Greatest Tool in the Hardware Store

There is one tool that is more important than all others.  And you can find it in any hardware store.

and gave us fire.

I’m lucky in that my hardware store dates from the mid-1800s.  It should be a national historic landmark.  One of these days it will be, if it doesn’t turn into a restaurant first.

Back to the tool.

This tool wasn’t so much invented.  It was discovered.

As you move among the many things you can get in our hardware store, you’ll probably miss the boxes of matches.

That’s the tool.

The tool is fire.  Not just any fire, but fire on command.

If you’re putting a tool box together for yourself, or for a friend going off to college, make sure you include matches.

Powerful stuff.

Fire on Command gave us the ability to cook food, ward off the night, and ward off predators.

Fire on Command gave us the incentive to create families.

Families started learning to cook, store food for long periods, live off the local land, and finally how to farm.

Fire on Command gave those families a reason to start forming tribes.

Not just any tribes, but tribes that would stay together for generations.  Tribes that would work together to gather metal ores, fashion them into better tools, and work together to keep their enemies away.  Those tribes also started customs they followed to make living together easier.

Fire on Command gave those tribes a reason to start forming a nation.  The nation created armies that defended all the tribes.  The customs became laws.  The smelting of ores became chemistry and physics.  The nations improved to have internal combustion, nuclear power, rocket ships and mobile phones.

Thanks to Fire, Fire on Command.

So, the next time you wander the hardware store, pay your respects to the fire.  It’s the reason everything else exists.

Silly Songs

and alcohol streams, who could resist?

Everything about behavior should tell us something about ourselves.

This one is silly.  It’s called “Big Rock Candy Mountains

I’m learning to play the piano.  Much more fun than watching TV, for me, and one of the songs is a shortened version of this.  You can find the tune several places online, click on the title below.  Here are the lyrics:

Big Rock Candy Mountains
One evening as the sun went down
And the jungle fire was burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking,
And he said, “Boys, I’m not turning
I’m headed for a land that’s far away
Besides the crystal fountains
So come with me, we’ll go and see
The Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
There’s a land that’s fair and bright,
Where the handouts grow on bushes
And you sleep out every night
Where the boxcars all are empty
And the sun shines every day
On the birds and the bees
And the cigarette trees
The lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
All the cops have wooden legs
And the bulldogs all have rubber teeth
And the hens lay soft-boiled eggs
The farmers’ trees are full of fruit
And the barns are full of hay
Oh I’m bound to go
Where there ain’t no snow
Where the rain don’t fall
The wind don’t blow
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
You never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol
Come trickling down the rocks
The brakemen have to tip their hats
And the railroad bulls are blind
There’s a lake of stew
And of whiskey, too
You can paddle all around ’em
In a big canoe
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in
There ain’t no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws or picks,
I’ma goin’ to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the Turk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains
I’ll see you all this coming Fall
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains”

Songwriters: Harry Mcclintock / Sterling Sherwin

==================

Finally, purely for fun, here are the updated lyrics I’m proposing.  I’d love to hear your ideas.  After all, isn’t it time to update this?

Of all the planets that we know,
The furthest is Pluto,
Around our big ball of fusion,

Astronomers they say,
Would make it go away,
So let’s give them all contusions.

====================

More to come!  Thanks for reading.

 

Aum Diaries 3

Aum… Aum… Aum…

What is it about this sound?  Is it supposed to be AUM or Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

In fact, who cares what sound you make  Just make something.  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s a story at the end, one of those zennish type stories.  It goes like this:

Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanisad, one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation.  Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That, penetrate the Imperishable as the ark, my friend.  The mystic syllable AUM is the bow.  The arrow is the Self (Atma).  Brahman is the target.  By the undistracted man is It penetrated.  One should come to be in It, as the arrow in the mark.

Any ideas, class?

So, I’m not exactly sure what it’s all supposed to mean, but it sounds cool and I’m going to let it stand.  Love to hear your opinions.

Now go make some noise.

Aum.

 

 

 

Be Nice, Learn to Talk

Why are we so talkative?  Why can’t some people SHUT UP?

