Causes of World War I – Part 1

After my string of poor reading selections, I gambled once again, and read a rather lengthy history of Europe spanning 1848 through 1918. I’ve been interested in filling in my knowledge of this period, in particular trying to understand the root causes of World War I.

The book in question is “The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1918” by A.J. Taylor and was published in the 1950s. Although I found the book highly informative, and directly addressing my interests – which were more about the power struggle and diplomacy of the period, and less about the details of battles and the development of weapons – this choice did suffer from a couple shortcomings. Taylor states in the introduction that this is not a textbook. This becomes apparent when he repeatedly assumes knowledge on the part of the reader that is far beyond what the non-historian would know about the time period (at least now, 50 years after publication, and in a time when history is not taught in most American school systems [no, “social studies” do not count!]). For example, near the beginning of the book he doesn’t bother describing the political geography of 1848, and left me trying to grasp the relationship between Prussia, Austria, and the “German Confederation”. Major political events are assumed knowledge – such as the Paris Commune movement by Adoplhe Thiers [haven’t bothered to figure that one out], and various “scandals” in both France and England. Another annoyance is the introduction of individuals by name, without indicating what office or even what country they represent. All of this is not really a fault of the book – which as Taylor says is not a textbook – but does mean that this should not be the first (or second, or even third) book one reads on late 19th century Europe. A final indicator of this is Taylor’s various corrections to established history. Without knowing the context, and therefore not being able to judge the accuracy of Taylor’s assertions these are not very helpful to the novice reader.

Now all that being said, I should mention that I have been looking for a good text covering this period for about a year (in used book sales, not anywhere else), and have found only this book. Again, this is a testimony to the public’s disinterest in history – and my disinterest in paying for a new book…

Ok, so it wasn’t a perfect choice, but what did I get out reading it? Actually, this was a very engaging subject and held my interest continually. Without trying to educate my reader on this period of history, let me sketch an outline. After the Napoleanic wars, Europe is dominated by four “great powers” – France, Russia, Prussia and Austria. England plays the role of a very interested, but outside, observer. All of these powers have interests of expansion involving conflicts with the interests of the others, as well as with the various lesser European powers (Denmark, Belgium, Poland [controlled by Prussia], and most significantly the Balkan states under the rule of the weakening Ottoman Empire). Peace is maintained through a delicate “Balance of Power” consisting of interlocking treaties between the four major powers. Envision a huge Cross, with Russia and France forming the East-West alliance, and Prussia and Austria forming the North-South (or Central) powers. In the late 19th century, Germany unifies under Bismark – essentially Prussia expands to subsume the German Confederacy – Austria expands into Austria-Hungary, while France and Russia remain stagnant.

Russia continually worries over who controls the Bosporus straits, which from the Black Sea form a major trade route into the Mediterranean. Constantinople (not yet Istanbul) is the key to the Straits, and the Ottoman Empire nominally owns Constantinople. Austria-Hungary eyes the territory to its southeast – the Balkan states – that remain under Ottoman control and are periodically subjected to atrocities, and threaten revolution. Russia also eyes this territory as a belle-weather on who may eventually wrest control of Constantinople from the Turks. We in the 21st century know the names of these states well – Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia, Hercegovina, Albania – and the underlying problems have not changed in 100 years.

Meanwhile, Germany experiences industrialization and rapid demographic expansion. France remains stagnant (which is also familiar in the 21st century), while England and Russia seek expansion of their overseas empires. Although there is friction in some areas of the world between the Powers – in the Far East between Russia and England, with France and Germany there for the ride – in Africa between France and England, with Germany playing on the sidelines – these frictions are not essential in the struggle to master Europe.

More to come.

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Fall Reading

I’ve gone through a period of reading some rather poorly-chosen books. After completing Toland’s biography of Hitler – a book I first read in high school during my first fascination with the second world war – I turned back to what I hoped would be philosophical reading. I first read Aristotle’s Rhetoric. This I found to be “Aristotelean” in the sense of there being an overall logical approach to the subject, but certainly not inspirational, nor particularly enlightening.

