Harvey Women

A friend of ours showed us a 1945 movie from her collection called “The Harvey Girls.”  It reminded me of the strategy some modern restaurant chains use to get customers.  The difference is that then, the young ladies were far more “proper” and, with marriage as their only career path, may have done more to win the west than anything else.

As I watched one of the big dance numbers with many dozens of lovely young ladies.  I wondered if they had known any Harvey Weinsteins (#MeToo) back then.

I knew the answer.  Probably all of them.

The title of the movie took on a whole new, dark, theme.

As a student of behavior, I wondered if I could objectively estimate how many of those young women had successfully passed the casting couch exam.

  • I knew that some would have the strength to say no.
  • I knew that some would be lucky enough to skip the exam.
  • And I knew that there may have been some honorable men in the industry hiring a young women based on talent and looks rather than other features.

How do we measure the number?

We look at all the films for that studio, for all the studios.  We figure out how many of those young women made it from film to film.  The more movies in which a young woman appears, the better the chance she’d seen at least one casting couch.

Now, here’s the hard part for those who idolize actors like Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury.  These were young women who became legendary.  But they started out exactly like the other young women.

What are the chances they also passed the couch test?  What are the chances that their experiences led them to having a difficult life later?  Consider what happened to Judy Garland.  Perhaps the demons she was fighting weren’t all personal issues, but more like “personnel” issues.

Sometimes watching an old movie isn’t as much fun as it should be.  That’s the downside of studying behavior, we have to take the light with the dark.

Thanks for reading.

 

Harvey Girls

A friend of ours specializes in the old days, and showed us a 1945 movie from her collection called “The Harvey Girls.”  The title takes on a whole new meaning today, but I’ll talk about that next time.

Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury are fantastic.  Performances by everyone else are equally fun to watch, despite the fact that these actors must all have been working at least a dozen films a year.

The fun thing about this movie is that it’s based on some truth.  As the railroads pressed westward, rough and tumble railroad towns would grow up around them, becoming regular stops.  Some even became cities that we know of today.

A restaurant chain started moving west along with the train.  Their secret ingredient?  Hiring only eligible young women to work the restaurant.  Each town that got a restaurant also got a dose of pretty young women.

The result?  Not so much rough and tumble anymore, but more of the birds and bees, if you know what I mean.  Instead of gunshots at night, they got church bells at noon.  Instead of bar fights they had domestic fights.

The real impact was that these towns became “civilized” as the number of young women came to balance out the young men.

Here’s the fun part.  Know of any other recent restaurant chains who have used young women as a part of their secret recipe for gaining customers?

I wonder what the coming of those young women did for their towns.  And I wonder if they ever saw themselves in comparison to the young women who truly did …

… Win the West.

 

 

 

Teaching Romance

Many people complain that romance is dead.  I usually hear it from my wife, but that’s another story.

What is romance?

I’m not going to bother thinking about that now.

Hmmm, that may explain my wife’s complaint.  I’ll let you do your own research.

My guess is that most of you would like to see more romance.

In that case, why don’t we plant the seeds of proper romance where they belong…

… in High School!

You heard me right.  After all, high school is where we start teaching sex-ed, right?

Whoa!  We teach it even earlier nowadays?

That doesn’t change my mind.  Maybe it’s even more important to teach the romance part early, then.

Kids are able and willing to learn.  In school, they are going to learn about these things anyway.  In my day we had street corners.  Today they have internet corners.  I think the streets were safer.

Along with hormones and organs, let’s teach them about long dates and conversations.  Alongside the stages of menstruation and pregnancy, let’s include stages of building a relationship.  And if we really must teach things like contraception and abortion, let’s include an equivalent “romance” section on divorce.

Now that I think on it, teaching about bad relationships and divorce may do more to lower teen pregnancy rates than any contraception program.  Imagine all the single parents just waiting for the chance to tell a whole classroom about their ex.

So the next time your significant other wonders where the romance is gone, you’ll have a ready answer:

They didn’t teach it to me in school.

Good luck with that one.

 

Dating for Fun and Profit

Seriously, dating can be for both Fun and Profit.

