lists


Reanna and I explored  LA’s fashion district last week. I think her favorite part was looking at the (to me) bewildering assortment of fabric. My favorite part was this sign, in a frozen yogurt joint near Santee Alley:

We read this sign while eating the store’s product, the most intensely sugary frozen yogurt ever created. This snack was pure entertainment, not food, so the fact that the store was plastered with signs like these was… hilarious?

Another odd thing is the indefinite reference of the sign: is is about the health benefit of blueberries or yogurt? (They offered a few fruits as toppings. We had strawberries on our pina-colada/cheesecake frozen yogurt and they were the only really enjoyable element of the snack.)

Then there’s the singular “benefit” mentioned in the sign, followed by four bullet-points.

Then there are the points themselves. Firstly, the yogurt–or the giant blueberry, or some other thing–“fights and lowers cholesterol.” This may only be funny to me because of all the research I’ve done lately on cholesterol. (I discovered I may have familial hyperchoesterolemia, so I looked into it.) Cholesterol is a kind of fat molecule that our bodies make to use as structural elements in our cell walls, sex hormones, and other stuff. It’s not a poison or virus. Fighting cholesterol makes about as much sense as fighting protein or fighting B vitamins. “Lowers cholesterol” is somewhat less nonsensical, but it turns out that what seems to matter is not so much the high- or low-ness of cholesterol in your blood, but how your body is packaging that cholesterol. If your body is packaging cholesterol in big protein sacks (called LDL) more than in small protein sacks (HDL), then you may be in trouble. And even then, your health risk depends a lot on the size of the big protein sacks that you make–if your big protein sacks of cholesterol are properly big, you are probably OK. If they are relatively small, that is bad news. My point is, this sign’s emphasis on “lowering” serves advertising purposes only.

Next point: “Improves the digestibility of food constituents.” I love the wording. I wonder if they are referring to eating in general, here, as putting food constituents into a digestive tract definitely improves their digestibility.

Next point: “Strengthens the immune system.” Compared to what, I wonder? And what are the units of immune system strength?

And my favorite: “Enhances one’s nutritional status.” I imagine nutritional status is a kind of social status, conferred by eating a big tub of frozen yogurt in public. That would explain why our relatively small portion cost over $7.

I first saw a version of this chart on the fridge door of my complexity theory teacher, Alder Fuller, about eight years ago. I have only been able to find this version, which is associated with the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (“May we live long and die out”). Maybe the meme made its rounds and died out or maybe it never caught on. I found it thought provoking: And I don’t know how much these Google ngrams can really tell you about the coming and going of memes, but here are a couple:

Use of "ecology" and "deep ecology" in English print since 1880

Deep ecology, anthropocentrism, ecofeminism, environmental ethics, 1980-2008

This was from the lecture “The Mismeasure of Man” by Ralph Horwitz at Stanford. It’s a nice way to distinguish between a few different ideas about our relationship to reality.

1) “I call them how they are.” This umpire believes that he has direct access to reality. In his mind, he just watches what happens and makes the call appropriately.

2) “I call them the way I see them.” This umpire acknowledges the limitation of his senses. He knows he may make a call that doesn’t reflect reality accurately because of his lack of direct access to reality.

3) “They ain’t nothing til I call them.” This umpire thinks he defines reality. Horwitz paints this one as the most arrogant, and he probably is. Whether or not this umpire thinks he has direct access to reality, he knows that he is the person who can say what we call a particular human/bat/ball interaction.

It shows a certain amount of self-awareness to be able to say what the third umpire said, which I admire. It is a kind of awareness that is necessary (though not nearly sufficient) for those of us with the inappropriate power to define the situations of others to give up that power. That is, no matter whether our power comes from race, gender, money, or whatever, we can’t give it up until we understand that we have it.

A note on gender in this post: Horwitz used the title of his lecture as a way to get in an apology about how much more research is done on men than women. He also used male pronouns for his umpires. Thinking that there are probably umpires of all genders, I tried to use “they” instead of “he,” “she,” or variations on “he/she.” It felt like bad writing so I went back to “he.” No offense meant, and if you want to take a crack at it, send me what you come up with.

I’ve often wished I had a biofeedback device that could tell me whether something I was doing was good, bad, or neutral for my body. I have found pain and other sensations ambiguous directors. What are they asking for? This has been especially important in the last few years, dealing with injuries and slower healing. I recently asked my physiotherapist, Shannon, for her general recommendations for reading pain related to an activity. This is what she said:

1) Joint pain is never okay. If you experience joint pain during or after activity something is wrong; consider getting help to figure out what.

