Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Space in Togetherness

C'mon, remote, you can do this . . . 

I made another loop around the channels. Nothing to watch. Is it possible? Wait, there's hope! In some obscure, distant edge of surfdom there were All in the Family reruns. 

All in the Family! I haven't seen those since I was a kid, and never understood what was going on. Maybe now I'll get it.

It was a later episode ("New Year's Wedding", 1976), when Michael and Gloria have finally moved out and are new parents to baby Joey. Then, making my night complete, Billy Crystal walks into the room.
Al (Commodore Crystal, Prince of Comedy) and Trudy, longtime friends of Michael and Gloria, are getting married. At this point, Gloria is annoyed at Michael for constantly making decisions, alone, that affects the both of them. Like hosting Al and Trudy's wedding, last minute, in their house. 

As the rather casual service begins (the reverend arrives in ripped jeans on a motorcycle and refers to the happy couple as "rad"), Michael asks Gloria to pass him the book with the quote he prepared, but hisses that it is the wrong one. 

She insists that he will like it, and he begins to read it out loud, then professes it sounds familiar. Gloria reminds him he read it at their own wedding, six years ago.  After he concludes they fall into each other's arms, eclipsing the newlyweds, and he passionately apologizes.

A quick google found it for me: Khalil Gibran, The Prophet, "On Marriage":

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

The above is quite popular for modern weddings. I'm always interested in the source, and looked up Mr. Gibran, who died short of 50, unmarried. 


He himself had a number of unhappy love affairs; his siblings died unwed; his mother had left his drunk father in Lebanon and took her children to a new life in the United States. 

The question is, can one provide advice on subjects they know nothing about, first-hand? 

Well, enough of us do. Including me. So I'll just go with it. 

I read one article against this poem, claiming it idealizes the selfish individual over the selfless unit. But then I read this analysis, which has a completely different take, and one I like much better. 

Let not love stifle progress.         

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

And Again

Rabbi Yisroel Reisman finds GPS to be a wonder. No matter how many wrong turns one makes, a voicea female one, yet!dispassionately states, "Recalculating." No impatience, no annoyance. Simply a bland "Recalculating."
I thought of this as I read "To Siri, With Love," by Judith Newman. Newman's son is autistic. Siri is his dearest friend. She could not be more thankful. 
Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”
Children can be persistent, autism aside. Adults can be annoying, too. Sometimes it takes every ounce of self-control to maintain a calm register as I'm repeating the same statement for the fifth time. "Recalculating," I remind myself. "Recalculating. I am a mellow GPS, cruising down a highway . . . " 

What I found amazing is that Siri is not only a fount of information for the tirelessly inquisitive, she expects proper behavior, and so reinforces politeness. 
She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.” 
Since Gus doesn't speak clearly, and Siri's voice recognition is not the best, Gus is forced to enunciatean exercise which will certainly benefit him when he wants to communicate with humans.
“See, that’s the wonderful thing about technology being able to help with some of these behaviors,” [William Mark] added. “Getting results requires a lot of repetition. Humans are not patient. Machines are very, very patient.” 
I firmly believe that most things are neutral in nature; it's how people utilize and perceive those things that makes them either positive or negative. While technology tends to train social individuals to turn inward, for socially-impaired souls, it can provide the magic link to the outside world by teaching communication skills.
Yet, patience is a virtue, and through patience, as Mr. Marks said, there will be results. So I am trying to let the GPS and Siri teach me a lesson or two.     

Monday, December 29, 2014

Guest Post: Busy Mom Makeup

A fellow frumanista, Nachaliele, sent me her daily makeup routine, and I had to share it, to spread the inspiration. 
Everyone has their own version of 5 Minute Makeup—maybe I'll make it into a series . . .   
First, some thoughts on eyeliner: 

1.      People should NOT wear eyeliner all over the eye. The only time I've ever seen really good eyeliner like that was in some of Kandee Johnson's tutorials—and she's a pro. So if you're going to take around and hour and a half to do your makeup AND you're a real professional, go for it. If not, please, PLEASE, stick to lining just the top half of the eye. Lifting the line a bit above the outer corner will do wonders for making you look really awake.
Kandee Johnson
2.      On colored liner: I hate colored eyeliner. Especially if you're blond and light-skinned and the color shows up really strong against your skin. I think it has its place in crazy editorial makeup, along with glitter pots and pigment, and shouldn't be seen anywhere else. 

