Bad Sex

Alright guys, another article that’s not what you think.

This is inspired by a woman named Germaine Greer.  What she says is thought provoking.  And since I like provoking thoughts, I’m going to repeat her words.

Rape is bad sex.

She’s written a book about it, but the summary is simple.  Lets stop treating rape as a hugely incredibly terrible event that puts ALL the responsibility upon the victim instead of the perpetrator.  Instead of having this ridiculous standard of proof, lets lower that standard, and lower the penalty.  You raped someone?  Pay the fine.  Make it a big fine.

Was there injury involved?  Then the fine is increased.

Did she say no?  Or was she incapacitated on her own?  Then even more fine.

Did YOU incapacitate her?  Increase the fine yet again.

Get the picture?  It’s like a speeding ticket.  Break it down into its respective components and penalize each of them.  Faster justice.  More impact upon the perps.  Easier to prove.

Are these thoughts controversial?   Oh yes.

Is there a right and a wrong here?  Absolutely not.

I’m not a proponent of following them.  However, I’m a big fan of discussing them.  Unless we start tackling all of our social problems head on in rational manners, we’re not going to be going anywhere.  If anything, we are slipping backwards.

So, consider the words, ponder the thoughts, and think through what we’re trying to achieve as a society.  There has to be a solution in there, somewhere.

Or else…

 

Business Lessons

There are many things you need to have your own successful business.

Yes, but avoid potholes.

Money is a good start.

You also need enthusiasm, your own and that of your friends and relatives.

You’ll need optimism, and perseverance for when things get tough.

 

I’ve been blessed in that my family had all these things, and more.  I’m going to touch upon little things here and there that you’ll also need to think about, that aren’t normally covered.  In our case, many of these things were mistakes.

We can learn a lot from the mistakes of others, but for some reason, most business people don’t like to admit them.  They think it makes them look weak.

Since I’m more of a teacher than a business person, I don’t mind.  Here’s the mistake.

Remote working locations.

Not remote as in someone telecommuting from their home.  No, this remote has to do with how our offices were set up, or not set up as the case may be.

As a young growing manufacturing company, we occupied rental units.  Each rental unit was about 1000 square feet (about 100 square meters).  Each rental unit had a front door, a back door, a bathroom, a garage door in back, and some office space in front.

Our little business grew, and we started in one rental unit.  The next year we needed two units.  Over the next few years we needed four units, and a few years after that we had five unit.s

Here’s the problem.  Only a few people could work in the office space of the first unit.  As we hired more people we had to put them in offices in some of the other units.

It’s taken me twenty years to figure this out, but the further away people were from everyone else, the more likely it was for them to “go rogue” and do something harmful to the company.  It was also more likely that they would goof off and try to get away with being lazy.  We put lots of other measures in place to catch them, but the fundamental truth was this.

We were spread too thin.  Many people like being secluded, closing their door, and doing what they want to do at the expense of the company, their coworkers, and the customers.

So, next company I start, everyone works in the same space, whether they like it or not.

Everyone watches everyone else, because we are all in this together, whether they like it or not.

I hope this helps you, too, you budding entrepreneur.

Good luck.

 

Grumman Human Experiments

During the years of 1940 to 1945, there was a great war.  We call it the second great war, or World War Two, WWII.

During this war, a company that made aircraft took their jobs very seriously.  So seriously, that the Navy asked them to slow down.  They were making about 600 aircraft every MONTH.  Since they were working around the clock, that means about 20 aircraft came out every DAY.

The plant manager knew he had about 20,000 people working in the factory, and thought about one of the great maxims of behavior.  If you have 20 people, there’s a good chance that one or two of them don’t work as hard as the others.

He asked his managers to choose one person out of every 20 so that they would be fired.

Word of this got around, fast.  And as a result everyone started working harder.  Jobs back then were scarce, and people in general had good work ethics.

Still, one of every 20 people were let go.  Guess what happened next?

