Tuesday, March 8, 2016

twerp tantrum

I awake accompanied by the delicious crankiness of the word "twerp." I am sick of twerps, of the slow-but-sure devolution of my country into mediocracy, of the mindless elevation of sincerity that drowns out any principled nourishment. Bah! When was the last time my country could lay claim to a worthy advance or breakthrough? The health care plan was at least an attempt, but elsewhere it's a world full of greedy twerps, flag-wavers, war mongers and weenies.

As with all such criticisms, you can't see it if you can't be it. OK, I'm a potential twerp too. And still I am sick of twerps. It's grating and galling and, like some Tea Party mediocrat, I want to holler, "Go fuck yourself!" I'm oh-so-sincere, dontcha know.

"Twerp" is defined by an Internet dictionary as "a silly, insignificant, or contemptible person." This cut-and-dried definition fails to transmit the pure silliness and fun of the word "twerp" as it occurs in my mind. Twerps are small people -- small physically, small mentally ... small, as in the alleged size of Donald Trump's penis. They are silly, small idiots ... right up to the moment when the morning dawns and the twerps are running the show.

My elevated vantage point collapses in the face of the fact that self-righteous posturing has won the day and twerps rule. $12.37-an-hour-insurance-company clerks tell cardiac surgeons how long a patient can and, more important, cannot stay in the hospital in the wake of major surgery. What the rule book says is what those ruled must adhere to ... because these are the rules and without the rules, we would all be worse off. The fiction is extended: Rules can in fact rule and -- you'd better believe it -- improve life. This is, of course, true, right up to the moment when it becomes patently false and the age of mediocracy advances... and the movie "V for Vendetta" takes on a burning, pungent accuracy.


Twerps are like Potter Stewart's Supreme Court observation about pornography: "I may not know what it is, but I know it when I see it," he said in essence.

But in order not to be too badly tarred by my own twerp-prone brush, it really is necessary to point out what is not quite so twerp-y. What is it that would bank my fires ... gimme an example. And, of course, the minute I do, I run the very real risk of being branded a twerp by the sincere twerps who are building this mediocracy.

So be it.

In Seoul, South Korea, Lee Se-dol, the world champion of Go/baduk, is scheduled to play a five-game tournament against Google's artificial intelligence program:
"I've been telling people that I was certain that I would be the winner of all five matches. But Google - which developed the programme - seems to be quite confident, too".
He is spooked by the idea that the computer can adapt its game as it learns its opponent's style - his mechanical opponent will adapt its style as it studies his.
This idea that a computer can learn how to ultimately beat a human has frightening possibilities if it were ever eventually translated into weapons, for example.
Consider the breadth and depth:
The number of permutations in a game of Go is greater than the number of atoms in the universe, according to the Nature science journal, "so it can't be solved by algorithms that search exhaustively for the best move"....
Playing against a machine is very different from an actual human opponent," the world's Number 1 told the BBC.
"Normally, you can sense your opponent's breathing, their energy. And lots of times you make decisions which are dependent on the physical reactions of the person you're playing against.
"With a machine, you can't do that."
Of course, it's just a game and any twerp can point out things that are more sincere and more compelling than games.

Donald Trump, for example.

PS. And then there's the apparent excellence of the discovery of a way to promote regeneration of the cataract-afflicted eye.

1 comment:

  1. I say we blame Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Voltaire, Diderot, d'Alembert and the many more who contributed to the Encyclopedie, building upon the thinkers of yore, and living in a catholic France that had skipped the reformation, were fomenting the enlightenment. It was an age that stirred to lift humanity from being dominated by religious superstition into the science and reason and secular governance.

    Then along came Rousseau who decried the immorality (that has always been with mankind) and blamed cities and civilization for depriving us of the uplifting experience of living naturally with nature and morally with god. (a most severe Calvinist god) This was justified because he felt it, and as feelings are beyond reason, they must be sent by god. Being beyond reason, his feelings couldn't and were not held up to the light of reason and explored for what sane people call contradictions and hypocrisy. Belief was above and beyond the reach of man's faculties. His friends among the philosophes all thought him mad and ties were cut.

    Perhaps the greatest of the philosophes who were the great thinkers of the time and promoted reason was Voltaire, who took a most unamerican view that only an enlightened monarch could protect the people and the nation from the stupidity and short sightedness of the human experience. He felt that the common man lacked the facility for reasoned problem solving. And here came Rousseau saying reason was useless and feeling was king. And the enlightenment fell to the romantic movement. And the optimism of god inspired feelings felt that the American and French revolutions could only end well.

    Fundamentalists and tea partiers are certain the emails the Koch brothers construct for them must be correct because a baby jesus swaddled in the flag feels so good. And so any attempt to actually problem solve is shouted down by those who unintentionally do the bidding of the upper classes. So here we are, shouting for revolution with the certainty and determination of the brown shirts. We the rabble hold certain truths to be self evident. It's a lovely idea, but all things being equal isn't the universe we live in really.

    Well, ol'buddha man certainly felt that we couldn't people proof anything. We are locked in a universe that embodies change. Particles collide increasing one thing and lessening another. I don't know if particles feel pain, but we do.
    And so maybe we should take some care to consider and not lunge confidently toward uncertainties supported only by an unexamined optimism. But Rousseau was a huge influence on modern times, and here we are, holding onto our self evident truths without applying the scientific method to them.

    Yes we're stuck with feelings and modern psychologists try to help us deal with them intelligently. Science is working on it, as on other things, with reason applied. My dog has feelings, but i can see that he does think as well. And i've observed that his reason, has rescued him from predicaments his feelings put him into. I strive to emulate him in this way. That i have feelings proves that, well... i have feelings. And if my feelings in their vast array represent directions from god, then this god is as mad as Rousseau.