How can I be serious about something I haven’t done for so long?

I choose to be serious.  I also choose to be funny.  It helps the medicine go down.

Hearing about dating disasters from my single parent neighbors, reading about direct accounts on social media, and seeing all the crazy dating services available tells me that the current dating world is way crazier than it was 30 years ago.

That’s too bad, because dating can be fun.

There was a time, you see, when dating had a few extra rules.  Rather than restricting us, the rules helped make things go easier.

This is going to sound fuddy-duddy, but one of the rules was that the man pays for the date.  All of it.  He also was in charge of thinking it through.

Feminists will flounder on this one, but hear me out Ladies.

The woman has far more to lose in the short run.  She’s got the biological clock.  She’s got the high standards society has set regarding appearance.  She’s got the bigger up front investment in clothing and accessories.  And she’s got an economic disadvantage in that her pay rates are usually lower than a man’s.

What does this rule get her?

She gets to see a lot more of HIS character.  How does he pay?  How does he tip?  How considerate was his plans?  What were his plans, were they things that you like, or places and food you’d rather never see again?  Were all his actions respectful, or did he treat you like a “regular guy” straight out of the gate?  Is he willing to travel great distances to see you?

Ladies, I’m sure you get the point.  In general, you are way smarter than he is.  I urge you to reinstate the rule.

Guys, there’s something in this for you, too.  You see, as a guy, I know of what I speak.

Let’s face it, you want to take her out because she’s, well, she’s got it.

Making you do all the work, making you spend all the money; that sounds cruel, doesn’t it?  You’re thinking to yourself, all this money, all this work, is it really worth it?  After all, almost all of you are just as broke as her.

I’m asking you to step back a moment and look at the older men around you.  There are those who found the right woman, and those who haven’t.  Which group do you want to be a part of 40 years from now?

Being the perfect gentleman gets you a great look into her character as well.  You’re in the planning stage, did she drop you some gentle hints?  (Think hard on this one.  Women are famous for dropping hints that guys can’t see.)  Was she ready at the time you set to meet?  When you open doors for her, does she say thank you?  Did she appreciate the places and food you made available, or did she register her disappointment?  Did she help the conversation along, or talk the entire time?

Gentlemen, I know this all sounds fairly complex, but here’s the deal.  Getting what you want as cheaply as possible just doesn’t pay off in the long run.  Look at your divorced friends and see how much it’s costing them today.

Start thinking about romance like an investment, a business proposition.  You want dividends to increase over time.  You want your business to grow, and maybe even have spin-offs.

So start thinking long-term.  Start thinking quality.  And start thinking about bringing back some of the old rules.

Let me know if you want to hear more.  I’m tired of hearing my neighbor whine.

 

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.

 

Feminine Foundations

Women think about relationships more than men.

From playing with dolls, pondering who is flirting with whom, personal hygiene, dress and makeup and adornments, in all areas women outperform men.

Why?

There are two main reasons.

First, we are all genetically programmed to want to be in a relationship (see yesterday’s post).  This is hard to fight, and it could be argued that the need for companionship is greater in a woman than a typical man, but I’m not going to do that here.

Second, women are smarter than men, for the most part.  As a result, they know that being in a relationship is better for them, and for the man (or other woman as the case may be, but for now we’ll stick with men).

Women, being smarter, recognize that they will bear the brunt of a long term relationship in terms of making children, managing a home, and foregoing earnings from not working.  As a result, we consider them “unemployed” while they know they are performing the most important job on the planet – creating the next generation.

Typically, men don’t get this.  Which means women have to work even harder to get men to realize the importance of being in a long term relationship.  So they invest heavily in clothes, makeup, jewelry, and emotions.

The flip side is that a woman also needs to know that the man is invested.  Which is why successful courtship SHOULD see the man making an equivalent investment on his part.

He should be the one traveling to see the woman, not the other way around.

He should be the one planning the dates and paying her way.  Why?  Because she has already paid in long term investment, such as dress and makeup.  He is only paying cash for the immediate expense.