From there, I decided to read Francis Bacon’s Essays, including New Atlantis. It is hard to imagine that the same thinker who is credited with describing the scientific method, and is believed by some to have been the actual Shakespeare, could have written such drivel. At best, the essays are completely uninteresting. The few that have any meaningful content are overwhelmed with a very negative religious message. Perhaps the clearest statement of this religious message is his essay on Ambition, which is described essentially as a sin. Now I’d be willing to write off these essays – which are among his first published works – as coming from a young thinker. However, New Atlantis – written some 30 years later near the end of his career – is only marginally better in its message, although notably it is only a fragment of an unfinished allegory (and I can’t understand why it is considered an important work at all).

Following this unfortunate choice, I picked up a book on “the philosophy of science” that (as with most of the books I read) I found at a library book sale. This is a collection of essays by various un-famous authors writing in the 1940s and 1950s. To my dismay, I found that the center point of all of the essays I read in this book was how Relativity and Quantum Mechanics should change our viewpoint on the metaphysics of the world around us. I didn’t get far into this before stopping and putting it away.

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Coming out of the Block

I fall into the trap of wanting to post either fully-considered matters on this blog, or waiting until something truly compelling occurs to me. In this I forget my original intent for this space, which was to enable me to frequently record in writing my current ruminations, to enable the development of more carefully considered ideas – not only to record them at completion.

Part of the reason for the low activity at this blog recently has been the momentous political and economic changes that are occurring around us. Paradoxically, I’ve been unable to bring myself to write about these, for two main reasons. First, the sudden lunge toward a nationalized economy in response to the collapse of the credit market brings obvious outrage. I had nothing new to add to the disgust which others have expressed – adding my own expression of anger and dismay seemed redundant (particularly while wallowing in the trap described in my opening paragraph). The presidential election – where we faced a choice between two horrendous alternatives – was similarly lacking in ability to inspire novel thoughts. Secondly, concentrating on either of these developments leads me to an emotion of fear and despair. Although the direct effects on my life have so far been minimal, I see all too well the danger of higher taxes (whether through “tax increases” or indirectly through inflation or the denial of credit), as well as the danger of a widespread economic collapse. And so I continue to merely “monitor” the news, without inundating myself with the details, and turn elsewhere to keep intellectually active.

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The Present

I run an astronomy course for homeschooled children of elementary and middle school ages.Last night’s session wasmy lecture entitled “Distance and Time”, dealing with the rather fascinating fact that in astronomy we are always observing events in the past. Although most educated adults “understand” this fact superficially, spending a couple hours talking about the ramifications of this fact as I expand the range that we’re discussing from the Moon (at about 1.25 light seconds from Earth) to the most distant objects observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (at about 13,000,000,000 light years from Earth) creates a lot of discussion in the class.

Last night, near the very end of the lecture, the youngest member of this class – age 8 I think – asked a very, very profound question. I had driven home the point repeatedly that everything we see happened in the past – even watching me across the room, the light they were seeing had left me a few nanoseconds before they “saw” it. His question (slightly paraphrased):

If everything we see and experience happened in the past, does the Present exist?

This question amazed me on several levels. In his actual phrasing of the question, it was clear to me that this was not an accidental stumbling upon a deep question – he really did have an inkling of what he was asking. The amount of experience he attempted to integrate in that instant was a huge surprise. I am still trying to follow how his mind could have created that question at such an early age.

I had no real hope of answering him in a manner he could understand, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Here is an expansion of what I told the class, in which I tried to explore the issue of observing very short time intervals. Although this was a somewhat technical answer (that no one in the room understood, perhaps including myself at the time), it has lead me further to consider just what the concept “Present” may actually represent.

