A companion blog, The Metacognition Project, has been created to focus specifically on metacognition and related consciousness processes. Newest essay on TMP: Goals and Problems, part two

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Human Collectives and Corporations, part 3

Humans organize into collectives as a normal part of their biological/social process. The Consciousness System of Order is a function of collective design. Common language, common experience, common Story are the bindings of common action. Groups of Communion are the natural and ecologically effective basic form for all the many designs of collectives that have sprung up, as humans have increased in number, and as competition for space and materiel has moved from other creatures and ecological processes to each other.

(Note: it is typical of academic study to avoid a disease or dysfunction model except as a last resort. And we should be uncomfortable with such models since they are easy and more often than not only represent a failure to see beyond our own prejudice. But, if dysfunction is the correct understanding, it is dangerous not to recognize it. Imagine if we refused disease models in human health and only looked for a proper role for the wide swings of blood sugar levels of a diabetic! We must, but very carefully, use a dysfunction model for human social behavior if we are to correctly understand our present world.)

We need some sort of taxonomy of the many forms of collectives that have formed from the basically singular design of tribal communities – a combination of systematic biology and the DSM. This is a very large order, and cannot be addressed here beyond the simplest distinctions. Traditional sociology analyses collectives as groups of different types, structures and functions. These are seen primarily as places where individuals dwell in some degree of relationship: primary groups such as families and other intimate associations; secondary groups such as economic units; and special groupings that individuals may use in some fashion, but are not necessarily members of such as reference groups (although ‘group’ is a technical term in sociology, it seems equivocated in these three taxonomic divisions). These ways of looking at collectives are useful, but don’t inform my concerns.

We do not function as individuals in all, or even most, situations. Our behavioral product is collectivized into actions that we might or might not willingly perform, but absolutely in most cases could not perform individually. I would not do a ‘drive by’ in Detroit, but I support an ecology of human collectives that results in that action. I would not invade Iraq. I would not put a sick or injured person out on the street because they didn’t have health insurance. In fact, I know no one who would personally invade Iraq or who would personally deny medical care: the most hardcore conservative person (who is not crazy) I know has a very kind heart face to face.

We need to understand the collective as organism and this only makes sense with a clear understanding of consciousness as fully functional system of order. We understand the biological organism because it has a sustaining information base in DNA/protein, thus a mouse is a mouse and a hippo is hippo; a liver does its thing and a mitochondria its thing.

The various forms of human collectives are only weakly analogized by biological concepts and taxonomies, but they are entities with informational bases and processes by which they adapt to the forces they are attuned to recognize.

One of the major ways that human collective organisms differ from biological organisms is that the Consciousness System of Order, the information system for human collectives, has a capacity for madness that can be found in only very limited ways in biological systems. Madness is the failure to function in the substantive reality of one’s situation. It is of questionable sanity to believe that aliens are beaming thoughts from a space station on the moon into your mind and it is insane to act on that belief. It would not be madness if there were scientific proof of aliens with highly focusable mind control beams.

It is madness to act as though what you do today or for the next several months has no consequence for the months and years afterward. It is demonstrably true that actions taken today have impacts on the future. Yet, we can find human collectives that act on the principle that only the next few months matter. There are human collectives that support and act on the principle that the human members do not matter as much as the continued existence of the collective. Could this also be madness?

Perhaps we have exceeded our capacity if we can create a new design order that is so crazy that its (our!) Story is that the living substrate doesn’t matter. But, in fact, having the capacity to exceed our capacity: we see it all the time. We can build machines that we must govern so that they don’t act beyond our ability to respond to them. We have clearly organized our collective actions into “entities” with unintended sets of behaviors that overrun our capacities to comprehend and manage their actions. A hundred people organized to a set of complex tasks can be an overwhelmingly powerful force in the service of any Story that they accept.

The collective as a proper organism must have a informational basis and a description – it must have some process of origin and natural history of development. There must be some relationship to its parts and the parts must be supported and sustained (even if not in their original roles) by the collective organism.

