29 August 2007

What Happy Harvard Students Know

Last year, Harvard student's made Tal Ben-Shahar's happiness class the most popular on campus. And for good reason. His course (from what I got online before Harvard took down (or changed?) the link) synthesized some of the best and most important information about what research has revealed and confirmed about happiness. Here are a few quotes from his final lecture - some points to ponder.

There are some commitments you can make to happiness: Practice gratitude and experiencing nature, and make exercise and socializing regular parts of life.

The questions we ask determine the kind of quest that we take. What gives me meaning, pleasure, and strength?

“Self concept is destiny.” What we believe about ourselves is what becomes true. The mind wants there to be a match between the inside and the outside – we bring either positive or negative reality into being to match what we have in our mind. We see ourselves in a particular way and from that we conclude certain things about ourselves. “This is a person who believes in himself.”

“Learn to fail or fail to learn.” The most successful people in science and arts are people who have failed the most.

Our happiness is not contingent on our status or state of our bank account but on our state of mind. I don’t believe that everything works for the best but I do believe that there are people who make the best of what happens. We don’t have control about what happens but we do have control over what we make it mean and what we do about it.

Give yourself the permission to be human. This class is more about reality psychology than happiness psychology.

Post-peak experience order is the opposite of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is more likely after you have written about a peak event. This is particularly important for males.

Simplify, simplify, simplify. Life is too short to be in a hurry.
- Thoreau

Movies end where love begins. It’s like saying, I have found my calling, its teaching. So that’s it. I don’t need to do any more. Don’t need to prepare for lectures or anything.

Exercise, sleep, and hugs are the wonder drugs. We compromise on the ultimate currency when we are short on these things.

You need to differentiate yourself. How? Determine what you really, really want to do with your life, and then do it. Be respectful and then assertive.

People who enjoy lasting change introduce change immediately. We underestimate our capacity to effect change because we underestimate the growth of an exponential function.

27 August 2007

Gonzo & Godel

Nearly a century ago, Kurt Godel shattered expectations of a complete system of logic and math. "No system can be self-referential," he said.

Today, Gonzalez proved his point holds for politics. Even politicians must be subject to laws. That is, someone other than referrees have to judge referees.

24 August 2007

Bush Re-Defines Vietnam, Failure, and Leadership

This from the BBC:
President Bush is seeking to redeem the Vietnam War.

He has tried to turn conventional wisdom about that war (that it was a quagmire and a sideshow in strategic terms) on its head.

Having finally given up on stopping his critics from drawing parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, Bush has decided to it would be easier to re-define failure than it would be to change the course of events in Iraq. The statistics measuring "progress" in Iraq are damning for all but the delusional.

It is not just that the Iraqi war and occupation is now forecast to cost about $1 trillion. (Enough to give every working person in America a tax refund of $7,500.) 2,000 Iraqis are fleeing the country every day, and for good reason. In July alone, nearly 2,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Each day, about 60 Iraqis are being killed - up from about 30 a day last year. (And given the difference in population, 60 a day is equivalent to about 1,000 Americans being killed each day!) About a million Iraqis have been killed since the occupation. American forces dropped five times as many bombs in Iraq in the first six months of 2007 than they did in the first six months of 2006.

Folks in Baghdad get only about 1 to 2 hours a day of electricity, in a country where average daytime temperatures are 110 to 120 degrees a day. 17 of Prime Minister Maliki's 37 ministers have walked out. (The equivalent of having every other cabinet member and his department (e.g., defense and education and environmental protection agency) separate from Bush's government.) $11 billion of Iraqi reconstruction funds are missing. About 30% of the equipment given to Iraqi troops by the Pentagon (including 110,000 AK-47 rifles) is also missing. The percentage of babies born underweight since the occupation has spiked to 11% (compared to 3% before the invasion).

If, as Bush claims, all this constitutes a success, then how could Vietnam be anything but a success. How could it not be? The fact that 5.1 million Vietnamese were killed during the war (4 million civilians) would do little to suggest it was ought but success. It cost us about $120 billion (back when a billion was real money) and 58,209 American lives. None of that mattered. What matters to George is that we failed to continue pounding our head against the wall. After dropping more bombs on Vietnam than we dropped on all of Europe during World War 2, we gave up too soon. A stunning conclusion to reach without the assistance of alcohol.

Once Bush has managed to redefine Vietnam and Iraq as successes (and what, one can't help but asking, would these wars have looked like had they been failures?), he plans to redefine space, time, and subprime mortgages. For you see, Bush is also redefining leadership. To put words in his mouth (given that there is no sock handy), "Leadership is shared delusion."

********
Sharing the outrage over Bush's defense of Vietnam:
Mediamatters
Jim Hoagland at the San Diego Union-Tribune

23 August 2007

The Power of Love & Trascendance - an excerpt from Csikszentmihalyi's Evolving Self

One of the men who most influenced my perspective on the modern world is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I'm still amazed that Csikszentmihalyi's book The Evolving Self isn't continually cited. It gets my vote as the most overlooked and underappreciated books of our time.

Central to his thesis is the notion that a fully developed self comes from two often competing needs: the movements towards greater complexity and integration of that complexity into harmony, bringing those disparate elements into a whole self. Complexity results from pursuit of what makes us individuals, and he calls a person joyfully invested in complex goals a transcender. What follows is an excerpt of Evolving Self, using the Hungarian poet Gyorgy Faludy as an example.

WHAT TRANSCENDERS ARE LIKE
There are many individuals whose actions demonstrate what a life dedicated to complexity could be like. But they cannot be reduced to a type, for there cannot be a single path to reaching personal harmony. Because differentiation is one-half of a complex consciousness, each person must follow his or her own bent, find ways to realize his or her unique individuality. And because we are born with a different combination of temperamental strengths and weaknesses, and with different gifts, and grow up in different family contexts, communities, and historical periods, each of us displays a characteristic pattern of potentials. Therefore, there is no such thing as a typical transcender, nor a best way to achieve complexity.

[Csikszentmihalyi gives an account of the early life of Faludy, a Jew who ended up imprisoned in a Nazi prison camp. He lived through this, migrated to the US, but returned to socialist Hungary. Again, he was imprisoned by an authoritarian government, somehow surviving this ordeal in a Stalinist-era prison from which few survived.]

