FUN Science, Art Gallery Time Machine

Did you know science could be fun?  Yes, science.

Seems a bit spotty, doesn't it?

Archimedes did it.  Einstein did it.  Now it’s our turn.  Lets do a thought experiment.

In this experiment, we’re going to transport one of the best paintings from the impressionist era back a hundred years (give or take) so that it lands smack dab in the middle of one of the best art galleries of the romantic era.

 

See what we’re doing there?  We’re sticking a little bit of the future into the past, and then figuring out what would happen.

What do YOU think will happen?  Go ahead, write down your answer.  I’ll wait.

(Insert girl from Ipanema here.)

Finished?  Great.  Now, here’s my take.

It won’t sell.  No one’s going to buy it.  Everyone will think a deranged teenager did it, and will tell the dealer to throw it away.  Since it appeared mysteriously from the future, he won’t know who to give it to.  Being a profit-minded guy, he’ll probably paint it over with gesso and sell the canvas to some poor artist who will put a proper painting over it.

Crazy?  Not really.  Consider going to an art gallery today.  What do you see?  Are there crazy pieces in there that drive you bonkers?  Could it be that one of those will sell for millions of dollars in a hundred years?

How can we know?

Right now, we can’t.  There’s this whole thing about fads and fashions that seems to be beyond anything reason will fathom, ever.  Why do women prefer certain hairstyles through the ages.  What about men and their beards, or hats?  What about architecture, writing styles, music, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Until the day comes when we can at least start to describe a fashion and do it in an organized, scientific manner, there will be no hope of understanding, let alone predicting.

Until the day comes when we have a theory of behavior that contains fads and fashions within it, then even with the best descriptions in the world, we still aren’t going to make any progress.

Until then, hang onto that ridiculous object of art your Aunt Sally got you from that yard sale.  It could be worth something.  Someday.

 

Fat and Happy Artwork

There’s a new finding about some cave paintings in Spain.  Turns out that they were painted by Neanderthals.  Those are the hillbilly cousins of homo erectus that we don’t like to talk about.  We’re better than them.

Or so we thought.  Turns out they were just like us.  Mostly.

Done by the fat and happy.

 

We wonder why we don’t find more art of all types from early humans.  There’s a bunch of reasons of course.

Stuff gets lost.  Gets covered over.  Washes away.

But a lot of things don’t.

There’s a big reason in particular I want to harp on about.

Ancient people only made ancient art when they had the time and the inclination.

In other words, they were rich.  Relatively speaking.

If you are an ancient person, but young at heart, and you’re hungry or cold or tired or about to be eaten by a tiger, the last thing you’re going to think about is making some art.

But if you have some time, you’re full, you’re not worried about your next meal, and you’ve got some deep thoughts you’ve been thinking over for a while, then guess what?

Grab that torch, get some rocks and charcoal, and head for the caves.

Reminds me a bit of the guys who do all that graffiti along the roads in the cities.

So the reason we don’t see a whole lot of art from back then is because people weren’t fat or happy that often.  And that’s good to know.

So the next time you see some cave art, think about those fat and happy people.  And then try to figure out what they were thinking about.  After all, aren’t you also happy?

 

 

Conspiracy of Silence

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The Rolling Stone magazine did a great article detailing known assault allegations against Don John, Predator-in-Chief.  I’m pretty ticked off about one aspect in particular, buying silence.

In particular, when a predator is done with his victim, he doesn’t want them to tell anyone else.  If the predator is rich enough, he hires a bunch of goons (lawyers) to give the victim money and a contract telling them to be silent.

The victim has sold their story, the truth, and their soul, along with their body.  They are no longer a victim, they are party to a contract.

The real victim becomes the truth.  And because the predator is still at large, more young women will come to harm.  The first victim has decided her pocketbook was more important than those other women’s dignity.

It makes sense that the predator himself wants his victims to remain silent, because it enables him to prey on others more easily.  If he’s rich enough, he can afford it.

But why doesn’t another rich person come along and buy out that contract?  For only a few extra dollars, the first victim can be just as rich, and the world would have her story.

Quid pro quo.  I’ll do you a favor if you do one for me.

If one rich person were to start doing this, than other rich people would do it to him.  As long as it’s only poor people who sell their voices, then the world of the rich is undisturbed.  But if one rich person were to come along and buy the truth, then someone richer would come along and buy stories embarrassing to him.

