This is not a title

Crafting self-referential statements is like skiing - it ranges from boring-as-hell (cross country) to crazy, lots of fun and sometimes deadly (extreme freestyle).

Lots of references to self are contained in software names, and they are by and large innocuous, just intended as a pun. There's GNU, a free software project, which stands for "GNU's not Unix", or Pine, the successor of the "elm" software package ("Pine is not elm").

Yes it is.

The basic self-reference isn't very exciting: "This is a sentence." Nothing to see here, move on.

Adding a judgment creates potential: "This sentence is true" shows promise, but still won't make anybody jump off their seats.

Unless it is negated: "This sentence is false." If it were true, it would be false, and if it were false it would be true. Boom!

Self-references have found multiple applications: playful extensions ("this centence contains three errars"), distruction of the foundation of mathematics and mind-boggling pictures, just to name a few.

It has also been a tremendous source of inspiration for bureaucracies. Take for example the fundamental paradox every immigrant is faced with: in order to get a work permit an employment contract is required, and to get an employment contract a work permit is necessary.

Italy's bureaucracy is very creative in putting self-references to use, as a couple of friends over at Vision Zero recently discovered: fighting for a good cause (reducing the number of deadly traffic incidents to zero) they set off to set up a non-profit organization. In an ideal world, this would involve two steps: 1) incorporate a non-profit organization and 2) register the non-profit organization, and thereby undergoing a check of "non-profitability".

The Italian process requires two steps as well, but this is where the similarity ends. The two steps are:

  • incorporate the non-profit organization. Requirement: being registered as a non-profit.

  • register the non-profit organization. Requirement: being incorporated as a non-profit.

  • Bureaucrats working hand in hand.
    Picture courtesy of Conductive.

    It is at this point that I would suggest that changes its slogan to "zero vision to accomplish vision zero": wear the self-reference as a badge of honour, and add a layer of it every time you manage to overcome yet another apparently impossible-to-solve instance of self-reference. Good luck, guys!

    Add your self-referential stuff below, and let the Universe explode under its own weight.