October 19th, 2005

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician....

An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician find themselves in an anecdote, indeed an anecdote quite similar to many that you have no doubt already heard. After some observations and rough calculations the engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing. A few minutes later the physicist understands too and chuckles to himself happily as he now has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper.

This leaves the mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of humour from similar anecdotes, but considers this anecdote to be too trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.

From a rec.arts.sf.written post by kgbooklog/Konrad Gaertner.

Fear and Political Action

I recently heard some talk based on the idea that the reaction to the Bush administration most worth encouraging is fear.

I have two problems with this. One is merely factual--the administration is much weaker than it was. It's made disasterous mistakes, and the natural incompatities among its supporters are getting interesting. This doesn't mean it's become harmless and there are certainly still excellent reasons to oppose it, but imho, it's not nearly as scary as it was a year or two ago.

The other is psychological. Amp up the fear too high, and some people get paralyzed.

I'm asking those of you who've been following politics more carefully than I have: what mix of emotional appeals have contributed to changes you've wanted?