Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Do Men Prefer Conformist Women?

It is seen as a truism that, while women are attracted to nonconformist men, men tend to prefer conformist women. That is, they see more conventional women as more feminine, safe, and predictable. The trope that women are attracted to edgy, seemingly dangerous bad boys has been around for a long time, as the Sandy character gravitated towards Danny in the movie Grease. 

But is the attraction of Greg for Dharma equally possible? (Dharma and Greg, an old television show.)

But is the preference for attraction really non-symmetric? Matthew J. Hornsey and his associates at the University of Queensland and Griffith University did a series of four experiments to test this proposition.

In general, they found that both men and women preferred nonconformist romantic partners. In fact, the less conforming a woman was, they greater the likelihood of dating success she was likely to have. However, women tended to see men as preferring more conventional, nonthreatening romantic partners. So what does this tell us? 

It tells us that there is a disconnect between perception and reality in this case. Women need not fear to fly their freak flag if they also want to get along with guys. Think of that: no need to present yourself as colorless, conformist, or uninteresting any longer. It may be that seeing a young woman acting confidently nonconforming boosts their courage to follow their heartfelt desires more and not be so conforming. After all, an obvious freak is less likely to disapproving of someone else's departures from the norm!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Really Crappy Art

The art of Italian artist Piero Manzoni (1933 - 1963) was once criticized by his father as being "shit," so he filled 90 cans with 30 grams of his feces each and began selling them at the market price of gold, about $35 an ounce then. The artwork was titled, "Artist's Shit (Merde d' Artista). Eventually, all cans were sold. 

A few years ago, the Tate Gallery in London purchased one of the cans for 22,350 pounds from Southeby's. Needless to say, this acquisition evoked a lot of commentary! And, as you can see, the artist signed each individual work.  

But this raises some questions. What is his artistic message, if any? Did Manzoni have an intended use for these cans? Did he expect many sales of cans? Did he effectively thumb his nose at the art world?

Several years ago, a friend of his, Agostino Bonalumi, claimed that Manzoni did not can the his feces, but only plaster. This raised some sort of dilemma, or did it? Does the artistic concept of shit in a can require actual shit to meet it? After all this is conceptual art. 

The owner or gallery possessing the can has a problem. If the can is opened to determine the contents, this would damage the art work, and drastically reduce its value. On the other hand, wherein lies the art? Is it the physical work, or is it in the eccentric idea? If it's the latter, then the actual contents would be unimportant.

As a matter of fact, it might be sufficient to paste a titled 4" X 6" card on the wall and call it "art." We can get interesting ideas too. Therefore we can also be artists. "Artist" becomes more democratic and less of a gallery- or museum-labeled priesthood. Here are a few concepts that may or may not be turned into art.

"Barney on a Riding Lawnmower"

"Break Dancing by Democrats"

"Boredom from a Bad Movie"

Or, come up with your own concepts and declare it "art."

Friday, June 24, 2016

The "Ugliest Color" in a Fashion Statement

Recent research has revealed that Pantone 448 C (opaque couché) has been rated by over 1,000 people as the world's ugliest color. Here's a color square of this much-maligned color from which you may draw your own conclusions:

To me, the color does resemble that of cat poop; hardly one to paint a bedroom in; but maybe a cell for ISIS terrorists or serious masochists. 

Given those kinds of associations, it it surprising that opaque couché can serve as a fashion statement:

Risk-taking and edginess have always been in the world of couture; but this is certainly a bold move! Wearing red or yellow is regarded as a bold statement, not without risks. But the woman who wears an opaque couché garment radiates a confident message: "I'm so beautiful and charismatic that I can dare to wear a dress that is the color of cat or baby poop!"

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lie Back and Think of England

When I was a freshman at L.S.U. and lived in the dorm, people would be sure to ask who you were hanging out with that evening. Sometimes sisterly advice was offered; often sarcastic comments were the commentary. Guys, you certainly did not think that this was not going to happen, did you? Anyway, some frat guys speedily acquired a reputation for being brazenly forward; like stealing second base within the first hour!

One older guy, a grad student, asked me out for dinner and a movie! When I answered the inevitable question about who I was hanging out with, I was simply told to "lie back and think of England." I my naiveity I thought this meant that he was English, and tended to dwell on that topic overly long. 

Foolish thought! It turned out he was all hands, and he wasn't following the old "five dates" rule. Anyway, to make a long story mercifully short, I pulled the plug early in the evening. And walked back to the dorm. Fortunately, we had been in Tigerland so it wasn't far. Does coming back early still wearing all your undies constitute the Walk of Virtue?

