Monday, April 07, 2014

A History of Violence

I went to a talk tonight by Stephen Pinker, title as above, subject derived from his book The Better Angels of Our Nature. As in the book, he discussed the evidence for and possible explanation for the apparently 6000 year old decline in intraspecies violence, especially war and murder. It was a good talk, marred by excruciatingly bad acoustics.

I have long legs, and many theater seats, like the one I was in, don't really have room for my knees, and my unconscious movements to adjust my position can quite gently nudge the back of the seat in front of me. At any rate, after about 90% of Pinker's talk, the guy in front of me stood, bent down, and said to me: "what kind of person would keep kicking the seat of the person in front of him?" and stalked out of the theater. Naturally I had a pleasantly disarming reply:

"I'm sorry if my long legs accidentally disturbed you, but if I had meant to kick you, you would still be picking the upholstery out of your ass next month."

Fortunately I didn't think of it until he was well away and up the aisle, thereby perhaps avoiding a very unfortunate homicidal interruption of Pinker's talk.