Numbers are Fake News

How fake is fake?

Can you fake a cake?

How fake can a fact be faked, before it becomes an alternative fact?

A fake fact?

Can there be such a thing as a fake fact?

So many questions, so little time.

So I thought I’d have some fun playing with our minds in a totally different direction.

Numbers.

Are numbers real?

No, not real numbers, as in 1, 2, 3 and 4.  But are they in fact, real things within nature?

Spoiler alert…  they aren’t real!

How’s that for a brain bender?  Want to know why?  Check this out.

Go ahead and count something.  Jumping sheep? as you try to go to sleep?

Fine.  One sheep.  Two sheep.  That seems easy enough.

But wait.  Let’s sheer those sheep.  After all, you might like to have a nice woolly blanket to keep you warm while you sleep.

Now I have naked sheep.  Are they still two sheep?

Fine.  Two sheep.  Now, what if I cut their toenails?  Do I still have two sheep?

Yes?  Alright.  Now, let’s get gory.  Except that these are phantom sheep that only jump through my dreams.  So all of you sleep-sheep-lovers, please don’t get angry.

If I take the legs off the sheep, do I still have two sheep?  No?  Now we’re getting somewhere.

What if I only take off a bit of leg?  Better yet, how much leg will you let me remove from my sleep-sheep before it is no longer a sheep?

Forget sheep.  Let’s try a rock.

One rock.  Two rock.

What if my rocks hit each other and become three or four rocks?  How is this possible?

What if they bang about so much that they become a million rocks.  Are they still the same two rocks?

That’s my point.  Anything you choose is a thing only because we want it to be that thing.  Nature doesn’t work that way.  One sheep.  One rock.  One country.  One planet.  One star.  These are all made up in our minds.

The numbers that we use in math class are concepts that enable us to live better, understand Nature better.  But they are concepts, not real things you might find lying in the street.

Believe it or not, this is important.  It’s important because there is now a way to create numbers that is much more “natural” than our current method.  And I’m going to do my best to share that with you next time.

Until then, keep counting those sheep.

Have a great New Year’s everyone.

 

 

Stage Door

This isn’t the first time I review a movie.  But why should a movie be on a site concerned with studying behavior?

Movies are an art form.  The best art illuminates our humanity.  And the foundation of our humanity is how we behave.  Hence, the best movies are about our behavior.

Take this 1937 film called Stage Door.  It’s absolutely brilliant.  And in today’s #MeToo climate, it gains relevance.

The antagonist is a slimy producer who likes to “interview” many an upcoming starlet.  His name might as well be Harvey.  The young actresses are starving, yet they know what they may have to do in order to eat.  The allusions to their sacrifices are humorous.  But in the light of today’s revelations, they take on sinister connotations.

There’s a moment where last year’s star sacrifices herself for Katherine Hepburn.  Like Christ, Kay takes care of Katherine’s feet, gives her something to drink, and then ascends the stairs into heaven.

The film is also about the needs of the theater.  It’s about the desire of actors to be discovered.  It’s even about the trials unique to young women in a cruel industry.

More fundamentally, this movie is about the suffering an artist must endure to become a great actor.

Studying behavior does not have to be boring all the time.  There are times when studying behavior can be fun, and watching this movie is one of those times.  Please find Stage Door, watch it, and think it through.  I’d like to hear your comments.

 


PS: This is one of my favorite movies of all time, easily in the top 10.  It’s fast paced, extremely natural in feel, well directed, chock-full of raw talent and youthful exuberance.

 

Honest Sheriff

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend down in Appalachia country recently.  It was a delight, the countryside was beautiful, and everyone I met was not only a character, but someone I could easily spend time with.

One gentleman was the Sheriff of a neighboring county.  He related many stories of interesting arrests, puzzling homicides, and even emotional vignettes.

Of the latter, the story that should be more public was when he was interested in soliciting the vote of Mr. Big.  Mr. Big had too much money, even more power, and liked everyone to know it.  When our Sheriff wannabe went to visit, Mr. Big immediately reminded him who he was, and eventually proceeded to offer him a wad of cash to help the campaign, under the table.

Our Sheriff said, “I came for your vote.  Besides, you once gave me a contribution worth more to me than all your money.”

Mr. Big was thrown for a loop.  When?  We met before?  You asked me for money?  I remember everyone I buy off.