I’m confident that is how his lawyers would argue it with him.  I’m confident in this because to destroy the system of confidentiality agreements would also cut into the amount of money that lawyers make.  Anything that hurts their income is also one of the things they avoid.

Perhaps someone can crowd-fund social truth.  Perhaps.

Until we begin to truly value truth and values in society, we will continue to live in fear.  Women will be prey, alpha males will be predators.  We deify the rich and famous, ostracize the old and poor.

It’s better if we don’t talk about it.

After all, your silence is worth gold.

 

Buying Silence, Selling Truth

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The Rolling Stone magazine did a great article detailing known assault allegations against Don John, Predator-in-Chief.

The parts of it that make me angriest are those that purchase silence from the victims.

It makes sense that the predator himself wants his victims to remain silent, because it enables him to prey on others more easily.

But such agreements involve others, other men, other women.  These agreements involve parents of daughters, husbands, wives.  Why would these other people get involved in such a transgression of criminal activity?

For one thing, these other people we speak of are lawyers.  And lawyers are taught that ethics, morals, and the greater good are irrelevant.  The only things that matter are laws and verdicts.  The client’s interests are paramount, whether that client is a criminal, murderer, victim, or completely innocent.

Beyond agreements, there is also the ability to buy someone’s voice and become its owner.  The idea of “catch and kill” is something one of HIS friends has done to another woman who knew him.  She got money, he got silence.  She bought a house, he went on to harm another woman.

The women who remain silent, the women who sell their voices have their own conscience to contend with.  In some ways they can be considered almost as complicit as the predator himself.

They seem to be comfortable with selling their body, selling their tongue, even selling their soul.

Why not?  After all, it’s a free market.

Thanks for reading.

 

Scumbags Deserve Worse

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Recently a conservative cousin said women make up stories of assault for free publicity.

I find this belief incredible.  What’s going on in my cousin’s mind?

Maybe she thinks that when men become famous, publicity seeking women make up stories of how they were assaulted to get their names in the news.

Then why are there so many other “famous” men that don’t have hordes of publicity seeking women making up such stories?

Rhetorical question.  I know the answer, and there’s a good chance you do, too.

The stories are true.  The current man in power is a predator, a predator of women.

I can live with that.  After all, we study behavior.  We have to take what nature gives us.  The “majority” elected him, and he’s the head of the government.  Chances are he’s not the first predator-in-chief, and there’s a good chance he won’t be the last.

What can we do about it?

Here’s two names that have something in common: Natasha Stoynoff and Rachel Crooks.  Check out the article and you’ll find their names for the details.

These young women were assaulted by the Drumpf.  And they resisted.  Now their story is out there, but there is no proof.

Young women know they must be attractive.  Yet they have to avoid scumbags.  The chances of meeting a scumbag are excellent.  There’s a lot of them out there, and having a predator-in-chief only encourages them.

So what CAN we do about it?

 

Play along.  Go aggressive.  Pretend you actually like them.  That’s what predators really want.  Affirm their sexual appeal.  They think their very presence is a turn on.

Go ahead.  Turn them on.  Keep your head in high gear, your heart and hands under control, and resist the urge to scream or cry.

Here’s the hard part.  Turn the situation to your advantage.  Maneuver him into a room without his clothes on.  Put yourself into a safe room with a phone and lock the door and call police.  Make him take you someplace with cameras and then run.  Better yet, tie him up and throw all his clothes out the window.  Make sure to broadcast pictures of him first.

Are these bad things?  Of course.  Are they as bad as getting assaulted yourself?  Probably not.  Will they solve the problem?  Absolutely not.

But they will start changing the perception of helpless young women.  That’s what #MeToo is all about, recognizing and talking about the problem.

It’s time to fight back.

There’s a lot of men who aren’t scumbags, and they’ll support you.

Good luck.  And start practicing those knots.

 

Forgotten Warriors

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Living things behave, because life encompasses everything we do.

A forgotten war hero of WWII

From hugging a newborn to burying Dad.  There’s no good reason to pretend economic behavior is different from psychological behavior.  Not one.  Life isn’t about religion, it’s not about being political.  All these categories are made up so it’s easier for us to apply for grants.