Considerations of the events and processes of institutions requires that we have some sense of them as collective organisms. Just as we can make no sense of patterns of movements of a snake without comprehension of its integration into the ecology, we can make no sense of – we can only be confused, abused and amused by – the actions a CEO or a president without seeing their place (or their view of their place) in the “ecology” of collective social and institutional organisms. I say ‘their view of their place’ since human collectives are informed not by genetics but by Story and it is ‘their view’ that informs the design of action in the collective. The competent and sustaining collectives must, however, reinforce the informing basis, the Story, that maintains them. And sustainable collectives must relate their functions to the genetic, living order, functions of the participants.

What is not clear from the science is just how high up Maslow’s hierarchy one can assign a genetic basis. It is obvious that the primary needs can serve as motivators in the design of social constructions, but what about self-actualization needs? It is possible that the Primate Pattern is an addressable condition, that is, the better the fit of the collective organism to the Primate Pattern, the more sustainable it is?

The current financial situation offers example: the lack of information from the Fed and Wall Street players given to the public’s representatives and directly to the public is taken for granted by all concerned as natural and normal. Why is that? The Story is that it’s none of our business and is too complex to understand even if we were given the information. Furthermore, the Story goes on, wealth is being created that will spread through out the society (the large collective of which we are all “equal” partners) so there is no point in looking too closely at the machinery so long as it keeps turning out product; if wealth is not constantly created we will lose the ease of life and the stuff we have. And the metaphysical color of the Story: wealth and virtue are combined qualities.

The confusion of individual motives with collective motives is almost complete in our present time. For example, wealth is a collective motive while safety and happiness is an individual motive. But we assume that wealth is the individual motive of greed when wealth’s only efficacy is in the collective for establishing forms of relationship.

This is, of course, all complete hogwash (originally, the “wash” from the kitchen that was feed to the hogs). The corporate collective organism has grown its own Story and designed its informing systems, an important part of which is its protective coloration. But, it would be a mistake to think of a few Machiavellians thinking up a scheme and playing it on us all. This an organism grown and must be responded to as such. A frontal assault on such a bullish beast will only drive it to narrow its focus for counterattack. We must either attack it with enough immediate and direct force to kill it off entire or oppose it with another collective organism of sufficient adaptability and integration that the corporate collective is reduced, adapts in integration with a more powerful social organism or becomes extinct. The only collective organism with that potential is socialism (thus the great ‘hatred’ and dread of socialism by the corporate organism).

The difficulty and madness that we currently face is the possibility that the corporate organism has grown to such an extent that it will try to leap beyond its inhibiting human basis, that it will conceive a Story that doesn’t include humans as its primary principle, but only as supporting caste and unnecessary to the ‘corporate purpose.’ We are seeing this right now in such statements as, ‘the only correct goal of a corporation is to make a profit.’

Humans who have been completely corporatized, that is, so fully integrated into the collective’s Story that they don’t realize their separateness, have become different from those humans who realize both their roles in the various collectives of which they are a part and their individuality; this happens at all levels in the organism’s hierarchy and especially so at the more apparently powerful levels. This does not, however, mean loyalty to a company, but deep emersion in the Story. Our financial/corporate system has not been hijacked by high-class criminals that we can find and expel, but is the breeding ground for those very roles that maintain the corporate organism: the mailroom provides the stemcells for management organs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Human Collectives and Corporations, part 2

Disclaimer: This essay is not intended to be an exhaustive study of the sociology of human collectives, nor does it purport to accurately represent current psychological or sociological thinking.  It is an exploration of process: how to think about the realities of this time on the planet from as broad a perspective as the average thoughtful person might obtain from sources generally available, and using the human capacities of reason, logic and intuition.

Human Collectives: 

A major issue is how collectives work in humans.  We cannot assume that they work in ways analogous to collectives in other species.  But we can and must assume that our collectives have a natural history and system based process.  Our collectives’ origin and operating principles are primarily contained in the Consciousness Order not the Living Order.  The motivating principles do not arise solely from the biophysical reality the way they do for other forms of collectives.  Social insects have long been compared to human societies, but we can reject such comparisons as thoroughly misdirecting and disinforming.  The relationships are certainly not homologous and analogous only by the most tenuous associations.  What usefulness there is to such comparison I will leave to others. 

We need some beginning. For my thinking, that beginning is the Primate Pattern of social associations.  It is a genetic pattern of behaviors homologous in primates and, therefore, foundational for the social behaviors of human evolution.  Hominids did not discover or ‘learn’ social relations, they lived them and evolved them in the same way that they lived and evolved the hominid posture.  There were, of course, great ‘breakthroughs’ in behavior just as there were in structure and from similar fortuity: the grasping hand of the climber so easily becoming the fine motor tool of the flint knapper and watchmaker; the emotional connections of mutual grooming so easily becoming the social bonds of honor and respect. 

