Category Archives: Model of the World

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Re-Awaken This Ancient Process

One of the biggest problems facing us humans is a mismatch in our instincts and modern life.

Our instincts were developed to help us thrive in a hunter-gatherer environment.

But since society has been changing FAR MORE rapidly than our instincts can keep up, sometimes they slow us down.

The easiest way to see this is hunger.

Back in the caveman days, it was a BENEFIT to ALWAYS be hungry.

It was a benefit to eat as much as you could whenever there was food available.

Those that DIDN’T have this trait (to always be hungry and to always eat as much as possible whenever possible) were at a significant disadvantage.

Needless to say, if you ate as much as you could TODAY, whenever you had a chance, you wouldn’t be very healthy.

Consequently, something that HELPED us back in the day is something we MUST struggle with constantly.

Another thing that helped back then but can mess us up in all kinds of surprising ways is putting the cart before the horse.

It was a benefit, (it helped to speed up our thinking, and motivate us to action a lot quicker) to “mix up” cause and effect.

If we had to take the time to use pure logic and rationalize everything out, we would have died off LONG ago.

But those who made quick causal connections (A causes B, etc) even when they were FALSE, tended to last longer.

But today, we very rarely assume accurately whenever we make a “connection” between A and B.

News media (and medical researchers) take advantage of this ALL THE TIME.

It’s easy to find a CORRELATION between two things.

But it’s VERY DIFFICULT to prove one is CAUSING the other.

But that doesn’t keep us from ASSUMING that one thing is CAUSING the other.

One of the ways is the confusion between LEARNING and EDUCATION.

Most people think that EDUCATION causes LEARNING.

They both happened at the same time.

That was the stated purpose of “education.”

But could it be that LEARNING happened DESPITE education?

Could it be that whatever you LEARNED during the industrial process of EDUCATION was because of your NATURAL ABILITY to learn, and NOT the structure, or the environment?

After all, EDUCATION has only been around a few hundred years.

But humans have been LEARNING since before we even learned to speak.

In fact, most of the inventions of modern society happened OUTSIDE of traditional “education.”

Which means if you can get in touch with your inner-natural-learner, you can REDISCOVER that ancient process of lifelong learning.

And to NOT satisfy your teacher (or your parents or your boss) but to satisfy YOU.

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Freedom Of Choice – Do You Really Want It?


The other day I was talking to a friend of mine from high school about this problem that she’s been having with her next-door neighbor and her daughter. She thinks that because they are not as quiet as they used to be, then that means that something has happened, and she is taking it personally.

I remember reading something about that, when somebody has certain issues, and there is some kind of unfavorable change in the environment, people can sometimes take it personally, and assume it was something they did, or worse, assume it is another example of them always getting the short end of the stick.

Like once I had this friend, and we were waiting in line to get our food at this fast food place. She had number seventeen, and they called numbers fifteen, sixteen, and then eighteen. She looked discouragingly at her number and mumbled something about things like this always happening to her.

Of course, if you were to do an engineering analysis of the restaurant, the restaurant staff, and the time and resources required to produce each order, and then compared that to orders number fifteen through eighteen, you very well may draw the conclusion that order number seventeen was the most labor and resource intensive (e.g. double bacon cheeseburger, extra pickles with well done fries, no salt). It would then be completely logical (especially if you were waiting in line with Mr. Spock) to expect order number seventeen to take longer than the rest.

This extremely common situation is made worse by the idea that people have about what the world “should” be like. Restaurants “should” always give out the food in the order that it was ordered.

Then you open up a whole can of worms from the restaurants perspective. Should they always give out the order numbers sequentially, no matter how long each individual order takes? What about somebody like my friend who ordered a pretty specific order, and somebody right after her that ordered something simple, like a cheeseburger and fries combo? Do you hold up the line in order to make sure your orders are in order in order to not offend those orders behind her? Or do you try the best you can, and take a broader approach, and work as efficiently and quickly as you can in order to please as many customers as possible?

Sometimes when I’m at the supermarket, and there is a bunch of people waiting in line, and the next checker over opens up. Sometimes he or she will shout out “I can help whoever is next,” which of course leads to a brief period of social anarchy of biblical proportions, where the first will become last and the last will become first. Especially if the last isn’t shy about throwing some elbows in order to secure a first in line position in the newly opened check stand.

Then there are other, (usually older) more experienced checkers who make an effort to actually walk over to the next person in line, and single them out to be first in the next line. This usually results in a much more calm transition, as people are prone to accept the new checker’s authority on the situation, and follow suit. It’s not uncommon to see strangers checking with each other to see who is going to go over to the next checker, and who is going to stay in the current line.

