Author: Michael Boardman

Of Course We are Revolutionary

How could we not be revolutionary? while large or small it is hard to say, if not straight out impossible to say that we as humans have never been revolutionary. Revolutions  do not need to be large scale overthrows of the government, while that is how we remember them. For a revolution to counted in my eyes the way people understand something must change. Simply enough in most common sports their has been some sort of revolution that changed the game. If even simple sports are able to be revolutionized then obviously larger things like countries and philosophies also have the same ability.

In the sport of skiing their have been two major revolutions that changed the way the sport is played. the first major revolution is the break away gate. In skiing the racer must go around gates that stick straight up out of the ground. Prior to the 1980s these gates were bamboo poles. While mostly lightweight they gave almost no give to the racer. Athletes had to wear protective armor prior to going down the mountain as to protect themselves. Many athletes would develop black and blue marks all along their arms from hitting the gates when they skied down the mountain. The breakaway gate changed all of this. By making the gate out of plastic and attaching a hinge just above where the gate sticks out of the snow. by building gates like this racers now had the ability to ski more over the gates as opposed to around them. Instead of taking gates off of the arms skiers could wear guards on their hands to almost punch them to the ground.

After the revolution of the breakaway gate came another revolution. The shape ski. Brought to the mainstream by Bode Miller the shaped ski changed the sport of ski racing more than the break away gate could have ever dreamed. Instead of using skis that had no side cut, which increased the radius of the ski when tipped up on edge, making it harder to turn. Bode introduced a shaped ski which was easier to turn and allowed athletes the ability to go faster in courses. It was so revolutionary that Bode went from an unknown young ski racer in 1996 that by 1998 he was competing in the winter olympics. By 2002 ski racing looked totally different than before with how people went around the gates. In 2014 the governing body actually made skiers use straighter skis because racers were going so fast.

In baseball a revolution has taken place. In the early 1900s baseballs were “dead”. They lacked the inability to fly off the bat as of today because of their weight.  From a technology break though baseballs changed and so did the game. Luckily around the same time that baseballs stopped losing their “dead”-ness a legend was born. Babe Ruth changed the game of baseball with the home run. With the revolution before him with the making if the baseballs it allowed for him to be such a star.

Revolutions are always happening around us. While some may say that revolutions need to large even small ones change the course of history.

Why We Only hear some Revolutions

The lecture tonight touched on the very important question and idea about history. In the United States, we learn a very little selection of history of the world. We are not taught the vast amount of history around the world. Most prominently the history of countries that are outside of Europe seems to rarely be taught in the United States. Today’s lecture only highlighted how bad the problem is still today. While only a senior at Colby, I strongly believe that high school education could not have changed that much since my time.

In my four years of high school I took three types of history classes. The first was western civilization. This centered around the idea of the European development from the Greeks all the way to modern Europe as it is today. A very interesting class, but it was my only type of foreign history class in my three years of high school. Going to a private school in Vermont I can not say if this normal for most public schools to not experience more foreign history. My next two classes were as follows, an intense learning of US history from 1600s to early 20th century followed by a more intense US foreign policy from 1880s through present day. While the two US history classes did touch upon some foreign countries the learning of foreign history outside of Europe did not happen. In the second class we mostly learned about US government interactions with countries. Oddly enough nothing was mentioned about the US governments involvement in Haiti for retributions on loans given out.

I do not know why the problem is so bad. I believe that there could be two different reasons for this explanation. The first is that trying to learn about so many countries would be impossible. I believe this to be very true. It would be very hard to be taught about all the areas of the world. But how is it decided that Western Civilization or mostly European history is considered a worthy time to study. European history is important to the United States because of the connection from how the United States was started. There is a connection back to Europe. However not trying to include the rest of the world results in a lack of knowledge that was shown tonight from people’s shock about the age of revolution. How intertwined in that age is a small island being able to overthrow a large French government is not talked about. Along with this very often the French Revolution is talked about in some way. The reading of a Tale of Two Cities explores what is going on during the French Revolution and is commonly read for US high school Americans.

