Fat and Happy Artwork

There’s a new finding about some cave paintings in Spain.  Turns out that they were painted by Neanderthals.  Those are the hillbilly cousins of homo erectus that we don’t like to talk about.  We’re better than them.

Or so we thought.  Turns out they were just like us.  Mostly.

Done by the fat and happy.

 

We wonder why we don’t find more art of all types from early humans.  There’s a bunch of reasons of course.

Stuff gets lost.  Gets covered over.  Washes away.

But a lot of things don’t.

There’s a big reason in particular I want to harp on about.

Ancient people only made ancient art when they had the time and the inclination.

In other words, they were rich.  Relatively speaking.

If you are an ancient person, but young at heart, and you’re hungry or cold or tired or about to be eaten by a tiger, the last thing you’re going to think about is making some art.

But if you have some time, you’re full, you’re not worried about your next meal, and you’ve got some deep thoughts you’ve been thinking over for a while, then guess what?

Grab that torch, get some rocks and charcoal, and head for the caves.

Reminds me a bit of the guys who do all that graffiti along the roads in the cities.

So the reason we don’t see a whole lot of art from back then is because people weren’t fat or happy that often.  And that’s good to know.

So the next time you see some cave art, think about those fat and happy people.  And then try to figure out what they were thinking about.  After all, aren’t you also happy?

 

 

Whom Do You Serve?

There’s was a fun sci-fi series on the flat screen a few years ago called Stargate SG1.  It started as a movie, and I recommend seeing the movie before watching the series.

One of the characteristics of the evil antagonists was a response to a simple question:

WHOM do you serve?

The idea was that the evil parasite living within a human body would reveal the master they served.  It was one thing they couldn’t refuse.

It’s also a great idea.

Whom do you serve?

Is it yourself?  Is it your family?  Your wife, your children?

What about your community, or nation?

There’s a good chance it’s a little bit of all of those, if you’re a well-rounded human.

Today’s problem is that most people aren’t well-rounded anymore.

They serve their retirement.

Or they serve their bank account.

Whom do YOU serve?

Can you answer this?

You want to know my response?

I serve your grandchildren.  I want them to have a better life than we enjoy today.  I’m willing to sacrifice my own well-being in order to achieve this.  I’ve already sacrificed income streams and lucrative positions.

Am I any closer to making this a better world for them?  I’m not an optimist on this one.

At least I know who I serve.

How about you?

 

Riots and Revolutions

Our art museum is putting on this excellent display of pre-romantic paintings that were used to record historical events.  Journalism in painting.

Painting is a story told visually, and because the artist is mostly in control, a lot of what they are thinking can come through.

When it’s historical in nature, we also get a glimpse into the big behavioral picture.

There’s this one painting showing a citadel in the background, and a riot going on in front of the locked gates.  (I can’t find it! When I do, I’ll include a link here.)

The caption beside the painting notes that during the years of 1634-35 there was a great famine, and the ruler allowed bread to be sold outside the citadel gates at fixed prices.  The hungry population was so angry that a riot ensued.  Because of the famine, almost 5% of the population perished.  That’s one person out of every twenty.

That was enough to cause the ruler to change the laws regarding land ownership, basically giving more power to the people.

Here’s what we can learn.

It took a great toll among the people before the ruling class decided they needed to shift the distribution of wealth.  Lots of people had to die miserable deaths before those in power would change the system.

Today, we also have increasing wealth inequalities.  How far will the current levels of pain go before our governments address the pain of the people?  History, at least this little oil-painted piece, suggests that about 5% of the population will have to perish first.

Is this the best way to figure this out?  Absolutely not.  But it’s a start.

And as far as wealth distribution is concerned, isn’t it better we start now?

Aren’t art museums fun?

Thanks for reading.

 

Physics and English

This site is all about understanding behavior.

Learning is a form of behavior.

And some of the most daunting learning to be done in the “natural” world is staring physicists right in the face.