Everyone else was working so much harder, that production went UP.  The Navy complained again.  Grumman was delivering too many HellCats.  (That was the name of the aircraft, the most successful airplane of WWII.)

So the plant manager did it again.  He went to his managers, and asked them to fire another one thousand people.

The result surprised him.

Production went up again!

When his bosses asked him if he was going to fire any more people, he said he couldn’t.  He didn’t think the Navy could handle the increased production!

That’s the funny side.

On the serious side, he probably knew that his people were working hard.  They cared, and they wanted their jobs.  They also knew there was a serious war going on.  Many of the workers were women, and that made a difference as well.  They had more personal stakes, because their husband’s and children’s lives were on the line.  Declare it a sexist statement, but in general women seem far more aware of the costs of war than men.  Perhaps that’s why most wars are started by men.

Anyway, it’s a good story showing that people do work at different levels of competence, and that organizations can produce more with fewer people, when necessary.

We should think about that the next time we think about how many government workers it takes to screw in a new light bulb.

PS – If you are at all interested in the HellCat (the forgotten warrior of WWII) please visit the site hosting the above image.

Human Behavior Insights?

Science magazine is the US of A’s top tier journal for disseminating human knowledge.

From some Australians, this article claims insights into human behavior that can “help conservation.”  It would certainly be good if it were true.  But I’m not even sure these insights are solid.  One of my concerns is that these insights can help big brother manipulate us more easily.

In order of appearance in the article, they are:

  1. People have a strong tendency to avoid making difficult decisions, and as a result, they are prone to accepting whatever default option they are presented with—even when this option is not in their own, or society’s, best interest.
  2. People also have a cognitive bias that causes them to disproportionately weight initial information when making decisions.
  3. … there is a cognitive bias that causes people to perceive that losses hurt about twice as much as gains feel good, often referred to as loss aversion or prospect theory.
  4. The decoy effect is the phenomenon that people tend to change their preference between two options when presented with a third option that is meant to be inferior in some regard (a decoy).
  5. [We have an] … innate desire for prestige, reputation, conformity, and reciprocity … [so that our] … decisions and actions are shaped by perceptions (whether accurate or not) of what other people do and what they approve.  For instance, some utilities reduced consumption by reporting comparisons between the usage rates of the customer, their neighbors, and the most efficient users.
  6. People also behave differently when they think they are being observed.
  7. [Finally,] … we are also influenced by the source of our information … [like] popular actors, athletes, or public figures.

(article – not paywalled: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6417/889.full)

Waves and Particles

Ever hear the story about the blind naturalists and the elephant?

If you haven’t, check it out.  Nice lesson in how only seeing a part of the picture is nowhere near as interesting as seeing the whole picture.  Makes sense.

Fast forward to this century.  Physicists have a problem.  A big problem.  It all starts with  phenomena like lightning or superconductors.  In order to understand these things, physicists like to think of the charges making lightning work as “particles.”

Meanwhile, there are other phenomena like sticky molecules (van der Waals forces) and tunneling.  And in order to understand THESE things physicists think of the charges as “waves.”

Making it even more complicated are some experiments that show the same charges can be BOTH things at the same time.  In a double-slit demonstration, these charges can act like waves, until the very instant YOU try to measure something.  At which point the charges act like particles.

That’s not even the weirdest part.  The weirdest part is the fact that these charges KNOW you are measuring them.

What does this have to do with our blind naturalists?

They had names for each part they measured, but not the whole thing.  They couldn’t.  But in their discussions, they could only focus on what they knew.  “It’s a rope!” “Nope, it’s a trunk!” “Bunk, it’s a flappy leaf!”

If they came up with a new name, it would start them on the process of realizing their new “thing” consisted of all those elements.

The same is true with our physicists.  The electron, the photon, perhaps even quarks are not particles, they are not waves.  We could call them, fordims.

A new word, a new understanding.  Fordims are something new, something very different.  They can act particle-like, but are not particles.  They can act wave-like, but are not waves.  They can occupy the same (3 dimensional) space, but not the same higher dimensions.

