Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Social Hugging

In Sweden, The Red Cross has initiated a campaign, Hugs for the Lonely. They say that "The hug is the simplest gesture with which one can give another human being support, encouragement, comfort and human feeling. Hugs are wordless; exist in every language and expresses sympathy, friendship and belonging. They exist in all cultures and mean about the same thing the whole world over. Medical research shows that touch has a healing effect, primarily psychologically. The Red Cross states that no one should feel lonely" (my translation).

At the same time, at an American school a thirteen year old girl was punished for hugging two girlfriends. The term "public display of affection" is so ingrained that it has a shortened version, a "PDA". A distinction is made between those who are simply showing one of the emotions listed in the Red Cross definition and those seeking attention as in a couple engaging in activity with purely sexual overtones. In American schools, the problem seems to land in schools where twelve to fourteen year olds are attending. Many are feeling the first flush of hormones which will turn them adults with full reproductive potential. Another aspect of the problem is the mixing of cultures (increased migration and travel) blend expose individuals to more or less public affection between the sexes and between genders than their culture allows. Still other situations are found in the workplace where men and women are together many hours and often far from home (military, business trips, conferences.

One response is to eliminate public affection altogether (as has occurred in many American schools) and another is to define and then teach the differences between healthy touching, affection and unwanted or attention seeking advances. The response of making touching, like holding hands or giving hugs, a crime is a linear response. In linear thinking judgments come from one end or another of a continuum. Something is absolute, right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. In systemic thinking, there are a variety of responses along a continuum which could be better or worse choices given the situation. It means that parents and educators, managers and bosses have to be able to understand and describe behavioral nuances. This takes time and energy while allowing for the diversity of human behavior within clearly defined contexts. Linear thinking is simple, do and take the punishment or don't and loose any positive results that acceptance, inclusion and sympathy can provide.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Use less gasoline or fight more wars!

Recently, I started getting notices that the major car manufacturers are coming out with hydrogen concept cars (see example URL below) and further that they will be ready for customers in mid 2008. They will be leased. Interesting that they are using this lease system again, just like they did with electric cars.

A monthly leasing fee, while not cheap, is still a more sellable amount than the $103,000 price of a new hydro car. That is understandable. During the leasing period, manufacturers get important feedback on the car and the whole system. What will be interesting is to see if they will scrap the cars at the end of the leasing period like they did with electric care. It is easy to get the feeling that car manfacturers are testing the market to see which type of fuel and matching car takes off among the public while still assuring the kinds of profit margins they were used to with petrolium vehicles. A lot of their profit has come from repairs and if hydrogen cars have fewer moving parts, it could take a bite out of their parts and repair businesses. Have a look at this article for more detail.