Yet it was precisely in this dreadful environment, where inmates were whipped to labor from dawn to dusk, with slops to eat and rags to wear, that Faludy's muse really started to sing. His prison verses are among the most lyrical ever written in that genre. They deal with the most realistic and painful aspects of life in a concentration camp: hunger, frostbite, and brutality of ignorant and frightened men. Yet these clinical accounts of entropy are narrated so concisely and elegantly that their tragic content is transformed into a thing of beauty.

In fact, this was precisely Faludy's intent. In order to maintain his own sanity, and that of his fellow prisoners, he tried to give meaning to an otherwise intolerable existence. In one of his last poems before being released Faludy wrote:
What was the best thing I learned?
That after need
left my ravaged body
love did not leave.
Susy [his wife] became a light, silvery mist; shimmering always
before my eyes
even when shut
in pain, in gnawing hunger, as senses left,
love stayed,
love, the eternal fire, burning without harming,
not born of scalding desire,
no dreg of glands,
no juice of sex organs,
Dante, not Boccaccio,
Apollo, not the world of the dead.

Let Ziggy Freud go soak his head.


In the extremity of a life-threatening situation, the former rebel sought sustenance from the most hopeful aspects of the past, from the most meaningful memes of his civilization - and from the love for his wife. Perhaps one of the most touching aspects of Faludy's oeuvre is that originally it was not written down, for the simple reason that pencil and paper were not available in the camp. At first Faludy memorized each of his poems. Then, to avoid losing them through death or forgetfulness, he had fellow prisoners learn them by heart as well. In one case, toward the end of his captivity, he composed a long elegy for his wife, and each part of it was memorized by different inmates. Some of these prisoners were freed before Faludy, and went to visit his wife, to bring news of her husband and to recite the part of the poem they had memorized. At the end of the recitation they would typically announce: "That's all I learned. But in a few days Jim Egri should be released, and he will come and tell you the next twenty verses."

When Faludy was finally allowed to return to civilization, and then escaped once more to the West during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he published his prison verses, relying on his memory aided by various mnemonic devices. (For instance, he had made certain that the first poem he composed began with the letter "A," the second with "B," and so on.) Soon after, he started to receive letters from all over the world, from Brazil to New Zealand, containing corrections to his poems. They were written by former inmates, now scattered across the globe, who had committed to memory the harmoniously transformed accounts of their deadly experiences. Most of these corrections were incorporated into later editions of Faludy's work.

Faludy's life serves as such a valuable example for two complementary reasons: In the first place, it is so idiosyncratic in its specifics as to be obviously inapplicable to the lives of most people. How many of us have such a gift for language, have suffered so much persecution, and triumphed over so many obstacles? Yet despite - or rather, because of - its uniqueness, Faludy's story is typical of those individuals who have been able to fulfill the potential complexity of their selves. He is certainly not a saint, but he may not qualify as a Confucian sage or a Bodhisattva, either. But he learned to find flow in complexity; he learned to transform entropy into memes that create order in the consciousness of those who attend to them, and so because of him the world is a little more harmonious than it would have been otherwise.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Evolving Self: A Psychology for the Third Millennium, 1993, pp. 208 - 213.

Book-Reading Liberals & Mouth-Breathing Moderates?

Liberals read more than conservatives, according to a widely reported poll (look here at Houston Chronicle article, for example.)

According to the poll, nearly 30% of Americans had not read a book in the past year. Conservatives are 50% more likely to say that they have NOT read a book in the past year (22% of liberals vs. 34% of conservatives). Books read most frequently? The Bible and romance books. (Even readers are simply looking for love, it seems.)

Of those who have read a book in the last year, the difference between conservatives and liberals was smaller. Liberals have typically read about 9 and conservatives about 8. Most interesting, moderates have read only 5.

Is this, as Res publica says, indication that moderates are mouth breathers who haven't evolved into conservatives or liberals simply because they haven't thought through their positions enough to have actually formed an opinion? Is it true that moderates don't read, don't think, and don't take positions?

I might be inclined to accept this if I didn't think of myself as a moderate. Yet moderate is a funny label. To Europeans I would probably seem like a moderate. To my fellow Americans I'm sure I'd be considered a liberal. Rush Limbaugh would think I am a communist (but to be fair, I think he's a fascist). I read about 2 to 5 books a month, depending on the weather, time spent on airplanes, and whether it's a month with 28 days or 31. I can't remember when I last read a romance book, but I do frequently read the Bible.

This might, in part, reveal just how hard it is to group individuals into categories. One of my favorite authors would have likely taken offense at the very notion of a poll that divided people into liberal or conservative positions, a simplistic dichotomy he blamed on TV.

"Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative."
- Kurt Vonnegut

The novel was a brilliant invention that helped, in turn, with the invention of the modern individual. It did for the late 19th and early 20th century what realistic art did for the definition of self in the Renaissance. Book reading remains one of the most personal experiences, requiring a kind of participation from the individual not found at Disneyland.

Book readers are more likely to have defined themselves. Sometimes that definition of self accords with the categories offered by the mass media. Yet the most interesting people I know defy categorization and generalization. They are individuals.

If the people who designed this poll had read more books, they might have had a sense of this. Must have been a bunch of mouth-breathing moderates to have so summarily dismissed the individuality of people they are so eager to force into pre-defined categories.

22 August 2007

The Lie That's True

Attitude is everything. As Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right." Your life is what you create in your own mind, in your own beliefs.

I think that the above is utter nonsense. I also think that people who are very successful believe this. So, this is a lie that is nonetheless continually made true. I'm not entirely sure whether that makes it a profound truth or the worst kind of lie.

My Roots in the Redwoods

I love the redwoods. My great grandfather settled up in the redwoods in Northern California more than a century ago. I was born in that area and then, after graduating from high school in San Diego, found myself wanting to live amongst the redwoods again - but without giving up on the beach culture. I landed at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC).

