Harvey Girls

A friend of ours specializes in the old days, and showed us a 1945 movie from her collection called “The Harvey Girls.”  The title takes on a whole new meaning today, but I’ll talk about that next time.

Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury are fantastic.  Performances by everyone else are equally fun to watch, despite the fact that these actors must all have been working at least a dozen films a year.

The fun thing about this movie is that it’s based on some truth.  As the railroads pressed westward, rough and tumble railroad towns would grow up around them, becoming regular stops.  Some even became cities that we know of today.

A restaurant chain started moving west along with the train.  Their secret ingredient?  Hiring only eligible young women to work the restaurant.  Each town that got a restaurant also got a dose of pretty young women.

The result?  Not so much rough and tumble anymore, but more of the birds and bees, if you know what I mean.  Instead of gunshots at night, they got church bells at noon.  Instead of bar fights they had domestic fights.

The real impact was that these towns became “civilized” as the number of young women came to balance out the young men.

Here’s the fun part.  Know of any other recent restaurant chains who have used young women as a part of their secret recipe for gaining customers?

I wonder what the coming of those young women did for their towns.  And I wonder if they ever saw themselves in comparison to the young women who truly did …

… Win the West.

 

 

 

Size Matters

There’s a wonderful groundswell of voices calling out to the world.

During this season of Giving and Getting, there tends to be lots of singing going on.  It’s important to let the Giving portion of the holiday spirit embrace these humble voices without drowning them.  These few words are my humble part of continuing #MeToo.

Our society’s fixation on “SIZE” (big trucks, big people, even big words) is part of the problem.  In the case of this movement, size does matter.  As many women as possible should shout out, and keep shouting out.

If you’re not a shouter, go ahead and whisper it to the ear of the internet.  Cool thing about the internet, it will even listen to you if you whisper.  No one may hear you, but at least it will remember you.

There’s another nice thing about the size of this movement.  It appears that some actors are trying to raise the standards of writing.  It will take time, but the more actors with clout that can stand up for all the actors who don’t have clout, the more it helps everyone.

Yes, everyone.  Wait, I’ll write this big.  EVERYONE.

Actors, movie management, people being entertained, kids who are being raised by the people being entertained.  EVERYONE.

Isn’t that crazy?  By establishing higher standards of writing, these actors can in fact help everyone.  No one gets hurt.  No one has to go away unhappy.  Except for those writers, directors, and producers who rely on hurting others.  And we don’t mind hurting those guys.

Do we?

DO WE?

 

Evolution Devolution

155,615 words in something called Origin of Species.

Of those words, “evolve” is mentioned only once.  You heard it right.

As for “evolution” or “evolving” or some other variant, zip.  Nada.  Nothing.

Isn’t that funny?

Now, the word “variation” comes up 188 times.

And the word “selection” comes up 414 times.

Here’s the reason why.

As a methodical man, Charles Robert Darwin was most interested in convincing lots of good, smart people, in this radical idea that the thing we call “species” was changing over time.

CRD also knew that a lot of those same people were big on the Big Guy, the big light in the sky, the ultimate authority, GOD.

CRD had no interest in taking on religion, that wasn’t his aim.  His only goal was to show people that species weren’t sitting still.  Some species had walked the Earth long ago and disappeared.  That implied that new species were being created.  CRD had to figure out how to show people what he’d learned.

Law of Nature Number One: Each one of your children is different.  And attached to this law is another: Each of your children is different from all other children.  It’s another way of saying all of us are unique.  Even identical twins stop being identical the moment they are born.

Any problems with this?  Do you disagree?  Then check out a worm, and another worm.  If you look long enough you will see differences.  That’s a Law of Nature.

Law of Nature Number Two: Some differences help you have more babies.  Do you know any couples who have trouble making kids?  What about race horses?  The owners of famous stallions who win big races make lots of money selling that horses baby-making bits.  As long as horse racing is a big sport, there’s a good chance lots of fast-horse babies are going to be born.

Any problems with number two?  If not, we’re ready for the big finale.

Putting both of these Laws of Nature together creates a process of change.  Every individual is unique.  Every individual has a different number of babies.  And so on.

Biologists thought they were doing everyone a favor long ago when they applied the term “evolution” to the process.  It seems harmless enough.  What they didn’t realize was that they were making it harder for us non-biologists to follow along.  Bad marketing.

As a result, we have arguments with GOD over whether or not evolution exists.  Here’s the funny thing.  Evolution doesn’t exist, just like “falling” doesn’t exist.  Falling is a process of being up, and then suddenly being down.  We don’t have schools teaching “falling” as a subject.  Instead we have physics and gymnastics.

