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!

 

 

 

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Earth Stands Still Day 3

There were several elements in the classic sci-fi movie that were made due to censorship.  The movie is The Day the Earth Stood Still, and it’s from 1951.

One of those elements was the fact that the great robot servant of Klaatu brought him back to life.  Klaatu tells the young woman that the ability to create life is limited to the Almighty Creator – God of course.  Censors of the time were sensitive to the fact that most Americans are God oriented, and suggesting that something else could create life itself would be blasphemy.

SPOILER ALERT!

If you haven’t read the original story, do it now.  Because here comes the punch.

Klaatu was the servant.  The “robot” Gort was the master.  Creating life was just another thing that Gort could do.  In fact, he was able to create life using a voice print.  And if that seems far-fetched, think about the fact that today’s forensic investigators can finger a perp using a drop of bodily fluid or a shadow on a video camera.

The original story is great science fiction because it pushes up against our envelope of understanding.  Why do we think life is so special, so unique that it can’t be created in a lab?  In fact, that’s exactly what Gort does on his space ship.  He builds a lab so that he can recreate the murdered Klaatu.

The insights of this fictional story are far deeper than this.  As behavioral scientists, we must first wrestle with the fundamental question of where humanity sits within the natural universe.  If we are somehow distinct from the universe, imbued with supernatural qualities that no current understanding can ever penetrate, then all our attempts to better our nature will fail.

On the other hand, if we admit that our lives as humans are fundamentally the same as all other life on this planet, and that being of nature, we are also confined to the same natural laws, then there is a chance we can use the tools of science to create laws and theories of behavior that will improve our chances of survival into the far future.

I love the original story because it forces us to face that question.  I’m frustrated by the censors, and by the movie producers, because Harry Bates’s original insights have been suppressed.  If I am successful enough, and live long enough, I’m going to correct that omission.

Thanks for reading.

 

Earth Stands Still Day 2

Here’s the deal.  A great movie from 1951 was based on a story from 1940.

I greatly encourage you to read the original.  You can find it here.

For those of you who don’t want to read it, no worries, I’ll talk about it here for a bit without ruining it.  And tomorrow’s post will talk about what it’s really about, spoiling the ending for those who might read it.

So, first.  The story was far ahead of its time in many ways.  The space ship wasn’t just a space ship, it was a time traveling instantaneous space traveling vehicle.

The setting isn’t post-WW 2 Washington, but a future Washington where there are robot servants and all sorts of ray guns and other great future-leaning insights.

The alien is hurt by accident, so that’s not the issue.  And the hero of the story isn’t a little boy and his mother and an absent-minded professor, but an intrepid investigative spunky reporter who refuses to give up until he understands what’s going on.

So many of these story elements are lacking in the 1951 classic, obviously designed for current audiences.  I can’t critique Robert Wise (Director) in any way for these decisions because the man was a genius.  There were certainly good reasons for all his choices, one of which may have been unintentionally ironic.  It’s the scene where doctors are discussing Klaatu’s great health and healing abilities even as they light up their cigarettes.  There are others, but I’ll let you enjoy finding them.

So please go read the story.  It’s worth it.  And this next post will also make a whole lot more sense.

 

 

 

 

 

Earth Stands Still Day 1

There’s a movie called “The day the Earth stood still” that is classic science fiction.  It’s not heavy on special effects, there’s a strong story line, darn good acting, and it’s all anchored within the day’s great political tensions of the time.

The reason I’m writing this review today is that I had a sudden urge to see what kind of special effects had been used in the more recent adaptation of this classic.  I was able to easily see everything I wanted, including the caliber of acting and the alteration of the story line.

After seeing as much as I could stand, I decided that the original stood so far above and beyond the remake that I needed to say something, and here it is.  Please watch the original, it’s worth it.

But wait.  There’s more.

One of the things you should always be doing, whether it’s differentiating between fake news and real news, or understanding the true meaning of words, is digging until you find the source.

Turns out the source of this great classic movie is rooted within a short story.  And that short story deserves far more than a quick mention in the credits of the 1951 film.  So that’s my next post, a review of that story.  Stay tuned.

 

Crazy Driver Tales

Does anyone else out there feel that drivers of today are way worse than of yesteryear?

I can remember when my mother got a ticket for not using her turn signal.  Today it doesn’t surprise me when I see a police car make a turn without using a signal.  Normal civilians only use them about half the time.

So, if you, my Gentle Readers, are interested, I’m going to start compiling a list of crazy driver types that I have cataloged over the years.

Today’s driver is the “Wide Body.”  A wide body driver is someone who drives like their car is verrrrrry wide.