Turns out that you and I aren’t the only ones trying to figure this out.

Some of those brainiac types are asking this question as well.  Better yet, they may have some answers.

Those brainiacs are what journalists call “scientists.”  Yes, those guys.  The ones asking questions based on lots of data that other “scientists” can use to get the same answers.  Big deal.

Well, it is a big deal, actually.

You see, these science guys went and looked at some birds.  Why birds?

Well, there’s lots of different types of birds for one.

And these birds, well, they seem to have this talking thing similar to us people.  As people we don’t call it talking.  We call it singing, or bird calls, or song, or whatever.  But birds seem to know what they are saying.

It turns out that some birds aren’t very social.  In fact, they are downright not nice.  Kind of like some neighbors I’ve had.  Birds called Munia are like that.  Not so social.

That’s compared to the Bengalese finch, a bird that’s been domesticated for 250 years.

Guess what?  The finch has complex songs and can figure out what you might be thinking.  The Munia, not so much.  No complex songs.  Doesn’t care what you are thinking.

You might say, so what about the birds already.  Good point.

Turns out that 50 generations of fox have also started showing these traits.  Bonobos.  We already know about cats, dogs, horses and cattle.  But at least in the case of the birds, there is a direct relationship between talking (alright, singing) and human language.

Here’s the kicker.  Good old Charles Robert Darwin suggested a LONG time ago that perhaps, just perhaps, people domesticated themselves.  It’s long been known that domesticated animals don’t have as much hair and take much longer to “grow up.”

That growing up time can be used to learn stuff.  Like talking.

So the next time you want to say something, say something nice.  Because, after all, if you weren’t nice to begin with, you probably wouldn’t be talking.

Thanks for stopping by.

By the way, the source article is from Science, 3 August 2018, volume 361, issue 6401, page 436-7.  Written by Michael Erard and Catherine Matacic

 

 

 

Goodbye Soft Science

Makes as much sense as most soft science.What’s in a word?

Quite a bit, in fact.

There’s this “news” organization that calls itself “X News.”  Because it says “news” everyone gives it the same credibility as other organizations that deliver true news.

What is news?  We’ll talk about that some other day.

The fact of the matter is that when you are trying to sell something, and that something is not worth much, it’s to your benefit to disguise it.  Ask any fast-talking salesman.

So if your program is a bunch of talking heads talking nonsense, call it “news” so it has more credibility.

What about if your academic discipline is rather “funny” in itself?  What if your discipline has failed to advance our knowledge of its purported subject by any measurable amount during its entire existence?

Simple.  Call it a science.

If you’re a “real” scientist, like in chemistry, or physics, you’re not going to enjoy eating at the same table as an sociologist, or economist.

So you call yourself a “hard” scientist.  Your facts are hard.  Your experiments are hard.  Your conclusions stand the test of time and replication.  They are also hard.

What are the other guys?

So far we’ve been calling them “soft” scientists.

I suggest an improvement.

It’s time to give them a label that gives us a better idea as to what they truly are in the great scheme of things.

Squishy.

They are quite squishy.

You push them, and they move out of the way.

You can pinch, pull, stretch and fold them as much as you want, and they come back exactly the same.

That’s what economics, sociology, and a whole host of other such “sciences” can do.

So it’s time we call an ultra conservative talk show what it is.

And it’s time we call squishy sciences exactly what they are.

Squishy.

Now we need to drop the whole “science” bit from them.  But one step at a time.

 

Aum Diaries 2

Aum… Aum… Aum…

Have you tried a yoga class where they make you do an AUM?

Or does it go Ohmmmm?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.I’m a big believer in the A-U-M variety.

Maybe someday there will be a war over how to pronounce it.

At the moment, I’m not going to care..  It sounds good no matter how you say it.

I’m going through BKS Iynegar’s book called Light on Yoga.

In his AUM section there’s all sorts of triads that the three letters are supposed to represent.  That’s nice, and I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.