That being said, here's another trick I learned from Kandee Johnson: Do your eyeliner with a nice soft smudgy pencil (like the Mac ones), or with gel, then pat on a dark powder with an angle brush. Kandee is always talking about locking in any liquid with powder on top, and it makes for really long staying power. I personally don't like black liner on myself, as I'm quite dark already and feel it's a little harsh, so I go with a dark brown eye pencil.
Now for the trick: If you put on a dark colored powder, instead of just black or brown, you get an added dimension to the eye look. I have a great palette with two really dark colors—deep green or purple—and I usually use one of those on top of the brown. You don't see much color, but it just gives the eye a bit of depth, and can help you subtly tie together your makeup look with your outfit or accessories. 

Here are some tricks for looking good when you're in a real rush, like if you're taking three kids out at 8 am and want to feel good about yourself. 
So here's my quickest makeup routine:

a. Obviously brush teeth, wash face, and moisturize. 

b. I have really dark under eye circles, but clear skin. So I do a quick swipe of liquid foundation across the cheekbones, under the eyes and on the eyelids, and anywhere that has a little redness. Just blend carefully into the cheeks and rest of the face so it has no lines.
I find it really highlights the cheekbones. I like the rest of my face bare, when I can.

c. I love things that do double duty when I'm in a rush. I grab a pot of concealer, cover my eyelids with that (instead of primer), and do a quick conceal of any dark under eye areas still left. Quick dab of face powder over those areas to lock it in.
d. One stripe of eyeliner on each side with a pencil, a little lifted on the corners. Pat on a little dark eye shadow on top. If I have an extra second, I will smudge out the edges with an eyeshadow brush, so that it's not a very sharp line, but softer. If I don't have time, skip that.
e. A swipe of mascara on the upper lashes.
f. MUST: Same angle brush, light brown powder, quick fill in of the eyebrows, just to shape it. This makes you look SO put together. My cheat: My sheitel has bangs that cover one eyebrow, so I only do the eye brow that shows.
This is usually enough to make you look pretty nice! If I have another minute, I'll:

g. Contour a tiny bit under the cheekbones and chin with a little bronzer.
h. Put on lip gloss/stain.
And that's it! Takes a little long to read, but the whole thing, from brushing teeth till the end of the lipstick, takes me around 7 minutes. And that's because I brush my teeth for about 2—so it is really 5 minute makeup!

Some rush wardrobe tricks: 

Put on a sheitel, if you're married. Hair does wonders for the face. In the winter, a hat on top is amazing for making you look fashionable in a hurry-—in the summer, a bandanna on top of a sheitel also looks great. 
Single gals: Hats look great on top of loose hair (PLEASE don't wear them with a pony tail!) If you wear the hair plain, you can do amazing things with a chic ponytail or bun and skip the blowdry, or just blowdry some hair in the front of the face.

Wear earrings that hang a bit off the ear to elongate the face.
Glasses, or sunglasses make a great statement and cover up most of the face (if didn't have enough time to do makeup).

Wear a long skirt paired with a short top to look thin. Or short skirt and boots or booties to look chic. Layer on a vest or scarf, weather permitting. 
F21 sweater with black pencil skirt. I have these things!
And that's everything!

Friday, December 26, 2014

There's Hope for Me Yet

I had been reading an article in a glossy fashion magazine about this "amazing" historical novel due to debut. The buzz had been so favorable about the author that a bidding war had erupted between numerous publishing houses, all clamoring to get ahold of the rights to this masterpiece. There was a photo of the demurely humble authoress, and paragraphs about her "daring" characters. 

