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.

Heaven Can’t Wait

There’s a whole lot of smart guys telling the rest of the world that religion is a whole bunch of hooey.  Let’s not worry about that.

Instead let’s dwell on the good stuff religion does.

Keeps us together.  Helps maintain some level of respect for each other, and reduce the amount of violence we heap on each other.  Those are all good things.

There’s one big problem every big religion faces.  Getting members motivated to do good, and avoid doing bad.

In psychology this is reinforcement, positive and negative.

In many judeo-christian religions, the biggest positive reinforcement is called heaven.  It’s a place good souls go after the body dies.  Other religions have happy places as well, all with slightly different amenities.

As far as I can tell, way back in the beginning, christianity didn’t emphasize the negative aspects.  It was some centuries before they began talking about hell.  Even more centuries to imagine the idea of purgatory, hell’s waiting room.

Heaven.  Hell.  Whatever you want to call them, you can’t have a good religion without them.  If people believed that there was no heaven or hell, then they would damn well do as they pleased.  We’d be living in anarchy.

Therefore heaven has to exist in order for a religion to work.  Hell also has to exist in some form, but not as importantly as heaven.

Here’s the fun part.  Heaven and hell already exist.  They are real.

And they are both right here.

My actions, your actions, everyone’s actions create ripples throughout society.  They create a disturbance within the force of nature.  They slightly alter the course of humanity’s future.

If you’re a good person, your memory, your actions, your “soul” does remain among the rest of us in the form of what you’ve left behind.  You exist in the sense that we all remember you, respect you, and retain a small part of you long after you are physically gone.

Heaven is right here on Earth.  You live on in the sense that part of you lives on within me.

So the next time you hear someone say religion is bad, or argue that religions shouldn’t exist, remember this.  You’re already in heaven, and they aren’t.  Sit back, be good, and enjoy eternity.

 

Religion, Guilty or Innocent

There’s a whole lot of holier-than-thou smart guys running about, telling the rest of the world that religion is a whole bunch of hooey.

They might be right.

Then again, what’s their problem?

My guess is that they are blaming a whole lot of badness on the fact that religion exists, and a whole lot of people claim to be religious.

First off, I don’t think you can actually blame religion itself for much badness in the world.  Sure, Daesh and Taliban claim to act for religious reasons.  Religious states such as the Vatican or Israel also claim to made their decisions based on holy texts.  Political demigods such as Erdogan and Trump are in the same category in that they have based much of their public appeal on religious grounds.

Wait!  There are so many examples where religion is the basis of great evils in the world.  Doesn’t this mean that religion must be the bad guy here?

No, definitely not.  It’s not logical, it’s not scientific, it’s not fair.  Only because all these players use religion to further their own selfish purposes doesn’t mean that religion itself is the bad guy.

Religion is a device that helps holds groups together.  I talked about this earlier.

I was going to talk about heaven here, but this point is probably more than enough for now.  So, heaven is just going to have to wait.

See you next time!

 

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.

 

Homer and Hospice

This has nothing to do with cartoon characters named Homer; not directly, anyway.

Homer the First was a poet-entertainer who lived about 3,000 years ago.  The only works we have that are attached to his name are about the city of Troy, and then the adventures of a gentleman named Odysseus.

The reason he’s headlining today’s story is because he gives us intimate details about the behavior of people.  Today’s microscope is on how we deal with valuables worn by those who are dying.

I’ve heard that some people attending a funeral will steal things from the corpse.  In Homer’s stories, the same thing happens during battle.  One warrior kills another, and the next thing you know there’s a feeding frenzy around the dead body.  Everyone gets a piece of the victim, literally: helmet, shield, spear, lance, buckler, and so on.  The more famous the victim, the better the spoils, and the greater the enthusiasm.

Ancient history, never happens today.  Right?

Up until recently, I thought so as well.  However, Dad was in Hospice for what seemed his final days.  We all worked hard to make his stay as comfortable as possible, including almost everyone on the staff.  Certainly the vast majority of those working in this industry are on the short list for angels.

However, we made a tactical error.  We left him alone one evening.  The next day, his expensive hearing aides were missing.

Did they fall out?  They never fell out before.  If they did fall out, why did both fall out?

Did they get tossed into the dirty laundry?  A nurse checked ALL the soiled linens (yuck!), finding nothing.

Did he toss them somewhere in the room?  It’s a small room and we looked everywhere many times.  Nothing.

Here’s where it gets fun.  I talked with a policeman friend, with no relationship to Hospice, and he says portable computers and hearing aides are frequently stolen for quick street cash.  A $2,000 hearing aid would sell for $50.  Each.

