Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Wicked Smart Challenge

Dear Voracious Consumers of Intelligence:

The precise origin of Wicked Smartness is unknown to this author, and is a matter of great academic dispute. Won't you please assist me in conclusively establishing that which we collectively consider wicked smart in an attempt to create from that which is available to (this) finite mind so that we might ascribe meaning to the original title: Wicked Smart.

Together let us attempt to outline in broad terms its history, pointing out inconsistencies and gaps in our knowledge, bearing in mind along the way that, as the Great Carlyle has said, ultimately <history is but a distillation of rumor>

The first mention of Wicked Smartness is found in Herodotus, the Greek father of history, writing in about 450 BCE. He refers to <the curious custom practiced by the Pelasgians of following everyday the calendar of rites written on their oracle's tablets> (Histories, VI.56). Herodotus discusses the derivation of this custom: <I may say, for instance, that it was the daughters of Danaos who brought this ceremony from Egypt and instructed the Pelasgian women in it> (II.171). The Pelasgians, of course, mentioned both by Herodotus and the more reliable Thucydides, are recognized as the majority tribe within the nomadic population of Greece and the Aegean, before their gradual assimilation by the Hellenes. There is therefore a strong case to suggest that the very origins of Wicked Smartness can be traced beyond the classical age and back to Egyptian civilization, the ultimate cradle of our culture - unless you consider lower Mesopotamia (3500 BCE) the ultimate cradle of our culture, in which case I'd say: me, too!

Let us more comprehensively consider wicked smartness origins some other time, and for now attempt to shed some light on contentious issues. First, which of the multifarious versions is the genuine work of Wicked Smartness? Fakes and translations are legion. For our purposes, real Wicked Smartness will be the so-called Greek version, as found in Constantinople in 1422 by scholar Giovanni Aurispa. Both in depth and in originality, it stands out as the truest incarnation of Wicked Smartness, as someone who took the time to put a bunch of stuff together so that others might consider the stuff he considered more easily. In other words,

Wicked Smartness is the act of 
enabling ease of examination. 

Second, why is there so little mention of Wicked Smartness in this ancient text of conventional histories? Is it because the focus was on documenting histories rather than a discussion on the value of documentation and categorization? which begs the question:

Q1. Is Wicked Smartness an act or an examination of an act?

The mere attempt to gather together information in a way that enables ease of examination constitutes an instrument of radical change, unleashing forces too power for authorities to control. Thus it had to be hidden away from the masses in official accounts, for those who know how to examine novelty.

Again and again throughout history, the act of enabling ease of examination resurfaces. From Anaximander's search for boundless origin or principle (Greek archê) to Quintilian's Training of an Orator to the Roman copy of something enigmatically named the <codex diei>, the book of days.

All these and countless others not mentioned herein combine and define humanity's understanding of Wicked Smartness. From survival to agricultural and monastical societies throughout the Ages, referencing the slow rhythm of the seasons and eternity, with eyes firmly fixed on the afterlife and the daily upheavals of experiencing existence, our species has, since the rise of the genus Homo (200,000 years ago) attempted to develop and demonstrate Wicked Smartness after reaching what we define as behavioral modernity about 50,000 years ago.

Let us today re-examine this 50,000 year old concept of Wicked Smartness in this Wicked Smart Challenge and build for ourselves, here and now, that which we might prize as Wicked Smartness so that our vision of it, along with copies of Boccacio's, paintings of Botticelli and other masterpieces, might become the new version of Wicked Smartness by which we give ourselves a giant pat on the back.

