Friday, January 30, 2009

Marilyn Marilyn

Los Angeles, off Wilshire

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Deceit & Murder and Sex and Shopping

2 excellent pieces on the evolutionary roots of some of the most common of human behaviors: Deceit, Murder, Sex and Shopping. For years we were lead to believe that animals didn't have the advanced consciousness that humans do. One of the most pronounced ways that animals were believed to be different was in their inability to form mental models of the external world and make predictions based on those models. Conceits (maybe most strongly harbored by men of science) about how much more sophisticated and rational humans are further differentiated us from all other forms of life.

The amount of research dismantling these beliefs, and the degree to which they do is astonishing. What may or may not be astonishing is how little they've yet to affect the day-to-day ways we think about and treat other species. More important is what we do with these learnings. Do we start to hold animal life in as high regard as we do human? Or do we get over our discomfort with the idea of killing? Maybe we pretend it doesn’t matter at all. As the second article in this post demonstrates, we aren't nearly as smart and sophisticated as we think we are.

From the NYTimes: A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit

"Deceitful behavior has a long and storied history in the evolution of social life, and the more sophisticated the animal, it seems, the more commonplace the con games, the more cunning their contours. In a comparative survey of primate behavior, Richard Byrne and Nadia Corp of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland found a direct relationship between sneakiness and brain size."

Some of the examples are hilarious:
"a young baboon being chased by an enraged mother intent on punishment suddenly stopped in midpursuit, stood up and began scanning the horizon intently, an act that conveniently distracted the entire baboon troop into preparing for nonexistent intruders."

"chimpanzees or orangutans in captivity sometimes tried to lure human strangers over to their enclosure by holding out a piece of straw while putting on their friendliest face... before you know it, the ape has grabbed their ankle and is closing in for the bite. It’s a very dangerous situation.”

"should a young male be courting a female and spot the alpha male nearby, the subordinate chimpanzee will instantly try to cloak his amorous intentions by dropping his hands over his erection."

Mammals do 3 things primarily: they fight, they feed and they f***. Like other mammals we spend much of our time in competition for resources, eating (our most basic survival need) and procreating to perpetuate the species. Many of our sophisticated and commonplace behaviors revolve around or have their basis in these 3 activities. (Think about how important food is to social interaction and dating in Manhattan. With out food you’d be f*****, or maybe you’d never get f*****.

From The Economist: Of music, murder and shopping

"both music and murder pertain to mating. One attracts mates. The other disposes of rivals.

Music, and also art, fashion and even literature, are reckoned by many Darwinists to be the human equivalent of the peacock’s tail; done well, they show off the genetic prowess of the creator. Similarly, the impulse for self-improvement that creates economic growth comes from the need to be more attractive to the opposite sex than your rivals. And, most profoundly, modern Darwinists reckon that a sense of justice, too, is probably an evolved phenomenon. The notion that bad individuals should not be allowed to prosper does not exist in most species, yet it has been crucial to human evolution. It permits collaboration and has thus done as much as language and culture to allow human civilisation to flourish and people to dominate the planet."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Art of the Title

I've spent the morning watching titles on a great site The Art of the Title. Overall, it's a really well done site, great collection of title sequences and the video quality is fantastic.

Se7en: a 90s favorite. Blew me away at the time.

I haven't ween Sweeney Todd but the titles are amazing.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CNN: Porn industry seeks federal bailout

My first reaction was "unreal!" Then again, that industry probably has a very, very high tax contributions and an extremely high probability of surviving this depression. Oops. I meant recession.
Another major American industry is asking for assistance as the global financial crisis continues: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis said Wednesday they will request that Congress allocate $5 billion for a bailout of the adult entertainment industry.

Link: Porn Industry Seeks Bailout

The source, my source Kathleen of course.


An amazing photo sequence of a robbery suspect on the run. What blows me away is his cigarette in his mouth even as he jumps the median and runs. Not bad for a older guy. Badass in fact. Thank you Roland for showing me this.

See the full sequence here: Robbery Suspect Chase

Robert Sylvester jumps a highway media after waving his gun at police on of I-55/74 in Normal, Illinois, Monday, January 5, 2009. Sylvester was shortly shot by police. He is a suspect in the robbery of Check 'n Go at Market and Hinshaw Streets in Bloomington, Illinois, police said. The suspect fled with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A deviation from normative fashion...

...because you really can't call it a hat, can you?

I spotted this woman at the confections counter in a relatively upscale department store. I stealthy snapped off a shot just as she got the clerks attention and pointed to the chocolates she wanted.

I've been trying to find an interesting way to think about this, to find some deeper questions about fashion and display behavior, but I've got nothing for you except these shots of this woman and her crazy looking "hat".

Creativity and Sexual Selection

A study at Arizona State University suggests that there might be a link between creativity and sexual selection.
According to sexual selection, traits attractive in a mate will become more common over time, as the individual animals that display those traits pass on their genes more often than animals that don't. Sexual selection can lead to traits that don't have a direct survival advantage but serve to advertise the fitness of their bearer's genes.

In the test conducted: became more creative whether they were looking at photos, imagining short-term liaisons or envisioning a long-term partner. The women, however, showed substantial increases in creativity only when they imagined devoted long-term partners.

In most animal species, males display sexually selected traits while females select for them—the classic example being the brightly colored tail of the peacock, which is displayed only by males.

Martie Haselton, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the study's findings about the relationship between romance and creativity—and about males' disproportionate display of romance-inspired creativity—provide a significant boost to the sexual selection theory of creativity.

Read the Seed Magazine article: Men and Sometimes Women Lure Mates Creatively

Monday, January 05, 2009

Cruel, even by parental standards

This is the sort of thing I get turned on to when handing out with my nieces.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Consumercide: The Story of Stuff

I did not intend to begin new year with a gloom and doom post on the subject of what I call "consumercide", but that's just how it worked out. :)

I finally got around to watching "The Story of Stuff", a film about consumerism and the "materials economy", the process by which material resources are used to produce goods which are then used and disposed of by consumers. As this process is discussed the effects of this system upon people, the planet and sustainability are explained.

Here is a teaser.

The film is really well done. An incredible dense amount of information on a serious subject that is still really fun to watch.

Happy New Year

I know I've been off the radar for a couple of weeks, my longest hiatus since I started The Foundation's blog. I've had a nice break and I hope all of my friends and blog readers have as well. 2008 was a wild turbulent year, geopolitically, in domestic politics, economicaly... there a lot of things in play. I'm still trying to get my head around what has changed, what's changing and what will.

I will refrain from getting too serious. Here are some interesting stats from a Harris Poll on sex and internet reliance.

Percentage that would rather go without sex than internet service for 2 weeks:
Women: 46%
Men: 30%

Internet over sex for the 18 to 34 years old range:
Women: 49%
Men: 39%

For women between 35 and 44 the number jumps to 52%.

It's a new year people, time to reflect on the past and, for gods sake, get our priorities straight.

CNET: Internet or sex, which would you choose?