Monday, October 3, 2011

Are Systems Everywhere?

This wasn't the originally planned post, but I'm feeling badly today, so I go to my archives to find something I can use. 
In the Fall of 2003 I took a systems class, part of getting my degree in Studies of the Future. I loved systems. They allowed me to look at the world in a cause and effect manner, which appeals to my engineering mentality. 
But there is another aspect of my personality that doesn't fit the norm, and I managed to combine the two. Humorist. Engineer. Tough combination. If I had to give one of them up, it would be engineer. Not that I'm a better humorist, but it is a lot more fun.
So here's a paper I wrote for the class, with the diagrams. Have fun!

Are systems everywhere? You start taking a systems course and, after a little work with systems, you feel like they pop up all over the place. Is it true? Are systems everywhere?
The best place to look for systems is in the culture of the people. Nothing reflects culture (or lack thereof) like the jokes that circulate in society. After reviewing some of my favorite jokes I am certain that systems don’t occur everywhere, but they sure crop up all over the place.
Take a look at the following and see if you agree.

A middle-aged guy bought a brand new Mercedes convertible SLK and decided to take a ride.
He took off down the road, sped up to 80 mph and enjoyed the wind blowing through what little hair he had left on his head.
"This is great," he thought and accelerated it some more. He looked in his rear view mirror, and noticed a Texas State Trooper behind him - red lights flashing and siren blasting.
"I can get away from him with no problem," thought the man, so he floored it and flew down the road at more than 100 mph.
Then he thought, "What am I doing? I'm too old for this kind of thing." He pulled over to the side of the road and waited for the trooper to catch up with him.
The trooper parked behind the Mercedes, approached the car and spoke to the man: "Sir," he said, looking at his watch, "my shift ends in 30 minutes.  If you can give me a reason why you were speeding that I've never heard before, I'll let you go with a warning."
The man looked at the trooper and said, "Last week my wife ran off with a state trooper, and I thought you were bringing her back."
The state trooper said, "Have a nice day."

Trivial, but it might be deemed a system, with an external input that the officer is near the end of his shift and has a more open attitude. This doesn’t keep going, of course. It is only a system for this single instance.

Smart Dachshund
A wealthy man decided to go on a safari in Africa and takes his pet dachshund. The dachshund loves Africa but before long he discovers he is lost.
Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading in his direction. The dachshund thinks,  "I'm in deep trouble now! I look like lunch to that leopard!” Noticing some bones on the ground he settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat.
Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dachshund exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here?"
Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack and slinks away into the trees. "Whew," says the leopard. "That dachshund nearly had me."
A monkey sees all this and figures he can trade this information for protection from the leopard. The monkey catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal. The leopard says, "Hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine."
Now the dachshund sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and knows something’s up.
Instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, and just when they get close enough the dachshund says "Where's that monkey? I sent him off half an hour ago to bring me another leopard."

Throw a monkey wrench into this one and the joke gets better, but it is just an external input to the system. Both loops are reinforcing; the more clever the dog, the less the threat. The perceived level may be elaboration, but I first thought that the actual threat level remained constant. In fact, it doesn’t. It varies based on the leopard’s perception of the dog as a threat! That’s not in the model.
Clever little twist to a joke, though…

Lawyer joke
An old man was on his death bed. He wanted badly to take all his money with him. He called his priest, his doctor and his lawyer to his bedside. "Here's $30,000 cash to be held by each of you. I trust you to put this in my coffin when I die so I can take all my money with me." At the funeral, each man put an envelope in the coffin. Riding away in a limousine, the priest suddenly broke into tears and confessed that he had only put $20,000 into the envelope because he needed $10,000 for a new baptistery. "Well, since we're confiding in each other," said the doctor, "I only put $10,000 in the envelope because we needed a new machine at the hospital which cost $20,000." The lawyer was aghast. "I'm ashamed of both of you," he exclaimed. "I want it known that when I put my envelope in that coffin, it held my personal check for the full $30,000."

I couldn’t find a system here. It is pretty much a linear joke. Sorry.

by Ron and Diane from Junction, Texas

1 cup flour
One-half cup softened margarine
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar
6 ounces of instant chocolate pudding
3 cups milk
1- 8 ounce Cool Whip (thawed)
1 - 8-ounce cream cheese
6 ounce vanilla pudding
1 large Hershey chocolate bar
1- 8 ounce Cool Whip (thawed)

Mix flour, oleo and pecans; press into a 9 inch X 13 inch pan. Bake 15 minutes and COOL. In large bowl mix cream cheese and powdered sugar until fluffy, fold in 8 ounce Cool Whip. Spread this over cooked crust. Combine pudding mixes and 3 cups milk, beat well until thickened., spread over cheese layer. Spread last 8 ounce Cool Whip over pudding layer. Chill several hours and garnish with shaved chocolate. Cut into squares to serve.

Okay, it isn’t a joke, but it is in my book of good stuff, where I keep my jokes. There is a system here! Look:

Don’t let it fool you. You eat a little and think it will all balance out and then you wake up twenty pounds heavier!

Hillary joke

Hillary Clinton goes to a primary school to talk about the world. After
her talk she offers question time. One little boy puts up his hand, and the
Senator asks him what his name is. "Billy" "And what is your question, Billy?"
"I have three questions. First - whatever happened to your medical health care plan; second - why would you run for President after your husband shamed the office; and third - whatever happened to all those things you took when you left  the White House?"
Just then the bell rings for recess. Hillary Clinton informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess. When they resume, Hillary says, "Okay where were we? Oh, that's right, question time. Who has a question?" A different little boy puts his hand up; Hillary points him out and asks him what his name is. "Steve" "And what is your question, Steve?"
"I have five questions. First - whatever happened to your medical  health care plan; second - why would you run for President after your  husband shamed the office; third - whatever happened to all those things  you took when you left the White House; fourth- why did the bell go off 20 minutes early; and fifth - what happened to Billy?

