Quotulatiousness

January 8, 2018

Sex is a Basic Instinct – Sigmund Freud l HISTORY OF SEX

Filed under: Health, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

IT’S HISTORY
Published on 30 Sep 2015

The psychologist Sigmund Freud spent much of his life trying to understand how the human psyche functions. Famously sorting the human consciousness into the it, the ego and the superego. He was particularly interested in the instinct for sex and satisfaction of lust, a phenomenon he called the libido. Many of his theories were highly disputable, such as his theory on infantile sexuality and the societal influence on sexuality. Learn all about the father of psychoanalysis on ITS HISTORY!

January 6, 2018

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs meets the blockchain

Filed under: Economics, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Tim Worstall explains why sensible economists aren’t worried about robots taking all our jobs:

CryptoKitties is also so new that it needs explanation. It works on blockchain, so it’s sexy (Bitcoin!), although there’s no great reason why it should. It’s simply a collectible, as much as cigarette, football or baseball cards were. AN Cat exists digitally, others do too, they can breed and, as in a pretty standard Mendelian model, attributes are inherited to varying degrees.

People are willing to spend real money on gaining the attributes they want. All the blockchain element is doing is keeping track of who owns what – a pretty good use for blockchain even if a payment system might not be, an ownership registry being a different thing.

Apparently, 180,000 people are into collecting CryptoKitties now, having spent some $20m of real-world resources on their fun.

And this is why economists aren’t worried about automation leaving us with nothing to do. Partly, it’s this inventiveness on display, the things that humans will find to do. Breeding digital cats? But much more than that, it’s about the definition of value.

And here’s where Maslow enters the discussion:

there’s something called Maslow’s pyramid, often known as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We humans like our sleep, water, food and sex – and in roughly that order too. Only when one need earlier in the chain is at least partially sated will we get excited about finding more of the next. In a modern society most of these are well catered to, which is why we also desire, even demand, things further up the pyramid, such as TV shows, ballet, Simon Cowell, collectibles and so on.

It’s also true that economists insist this value is personal. It’s whatever value the individual places upon the whatever, market prices being the average of those summed. Just as we cannot say that one form of production creates more value than another, we cannot say that £10 of value in a collectible is lesser than £10 in food. We can, as in the pyramid, say that if the food desire isn’t partially sated then the collectible won’t be thought about, but order of desire isn’t the same as value.

All of which leads to “no worries she’ll be right” about automation. Say the robots do come in and steal all our jobs, and the algorithms do all the thinking – we’re not going to be left starving and bereft with nothing to do.

We’ll not be starving because the machines will now be doing everything. If they fail to do something as obvious as growing food, then we’ll all have jobs growing food. In fact, given the machines are making everything so efficient, we’ll all be stunningly rich – for all production must be consumed, that’s just an accounting identity.

But what are we going to do if we’ve not got those jobs? One answer is that we’ll start producing things further up the pyramid. More ballet, more poetry, more trifles like that. Why not? That’s what we’ve done every other time we’ve beaten the scarcity problem with more basic items, it’s the basis of civilisation. Only once we don’t need 100% of the people in the fields growing food can we have some portion of everyone off doing the civilisation bit.

But doesn’t this mean that we’re all going to end up doing terribly trivial things? Yep, it sure does. There are people out there making a very fine living from kicking a ball around, something that four centuries ago would have been considered total frivolity compared to growing food or chopping heads off enemies. The machine-driven future will have people doing what we today consider to be frivolous.

The EU and its many separatist movements

Filed under: Europe — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Theodore Dalrymple explores an odd thing in Europe which has often puzzled me: that movements to separate linguistic or economically distinct regions from their parent country are almost all equally eager to remain part of the EU:

[…] But having said all this, we still have not explained why nationalist centrifugalists, if I may so call them, are so eager to form an alliance with EU centripetalists, who wish to efface the very thing the nationalists claim to be seeking. Several hypotheses are possible, and none susceptible of final proof.

The first is that that these nationalists are not even aware of the contradiction. Few of us are logical calculating machines who work out the full implications of our beliefs, let alone always act in our own best interests. I am only too aware that I have no consistent doctrine of life, morality, or politics, that I am not even consistent from day to day or moment to moment, and am, on the whole, quite untroubled by this. Entirely consistent men are apt to be spine-chilling.

Second, nationalist dislike of immediate neighbors, whether the explanation for it be reasonable or unreasonable, may loom so large that it overcomes logical thought. Jumping out of frying pans into fires is a well-known human phenomenon.