Similar to how a computer functions, the human mind has a “clock rate”. Unlike a computer, which can perform billions of elementary calculations per second, the human brain’s neurons can fire at most 500 times a second.To receive and recognize visual information may require the firing of dozens of neurons, which brings our visual “frame rate” to maybe 10-50 frames per second. (This makes some sense, since a movie shot at 15 frames a second will appear visually “jerky”, while one shot at 30 or 60 frames per second generally looks smooth). For concreteness, let’s say the mind can receive one frame in 1/50th of a second. That means that anything happening in less than 1/50th of a second will be experienced as simultaneous.

Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. So, using our 1/50th second frame rate, anything that we observe within a range of about 3720 miles at a given instant in “global time” will appear to happen simultaneously. In some psychological sense then, our experience of “Now” has a range of 3720 miles.

As I said, this argument confused us all. And what I’ve written here is much clearer than what I said in the class last night – yet I’m still musing over what it means epistemologically, and what it means for our concept of Time.

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A comment about comments

There has been a dramatic increase in spam comments being posted to this blog – typically I’m getting 70 or so every month making it past whatever filter has been deployed by the blog’s host. In the past these have been easily dealt with – the content of the spam was obvious, and I could whip through the comments and typically delete all of them.

However, more recently the attacks have become more wily and sophisticated. The spam contains complete sentences, sometimes seeming to agree with a point from one of my posts. Only the broken English and finally the address reported for the commenter indicate that these comments are not legitimate, and I can still easily identify and delete them.

Now it is true that I have maybe 4 readers of this blog – including my wife – and in the three years this blog has been here I’ve gotten about 3 comments that were worth posting. So I could just say no comments allowed, and have those who want to comment just call me – or better yet, walk down the hall and see me – to register their opinions. But there’s an outside chance that someone I don’t actually know may land here and be interested enough to want to start a discussion, so I would prefer to keep comments open.

It is also true that other blog sites might have better systems, with better filters. Yes, that may be true, but they also push advertising in the reader’s face, and not all of it (more likely any of it) would I find joy in supporting. Here there is virtually no advertising, and the host is highly trusted to only insert links which I enthusiastically support. I could complain to the host about the system, but since he offers it for free, and does so for the best of all intentions, I can’t bring myself to whine about his service.

Ok – the point of this story

If you are going to post a comment, please follow these rules.

  1. If you do know me personally, drop me an email elsewhere telling me you’ve posted a comment (I do want your comment here so I can post it and refer to it in the future. If for some reason you don’t want your comment posted publicly, just say so in the comment).
  2. Start the comment itself with your full name, then a -:-, and the title of the post your commenting on. That should be unique enough that the spam jackals won’t be copying it soon.
  3. If you make a grammatical or spelling error, it is very likely I’lldelete your comment. It amazes me that the spam jackalshaven’tfigured this out, but there has almost never been a spam email or comment that I’ve read that didn’t contain an error.

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Experience of the Rate of Time

How quickly time appears to pass depends on the “clock” against which change in the perceived world is compared. By a clock is meant a separate stream of change appearing simultaneously with the perceptions being timed. There are what I’ll term “objective clocks”, whichconsist of aperiodic motion with a nearly-constant period. These occur overa vast range of scale – the ticks of a clock, beats of a heart, length of a “day”, of a “week”, and of seasons, the extent of a lifetime. We develop a concept for the time intervals of these clocks through our repeated exposure to them. Against an objective clock, one can obtain an objective measurement of elapsed time – one whose scale is independent of subjective interpretation. When I say this, however, it must still be recalled that all time experience requires an entity with memory – to retain the perceptions of the clock “ticks” and the phenomenon being timed – and consciousness, so that a concept of time interval can form.

However, we also experience a more psychologically-based time measurement, which lacks the uniformity provided by a clock. Let me express this first through some examples.

