I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.

—Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Image: Wikimedia Commons

This entry is to mark the anniversary of the Tōhoku Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011.

Humans are microscopic creatures eking out a living on a tiny wet rock in an endless void. Natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and volcanoes are catastrophic events to us—but to the Earth they are just the tiniest movements of rock or the slightest gusts of wind.

The plates of rock that comprise the Earth’s surface make a shift so small as to be invisible from orbit—a tiny pinhole in its surface ejects a few measly tons of ash into the air—a negligible few meters of water lap over the edge of one of its oceans—an insignificant whirl of wind stirs in its atmosphere for a few quick days—and the humans who live on that particular part of the planet’s surface face annihilation.

And these events affect nothing beyond the miniscule borders of our upper atmosphere. The sound is deafening to us; the universe hears nothing.

There is no better demonstration of what humankind is ultimately up against. All the life we know to exist in the universe is right here on this planet, and its existence relies on very rare conditions that could change very rapidly. The geological and atmospheric forces of this planet alone could wipe us out. This is to say nothing of extraterrestrial threats such as comets and meteors: wandering specks of matter that, if probability guides them our way, could render the planet uninhabitable for humans.

We know that the star our planet orbits will eventually expand like a nuclear balloon, swallowing the Earth and dissolving it into plasma, before exploding and scattering our atomic components across space. But this star is just one of a number so large that there is no name for it. The universe will not notice.

The destruction of our planet will be no more significant than the kicking over of an anthill.

Yet this does not make me feel insignificant.

Instead, this understanding illuminates the value, the preciousness, of Life on Earth.

Nowhere else in the universe is matter known to have organized itself into self-replicating, self-contemplating systems. It is in the central nervous systems of these systems that concepts like meaning and purpose exist. By burning metabolic fuel they get entropy to work for them rather than against them, surfing a thermodynamic wave. Even if life like this does exist elsewhere in the universe, it has never been seen to leave its home planet and colonize others.

If a change so infinitesimal as the shifting of tectonic plates can cause such devastation, what chance do we stand against the vacuum of space, the solar wind, or the incomprehensible distances between stars?

The Earthlings who eventually make it off this planet to colonize other worlds may not be human—but there is a chance they will be our descendants, which will mean that we did our part.

I want this to happen. I want copies of fragments of my genetic material to make it beyond our atmosphere and out of this solar system before it’s recycled. I want some of my information to survive the great solar document shredding.

This transformation into a space-faring species cannot happen without huge social and cultural change. There are so many unknown aspects about the future that no one can predict which traits will best equip us for survival. I don’t need to, though, because the future is going to happen anyway and evolution will decide whether we have a place in it or not.

We should occasionally remind ourselves that we’re all stuck on this rock together. In the cosmic game of survival, we are each others’ only hope.

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The shape your body takes when you live a healthy lifestyle is the real measure of feminine beauty—not the way a designer cuts clothes.

Girls, this post is for you. It’s from a man who wants his world to be full of healthy, beautiful, curvy women with intelligence and self-confidence—not bony, stringy, insecure girls.

Girls seem to either be complimenting and reassuring one another of their looks, or talking shit on each other. The praise women get from men for their beauty consists mostly of barely-masked statements of our willingness to mate with them. These sex drive-inspired remarks from men don’t seem to do much for women’s self-esteem (I have no idea why).

What is lacking is a genuine, heartfelt attempt from a man to help women feel better about themselves. I say “heartfelt” because it actually saddens me that girls feel fat for being feminine. If I can do a little bit to help women realign their self-image, I will do it.

The Asch Experiment

The Asch Experiment is a well-documented and massively-repeated experiment that demonstrates the power of group perception over our individual view.

The subject of the experiment is told that he is taking part in a “visual perception test.” What the subject doesn’t know is that all the other participants are actors. The test consists simply of deciding which of a set of lines on the right (A, B, or C) matches the length of the line on the left.

Then comes the sneaky part: the actors all choose an answer that is obviously wrong. When the subject is allowed to respond, he is more likely to give the same incorrect answer.

“…When surrounded by individuals all voicing an incorrect answer, participants provided incorrect responses on a high proportion of the questions (32%). Seventy-five percent of the participants gave an incorrect answer to at least one question.” [Wikipedia]

It may come from an evolutionary instinct to weigh the perceptions of others as evidence, or it may simply come from our emotional need to belong. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that our perceptions are attracted to and influenced by those of others.

It’s important to understand that the test subjects didn’t see that the group’s choice was wrong and then chose to conform to the incorrect answer; the group’s influence actually distorted the subject’s perception.

When the experiment was done with all-female groups, the effect was double what it was for men.

A 1996 analysis of Asch line-judgment experiments states:

The finding that the greater the percentage of female respondents, the higher the level of conformity was also consistent with the conclusion from earlier reviews, although it is striking that it had the largest impact of all the moderator variables included in this analysis. We investigated this further, first by comparing just those studies where the participants were all men with those where participants were all women. … These additional analyses indicate that the gender difference found overall is robust and does not appear to be spuriously inflated through confounding with other factors. [Bond, et al]

Aesthetics vs. biology

Attraction to the female body is subject to the same perceptual distortions as the lines in the Asch Experiment.

