Code Alpha

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Would you vote for this man?

There is great uncertainty in our world.  You feel it in your bones.  Lots of people on the planet.  Too much information about your friends, and way too much about people labeled friend.  News media that keep screaming about one thing or another.  Poison in our air, water, food, even in our medicine.  What do we do?

We are afraid.  When we are afraid as children, we run to the safety of strong arms, our mother and father.  When things are really bad, we want the strength of a man, an alpha man.

Part of us is always looking for him.  The heroes of comic books and the big screen are always men that are strong and powerful.  Young women know this all too well, they flock to the few young men that exude power and strength.

Even other men know this.  Strong men tend to have lots of man friends, but man friends who are secondary, willing to live within the alpha shadow.

Why do we flock to the alpha male?  Probably from millions of years of evolution.  Our ape and chimp cousins do the same thing.  The alpha keeps the group together.  The alpha battles for supremacy, and then he has the most children.

No problems with politics.  Once a younger buck comes along who can knock the alpha down, then there’s a new alpha in town. He gets the tribe, he gets the chicks.  No one cares where the old alpha goes, he’s toast.

Under the alpha male system, you have to live with certain things.  I wrote about that earlier, so we won’t worry about it here.

The reason we don’t use an alpha male system today in most of the world is because of one of the most powerful behavioral forces of all time, love.  I wrote about that as well, so it doesn’t need to go here.

Today we see the rise of many alpha males as leaders: Trump, Putin, and Erdogan.  One of the things that surprised me about the rise of Trump was how many women preferred him over a woman.  Talking to them reminded me of the alpha male complex.

All these women respect strong men, in fact they prefer them.  A strong man gives them a sense of security in the future.  It doesn’t matter if that strong man doesn’t care about them, lies or cheats or steals.  All that matters is that he is strong.

No doubt you also know women like this.  Even though they leave a bad relationship involving a strong man, they end up back in another alpha male’s arms.

We’re seeing the same thing today.  Only these alpha males really are at the top of the pyramid.  And we can partially blame our genes.

Let’s hope that this time around, the alpha games don’t end as badly as history suggests they will.

Pure Human

Adults can teach them so much, but we can learn from them as well.

When I’m given the opportunity, I prefer playing with kids.

Watching Dad fight his way back from another broken back, clawing at life itself trying to delay the onset of the inevitable is both heart-wrenching and inspiring.

When I’m playing with kids, I wonder what they’ll be doing in their last years of life.  Will they have the resources to assist them?  Will they be given the same kind of fortitude necessary to fight their last battle to the bitter end?

I always treat kids with a great deal of respect.  Try to understand them, play with them at their level, with generous doses of extra fun.  I act silly, because they seem to enjoy seeing an adult doing silly things.  Things like puffy cheeks, moving tongues, cross-eyes, making coins disappear, rolling in the dirt.

At least they think I’m an adult.  Most adults consider me a giant kid.

But kids are the purest form of human on this planet.  At their age, they can absorb massive amounts of information many times that of an older person.  Their minds are only just starting to model the world around them, and I enjoy helping them form those models so that they are robust, with a small dose of magic for fun.

The only prejudices they carry are those they’ve already learned from parents and peers.  Gender preferences, aversion to spice or dirt, even playing with their food can be formed before they are the ripe old age of one.  Too bad.  The great wild world is already being closed off for them.

But watching those prejudices, and carefully playing at their edges is also part of the fun.  Teaching kids to be skeptics should be part of everyone’s curriculum.

Of course, playing with gravity is already on the syllabus.  It’s one of the first items for every baby who sits in a high chair.  And it’s one of my favorites as well.  Try it now, go ahead, just drop something for fun.

The kids represent our future, they are the ones who will take over as we fade away.  These pure humans will be slowly trained, constrained, contaminated both mentally and physically, and then finally make their way into the wild where they have to prove their economic and social worth.  That’s a lot of stress to put on someone.  By the time they make it through, they just aren’t the same person as when they started out.

We battle the forces of darkness for their sake, not ours.  Dad doesn’t realize it, but his battle is also their battle, tomorrow.  It’s up to you and me to connect the dots, and learn from my Dad in order to help them.

So, enjoy life, play with the kids, and always,

Remember the children.

They are why we fight to survive today.

Who moved my Jam

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We have a morning ritual, I make breakfast.  It’s simple, and I have a system.

Where did it go?

Except.

Every now and then I reach into the fridge to grab the jar of home-made jam for our home-made bread.  Yum yum.

If it’s where it’s supposed to be, I can get it with my eyes closed.

If it’s not there, I have to start looking.  And looking.  And looking.

While I’m searching the shelves, bottom to top, front to back, I think about our brains.  I know, it sounds gross, but it keeps my mind off the lost jam!

After all, this is her fridge.  She uses it way more than I do.  She may have had a good reason for moving the jam.  She may not have even thought about it.