There was also a couple of pages of the book itself. 

It was terrible

Every cliche that could be availed of was utilized. The sentences were terse and stilted. The visual presented was quite lacking and befuddling. And why to some women cling to this bit of dialogue? 

"Are you frightened?" he asked, smirking. 

"No," she lied, heart pounding.

Is it, like, required in order to get your book published, or something? 

This was the grand novel that is expected to sell at a record pace?

Okay, okay, I have to dial back the snark. This woman's . . . attempt at literature is being fought over, and I am patently jealous. Especially since my Great Jewish American Novel is currently scribbled scraps of my worse date experiences.
There are many great writers, mediocre writers, and terrible writers who have been published, as well as not. So I suppose I shall buck up, be nice, and actually do some work. At some point.   

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I'm In My Own Way

Babi is getting on. She is, b"H, well into her 90s, and as time passes she grows more and more infirm. She relies on her aide to lift and drag her about the house. A wheelchair is parked in her living room, a walker stands sentry by the door, and steps . . . steps are over

But in the deepest, darkest night, when she tosses and turns, reliving distant times and countries, she can fling back her covers, hop out of bed, and competently pace about the room, while her aide watches in jaw-dropped shock. 

Our minds put limitations on our bodies. Even when I am bone-tired, or burning with fever, if something has to be done, then I manage to dredge up the strength to do it. Otherwise, I would claim that I can't. But I can.

Our minds put limitations even on our minds. How often do we think self-improvement is beyond us? That bending a bad quality to the force of our will is impossible? 

In high school my davening was wonderful. As soon as I opened the siddur, my eyes gravitated to the words and I was able to recite them with all of my essence, passion, and concentration. 

Then, when I hit 19, it became difficult. I lost the ability. 

At first I tried "tricks"; reading the English translation, flicking my focus from one page to the next, making sure to enunciate the shva nuhs and shva nuchs . . . nothing gained traction. 

Then I realized that my problem was that by using "shortcuts," I was providing my brain the excuses it needed. It's not my fault, it protested, it's the siddur's fault. 

No. It was mine. I had fallen into the habit that once I open that siddur, my mind would automatically wander. I associate davening with day-dreaming. 

There's no easy way to go about this, I epiphanied. I'm going to have to actually work at it. 

Which meant that every time I opened the siddur, I can no longer mentally goof-off; I have to think of it as active service, as avodah. Beginning from "Mah Tovu," my brain is at work, focusing, inspiring, enunciating. 

I believe that I am making some progress. It's not successful every time, but more than it used to be. 

There are no shortcuts. There are only choices.             

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Wandering Jew

Following the war, my mother's parents returned to their hometown, re-settled, and married. Then, but a decade later, they had to flee from the communists.

Since, from childhood, I viewed this story with the comfort of hindsight, I have been realizing what they must have felt in that time. They experienced the upheavals of World War I as children; then the devastation of the Holocaust; and just when they managed to catch their breath and rebuild their lives, they were forced out.

Zeidy was 50 when he had to abandon the hope of revitalizing the kehillah for good, when he had to learn a new language, and establish a new means of supporting his young family. That's where his ulcer came from. 

Jews, to begin with, are already exiles. Even when we haven't been hounded out of a country, we know it isn't our true home, while simultaneously absorbing the culture through our pores. The Diaspora has disbanded us, altered us, influenced us, and then the founding of Israel has given us the means to assemble again, disparate puzzle pieces that we are.
We have learned much in our travels. As Costica Bradatan writes in "The Wisdom of the Exile," while the negatives are obvious, there are benefits in being chased away from home. 

I once heard an Esther Wein shiur (cannot recall the title) where she explains the commandment not to return to Egypt. Every culture has their ways of approaching the world; Jews learn them, and apply them to their service of Hashem. We had taken whatever insights Mitzrayim had to offer, but once we left, do not return. Those cultures and lands aren't what is important.

