Monday, June 29, 2015

Required Viewing

From Annie Hall:  
Man in Theatre Line:  Wait a minute, why can't I give my opinion? It's a free country! 
Alvy Singer:  He can give it... do you have to give it so loud? I mean, aren't you ashamed to pontificate like that? And the funny part of it is, Marshall McLuhan, you don't know anything about Marshall McLuhan!
 Man in Theatre Line: Oh, really? Well, it just so happens I teach a class at Columbia called "TV, Media and Culture." So I think my insights into Mr. McLuhan, well, have a great deal of validity! 
Alvy Singer: Oh, do ya? Well, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so, so, yeah, just let me... [pulls McLuhan out from behind a nearby poster]
Alvy Singer: come over here for a second... tell him! 
Marshall McLuhan: I heard what you were saying! You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong. How you got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing! 
Alvy Singer: Boy, if life were only like this!
Well, sometimes life can be like this, as many of us well know -- as when Alex Haslam, professor of psychology now at the University of Queensland, Australia, commented on our blog post discussing his view of the implications of the Milgram experiment.  His comments became part on an ongoing discussion in this blog about the issues raised by the Migram experiment, such as the  "banality of evil" and the ability of tyrants to enlist the assistance of ordinary people in programs of cruelty and oppression.  See Re-thinking the Milgram StudyThinking about Re-thinking the Milgram StudyPenn State and the Milgram experimentThinking Milgram, Once Again.

In 2001, Haslam along with his colleague, Stephen Reicher, conducted his own well-known experiment to examine the psychology of tyranny, known as the BBC prison study.  The study examined the behavior of 15 men who were placed in a social hierarchy of guards and prisoners within a custom-built environment.  This study was similar to a previous study conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1971, called the Stanford prison experiment.  

According to Zimbardo, the Stanford experiment showed how individuals, simply as a consequence of assigning them the role of either guard or prisoner, became increasingly brutal or passive.  But it also showed that there could be resistance to oppression.   Haslam wanted to explore these issues further in his experiment.

Anyway, in view of all this, it would seem that the following movie to be released on July 17, 2015, should be considered required viewing for our regular blog readers:

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Striking Colors

Alabama Gov. Robert Bently has ordered the removal of a Confederate flag from its capitol grounds. Governors of South Carolina and Mississippi have also called for the Confederate flag to be taken down from their state capitols. Walmart, Amazon, eBay and Sears all announced bans on the sale of Confederate flag merchandise.  Is this the South's final retreat?  See Last Battles.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Breaking of the Atomic Book Club

I guess James was spot on a few years ago. The club lasted just about 2 weeks. I am continuing to read, so I might post something from time to time. I like the book quite a bit. These are incredibly intelligent and interesting people—scientists' scientists who, surprisingly, are very human. Many are extremely articulate—Polanyi, Bohr, and Heisenberg, so far. I've been fascinated by Polanyi. Here are a few things he said which are not in the book, at least not yet:
“In so far as a theory cannot be tested by experience—or appears not capable of being so tested—it ought to be revised so that its predictions are restricted to observable magnitudes.”

“as human beings, we must inevitably see the universe from a centre lying within ourselves and speak about it in terms of a human language shaped by the exigencies of human intercourse. Any attempt rigorously to eliminate our human perspective from our picture of the world must lead to absurdity.”

“Christianity sedulously fosters, and in a sense permanently satisfies, man's craving for mental dissatisfaction by offering him the comfort of a crucified God.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A little late to the party - Parks & Rec

We just started watching Parks and Rec on Hulu from the beginning. We are 5 episodes in and already hilarious. However, the comment I wanted to make was to assure those of you have seen the who and also have never worked in local government, that is EXACTLY how local government is. Just in case you were wondering.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

For you Wes Anderson fans:  If Anderson had directed The Shining.