(Fear The) Fear The Walking Dead

Hello world.

No preamble today, as time is of the essence.

I don’t like Zombies. I don’t like Zombie movies. I don’t like Zombie books. That’s me. But there are a couple of exceptions. Among the very few is the series “The walking dead“. Continue reading

Advertisements

Take THAT, UFC200!

Hello everyone, welcome back to another installment of UFC PPV AfterMMAth.

It seems like anyone with the ability to express themselves spoke of one thing and one thing only these past few weeks – UFC200. Continue reading

Every Fighter Is A Song

Howdy!

My sincere apologies for the delay, but you know how it is… work work work. All’s I can say – it beats the alternative…

Well, in the last couple of days I was toying with an idea about tying two things I love together into one post. Music and MMA. Now, we know that fighters have their walk-in music. Some choose a song based on their current mood, or if they want to make a specific statement. Others have a song they always use. That’s all nice and dandy.

But what I was thinking about was – what song IS that fighter? Which song could represent a fighter? So with that in mind…

Here are ten fighters and their songs:

Conor McGregorThe real slim shady / Eminem

There’s no one quite like Conor, some folks try to be like Conor but they’re not the real Conor now are they? A spark of craziness and a similar spark of genius. Will the real Conor McGregor please stand up?

Jon JonesBohemian rhapsody / Queen

Just like this Queen masterpiece, Jones starts out quiet, develops quickly with some unexpected turns and explodes into a crescendo. To date, though, that peak was followed by a whisper… Let’s hope that – like what usually happens with this song – we will just hit “repeat” and listen again and again as this young lad makes his comeback. Also considered one of the best of all times.

Demetrious JohnsonPlug in baby / Muse

The song is quite short, is mostly burst after burst of energy, and one of the best of its generation. Hold on, did I just describe a song by Muse? or the flyweight champion?

Daniel CormierSweet Home Alabama / Lynyrd Skynyrd

DC may be from Louisiana, but still, we’re talking about some southern gold which some people may have sneezed at, at first. Until they realized it’s just that damn good.

Frankie EdgarWorking on a dream / Bruce Springsteen

Frankie, like the Boss is a Jersey boy who’s busy with the dream. Like the subjects of Springsteen’s song (pretty much – us), Frankie might hit a wall every so often. But he keeps the hope alive, that one day, with the right attitude and hard work – he will realize his dream. Will it happen? I don’t know. The song is a song of hope, and like Frankie, we won’t give up on that.

Nate Diaz (Nick Diaz)Smoke two joints / sublime

Not a man of many words, but says it as it is. For him. Represent yo.

Ronda Rousey – I, Me, Mine / The Beatles

All through the day, I, me, mine, I, me, mine, I, me, mine. Even those tears, I, me, mine etc. It seems like it was always about Ronda doesn’t it? She’s here, She’s there, she’s everywhere (no, that song doesn’t fit). It wasn’t about the sport, not even about the promotion. It was about Ronda. Well, for better or for worse, only time will tell. We’re waiting for the new chapter in this story.

Robbie LawlerBad company / Five Finger Death Punch cover

This song, like the fighter, is a very nice mix of Aggression and heart felt look at one’s career. A warrior like Robbie who’s done this and that, was scorned by so many of us, yet realized his true identity and… well, you know the rest. I can’t deny, till the day I die.

Michael BispingManchester England England / Hair Cast

What can I say? He believes that god believes in “Claude”. That’s him. Hair also attracts polarizing views. Some people love it, while others can’t stand it. I like it.

Fabricio WerdumPais tropical / Sergio Mendes

For I do not owe anything to anyone. For I am happy, very happy with myself. I saw werdum trying to show a “tough” front in promo work. At best it was a not smiling Fabricio. This guy seems to truly be having fun every minute of his career. What wasn’t said of him in the past? he was all but written off until storming all the way to the top of the heavyweight division.

Well, hope you enjoyed. Will be happy to hear opinions, other ideas. What song is you?

Until next time (very soon – UFC197 Predictions…),

The Agentic State Is Stable

Hi everybody,

Welcome back. I am still feeling the tail-end of whatever the hell it was that sidelined me for a while now. During one of my numerous sleepless nights of late, I watched a film called “Experimenter” that was just added to Netflix.

expwerimenter

As is the case on this blog, I’m not about to review the movie, speak about its artistic strengths and/or weaknesses. For me, this movie is more a reminder. A starting point for these next few words I’m about to write, and in that – being a trigger for some thought – the film is a great success.

It’s no spoiler that the film revolves around social experiments conducted by social psychologist Stanley Milgram, and in the center of it all, the one started in Yale university, in which he observed people’s willingness to obey questionable orders.

The experiment was fairly simple:

  • A subject in the role of “The teacher” would sit in front of a switchboard which supposedly delivers electric shocks to another individual in the role of “The student“. The student sat in another room, not visible to the teacher.
  • The teacher is directed to deliver an increasingly higher shock to the student for every wrong answer for a long series of questions.
  • The maximum shock would be fatal.
  • The teacher would be told that the experiment is about the student’s ability to learn under the “threat” of the shock, and before the experiment started, the teacher was requested to receive the lowest shock he’d be asked to deliver to the student.
  • The student was in fact a part of the experiment team and received no shock at all.
  • With every wrong answer, a recording of the student expressing unease, pain and ultimately demands to stop would be played to the teacher.

Suffice to say that over 60% of the subjects delivered the shocks without fail up until the maximum strength. Some expressed distress, discomfort and some sympathy to the student. Others protested, but ultimately all of these 60%+ went all the way.

I find it disturbing, especially since this experiment was replicated in decades to come in different places on the globe with even bigger percentages of compliance (e.g. ~80% in France).

