Bubba’s Laws of Intelligence (and/or stupidity)

Zeroth law of intelligence: If two systems are in intellectual equilibrium with a third system, they must be in intellectual equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of intellect. The hypothesis is intended to allow the existence of an empirical parameter, the intellect, as a property of a system such that systems in intellectual equilibrium with each other have the same intellect. The law as stated here is compatible with the use of a particular physical being, for example a middle aged LARPer, to match the intellect of other beings, but does not justify regarding intellect as a quantity that can be measured on a scale of real numbers.

 First law of intelligence: Because stupidity is conserved, the internal stupidity of a system changes as idiocy flows in or out of it. Equivalently, people that violate the first law (liars) are impossible. Idiocy is the flow of stupidity from one person to another. The total stupidity of an isolated system cannot change. It is conserved over time. Stupidity can be neither created nor destroyed, but can change form. The first law may be stated as: δS=dU+δH, where δS is the amount of stupidity added to the system by the Internet, δH is the amount of stupidity lost due to intelligence gained by the system or its surroundings and dU is the change in the internal stupidity of the system. If the intellectual system is invariant under the continuous symmetry of time translation, then its stupidity is conserved.

Second law of intelligence: The entropy of any isolated system cannot decrease. Such systems spontaneously evolve towards intellectual equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy of the system. Equivalently, people that violate the second hypothesis (big fat liars) are impossible. When two initially isolated systems in separate but nearby regions of space, each in intellectual equilibrium with itself but not necessarily with each other, are then allowed to interact, they will eventually reach a mutual intellectual equilibrium. The sum of the entropies of the initially isolated systems is less than or equal to the total entropy of the final combination. Equality occurs just when the two original systems have all their respective intensive variables (stupidity, traffic) equal; then the final system also has the same values.

 Third law of intelligence: The entropy of any pure substance in intellectual equilibrium approaches zero as the intellect approaches zero. The entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically zero, and in all cases is determined only by the number of different Facebook friends it has. At zero intelligence the system must be in a state with the minimum intellectual energy. Entropy is related to the number of possible microstates according to: S = kB ln Omega, where S is the entropy of the system, kB Boltzmann’s constant, and Ω the number of microstates (e.g. possible configurations of morons). At absolute zero there is only 1 microstate possible (Ω=1 as all the idiots are identical for a pure substance and as a result all orders are identical as there is only one combination) and ln(1) = 0. The entropy of a system approaches a constant value as the intelligence approaches zero. The constant value (not necessarily zero) is called the residual stupidity of the system.

These laws support Scooter’s Third Law, which says that for every Profound Thought, there is an equal and opposite Stupid Idea. Incidentally, immediately after drafting this law, Scooter’s shirt, which he had created by duct-taping live weasels together, turned on him. Afterwards, Scooter abandoned the fashion world and returned to working the drive through.

The bottom line is that for every Stephen Hawking, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, or Neil Peart, there are the rest of us. Thanks to the law of the conservation of stupidity, we now know that when one of these great thinkers comes up with their next big idea, the rest of us will get dumber as a result.

Thanks a lot, geniuses.


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Live like you have a Porpoise

(previously posted elsewhere)

I heard this phrase recently. It made me wonder, how would life be different I had a porpoise, or even a dolphin? I don’t have an ocean, or even a pool. The tub might be a bit small. He might enjoy the water slides at the community pool, but carrying him up the ladder would get pretty tiresome. I don’t think he’d fit inside the waterbed. Besides, that’s where I keep my eels.

What would life be like if I had a porpoise? He’d hog the remote and watch every episode of Flipper. Whenever he ordered pizza, I’d have to pick off the sushi. Before going to the vet, I’d have to fill the mini-van up with water. It’s not the fact that I’d have to wear scuba gear while driving that I mind as much as trying to get rid of the wet porpoise smell afterwards.

I suppose we’d have to move to the coast. I’d probably end up spending the day standing around on the dock staring out at the water saying, “Where did he go now?” That sounds rather porpoiseless to me.

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Free Time

March 2, 2014 – March 8, 2014 is Read an eBook Week. To mess with our minds, Smashwords is offering many eBooks at discounted prices this week. Some are even free. As a result, quantum experimental philosophers are postulating that minds either will or won’t be blown.

The problem is that the sale only lasts for one week. For those who seize the opportunity, they’ll be able to download a horde of new eBooks. Those who don’t will be left to ask themselves hard questions and dull the pain with hundreds of hours of reality TV.

I know. You’re stunned. Well, before that sandwich falls out of your hand, let me put you at ease. You can download Reality Challenged from Smashwords this week abslutely free. That’s right. Free. I’m not kidding.

Go to http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/262469 and use coupon code RW100. While you’re there, you might want to take a look at some of the other great books on sale this week. You could end up with a new favorite book. That may result in the sudden disappearance of large blocks of time. The fact that you enjoyed this mental vacation for free may explain that great big grin on your face.

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Philosophy of Daydreaming

I daydream, therefore, I am not. I mean, I’m someone other than who I am. Not me, of course, but the imaginary me. This has gotten a little confusing. Let’s try this again.

I get bored easily. My mind wanders off in search of entertainment and melted cheese. As a child, every toy was a character. Every game piece had a backstory. Pencils launched into deep space with a roar. Once those were taken away, astronauts had no choice but to board my fingers instead. I had to put markers in the desk drawer because their constant chatter kept distracting me. Rubber bands? Forget about it. Those guys are nothing but trouble.

