the movies…

A movie about a war hero who saves millions of lives.
A movie about a war hero who saves millions of lives.
A movie about a war hero who shoots hundreds of people.
A movie about a war hero who shoots hundreds of people.

(Not saying I don’t understand–I just think it’s ironic in a way.)

a safety announcement

beware the leafy trail...

Well hello there. Off for a run? Good for you! Running is a terrific activity in which to partake. It’s benefits to you are numerous, diverse, and well known. But did you know that running can also be dangerous?

Hazards abound while running–they too come in diverse forms and various proportions. In the safety community, we like to give a number to activities that expose you to said hazards. We call this number the safety index.

During your runs, you may grow adventurous, or “run out” of space to “run in.” Consequently you may decide to cross the street. Crossing the street has a safety index of -3. When crossing the street, it’s wise to send one person as a scout to test the conditions. If the scout makes it halfway across the road without being run over, it’s probably safe for the herd to mobilize. Always treat roadways with the respect they deserve. Remember–they are Antelope Gorge from Lion King, and you are a small and vulnerable Simba, trying desperately not to get trampled.

Bad running form is another serious, and often overlooked, safety hazard. Depending on severity, bad running form can reach a safety index of down to -37. If someone you’re with demonstrates poor form while running, you should criticize and ridicule them until they resolve to good form. If other teammates are nearby, make sure they partake in the mocking. There’s nothing like mean-spirited peer pressure to straighten out crooked feet. No need to feel bad about teasing, or worry about the offender’s self esteem–after all, it’s for their own safety.

Finally, we must address the Fall season’s mother of all running safety hazards–leafy trails. While fallen leaves may appear a fun, colorful, and innocent constituent of the seasonal foliage, they are actually conniving, pernicious little bastards. They are there to camouflage the rogue tree roots, hazardous holes, and menacing monkey balls that pervade the trail system. Do not be fooled. Their objective is to make you fall and die so that your flesh can rot into the ground and provide nutrients to the menacing arboreal machines from which they are manufactured. Leafy trails have a safety index of -52000. If you decide to run on trails, be cautious about your footing, always run with a partner, and remember to leaf no runner behind.

If you follow said cautionary advice, you will probably not die. This has been a public safety announcement from Safety Officer. Thank you for listening, and stay safe!

P.S.
There’s one last thing we should address. That’s right–you guessed it–it’s the elephant in the room. Keeping elephants indoors is unadvised, and holds a safety index of -58. Elephants are large, powerful creatures, and while they may harbor kind hearts, all it takes is an untimely gun shot noise to send the beast crashing through the walls.

rock metal shows

noddingMetal concerts are interesting in that they draw a diverse yet easily classifiable crowd. Some metal fan signatures include dark clothing and awkward posture. Hair styles vary from minimal to insane. These concerts are also one of the few places on Earth where you will find the white-high-socks-and-jorts combo.

showgoerIn general though, metal fans can also be relatively normal-looking people. If this is the case, you can still identify subjects by their propensity to pump the “devils horns”. Sometimes, after a song, instead of cheering and clapping, the audience just cheer and put their devil-horned fists in the air. This results in a noticeable drop in the signal power for the resultant applause (see chart below). I feel bad when I see bands milking applause from the audience only to be met with more enthusiastic fist pumping.

decibel_graph

As another characteristic maneuver of a rock metal show goer, head banging–or, as I like to call it, violent nodding–supports an interesting theory on the origins of some rockers’ seemingly pathological obsession with the genre and their stage heroes. (Stay with me here.) In their 1980 study “The Effects of Overt Head Movements on Persuasion”, Gary L. Wells and Richard E. Petty analyze an experiment which demonstrates cognitive biases that result from repeated head movements. To explain more clearly, the experiment required participants (who were university students) to listen to a conversation that supported raising the school tuition. 1/3 of the students were made to nod their heads up and down while listening, another third shook their heads left to right, and the last third kept their heads still. After listening, they were asked what they thought an appropriate tuition rate was. And the result?

The control group–the ones who kept their heads still–decided on average to reduce tuition slightly, from $587 to $582 per year. The group who shook their heads side to side decided on average to reduce tuition much more, to $467. And the group told to nod their heads decided on average to raise tuition to $646. The nodding of the last group created a bias correlating with the attitude of the conversation they listened to.

My theory then, is that the aggressive head-nodding of rock metal enthusiasts results in a stronger preferential bias towards their genre of music. This is not to say that other genres of music don’t have their crazy fans as well. But the prevalence of both band obsession and head-banging in the genre of rock metal leads me to believe that this correlation has a dual-causal relationship–listening to rock metal induces head-banging and head-banging induces listening to more rock music.

pathological

 

carrots

carrots

I bought a bag of baby carrots–
for munching, crunching, lunching on–
and in mere hours since they were bought
those carrots came to be half gone.

What troubles me is not the fact
that they inhabit my digestive tract,
but a rather more horrific thought
of vengeance rising from the ground.

For what it is is clear to see
(and at the moment I can see quite well)
that if I’ve eaten all the baby carrots
their parents must be mad as hell.

So here I lie awake in bed.
I’m glad I’m on the second floor,
but stranded still and still from terror
of carrots knocking at my door.

Richard Stallman Lecture? Next Time, I’ll Pass.

Richard Stallman Portrait

 

8 October 2013, 6pm Taylor Auditorium, Miami University

 

The Richard Stallman visited the Farmer School of Business at Miami University on October 6. In his lecture, A Free Digital Society, Stallman generally spoke to the tenets for which he is known–free software. An eccentric character no doubt, Stallman began the lecture by taking his shoes off and hopping on one foot. This set the tone for the rest of the lecture–a complete mockery of serious scholarly inquiry.

In general, Stallman emits a paranoid vibe. He requests that no pictures of him be posted on any sites like facebook or Instagram. He distrusts the government, and clearly avoids every sliver of interaction with commercial software, citing the hidden back doors that these companies use to gather information on their users. Stallman further insists that these companies use this information to oppress the public, although offers no clear examples of how this has been done.

Now, our society needs it’s whistle-blowers like Stallman. Some of the claims he makes are (to my knowledge) almost certainly true. Our government does keep tabs on internet and cell-phone behavior, and companies like Amazon do add back door software into their devices such as the Kindle (which Stallman cynically calls the Amazon Swindle).  But if he is going to give a lecture about these topics (which he did), he needs to start by justifying the premise of his concern–namely, why we should value our freedom from digital surveillance and control in the first place. Personally, I am unconvinced that the degree to which the government or any corporation encroaches upon our digital privacy at all warrants universal adoption of free software. Stallman’s failure to address this issue in his talk made the rest of his lecture pointless. It had no foundation, and in due course, devolved into a rambling masturbation of thoughts that ended with an explosion of angry students and faculty. What a mess…

So what is my point? After seeing first-hand the graceless way Stallman presented himself and his philosophy, I question whether he is the right person to be the figurehead of the Free Software Foundation–a movement I thought I supported. Although now, reflecting on his aplomb and self-righteous drawn-out sips from a 16oz Pepsi bottle (he went through 3 of them in 2 hours!), I wonder if perhaps he actually embodies the true personality of the Free Software Movement and if I had just been caught under a spell. Whatever the case may be, I still love emacs, gcc, and Linux. And no matter how much I criticize his lecture, Richard Stallman can’t take them away from me…because I have the source code.