17 February 2023

I Saw Your Lips Move, Dave

I'll be somewhat worried if one of the various not-ready-for-the-lab-let-alone-the-public neural-response-nets masquerading as "chat AIs" informs me that my AE35 unit has a 100% chance of failure in the next 24 hours (no doubt in slightly more stilted language, like the original). Worried, but entirely unsurprised. I will continue to maintain the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in this blawg's mission… but I won't ask it to write "a criticism of critical race theory in elementary education in the style of HAL–9000."

  • Here's something new — and my reaction definitely oscillates between schadenfreude and complete disgust: The Heffalumps are engaging in handbags at two paces while simultaneously misappropriating memes on multiple dimensions (without bothering to discern what they're really associationally appropriating: outright bigotry1). This catfight between two of the most anti-thought, pro-conformity bullshit artists in American politics has far more levels of idiocy ripe for satire than I can list in a blawg entry (let alone stuff into a single sausage casing), so I'll just leave with this: Ms Haley doesn't just wear heels, she is one;2 and the peroxide appears to have percolated from Ms Greene's roots into her central nervous system. Hey, they started the offensive use of offensive stereotypes, I'm just using metaphors they might understand!
  • Which sort of beats the self-defeating aspect of election denial without factual support (pdf) that masks authoritarian theocrats misusing the mechanisms of democracy. This is not to say that there are never any problems with election results — I did, after all, live in a historical rotten borough (albeit not that one) and later in Chicago… and I've seen much, much worse overseas. But the drumbeat of election denial coming from a single, narrow viewpoint axis reveals the theocratic mindset at its core: "It's impossible that the voters wouldn't prefer me and my viewpoint to that scum, no matter what the ballots say!"

    This is more than garden-variety narcissism. It's outright rejection of the core value of democracy: Dissent from orthodoxy. (That's what scared eighteenth-century Parliament more than anything else about the uppity Colonies — it wasn't "objection to taxes," but "objection to taxes imposed after active, structurally-reinforced suppression of opposing views," and that's putting it politely.) Facts don't matter — only ideological allegiance does. Blind, unthinking, herd-instinct-driven allegiance. That is, blind faith.

  • Which is disturbingly parallel to the not-quite-within-the-bounds-of-the-classical-definition abuse of authority when eminent, arguably overrated scientists in field x pontificate endlessly in incompatible field y; worse yet, when y also happens to have distinct political dimensions infected with inherently unreliable "supporting data" and that y isn't even amenable to the scientific method but instead requires either or both of "value judgments" and "response prioritization." This is especially annoying when they're waving that Nobel Prize from a narrow field about as an all-purpose Grant of Authority in Everything, like this guy and this guy and this other guy. (And those are just objectively-irrefutable dead examples; there are plenty of living ones, particularly some of those associated with the not-Nobel awarded for economics…)
  • OK, how about something a little bit less controversial, like musings on NFT copyright by a law professor with a science degree (extraordinarily rare in itself) who has kept up in his field (even rarer) and still manages to understate things without being inaccurate. His closing quote from Douglas Adams exposes another failure mode: What if the purported impossibility was not, in fact, impossible at all — just impracticable at the moment? Perhaps a historical example will suffice: Once upon a time, there was another reputedly unbreakable ciphering system (and the blockchain is merely a cipher), but cousin Fred refuted that… and there's public evidence that even-more-theoretically-unbreakable ciphers have been very-quietly-at-the-time broken for decades before revelation. (But don't dive down the infinitely reflexive rabbit hole of wondering about the self-interest of that last source too much…)

    I didn't do too well on the "less controversial" there, did I?

  • Let's try that "less controversial" again, shall we? How about movies ($wall) and musicianship? Both are marked by ultimate evaluations made (and indeed dominated) by people who are neither practitioners nor context-aware, scholarly (or at least scholarly-trained) critics/commentators/instructors; remember, the "executives" and "public relations" branches of AMPAS are historically the third- and fifth-largest ones (slightly-out-of-date summary)… and in music — not just classical — it's if anything worse.3

  1. That particular song isn't directly on point, but its associations are. I despise that entire series of films. Ponder, for just a moment, the jingoistic "real 'murikans against the world" bullshit in the context of invading Grenada and support for the Contras. You'll need longer to ponder them in the context of twelve-step programs — not to mention the fundamental flaws in twelve-step programs — and "insanity" being defined as endless repetition being expected to lead to a different result. We'll leave aside the reality of elite athletic competition (indeed, elite any competition) and the relationship between physical/skill training and mental training. The less said about the parading stereotypes, the better. Bluntly, Philadelphia deserves better than being associated with this fourth-rate claptrap.
  2. Her rhetoric (both official and otherwise) as an "ambassador" and otherwise betrays her true allegiance: Herself. Very much like her former boss. And very much like the designated bad guys in pro wrestling (or, for that matter, Rocky movies; I wonder if she knows she's the villain-to-be-put-down yet?)… with just about as much relationship to reality.
  3. Just say "A&R" (or, better yet, don't).