Sunday, July 27, 2008

Open Thread

Okay folks, I'm off to the farmers market, to be followed by a family bike ride, to be chased by a zoo concert, to be topped with a camping trip. Yahoo! I do love me some summer. Have some of these cherries . . . last of the season.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Technical Problems

Regrettably (or happily, depending on your views), users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer are not able to see much of this site. In fact, if you are using IE, this is probably the only post you are able to read.

Please consider using Mozilla Firefox or another Linux-based browser. You can download Firefox for free here.

I've been told by techie friends that: (1) Internet Explorer is evil and (2) the alternatives are more stable, more secure, and more fun (lots of extensions, themes, and add-ons). So there you have it.

I've also been told that migrating this site over to Wordpress would be a good idea, but the very thought exhausts me. Maybe when the kids are off to college and I'm staring at an empty nest, in about 10 years.

Meanwhile, if you have any low-energy clues for how to improve the site, let me know.

UPDATE: My bad. Cheeks red. Turns out I mangled some "span class" code halfway through Friday's post. Thanks for the clue, Anonymous; it was a very low-energy fix :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Parking Lots and Teens

From this week's Reflector:

Maybe teens should hang out in church parking lot

In the letter to the editor, Ms. Jennifer Bohn of Battle Ground is right, we do not owe teens a place to "hang out," and be disruptive. These teens are like a lot of kids. Their behavior is not unusual. They want to be together and socialize. That's a good thing. The problem is that not all, but many of them throw their Starbucks cups, soda bottles, Quizno's and Jack-in-the-Box fast food wrappers, their countless cigarette butts, and blobs of slimy chew on the ground between the Fred Meyer store and the Starbucks. Until the people are told this is wrong and not acceptable, they will continue doing what they're doing.

Many of them are discourteous to shoppers wishing to drive through the parking lot to go shopping. Now that more and more of your readers are fed up and speaking up, perhaps the management at the Fred Meyer and surrounding stores will understand the shopping public has a choice of where they spend or don't spend their money.

The problem will either be corrected quickly, or many of us that don't want the hassle or disruption, will simply turn the other cheek and take our dollars to shop elsewhere. Have you noticed how nice the Safeway is since the remodel? There's even a Starbucks inside.

I do have a suggestion of where the teens can "hang out." How about the Apostolic Lutheran Church south of town by the Cedars golf course? Their sign reads, "Everyone Welcome." Wonderful and neighborly. Now, all the church needs to do is take the padlock off the gate and let the teens hang out there, and throw cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, soda bottles, and Starbucks cups on the ground.

Many of the teens already know where that church is. I know where it is because I've driven there, and taken the time to speak with some of the church's elders about this issue. By the way, with no resolution or commitment from them. I suspect the gate to their parking lot is locked to keep teens out. That is odd. I've never seen another church that has a gated and locked parking lot. I'm puzzled. Or, maybe those of us bothered by the discourteous teens can stop, smile, shake hands, park next to them and "hang out." We could play our car stereos loud, and socialize with them. We could talk about local, nation, international politics, or just smile and be with them. That would drive any normal teenager to find another place to gather.

Maybe Mr. Monty Center of Amboy could do as Ms. Bohn suggested, and invite the teens over to his place. It's a win-win for everyone. And they lived happily ever after. God bless us, everyone.

Michael Mitchell Battle Ground, WA

As I mentioned earlier, I feel bad for the many considerate, nonlittering, nonloitering OALC teens who will no doubt be teased about this.

For the others, community service would be an appropriate penalty: work on a cleanup crew, read books to the elderly, or peel potatoes in a soup kitchen. OALC mission work.

This also presents an opportunity for the OALC to provide something for these kids to do. How about some basketball hoops in the church parking lot? A construction project? Idle hands are the devil's workshop, and all that.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Milgram Shock Experiment: the Perils of Obedience

The Milgram experiment is a 1961 study that measured the willingness of participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.



Milgram summarized the experiment in his 1974 article, "The Perils of Obedience", writing:

The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.



Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.





The study and subsequent experiments are worth contemplating, not only for insights into our national crisis of morality in sanctioning and using torture, but into more personal aspects of conformity. What makes us accept authority? What makes us question it?



I look forward to your comments.