30 October 2007

More on Communication

A cognitive bias that most people have is confirmation bias. When we see something that conforms to our beliefs, we think it is brilliant. When something doesn't conform to our beliefs, we think it's wrong.

I stumbled across this brilliant web page today. The title is "Relationship Fix: How to Tell Difficult Truths So People Thank You." I like it mainly because it is consistent with some of my previous posts on communication. They have a nice spin on it though. They say, "When you speak the unarguable people don't argue."

Stick with your emotions and feelings, not their problems. If I say "I feel sick to my stomach," you can't argue. If I say, "Your idiocy makes me sick to my stomach." you might have something to say.

They also put out the concept of "feeling zones." It's a way to link your feelings with physical manifestation of the feelings.

  • Zone 1 is made up of your neck, shoulders and mid-back. When you’re tense in this zone it’s because you’re holding onto anger you haven’t communicated.

  • Zone 2 is your throat and chest. This zone tells you when you’re feeling sad by signaling you with constriction (“lump in the throat”) and a sense of heaviness.

  • Zone 3 is your stomach and beltline area. Tension and racy-queasy sensations (“butterflies”) tell you that you’re scared.

So hold me guilty of confirmation bias, but I have yet to see any argument that makes the case that it is a good idea in a relationship to point the finger and blame.

27 October 2007

In Praise of Joy Toys - Asa Baber

Warning: The following is R-rated due to sexual content

Asa Baber was a columnist for Playboy magazine for many years. I used to read his "Men" column, as well as the stories he wrote. He wrote about many issues related to men: their rights, responsibilities, growing up, etc. His writing was always provocative and usually spot on.

He wrote a column in the June 1994 Playboy that had a huge impact on the way I think about sex. Not the mechanics of it or the squishy making love side, but more a philosophy of mutual pleasuring.

In summary, he says that men should remove the ego from lovemaking, and put the focus on their partner rather than using sex to prove their physical prowess or soothe their ego. He says it much better than I ever could, so I won't say more about it.

I'm not sure exactly how this ties in to Emotions for Engineers except to say that engineering is a predominantly male profession, sex is a part of many love relationships, so we might as well do it right. Besides, I wanted to have this as part of my own "FAQ."

I searched all over the internet for the article (I wasn't sure which month and year) and finally found it. It wasn't even available on Playboy's website (I would have preferred to link to them). So I have reproduced the article here.


In Praise of Joy Toys
by Asa Baber
Playboy Magazine
June, 1994

After you and your partner are through making love, and after she has complimented you on your sexual prowess and praised Mr. Happy for the way he has taken care of business, and after she has given your satiated weenie a final kiss and turned over and pretended to go to sleep, are you so foolish and naive as to have believed her terms of endearment?

I’ll bet you are. Admit it: You love I when a woman praises your talents. “Way to go dickmeister,” you say to yourself with a smile. The smile of a self-satisfied lover that is.

I don’t want to ruin your day Space Captain, but allow me to ask you a few questions:

• Once in a while, does the mattress seem to jiggle as you fall asleep after sex? And do you ever ask yourself, “If that’s not an earthquake, then what’s causing those mysterious vibrations?”

• After making love does she periodically go into the bathroom and take a long shower with that complicated showerhead she bought last year? And does she perhaps sleep a little late the next morning?

• After she has praised you and treasured you, do you wake up a few minutes later to find her gone?Do you then hear a subterranean hum emanating from the living room?

• When you turn on the light by the bed after she has gotten up at night, does the electricity surge, and are there cries of pleasure from the basement?

• When sorting through the mail, do you come across personal letters to her from your utility company that say: “Thank you for your excessive use of our services. We consider you one of our most highly valued customers.”

You get where I’m going with this, don’t you? If you really believe the gold dust that your lover sprinkles on your pillow at night, check your gullibility factor in the morning. Because you are clearly a self-deceived man who has forgotten one of life’s most important rules. I’m talking about the Always Three In Bed Rule, of course. Read it and apply it and your life will change for the better.

The Always Three In Bed Rule reads as follows: “You shall not make love with any woman without understanding that she will often be more orgasmic than you are. Therefore, you will have at least one vibrator in bed with you and your companion at all times to join the two of you while you play and to take over when you need a break. Furthermore, you shall not be embarrassed or threatened but shall instead adopt your vibrating ally as an equal partner and encourage your lover to use it on herself (and on you too if she remembers you are there) whenever and however she chooses.”

This rule applies especially during your downtime, when you can only lie there and and watch in amazement at the female capacity for numerous and continual orgasms. Remember, the central operating principle of the Always Three In Bed Rule: The couple that vibrates together stays together.

It is time for us to accept the fact that women are capable of more orgasms than we are. We think we’re hot stuff if we come a couple times a night. But on their hornier nights, women view their first orgasms as nothing but foreplay, and they are secretly looking around and wishing for more.

