How Much Does a Harem Cost

The wonders of technology FINALLY include an upswelling of women speaking out against sexual predators.  From movie moguls to MPs these disgusting men are being ferreted out, and it’s about time.

My personal thanks goes out to those women of #MeToo who are taking that very courageous step of standing up for yourself, for others, and for all of our daughters,

THANK YOU thank you thank you.

That said, even these disgusting events can teach us something.

First, as dispassionate observers of behavior, let’s appreciate how far most men have come.

We used to live in caves.  Like today, many wives were met at clubs.  Literal clubs.  Lack of hygiene and clothes required that most men use a club to knock their wives unconscious.  In all fairness, a few husbands may have been acquired this way.

Through the eons men have learned some manners, from those very same wives no doubt.  The Etruscan society may have been the first to practice sexual parity, but the Romans stamped that out.  None the less, concepts like the sanctity of marriage and monogamy became official, if not popular.

Not to say that there wasn’t some fraying around the edges.  We have lots of stories of people fighting the whole monogamy “fad.”  The funniest parts of the Canterbury Tales have to do with wives and husbands rethinking their relationships.

Today, the vast majority of men appear to respect the humanity of a woman.  On average, giving her room to move and grow; giving her respect to explore and create.

Second, part of us is primal.  All of us.  For men, that means they want women, all the time.

Sad to say, the largest industry on the internet is very likely pornography.  The vast majority of that is satisfying the appetite of “normal” men.  I try not to judge, but I wish it wasn’t.  Get a hobby!

This primal urge usually gets satisfied without anyone getting hurt, directly.  There are a few men who can’t handle the virtual world.  So they do nasty things and reveal themselves as monsters.

Those monsters without resources do things that we hear with horror: abductions, murders, mutilations.

Those monsters with resources are the ones we are starting to hear about today.  And here is where the harem comes in.

Third, being primal bears a cost.  For those without resources, this cost is being born by society.  We spend money and time and emotional turmoil in order to root out these monsters.

For those with resources, the cost is being delayed, or can be found in their payments to those women they have harmed.  The payment could be made immediately, in cash or in the form of a job or promotion.  The payment could come later, also cash, or abortion, or child care, or as a court case.  In the case of the movie mogul, his costs also include the loss of his career, and a number of legal cases being pressed against him.

Those with resources include the late Hugh Hefner, the man who helped define the modern version of popular pornography in his magazine and on his estate.  It appears that he actually maintained his own harem on his estate, sharing those assets with male guests.  Was that harem a cost center?  Of course!  Was it on his financial statements?  Very likely.

Finally, consider the harems of history.  One Pharaoh sired a century of sons.  We should assume there were an equal number of daughters.  Scheherazade saved many of her sisters by entertaining the Shah with a thousand stories.  As a member of the harem, she knew that he was killing one of them each day, yet still had a ready supply.  Lastly, the Emperor of China may have set the record.  The Forbidden City concubines were organized into levels and platoons.  There’s a good chance they had their own HR department with formal training programs.  Seriously.

Conclusion.  Whether they are a Saudi Prince, North Korean Dictator, or modern real estate president, the point is that men with resources will expend resources to have many women.  How much they are willing to spend is a real question that we should be asking ourselves.

How much women as a class, especially poor women, and society in general, are willing to put up with this, is a whole separate topic.

Thanks for reading.

 

Party like a Scientific Conservative

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.  But it doesn’t tell you how to throw a party.

Political parties were invented shortly after the US of A.  Tom Jefferson gets credit for being the most political, and used every trick in the book to secure fame and fortune, including inventing the first political parties.

One of the basic beliefs of being a Sci-Con is that political parties are bad, in and of themselves.  It doesn’t matter if they are blue, red, green or black.  Any party that exists for the sake of the party works against democracy, works against the good of the public.

Yet there is some good in having a party.  For one thing, a party can present a “platform,” fighting for specific laws or directions that the government should take.  The party also helps integrate many people for the sake of improving the chances of making change.

