Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Retail therapy .....A bio-psycho-historical perspective

My dear fiscally tortured, commercially squashed ,fellow impulsive shoppers.

The last post educated you apes about the chain of unfortunate events set in motion by the evolution. These events gave birth to almost all the evils that plague the earth today. 

The ascent of Money ....the most potent intoxicant known to our unfortunate species.

Apart from greed, inequalities, colonialism, militarism, war, exploitation, slavery and chewing gum , Money..and hence commerce... gave rise to another monster......A monster which surpasses all others as the source of human suffering.  All of the above mentioned maladies that have afflicted the human race , may or may not have tormented you directly. But this affliction affects you squarely..directly... mercilessly and takes no  prisoners.

Yes gentlemen, I am talking about those brain wrecking trips to the Malls/Markets/Stores/Hawkers ...endless deliberations on what to buy ..the colors ..shades.. the mindbogglingly enormous problem of choice . I am referring to those pitiable cries that your mind utters as it is being drowned in the deep waters of financial ruin , weighed down by the sink stones of credit card bills .I , my fellow Apes of masculine gender, present to you, our common enemy....Shopping 

 The male species have been crying foul for centuries and on the other hand the female species have shown no sign of acknowledging that something is wrong with the whole business. This paradox has intrigued the thinkers and scientists since time immemorial. Is it the old fashioned propensity of humans to gather more and more that is at work, or is it something else.(in fact, Aristotle was driven to philosophy by his wife's passion for buying  camel skin sandals from Egypt and indigo robes from Asia Minor, sold by the Persian merchants ). The answer was found after a couple of millennia , by sheer accident.

Cross comparative analysis has been done on the craniums of the fossilized skeletons found in paleolithic sites and the skulls of humans in the ruins of bronze age cities.Studies have been conducted on the pickled grey matter of the Egyptian mummies.Early medieval scientists have raided graveyards and studied the skulls and the brains of departed fellow humanoids. Pioneering Victorian surgeons have peeped into the cranial cavities while attempting to cure common cold. This quest has continued to the age of Brain Mapping and MRI and has generated truckloads of data.

All through the several centuries of research into the mysteries of the walnut shaped organ occupying our heads, there has been one common finding.It has been found that the Nucleus Accumbens, or the reward center of the brain has,through the ages, shown an increase in size and prominence in the females of the species. This puzzled the scientists to no end but they couldn't explain this. The data was filed and the scholars moved on to work on other more important scientific pursuits like developing better smelling anti lice shampoo.

Then one fine day....some nerdy researcher...wanted to have fun..and his idea of orgasmic fun was playing with statistical data . He superimposed this cranial data on the economic data of the various civilizations of the world. He was amazed by the pattern that emerged.  

The increase pattern in the size of the Nucleus Accumbens matched exactly with the increase in trade and commerce through the ages.

 This finding caused a renewed interest in this fascinating subject of the interrelation between the development of the brain and the emergence of retail markets and vica verca. Universities were flooded with funding offers . Whole new Departments of Economic Psychology and Departments of  Transactional Neurotics were set up to delve into this field. MIT even created a Samuel Moore Walton Chair of Comparative Neuronomics ...of course funded by Wal-Mart.

Concerted multidisciplinary effort resulted in the identification of the true nature of the problem.Test conducted on female mice helped crack the puzzle. The Female mice were exposed to shelves full of cheese of different colors and textures , gleaming feeding bowls ..and other stuff that the mice find to be interesting. This resulted in abnormal secretion of Estrogen and increase in the size of reward lobes. More tests were conducted..this time on human subjects..cheese being replaced by designer clothes..cosmetics..and of course The results were incredibly similar . A historical discovery had been made.The increased secretions and the resultant increase in the size of Nucleus Accumbens propels the females of the species into a frenzy of uncontrolled purchases and it is followed by an depressive episode of self doubts over the nature of purchases ,as the estrogen levels decline.

The scientists named this phenomena as The Compulsive Serendipitous Transactional Yearning Syndrome...or the COSTLY Syndrome. The syndrome's origin was explained as thus...during the good old day of apehood , the females were responsible for gathering and the males for hunting. Hunting provided a solid nutrition base but gathering provided finer things in life,like bones to be made into neck pieces..skins to be fashioned into latest high fashion loincloths. The Nucleus Accumbens worked normally , the choices being limited. Bones were all white...skins all smelt as bad. But as the civilization and trade brought about an unprecedented explosion of choice...this over burdened the circuits and the lobe started acting funny. Things have been going downhill ever since.

