About cbt0

Philosopher, inventor, writer, student of behavior, aficionado of physics, very amateur astronomy, terrible poet, businessman. Also enjoy eating, traveling, and flying.

Democracy versus Trump

Politics is usually highlighted by conflicts between selfish egos, and not necessarily relevant to the study of behavior as a whole. However, the Drumpf presidency is of an unusual magnitude, and bears a quick comment.

Background. President 45 declared he would shut down the government if the Democrats in the house didn’t give him a wall. Why he didn’t ask the majority Republicans in his first two years wasn’t addressed.

The Democrats said no. The Democrats passed two bills funding government, but the Republican Senate and the White House both refused to entertain them.

The Speaker of the House, Pelosi, suggested that Trump should write his annual State of the Union speech instead of addressing the nation. In retaliation, he refused to let her fly military aircraft on what was supposed to be a secret fact-finding mission to war zones.

My observations: Evidence has mounted, and tensions are building. It’s not inconceivable that the USA could see massive strikes and even demonstrations in the near future. However, what’s more important is what the Democrats have NOT done.

Impeachment proceedings seem inevitable. Why are they taking so long? Because of Nixon.

When Tricky Dick was near the end of the impeachment process, he saw the writing on the wall and resigned. Then his hand-picked successor, Ford, pardoned him. Such an escape for a nearly convicted felon has never been so painful to watch as it was then.

Conclusion: The Democrats remember Watergate. If Trump were impeached today, there’s a good chance his successor would pardon him. Therefore, were I the Democratic party, I would consider making the impeachment process a very long and painful part of history. Then, only when a new president (possibly unfavorable to Trump) is ready to be installed, only then would the hammer fall.

You heard it hear first, folks. Pass it on.

Bibi Djan: Part 6

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Bibi Djan, The Rug Weaver

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

 

Part 6   Bibi Djan gazed at her and could not understand her, as the woman pronounced g instead of gh, and h instead of kh.

“What is the khanoom saying?” she asked the other woman.“You must excuse me, but I don’t know what she is saying.  God forbid, khanoom, who says I am short because I have worked in the rug factory?  It is my kismet.Inshallah, may God grant me tall and healthy children.”

“If you want your children to be born healthy you should do as we say.”

“Upon my eye, khanoom, I am your maid-servant.”

“Now, listen, Every Thursday, you must come to our home for the meeting. And you must let us know the day you expect the baby.”

“No, thank you, thank you very much. You need not bother. The doorkeepers mother at the factory is a very good midwife. I must call her, and if I do not, she will be offended, for she had brought me up as her own child.”

“No, Bibi Djan, you cannot bear your child easily. You must go to the hospital. There is a good man doctor there. You…”

At the word hospital, Bibi Djan’s heart leapt, and she cried out. She had heard about the hospital. That was the place where those who went never came back. “No, no, I would not go to the hospital. I would never step out of this house to go to the hospital, even if you cut my head off!” she said.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

Asking Questions Correctly

This news item happened in April of 2018, but since MLK is so connected to this issue and its sad repercussions, I figured it would be better to wait for his “week” rather than do it right away.

Martin Luther King is worth remembering.

Basically, an 8th grade teacher asked the kids to list the “good” aspects of slavery.

And the internets erupted.  Probably justifiably so.

 

Point the First, let’s not judge the teacher, the school, or the textbook they were using.  All of them may be implicated in this, but let it go for the moment.

Point the Second, consider some facts concerning slavery.

  • The southern US used slaves for almost 200 years before Lincoln asked them to stop.
  • These states didn’t invent slavery.  They probably learned all about slaves from two sources:
    • European colonial powers who used them almost everywhere,
    • and from many native sources as well.
  • Slavery has been with humans as long as we know.
    • It was prevalent in Africa during the European invasion,
    • Medieval Europe used it in many forms, even if they didn’t call it by the same name, and
    • Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians all had it as part of their society.
  • Finally, and most sadly of all, forms of slavery exist to this day.  This can be a whole post in itself, but consider exhibit one: trafficking in young women as prostitutes.

Point the Third, let’s agree that slavery is something that should be studied.  We should study it so that it never becomes part of our civilization again.

We need to understand why it started.  We need to know why it lasted for so, so very long.  We need to figure out who benefited from slavery.  And most importantly of all, we need to be able to prove, once and for all, to everyone living today, why exactly slavery is bad for everyone.

Where do we start?  We have to start somewhere.  And this is where that poor teacher fumbled.  Because in any competitive relationship, some people “win” and some people “lose.”

So this is what our poor teacher should have done.

