Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Maxims of François La Rochefoucauld

François La Rouchefoucald (1613-1680) was a French author primarily known for his maxims.  In them, he could be pointedly cynical and blunt.  His view of human conduct can be a tonic in small doses, but corrosive in large doses.

I do not believe, unlike La Rochefoucald, that everything that motivates people is reducible to the motive of self-interest.  Anyway, here are some examples of his maxims:

That which makes the vanity of others unbearable to us is that which wounds our own.
Hypocrisy is the homage which vice renders to virtue.

In the adversity of our best friends we often find something which does not displease us.
How can we expect another to keep our secret if we cannot keep it ourselves.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
A refusal of praise is a desire to be praised twice.
We sometimes think that we hate flattery, but we only hate the manner in which it is done.
It is the prerogative of great men only to have great defects.
It is easier to appear worthy of a position one does not hold, than of the office which one fills.

Attention to health is life greatest hindrance.
The accent of one's country dwells in the mind and in the heart as much as in the language.
It is a species of coquetry to make a parade of never practising it.
One may outwit another, but not all the others.
We always love those who admire us, and we do not always love those whom we admire.
Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire.
There is merit without elevation, but there is no elevation without some merit.
We are more interested in making others believe we are happy than in trying to be happy ourselves.
If we resist our passions it is more from their weakness than from our strength.

We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others.
Passion often renders the most clever man a fool, and even sometimes renders the most foolish man clever.
Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily.
We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore.

We confess to little faults only to persuade ourselves we have no great ones.
Of all violent passions, the least unbecoming to a woman is love.
Quarrels would not last long if the fault were only on one side.
The gratitude of most men is but a secret desire to receive even greater benefits.
Who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks.
There are good marriages, but no delicious ones.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Dirt Road Sports Relocate

The Dirt Road Sports from Western Carolina, Bubba and Billy Bob, found their attempts at free enterprise to be hampered by a saturation of competition.  Specifically, the moonshine business and the spare auto parts businesses had too many competitors in the immediate area, and those weenies in Asheville developed a preference for Jack Daniel or single-malted scotch instead of God's pure white lightning!

Oh this was a sign of the times.  But they were not about to go the meth route.  That would be unchristian.

So, our two heroes decided to take their show on the road.  They packed their still equipment, their hunting gear, and their live-in girlfriends into pickups and hit the open road.  Before doing so, they employed the modal corporation relocation strategy: Billy Bob threw a dart at a map of the U.S. to choose where to go.

The first time, it fell on Cleveland.  But they discussed the matter through, and decided that The Mistake on the Lake was not where successful Tarheel capitalism could find its new roots.

So this time Bubba did the tossing, and the dart fell on Vermont.  Now the extent of their knowledge of the place amounted to maple syrup and Ben and Jerry's ice cream, so they saw no problems.

It was a hard journey, with misdirections into West Virginia and Ohio before they got on track in Pennsylvania.  That's what comes from buying an after-market GPS from a fence in Greensboro.

Finally, at long last, they arrived.  They bought a place in the woods not far from town  and set up their still.  No ATF agents in the near vicinity, they reckoned.  They were merrily cranking out white lightning in a pleasingly pure form and it began to catch on with the natives.

Who knew Yankees could have a taste for the pure stuff?  They felt like they were in clover, and their girlfriends were able to dress in as flashy a manner as they chose and they got new pickup trucks.

Bubba and Billy Bob diplomatically concealed the Rebel flag for a while; but as they consolidated they trotted it out, along with the Wolfpack stickers on their rides.

Of course, this spontaneous eruption of free enterprise in backwoodsy Vermont attracted attention, and it wasn't long before the local John Law came on the scene.  Poor Billy Bob and Bubba were caught in the act!  They were hauled in and charged.

Not with making illegal alcohol; but for manufacturing insect repellant without a license.  They didn't look too closely as to how their product was being used!

Anyway, after paying a small fine and obtaining a license they were back in business.  But they were a little insulted at their product being identified as mosquito repellant!  Still, as Billy Bob reflected, they didn't have any mosquito problems lately.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When Women Had Tails

Sometime in the past, I speculated on the actual procedures of paleolithic courtship: did it involve the guy bopping his potential mate and dragging her off to some cave or other shelter somewhere, or was it done romantically with flowers and other offerings?