But there’s also something big that each triad represents.  You can go to the last post for the triads.  Here I’m just jotting down the big stuff.  Here’s the triads:

  1. speech, mind, and breath, or
  2. length, breadth and depth, or
  3. absence of desire, fear, and anger, or
  4. masculine, feminine, and neuter, or
  5. sattva, rajas, and tamas, or
  6. past, present, and future, or
  7. teachings of mother, father, and Guru,
  8. or asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, or
  9. Creator, Maintainer, and Destroyer, or
  10. the mantra Tat Twam Asi meaning “That Thou Art”

Now, here’s the big stuff:

  1. All Conscious States, (very similar to number 9)
  2. Living Spirit,
  3. Divinity,
  4. Perfect (Hu)Man
  5. Creation
  6. Gunatitas
  7. Creator,
  8. Self Knowledge,
  9. Samadhi, (very similar to number 1)
  10. Brahman,
  11. Realization of Self Divinity

That seems like quite a bit to load onto a single sound, doesn’t it?

It’s still just a sound.

Let’s focus.

Aum.

 

 

 

 

Mind Games

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

And a great item to play with.  In fact, playing with anyone’s mind is a great way to build strength.

Kids know this from the start.  The moment they realize they can “learn” things, and that a very powerful learning tool is the question “why,” they begin the WHY game.  That is, they torture adults with an endless series of “WHY” until the adult folds and cries out “BECAUSE.”

The other day I realized that adults can play the same thing with each other.  I call it the “So What?” game.  First you get some adults.  Food, drink, things that relax people are all good.

Next, everyone writes down an item (small cards would be good for this) in the world that bugs them.  Anything goes.

Then one person starts by taking one of the cards and making that statement.  Everyone else asks “so what?” and the person who is “it” has to answer.  The questioners go around in the circle, and when the “it” runs out of reasons, the last questioner gets to go next.

The fun part is seeing where the original so what ends up.  Here’s a for instance.

This bugs me: People who don’t use their turn signal.    So What?

It means they are too stupid or lazy to communicate with others as to what they are going to do.  So what?

It means that I have to work harder.  So what?

It means that there’s a bigger chance that I’ll run into their rear end.  So what?

It means that I’ll have to suffer explaining a rear end to the police and get charged for something stupid that they did.  So what?

It means my insurance goes up and they’ll probably get a new car.  So what?

I don’t want to pay more money for insurance because of the other driver!  So what?

I could use that money for something else, anything else!  So what?

Bleh.  I give up.  And I can’t wait for self-driving cars.  Because, of course, those will solve all our problems.

Of course, there’s always a chance that someone else will complain about … self driving cars.

 

Space isn’t big enough for: God

Yes, you heard it here first.  As infinite as outer space is, and as powerful and willfully teeny tiny any god can be, there is no room for it.  Or him.  Or her, as the case may be.

The further we look, the more galaxies we find.

Are you shocked?  Are you a true believer who also has dreams of seeing humanity colonize the big bang?

Then, consider this.

 

God, or gods, or powers that be, are fine and dandy when you need to explain the unexplainable to those who can’t handle much explaining.

God is great for kids.  God is great for people who don’t have time or energy for deep thoughts.  God is great for trying to keep families together, especially during times of crisis when everything seems to be going wrong.

On Earth, that works fine.  There is time for those kids to grow up and find their own answers.  On Earth, even if every last possible thing goes wrong for a family, they still have themselves, and at the very least they still have air.

Those don’t come free on the moon, or anywhere else in space.  There is no time for anyone to pray that a solar flare might miss.  The stakes are much much higher than they ever have been for the human species.  Anyone who thinks they can mitigate the risks by taking time out for prayer is fooling themselves.  And by association, increasing the risks for everyone else.

To be clear, if a Moonster (or Lunite?) wants to pray on their own time, and invoke a deity on the sly, that’s their business.  It’s not like god will be outlawed.

But anyone who is hoping that the almighty intervene in lieu of doing actual work to protect the colony, that’s what this is all about.

The colony is going to be filled with the smartest people this planet can collect.  And if they can’t make it on their own, then there isn’t a god on Earth who can make up the difference.