But always with the history of hominids there is a moment when the scales tip from the momentum and action arising from the Living System of Order to those seemingly same actions arising from the momentum of the Consciousness System of Order.  The difference in the beginning was significant for human survival, but almost unrecognizable in process, though it has become the most important fact on this earth. 

‘Two humans’ is a very different ‘animal’ from one human in a way that 2 toads are not remarkably different from one toad.  Two wolves are similarly quite different from one wolf for some of the same reasons: the two can function as an effective unit (one) to accomplish a single task; humans do this at least an order of magnitude more effectively than any other vertebrate species. 

But humans can form units (entities) of 3 or 12 or 100 or 3000 or millions.  When they do this, biological models and analogies fail.  Fifty thousand humans functioning some part of their actions through a common set of expectations, motives and rules is utterly unlike the seeming equivalences of 50,000 caribou or 50,000 snow geese, etc.  The humans can be organized for a huge variety of relatively simple sets of behaviors producing a massive common action on the world.  They only need a common story keyed to sufficiently common experience.  There are no rules that require the collective’s behaviors to fit any reality other than that offered by the designs of Story.  The collective’s motives are not a summing up of the human motives of the participants, and may not even be known or understood by anyone. 

Humans form collectives first and foremost because we are a tribal animal – that is, we have the capacities, at a deep biological level, to commune with others – and to do things that cannot be done alone or in intimate groups of only a few.  A couple of years ago I was stalked for almost an hour by a mountain lion, miles from any possible protection.  I know that my visceral longing for extra sets of eyes, for other human animals, came right out of my DNA[1]

There are some ‘natural’ human collectives – most small groups tend to take on similar patterns across cultures, and family groups have generally common patterns – but most human collectives function through the designs of a Story.  A simplistic statement of the situation is that the Primate Pattern brings people together and Story designs their behaviors. 

Since humans can organize and since humans have the primate pattern of organization as our genetic default, it is no surprise that we collectivize our actions. A hunting group forms to take on challenges that cannot be accomplished alone, and then the hunting group becomes an entity that drives new actions. The collective structure and action becomes part of a social environment and as such can first supercede and then replace many aspects of the biophysical reality from which we evolved and to which our consciousness designs were originally adapted. 

Another way that collectives function is to allow participants to “logically” act in one way under one model and differently under another model (the same person can play football and chess); act in ways that would be contradictory if attempted under the same model for action.  Thus a soldier can kill people when acting in the military collective, but may not when functioning as a part of a commercial collective.  This also demonstrates some of the difficulties of collectives forming rules from self-referencing designs.  It is further demonstrates the utility of narrowing the range of collective associations so that participants better fit collective values. 

There is no dichotomy between individualism and collectivism.  It is a matter of what commonalities are formed around, and to some extend the degree to which inclusion is extended.  Being ‘opposed’ to “collectivist principles” only means that one is opposed to some other collective’s Story, not that one rejects the actual sharing of values and ideas.  

What this analysis points out is not the right of a collective activity to exist, but the clarity of our understanding of the Story with which a collective activity functions.  A collective activity has great power simply because it comes from the summed action of many people operating under common behaviors.  The common behaviors support the collective’s story, but also must engage the individual person by designing them into the collective’s Story and by meeting important needs associated with both the human social pattern and human individual needs. 

Today (and for a few thousand years now) our collective entities have formed in response to other collective entities.  The very weak connections of collective action to human needs and biological nature have produced entities that, while made up of human actors, compete with humans for existence – this is, of course, madness. 

We are watching the titanic struggle develop between the corporate collective and the government collective for influence over the multitude.  In their most pure form, the corporate collective is like a pedophile offering candy. Its Story has very simple values and no rules about presenting its values honestly.  The government collective is yelling to cross the street only at the cross walk.  It is complex; its present Story offering protections of some sort to almost all participants. Fascism – the combining of the corporate collective with the government collective creates the worst of all possible worlds: pedophiles lined up at the crosswalk.

