Friday, February 28, 2014

Suzette Advises on the Use of Condoms

Suzette, the Existential Stripper, gives some points on why you should wear your rubbers, guys:

"Let's review: the two most often cited reasons for guys to wear their rubbers is:
a)  For prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases;
b)  For birth control.  So that you won't have any unplanned bambinos that you have to pay child support on for the next 18+ years.

But lemme tell ya one more reason that no one cites, but which you will instantly understand:

c)  No one has to sleep in the wet spot afterwards.  This will make your lady friend much happier.  Or you, if you're a nice guy and man up to take your turn.

Actually, she should have a few available in her bedroom if any opportunities for coupling happen to occur.  You guys are undependable or you don't expect to get lucky occasionally.  Guys in their 20's are not into long-range planning, and probably won't have a condom or two against the eventuality of a hook-up.

I know some of you had been Boy Scouts; but it seems that this form of preparedness was not covered in their conception of the motto: "Be Prepared."  Or is that a U.S. Marine Corps motto?

Anyway, some condoms are deliberately made for 'pleasing her,' ribbed ones, French ticklers, German ticklers.   For goodness' sake, look into these.  Some actually deliver. 

And, ladies, I have some advice for you.  Buy some rubbers beforehand if you're into clubbing and recreation afterwards -- latex works fine -- and have a few in assorted colors.  Guys like wearing colors on their thingies.   Even better: try to get rubbers in school spirit colors that they will get a rise out of wearing.  There are some purple and gold ones for the LSU fans, and those UT fans won't do with less than orange-and-white ones on their little soldiers!

Who knows, to be the last word in preparedness, consider this condom dress.  This may actually come in handy, provided to remove one from a unnoticeable place.  And, over time, you can gradually shorten the skirt and render the top into a separate garment."

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Friends With Benefits

The term "Friends With Benefits (FWB)" refers to a friendship between two individuals, usually a male and a female, who occasionally engage in sexual behavior as well as maintain a friendship.  If the pair limit themselves to noncoital forms of sex, then it is sometimes referred to as "Friends With Minor Benefits" or "Friends With Some Benefits" (some form of noncoital sex*).  This FWB relationship can be remarkably stable without the pair being lovers or having any long-term commitment. Usually this is done on an infrequent basis if one or the other is in need. Think of this as one possible and occasional outcome of a strong friendship between a man and a woman.

There is a number of suppositions regarding the FWB arrangement.  One is that the friendship between the man and the woman does not persist beyond the active time of the arrangement.  The other is that the arrangement is mostly an unstable equilibrium since one member of the pair might want to make it into a romantic relationship while the other does not.

I wondered, based on what psychological research indicated regarding extrinsic rewards versus intrinsic rewards, whether the Friends With Benefits arrangement could aversely impact of the duration of the friendship.  Research by Deci suggested that if an extrinsic reward is added to an activity that previously been performed for its own sake, the activity (presumably intrinsically rewarded) would lose its incentive value.

However, findings reported in Psychology_Today indicate otherwise.  research by Owen, Fincham, and Manthos (2013) indicated that about 60% of university students had a FWB relationship; and less than one in five experienced a breakup of the friendship when the "benefits" ceased to be a part of the relationship.  As a matter of fact, 14% actually experienced greater closeness even after sex was no longer on the table (or the bed or carpet, for that matter!) while an additional 35% remained as close.

Obviously, a FWB benefit can have some hazards: one wanting a romantic relationship, while the other does not (or not yet).  And, obviously, it would be wise to discontinue the "benefits" part when one of them goes into a romantic relationship.  In general, it is perhaps wise to never allude to the former FWB relationship having transpired to family members or to subsequent romantic partners.

Finally, the Friends With Benefits relationship should be kept private; the particulars or even its existence should never be fodder for social media!

*Pardon my possible indelicacy.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Country Girl

For some not-too-clear reason there's a cable television fad for backwoods types, whether it be in the "reality" programs, dramas, or other productions.  This seems similar to the New Jersey fad of a few years ago, quite easily explainable as due to the success of Jersey Shore.

Probably it's in part due to Duck Dynasty or Justified; but other programs contributed to the fad, like Redneck Scientists.  Anyway, these programs provide very tangible examples of people like them for the cable fans, much like Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy contributed to humor.  Like the blatantly Jersey types, these country types make it easy for flatland city-dwellers to feel superior.

However, these televised rustics sometimes say things that Hollywood- or New York-based programmers would rather they didn't, and that can be a problem.  Part of it is that the person being feted does not know the rules, and there's the second part of him not necessarily giving a . . . . well, you know.  I won't say it, but he would! 

