Outside the Herd

3 06 2012

Herd of walrus – photo courtesy John Sarvis, US Fish and Wildlife Service


So you think you are an individual? A free-thinker, unfettered by peer-pressure, doing what you want, going where you want, thinking original and uninfluenced thoughts? Dream on.

Humans, like many other animals, travel in herds – physically, intellectually, emotionally and, dare I say it, spiritually. We might like to think we are individuals, but in practice we don’t like to be too far from the norm. So what is the evolutionary benefit of herding?

The theory used to be that animals hung around in herds because they liked the company. WRONG!

Herding turns out to be a rather unfriendly thing to do…. Animals hang around in herds in the hope that their friends will be eaten instead of them. So long as you can be towards the middle of the herd and not on the outside, your chances of survival increase dramatically. Predators might pick off the old, the weak and the young…..but they also pick them off from the outskirts of the herd. If you are going to dash through crocodile-infested waters, best to be one of hundreds splashing about rather than the only one attempting the crossing.

Herd behaviour, as a theory, looks at how groups of individuals act together in a cohesive and seeming planned way, although each individual thinks they are behaving in their own personal interest and without influence. While each individual thinks they are making their own decisions, in an inter-related world (or market-place) where the decisions of one affects the outcomes for others, we take heed of the decisions of others when making our own decisions. And hence the herd seems to make a collective decision and act in concert.

Most obvious examples:
stockmarket fluctuations, bubbles, panics and crashes. No-one wants to be the last person holding the stock in a panic-selling situation.

fashion. We each think we are buying what we like and what suits us but somehow we seem to end up looking somewhat similar. Of course the additional outside influence here is what is offered for sale.

panicked mobs. Crowds trying to exit from a dangerous situation through a narrow exit behave increasingly irrationally, blocking exits rather than allowing each to exit safely.

rioting mobs. Herding behaviour is one of several theories about how a generally orderly society can occasionally break out into mob violence, with individuals doing violent and criminal acts that they would never normally contemplate. The current environment is factored into decision-making and in a riot, people behave like rioters.

Or as my grandmother would have it, Monkey see, Monkey do.


Want more? Try What is the psychology behind rioting





Warning: This posting may be damaging to your Johnny Depp fantasies

13 05 2012

For those of us who grew up in the 1980s, the idea of mixing Michael Bolton and Johnny Depp is bizarre.

Michael Bolton: King of mullets (thinning business on top and party halfway down his back). Yacht-rock aficionado (a softer version of stadium-rock, full of overly sentimental lyrics and video clips with wind blowing in the aforementioned-hair). Serial dater of highly decorative women like Nicolette Sheridan (I’m not sure how he achieved this, given afore-mentioned hair, but it was the 1980s.)

Johnny Depp: He is the cheekbones to die for. I vaguely recall dating someone purely on the basis of his Johnny-Depp-cheekbones. 21 Jump Street – the original TV series. And then going into the indi-cred Tim Burton Movies which largely relied on his pathos as a misunderstood freak in an overly-conservative society. And his cheekbones. And the association with Gonzo-journalism (aka drug-addled personal experience stream of consciousness hallucinogenic writing) through his friendship with Hunter S. Thompson.

So these two things would seem to be anathema of each other. However, the below video clip (kindly sent to me by Maggie Wood of Maggie’s Scribbles) shows that this not only works, but is hilarious. Full cred to Michael Bolton who clearly has a sense of humour about himself and his yacht-rock history, and an excellent working in of some of the other iconic movies and cultural references for “people of a certain age” right up to the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

What did we do before You-tube? Enjoy!





The Hokey Pokey, if William Shakespeare Had Written it

7 03 2012

Via Scoop.itMudmap

The Hokey Pokey, if William Shakespeare Had Written it
Via history.icanhascheezburger.com

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Mount Barker Christmas Pageant 2011

3 12 2011

First, some exclusive secret behind-the scenes snaps! I was going to do a sealed section to protect the magic….but I couldn’t work out how.

secret behind the scenes photos of the preparations.....

Behind the scenes - building a giant bird (see later for the "after" shots)

behind the scenes

This was possibly the largest and best Mt Barker Pageant I have seen (and I have been attended for a few years now). However, the Pageant is under threat – the Council storage sheds it uses have been deemed unsafe and they need a place to store the floats. If you are able to help, the contact links are at the bottom of the posting.

The Outback Dunny - a familiar Australian Christmas theme

One Man Band and a somewhat familiar looking clown.....

a giant flapping bird (this is what they were building in one of the "behind the scenes" photographs)

one of many CFS trucks in the parade, all staffed by volunteers. Thanks for keeping us safe over summer!

a pig, a chicken and something brown - perhaps a cow? (This should be subtitled "Christmas Lunch")

Christmas pirates

This woman walked the entire pageant in 6 inch heels - hats off to her! (and an iced foot bath)

Christmas witches? A bit of a mixed concept there...

Batmobile - THWACK!

Gingerbread House

the boy in orange is a lobster... King Neptune, Under the Sea

Little Christmas trees....Nairne Primary School

Hahndorf Town Band

The Flintstones....

that outfit must be really hot in the sun....army cadets

It wouldn't be a pageant with out a pipe band.

Father Christmas!

Excerpt from Mt Barker and Districts Residents’ Association website :
“At several recent Council meetings it has become clear that the Mt Barker Christmas Pageant committee are being pressured to find an alternative location for their floats as the current sheds have been deemed unsafe by a Council consultant. The land upon which the sheds are situated is Crown Land and the Council wishes to include this land in future development projects (subject to Government consent).

After a formal deputation to Council, the Pageant committee has been trying to source an alternative solution as they only have permission to remain at the current site until the end of 2011 (or specifically they can return the floats to the sheds after this year’s pageant with no guarantees that they will have access again after this date)!

If anyone has any ideas on how to assist the Pageant committee please contact either Councillor Carol Bailey or anyone on the Association Executive. We need to ensure this Christmas Pageant remains in Mt Barker, but the Committee will require community support for this to occur.”

Alternately, contact via Mt Barker Christmas Pageant website.





St Nicholas comes to Hahndorf

3 12 2011

In the lead-up to Christmas, Hahndorf, a small town in the Adelaide Hills, held its St Nicholas Parade.

The Parade approaches

Hahndorf Town Band

St Nicholas

St Nicholas

Assorted shepherds and angels

The Parade passes

If you liked this post, you might also like Hahndorf Lantern Festival.