Costly Signalling Theory

We use signalling to give people the impression of who we are. Think of the peacock growing the massive tail to signal to the peahen that he is not only healthy but has access to the best food and free of predators to grow it.

To clarify, only individuals who are elevated in status have usually acquired the capacity, resources, money, time, and influence to behave altruistically. Only wealthy people, for example, can afford to donate large sums of money. Thus, if someone behaves altruistically, this person is perceived as elevated in status. This person is more likely to be respected and even trusted.

That expensive car and house putting someone in debt up to their ears? It is signalling that he made a bunch of money. Potential investors are looking for whether or the people involved are successful. These outward signs can only help.

The same signalling with altruism struck me as interesting. Naturally it fits the idea. By throwing money at a cause, one signals that would has lots of money to give away on stuff like that. It strikes me as funny because the Trump Foundation gave to causes with other people’s money. It signalled Donald Trump’s ability to give away money only it was money from other people. Knowing the truth about the source suggests maybe his money was so tied up in real estate he could not do it on his own. And suggests perhaps he does not have the vast wealth he portrays.

Walter White Depression

Bryan Cranston on his character Breaking Bad Walter White’s emotional state.

I related to this man — I knew men like him who missed opportunities in their lives, but still became functioning, still loving to their family, still paying their bills, but there’s something that died in [their] interior. They’re putting one step in front of the other, they’re in deep depression.

In doing some of the research, I found that — in broad strokes — when people are in deep depression, there are two basic ways it manifests: Either externally or internally.

That was Walter White — he went into a shell. He didn’t care about his looks, he didn’t care about his weight, he didn’t care about his clothes. Nothing mattered to him. He was invisible to himself and the world. This ironic diagnosis of terminal cancer was his get-out-of-jail-free card. It exploded his emotions … Even if it’s just for a short period of time, those last two years of his life were full and exciting, and I don’t think he would have traded it.

This is me. I pull back from everyone into a shell. I am so introspective that my life starts to fall apart. In this state the wrong thing can provoke me into very bad responses. Feeling like I commiserated with Walt is the main reason I enjoyed the show.

More on Bryan acting as Walt in Fresh Air interview also references the shell.

CRANSTON: No, but, you know, listening to that [“I am the danger scene”] again is just a testament to the writing staff of “Breaking Bad,” led by Vince Gilligan. And in that one scene you have two opposing viewpoints that are equally valid from their point of view. Skyler is worried about her family. She makes a very pragmatic pitch: just confess, stop it now, don’t do this, you’re going to put yourself and us in danger.

But Walt by then is too far along in his journey. His ego has been opened, and he is fully realizing his sense of power, and he likes it, and he is not about to, you know, go back into the shell that he originally came out of. And he’s taking her comments as demeaning, as pejorative, that you’re not who you say you are, you’re not a powerful person, you’re a little schoolteacher, just go back to that.

And all I’m hearing is you’re not a man, you’re not this powerful, great Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. You’re just Walter White, this little man. And he’s so far beyond that at that moment, he now has to express himself with his full range of hubris, and that’s what comes out.

Spending Time Alone

Smart people need more time alone, according to this study:

The study found that more intelligent people actually had lower life satisfaction the more frequently they socialised with friends – spending time with friends actually made them unhappy. But the researchers discovered that these highly intelligent participants actually spent more time socialising with friends.

The lower life satisfaction the more time I spend with friends is true for me. I have to intentionally limit it. Do not get me wrong, I do spend some time around friends. Over the years I discovered my limitations to be about 4-6 hours a week depending on other factors. At times I have pushed it, but in the end I lashed out at friends to the point of losing friendships.

If I spend too little time socializing with friends, then I start to feel lonely. That too little can be 2-4 hours  a week.

Essentially, I have to read my energy levels and understand how I am feeling to accordingly adjust how much time I spend with others.

Spending time alone does not bother me. I use the time to read a book or read articles. I rather enjoy the interactions of Facebook.

Trump’s Dollar

Surging dollar complicates Trump job-creation plans illustrates why running an economy is hard.

  1. A strong dollar makes it more difficult for US companies to export. Our products become more expensive, so foreign consumers buy less and US manufacturing suffers and lays off workers.
  2. A strong dollar makes foreign products cheaper, so US consumers buy less US made products.

What the article leaves off is that Trump threatens 35% tariffs on US companies using foreign labor because it would be cheaper (and even more so with a stronger dollar). This will make US made products more competitive. But only because products are more expensive. Inflation will rise even as workers are not making more money. Which will be essentially stagflation.


Different Tastes

This friend wants me to watch Person of Interest. I watched a few episodes and disliked it when it started. He loves it. He wants me to give it another chance and suggests that I do every few months.