How to capitalize on this fad for hillbillies or rednecks or peckerwoods or crackers without going on the P.C. shoals, like many seem to manage?  Well, re-tool the idea somewhat.  Feature an outspoken country girl, especially one that is young, cute, and has a charming accent.  This is a far cry from large, ungainly wild-eyed males with scruffy beards dressed in costumes not found on the streets of Santa Monica!

You don't have to overtly sexualize her.  Just allow her to act naturally, and speak her mind.  Somehow, it will come out as charming, natural, and authentic.

I think that might be it.  She could manage to say certain things, but simultaneously appear to be nonthreatening in the process.  Part of it is that she would not unconsciously trigger certain atavistic images of dangerous rustics that is also in the American consciousness.  (To cite one, the horrific scene in the old timey movie based on James Dickey's Deliverance.)  I'll bet lots of people decided that canoeing in the hills might not be the safest thing to do.

Or maybe a swamp girl might lessen the irrational fear that people have of swamps.  In fact, I think that most Louisiana swamps are overwhelmingly more safe than being in an urban or even suburban area!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Misattribution of Arousal and Emotional States

It's a common enough plot line in movies and television:  woman meets man; but for some reason they form an instant aversion to each other, or it may be a one-way aversion.  (Think of the early running plot of Castle, for example.)  Now the question is, does this kind of thing happen very often, or might an initial aversion actually serve as a relish to heighten the subsequent feeling of love that eventually transpires?

I'm really asking, is it for real, or is it a misattribution of emotions that is going on?

The old saw, the opposites attract, is it true?  Consider the pairing of a conservative woman with a liberal guy.  Or a hyperneat obsessive guy meeting a feckless slob of a gal.  Would they be more likely to happen upon common ground because of their differences?

There is a phenomenon of physiological arousal in emotional states that calls for some pigeonholing to take place.  Why is the person experiencing this arousal?

Being annoying, or being unacceptably different, is one way of eliciting this arousal in the other person; but it's a risky strategy by far.  A less plot-worthy approach, but one likely to be effective, is to strategically position yourself where the person you would like to attract is experiencing arousal from some external stimulus.  Here's two bits of research that can bear on this:

Several years ago, Donald G. Dutton and Arthur P. Aron (1974) used a natural daunting setting that would induce physiological arousal. In this instance, an attractive female interviewer encountered young male participants after they walked across either of two different styles of bridges. One bridge was a very scary (arousing) suspension bridge, which was very narrow and suspended above a deep ravine. The second bridge was much safer and more stable than the first.

At the end of each bridge, an attractive young woman met the participants. She gave the participants a survey to fill out and a number to call if they had any other further questions. The purpose of doing this was to find which group of males were more likely to call the female experimenter later on.

In general, the guys who walked across the scary bridge were far more likely to call the woman, some even asking her for a date!  (Confident extraverts, apparently!)  The authors interpreted this as due to their having experienced more arousal as a result of walking across the precarious suspension bridge. They had misattributed their greater arousal from the bridge as due to being more attracted towards the woman. In general, when asking the males why they had cited reasons having to do with her attractive face, body, and eyes. Or, frankly, because they found her to be sexy!  Yet, none of the participants attributed their feelings as due to having crossed the bridge!  Lucky girl: sometimes it pays to be in the right situation!

In another experiment by Meston and Frohlich (2003), they studied the effects of residual nervous system arousal on perceptions of sexual attraction.   was studied.  Using 165 subjects (135 females), they approached individuals at amusement parks as they were either waiting to begin or as they had just gotten off a roller-coaster ride.  Participants were shown a photograph of an average attractive, opposite-gendered individual and asked to rate the individual on attractiveness and dating desirability.  These persons being questioned were also asked to rate their seatmates' levels of attractiveness. 

The results partially supported the predictions that excitation of arousal would be transferred.  If the males or females were riding with a nonromantic partner, ratings of attractiveness and dating desirability toward the photographed individual were higher among persons exiting than entering the ride. Among persons riding with a romantic partner, there were no significant differences in attractiveness or dating desirability ratings between persons entering and exiting the ride.

