The Elephant in the Room

 

On average, an Asian elephant weighs anything from three to five tonnes. Their African brothers are larger and heavier still, weighing anything up to and in excess of seven tonnes (7000kg). And yet, these incredible beasts are often successfully controlled by nothing more than a short stake and a piece of rope.

Understanding this phenomenon is essential to securing a ‘Yes’ vote on September 18th.

To begin to grasp why elephants are so reluctant to break free of the shackles that bind them we must first introduce ourselves with a little known mathematical scientist, called George Bernard Dantzig.

In 1939, Dantizig was a doctoral candidate at Berkeley with a tendency to oversleep. One morning, late once more for a grad level statistics class, Danzig encountered two problems written on the board.

Dantzig takes up the story, in an interview for the College Mathematics Journal:

I arrived late one day at one of [Jerzy] Neyman’s classes. On the blackboard there were two problems that I assumed had been assigned for homework. I copied them down. A few days later I apologized to Neyman for taking so long to do the homework — the problems seemed to be a little harder than usual. I asked him if he still wanted it. He told me to throw it on his desk. I did so reluctantly because his desk was covered with such a heap of papers that I feared my homework would be lost there forever. About six weeks later, one Sunday morning about eight o’clock, [my wife] Anne and I were awakened by someone banging on our front door. It was Neyman. He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited: “I’ve just written an introduction to one of your papers… To make a long story short, the problems on the blackboard that I had solved thinking they were homework were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics. That was the first inkling I had that there was anything special about them.
Had Dantzig arrived on time to class that morning, he would have heard his professor state that Einstein had been unable to resolve the two problems. The fact is, Dantzig didn’t know he couldn’t solve them. So he did.
In India, when a baby elephant is born, she is immediately sent out to work. When not engaged in manual labour, she is tied by a heavy chain to a stake placed in the earth. To her utter dismay, the baby elephant finds that the chain is much too strong for her developing body to break free of. Despite repeated attempts to chew through the chain, despite whining and trumpeting, tugging and pulling, the baby elephant eventually resigns herself to her fate. She learns her limitations. Her spirit is broken.
The elephant is conditioned to believe that it cannot break free and that belief is enough to hold them.
To every neutral observer, it is self evident that the magnificent strength of the elephant would enable her to break free effortlessly and gain her independence. In the conditioned mind of the elephant alas, it feels ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’.
Andrew S. Loveland’s ‘The Sound of Abundance of Rain’ is now available to buy on Kindle from here

 

 

It’s inequality, stupid.

Ecclefechan’s finest son, the essayist and philosopher Thomas Carlyle implored man as his first duty to conquer fear, to get rid of it entirely; for he believed man was unable to act until he did so.

Concern is understandably behind much of the reticence displayed by those yet to commit themselves either way to the Independence debate. It is not however, the fear we imagine it is; dispensed so cheaply by the Bitter Together campaign. It is more insidious. A creeping unease in the pit of the gut. As we will discover, this trepidation is wholly justified but I hope that by naming this fear we might finally begin to dispel it.

And if by flashing a bit of leg in the direction of those undecideds, I can persuade a few to join me in a chorus of Meg Ryan ‘Yessing’, then all the better.

The undecided will ultimately determine the fate of our nation. If the reactionary polemic and increase in hysteria witnessed recently are any indication of unionist jitters, it is almost certainly because Darling et al have realised that they are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of those undecided they had hoped could be bludgeoned into submission with casual threats and intimidation. Read more of this post

Two Killers

 

Two killers I met on the road last night…

The first said his name was ignorance,

and as I spoke, turned away his head;

The second, I assume his name was silence,

For when I asked him, not one word he said.

 

 

Andrew S. Loveland’s ‘The Sound of Abundance of Rain‘ is available to buy in the Kindle store now.

 

Taking the Piss

 
 
 
 
consultant
kənˈsʌlt(ə)nt/
noun
 
  1. 1.
    a person who provides professional advice or expertise.
     