I’ve never worked at a supermarket, and I don’t know if they have a policy for how to handle such a situation, but it just seems that for everybody involved, ensuring an orderly transition from one long line to two shorter ones is much better than eliciting some social anarchy.

I remember reading a study done a number of years ago regarding line psychology. People were presented with two options, at a hypothetical fast food restaurant. Option one is you walk into the place, and choose between four open registers. Whatever line you choose, you’ve got to stick with it no matter how slow it moves. (Of course, Murphy’s Law dictates that no matter which line you choose, it will be the slowest.)

Option two is one gigantic queue, where you line up like for an amusement park ride, or at the bank. Then whoever is next, can just say “next!” and since there is only one line, whoever is next, is next. This seems to be the most preferred by businesses, as it takes away the problem of dealing with line jumpers and how to handle the situation of a newly opened register.

But it is least favored among customers, as it completely takes away any choice they may have when they walk into the place. It gives the impression of being herded like cattle, something people don’t particularly enjoy on their lunch break. It also makes it seem that you will be waiting longer, despite numerous studies that show you actually will have less of a wait in a general queue than when you have to choose your own line.

Push may come to shove when you are forced to decide which is important, personal choice and freedom, or efficiency, even if the efficiency is customer oriented, as it gets them in and out quicker.

Often times, we prefer the illusion of choice even when, in the long run, having a choice means waiting longer, despite the length of the wait being the number one criterion for making the choice in the first place.

Quite a paradox, that.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Your Potential Is Enormous – You Are Legion

Remember Who You Are

Once there was this guy who lived in the sewer. He didn’t really mind living in the sewer, as it allowed him to live a life free from the worries of most day-to-day frustrations and anxieties. He didn’t have much money, but he didn’t really need anything.

This particular sewer that he lived in wasn’t really a sewer, per se, it was a large stretch of pipe that led out to a river, which was about a mile from the ocean. Up the river were a couple of industrial plants, and had been built specifically so they could dump their toxic industrial waste in the river. The factories had been built well before any EPA rules had specifically forbid the dumping of sewage into the river, but one has to wonder about the foresight of somebody that would base part of their business plan on the ability to continually pollute a natural resource.

This particular pipe had also been built to dump raw sewage directly into the river, but the same laws which precluded the plant to dump toxic waste into the river also precluded the local town to figure out another way to deal with their waste.

So as it stood, the large pipe, which was about a half a mile long, hadn’t been used in several years, and had dried considerably. There were a few storm drains that led into he pipe, and the central character of this story had lived in the sewer long enough, and had learned to read the weather well enough to prepare for the rise in water.

The area where this all took place didn’t see much rainfall, well below average, so this guy didn’t have to worry about his home flooding too often. And since he learned long ago to stay away from the bottle, he wasn’t in any danger of passing out and waking up floating out in the middle of the ocean somewhere. Contrary to what you’d expect, he was a pretty together bum, and put a good deal of thought into planning for the future. His future.

Our tale begins when he was out a night scavenging for food. He knew which were the good spots, which restaurants had decent leftovers in their dumpster. This was getting harder and harder, as many restaurants participated in programs that shared their food with the needy. Somebody from the local soup kitchen would come around and collect the leftovers, every night, so it was getting harder and harder for him to find unused food portions in the dumpsters.

You may be thinking that he could easily go straight to the source, the food kitchens themselves, but he learned that nothing was free. They all had their own philosophy and ideas about how a homeless man should be living his life. After about a week of free food, they grew comfortable enough with him to try and “counsel” him, and help him to “find a job,” so he could get a “decent place to live.”

As soon as they started in on that kind of helpful advice, he quickly found himself scavenging for his own food again, and heading back to his underground sanctuary.

As he was dumpster diving behind the Nigerian delicatessen (they were fairly new in town, and hadn’t been convinced by the local charity to give their leftover food yet) and found quite a bit of bread and cheese that were only a few days past their expiration date. Being a firm believer that expiration dates were only a recommendation, and not a hard and fast rule, he realized he hit the jackpot.

He went back home, and made himself a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches. If you’re wondering how a bum living in an abandoned underground sewer can make grilled cheese sandwiches, don’t fret. He had quite a setup, an area with a bed, and a couple of mattresses. A barbecue, and a few pots and pans that he used occasionally to cook with. He wasn’t your stereotypical bum that cooked an open can of beans on the fire. He had done a lot of work to make his home livable and comfortable. And the most interesting part was how quickly he could move everything about the water line at a moments notice.

But after he’d eaten a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, he started feeling funny. Not, “I ate some bad food,” funny, but funny, funny. Not normal, funny. Something is really wrong with reality, funny. He started to see double, and his mouth and lips began to swell. He tried to sleep it off, but no use.