Let’s start with “anxious waiting”. When we are waiting, time appears to pass very slowly. Waiting in a line, sitting through an uninteresting meeting or class, getting delayed while travelling, all of these cases can be catagorized as time dialation caused by anxious waiting. Time also appears dialated during emergencies, which would appear to be the complete opposite experience. However, I suggest that these two experiences – of anxious waiting, and of severe fearful excitement, have a common feature. When I am anxiously waiting, my mind wanders over a long list of items that I could – or should – be doing, instead of passivelyfacing the wait that I am currently compelled to experience. I consider with increasing emotional concern the impact of my lack of activity on meeting my day’s schedule, achieving my short term goals. My mind is occupied with a continual stream of various thoughts, andnegative emotions are engaged. In an emergency, I experience a similar mixture of heightened mental activity – in a desparate search for actions to relieve the emergency – combined with intense negative emotion. Under both of these circumstances, time is subjectively slowed.

Time passes quickly when our mind is focussed narrowly on a single stream of thought. If I spend an afternoon working on a single mathematics problem with no other distractions, the hours will pass by rapidly. The more narrow the field of consideration, the more rapidly time appears to pass. In the extreme, when we sleep peacefully, time passage appears instantaneous. Notably, if we sleep poorly, or are disturbed by dreams, negative emotion stirs, and we have a “long night”. Not to be trite, but time does indeed pass quickly when we are “having fun” – positive emotion, coupled with a narrow mental focus, or a lack of focus, speeds the subjective passage of time.

Attempting to generalize from these observations, I suggest that the subjective rate of time is a function of the level of mental activity. The more “mental states” we experience in a fixed interval of (objectively measured) time, the longer that interval appears to last. I further conjecture (based again on self observation) that the rate of change of mental state is in general higher when we areexperiencing negative emotion, than when we experience positive emotion. The link to our experience of time durationcan be explained if we are comparing the rate of change in our external world to the rate of change in our mental state – that is, if our mind’s actions are the “clock” against which we are measuring time.

I fully recognize that this hypothesis is very incomplete. Note that I have not defined “mental state”, nor can I explain the conjecture that rapid change of mental states generally give rise to negative emotion. I will next attempt to sketch – still realizing this is only a suggestive sketch – of what I mean by mental state.

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Its About Time

The ideas I am going to express about the nature of Time are based on the thoughts of Emmanuel Foroglou, as presented in a series of posts in a Yahoo group he ran from 2001 into 2002. As of this date, the Yahoo Group in question is still available, though inactive, as “Rational_Values”, and can be viewed by the public. The thread in which the discussion on time occurs is entitled “The Universe and Time”. The whereabouts of Dr. Foroglou are less certain, and more can be discovered about his history through any Web search. Although inspired by Foroglou’s discussion (which I have not fully reviewed as of this date), I do not mean to say that Foroglou has stated what is said below, nor that he would necessarily agree with all of my ideas.

Time is not a metaphysical property of the Universe. It is, rather, an experience of a conscious mind observing change in the Universe. Change, and more specifically, causal change, is a metaphysical attribute of the Universe. The experience of Time is the comparison of two differingperceived states of being. In order to compare two states of being, the capability of storing and retrieving perceptions must be present – the entity experiencing Time must have a memory.

A concept of Time must arise from an ability to measure the relative rates of change of multiple streams of perception. This is a complicated (though accurate) statement of the requirement for a “clock” against which to measure Time. An absolute clock is not required, merely a periodic occurence within one’s perceptions which has a time interval remaining roughly constant, and which occurs in parallel with the stream of perception to which a time interval is to be assigned. Simple clocks that are generally available to Man include the length of a day, the duration of seasons, or at the other end of the scale, one’s heartbeat. Note that these “clocks” need not be perfectly periodic, nor absolute. I’ll have much more to say about the experience of intervals of time in later discussions, in the presence or absence of an external clock.