    2.
    a surrogate tit.
     
     

John Tierney is somehow waving, not drowning in Irish Water.

Criticism following the revelations that Irish Water – the semi-state body set up to provide and develop water services throughout Ireland – have spent fifty million euro on consultancy fees alone in the utility’s first twelve months, and ten years before it is due to assume full responsibility for delivery of services, begs an interesting question. 

Has our culture of consultancy replaced the Irish Mammy for good?

In a country noted for eschewing personal responsibility at all costs, Irish men have traditionally been reluctant to extricate themselves from the comfort of the maternal bosom. Cutting themselves free from Mammy’s apron strings was never going to be an easy transition but it appears that as the once ubiquitous overbearing Irish Mammy retreats from public life, save for good old Mrs. Brown and a collection of witty books preserving her wisdom for future generations, a ready surrogate has already been found as chief executives, ministers, and senior management figures alike suckle at the consultant’s willing nipple. Read more of this post

Hamba Kahle, Madiba

 

The death of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela – the meaning of the middle name is ‘troublemaker’ – only now brings to an end, the closure of the 20th century for the preceding century could never have been seen to have passed while breath remained in the body of it’s leading protagonist. Not merely was prisoner 46664, apartheid’s most determined antagonist or the most resonant cry heard in the 20th century, Madiba was the architect of this century also.

His moral authority was unquestionable. His dignity, humility and courage, exemplary. He was the distillation of a unifying ideal. The distillation of our hopes for a better world. He refined our dreams, then brought them into our waking hours. Read more of this post

No No No

The Bitter Together campaign have today called upon the Scottish Executive to ensure that the forthcoming publication of it’s white paper on Independence is ‘entirely honest and upfront’ about the implications of a ‘Yes’ vote on next year’s Christmas celebrations.

The delivery of a ‘Yes’ vote in next year’s September 18th plebiscite it warns, could have grave consequences for Scotland’s ‘scabby, snot-faced weans’ and could jeopordise entirely the continued enjoyment of the festive season in an newly independent Scotland.

Recent observations published by the London based Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) raise a number of concerns regarding the fiscal sustainability of a free Scotland but it is the apparent lack of interest shown by Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon in explaining what an independent Scotland intends to do about Santa’s carbon footprint that is now irking the rank and filth of Bitter Together.

Recent figures estimate that the nation’s favourite obese drunk will be responsible for releasing 69.7 million metric tonnes of  carbon emissions over the night of the 24th as he sloshes through the snow. This astounding figure includes 53,667 metric tonnes of methane from the arseholes of his reindeer alone. A figure only eclipsed by oor Johann after a ‘think tank’ in Mother India’s.

Alisdair ‘Silver Balls’ Darling, former chancellor and now the brains and brawn behind Bitter Together was proper bealin’ when approached for a comment this afternoon, ‘Listen ya wee radge, I couldnae gie twa monkey fucks aboot a new Constitution for Scotland or transferring Tunnock’s Tea Cakes into public ownership’, he raged, ‘Ah’m mair worried aboot this carbon footprint… ah’ve only jist got ma new carpet fitted in the living room so that bastard better min’ and tak’ his boots aff in the fireplace.’ Read more of this post

Darling, there’s a cockroach among the cherries.

In a previous post, we observed the peculiar phenomenon of loss aversion, and the surprising ways in which it can affect our ability to reason, overcome and succeed. It might be beneficial now for those of us in the ‘Yes’ camp, to understand precisely how loss aversion comes about in order to better equip ourselves to counteract it.

Paul Rozin, one of the world’s most highly respected psychologists, noted in ‘Negativity Bias, Negativity Dominance and Contagion’, the ability of a single cockroach to completely ruin a bowl of cherries, while simultaneously pointing out that a single cherry placed upon a bowl of cockroaches does nothing to make the bowl appear more appealing. Read more of this post

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