Strike me now if I’m not telling the truth.

Amen

 

Aum Diaries

Aum… Aum… Aum…

Have you tried a yoga class where they make you do an AUM?

Maybe your teacher does OM instead?

Looks like a 30 with eyebrow problems.Does it feel weird?

It did for me as well.  I got over it.

There’s this guy, BKS Iynegar, who wrote this book, called Light on Yoga.  He was kind of cool, and the book is kind of cool.  But this isn’t about him.  It’s about what he says about Aum.

His AUM section starts out saying that in order to unlock the divinity within yourself you need concentration.  Totally agree.  Here’s a quote from page 49 in my version.  “To achieve this concentration, what is recommended is eka-tattva-abhyasa or study of the single element that pervades all…”  I like this.  He finishes the paragraph saying that the sadhaka concentrates upon AUM, which is his symbol, to achieve ekagrata.

Now, I’m not sure of all the intricacies here, but basically it’s saying AUM is important.

Page 50 starts off by saying AUM and the latin word OMNI have the same root.  I don’t know if it’s true, but it sounds good.  He says that both words mean omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence.  I’ll buy that.

My favorite part is this, a dissection of the how the word is pronounced.

It has three syllables, namely A, U, and M.

They can symbolize all sorts of things, like:

  1. Waking state, Dream state, and Dreamless states, or
  2. speech, mind, and breath, or
  3. length, breadth and depth, or
  4. absence of desire, fear, and anger, or
  5. masculine, feminine, and neuter, or
  6. sattva, rajas, and tamas, or
  7. past, present, and future, or
  8. teachings of mother, father, and Guru,
  9. or asana, pranayama, and pratyahara, or
  10. Creator, Maintainer, and Destroyer, or
  11. the mantra Tat Twam Asi meaning “That Thou Art”

That seems like quite a bit to load onto a single sound, doesn’t it?

Maybe it’s just a sound.

Let’s focus.

Aum.

 

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Dr. Frankenstein

Image

The novel Frankenstein was published 200 years ago this year, on January First.  I don’t think google did a doodle on it, but they should have.  Today (30 August) is the anniversary of the birth of the author, Mary Shelley.

Science magazine devoted a whole special section on the impact Frankenstein has had upon popular culture. [1] There’s more Franken-things than you can shake a stick at!  Each of which denotes something scary that has been created by humankind.

Try it out.  Pick any noun, say, tomato.  Stick a “franken” on it – and voila – you have a:

Franken-tomato.  Sounds like something that was genetically modified.  Could be tasty.  But our first reaction is, ugh.  Get it away from me.

That’s the whole point of Mary Shelley’s book, Frankenstein.

It’s not the monster that is the bad guy.  It’s us.

We create things with our knowledge, our technology, our science.  And then we abuse it, we deny it, we argue that it doesn’t exist.  Yet it does exist.

And in our active ignorance, it ends up causing harm.  In the end we may think we have won because we defeat it, but perhaps we are no better off than we were before.

This theme has been used so many times since she rediscovered it that it’s hard to pick the best examples.  Try Colossus, the Forbin Project.  Or Skynet of Terminator, or Adromeda Strain, or; do I need to continue?

The Ancient Greeks created the first rendition of this story.  They talked of Prometheus, who brought forbidden fires to humans.  Without fire we would still be running from the lions, instead of looking at them in the zoo.

What does this have to do with behavior?  Are you kidding?  What doesn’t it have to do with behavior?  This is exactly the kind of stuff we should be talking about, for every new technology: Nuclear power, DNA editing, CO2 sequestration, and more.

Even more importantly, as students of behavior, we should have a framework that allows us to understand and discuss ANY new technology regardless of what that technology may be or how it impacts us.  How’s THAT for a challenge?

Enough for today.  I wanted to make sure SOMEONE said Happy Birthday to Mary.  After all, she did something many activists have been dreaming of doing for years.  I only wish people would read her book and discuss it, intelligently.

Instead of just going, UGH.

 

[1] Science magazine, 12 January 2018, Volume 359, Issue 6372.