Month: March 2016

The American Flag: The Sacredness of the Right

Originally published in July of 2015, this article delves into the different perspectives of how the American flag is viewed and how it should be treated. As a means of applying some science and rational to this issue, Jonathan Haidt and social psychology are utilized to help explain and provide context for the possible why. This will continue to be an issue.


Photo Courtesy of Photo Courtesy of

In his book The Righteous Mind, social psychologist Jonathn Haidt argues that sacredness – along with tradition, purity, and authority – is a morality that is often and highly practiced by Americans on the political right. This does not mean that Americans on the political left do not practice sacredness. They do; for example, they embrace and practice righteous indignation in conservation and environmental consciousness. However, sacredness in the form of patriotism, and sometimes righteous indignation of that patriotism, is emphasized in the practice and respect of the American flag by mostly the political right. Hence, banning or burning the American flag are examples of this disrespect, this desecration.

In recent news, Angie Hildebrandt, a property owner (of a condominium) and resident of Edina, Minnesota, was told by the Minnesota Condominium Association “to take her American flag down.” A mother of two young men, one serving in the…

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Don Lemon, CNN Headquarters, and D.C.’s Homeless

“No more than half a block away is the CNN’s Washington bureau building. Many of its employees walk right by these tent encampments on their way to and from work on a daily basis.” 

By Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant, Guest Columnist

Photo by Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant
Photo by Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant

Greetings once again fellow readers! As my moniker, The Seeing Servant, suggests I like to shine the spotlight on issues or people that others might not see.

Union Station is one of the biggest transit hubs on the East Coast. Thousands of people travel through this hub on a daily basis either by taking the Greyhound, Amtrak, or the subway. Not only is it a travel hub it is also a place where homeless people hang around to pass the day, panhandle, or to get out of the elements. It is also where some sleep when they can’t find a shelter to stay at.

The two pictures below is that of a mini tent encampment that people who are homeless sleep in. As you can see these tents aren’t anywhere near woods or a campsite where you would expect to find tents. They are right outside Union Station in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant
Photo by Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant

Those living in the tents are left alone for a couple of weeks until the police or Union Station security comes around and makes them break up the camp by confiscating their tents. Not many people even know that these mini tent encampments exist! Why? This brings me to the heart of this article.

No more than half a block away is the CNN’s Washington bureau building. Many of its employees walk right by these tent encampments on their way to and from work on a daily basis. Even though they see these people living in tents you very rarely ever see a story about homelessness in the Nation’s capital. Why? Well its people refusing to see the unseen. It doesn’t bring in ratings or ad dollars. Who the hell cares about that when you have people living in tents! DO A STORY ON IT CNN!

I would like all my readers to do me a favor. Can you join me to make this issue more seen by those that haven’t seen it? Will you join me and take a few minutes to write an email or letter to CNN to force them to talk about these tent encampments? Maybe together we can make this story big enough where the presidential candidates can see the unseen? How awesome would that be?

D.C. Encampment #2 DWM
Photo by Robert Garrison, The Seeing Servant

Union Station isn’t the only place where tent encampments exist. There are a couple of encampments in Baltimore which I hope to visit in the near future. Maybe you have seen these in your city and you don’t know what you can do about it.

May I suggest that you take just a few minutes to write a letter or email to your local and state representatives asking them to address this issue (Contact information below)? Help others see the unseen so we together can make a difference and help those that don’t have a voice, give them that voice!

I want to end this article with two quotes by Jesus, whether or not you believe that He is Lord and savior doesn’t change the weight of His words

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

  • Luke 6:31 NASB  

The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.

  • Matthew. 25:40 NASB    

To contact your local representative:

For further exploration into the world of The Seeing Servant, see Time Out of Mind and The Bureaucracies of Government and The Seeing Servant and the Unseen.

Robert J. Garrison is a political and religious writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, follow him on Twitter or on Facebook, or catch up on his articles in the Archives

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 



Copyright ©2016 – The Systems Scientist

Urban Homicides and the Blue Perspective

By Matt Johnson

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “blacks” are the largest proportion of homicides each year. And the largest number of these happen in urban settings each year. This fact is easy to see if one takes into account the vast majority of data on this site that illustrates the economic, political, social, and ecological depression that traditionally disenfranchised Americans still face today and everyday here in the United States.

Utilizing North Minneapolis as an example, we know that that part of Minneapolis experiences the highest foreclosure numbers and rates, the highest numbers and rates of condemned and vacant buildings, the highest unemployment rate, nearly the highest numbers and rates of crime, the lowest education levels, and the lowest rates of median household income, just to name a few things.

In addition, the north side of Minneapolis is also home to the largest “black” population in Minneapolis. Why is this so? Well there are historical reasons for such economic depression; for example, there were red-lining policies (legal segregation) and policies that favored economic, political, social, and ecological resources to the dominant group, i.e., “whites.” What does this have to do with the video?