So what may we conclude from this?  If you wish to have another person become attracted to you, position yourself in some potentially arousing situation with someone whom you would like to attract.  For example, Halloween Horror Houses (act suitably scared so that he might put his arms around you), roller coasters (scream fetchingly and perhaps hold him close), or engaging in minor mischief.  For example, when I was back in school, I enlisted a boy to help me with gnome-kidnapping!   (Note to N.O.P.D: the wooden hostage was returned unharmed the very next evening.)*

*Can I patent this approach?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Music for Seduction

As part of light midday fare in the Crescent City, enterprising newswoman Missy Chauvin did a program on "Music to Play When she Visits Your Apartment."  This was in pursuit of that difficult to appeal to demographic: the twentyish single male.  Following her usual format, she rounded up a motely crew of participants: Al Gautreaux, her fellow newscaster, Crazy Chester, the Lewd Dude, and Suzette, the Existential Stripper.  These served as her panel of experts on music for . . . . well, you know.  She gave the program a relatively innocuous title to serve as a thinly-veiled cloak over what the subject matter really was: Music for Seduction.

Missy:  "Well, panel . . . . She's finally consented to visit you in your digs . . . . What do you play on your CD player for the occasion?"

Crazy Chester:  "Marvin Gaye is the man, my lady.  Some "Sexual Healing" or "Let's Get it On" or other songs from the heart."

Al:  "I favor instrumentals, such as "Lara's Theme: from Doctor Zhivago, "Je T'aime, Non Mon Plus," by Serge Gainsborough and Jane Birkin, or the like.  The important thing is to make your place inviting without being obvious.

The Lewd Dude:  "I say that you should get down to basics:  "Nookie," by Limp Bizkit, "Bolero," by Ravel, or "I Need Some Sugar in My Bowl," by Nina Simone.  "Bolero" sets a nice tempo if you're doing it with her.  After all, if you got her to come to your pad, then it's as good as you closing the deed!  If she's sophisticated, pour a little Pinot Noir; if she's hot to trot, Jagermeister shots are the way to go."

Missy started a frown.  Clearly, this last one was not what she expected.  She started to worry that the discussion would get out of hand and the station would receive a complaint or fine from the FCC.

Suzette:  "Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi Ce Soir."  Even though it's in French, it gets the message across.  And I like the Gainsborough-Birkin one too.  R Cool's "Bump N' Grind" for being in bed together,  But, in a way, I agree with the Dude.  Choose your drink selection carefully.  Her losing her cookies isn't sexy."

Al:  Really, choose relaxing music that fits her tastes.  Even some of those early 2000s pop hits such as Britney and Christina did.  Even, God forbid, big band music.  Just don't play Barry White, you know.  You don't want to appear to be trying too hard."

Missy blushed, having remembered what was on the playlist for last Saturday's visit with her boyfriend.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Need for Social Feces Reassembly

Back in 1897, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim coined the term anomie to refer to normlessness.  This would be a condition in which a person is separated from the general norms that link the individual to his community.  This anomie is supposed to underlie such deviance as suicide, recreational drug use, the general Not Give a Damn attitude that some people have, and Looking Out for Number One.

The sordid, sick, and sorry story of the rape in Steubenville, Ohio last year with the lack of intervention to the young girl's plight and apparent tolerance of this sort of behavior showed this clearly.  Did not anyone present feel any need to intervene, or even indicate that it was wrong in any way?  How can anyone feel a desire to live in a community that would allow this?

In short, there seems to be a handicap or a glitch in the ordinary processes that are required for social living: a sense of  communality, trust, and the expectation of honesty and truthfulness in others.  Basically, the Res Publica (the old Roman expression for Public Thing) is out of kilter.  And, in the context of American society, circa 2014, other things are out of kilter too.  I think that this is something that both the left and the right can agree on.

Part of the problem is that we're a mass society that is heterogeneous: we have no single political party that everyone believes in (like the old PRI in Mexico or the Communist party in an old Warsaw Pact country, no state religion, no governing rules that affect crafts or guilds, not that any of those worked very well.  And we have the enduring problems of race and sectionalism that still haunt us.  We're historically and presently not done well with our pluralism; we need to suck it up, accept that people are different and states are different, and learn to work together as best as we can.

And part of this is due to our mutual isolation: there a few bridges being built among people.  Some churches have even developed parallel communities to minimize their flocks from coming into contact with outsiders, and thus contaminated.  No, not just backwoodsy sects or cults: big megachurches.  This needs to stop.

And there are the commentators who increase the problem: demonizing the opposition, ridiculing people, engaging in ad hominem attacks, and so forth.  A to-be-wished for solution is for there be to bilateral dialing down of the rhetoric.  Or, if you can't, then shut up!  I don't mean just Rush, too; though he is symptomatic of the problem. Here is another dumbass opinion, this one from the left.

Unfortunately, too much of what passes for humor nowadays has a nastiness or hostility to it.  Humanistic Psychologist Abraham Maslow characterized self-actualized persons as having a non-hostile sense  of humor.  Humorwise, a lot of what we're collectively doing is wrong. 

