forwarded message from John Conover

From: John Conover <>
Subject: forwarded message from John Conover
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 14:24:38 -0800

Western Civilization, back from the brink ...


BTW, whenever you think there "ought to be a law," consider the system
process of making a law. A law is mandated to administer the social
behavior of a group of individuals-a society. But how the group
behaves depends upon the laws, ie., it is a self-referential system
process. This means that social laws will be incomplete, inconsistent,
or both, forever, ie., it is a Godelian issue. This is the
characteristic of all self-referential rule based systems.  So, when
an incompleteness or inconsistency shows up in the legal framework,
what do we do? We make/append the law to cover the issue. In point of
fact, the process is a fractal, monotonically increasing complexity
that increases without bounds, at an exponential rate. (It also is the
characteristic of every major civilization since the Mesopotamians
that we have legal demographics for-which lends a nice empirical
"touch" to the theory.)

Now you understand how the society that put a human on the moon has a
law concerning little old ladies dropping coins in expired parking
meters. See attached-she had to get an attorney. No kidding.

Astonishingly, the original Constitution of the United States was
logically consistent, and had no contradictions-none other than Godel
Want a simple, illustrative example of a self-referential rule based
system, that obviously works-but doesn't? Paraphrasing from "The
Emperor's New Mind," Roger Penrose, Oxford University Press, New York,
New York, 1989, pp. 101, footnote, citing Bertrand Russell's Paradox:

    Consider a library of books. The librarian notes that some books
    in the library contain their titles, and some do not, and wants to
    add two index books to the library, labeled "A" and "B"; the "A"
    book will contain the list of all of the titles of books in the
    library that contain their titles; and the "B" book will contain
    the list of all of the titles of the books in the library that do
    not contain their titles. Now, clearly, all book titles will go
    into either the "A" book, or the "B" book, respectively, depending
    on whether it contains its title, or not.

Think about in which book, the "A" book or the "B" book, the title of
the "B" book is going to be placed! (No matter in which book the title
is placed, it will be contradictory with the rules. And, if you leave
it out, the two books will be incomplete.)

So, in our simple administrative system that indexes the titles of
books in a library, we could add another rule. Something like amending
the rule of the "B" book to be the titles of books that do not contain
their titles-excepting the "B" book title. Unfortunately, although we
solved one problem, we created more problems than we solved. (Think
about it!)  And the administrative process increases in complexity,
exponentially, forever, and is never consistent, or complete.

And if you think this simple, illustrative example of a
self-referential system is an anomaly, then consider that subtraction
can not be shown to be consistent and complete within the framework of
the arithmetic. (It can be shown to be consistent and complete, but
requires dragging in mathematical induction, which means dragging in
set theory, to which mathematicians still have many open issues, ie.,
mathematics itself is an exponential process.)

It is very wise to be careful with the construction of rule based
systems of any kind, particularly if you don't understand the
implications of self-referential systems.

------- start of forwarded message (RFC 934 encapsulation) -------
Message-ID: <"_sMoc.0.I33.ZTYYo"@netcom23>
From: John Conover <>
To: John Conover <>
Subject: Woman Who Fed Parking Meters Won't Quit
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 10:52:31 PST

         CINCINNATI(Reuter) - A grandmother who captured national
attention when she was arrested for feeding coins into expired
parking meters sought to have the charges dropped Wednesday but
said she would not stop her crusade.
         The case was postponed until Nov. 22.
         ``There are not enough good deeds being done in this world
as it is,'' Sylvia Stayton, 62, told reporters outside court.
         Stayton said she had received nearly $350 from people eager
to support what she called her ``legal abuse defense fund.''
         She remained free on $1,900 bond after spending three hours
in jail following her Nov. 1 arrest in which an officer writing
tickets found her putting money in expired meters. The policeman
said he handcuffed her after she unleashed a torrent of abuse.
         Stayton could face up to a four-month sentence for
obstructing official business.
         Her attorney, David Scacchetti, argued that Stayton had been
subjected to an illegal search and seizure and could not have
known whether the cars she provided coins for ``had coined for
the maxiumum time allowed, or if they coined at all.''
         ``Mrs. Stayton's case has captured the hearts of people all
over this country,'' Scacchetti told reporters. ``We're not
talking a murder case here; we're talking about a kind, decent
woman who has never been arrested for anything before.''

------- end -------

John Conover,,

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