|A number, like any other.|
In those 6 years this blog has drawn 2.8 million hits (or "page views" to use the Google parlance), with over 115,500 comments left by you the Tattler's readers. Which I think is also fairly unprecedented in this town. Where else around here have you ever seen that much public commentary about the affairs of a small town local government? In a time when most people don't even bother to vote anymore, that is a pretty good thing. Plus think of all the many adventures we've had together.
Remember when some people said you needed to have a print publication to actually reach people here, and that nobody reads blogs? I think it is safe to say that those tables have now been forever turned.
There are also those who say that public participation in the governmental affairs of Sierra Madre is abysmally low, and that people just don't seem to care. I would disagree with that. In comparison to other cities the public awareness and participation here is remarkably high, and the sophistication of those who do pay attention and participate is second to none.
Trust me, it is always a small group of inspired people that makes all the difference. A lot of cities don't have even that. They get by on a steady diet of obedient snotty bureaucrats, disingenuous self-serving politicians, special interests, gullible uninformed residents and, of course, lawyers. The results are rarely pretty.
Sierra Madre has a fairly good City Council right now. We had to beat the living daylights out of a few of the more deficient recent versions to get there, and chase off some of their odd candidates as well, but the guys we see going at it today are actually trying to get the old boat afloat again. A lot of people are impressed.
I know, I'm not sure I entirely believe it myself. Old habits die hard. But you have to admit, the results are there. At least so far. Credit where credit is due.
A good part of the reason for this is the people who care enough to troop down to City Hall when needed and pour their guts out at public comment. It is democracy at its finest, and I am proud to call you some of the best friends I have ever had. This will never get you rich, and most people couldn't give a damn anyway, but you do it for the best of all reasons. The truth. That and God will get you into heaven. A place where the choices are clear and everybody always remembers to vote.
One more thing before I move on to what is a typically idiosyncratic Tattler topic. People ask me how much longer I intend to do this blog. The answer is for as long as possible. After that I can't make any promises. I really enjoy this, it is so deeply in my blood right now that I can't imagine not doing it. For me Sierra Madre is a perfect metaphor for the ills and blessings of small city government everywhere. Not bad, hardly good, but not atypical either.
Just there where I can get at it.
An interesting article from a site called News.Mic that should resonate a little bit in Sierra Madre (link). Civility Party members kindly take note.
The news: A new Milgram-like experiment published this month in the Journal of Personality has taken this idea to the next step by trying to understand which kinds of people are more or less willing to obey these kinds of orders. What researchers discovered was surprising: Those who are described as "agreeable, conscientious personalities" are more likely to follow orders and deliver electric shocks that they believe can harm innocent people, while "more contrarian, less agreeable personalities" are more likely to refuse to hurt others.
The methodology and findings: For an eight-month period, the researchers interviewed the study participants to gauge their social personality, as well as their personal history and political leanings. When they matched this data to the participants' behavior during the experiment, a distinct pattern emerged: People who were normally friendly followed orders because they didn't want to upset others, while those who were described as unfriendly stuck up for themselves.
"The irony is that a personality disposition normally seen as antisocial — disagreeableness — may actually be linked to 'pro-social' behavior,'" writes Psychology Today's Kenneth Worthy. "This connection seems to arise from a willingness to sacrifice one's popularity a bit to act in a moral and just way toward other people, animals or the environment at large. Popularity, in the end, may be more a sign of social graces and perhaps a desire to fit in than any kind of moral superiority."
The Nazi effect: The findings lend themselves even further to Milgram's original goal in the '60s: trying to understand the rise of Nazism. Milgram began his experiments in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. He believed his findings might help explain how seemingly nice people can do horrible things if they are ordered to do so.
Does that mean the Nazis were just nice people trying to follow orders and be polite? You probably wouldn't want to go that far, but suffice to say, it turns out nice people just want to appease authorities, while rebels stick to their guns.
I hope I didn't upset anybody.