I still miss the UCSC campus. It sits on a hill over the Pacific - the northern part of Monterey Bay. The campus has 22 distinct ecosystems - from the Oak trees and grassy hills you usually find around Sacramento to the thick copses of trees. When I went there I think we had about 6,000 students on more than 2,000 acres. The walks between classes could entail a walk through the woods, buildings disappearing behind trees. One quarter, I had a twenty minute walk between classes with only a fifteen minute window. I might pass by deer, would pass through various copses of woods that blocked all roads and buildings, and then get a glimpse of the ocean below on one section of the trail. I was always late for my next class yet never felt stressed. I loved jogging through the fire trails, even though the continual climbing never let me move very fast. A few years ago, I brought my family to campus and again found myself transfixed by its beauty. My wife turned to me and said, "Tell me again why we don't quit work and go to school here for a few years?" We passed by one guy who looked like the kind of fellow who might never have seen beauty in anything that didn't wiggle when she walked, and I heard him say to another student, "I'm going to tell my kids that I went to the most beautiful, f***ing school in the world." I almost stopped to say, "Well, you won't put it quit like that but, yeah."

With all that said, here are two videos that brought back memories. The first is a slow moving trip through the redwoods at Orick, CA, where my great grandpa settled and my father grew up. In fact, Davison Ranch is now a part of the Redwood National Forest. It's gorgeous country, where the residents pay for the beauty by living in a fairly isolated rain forest. (It's more than 13 hours of driving to get from the part of California where my dad grew up to the part of California where my son has grown up; Santa Cruz is about halfway between those two points.) The second video is from a Kenny Loggins concert filmed on campus at UC Santa Cruz. You get some sense of what the campus is like as the video shoots the band and audience from different angles. Enjoy your trip into the redwoods.



21 August 2007

I Don't See Any Vision

“I don’t see any vision,” Bernard said over the top of his newspaper.
“What?” I asked.
“No vision,” Bernard repeated obstinately. “I can’t see it.”
“Bernard,” I sighed, “you’re not making any sense. Eat your bagel. It'll raise your blood sugar.”
“These candidates,” Bernard says, thrusting his bony finger at the paper. “These presidential candidates don’t offer me a vision of anything. They’re all auditioning to be repairmen.”
“They have visions,” I told him. “The Republicans want a world with only reasonable and peaceful Muslims.”
“Ha!” exploded Bernard. “They think that they’re the only people on this planet entitled to violence? The only ones who can thumb their nose at science? Those Republicans!” he snorted. “They’re all monopolists at heart.”
“But it’s a vision,” I persisted.
“It’s not a vision. It’s a fix. They want the world the way they thought it was in the 70’s or 80’s, back when they had hair. They’re reactionary, not visionary.”
“What about the Democrats?” I said. “They want out of Iraq and they want universal healthcare.”
“Out of Iraq,” he said contemptuously. “That’s not a vision. They’re just fixing something that's broken. It’s a repair job.”
“Okay,” I said, now completely distracted from my scone, “but you have to admit that universal health care is visionary.”
“It’s not a vision if you tell your wife she should look more like your neighbor. That’s just imitation. They’re looking at every other developed nation and saying, ‘Why can’t we be like that?’ They’re not creating anything. They’re just trying to fix things, add what's missing.”
“So do you think that Bush has a vision?”
“Sure,” said Bernard as he sipped his coffee. “Bush’s vision for Iraq is that it’ll someday be a democracy, like Switzerland but without skiing.”
“What?”
“Don’t be a schmuck! Bush has hallucinations – not vision,” Bernard said. “Vision is painting a picture of a new possibility. Who’s doing that?”
“Like what?”
“Like an education system that creates human beings and not test takers! Like an economy that works with our environment like mulch works with your garden. Like every government selling off its defense equipment and consolidating the bombs and tanks into a central, global rental facility. Like a government that is its own profit center – a government that is financed without taxing income or investments. Like me dancing with this bad hip.”
“That would be a vision alright,” I said, returning to my scone, trying to find my place on the comics page.

20 August 2007

Some of My Favorite Quotes on Possibility, Potential, and Perspective

“When we are born, we are a mass of potentials, possibilities waiting to be developed. We are not born into an environment that is completely neutral about our potentials, though, nor into one that will try to develop all our potentials. … As soon as we are born, the culture, primarily through the agency of the parents, begins to pick and choose among our potentials. … Becoming 'normal,' becoming a full-fledged member of your culture, involves a selective shaping, a development of approved ('natural,' 'godly,' 'polite,' 'civil') potentials, an inhibition of disapproved ('evil,' 'criminal,' 'delinquent,' 'disrespectful') ones."
- Charles Tart

“I feel that you probably have the chance to change your whole life like a thousand times a day….But the way we live we’re so shut down that our sensors don’t (pick up) the stuff anymore. Because we’re scared or we’re not sensitive enough to realize, or we’re not flexible enough to say yes or no, we just don’t see it.”
- Franka Potente

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
- Attributed to Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas

“People’s kind of being thus demands that any attempt to get at that being constantly has the character of doing violence. Whether to the claims of the everyday interpretation or to its complacency and its tranquilized obviousness.”
- Martin Heidegger

"It’s daunting how many possibilities there are in life for everyone of us. But rather than face that I might be a failure or success – I think both of them are terrifying – people find diversions.”
- Tim Allen

“Act always as if the future of the universe depended on what you did, while laughing at yourself for thinking that whatever you do makes any difference.”
- Buddhist proverb

19 August 2007

Senior Management

The optimist says that the glass is half full.
The pessimist says that the glass is half empty.
The senior executive says that the glass needs to be downsized by 50%.

Happy Birthday Bill


Today, Bill Clinton is 61. He's been out of office for six years and he's still younger than about 20% of the presidents were on the day they were first sworn into office.

I know of no president in my voting life (since 1978) who has been more gifted at the two essential dimensions of politics: people and policy. The man was a wonk and I remember feeling such a huge relief when he campaigned, thinking, "Yes. This guy has not only read books on economic policy, he's taken them seriously." I remember feeling so vindicated when his policies led to prosperity and a balanced budget. I rather naively thought that his presidency would settle a number of issues that have, instead, come back like the character in a horror movie that won't die. And as much as he was ridiculed for it, I think it was true that the man "felt your pain." He obviously loved people and policy and to this day I don't know whether to be more amazed by the fact that he so uniquely did both, or that so many presidents haven't.

It's worth remembering that the man was a hairdresser's son. I think it was during his speech at the first Democratic convention (second?) when he introduced his mother and she, flustered, proud, and uncertain, stood to wave at the cheering crowd. As she sat back down, the poor dear missed her seat and landed, clumsily, on the ground. That moment reinforced the fact that Bill was not a part of Washington’s aristocracy.