This discovery has exposed a great historical injustice. Generations of males have blamed , abused and embarrassed the females over their seemingly irrational and self destructive purchase habits. They have sulked for days after their wives have gone out and bought themselves their 269th pair of fancy footwear. They have had to be pushed and shoved from one store to another , after their wives have spent only a few hours evaluating a few hundred different shades of maraschino red chiffon fabric...and dismissed the store to be low on choice. 

The truth is that the females are as much a victim of this anomaly embedded in their genetic blueprint as are the men. They cant help it . Shopping is an instinctive, involuntary reflex reaction to the external stimuli of the sight  of goodies filled endless shelves in malls and stores.  Its a chemically triggered brain impulse, same as the sight of a chilled bottle of beer induces instant throat choking thirst in the male apes. The male species needs to sensitize itself . The need is to deal with the situation with a great amount of care and thoughtfulness. She needs your support. A few tips are given below.

Firstly,the male species should strive to be physically fit. Apart from being a cerebral exercise of the extreme variety, shopping also entails great physical effort. ( A comparable situation would be playing chess with a gorilla who has the IQ of an Einstein ). A fighting fit husband shall endure miles of walking in the malls/markets/store aisles with a smile , all the time carrying half a tonne of shopping bags.It will also safeguard your heart when you sign the bills. This will keep her happy. So bye bye pizza and beer.....hello treadmill.

During the course of  expedition into the retail kingdom, you may be asked for your opinion on stuff that is in consideration. Be very very careful here. An immediate response is a recipe for serious trouble...she will take it as a sign of non seriousness and your not paying attention...and just wanting to end the ordeal soon....and she is probably correct. Take your time..put in a lot of ummmmmms and well lemme sees in your answer. DO NOT...i repeat, do not appear to be certain of your opinion in the first instance. Appear to be evaluating the choices with the seriousness you will reserve for calculating the amount of beer needed and the choice of snacks to be ordered before you sit down to watch the World Cup match with your beer buddies. If you can do this you have ensured another peaceful evening .

Develop a good memory. She may , after a couple of days of the retail expedition , have that episode of self doubt over the stuff bought. You are now in a minefield. Under no circumstances fuel her doubts .....stand by the opinion you gave. Any deviation will be caught, noted, tucked away in memory and will be used to give you hell later. To avoid this you need to remember what opinion you gave in the first place.

Then there is the question of Guilt Purchases. She may, after spending the equivalent of the GDP of a small African nation on girly stuff , suddenly feel guilty about not buying you anything.To offset this guilt you may be imposed upon with something you do not want. Under no circumstances refuse that red polka dotted shirt with yellow sleeves. Accept it as you would accept an oxygen cylinder while stranded  in outer space.... with gratitude in your teary eyes.

The above mentioned simple measures will go a long way in dealing with the symptoms of the COSTLY Syndrome. Please remember , a cure is not possible, only palliative care can be given. Compassion and empathy are the terms to remember. Both genders need to stick together and brave this out till the devolutionaries bring about the devolution and we go back to our old tree swinging ways.

So, The Preaching Monkey ends another sermon about the evils of evolution.

Keep the faith....and keep shopping.

Long live the Devolution.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Great Game....and no it ain't cricket.

Greetings my fellow cynical , semi evolved byproducts of the Big Bang...

The Preaching Monkey is confident that The Carpet Bomb method will go a long way in solving the problems of your sorry, uninteresting,hopeless and pointless existence. Those unfortunate souls, who have no idea what is being talked about here, can refer to the last post on this blog.."A case for a bombed out logic...".

The Preaching Monkey feels that it is his revolutionary or, in fact ,devolutionary duty to educate, from time time, the delusion afflicted and Darwin loving masses about the evils of evolution. The evolution, a conspiracy   of celestial proportions , designed to keep us apes occupied in the constant struggle to be the fittest species and in a constant race to be the first one to tweet about what you ate for your breakfast.

In the days, alas, long gone by...needs were few. Hunger pangs ??...well.. give your long arm some exercise.and pluck the nearest juicy fruit...or if you are up to it..stand up..holler..hammer your chest with your fists ..and snatch that ripe banana right off that nerdy looking ape cowering on the adjacent branch...simple.

Transportation polluting ,expensive gas guzzling...mine is more shiny and bigger than Everyone had high environmental EQ and traveled by public transport...i mean all those branches and vines so kindly and thoughtfully provided by Mother Nature, swinging from tree to tree That beats getting stuck in traffic jams and inhaling lung perforating fumes any day..hands down.

