Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sophy's Thought Police


Sophy's Thought Police recently detected an anomaly in the history of human thought. Monsieur René Descartes (1596 - 1650), famous for his "Ghost in the Machine" theory has been indicted for Cosmic Jesting, a serious crime resulting in a massive release of Cosmic Karma. 

Cosmic Karma = A joke with a significantly delayed punchline, which at times, occurs lifetimes later.

Appearing before The Cosmic Counsel at the Cosmic Courthouse, Descartes reportedly declared, in his defense, that the people of his era were essentially "brain dead," and that given most had a strong belief in ghosts, it was befitting to use the analogy "Ghost in the Machine" to convey that the consciousness of his fellow man was at best - dead (as in non-existent, ghostlike), and that in no way did his thoughts disrupt the thinking of the day, nor the thinking of mankind since, but rather resulted in the scientifically quantifiable cultural and economic gain for all of mankind. 

Given that the realm of the supernatural, including the concept of our "immortal souls" was at that present time under the control of the Roman Catholic Church, Descartes claimed that it would have been considered blasphemous to presume territory within the Pope's realm of influence. 

As such, his literary parody of finding salvation (method of doubt to establish the certainty of his own existence) was not a Cosmic Jest, but rather a literary financial device, namely an analogy, whereby he presented humanity with a gift, that had not, incidentally, yet been recognized financially. Finding salvation crafted in a way in which one is instructed to examine their own thoughts is a beneficial skill that when later applied in the analysis of the scientific methodology of others, yields more accurate results. 

When questioned further, it was revealed that Descartes firmly believed that such said examination might lead to an eventual overthrow of reliance on revealed truth. As such, he bequeathed mankind with a so-called "scientific method" of examination, a method, incidentally of which, he spoke quite highly.  

Counsel for Descartes stated in a Cosmic Press Release that during Descartes time, science was under the purview of the Pope, and that any such scientific examination would indeed have been strongly dictated by said Pope and as such, the methods of inquiry which we've grown to love and admire, would not have been made available until a much later date in history. This delay in thought advancement would have resulted in dreadful cultural and economic repercussions, costing future generations, including our own, significant loss in every known area of humanity. As such, any reference to Cosmic Jest should be recanted and labeled "Cosmic Benefit to Humanity".  

Accordingly, Descartes is instead due financial restitution from both Sophy's Thought Police and The Cosmic Counsel for the accusation and for the allowance of further questioning of Descartes's thinking, which given his place in history, is highly prized, and therefore constituting an asset, which has now been depreciated by this inquiry. 

Counsel for Descartes immediately thereafter declared a countersuit against The Cosmic Counsel for allowing the whole thought to have occurred in the first place. 

It is the belief of this Cosmic Committee that as a thinker, Descartes was not guilty of Cosmic Jesting, but rather, honorable, virtuous, and morally upright action on behalf of humankind. 

Following a brief thinking deliberation, The Cosmic Counsel declared Descartes FREE of Cosmic Jesting and awarded him damages in excess of the amount The Secret Societies have stolen from the world, as recently exposed by The Occupy Police Movement. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The HUMOR Process

Humor unleashes our internal creative process, which allows us to mentally neutralize a situation and decide within a split second how we're going to react. Most people react to things they hear and see instantaneously; few think about how that reaction came to be. Not necessarily because it is so difficult to figure out, but because it sort of blends into the background leaving visible only our reactions. 

Perceiving something outside ourselves is the first step in reacting with our external environment (i.e,. taking notice). Once we notice something, we mentally categorize what's caught our attention and then we decide how to respond. These steps are not easily observed, which is why they usually go unnoticed. In what seems like a split second, we create a scenario and then express it. 

The mechanics of this process is a complex scientific enterprise that mimics a natural psychophysiological one. 

When an external situation is conceptualized as humorous, our internal process, with great style, fulfills its potential, the sum of which leaves a fingerprint on the external world. The explanations that accompany what goes on in the center of all this activity could fill a decent chunk of the Library of Congress, however, in simpler terms, it looks a little like this: 

Whatever decision we make in the presence of something that could yield a humorous reaction (smile, laugh, giggle...), it is us as a creative director making that call. It's creative problem solving (the problem of how to react). 

Creativity is our most valuable resource and as such, a priority. Studying, understanding, and appreciating the nature of the creative process contributes significantly to culture and our quality of life. 

While thinking isn't generally associated with being observable, observe your creativity at work with the following blank comics. There are no captions except for the ones that formulate in your mind. 

The nice thing about the creative process is that when you don't like what you came up with, you can crumble up that thought and throw it in the trash bin!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Raising Funny Kids 2

There are moments in which my kids' zest for exploration seems very propitious! But it's their good sense of humor that really sets them apart. 

Enrichment programs in U.S. schools are typically only offered to students selected for high academic performance. However, Neuroimaging research suggests that the brain is much more plastic than previously thought, which means that an enrichment environment would most certainly benefit all children. 

Offering multi sensory, personalized, thought-provoking activities that motivate kids to more creatively and freely explore the world maximizes cognitive, emotional, and social development. 

