Dinner conversation

We had a dinner party at Thanksgiving and it was good.  During the inevitable conversation, I asked if anyone was noticing any trends.  “Waddya mean?”

Well, we all naturally see trends, patterns and exceptions.  We may or may not see them accurately but we try to find patterns in things.  It is natural.  Scientists call it inferential scanning.  We look.  We see.  We accumulate information.  And then, when we have enough to work with, we try to order it.  It is all done without thinking consciously.  We just do it.

It is likely a prehistoric survival trait: “What is different here?”   Even our dog alerts us to anything that is ‘out of the ordinary’.  If we leave a tool out on the ground and he didn’t see us do it, he will bark at it the next day.“Hey, Dave! Hey Sal.  Something is different here.  Come look.”  It is a form of pattern recognition. In effect, he is inferentially scanning to make sure things are all well and as they should be.

We all scan for thousands of things every day.  If I ask you, ‘what do you think is the most common colour of a typical four-door sedan you would likely answer, “I have no idea.”  But, if I asked you to ‘take a guess’, you would roll your eyes a bit and think a bit about nothing in particular and say some colour that jumped out for you.  That is inferential scanning.  You would KNOW that metallic burgundy is NOT the most common colour.  Nor would it be lemon yellow or orange.  You would quickly consider black, white, silver and so on and then choose an answer primarily to get me to stop bugging you.

But you’d have one.  And, if someone else piped up, “I think it is metallic burgundy”, you’d even argue the point.

The interesting thing about inferential scanning is that we do it for everything.  We do it for car colours, house colours, prices for eggs and cheese, the most common dog, hair styles, shoes, counter-tops and so on.  Some people see trends faster than others but we all get it eventually.

It is also the way common idioms take off, eh?

So, what are you seeing these days?

“Unh….jeez….I dunno……like, ya mean what colour is my car?  What trends do you see?”

Well, like everyone, I see political trends like more and more violent splinter groups. I see protests like Occupy and Idle No More and the Hong Kong Umbrella protest.  I see more draconian government.  I see more use of smartphones.  More social media.  But that is all common stuff.  I think if I am looking harder, I might suggest that we are looking at a growing dissatisfaction with our institutions like education and health as well as police and government. Hell, we don’t even vote!  But most of all I see a trend towards inequality and I don’t think that inequality is just defined in economic terms.  I think our social structure is fracturing along many separate lines.

I guess I think I am seeing a trend toward anarchy.  I guess I am seeing more force and that means more resistance.  The more force we use to homogenize, the more resistance is encountered.  People are quietly resisting……

“Quietly resisting what?”

I don’t know.  My scanners are not clear.  I just see and feel a quiet but growing buildup of resistance to the status quo…ya know…?

“No.  No idea what you are talking about.  Pass the cranberry sauce.”  

PS: “White especially has been a constant top runner since really 1998,” says Nancy Lockhart, DuPont color marketing manager. “Silver had its reign from 2001 to 2006 as being the leading color and now black has come up as being the leading color in certain segments, especially luxury.”   

5 thoughts on “Dinner conversation

  1. Inequality in the education system for sure. I recall taking courses at VCC for a mere pittance. Student housing in an old house for next to nothing and now Vancouver prices are insane. Inequality in the number of homeless. Nearly 19% of children live in poverty. Inequality in taxation. “…growing buildup of resistance to the status quo…ya know…?” Yes that is true but only among the disaffected camping out for a better deal. Otherwise these louts would be out on their ears last election instead we get CC. By the way CC will be running Federally next election for Harper that way she can spread the joy across Canada


  2. CC a fed? Or wannabe? I hadn’t heard that. Mind you, if this province wakes up, she’d be out anyway. And, if Harper gets what’s coming, the Cons will be out, too. So, maybe it’s for the best. Maybe we get to stone two birds.
    What, I am wondering, is the reason that we don’t have more Elizabeth Mays? Even if you disagree with GREEN (and who does, really?) she has to be acknowledged for working hard and being smart. Shouldn’t we be able to find a few more like her?


    • Liz May is correct just as Tommy Douglas was correct with his philosophy ‘we are our brothers keeper’ with his medicare and his other social policies. It seems that the average Canadian voter is still inclined to buy the big lie that it is irresponsible to be socially responsible. Ms May is socially responsible but is pilloried for her views. The media is generally against social responsibility clearly evident in its choice of news stories to report. Day after day it is Ebola that leads not child poverty., not inequality, not twisted government priorities just a steady diet of fear. ISIS is coming says the press. FEAR. Ms May is correct, her policies will not harm the economy. There are plenty of Green Party candidates but a durth of truly engaged voters. Animal Farm.


  3. Fascinating topic.
    When I first moved moved to Vancouver from Calgary over 30 years ago I was shocked at the first bar I walked into…..No Bouncers?
    After a few months I realized there were almost no fights in the bars.
    Very strange after living in the Calgary, boomtown, transient powderkeg where no one had “roots” and fighting was an evenings’ entertainment…
    When I commented to locals in Vancouver about the lack of the pugilist “arts” in the bars they looked at me like I was nuts….
    Unfortunately thats changed over the past 30 years, and not for the better.
    I blame some of it on the endless, incessant violence that we are subjected to on tv, the internet, movies, etc.
    Violence is accepted…even if your female. Dont believe me? Walk into ANY sports bar on the night of one of the barbaric “bare knuckle” UFC “Championships”…..the women are usually screaming the loudest for blood.

    I also look at kids today and think , “Geez, if I acted like that when I was their age my mother OR father would have boxed my ears all the way to the car AFTER I apologized to whom ever I had insulted. Then I’d be banished to the bedroom with zero privledges for a week”…..
    It seems kids today are rarely punished for anything and there’s rarely a father AND mother in the home to do it. And if I hear one more parent speak to a child like my Dad used to praise the family dog and say “Good JOB!” for completing the most basic of tasks……I’m going to pull whats left of my greying hair ……out.
    Helicopter parents waiting to bail out little Johnny or Jane at a moments notice for the most minor of issues from crappy school grades to recieving a “medal” for 10th place at the track meet has also created a nation of ‘little emperors” wanting……no…..demanding praise for the simplest of scholastic or(ultimately)employment tasks.
    What are we preparing them for? The Biggest Loser?
    As for trends.
    Ive watched “minority govt” election results everywhere. People want regime change but the “options” are just as bad or possibly worse.
    Canada had a minority govt ( and I hope we do again ….SOON!), Germany, Italy, etc. Minority , coalitions. People hate the ruling party but God help them they cant bring themselves to elect the politically correct pablum spooners that are the alternative.
    ( And people wonder how that crack smoking, alcoholic, buffoon Rob Ford kept getting elected…….The opposition alternatives were WORSE in the voters eyes! Gaaaaaaa!).
    I read somewhere years ago (before internet!) that “freedom and democracy” is unstoppable in totalitarian regimes when telephone “penetration” reaches 50% of the population. Essentially because the “listeners” can’t listen to everyone, all the time. So, in China there are now 1.35 billion people and there are now 900 mobile phones …….plus broadband internet connections……..interesting times.
    Ebola and all the previous world wars combined will seem like a Saturday sock hop compared to a China……… unraveling .

    I’ve rambled on long enough……. but….. In answer to your observations.
    Yes, Ive noticed trends that people generally seem less caring, more angry, more stressed, more disgusted at current politicians, less informed about current events, hypnotized by any sporting event on a TV, and generally …..not very happy.

    My beer’s almost done and supper is waiting………….

    Rant over.


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