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…

 

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)

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.

 

E Pluribus Unum

Out of many, one.

The antics in the White House press room have angered many.

The ejection of CNN’s Jim Acosta has become a lawsuit, one that CNN will most likely win.

But let’s learn something from this.

No matter which side you take, it’s easy to agree that there is one speaker, and many reporters.

When a reporter asks a hard question, and receives an answer that many deem insufficient, what happens?

The speaker moves to another reporter.

Divide and Conquer.

The hard questions never get answered.  The statements are never fully challenged.  The slowly unfolding tragedy that is politics in the USA continues.

United we Stand.  Divided we Fall.

Consider this, those of you in the briefing room.

Choose.  Choose to stand as one.  Or choose to be a mass of competing voices, each of whom goes away unsatisfied, and used.

Choose a single member to become your spokesperson.  Choose them to represent all of you, to ask your questions (submitted beforehand), and to not allow the President or his shills to divide you.

Choose to stand away from the limelight and televised publicity, so that all of us can stand for what is most important.

Choose truth.  Choose dignity.  Choose honor.

Remember.

Choosing not to choose, is also a choice.

Please, choose wisely.  For all of us.

 

Pride and Prejudice: Decompressed

Great Novel, Great Novelist

Jane Austen compressed a lot of action into her prose.  The incredible part isn’t just the compression, after all, other great writers have done that.

What makes Jane the MASTER is that her compression is hidden among ordinary text.  The compressed information gets into your head, and slowly unspools into a much larger story.

That’s beyond great.

By way of illustration, I’m going to grab a semi-random paragraph and unspool it for you before your eyes.

Chapter 21.  Fairly innocuous, not much happens, even by P&P standards.

First Paragraph.  Why not?  Here it is.

The discussion of Mr. Collins’s offer was now nearly at an end, and Elizabeth had only to suffer from the uncomfortable feelings necessarily attending it, and occasionally from some peevish allusions of her mother. As for the gentleman himself, his feelings were chiefly expressed, not by embarrassment or dejection, or by trying to avoid her, but by stiffness of manner and resentful silence. He scarcely ever spoke to her, and the assiduous attentions which he had been so sensible of himself were transferred for the rest of the day to Miss Lucas, whose civility in listening to him was a seasonable relief to them all, and especially to her friend.

Here comes the decompressed story. (begin expansion)

To the extent any discussion was possible in the household, they had nearly exhausted the subject as well as the energy of those most passionate about its subject.  All that was left from Elizabeth’s emotional point of view was to bear the uncomfortable feelings that can be assumed to accompany such a spirited offer and its refusal, particularly in the face of such strong opposition to her own wishes.  It didn’t help that her mother would continue, on occasion, reintroduce her feelings by alluding to the situation Elizabeth had created.

This, of course, reintroduces the concept of how Elizabeth’s mother was cast by the narrator of the story to be something of a simpleton.  However, we have here yet another example of a frustrated mother, but one who is disciplined enough to know that a frontal assault upon Elizabeth’s sensibilities would be ineffectual.  Instead she pushed through allusion, and not incessantly at that.  This shows that Mom was both intelligent and restrained, despite the narrator’s attempts to have us believe otherwise.

Strangely enough, as if he wasn’t strange already, Mr. Collins does not appear to feel the need to express himself as being embarrassed, rejected in any form, or for that matter, any possible appearance of avoiding the former object of his alleged affections.  In a manner that is most familiar to today’s armchair psychologists, Mr. Collins is showing his aggression passively.  He is decidedly silent towards Elizabeth, and he is extra “stiff” in expressing his manners.  Something like a resentful robot, allowing those angry thoughts to remain suppressed and easily interpreted through childish actions.  Everything he does only reinforces Elizabeth’s original impressions of him.

The fact that he hardly speaks to her is greatly appreciated, particularly as he originally had such assiduous attentions in mind.  That they have been transferred to her best friend, Charlotte Lucas, is also appreciated.  Elizabeth feel particularly close to Charlotte, and feels to a large extent that her friend is “taking one for the team.”  The last phrase, however, is an incredible sleight of hand as far as foreshadowing the story is concerned.

For not only is this a relief to Elizabeth, but “especially” to her friend.

(end expansion)

There.  Of course, I haven’t tried my best to polish this expansion.  However, the text above is not unheard of in this day and age.  I’ve seen what passes for “modern” writing.

Jane’s excerpt comes to 110 words.

My explanation comes to 363.  Easily tripled.

Is this conclusive proof?  Of course not.

But I hope it intrigues you enough such that the next time you dig into the rich story that is P&P, you’ll ponder the incredible talent that puts so much information into such a small space.

When you do, perhaps you will react much the same way as when Elizabeth read Darcy’s letter for the upteenth time.

 Till this moment I never knew myself.

Decompress that!