America, land of immigrants: We all come from somewhere else, carrying deep, genetic programming over the many, many lands we have traveled through. But: The "Jew" identity is paramount, and unchangeable. It is merely the trappings and thought process that alter with each new locale, as we assimilate the surroundings within (as opposed to assimilating into the surroundings). 
Uprooting gives you the chance to create not only the world anew, but also your own self. Deprived of your old world, your old self is left existentially naked. It is not only worlds that can collapse and be rebuilt, but also selves. Selves can be re-made from scratch, reassembled and refurbished. For they, too, are stories to be told in different ways. 
I am aware of my European background. While I have been there to visit, it has been merely as an interested tourist, devoid of sentimentality. There is no going back. 
Israel, however . . . Israel is our past and our future. We were sent away, now we come home again, changed, yes, but truly wiser? 

I hope so.   

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tell Me Something I Don't Know

"When you're dating, what should you look for? Middos! Watch how he talks to the waiter, for instance . . ." 

I've heard more than one shiur about what to look for when dating, and what I find rather adorable is the assumption that, apparently, all the ill-mannered men are single. Or that all the ill-mannered women are single. Or that what is really important to every single single is proper comportment. 

One of my frustrations, as a single, is that all singles are considered the same. To the rest of the world, we are all the same sort of person, and we are all looking for the same sort of person. 

I like to think of myself as a specific individual who, yes, is looking for a nice guy, amongst other things. But I was always looking for a nice guy; I don't need a speaker to tell me what to look for. Chances are if "middos" wasn't the first on a person's list, being told by a random lecturer that that should be a factor won't change the listener's dating strategy all that much. 

Do these speakers think nice people are so ubiquitous? I have panic attacks because when I am finally introduced to an actual nice guy (a phenomenon that occurs perhaps once every 18 months) I feel as though I am supposed to marry him, even though there isn't a shred of any other shared similarity. 

So speakers tell me the obvious, repeatedly: Look for a nice guy, refusing to acknowledge that not all single people are identical. Again, if we were, would we be single? We would have paired off with a fellow drone from the mothership eons ago.

Some people are looking for looks. Some people are looking for money. Some people want someone to take care of, some people want someone to take care of them. Some people want cool, some people want nerdy. Some people are looking for a fellow jerk. Hey, it's a big world out there, and I've dated just a fraction of it. If everything is bashert, than there is someone out there for all the Star Wars villains too.   

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Links
And, a Jewish store's weekly rush to feed it's clientele before Shabbos arrives: "As Long as Light and Custom Allow." 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: Enjoy the Sabbath

You know that whole "eat things in moderation" bit? Well, when I had cake or chocolate every day, even really small amounts, I never saw serious results until I restricted such sugary intake to just the weekends

Cutting off favorite foods completely, though, is just not a realistic way to eat, nor does it leave one particularly cheerful. Or on the wagon for very long.

One factor that I have to take into consideration is that I leave the freezer and pantry behind every day as I go to work. If I was at home on a daily basis, I would probably have to reevaluate my methods, but if one is employed and doesn't eat out, things are much easier. 

Shabbos is a realistic choice to get one's hedonism on. After all, there are all those meals anyway, so one might as well enjoy oneself. 

But my plan of attack is based on focusing on the foods that I like best. Even when one wants to throw a diet plan aside for one blissful day, still make a point to consume calories of only the concoctions one really loves; otherwise, it is just a waste.    

Hellooooo, cake. It's been a week since we met last. 

Mmmm. A git Shabbos, indeed.     

Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Open My Eyes, to Behold Thy Wonders"

When we become absorbed with the the complexities and intricacies of this world, we often forget at the "wow" of it all. Then one day, maybe there is nothing better on, so I "make do" with a science show, then I gape and gasp and go "No waaaaaay! So cooooool!" for an hour. 