[1] I was never afraid, just intensely aware.  The absence of a companion was felt like a 3 day thirst.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

There Should Be No Such Thing As a Teacher

When I was first associated with the academy I was not a teacher, rather a psychologist who taught people about scientific epistemology and statistics as these applied to psychological research and the understanding of it.  When I was in business I was not a teacher, but produced images that were used to enlighten and instruct (advertising!) and taught clients about the process and employees about the intimate details of the work.  And most importantly, all the time I was teaching myself. 

As my own personal children were variously amused and abused by our distressed school system, as I got more and more involved with it – a founding parent of a charter school, on its Governing Council, substituting in the my town's largest high school, getting involved with another charter as the primary creator of the math and science program – I found that I had become, in the expectation of the organization, a teacher.  This meant, ultimately, that I had fulfilled certain requirements for paperwork and that I attended classes filled with children every day.  I was not a biologist, not a psychologist, not a statistician, not a photographer, not a philosopher, not a musician, not a bike mechanic – I was not even “allowed” to imply that I could be considered these things.  I had been resolved into a teacher. 

Teaching, like terrorism, is a method in the service of some substantive human activity. There should be no such thing as a teacher. There should be magazine writers who teach writing, naturalists and physiologists who teach biology, math geeks and engineers who teach math.  People who teach should first and foremost be something else, and even more importantly, the organization should expect that those who teach are something else, first and foremost.  And this expectation should be manifest in the design of the physical space and in the arrangements of schedules. 

It is the unspoken assumption of most school administration that if ‘teachers’ are given a moment without some structured expectation (often accompanied with a form), that they will loaf.  I am confident that this is often true for ‘teachers’ (and is probably a projection of the administrators), but I am equally certain that it is not true for a musician, philosopher, statistician or bike mechanic. 

This is not to say that the art and science of how to teach should not be studied and learned about; a terrorist must learn to sneak around and to build bombs. But, which end of the continuum would you prefer for your kids: a person completely versed in the subject who didn’t have training in the art of teaching or a person fully trained in the practice of teaching who knew little to nothing about the subject, a person whose training suggested that they didn’t really need to know much of substance so long as they ‘knew how to teach?’ 

The act that made me successful as a photographer was the Zen-like process of composing images, a process that kept me entertained for 20 years.  I also learned the details of cameras and how to process film with supreme meticulousness; it was the only way that the efforts in composition could have the expression that I wanted.  I had an employee once who was even more exacting in the darkroom than me, but who could not see a well-formed image.  You get my point! 

I have watched actors, musicians, artists, scientists of various sorts, math poets and others be turned into teachers by the oppression of our schools, be driven away from the substantive things that they are and care about, but had no time for, that went unappreciated.  It is the expectation that those who are unwilling to give up their interests will leave education – leaving teaching to those who have no interests, but who, by the rules of the job, know all the terms of the art. 

This is not to say that all teachers have been turned into rule spewing zombies.  There are many closet scientists, artists, writers, athletes, politicians and farmers in the teaching corps, but they are these things despite the requirements of the teaching rather than in support of the goal of informing the next generation of humans how to best get along in the world. 

It is epidemic in today’s young people that they have no academic interests.  While there are many forces at play that rob them of these experiences, it must be true that they are not spending time with adults who are passionate about these interests. I have long said that enthusiasm is the currency of education.  But enthusiasm without something to be enthusiastic about is just mania, and mania is first cousin to obsession.  Kids rightly realize that obsession is just craziness.  And rejecting craziness is not crazy at all.

(The next essay will return to the subject of human collectives.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Human Collectives and Corporations

We are at a point in our domination of the world’s space and productive capacity that we are no longer allowed the option of unreasoned trial and error.  In essence, humans are working out our originating biological adaptations in the ‘normal’ way that that is done: to press options in behavior to their limits and to be judged by the biophysical reality for efficacy.  For most animals, primary adaptations evolve in integration with their consequences – they function in the same time-space, and work thorough the same systems of information management (the evolution of DNA/protein systems).  Even very powerful adaptations like the social hunting of lions is inhibited into balanced ecological relationships within which all parties benefit and compensate.  These relationships are genetically come to and expressed in the integrated behaviors and life-habits of 10s, even 100s, of species.