What should be taught to students? It is not a straight forward answer. Obviously, the history of the area that they are from should be taught. Along with that the where the country they are from was founded from. Beyond that trying to learn history is not straight forward. Even college professors specialize within an area.

The Worth of a Monument

What is the importance of a monument? I have always found that monuments are a way to visit the past. To try and enshrine an amazing time in history. The lecture on Monday night that explored the idea of monuments did just that. It looked at how we structure monuments now compared to when and for what purpose they were built.

The idea that I always find fascinating is will we ever see a new monument be built today, or will it be classified as a monument in classical terms? The reason for this thought is the same reason why a boxer will never be as good as Muhmmed Ali. Even though a boxer might be as good, the allure of Ali will live on forever as the champion with present fighters never able to live up to him. With that same piece of mind, it seems unlikely that a modern monument will be built. It seems that people have an idea about the past that makes it seem like it is better than the present. Whether that is right or wrong I do not know, nor wish to argue. More the fact that for the same token when an artist passes away his artwork usually takes a rise in prices since his memory is usually fond and that they are unable to make any more artwork. But that isn’t to say that living people haven’t had monuments put up. The late Joe Paterno had statue at Penn State until an investigation into his hiding of information about child sexual assault came out. It was then taken down. But it does prove that people are willingly to erect a statue or monument about a living human person as opposed to the dead.

Along with building monuments, should old ones be torn down? The most obvious case of a monument or historical piece being taken down in the United States is in the state of South Carolina where they choose to not use the confederate flag as their state flag anymore. Whether in support for the southern pride that is said to bring to people or the upset about how a state still supports in some ways the ideas about what the state used to stand for. By taking down the flag in some ways the state is trying to hide what it used to stand for. That in the past it was in support of slavery and along with that obviously racist rhetoric. Instead of shying away from where the state came from could they accept their past and fly the flag, but with an explanation?  The explanation could say how once the state took a stance on ownership of people’s bodies and now where it stands. How it has moved on from the past, how it is no longer connected to those ideas, and how by having it up there every day it is a reminded how South Carolina has a responsibility to keep moving forward. In that way monuments of the past that have a negative connotation can still be used positively in the future.

Is Data Always Bad

In my mind, data should always being used. I may be slightly biased in my assessment of the use of data as opposed to the lecture last night.   Being an economics major at Colby, data is the backbone that drives all the studies. While having theories about a lot of things is useful for teaching concepts it is the experimental data that will prove theories. Precisely, in one experiment the theory would suggest one outcome, but the real outcome is much more drastic because of behavior we cannot predict. For this the use of data is extremely crucial for trying to make progress in the field of economics.

Along with my study of economics my other passion is sports. In the last ten years, there has been a major push, with one word coming to mind sabermetrics. When referring to the last ten years it is more that more people have learned about the idea on a larger scale. Sabermetrics was the idea behind the “Money Ball”, which led the As to the playoffs with one of the lowest paid rosters in all of major league baseball. While in baseball it revolutionized the important numbers that batter must produce, favoring on base percentage as opposed to batting average it went much deeper. It started to track what pitches a pitcher threw and if he didn’t vary it enough it could give the batter an advantage. In basketball sabermetrics studied how players being used and if they could be used better, for example many players are taken out early because of foul trouble. The team would most likely perform better if they kept them in the game longer and risked fouling out. In both cases, big data has been used for the benefit teams and individuals. Is there an argument for not using big data?

As previously stated my studies at Colby, and the way I like statistical studies to back up theories I am biased towards thinking data is always a benefit to society. I think studying data is always very useful, but could the release of data allow for people to support their own flawed ideas? For instance, black men are more likely to be incarcerated compared to white men. This statistic could allow for someone to support their idea that black men are more dangerous than white men, an obvious racist idea. Whereas it should most likely be viewed as how has the education and justice system failed black men in regards that going to jail is such a common occurrence.

Data has its role in helping us see the world. It has given light into many different areas about how we can improve. Whether that is regarding a sports team trying to be more competitive, or highlighting a possible flaw in our correctional system for people. Today we will always be able to find data about a certain idea or how to influence a result. How we go about using data and making sure it is understood is the most important part.

