Non-Urban Design

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There’s this kind-of discipline that exists at the intersection of architecture, geography, economics, politics, and civil engineering.  I know almost nothing about it, so that qualifies me to sound off.

This discipline is another aspect of behavior.  The better their theories about behavior in general, and specifically regarding living conditions, the better their work.

So here’s a fun project for our unsung planners.  Consider this scenario.  You have a planet, much like Earth, and a good distribution of resources.  Nothing is infinite, but let’s not go too crazy.  Speaking of crazy, let’s limit the area to 100,000 square kilometers.

What’s the smallest city-size you can make for a city-state containing 10 million people?

What’s a city?  Let’s say it’s a concentration of people more than 1,000 per square kilometer, OR the same area containing two or more buildings taller than three stories.

Yes, my conditions are a bit arbitrary, but it’s a start.  With today’s technologies, why do we even need cities?  Let the planners chew on this.  And who knows?  They might come up with some pretty cool ideas that we can use to eventually get rid of cities entirely.

Now THAT’S planning.

 

Dividing Flirt from Felon

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I was in a meeting the other day where two friendly members made a professional date.  Alan then made comments to Barb that made me uncomfortable.  Barb laughed them off, so I’m not sure if she felt the same way.  To make sure, I’m going to ask her the next time we meet.  If she was uncomfortable, then I’m going to ask permission to talk to Alan.

It got me thinking about more important things.  Those things have to do with biology.  Our very genes want us to make more of ourselves.  Our genes also encourage us to have a partner.  These are not necessarily the same thing, but they can be.

More importantly, the urge to reproduce is very ancient.  That “phenotype” is one of the very first to be programmed into sexual animals.  After all, if an animal didn’t have the urge to reproduce, their species wouldn’t be around very long.

The other phenotype is wanting to have a partner.  That’s fairly unique among animals, but not unique to humans.  Plenty of other organisms like to have long-term mates.  It makes sense.  They get to know you, you know them, you help each other out.

Alan and Barb also have these urges.  Barb is young so that both urges are probably strong, despite her having a boyfriend.  Alan is older and married, so his urge *should be* less.

This means that each wants to be alluring to the other.  Yes, both already have others in their lives, but that doesn’t mean their basic urges turn off.  So we end up with this:

  1. We want to be alluring.
  2. When we’re talking with someone we like, we let them know by flirting.
  3. If, and this is huge:
    1. Both people want the same thing (each other) then they are going to keep flirting, and talk, and touch, and before you know it they become intimate.
    2. Both people DON’T want intimacy, this is what happens.
      1. At a certain point, one person’s flirting becomes another person’s harassment.
      2. If the person who is harassing doesn’t stop, the harassment is assault.

And there’s the rub.  Both people want to be liked.  Both people want to enjoy each other’s company.  But to the extent we must encourage allurement and flirting (in any form), then we must also encourage learning when to stop.

That’s part of what #MeToo is all about.

Societies that don’t want to deal with all of this tend to suppress their women in burlap and burkhas.  Even in the most modern societies, you can find women who are being bundled up.

Is it bad?  Is it good?

Neither.  It only is.  But the conversation is important.

So, as Jane Austen’s Elizabeth says to her Aunt Gardiner: “Where does discretion end and avarice begin?”

 

School Bus Moon Bus

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Mom: Ohnny, you’re going even if you turn blue.

Kid: Don’t want to.  What good is a stupid park?

... school bus.

Mom: You’ll learn something you can’t learn here.  See cool things like animals you’ve only seen in pictures.

Kid: But’s it’s going to take days and days and days.  I’m going to die!

Mom: It takes three days each way, and your Rangers will keep you very busy.  And you have to exercise along the way.

Kid: I know I know, I don’t wanna go!

Mom packed up her 9 year old with required gear, some mom-required gear, and then extra for good luck.  All the kids were loaded onto the school bus, strapped in extra tightly, kissed again, and sent off.  The parents breathed a sigh of relief, most of them looking forward to a few weeks of quiet.

