Saturday, April 4, 2015

Alumni magazine notes

I have been reading the Winter 2015 Haverford alumni magazine.  Mostly it makes me feel like these are not my people.  It's about a bunch of rich, prestigious people.  In spite of that, a few things caught my interest:
  1. Emma Copley Wisenberg's article at  This article, "Why I Helped Search for Missing UVA Student Hannah Graham" was published in The New Republic November 18, 2014.  She writes that people are moved by missing white women more by missing men or people of color.  I would add that people are particularly moved by missing young white women, and by missing children.  
  2. Norman Bramall, tennis coach for 41 years, quit in June 1968 because he objected to a change of rules.  The old rule was, "An athlete must be shorn and shaved to suit the needs of the coach."  College president John Coleman removed this rule.  He said that, "Neat beards, or neat but long hair, could not automatically be used to exclude men from teams."  Many journalists praised Bramall, such as one who hailed him for "refusing to be stampeded into submission by this weird new breed of hippies which infest many of our campuses today." 

    What interests me is how people respond to change.  Once people were appalled by beards.  Now they are appalled by same sex marriage.  What will attitudes be like 50 years from now?

    What I find interesting is that people believe that they are against a particular thing, but their arguments sound just like arguments that have always been used against change.  They don't even realize  how they echo the arguments of people who were against other things in the past.

    It seems that sometimes people are against things not because these things are inherently bad, but because change is unsettling.  But that is not to say that change is always good.  How do we evaluate changes based on their merits, when we are so affected just by the fact that it is change?
  3. There was an article about the research of John Kounios and Mark Beeman, who just wrote a book called The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments,  Creative Insight, and the Brain.  Answers can be found either analytically or by a flash of insight.  Everyone does both, and it's not that people should do one but not the other, but this research focused specifically on the flash of insight. 

    The insights come in the moments when our brain is free of outside distractions.  What I am thinking about is how people tend to fill their empty moments by looking at their smart phone.  To me, it seems like they are limiting their brains when they do that.