Returning to the consideration of the relationship between the Universe and Time, we must be very careful with the definition of Universe. I define the Universe to be equivalent to Being, and to include all that has existed, currently exists, and will exist in the future. Note that with this definition, there can be no discussion of “multiple” or “parallel” Universes – as if these exist, they must not be separate from the Universe as defined. More relevant to the current discussion – and an opportunity for significant semantic confusion – the Universe as defined does not change. Change occurs within the Universe, but the Universe (encompassing past, present and future existence) cannot be said to change. This leads to a confirmation of the assertion that the Universe is time-less. The Universe as defined has no past nor a future – past and future are contained in the Universe.

This is not to imply that the future is pre-determined. The future is not determined by the past nor the present, though it is caused by the past and present. The source of confusion in associating pre-determination with a time-less unchanging Universe is purely a lack of grasping the meaning of the definition of the term Universe.

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What Happened

Its been a while. My last actual post was in August, though (as you’ll see shortly), I did have another post partially written in October that I never actually finished. Although I doubt there is a large readership out there wondering what happened, I at least want to record – if only for myself – what has stopped the flow of writing.

In mid-September, my role as manager of the Coating engineering department at Goodrich came to an uneasy end. The initial reorganization of that department into separate Engineering and Operations departments, and their separation over directorates, had been a matter of contention within the upper management of the Company. I myself had never assumed that my position as Coating Engineering Manager would last more thana few years – long enough to change the direction of the department’s technical staff, and raise a successor. This plan was interrupted- permanently – by mounting pressures and insecurities within the senior management team, which lead to a complete reversal of the original reorganization.

What followed was a month or two of re-inventing my role at Goodrich, turning back to my engineering career, and expanding in new directions. In this I have succeeded, and I have emerged onto a new path of exciting activity, finally engaging some technical interests of mine that I’ve been trying to bring to bear within Goodrich for the past 20 years.

This settled down just in time for a much more significant life event – the birth of my son Aaron, on December 13th. Aaron has a great disposition, as have all of my children, but the first months of life certainly require a re-adjustment of life style. Any available excess energy is needed just to support the proper functioning of the home, and writing comes rather far down on the list of priorities.

And then, along came this little surprise. A hernia that had been “repaired” back in 1999 apparently recurred within a year of that operation. At a physical late last month, my general physician went into a bit of a panic when she noticed the lump in my stomach. Now this lump has been there for the past 8 years, and I had dismissed it as scar tissue from the surgery – certainly this physician had seen the lump at least 8 times in the past. Nonetheless, off I went to the surgeon (same as in 1999), and he confirmed that the hernia had recurred. And so, this Monday (March 10th), it was repaired for a second time.

The result is that I’ve been confined to bed since then. And yesterday, I learned that the surgical site is infected, which means I’ll remain in bed for the next several days. And that gives me an opportunity to catch up a bit on both reading, and writing.

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Voyage of the Beagle

(This post was started sometime in October, 2007. I’ve completed it in March, 2008, but altered the timestamp to indicate its approximate date of conception).

I’ve just finished reading Charles Darwin’s first major book, Voyage of the Beagle. This is an account of a 5 year surveying voyage aboard the HMS Beagle, circumnavigating the globe, which Darwin joined as an observer. I had been interested in reading Darwin’s evolutionary work – Origin of Species, Descent of Man – and had acquired a comprehensive volume of four of his books published recently as “From the Simplest of Beginnings”. It is one of my odd characteristics to insist on reading such things from cover to cover, and the first of the works in this collection was the Beagle.

I approached this book figuring it could be a very dry account of a naturalist on an exploring expedition, filled with descriptions of flora and fauna, using terminology with which I would be unfamiliar (not at all having an interest or education in biology), loaded with Latin categorization. I was very wrong in this prejudgement. Although there is plenty of description of flora and fauna, Latin species and genera are used, and familiarity assumed, Darwin focuses this work more on anthropology than biology. There is also a fair bit of geology – in fact, the only original theory stated in this work is on the formation of coral islands and barrier reefs, having to do with the rising and falling of land masses.

