Linky Friday #29


[M1] I’ve written a couple of times about the way our society is structured against early marriage and parenthood. Jacoba Urist thinks we should do something about it.

[M2] Hugo Schwyzer explains why men need to find women their own age.

[M3] Overspending as modern mating deception wouldn’t be an issue if aspects of our culture didn’t suck so bad.


[P1] How many terrabytes can you fit into a brain?

[P2] A teen invents a 20-second phone charger. Another a submarine.


[E1] io9 has a series of articles on the Yellowstone megavolcano.

[E2] Washington Post lists seven thrilling facts about the carbon tax. Credit to them for mentioning the regressive nature of it. It’s probably the best way to combat AGW, but consensus would be monstrously difficult and I hate that one of the biggest question is “What would we do with the money?”

[E3] One of my hope-beyond-hopes with regard to global warming is carbon capture. They’re testing it in Alberta.

[E4] Next up: water crisis. There’s a pretty strong likelihood that desalinization is going to be critical to humanity’s future.


[H1] Myths and teachable stories about the apocalypse.

[H2] Intriguing: An interview with a dead man.

[H3] Important: Tips on faking your own death.


[I1] How to reform comment trolls.

[I2] Figuring out business models for WiFi is hard. This is one of those things that’s crying out for a systemic solution. The equivalent of calling cards.

[I3] Presenting… The 8-bit Iron Man.


[A1] Marijuana makes for better proscuitto.

[A2] America’s latest export: For-profit universities.

[A3] Inside Higher Ed has a good piece on state budgets and higher education. GE Miller writes about the cost of the college experience.

[A4] I love the term “unexotic underclass.” I will start using it.

[A5] The ruins of Jerusalem… in a decaying theme park.


[W1] The Atlantic has a good article on the dubious economic sustainability of China’s urbanization project.

[W2] How Brazil is tackling its rural physician shortage. I find it odd that doctors would immigrate from Spain and Portugal to Brazil.

[W3] A look at Taiwan before its economic boom.

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.


  1. I’m surprised how little has been written about him as one of the crucial figures in the rise of today’s most important entertainment medium, high-quality cable TV series. (I am of course leaving out videogames and action movies, because I dislike both of them.) Imagine if the Sopranos had been no more successful than Oz; cable series would have remained oddities, rather than becoming the place to go for innovation and even, occasionally, depth. Instead the perfect blending of character and actor made The Sopranos a giant hit, which made it clear that the economic model could work beautifully.

    • That’s starting to get a lot more attention. I’ve heard him referred to as the Godfather of Cable TV on a few pieces.

      It’s absolutely right. Sopranos paved the way for a lot, and its success rested significantly on his shoulders.

  2. [M1] I’ve written a couple of times about the way our society is structured against early marriage and parenthood. Jacoba Urist thinks we should do something about it.

    I have to question whether creating more public policy incentives to reproduce is a good idea. Global population is already high and still rising, resources are limited, and there’s no particularly reason why governments should encourage reproduction. Increased immigration from countries that still have high birthrates is a better way to prevent the ‘inverted pyramid’ population structure, and cheaper overall (training a young adult in English and job-related skills costs much less than raising a child from infancy to adulthood).

    E2: British Columbia’s managed to set up a very well-designed carbon tax that avoids regressivity and eliminates the question of “what would we do with the money”. It’s revenue-neutral, is offset by some income tax cuts and a lot of tax credits, and there are income-scaled tax rebates as well. Essentially, it doesn’t impose extra costs – it just shifts the costs in a way that discourages fossil-fuel use. So the points that the NYT is trying to make don’t apply to carbon taxes in general – as with most tax measures, it’s all in how you design them.

    BC’s carbon tax is one of the few things done by former premier Campbell that I admire, and I’d like to see similar taxes adopted by other Canadian provinces. It still leaves the problem of how the government gets revenue if fossil fuel use does decrease substantially, of course.

    • Without more public policy incentives (non-american) to reproduce, we have substantial odds of losing portions of our genetic diversity.

      • Which places/populations are you thinking of? The preponderance of the world’s genetic diversity is concentrated in Africa, which has (at least on average) the world’s highest reproduction rates.