So how does a political philosophy incorporate the practical necessities of having a party, without accumulating all the negative baggage?

We allow for the creation of a Sci-Con party that is position specific.  If a Sci-Con party must be created, we give it a name, such as Sci-Con Gun Control.  And let the debates begin.  From those debates and specific position is developed, and all the resources of that party focus on that alone.

Along with that, we add a clock.  Say, ten years.  Whether or not the Sci-Con party hasn’t made any headway into the issue by then, it simply disbands.  The goal is that some kind of improvement to society is made within that time frame.

The fundamental point is that the goal is specific, the work focused.  No extra money spent on lobbyists or fancy conventions.  Focus on one problem.  Define it, get everyone’s input, and work to make it better.

Is this going to be slow?  Of course, that’s what makes us conservative.  Is this going to be hard?  Yes, but we’re not afraid of hard work, especially if it costs us less money and pain in the long run.

So, that’s how a Sci-Con throws a party.  Not exactly beer and nachos, champagne and petit-fours, but still a party.

It may even be fun.

 

Vote Against the Evil Empire

Voting isn’t just when your government says it is.  Voting isn’t stuffing the ballot box and hoping the least worst politician gets into office.

No.  Voting is your eyeballs.  Voting is your feet.  Voting is the apps on your device.  And voting is your dollars.  Especially your dollars.

I have a cousin who’s an uppity up doctor, taking care of kids.  The other day she came to visit and used one of the new ride sharing companies to come out.

Here’s the problem.  For one, I know that the ride-sharing companies are effectively building their empires on the backs of people who 1) need ready cash, and 2) don’t take the depreciation of their vehicles into account.  Basically it’s a hidden subsidy operation, and history has shown that this kind of business model never lasts very long.

The biggest problem is number 3; this particular company has a history of exploiting women.  In fact they have some big problems with women they have trampled in the few years they’ve been in business.  Certainly my cousin knows this.

But she voted for them anyway.  She’s busy, doesn’t have time to worry about the hidden details behind all those layers of management.  And I certainly was not going to be the person to tell her.  After all, I’d much rather enjoy our short time together talking about her and her family.

Think about what you’re buying.  Think about who you’re buying it from.  And think through the implications.  It’s one thing to say we’re green and love the environment.  But to turn around and vote for those very same organizations that want to tear it apart seems a bit confused.

 

Voting for Fun and Profit

We need to start a reality show based on how we vote.

Are you thinking that trek, one Tuesday every year, to your local polling booth?

If you are, good for you!  You are the minority.  Most people don’t care about visiting the polling booth and casting their vote for a politician.  Our democracy is directed by a minority; but that’s normal.

Surprise!  That’s not the kind of voting I’m talking about today.  No, this is the kind of voting you do with your eyeballs.  Did you know you vote with your eyeballs?  Every time you get an advert thrust into your retina, and you spend time on it, that’s a vote.

Now, most companies can’t measure how much time you spend looking at that ad, but they do count your clicks (another vote) and more importantly, they count your dollars.

Yes, dollars are by far the best way to vote.  Every time you spend a dollar you are saying, I vote for you.

Who is you?

You is that product or service.  You is the person behind that product.  You is the entire organization that offers that product.  And you is the philosophy behind that product.

So think about how you vote.  Think about the YOU you are voting for.

Vote wisely.  And often!

 

Are you on “The List”

I had the pleasure of visiting a friend down in Appalachia country over the weekend.  It was a delight, the countryside was beautiful, and everyone I met was not only a character, but someone I could easily spend time with.

One gentleman worked for the fire department, and told me a few funny stories about the plight of being the last county to get any upgraded services.  Their dispatcher was still referring to the color of a barn’s roof in order to give the emergency vehicle directions.  The fact that it was the dead of night didn’t seem to register.  Luckily, they figured out where they were supposed to go, and got there in time.