Another surprise was in the specific geographical focus on South America. The mission of the Beagle was to survey the coasts ofthis continent, and they spent about 3-1/2 years of the 5 year voyage sailing from point to point along its coasts. I had expected more coverage of areas farther from European influence – Pacific islands, southeast Asia, Africa – but indeed the Beagle visited no location that had not previously been explored, and Darwin’s account dwells upon the colonized areas much more than those predominantly aboriginal. There are no exciting discoveries revealed, no strange new species found (plenty of new species, but not particularly unusual), and little in the way of drama portrayed.

Nonetheless, it is in his descriptions of the people and societies that he encounters that I found the most thought-provoking material. One encounter in particular is worthy of discussion.

The Beagle visited Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America. The native inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego were the Yamana Indians, living in one of the least hospitable areas on Earth, in a stone age society. This area of South America has a high annual temmperature near 50 degrees (F), and only a handful of days without precipitation. The Yamanas were strictly a hunter/gatherer tribe, attempting no agriculture, and commonly went through periods of starvation, during which they resorted to cannibalism (of the older women in the tribe) to survive. It is to be noted that they remained in the Tierra del Fuego area, for apparently thousands of years, despite being only a few hundred miles south of the much more temperate areas supporting advanced civilization.

On a previous visit to the area, the Beagle had taken four of the natives on board and returned with them to England, where they became well-known “celebrities”, and visited with the King and Queen. The youngest of these captives, whom the British called Jemmy Button, was educated in Britain, and acquired a limited understanding of the English language. During Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle, Jemmy and two other surviving captives were returned to Tierra del Fuego. The Beagle returned to the area after a few months, to find Jemmy reverted completely to his native condition – naked andemaciated. A small party of Europeans remained in the area while the Beagle continued its explorations. Upon the return of the Beagle after a couple more months, it was found that the Yamanas, led by Jemmy, had attacked the small campsite, stealing food and various other items. Twenty years later, a missionary group was similarly attacked and massacred, again by a party of Yamanas lead by Jemmy.

I find this story of interest in several ways. What struck Darwin was the fact that these were human beings of the same species as Europeans, and in his commentary he wonders if and how this can really be the case. What I find fascinating is that this stone age tribe, when exposed to civilizations providing modes of living clearly superior to their own, not only failed to acquire any of the advantages of that interaction, but clearly could not understand the advantages, and actively chose to ignore them. In this, I am not merely referencing the Jemmy Button story, but returning to the observation that Tierra del Fuego is close enough to Patagonia to expect that some Fuegians must have wandered into these regions and returned home to tell of this land of plenty located only a few hundred miles to the north. Recalling that the Yamanas had been in this region for perhaps as long as 10000 years prior to the Beagle’s visit, I find it fascinating that this pocket of stone age humans persisted for so long when the surrounding humans advanced into civilization.

There are other cases of stone age peoples surviving far into the 20th century, but the ones I recall have all been islanders, separated from civilization by thousands of miles of ocean, or Africans, in which the majority of the continent until very recently had been living in pre-historic conditions.

I further wonder about the mentality of the Tierra del Fuegians. Returning to a consideration of the bicameral mind theory of Jaynes (which I may not have discussed in this blog – I apologize, but will refer the reader elsewhere instead of going through this here), I wonder if these latter stone age peoples are not still bicameral. If so, there may be a case for declaring them to be of another species than human, in answer to Darwin’s contemplations.

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The Tie

When I started my career some 21 years ago as a junior engineer at a technology company located in Connecticut, the standard work attire consisted of a button-down shirt, dress slacks, shined leather shoes, and a tie. Most of the employees wore an undershirt beneath the dress shirt. Managers and businessmen always wore suits, upper managers wore 3-piece suits. If there was any official dress code “policy”, no one ever bothered to point it out. I was considered a bit radical when summer ended and I continued to wear short sleeve shirts (I can’t stand having my forearms covered).