And I honestly think that this is one of the reasons that the man was so hated in DC. He didn't have the decency to come from a family that had already established itself in Washington, as Bush or Gore had. His success could well be construed as fodder for the dreams of any pedunk punk who actually believes the nonsense about anyone being able to "grow up to be president." For all of Clinton's political genius, he does seem like the wonder kid too clueless to realize that he's not actually supposed to be president in spite of his pedestrian, working class background.

I'm still a fan of Bill Clinton. He gave a great speech, crafted smart policy, and seemed legitimately interested in Americans. I've consistently felt frustrated with the pronouncements and results flowing from the White House, from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush. Clinton was the one exception to this and, for me, proof that I am not impossible to please.

There is something else about Bill. I do believe that he did a great job as president. I don't, though, believe that he's unique among 300 million Americans. For me, one of the best things about Bill Clinton is not that he's exceptional but, rather, the idea that he's representative of a certain percentage of the American people. Call me naive, but I still can't see why we don't have the choice between, say, three or four candidates in each election who are as talented as Bill Clinton. Until we have a political system that regularly offers us such talent, we have a system that needs improvement.

Arm Wrestling with Calculus

Using the military to work out a political situation in Iraq is like arm wrestling one's way though a calculus problem.


Cartoon by B. Kliban

The Big Lie of the Information Age

Tor Norretranders quotes Lewis Carroll near the end of his provocative book, The User Illusion.
"That's another thing we've learned from your Nation," said Mein Herr, "map-making. But we've carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?"
"About six inches to the mile."
""Only six inches!"exclaimed Mein Herr. "We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!"
"Have you used it much?" I enquired.
"It has never been spread out, yet," said Mein Herr: "the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.


Norretranders points out that the information age is actually an age with very little information. We distill so much of what happens into statistics that are supposed to be representative of a deeper reality.

Imagine that you went on a walk through an orchard. The trees are planted in a line, but each tree trunk traces its own uniquely curved path. Unseen birds sing, you watch others land in nearby branches, noting how the wings of one glisten. The sun shines a dappled pattern onto the ground, the leaves creating a random pattern of dark and light on the ground and on your skin as you walk between the trees. As you are watching this, you walk into a branch that pokes your skin, leaving a small incision, a new sore that will draw your attention throughout the next few days. You reach between the leaves and branches to find about 30 choice apples. One you discarded because it had a caterpillar. Another you discard because a bird has begun to eat it. You take these apples back to your grandfather's old juicer and run the apples through it. The smell is nearly intoxicating as the pulp is separated from the juice. You take a glass of juice from the juicer inside and share it with a friend.

That juice is not a lie. It is at best a memory of the orchard. Oddly enough, though, it becomes a memory substitute for the person who drinks it without the experience of the orchard.

So much of the modern world has become like that. Much of modern management is based on this notion that the juice is close enough to the orchard to closely represent it. Spreadsheets with numbers become a substitute for understanding a school or business, become a representation for those vastly rich and incompressible realities.

The Information Age has stripped away so much information in order to make it seem possible to represent the world with just information. Straight roads with standard width lanes have replaced meandering trails, making it possible to represent the road with lines on a paper.

It is a wonderful thing that we've learned how to represent people and places with so little information. It is a tragedy when we think that these representations, these simplifications, are an actual substitute for such people and things.

17 August 2007

The 4th Economy

Evolution is simply development without precedence. We expect a baby will learn to walk, will rise up from all fours. When the first baby did it, it was an evolutionary step. When the 6 billionth baby does it, it is a normal stage of development. In evolution, the new script comes from a deviation from the normal genetic code. In development, the script comes from a conformance to the normal genetic code. Evolution is creative – a departure from the norm. Development, by contrast, conforms to established norms.

“It’s not that creativity and madness are necessarily linked, but rather that creativity and deviance (sometimes heroic, sometimes reckless) go hand in hand.”
- Denise Shekerjian


Social evolution is the story of firsts – firsts that became formalized into the cultural DNA through changes in institutions. Social evolution is the story of the emergence of banks and nation-states, handshakes and pants.

Development matters to any community that’s poor, that suffers from short life spans as a result of poor medical care or political turmoil. The question for such communities is how to develop, how to build institutions like those in the developed nations.

Social evolution matters because even the most developed communities haven’t yet solved some of the most important problems, like happiness and the compatibility of economic and environmental activity.

*-*-*-*-*-*

From about 1300 until today, social evolution in the West has proceeded in three separate waves of revolution – each wave culminating in a new economy, a new kind of society, a new type of individual. What we can now look back on as social evolution was experienced as social revolution.

First Economy – Agricultural
The first wave replaced the traditional economy with an agricultural economy. Land that was held in common was turned into private property, a move that stimulated investment like irrigation, fertilizer, and new tools like seed drills and iron plows. To enhance the value of the goods from land, trade opened up. Spices were traded from Asia and gold from the Americas. The emergence of the first economy drove unprecedented levels of conquest and exploration. Entire continents were discovered. The world was circumnavigated for the first time. Food previously unknown and grown in foreign lands became the stuff of daily diets: the Irish began to eat potatoes, the Italians tomatoes. The agricultural revolution didn’t just change diets – it changed how people thought and lived.

Second Economy – Industrial
After markets are opened up around the globe, the next stage of development involves processing natural resources – changing timber into lumber, wool into clothes, and ore into steel. This involves capital – money, factories, and machines. The emergence of the industrial economy involved another wave of transformation. Investing and working in factories changed the scale and nature of cities. Bond markets and banks emerged as new vehicles for financing new vehicles like railroads.

Third Economy – Information
If you are going to manufacture a thousand watches to ship to Topeka, you want to be sure that there is demand for a thousand watches in Topeka. To determine this, you need information. When your factories can make more than people might buy, the limit to progress shifts to information. Even in the 20th century, the emergence of a new economy was disruptive. The battle between capitalism and communism was won by the corporation, which emerged as the best way to manage knowledge workers. Computers and the Internet are just the latest version of information technology that began with the telegraph, telephone, and typewriter in the 19th century.