Years earlier, our Sheriff hit a bad patch.  Wife up and left, young son and he scraping to get by on a meager policeman’s salary.  He’d gotten to the point where he’d stopped eating to make sure his son was fed and the rent was paid.

They went to a fast food place that had kid toys in the boxes.  But you had to buy the box, and our Sheriff didn’t even have an extra dollar.  Mr. Big was walking by, and without taking notice, bought the meal including the toy.  Mr. Big left.

Our Sheriff didn’t forget.

Mr. Big immediately had a huge check written to the campaign, as much as the law allowed.  He also took out two full-page ads, on his own dime, stumping for our Sheriff.

Our Sheriff won and started doing great things right away, saving the county money and solving crimes.  He and Mr. Big became life-long friends, even up to the day Mr. Big passed on.

So, here’s to our Sheriff.  There have to be more out there like him.  I thanked him personally, and I’d like to thank all the others out there that have integrity, honor, and do the right thing.

Thank you.

 

Perfect Yoga Practice

My buddy tried yoga once, saying it was too hard.

I can imagine what happened.  Surrounded by nubile beauties, mostly women.  Bending like willows to the strains of music involving drums, harps, chanting.  Moving fast, yoga pants and tight shirts leaving little to the imagination, each breath bringing a whole new pose.

How can anyone meet these kind of expectations?

Most of us can’t.  That’s the whole point of American McYoga.

Here’s their sales message:

  • You have to work like this instructor to become as beautiful as they are.
  • You know you get your money’s worth because you
    • sweat,
    • are in pain, and
    • because you can’t do it right.

 

Guess what?  You CAN do it right, because there’s a secret they aren’t telling you.

There is no WRONG.  Whatever way you can move, that’s YOUR way.

That beautiful instructor?  That’s his way.

Raise your arms.  Lower your torso.  Twist those abs.  Do it your way.

I found this yogi, Mark Whitwell, and this particular video of his says it best.  Go to the 1:00 minute mark.

Whatever you do is right for you.  Learning to put your heart, your breath, your body and your movement together is what yoga is all about.

That instructor trying to cook you in that hot room?  They are trying to stuff you into a one-size-fits-all shoe.

Ouch!

Find yourself an instructor who lets you wear the shoe you want, the way you want.  Your movement, your breath, your body, it’s all about you.

Yoga is you.  The strange thing about this selfish exercise is that the more you do it, the more you become in tune with others.

I can’t explain it here, there’s no time, no room.  But if you’re one of those who have tried yoga and ran away, or are intimidated by fancy pantsy instructors, think again.

It’s ALL about you.  Forget the others, move the way your body lets you move.

Once you start moving, you’ll notice things, and you’ll start improving.

But, being a yogi, you’ll already know this basic fact.

You’re already perfect.  So practice your perfection.

Ommm.

 

Yoga is not Religion

Way back when I started learning yoga, there were no conflicts with religious types.

Then there was a flurry of religious types who were worried that their kids were being secretly converted by public schools into heathens.  Why?  Because those heathen school-teachers were teaching kids to do yoga.

Oh no!  Down dog in the classroom.  Tree pose in the gym.  Half-moons in the hallways.

What’s next?  Bloody sacrifices in the principal’s office?  Perhaps cannibalistic rites of eating flesh and drinking blood?

Hardly.  Getting kids moving in a non-violent, self-centered way makes for better kids, better community, and better learning.

A quick search this morning reveals that most of the religious voices have reached the same conclusion.  Yoga is not a religion.

Hooray!

Then what’s the problem?

The problem is that there’s nothing in those articles that comes out and says exactly what a religion should contain, such that yoga is NOT religious.

Sure, the Christian types refer to saviors and gods and the such, but as we have pointed out a while ago, religion doesn’t have to have these things.  A religion is a shared set of behaviors that helps keep a group together for a long time.

That means if you’re going to a yoga class with a bunch of people you like, with an instructor you like, and this goes on for a long time, you truly CAN consider yourself part of a religion.

The whole point of this exercise, and indeed, the whole point of us studying ourselves, is learning where to draw the line.  How long is a long time?  How many people should we include in our “bunch?”

A bunch of bananas is easy; Nature defines that for us.  But as people we appear to be super-natural.  So drawing those lines isn’t going to be as easy as if we were bananas.  Although there are many people I feel may be bananas.  But that’s another story.