A few years later, the company was split up, and we were purchased by a California-based company. After a couple of years, a new policy was announced – “casual Friday”. Every Friday, we were allowed – even encouraged – to dress in casual clothes – defined as jeans or cotton slacks, knit shirts, comfortable shoes, and (definitely) no tie. The reasoning was to allow a level of “relaxation” for the final day of the work week, as well as to match the trend in California.

After a few more years, and yet another corporate buy-out, “casual Friday” had gradually expanded into casual every-day, and the quality of clothing being worn had slowly devolved to the point where the company needed to reinforce a proper dress code policy. We were again encouraged to wear casual clothes, but more carefully defined, though the restriction to one day a week vanished.

At that time, a definite separation of dress behavior occurred. More managers and businessmen returned to wearing formal attire, though the suit had largely disappeared.Mostengineers embraced the casual wear, and rather quickly began the slow degradation of what was considered casual. Older engineers, and (though not universally) the more capable engineers continued wearing formal clothes.

That was about 10 years ago. Today, the collapse of the dress code is just about complete. Almost all engineers, almost all managers and businessmen, even our senior managers, can be found most days wearing at best the old “casual” standard; at worst, jeans and a tee-shirt. Ties (for all but unusual days) have vanished from the building. The dress code has begun to merge with the sexual harassment policy (no shorts, no short skirts, no muscle shirts, no offensive slogan tee shirts).

I still wear a button-down shirt, dress slacks, shined leather shoes, and a tie. I have embraced casual Friday, and I did give up the tie for about the last 6 months, but I have put the tie back on, and its staying on. In a building of 500 employees, with about 300 engineers and managers, I am now one of perhaps 5 employees (and very possibly the only one)wearing a tie when not visiting with a Customer (many of whom, incidentally, do not arrive at our facility wearing ties).

So – do the clothes worn affect our professional behavior?


The choice of clothing worn represents to others an individual’s emotional frame of mind, or attitude. It is not representative of the exact emotional state of the person, as this can change throughout the day without requiring continual changes in clothes; rather, it portrays the individual’s expectation of what their emotional state shall be, or should be for that day. Hence the practice of wearing black for mourning, bright colors for gayiety, wrinkled or loose clothing for relaxation, and pressed clothing with plain or simple pattern in muted colors for seriousness. Of course, there are exceptions in which clothing may be chosen for practical reasons separated from attitude – low cost, high durability clothing for occupations involving hard physical labor; damaged or even dirty clothing for hard labor performed at home. The use of uniforms is indicative of occupations in which emotion is not considered a proper component to one’s job activities.

It should be emphasized again that the selection of clothing may be not one’s actual expectation of emotional state, but what one believes others expect that state to be. It is this that explains in part the spread of changes in my company’s dress code. The company sends a message by “relaxing” the dress code – don’t take the job so seriously. Loosen up. Thisis accepted by some as a command, by others as an affirmation of their actual attitude toward work, and by others, over time, by what they see as a change in the Company’s attitude, as reflected in the clothing, and indeed the resulting behavior, of their peers. Once this dynamic starts, most will not resist the trend toward greater and greater expectations of relaxation. The Company’s former productivity cannot be recovered easily.

As I saw after the Company attempted – temporarily – to stop the decline, therewas a subpopulation of employees whosaw what was happening (perhaps without fully understanding), and resisted the loss of seriousness, focus, concentration in the larger population, by holding on to the “old ways”. Interestingly, I myself discovered during this time that by continuing to wear a tie (the most visible of the clothing elements to generally disappear), my presumed status in the Company rose in situations where my actual achievements were not well known. I have joked that “he who wears the tie runs the meeting” – but by and large this became increasingly true.

As I stated above, I did give up the tie for several months recently – perhaps the peer pressure finally began to affect me as well. But I found that I indeed “feel” more appropriate in a tie when at work. It has been through introspecting on this “feeling” that I have been led to understand the role of clothing in the portrayal of attitude, and its effect on the wearer and those with which he interacts.

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