Similarly, we shouldn’t be teaching evolution in school.  We must stick to the laws of nature: we’re all unique, and we’re all going to have different numbers of children.

That’s a horse you shouldn’t bet against.

 

 

Teaching Romance

Many people complain that romance is dead.  I usually hear it from my wife, but that’s another story.

What is romance?

I’m not going to bother thinking about that now.

Hmmm, that may explain my wife’s complaint.  I’ll let you do your own research.

My guess is that most of you would like to see more romance.

In that case, why don’t we plant the seeds of proper romance where they belong…

… in High School!

You heard me right.  After all, high school is where we start teaching sex-ed, right?

Whoa!  We teach it even earlier nowadays?

That doesn’t change my mind.  Maybe it’s even more important to teach the romance part early, then.

Kids are able and willing to learn.  In school, they are going to learn about these things anyway.  In my day we had street corners.  Today they have internet corners.  I think the streets were safer.

Along with hormones and organs, let’s teach them about long dates and conversations.  Alongside the stages of menstruation and pregnancy, let’s include stages of building a relationship.  And if we really must teach things like contraception and abortion, let’s include an equivalent “romance” section on divorce.

Now that I think on it, teaching about bad relationships and divorce may do more to lower teen pregnancy rates than any contraception program.  Imagine all the single parents just waiting for the chance to tell a whole classroom about their ex.

So the next time your significant other wonders where the romance is gone, you’ll have a ready answer:

They didn’t teach it to me in school.

Good luck with that one.

 

Dating for Fun and Profit

Seriously, dating can be for both Fun and Profit.

How can I be serious about something I haven’t done for so long?

I choose to be serious.  I also choose to be funny.  It helps the medicine go down.

Hearing about dating disasters from my single parent neighbors, reading about direct accounts on social media, and seeing all the crazy dating services available tells me that the current dating world is way crazier than it was 30 years ago.

That’s too bad, because dating can be fun.

There was a time, you see, when dating had a few extra rules.  Rather than restricting us, the rules helped make things go easier.

This is going to sound fuddy-duddy, but one of the rules was that the man pays for the date.  All of it.  He also was in charge of thinking it through.

Feminists will flounder on this one, but hear me out Ladies.

The woman has far more to lose in the short run.  She’s got the biological clock.  She’s got the high standards society has set regarding appearance.  She’s got the bigger up front investment in clothing and accessories.  And she’s got an economic disadvantage in that her pay rates are usually lower than a man’s.

What does this rule get her?

She gets to see a lot more of HIS character.  How does he pay?  How does he tip?  How considerate was his plans?  What were his plans, were they things that you like, or places and food you’d rather never see again?  Were all his actions respectful, or did he treat you like a “regular guy” straight out of the gate?  Is he willing to travel great distances to see you?

Ladies, I’m sure you get the point.  In general, you are way smarter than he is.  I urge you to reinstate the rule.

Guys, there’s something in this for you, too.  You see, as a guy, I know of what I speak.

Let’s face it, you want to take her out because she’s, well, she’s got it.

Making you do all the work, making you spend all the money; that sounds cruel, doesn’t it?  You’re thinking to yourself, all this money, all this work, is it really worth it?  After all, almost all of you are just as broke as her.

I’m asking you to step back a moment and look at the older men around you.  There are those who found the right woman, and those who haven’t.  Which group do you want to be a part of 40 years from now?

Being the perfect gentleman gets you a great look into her character as well.  You’re in the planning stage, did she drop you some gentle hints?  (Think hard on this one.  Women are famous for dropping hints that guys can’t see.)  Was she ready at the time you set to meet?  When you open doors for her, does she say thank you?  Did she appreciate the places and food you made available, or did she register her disappointment?  Did she help the conversation along, or talk the entire time?

Gentlemen, I know this all sounds fairly complex, but here’s the deal.  Getting what you want as cheaply as possible just doesn’t pay off in the long run.  Look at your divorced friends and see how much it’s costing them today.

Start thinking about romance like an investment, a business proposition.  You want dividends to increase over time.  You want your business to grow, and maybe even have spin-offs.

So start thinking long-term.  Start thinking quality.  And start thinking about bringing back some of the old rules.

Let me know if you want to hear more.  I’m tired of hearing my neighbor whine.

 

Squeezing Boobies

Our male-biased cultures have many issues, like dealing with feminine beauty.

Our culture turns each woman into a canvas.  From an early age she’s trained to decorate, disguise, even disfigure herself into something other than what she was born with.

With all due respect, other women are at least as culpable as men for perpetuating this cycle.  How many little girls have been given earrings, nail polish, or pretty clothes by their grandmothers?

Which brings us to today’s titillating title.  Why do men focus on a woman’s breasts?  And when given the chance, why do they insist on squeezing them like a water balloon they are trying to burst?