And we pay for it with loss of community, cynicism, and pessimism.

And much of celebrity "news" involves the reporting of mishaps or errors.  When magazines have "Best Dressed" and "Worst Dressed" issues, it is the fashion faux pases that get the attention.* 

But, regarding opinions, you have a right to yours, as everyone else does.  But you also have a responsibility to think yours through, having gathered the facts, rather than supinely following someone else.  Otherwise, it's true: opinions are like anuses, everyone has one.  Alternatively, you can baaa! like the other lambs waiting to be shorn!

Here's a test:  You are directly aware because of the bumper sticker on your neighbor's car that your politics do not coincide.  Also, you happen to see that someone or something is attempting to do harm or did harm to her or him.  (e.g. -- a burglar is trying to pry open his back door, some goon is beating on your neighbor, some ruffians are trying to molest her, some person is hungry or rendered without shelter due to a tornado.)  Do you help? 

If your answer was affected by your neighbor's bumper sticker, then you have your values all screwed up!!!!  You have no claim to compassion or being a Christian or any other moral claim.  Yeah, verily, you sucketh!

All values and all dimensions of valuing are not equal.  Some things are more important than others.  If there's a conflict between your principles and the safety or survival of another, I hope you're principled  enoughto throw your principles aside!

Our Res Publica is still in danger; but the danger is, to a great degree, of our own making.  We need to pull it out.  Reassemble our feces**, and come together.

*Gratuitous opinion:  I liked Bjork's swan dress!

**Or, get our **** together.

I wrote this last year; but thought it was too controversial and a downer to post.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

What About Languages in Addition to English?

The United States on the national level has no single official language.  However, 28 of the states explicitly name English their official language.  One state, Hawaii, names Hawaiian as its other official language, New Mexico gives special status to Spanish; and Louisiana the same to French.  Every one of the states has linguistic minorities residing.  Five states are de facto bilingual.

For 43 of the 50 states, the seond prevalent language is Spanish.  See this Wikipedia article.

However, in seven states the second most prevalent language is not.  It's French in Louisiana, Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.  It is German in North and South Dakota.  And it is Tagalog in Hawaii.  And there's a lot of languages spoken by small numbers of people.

We have a few minority languages in the United States that are steadily decreasing in the number of speakers, so that they are in danger of becoming extinct.  When this takes place, is some of our national patrimony lost?  Some would argue that it is; that these languages should smehow be preserved.  We don't have that problem with Acadian French in Louisiana, but Louisiana Creole does seem to be declining in number of speakers, especially in New Orleans.

We have something of a schizophrenic attitude collectively when it comes to languages other than English.  On one level, most prep high schools encourage at least two years of foreign language study, primarily one of the Western European languages (Spanish, German, French, and sometimes Italian).  Very few schools offer Chinese, Japanese, Russian, or Arabic, despite their increasing importance in foreign relations.  And there's the classical languages: Latin and Greek.  Yet most graduate programs have dropped reading knowledge in a foreign language as part of their degree requirements.  (A little degree requirement slippage.)

As for everyday speaking, there are some militants that go with the stance, "Dammit, they're in the U.S. of A.  By God, they ought to speak English!"  As if it is any business if I address someone who is knowledgeable of French or Louisiana Creole in the tongue that they understand.  We must remember that the United States when being formed was not an empty space: it already had people residing in some states that were speaking French, Spanish, Native American languages, Aleut, Tinglit, Hawaiian, and even Dutch.  This is a carryover of the historical perspective that American history happened with the 13 colonies, and the other states served as bit players, except during the Great Unpleasantness (1861-1865). 

[Just as a prank, I would like to hack some telephone automated answering sequence and change it to: "Press one if you want it in Louisiana Creole, two if you want it in French, three if you want it in English, and Four if you want it in Spanish."  That would twist the FOXsters panties into a knot!]

Whatever, there are a lot of people that speak a language in addition to English.  And whatever you do, don't treat them like they are cute dogs that have an interesting trick. 

"......You speak Aleut?  How cool.  Say something clever in Aleut."
Sometimes language can be entertaining, though.  California, with English as its official language, has a locally-derived language, Boontling.  It's spoken around Boonville by some, primarily as a novelty.

