Monday, September 21, 2009

Cognitive dissonance

Saturday I explored the Delaware Canal in Pennsylvania. Very pleasant and at the furthest point of my walk I arrived in Yardley and went into town and stopped for breakfast in a diner. At the diner there were two restrooms. The lady's room had a line of four people. The men's room was free and I could walk right in. One of the nice features of being a man.

Inside the room had one toilet and no urinal. The thought occurred to me that to be equitable, the owner could make both of the restrooms unisex. That way, men and women could have an equal opportunity to use the facility, as the rooms themselves were identical. Then it occurred to me that since women take three times as long to use a facility as men, it would mean a longer wait for me personally.

Later I came to the conclusion that since people might forget to do the latch, a man could walk in on a woman doing her business and that that would be a bad thing. I decided that the way things were was the best way and also, coincidentally, the way that I would benefit from.

The most valuable thing I learned in psychology 101 in college was the rule of cognitive dissonance. You can see it in baseball where the runner honestly believes he is safe and the fielder honestly believes he tagged the man.

We all tend to believe things in our heart that benefit us personally. Hence the rule of cognitive dissonance. People who don't drive believe that gasoline should be more heavily taxed. People who commute by car believe that train fares are too low. The coffee was good too.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Web 2.0

When people talk about Web 2.0, one of the things they talk about is IM ing and social networks like Facebook, My Space, and Twitter. One service I have used is ICQ (I seek you). Lesser known in the US, it is extremely popular internationally and allows one to communicate in real time with people you don't know from Adam. Originally a text only service, it now allows for web cam and microphone to speaker contact.

ICQ is designed for strangers to meet, not just people who know each other. You can search for people by age, sex, keywords in a profile such as "classical music" or "cock fighting". This allows one to presumably find people with common interests. I have talked over the years with people in England, Thailand, China, Canada and even the United States. Recently I talked to someone from Siberia. She claimed to be able to see bears outside her window.

The webcam aspect brings a level of reality to the proceedings. You can see the plant behind the person or the wall that needs painting. Once when using the webcam I saw the daughter whining in the background. A stern command in Mandarin sent the youngster scampering off. Webcamming has made me put a clean shirt on and trousers, while previously I had ICQed in my underwear.

The ability to talk to people from different backgrounds and wildly different environments is one of the fulfilled promises of the Internet. It, like anything else, has its pitfalls. Ladies wanting to show you pictures of them in their girdles occasionally pop up. I'm old enough to remember when ladies wore girdles.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tires and chickens

The latest economic news
to come along on the pike is the decision of our President to slap a hefty tariff on Chinese made tires. This, presumably, to help American tire workers. In return, the Chinese are threatening to slap a tariff on American chicken parts, presumably to help their own poultry farmers.

Hence, one of the classic battles is being waged between those old adversaries, tires and chickens. Those of us who have been privileged to drive through the Olde South have seen many a front yard where chickens are hanging out with the old tires that are decorating the front lawn. The chickens peck on the tires for exercise, and even raise their young inside the tires. If the tires and chickens in Arkansas can get along, maybe we can get along with China.

Editor's note: When I wrote papers in college, I was always using hence.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paunches are in now

For years, men have been trying to get in shape. They work out in the gym, walk, run, bike and keep away from fast food all in order to look good and project a with - it appearance. Today, however, all that has changed. With the publication of one article in the New York Times, men with a paunch can now be said to have the hip look of today.

Men! You can cancel your gym membership! Throw out your diet books! Plow under your garden! You can start guzzling beer again!

Pot bellies are in. Having a Ralph Kramden physique is the sign that you are ahead of the times on the cultural scene. Get out the mirror. Today you are hip. Your friends are hip. Even Uncle Charley was hip. Who would have thought such a thing? To be hip today, men need a beer belly. If we had only known that last year. Anybody want to order a pizza? Extra sausage please.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Army reunions

One of the great pleasures in life is taking your parents to your father's army reunions. Men who served in World War 2 like to get together with other veterans and chew the fat and drink alcohol. When men get to a certain age, however, they need to be driven to such places by, ideally, their children. For children asked to take part in such expeditions there are advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are
  • It's a cheap trip. Gas, lodgings, food are paid for by dear old dad.
  • You get to hear what a character your father was and if you are lucky, told stories your mother didn't hear.
  • You get helpful driving instructions and are pinpointed various interesting sites to be viewed from the highway.
  • You get to go to places like Jimmy Carter's fireworks and tobacco stands so everybody can go to the bathroom and you can buy souvenirs which you can hoist on your friends as Christmas presents.
  • Once you are there, you get to go to a bar with the other kids of the veterans. One year they had it in New Orleans and I got to march in the Halloween parade. I wore my shirt backwards as a make shift costume.

The disadvantages are

  • You get helpful driving instructions and are pinpointed various interesting sites to be viewed from the highway.
  • You get told to get off at the wrong exit.
  • You get to drive for miles in driving rain.
  • You listen to a lot of country and western on the radio. No rock and roll allowed in Dad's car.
  • You have to find parking places real close to the places you want to go.

I had the added advantage of driving my mother to her nursing school reunion. We all said the pledge of allegiance. I know everybody had to bring a gift. My mother brought an African violet plant.

Still, it's a good way to spend time with aging parents. You do remember those times after they are gone.

Editor's note: I couldn't find a link to it on the Internet but in the early 1990's there was a Jimmy Carter's stand in Georgia. It was not run by the ex president but a guy who's real name was Jimmy Carter. Anyone having pictures of this place can let me know in a comment.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sorry, Paul

Sorry, Paul. You're not getting any more money out of me. I first gave you money in February of 1964 when I bought "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at Modell's in Lodi, New Jersey. After that it's been 45's, albums, videocassettes, movie tickets, DVD's, re-hashes, Russian releases, and mash-ups. I also went through the bootleg phase. Now you want me to buy a whole new collection of the music I already have. I'm also not going to buy the game. I'll continue to listen to the Beatles the way they were meant to be played. On my turntable.

Remastered Beatles get back in new digital form
Iain Shedden, Music writer September 02, 2009
Article from:
The Australian
BEATLEMANIA is about to erupt once more. September 9 sees the release of the Beatles' back catalogue, including their 12 studio albums, in digitally remastered form.

The releases coincide with the launch, on the same day, of The Beatles Rock Band, the interactive video game in which players get to join the Fab Four on stage and in the studio.
Remastered Beatles get back in new digital form.
Iain Shedden, Music writer September 02, 2009