I’ve linked the results of a quick internet search, leaving only the “best” sort of internet knowledge to be offered.

However, as students of behavior, we should have a good “feel” for the answer.

First we can look to Mother Nature, and assume that she has inserted a “breast seeking gene” into a man’s heart so that he wants to pursue women.  Let’s face it, if men didn’t seek women in general, there wouldn’t be many of either.

On the other hand, this may not be as big a factor as some claim, including me.  I firmly believe that female breast sizes were much smaller and had much less variation a hundred thousand years ago.  That’s more than enough time for women to evolve highly variable breasts that they use as a source of decoration, but not enough time for men to evolve a phenotype-specific attractor.

Second, we can look to our culture.  Our young minds are taught from a very young age to consider the viewing of a feminine breast as sacrilege.  Pre-pubescent girls wear tops that cover their chest, even on the hottest days.  The only possible reason is that we’re teaching everyone that a woman’s breasts are erotic.

Given their erotic standing, what can we deduce?  We can figure that breasts will be envied by other women for use as decorative objects.  They will seek to increase them by any means possible, which they do.  They will use them as decorations when necessary, like when they wear low-cut dresses or with a push-up bra.

There is a third, natural, force at work that drives men to want your breasts, and that has to do with psychology.  Men feel pleasure during sex.  Mother Nature has programmed that into male genes at the deepest levels, going back hundreds of millions of years, maybe even more.

As a female, the pleasure part is dubious.  When the sex is forced, pleasure is no longer the issue.  For a normal man to inflict pain on someone he cares about, even if for the moment, sets off a psychological condition of conflict, dissonance.  How can I feel both pleasure and good about myself if I do something painful to you?

I can’t.  For that reason, I want to do other things to you that bring pleasure.  And if society teaches that your “on” buttons bring you pleasure, then I’m happy to oblige.

Do you women want this to continue?  If yes, then do nothing differently.

If no, then do something about it.  Stop objectifying and training little girls.  Stop using your own breasts as decorations.  Stop envying larger breasts.  If they get sick, lop them off.  And if you don’t want someone to squeeze or suck on them, let them know.  They exist for a specific purpose; enjoy them with someone who can really use them.

You are not your breasts.  You are inside, and are going to be exactly the same person no matter what they look like, and no matter who wants to squeeze them.

The next time someone wants to squeeze your boobs, squeeze that boob right back and teach him how to really please you.  Your chest will thank you.

So will I.

 

Religion. Defined.

Fasten your seat belt, this is going to be a fun one.

It wouldn’t be necessary except for two things.

One: There is a lot of religion-tossing going on with our politicians, as they use it to get elected, and also use it to justify their ongoing war with “terrorism” and religious zealots.

Two: We don’t agree on what religion is.  This wouldn’t be a problem if every culture on Earth would simply sacrifice a bowl of leaves (in season, sprinkled with olive oil and salt) on the altar of the Earth Mother.  Preferably only upon the rising of the full moon.

So, because of number one, and because we DON’T do number two, we have to do number three.

Three: Religion is.

It’s a start, isn’t it?  You see, that’s the problem.  There is no good definition of religion.  I’m going to give one before the end, but it won’t create universal agreement, let alone happiness.  But it’ll work for our purposes.

As a young human, chances are you were exposed to some kind of religion.  Do this on a certain day.  Dress up.  Act nice.  Say these words.  Meet with all these strangers and chant.  Sacrifice this goat.

Well, maybe not that last item.  Animal sacrifice went out of fashion some time ago.  Mostly.

However, that’s the point.  Our practical application of “religion” has changed, because we as a species have changed.

A good definition isn’t going to change.  We invented religion, and it has stayed with us for a long time.  Therefore it must be good for something.  Perhaps if we ponder its positives, we can define it more easily.

Religion is good for:

  • managing and leading groups of people, even very large groups;
  • helping “young” minds comprehend their place in the kosmos;
  • maintaining behaviors (a culture) ensuring group survival.

That should be enough for our purposes.  You’ll find that when you add more, it really becomes part of one of these big three benefits.

So, what’s the definition?

Religion is:

The explicit expression of a set of behaviors that keep an individual as part of a group.

Now for some explaining.  Notice there is nothing in the definition about one or more deities, a higher power, an afterlife, a pre-life, or anything about buildings or prophets.  Nothing.  That’s because some religions don’t have these things.  Yet people belong and worship and propagate their set of behaviors.  They have religion.  It just doesn’t look like yours, or mine.

There is nothing about managing the group, or leading it using priests, mullahs, or rabbis.  Because not all religions have these administrative components.  There’s a good chance that any priesthood, by any name, arose out of necessity.  Like symbiotic parasites, they continue to infect any major religion with the few benefits they provide.  Let’s face it, they can also be the cause of many of the abuses we currently see.

