Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ohhh! And He's Hit by the Old Bean Ball!

It's Sunday. That means football. Well, at least for the US that means football. For the rest of the world... uhhhh, I don't know what that means. Probably means they worship Marx and Lennin. Damned communists.

Ok, politics aside, my friend loves, and I mean loves the New York Giants. I don't know why, since he's only ever been to New York to watch their games. Still, he owns their swag, he watches their games, he's one of those guys who even watches people watching the game. I can't even begin to describe how much I hate John Madden.

I know all about the psychology of sports, namely that males in competition experience massive fluctuations in their hormone levels. The winner feels a massive boost of testosterone while the loser experiences a massive drop. After watching him flip out over a touchdown pass, I realized how this was all possible. It's actual as simple as reinforced behavior.

Why do people watch games religiously? They're hoping for the high that comes from their team winning. The connection is so great, that people just watching the game experience similar fluctuations in hormones. When the home team wins, the fans get a big high. It's like a drug.

My friend is actually positively reinforced to watch the games! This may explain why he loves a team he'd never been anywhere near. His first experience with the positive high from a sports win may have been with some Giants fan. Lord knows who. I know none of his family like the team. He then actively watched another game and experienced the same high.

Only adding to the iron grip of sports fan-ism is the schedule of reinforcement. The fan gets small hits during the game, after great plays or big scores, then gets a huge hit if his team wins. As all you psychologists know, intermitant reinforcement is the absolute strongest kind, since the subject never knows when the next hit may come, they just keep on trying.

This is a great perspective from which to look at sports. The sports with the biggest hormone hits both during and after the game are the ones that are most popular. Both football and soccer are big on action and plays, and low on points. That means that for every point comes a huge hormone hit. Not a perfect theory, I admit. It fails to explain why hockey is so unpopular. I bet I can explain it away by the need for ice and lots of expensive equipment.

This is quite a revelation for me. Perhaps if I had opted to take that class on sports psychology I would have simply read this in a book, but then my sense of mental achievement would be deadened. Gimme' a break. I don't like sports. I need to get my highs from somewhere.

They Paved Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot.

I recently purchased a book. Actually, that's a rather rare event for me. What with the infinite resource of the internet and a total disinterest in fiction, I spend almost no time in book stores anymore. Barnes & Noble has cheesecake to die for, though.

I picked up a book that I can safely say is worth the $20 it cost me. It's called A Field Guide to Sprawl. It is not directly anti-development, but it places images in front of you that can only lead to one conclusion; we're screwing up our planet in spectacular fashion.

The general point of the book is to define urban and rural developmental phenomena. They define well-known terms, like "Big Box Retailer" and a few less-known words, like "Boomburg" and "Starter Castle." You can guess what they mean, for the definitions make little difference to my point.

What the photos drive home is how devastating the current, unchecked, low-density expansion is to the planet and to the overall "nice" factor of our home. We go into an area, overpopulate it, destroy it, then the rich people leave, the poor people are left behind, we have a ghetto, and then we get the eventual sprawl of rich people ever outward, looking to get away from the horrid mess they left behind.

None of this is new. Conservationists and their ilk have been talking about this for the past 50 years. Pretty much since the dawn of Levittown, this has been seen. What I think is changing is that now, as opposed to even as little as twenty years ago, the effects of this sprawl are now very visible. The damage is real, as opposed to way off in the future.

I ranted and raved about yuppies and an earlier post. I hate them. Their unchecked expansion and total stupidity is, as I see it, the most destructive force in America. Materialism, the American Dream, and a population that's becoming ever more deliniated economically all fuel the expansion of America outwardly.

We aren't there yet. The world is not coming to and end, but sometime this month, the 300 millionth American will be born, and yet household sizes are at record lows. The growth is logarithmic, the worse it gets, the worse the getting worse gets. Within just one lifetime, we'll more than double our population. The US can NOT survive with current demographic distribution and a population of 600 million, or perhaps 1 billion. Eventually, we'll have giant megalopoli covering the entire landmass of the US like some sickened pestilence. Then there will be nowhere left to which the yuppies can escape. No new, virgin land they can bulldoze. It will all be done, and then what?

As I said, the world is not ending. Things are, in reality, pretty good. But we must begin taking action now, or the damage in the future may be too great to repair. Especially now, taking action can be pretty cheap. The government can heavily restrict development on virgin land. In my opinion, there are many areas of the country where development on virgin land should be halted entirely. Then, give developers subsidies and tax breaks for building up instead of out.

Population growth is not bad. In fact, I think it's great. If we are to achieve the wondrous, interplanetary civilization that sci-fi has foretold we actually need more people. It's the unchecked outward, low-density growth that's bad. We spread like a bacteria when we should be building towards the heavens.