This may sound trite, even silly, but sometimes it takes a silly step in a new direction to find the correct path.  Many many smart people have been working on this problem for over a century, without luck.  Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time to call this “rope-trunk-leaf-bone-tongue-wall” but a new name.

After all, it is the elephant in the room.

 

Vaccinate Your Daughters

Medical science has proven that we can teach our immune system how to deal with a nasty bug BEFORE the real bug infects us.

This saves MILLIONS of lives every year.  It’s one of the reasons so many people are on Earth today.

... and against the bogie man.

There is another kind of vaccination we can get, and it doesn’t involve a needle, only words.

It’s a psychological vaccination, and this sort of thing has been known for centuries.

And you can do it yourself.  Here’s how.

First, think of the bad thing you want to teach your kids about, like a house fire.

Then talk about it.  Act it out.  Use pictures if your child is small, or go visit a fire station and talk to a firefighter if they like field trips.  The whole point of the exercise is that you are preparing your child for an event that you hope never happens.

Except it does, all too often.

There is lots of proof that the people who have been “inoculated” for a particular emergency do better than those that aren’t prepared.

People who aren’t prepared tend to have more injuries, suffer more in the long term, and are more likely to perish.

What about our daughters?

There’s a kind of emergency that happens to them far more often than it happens to boys.  There are “emergencies” that they can experience even as young women, whether they are on a date, in university, or trying to get a better job within their company.

It’s time to start creating a program that teaches our young ladies, ahead of time, what to do when they come up against harassment, exploitation, and glass ceilings.  It’s time to give them options now, before they are surprised.

We’re talking about reducing pain, enhancing recovery, and improving their survival.

Aren’t they worth it?  Yes, they are.  So, mothers, dads, relatives, prepare your psychological syringes and get to work.

It’s time to play doctor – for real.

 

The Immortal Emily Dickinson

Rocking your World since 1884

How many of us want to live?  How many not only pursue longevity through exercise, diet, but also surgery and cosmetics?

Our society is obsessed with youth.  Extreme adventures, public approval, and ever-increasing risk-taking is the obvious trend.  The equally obvious conclusion can not be far distant.

Given that the richest among us also strive for immortality, it seems strange that their ability to observe the obvious has failed them in their greatest desire.  Who among them has not seen the richest of all humans, Rameses II, and his quest for immortality through a monument that we call Pyramid?  No tomb, no edifice, no building will ever equate to his tomb, yet many of today’s rich try and immortalize themselves in structure.  They will fail, even as Rameses II failed.  We know the Pyramid, but do we know him?

The richest also try to create a legacy of “good works.”  Even as they try to cure the world of hunger or disease, their complete efforts amount to a small fraction of what the world’s original richest man has done for the world.  Rockefeller helped the South rise above the hookworm, even curing the world.  He created an institute that has done more for the biological sciences than several major universities combined.  He also helped popularize the modern version of the medical school.  Yet, for all of this, who remembers his name?  Who truly equates the good that he has done to the man?  Do YOU know him?

And there is Emily.  Quiet, small, taking care of her sick mother, crying over the many friends she has buried, and doing her best to hide from the world.  Yet she wrote.  And wrote.  And wrote, breathing life into words.

In those words she expressed raw emotions of such power and purity than it’s likely her words, her feelings, her insights and her name will outlast any of the rich men the world has ever known… including Pharaoh, Rameses II.

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

Thank you, Emily.  I love you.

 

Killing Assumptions: Billionaires Create Jobs

A friend wants me to read his favorite book, part of a series that has to do with “Killing” the character of both people and countries.  This one is entitled Killing England.

I’m not looking forward to reading it, because the supposed writer (probably a true background writer) isn’t known for rigor.  I’ll review it here, soon enough.  But it got me to thinking.  We should focus on killing other things besides someone’s character.

For instance, we should reveal “economics” for what it truly is, economombo.  Mumbo jumbo.  Statements and constructs that are invalid, irrelevant, and counter-productive to society and science.

