Monday, August 20, 2012


I remember the earliest diagrams of transistor circuits from Professor Rasines and how they worked. Professor Rasines was a mentor, because in my book a mentor is one whose teachings we remember, not one whose teachings we understand. 

One may argue that my mind was then "tabula rasa" and recorded anything new thus turning every teacher into a mentor, but that is not the case. His sentences were important and synthetic enough to be stored. For example the mysterious precept "beware of a person that does not laugh".

I never understood why I had to beware of them. I do use and abuse humor, possibly because I believe people take themselves too seriously. And just like that, a couple of days ago, a comedian-academic shows up on my radio dial to prove Rasines' wisdom.

Check out this link for Robert Lynch's take on the role of humor in human evolution. Lynch believes a reaction to a joke reveals if people's beliefs and preferences matched what they found funny. By laughing at the same joke we signal to each other that we share the same values and beliefs. 

So far so good. A way of predicting the fate of a blind date, or an engagement would be through laughter and humor. I buy that. 

But it gets better, Lynch experiments with laughter vs. self-deception (where self-deceivers are people who don't see their own values and beliefs clearly), and remarkably self-deceivers were less likely to laugh.

Rasines has been vindicated, my use of humor has been vindicated, I am just too lazy to find out the hard way what others are all about, so I just test their reaction to my humor.

Today, on the same dial, the late Gore Vidal is asked what does he want to be remembered by. He bluntly replies that anybody stupid enough to want to be remembered will surely be forgotten.

Want it or not, my mentors are remembered.