2) You should have no muscle pain during an activity (if you do, it means you are doing way too much).

3) Muscle pain after an activity means you are close to the right intensity – try lowering intensity and/or duration for a while and see how you respond.

4) Mild to moderate muscle pain in the next couple days is fine as long as it doesn’t escalate.

5) Each time you add an activity, do it at a constant level for 1-2 weeks before increasing duration or intensity

Another psychometrically-produced typology of love is John Lee’s “colors of love.” Like Sternberg, Lee found three primary styles of love, or “primary colors,” which Lee called eros, ludus, and storge. He found that these styles combined to form three secondary styles or colors, for six love styles total:

Erotic love: Immediate, powerful, exclusive, preoccupying, sexual

Ludic love: Love as entertainment, for pleasure rather than for bonding, commitment-phobic

Storgic love: Stable, not intense, based on bond and shared interests

Pragmatic love: A combination of storgic and ludic love, which Lee called “shopping for a suitable mate.”

Manic love: A combination of erotic and ludic love, obsessive, jealous, self-defeating

Agapic love: A combination of erotic and storgic love, unconditional devotion, difficult to maintain

Here’s a visual of the typology I stole from dating-relationships.co.uk:

Before the mid-20th century, typologies of love were works of philosophy, ethics, introspection, and intuition. In the 1980s, Robert Sternberg produced a typology of love psychometrically, meaning he asked people about their experiences and used factor analysis to determine which experiences tended to co-occur. He came up with a three-factor model of love: intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy is stuff like warmth, closeness, and bondedness. Passion is stuff like romance, physical attraction, and sex. Commitment is the decisions involved in maintaining love over time. By combining those factors, he came up with the following typology:

Relationship Type Intimacy Passion Commitment
Nonlove Low Low Low
Liking High Low Low
Infatuation Low High Low
Empty Love Low Low High
Romantic Love High High Low
Companionate Love High Low High
Fatuous Love Low High High
Consummate Love High High High

Here’s a typical triangular image of the system:

It’s funny to find myself giving a presentation about getting a date, as I’ve asked exactly one person for a date and was rejected. I agreed to help with a presentation in my Sex Therapy class about clients who are lonely and want to date. This is my rough (but roughly accurate) outline for my part of the presentation, about what the research says:

Things to Know About Loneliness

It’s common. 10-25% of people are significantly lonely. Adolescents and young adults are the loneliest groups.

There are two kinds: Social and emotional—a lack of a sense of social integration, and the absence of an attachment figure. Most research is about social loneliness, and the two can get confounded. Our clients may mistake one for the other.

It is bad for us. Both social integration and attachment figures are human needs. It significantly increases morbidity and mortality, probably mediated by stress and also possibly by metabolic syndrome. Predicts 25-30% of suicidal behavior. Loneliness is a key vulnerability in sexual offending.

Things to Know About Dating

Lots of people are single. Maybe close to half.

Rejection hurts. Physically. Seriously. It may actually help to take a Tylenol. Normalize the pain and the fear of pain.

There is a lot of research and it may be good to know, for psychoed purposes:

Awareness. To get a date, other people must be aware of you. Are your clients making others aware of them? The general rule here is to stand out from the crowd in some way that does not violate social norms. Standing out in a negative way will not help.

Attraction.

Physical attractiveness is a big deal. Sorry, it just is. If it is an issue, consider a conversation with clients about grooming. Beyond that, blame the media and move on to the points below.

Appropriateness. Again, violating social norms generally will turn people off. There is also a lot of research on stuff like age, social/economic status, and race/ethnicity acting as “appropriateness” filters for affiliation, but I’m not sure how helpful that will be for clients.

Familiarity. People will like you more just because they know you. As long as you didn’t make an initial negative impression, becoming a regular will help you.

Similarity. Opposites attract is wrong. People like people who are like them. This is a good plug for meeting people at special-interest events. (Bars are an exception. Very few real relationships start in bars.)

Responsiveness. We like people who seem interested in us. Eye contact, questions, turning towards bids for attention. Check your clients for an exaggerated sense of putting themselves out there.

Approach/Affiliation. If you want someone to approach you and choose you, you need to be accessible and receptive. These are much like the awareness, familiarity, and responsiveness principles, above.

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