Having squawked enough, I'll end with a prayer in Louisiana French Creole:

Nouzòt Popá, ki dan syèl-la
Tokin nom, li sinkifyè,
N'ap spéré pou to
rwayomm arivé, é n'a fé ça
t'olé dan syèl ; paréy si la tèr
Donné-nou jordi dipin tou yé jou,
é pardon nouzòt péshé paréy nou pardon
lê moun ki fé nouzòt sikombé tentasyon-la,
Mé délivré nou depi mal.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Hugs and Snuggles

A recent weird news item reported that an establishment in Madison, Wisconsin dubbed the Snuggle House offered a per pay service of providing someone that you can talk with or cuddle or snuggle with at $60 an hour.  Each encounter there was to involve snuggling only, no sexual moves on the part of either the customer or the snuggle service provider.   However, this unusual enterprise was closed by local authorities lest it be an occasion for prostitution or sexual harassment.

The claim by the management and fans of the Snuggle House is that an hour's snuggling with someone else would release the hormone Oxytocin, the "tend and befriend" hormone.  Here's a description for the establishment itself; you can form your own conclusions about it:

An enterprising reporter of the Badger Herald looked into the house, and gave this description:

Undoubtedly, being close and quiet or having soothing contact with someone else would release this beneficial hormone; but so would other things.  For example, sitting quietly and petting a dog would do so as well.  Or the simple act of hugging someone else, if they are receptive to this going on.  Perhaps it's something we should be a little more permissive and welcoming about as a culture.  We need smiles, pats on the back, kind words, and hugs.  Who knows, some people might experience less loneliness.  Some churches are becoming more encouraging of this type of contact in addition to the ritualized shaking of hands.

Little things do matter; and people feeling a sense of being loved and not alone matters a lot.  We need hugs.  Seriously.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Need a Minimum Daily Allotment of Humor!

Sometimes we have rougher times than others; and we need a laugh break to get over the rough patches.

Take persons who are involved in serious, possibly life or death situations.  They have their own version of humor shared internally (doctors, pilots, cops, even professors). Outsiders encountering these examples of humor might be put off, or even horrified, by hearing it.  Here's a few from medicine:

FLK -- funny-looking kid; one who appears with overt facies  (facial characteristics) indicating some symptom.
Circling the drain -- about to die.
Acute lead poisoning -- gunshot wound.
Fecal encephalopathy -- shit for brains.
LOBNH -- lights on but nobody home; person catatonic or generally unresponsive.
Code yellow -- Urine needing cleanup.
Goober -- malignant tumor.

Or psychology:

Bra-size IQ -- one in the range between 30 and 45.
Room temp IQ -- one in the range between 70 and 80; just barely above intellectual deficiency.
Shrink -- psychotherapist.
Binet or WISC jockey -- psychometrician.
Worm runner (archaic) -- an experimental psychologist who tried to do transfer of learning studies with flatworms.

We're on safer grounds in recommending more mainstream humor sources, provided the type of humor is consistent with one's taste.  For example, these sites are really for people who are okay with irreverent, even risqué, humor:

Television and the internet provides a lot of funny for those in need.  I like The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother30 Rock also had its moments, as did a lot of classic comedy from the 1980s, like Wings.  I think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not my style; but my point is, if it works for you, go for it!

Humor is supposed to have health benefits, as well as giving pleasure to many people.  I wish some governmental agency could be formed that would unbiased rate all forms of humor in terms of some RDA of humor.  Then each person could assess her or his own daily intake, and make adjustments accordingly.  We already have this available for diet (calories, sodium, protein, sugar, etc.) -- why not humor?

Oh, the obvious hit me like a tennis racquet falling out of a closet on my head: can we expect bureaucrats to do this kind of job?   Gee, the I.R.S. or the U.S.P.S don't have people there who are a bundle of laughs.  Or consider our officeholders, who might have to set it up.  Can you imagine the Nancy Pelosi Joke Book, or John Boehner doing a show on the Comedy Network?  How about it falling under Homeland Security?  Well, they must have a sense of irony, given their name!

No, I'd sooner entrust this to the nuns, or to a random selection of names from the phone book.

Humor really remains as something we should assume personally as a social obligation.  We owe it to our fellow humans to make light of things sometimes, to look on the sunny side of life!  Let's all do our part, America!  Lighten up, Francis!*

Even "gentlemen's clubs may find occasion to be a little humorous:

*A line from Stripes, a very funny movie.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Too Many Amens

Unlike the solemnity and conviviality of most Sunday meetings at church, one in western North Carolina had an event that marred the occasion.

In turned out that two preachers, an older one and a younger one from the Sacred Ground Church With Signs Following, were sharing a convivial bottle of whiskey privately before the evening service, since one aspect of their religion was to disapprove of drinking in any form.  Still, the flesh was weak, and the whiskey was particularly blessed one night.

As a sure sign that they were looped, they started talking -- well, arguing -- about the remarkable opportunities for extramarital sexual activity their ministries allowed themselves access to.  So they made a bet, and each swore on his honor to tell the truth.  After church that Sunday evening, they were to stand in the door and shout "Amen!" when each woman they had sex with passed them on the way out.