I saw this happen while walking past the library.  There’s an admittedly sharp turn for cars to make there, but this gentleman driving a compact car made the turn as if he were a 48 foot semi.  He took his sweet time, he went very wide of his own lane, and drove in the opposite lane for about 50 feet before finally merging into his own lane.

If I hadn’t seen it I would have thought it was a joke.  If he had been driving a truck it would have been a sweet turn.  Perhaps he is a truck driver.  I’d like to think a professional could maneuver a vehicle in the right way, no matter what.

So keep an eye out.  I’m sure you’ll meet your own wide body soon.

 

 

 

 

Shag the Flag while Kneeling

While eating with another couple the other night, both of them expressed anger at football players who kneel during the national anthem.

Why did they kneel?  To protest violence against certain groups.

Why were my friends angry?  Because it was disrespectful to the flag and the nation.

Disrespect?  I said it sounded more like making a statement, something protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the US of A.

No, they said, it’s disrespectful to not stand and salute the flag.

Ah, the flag, I said.  I asked them if they knew that there were official government protocols for displaying and treating the flag?  (None of which are binding, by the way.)

They said they did.

I told them my neighbors like displaying their flags all day and night, through any kind of weather, any season.  The guidelines say you should display it only from sunrise to sunset, among other things.  Keep it out longer and you’ve got a decoration, not a flag.

Treating it like a decoration is just as disrespectful as kneeling during the anthem.  At least kneeling in order to make a statement serves a purpose.  What purpose does a house decoration serve?

They didn’t like that.  He said “I keep my flag out all the time.”

I didn’t comment.  But it’s a free country.  That’s what makes us great.  Flags can be decoration in all sorts of ways.  You can get your flag in terms of swimwear, or for your ultra patriotic house.

But unless you treat it will full respect, and truly understand what it means, you’re also just making it a decoration, and your statement is rather superficial.  Kneeling during the anthem is showing both respect, and objecting to what your government may be doing.  Yet another right guaranteed to all of us under the constitution.

So, before you get all angry over football players who have a political conscience, think about your own actions first.  You know what they say about throwing stones in glass houses.

 

Ping plus

There’s a famous sketch about how important it is for hospitals to have a machine that goes “ping.”  In fact, the better the ping, the more expensive your hospital.

Having returned from a hospital visit, I had the pleasure of sitting next to such a machine.  It was measuring heartbeat (hence the ping) and all sorts of other biological functions.

Just then I realized that in this era of personalized medicine, individual environments and extra-sensual coddling, we need to go beyond the ping.

Yes, beyond the ping.  Ping 2.0 if you will.

So imagine you’re in the hospital bed, and instead of that incessant ping for your heart, you could have:

“Greedeep, greedeep” of a croaking frog?

“Baa baa”

Guitar strings plucking out a tune?

“Om, Om” (or Aum Aum for you purists) in order to increase your meditative state?

Or a duck quack?

You get the picture.  Let’s have some fun.  Tell your doctor today you want the machine that goes beyond ping!  I’m sure it’ll get us better faster.

 

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.)

No Butts, what?

Walking through a pristine park today and saw a butt: cigarette butt.

If a person thinks of their cancer stick as natural, what else might they be thinking?

  1. Nature is here for their personal pleasure, and trash container.
  2. That they are superior to me.
  3. They can beat me in a fight.
  4. They can grab my genitals, and I’ll like it.
  5. Even if I complain about 3 or 4, no one could prosecute them.

I saw the cigarette butt, thought of all this, and put it in the trash.  After all, I don’t want to start any fights.

Or do I?

 

Flipping Odometers

As a child, I enjoyed watching the car’s odometer count the miles.   I awaited the moment when all the nines would line up and then, holding my breath, watched them roll into all zeroes.  Ah, the simple joys of youth.

I also imagined the future.  There would be a colony on the moon, and ray guns, and smart robots.  Again, simple joys.

I did not imagine I would grow up in a world where people were afraid of the odometer.  In 1999, the odometer rolled over to 2000.  This was termed the Y2K problem.  People were afraid there would be anarchy, electricity would fail, and airplanes would fall from the sky.

Of course, none of these things happened.  Instead, our government spent billions working to solve the Y2K problem.  It was an imaginary problem, yet cost money.

You are now growing up in this world.  Instead of looking forward to visiting your friend on the moon, or taking a vacation on a space station, you are worried about imaginary problems.

Where did we go wrong?

We stopped working towards a better world and began paying more attention to entertainment in all its form.  Reality is no longer more interesting than entertainment.

What are some imaginary problems?

Our imaginary problems are those our politicians like to hold up in order to inflame our emotions and influence our votes: abortion, terrorism, military threats are a few.

Want more?  Just ask and I’ll go into details.  Thanks for reading.