When he woke up in the next morning, his lips and tongue had returned to their normal size but his mind was completely frazzled. He still could think the same thoughts that he used to think, at least that’s what he remembered thinking when he woke up, but the thoughts he used to connect to things were different. Things that used to cause him fear now caused him to feel peaceful and tranquil. Those things that he never gave a second thought to now terrified him beyond measure.

Like when you are sitting there looking at this, and all of a sudden you feel you’ve been misled, or you’ve allowed yourself to be misled, and you are finally seeing things for the first time. You may look around and see the same things, but they take on completely different meaning. As if you are finally starting to realize what it’s really all about.

He decided to go back to the source and see if they could help. He would never have considered even making eye contact with the owner of a restaurant whose dumpster he had violated the night before, but today it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

He made his way back to the Nigerian delicatessen, and was surprised when they seemed to be expecting him.

“How are you old friend? You have finally come home!” A very large man said to him in heavily accented English when he walked in the front.

Old friend? Wasn’t this a new restaurant?

He found himself returning the embrace, first a little tentatively, and then slowly with more and more willingness.

“Please, tell us what you have learned here.” The large man asked him.

While he didn’t really understand the question, he found himself answering. And his answers astonished him. Not just their content, but the way in which they seemed to be coming from another person that he was watching across the room. Slowly but surely, this objective viewpoint slowly melted back into a subjective experience as he finally remembered everything. Who he was, where he came from, and what he had learned over the years. It felt good. Really good.

He was home again. It was time for the next phase. And it felt wonderful.

To be continued….


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

You Can Always Find Your Way Back Home

Where Am I?

So what do you do when you suddenly find yourself lost? That’s what happened to me once. I heard from a friend of a friend about this magnificent party, and he’d heard from another friend some convoluted directions to get there. Both of us, and the friend, had only been living in the area for a few weeks, so it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. They were going to go straight after work, which was about 6 PM, while I had to work until a couple hours later.

I remembered the directions as best as I could, and decided I’d figure out how to get there on my own. It didn’t take long before I had no idea where I was, no idea where I came from, and no idea how to get back home.

I had a really interesting experience a couple of weeks ago. I had just moved to a new city, and a new apartment. I mean new for me, as well as a new building. Everything was new and modern and really cool. I had spent a few hours driving to this new town from my old town, which involved driving over this huge bridge (several miles long) since my previous apartment was on this big island. A really big island.

So there I was, about to drift off to sleep, when an idea hit me. I had spend all day packing moving, unpacking and setting things up in my new place, I looked around at my new familiar surroundings, and I predicted I would wake up in the morning and experience a few moments of absolute disorientation. When you look around and for brief moment, you don’t know where you are, how you got there, or the last few things that happened before you found yourself in your particular situation.

That has only happened to me a couple times, all after waking up in a strange place. Probably the most pronounced event was a night of heavy, um, entertainment after a Who concert. I woke up in my friends house, and for about five or ten seconds (which is a long time to have no clue where you are or how you got there) of complete discombobulation.

But as I lay in my apartment a couple of weeks ago, I looked around at my new furnishings, and actually predicted I would wake up in the morning and draw a complete blank for the first few moments.

And when I woke up, just as I thought, I drew a complete blank. But here’s the cool part: Before I remembered where I was and how I got there (moving and driving over the bridge) I remembered predicting that I wouldn’t remember, only then did I remember everything else.

It was like back in the old days of when they had to bootstrap the first computers. They had these giant machines that ran off of punch cards, and they had no memory at all. They didn’t have enough memory to turn on all their systems.

So the guy who was using the computer had to feed it a punch card that was only to tell the computer how to turn itself on and get started, and how to read the other punch cards. Once that “memory” was loaded into the computer, then you could stick other, more complicated, punch cards into the machine so it could finally be able to do what you wanted it to.

We take all that for granted, as all of our computers today are pre programmed with complex operating systems and software that makes virtually every machine plug and play. There’s a reason Bill Gates is one of the richest dudes on the planet.

That was a truly odd sensation, waking up in a strange looking around in complete and utter cluelessness, and then remembering that I wasn’t going to remember anything, and then starting to remember everything else.

And when I finally figured out enough to back track to someplace familiar, I was able to use that familiarity to backtrack to a road that I actually knew. And from there finding my way was home was easy. I had given up on going to the party (which I later heard wasn’t all that exciting, anyway) long ago.

No matter how far off track you get, your brain will always find ways to get back to what is familiar. That seems to be an underlying prime directive of our brains. Familiarity.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Beware Of Ancient Fears Infecting Modern Language

Pistols At Dawn

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, and I noticed something interesting about her speech. She had always spoken like that, but I hadn’t talked to her in quite a while. Last time we spoke was before I had become interested in language, having read several books on linguistics and other interesting tricks of language, most notably books by Pinker, Lakoff, and Grinder/Bandler.