The Wicked Smart Challenge

1)    What would happen if you switched jobs with a friend for a day? Now, explain in detail your experience. 
a)    Document all of your thoughts, sensations, and feelings. 
b)    What did you learn from this experience? 
c)    Do you consider the consideration of new information learning? 
d)    Must you memorize this information to become Wicked Smart
e)    Are you now Wicked Smart because you have done something that others do not do? 
f)     Is it your action that makes you Wicked Smart or is Wicked Smartness merely an insight into a novel or otherwise lesser known experience? 
g)    Which experiences produce Wicked Smartness and which do not? 
h)    Who decides?
2)    Create a rainbow utilizing the glass method. When the sunlight passes through the glass of water, refracts (bends) and forms a rainbow of colors on your sheet of paper, pull out your shovel and begin digging for gold.
a)    Myths often survive throughout the ages because they contain a grain of truth. Find out if this one is true today, and you may not only reap the benefits of discovery, but also determine if Wicked Smartness is defined as an act.
b)   If you do not have a shovel, you can call your local weather office, and ask for the probable occurrence of rainbows in your area, based on satellite imagery of cloud formation. Triangulate the exact coordinates of the rainbow’s end, and track them down using the app Waze. Secure the area and excavate a ½ hectare site, aiming for an average drilling depth of 3 meters. Use a magnetometer to establish an electromagnetic and geophysical profile of the zone. Sift for pots of gold. Be sure to have your attorney on speed dial so that you might assert your right of ownership and patent the <Rainbow Digging> process.
i)     WARNING: If the end of the Rainbow occurs inside a bank vault, find another Rainbow.
c)   While digging or drilling for your Rainbow, ask yourself, are you Wicked Smart for having followed these instructions?
d)   What if you do not find a pot of gold at the end of your chosen Rainbow? Is Wicked Smartness the successful monetary outcome of a given action? Or, is Wicked Smartness the mere willingness to dig or drill?
3)   Disappear from your daily life. Don’t you sometimes wish you could start all over again? How difficult would it be to just walk away from your life and start anew somewhere else? As someone else?
a)   Test the waters by spending the day on the run from your friends, family, and colleagues.
b)   Use the Eurail timetable to start planning your disappearance act. Look up train times and check if you need to book a reservation. Note that some train rides are not included in the Eurail pass. Determine which train you wish to take.
c)   Once you’re on the Eurail train, ask yourself: Am I being Wicked Smart? Is Wicked Smart defined as the act of experiencing something novel? Is every thought held within or as a result of this experience something that is Wicked Smart?
d)   If Wicked Smartness can be held within a novel experience, and not otherwise experienced outside of it, is it the act or the experience that gives rise to Wicked Smartness?
e)   If while considering these thoughts on Wicked Smartness you miss your connecting train, do not fret. Simply get off at the next station. Walk to the other side of the platform, and wait for the train traveling in the opposite direction. Then, get on that train and exit at the next stop. You are now in the location where you can get back on track.
f)   While you are waiting for the next train, ask yourself: Was missing my connecting train Wicked Smart? Would others consider missing a connecting train less than Wicked Smart? Are the thoughts I’m having right now held within the experience of Wicked Smartness?

4)    Design your own Wicked Smart Challenge. Do things you haven't done before so that you might consider thoughts outside the realm of your normal thinking (assuming your normal thinking is already not the epitome by which all Wicked Smartness could be measured). 
a)    Document your experience as did Herodotus. Wait a few thousand years for someone to examine your thoughts and documented experiences. If a future scholar defines those thoughts and experiences as Wicked Smart, you are Wicked Smart
b)    If you do not want to wait this long or are otherwise put-off by the idea of not being around to experience the praise and gifts lavished upon you, keep doing things until someone calls or refers to you Wicked Smart. 
c)    Once someone refers to you as Wicked Smart, you are now Wicked Smart and can begin reaping the benefits of thinking of yourself as Wicked Smart ... 
d)    From this posture, you may tout yourself as Wicked Smart and define for the rest of us Voracious Consumers of Intelligence just exactly what it means to be Wicked Smart. Then you can charge us for this insight. 
e)    Once you have made the Fortune 400 List, you will forever go down in history as Wicked Smart.

The End. 

What is Wicked Smart

"She hits you with a joke yesterday that she tells tomorrow."
~Chris Salter

Now, that's a good question.