There was no courts..and the best of lawyers. Disputes were settled quickly , economically and the winner got to wear jewelry fashioned from the loser's bones.

It was a perfect society...the kind which would give Marx an instant intellectual orgasm.Nobody owned anything.. everyone had accommodation .caves in winters..and good ol' trees in summer. Everybody wore the same..IF they wore anything...(cave paintings indicate the fashion remaining constant for around half a million years..animal fact Nike tagline then was.."kill it..wear it". ).

Simple days...simple pleasures...

All good things must come to end...and they did. As The Preaching Monkey lamented earlier, evolution brought with it  another spoiler....civilization. Among other evils...civilization brought commerce. It started with simple barter...hey dude i like your state of the art , designer..monogrammed stone ax why don't you exchange it for this mammoth bone i have been munching on for a few weeks.

Trade led to a bigger evil......Money.

Money eliminated the need of the participants in the trading game to have simultaneous and matching wants.You have a good ,nice, juicy shoulder cut of a water buffalo,which i want..but you don't want the bear skins that i problems..with the advent of money,we can still do business.This value storing function of money made large scale commerce possible.

Trade and commerce...started to dispose off the surplus and make good the shortage...moved from being a tool for obtaining necessities to being, at first , an occupation...then a mutually beneficial arrangement with the other big evil..The State....both feeding and nurturing each other. Then the trade became a cardinal objective of the State.The primary function of the State became promotion and safeguarding of trade and commerce.( East India Company...rings a bell...does it ?).

Suddenly the State existed for trade...and its horizons expanded beyond the search of El Dorado. The quest for Gold..Glory..and that order. Poor God was involved because the Church was itself a super State.It held enormous resources and also provided a spiritual fig leaf to the otherwise conscienceless gold diggers.The Trade in turn found new heathen filled fields for the church to cultivate...and the church was not allergic to Gold either. So third primal evil got involved  ...  Religion.

As the mercantile period progressed, the state got a little insecure about the long distance relationship with Trade ( unfortunately Facebook..Whatsapp..or even something as primitive and ancient as Orkut didn't exist then ). The State,like many a abandoned leading ladies in Bollywood NRI dramas, decided to follow its soul-mate , the distant lands of plenty...and soon their illegitimate offspring..The Colonialism was born.

The many children of unacknowledged fatherhood, was a troublesome child. He wanted more and more. He wanted, above all, parental acceptance.To this end, he set about his task with a maniacal dedication. His parents wanted gold and land...and he would con,dupe, snatch,scratch , fight and kill for feeding their hunger. He was successful, but this zeal of his brought him into conflict with those wretched souls who were at the receiving end. They reacted violently. Colonialism was on the back foot .worried..having a sleepless night. Suddenly he felt warm but strong hands on his shoulders. He turned around to see the smiling faces of his parents....smiling indulgent parents.

They both spoke together, in one voice, " son, we have been watching you..our hearts swelling with pride. We know about your problems with the natives. Don't worry, we have been preparing for this day. The gold you sent home brought about the Industrial Revolution...keeps the hungry peasants back home busy, and it has allowed us to feed and strengthen your younger brother..The Militarism. He now has new toys..gun powder and canons and breach loading rifles. Time has come for us all to get together , formally , and be a happy little family". Colonialism saw Religion standing in a corner ,with his golden monk's robes on and silently blessing the happy family. Colonialism cried tears of joy.

So the newly united happy family , went about its business of extracting wealth from the once free and prosperous lands. The Militarism grew up to be a fine,though a slightly hot headed ,young man. Industrial revolution too progressed and brought about new toys for which could kill on an industrial scale.The clan grew and soon they were everywhere..Asia,Africa..Caribbean ,the Artics...and a new branch of the family the New World.

Soon ,the happy times were again threatened, this time by  their jealous neighbors . The Mercantile family was again under siege,by the twins..Fascism and Communism. Both Identical in looks ,speech and behavior. They both wanted all that was to be had..and while Fascism was unapologetic about it, Communism felt the need to disguise his raw hunger in the garb of some fancy social theories.

Fascism made the first move. He started threatening the interests of the old established Mercantile clan. Such behavior from an upstart was not appreciated and the war to end all wars started. Communism was a fence sitter..enjoying the fight from the stands. He was happy to see his potential rivals sparring and getting bloody.
Fascism was a good fighter..who got many punches across as the bout started..but the bout was not turning into a quick knock out as he had been expecting.He too got a bloody nose. Then he saw his brother Communism giggling in the stands.