Finally, nothing in my definition says anything about long term survival.  It doesn’t have to, the religion takes care of that for me.  If the set of behaviors don’t account for current selective forces, then that religion won’t be along very long.  It’s okay, this happens.  Today’s current count of judeo-christian religions is somewhere in the thousands.  This includes all the variants of islam, for you islamaphobes out there.  Yes, it’s a modern religion based on the same precepts as Christianity.  Get over it.

And out of the many thousands of religions practiced today, I’m confident that many more have come and already gone through the ages.  It’s how we as people handle things in the natural world.

So there you have it.  Religion is expressed behaviors keeping YOU (or any individual) part of a group.

This means that your social club is a kind of religion.  This means your academic department or university class is a kind of religion.

It also means that sacrificing that bowl of leaves to the tree goddess is also a religion; as long as you aren’t doing it all by yourself.

That would be weird.

Comments?

 

Facts is Facts

Somebody once said, “Facts is Facts” way back in the mists of time.

This is a terrible definition, because it points to itself as the definition, making this a terrible definition, because it points to itself… oops.  Caught in my own loop.

This whole “what is a fact?” broohaha came about most recently because our current leaders love to debate at the level of a 5 year old.  Was to! Was not! Was to! Was not!

In the shortest form possible, a fact is simply a statement we agree with.  If you and I are talking, and the sun is out, and you say “beautiful sunny day” it is well within my scientific right to say “that’s a fact!”  And I would.

Many great definitions can be found online.  Facts are scientifically proven.  Facts can be verified.  Facts have overwhelming supporting evidence.  Here’s the problem.  Each of these deeper, better, definitions require more work.  And we don’t like to work.

Not only do we not like working, but as of today, we don’t have a system for cataloging statements on any kind of “fact” scale.  Oh, some brilliant minds may be working on it, but they aren’t telling the politicians.  I can’t blame them.

However, we need to have this building block in place if we are to truly make progress in understanding behavior, especially behavior.  It’s easy to believe that a boulder is harder than a politician’s head.  If someone doesn’t accept this as a fact, we have two options.

First option: get a boulder, grab a politician (you have to grab because they never volunteer for anything) and run the test.  Record the results, and discuss.

The second way is to extend other facts to this new fact.  Other facts include:

  • Boulders are rocks
  • Rocks are harder than bone
  • test on large bones (from animals that aren’t currently using them) shows that the rock can break the bone.

From the above, “basic” or “direct” facts, we can extend our knowledge to a “higher” or “derived” fact.  A boulder will crush a politician’s skull.  I still prefer the first method; only because it will give us a direct fact.

So, this holiday season, when you’re sitting around with friends and relatives you only see once a year, and you’re discussing some heated topic, ponder the lowly facts that you will be bandying about so easily.  It’s likely that much of your energy is really being spent on facts that really aren’t.

Of course, getting Uncle Bob to stop rattling on about Creationism in the face of dinosaurs and continental drift isn’t going to work.  So I prefer to have more pie.

After all, pie is pie.  And that’s a fact!

 

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.

 

Canary in a Coal Mine 4

This series was about a little bird that saved coal miners from dying, saved people from being watched by authorities, and someday might save women from predators.

Yesterday I thanked all the women who have recently come forward about powerful men that have taken advantage of them.

Those who have the strength and resources to fight these monsters, I salute you.

For those who are truly weak, truly at risk, and without any resources at all, I wish to suggest a bit of technology that *might* help.  This is where our knowledge of behavior comes in handy.  We can learn from the canary that died in the mine and the canary that watches for government warrants.

We also see the number of women who have come forward against monsters in their midst, and knowing human nature, understand that these are but a small fraction of the total number of women those monsters preyed upon.

Consider this.  Give each young woman a canary as a gift.  She carries it on her phone.  If she’s too young or poor for a phone, let the canary live in a protected place that someone else cares for, on another phone for example, or a school computer.

Let that young woman (for she will surely be young) feed that canary regularly.  She will feed it with her love, her trust, and with assurances that she has not met any monsters.

Should she not feed that canary, it will die.  And those of us who care about her will notice.

We are not asking her for any details that will put her at risk.  Those are unimportant.  What is critical is that we know.  Once we know, we can start the process of hunting out that monster.  If we can do it without her involvement, so much the better.  If it requires her help, we can help her be strong.

But all of this must start somewhere.  Those women who have come out against today’s monsters have taken the next step.

I humbly suggest that this new “Confidence Canary” be another step.  Let every young woman be so equipped.  Let her know that she is never alone.

Thank you for reading.