(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘crowds

“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually”*…

 

Law enforcement officers across the United States are using a variety of weapons on protesters during demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality. George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. The fatal encounter has triggered a wave of protests across the country and around the world. Many of the events have been peaceful but some have turned violent, with scenes of arson, looting and clashes with police.

Authorities have imposed curfews on dozens of cities across the country, the most since the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968…

weapons

Often described as non-lethal, these weapons can seriously injure, disable and even kill. Police have used them against peaceful protesters as well as members of the press during the demonstrations.

Chemical Irritants

Chemical irritants include tear gas and pepper spray, which cause sensations of burning, pain and inflammation of the airways.

Public health and infectious diseases experts have opposed the use of chemical irritants such as tear gas, saying in an online petition that they could increase risk for COVID-19 by “making the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection.”

Because chemical irritants can spread widely, bystanders and individuals other than the intended targets can be exposed to the chemicals…

Reuters unpacks what U.S. police are using to corral, subdue and disperse demonstrators: “Weapons of Control.”

Attorney General Barr insists that pepper spray is “not a chemical”; but of course it is (as its manufacturer brags and the CDC agrees)– and a particularly dangerous one during the coronavirus pandemic.

See also “Crocodile Tears,” a history of tear gas and its use, and “The Power of Crowds,” a historical consideration of attempts through time to manage or constrain mass gatherings and of the resilience of the crowd.

* James Baldwin

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As we come together, we might recall that it was on this date in 1872 that Samuel Butler‘s Erewhon was published.  A satirical utopian novel, it skewers Victorian society in a manner reminiscent of Swift’s dismantling of 18th century society in Gulliver’s Travels.  Butler meant the title, which refers to the “country” he describes, to be understood as the word “nowhere” backwards (though the letters “h” and “w” are of course transposed).

220px-Erewhon_Cover source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 9, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one”*…

 

Networks

 

You’ve probably heard of the wisdom of crowds. The general idea, popularized by James Surowiecki’s book, is that a large group of non-experts can solve problems collectively better than a single expert. As you can imagine, there are a lot of subtleties and complexities to this idea. Nicky Case helps you understand with a game.

Draw networks, run simulations, and learn in the process…

Spend an extremely-fruitful half hour with “The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds.”

[via Flowing Data]

* Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds

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As we contemplate connection, we might compose a birthday rhyme for Torquato Tasso, the 16th Century Italian poet; he was born on this date in 1544.  Tasso was a giant in his own time– he died in 1595, a few days before the Pope was to crown him “King of the Poets”– but had fallen out the core of the Western Canon by the end of the 19th century.  Still, he resonates in the poems (Spencer, Milton, Byron), plays (Goethe), madrigals (Monteverdi), operas (Lully, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn, Rossini, Dvorak) , and art work (Tintoretto, the Carracci, Guercino, Pietro da Cortona, Domenichino, Van Dyck, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Tiepolo, Fragonard, Delacroix) that his life and work inspired.

220px-Torquato_Tasso source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 11, 2019 at 12:01 am

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep”*…

 

The Donald used them to populate his Presidential announcement; so did Eric Weiner when he opened his bid for Mayor of New York.  Tim Draper’s failed “Six Californias” ballot initiative campaign hired them for rallies; anti-gay forces recruited them to protest alongside this year’s Pride Parade in New York…  Rent-a-crowds are all the rage.

Go behind the scenes of this peculiar– but increasingly prevalent– form of “human astroturfing” at “1-800-Hire-A-Crowd.”

[Image above from here]

* Saul Bellow

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As we wonder about the wisdom of crowds, we might spare a thought (and a smile) for Peter Sellers; he died on this date in 1980 at age 54.  An actor and comedian of extraordinary accomplishment, Sellers, the son of two variety entertainers, first appeared on stage at two weeks old.  He performed consistently thereafter, breaking through with the BBC radio series The Goon Show (believed by many to be the funniest, and certainly the most influential, comedy show ever).  Sellars went on to establish himself on television (e.g., A Show Called Fred) and especially in film (e.g., the Pink Panther films) as one of the most versatile– and funniest– comedians in the world.  And in films like Lolita and Being There, he demonstrated his skill as an actor.

In 1964, Sellers had suffered 13 heart attacks over the period of just a few days; he resisted traditional treatment for his cardiac problems, opting instead for New Age therapies.  He and his Goon Show co-stars Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe had planned to have a reunion dinner during this week in 1980; instead, Seller’s two collaborators attended his funeral.

The Goons: Peter Sellers, with Spike Milligan (lower left) and Harry Secombe (lower right)

 source

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 24, 2015 at 1:01 am

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