The kids split in smaller groups, each guided by their accompanying Rangers.  By way of deserts, jungles, rivers, mountains and cliffs each one got to see a bit of unadulterated Nature, the landscapes of their distant ancestors.

Ohnny wasn’t the best behaved little boy, and during 4th day, a special transport showed up.

Ohnny the Kid: Grandma!

Grandma: Hello spitfire.  I hear you’ve been causing trouble for your teacher.

Kid: Not really.  Maybe a little.  I’m sorry.

Grandma: You’re going to be extra sorry now.  (To the Ranger:) I’ll take him, young man.  And he’ll be returned in pieces if he doesn’t shape up, understand Ohnny?

Ranger and Kid: Yes, Ma’am.

Ranger:  I’m glad you’re here.  He’s a good boy, just, animated.

Grandma: Out of control?  Sounds like his father.  A lot like his grandpa, too, now that I think about it.  That old fart, he just missed his 102nd birthday.

Ranger: I’m sorry.  You must miss him so.

Grandma: I don’t miss the old coot.  He missed his birthday because he’s on Mars helping with the Terran-dome exhibit.  He’s a lichen specialist and that stupid mold is giving them problems.  He’s going to live till he’s 150, unless I kill him first.

Ranger: You must be quite the experts to be full-time Terrans.

Grandma: We know our stuff.  Someone has to repair this place, considering the damage done by our ancestors.  A few more centuries and it will be back to where it was during the Egyptians.

Ranger: You get a whole planet to yourself, one big park.  You’re lucky.

Grandma: Lucky?  This is hard, full-time work.  And I don’t need a snot-nosed kid diddling with my agenda, Ohnny!  Get back here!

Grandma continued: You’ve got the work, turning the whole moon into one huge city.  That can’t be fun, living with all those people breathing down your neck.  That’s another reason we opted to stay here.

Ranger: It’s not so bad.  All the trappings of civilization that used to be in the big cities, like New York or Paris, you can only find those on Luna, and soon on Mars.  Someday it’ll be completely covered, we’re up to over 15 billion already.

Grandma: Good luck to you.  Okay, as promised, he’ll be back by sundown.  And if he so much as breathes funny, let me know and he answers to me.  Got it?

Ranger: Yes Ma’am.

Kid: Yes Grandma Ma’am!

She laughed and walked away, Ohnny holding her hand tightly.

 

Harriet the Monster

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The daughter recommended it, the wife read it first, and now I’ve finished it.

Monsters.  Specifically, My Favorite Thing is Monsters.  By Emil Ferris.

It’s dark and it’s beautiful.  She draws (literally) upon many iconic images from Chicago during the 1960s, and she draws upon many of the works of art in the Chicago Art Institute.

Since I’m devoted to studying behavior, what does this monster-based thriller teach us?

Here’s where another book comes in, Harriet the Spy.

It's a classic.  Please read it if you haven't!Harriet is also out to solve a mystery.  She’s also learning about the world of adults.  And she’s also wrestling with who she is as a young woman.

The similarities end there.  For Harriet is a tame post card of last century compared to Monsters.

And that’s where our learning comes in.  The differences in the way such a similar subject is treated tells us more about what underlies society than reams of studies and surveys.  Art, done correctly, becomes one of the best ways to look into the deepest psyche of our collective soul.

And that, my dear friends, is where you can find the real Monsters.

Happy Hunting.

 

 

Today’s Most Influential Woman is …

It’s a few days before Easter, 2018, and as I realized who the most influential woman in the world is as of today.  She may have been influential for many days, but it’s even more so as of today.

#MeToo back in the Golden Age

Today is when a newly famous woman talks on big TV about an affair she had with this guy who is today’s President.  She’s NOT the Influential Woman.