Given that fact, we should encourage women to bring their joy toys out of the closet and into the open bed. Let us offer praise to those pulsating love probes. They prove that while a man’s dick may sometimes droop, his ministrations can go on forever. They are our pinch hitters and friends. So roll over, red Rover, and let the vibrators take over.

Rare is the sexually sophisticated woman who does not have several types of toys to play with. These include:

The penis shaped vibrator. Be brave, be humble, be bold; take her to an adult bookstore and let her buy the size she wants. You’ll learn a lot about her when you do this, I promise. And if, as you leave the store she tries to reassure you by saying, “Size doesn’t count,” let her get away with that lie.

Clitoral stimulators. Known in some circles as the tired-man’s accomplice, these vibrators are small and handy. They are also great for her to use during intercourse. Snuggle up behind her, slip into her love nest and hang on for your life.

In response to demand, many stores now sell vibrators of all shapes and sizes. You can buy ultrasound vibrators, two-headed vibrators, infrared vibrators,. You can buy dildos that throb, and dildos that thrust. There is a cornucopia of joy toys for you and your lover to experiment with, and she will respect you in the morning if you allow her to satisfy herself at night. I have a theory about the nature of the lives of men and women. I can’t prove it, but I suspect that the anger some women have displayed toward us is, in part, a sexual anger. They are telling us that we have not taken the time to understand their bodies or their needs. And if that theory is true, it is also correctable.

Many years ago in the bedroom of a young woman in Berlin, I was making youthful love with what I thought was skill and abandon. My partner seemed to be enjoying herself, and after several orgasms, I lay back in a satiated state of mind and body.

“Ace, I have a machine that always lets me finish many times,” my partner said to me with some shyness.

“Be my guest,” I said. I watched while she played, and when I had my strength back, I joined her. It was one of the most exciting and educational evenings of my life.

“Be my guest,” you shall say. “Come. And come again All night long, if you choose. Because that’s what our mutual joy toys are all about.”

Online sex toy shops

Good Vibrations

17 October 2007

More on Free Will and "The Black Box"

In a previous post regarding whether or not humans have free will, I talked about what it takes for us to change our behaviors.

I said that you either need to reprogram the black box by taking good care of it or change the inputs to the black box. This page on "Priming and Contamination" from my friends over at Overcoming Bias supports the concept.

They say, "Once an idea gets into your head, it primes information compatible with it - and thereby ensures its continued existence."

This is why support networks are important. This is why it's good to have a disinterested party who can give you critical feedback. This is why reinforcing good thoughts leads to positive outcomes while reinforcing bad thoughts leads to negative outcomes.

If you are an engineer by training, there's a pretty good chance that you are a Myers-Briggs intravert--used to living and reasoning in your own head. But remember, your mental health, the "Commitment to reality at any cost" begins with being able to identify reality. If you do not first take care of yourself and actively collect disinterested points of view, you will bring biases and possibly flawed or distorted beliefs and values into the mix.

Cultivate close trusted relationships besides your immediate family. You will be better for it.

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09 October 2007

You're Just Oversensitive

"Oversensitive" and "too sensitive" have always sounded judgmental to me. It's an uncalibrated opinion. It implies that there's some line to another's feelings and that you are the judge of where that line is. For example, somebody implying, "if I call you a "big jerk," you shouldn't get angry; if I call you a "big fat jerk," you're justified in feeling angry" is judgment against arbitrary standards. Simply saying that someone is sensitive (without the additional qualifier) sounds less judgmental to me.

Calling someone oversensitive is often said by someone who has been insensitive and doesn't want to admit fault or accept blame.

Think about if you are designing a bridge. You wouldn't say that bridge is "superstrong." It conveys no real meaning without some sort of context. Saying, "that bridge can support 16 Sherman tanks driving 30 MPH and will last for 100 years with no maintenance" begins to have some meaning. It has specificity and calibration.

Even with some types of comparatives it is less judgmental and more factual. For example, "you react stronger to criticism than anyone I know" might hurt, but at least there is some calibration. I am not saying it is ever a good idea to give someone this kind of feedback or advice, but at least in might be a true statement. Saying that someone is "oversensitive" is practically false by definition because there is no standard.

I think it is also potentially ok to say something like "you are too sensitive to have the type of job where you have to deal with complaints." Again, a person may not want to hear it, but at least there is something to measure against that can form the basis for a discussion.

Bottom Line

Feelings are facts.

If someone is hurt by your remarks, the best path forward is to acknowledge the feeling, apologize, and move on. I believe that some people also use false claims of being hurt, but I suspect that those are relatively rare.

Don't say, but I was only... Don't make excuses. Intent matters, but later, once the hurt dissipates. All this assumes that you care about the relationship of course.