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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, June 04, 2012

The Mathematics of Infidelity

A BBC article asks the question, are men really more unfaithful then women?

Usually, I would have had no interest in reading this article, because I have no interest in that question or in its answer, since from a very early age I became convinced that all you ever hear about sex from anybody at all, expert or otherwise, is just lies, lies, and still more lies. But the blurb introducing this article had a line that struck a chord. It read: But how reliable are the figures and, if it takes two to tango, is it even mathematically possible?

Those words resonated because they reminded me of several, somewhat heated discussions that I had many years ago -- like nearly 55 -- with a couple of now deceased close friends, on just this subject. They presented themselves as being much more active and experienced sexually than I was, though that wasn't hard to do. At that particular moment in time a flower growing in a garden could've easily made the same boast. And they tried to crush what I thought was the surefire logic of my counter-argument, against their insistence that while most men were unfaithful, all but a small minority of women stayed at home and did no kind of running around with men who weren't their husbands. To them that platitude and that stereotype was complete and set in stone.

Certain that I had simple arithmetic on my side, I just as insistently demanded to know how that could be, since sex as I pictured it is essentially a one-to-one business, unless all these unfaithful husbands were sporting around with the same and much smaller number of women willing to do their will, which didn't seem likely, and these two guys didn't seem to want to think that it was likely, as they apparently didn't want to be taken as talking about street walkers and preferred to be seen as having seduced formerly virtuous women by the boatload.

My adversaries had no good answer for that argument. I doubt if they even understood it, or maybe they just thought that dealing with it would just be a big waste of their mental abilities, which also by their own testimony was just as considerable as their sexual ones.

Unfortunately, after having made the math of unfaithful couplings such a big part of her opening shot, the author promptly forgot all about that and went into a lot of other stuff. She abandoned what had promised to be the most interesting part of her take on things and instead quickly sank out of sight into quicksands of complete subjectivity, such as the question of what constitutes unfaithfulness.

The Jar on Gardner Island

My father's last job was as a chauffeur for the National Geographic Society headquarters, in Washington, D.C.

The only famous person that I can remember my mother mentioning as having been one of his passengers was Amelia Earhart. He must have driven her and various National Geographic dignitaries to places when she was in town talking up the epic flight in a small plane that she was about to undertake, around the world. This was in 1937.

But somewhere over the vastness of the South Pacific all contact was lost with Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan,and they were never heard from again. Nor was any trace of the plane found, save for a piece of a landing gear that is thought to have been part of their aircraft. And the effort to find much more wasn't helped when the South Pacific became the main scene of the battles between the Japanese and the Allies in the ensuing World War 2. And I keep seeming to remember, vaguely, that during the War and afterward, suspicions of several kinds were leveled at the Japanese, when it came to the continuing search for anything that remained of her.

Now, 75 years after she dropped out of sight, a small jar that could have contained an ointment that Earhart may have used to fade the freckles that she disliked has been found on a small atoll in the island nation of Kiribati. The atoll is now known as "Nikumaroro," but in those days it was called "Gardner Island," and the finding of this jar and other factors are causing some to believe that Earhart may have lived on that tiny island for at least a short while as a castaway, before, not having access to present-day shows on the Discovery channel like "Survivor;" and so not knowing what to do when getting stranded in such a place, she expired slowly from hunger, thirst, and exasperation.

As it happened, "Gardner" was also my father's last name. He left this life in 1938, a year after Earhart disappeared.

The little ointment jar is broken into several pieces, and they are clear glass, when all other such jars known to still exist are an opaque white. Some think it could be that, because most of the pieces were found at the site of a campfire, the heat might have altered the chemical content of the glass so as to change it from being white to clear, though I find that questionable. One genre of stained glass consists of firing it like pottery in portable kilns at high temperatures, but the color changes don't seem to be too great and, as far as I know, the heat is never enough to render anything transparent that was formerly opaque.

As it happens, at the present moment I'm neck deep in a huge assortment of stained glass pieces of all colors, shapes, sizes, textures, and degrees of light transmission. That's the main reason why I haven't been putting much on this weblog lately, though state, national, and world happenings haven't been anything to write home about either. So why not meditate on things like the last, lost days of Ms Earhart, and as a castaway on an island in the South Pacific no less.

Actually, in the last several years I've been reading up considerably on how people, suddenly deposited into the most extreme geographic conditions, including jaunts across the Pacific in open boats with hardly anything in the way of something to eat, drink, or to take shelter against the elements, and how they fought to stay alive, and I like to think that I now possess at least the beginnings of the rudiments of how to do just that.

Obviously, the very first thing to do is to never venture more than a few yards from your home sweet home -- a principle that I've come to follow so closely that by now it could be almost pathological.