I tried to make a system out of this one. Hillary threat level. Hillary perceived threat level. Hillary actions. I couldn’t make any feedback, though. Just when I thought I had something the lights dimmed and I thought I heard footsteps in the office, so I gave it up.

Daughter-Father Talk...

One time there was a young teenage girl that was about to finish her first year of college. She considered herself to be a very liberal Democrat and her father was a rather staunch Republican.
One day she was challenging her father on his beliefs and his opposition to programs like welfare. He stopped her and asked her how she was doing in school. She answered that she had a 4.0 GPA but it was really tough. She had to study all the time, never had time to go out and party and often went sleepless because of the studying. She didn't have time for a boyfriend and didn't really have many college friends because of all her studying
He then asked how her friend Mary, that was attending the same college, was doing. She replied that she was barely getting by. She had a 2.0 GPA, never studied. Was very popular on campus and was at parties all the time. She often wouldn't show up for classes because she was hung over.
He then asked his daughter why she didn't go to the Dean's office and ask why she couldn't take 1.0 off her 4.0 and give it to her friend that only had a 2.0. That way they would both have a 3.0 GPA.
The daughter fired back and said "that wouldn't be fair, I worked really hard for mine and my friend has done nothing".
The father smiled and said: "Welcome to the Republican Party".

Couldn’t get a system for the joke. There is one for grades, though, with the critical assumption that the student cares about the GPA.


Three men were traveling and happened to meet at a bar in Ohio. One man was from Minnesota, one from Florida, and one from Texas.
They got acquainted and started talking about their problems with their wives.
The guy from Minnesota began by saying, "I told my wife in no uncertain terms that from now on she would have to do all of the cooking. Well, the first day after I told her, I saw nothing. The second day I saw nothing, but on the third day when I came home from work, the table was set, and a wonderful dinner was prepared with wine and even dessert.
Then the man from Florida spoke up: "I sat my wife down and told her that from now on she would have to do all of the grocery shopping and all of the house cleaning. The first day I saw nothing. The second day I saw nothing, but on the third day when I came home, the whole house was spotless and in the pantry the shelves were filled with groceries."
The fellow from Texas was married to an enlightened woman who had grown up in Texas. He sat up straight on the bar stool, pushed out his chest and said: "I gave my wife a stern look and told her that from now on she would have to do the cooking, shopping and housecleaning. Well, the first day I saw nothing, the second day I still saw nothing, but by the third day . . . .I could see a little bit out of my left eye!"

Nope. No system here and I’m not even looking for one! But it’s a good joke for Texans.

Cherokee Wisdom
One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that was going on inside himself. He said, "My son, it is between 2 wolves."
"One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego...
The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith..."
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"
The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one I feed."

CLASSIC Loop. Good begets good and bad begets bad. 

Letter to Honorable Secretary of Agriculture
TO: Honorable Secretary of Agriculture
Washington, D.C.
Dear Sir;
My friend, Ed Peterson, over at Wells Iowa, received a check for $1,000 from the government for not raising hogs. So, I want to go into the "not raising hogs" business next year. What I want to know is, in your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to raise hogs on, and what is the best breed of hogs not to raise? I want to be sure that I approach this endeavor in keeping with all governmental policies. I would prefer not to raise razorbacks, but if that is not a good breed not to raise, then I will just as gladly not raise Yorkshires or Durocs.
As I see it, the hardest part of this program will be in keeping an accurate inventory of how many hogs I haven't raised. My friend, Peterson, is very joyful about the future of the business. He has been raising hogs for twenty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was $422 in 1968, until this year when he got your check for $1000 for not raising hogs. If I get $1000 for not raising 50 hogs, will I get $2000 for not raising 100 hogs? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4000 hogs not raised, which will mean about $80,000 the first year. Then I can afford an airplane.
Now another thing, these hogs I will not raise will not eat 100,000 bushels of corn. I understand that you also pay farmers for not raising corn and wheat. Will I qualify for payments for not raising wheat and corn not to feed the 4000 hogs I am not going to raise?
Also, I am considering the "not milking cows" business, so send me any information you have on that too.
In view of these circumstances, you understand that I will be totally unemployed and plan to file for unemployment and food stamps. Be assured you will have my vote in the coming election.
Patriotically Yours,
P.S. Would you please notify me when you plan to distribute more free cheese.

I couldn’t close the loop. It feels like a reinforcing system, though.

 JOKE: "Cabbie in Heaven"

After a preacher died and went to heaven, he noticed that a New York cab driver had been awarded a higher place than he.
"I don't understand," he complained to Saint Peter. "I devoted my entire life to my congregation."
"Our policy here in Heaven is to reward results," Saint Peter explained. "Now, was your congregation well attuned to you whenever you gave a sermon?"
"Well," the minister had to admit," some in the congregation fell asleep from time to time."
"Exactly," said Saint Peter. “And when people rode in this man's taxi, they not only stayed awake, they even prayed."

Didn’t get a loop here, either.

Note: If you read this far,  nicely done. My professor didn't agree with me on some of these systems, and I'm not an expert, so I'm sure he was right. He also said that never in the history of the class had someone done a paper like this.

This was probably my favorite paper in the entire degree plan.

1 comment:

  1. YAY! ^.^ Jokes for tomorrow at lunch! I like it, ever so much. Longer comment later, must go dance.