Since I returned at around nine, there was a lot of speculation about it having gone south. Yes, it did; and he had bigger paws than a Great Dane!

But the evening intrigued me in another way. I did not detect anything Anglo in his speech or interests. He had no apparent interest in cricket or rugby. And did't wear an old school tie, whatever that entailed.

No, it turned out it was a faux historical allusion.

This advice, "Just lie back and think of England" had been around for a while; presumably referring to advice given to Victorian age brides by their mothers in dealing with undesired sexual activity from their husbands. It played on a stereotype of proper English upper-class women as being sexually unresponsive, patiently tolerating the fact that men will be men but they don't have to be pleased with that part. The remark has been specifically attributed to Queen Victoria (probably stridently false) and Lady Hillington, who wrote in her journal "When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my bed, spread my legs, and think of England."

[I wonder that if she thought of France or Italy instead, would her experience be different.]

Actually this is good advice for our dealings with the government. 

It's also good advice for the Scots, the Welsh, and the Irish. And, historically, for us before 1776.

Monday, June 20, 2016

What Do Gothic Letters Suggest?

It just dawned on me after gliding over them for several years: Many of our nation's major newspapers use Gothic letters in the masthead! Here are a few examples : The Times Picayune, the Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesThe Boston GlobeThe Washington PostThe Chicago Tribune, the Miami HeraldThe Philadelphia Inquirer, and several others follow this pattern.

The Baltimore Sun, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution do not follow that convention. For most of us this is about personal tastes. But some journals use this Gothic text to convey a notion of gravity, or deep seriousness. It's like they carry a banner implying "take me seriously, for God's sake! The NYT does have a mostly rich, influential urbanites that take themselves so seriously and expect the proles to do so as well. 

What if the New York Times were to use a different type face. To take an extreme example, how about Comic Sans?

At least it's not boring, like Times New Roman.

Years ago a cartoonist, Walt Kelly of Pogo fame, chose to depict Deacon Mushrat* speaking in Gothic letters. Perhaps the Deacon aspired to an opinion column in the New York Times:

Therein lies a problem with Gothic type face: It takes itself too seriously and comes off as a tad stodgy, like Deacon Mushrat. But maybe that's a newspapery fault that they try to plead being authoritative, like some modern-day prayer:

From Trumpies and ghosties
And long-leggedy models
And Politicians that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

*As cartoonist Walt Kelly styled him in Pogo.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Rayne, LA: Frog Capital of the World

Small towns have a need to proclaim their place in the sun. In the process, some have some extraordinary claims to fame.

Rayne, Louisiana styles itself "The Frog Capital of the World." And they have an amusing statue of a top-hatted frog:

Rayne is also known as The City of Murals. Often these are frog-themed. Here's a few to inform and mostly entertain you:

Clearly, this is a place where Kermit would feel at home. After all, it isn't easy being green! There's even more; some neat statuary in front of stores:

Why did Rayne become so froggy? Well, it seems that a restauranteur from New York City tried some, liked them, and added them to the menu. They were a hit. And other restaurants started featuring frogs' legs. And eventually the town started shipping them to Paris and other places on the Continent. No, the French were referred to as 'frogs' much earlier, because of this dietary proclivity they already supposedly had. But that's another story.

It's not hard being green in Rayne, Louisiana.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hanlon's Razor

Occam's Razor has been around for a long time. Briefly, it states that when explaining things, make the fewest assumptions possible.

Hanlon's razor is a special case of this general rule. It state that "you should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." I think that's a good principle to follow in everyday life, whether in politics, interpersonal relationships, or the world of work. For example, recently a Tennessee legislator, Rep. Andy Holt (R - Dresden) said that he would give away an AR - 15 at his fundraiser on June 25th. Note to Bilbo: A possible nominee for Left Cheek Ass Clown  for June.

The fact is, there's a lot of stupidity around. I don't have to enumerate examples; you can come up with a slew of them yourself.  And it's true; whether the action that results in trouble is due to malice or stupidity, the result is often the same.

So, for your own peace of mind, say, "Bless her or his heart, and just assume that the offender is just a few bricks shy of a load! Chances are, you're as right as rain on a tin roof without getting your panties in a bunch. Self-inflicted wedgies are no fun!

I'm not doing a Battle of the Bands today; however, I should have one by July 15!