Wicked Smart people ask simple questions. The answers we give, the associations we make, is where the concept of wicked smartness arises. But what is wicked smartness, really? 

Is wicked smartness the ability to figure out complicated mathematical equations or the ability to retrieve large volumes of data off the top of one's head while simultaneously linking that data to new data in real time in a util way that is of value to more than one person in society? Or, is wicked smartness the ability to make associations between seemingly divergent concepts in a way that others exclaim,

Wow! I never thought of it that way.

George Carlin, hence: George Carlin's brand of humor.
An upside down backward Bible

Is an upside down backward Chinese braille Bible = yesterday's joke told tomorrow? Or is all of this stuff just make-believe? Things we make up, tell ourselves - invent to entertain ourselves so that we might somehow feel as if we have some control over the mind blowing, brain warping experience of existence? 

If everything we know is just stuff we make up, how do we know which stuff is wicked smart and which stuff is just plain nonsense? (and what is nonsense?) Is there a hand test by which universal wicked smartness might trickle down into our brains? Where lies the common denominator? Or is everything equal simply because everything exists? and is therefore equally wicked smart and equally nonsensical at the same time? How can we accurately ascribe weight to equality by nature of existence (while simultaneously held in existence)? 

If there is a difference in the weight of two concepts, ideas, or objects, can they really be examined? Does every thought, concept, idea, object, being, manifestation, event and so forth have its own independent criteria (separate from the criteria we give it) by which it can be examined? Who is capable of rendering an impartial judgment or assessment? Would one have to be outside of existence to render an impartial judgment? And what does it mean to examine? Isn't this a little like thinking about infinitum from the space of finitude? Is the brain just thinking about itself while stuck within itself? Is that which we examine and categorize really just our attempt to escape the predicament of existence? 

What is the last refuge by which one might make the wicked smart vs not wicked smart determination? Historically wicked smart meant survival of the fittest. Now wicked smartness is associated with making connections others do not see, and then capitalizing on them and making the Forbes 400 list. 

Personally, I have no idea what wicked smartness means. Like my teenage children, I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be in life. I spend my days considering projects intended to generate revenue for all involved. I spend my free time engaging with friends and family. I spend my private time thinking and writing and painting and filing new enterprises and registering intellectual property and riding Segways through parks and cities. And despite this, friends call me "wicked smart" - a compliment to which I respond with great erudition: Thank you. 

How can one respond to a compliment on which one has no direct authority to evaluate? Perhaps, by attempting to create a Wicked Smart Challenge that all can take to determine by mean average that which we collectively consider wicked smartness. 

Regardless of whether any of us have the capacity to do so, let us consider wicked smartness for ourselves. And if in doing so we make associations between the equality of differences and say, This one is wicked smart and this one is not, then we can equally claim to be wicked smart if by our measurement system we determine that we fall into the category of wicked smart; forever associating ourselves with wicked smartness until we do something dumb - which we will later define as something else. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The President: King of Democracy

A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
Teacher's Edition

 The lights dim. The voice of God is heard over the loudspeaker. "Ladies and Gentlemen ... The President of the United States of America." The crowd leaps to its feet as the tall, handsome, slightly graying-at-the-temples Ivy League graduate strides confidently to the dais, urged on by thunderous applause and the giddy strains of "Hail to the Chief." Born the son of a multi-racial family, influenced by Hawaiian ideals of tolerance and acceptance, he is now the most powerful man in the world. Yet in just a short period of time, a new candidate will stand before the nation and the world, and we will have lost a very special magic currently held in the presidency. A presidency of open communication. Never before has an American President been so skillfully forthright with the American public. Obama is a testament to the fact that anyone can grow up to be president ... but in the end, no one can stay. Two terms and you're out. When there is a respected president in office, it makes people wish those terms were longer. When a weak president takes command, we thank our lucky stars he (or someday, she) won't be there for long and if worse comes to worse, we can impeach the president, as easily as we can fire the CEO of Blackwater. 