We have opposite tastes. Everything he loves I hate. Everything I love he hates. I use his rants about how terrible something is to go watch it immediately because reliably I will love it.

Having different tastes in things is okay. I can like Android while you prefer iOS. I can like fruit while you like chocolate. I can enjoy an action flick while you prefer romantic comedies. These differences mean nothing.


When I was looking at buying a house, I had found something that on paper matched what I sought. So I drove by it to take a look. The place was out in a more rural area. The Confederate flags flown by somewhat nearby homes compelled me to take it off the list.

I had to think about it. Would anyone in the neighborhood attack me? Probably not. Would anyone vandalize my home? Probably not. Would I seriously take the risk of being wrong? Probably not.

This was a long time ago. But something just triggered the thought that a great service might be to mark on realty web sites and/or Google Maps locations who display symbols associated with white supremacists. Like, I can go on a web site and pull up a listing of homes with a sexual offender. This is so people can feel safer by knowing potential predators in the neighborhood. The flag map would identify places that mark themselves as supporting ideologies that might make me wary.

Probably there would be a list of symbols to check/uncheck. Like maybe you think people who fly the Confederate flag outside believe in heritage. So you might exclude them while keeping on the list those who fly the Aryan flag.

Certainly it would not be perfect. People who hold the ideologies but do not fly a symbol would be overlooked. But, maybe people who fly the symbol are perhaps more committed than someone who does not.


In reading The Girl On The Train, the therapist claims the patient was experiencing this. A medical dictionary describes it as:

in psychiatry, the unconscious tendency of a patient to assign to others in the present environment feelings and attitudes associated with significant persons in one’s earlier life; especially, the patient’s transfer to the therapist of feelings and attitudes associated with a parent or similar person from childhood. The feelings may be affectionate (positive transference),hostile (negative transference), or ambivalent. Sometimes the transference can be interpreted to help the patient understand childhood attitudes.

Typically I see it used in a context of person 1 behaving as angry with person 2 when person 3 is the individual who harmed 1. In the book, the therapist tells the patient that transference is responsible for her feelings towards him. In context, the patient feels this way for the therapist because she is really in love with her husband. But she is not.

Not sure if the author meant it as the therapist being blind to the patient’s feelings. But I am well past that point and still bothered by it.

Coin Wars

Work raises money for charity over October. A common way they try to do this is via a coin war. Each team has a jar. People put money in it. Coins add to that team’s total. Bills subtract, so put that in the other team’s jar.

The theme this time around is apparently Star Wars. Friday, as I was leaving work, I heard the Star Wars intro. Rounding the corner of the lobby, I saw that the propaganda television was playing it with yellow text on a star field. It took two lines to know this was made by someone at work. So that is all I saw.

It annoyed me then, but I also forgot about it over the weekend. When I returned this morning there it was again. So after lunch, I parked in the the back lot and avoided it all together. Guess I am going to have to park there all month.

It annoys me because:

  • The persistent nagging of these people to participate grates on my nerves. It makes me dislike the people involved. I created an email folder specifically to ignore emails involving this stuff
  • They try to make it cute. They picked Star Wars for the theme. But, they picked the BAD Star Wars. The stuff I try my best to avoid. As a fan who wore 30 days of Star Wars teeshirts, they picked the stuff I cannot support.
  • The winner gets a pizza party. I cannot eat it.
  • Nor would I willingly go to a social event.
  • Also, someone overseeing the losers feels bad for them and gives them a pizza party too. “If everyone is a winner, then no one is a winner.”

Cat Thief

Cats usually love me. Like I find it strange when they do not after a few visits.

My family has always had a cat from the time I was born to today. If the current surviving one passes (and she is 20), then I hope Mom will get another.

Many of my friends have cats who love me. A good friend has a blank panther (all muscle, hunter, likes to hang out on tree limbs) who picks me of all humans to sit on other than the ones he lives with. I have never been around a cat where I regularly visited the home and not found a way to win over the residents.

29778061195_b11d7b2912_n_dWell, Fiona’s son has a calico. I think of them as one-owner cats. They have their human and are very loyal to that One. They snub others. Well, we humans were all watching a movie when he put down the cat. She, miffed at him, walked straight over to me and sat down. And stayed there for the next 2 hours. And when I left, she apparently cried after me for a few minutes.

My lap is apparently cat heaven. I generally radiate heat, so cats wanting a warm place find me attractive.

First Aid

Got a scrape on my foot. My girlfriend noticed and went into “Mom” mode. Of course, we were at her home, so she knew where to find the band-aid, peroxide, etc. At home alone, I’d have done that.

Kind of curious if she would try to go into “Mom” mode at my place?