Fascism ,already frustrated by the tough fight...lost his cool..and his judgement..and attacked Communism viciously. Communism, initially shocked, joined the fight .

Fascism was badly beaten...never to stand up again. Mercantiles too lost a lot of blood , never to regain their former glory and strength.

The new kid on the block was a Texan boot wearing, Bourbon sipping guy who spoke with a drawl. America , a distant cousin of the Mercantiles ,popularly know as Uncle Sam. Now he was a smart guy. Came with a different business model. Colonialism was dead..but Militarism  was not. So America adopted this poor  orphaned boy and loved him like no one had loved him before

. Uncle Sam took over the family business.He had a slightly different business model from that of the Old Family. The" occupy your clients country and make it a colony " model was passe'. The overheads were too high. The new model was" sell weapons to your clients and use that money to buy cheap oil" model.The new model was self sustaining. The clients produced oil and other resources..which were bought by Uncle Sam. Then the shrewd uncle sold them arms and fighters and Stinger missiles.this brought back the money..with profits..kept the clients involved in their little wars..and under the delusion that they are indulging in trade on an equal footing.

Communism,who survived more or less intact , was feeling left out . Though he was competing well in the race to destroy the planet,many times over, he was behind in the contest of global influence and domination.
Not learning from history, he chose to follow the old business model of the mercantile family..and chose to occupy the lands of a particularly hot headed customer.

Uncle Sam, saw the writing on the wall...(it was in Arabic , but Sam being Sam , drew his own interpretations ) . He felt threatened by the growing influence of his rival. so, he did what was to be done, and brought that old wily rascal out of retirement...Religion. Along with this trump card, Sam made sure that Communism bled ...and bled from a thousand cuts. Communism went back on his knees.and rolled over and died soon...

Mission Accomplished..

Well, not exactly . Religion had proved to be a very able and a successful motivator and leader in this conflict. He had created around him ,an army of cranks and lunatics...of delusional soldiers of fortune high on the supposedly spiritual opium..and looking forward to have a rather nice time with 72 virgins. When Uncle Sam ordered Religion to go back to his Old Age Home...he laughed maniacally ...and asked Sam to take a hike. He had his own little plans. Old fashioned ,as he was, he again chose the occupation model , but with a twist..instead of choosing the heavy , slow moving Militarism..he chose the mean ,lean and fanatical...Terrorism.

Uncle Sam was furious.He started to plan a strategy to oust his old ally..but before he could do anything..Terrorism struck and gave him a deep wound..and vanished back  into his cave.

Sam gave hot pursuit...and soon found himself entangled in the old mercantile business model of occupation  and its consequences. Now it was his turn to be bled. He found it difficult to hold on and even more difficult to let go.

And thus the cycle was completed...

Then , there arose another player in the Great Game...a former client nation from the east. Their business model was "buy nothing..but flood others with cheap stuff". Along with this they also  followed the American model of selling arms....They had also assumed the Communist brand...(intellectual property rights in China leave a lot to be desired ) ..only the brand...much like Apple Inc which. has nothing to do with fruits.

The Oriental player started its innings...

The Great Game and the Great Commercial Pursuit continued...

See what evolution got us into.......

The Preaching Monkey strongly suggests two 500 mg tablets of Crocin ...that if you are not planning to lubricate the dehydrated circuits of your brain with alcohol .

...and as The Terminator famously said..I will be back...

Monday, March 4, 2013

A case for a bombed out logic....

My fellow ,daily soap harassed , caffeine dependent primate brethren ...Greetings

The alien question is more or less settled. The Great Indian Soap opera assembly line has been active since the start of the millennium . Television transmissions , in form of radio waves travel at the speed of light. This means an area of  a radius of about 14 light years around the earth is sanitized and free from any kind of  intelligent life. We have created a very effective energy shield ....there will never be a Contact. For all practical purposes ..They are now not out there. Too bad

But there is a silver lining too. The human species has rediscovered a way to end all debates and mysteries.In fact it is a all new school of thought....a completely out of the box methodology of scientific enquiry ...
The Carpet Bomb method.