I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid. Not by choice, mind you. In those days, parents believed that living indoors was a privilege reserved only for the elderly, infirm, and people with air-conditioning. I didn’t get along with all of my trees. My bike had a death wish. I mean, it wished I was dead. My dogs wore capes and flew around the yard, when they weren’t sprawled out, panting under the shade of an elephant ear bush. Much of my childhood was spent sitting in one spot in the yard and watching the world change.

As the years went by, adults always told me to stop daydreaming. Stop imagining things. Stop pretending. Live in the real world.

Here’s the problem. Reality and I have an uneasy relationship. Sure, we recognize one another when our paths cross. There’s that awkward moment where we don’t really know what to say to one another. I make some crack about the weather and Reality smiles, but glances around, looking for an excuse to go. Someone distracts me with a grilled cheese sandwich, and Reality seizes the opportunity to leave. (Did I mention that I have the taste buds of a picky five year old?)

So, I daydream. In doing so, I find that the world is not the only thing changed. It changes me as well. Sure, during the moment, I’m a different character living in a different world, but I don’t get out of the dream cleanly. It remains, floating in my sub-conscious mind, playing video games and enjoying some pizza. I am not exactly the same as I was before. When I daydream, I become someone other than who Reality knows me to be.

I daydream, therefore, I am not.

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Hasta la Vista, Double Space

It’s been coming for a long time, but I’m too old and slow to be happy about it. Double space… I grew up double spacing after every sentence. It’s automatic. I can’t help it, no matter how hard I try.

Here’s the issue. The rules have changed. In the old days, before inventions like “fire” started to catch on, books were printed with monospace fonts. These fonts utilized fixed widths, meaning that all characters took up the same amount of horizontal space on the page. The double space after the end of each sentence was utilized to help the reader visually recognize the end of the sentence.

With the disappearance of monospace fonts, the Powers that Be have decreed that single spacing shall be the law of the land. When the ruling came down, some of us gave it the same amount of attention we devoted to adopting the metric system and the promises of politicians. Frustrated by our lack of obedience, the Lords and Masters of Literature railed against our ignorance, glared at us in a Most Evil Manner, and threw legendary temper tantrums.

Just when they began to despair, the Internet brought us eBooks. With the advent of eBooks, came the self-publishing revolution. “Aha!” they exclaimed while wiping their runny noses. Although they were temporarily embarrassed at being caught using an exclamation point, the Literary Elite decreed that any fool who produced an eBook containing double spacing would be labeled an amateur, worthy of derisive finger pointing, snickering, and mockery.

And so it ends. Who in their right mind would willingly expose themselves to such a terrible fate? Horrified at the prospect of this dismal future, independent authors bowed in humble submission. The tide has now turned. What was once considered a matter of preference is now Immutable Law. The few who miss the double space are told that they are too old to matter anymore. Insistence on double spacing will not be tolerated in the new society.

Is this really worth all the screaming? Do the self-appointed Rulers of the Written Word have nothing more important to do than to hold hissy-fit parties about double spacing? Isn’t it enough that they’ve ordered that all books will eliminate their use of adverbs, most punctuation, adjectives, long words, and multiple story lines? Will they only be satisfied once we’ve been reduced to pointing at crudely drawn images and grunting?

Wait. I just had some coffee. I feel better now. Ok, I can do this single space thing now. Never mind.


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Entropy’s Birthday Waltz

For those who are not familiar with the poetry of the Krazhdj, you may have an important lesson about Curiosity in your future.  The Krazhdj are an alien race whose most profound thoughts are expressed in the Great Poems.  Since humans cannot speak their language, translation devices struggle to encapsulate Krazhdji nuances and concepts into English.  The recitation of these poems has been known to peel walls off of paint, turn milk to tears, and remove unwanted cat hair (from the cat).

This poem is an excerpt from the upcoming novel, Blithering Genius, Book 2 of The Other Universes.  Hey, I warned you.









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Too Stupid

There’s a line.  You don’t always know where it is, but you know when you’ve crossed it.  A certain amount of stupidity is tolerable, and may even be expected.  We assume that a degree of “Duh…” is “normal” in many situations.  The line between an acceptable amount of Goober-hood and “That boy just ain’t right” may vary depending on the circumstances.  One might tolerate less boneheadery in an operating room than in a bait shop.

Wherever humans go, we bring our capacity for legendary stupidity with us.  “Hey, guys!  Watch this!” has preceded many a pathetically inept demonstration of “anti-intelligence.”  It goes beyond obvious pratfalls and gravity miscalculations to include jaw dropping shrieks of, “What is wrong with you?”  No other species we know of considers “Are you an Idiot?” to be a rhetorical question.

So, the question is, how much stupid is right for characters in a story?  Can you see that character making that empty-headed decision in that circumstance?  Is the situation itself just too asinine for the book?  Sometimes I think about the role of the stupid in the story.

Some stories feature a nonsensical scenario and the characters must grapple with the absurd.  In these cases, the character stands out as an everyman character, reacting in an increasingly extreme situation.  Others feature zany characters which place the reader in the role of the “sane” person.  Some stories may make the reader feel superior to the characters by comparison.  In some tales, the buffoonery may play a central role whereas in others, it may merely provide color.

When I’m writing a particularly idiotic pile of words, I often wonder if this particular scene is “too stupid.”  Does it cross the line between “so stupid it’s funny” and “so stupid it lowered my IQ?”  If I can’t tell the difference, is the damage permanent?

Anytime I grow overly concerned about the depth of the overwhelming idiocy within my characters, I stop writing and look around at the world around me.  It’s important to pull my head out of my imaginary world and reorient on reality for a time.  After watching how real human beings move through their world, I no longer have any concern about the stupidity in my own.

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