Monday, August 3, 2015
I'm from Philadelphia--We Break Stuff
I'm from Philadelphia. We break stuff. Or at least, that's our reputation. We have booed Santa and destroyed whole city blocks in anger. We're the home city of Bill Cosby and Gary Heidnik. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was better off from seeing the back of us. W. C. Fields, a Darby kid, wrote his and our epitaph--"On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia"--basically saying this city is marginally better than Hell, which is "praise by faint damned" if I ever heard it.
For some reason, our signature sandwich is supposedly a political barometer: I'm not sure why John Kerry was supposed to have failed a sandwich test by ordering swiss on a cheesesteak (his wife, a quasi-Pennsylvanian, probably could have warned him) but seriously, this cheese thing, is not a thing. I like provolone and mushrooms on mine. American is perfectly cromulent, although cutting in line and wasting food are looked down on. (Frankly, I think Cheez Wiz tastes like cat piss smells. So "Wiz wit" proponents can, well, eat that stuff if that's how they like it, but for me, no.)
But our most recent "being Philly" outrage is what we did to a poor little Canadian robot (no not Drake, and Meek, you just live with yourself, because unless you drop brilliance and quickly you aren't right on time, you need a time machine). Yes, we manhandled an experiment in human kindness, because no, we aren't a kind people in Philadelphia.
Now, if this was me dealing with hitchbot, we'd have a whole other thing. I'm halfway a transhumanist and a fan of Hans Moravec --and probably want to blend with my tech in a big way eventually, so little robots are like wee friends in my mental world. I agree with Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking that I don't want war AI--but I would like art AI and deep science AI (the singularity is coming--I want to be friends with Siri and Cortana before they take us over). I am such a fan of the Mars Rover and Philae. But the Philly way is hands flashing. Wrecking Hitchbot was how we say "hello" to what we don't get or need. You want to survive here--you need defenses.
I think this is a shame. I don't want to be closely associated with being a place where little harmless robots come to die, or where candidates are judged by their sandwich choices. We're kind of sort of the place liberty started and stuff.
So this is my apology for my city--we aren't sorry. But that little robot thing was probably wrong. I'll own it on our behalf. But we will continue to break stuff. Me, I think my blog is about breaking stuff, sometimes. This is what we do--break something, then make a new thing. Like our mosaics. Our murals. The dumb way the ties with England got broke with here to make a new country. We're mad sometimes, but have reasons. We break stuff. But it isn't all we do.