One way to illustrate this is to draw connections between things that seem so different that any similarities must be the work of a crazy man.

Did someone call for a crazy man?  That’s me.

Consider two warriors, different, but similar.

Warrior One.  This is the name of a yoga asana, and my exhibit number one.  The greatest evangelist of yoga in the 20th century was Tirumalai Krishnamacharya.  He spawned a bunch of other yogis, including one who should be more famous, Indra Devi.

The problem with TK is that he wasn’t good at tooting his own horn.  Another problem was that his famous students were better at marketing.  As a result, their names are well-known and TK is forgotten.  That’s too bad.  He made more sense than any of his students.

Warrior Two, also a known asana, and exhibit two.  But in this case, the exhibit has nothing to do with yoga.  Bear with me.  Or more accurately, HellCat with me.  This was an aircraft that fought most of the air battles in the Pacific.  It was produced in the greatest numbers, brought down the most enemy aircraft, and saved the most pilots.  It was an incredible warrior.

Chances are you never heard of the HellCat.  And that’s because newer, prettier aircraft came along and took the final bows.  No one stood up to help us remember the aircraft, the pilots, and even the workers (many of whom were women) who built the HellCat.  It is a forgotten warrior.

Here’s the connection.  Very different disciplines; yoga is selfish, designed to free us from our perception of bodily weakness and develop strength, while the other belongs to the discipline of war.  The first gave us a teacher of great teachers, the other gave us a machine that defended us from those who wanted to impose their will upon ours.

Both worked hard, tirelessly, without concern for their own celebrity or accumulation of wealth.  TK didn’t do it himself, and he wouldn’t let those around him do any marketing either.  The HellCat, as a machine, didn’t have a choice, but the legions of people surrounding it did.  And they chose to let the HellCat have its day, and later, its rest.

As a student of behavior, I’m not arguing that these warriors were good or bad, or even that their impacts were good or bad.  That’s ancient history.

As a student of behavior, what I argue is that we don’t let them be forgotten.

For what they have given us is priceless.

 

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?”

 

Jeweler Screws

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As a student of behavior, it’s great to make sweeping generalizations inspiring others.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore details that muddy up one’s life.

This is one of those diddly details.  I’m trying to make the best of it, and use it as a lesson for staying on track and being a good STUDENT of behavior, instead of a VICTIM.

For our 25th anniversary, and for Valentines, and for her 50th birthday, and for recognizing neutron stars, I wanted to do something very special for my wife in solid gold.  That’s total gold.  24 carat.  No extra ingredients.

Jewelers don’t like pure gold because it’s very soft.  But I wanted pure gold in a very special shape.  Not only because it was a special occasion with special math involved (halves and all that), but also because physicists and chemists had figured out where gold comes from.

Colliding neutron stars.  Cool, huh?  So all the gold on Earth started out as space dust spewed out from a couple of neutron stars that couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

Now, four years ago when I did this, it was only a partial theory than generally accepted physics, because there was no evidence.  Then, only last year, we got evidence.  Three huge telescopes that are set up to measure gravity waves recorded the collision of two neutron stars.  Bang.  Gold!  And a whole lot of other heavy elements.

Back to me and the jeweler.  I asked them to make this.  They were local, they were nice, and they did it.  Cost a lot.  My bride was very happy.  She always is.  Heck I could have made it out of steel and she would have been just as happy.

Fast forward four years.  The jeweler has moved.  My wife is taking out the jewelry, and guess what?  It’s tarnished.  What?  She tries to remove the tarnish, and it doesn’t come off.

Gold doesn’t tarnish.  I’m feeling, angry, anguished, cheated, vengeful, disappointed, angry again, depressed, and trapped.  Angry with them, angry with myself.  How could I have allowed this to happen?

I’ll go to another jeweler and get it checked.  I’ll go to a lawyer and see what my options are.  But my guess is that the money is gone, along with my friendly jeweler.

What’s the lesson?  I’ll let you help me figure it out.  The bigger point is that I can’t let it get to me.  My wife is still happy, she always will be.  The money is still gone, and it’s unlikely to come back.

At least this life’s lesson, this life event, can live on the internets so that others may be able to learn from it before it happens to them.

Learning.  That’s what being a student is all about.  I just wish it didn’t have to be so darn expensive.

Or painful.

 

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.