There is a third explanation, which is that the leaders of the nationalist parties or separatist groups want there to be more places at the top table — vacancies that they would then fill. They might even rise to the dizzying heights of the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, who has long bestridden the world, or Europe at any rate, like a colossus. This he could never have done without the existence of the EU. In other words, personal ambition and the megalomania of petty potentates.

But what should be the attitude of leaders of the European Union toward the potential fracturing of the EU member states as they are at present constituted? In the short term, EU leaders have to pretend to support the current arrangements, because for the moment power is concentrated in the hands of the leaders of those member states. If the power in Madrid or London begins, however, to seep away, the path to a Europe not of the nations but of (as Professor Guérot puts it) “the regions” is cleared. Then, as she says, the citizens of Europe “will elect their president by direct universal suffrage. Finished with the system of checks and balances … ”

I can’t wait for all those terrible checks and balances to be swept away. And, while we are at it, why should this process be confined to Europe? Is Professor Guérot a closet nationalist — even a racist? If Europeans can, why can’t the entire population of the world, elect their president (of a Republic of the World) by direct universal suffrage?

The language of most separatist leaders draws on the airy — and usually not defined in detail — concept of independence, being in charge of their own destiny, Maîtres Chez Nous, out from under those foreign rulers in [London|Madrid|Rome], etc. Yet the very next most important issue always seems to be jumping right back into a different form of foreign rulership. Almost as if the whole “independence” thing was merely a vehicle to getting better parking spots in Brussels.

December 27, 2017

QotD: Psychology

Filed under: Health, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Psychology is nothing at all like a science and those who practice it are nothing at all like scientists. Mostly they’re liberals. No two shrinks ever agree on a diagnosis, and official definitions of various mental illnesses are a grammatical and logical laugh riot. The great truth of life is that understanding character is an art, best left to master novelists and story-tellers.

L. Neil Smith, “Why the Left-Wing Seems Insane (Mostly Because They Are)”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2016-05-08.

December 25, 2017

Filling Trenches – General PoWs – Blindness I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 23 Dec 2017

Ask your questions: http://outofthetrenches.thegreatwar.tv

December 20, 2017

QotD: Heaven

Filed under: Humour, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I suspect that if people were asked to describe a heaven, they would come up with something very like an eternal cruise on one of those dreadful ships that ruin the appearance and atmosphere of everywhere they dock: five meals a day, a casino, cinema, sauna, swimming pool, dinner at the captain’s table. But such a life would soon pall. Before long there would be quarrels, divisions into factions, and possibly even a murder or two, just for variation. Man is not so much a problem-solving creature as a problem-creating one; and as for his state of mind, he likes change for its own state, even if it be change for the worse. Man will never be entirely sensible.

Theodore Dalrymple, “Dissatisfaction Guaranteed”, Taki’s Magazine, 2016-11-26.

December 19, 2017

QotD: Do-gooders, busybodies and other nuisances

Filed under: Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Wealthy people – by which I mean people healthy, well-fed, well-clothed, well-shod, well-housed, and well-leisured and literate – are often deformed by the lovelier angels within their breasts into saviors. Busybodies. Officious do-gooders. Arrogant meddlers. Tyrants seeking as personal payoff not crass material gain but the perverted satisfaction of lording it over other people for what these tyrants sincerely believe to be the good of these other people.

Saviors need victims to save. And if such victims are not real and readily available, the saviors conjure them up by convincing themselves that this or that group of people are helpless victims eager to be raised from the muck of their misfortunes by the saviors. Sometimes the saviors convince even the groups they seek to save that they – the members of these groups – are indeed mired in a muck from which they can be extracted only by the saviors.

As society grows wealthier, the need to be saved by others from earthly misfortunes grows steadily less frequent and less dire while the itch to save others from earthly misfortunes grows steadily more frequent and more intense. A great irony is that, insofar as this itch to save grows faster than the need to be saved declines, the need to be saved might actually rise because the actions of those who itch to save more often than not worsen, rather than improve, the well-being of those who are the targets of the saviors’ efforts.

Don Boudreaux, “Saviors Need Victims Who Need Saving”, Cafe Hayek, 2016-04-23.