    • M1 – With regard to parenthood, there are a couple of issues. While not necessarily a good idea to encourage reproduction for its own sake (though I’m not as enthusiastic about immigration as the solution as you are). However, we do have a gap between desired fertility and actual fertility (how many children people want to have, and how many they have) and I think a lot of that does relate to the putting off of family.

      E2 – In a sense, though, even revenue-neutral opens up the questions. Basically, where do the tax cuts go? BUT, I do like that question a whole lot better than what goodies the government should spend its money on. Basically, I’d either way the proceeds to go to tax rebates, or towards paying down the debt.

      • M1 – There’s another way to look at some of the incentives for early parenthood, they’re welfare measures for the babies. Having better/longer maternity/parental leave is an incentive to have kids sooner (before you have an established career), but it’s also good for the health and welfare of the baby. Structuring workplaces to accommodate family demands (for both men and women) does the same thing.

        There are still going to be kids born to younger parents, and there are still going to be demands made to help those families.

        • Quite so. That’s a tension in conservative thought. I know it’s something I struggle with, a general desire for less government and a bit of lament at delayed family formations. I will have to look up some international comparisons and see to what extent family welfare does, in fact, promote earlier and more families (among those who genuinely want them, I mean, I’m not into bribery).

      • In a sense, though, even revenue-neutral opens up the questions. Basically, where do the tax cuts go?

        Yep, this is where it gets tricky. Offset payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare and you do away with a substantial part of the arrangement used to argue that they’re not just welfare. Some people don’t pay payroll taxes (eg, the non-working elderly) so you have to have some sort of income tax credit, too. How to deal with businesses of various sorts? And then there are regional differences — lots of low-carbon hydroelectricity up where you are now, but heavy dependence on coal in states like Ohio.

        I don’t even want to think about how to deal with the accounting peculiarities that Xcel runs here in Colorado. I can buy blocks of wind-powered electricity — some people buy enough that essentially their entire “usage” is wind. But most of the electrons that move through those consumers’ houses are really powered by natural gas or coal, because the grid doesn’t/can’t segregate. If you buy wind power, there’s an extra charge on your bill to cover the higher cost of capital that doesn’t show up on non-wind users’ bills. Although there was a brief period after Rita/Katrina when natural gas prices spiked and the fuel adjustments made “standard” electricity more expensive than wind-powered. What do we do about the private homeowners here with the 10 kW solar array on their roof that sell power to Xcel?

  3. a well executed troll makes a good point, and serves as a reality check.
    Sometimes it says “maybe you’re too sensitive”…
    Other times it checks people’s narrow-minded thinking.

  4. “women complain quite regularly that men do not place sufficient emphasis on intelligence or even look at intelligence as a negative value, which (to me) has the implication that they would value intelligence. ”

    I think the problem here is in what people are looking for. Intelligent men do select based on intelligence… but they’re just as likely to be selecting for sex (consensual or otherwise), as for long term relationships. In fact, I think the actual thing we’re seeing is more probably “intelligent men not getting married as often”…

    Of course, we could also be seeing a different problem: there are more intelligent women than men. Which is probably also the case (get me talking about bell curves, they’re fascinating!)

    • Also, Mr. Truman,
      Someone’s making an assumption that the optimal time for having kids is college. I think that’s weird. Isn’t high school easier to make up, than college? Get a GED, and move on.

  5. “unstated assumption” about women not looking for younger partners! Apparently that’s less destructive… Again, sexism rears its ugly head — and in ways that we don’t perceive.

    If women were understood to be autonomous entities, not particularly more dependent on love/financial resources of their partner, we wouldn’t need to care as much about older men doing the natural biological thing of showering stuff on younger women.

    And if men were willing to accept that women cheat just as much as men do, then women could feel free to follow the natural biological thing of finding able younger men.

    Ha. There’s a reason we don’t like folks to follow their instincts. Human instincts suck, and are kinda twisted.

    • Oh, shoulda finished the article:
      “When it comes to inter-generational romances with age gaps sufficiently large that one partner could be the biological parent of the other, the course of true love remains maddeningly unidirectional. ”
      Person is obviously deluded. The number of women who are arrested on statutory rape charges is a damn fine counter to this crazy talk.

      • “This is about the way in which young women come of age surrounded by reminders that they are at their most desirable when they are still at their most uncertain and insecure.”

        … article is trying to make a stupid (and wrong!) point about going after younger women not being hardwired.