The thing I noticed now, that I didn’t notice before was her heavy use of indirect speech. For example, I would say “A,” and she would then think “Because of A, then B,” with “B” being something that didn’t sound like such a good thing. But because she didn’t want to (either consciously or unconsciously) blurt right out “B!” She would always hide it behind layers of presuppositions and vague references.

For example, she would mention wanting more money at work, and I would suggest asking her boss for a raise. Instead of saying the obvious “If I ask for a raise, he’ll say no, and think less of me for asking.”

Which is a common enough fear, and generally the immediate reaction of most people when thinking about asking for a raise. But instead of blurting that right out, she’d say something like:

“I’m not sure if I have the presence of mind right now to think of what would happen if I were to do that.”

Which sounds innocent enough, until you unpack that seemingly simple statement and see what she’s really saying:

She is assuming that “presence of mind,” (whatever that is) is something that is difficult to identify, as she’s not sure if she has it or not.

Something called “presence of mind,” is required to understand the result of a request for more money.

“If I were to do that,” is stated as a second conditional. A first conditional is an “if..then” statement using the present tense, which presumes it is something that is likely to occur.

If it rains, I will get wet.
If I spend my money, I won’t have any.
If I drive too fast, I may get a ticket.

While the second conditional, with the past tense, is used for things that we don’t expect will happen, or are impossible.

If I asked my boss for a raise, he would say no.
If I saw a UFO, I would run.

So in response to a suggestion to ask for more money, she hides her “no, I’m too afraid” behind about three layers of linguistic protection.

If you’ve ever listened to a politician speak, you can tell right away that there speech is usually filled with layers and layers of vague ambiguity, so nobody can ever pin them down on what they said, if things go wrong, and if things go right, they can claim they had something to do with it.

It’s no wonder the joke, “how do you tell a politician is lying – when his lips are moving,” is so funny.

In one of the aforementioned books, Pinker was talking about how in societies where they have a history of class distinction, where upper class people could legally kill lower class people, (or other upper class people if they situation warranted it) they have developed a very polite level of speech, which can exist hundreds of years after the threat of violence.

If you were talking to some guy that was carrying weapons, and by offending him you risked getting your head slice off, you’d quickly learn to speak politely. It doesn’t take long for such a society to develop polite language. The American South is one such example. If you said the wrong thing to the wrong person, he would demand “Satisfaction,” and you’d have a gunfight at twenty paces on your hands.

Those that study linguistics on a much deeper evolutionary level suggest that all indirect speech has its roots in ancient fears of immediate reprisals. It doesn’t sound dangerous in the least to ask your boss for a raise, at least not from the standpoint of physical violence, but nevertheless, those feelings of fear cause us to hide our real feelings beneath several layers of “politeness” and vague ambiguity.

There is a fascinating book called “Mean Genes,” which illustrates all the ways that our automatic impulses that helped us immensely in our evolutionary past can be a real pain in the you-know-what in modern society. Stuffing our face until we can’t move when we are in the presence of food is one example that you can see everywhere you look in modern western society.

In the past, the several thousand year ago past, that impulse was beneficial. People would go several days without food, and when they finally got some, all other concerns were put on the back burner, and it was time to eat until the food was gone.

Not so helpful when you pass by three McDonalds, two Dunkin Donuts and a Bakery on the way to work every morning.

Of course, the great hope of modern humankind is to rise above our evolutionary based fears, and the ability to use our rational, conscious minds to think our ways around those pesky impulses to plan our future, instead of letting our impulses plan it for us.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Are You A Lover Or A Fighter?

Which Strategy Do You Prefer?

Last week I was wandering around downtown, and I came across an interesting situation. There was a vending machine and next to the vending machine was a trash can overflowing with vending machine food and wrappers. On top of the machine was a crow, and next to the trashcan was a black cat.

I decided to approach slowly, to see which would run away first. I was surprised at what happened.

I was reading this interesting article about crows the other day. Not really an article, more like a section of a book that was about biology, and evolution, and sexual selection. It was talking about how crows are one of the more timid birds out there.

This seems to be completely false, if you’ve ever come across a crow picking through your garbage, as they can be pretty resourceful scavengers, and when they find a decent hidden cache of food, they tend to want to protect it.

But in normal, everyday life, when they’re just hanging out, they’re pretty easy to startle. This book was saying that one way to measure the aggressiveness in any animal is the proportion between the weight of the male’s testicles and the males body weight.