The sad part about our conversation was that the local officials had circulated a special list to these gentlemen, and the instructions that they were not to disturb those people on the list.  The meaning was clear.  These were special persons in our community, and whatever they chose to do, it was your job to look the other way.

As a student of behavior, we want to fight the propensity to judge a person, or a society on its choices.  I can tell you that the gentleman relating this story to me thought the list was an injustice, but we didn’t discuss it in depth.

More to the point, it’s likely that only the high and mighty are on that list.  If you are rich and powerful, then you are above the law.  That is what “the list” represents.  And all too often history has recorded events where such people commit great crimes against society exactly because they feel they are above the law.

So, consider the list at this county level.  And think about whether there is a list in your county.  Is there a list in your state?  Perhaps such a list even exists at the national level.

Are YOU on that list?

 

Scientific Conservative

Wow, that’s a mouthful.

It’s supposed to summarize my political philosophy.

First off, I’m scientific.  This means we use the process of meticulous definition, measurement, and questioning all assumptions.  This means being open about methods, experiments and conclusions.

What do you get for being scientific?  You get the absolute best way to learn.  Yup.  You heard me right.  As far as learning is concerned, science gets the gold medal.  Every time.

Secondly, I’m conservative when it comes to changing something as complex as our society.  I don’t trust any of the politicians, I trust the lobbyists even less, and I barely trust individual citizens to think.  Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this.  Trust no one!  No trust!

What do I believe in?  Hard and fast data.  Facts.  A fact is something all of us agree upon.  That’s it.  If we don’t agree, then let’s figure out why using civilized dialog.

If Alice doesn’t agree with Bob about something, and it’s because she’s keeping her eyes closed, that’s her right.  But then Bob’s right to ignore Alice.

If Alice has her eyes open and has a great argument as to why she doesn’t agree, then that’s fine as well.  In this case, Bob and Alice and we will gather data together, or do an experiment that everyone agrees with ahead of time.

Will this process take much longer than what goes on today?  You bet!  And that’s what makes me a conservative!

It doesn’t mean I want to double the military or keep a hundred guns in my house or tell pregnant women what to do with their body up to the point where they give birth.  No.

Being a conservative means I take things as slowly as I can.  Being scientific means I make progress in a very specific manner.

So the next time your friends try to tag you for one party or another, and you want to throw them for a loop, let them know you’re of no party.  And that your political philosophy is scientific conservatism.  That will stop them in their tracks.  It’s been working for me for some time.

Maybe there is a way to create SciCon parties.  I’ll work on that one.

 

We are to Gaia, as …

Some time ago, this neat guy proposed that the Earth can be considered a living thing.  He called that “thing” Gaia.

It’s the kind of concept that some people feel is right and natural.  In fact, the concept is part of our most primitive vocabulary, as in Mother Nature.

As he was trying to convince scientists, he made his argument technical.  Most of them didn’t believe him, even though he used big words and had all sorts of evidence.

For fun, let’s embrace the concept.  First, we’ll consider all of humanity a single life form, a species.  Let’s also consider that the set of ALL species on our planet also constitutes a single life form.

Here’s the fun part.  For all of us nerds who dwell on things like AI and computers taking over humanity one way or another, consider this twist.

Humans create an AI to be our servant.  At some point that AI becomes self-aware and decides that it’s better than all the humans that created it.  At that point it harnesses all sorts of technology to systematically wipe out those humans, turning them into its servants.  The AI has become the master.

Ready?

Think about Gaia as being the whole Earth representation of humanity.  It’s been around, in full flower, for a very very long time.

Now, think about humanity as the most recent creation of Gaia.  A new species that is supposed to help keep Gaia humming along for even longer.

Except something goes horribly wrong.  Gaia’s servant becomes self-aware, and decides that Gaia should be the servant, and it should become the master.  It begins waging a war upon Gaia.

Get it?  In this sense,

… WE ARE SKYNET.

 

 

(We are to Gaia, as Skynet is to us.)

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.