I will confess, I can't be certain; but the romantic spirit in me prefers the latter.  And I'm reminded of the bowerbird's courtship; the male constructs an elaborate bower, and decorates it with various found (or stolen) objects, preferably blue ones.  The female then chooses whether he is her mate or not.  Likewise, the splendid bird of paradise has the male do an elaborate courtship dance to win the female's favor.  Surely, even cavemen could figure out some advantages of following the lead of these experienced courters!

Anyway, I found reference to an old movie, Quando le Donne Avevano la Coda (When Women Had Tails), starring Giuliano Gemma and Senta Berger.  The plot of this oldie (1970) centers around a group of seven prehistoric guys trapping in a pit a woman who had a tail!  They debate as to whether to eat her; but she teaches one some other possibilities. 

Yes, it was lowbrow sexy comedy like the Italians could do it; even when the guy attempts to mate with her,  heassumes a supine pose above her rather than prone!   (Maybe the Missionaries did a service millenia later by giving effective coaching in this important life skill!)

If you would like to watch the original in its entirety, just go to YouTube.  Warning: It's 1:42 long, in Italian, and a lot of lame humor transpires!  It has a happy ending, don't fear.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cowgirl Melinda Encounters Eastern Enlightenment

Easterners, for various reasons, like to view the inhabitants of the Mountain West as a farrago of buffoons, rugged individualists, survivalist cranks, members of strange cults, and people who are vile exploiters of the unspoiled wilderness that require counsel and enlightenment from their elite Eastern brethern and sistern.

So Cowgirl Melinda mused one afternoon after an earnest one-way discussion with fast-talking visitors to Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  It was after her soothing yoga lesson: and the Child Pose, the Eagle Pose, the Plow Pose, and finally the Corpse Pose helped her get centered and not in need of a shot of house bourbon.  Melinda likes some of the new ways; but the lack of a juke box in the yoga studio did give it room for improvement.

Anyway, what was this world coming to?  The woman refused to respond  initially when she smiled and said "howdy'; and her companion did not tip his hat like she expected.

["Oh, maybe he thinks I'm a guy because I'm in these yoga pants."]

Anyway, she was later asked if she was a survivalist.  Melinda thought in terms of the Bee Gees' song "Staying Alive" and allowed that she was.  As a matter of fact, life was a hoot and needed to be enjoyed.

And she was asked by the Eastern couple what she did.

"Oh, I'm just a working girl."

Disapproval crossed the woman's visage; and the man looked bemused and asked her rates.  The woman really looked cross then.

Melinda did not know that the expression had a different meaning back in civilization!  It is if the idea of women working is somehow shameful; particularly if they do manual labor.  For the record, Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote, long before the 19th Amendment.  Also, westerners tend to be diffident about their deeds rather than self-advertising.  Cowgirl Melinda did allow, however, that sometimes she was a cow drover and sometimes a goose wrangler.

The Eastern lady then commented, "So you're part of the beef and paté exploitation faction?  You must be a hunter too!  What sorts of wildlife do you hunt?"

Melinda's response was, "Whatever's in season.  Somtimes the vittles can be pretty rough withough some help."

"Are you also a member of some cult?"

"No, Ma'am.  I do a church service if there's no new movie being screened and my bar tab is too high."

"Are you a member of the Tea Party?"

"No, Sir.  I lean towards coffee, myself, if it hasn't been standing in the carafe too long."

"Why do you live out way beyond civilization?  You are handicapped by not having current internet service and even cell phone reception is poor here."

"Ma'am, that's where the cows are so they can eat.  Damned little grass growing between the asphalt."

The Eastern Dude asked Melinda if she sang to the cows or geese at night to soothe them.

"Why, no sir.  I get a bonus from the trail boss for not singing unless I'm showering out of doors.

"Goodness!  You do it in the open?"

"We all do in front of each other.  A shower curtain is too much trouble to hang, and our showers are cold water ones too so we do it pronto and rarely.  Mainly, we don't like stinkin.'  All of us like hot bubble baths when we rent hotel rooms back in town."

"Are there any dangerous mountain men around these parts," the Eastern lady inquired of Melinda.

"Well no, Ma'am, unless it's payday and the bar has Olympia on tap."

