Sunday, June 13, 2010

Marriage, Stimulus + Response

Assuming for a(nother) moment that we are deliberately designed by one or more really smart people, we can infer a little bit about their design philosophy.

For one thing, they keep everything functioning through equilibrium of opposing forces -- earth's temperature is managed through summer and winter, day and night -- constant change of opposing forces that balance each other out. Equilibrium of extremes keeps things from changing too much and spiraling out of control.

They were also much more concerned with proportion than with size. Show me 100 frogs, and I'll show you 100 frogs of different size. But they all are designed with the same proportion in mind.

Today i thought of a third design philosophy we can infer from how they designed things -- development through challenge. We develop muscles when we have to lift things. Speed when we have to run. Aggression when we need to assert ourselves.

So let's apply this to marriage. Assume for a moment that women were designed as a stimulus to develop personal strength in men. What would we expect them to become in marriage? Unstable, emotional, bossy, unpredictable, flaky.

Without those stimuli, we'd never need to develop leadership.

Taking that a step further, marriage can be looked on as a personal challenge for men. Rather than expecting it to be a situation that gives us everything we want -- happiness, peace, and stability -- we can look at is as a challenge to develop core leadership qualities in us that are essential to running a Tribe.

Maybe that's why things are the way they are -- why wives commonly act in ways that make us nothing short of miserable. They're not there to make us happy. That's not what they're designed for. They're designed to force us to become what we need to be.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Anxiety and its self-medication

Been thinking a lot about anxiety -- particularly the ways we try to cope with it.

Let's define anxiety as that uncomfortable feeling you have when you don't know what's going to happen next, and fear it might be something bad.

How do we avoid this? 1001 ways.

Alcohol, drugs, controlling others, smoking, anorexia, bulemia, workoholism, procrastination, the list goes on.

The first thing I thought was, "Man, if you find somebody who's exhibiting the above behaviors, watch out -- anxiety is probably under the surface!" We blame people for their alcohol or drug abuse ... but really it's just their way of coping with their anxiety. Because of you're not feeling anxious, there really is no escape necessary. An obsession with massage I think is also a clue that somebody is struggling with anxiety -- because anxiety causes muscle tension, which needs massage. Controlling others is the classic response to anxiety -- I feel out of control, so I impose control on others to make myself feel safe and powerful.

This line of thinking does a couple things for me -- first, it puts these "vices" like control and drugs in perspective as means of coping with weakness, rather than affirmative "sins" in the religious sense. Second, it provides warning signals that somebody may be struggling with anxiety -- and that you can probably expect the rest of the symptoms to show up sooner or later. Third, it explains why I've never had any need for any of those vices, as I really don't experience any anxiety. Fourth, it makes me wonder where anxiety comes from -- early in life? biology? choice? Finally, it makes me wonder how best to deal with the anxiety of others, particularly in the area of controlling behavior, where it begins to have negative impacts on my life.

The obvious answer -- and the one they want you to buy into -- is to alleviate their anxiety. That will certainly alleviate their anxiety, and thus your immediate pain. But the habits that caused the anxiety remain, and the anxiety is sure to return. It's a non-sustainable solution.

What is the answer? Maybe there is no answer to the question "How can I fix them?" as it seems one can only fix onesself. Maybe the answer is simply to cope short-term with anxiety in those around us, and provide education on the tools that alleviate it ...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Why Academics Lean Left

The demographic studies have always troubled me -- education and leftism are strongly and directly correlated.

What's the causal relationship there?

The Left traditionally explains this in one of two ways -- either education teaches you that Leftism is true, or smarter people choose to be both academics and leftists.

The Right, at least to my knowledge, has never explained it, except from small pockets of anti-intellectually that don't appeal to me for obvious reasons.

So why?

Today, as I was walking back to work, it occurred to me -- Leftism is, at its heart, alienation from and anger at the marketplace. They don't trust the marketplace. They instinctively blame businesses when things go wrong, even when some other fact is to blame -- reactively, angrily, anti-market.


Perhaps it comes down to alienation. Academics are typically smart, diligent, hardworking, motivated people. Yet they find themselves underpaid and impotent in the marketplace because academia teaches us lots of theories, but very few marketable skills. In fact, you learn your marketable skills in the marketplace, not in school, because marketable skills simply aren't for sale in school. Teachers, for one thing, typically don't have any to pass on.

So let's look at the life of the original and consummate leftist, Marx. Now there was a guy alienated from the marketplace and from real life. He couldn't do anything useful. He couldn't even keep his family clothed and fed. Yet he was smart. And he knew it.

How is an intelligent failure-at-life to explain the problem? One of two ways, really -- some fault in him, or some fault in the "real world."

Many people (myself included) see the problem in ourselves. We recognized when we graduated from school that we were essentially worthless in the marketplace, and needed to learn a whole new set of skills to survive and thrive in the real world.

But suppose someone were to take a different approach, and blame the market for being "unjust" and "immoral." Suppose an intelligent, idealistic young man chose to blame the world for the fact of his uselessness, instead of his own failure to learn anything useful?

Why then you'd have a leftist. Someone who is instinctively, reactively, anti-market at every turn.

Perhaps this explains why academics -- particularly at the highest levels -- tend to be leftist. they're smart, and they know it. yet they cannot compete in the marketplace, and cannot make money. They think they know how the world should be run, because of their extensive study of social science (developed by other academics alienated from the market). Yet business has no use for them. How short a leap to blame business, rather than their own failure to engage in the useful activities demanded by business.

Academia and Leftism share one key similarity -- alienation from the daily business life of the world. Perhaps that alienation is the causal force that drives their correlation.