        Is totally missing out on the gametheory of the equation, which says that a man who’s able to have a fun May Day with a young woman (and get her pregnant), probably doesn’t have to take care of the kid. Ergo, it’s a good idea to roll the dice with girls young enough to be “uncertain and insecure”.

        • “Men who chase younger women aren’t eroticizing firmer flesh as much as they are a pre-feminist fantasy of a partner who is endlessly starry-eyed and appreciative.”

          … lady needs to read more p0rn. some people are for one thing, other people are for the other.

          • Boy, you really didn’t like that piece, did you?

            It’s worth noting that as far as the teachers are concerned, though, they are tend towards the younger teachers and are often not really old enough to be the mom.

            I agree with a number of your criticisms, though.

          • I wasn’t going to do the Schwyzer hating, but since somebody else started it…

            I’ve long thought that Schwyzer projects his own issues on to all men, writes about that, and passes it off as a critique of patriarchal culture.

            He’s admitted to sleeping with students multiple times in the past, and in turn talked about the way that students get crushes on professor because “good teachers tend to embody passion and certainty, two things students desperately want”. So I’m not exactly surprised that he’s got a thing for “a pre-feminist fantasy of a partner who is endlessly starry-eyed and appreciative.”

          • “I’ve long thought that Schwyzer projects his own issues on to all men, writes about that, and passes it off as a critique of patriarchal culture.”

            This isn’t wrong.

            (And I, too, am trying to refrain from too much Schwyzer-bashing, but there were a lot of holes and blindspots in that piece, even if he made some ok points.)

          • Will,
            now you’re using American standards. A twenty four year old teacher is well old enough to be a 12 year old’s mom. Instincts ain’t exactly used to American standards.

    • And some more linky goodness:
      Kickstarter recently had a project funded — a seduction guide — that offended a lot of people. While the project received its funding, it also changed Kickstarter policy, as the link explains.

    • I genuinely like the steampunk aesthetic.

      But I read this line today and thought it was hilarious

      Steampunk is when Goths discover brown

      • That is hilarious.

        But they’d need to also discover a sense of hope; Steam Punk seems hopeful to me; a can-do instead of been-done-to attitude.

        • Steam Punk seems hopeful to me; a can-do instead of been-done-to attitude.

          Of course they’re hopeful — since for the most part, they’re not required to pay particular attention to the the laws of thermodynamics or limits on the complexity of mechanical systems.

      • Is it not cool to put them in comments? I will refrain if you so desire.

        • No, putting them in the comments are great! I just hope to devise a way to draw more attention to them!

    • I’m still not sure I understand what Steam Punk is.

      • It’s a fantasy, a notion that instead of the combustion engine industrial revolution, we took an alternative path based on the steam engine and the high level of craftsmanship available in the late 1800’s.

        I first encountered it in the novel The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. is a good video explanation.

        • I always heard it used in relations to a style of dress or broader aesthetic look. Is that just one piece of it?

          • In my experience, and I’ve been to a few large steam punk parties at bars and clubs, it’s mostly about the aesthetic, with a little bit of “what a 20-something hipster thinks a Gilded Age guy with a spectacular mustache might have sounded like” thrown in. It’s fun, if a bit silly (silly and fun do tend be highly correlated, I suppose).

          • How many Steampunkers does it take to turn on a lightbulb?


            One to fire up the Tesla Coil
            One to wind up the Victrola.
            One to glue unnecessary clock gears onto the Victrola.
            And one to put on welding goggles and hold the bulb while the Victrola turns the entire mechanism, thus screwing in the light bulb.

      • It began as an SF term. Start with “cyberpunk”, where computers owned by evil, faceless corporations run the world but programmed by James-Dean-like rebels who combine mad skills with complete alienation from both their bosses and the masses their work oppresses. (The movie Johnny Mnemonic is a good example.) Now take that same esthetic and move it back before the age of electricity, often to Victorian England.

    • Zic did you link to a steampunk knitting design book on Facebook? I have been trying to find it again but no luck

        • That’s it thanks I will looking to buy that once it is available

          • I will be crowing like a rooster at the break of day.

            thank you.

      • And I’m looking for a test knitter for a very steampunk set of fingerless gloves; I can send you photos on FB if you’re interested. Scheduled for an Aug. 8 release through the Malabrigo Independent Designers program, which is pretty exciting.