Stanley Milgram called this the agentic state, which means handing off responsibility for one’s actions and thus painting one’s self as an agent of someone else.

Milgram then became a target for much scorn.

Subjects and others proclaimed:

“I feel manipulated, deceived.”
“You lied to your subjects”
“You weren’t honest
You told them to do it”

among other accusations.

To which I have to say:

  1. What better conditions could exist for such an experiment? It’s actually the most realistic set, as we are all manipulated, deceived, lied to and most of all…
  2. Led to believe we don’t have a choice. Which is the whole point of the experiment. All the accusations are either “YOU/HE/THEY did something” or the like-minded “something happened TO US“.Where is the “I” and the “WE” in this discussion? There’s always a choice. There’s always consequence, but there’s always choice. And WE make it, one way or the other.

In this experiment, what was the consequence of saying “no”? How does it compare with the consequence (even if it’s only in the subject’s head) of compliance?

I fear that this agentic state is stable, that is, have been instilled in us for as long as a century (at the very least). This is not only reminiscent of the holocaust, though that played a major role in Milgram’s motivation. It’s in so many things we do, or not do and have been doing for a very long time now.

There are many ways to change that, but none of which could be imposed on the individual. Guess what, it’s a matter of choice. Ask any practicing Buddhist.

What are your thoughts? Have you seen the movie? are you familiar with Milgram’s experiments?

Until next time…

Of Freedom And Hate

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen.

This week, us Jews celebrate Passover (Pesach) and a cosmic alignment of events took place and as per usual, history lessons and current affairs did the tango. That is to say, we do tend to go around in circles.

Passover means many things to us, but first and foremost it is a holiday of freedom. You know the main plot, I even went ahead and complimented the writer in THIS post. Slaves liberated, free to go back to their home. Free.

Many of us are lucky to live in free countries (well, more on that on a separate post) where we can do pretty much anything and pursue our happiness, as long as we don’t break any law. There’s a lot to be said about the extent to which we can do so, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s take the above as a truth, shall we?

Having said that, we are witnesses to some horrendous acts done by men. As individual incidents, these could be dissected and provide material for countless blog posts. But the acts I’m referring to are tied to freedoms. Mostly, the freedom of speech.

Let’s look at a couple of these acts.

On the same week, Passover week, two seemingly separate incidents took place. One in Kansas USA and the other in the west bank. The first involved a bigoted KKK man (and I use this phrase loosely) who shot three Jews for being Jews, and the second a Palestinian shooting a man in front of his wife.

Now, before we turn this into a political debate, I’ll go ahead and mention two other incidents. One involving an Israeli soldier (again, I use this phrase loosely) on his way home or to the army, shooting at innocent Arab citizens inside a bus. The second, of course, a religious fanatic, shooting Muslim worshipers in a sacred cave in the west bank.

The first two acts are recent, the other two happened a few years ago, but they both relate directly to the freedom of speech. These individuals would not have done what they have done, had they not been fed the most dangerous poison of all time – hate.

As opposed to popular belief, Jews don’t hate Arabs and Arabs do not hate Jews. Individuals hate other individuals. But when a baby is born, he’s not aware in which “bucket” society puts him. He doesn’t know hate. He is taught hate.

Now, we do like to talk. We love that freedom. And why shouldn’t we? It’s a basic right to be able to voice your opinion. Hell, I’m doing it right this very moment. So who are you to shut me up, right?

In times like these, with internet and easy access to media platforms, it’s even simpler to spread hate. Anyone with rudimentary understanding of blogging, or many other outlets can start a fire. Sadly, it might be even easier to spread hate than any other thing because hate is bread through fear, and playing on a person’s prejudice, sensitivities and other easily manipulated mechanisms. Mush easier than say… love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace…

The sad truth is that, with so much “material” to work with, all man doings, every hateful notion can be easily supported with “facts”.

‘Of course Arabs hate the Jews. Here are some horrific terrorists for you”

“Of course the Jews hate the Arabs. Here’s a lunatic promising to blow up the Mosque on temple mount.”

“Of course black people are criminals. Look at this prisoner. He’s black”

“Of course white people are lying, manipulative SOBs. Look at Madoff, he’s white.”

Humanity gives us so many reasons to hate, all we need is a “push in the right direction”… So what do we do? People take these hateful messages and act on them, that is a fact.

Well, we could of course ask our leaders to put more limitations on the freedom of speech. It may land some of these A holes in prison. It could possibly dilute the volume of hateful incitement and reduce the number of hate crimes.

I hope that as you read that last sentence, you realized how pointless and harmful that would be.

Yes, these hate crimes are all built on top of propaganda, preaching and smears under the protection of the freedom of speech. They’re all deplorable and there’s no excuse for any of them. Yes, I sometimes browse through  some talk-backs to an article and wish that some of these guys get arrested for the damaging comments they post. But in the end of the day, I have to remind myself of two things.

First and foremost, it is a slippery slope. The minute we agree to give up basic rights, they would be gladly taken away, and to an extent none of us can control. This basic right to have your say is the core of democracy. The rule of the people. Without the people being able to speak we might as well give up every other right.

In addition it’s a classic “Today it’s you, and me tomorrow” situation. If the right to speak is compromised, it’s not a one way street.

So what do we do?

The only tool we have in our disposal is… the freedom of speech. Hate is an easy sale. Much easier than love. We’re far less open and accepting than we’d like to think of ourselves. But if we want to see less hate, there’s only one thing we can do. And it’s to spread the love 🙂

I know, how very 60s of me. But really, what other choice do we have? So go out there and hug a stranger. Stand up to racism, bigotry and hate. Don’t be a little cynic and smile damn it!

This blog is open for opinions, comments, ideas or anything other than hate. So tell me – what can we do to counter this hate?

Until we meet again, Peace out,