In this video, it is clear that modern, social justice activism is something that Police Chief Edward Flynn is thinking about in great detail. In this video, his words are clearly directed at such activists and not necessarily those in the community his officers patrol. It’s clear he’s attempting to make a distinction.

And although he hasn’t seen the data or current hypotheses from this website, it is clear he has built up some intution about what the data might say about those crimes in the subsystem of his city of responsibility. And make no mistake, he’s taken ownership of it.

One last thought, I don’t agree with the title of the video. I think most American citizens who live in depressed areas are well aware it. If a larger proportion of “blacks” do indeed live in depression as the data suggests, then the title is incorrect. But again, that’s not who the Chief is talking to. It’s clear his comments are directed at a select few.

Update: The original video was taken down by The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In addition, the fact that many police officers care about the communities they patrol shouldn’t be a difficult concept to understand.

Matt Johnson is a writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog; and is a mathematical scientist. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News.

You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 

Photo credit: Pixabay




Copyright ©2016 – The Systems Scientist

Modern American Journalism, Not a Place for Science

TSS Admin

If you visit the online news sites of the Star Tribune, The Des Moines Register, the Chicago Tribune, and The Seattle Times, then you may be out of luck if you were looking forward to catching up on current scientific events. This is because the front pages for these online traditional news papers do not have a section for science news. In addition, 14 of the largest 15 cities in the United States do not have a science section either.

Photo Courtesy of the New York Times
Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

As a possible result, the majority of the 29.8 million people that reside in the 15 largest cities here in the United States will be opening their respective browsers this Sunday morning to a front page without a “Science” section. Fortunately, the largest city in the United States has a clearly defined section on science. But how does The Systems Scientist define this current condition of journalism?

The condition is that the online paper must have the word “Science” clearly labeled as a subject link, or tab, on the front page near the title of the paper (See our header as an example). Unfortunately, and of the 30 online papers that were viewed for this article, only one paper meets this requirement.

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Here are the lists of online papers with a “Science” section and with no “Science” section.

List of online traditional news papers with a “Science” section:

  1. The New York Times

List of online traditional news papers with no “Science” section:

  1. Los Angeles Times
  2. Chicago Tribune
  3. Houston Chronicle
  4. Philadelphia Inquirer
  5. The Arizona Republic
  6. San Antonio Express
  7. The San Diego Union-Tribune
  8. The Dallas Morning News
  9. San Jose Mercury News
  10. The Austin American-Statesman
  11. The Florida Times-Union
  12. San Francisco Chronicle
  13. The Indianapolis Star
  14. The Columbus Dispatch

Other online traditional news papers with no “Science” section:

  1. Houston Chronicle
  2. Miami Herald
  3. Orlando Sentinel
  4. Atlanta Journal Constitution
  5. The Washington Post
  6. The Washington Times
  7. The Wall Street Journal
  8. New York Post 
  9. St. Louis Post Dispatch
  10. The Plain Dealer
  11. Star Tribune
  12. The Seattle Times
  13. The Des Moines Register
  14. St. Paul Pioneer Press
  15. Detroit Free Press

An immediate question is, why do these large publications not report science?

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Copyright ©2016 – The Systems Scientist

Does a faltering economy promote radicalism?

We know from previous articles here on Urban Dynamics that crime is usually concentrated in areas of urban blight and decay. However, what happens if the system completely collapses? And why? In this guest blog, Shrey Srivastava explores the economic aftermath. – The Systems Scientist

Shrey's Notepad: The Quest for Knowledge

Since the infamous 9/11 terror attacks that shook America, and indeed, much of the developed world, many academics have all been looking for exactly what is the root cause of the radicalism that pervades and is so cancerous to modern society. However, the main core of the problem may not be political, or even psychological: it might be economic.

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Crime Patterns: Comparing the 5th Ward to Minneapolis

“As I’ve indicated in the past, unstable subsystems like that of the 4th and 5th Wards seem to be sensitive to certain systems forces, at least that’s what the data is suggesting.”

By Matt Johnson, The Systems Scientist

Figure 1
Figure 1

In 2015, there were 21,341 crimes committed in the city of Minneapolis. Of those crimes, 2,116 were committed in July, which was the most of any month during the year. In addition, 1,144 crimes were committed in February, which was the least active month for crime throughout the year. And finally, the majority of the crimes in Minneapolis were committed in the second half of the year from July through December.

However, in the 5th Ward of Minneapolis, which is on the north side, there were approximately 3,070 reported crimes. That’s a little more than 14 percent of the total number of crimes committed in Minneapolis during the 2015 year. But as this scientist has stated in past articles, the systems’ patterns can tell us a lot about the behavior of the general system of Minneapolis and the behaviors of the subsystems of Minneapolis; that is, the 1st Ward through the 13th Ward.

Looking at Figure 2, two pieces of information should stick out. First, July was a peak month for crime. There were approximately 315 reported crimes. Second, February was the least active crime month. If we recall our information from Figure 1, the maximum number of crimes occurred in July while the minimum number of crimes occurred in February in the city of Minneapolis. Interesting.

