Two prisoners are each given control of a large army composed of perfectly bugless robots and entirely unflinching fanatics who obey every order exactly. Their job is to conquer a town ; their armies together are sufficient for the job, but apart are not - the defenders will butcher one who attacks alone, and then pursue the other one to the ends of the world and butcher his army, too, but allow him to live as a slave.i
If they attack together they will prevail, and feast on fawn and prawn ; but "communication problems" en route could you know... prevent them from reaching an understanding. This totally happens, irl.
Three US generals are captured by the "terrorists". This happens all the time, because the US is made of pussies, then holds periodic contests of faggotry and calls the winners "generals". They are offered a very simple deal (as per the von Flondor doctrine) : either they confess to the US being a rogue state, the US government being a criminal entreprise and the US president chief conspirator, guilty of genocide, simple murder, mass rape, simple rape, arson and jaywalking so he can be hanged by his own guts ; or else they are held in detention indefinitely.
One confessing is sufficient - the others will be deemed co-conspirators and hung together with Bahamas. So this is a dilemma, you realise, or how as they call it in the US a "no brainer".
These are both the same thing ; they are presented as separate things because - let's quote Rochester :
Whilst the misguided follower climbs with pain mountains of whimseys, heaped in his own brain, stumbling from thought to thought, falls headlong down into doubt's boundless sea where, like to drown, books bear him up awhile, and make him try to swim with bladders of philosophy. In hopes still to o'ertake th' escaping light, the vapour dances in his dazzled sight till, spent, it leaves him to eternal night. Then old age and experience, hand in hand, lead him to death, and make him understand, after a search so painful and so long, that all his life he has been in the wrong. Huddled in dirt the reasoning engine lies, who was so proud, so witty, and so wise.
When the witty, wise "reasoning" engine wishes to pretend at issue is a matter of procedure, it likes to present "the problem" in terms of the Byzantine generals - conveniently forgetting that the Byzantium is already right here, and its generals as well. Apparently calling mongoloids by their ancient name is improper, but calling pussies by some historical contrivance is a-ok. You know how it goes.
Otherwise, when that same "reasoning" engine wishes to pretend at issue is a matter of it being shitty (oh, but it's not its fault, of course - human fallibility! weakness! etc!) then the "problem" becomes the "dilemma". You know, of prisoners. The difference is intended to propose, but not assume the proposition, that what wasn't optional before becomes optional now, and wouldn't you like to eat the rules of the Universe for its own benefit ? Hm ? You don't want to be like those bad prisoners of no moral values and internal rectitude, yes ? You're not a prisoner, ergo, you will when the time comes magick Shannon's law away so that he doesn't have to lift a finger or get off the couch. It's only fair!
There is no difference between these two. Their only meaning is simply : act always from cause ; and never towards imagined purpose. This because the future is not merely unknown but altogether uncertain, and this uncertainity can never be resolved. Ever, no matter what you do.
There are, of course, those who would pretend otherwise.
Merely for safety, after fame we thirst, for all men would be cowards if they durst.
- You know, the sort "independent" and "strong" women always end up reducing themselves to - sniffing used toilet paper in cum-soaked glory hole rooms. [↩]