That Sunday, each preached a short (a mere 40 minute) sermon, and the service ended after the usual suspect hymns.

As some of the women passed, the younger or the older preacher would say "Amen."  After a few passed, both said "Amen!"

The younger preacher's wife exited; and both of them exclaimed Amen!  The younger preacher got a dark expression on his face.

Just then, the older preacher's wife and daughter left.  The older preacher naturally said "Amen!"  He was, after all, married to her and was diligent in performing his husbandly duties.

The younger preacher shouted, "Amen!  Amen!"

The old preacher glared at the young one, turned bright red, and threw a punch.  The young one hit back, and the two of them went at it on the church floor in front of the entire congregation.  It was so sudden and so bad that they had to call in the sheriff's deputies to arrest them!

That evening the deacons held an emergency meeting, and they voted unanimously to withdraw fellowship from both preachers due to their setting a bad example and not following the Lord like they should.  But they never found out why the two of them started fighting!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

True Love-Detecting Bra and the Two-Factor Theory of Emotions.

Ravijour, a Japanese company, is currently marketing a True Love-Detecting Bra, presumably as a novelty item.  You can get an idea about this product by visiting this site and viewing the YouTube video.

Basically, the bra has within it a sensor which monitors the wearer's heart rate and other vitals.  Data from these measures is constantly transmitted via Bluetooth to a mobile phone which processes the data using a special app and measures the heart rate elevation using special algorithms and preset data and it is only when your heart has truly found that special someone then it would beat in a way that the app would recognize and wirelessly unhook the bra.

As the descriptive material advises,"Ladies can relax as not any changes in heart rates will unhook the bra as the experts at Ravijour say it is only when a woman falls in true love does she get excited enough for the Adrenal Medulla to secrete Catecholamine which affects the autonomic nerve and increases the heart rate which is detected by the sensor and processed by the specially developed iOS app."

Isn't technology wonderful?  Well, I have a few concerns.

1)  Love, as well as any other emotional experience, is not reducible to a specific set of physiological responses.  According to the Schachter-Singer theory of emotion, any emotional experience has two components: the physiological state itself, and the cognitive awareness or interpretation of why that experience is happening.  In other words, the pleasures of his (or her) company, the positive experiences that are transpiring, the person's charm and sincerity all come together with the physiological arousal to result in that wonderful and complex experience that is inferred into "I am falling in love with that person."*

2)  How sensitive are the measures in fact?  Many commercial products that purport to measure physiological events are notoriously low in reliability.  And the Love-Detecting Bra does not factor in the cognitive awareness of the wearer.

3)  One's bra becoming unhooked should never just automatically happen in the moment.  The moment should be private, planned, and after a suitable passage of time or occasions.** 

To take an extreme case:  Suppose I was wearing one of these bras, and it suddenly happened while I was giving a presentation to a graduate class that I would suddenly be overcome with these physiological responses due to another student's presence.  (Yes, getting smacked by true love in the moment!!!!!)  Frankly, the last thing I would to happen is to have a bra malfunction at that time!  Besides the embarrassment, it might actually serve as a distraction to lessen the likelihood of their being a reciprocal response on his part.)

4)  Suppose you just want to get out of your bra for other reasons.  Will there be Prince Charmings around to make house calls or road service?

*In the future I plan to write about misattribution of emotional states, but that is another story.

**Think of the old-time intimacy rules.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ramblings About a New Orleans Girlhood

 I'm the youngest in my family: two older sisters and two older brothers.  Growing up in the 1990's, I was allowed to be a free-range kid within the bounds of the Lakeview neighborhood, zip code 70124.  Yeah, I was a bit of a tomboy but only one aunt worried about that.

When I was in high school, I dated a bit, starting when I was about 15-1/2.  I had a Midnight curfew on weekends; 10 P.M. on nights when I had school the next day.  Some of my friends thought, or at least expressed the opinion, that I was too controlled by my mother.  Actually, when I started at the University of New Orleans, Mama told me that, since I was now an adult university student (hee hee), I no longer had a curfew and could choose to come home when I wanted.  Funny thing, I never told anyone that I was curfewless.  This worked in giving me an excuse for getting me home from dates in was not wild about, plus sympathy points from guys.  Frank confession: my enjoyment quotient flags at around Midnight, anyway.  I'm an early riser.

Like most teens, I had an illicit drink on now and then.  I never drank and drove.  We did pranks, like putting detergent in fountains or hiding garden gnomes.