Figure 2
Figure 2

So far, we know that as the city peaked in crime so did the 5th Ward. In addition, as February was the cities least active month in crime, so was February for the 5th Ward. But those aren’t the only two pieces of information that Minneapolis and the 5th Ward have in common. In 2015, the majority of the crimes committed in the 5th Ward happened over the later part of year from July through December.

Is this a coincidence? Probably not. As I’ve indicated in the past, depressed subsystems (unstable systems) like that of the 4th and 5th Wards seem to be sensitive to certain systems forces, at least that’s what the data is suggesting. What are these systems forces? That’s beyond the scope of this article and the data presented in it.

The point of this article was to demonstrate similar systems patterns and information between Minneapolis and the 5th Ward. As was illustrated, they had the same peak month, the same least active month, and the majority of the crimes for both happened during the second half of the year.

One final thought, if you are a regular reader, you are familiar with my articles about the foreclosure rates in the 4th and 5th Wards. You know that the foreclosure patterns of those wards seem to mimic the general foreclosure pattern of Minneapolis, while other wards like the 2nd Ward and 10th Ward did not. Adding crime to the mix, we see another variable in the system that is behaving similarly to the general system. Fascinating, isn’t it? What are we to make of it? And how could this knowledge be useful for the city of Minneapolis and the inhabitants of the 5th Ward?

For more information on this topic, I suggest Economies, Policies, and Systems and The General System of Minneapolis: Foreclosures. Please note, these are just two suggestions. There are many more articles about crime, foreclosures, systems patterns, and Minneapolis in general.

**Remember, there is nothing more American than discourse. You are always welcome to post your comments, thoughts, and questions below. Feedback is always appreciated!

Diversity and Today’s Minneapolis Police Department

“…the statistics are just a measure of where Minneapolis currently is on the tape of time.”

By Matt Johnson, The Systems Scientist

In a recent article, Reg Chapman, veteran reporter for WCCO News, wrote about the long and challenging history of creating a diversified Minneapolis Police Department. As Chapman explained in his piece, the Minneapolis Police Department hired its first “black” officer in 1881.

City of Minneapolis
Photo Courtesy of the City of Minneapolis

But for decades, and because of segregation laws and cultural norms and perceptions, very few African-Americans served on the force or in a greater than minimal capacity. For example, “black” officers were not allowed to arrest “white” citizens from the 1880’s through the 1930’s. But clearly, things have changed for the better since the 1930’s.

Today, as Chapman explains, there are 70 African-American or “black” officers on a Minneapolis police force of 850. As a percentage, that is 8.2 percent. But what does that 8.2 percent mean? Can it be used as an indicator to illustrate the diversity of the police force compared to the diversity of the African-American, or “black,” population of Minneapolis?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Minneapolis is approximately 18 percent African-American, or “black.” In order to see if the percent of the African-American population in the Minneapolis Police Department is similar to the percent of the African-American population in Minneapolis, statisticians and mathematical scientists use a technique called Relative Frequency, i.e., proportionality.

If we compare the percentage of the African-American population in Minneapolis, which is about 18 percent, and the African-American population of the Minneapolis Police Department, which is 8.2 percent, we can see that these two values are not the same. This fact is obvious, but this fact acts as a measuring tape. What do we make of this measurement?

Photo Courtesy of the Minneapolis Police Department
Photo Courtesy of the Minneapolis Police Department

African-Americans still have a way to go to achieve a reasonable representation in the Minneapolis Police Department if representation is indeed defined as the “black” percentage of the city is equal to that of the “black” percentage of the police department. But here’s a caveat. What is meant by representation?

Does it mean approximately 18 percent? Does it mean more “black” officers in predominantly “black” neighborhoods in North Minneapolis? Does it mean greater access and opportunity for African American residents to become police officers in Minneapolis? Or does it mean a combination of the three possible policy applications?

Unfortunately, mathematics can not answer this question. This is a subjective question based off of society’s current moral and philosophical positions and norms.

For much of Minneapolis’ history, this question was not even considered, nor did the dominant group, “whites,” even care. But today’s morals are not yesterday’s morals. Today this question is not only being asked and considered by leaders in law enforcement and government, but it is also being asked and considered by those in industry, business, and the citizenry in general.

Time will tell. But if history is our guide, then the 8.2 percent may lend a hint. If one considers the decades since the 1880’s, the moral arc is not only bending towards justice, but it is bending towards equality in representation and equity in self-determination. This is, for example, because “black” officers weren’t allowed to arrest “white” citizens until the 1930’s.

But that is a world far removed from today and many citizens of Minneapolis, including this author, are looking for a world far removed from today; and the statistics are just a measure of where Minneapolis currently is on the tape of time.

For further exploration of criminal justice in Minneapolis, see Analyzing a Crime Pattern of a General System.

**Remember, there is nothing more American than discourse. You are always welcome to post your comments, thoughts, and questions below. Feedback is always appreciated!