Evolution suggests a change in DNA – not just the individual animal. Social evolution suggests a change to social DNA. It is perhaps simplest to think of social DNA as institutional norms – the way most people think or make sense of the world, the dominance of a church or state, the institutions that are common and commonly used. Physical DNA has genes; social DNA has memes.




When the first economy emerged, the nation-state displaced the church as the community’s dominant institution. When the second economy emerged, capitalism – the bank and financial markets - displaced the nation-state as the dominant institution. When the third economy emerged, it was the corporation that took its turn as the most powerful institution. The most visible changes to social DNA can be seen through a community’s architecture. The cathedral that dominates the skyline in one period is replaced by the Parliament building is replaced by the bank is replaced by the corporate skyscraper. As revolutionary change becomes institutionalized, society evolves.

For simplicity, we can say that the agricultural economy emerged in the West between about 1300 and 1700. The Protestant Revolution transformed the church and the nation-state replaced it as the dominant institution in the West. The Renaissance became the dominant way of thinking.

The industrial economy emerged between about 1700 and 1900. Democratic revolutions transformed the nation-state and the bank, or capitalism, replaced it as the dominant institution. Enlightenment thinkers re-defined society and science.

The information economy emerged between about 1900 and 2000. Banking disintermediation and the welfare state transformed capitalism, as the masses became beneficiaries of investments, insurance, and credit. The corporation emerged as the dominant institution; by the end of the 20th century, roughly half of the largest economies in the world were corporations, not nation-states. Knowledge workers – pragmatists rather than Enlightenment thinkers – arose to become the new specialists who defined business, political, and financial policy.

The Fourth Economy – Entrepreneurial
Today, we’re living on the cusp of a new economy. This entrepreneurial economy will transform the corporation as fundamentally as the agricultural economy transformed the church, or the industrial economy transformed the nation-state.

For the developed nations, the goal is not development, not movement along defined paths. Rather, the point is evolution – movement into uncharted waters. There are no existing memes to script this progress. There is, however, a pattern from which we can draw.

The pattern of progress has been the same each time. An elite develop and control an institution. Popes and cardinals control the church. Then a revolution disperses the power of the institution. Martin Luther stands up and says, “We are all priests!” The individual has access to the church and control over it. Kings and queens gave way to representative assemblies. Dour bankers who said no to requests for credit became eager marketers who send out solicitations for credit cards each week. In each case, the individual gained control from the elites who first created the institution.

The Popularization of Entrepreneurship
Today’s dominant institution is the corporation. Quite simply, the pattern of revolution will be the same as what it was before: the everyday worker and investor will wrestle control of the corporation from the CEOs and senior executives.

The reason for this? It is to create institutions – not just corporations but schools, banks, governments, and churches – that more closely conform to the reality of the individual and of nature. To date, the point has been to conform nature and the individual to the linear thinking and predictable paths of institutions made for the masses. In the future, the point will be to more closely conform institutions to the unpredictable paths of ecosystems and personal psychology. And to create wealth – wealth as much greater than that of our own time as our wealth is to that of the first or second economy. Wealth as measured by autonomy, greater freedom for the individual. And indeed, this has been the path of progress since the dawn of the first economy – the increase in autonomy of the individual.

Entrepreneurship is the art of creating a sustainable institution. To date, that has been the work of elites. In the future, the work of entrepreneurship will be popularized. This will not happen rapidly by our normal reckoning. But it will happen. If only 1% of the population in 2000 acted like entrepreneurs, that number may be no higher than 3% by 2010, no higher than 8% by 2020. But entrepreneurship is the ultimate creative act, a social change that, when successful, creates enormous wealth. Rather than think of this as only 8% of the population, think of having 8 times as many entrepreneurs. Even today, this far past Democratic Revolutions, less than half of the population in the US actually votes.


The transformation of the corporation will change work as much as the Protestant Revolution changed worship, or as much as democratic revolutions changed what it meant to be a citizen. Corporations that have for so long measured their success by the creation of goods to have – products sold in stores – will begin to be more inclusive, adding to their metrics goods to do – satisfying work that is engaging and that stimulates creativity.

Past revolutions changed how we thought about the world – the pragmatism of William James and Oliver Wendell Holmes followed from the enlightenment thinking of Isaac Newton and John Locke, which followed from the Renaissance thought of Machiavelli and Copernicus. In the 4th economy, society will once again change its fundamental operating system. Systems thinking will emerge as the antidote to the specialization of pragmatists who measure progress in ways that exclude the erosion of their own habitat. Entrepreneurs create systems, bringing together supply and demand, labor, capital, and resources to create value.

Popularizing entrepreneurship, creating the expectation that society will accommodate the individual who has for centuries been expected to accommodate society, will be different. It will, in fact, be revolutionary.

16 August 2007

One Year of R World



I made my first post to R World one year ago on 17 August 2006. Combined postings to my various blogs since then: 501. (This total is unsurprising: on my first day of blogging, I made 9 posts. On the second, I made 6, at which point my daughter told me I was being ridiculous and I consciously slowed down, trying to make my idearrhea less public.) Since then, I've written about a variety of topics, but have tagged more (140) with "politics" than any other label.

What I've done with my blog:
* Did my bit to drive down George (I'm-so-far-in-over-my-head-I-don't-know-I'm-in-over-my-head) Bush's approval ratings.
* By modeling my own love of family, helped to persuade Karl (one-of-the-top-ten-signs-your-college-roommate-is-a-Nazi-is-that-he-spells-his-name-Carl-with-a-"K) Rove to leave the White House in order to spend more time with his family.
* Helped to loosen the grip of the (we-have-too-much-power-to-bother-with-a-conscience) Republicans on DC.
* Predicted the future far enough into the future that most people will actually have forgotten what I've predicted unless it turns out to be accurate, in which case I'll remind everyone who will listen.
* Written more about social evolution and social invention than any two other bloggers combined.
* Made a variety of suggestions for presidential politics, including:
- adding "Secretary of Happiness" to the cabinet positions reporting to the president,
- converting the White House into a museum open to the people and have the president live, instead, in a "Green House" that is a model of environmental friendliness.
- turn the presidency into a two-person job.
* Pointed out how Viagra might explain why we've apparently lost a generation of leaders who, by now, ought to have lost their acute interest in creating children and focused instead on making the world better for their grandchildren.
* Advocated turning one's life into an experiment, ala Bucky Fuller.
* Argued for an upgrade to civilization's operating system, a change in fundamental philosophy.
* Predicted a transformation of the modern corporation into a post-Information Age construct that facilitates the evolution of employees into entrepreneurs
* Explained why farts are funny, why Americans are more religious than Europeans, and how we must have inadvertently shipped the Iraqis our old version of Democracy 1.0 - the one that still has the ethnic cleansing bug.
* Coined terms like idearrhea, bulimic shopper, and the computer unconscious.
* Been politely ignored by billions of Internet users instead of just my small group of friends and family.