How fast is too fast for Technology

The latest lecture in the Revolutions series presents an interesting idea in development and time. Throughout the entire lecture I was thinking how development is a slow process. It takes a long time for things to change. That while the world around is changing drastically it seems the human population is bound to fall behind.

The day after the lecture I was lucky enough to be sitting in on another talk by Dell EMC. A technology based company in Boston that was looking for more Colby students to hire. Most of that talked was focused on the development of technology. Right after hearing about the slow development of humans it was a very interesting idea. There he said technology gets twice as fast and half the price every 10 years. While an outrageous statistic, compared to the presentation I just heard about Darwin’s development and the overall slow process it nearly sounded impossible. Humans have slowly developed overtime from when we were purely chimpanzees. Where could technology be in over 100 years from now based from the current development? While my life will most likely dramatically change as much as my grandparents did in theirs are we not better equipped to handle the change that is happening.

Another key take away from the lecture I saw was how humans may not be the ideal final form of development. An idea I have never personally heard before. The species that is relatively at the very top of the food chain, but at the same time can very easily be put into our place by other animals. Relating it to technology are we moving away from certain developments that may not be ideal. Are the developments that are currently working on not actually ideal for the development of human life. And with how fast technology is now able to develop, as opposed to humans that develop at a very slow rate in terms in developing abnormalities and having that slowly effect the population. Now the worry turns to technology and its very rapid development. What areas might we miss with how fast things are bale to develop?

Humans have slowly developed over tens of thousands of years. It has allowed for slow forward moving development with that humans may not be the final perfect development, but one that has yet to cause too much harm. Will technology move at such a fluid rate as this? It is estimated within the next twenty-five years’ robots will be able to think as quickly as humans can. While a very exciting idea, is technology developing that much faster have flaws. How many sci-fi movies must be made exposing the fear of too fast developing technology before it happens. Or is this fear totally unreasonable that technology is developing too fast. Technology is going to continue to develop at an extremely fast rate. That is guaranteed to continue to happen. As humans do we have a larger responsibility to develop at a rate that we know will make sure that there are not going to be any problems or that we know will only create good?

The Timetable of Revolutions

Having attended another seminar on Revolutions, a much larger theme is beginning to become present. The theme that comes to the forefront of most of the lectures that have been discussed is the idea of building blocks. That revolutions cannot be started over night and that they must take steps to eventually create the knowledge. Beyond just taking steps the revolution of climate knowledge that was talked about tonight came from many different people. This was the same as the first Revolution lecture that touched on many famous scientists and philosophers about their individual additions to the overall scientific revolution.

In some ways these more scientific revolutions, the climate change and scientific, seem to be very different from what a political revolution is though. When thinking about a political revolution the common concept that there is a breaking point. While there may be events that lead to this breaking point it is mostly more dramatic. The American Revolution comes to mind when thinking about a dramatic revolution. Very quickly a few events eventually launched into a full scale breakaway from England for the United States. In the grand scheme it was only ten years from when tensions began to increase to the point that United States had ended the war. When comparing this to the climate revolution it is almost impossible to compare the two events. The climate revolution, could very easily argued it still going on and being developed. Scientist today still want to learn more and test more theories about the topic.  In this regard there is an extremely large difference between the two types of revolutions that are commonly looked at throughout the world.

Does the length of time that it takes for a revolution to happen effect the legitimacy of the revolution then? The first thought that many have of a revolution is the drastic difference level of knowledge or the process that things are done post the event. Accompanied along with that for many may be the swiftness that this knowledge is spread and accepted. In this regard scientific revolutions develop much slower and for many people the legitimacy of their knowledge for some reason seems to be questioned. Now the question of legitimacy could be connected to political parties in the United States and how certain parties have attached to climate change and others not so much, but it still shows the slower process that the scientific revolutions go through.

However, just because scientific revolutions go through slower processes does it especially mean that the overall goal or function of them is anything less. The more resounding problem might be the way people interrupt a revolution and how they are supposed to function. While a scientific type revolution may take a longer time the feats that it accomplishes is non the less very significant and can change the entire idea around thinking about a topic. Scientific revolutions are as important as the political because unlike political that are ever changing it is safer to say that climate and science are much more lasting.

