Category Archives: Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I was excited to hear there would be a solar eclipse to watch yesterday, until I discovered it wasn’t happening anywhere near me.

Not only that, by the time I worked out the location issue, the eclipse had already occurred, and other people were busy complaining that it was a letdown.

One person said on Twitter that he was “… mad at space.”

But that’s nothing compared to my disappointment, because I learned that all I could have to look forward to in terms of celestial events yesterday was a supermoon, and the vernal equinox, which is great but it’s like a band that comes to town every year – you kind of hope they’ll do something new.

And besides, the Supermoon is invisible right now, so it doesn’t even count.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of the seasons and the circle of life and all that stuff. But if there’s going to be an amazing solar eclipse, why can’t I be one of those people who flies on a private jet to see it from a luxuriously appointed yurt set up specifically for that purpose on a remote, cloudless hillside in the Faroe Islands?

Not only would it be fantastic to witness such a thing, I could use social media to brag to people that I had done it in the most expensive and extravagant way possible, which would make them feel the kind of intense envy that Facebook was invented to promote.

I know I’m special but I feel like my life is slipping by and I am only allowed to have ordinary experiences!

What’s with that?

Sincerely,
Bummed

I told Bummed that he is indeed special, but so is everyone else, which ultimately makes him ordinary.  He could go out of his way to collect extraordinary experiences, but it would have the odd effect of making exotic and unusual things quite common in his life. People who use their wealth to do this eventually come around to the feeling that they are missing out by not having mundane lives. So enjoy your dull opportunities! More zealous and financially able adventurers have to spend a lot of money to wind up in the very same place!

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I was not at all surprised to learn yesterday that researchers have found evidence to support what we already know to be true about over-indulgent parents – that they turn their children into selfish, sniveling little narcissists by showering them with false praise.

My child is an adult now, but when she was in elementary school I was appalled at the way the other parents hovered over their young, pumping them up with unearned compliments for work that was mediocre at best.

For example, I was volunteering as a classroom helper in the third grade when my little Emily produced a vivid colored-pencil portrait of her art teacher. Because I firmly believed then, (as I do now), that we spoil our children by exaggerating their accomplishments, I simply told her it was “… the best thing I’d seen produced in the room that afternoon.”

That was an undeniably true statement. Of course it was MUCH better than that – she could produce college level work in terms of perspective, composition and shading – but by measuring it only against the art created by her classmates I was purposely downplaying Emily’s talent as a way to get her to try harder the next time.

Mere moments later, the other parent in the room held up her son Jimmy’s chaotic rendering of a bowl of fruit and declared in front of the entire room that it was a work of pure genius – worthy of the great European colored-pencil masters of the renaissance. We all nodded in support of this ludicrous claim so as not to embarrass this helicopter mommy and her incompetent, blotch-scrawling offspring, but really! Next to Emily’s splendid teacher-portrait, Jimmy’s fruit bowl was a ghastly mess.

I could see that Emily was confused, and for that matter so was Jimmy. To have his meager attempt at art praised over her superb accomplishment was confounding to everyone who could recognize the raw touch of a genuine master.

In other words, it baffled everyone.

Years later, Jimmy has become exactly the kind of self-indulgent adult I expected to see – a flamboyant do-gooder who is always drawing attention to his accomplishments by mentoring youngsters, caring for stray animals, raising money for social causes, and working as a paramedic and first-responder to save the lives of people who invariably turn around and praise him in exactly the same extravagant way his mother did all those years ago.

I would tell you how much better off Emily is, but she has instructed me to stop discussing her with other people, especially strangers. Which just shows you how modest and grounded she has become!

Dr. Babooner, why aren’t more people as good a parent as I am?

Sincerely,
Darn Impressive Parent of a Perfect Youth

I told D.I.P.P.Y. she has no real reason to gloat. Every parent believes he or she is doing it right and everybody else is wrong. And while I won’t say her techniques are completely sub-par, I do think she might benefit by staying focused on her own work rather than judging others.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

A Dust Up Over Dust

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I get all my information about the world through YouTube.

Yesterday, I watched with great interest as a video explained how dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa nourishes the rain forest in South America.

These NASA researchers are doing wonderful things to demonstrate to a selfish and xenophobic public how our small world is truly interconnected. And it got me thinking how unfortunate it is that our culture does not respect the immense value of dust, which is something people love to complain about when they find it in their homes, or when they dress up like cowboys and go out for an evening’s entertainment.

Thanks to these two videos, I had a revelation!

Dust isn’t a problem – it’s a great boon! Phosphorus is only one part of the Gift Of Dust (G.O.D.) bestows on the world. Dust is what we eventually become, so some of the dust blowing across the ocean (and even collecting on my coffee table) is connected directly to my ancestors.

