email with the phrase "black muslim in the white house" in it!

It was like "This sentence is false."
If the sentence is false, it's true, and if it's true, it's false.

Similarly, if I heed the warning in the email, then I cannot heed the warning in the email....
I have already read it!

Wonderful. Not quite Russell's paradox, not worthy of Whitehead's study, but a gem none the less.

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