It was a pretty decent day today. I decided that I was going to try and play handball rather than sit and listen to the radio they pipe in to the gym since it wasn’t NPR. I used to play racquetball quite a lot and was pretty decent at it so I figured handball wouldn’t be a stretch. Because there are only 2 courts and there are several people who play you have to play with a partner. Luckily, the court right in front of where I usually listen to the radio had only 3 people so I volunteered to be the 4th. My partner was Mohamed Bindu, an African guy on second tier who speaks very little English and who asked me to help him mail a letter a little while ago. I was a little rusty…OK a lot rusty. LOL But we won 1 out of 3 and were one point away from winning the 4th game when they sent us back from the gym. The biggest difference between handball and racquetball is that with a racquet you get more power so many of my hits kept falling short. I’ll keep practicing and get used to the power requirements soon I hope. *smile*


Also today at yard I got to listen to Radio Lab and they talked about emergent properties, such as how a colony of ants can build a nest while no individual ant really knowing what they’re doing. Collectively they “know” how to build a nest but individually they don’t. This is the principle that explains how consciousness arises from a collections of neurons. It doesn’t exist in any specific neuron, it is an emergent property of the whole. Another interesting example is that groups are much more intelligent than individuals in many cases. For instance, a common experiment in psych classes is to put a jar of jellybeans in front of the class and have every student guess at the count. Most likely any individual will not be very accurate but if you take the entire set of guesses and average them it is amazingly accurate apparently). I want to reproduce this experiment and see if a higher intelligence can be an emergent property of a collection of inmates. *chuckle* So I’m going to buy a bag of jolly ranchers off canteen and put a random number in a tumbler and go around asking everyone on A side to write down their guess at the number, closest guess gets them. Then I can do the math on the guesses and see. I wonder what other ways this “crowd sourcing” can be used to get better results than an individual.