I heard this stupendous shiur on by Esther Wein called "Iyov, Akeidah of the Mind," given on 11/20/14. I must say, if anyone is struggling with anything, this shiur certainly comforted me. She delves into Sefer Iyov, how Hashem responds to his main question: "Why?"

Hashem's response is to tell him, in detail, about the mastery of His creation, how Iyov cannot measure it or comprehend it all. It doesn't seem to be an answer to his pleas to understand his suffering, but it is. So to as Hashem created it all, so to He cares for it all. All is well. 

Knowest thou the ordinances of the heavens? Canst thou establish the dominion thereof in the earth?
"Heavens Breadth 16" by Marsha Charlebois
Canst thou send forth lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee: 'Here we are'?

Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the mind?

Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven, When the dust runneth into a mass, and the clods cleave fast together?

Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lioness? Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

If one sees the majestic in the everyday currents of life, that can provide the comforting balm of security and trust. 

Robin Rinaldi, in "The Mystery in the Machine," describes her grief as she pines for a child. She fantasized: 
My husband and I gaze at the black screen as the grainy image of a fetus emerges, its head nearly as large as its tiny sea horse body. And then, a thumping sound, echoing like a signal picked up from deep space. My husband looks from the screen to me, and I can see in his eyes that he finally understands what I have instinctively known for years — that all of our ambitions, world travels and spiritual practices never brought us this close to the mystery.  
But it was not to be. She did not have a child, that intellect-defying gift that forces us to realize our place in this vast and unknowable universe. However, her heart began misbehaving, and she went in for an echocardiogram. 
“That looks like a sonogram machine,” I said.
“It is,” she said, smiling. “An echocardiogram is just a sonogram of your heart.”
. . . Then she turned the sound on.
There were clicks, lots of clicks, as if she had pried open a grandfather clock, and also a surge of liquid flowing wildly between pauses. Like water rushing over a falls in gusts.
“Those are your valves,” she said. “They open and close several times with each heartbeat.”
“And that liquid sound is the blood?”
“Yes, blood filling and leaving each ventricle.”
She saw the tears gathering.
“I’m telling you,” she said, putting her free hand on my arm, “I’ve been photographing the human heart for 20 years. It’s made a believer out of me.
“It’s amazing,” I said. “I mean . . . what starts it? What keeps it beating?”
“That’s the million-dollar question,” she said. “But something had to create this.” She snapped another image as my valves clicked open and shut like miraculous little dams.
I think we can be myopic as to the "amazing" there is in our world. There is just so much of it, all over. We just have to make a point to see it.
 . . . I do know one thing: I didn’t need a baby to get me any closer to the mystery. We couldn’t escape the mystery if we tried.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Battle of the Bulge: Fat is Back

I am a serious potato lover. I have not yet met a potato or its derivative that I did not swoon over. For instance, I was just introduced to the Japanese/Korean/Oriental yam. Holy cow is it good. Roasted with a little salt, pepper, and oil, mmm . . .

Back to the topic at hand: I am not immune to carbs. But for a whittled waistline, carbs are out ("A Call for a Low-Carb Diet That Embraces Fat" by Anahad O'Connor). Also, after many misinformed years of "low-fat" ruling the day, "low-fat" has been shunned.
In a recent study, low-fat faced off against low-carb. Calories were not measured, and both groups were encouraged to consume more vegetables. Result: The low-carb group managed to increase heart health and lose more body fat, even with the butter and oil and some red meat, cheese, and eggs. 

However, the low-fat group lost muscle, not fat. 

The villain? Processed foods. The ones with refined carbs, especially. There really isn't much that can be purchased on store shelves, I've found. So many items on there announce how healthy they are because they are non-fat, but in order to compensate for the lack of creaminess, refined carbs are added. Oh snap. 

Real foods—like eggs—are no longer the bad guy. Fake edibles are on the run, for good reason. Just say no to faux. No fake fats, like trans (that means no margarine and no Rich's Whip), and while I'm at it, no fake sugars, either. 

But once a week, I have my Japanese/Korean/Oriental yam. The ideal diet is low-carb, not no-carb, right?   