In the year 1969, the Vietnam war was at its best.Fighting on the ground actually looked like a scene straight out of Platoon or Apocalypse Now. Bang in the middle of all this excitement was Marine Gen. Jim "Bubba" McDollen.  a.k.a. "Kongbuster". Now the General's outfit was tasked with destroying a Vietcong base which also doubled as an ammo dump. The Vietcong, being Vietcong, had built this base on a hill, surrounded by half a dozen or so villages.The American High Command , considering the rabid anti war protests at home,issued a strict directive to the General ,to ensure that civilians around the base are not caught in the cross fire.In case that was not possible,the attack plans were to be dropped. Damn !!

The sissies at the Pentagon had under estimated the General.Our good ol' Bubba was a true blue Southerner from red necked as they can get. He solved the problem the true redneck fashion. Next day he arm twisted the USAF to send half a dozen B 52s , full of fuel-air Napalm bombs..and got the area around the base carpet bombed for two full days.He then sought permission to go ahead with the attack on the base. When asked about the civilians..Bubba replied ,with all the honesty and truthfulness at his command.., "there ai'nt no bloody civilians in the area." ... Period.... Problem solved.

Gen. McDonell  was rewarded by the USof A by giving him a ticket home,with two hefty marines as an escort. He spent many happy years in a wonderful Veterans psychiatric facility deep inside Fort Knoxx. He has since left to torment Jesus and his poor Father.

The Carpet Bomb Method is named so as a tearful tribute to this early pioneer.

What is fascinating about this is that almost all of the earth's mysteries , especially the ones which fall in the category of "does X exist or does X not exist ??" ,can be very easily solved using this method. Instead of delving into a complex über scientific definition of this method, we shall understand it with the aid of some more examples.

An apt example can be the famous case of the Loch Ness monster. For many centuries , the existence of this monster , supposed to be inhabiting the deep waters of the Loch Ness lake in the Scottish highlands , has been a matter of intense debate. The locals swear that the monster exists. The rest of the world doesn't really share their belief.( can't blame the world though, I mean , if your national pastime is whiskey guzzling and your men wear skirts...taking you seriously is a tough proposition .)

Despite many centuries of research ...using sonar...and satellite imaging..thermal photography..even sending court summons to the monster ..the question is still irritating us. So how to tell , conclusively whether it does..or doesn't exist ?

The answer is simple.

The Her Majesty's Armed Forces have to simply explode a small tactical nuclear device inside the lake....and then...voila' time someone asks if the monster exists..the world can answer with an emphatic resounding NO !!!

The Chinese government can do the world a favour by exploding a slightly bigger thermonuclear device in Tibet and settle the Yeti debate.

In fact many benevolent governments in South America ,fearing fresh and irritating questions like..whether purple coloured blue eyed puma exists in the vast Amazonian forests..or not.., have taken  preemptive initiative of destroying a few million hectares of jungles. God bless them . The world already has too much on its collective mind .

Lets move from macro to micro..and from scientific pursuits to our trivial daily lives. The Carpet Bomb Method has far reaching implications .

Does she or doesn't she ...can't say...this amorous dilemma has driven many a suitors into the comforting arms of insanity. Some methods based on speculative reasoning or law of averages are sequential plucking of rosé petals..or toss of a coin. But these methods, though of very ancient antiquity, are of  dubious reliability . A unequivocal and firm answer is never provided.

What a man , a citizen of a fast moving ...chronologically enslaved..stress plagued village called the World  needs, is a quick answer which smacks of finality..and not gibberish ..may be..lets see..ummm kinda response. If that final answer is a long as it was fast coming. Here is where The Carpet Bomb Method comes handy. Lets see how..

Walk up to the object of your desires..or if you like it that way..the source of your migraine. Insist on talking only in Swahili..a language none of you knows. Take her out for a roadside hawker selling triple fried stale fish tails. Spend the next one hour negotiating the rate per piece with the hawker, finally cutting a deal of getting exclusive rights to all leftovers . Proudly announce this historic accord to your lady ..and offer to pay 49% of the bill..leaving the major share for her in true deference to women's lib. Somewhere around this moment..your lady will deliver a palm impression on your face ..followed by a World Cup winning kick on a tender and a rather crucial part of your anatomy. This can safely be taken as a firm No.

 Problem solved. No more swinging between the horns of dilemma .

Thus ,The Carpet Bomb method has all the trappings of a great scientific applied theory. It can be explained easily by using real world examples and can be applied to everyday problems of existence.

It will find its place in the Hall of Fame right besides the Multiple world theory and the String Theory.

The Preaching Monkey implores you to apply this wonderful by product of the alien debate to ease your lives and to free yourself from the stress of suspense ....

The Preaching Monkey is signing off for think of something more unhinged and annoying...