  • What was it about slavery that caused it to last for so long?
  • What is it that forces people to put up with being slaves?
  • Does any form of slavery exist today?
  • And my favorite, the most basic of them all: What is a good definition of slavery?

Keep in mind, as students of behavior, we shouldn’t call anything “good” or “bad.”  Everything people do is natural, it just is.  At the same time, we should be able to agree that there is something fundamentally wrong with the concept of slavery.  Understanding it properly so that it never happens again (or even today) is what we should be doing.

Good luck, and Happy MLK week!

 

Bibi Djan: Part 5

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Bibi Djan, The Rug Weaver

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

 

Part 5   “Khanoom, I think I must have been 10 or 12 years old when I first entered the factory. I pulled out my first tooth there. I remember one day when that tooth was loose I pulled it out with a string and the blood stained the rug and the master was very angry and did not pay me for that day. ”  The women laughed.  “How lovely the blond woman looks when she laughs,” thought Bibi Djan.

“How long have you been married? asked the woman with dark hair.

“Since last spring, on the first Thursday of our New Year. Perhaps it is ten or eleven months ago,” said Bibi Djan, wrapping her chadour so the visitors could not see her shape.

“Bibi Djan,” said the girl with blonde hair, “we are midwife nurses. We have a mothers’ Society here in Kerman, and we want you to join it.  It will be very helpful to you, and we shall be glad to help at the time when your baby is born.  We give special lectures for women rug weavers and we want you to attend them.  Do you know why all the rug weavers do not get tall and have small waists and are so pale and skinny?  It is because they pass their lives in the dark, damp cellars of the rug factory.  Bibi Djan, you started to work when you were only five or six years of age.  Now you may be sixteen or seventeen, perhaps even younger.”

 

(to be continued)

 

 

Bibi Djan: Part 4

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Bibi Djan, The Rug Weaver

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

 

Part 4   Habib, the man who brought the yarn to the girls’ looms each day, was scarcely taller than she. All the girls seemed to like him. The time came when he fell in love with Bibi Djan. He offered her presents, which she refused at first, but soon she came to like him, and they were quietly married.

Bibi Djan was happy. Habib loved her very much. He would put his money in her hand every time he was paid, and she would never have to repeat any request except one. He smoked opium and would not give it up. The smell of opium upset Bibi Djan’s heart. Everything in the house, the beds, the curtains, even the clothes in the chest, smelled of opium. Sometimes he would promise to stop smoking because she thought it would be harmful to the baby who was to be born, but as soon as his smoking hour came he forgot his vow.

Seven months had now passed since their marriage.  Bibi Djan sat before the two strangers, gazing at their faces trying to figure out her own age.  When the woman with dark hair, smiling broadly, repeated the question, Bibi Djan understood her much better and replied.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

Thinking Ahead

There’s a BBC article where the writer describes his concerns for the future.

Richard Fisher started worrying about the fate of mankind only after the birth of his daughter some 5 years ago. He’s ahead of schedule for most people. I know of many older friends who only begin to think of the far future when their grandchildren appear, or when Death begins to knock on their door.

I’ve been thinking about the far future for over 4 decades now, and would like to help Richard on his quest. I like to think that I’ve made more progress than most in considering what the future holds. Since there’s little chance of my one common voice penetrating the din of public comments he’s likely to receive, I’m going to trust in this open letter.

Dear Mr. Fisher,

Your goal to understand the future is a noble one. However, I would like to note two things. The range of questions you ask are wide ranging. Also, your selection of contributing “experts” seems convenient at best. Please consider these humble suggestions for your next step.

  • Approach the overall problem using the established methods of science. All other approaches are opportunities for failure.
  • Rephrase your question in the form of a specific hypothesis. For instance, how many people will there be in 100 years? A thousand years?
  • Given that hypothesis, find the best established discipline that already encompases the time frame of your hypothesis.

These are only the very next steps of what can prove to be a very arduous journey. However, as one who has taken the same path, I can ensure you that the journey is well worth it. And the conclusion will probably surprise you. I encourage you with all the best intentions.

Sincerely, Steve.

Bibi Djan: Part 3

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

 

Part 3   She could not remember her father, who died when she was a baby. Her mother died soon after Bibi Djan went into the rug factory. Thus orphaned, Bibi Djan took the few furnishings of her home–a black earthen pot, a tin samovar, a teapot, a water jug, a broken heater, a tattered quilt, an old carpet–and moved into a corner of the single room occupied by the doorkeeper of the factory. Now she had been a rug weaver for many years, under the same master. Every one in the factory liked her and she was the best rug weaver in the town.