Girls, you don’t see yourselves the way men see you. When you see a woman with a nice pair of breasts, a lovely hourglass figure, or big shapely buttocks, do you get the urge to thrust part of yourself into her? Probably not.

I can’t perceive men the way women do. The presence of an attractive male cannot inspire the same drives in me that it does in a woman. A girl can tell me about all the things that attract her to a man, but only she understands because she can feel the attraction.

If men understood what was attractive about us, you wouldn’t see us screwing around with steroids and spray-on tans and ridiculous hairstyles and an immature, boyish, macho attitude in an attempt to be what we think women like. (The result is a deformed pseudo-manliness that only speaks to us being out of touch with true manhood).

It’s the same type of thing when women get it into their heads that it’s desirable to be rail-thin.

Our ideas about what we should look like are informed by aesthetics; our attraction to the other sex is informed by biology.

Biology is hard-wired, inescapable, and objective.

Aesthetics are arbitrary, subjective, cultural. They’re made up.

It’s easier for men to get over this than women; we have biology influencing us in the direction of thick chicks.

Although women may have some biological basis for understanding their own attractiveness, it is too primal or subconscious to override the overwhelming social pressures they face. Aesthetics overwhelm their judgment of the female attractiveness.

The part I left out

There’s a flip side to the Asch Experiment.

When even one person voices a dissenting opinion, if the subject hears just one person speak out against the group, the spell is broken and the conformity rate drops dramatically (down to 5-10%).

And the dissenting voice doesn’t even need to be right, it just has to have the courage to cast doubt on the authority of the group. One other person with the temerity to reject the majority’s opinion is all that a person needs to regain trust in their own perspective.

That’s why I’m writing this, and that’s why I think other men should voice their love for the plumper varieties of the female figure. You can find plenty of articles by women exalting their own curves and learning to love their bodies, but there’s a different power behind it when men confess their preference for voluptuous women. I’m not discouting women’s opinions, I’m just saying that an opinion about a body’s appeal is a bit more solid when it’s backed up by an urge to copulate.

The popular image of an attractive female body varies throughout history and across cultures because it is subjective. But the model of a healthy, fertile, feminine body from the point of view of biology is both more objective and more varied—a wider range of women’s bodies centered on a fuller figure.

Humans are still evolving, and this trend still continues. A study from Yale University foudn that, even in this “skinny culture” of ours, it’s the shorter, thicker girls who are out-competing the tall, skinny ones. [New Scientist]

The thicker female body has its own aesthetic appeal, too. Some of us have a taste for all things bold: strong beer, flavorful coffee, whole milk, loud music, rough sex—and plump women.

For the vast majority of human history, a female body advertised its health with a full butt and thighs, with feminine fat distribution. This primal desire for bigness in the right places still swims in the depths of men’s minds like a coelacanth, a primordial creature of our evolution that has seen the shallow and temporary animals of style and fashion come and go. In the end and at the bottom, we love plump girls.

Notes

  • Apologies to homosexuals. If I tried to factor homosexuality ino this entry, it would have been way too damn long.
  • I did oversimplify in a few places. Obviously, there are guys who naturally prefer skinny chicks. I couldn’t cover everything. It’s a blog post, not a book.

References

  1. Wikipedia: Asch conformity experiments
  2. Bond, R. and Smith, P. B. (1996.) Culture and Conformity: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Using Asch’s ( 1952b, 1956) Line Judgment Task. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 111-137.
  3. Image: Volume Height Index and Female Bodily Attractiveness
  4. New Scientist: Meet future woman: shorter, plumper, more fertile

I avoid “reblogging.” I try to keep the content on this blog as original as possible.

But once in a while you can’t help but just share something great.

I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

—Glenn Gould

Edit: I’m pretty much just leaving this entry here for the discussion that ensued in the comments section, which had little to do with the blog itself.

That’s the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty… you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are.

—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye can’t help occasionally caring about (or falling “half in love” with) girls he has no clear reason to care about.

This is precisely what has happened to me with Mal Malloy. I will now explain why this minor crush is not entirely emotionally retarded.

Mal Malloy

You cannot repel cuteness of this magnitude.

It was an accident

I came across Mal Malloy’s videos a few days ago while quite innocently looking up girls with big butts. That part of my plan worked out brilliantly.

What I hadn’t expected to do is spend ten minutes just listening to her talk—and in the process realize that she is a really cool girl with an unbelievably cute personality and not a small amount of humility.

I’ve been a lot happier now with my body. It’s—mine, that’s for sure. And there’s people that find it very sexy. Most people would think it’s hideous or something. But that’s life, and I’m glad that there’s people that really, really like it.

She’s not just cute in her speech and mannerisms, or how she feels awkward talking about sexual stuff, or how she doesn’t act like she’s the shit—you get a real sense of general niceness about her. And she has a good sense of humor.

I watched a video of a gorgeous girl and wound up ogling her personality.