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Equal Time for Jill!

"Jack and Jill went up the hill...."

They experienced accidents.  Jack's was reported to have a traumatic encephalopathy; Jill's was unspecified.

This is all part of a consistent pattern; there almost seems to be a conspiracy of neglect behind it.

After all, look at how many senses is the word jack used:

a)   As a device for lifting, like for automobiles;
b)  As a flag that flies on the bow of a ship;
c)  As a plug or connector for electric circuits;
d)  As an interlinear translation.

Someone who has multiple skills is "a jack of all trades."  Multiskilled Jills are unrecognized.

Jack must be someone that is deemed important to know.  After all, there's scorn in the expression, "You don't know Jack!"  There's no stigma attached to not knowing Jill.

Hotels and resorts are known to jack up their prices during peak demand times.  But no one jills up or jills down their prices!

And when oppressive governmental thugs get outfitted, part of the package is their getting jack bootsJill boots are never offered as an option, however stylish they might be.

Jackhammers are used to break up concrete.  But try to purchase a jillhammer!  That would raise eyebrows at Home Depot.

An older generation of kids played at jacks.  No one played jills.

Hollowed out pumpkins are jack-o-lanterns; those with obviously female features are not jill-o-lanterns!

Female loggers are not known as lumberjills, even though they're okay, and they may also sleep all night and work all day.

Speaking of playing, there are four jacks in a deck of cards.  Sadly, no jills.

And while dateless guys might have their self-gratification option still available, girls are not known to jill off.

On the other hand, there's yellow jack, otherwise known as yellow fever.  This disease was formerly a scourge of New Orleans, spread by the Aedes mosquito.  At least I can say that none of my ancestors died from yellow jill.

While TSA may have to worry about planes being skyjacked, no one is particularly concerned about them being skyjilled.

And some inexpensive apartments have Jack and Jill bathrooms.  Knowing the tragedy of the commons, these are rarely kept clean by either user.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Creative Hiring of CEOs and Other Riff-Raff

In the normal course of events, there is a disposition to hire people to perform in major decision-making roles from individuals who have shown some prowess in having done so in the past, especially if the jobs seem to be highly similar.  Obviously, the most conservative strategy for recruiting these titans of decision-making is to hire someone who has had notable success in the same field.  This is usually how universities work when it comes to hiring football coaches.   All in all, everyone is comfortable if the new coach has had a proven record of wins, conference championships, and recruiting potential star players!

The same goes with university presidents, although many are figureheads or socially-prominent people who can successfully raise money.  But, after all, successful panhandling is a talent in itself.  You don't hire a university president who goes, "Spare change for _________ University, do you?  Who knows, maybe that approach might work for institutions that have a countercultural ethos.

It's not entirely unheard of for an individual holding a CEO-level position or a senator to become a university president or vice-versa.  But what if there's extras available for the taking?

After World War II, the Army had more generals than it needed; and some generals like Dwight Eisenhower and Troy Middleton became university presidents; and one became a football coach for the University of Tennessee!  Now that was taking an educated risk!  Since some thoroughly modern major generals and higher ranks have gotten fired lately, they might be potential CEO material!  Usually, corporations are more forgiving of sins of the flesh than is the Army!

Likewise, some university presidents have made themselves available because of injudicious remarks.  One in particular successfully managed to annoy Catholics, the SEC, the University of Louisville, Boise State, and the Little Sisters of the Poor!  At least he probably does not have to worry about the nuns putting a contract on him!  Yes, his running off at the mouth cost him a early $2 million a year job, even though he wore bow ties!

So, you ladies and gentlemen with flag-rank military or senatorial or CEO or even coaching experience, here is an opportunity for you:  as the CEO of Lululemon, Inc.  However, they do specify some unusual qualifications.  As their ad put it:

"If you can hold a headstand for at least 10 minutes, communicate in Sanskrit and enjoy downing wheatgrass and tequila shots on Fridays for work-life balance, Lululemon has a job for you."

Now if Bill Clinton could manage those headstands and Sanskrit, he might have a job for an ex-President!  He might have handled the see-through yoga pants problem differently!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Reflexive Conformity in Apes

Reflexive Conformity in Apes

When Wolfgang Kohler studied problem-solving in apes, this was one aspect he overlooked: why even anthropoid apes show conformity.*

Here is a possible conformity-inducing approach.