Some animals are surprisingly timid. Silverback gorillas, for example, have pretty small testicles compared to its body size. Now most people will tell you that silverback gorillas are pretty aggressive, and you should probably steer clear of one should you happen to run across one at the supermarket. And if you know anything about those people that went to live among them for a while in the wild, then you know that you’re supposed to never, ever make eye contact with them, or else you’ll get a severe thrashing.

However, when you consider the size difference, then they turn out to be not so tough after all. People are much smaller than silverback gorillas, and from a silverback gorilla’s standpoint, beating up even the toughest, meanest cage fighter would be a walk in the park. It would be like some middle-aged out shape blogger trying to feel powerful by kicking somebody’s poodle.

Which is why you’ll never, ever see two silverback gorillas in the same place, unless they are in the same troop, and one is growing up to replace the older one. (Kind of like in Star Wars, where there is always one Sith Lord, and one apprentice. I wonder that if that correlation was on purpose.)

Many people understand that some silverback gorillas, or mountain gorillas are endangered. The reason for this is had they their druthers, silverbacks would spend their whole lives without running into each other. Because it always leads to a fight to the death.

And since they happen to have a short supply of testosterone, (e.g. their small relative testicle size) their best strategy is to simply avoid confrontation. They’ve developed a system; or rather Mother Nature has developed a system for them, where each troop, with its one silverback, lives far far apart from the next troop. So a population of gorillas needs and extraordinarily large area to survive.

Chimps, on the other hand, have pretty huge testicles for their body weight. And they are always fighting, and going to war with other troops of chimps. One of the main things that male animals fight over (if not the only thing, in some species) is females. Chimps have developed a completely different strategy than the silverbacks.

Instead of living far apart, so they avoid confrontation over who gets the females (if two silverbacks fight, the winner gets all the girls), chimps have developed a completely different strategy. Every male in the troop will mate with every female in the group. They’ve no reason to fight over women, since the women make themselves available to everybody.

While that may sound like a better solution that living seclusion like their silverback cousins, they have one rule that they live by which seems pretty ghastly.

If a chimp is out and about, and he runs across a female he doesn’t recognize (one he hasn’t had sex with) and she has a kid with her, he’ll immediately kill them both. The underlying theory is that in the chimp community, every male assumes that every kid could potentially be his, so they avoid conflict. But when he sees a kid with a female he hasn’t mated with, he knows the kid isn’t his and he kills it.

Judging by the testicle size of humans, we fall someplace in between.

As I got closer to the vending machine, the crow make a “CAW” and took off, while the cat just looked at me, as if she were waiting for me to introduce myself or something. Then she simply went back to scavenging, apparently offended at my rudeness.


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Success with NLP

Success with NLP

Conflict Of Interest

Finders Keepers

So I went down to the video store the other day to return this DVD that I’d forgotten about. It was about three weeks overdue and I thought I might get into big trouble, or at least have to pay a big fine. I really should look into netflix or something similar. So I threw the DVD in my backpack, and hopped on my bike.

When I got there, I realized I had a problem. There was no video store. It had been completely transformed into an auto parts store. I’m assuming it was an auto parts store because they had a gigantic stack of tires out in front, and this big inflatable gorilla on the roof, who happened to be purple. He was holding an inflatable sign that said something about that week’s particular sale.

I checked the back of the DVD. I was in the right address, and I double-checked the date. Whoops. It wasn’t due three weeks ago; it was due a year and three weeks ago. I checked the title. Nothing I remembered watching. But how did it get where I found it? Sometimes you find the strangest things in the strangest places.

For example, once I was in Taiwan, doing my laundry. I had been there for about eight months, and hadn’t seen American money in quite a while. So imagine my surprise when I found a dollar bill in there with my socks and jeans. How in the world did that dollar get there? Was it some message from beyond? Was it a sign from the gods of wealth? Was I hallucinating? I’m not sure, but a dollar is a dollar, if you catch my drift.

When I was a kid I used to watch those guys down at the beach with their metal detectors, hoping to find chests filled with gold and silver, or at least a quarter. I don’t think I ever recall watching them find something. I think I remember watching them bend down a couple times, and pick something up, but I don’t ever remember their faces showing delight or that expression you get when you experience sudden and unexpected wealth. It was more like an, “oh crap,” kind of expression. Then they’d look around, and then toss it back into the sand. Couldn’t have been worth much. I suppose people that do that have a couple different criteria that they are satisfying at once. Obviously, if they were after money, and only money, there are better ways to get it. But if they like the idea of searching for money, rather than finding it, while doing it a nice place like the beach on a pleasant afternoon, well, then I can understand why they’d go down there and take their sweet time.

It’s interesting when you take apart your desires, and really take a hard look at all your criteria underneath your desires. The other day I wrote something about “integration of parts” where you take something you’re after and figure out all the underlying criteria. Sometimes your criteria can surprise you. I’m sure most of those guys that were looking for coins at the beach would tell you they’re looking for money, but if you asked them how much they’d like to go home with, and then gave it to them in exchange for them not looking, they might not take your offer.