The Caged Animal

*Because of a class from 7-9:30 on Thursday I was not at the discussion, this response is on the documentary Blackfish*

As a child I always wanted to go to a zoo. Being fortunate enough that I grew up far enough from a city, hiking in the summer and fall, and going to the mountains in New Hampshire in the winter I saw a lot of natural wildlife. The most exciting was seeing my first moose while driving in the northern part of New Hampshire. From that sense, I understand the allure of being able to see great animals up close. It creates a memory that is unforgettable. For this reason, I understand the reason that zoos are so popular.

Having once gone to a zoo I also understand the reason people are thrilled to go to them. Especially if you are from a city the ability to look at animals that you have never seen before is an amazing experience. However, Blackfish paints a different picture. While primarily focused on SeaWorld and the orca whales that live there, Blackfish paints a larger and darker image of zoos around the world. The scary apart about zoos are not when everyone is there, but when the lights go off and the animals are left in even smaller cages. Should a zoo only be okay to go to base on the size of the cage that animal lives in? Or how much the animal usually travels in a normal day versus how much it can while it is in its enclosure?

Both of these questions I believe are important when determining whether a zoo is a plausible place for an animal to live. If an animal usually has extremely large migrating patterns, then putting that animal inside of a zoo just makes no sense. The zoo should be a place that we can take in the beauty of an animal without taking away its way of life. For this reason, orcas along with many other animals are most likely unable to live in zoos. It might be not as cool to go to the zoo and see a much smaller variety of animals about. Or zoos could look at this another way. How they could turn the enclosures into much better areas for the animals. How could zoos learn from what has happened at SeaWorld has done to make sure that the animals are living in okay enclosures.

While watching Blackfish I often imagine the opposite in terms of how large of a space would humans have to live in to be okay. Again I have been fortunate enough to have traveled and experienced the vastness of the wilderness.  Personally I can’t imagine trying to live an apartment my entire life. While I might not know knowledge of the outside world I believe that deep down your inner soul would want to explore. I believe that pour inner animals would also come out in very negative ways just like the caged orcas.

The Perfect Protest

The political cartoon can evoke tremendous emotion. It does not matter if you are illiterate, a cartoon can be seen and understood by many. Khalid Albaih has mastered this art form. Very recently his cartoon of a Syrian refugee could be seen all over social media. It spread like wildfire depicting a very young boy sitting in ruble saying if he stays in Syria along with another young boy dead in a river saying if he goes. It illustrates the tragedy that is currently happening half way around the world. Beyond being able to illustrate tragedies, the political cartoon does more. In many countries that do not censor their media it is much harder to criticize.

Khalid Albaih spoke very adamantly how growing up any propaganda that was against the president in his home country would cause the paper to get shut down.  He explained how posting in the paper was essentially impossible for long term success. Because of this he turned to social media. Currently it could easily be argued that social media, over newspapers is a much better platform to spread thoughts and pieces of art. In the US we are lucky enough that newspapers will not be confiscated for a cartoon, even if it disagrees with the majority of Americans’ ideals. Even with this social media maintains one of the driving forces of the spread of ideas. The amazing thing about the cartoon is how it is not as easily targeted by people who are against it.

In the US right now there are many major movements. The movement that comes to my mind first is the current protest by Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players. Colin decided to kneel during the national anthem because of his thoughts on the treatments of blacks in the US. Many critics of movements for blacks’ prior was they caused problems, like riots in Ferguson, or they caused inconveniences for people beyond the protest, at Colby we experienced this. Colin has been shunned by many because they believe being an American citizen he must love America and everything about it. Anti-protesters think he has no choice, but to love the country. Personally, I think critics of protests will always find a way to say the protest is wrong because of their lack of support for the cause.