It is vital to understand that the human adaptation did not follow this pattern, but is new to the universe.  It is a new fully functioning system of order (what Susan Blackmore calls the 2nd replicator [1]) that, like the living order arose from the Physical System of Order, arose from the existing Physical and Living Systems of Order in very special circumstances.  Without going into this in greater deal [2] I will only add that the human adaptation has overpowered the integrating processes by not functioning in the biophysical time-space and working its information management through a completely new and rapidly developing consciousness system.  If we are to make sense of our place and predicament, this is where we must begin.  To analyze this situation without understanding its underlying principles is, as it is for any study, doomed.

One of the great issues facing us today is the variety and power of our collective actions, especially how corporations have come to seemingly dominate our ecological and social relationships.  We can accept them, we can reject them, but we cannot tame them unless and until we actually understand them as more than a historical process of economic units. 

There is a generally accepted understanding that corporations, to the extent that they are entities that act in some organized way, have different purposes than you and me.  Now, you and I can have many differences also: different values, beliefs and habits; there may be disagreements on issues like the value of human life and whether wealth is a private affair or correctly part of the commons; but, we can find points of agreement on the need to breathe the air, the pleasures of the physical life and many other practical living matters.  In fact, as living entities, we have in common far more than we could ever find to disagree about – that we might fail to realize the commonalities is just another common experience over which we could have a good chuckle. 

The common nature of our experience is strained as we come from greater and greater distances of experience.  I am a child a single-family farm in the Midwest, then raised in Florida’s rural racist society.  If you were ranch raised in the rural racist Southwest, we might find large areas of common experience assuming that we could see beyond the objects of prejudgment to the meta-experience of classifying ‘the other’ as inferior.  If you were a rural Black from Parrish, Florida or a Mexican from El Jaguey, Chihuahua, we would have to work harder to find common ground.  If you were an upper Amazonian Indian from a group with only the most minimal contact from beyond the forest, we would find deep levels of shared experience very difficult: but, importantly, not impossible. 

Humans working together in common purpose make up our various collective actions.  It would seem that by knowing about the people and their interests we could, with various charts and models, use our understandings and empathies to get a sense of the common purpose of the collective.  And yet, this seems not to be so.  Somehow, when in groups, humans can organize as entities with sets of behaviors that are not modeled by the actions of humans as individuals.  We have models for this in the living order: organs act with new and often potent behaviors compared to the behaviors of individual cells and these organs, collected into organisms, add new layers of complexity and possibility: the form and behavior of a hyena would never be predicted by looking at the functioning of an individual muscle cell.

Even closely examining a thousand cell types would not diminish the surprise should those cells suddenly materialize as 180 pound hyenas tearing at a wildebeest. 

This is not a new idea – it goes back as far as Herbert Spencer – and corporation as organism has been written about in some depth, though almost always either as descriptions of their historical growth process or as arguments about their efficacy, even if they are “good or bad.”  But these analyses most often miss the point that what we are dealing with is collective human action, the forms that collectives can take and the functioning of collectives as new forms manifest in the Consciousness Order. 

The collective behaviors of all other organisms find their way through the information management of the DNA/protein nexus.  Actions and consequences in the Living Order occur in the same time-space.  These two facts underlie the inherent order of ecological systems.  Human collectives are complex and are formed out of our biology on the primate pattern [3], on the one hand, and from the Consciousness System of Order on the other.  Our genetics brings pattern and expectation.  The Consciousness Order brings nearly unlimited option – anything that can be ‘thought of’ within the syntax and meanings of language and imagination. 

The speed of human action vastly exceeds the speed of any biophysical system and thus disconnects biophysical consequences from the actions.  More immediate, Consciousness Order based, consequences replace the biophysical ones; and we are off to the races!  The next essay will look more closely at the nature of human collectives. 

[1] Susan Blackmore has expanded on the work of Richard Dawkins, especially his ideas about cultural evolution.  Link to a TED Talk and her web site

[2] The ideas around Consciousness Order and the importance of a taxonomy of ordered systems is sprinkled through these pages.  This is one and this one,  more direct accounts.