December 9, 2017

QotD: Staying beautiful

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means — being sexually appealing to men. And then, instead of snarling that male sexuality is evil, we need to accept that it’s just different — far more visually-driven than female sexuality. To focus our efforts, we can turn to an increasing number of studies by evolutionary psychologists on what most men seem to want. For example, the University of Texas’ Devendra Singh discovered that men, across cultures, are drawn to a woman with an hourglass figure. Men like to see a woman’s waist — even on the larger ladies — so burn those muumuus, which only reveal your girlish figure in a Category 5 hurricane, and if you don’t have much of a waist, do your best to give yourself one with the cut of your clothes or a belt.

Too many women try to get away with a bait-and-switch approach to appearance upkeep. If you spend three hours a day in the gym while you’re dating a guy, don’t think that you can walk down the aisle and say “I do…and, guess what…now I don’t anymore!” A woman needs to come up with a workable routine for maintaining her looks throughout her lifetime and avoid rationalizing slacking off — while she’s seeking a man and after she has one. Yeah, you might have to put five or ten extra minutes into prettying up just to hang around the house. And, sure, you might be more “comfortable” in big sloppy sweats, but how “comfortable” will you be if he leaves you for a woman who cares enough to look hot for him?

Like French women, we, too, need to understand that a healthy approach to beauty is neither pretending it’s unnecessary or unimportant nor making it important beyond all else. By being honest about it, we help women make informed decisions about how much effort to put into their appearance — or accept the opportunity costs of going ungroomed. The truth is, like knowledge, beauty is power. So, ladies, read lots of books, develop your mind and your character, exercise the rights the heroes of the women’s movement fought for us to have, and strive to become somebody who makes a difference in the world. And, pssst…while you’re doing all of that, don’t forget to wear lipgloss.

Amy Alkon, “The Truth About Beauty”, Psychology Today, 2010-11-01.

December 1, 2017

QotD: The power of beauty

Filed under: Business, Health, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

We consider it admirable when people strive to better themselves intellectually; we don’t say, “Hey, you weren’t born a genius, so why ever bother reading a book?” Why should we treat physical appearance any differently? For example, research shows that men prefer women with full lips, smaller chins, and large eyes — indicators of higher levels of estrogen. Some lucky women have big eyes; others just seem to, thanks to the clever application of eyeshadow. As the classic commercial says, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” (If it increases her options, who cares which it is?)

Unfortunately, because Americans are so conflicted and dishonest about the power of beauty, we approach it like novices. At one end of the spectrum are the “Love me as I am!” types, like the woman who asked me why she was having such a terrible time meeting men…while dressed in a way that advertised not “I want a boyfriend” but “I’m just the girl to clean out your sewer line!” At the other extreme are women who go around resembling porn-ready painted dolls. Note to the menopausal painted doll: Troweled on makeup doesn’t make you look younger; it makes you look like an aging drag queen.

Likewise, being 50 and trying to look 25 through plastic surgery usually succeeds in making a woman look 45 and fembot-scary — an object of pity instead of an object of desire. Plastic surgery you can easily spot is usually a sign — either of really bad work or of somebody who’s gone way over the top with it, probably because she’s trying to fill some void in her life with silicone, Juvederm, and implanted butt cutlets. There are women who just want to fix that one nagging imperfection. For others, plastic surgery is like potato chips, as in, “Betcha can’t eat just one.” A woman comes in for a lunchtime lip job — an injection of Restylane or another plumping filler — and ends up getting both sets of lips done. Yes, I’m talking about labioplasty. (Are your vagina lips pouty?)

Once women start seeing wrinkles and crow’s feet, the desperation to look like they were born yesterday often makes them act like it, too. Women want to believe there’s such a thing as “hope in a jar” — and there is: hope from the CEO selling the jars that you and millions of others will buy him a new yacht and a chateau in the south of France. There actually is hope to be found in a plastic bottle — of sunblock, the kind that protects against both UVA and UVB rays (the skin-aging ones). But the Beauty Brains, a group of blogging cosmetic scientists, write, “The sad truth is that creams that claim to be anti-aging are not much more effective than standard moisturizing lotions.”

Amy Alkon, “The Truth About Beauty”, Psychology Today, 2010-11-01.

November 28, 2017

QotD: Women and “providers”

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

…Women evolved to feel compelled to seek men who are “providers.”

This hasn’t changed, not even for powerful women making a lot of money. Research by evolutionary psychologist David Buss and others has shown that even when women are high-flying big earners, they seem to want men who are higher-flying bigger earners.

This is even true of women who consider themselves feminists. Another evolutionary psychologist, Bruce J. Ellis, wrote in The Adapted Mind of fifteen feminist leaders’ descriptions of their ideal man — descriptions that included the repeated use of terms connoting high status, like “very rich,” “brilliant,” and “genius.”

