Monday, August 15, 2005

See More Skinner

According to my high school transcripts, I took sociology as an elective at some point. It may have been the only year it was offered too, because no one in the classes above or below me seems to have taken it. The teacher, a Kenny G looking hippie, was a first year when I took it and quit the next to be the spokesman for a non-profit. It may have been a trial course that was abandoned when he left.

My memories of the class are few. The classroom was banished to sit cramped in the art wing, between the giant driver's ed room and the small engine repair garage. (Our driver's ed classroom was the largest in the school, for it held a normal seating arrangement plus the 20 "cars" we practiced driving as we watched the Khrushchev-approved training reel-to-reel film.) Overall, I obviously wasn't too impressed with the class, but I do remember a few things.

1. Through an odd assortment of connections, I think I was responsible for bringing a pre-Drug Czar Barry McAffrey to discuss America's successful drug policy. But my memory is too god-damned fuzzy to figure out if it was actually him. It was in my mind's eye, but this could have been my own unsuccessful drug policy. Or repeated gridiron stingers.

2. White North Arlington teenagers have a woeful understanding of the minority family dynamics outside the 90210 zip code.

3. There is some sort of ladder or pyramid or scale of things humans require to survive and develop properly. Food-shelter- water then physical contact, social interaction, something-something. The examples Kenny G used were those feral kids who were locked in attics or lost in the jungle and raised by a bush pilot bear on Disney Afternoons. I believe he used the rumored Skinner Box. Or the Monroe Box in an honor to Season Six coming out tomorrow...

Monroe: It's a special isolation chamber. The subject pulls levers to receive food and water. The floor can become electrified, and showers of icy water randomly fall on the subject. I call it... The Monroe Box!
Grampa: Uh huh. Sounds interesting. How much will it cost to build?
Monroe: Oh, that's the beauty part! It's already built! I need the money to buy a baby to raise in the box until the age of thirty.

I was thinking about these things when the HA! network was showing their roast of PamAndLee. First, Pam needs to make sure to send a googlie-eyedVermont Teddy Bear to whoever suggested she drag Courtney Love up there on stage and lace the horse tranquilizer she's taking with a bull tranquilizer. Beautiful head fake that was. Secondly, can we, as a music listening public, make some sort of arrangement with BMI or ASCAP so that after every Nirvana radio spin, a penny goes to a fund that will eventually purchase Frances Bean* from her mother? We can't have her living in her own peroxided Skinner box. She's too precious to lose.

*I get the sense that the last paragraph in the link was written by Franny herself.

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