It’s a combination of wants and needs, largely unconscious that make up our seemingly conscious desires. And since most of our wants and needs have overlapping deeper criteria, it can be hard to change one thing without changing everything else.

Humans, and animals in general, are funny like that. Most of our biological parts serve a couple functions, at least. Take your hair follicles for example. The ones on your face, arms and back serve two purposes. One is to grow hair, and the other is to let out oil secreted by your sebaceous glands. It would be a waste of time to build two separate tubes on your skin, one for the hair to grow, and one for the oil, so nature built a shared piece of equipment. When everything is working together, you grow hair and keep your skin moisturized. When things don’t get along, you get a pimple. Or at least you did when you were in high school.

Same goes with unconscious intentions. Many times a behavior will serve two intentions. If the intentions are working well together, the behavior will be a good behavior, like smiling at people, or being patient in line at the supermarket when the goofball in front of you has eight billion coupons and then all of a sudden wants to pay in pennies when you’ve got that important meeting that starts in three minutes and if you’re late it will mean certain doom. Or something like that.

Of course in the above situation, it would be helpful to alter your behavior, such as take a step back and look for a line that is moving quicker. It probably wouldn’t do to well to strangle the guy, despite how good it would feel.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was telling me all the problems with the American educational system. He said the main problem is that this one humungous institution serves many different criteria, sometimes conflicting, and the learning of students, at least according to a few, is arguably not the most important. At least depending on how you describe education, which is one of those vague nominalized verbs that has as many different meanings as there are people who work in the system.

Anytime you tweak the system in one direction, you maybe increasing the effectiveness of one criterion, but lessening others, and that will cause immense pressure to move back to the status quo. Kind of hard of steer that ship, unless you crash it into a big iceberg, which you couldn’t see because so much of it was below the surface.

So after asking around, I figured out that the video store that had been there switched to pure mail order. So I’m stuck with this DVD that I don’t want to watch. They have my phone number and address, so I suppose that if they want to get a hold of me, they know where to find me.


To keep the universe from imploding, and find out how you can achieve all your wildest fantasies, click on the link below:

Success with NLP

Success with NLP

The Secret Behind Human Intelligence

Captain, That Is Illogical

Here’s an interesting mind experiment. Ready? Here is the situation; you have four cards, with the following faces showing. D, 7, 3, F. You are told that each card has a number on one side, and a letter on the other. Now you are given a statement:

On every card that shows a “D” on one side, there is a “3” on the other side.

Here is the challenge: How many cards do you need to turn over, and which cards, to conclusively prove or disprove the following statement, and which cards do you turn over?

While you may find this easy (I didn’t I had to cheat and read the logic behind the explanation to get it,) most people don’t. In face, when this study was first concocted by a couple of professors at Stanford (where you’d think there’s be some smart people) only about one out of four got the answer right.

Now here’s the same question, presented another way:

You are a bouncer at a bar. The rules are that you can’t drink unless you are twenty-one. Now the cards are “drinking coke, drinking beer, 16 years old, 25 years old.” Or if you prefer, there are four people sitting at the bar. One is drinking beer (you don’t know how old they are) one is drinking coke (you don’t know how old they are) one is 25 (you don’t know what they are drinking) and one is sixteen (you don’t know what they are drinking).

From a logical standpoint, the problem is identical, yet when presented the second way, most people quickly realize that in order to figure out if anybody is breaking any laws, all you do is card the person drinking beer, and quickly check what the sixteen year old is drinking. In effect, turning over two cards to see what is on the other side.

As in the case above, you turn over the “D” to verify it if has a three on the other side, and you turn over the “7” to make sure it doesn’t have a “D” on the other side. If the D has a 3, and the 7 doesn’t have a D, then the statement is correct. If the D doesn’t have a three, and the 7 has a D, then the statement is incorrect.

The underlying problem is why, when the logic is identical, do so many people have a hard time (as I did) with the first question, and a much easier time (as I did) with the second question?

One answer could be that we aren’t as logically thinking as we’d like to believe. It may be that our brains aren’t designed to think in terms of Vulcan logic like Mr. Spock, but to think only in terms of social interactions, specifically to uncover social “cheats,” those that would break unwritten social contracts.

The thinking behind this idea goes like this. Humans lived in small groups for a couple hundred thousand years. That’s when we developed our “humanness” so to speak. One thing that evolutionary biologists think is one of the major driving forces behind the massive growth of the human brain during our history was social pressure from within the group. Our brains, our language, our thinking was all developed to outsmart each other within that small group of wandering nomads all those years ago.