The cartoon is unlike any protest though. How can one say a photo on social media or in a newspaper is truly causing harm? While a riot obviously is a negative outcome of a protest the silence that Colin portrays is exactly what people who were against the riots wanted. A protest that doesn’t bother or inconvenience anyone, however once he did that it was said that wasn’t allowed either. The cartoon unlike these two prior kinds if protests is much harder if not impossible to say it is truly bothering. It can easily read over if it truly bothers someone. For many though they will stop and look at the cartoon. The cartoon is nearly impossible to critique and is easily viewed with modern social media.

Weather’s Effect of History

With Professor Wood’s lecture his explanation of how people look at history was out of the ordinary. Normally people will look at the events that happened and only take into account the actions that the people have made. History neglects to look at the weather that had an impact on the actions that were going on. In modern times we can see how weather plays a huge role in the way that the outcomes of events. My particular favorite interest in life is sports. Very few times do people want to attribute the weather is causing an outcome.

The most obvious memory from my life that was changed by weather was a ski race. In the morning about six inches of snow fell along with very cold temperatures. The athletes had to push snow off of the course for nearly an hour and as the first group, the best men in the field raced while it stayed cold and cloudy. After about an hour the weather drastically changed, the sun came out the temperature began to rise causing the snow to melt. But it was partly cloudy and the clouds would come back in after about fifth teen minutes of sunshine causing the softening snow to harden to ice. As the race wore on this happened many times. Around bib 80 the cycle was continuing and a young man, who had no shown no signs of quickness was able to win the race. In ski racing racers start off their rank and on average the winner has a start order less than 15 so this result was near impossible. As the lodge watched the run and time be posted many questioned how such a result could be possible. Some even speculated that the time most be wrong and it will be corrected shortly. Very few could look at the science behind the result, that the weather had such a role in causing such a major change in history.

While my personal case of weather changing the course of history is very small, but it highlights how weather can cause such a major change. Throughout history much more major events have been effected by weather events. Napoleon deciding to enter into Russia during the winter, he was unable to calculate how his army might not be able to fight while under such different conditions. The lack of thought for how the weather will have an impact on the course of events seems the problem. In the lecture the highlighting of weather and its effect on history showed this very well.

How are Revolutions Remembered

 

What constitutes a revolution? This was the main argument presented in Professor Cohen’s lecture on the Scientific Revolution. In the lecture he talked about the two main theories of a revolution. In the lecture Professor Cohen brought forward two main ideas about a revolution. One being the classical and more straightforward revolution that is an object going around another object. The one that was more important to the point we are talking about is a revolution that changes the present state of think or how people will act. However, in the lecture it was left out a major factor in determining a revolution.

When looking at revolutions in these two types of context we can throw away the first thought about rotations around an object, obviously the scientific revolution is more in the discussion of a change of thought or action. Based on the lecture of Professor Cohen, even though it might contradict what he was trying to say the scientific revolution in fact was a revolution. One main point about revolutions that was left out was there legacy, or how they are remembered as time goes on. When we look at most revolutions not only did they cause change, but they were remembered. In US history the American Revolution is our most famous behind the Civil War. While the Civil War is not remembered as a revolution it sparked the slow moving civil rights movement that is very well remembered as one. Even more recently we have experienced the technological revolution across the world. It has increased the ability for people to be able to connect, but will also be marked by more people finding seclusion within our devices.

With both of these ideas in mind looking back at the Scientific Revolution presents it to me as more of a revolution before. The simplest example of this is current high school students’ psychic books. Within every single one of these books discusses Newton’s three laws and how they will be extremely important for the majority of the course. While Newton’s laws were in today’s context simple compared to the laws and theories currently developed it does point out the lasting presence that the Scientific Revolution had on today’s society. Without the work done by the scientist of the Scientific Revolution then our discoveries of today might have been delayed.

It is important to note that like many Revolutions, without them the presence might not be far from where it is now but it would not be exactly similar. Eventually America would have broken away from the British Empire like every country eventually did. Civil Rights would have become the main front fight for equality like they had. Without the Scientific Revolution it would have taken other thinkers in the future time to blaze the path that previous thinkers had already done. For this the Scientific Revolution was a revolution for the work it laid for future thinkers. It created work that is still talked about today.