Most of all, I've had fabulous fun writing. (The difference between writing for a blog and simply writing onto my hard drive is like the difference between singing in the shower and singing in the shower with the window open. When the window is open, someone might actually walk by and hear.) Thanks for reading. Thanks for writing (and letting me read your blogs). And thanks for your comments. Thank you. Seriously. Without readers like you, I'd be the one blog on the Internet with no readers, an entity either deserving of the label "blob" or "blah" instead of blog. In either case, it wouldn't be the same.

15 August 2007

Cheney Explains Why It is a Bad Idea to Invade Iraq

Odd that a guy who looks this much like Dick Cheney makes so much sense.


Padilla & the Impeachment of George Bush

It's hard to imagine that 99.99+% of Americans don't want to see those plotting terrorist attacks caught before the attack, caught and aggressively prosecuted. So why, then, do I think that George Bush should be impeached for the treatment of Jose Padilla - an American who may well have plotted with terrorists?

There is a simple line of demarcation between good governments and bad governments. In bad governments, the government can take the life or property of citizenry "because I said so." Typically despots use this tactic. A citizen can be "arrested" in the middle of the night, after which point the family may never see him again. Suspects have no rights and are treated like criminals - or worse.

In the West, we have the British to thank for refusing to accept this kind of treatment. They actually beheaded King Charles (son of King James of King James Bible fame) in 1649 and by 1689 had instituted a constitutional monarchy. Under an absolute monarchy, the king or queen was the final law of the land: if they decided your life was over, it was. They could hold you in prison or take your life because they were in charge. Under a constitutional monarchy, even the king was subject to the constitution, to laws, and citizens could not be held without due process. Rules governed the process, not the will of a monarch. This right to due process when arrested is called habeas corpus.

Under a good government, citizens know that they have rights. They might even be sentenced to death, but only after a due process.

So this brings us to George Bush and Jose Padilla. Government prosecutors say Padilla is a threat and his defense attorney says he is not. I, personally, don't care a whit whether the man is found perfectly innocent and sent free or found guilty of the most heinous kind of plotting against his fellow citizens and sentenced to life in prison. That's not the point.

The point is, George Bush decided that Jose Padilla was guilty - not as the result of due process but because he thought so. Shades of King Charles and every privileged tyrant who has thumbed his nose at laws or a constitution that they believe is meant only for others. For 3 years, Padilla was held in a military brig, without charges. Not only was his family denied access to him (he has children), but even his attorneys were not allowed to see him. Bush did not need anything as old-fashioned as a trial to make his determination that Padilla was a criminal.

It was only once the Supreme Court made noises about getting involved in this case that Bush decided to give Padilla a trial. Bush was basically coerced into abiding by one of the most foundational principles of our constitution and modern government: habeas corpus. Quite simply, the man chose to disregard our constitution.

It is simple. When a citizen breaks the law, he is arrested or fined. When the chief executive officer of the country breaks the law, he is impeached. The executive branch is responsible for upholding the law. When the head of that executive branch breaks the law, he cannot be expected to indict himself, hence the process of impeachment rather than arrest and indictment.
45% of Americans now think that George Bush should be impeached. There are reasons besides his treatment of Jose Padilla, but that should be enough. Quite simply, a people who allow their leaders to defy their constitutional rights will not long have such rights. It's time to impeach George. It is not enough that this decider has continually made the wrong decisions. That is not enough to impeach the man - merely reason to vote against him. No, it is the man's casual disregard for our constitution that makes impeachment the one solution to his failed presidency - and a warning to every president to follow that we, the people, take nothing more seriously than the rights of even the least among us.

Observation on the Poor, the Middle-Class & the Rich

This week, Sandi and I have headed out to Palm Springs to stay at a resort. Living in the Sacramento valley, I grew up associating intense heat with lying by or in the pool and still find heat relaxing when I'm not expected to be productive or wear real clothes. This summer-time trip to the desert is getting to be a habit for us.

We were at the resort pool with a variety of other folks and it occurred to me how life is different for the poor, the middle class, and the rich in this country. The middle class get things that the poor do not have - from plane rides to stays at resorts. The rich also get what the middle class have, but do not have to share it with others - their plane rides are on private jets and their "resort" stays are at private villas.

14 August 2007

Karl Rove & the Confusion of Politics and Policy

This, from Joshua Green's Atlantic article:
“It is a dangerous distraction to know as much about politics as Karl Rove knows,” Bruce Reed, the domestic-policy chief in Bill Clinton’s administration, told me. “If you know every single poll number on every single issue and every interest group’s objection and every political factor, it can be paralyzing to try to make an honest policy decision. I think the larger, deeper problem was that they never fully appreciated that long-term success depended on making sure your policies worked.”


It somehow seems fitting that Karl Rove's work in the White House ended about the same time as The World Weekly News quit publishing. Karl Rove had extensive knowledge of politics - he knew about the fears and tendencies of just over 50% of the American polity. Just as The World Weekly News knew that there was demand for stories about Bigfoot and UFOs, Karl Rove knew that there was demand for stories about the threat of jihad and individual greatness that could not be attained because of a government that taxes and regulates too much.

As it turns out, there is a correlation between politics and policy, but it has a time lag. Politicians can work on Americans' fears and give them a target for their anger, organizing a lynching party into the Middle East to avenge a wrong. At that point, the politics and policy diverge. Americans want revenge and they don’t' care about silly little clarifications about how Iraq had nothing to do with the tragedy of 9-11. Later, though, when popular politics leads to unpopular policy - the equivalent of loving chocolate but hating our fat thighs - Americans sour on the politics.