Numerous studies of chimps and various apes have shown this to be a major portion for the need for their large brains as well. Most of them have plenty of food where they live, don’t need to organize sophisticated hunting parties, or come with complex methods of evading predators. Most of their thinking power, many believe, is so they can outsmart each other and rise as high in the social order as possible.

When humans developed language many, many years ago, we just took it a couple notches higher (to say the least) and developed all kinds of conscious and unconscious social skills. We learned to read facial expressions and body language, learned how to tell when somebody is cheating or lying, and be able to cheat and lie ourselves.

Many species have a specific feature, which is there solely for sexual competition within the species. The most often given example is the peacock’s tail. When peahens get together to choose their mate, they choose the male with the most flamboyant tail. Interestingly, the more flamboyant the tail, the dangerous it is for the peacock, as he is a much easier prey for predators, as well as having to lug that huge thing around should he have to run away.

In other species, they have other aspects. Bull seals have their size and strength, gorilla’s have their silver stripe of hair on their back, different birds have various ways to strut their stuff, from colored feathers to singing ability.

In humans, it is our brains, more specifically our verbal and social skills that became the driving force of sexual selection. Those that were the most eloquent, and the most persuasive, were the most prolific, and left the most offspring. Those offspring, having inherited slightly higher skills for eloquence and social prowess, in turn competed with each other. Continue that process for a few hundred thousand years, and you’ve got these big-brained humans walking around.


Something to think about yet next time you’re at a bar or club or other social gathering, and watching the vast throng trying to talk their genes into eternity.


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Success with NLP


Wrong Turn

The other day I went out for a walk, and since I’m living in a new neighborhood, I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. When I started out, I looked around to make sure I could see some big landmarks, in case I got lost, I could find my way back. I wasn’t in much of a hurry so I didn’t bring a watch, and I didn’t have any plants to be back by certain time.

I didn’t really notice when it happened, but I looked up and instead of being surrounded by city type stuff like 7-11’s and liquor stores, I was surrounded by trees and rocks and dirt. I looked down and I noticed I was on some kind of trail, but not the kind of trail that you find in a national park. This wasn’t really maintained, it was more like a well-worn path, but it didn’t appear wide enough to have been made by humans.

I kept walking, as I said before I wasn’t in any kind of hurry. I looked around, and didn’t see any sign of houses or gas stations, but I figured if I kept walking, I’d eventually make my way out. That’s when I heard that strange, almost frightening noise behind me. It sounded almost, but not quite like a human voice that was experiencing some manner of distress.

Have you ever gone shopping, and ended up buying much more than you expected? I tend to do that sometimes, especially when I go shopping on a Saturday morning. It almost always happens when I go shopping before I make an effort to make something to eat. I may go to buy a box of yogurt, and end up with a frozen turkey or something. Once I went looking for a jar of instant coffee, and I came home with two dozen eggs. I’m not really sure why I bought so many eggs, but you never know when they are going to come in handy. It was at one of those “club” type stores, and you can buy the eggs in those big square things. I’m not sure what you call them, but they were cheap. They came out to be only about three cents per egg.

You can do a lot with eggs. Of course, you can make them fried or scrambled, or you can use them in a recipe to make waffles or some other product that you’d otherwise buy in a bakery. You could even drink them before your morning run if you were preparing for an exhibition fight to celebrate Independence Day. (In a fight you were expected to lose, no doubt).

I once saw this circus act where a guy juggled a bunch of eggs, among other things. He started off with regular balls, three of them. Then he increased to five, and then seven. (Have you ever wondered why professional jugglers almost always juggle an odd number of objects?) Then he switched to juggling other things, like the aforementioned eggs. Then he really impressed us by juggling some bowling balls, and some chainsaws. I’ve never tried to juggle chainsaws, but I imagine it could be pretty dangerous. You could easily get your arm hacked off if you aren’t careful. Or you might slip and fling a couple of chainsaws into the audience, and chop off a couple of heads. I’m not sure what a judge would do with you if that happened. I suppose they have some kind of insurance for that.

I have a friend that works in insurance, and he says his company has written some pretty interesting policies. Farmers buying insurance on cherry trees, movie producers buying insurance on actors that may slip out of rehab and back into drug addiction. Once a major television network bought coverage against some calamity that might cut into a live event they were televising. Insurance is an interesting business. No matter what you can think of happening, you can prepare for it, at least financially. You can even buy insurance against rain. If you own a jewelry store, you can buy insurance against rain on January first, and then have a huge sale, saying that if it rains on January first, all diamonds are only a dollar. That way if it rains, you’ll collect your insurance policy, and still make money by giving away diamonds for a dollar.