[3] Our original collective has a long history as the ‘primate pattern,’ a general pattern of social organization analogous to the ‘herd pattern’ of hoofed animals.  Different species of primates have evolved and adapted that pattern to their own circumstances, but most primates live in what could be called, loosely, tribal societies.  There is sexual dimorphism, complex social hierarchy, group participation in the raising of the young, wide patterns of acquaintanceship – based in individual differences – generate most details of behavior, nascent cultural transmission of information (as opposed to strictly genetic transmission) and so much more.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Commencement Address

When I heard that I was invited to speak to this gathering, I knew almost immediately what ideas to present, but not how to give them.  A few days ago, by simple chance, a song played on the radio: Nina Simone performing a Bob Dylan song struck just the note I wanted. 

I see points of light come shining, coming through the dark.  Points of light moving slowly toward me – coming partly of their own movement and partly drawn toward me by the strength of my desire to see them more closely.  You, the young people graduating here today, are those points of light growing brighter and more powerful as you fuel your powers with experience. 

I want to spend the next few minutes looking at the physics of that light – its power and its fragility. 

The brightness of the day can confuse us.  Our own small contribution may seem of little importance.  It may seem that our actions do not matter, that we are replaceable and therefore unimportant. And yet, we are all that the world, in this moment, has made to carry on – to shine on into an unknown future.  Each of you is the source; there is no other. 

You carry the light of life, not just the simple act of being alive -- as incredible as life is, bacteria can do that: you honor that great responsibility by growing your strength as a member of the human species.  You must reach out, stretch your vision to the very edges of the darkness, risking and daring the future.  And you must protect your best experiences, your deepest understandings and discoveries. 

The brightness of the day can overwhelm.  In the words of a song: ‘the summer sun can burn you til you’re blind.’  How do we find our own way when it seems that every corner is filled with the often harsh glow of so many others?  My answer is to value your own light no matter how dim it may appear in any moment; and to increase its brightness with knowledge of the world and affection for life. 

Take great care in being drawn to the bright lights of others: the dazzling colors and brilliant patterns of the persuaders, and especially of the commercial world.  Your own light is the child of billions of years of history. It is from the unbroken glow and flow of all living things. It is only your own light that can illuminate your way.  Learn from others, certainly, but only your own light can be focused to your future. Yet, always remember that you share the world with billions of points of light: the beauty of a galaxy is found in no one star.

In ancient times nomadic communities had a fire keeper whose responsibility it was to keep an ember burning through all the travels and travails of the tribe.  You are that fire keeper for yourself. 

And there will be times of damp and darkness.   Times when you are challenged to keep that glow alive, when all the light of others dies away and you are left with only your own resources.  It is then that all that you have learned, all that you have stored will fuel your hope and light your way. 

There will be many challenges ahead of you: wind and storm, searing heat and numbing cold.  But also challenges of greatness: there is the chance that humanity will make a quantum leap in your life time – a leap from living on the produce of the earth to living in homeostatic harmony with the earth’s great movements and capacities.  It is a change that is and must be coming. 

And it can only come from you.  It will only come from you protecting your own lights and growing the reach of your understanding.  No leader will point the way, it will only come as you push back the darkness with the circle of your own growing light, as your light begins to overlap the circles of others, then more and more will be encouraged to join in. This is how all change happens.  Just as a candle or a lamp changes the space that surrounds it by spreading its light into the dark spaces, we change the world immediately around us with our knowledge and wisdom and the quality of our character. 

I was going to talk to you about how to accomplish these things, but it doesn’t matter how – there is no one way, there is just doing it, there is only discovering, each in our own way, how to keep the embers alive every day. 

And so, we are here at the turning of life’s clock to the next hour of your lives; for from my perspective you are but a few hours into life’s short day.  You will each move increasingly on your own path.  I cannot wish you a smooth road, but rather one that is never more than you can handle.  I wish you a life that builds character and tests, but does not defeat, your courage.  I wish you a life of pleasure, but with enough pain to make clear and give dimension to the difference.  I hope that you feel safe most of the time.  And I hope that you love others and are loved in return. 

Lastly, I want to leave you with a song in the sense of the revolutionary songs of history. A song to sing against the darkness.  It is my song, it can be our song.  I know that such things are generally come to by mutual consent, but think of its selection as my last teacherly act.  Please try it on.  “I shall be released” written by Mr. Bob Dylan. (and then I and two other teachers – James, Jason and Anna – played and sang. I am told that I sound like Dean Martin minus the slurring, but I suspect it was only encouragement from others who did not wish to sing so loud.   Not quite Chrissie Hynde, but we did OK.)