 

Brilliant Suffering

I finished Larry Brilliant’s autobiography today, and enjoyed it immensely.  If you read his book, you know what I mean and can skip the remainder of this paragraph.  If you haven’t read this, I recommend it highly.  His life truly begins as he joins the love of his life in pursuit of the meaning of life.  Germinating at the feet of Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, nourished by the Summer of Love and hardened by the abuses of that era, Larry becomes a radical doctor helping those no matter who they are.  His soul-mate decides their shared paths go through India, and to India they go in pursuit of enlightenment.  Guru Maharaji determines that Larry’s dharma lies in helping others, and that his karma yoga is through work.  The ultimate prize is eliminating killer smallpox, a disease that killed over half a billion people in the 20th century alone.  That’s more than all the wars and famines and tragedies all put together.  The adventures, the successes, and the failures are enjoyable told and hold many lessons.

Larry asks the ultimate question that every compassionate soul has asked through the ages: Why does suffering exist?  He typically pondered this while holding the body of a dead child.  I am going to answer this question in terms that rely on what we know of biology and ecosystems and philosophy.  I’m going to keep it as short as possible, so that much detail may be lacking.  And I’m going to answer it in such a way so that it addresses a related question: What is the best way to relieve suffering in the world in the long term?  Most recently, Jeff Bezos has asked this question, inviting his twitter followers to submit their suggestions as to how he focuses his charity.

However, neither Larry Brilliant or Jeff Bezos, or even most people are going to like the answer here.  For the truth is raw and uncompromising, much as Mother Nature shows Herself to be when in her full glory.  We tend to forget that to Mother Nature, all forms of life and death and joy and suffering, are all aspects of a single existence.

Moreover, when you look closely at the holiest of all holy texts in every religion, you see that they agree on that fundamental truth.  Life and death, joy and suffering, are all part of the same thing.  You can’t have one without the other.  A Tibetan monk explains to Larry, when he asks the question yet again, that suffering will always be part of the human condition as long as ignorance and obsession exist.  In the same scene, Larry is blessed for the simple fact that he is fighting a great scourge of humanity, and to alleviate any suffering is an act to strive for.

This is not an argument against charity, but an answer to the question “How can I be most charitable?”  At the same time, I hope to explain why suffering exists in any form, and why our best charitable efforts may in fact not appear to be charity.

Suffering may come from many sources, from outside ourselves, but also within.  We generally agree that some suffering is good for the soul, for it makes us tougher, makes us more willing to take risks.  But when is suffering too much?  Who is to decide?

Nature decides, using the most fundamental rules possible: life and death.  When she unleashed smallpox upon humanity, a third of its victims would die a gruesome and painful death.  Another third would be permanently handicapped.  The remaining third?  Survivors.

Now that we have eliminated smallpox, we will not know what made those survivors different from the rest.  What kind of world would this be if smallpox still existed?  Would it be a better world?  We simply don’t know.

And that’s the point.  For those of you who are spiritual and wish to second guess God, you can feel angry about the death of an innocent baby to such a gruesome disease.  But if God is playing the game for all of humanity, and not only that one baby or her family, then who are we to be critical?

Suffering exists, and we must learn from it.  As long as ignorance exists there will be suffering.  Such is the wheel of life.  No matter what your religion or how you talk to your God, fundamentally they all say the same thing.  Sub ek, all one.

Which brings us to the final point, how then do we best spend our precious charitable resources?  If you are moved to help someone read a book, buy groceries, or weed their garden, then you should.  However, if you have access to billions more resources, then consider this.  You should be pushing mankind further, higher, faster.  For Jeff Bezos, every last bit of his energy should be directed to making his dream of colonizing space a reality.  Spending even a few moments on any other endeavor may make him more popular, but only increases the risk of getting humanity off the ground.

Improving humanity means greater knowledge, and that automatically means less suffering.  It’s not the same thing as putting silver into a beggar’s hand, but it is far more lasting.

Namaskar

 

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.