Self Awareness

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It's been so long since I posted that my to-blog list is on the verge of self-awareness, as prefigured in this SMBC comic:

The mouseover title: "I'm just saying, meeting all my deadlines at this point may be a form of murder."

The aftercomic:


  1. John from Cincinnati said,

    May 2, 2021 @ 4:12 pm

    I'm reaching for something language-related here, and I pick the use of repeated written vowels to represent extended spoken vowel sounds. Some repeated written vowels work for me, some work in a specific context, but others always trip me up. "I LIIIVE" certainly suggests an extended short "I" sound, except that "Saturday Night LIIIVE" spelled the same way suggests an extended long "I" sound. The one that always bothers me is "NOOOOO", which to me wants to be pronounced as "NEW". Oh, and then there's "AUGHHH", which I read as an extension of the initial "AW" sound and not of a terminal extended throat clearing. Dialect is difficult!

  2. JPL said,

    May 2, 2021 @ 5:32 pm

    I did laugh at the joke, but it's a long way from the dawn of life to the achievement of self-awareness. But in any case, btw, what event marks the transition between the physical and the biological levels of analysis? And what are the conditions that make possible, for a living being, the phenomenon called "self-awareness"? (Texts, computers, programs, etc. lack the essential property of the biological level, since the artist may have been thinking of things like parallel distributed processing, or whatever the latest is.) (PS Also, reference in NL is not just a connection or correspondence, as one might be led to believe from the Tarskian model.)

    [(myl) The point of the joke seems to be the construction of a moral argument for procrastination… The fact that the philosophical presuppositions are so shoddy is part of the psychological framework of the joke.]

  3. Jerry Packard said,

    May 2, 2021 @ 7:28 pm

    Red Bull gives you wiiings.

  4. JPL said,

    May 2, 2021 @ 8:36 pm


    Yes, I laughed because it resonated with my life as a guilt-filled procrastinator haunted by a massive to do list that typically I find difficult to keep track of or even recall. I think I'll try this excuse (like the mouseover title) on all those (like family members) who for some reason have expectations of me. What I wrote down above was like the next thing that came to my mind, after I said, "Hey wait a minute …"

  5. KeithB said,

    May 3, 2021 @ 8:40 am

    I don't see how any procrastinator worth his salt can even have a to-do list.

  6. Robert Coren said,

    May 3, 2021 @ 9:31 am

    @KeithB: I would say that the to-do list is all but essential for the procrastinator. Putting things on the list is the perfect way to put off actually doing them.

  7. Rick B said,

    May 3, 2021 @ 7:44 pm

    It takes the procrastinator (and everyone else) a noticeable amount of cognition to keep from forgetting all those to-do items. Writing them down frees up that cognition for more productive pursuits (like reading LLog, or reading self-help material about how to stop procrastinating).

  8. Michael Watts said,

    May 11, 2021 @ 2:03 am

    John from Cincinnati, I've wondered about emphatic lengthening in Chinese, which would have trouble marking a lengthened vowel by repeating a character. It is very common for the character 啊 "a" — 啊啊啊啊 is "aaaa" and you can use as many as you see fit. But in general a character's pronunciation includes a nonzero onset and repeating the character would seem to imply repeating that along with the vowel. 哇 "wa" could be repeated as 哇哇哇哇哇哇, but that looks like "wawawawawawa" rather than "waaaaaa". Or you could write 哇啊啊啊啊啊, but then you lose the graphical repetition.

    It is not entirely clear to me whether other (spoken) words can receive emphatic lengthening in the manner of 啊.

    On the other hand, I have seen a Russian meme with the partial caption HEEEEEEEET, and I assume the intent is to represent a sound like "nyeeeeeet" and not a sound like "nyeyeyeyeyeyet". So at least some people have taken their stand on the side of graphical representation over pronunciation.

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