Karl Rove doesn't have a good sense of history. He defines himself as someone with a great sense of history, but he likes to point to McKinley as a president who, with Republican Party kingmaker Mark Hannah, redefined the GOP in 1896. Even this point, though, Rove misses. McKinley was assassinated and largely dismissed by history as an unimportant president. Teddy Roosevelt gained the presidency when McKinley was shot. Roosevelt was a Republican but one who Hannah put into the vice Presidency in order to remove from power. Roosevelt was a Republican but one who championed reforms that eventually led to his breaking away from the Republican Party and forming his Bull Moose Party. There were indeed major historical forces at work at the close of the 19th century, but it was not McKinley who was in touch with them but, rather, Roosevelt.

Mark Twain once quipped that "Wagner's music is better than it sounds." Because of Rove's assurances about parallels to McKinley, Bush now believes that his policies are more popular than they seem. Karl Rove's poll numbers could tell him how to win elections. They could not tell him how to govern. He could read poll numbers but not the course of history. Because he could not distinguish between effective politics and effective policy, this country is worse off than when he and George first set their sights on the White House.

13 August 2007

Karl Rove's Legacy

It's hard to imagine a more succinct tribute to Karl Rove than this bit from the comic genius Dan Piraro, creator of Bizarro.



By the way, if you want to cruelly tease a friend, casually mention that you'd heard that Karl Rove has left the White House to get started on Jeb Bush's 2008 campaign.

Why Send Jobs Abroad When We Can Find One Here?

Outsourcing seems to provoke both liberals and conservatives. There is something about losing jobs that unites people, whether they use their discretionary income to pay for subscriptions for The Nation or The National Review. The purpose of outsourcing is to find lower cost labor. There are many problems with outsourcing, ranging from phone conferences at 9:30 PM after the children are in bed to the impact of confusion on quality, rework, and productivity.

So, why not get the benefits of outsourcing without actually leaving the country? This graph from Swivel suggests that its possible. Women still make considerably less than men, on average. About 40% less. Under the category of management, for instance, men's median wage was about $79,000 and women's merely $44,000 (a discount of 44%). Professional or scientific and technical jobs: men, $70,000 and women $43,000 (discount of 38%). It seems to me that it's silly to go abroad when we can merely find one here.

[Red = men's median income, Blue = women's median income]
Who is bringing home the bacon?

12 August 2007

US Life Expectancy Ranking Slips - Secret Plan is Working

AP: US slipping in life expectancy rankings

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles.

Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan, Guam and the Cayman Islands.


Bloggers have made much of the fact that we've managed to translate all our money into such poor results, but such bloggers obviously miss the point. The biggest financial problem looming before this country is the problem of unfunded liabilities like social security. For this, our august and secretive government has a plan: gradually erode life expectancies. The dead don't cost much to care for. If more people had access to high quality health care, we'd just have to pay for them for longer.

When Henny Youngman quipped, "I found out I have all the money that I'll ever need. If I die tomorrow," he probably never thought that such a philosophy would become the basis for a government program.

11 August 2007

Stock Markets and the Computer Unconcscious

Decades ago, many stock market trades were executed by traders who sat in a coffee shop across the street from the stock exchange and sent orders to the floor to buy and sell via runners. (The British still call their floor traders "waiters.") About 5 years ago, 80% of trades were done by people. Today, about 80% of trades are done by computers. Sensations take about 500 ms (milliseconds) to reach consciousness. These computer trades take place in reaction times of about 300 ms - faster than the speed of consciousness. What this means is that stock market trades are now driven by what we might call the computer unconscious - an algorithmic update to Jung's collective unconscious.

Is it any wonder that the market seems to move with such frenetic energy - jumping and diving by 1 or 2 or 3 percent a day? Like a kite on a windy day, we watch a year's worth of savings disappear in the course of an hour, only to re-appear and then vanish again before lunch.

The result? A summer clearance - 10 to 20% off all stocks. Sigh.

And the best part of the stock market gyrations is how the newscasters so confidently attribute the movement to "credit jitters," or "profit taking" or "investor confidence." The truth is, no one really knows why the market moves so much in one day. These movements are manifestations of the computer unconscious - driven by inarticulate fears and arcane equations.

[Thanks to my buddy Rick for the stats on computer vs. human trades vs. across the street trades and the little tidbit about the British still calling their floor traders waiters.]

10 August 2007

Systems, Individuals & Real Management

Harvard and Stanford are not really such great universities. If they had to take high school graduates at random, it’s not obvious that they’d do any better with them than other universities. Rather, Harvard and Stanford are able to select exceptionally intelligent and able people. The schools aren’t so very different, but their students are.

And this is our model of management. Find the best people and succeed. We don’t quite know what to do with average people. Yet average is all we have - on average.

History is nothing if not repeated proof that “average” people turn out to be quite extraordinary when their situation, context, and understanding change. The serf of the middle ages has evolved into today’s white collar professional – creating more value in a 40-hour week than the serf could create in a life time.

And this is the challenge of management everywhere – a responsibility not just ignored but unseen: make the system better. Among the many skills this requires, it starts with an acceptance of people for who they are. And perhaps in that way, being a real manager is no different than being a real human being.

09 August 2007

08 August 2007

25 Years of Sandi

I've said a lot of things over the years, but the I'm sure that the best thing I ever said was uttered exactly 25 years ago, on 9 August 1982.

A group of of us were heading to San Francisco, to China Town, for dinner. We were commemorating the fact that some friends were heading back to Korea to live.



Sandi was down from Vancouver, BC visiting her cousins and joined us. I was immediately intrigued, but the group was large enough that we ended up sitting across from each other at a long table, too far apart to talk. She watched me sit between two girls and eat duck feet, beef organs, and other things I never should have ordered and was unable to eat much of. I don't know if it was her beauty or my low blood sugar, but by the end of the dinner I felt light headed.



Afterwards, we went to a friend's house. His father, a delightful and animated man, began to ask Sandi a series of questions about who she was and where she lived and what she did. I'm usually good with conversation but in this case, I was quite glad to have someone ask all the questions. I'm sure that I'd have simply stared and repeated inane questions like, "So, Canada, eh?"



Finally, at the end of a long evening, we all said good night and I returned to my cousin's in San Jose. It must have been about 1 in the morning when, talking with John and Scott, I uttered what turns out to have been the best thing I've ever said. There was a pause in the conversation and I said, "So, Sandi and I are getting married." Scott didn't even bother to respond. John shook his head and said, "What a way to announce your latest infatuation." "This isn't infatuation," I told him confidently.





