Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sheep In Human Clothing: Scientists Reveal Our Flock Mentality

OK, anyone who knows me or frequents this blog knows that this is an issue near and dear to my heart.

You get the idea.
I know it sounds arrogant to equate 95% of the population with sheep, but now I have genuine scientific validation.

"Results from a study at the University of Leeds show that it takes a minority of just five per cent to influence a crowd’s direction – and that the other 95 per cent follow without realising it."

Basically, they sent a crowd of people wandering through a building. They gave a small number of people in the group detailed instructions on where to go, but no one was allowed to communicate with anyone else. And the whole group followed the 'informed individuals' without even realizing they were doing it.

What's even more interesting is that, the larger the group; the fewer 'informed individuals' you need to lead the herd.

Of course, this has both useful and scary implications for crowd control, but surely this information could have more interesting applications.

I realize that our herd mentality exists because, in the past, it has helped our species survive in some way, but maybe this is something we should be trying to overcome. Maybe if people realized that they were marching through their lives with their nose attached to the butt of the sheep in front of them, they would wake up and shake it off. We could see a day where, instead of 5%, 50% of the population would be finding their own path through life, seeking out new ideas and new innovations.

Sure things would be more chaotic, but we, as a species, would be less frightened of chaos.

We could start small, maybe with a study on "black sheep." We could find out what happens if you send a group of artists and musicians roving through a building.

I'm sure the results would be interesting.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

George H.W. Bush weeps and weeps and weeps

I don't even remember this!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Political Blogs

We live in an exciting time. Maybe it's the ease of internet access or the volatile political atmosphere, but there is no shortage of conversation and debate, and blogs are a great way to find people with whom to toss around ideas.

Here are a few blogs I really like.

The posts are brief, witty, and to the point. Very enjoyable to read.

This is a new one. Very thorough and informative. I don't agree with many Libertarian positions, but I find them to be critical thinkers and always worth debating.

This is a big blog with lots of topics and lots of people. It's also libertarian, but there are a lot of points of view there.

Happy Blogging!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

In the Navy!

This is the Herndon Climb at the US Naval Academy

Basically, they send a thousand freshmen plebes scrambling up a 21 ft granite phallic symbol that has been coated with 200 pounds of lard.

Oh, and they hose the freshmen down while they're climbing.

"The scene is unforgettable to those who watch, as the sweating, grunting, red-faced midshipmen at the bottom, their arms linked, support a human pyramid surging to the top of the monument."

The Navy is thinking about doing away with this hallowed tradition in the name of "safety," though opponents are quick to point out that there's nothing that unsafe about the climb, especially when you consider that these young men are being trained for the military.

Somehow, I get the impression that some high-ranking Navy official saw this momentous occasion on a visit to the Naval Academy and thought to himself, "Now, this is just wrong on so many levels," and went back to his office and said, "I think we should put an end to the Herndon Climb because... it's... it's unsafe!"

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Hillary or Obama?

My first choice was Kucinich.

My second choice was Edwards.

Hillary or Obama?As far as decent Democrats go, they're pretty equal. I think they would both make fine presidents, and I wouldn't think twice about voting for whoever gets the nomination.

I think Hillary is more electable.

I think a black man running for president is the one thing that would galvanize the evangelical base of the Republican party. Of course, most of them won't admit in public that they're raging racists, so they'll cling to the shameless Republican attack ads that will link Obama with Islam, and Islam with terrorism. I can hear them already finding clever couplets in which to rhyme Obama with Osama.

Okay, so in my opinion Obama and Hillary are pretty equal as candidates, and Hillary is slightly more electable (I think she's also capable of inspiring conservatives to get out and vote).

But as the California primary draws near, the question I've been asking myself is; what if I could bypass the whole Democratic process and ordain one of them president? All other things being equal, who would I choose?

Well there's all this experience Hillary has. In a few of the debates, she spoke about being realistic and practical in the face of Edwards and Obama's comments about hope and change. But is "being practical" really just a matter of being knee deep in the system for so long that you can no longer see beyond it?

But putting aside all practicality, I would choose Obama for everything he represents. What would it mean to have a black president? What would it mean to millions of marginalized minorities in the country?

As a school teacher, I have stared into the eyes of callous inner-city kids who don't see the point in learning how to solve a mathematical inequality. I pace the classroom trying to tell them, "Wake up! Participate! Learn something. This is your future. This is your life."

How inspirational would it be for all of them to see a black man leading our country? They would begin to see that they do have a future. That this is their country too.

Obama as president would bring us that much closer to the day when skin color will be as relevant to a person's life and social status as hair color or eye color.

Is skin color a good reason to vote for someone? Of course not. But it will be a reason for many people in this country to vote against Obama. And for that, as a country, we should be ashamed.

But for whom shall I vote this Tuesday in California?

The more likely Hillary?

The more inspiring Obama?

Six in one hand; a half dozen in the other.

I still don't know.