Dee-Doh (pet Acadian name) was the first boy I kissed deeply.  Okay, there was a little more . . . . We debated whether we should have brought it up in confession.  Our relationship is mostly Platonic, and we have a lot in common.  We helped each other through each others' relationships.  I think that both boys and girls benefit from having a sympathetic friend of the opposite sex.

Our family was officially in St. Dominic's Parish in Lakeview; but where we attended mass was strictly a matter of convenience.  Or amusement.  And especially to avoid priests who gave long sermons.  Fifteen minutes is enough, tops!  Daddy used to look at his watch subtly (he thought).   I used to love to go to St. Louis Basilica in the French Quarter because it was so campy and baroque.  My aunt used to do flying novenas there, and take me along.  Afterwards, we would get coffee and beignets.  She knew how to do religion!

I was asked to be an altar server, but did not attend sufficient classes to become official.  Tant pis!  I might have been a swell nun someday!

I got the sex talk when I was about thirteen.  It was matter-of-fact and non-judgmental.  When I turned sixteen and started to date, Mama took me to a doctor so he would prescribe me birth control pills just in case.  I took them for over three years before I actually had occasion for them!  I told Mama about how things went when I went out with guys, and she was very supportive.  Okay, I'm a Mama's girl!

I attended Catholic schools.  They were really not as awful as the internet folklore would have it.  As a matter of fact, the ones I attended were quite easy-going.

Not surprisingly, considering my temperament, I stuttered a bit.  Also, I have a hot temper and was actually on antianxiety medication for a while.  Any sweetness on my part was strictly due to Ativan and other antianxiety meds.

I still think of the Times-Picyaune as the apotheosis of newspapers, and WWL-TV as the one to watch, especially for the 10:00 news. 

Some French groups had communal dances, called fais do-dos.  Actually, to fais do-do means to go to sleep.  I occasionally slipped after leaving Louisiana, and said that I was going home to "make do-do."  It's hard to shake the hometown idiom.  And, yeah, I walk on banquettes and think of mixed breed dogs as cayoodles.  Words to not use in the Great Elsewhere.

I worked for a while as a barista.  All of us had part-time jobs and it gave we an additional reference group in addition to classmates.  It helped me be more outgoing and less shy.  And, darn it, I liked dispensing mildly addictive caffienated drugs to people!

I got my driver's license at 16.  Dad taught me to drive in City Park and on the streets of Lakeview.  I think he might have aged a bit in the process!

Oh yes, I wore what I call my faux purity ring.  The Baptist girls in the neighborhood flaunted theirs, so I had to wear a piece of junk jewelry to keep up and not be regarded as a Jezebel by them.

What to wear?  Mama helped me shop.  Once she encouraged me to wear brighter colors and more daring clothes than I was inclined.  She liked to make costumes, and was quite skilled and imaginative.

I was warned not to go down Bourbon Street unaccompanied.  This is something that the locals have to deal with: the French Quarter being both attractive and treacherous, especially for the young.  Retrospectively, I think that is good advice.  Stepping over vomituses or being pawed by intoxicated tourists is not too cool.  That's a reality that locals in New Orleans have to live with.  The French Quarter can be quite hazardous after dark if you're a lone female.  I think it's imperative that girls develop street smarts.

My eldest sister had her own room.  My two brothers shared their room, and I shared one with my older sister.  We learned not to get in each others' hair, and that at times we needed a little private time.  In a lot of ways, she and I were good roommates.

Sometimes Daddy, when he would take recreation, would occasionally play the ponies at the Fair Grounds, and he took me along sometimes.  He enjoyed taking us on special occasions for breakfast at Brennan's (brunch) to dine en famille.  At home, we were offered beer or wine when the parents would have it at dinner -- no age limit!  Same with mixed drinks.

My grades fell down during Mardi Gras season.  That's because Mama, Maw-Maw, my sibs, and I went to a parade each night.  I was a C student because of this.  I made A's and B's in Math and Chemistry, but sucked at English and History.

I was on the track team, and ran the half-mile and mile.  I used to go to Tad Gormley stadium and practice with the guys at the open sessions for track and field practice.  That was considered daring by some of the girls who were rather stiff in the fanny and thought my going was for other purposes than for running.  Cross my heart, you all!  I'm not telling a story.  Guys in sports were encouraging to girls who also went in for it; only old guys and nonathletic girls had issues with us.

I've been told that I speak with a New Orleans Yat accent.  So where ya'at?  In addition to English, I speak passable Acadian French (It would barely pass in Paris!) and Louisiana Creole.  I am reminded, however, of the words of François Villon: "There is no good speech except in Paris."  The French, and the old Creole families of New Orleans, are trés snobby about their French.  Cajuns are not. 

