Following on from Barbara Partee's example of Kruschev not banging his shoe, I just came across a great example of chained hypothetical negative events. It was during Bonnie Webber's plenary address here in Austin yesterday, at the NASSLLI Summer School. (BTW, if you'll be in the Austin area on Saturday, I have an announcement for you: NASSLLI is hosting a big event commemorating the centenary of Turing's birth, and it's free and open to the public.) But without more ado, here's the "Not raising hogs" text, a good Texas story of how to get something from nothing:
THE NOT RAISING HOGS BUSINESS
To: Mr. Clayton Yeutter
Secretary of Agriculture
My friends, Wayne and Janelle, over at Wichita Falls, Texas, received a check the other day for $1,000 from the government for not raising hogs. So, I want to go into the "not raising hogs" business myself next year.
What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best type of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all government policies. I would prefer not to raise Razor Back hogs, but if that is not a good breed not to raise, then I can just as easily not raise Yorkshires or Durocs.
As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised.
My friend Wayne is very excited about the future of this business. He has been raising hogs for 20 years and the most he ever made was $420 in 1978, until this year, when he got your check for $1,000 for not raising hogs.
If I can get $1,000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2,000 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 "not raised" hogs, which will give me $80,000 income the first year. Then I can buy an airplane.
Now another thing: these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat. Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4,000 hogs I am not going to raise?
I want to get started not feeding as soon as possible, as this seems to be a good time of the year to not raise hogs and grain.
I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send me any information on that also.
In view of these circumstances, I understand that the government will consider me totally unemployed, so I plan to file for unemployment and food stamps as well.
Be assured that you will have my vote in the coming elections.
PS: Would you please notify me when you plan to distribute more free cheese?
(From an archive of Texas humor at the Gathering Place)
By the way, Bonnie's talk was all about identifying easy problems in natural language processing, or at least problems which have a practically useful approximate solution. She discussed this multiple negation text as an example of something that is NOT an easy problem. It was a cute talk: Bonnie tells me she'll give me her slides to post, and I'll let you all know when that happens, and tell you a little more about the talk.