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Humanities

Lists of the “Odd and Unusual” are common and usually consist of folk wisdom, old wives tales, and common knowledge which is neither common nor knowledge.  Trivial as the following may be, it is intended to be fun and I’ve researched all of it.  Enjoy

George Washington’s service to his country didn’t end when he retired from the Presidency. After retiring to Mount Vernon, Washington was again called to public duty  when his former Vice President and successor, President Adams, named him commander of the American Army in mid-1799, responding to threatening noises from our former ally, France which was threatening to invade the new nation.  On learning the great Washington was back the French learned some manners.

Elephants pick up large sticks or small branches in order to scratch their behinds.

Elephants are the only animals with four knees;

Elephants always wake up in a bad mood

Giraffes also are known for being short tempered but it isn’t hard to understand why:  birth trauma.  Giraffe cows – if that is the proper term – always give birth standing up and the newborn calf is always a breech birth (tail end first).

Think about it.  Prior to birth, the calf has spent however many months in an ideal environment where it is always dark and  warm and and all its needs are met.  They have no knowledge of anything else.  All of a sudden, with no warning of any sort, they are summarily ejected from the womb into an extremely cold (for them) world of blinding light and go rocketing 10 feet to earth at 32 ft.per second /  per second before slamming into the ground butt first.

Only one mammal can’t jump — the elephant

Prior to painting the Sistine Chapel the only painting Michelangelo had done was during a brief stint as a student..

Gorillas were thought to be local tribal legends, much like Bigfoot is today, until explorer Paul du Chaillu became the first Westerner to see a live gorilla in equatorial Africa from 1856 to 1859. He brought dead specimens to the UK in 1861

The oldest known bottle of wine was buried with a Roman noble near the German city of Speyer 1,650 years ago and discovered in 1867. German wine expert Monika Christmann says: “It’s probably not spoiled, but it would not bring joy to the palate.”

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Commentary and analysis talk shows shouldn’t necessarily be held to the standards of hard news where facts are supposed to be confirmed by two or more independent sources, but during a panel discussion of Weiner’s juvenile behavior, in the course of which similarly bad behavior by Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods and others was brought into play, the host (a woman I respect) signed off by noting that the philanderers and adulterers named were all men. 

By no means is bad behavior be excused, but the obvious inference to be drawn from the host’s statement – that women are faithful and men aren’t – was at best a value judgment wholly  unsupported by facts and as such of no value in advancing progress toward gender equality.  Indeed, unsupported statements easily become cannon fodder for conservative reactionaries.

There have been numerous reputable studies on the subject of infidelity beginning with the Kinsey Reports of 1948 (men) and 1953 (women).  Though primitive and highly flawed by modern research standards, the Kinsey Reports basic findings remain intact: men and women both wander from the nuptial bed in statistically significant numbers.  The reasons vary and men do indeed stray more often than women,  but the percentages are similar and women are catching up fast.

There are also wide discrepancies in how many individuals stray, but according to serious researchers it is in no case is it more than 25% and some studies maintain that a truer figure is around 6%.  Part of the difficulty faced by researchers is that by the very nature of the questions being asked it must be assumed that some of the subjects are lying.  There is no professional agreement on how much lying is involved or how to factor lying into statistical results.  (Psychology Today has an interesting article on the subject posted here and some relevant statistics from the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy can be found here.)

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Bankrate.com, a website by and for the financial services industry, recently published an article titled 5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off .  Among those listed were computer engineering (#2), PR, advertising and mass-media programs (#3),  a law degree from a fourth-tier school (#4), and atmospheric sciences and meteorology (#5).

The list makes a partial degree of sense to me but I don’t understand what relationship most of the entries have to financial services, and I’d go a step further by suggesting that any degree in any subject from a fourth-tier school is probably a waste of time and money unless your sole objective is adding initials and abbreviations to your business card to make it more awe-inspiring.  I also note a  question of morality in a great deal of PR, advertising and mass-media programs which, ironically,  benefit Wall Street greatly.

Whether or not the other three are applicable to financial services is beyond my ken but at least they can generate a decent income, self satisfaction and, in the case of atmospheric sciences and meteorology, serve the greater good (see my Global Warming and Incoming Bad Stuff.)

What really caught my eye was Master of Fine Arts at #1 on the list.

There is more going on here than a list of disciplines that generally don’t make money for the financial services industry.  5 graduate degrees that don’t pay off  says a great deal about how we see ourselves and value (or don’t value) ourselves and our society overall.  It is an indictment that brings to mind an observation by Herbert Marcuse in One Dimensional Man (1964) to the effect that when surrounded by an irrational environment the only rational response is to behave irrationally.

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