This is something that should humble us and make us grateful!

For this reason, I just told my wife I will no longer try to remove dust from our home, but rather, I will worship it from here on out and leave it untouched.

But instead of honoring my spiritual epiphany, she handed me a rag and some Lemon Pledge, and told me to get to work.

Dr. Babooner, please say I am right so I can show your answer to my wife and prove that she is in the wrong.

Sincerely,
Dusty Hubby

I told Dusty Hubby that Dr. Babooner does not like to be used to settle domestic arguments although she realizes this is sometimes the unavoidable fallout that comes with living in the world. In the very same way, dust is unavoidable fallout that apparently does some good in the rainforest, but that does not mean it’s equally useful when it collects on your coffee table. Even if it contains a tiny bit of great grandpa, worshipping the dust in your house is just another way to say you’re devoted to leisure, and your G.O.D. is actually the Lay Z Boy.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

In A Tale Spin

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m a professional storyteller with an unusual specialty for a tale-spinner. I built a career on the notion that every word I speak is absolutely true.

As a result I became very popular and trusted.

But then a funny thing happened – I discovered that a bit of exaggeration can turn a merely good story a really great one!

Like the yarn I used to tell about standing in the open door of a military helicopter while it was preparing to land. As the aircraft neared the ground, the wind grabbed my hat and blew it off my head. The hat was mercilessly chopped up by the helicopter’s rotors.

I was surprised and saddened by this because I loved that hat! But when I told this story at parties, people yawned. I realized that they did not find the fate of my hat very compelling.

So then I started to tell the story a little differently, saying that the wind picked up and I was blown out the door of the helicopter – all of me, not just my hat. Fortunately, we were only about 30 feet above the ground and I fell in a haystack and was unhurt. But for a little added color, I threw in the detail that my hat blew off and was chopped up by the rotors on the way down.

At least that part was still true.

People liked this version of the story a lot better! It was so much better, they actually stopped talking to each other and listened while I told it!

Dr. Babooner, you can understand why I used this version of the story at parties and gatherings of all sorts, right up to the day I told it at a county fair and a haberdasher and a farmer challenged me on it. The hat maker said any wind strong enough to blow a man out the door of a helicopter would have separated him from his headgear long before he took flight.

And the farmer simply pointed out that hay isn’t as soft as it looks.

Overnight my fortunes changed. Although I had been one of the most trusted people in the world the day before, I suddenly became just another liar.

Critics said I betrayed the people’s trust. But the way I look at it, “trust” is what you have when you believe someone in spite of evidence to the contrary. How could people “trust” me one day and not the next? It seems to me their “trust” doesn’t mean much if it can be totally reversed in so short a time. I may have enhanced the truth a tad to make it a better story, but does that make me worse than a fickle truster?  I don’t think so.

My lawyer advised me not to say any of this out loud or it would just make things worse. He’s a jerk and I don’t any faith in him, but my family says I should do as he says because he always wins.

But I think hay is pretty cushy no matter what some dumb farmer says. I’m betting everything I have on getting a soft landing now! Should I?

Sincerely,
Hatless in Manhattan

I told H.I.M. to put more faith in his family and his lawyer, and less in his questionable memory. Challenging the people who used to trust you but don’t any longer because you were caught in a lie is not a strategy to regain their confidence, it’s confirmation that they were wrong about you all along. The best course is to ask for forgiveness and devote yourself to fiction from this day forward, because people will never accept the truth from you now unless it is carefully hidden inside a lie.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m an ordinary non-scientific American who doesn’t quite agree with what the brainiacs in lab coats have to say about science-y things evolution, climate change and Frankenfoods.

The harder they argue that their research contradicts what I feel is true, the less likely I am to accept it.

The media talking heads think this disconnect provides clear evidence that I’m a great big dummy, but actually I’m a normal sized person. And I’m just like a lot of other very normal people in one key area – I get stubborn and resentful when another person tells me they know what’s going on and I don’t.

I find it exasperating that scientists, who seem to be so intelligent in other areas, don’t get this basic human truth – nobody likes a smarty pants. And here’s the tricky part – I actually respect science and I want to believe what they’re saying, but I feel like they won’t let me because of the way they deliver information.

So I’m sure you’re wondering why somebody as defensive as me would ask you for advice. The fact is, I’m only doing it because you’re an animal, Dr. Babooner.

A lot of people like me feel more comfortable talking to hairy beasts than we do to other humans. For instance I’ve noticed that the only authority figure in a lab coat who doesn’t make me instantly angry is Mr. Peabody, and he’s a dog.