The urban myth that home schooled students are not socially active has long been debunked, what's taken its place is countless case studies whereby home schooled students are excelling in specific areas they choose to explore after their parents made the information available. 

The counterbalance to enrichment programs used to be arts and crafts. Here, the kids who flourished where those whose natural intelligence was in the visual arts. While not a core academic component of the educational menu, arts & crafts classes, by design, were student-centered approaches to activities geared for active learning and discovery opportunity. Even the seating was varied, which is much more indicative of what kids encounter in the adult world. These environments often mirror the home environment given the less formal seating configurations (chairs arranged in a horseshoe, or in groups, or even floor or easel activities with no desks or chairs).  

Having home schooled off-and-on over the years to compliment and correct trajectories that I felt were not in alignment with my children's life exploration, I have come to believe that good humor goes hand-in-hand with multi sensory learning. 

We have a number of intelligences (academic, artistic, emotional, physical, social, spiritual, etc.) that when stimulated engage multiple senses. One natural sense, good humor, is something I've witnessed naturally emerge from my children in a multi sensory environment. 

Studies indicate that children laugh around 400 times per day, while adults only laugh around 15 times. It would appear that children have a propensity for good humor. One thing is for sure, we all learn easier in a positive state of mind. At a time when learning is often its highest, we seem to have genetically evolved a stronger propensity for good humor in childhood, which, according to neuroimaging studies, if honored and encouraged, could lead to a better sense of humor and a more accurate ability to recall facts into adulthood. Even if someone hasn't laughed much over the years, plasticity in the brain indicates that they could recapture this ability in adulthood. 

Lessons incorporating cross-curricular studies involving Internet research is a natural way for children to learn about their world and align their worldview with a grander audience. Using a safe-Internet browsing approach, we'll often pause in the middle of a lesson if I believe a greater brain stimulation opportunity exists that would promote the growth of synapses and dendrites. In other words, if a lesson sparks a fun memory, I surprise them with, "Hold on! I remember this.... (silly song from the 80s, a movie or poem, or even a funny YouTube video) that you've just got to see!" 

Immediately, their curious minds travel to that memory storage place in their brains and an emotional memory strengthens their academic brain in a way that they later recall facts easier and more naturally just because we examined exactly which finger Charlie bit. 

We then proceeded to medially draw the finger, layer by (significant) layer, and then ended our drawings with bite marks on the skin! 

The more I've "interrupted class" (within reason), the more surprised I am that we were not allowed to interrupt class as young students to offer more relevant input into what we were learning. 

The disadvantage for kids is that their worldview is limited. The advantage for parents, irrespective the level of education, is that we've all lived long enough to see some really interesting things! Sharing these moments with your kids is a great strategy for learning, good humor, and strengthening family bonds. You don't have to home school to provide an enriched, reinforced information-based environment at home. 

Funny cartoons are easily found on nearly every subject (math, social studies, science, etc.). When your kids come home from school, one way to help them appreciate the relevance of what they're learning is to show them that it's information important enough to laugh about. 

That's what catches their attention. If you recall earlier, I mentioned that kids laugh around 400 times a day. Find a reason to laugh, and bring out your kid's unique sense of humor to remember it! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Funny Bit About Apples

Without this little apple, there is no bit. 

"No it, no bit." 
Seth Lloyd, Programming The Universe

It all started with an apple, began one book. "Interestingly enough, the number of bits in an apple has been known since the beginning of the twentieth century, since before the word 'bit.' Af first, one might think that an apple embodies an infinite number of bits, but this is not so. In fact, the laws of quantum mechanics, which govern all physical systems, make finite the number of bits required to specify the microscopic state of the apple and its atoms. Each atom, by its position and velocity, registers only a few bits; each nuclear spin in an atom's core registers but a single bit. As a result, the apple contains only a few times more bits than atoms - a few million billion billion zeros and ones. 

The significance of a bit of information depends on how that information is processed. All physical systems register information, and when they evolve dynamically in time, they transform and process that information (like a marble chipping away at itself). If an electron 'here' registers a 0 and an electron 'there' registers a 1, then when the electron goes from here to there, it flips its bit." 

 These are my apples. 

I envision this lovely HA apple appearing on a degree in humor studies. 

I envision The Punchline of this Joke Apple as the iconic logo of my upcoming Humor Analysis Academy, where someone might earn the above said degree in humor studies. One "HA" for a bachelorette degree, two "HA-HA's" for a Master's Degree, and three "HA-HA-HA's" for distinction of earning a Doctorate's Degree in Humor Studies. 

This is not an apple. It is an image of an apple denoting my theory of humor, which culminates in the punchline. 

Comedy is a humorous journey of seeking out a beautiful apple, then bringing it home, envisioning how it will be enjoyed, and then, ultimately, taking a bit out of it. 

For me, the apple represents the essence of savoring life's humorous moments. I'm not alone in my thinking...

"The true significance of any bit is the significance we give it."
Sophy Laughing