A quick search turned up an interview with her as well, in which she explained why she took down her YouTube channel a while back:

Well, in part it’s because of my decision to pursue a career in the Medical Field. It’s not just that having sexualized videos might lower my chances of getting accepted to a good Medical School, but also that my job and life will be devoted to caring for other people. I have to be strong emotionally and learn to be as selfless as I can.

I decided that evening that things like overwhelming positive attention can be very addictive and have a very negative effect on how I view and interact with other people. I would like to stay humble and not let that sort of thing go to my head.

I don’t pretend to know this girl in any real way, but what I’ve seen indicates that she’s a funny, genuine, relatively selfless person.

And not too nice, either. You see just the right amount of naughty if you look at her Tumblr page. (Which also evidences her artistic tastes. The girl’s got a lot of great personality points.)

What I don’t mind

If I knew Mal Malloy in real life, dating her would be on my to-do list. But I don’t. Once you multiply probability factors like (1) getting in touch with her, (2) standing out as someone who’s actually not a creep, (3) location (no idea), the product of that equation is a very slim chance that dating her is a realistic outcome.

Fine. Like I said, it’s only a crush. She’s incredibly cute, but I’ll live.

What I do mind

Something else irritates the fuck out of me: the horny dogs who fuel the evil machine of the internet.

Some of the comments on her videos make me sick. “Phat booty wanna suck yo ass blah blah.” Comments like that make me momentarily embarrassed to be male.

(And, to be honest, I’m generally unsettled by this nice girl being objectified by thousands of men. But that’s just me being over-sensitive.)

I’m sure she expects lewd comments and rude messages. I’m sure it doesn’t get to her.

Also, I would be pretty arrogant to conceive of myself as so much better than the other guys.

Nevertheless, I have this impulse to post my own comment: “She’s not an object, you pigs! She’s a nice person! A real person! Show her some bloody respect!

As Holden Caulfield might say, those bastards kill me.

Don’t worry, my reaction is just as funny to me as it is to you.

There’s another video in which she describes her favorite sexual positions. My God, there are men in this world who have had sex with this woman! Never mind the simple jealousy I feel toward those lucky sons of bitches dudes. I find myself thinking things like, “I hope they actually cared about her and weren’t douchebags to her.”

I crack myself up—

  1. because it’s ridiculous for me to care about such things,
  2. because I actually mean it.

It’s been a very Catcher in the Rye experience.

To be clear

I’m not so conceited as to think that all these other men are horny pigs and I’m this noble guy who likes her for her personality (I arrived on her channel for the same reason they did). It only seems like that when I sit here and see lewd comments on her videos.

I certainly don’t think of her as a victim. She clearly enjoys the attention, and she’s got a choice in doing what she does.

My point is

So I find myself in the odd position of developing a light crush on a girl I’ve never met, and winding up caring about her to some degree.

It’s clear enough from watching her videos that she’s a cool and unique person. I hope she knows this. As much as I think it’s great that she has the confidence to show off her body, it’s not the sort of occupation you’d wish on a woman as a career. She will have to make a clean break from this business at some point if she’s going to pursue her real life goals, and I hope she does that.

And, of course, outside the tiny probability that her path and mine would ever cross, I hope she finds a really kick-ass man. (The lucky bastard.)

I crack myself up.

…There were about a million girls sitting and standing around waiting for their dates to show up… It was sort of depressing, too, because you kept wondering what the hell would happen to all of them. When they got out of school and college, I mean. You figured most of them would probably marry dopey guys. Guys that always talk about how many miles they get to a gallon in their goddam cars. Guys that get sore and childish as hell if you beat them at golf, or even just some stupid game like ping-pong. Guys that are very mean. Guys that never read books. Guys that are very boring.

—J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Obligatory links:

Not that I really feel this way, but it’s a beautiful description of a way we’ve all felt at one point or another.

Solitude and loneliness—two things which had once driven him to suicidal despair—were now embraced with dark satisfaction. Better, he’d think—setting off on another adventure to the edge of the world and beyond—to be a frustrated celibate than suffer the agonies of love one more wretched time.

—John Marc de Matteis, Moonshadow

Moonshadow

Illustration by Jon J Muth

Here’s a little story I think about every time I hear girls talk about how disgusting men can be.

“You can’t pee when you have a boner,” she said.

“Actually, you can,” I said.

“You can’t,” she insisted.

I had thought that, as a male, my knowledge of my own anatomy would count for something on this topic. I tried again.

“You can pee with an erection,” I explained further. “We just don’t because it’s hard to aim the stream in a desirable direction.”

“Really?” she asked.

“Really.”

Really?”

“Yes.”

She erupted into laughter, and then said:

“If I were a guy, the next time I had sex, I would pee inside the girl.”

I honestly don’t remember how I responded to that, but I think my reaction was something like this:

Watching a program with a couple of women last night. A beautiful girl appears on the screen.

“Ew, look at her eyebrows,” one of them says.

The other: “Yeah, and what’s with her ears?”

I’m dumbfounded. To my male mind, all I can see is a very attractive girl. Finally, I say, “Women judge and criticize other women so harshly. That girl is beautiful.”

“Exactly. We need to find something wrong with her.”

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