There are lots of other women finally coming forward about what a sexual consumer and predator our president is ALLEGED to be.  None of them are the most Influential Women, either.  (Note, I believe all of them.  Why should they lie?  #MeToo)

No, the most Influential Woman today is…

… his wife, Melania.

I can’t feel totally sorry for her.  She put herself on exhibit, she “caught” him, she has her child, and she can live in her golden cage.

Yet I can notice certain great behavioral components.

Mr. President must be feeling pretty dry by now.  Let’s face it.  He’s pretty much living single, Melania isn’t going to be feeling much “in the mood,” and every move this guy makes is under a microscope.

So here’s what makes her influential.  You guessed it.  Sex.

All she has to do is say, “Do this, Darling, and you can have, this.”

Won’t work?  Check out this story involving pausing a war a few thousand years ago.  Or how about these stories much more recently, described along with a broadway musical about it.

More to the point of this site, we are doing the first extremely public experiment into the phenomenon of “What happens to Men when they get EXTREMELY sexually frustrated?”

I touched upon this a bit a long while ago in this post.  What makes today’s experiment so much more exciting is that we are all able to watch it, live.  Along the way we can have some fun.

How long has it been for Mr. President (no puns intended).

How much longer can he go without?

Can it be possible that he’s escaping to Florida and other places where he can get his “fix?”  If so, how long can that secret be kept?

I’m hopeful that Melania will keep him from getting his fix by being vigilant.  If she realizes she can be that much more powerful if he gets hungry, then that might encourage her.  Of course, the downside to this plan is that she has to, well, “feed” him on occasion, and that could interfere with anyone’s appetite.

Anyway, stay tuned, and enjoy the show.  It’s better than facing reality at the moment.

Short Story Time: Talking Heads

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Studying behavior can be fun!  We can do thought experiments, like hard-assed physicists when they bend the universe to fit the speed of light, or put their heads inside a proton in order to get to know quarks and gluons better.

Our thought experiments take the form of short stories, generally known as science fiction.  Enjoy!

 

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Walter looked upon two graceful women in shimmering, semi-transparent robes.  They revealed enough to excite.

“He’s reacting well, like an alpha male of his time,” the older one said.  “Welcome to the future, Walter.  Not many heads made it from your era.  Yvette will be your guide for now.  I’ll be going.”  She gave instructions to the young woman and left.

Walter winced in pain.  The young lady stroked his temple and neck so gently he immediately felt at peace.

“Walter, go slowly.”  She continued stroking, and he looked her over.  She was twenty, curvaceous, and perfectly formed.  She was tall, and nothing about her calmed him.

He had a body!  He had signed up for freezing his head for centuries, until the future could cure his disease.  Now here he was!  Could he talk?

Talk he did.  As he warmed up, he asked Yvette many questions, and she answered him patiently, lovingly.

The body was built of his own cells.  They made improvements, and he would live a normal life.  His former profession was making “movies,” but there was still a need for storytellers.  He would have to learn new techniques.

He could walk now.  There were no cities, no tall building, no monorails.  These had all been deemed dangerous to the environment, Yvette explained.  Terrans lived in harmony with nature.  Machines were only found on Luna and Mars.

We colonized space? Walter asked.

“Of course.  We have also perfected our bodies and our society.  We learned how to alter DNA directly, no need for random pairings.  Every child is carefully engineered, and improved.”

No falling in love, no husband and wife?

“Wife?” she laughed.  “A concept males used to subjugate females for a million years.  No, the husband is history.”

I’m a man, I have deep feelings.  You are someone that I could easily fall in love with.

“You will find that we are all, as you would say, desirable.  Humanity is all female.  How old am I?” she demanded.  Walter shared his thoughts.  “I’m 50, my mentor over 90.”

I’m surrounded by millions of beautiful women?

“Yes, you are.  And according to history, you were quite randy, weren’t you?”

Walter confessed the truth.  But he remembered the 1960’s well, and hoped this future was as sexually enlightened.  He was looking forward to making many new friends.  Yvette laughed.