Physicists.  The same guys who brought you transistors, fractal antennae, MRI and Voyagers 1 and 2.

I saw this excellent video by Brady Haran, with a most excellent professor of physics ranting about someone who PRETENDS to understand physics enough to make outlandish propositions about what it means.

That’s not the point for this post.  The points comes later in his video (3:15 and 6:40) in response to an excellent question from Brady.  Perhaps it’s the language that physicists use to try and communicate the strange phenomena to themselves, and the rest of the world.

Here’s where the behavior comes in.

Physicists talk to each other, and rarely to the public, and even more rarely to academics in other disciplines.  Almost never ever to someone in the English department.

Here’s a list of some of the incredibly weird phenomena they have measured.

  • Entanglement (spooky action at a distance)
  • Spin
  • Momentum
  • Inflation
  • Big Bang
  • CP Violation
  • Dark Matter and Dark Energy
  • Unified Theories containing all the known forces
  • Wave Functions
  • Atomic Orbitals

All of these are extremely strange things that happen in reality, things we use every day without realizing it.

Yet they don’t make sense in our big classical world.

Here’s where the English department comes in.

Physicists need a whole new language that removes all the connections these phenomena make with the classical world.  Using words like orbital, wave, even matter and energy for the quantum world is going to put physicists at a disadvantage.

The person who’s going to figure out how to make sense of the quantum world is going to have to release themselves from the classical world.  When you grow up in a classical world that has orbits and waves, you’re automatically making the job harder.

So, to all you physicists out there who want to confront the greatest natural challenges of our time, take a moment to understand behavior.  Talk to an English major, and change your language.  Shed your classical skin and enter the quantum world.

It’s weird, it’s wacky, it’s beyond classical belief systems.

Yet, it’s all behavior.

Is it a particle, is it a wave?  It's neither.

PS – Who says we can’t have Fun with Fiziks?  By the way, for those who have their own wacky ideas about the quantum world, save them for later.  I have my own, but they will have to wait for the right cocktail party.

PPS – By the way, Math is the proper language of physics, of Nature for that matter.  However, this post is about talking to people who DON’T do math.  Thanks for reading.

Scientific Conservatives Have Axioms

I’m a Sci-Con, a scientific conservative.  It’s not a party, it’s a political philosophy.  As far as I can tell, it’s new.  Please, join me!

Respect history and our traditions, DON'T respect politicians or lobbyists. Validate EVERYTHING.

Remember Geometry?

Yes, way back when.  Yes, school.  Yes, hard.

 

That’s part of being a SciCon.  Doing things the hard way, the right way.  Not listening to the lawyers but deriving things using the best learning system ever invented in the last 2,500 years: Logic and Science.

Geometry has axioms.  These are things that are so true that we can trust them a lot.  A LOT.

You use axioms to prove larger statements.  And from there you can prove many other things.

One of the axioms of being a SciCon has to be along the lines of what police call a dying confession.  If someone is about to die, and they know it, and they tell you something, like so-and-so murdered me, it’s a good bet they are telling the whole truth.  After all, what’s in it for them?

So one of the root axioms of being a SciCon should be similar.

If a woman admits to having been assaulted, and there’s very little gain coming to her for speaking up about something painful, then there’s a very good chance she’s telling the truth.

Seems a bit obvious to some of you, but let’s face it, in this age of #MeToo, there seem to be a lot of “religious” and “conservative” and “family value” types who don’t want to believe all the young women out there who have been personally inspected by the predator-in-chief.

As a SciCon you must believe them.  They aren’t getting rich.  They probably don’t even want the fame.  Therefore, there is a cost to them to speaking up.  Therefore it’s probably true.

To all of you speaking up, please keep it up.  To all of you who are staying silent because you are afraid, you have friends (like me) willing to help in any way.  To those of you staying silent because you’ve been paid off, shame.

And to all those thinking of becoming a SciCon, prepare to believe.  The truth will set us all free.