But there’s also that man woman thing.  After all, we know women are more likely to use landmarks for navigation, give directions using relative movements, and are much better suited to shopping and gathering versus targeting and hunting.

Of course these are gross generalities, but I’m still looking for that jam!

This isn’t saying that the way a woman organizes, or looks for things is bad, or good.  It’s just different.

  1. The good thing about the way a woman stores things is that it forces local familiarization.  She notices when that old store has changed its awning.  I didn’t even know it had an awning.
  2. It’s harder to become disoriented, especially when you’re juggling so many other tasks.  Kids screaming, you dropped the purse, and a friend just yelled at you from behind?  No problem, you still know you’re by the library heading to the drugstore.
  3. It’s easier to give directions to another person, like a friend who is also shopping.  A woman can say, “Go to the shoe store that’s next to the record store.”  The man would have to say, “Go 2 blocks North then turn East one block, North one more block and West 4 blocks and it’ll be the 5th store on the South side of the street.”

All said and done, the woman’s way requires more brain power.  That’s probably why men don’t like it.

It’s also probably why I can’t find the jam.  I’ll ask my wife when she comes down.  For now, I’ll start making toast.

Purse Intelligence

As a boy-child growing up among man-children, I took pride in being disdainful of feminine things: Curly hair, dainty clothing, jewelry, excessive face painting.

As a man-child I now appreciate a few feminine things as having some influence on my manliness.  However, I have been long mystified by the purse, that bag every woman carries.  I have seen the purse since birth.  A woman without that accessory only heightens my suspicion.

By the way, we are not talking about pursing your lips.  That’s another story.  No, this is all about the bag, the big bag, the big, sometimes extremely expensive bag.  The bag that comes in thousands of different shapes, sizes, and quality of manufacture.

The few times I have entered the anarchy that is a woman’s purse (always with her permission) have been fraught with anxiety.  I get lost in the tumble of devices, containers, papers, and what-not.  The range of what is in a purse never ceases to amaze me either: medicine and makeup to slips of paper from years ago.

There are the purses themselves.  They can be bought for a few dollars, and last a few days, to those that cost thousands yet last a lifetime.  Macho brain wonders, why?

The answer to my macho organization problems was to buy a beautiful black portfolio case.  Over a dozen zippered pockets, totally black on black, looks great.  Holds everything I could want, from pocket knife and phone and pens and notepads and computer and cords and on and on.

Then I started really using it.  Guess what?  I couldn’t find stuff quickly at all.  Putting a black phone into a black bag with black pockets means it becomes invisible.  Try finding an invisible phone when you’re in a hurry.

My solution?  I started carrying a flashlight.  Yup.  Can’t find something, find your flashlight first and then start looking.  Aaaargh.

Not too long ago, I actually lost something sentimental for a few weeks, and finally found it.  My moment of jubilation was quickly overwhelmed by this realization.

OMG.  If this was simply one big pocket it would be so much easier.  I instantly realized what I was thinking.  If this was a purse, it would be easy.  OH NO!

Here’s my macho confession.

Women’s purses are smart.  Making it one big bag means that you know where everything is, even if you have to dig for it every time.  There aren’t a dozen little pockets where you can hide things.

One big bag means that it’s easier to make.  One big bag means that you can be creative with the outside so it matches your outfit, your mood, and your personality.  And most importantly, one big bag means that it’s easier to find things.  Everything.

Women already knew this.  They knew this all along.  They’ve probably known this since the invention of the first purse, some thousands and thousands of years ago.

And I finally figured it out.

Now, that’s intelligence.

 

PETH

There’s a group of extremists who practice guerrilla warfare against those they feel treat animals unethically.

They throw blood on those who wear fur.  They terrorize researchers who run experiments on mice.  I’m sure there’s many other things that they do, but that’s not my point.

My point is that we have to get these guys to expand their horizons.  People are animals, too.  Hasn’t anyone taught them that?  People, according to most people, are even more than animals.  We have souls.  And bank accounts.

If the people who are against the unethical treatment of animals are truly on the side of animals, then why don’t they include people in the mix?

Here’s their dilemma.  If they DON’T include people under their protective umbrella, they are then admitting that PEOPLE are special.  People are different than animals, perhaps even better.  That explains why animals need a special militant arm of defenders.

If they DO include people under their ethical treatment umbrella, then they have a whole ‘nother dilemma.  THAT dilemma would mean they have to start DEFENDING people against unethical treatment.  This would include harassing people based on their own research.  It would include children who are being slowly tortured by people who should never be allowed near them.  It would mean that they could even target politicians who put personal gain ahead of their constituents.

Will this happen?  Will there ever be an organization that is dedicated to the ethical treatment of people as well as animals?  It’s a nice thought, but I doubt it will happen.

There’s a good chance that the members of such groups are in them only because it gives them a mission that seems righteous.  Talking to one of them and challenging their belief system amounts to challenging someone about their religion.

And I’ve already learned, no one likes to be challenged.

Maybe that would be unethical.