My grandmother was skeptical of the pretentions of the Creoles (families who descended from the days of the colonial settlement).  As she used to say, the Creoles are like the Japanese: they eat rice and worship their ancestors.  She had a keen view of things and an unihibited tongue.

My girlhood extended into adulthood; but effectively ended on August 29, 2005 with Katrina.  Enough said. 

Living in New Orleans allowed me to be less inhibited about things.  It's true, we tend to be tolerant of others' bad habits.  And even encourage a few.  After all, it's easier to live in a community where the bar of acceptable conduct is set fairly low and human fraility is not only accepted but encouraged.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Expanding the Market on Bridal Garters

I must admit that the custom of wearing a flimsy bridal garter as part of the wedding ensemble is a charming touch; definitely one which would enhance the wedding experience when removed in private by her newly-wedded spouse.  

The part of the groom publicly removing the garter as part of the post-ceremony hijinks at a reception, then tossing it to a group of bachelors, not so much.  Many bridal garter sets come with two garters:  a more elaborate one for a wedding keepsake, and a smaller one for the toss. As a matter of fact, I find the garter toss to be tacky!  Especially so if he uses his teeth to remove it!  Now everyone expects the newly-wed couple to do it, but too naked an allusion does coarsen the solemnity of the affair.  (Angel sniffs disapprovingly, then stamps her foot.)  Coming in second is the bride tossing the bouquet to the as-yet-unmarried women and girls.  That can be hard on those in their thirties, especially if they have to compete for the bouquet with teenage girls!* 

Anyway, couples tend to get married at an older age, and more often with less formality and traditional wedding trappings.  That's bad news for the wedding industry.  Anyway, there were fewer weddings in part due to the decline in birth rate since the heyday of the Baby Boomers!

Sheila's Fine Bridal Garters was a company experiencing this demographically-induced recession, and the owner called a meeting to deal with this problem.  The staffers all realized that, indeed, there was a problem.

Finally, Clara, who had gotten a marketing degree from an on-line institution, proposed that Sheila's Fine Bridal Garters should diversify the potential market: repositioning them as possibilities in other circumstances, as well.

The CEO of the company was intrigued, and invited Clara to expound on her thinking.

"Well, Sir, we could start to market a line of Promwear Garters.  After all, some Millenials do wait for prom night to lose their virginity.  This would help make it a special event."


Clara quickly added, "Well, we could also offer a line of First Time Garters or You Got Lucky Garters.  This would provide the guys with some tangible proof to his boon companions that he indeed got lucky."

Wilhelmina, the accountant, observed, "But the company is Sheila's Fine Bridal Garters.  Wouldn't marketing to the prom crowd or the casual affair market get us off-message?"

Clara replied, "Well, maybe the company should shorten its name to "Sheila's Fine Garters."

Sakura, who sometimes dressed whimsically in the Lolita look, added, "You could seek the niche market by offering black and red Elegant Gothic Lolita Garters.

Wilhelmina doggedly added, "What about the moral implications?  Would we garner bad publicity by seeming to support promiscuity?"

Clara observed, "Yes and no.  Yes among the prudes; but not among the groups that we are targeting."

This just goes to show that a little creative marketing can transform a company in the doldrums into one that is known for its innovation in development.  Sometimes it just calls for a different paradigm!  As a further example, there are already sports team-themed garters. 

Mike might find this one to be especially of interest.

*In some Cajun weddings, it is a tradition that, if a younger brother or sister marries before the older one, the older one must dance with a broom at the wedding dance.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Return to Humor

I've written about gravitas, politics, battle-axes, and in general been free with opinions all over the place.  And tossing big words here and there.  Suddenly, it's like, gee, I'm one of those who would write for heavyweight publications like Atlantic or The New York Times or Cosmopolitan, for God's sake!  And, frankly, I'm out of my league.

Anyway, I'm into humor, and think that chicks can do it too.  Even blondes in their twenties with small hooters!

Someone said or wrote that, "Life's a comedy, for those who wish it to be.  Have fun; none of us are getting out alive."  So, enough of my serious crap!

Here's a short blonde joke:

Several blondes were driving through Louisiana. As they were approaching the town of Natchitoches, they started arguing about the pronunciation of the name. They argued back and forth until they stopped for lunch.*

As they stood at the counter, one blonde asked the manager, "Before we order, could you please settle an argument for us? Would you please pronounce where we are - very slowly?" The manager leaned over the counter and said, "Burrrrrrrr-gerrrrrrr-Kiiiiing."

*For the benefit of the curious, it's approximately "Na-ka-tosh."