The next day, I played tour guide for Sandi in San Francisco, taking about four hours to find the water (no mean feat for a place surrounded by water). We were together every day for about two weeks after we met. I bit my tongue and waited what must have been a full four days before I let her know what I'd shared with Scott and John. Oddly, she did not run away and did actually marry me about one year later.



I'm still smitten and still happily incredulous that she likes me. 25 years ago, a huge piece of my life came into sharp focus. I've been in love ever since.

Ah Rita Hayworth!

I've been stuck for days on post 444 - unable to move away from a quantity that seemed rather entrancing by fact of being a numeric palindrome And speaking of entrancing, I am at last prodded on to post again by this gem sent to me by my cousin Scott. Is it any wonder that a generation fell in love with Rita Hayworth? Such lyrical movement! Such beauty! It's enough to make me start dance lessons and begin tinkering in the basement on the time machine. (I say that even though I know it's impossible. I can't dance.) Enjoy!

03 August 2007

Bonds to Tie Hank Aaron this Weekend

Barry Bonds is here in San Diego for a three-game series. My prediction? He's going to tie and / or pass Hank Aaron this weekend.

It seems fairly certain that Bonds has used some kind of steroid, growth hormone, or substance to move from hero to superhero this late in his career. But there is one other possible explanation for his home run surge of the last five or six years.

Bonds has always done well against the San Diego Padres. In seasons when he'd hit, say, 43 home runs he would hit 13 of them against San Diego. For years he's feasted on the Padres. One explanation for his surge? Noticing this, his batting coach simply told him, "Imagine that they're all wearing Padres uniforms."

02 August 2007

Is Consciousness Just a Trick of the Brain?

According to Tor Norretranders' fascinating book, The User Illusion: Cutting Consciousness Down to Size, your brain is tasked with an amazing responsibility. Your senses bombard it with about 11 million bits per second. Consciousness, however, can process only about 10 to 40 bits per second (estimates vary). So, the challenge of your brain is to process 11 million bits into 20 bits in way that accurately represents, or maps back to, the 11 million bits. The million+ bits flowing in from your eyes, for instance, have to be processed into familiar shapes ("Hey - that's my buddy Bill!") that shows up in consciousness as one bit rather than millions of disparate bits indicating colors, shapes, and spatial location. Cognitive processes below the surface of consciousness, processes that by definition we are unaware of, translate the millions into the few.

As it turns out, the brain takes about half a second to perform this feat - a remarkably rapid rate of calculation for processes so complex. But a half second is a really long time when it comes to awareness and sensations. This creates a challenge.

How is it that we don't seem to be going through reality with a time delay? Why aren't we aware of this half second delay? Well, for one thing, we' re only aware of what we're aware of and that is whatever is presented by consciousness . And consciousness performs an amazing feat: once it has processed the 11 million bits into the 20 bits to be comprehended by consciousness, it back dates this reality.

Let me repeat that. Tests indicate that although it takes a half second to process the sensations of reality into the perception of reality, consciousness basically tells us that it is instantaneous. It tricks us.

So, here's the real kicker. If consciousness lags reality and we don't, for instance, take a half second to decide to flex a finger or look up, what is the role of consciousness, or awareness? How is it that we interact with reality in real time even though our consciousness lags it by half a second?

It almost seems as though consciousness does less to make decisions than to trail after the cognitive processes that make such decisions - processes that are not even at the level of awareness - and explain, apologize, or rationalize what just happened. The role of consciousness may be less that of the driver of the car than that of the insurance agent who follows after the car, leaving behind claim forms in its wake.

If this is true, it raises another really important question. Who is writing my blog?

Murdoch to Buy Bankrupt Bush Administration

Here's a delightfully wry post by Robert Stein over at Connecting.the.Dots (click on headline to read the whole post):

Murdoch to Buy Bush Administration
On the heels of the Dow Jones deal, Rupert Murdoch has made an offer to acquire the assets of the nearly bankrupt Bush Administration, reliable sources reported today.

Obama, Bush & the Politics of Sub-Optimization

Mathematicians and systems thinkers talk about local vs. global optima. Imagine that you are looking for the height of the highest peak. If you search for it within 100 miles of your house, you'll likely get a different height than your cousin across the country and certainly a different value than if you live at the base of Mt. Everest.

Suboptimization, focusing on a local optima, is always easier than global optimization. It is easier, for instance, to do really well in your job when you subordinate your life to work than when you subordinate your work to your whole life.

For me, one of the key differences between good and bad politics is the question of what gauge policy makers are using for the context of their decisions. Are they focusing on local optima or trying to look more globally? Are they doing what is best only for their rich and powerful peers or for the whole population? Are they making decisions based on single events or a pattern of events? Are they worried about this year's budget options or about this generation's budget options? The great leaders have a positive impact across time and borders and don't just pursue policie that work for a short time or for a small group.

This week, Obama made a policy speech in which he said that he'd attack Al Qaeda forces in Pakistan even if Pakistan's president Musharraf would not cooperate. On this surface, this makes great sense. Attack the enemy and get revenge for 9-11. Looking around for the best thing to do in response to 9-11, it is certainly a local optima. But it doesn't quite seem like a global optima.

Musharraf is no saint. He is, however, a moderating influence in a country with extremists - a Muslim country with nuclear weapons. Of late, he's had a rough time of it. Bombings, attacks, and protests have eroded his grip on the country. It is conceivable that an American attack within Pakistan without Pakistani approval could trigger an overthrow of Musharraf, might shift power to the extremists. We're not fighting the 9-11 terrorists. We're fighting extremism. We can take steps - like the invasion and occupation of Iraq - that merely fuel extremism.

President Obama might avenge the tragedy of 9-11. But he might also trigger events that would make it seem like a mere prelude to sadder times. Pursuing such a policy could easily make him seem Bush league, unable to see the mountains for the hilltops, completely missing the global optima.

01 August 2007

Randy Newman Sings Political Science

For your listening pleasure from the guy who lives up the road in LA.

Sex!

This, from Yahoo News, has to be my favorite headline of the day:

Why people have sex: It feels good

For this, Bernard kvetches, for this they do studies?