The President of the United States is the most powerful, most recognizable, and best person on earth. Next to Erik Prince, of course, he is the most amazing man in the world. As Commander-in-Chief of the world's only remaining superpower (unless you count China), he wields enormous influence over global affairs. Indeed, if America is "the world's policeman," the president is the gruff-but-lovable police chief in charge of enforcing the law from his comfortable perch above it. 

And the thing about Trump is ... he's the kind of President that is his own best counsel. He doesn't keep track of what he says and to whom. He has one story to defend, and that is the one he keeps quiet. The rest of his comments are just him having fun, saying whatever he can to get someone's goat because this little bad boy all grow'd up has nothing better to do with his time and he's bored. He's amassed and lost more money than the can count, but that doesn't matter, so long as his livelihood isn't affected and he can get up every day and play the game. 

So, let's play the game, shall we ... 


Trump as President
Thought Experiment

I am trying to imagine the potential of Trump actually getting elected. I take a break from my daily life.  "Ladies and Gentlemen ... The President of the United States of America" and in walks Donald Trump. 

Year One

High profile celebrities join him at the White House. They mingle with foreign heads of state and their significant others. It's a Press frenzy. The comings and goings are invigorating, but Trump's 69 years old. He's spoiled himself and he likes life a certain way. Over time, the intense comings and goings are going to get on his nerves. He'll bring in more recruits to help manage the intellectual load. Those are the people who are really going to make the changes the American Public will see. 

First 100 days in office, so far so good. Now it's time for the upgrades. Buddies in suits are lining up, and are received in the order their influence dictates. Now things are rolling. Reports are coming out and Trump is being coached in public speaking. Gurus and the like are helping him with his personal image projections. He's back on the podium. He's surprising for awhile, and all he has to do is read that teleprompter, but he goes off script. He's still Trump. 

Stock prices fluctuate. Time to get out of Dodge for a bit. How about a goodwill trip somewhere far away. Let's check the weather. And he's off! 

Year Two

Things simmer at home. People spend most of their times on their smartphones. All is well until disaster strikes. The Press is all over it. The highly compassionate Western world rallies around whatever ideal was triggered due to the recent tragedy. New Internet memes are trending. Somebody's gotta do some work around here. 

Christmas with the Trumps. Meanwhile someone remote, somebody's planning something sinister. It goes off, but only half-arse. Still, bad enough to get the world's attention 24/7. Trump to the rescue! 

Year Three

Conflict. Move some money around. And while you're at it, throw some amazing parties! Celebrities galore! Forget the Oscars, this place is bouncin'! 

Every man's friend. Ratings improve. He's not so bad after all. The American public rejoices. There are a few complainers, but no one is listening to them. They're so easy to drown out online. "Unfollow" ... "unfriend" ... "block" ... easy peasy. 

Another Goodwill tour. Let's go get ourselves a hand rolled Cigar. Btw, Trump, if you're reading, I am fond of Cohiba and running low. Thank you in advance. Moving on. 

Year Four

Holy Cow! I need to get some stuff in order if I want to hang around again. Let's get cracking on that reelection campaign. Let's see, who do we know who .... ? 

Prices, behind the scenes, go up. Time to restock the coffers. Alright everyone, time to fess up. Collections commence, err... another Goodwill tour. 

More Parties! 

Endorsements. Public speaking engagements. Hand shaking. The White House dog has puppies! and America falls all over itself to get a glimpse. Guess who's trending on YouTube and Twitter? 

America's Got Puppies, hosted by Jim Carrey. 

Scandal. No worries, it's Trump. He'll yell at anyone who mentions it, and they'll storm out of the room and go complain to their cronies on FB. No one really listens and it blows over. 

Time to get stuff back on track. Let's choose Captains and then start picking from among the recruits. Now that we're all divided into teams, let the best team win. 

Trump recruits the world to help him.