So, given that they desperately need better PR, why do scientists insist on issuing their learned proclamations from ivory towers rather than explaining important issues like global warming and GMO’s in a more palatable way. Like maybe through the lips of cartoon animals?

Quizzically,
John Q. Public

Dear Mr. Public,

I’m flattered that you think I’m somehow more approachable than a scientist because I am hairy. But I have to point out that the only reason my hair looks the way it does – is science. A wild baboon would never have the time or the chemicals to make it do this.

Scientists issuing their major reports through the lips of cartoon animals might indeed make the information more palatable for resentful Americans like yourself, but you’re forgetting that intelligent people do like to receive credit for their knowledge, even if they are, technically, a “smarty pants.”

Maybe your uninformed stubbornness would be easier to take if you denounced careful scientific research through the furry lips of a very cute big-eyed kitten.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m disturbed by a new wave of thinking in business circles that accepts a pack of troubling conclusions about the “speaking-up” styles of men vs. women in the workplace. The gist of it is that men who speak up frequently in office meetings are rewarded for their ideas more than women are for offering the same or equally good ideas.

Supporting all this is the notion that men are good at projecting confidence even when (especially when) they don’t know anything, whereas women are merely competent in all the areas that matter most. But in spite of their abilities, the women tend to remain quiet in meetings because they’re tired of having supremely confident men walk all over them and steal their ideas.

Dr. Babooner, I’m a man who has worked collaboratively with women throughout my career so I can honestly say it sounds like nonsense to me. I’ve always been supportive of my female colleagues. I remember about ten years ago I was in a meeting to talk about a problem getting the product out of our glass fruit warehouse when Heather suggested we speed up the conveyor belts by 1/5th of a mile per hour. She thought a small adjustment like that would reverberate all through the system and marginally improve our delivery times.

I got so excited by her good idea I jumped in before she was even done talking and said we should increase speeds by 5 miles per hour to make the product fly off our shelves! And because I so quickly and enthusiastically endorsed and improved the concept, they put me in charge of the project!

But I never missed an opportunity to let people know it was HER idea, not mine!

Sadly, Heather left the company the following year after refusing to take responsibility for all the product breakage we were seeing in the warehouse. I think that’s the real problem with women in the corporate workplace – they aren’t willing to accept the consequences of their high level decisions.

Dr. Babooner, your picture makes it look like you’re a woman so you’re probably not going to agree with me, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve got this one right. But how can I overcome this new prevailing assumption that my confidence is just testosterone-induced blustering?

With Supreme Assurance,
Mr. Positive

I told Mr. P that a smart office player always works WITH prevailing assumptions, not against them. Since the latest scholarship has already concluded his approach is complete BS, he should wait for a female co-worker to point it out and then endorse her criticism with all the manly force he uses for his other positions. By selling his colleagues on the effectiveness of his false certainty, he can still dominate the decision making.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I believe in setting goals and taking positive action to achieve them, so I have great ambitions for 2015. I want this to be the year I learn to crochet and finally finish my Master’s Degree in Applied Physics.

And I also want to walk a tightrope across a narrow part of the Grand Canyon.

I’m very linear, so I’m going to get to work on the crocheting first. Once I’ve perfected that, I’ll brush up on my math, and after I’ve got that Master’s Degree in hand I’ll start with my balancing practice.

But I’ve also realized that achieving new things feels pointless unless you can share them with the world, so I’m wondering if having a camera crew follow me around might be a good idea.

Having a production crew to document your activities just seems to make sense in the age of digital media. Me reaching my tightrope goal will be a dramatic video event all by itself, but I’m thinking it will be great to have some martial music playing in the background while people watch me work on my math and crocheting.

Something like the music Kim Jong Un uses in this new video about him flying a plane is exactly the thing I have in mind.

The subtitles help too! I’ll add subtitles to my crocheting video for sure, since they speak a special language in that field that only a few people know. We’ll probably be fine without subtitles for my other achievements, since everybody pretty much gets it about Applied Physics and gravity.

Dr. Babooner, I’m excited about my 2015 goals but I’m not sure I should reveal them to the world right now. Declaring my intentions will force me into action because avoiding embarrassment means there can be no turning back. But I know it would be much less stressful for me if I set my goals quietly and announced my magnificent achievements only AFTER they were actually achieved.

What would you do?
Excited But Already Exhausted

I told E.B.A.E. that quiet goal setting is much less stressful, but often it ends right there. If you really want to reach a difficult goal, you have to corner yourself into doing it by declaring your intentions to the world, or at least to the people whose approval you crave. That said, I think documenting your life with a video crew, martial music and subtitles is a great idea even if you don’t achieve remarkable things.

ESPECIALLY if you don’t achieve remarkable things.

 

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?