Monday, December 15, 2014


After an ill-fated game of tag on a Rosh Hashana afternoon (my nephew and I had collided with a sickening crunch), Eewok and I sat on the front steps as Luke tossed the ball to the rest of his offspring, baby in arm.

In the waning light of the day, there was a variety of foot traffic trecking by, topped with diverse head coverings. Suddenly, Eewok piped, "What are we?" 

I knew what she meant, but pretended not to. "What do you mean?" 

"Like, what are we?" 

"You mean Jewish?"

"No, no, like, are we chassidish, are we yeshivish . . ."

"Well, we actually aren't anything." 

"Huh? How can we not be anything?" 

"We are something: We're Jews." 

"Nothing else? Not chassidish or yeshivish?" 

"Well, baby, we have some great-grandparents who were chassidish. And then we have some who weren't. That kind of cancels each other out." 

She took this in, then asked, "What is chassidish?" 

It's kind of difficult to explain chassidus to a seven-year-old, and as I struggled with descriptions of rebbes and sects I gave up. It was also impossible to quantify yeshivish. "You know what, booba? We're more alike than not. That's why I like to say that we aren't anything. Because once you have a label, there are also walls. 'I'm this, not that.' Jews are supposed to be all brothers and sisters, and once you start saying what else you are besides 'Jewish' then that gets lost. 'Chaverim kol Yisroel zu l'zu.' We are one, big family, see? So it's better that we're category-less." 

"Oh." She was silent a moment, then turned to me and smiled, her multi-colored eyes bright with understanding. "Most of the girls in my class are category-less."
"Good!" I said, and snuggled her close. We then continued to watch the many Chaverim stream by.    

Friday, December 12, 2014

When I Grow Up

On chol hamoed Pesach I had to run to the store for some more fruit for second days. Since this was to be a rather short outing, I grumbled to myself as I applied abbreviated Face; tinted moisturizer dusted with some mineral makeup, mascara, blush, mineral concealer on my dark circles, and a swipe of lipstick. It took five minutes, but I still felt as though it was a waste of good cosmetics

My household always conferred a reverence to chol hamoed, scorning denim for dressy wool in honor of the holiday. Sighing as I selected a pair of ballet flats over comfy sneakers, I marched out all bedecked, feeling a tad ridiculous considering the swiftness of my errand. 

Standing in line waiting to pay, with three boxes of newly-reduced Kerestirer matzah teetering on one arm as I clutched a bunch of grapes and a cantaloupe with the other, I gawped at the woman ahead of of me. 

She wasn't young, maybe even over 70. Her Face was brilliantly applied, not too much, not too little; her neat wig was topped with a crisp straw fedora; her skirt was of the well-fitting pencil variety; on her feet were a pair of 2" pumps that could pass for Chanel. The epitome of elegance.
I so want to be her. 

We exchanged pleasant smiles once I dragged my jaw back upwards, and I hungrily took in her pristine appearance for as long as possible. 

I take that back. It can never hurt to dress up.       

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Baa Baa

The history of Jewish leadership usually involves sheep. The patriarchs, Moshe, Dovid—they all spent a good chunk of their lives as shepherds. The reasoning is this: There is no job training for ultimate power like being a caretaker of rams, ewes, and lambs.

This explanation became more tangible to me as I read "Powerful and Coldhearted" by 
Psychological research suggests the answer is no. Studies have repeatedly shown that participants who are in high positions of power (or who are temporarily induced to feel powerful) are less able to adopt the visual, cognitive or emotional perspective of other people, compared to participants who are powerless (or are made to feel so).
Interesting. The prevailing theory has been that the higher one gets the less one needs others, and so casts aside any sort of kindness for humankind. But that doesn't sound right to me. Are people only nice because they need something? Earthlings are benevolent, every day, and they know they won't receive anything in return. 

Instead, the authors posit that once the brain is drunk on power, it begins to rewire itself; the sympathetic neurons quit.