“I’m sure you are.  But the only way you can experience sexual stimulation will be through a deep brain stimulator we have implanted.  Here is your special button that only you can access,” pointing to his groin.  “We also removed your sex organs.”

Walter held onto a tree, looking at his lap.  The world spun, even as Yvette continued.  “Now, let me show you where you’ll be living for the rest of your life.”

 

Two A-Salty for Words

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In my writer’s group, I listen to everyone read their material and tell myself I’m way better.  It’s great for my self confidence.  Of course, they probably do the same thing to me, so our karma balances out.

We live in the snow belt.  Feels more like the snow crotch.  This belt is made of snow, and despite my carbon butt-print, global warming isn’t enough.  Too much white stuff.

Snow.  Not drugs.

Our lake sits on top of salt deposits.  If you live in a place that uses salt during the winter, it’s probably our salt.  Thanks.  Salt, and assault, seem to be everywhere, even here.

Amy sits between me and Nerdy Bill.  She knows Bill as a co-worker and writer.  They’re talking about a working date.  Bill’s got a wring on his fing, is a lot older than Amy, and is quite a bit bigger.

I’m not trying to listen, but I hear him making references to not getting drunk on a weekday.  Ha ha.  Isn’t that funny.

Then he says something about her sitting in his lap.  Yuck, I’m thinking.  What lap, dude?  He has to reach for his computer keyboard.

Wait.  Now he’s telling a story when there were so many Bills in his elementary classroom that he was rechristened Will.  He’s laughing.  I’m crying.

Amy is laughing!  Now she is saying “that’s funny!”  I’m thinking Amy is having a stroke!  Or was she flirting?

No, Amy has a boyfriend.  She is probably only being nice.  But Bill is being yucky, with extra YUCH.

I should have told him he was making me uncomfortable.  He was.  I shouldn’t care what Amy thinks, or should I?

That was in the middle.  At the end of the meeting, our leader, Charlie, was suddenly attacked by a dog-loving woman.

Charlie also loves and owns dogs.  For some reason he’d brought one to the meeting and left him in the car 3 hours.  He’s not allowed to bring him in.

Yes the weather is cold, about 30 degrees F.  Before you get all “poor doggie,” the dog had a sweater on, and, here’s the best part, he’s still a dog.  Dogs can handle cold weather for a long time.  I’ve seen huskies in Alaska in minus 20 degrees F staying out all night.  They’re fine.  They’re dogs.

But this woman bolted in at the end of the meeting, accosted Charlie, told him he was cruel to animals, and called the police!  Then she ran out.

Did she think she was helping the dog?  Did she think she was teaching Charlie?  No to both.  Her assault was violent and uncomfortable.

So, maybe it’s winter.  Maybe it’s people.  Maybe it’s the salt.

 

PS – Shout out to ee cards for putting this image on the web for us to enjoy.  Get more at ee cards!  Send one today.

Century Games #MeToo

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War games, Hunger Games, Spy Games, Political Games, Olympic Games, Handmaiden’s Games.

Wait.  What?

Sure.  This popular show about some kind of weirdly overly religious country where women are treated as nameless baby-making semi-slaves is supposed to be set in the not-so-distant future.

Hold on.  Are we sure that’s the future?  Isn’t this happening now?  Even in most civilized countries, the woman is happy to change her name, kind of the same, yes?

If she doesn’t make replacement humans, where else are they going to come from?  Natural selection at work, favoring the rich and powerful.

Let’s apply some “unnatural” selection to stuff going on today, right now, and think about what it’ll look like in a hundred years.

The #MeToo movement is fantastic.  I’m thinking it’s on the order of women’s suffrage and equal rights like Title 9.  Let’s take it to the extreme.

First off, will there be any harassment in the future?  You betcha.  As long as there are men who enter puberty, there’s also going to be men who never leave.  It’s been happening too long to delude ourselves that it’s going away.