And once she is in that relationship, what is she willing to do?  She is willing to bend more than he.  My husband wants me to cut all my hair so I’m not attractive to other men?  So be it.  My husband wants me to cover my entire body with a black cloth and nothing but a slit for my eyes?  So be it.  My husband wants me to stay at home and make babies?  So be it.

If a relationship fails, what are some women willing to do?  They take the blame.  They become outcasts, or worse, they make the ultimate sacrifice.  Women still set themselves alight in some places.

The romantic in me would like to see men step up their game, and learn to appreciate both the work and investment women make to create relationships.  I wish men would also be better taught to appreciate the value of relationships, after all it helps them live longer.

Finally, society needs to work on creating some of those old-fashioned rules we all used to abide, rules like treating people with respect, opening doors, and understanding the meaning of “no.”

 

Imaginary Loneliness

Hello Gentle Reader,

Have you ever felt lonely?

As babies we hug our parents, and we crave that.

If we have siblings they may hug us.  Sometimes they also hit.  Ouch.  Then we go back to hugging our parents.

Some of us grow up with dolls that we hug a lot.  The doll may be nothing more than a stuffed sock (my wife’s grandmother) or even a doll made of grass.

The point is that there is something within us making us want to be with someone else.  Finding someone is difficult.  Many times it doesn’t work out, ending badly.  If it’s bad enough, it makes the headlines.

This need for coupling is built into our biology, our deep biology.  As an intellectually liberated being, it would be nice to rise above that biology.  Let’s face it, rising above anything is tough, and fighting a billion years of biology is tougher yet.

At the very least we can better understand it by acknowledging its deep roots.  And if we accept those roots, then we can have fun with some of the following questions:

  • Why isn’t everyone multi-sexual?
    • After all, it increases your chances of finding someone.
  • Why aren’t there more homosexual relationships?
    • It makes sense, because someone of your gender is far more likely to share many of your same problems.
  • Why do women invest so much more into forming relationships than men?
    • Clothing, makeup, accessories, emotional and mental investment, all of these are many times greater than what men invest.  What’s going on there?

I’m going to try and tackle the last one for now.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Rape Pillage Plunder

Whitesburg Park is a small nature preserve at the end of our street.  We met a neighbor who insisted we visit a small rotting log containing a trio of the most beautiful flowers.  He showed us a picture, and we all hastened to see the real thing.  But his excitement turned to anger; the flowers, the entire log, were gone.  This fragile object of natural beauty had been taken by someone.

His anger continued, but we could only sympathize.  He strongly questioned the morals of the thief and the declining standards of our society.  My own thoughts wandered to a greater issue, one that defines our very humanity.

This small event, one that would not even merit mention in our small time newspaper, was rape.  Our park had something taken from it by force.  Our friend was outraged, but there the insult would stop.  The rapist would feel no guilt, in fact they probably exhibited the trophy to their friends, raising their own standing as the owner of something beautiful.

Rape, pillage, plunder, these are behaviors that we encourage as a society, mostly without thinking.  Consider today’s popular television shows:  Vikings and Game of Thrones.  In the recent past we’ve had shows featuring the excesses of the Romans, Vampires, Zombies; all strong violent motifs with equally strong leaders.

Part of us exalts in the strong leader.  We look for it as children in our parents.  We look for it as young adults in our peers and teachers.  Finally, we look for it in our entertainment and our government.  Whether they are super-heroes or super-villains, village councilwomen or sitting presidents, there is a part of us that gravitates and admires the strength of those leaders.

That part may be very small, giving grudging acceptance of that strong leader’s influence on society.  Or that part may be so large that we embrace that leader as representing the best of humanity, the way society should go.

Here’s where we should become scared.  Strong leaders of the past include Hannibal, Alexander of Macedon, Chingas Khan, Attaturk, Hitler, and Stalin.  Today we have Vlad Putin and Don Drumpf (Trump) among others.  Every single one of these men got away with something illegal, including outright murder.  Not only were they proud of it, but their followers admired them for being so bold.

Scared yet?  This tendency favoring a strong leader is natural, followers prefer someone who does whatever they want to whomever they want when they want; strong leaders are the alpha male.