She had always thought that she must look like the girl who sat next to her on the loom, whose upper lip was cleft and her face pockmarked. But one day a girl gave Bibi Djan a piece of mirror and for the first time in her life she saw her own image. Her eyes were big, with long black lashes and thick brows, her small white teeth glistened and her oval face was pale. She was glad she looked pretty. But she was worried because she was very short for her age. None of the girls in the factory were taller than 4 feet, but Bibi Djan was the shortest of them all. “It must be my kismet (fate),” she thought.

(to be continued)

 

 

 

Bibi Djan: Part 2

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

Part 2   She invited them to sit down on the carpet, as she sat cross-legged, facing them. When they had removed their hats she saw that they did not have long tresses as she had, but wore their hair combed backward and gathered up behind.

When the girl with the blue eyes began to talk, Bibi Djan listened carefully but could only make out a few Persian words.

“How old were you when you started to work at the rug factory?”

With some efforts Bibi Djan caught the meaning. She thought, “How do they know I have been a rug weaver? Must I answer them? But really, how old was I when I started to work? And how old am I now? Wouldn’t it be a shame if I told them I did not know my own age? ”

Never before had she thought of her age.  She remembered when she as a child in the dark, damp cellar of the rug factory.  A row of small children like herself sat upon narrow benches before the large looms, with their little hands moving with mechanical speed among the large balls of colored yarn hanging before them.  The master, design in hand, read out the colors in sing-song fashion, “One green, one red…two blue…Have you got them? Now two rows of blue and then a row of red.”

(to be continued)

 

 

 

Bibi Djan, Rug Weaver

Average age back in the day before child labor laws, about twelve.

Introduction   Grandma Helen (Heghineh) Davidian spent early mornings at her writing desk.  She didn’t sleep as much as the rest of her family, and the extra time was invested in telling stories about the lives of young Persian women in the early 1900s.

Part 1   Bibi Djan finished her housework and watered the flowers around the pool in the yard. As she stepped down into the kitchen to start a fire for the samovar, she heard a knock at the street door. It could not be her husband, for it was too early for him to come home from work.

She climbed the kitchen steps and called, “Who is there?”__then covering her face carefully and gathering her long chador nemaz around her waist, opened the door slightly and peeped out.

Two Persons were standing outside the door. They seemed like women, but they wore hats. One had beady blue eyes and blond hair, the other had dark eyes and jet-black curly, hair.

“They must be men,” she thought. She had never seen women in the street without a veil. But the strangers greeted her in soft tones and when they smiled she said to herself,”They are both women,”she uncovered her face and led them into the living room.

(to be continued)

 

 

 

FUN Science time

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Fun for everyone!

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now we can do it, too.

I’m talking about doing a thought experiment.

In fact, not only a thought experiment, but a thought present for YOU.

Let’s make you rich.  Really really rich.

No, not as rich as Gates, or Buffet.  Richer.

Not as rich as Bezos or Zuckerberg.  Richer.

Not even as rich as the entire USA.  Richer.

This is a thought experiment.  We can go where it’s impossible to go.  We can go to the very extremes of possibilities.

YOU

OWN

EVERYTHING.

As of this moment, there is no income, no particle of wealth, absolutely nothing of value that you don’t own.  The queen’s jewels?  Yours.  The queens toilet and toilet paper?  Yours.

That donkey raised from a pup by that Himalayan monk no one has seen for several decades?

Yours.

The question for us behavioral scientists is this.  What happens next?

If economists were any good at what they did, they could answer this.  But they can’t.

In reality, you’re going to spread the wealth.  After all, you’re going to want to eat.  You might even want a companion.  All of that costs something.

People who have “your stuff” might feel that you are far enough away that they don’t have to pay you for it.  That Himalayan monk?  Chances are you’re never going to meet him.  Good luck getting that donkey back.

Of course, the incentive for anyone else to work will be diminished.  But they have to eat as well, so there’s a chance that a shadow economy will emerge, based on bartering and some other items considered valuable.  Your items of course, but how will you know?

Slowly, surely, your own wealth will be spread around, so that some kind of work will begin again.  But how quickly?

The problem is that you also own everyone’s assets.  So even if someone works in a restaurant to feed you and others, you will receive the profits.  Which means, ultimately, you get even richer.

Enough fun.  How about comparing our experiment to today?

Today’s world does have a Gates, Buffet, Bezos and Zuckerberg.  These people do have incredible levels of wealth and income compared to select individuals of the past.

How does this impact the rest of society?  Is it a good thing?

There are those who tell me that rich people are good for the rest of us.  But in the beginning there were no “rich” people.  What does that mean?

It means we need to think about this, more, better, and deeper.  And it means we need to do more thought experiments.

Careful though.  They can be too much fun!