In Japan you can even buy insurance against getting a hole in one. It is a custom to have a big party and buy your friends all kinds of gifts and drinks if you get a hole in one, so you an buy a policy that will pay you about $10,000 if you happen to get a hole in one. Of course, you’d need to show all your receipts to prove you actually bought your buddies all the presents you are insuring yourself against.

I once was playing with this guy that could juggle a bunch of golf balls using only his golf clubs. Instead of catching the balls and then quickly flinging them back in the air, he used an eight iron and a driver, and bounced all the balls off the clubface. He could only do three at a time, but it was pretty impressive nonetheless.

When I turned around to see what was making that horrible noise, I had to do a double take. There was this guy standing behind me that was leaning his head back and shouting some weird noises toward the sky. I almost pulled out my cell phone and dialed 911, but then he noticed me and said he was a member of the bird watching club, and he was attempting to do some kind of birdcall. I don’t think it worked, because every time he tried, every creature within shouting distance would run away. But I got to give the guy credit for trying. As long as he was there, I asked him how to get back to the main road, and he pointed in the direction I was walking, so I continued on my way. And sure enough over the next rise I saw a huge sign for a 7-11. Naturally I bought a large slurpy before going back home. Maybe next time I’ll leave earlier so I can spend more time here before coming back to where I was before I started.


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Inside Or Outside?


I remember when I was a kid, I showed up to school (it was second or third grade) and my friend had this great puzzle that he couldn’t wait to share with me. It was one of those mind puzzles that is designed to trick you into answering one way, when in reality the answer is something completely different. One of those that as soon as you’ve been had, you can’t wait to go and share this with somebody else. Of course, I fell for the “trick,” but I had a sense there was more to it than the seemingly simple answer he gave me. It wasn’t until later I discovered the true answer lied in basic physics.

Sometimes you come across something that appears to be one thing, but then it turns out to be something else entirely. And once you figure out what it really is, you can’t imagine how you thought it was what you used to before you were able to discover the truth. Like if you grab a bottle of what you think is water, and it turns out to be nectar that somebody had prepared to put in the hummingbird feeder, you’ll quickly realize what it is, and you’ll never be able to look at it the same way again.

Once your brain makes the simple connection, that same container that you used to think contained regular water will forever be linked with sugary sticky hummingbird food. So long as whoever is in charge of filling the hummingbird feeder uses the same container, it will be almost impossible to make the same mistake again.

The brain is pretty good at making quick connections like that. Strong responses are usually wired in pretty quickly, while lukewarm or cool responses can quickly be forgotten. Which is why it takes so long to learn boring information to regurgitate on a history test.

Some things, on the other hand, are more difficult to pin down. No matter how hard you try and isolate them in your brain, they just seem kind of fuzzy, and you have to get a good look at them to remember what it was you were thinking of. Some things you kind of have sort of a vague, fuzzy idea of what they are, but unless you are experiencing it directly with one or more senses, it can be tough to remember exactly.

Like that one restaurant you went to that one time with that person you thought might turn into somebody special, and you remarked who good the whatever it was tasted. But as you sit there now, and think about that, can you really remember the color of shoes of your waiter? Can you remember how many glasses of water you drank? Would you be able to list all of the ingredients that went into the particular dish you ate, or how much of it you ate?

Of course, these examples are simple, undisputable facts that you either remember or you don’t. But what about things that don’t have a rigid interpretation? You may remember a movie as being hilarious, but your date may remember it as being crude and offensive. You may remember something as completely delicious and mouth watering, but your date may remember it as horrible or too salty. These memories, of course, are open to the meaning that you give them. And the meaning you give to things is based on a whole slew of personal history and varies elements of your disposition.

But what about things that blur even that line? Certain things need to be defined before they can be described. Is a drum of crude oil good or bad? I suppose it is good if you can imagine all the products that can be made from it. I would probably be bad if you dumped it in your living room.

How many sides does a cube have? The following answers are all correct:

Two – The Inside, and the outside
Six – Top, bottom, front, back, left, right
Twelve – Same as above, but include the inside and the outside

Any answer you give is correct, just as long as you can back it up with a proper definition.

Which brings me back to my friend’s second grade puzzle:

Which side of the record goes the fastest, the side closest to the whole, or the outside? The answer most people give is the outside. But the trick answer is that they both go the same speed, because they are connected.

Of course, both answers are correct. If you are measuring the speed according to angular velocity, then they are both going the same speed. Each goes through 360 degrees in the same time period. However, if you are measuring them according to linear velocity, then the outside is going much faster. The linear velocity of the outside is greater, because the linear distance is a function of the radius. Since it’s further out, it travels faster.

Two definitions, two different answers to describe the same set of circumstances. How many other things can you think of that can be described differently based on how you define the terms?

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Success with NLP

Success with NLP