Category Archives: lifestyle

Our Inner Caveman


I’ve always been puzzled by the way humanity at large have tended to ignore warnings about smoking, about excess sugar in their diet, about global climate change.

It seems it may be that our evolution has led us to worry about today and to leave tomorrow to itself.

An opinion piece in The Scientist by João Pedro de Magalhães throws some light on this human habit.

Here are the final three paragraphs of that article.

For those lower on the social ladder, fitting in with the ancestral group may have been the safest strategy. Fear of embarrassment, disapproval, and rejection is another human tendency that is likely rooted in this tribal need for belonging. ‘This instinct to seek social acceptance may explain why most people are uncomfortable speaking in public. Fear of public embarrassment and disapproval, while once beneficial in a small group where acceptance was essential to one’s survival, can surface today even when dealing with complete strangers we will never meet again. The deep-rooted drive to fit in, a legacy of our tribal past, is already exploited by modern commercial markets. In our information-rich, decision-overloaded environment, companies take advantage of our instinctive behaviors by using celebrity endorsements or claims of popularity to promote products.

Perhaps the most obvious trace of humans’ primordial past is our persistent shortsightedness. We respond quickly to clear and present dangers, but not so rapidly to unclear and future ones. Far more people die of type 2 diabetes than from terrorism; far more people die of skin cancer than from shark bites. But terrorism and shark attacks could kill you tomorrow, so they garner much more of our attention. Short-termism is also why convincing people to act on issues like global warming—which will most significantly affect those in the future, with poorly defined consequences—is so difficult.

Our tribal-era instincts are still very much a part of who we are. Studying the social and physical environments that shaped human evolution, then, could help us better understand the modern human psyche. Acknowledging our own tribal instincts can also help us overcome these obsolete behaviors in our daily lives.

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Keep Calm


Monday

Great Grandpa’s Life


The Minox Riga, the first true, sub-minature spy camera that saw actual use for espionage throughout the WWII and the cold war.

Invented in 1936 by Walter Zapp, it was the first to use 8x11mm film (a little smaller than your pinky’s fingernail), making it tiny enough to hide in the palm of your hand, but powerful enough to take high resolution photographs of your enemy’s top secret documents.

If Great Grandpa used one of these he would never be able to talk about it!

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Great Grandpa’s Life


Back in the 1920’s you had to keep your car looking good.

And the saddlery store had to stay in business.

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From The Port Lincoln Times (South Australia) 13th April, 1928

Great Grandma’s Life


A bit of 1930’s bling

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From the Australian Women’s Weekly, 16 Sept. 1933

Great Grandpa’s Life


just before World War 1

The “Safety Razor” was all the rage

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From “Punch” April 3rd, 1913

Great Grandma’s Life


Great Grandma may not have had TV or Videos to entertain her but, in 1933, there were the new-fangled “Talkies”.

And she was not averse to the eye-candy of Gary Cooper.

(The original was black and white. I added colour to make it easier to read.)

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Australian Women’s Weekly, June 10th, 1933 (Issue #1)