1. Start with a cage containing five apes. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, an ape will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the Banana.

2. As soon as the ape touches the stairs, spray all of the apes with cold water. After a while, another ape makes an attempt with the same result-all the apes are sprayed with cold water.

3. Turn off the cold water. If, later, another ape tries to climb the stairs, the other apes will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them.

4. Now, remove one ape from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new ape sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other apes attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

5. Next, remove another of the original five apes and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

6. Again, replace a third original ape with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four apes that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest ape.

7. After replacing the fourth and fifth original apes, all the apes which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no ape ever again approaches the stairs. Why not? "BECAUSE that's the way it's always been done around here."

Isn't there a moral here?  Possibly we need to apply it in business and political situations.

*During World War I, he did his famous ape studies on Tenerife, a neutral Spanish territory.  And while there was probably also was a spy for the Imperial German Navy.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

NEWS, News, and "news"

I suppose it's the outcome of tabloidizing of the media that the boundaries of what constitutes serious news have become blurred.  Very clearly, there are some stories that should be universally considered hard core news: a possible war, the re-election of the President, the post-Katrina flooding in New Orleans, Bengazi, Pope Benedict resigning, the housing market in Florida, California, and Arizona going in the toilet, and the recent disclosures regarding government monitoring of telephone and e-mail messages.  These deserve the full-court coverage readers might expect.  Call these NEWS.

Then there's the next level of stories that are probably less crucial, but newsworthy in their own way.  Proceedings of city councils, malapropisms by politicians, momentary scandals, reports by scientists regarding research that is not Earth-moving, who gets awarded the Nobel Prize, sports news.  Call this News.

Then we have the next level: catfights between celebrities (like, who should give a darn about the possibly staged tiff between Rianna and Amanda Bynes?), celebrity wardbrobe malfunctions, lists of Best and Worst (worst best-dressed cities, worst-dressed celebrities, best hamburgers or barbecue joints, etc.)  The deserves lower-case news, or even "news" to put it in its proper place.  The Huffington Post, bless it's heart,* does this regularly.  But, lately, the Business Standard carried an 
article entitled "Teen Mom Farrah Abraham upgrades boob size from C-cup to D-cup."  That was the actual title!

This is not to say that "news" doesn't have a  place.  After all, sometimes it's nice to do some slumming in print beyond reading the jackanipes and common scolds on the editorial page of the New York Times.  It's proper to look upon them as diversions, or even as guiltly pleasures.  And, who knows, Ms. Abraham's upgrades may have business bottom line implications!

What we have a scarcity of are columnists who provide some centering for the reader. Dave Barry comes to mind.  And, apparently, Art Buchwald and Lewis Grizzard did back in their times.

*Southern women understand the subtext behind when "bless its heart" is used: it's a put-down.


Friday, June 14, 2013

The Semiotics of Tramp Stamps

Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne-Sud reported some more social psychological  research.  This had to do with the stimulus value of lower back tattoos, commonly called "tramp stamps."

To assist him in this experiment in a natural setting, he enlisted the help of 11 women aged about 20 years, all rated as "above average" in attractiveness, who wore a two-piece swimsuit on several occasions.  On half of the occasions, each woman would adorned with a temporary butterfly tattoo located in the small of her back; on the other occasions, her back would be untattooed.  She was to recline on her stomach on a beach towel, and be reading a book during the observation period.

Young male assistants were stationed nearby.  Their task was threefold: to count what percentage of young men would try to come up to her and start a conversation, to time the approximate latency between the guys' seeing her and making their moves, and to possibly intervene.

Without wearing the butterfly tattoo, women were approached 10% of the time; but with the butterfly tattoo they were approached 24% of the time!  It took an average of 35 minutes for the men to approach the untattooed ladies (if they did), but only an average of 24 minutes if they had the tattoo.

In a second experiment, Guéguen sent his attractive demoiselles and their mecs back to the Breton beach; but this time the guys asked nearby males to estimate how likely they would obtain a date with the young woman, and to estimate how likely it was that they would have sex on the first date.  In both cases, a greater likelihood went if the young lady had the butterfly tattoo.