So what do we do about it in the future?

I’m thinking we give each woman a comfort canary.  I’m thinking we also give each woman an embedded recording device that’s always on.  It’s hers.  Only she can view it, unless she wants to share.  Sort of like snapchat with an attitude.

What of the creeps who take advantage of less powerful women who feel pressured for any reason?  Let’s get all Babylonian on them and do that “eye for an eye” thing.  Except we remove a testicle, or maybe a centimeter of you know what.  Maybe both depending on the circumstances.  Get it?  “Circumstances?”

That’s my guess.  Let’s hear yours!

 

Hollywood Child Abuse

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When it comes to kids I’m all for them.  Adults screw them up.

If I’m remembered for nothing else, I want to be remembered as the guy who fought for the kids.  Today’s kids.  Tomorrows kids.  Remember the children.

Wife was watching a well-acted show that stars Lily Tomlin.  She’s wonderful and I’ve always enjoyed her work.  She’s also one of the producers.

I was reading this book while wife watched season 2 episode 12 dealing with suicide, among other things.  Well done.

But there’s a scene with a young girl, and she drops the F-bomb at two points.

There’s a certain kind of adult who takes pleasure out of seeing a child swear like an adult.  Why?

Is it that as adults we lost our innocence at some point, and we enjoy seeing a child lose theirs?

The fact is the show had a child actor appears to swear (it could have been dubbed) in order to complete the scene.  Turning that child into an adult is something that should be treated with great respect and tenderness, not for profit.

That child most likely didn’t want to become an actor as much as her parents wanted her to act.  Certainly her agent and the other actors see her more as a money-making team mate rather than what she truly is, a child.

What is the impact upon her?  Does anyone care?  (Yes, I do.)

Look at the track record Hollywood has upon other childhood actors.  It’s not good.

Why do we allow this to happen?  What can be more important than a child’s life?

Rhetorical questions, because we know the answers.

Greed.  Power.  More greed.  And because money made today is worth more than a grandchild’s happiness.

So, please, the next time you see a sweet, innocent child, love them and help them to keep that innocence as long as they possibly can.  Face it.  They’ll lose it soon enough without our help, without our greed, and without our short-sightedness.

C’mon on.  Swear you’ll do it.

Thanks.

PS – Today is 22 January, 2018, and I just learned young gymnasts were happy their team doctor was being put away for many years as he’d been molesting them for some time.  The tragedy is compounded by the fact that their parents and coaches didn’t believe them – or didn’t want to.  Perhaps they, too, were blinded by greed.

Facebook as our Secret Weapon

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Consider all the evil ways the Russians and Chinese have wreaked havoc on our American way of living.  I am, and I’m getting peeved.

The Russian mafia have all sorts of ties to Don John, the Great Orange in the White House.  Putin is probably the richest man on Earth, at least twice as much wealth as Mr. Amazon.  The Chinese not only have the Great Firewall, but entire military units whose only purpose is to hack into American security systems and steal secrets.

Where will it all end?

If we don’t do anything, it won’t end well.  So it’s time we started fighting back.

The Russians and Chinese have created electronic walls, keeping their people insulated from the rest of the world.  They do this because they can feed their people propaganda about how good they have it, and so their people don’t make trouble.

Our secret weapon?  Facebook.

Mark and his minions should work on ways to crack the Iron Firewall and the Great Firewall at the same time.  Perhaps by setting up invisible proxy routers that ordinary Russian and Chinese people can reach.  And then?

Just let people be people.  Let them join in the fun of seeing cat pictures, silly vids, fake news, and everything else.  More importantly, they can see what’s really going on in the world and start putting pressure on their own governments to change.

Better yet, if the time comes for a new world government, maybe we can all be friends for once.  Right now, that’s not happening.  Facebook may be the weapon we’ve been looking for.

Ready…

Aim…

Facebook!