Is This A Great Company, Or What?

In his book Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern, Douglas R. Hofstadter discussed the idea of “recursive acronyms”. He gave as an example the acronym TATO, which stands for “TATO And TATO Only”.

The expansion goes like this:

2. TATO And TATO Only
3. (TATO And TATO Only) And (TATO And TATO Only) Only
4. ((TATO And TATO Only) And (TATO And TATO Only) Only) And ((TATO And TATO Only) And (TATO And TATO Only) Only) Only

… and so on.

Why am I mentioning this?

Well, I insure my car with GEICO. (They provide excellent service, by the way, and I recommend them highly.)

GEICO, is, of course, an acronym; the firm was founded in 1936 as the Government Employees’ Insurance Company. But just the other day I got a claim form in the mail, and saw this at the top of the page:


That gecko’s been reading himself some Hofstadter, I think.


  1. Dedicating Ruckus says

    And, of course, there’s always the simultaneously recursive and plausibly deniable “GNU’s Not Unix”. (Continue in the key of “WINE Is Not an Emulator”, “LAME Ain’t an MP3 Encoder”, &c.)

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  2. pangur says

    Geico is a Berkshire Hathaway company, Malcolm — do you like giving your money to Warren Buffet, cornpone master of the universe?

    I dislike Geico because I had to sue them to pay me for the negligence of one of their insured.

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  3. I like State Farm. It’s like a good neighbor. Gecko is like the neighbor from hell — he’s creepy looking and you can’t understand a word he says :)

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Dom says

    I’ve had state farm for years, for both home and auto. No complaints. Highly recommended.

    Did you know that “Metamagical Themas” is an anagram of “Mathematical Games”, Martin Gardner’s old column? That explains the odd word, Themas, which should really be themata.

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  5. JK says

    Well. Geico provided me very good service until (I think) 1986.

    You didn’t sue Pangur, over a smallish misunderstanding in Arizona did you? Just a tiddly little thing as I recall.

    Posted April 9, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  6. JK says


    Evoke any memories?

    Posted April 10, 2016 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  7. JK says

    Just so I don’t overtax your memory-banks:

    (That’s a good month – June ’09 – for anybody needs to Pick a Random Post from the Waka archives.)

    Posted April 10, 2016 at 8:30 am | Permalink
  8. Malcolm says

    pangur, life’s too short for me to go around divesting every time Warren Buffett buys a company.

    Posted April 10, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

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