Let’s start with something very simple.  It’s a statement I’ve heard many times, even repeated by my Aunt as a fundamental truth.  And she’s as far from being an academic as you can imagine.  Here it is:

Billionaires create jobs.

Her logic follows this path.  A billionaire buys a business or industry.  The value goes up.  Everyone gets richer.  Therefore all the employees and shareholders are better off.  Profits go up.  So there’s more investment, and this creates new businesses, new industries, and therefore … MORE JOBS.

First off, why would my aunt say something like this to begin with?  I may have observed that some billionaire was trying to consolidate an industry (there are many examples, here’s one), and she retorted with her statement, essentially justifying why government shouldn’t stand in the way.

Of course, she’s forgetting why anti-trust laws were put into place way back when.  She’s also very enamored of wealth in general, even though she doesn’t personally benefit.  But let’s focus on her stated assumption.

First of all, the “value” of a company is usually given in terms of the market value.  In theory, the people trading stocks do so perfectly, only looking at the long term profitability of the company.  In reality, there are a lot of people trying to make money on stocks, willing to sell them if they need the money.  So the stock market value is a good measure of people’s willingness to bet on something.

Secondly, just because the value goes up doesn’t mean there are more jobs.  In fact, one of the reasons a company’s stock price goes up is because they eliminated jobs.  This is particularly easy when you consolidate an industry.  If you buy four companies, each of which has a president, an accounting department, R&D, and a factory floor, how can you save money?  Eliminate 3 presidents, 3 accounting departments, all four R&D departments, and think about consolidating those 4 factories into less space.

Third, what about that billionaire’s willingness to take on new investment?  Certainly that creates jobs.  Except for one small thing.  Billionaires are famously averse to risk.  They like betting their billions on sure things.  That’s why they buy companies, and don’t invest in R&D.  That’s one of the reasons they stay billionaires.

Next time you meet an economist, see what she says.  And have fun.

 

Husband

We all are.

I’ve always wondered about this word.

No, not always.  Only since I’ve been married.

Before I was married, I thought the “man of the house” called the shots and made all the decisions.  The “little woman” would take care of him, the kids, and listen attentively.

Then I got married.

Before marriage, “husband” meant the person taking care of the house and wife.  Similarly, the shepherd is the one who herds sheep; but we also say that the shepherd “husbands” the sheep.

In much the same way, back when the word was invented, the husband was the one who took care of and nurtured the household.  This definition goes way back, like 5,000 years back.

After marriage, I learned three things.  First, women are smart.  Really smart.  Like smarter than me smart.

Second, I was lucky to marry someone smart and sensitive and patient, so she waited for me to figure out numbers one and three.

Third, letting her make most of the decisions makes my life much easier.

Which brings us back to husband.  The idea of it being the person taking care of the house and the bonds within it didn’t mean only men back then.  But the English decided to mess with it, and replaced the word “wer” (the person married to the “wife”) with “husband.”

I’m fairly sure that the highly caste-oriented English meant the word to mean that the man was the master.  But in today’s environment, I’m not so sure.

So, what does it mean today?  Is the man, the “husband,” the master of the house?  Or does the word mean that he is the one that the wife has to take care of, the one to be “husbanded?”

 

Emily Dickinson Had a Purpose

Rocking your World since 1884

Do you?

Dedicating yourself to a purpose is mostly unique to our species.  The lives we honor had some purpose involving helping others.

You already have several purposes in life.  Being a good neighbor or child, being a good parent, even taking care of yourself so that you can properly fulfill the others.

But for the ambitious, it’s possible to create an even higher calling for your life.  Something that not only brings deeper meaning for yourself, but for all those around you.

The idea of having a purpose is so powerful, that one of my life’s axioms is that no statement, no fact, no discipline can be properly evaluated without taking purpose into account.

On that note, what did Emily say about her purpose?

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Given that her words have probably lessened the pain of millions, she was a brilliant success as an artist, as a life coach, as an observer of human behavior.

Thank you, Emily.