Then I happened to be talking to a nice nurses assistant one morning, and she confided that hearing aides and dentures were the two most frequently “lost” items.

Dentures?  DENTURES?

Yes, there is a market for stolen dentures.

Stripping a dead or dying body of its valuables isn’t new.

What’s “new” is the fact that we are still doing this.  Our society hasn’t changed as much as we like to think.

As students of behavior, we can use this knowledge to our advantage.  It means we can learn from old stories, ancient cities, and buried civilizations.

As someone caring for his Dad in Hospice, I’ve learned something else.

Stay with your loved one 24/7, and share this information so that someone else can learn from our mistake.

May everyone rest in peace.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 4

This series was about a little bird that saved coal miners from dying, saved people from being watched by authorities, and someday might save women from predators.

Yesterday I thanked all the women who have recently come forward about powerful men that have taken advantage of them.

Those who have the strength and resources to fight these monsters, I salute you.

For those who are truly weak, truly at risk, and without any resources at all, I wish to suggest a bit of technology that *might* help.  This is where our knowledge of behavior comes in handy.  We can learn from the canary that died in the mine and the canary that watches for government warrants.

We also see the number of women who have come forward against monsters in their midst, and knowing human nature, understand that these are but a small fraction of the total number of women those monsters preyed upon.

Consider this.  Give each young woman a canary as a gift.  She carries it on her phone.  If she’s too young or poor for a phone, let the canary live in a protected place that someone else cares for, on another phone for example, or a school computer.

Let that young woman (for she will surely be young) feed that canary regularly.  She will feed it with her love, her trust, and with assurances that she has not met any monsters.

Should she not feed that canary, it will die.  And those of us who care about her will notice.

We are not asking her for any details that will put her at risk.  Those are unimportant.  What is critical is that we know.  Once we know, we can start the process of hunting out that monster.  If we can do it without her involvement, so much the better.  If it requires her help, we can help her be strong.

But all of this must start somewhere.  Those women who have come out against today’s monsters have taken the next step.

I humbly suggest that this new “Confidence Canary” be another step.  Let every young woman be so equipped.  Let her know that she is never alone.

Thank you for reading.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 3

This series is about how a little bird has saved lots of coal miners from a lack of air, and can even save people from being watched by a government that wants to know everything.

Today’s post is also going to be about a canary, but first it’s necessary to salute all the women who have recently come forward about powerful men that have taken advantage of them.

As a man, I salute all of you for standing up to these scum.

A long time ago women were stolen as prizes, sold to the highest bidder and treated like slaves.  In fact, it’s been so long that doing any of those things today are crimes.

If you are a woman who has had such a crime committed against you, I urge you to say something, do something, even hit something if necessary.  Letting these creeps go free and unscathed only means that they will do it again.  I don’t care if he’s a film mogul.  I don’t care if he’s an orange president.

Take them down.  You are woman.  I don’t know a tougher adjective than that.

You want backup?  There’s lots of guys like me waiting in the wings.  Trust me, I know.  Guys talk guy talk.  I’ve seen the guys who think they are above the moral code, and I stay away from them.  I also know the guys who would go to bat for a woman who wants extra muscle.

So, again, to all of you who have stood your ground and suffer the public attention such admissions attract, thank you.  Thank you for your courage, your work to make this a better world, your work to take down a scum bag, and your work to make this a better place for our daughters.

For my part, I would like to contribute some small idea that may help more women tomorrow.  Literally, tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 2

Yesterday, a little bird told me about how a little bird saved lots of coal miners from a lack of air.

Today, I’d like to thank a little virtual canary that saves concerned citizens from a lack of liberty.  These canaries are endangered, but only because bureaucrats like to eat them.  The canaries only eat virtual bird-seed, which is cheep and plentiful.

These endangered canaries live inside internet services that have records of our comings and goings on the internet.  If you don’t mind the government knowing where you like to spend your time, then you won’t care about the canary.  But if you would rather the government did not watch your internet use, then you will like to keep the canary alive.

The canary is a delicate creature.  And what happens is that the canary will die if the government tells your internet provider that it has to start telling them about your internet use.  By law, the provider isn’t allowed to tell you directly.  The idea is that the government doesn’t want you to know that you are being watched.  This makes sense.

But if you are a cautious sort, you do want to know if you are being watched.  So you keep an eye on this special canary.  It’s called a warrant canary.  If your provider has one, they will tell you where it lives.  You should check on it and make sure it’s alive and singing.