Apparently, a "tramp stamp" does reflect a perceptual reality among these young men.  This is despite the fact that there is no term in the French language that conveys the adverse moral judgement that the American slang expression conveys.  It might be useful to replicate this study on a German beach, given that their slang for lower back tattoo is arschgeweig ("ass antlers.")

We should note that the two-piece swimsuit, per se, does not seem to be the primary determinant of these inpetuous guys' intrusions.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

National Speed Trap Award

A pre-Labor Day article in last year's Chicago Tribune reported a survey that mentioned specifically that the worst speed traps were in Flower Mound, TX, Livonia, MI,and Winthrop, WA.  South Carolina had more speed traps than any other state; and Ontario, Nova Scotia, and the District of Columbia were most frequently cited for having them.

Now the term "speed trap" is perjorative, implying that it is excessive, abusive, and primarily for revenue-generating purposes rather than for safety reasons.  Who knows what wickedness lies in the hearts of men and women?  Put a bunch of them on a City Council and you can come up with some lulus, I think.

Anyway, one argument for setting up speed traps is that it gives the local police something to do in between episodes of more serious police work: in effect, it keeps them from going to doughnut shops too frequently or snoozing in their patrol cars.  However, this is hard to fathom, given the numbers of serious crimes and the meth epidemic that is affecting a number of areas.

I propose a National Best Speed Trap Award.  Now, in order to make it fair, there should be some objective criteria to use; not just simply that more people have complained about it.  Here are a few, with others that could be added as the concept is further refined:

1.  It  uses a dramatic, unexplainable reduction in highway speed without adequate justification; in other words, not due to a nearby school or town limits.

2.  The speed limit sign is small, nonreflective, partially obscured, or otherwise likely to be overlooked.  Clearly, the use of radar to regulate speed in places that use due warning such as "Reduced Speed Ahead" or "Speed Zone Ahead" should not be considered speed traps.

3.  If there is no radar data, or the radar habitually malfunctions, then this might warrant it being called a speed trap.

4.  Finally, if the posted speed limit is ridiculously low, then it should be considered a speed trap.

I envision a televised awards ceremony for the National Best Speed Trap Award to be held in Los Angeles.  In this ceremony, the local sheriffs and chiefs of police whose juristrictions are nominated should attend, wearing tuxedoes.  Each official should be escorted on the stage by a beautiful Hollywood actress, and there should be music and champagne flowing freely!  This would be a night to remember for our stouthearted speed trap specialists!  Yes, let the champagne flow freely; they deserve no less!

At the end of the ceremony, each officer would drive away in their own official police vehicle.   And three blocks away, the L.A.P.D. would have a sobriety checkpoint.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Airplane Decorative Art

The desire to personalize airplanes probably has been around from the beginnings of aviation.  For instance, there was a time when military airplanes were decorated with art work by their air crews.  Often, in those pre-p.c. days, these decorations were risqué and even lurid. 

Sometimes the airplane name was on the blunt side:

Or with double entendres:

 Still others used patriotic themes:

I wonder if these would be allowed today.  I wonder also how the Generals and such felt about this; and what Mom and Pop felt about their son posing against the Strawberry Bitch.

When commercial aviation developed in the United States, the emergent airlines went for a totally uniform look, often using reds, whites, and blues.  One exception was the now-defunct Braniff Airlines, which used their jet planes with individual color schemes.  On one occasion, they even called on artist Alexander Calder to design a color scheme for one of their planes.  This was an exceedingly first-rate creation:

However, airplane nose art reached its most surreal with a Hello Kitty-themed plane when EVA Airlines put it into service.  Unfortunately, it was used only on Japan routes.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hell-Bound Alabamians

 Here's something more from the Ig Nobel Prizes.

Back in the 1990s, the Baptist Church devised a formula for determining in their opinion what percentage of Alabamians are destined for Hell.  In their opinion, about 46% merited eternal damnation.  Apparently, according to this article the criterion for being "unsaved" primarily used was church membership.  Catholics and certain Protestant sects could be expected to experience a more-than-tropical heat wave, while Baptists would be issued harps or banjos or whatever celestial music they were to make.  Furthermore, the Birmingham News got wind of their formula, and published their estimates on a county-by-county basis.   There was some commotion, I guess; and the scientists for the Ig Nobel Prize awards awarded them one for Mathematics in 1994.