Amy Alkon, Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck , 2014.

November 25, 2017

QotD: Reading

Filed under: Books, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Reading is inherently ephemeral, but it feels less so when you’re making your way through a physical book, which persists when you’ve finished it. It is a monument to the activity of reading. It makes this imaginary activity entirely substantial. But the quiddity of e-reading is that it effaces itself. […] There is a disproportionate magic in the way black marks on white paper — or their pixilated facsimiles — stir us into reverie and revise our consciousness. Still, we require proof that it has happened. And that proof is what the books on my shelves continue to offer.

Verlyn Klinkenborg, “Books to Have and to Hold”, New York Times, 2013-08-10.

November 23, 2017

Frankenstein: Plutarch’s Lives – Extra Sci Fi – #4

Filed under: Books, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 21 Nov 2017

Mary Shelley drew heavily from the style of biography first pioneered by Plutarch, creating characters like Victor Frankenstein and the monster whose lives parallel each other, but whose differing circumstances lead them to embody very different values.

November 22, 2017

Why incompetent people think they’re amazing – David Dunning

Filed under: Health, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

TED-Ed
Published on 9 Nov 2017

View full lesson: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/why-incompetent-people-think-they-re-amazing-david-dunning

How good are you with money? What about reading people’s emotions? How healthy are you, compared to other people you know? Knowing how our skills stack up against others is useful in many ways. But psychological research suggests that we’re not very good at evaluating ourselves accurately. In fact, we frequently overestimate our own abilities. David Dunning describes the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Lesson by David Dunning, directed by Wednesday Studio, music and sound by Tom Drew.

Thank you so much to our patrons for your support! Without you this video would not be possible!
Juan, Jordan Tang, Kent Logan, Alexandra Panzer, Jen, Ellen Spertus, Ryan Mehendale, Mary Sawyer, Scott Gass, Ruth Fang, Mayank Kaul, Hazel Lam, Tan YH, Be Owusu, Samuel Doerle, David Rosario, Katie Winchester, Michel Reyes, Dominik Kugelmann, Siamak H, Stephen A. Wilson, Manav Parmar, Jhiya Brooks, David Lucsanyi, Querida Owens.

The first rule of Dunning-Kruger Club is that you don’t know you’re in Dunning-Kruger Club…

November 16, 2017

Frankenstein: The Sorrows of Young Werther – Extra Sci Fi – #3

Filed under: Books, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 14 Nov 2017

Frankenstein’s monster discovered three books that shaped his understanding of the world, including the Sorrows of Young Werther. Werther’s unrequited love for a woman eventually leads him to commit suicide. Frankenstein’s monster wants to experience love as well, but Mary Shelley has her own critique of this idea of love.

November 13, 2017

QotD: Evolved sexual preferences of men and women

Filed under: Health, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

There is a vast body of evidence indicating that men and women are biologically and psychologically different, and that what heterosexual men and women want in partners directly corresponds to these differences. The features men evolved to go for in women — youth, clear skin, a symmetrical face and body, feminine facial features, an hourglass figure — are those indicating that a woman would be a healthy, fertile candidate to pass on a man’s genes.

These preferences span borders, cultures, and generations, meaning yes, there really are universal standards of beauty. And while Western women do struggle to be slim, the truth is, women in all cultures eat (or don’t) to appeal to “the male gaze.” The body size that’s idealized in a particular culture appears to correspond to the availability of food. In cultures like ours, where you can’t go five miles without passing a 7-Eleven and food is sold by the pallet-load at warehouse grocery stores, thin women are in. In cultures where food is scarce (like in Sahara-adjacent hoods), blubber is beautiful, and women appeal to men by stuffing themselves until they’re slim like Jabba the Hut.

Men’s looks matter to heterosexual women only somewhat. Most women prefer men who are taller than they are, with symmetrical features (a sign that a potential partner is healthy and parasite-free). But, women across cultures are intent on finding male partners with high status, power, and access to resources — which means a really short guy can add maybe a foot to his height with a private jet. And, just like women who aren’t very attractive, men who make very little money or are chronically out of work tend to have a really hard time finding partners. There is some male grumbling about this. Yet, while feminist journalists deforest North America publishing articles urging women to bow out of the beauty arms race and “Learn to love that woman in the mirror!”, nobody gets into the ridiculous position of advising men to “Learn to love that unemployed guy sprawled on the couch!”

Amy Alkon, “The Truth About Beauty”, Psychology Today, 2010-11-01.

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