If you check on it one day and that canary is not singing, then you know you are officially being watched.  That’s all.  It’s a great device that not many of you may know about.  But it’s there, and it’s worth keeping alive.

More importantly for us students of behavior, we can learn from this old fashioned idea that has been incorporated into modern technology.  What can we learn?  Stay tuned!

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 1

“A little bird told me so” is a phrase I used to hear as a kid.  Not sure what little birds I was listening to back then, but the phrase is perfect for this week.  This series has to do with canaries, little birds that are sensitive to how much oxygen there is in the air.

There was a time when brave men went deep underground to tear apart rocks we call coal.  Back then we burned coal to heat homes and make bread.

One of the many dangers was the possibility that the miner’s air supply would falter, killing everyone in the mine.  This happened often enough.  So an early warning device was created.  If that device “went off” everyone in the mine got out as quickly as possible so that the problem would be fixed.

That device was a canary.  The little bird would go down in the mines with the miners, and if the oxygen levels were too low, the canary stopped singing.  No singing meant the canary was probably dead.  That meant death for everyone else wasn’t far behind.

Hence the term, canary in a coal mine.  And that’s how the little bird really told them so.

Next, how canaries are working again to keep us free from government surveillance.

 

 

9/11 Nudity

Today is a day of respect and reflection.

As we reflect, let us ask ourselves WHY?

Why do perfectly healthy young men, all Saudi, dedicate their lives to destroying so many other innocents?

Why do their religious leaders condone such actions?

Why does the Saudi government condone, even support such actions; as recently alleged in recent court filings? and possibly in still-redacted government reports?

Why do our leaders and academics not discuss the underlying reasons all these people would want such violence?

Here are some possible reasons for the violence.

1) These Saudis and other religious extremists are crazy and like to do such things.

2) Perhaps these extremists are intent on starting a 100 year religious war, like the Crusades of old?

3) Or perhaps these extremists are registering their inability to fight Western evils in all its forms?

My bet is on number 3, because the other two don’t make sense.  It’s also the one that extremists use for recruiting.

What are these evils?  One is unconditional support for Israel and other religious countries, no matter how their Islamic populations are treated.  Another is our export of vice in the form of gambling, entertainment, movies, TV, songs, etc.  And finally, the icing on the cake, is that there are no regrets on the part of Western leaders.  Vice is big business!

On this day, this day on which we should all pause and respect those who died because of extremists, and those who have gone and fought the extremist enemy, we instead have fresh evidence as to how we are exporting our own morals onto those who don’t want them.

A beautiful young woman decided she would gain fame be desecrating ancient monuments in Egypt.  They warned her, they tried to stop her.  She and her photographer managed to survive, and escape with the pictures they wanted.

Was the experience enough to stop them from publishing those pictures?  Oh no oh no.

But what’s worse is the several news organizations decided they would help her by publishing her story to the internet.  And so it grows.  It’s news, of a sort.

But what is worse is that we are insulting today’s Egyptians.  We are insulting their very identity.  And we are tempting them to strike back in any way they can.

Here are a few links to her story, and a few others highlighting the US effort to “fight evil” as well as how “evil” also exists within our borders.

We will never fully appreciate the sacrifice made by those in the twin towers until we are ourselves brave enough to ask WHY.  Until we have enough backbone to fight against hate and disrespect WHERE EVER it appears.

The young woman should be publicly chastised, and the pictures deleted.  She should be returned to Egypt to suffer their laws.  The gentleman trying to murder people in his car should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Those organizing “far-right” rallies should be suppressed by every leader who has sworn to uphold the costitution, sung the National Anthem (of the US), or recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Until these things happen, nothing will happen.  Until the next set of extremists make their stand.

Honor those who perished, honor those who truly serve, and honor those yet to come by answering WHY.  Then do something about it.

Thank you.

 

 

http://www.francesoir.fr/culture-medias/voyage-sexy-et-nudite-les-deux-passions-de-marisa-papen-photos-instagram-blog-nue-tour-du-monde-seins-topless-blog

http://gulfnews.com/news/mena/egypt/belgian-model-s-nude-photos-at-pyramid-draws-egypt-s-ire-1.2086855

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4872328/Nude-model-reveals-forced-spend-night-jail.html

http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/model-marisa-papen-and-australian-photographer-jesse-walker-arrested-in-egypt-over-naked-photos/news-story/5797489cd1517920cc4f67f3a8c65fd6

https://thinkprogress.org/man-arrested-at-far-right-rally-for-allegedly-attempting-to-run-over-counter-protesters-3fc95906c458/

 

END