Madison County (Huntsville) and Limestone County (Athens) had a lot of Hell-bound Alabamians in their estimation.  So did Tuscaloosa.  Now it's been said that Tuscaloosa is a drinking town with a football problem; the other county with a similar high number was Lee County, where Auburn University is located.  Baldwin County (Gulf Shores and its dives), with 56% unsaved, is very high also.  On the other hand, about 70% of Clay County residents are saved.

One wonders what is the state of Alabama's grace now in 2013?  Have more become "unsaved"?  Are the football worshippers of Alabama and Auburn the reason for so many unsaved?  Certainly, the success of one has been attributed to a Faustian bargain, and there's the infamous Rammer Jammer cheer.  What about the white sauce barbecue people?  Is the number of unsaved in Madison County due to those Republican, porn-loving engineers?

I looked in vain for percentages of the unsaved in other states.  Does the oppressive rectitude of the Midwest result in more being saved?  Is the fiscal restraint and ecological concerns of Californians enough to warrant more a pass through those Pearly Gates?  Are West Virginians particularly endowed with grace?  What about the percentages saved at South Beach?  Does going topfree jeopardize your salvation chances, or if you present a good front, will St. Peter give you a pass?

Obviously, my mind is boggled with questions.

However, I am assured that the Alabama Baptists, and no other religious denomination, actually once attempted to quantify how many of their state will go to heaven.  They should be commended for their clever blending of quantification with speculation.  I hope they will renew their efforts by more recent quantifications, and extend their methodology to the other 49 states, because I'm totally curious.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Radiation-Sensitive Bra

Dr. Elena Bodnar and her associates developed a handy radiation-sensitive emergency bra; something to wear in situations where you might be exposed to radiation in sufficient quantities, but also offering an attractive degree of cleavage enhancement.  The cups of the bra convert to a pair of gas masks which are easily deployed, one for the wearer and the other for a friend.  They reduce or prevent particle inhalation in radiation-prone settings.  This obviously useful safety device merited Dr. Bodnar an Ig Nobel Prize back in 2009.  (Go to that link to view a picture of Dr. Bodnar being given her award by three actual Nobel laureates wearing her emergency bras.  Who says scientists don't have a sense of humor?)

For the ladies, I can say that my delving into the product indicates that it comes in sizes from 32B to 44D.  Apparently, it comes only in the color red; at least, no other colors were illustrated and there was no provision to order it in other colors.  This might merit caution regarding what kind of outer garments you wear; on the other hand, it can be a little daring to wear one of these under a light-colored blouse or t-shirt.  Nevertheless, X-ray technicians, microwave users, and others who use radiation-generating equipment might consider this undergarment, both for its stylistic and practical value.  This device is especially useful for those who might be exposed to serious doses of radiation in their workplaces.

The product, using the slogan "Be Sexy, Be Safe, EB"  has a radiation sensor incorporated into the body of the bra. In the event of an emergency, a change of color will take place in the upper opening of the sensor’s pocket located under the front clasps of the brassiere. If the top opening (sensor strip) has become a darker color than that of the lower opening (service life strip), this signals that it is time to convert the Emergency Bra into face masks to use during an evacuation.  A possible drawback is that, in order to check the color differential, you must undo a few blouse buttons in order to see the front clasp of your Emergency Bra.  This might be mis-interpreted by others; still it is a remarkable advance in radiation safety.  Perhaps OSHA and the military might consider these to be essential safety equipment.

My suggestions: come out with the Emergency Bra in colors in addition to red; and expand the size offerings to include demoiselles fitting more comfortably in A-cup sizes.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Learning How to Become a Cougar

A current buzzword, according to that cultural arbitrer, Time magazine, is cougar; an older woman who romances younger men.  This term may come or go, as is the case with other prominent buzzwords. That great consumer of buzzwords, the typical academic institution of any level, is sure to pick it up like fleas on an unwashed, roaming dog; therefore I was not at all surprised that most with-it and trendy agent of academe, the continuing education system, adopted it like a cute homeless kitten.