The alpha male calls the shots.  The alpha male takes more than one mate.  The alpha male doesn’t follow laws, they make them and break them.  The alpha male is always the most powerful male in the room, and lets everyone else know that.

Societies that are run by alpha males usually also have rape, pillage, and plunder.  After all, that’s what makes the alpha male an alpha.  It’s true of chimps and apes, and it’s true of Vikings and Romans.  It’s also true of Putin and Trump.

The fact that white supremacists met in Charlottesville yesterday to idolize Robert E. Lee and Hitler worries many, but this extremism is part of the natural process.  These extremists want an alpha male.  These people want to protect their “tribe” at the expense of all other tribes.  Law, reason, even morals are not a consideration.

Why did the alpha male fall out of favor in the first place?  Why didn’t the Vikings and the Romans become the dominant form of society?  What was fundamentally wrong with Hitler and Stalin?

The answer lies within our genes some 100,000 years ago.  Sometime around then we not only wanted to take care of our babies, like almost every other successful species, but we also wanted to take care of each other.  We call this “family.”  Many species mate when they need to in order to reproduce.  Modern humans mate many times, making few babies.  All the other times we mate strengthens our bond with our spouse.

Many species hold onto their offspring tenuously, pushing them out of the nest the instant they reach puberty.  Humans hold onto their children, in many cases asking them to take care of their parents deep into old age.  In this way humans have reached incredibly long lifetimes, far longer than nature intended.

The desire to have a family, or family phenotype, means that there is something in us that wants to be part of a group, something larger than ourselves as individuals.  And it is this need that helped create the concept of democracy in all its forms.  Many feel that family is the most important part of being human.  And family doesn’t have to mean only those born to our mother, but can mean someone adopted, our living next door, or even someone of similar interests.  Family means what you want it to mean, and some of us embrace strangers more easily than others.

Those who wish to live with an alpha male look towards that male to determine who is part of the family.  For those who are not family, it’s rape, pillage and plunder.

For those who embrace the idea of family, laws and morals tend to direct their actions.  Throughout history, the struggle between alpha male lovers and family lovers has swung towards family, towards law, and towards reason.

Today, rape, pillage and plunder is increasing all around us.  There are little clues from the missing flowers, bigger clues like the events in Charlottesville, and big clues like the rise to power of Putin, Trump and Erdogan.  From big to small, all these point to the pendulum of history swinging in the direction of those who prefer the alpha male.

How far will it swing?  History tells us it will not reverse direction without the application of great pain.

Will we be able to learn from this, and become a better society growing beyond this planet?  History also tells us that we will learn and be better for it.  But history can not tell us if it will be enough to get us off our planet.  For time is almost up.

 

END

Quiet Conspiracy

Hello Friend,

The Zika virus has been in the news alot.  First drawing international attention when babies were born with abnormally small brains in Brazil, it has lately made news because we now find that it can be sexually transmitted between people.  The mosquito is no longer the only way to get it.

But there are some researchers who have found out something else about Zika, something that should be upsetting people almost as much as malformed babies.

Male infertility.

Several researchers have looked at what the Zika virus does to testicles in mice, and their conclusions were not good.  Others have confirmed that the virus has a great affinity for neurons and testicles.  This helps explain why babies are so impacted during pregnancy.  But it also may explain why it makes men infertile.

Except we hear all about the babies.  What about the babies yet to come?

Here is where we have some conspiracy fun.  For many governments feel that there are simply too many people.  Think of how much more joy you would have if you didn’t have to deal with so many people all the time.

Consider also the fact that fertility in the developed nations has been falling for decades.  Some countries do their best to encourage larger families, but the overall trend is down.  Some large countries, like Japan, have already begun to decline in population.

The fact is we know that Zika is going to contribute to the decline in global fertility.  We won’t see the impact for decades, but we already know it’s here.  And so does your government.  The fact that they don’t want to make a big deal out of it is simple.  They want fewer people.

 

PS: I’m leaving links to both science and news articles out for now.  Ask and I’ll update as needed, but you can find everything here on the web.