Now the metaphor of Woman as Kitten has been around for a long time with such concepts as "sex kitten," someone acting "kittenish," or even the term of endearment "Kitten." (Has anyone ever used the expression, "sex puppy" or "sex lamb"?)  Also, having full-fledged cat status ascribed to you is not a compliment. "Cougar" is a more recent offshoot of that same metaphor: a somewhat older, and equally predatory feline.   There's an insipid television comedy called Cougartown.

Anyway, I recently got one of those flyers through the mail in which the local community college which presented its recent offerings for enrichment of persons' lives. One entry stood out:

Introduction to Cougarhood (3 c.e.u.). This course is intended for thirtyish women and those in their later twenties to prepare for the challenges of being single, yet thirtyish. It is intended to address the psychological, sociocultural, and fashion challenges that confront today's still-young and adventuresome woman. This class will meet for six sessions between 6:00 and 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday and Thursday during the Second Interim Term. Additionally, there will be one field trip between 11:00 P.M. and 12:30 A.M. as the last session, followed by an hour-long discussion.

The following topics will be addressed in this course over the six (6) class sessions:

1. Stalking the wild young man

2. Tentative flirtation techniques

3. Advanced techniques of flirtation

4. Signaling through discreet lingerie tease

5. Hair-flipping, cherry stem-tieing, and other attention-attracting ploys

6. Exercise techniques for figure enhancement

7. Surgical figure-enhancement means

8. Scent analysis: why musk-based scents should be used and citrus scents are to be avoided

9. Make-up strategies

10. When should cosmetic surgery be considered?

11. Subtle seduction techniques

12. Introduction to lassoing men

13. Men to avoid.
14.  How to end the one night stand.

15. How to break up with men gracefully (hopefully)

Should I sign up in preparation for later years?  It doesn't sound like a continuing education class where you're likely to meet guys, which is the point of continuing education for most.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

What Do Guys Really Talk About?

There is a real sexual divide that does not begin at the waist or even the chest, but in the mental processes that differ men and women.  Now several people have commented on this, including the oft-repeated saw about women saying about 60% more words per day, using or not using certain words (Like adorable:  Can you name the last time you heard a guy not Cole Porter using the word "adorable"?), and especially topics.  We gain little insight by observing their behavior in mixed settings; certain species are shy and do not engage in species-specific behavior if observers or possible threats are present.

But I took my cue from Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall:  just hang around, and don't do anything remarkable, and those wily animals will stop paying attention to you.  Maybe Wiley Coyote should use this strategy to catch roadrunners instead of the junk from Acme.

Fortunately, there is a way to observe the conversations of guys.  Hang out in a setting where guys are present, but be seemingly engaged in using a laptop computer.  If you avoid eye contact, and appear to be engaged, they soon stop noticing the skinny chick who's typing.  This is exactly the same approach used by Jane Goodall when she studied the apes.

This was my methodology.  I was occasionally offered a coffee, and I mostly responded to those overtures by thanking and saying "I'm good."

Anyway, male-male dialogue tends to run this sort of course:

1.  There's the brief greeting, often reduced to a grunt or two.

2.  Then, there's talk about sports, initiated by a remark such as "Didja see the game last night."  This is likely to last over half of the encounter, and be enjoyed by both.  There's mild oneupmanship, but no real status-seeking going on.

3.  Now and then there are allusions to work.  While guys might work in the same place, "talking shop" tends to be a low priority.  That may be because their work is so unpleasant so that they would psychically avoid any continuation of it.  Now and then remarks are cast:  "My boss is a ball-buster," "The Comptroller is a real asshat," "Back to the old salt mines," "I wish I could tell them to take this job and shove it."

4.  There are brief comments of a sexual nature that crop up toward the end.  (I have to be careful to look intently at my screen and hopefully not blush.)  "Look at the hooters on that redhead!"  "Got any last night?"  "She's so hot, it would take two men and a boy just to look at her."  These are more throwaway lines, rather than actual topic shifts.  Surprisingly, men talk just a little about sex and not too specific -- at least in restaurants or coffee shops.

5.  Comments about the food.  Now these are spirited!  "This Carolina barbecue is for weenies," "Try the banana puddin' sometime," "If I eat that stuff, I'll get the runs." 

An interesting this is what they don't talk about.  Feelings.  Worries.  Clothes.  They're pretty self-contained.