        I would provide the pattern & yarn; you get to keep the fo, but I need a project posted on Rav. at or shortly after the pattern release.

  6. Moooo…. Expect the price of beef to rise, based on water scarcity.

        • The locals out here are trying to figure out how to capitalize marketing-wise on the fact that the cows out here are fed with grass (the regular kind).

          • Is “grass-fed” beef not a luxury item there? People pay a premium here for it.

          • Anything less than grass-fed is looked down upon here and the ranchers grass-feed (as opposed to Colorado, which run corn-fed assembly lines). What they’re trying to figure out is how to get people to associate “Arapaho cattle” with “grass-fed”. So that people will put the same premium on Arapaho cattle beef that they do on grass-fed beef.

          • Will,
            These arapaho cattle… do they finish with corn? (for a week or three?)

      • why waste good pot on cows? They’re rumins; they’re stomachs are fermenting vats, they’re already drunk all the time.

        • Two words: Beef proscuitto.

          Of course, regular pig proscuitto tastes quite good. I do love the taste of pig in its various forms. Vaguely aware, though, that pigs are among the most human-friendly of the animals that we choose to eat.

          • The most expensive meal I ever ate was a grass-fed steak topped with venison proscuitto, at The Four Seasons in Boston.

            The steak was amazing; the proscuitto resembled salty shoe leather.

    • The scarcity will be uneven, though. In the US, the largest threat is to the Mountain West, where it’s expensive to move water upward. Other places, though, will be able to rely on desalinization. So, more cows in Texas, fewer in Montana and Colorado.

      • The amount of land is a serious issue. Raising cattle requires water for the cattle themselves, water for feed crops, and water for pasture. I read once (I’ll research, if you like) that it takes two acres of land in the Northeast to support a cow/calf. In AZ, it takes 60 acres. That’s a huge differential in the use of undeveloped land; if you can consider farm land/range undeveloped. In the northeast, the water for those two acres is abundant; requires nothing except maybe digging a small pond, where available groundwater will provide drinking water.

        From what I understand of desalinization, it’s very energy intensive; so using desalinated water for irrigation and cattle seems unlikely. Rather, they’ll continue distributing what available ground/surface supplies there are to ag, and sell the desalinated to the humans at a high price.

        • Honestly, if it wasn’t for irrigation and cattle, we’d not have the potential water shortage we’re looking at. My understanding is that it’s precisely ranching, farming, and land management (lawns, golf courses, parks, etc.) that we’ll be using the desalination for.

          But it all goes into and out of a single pot. Desalinated water for humans means more regular water available for cattle. And a lack of water in Montana means that the cows need to be moved to Texas.

          • Land Management can be fixed with xeriscaping.

            Much of the rest can be fixed by having people git back to where they used to live (not atlanta!)

        • Why don’t we just move cattle operations to places that can support them? That seems too obvious. What am I missing?

          • In part because two acres in Upstate NY is probably more valuable then 60 acres in AZ.

          • And you’re threatening people’s identity. A touchy business, that.

          • 1) It’s a bitch to get cows off mountains.
            2) Lotta black angus in WV…

        • You’d have a hell of a time running a farm taht way. unless you were actually running prairie farms. No corn, no lettuce, not half the farms we want to grow.

  7. M1: I think you are going to need to change a lot of things to have more structures allowing for early marriage. It should also be noted that a lot of things that created early marriages were in fact just as artificial or bad like less educational and economic opportunity for women. Or serious stigma’s against sex before marriage and shotgun weddings for couples that accidentally got pregnant. We know have an economic system where it takes a long time to really establish a professional career.

    M2: I agree but using really rich, famous, and powerful people is a very strange example and probably . How many men of more ordinary means marry much younger women? What is an acceptable age spread in a relationship? I’m 32. Is a woman between 24-27 too young for me? In some ways they might be at a very different stage in their life so yes. In other ways, not as much. Also why do some women choose to date much older men? When I was in high school and college, I knew some women who dated reasonably older guys (one girl took her 35-year old boyfriend to the prom, she was 18). These women often said that guys their age were immature and also we did not have much in terms of income. IIRC I read another article about how women in their mid and late 30s have a hard finding sexual parters. The reason given was that guys their own age were already married at that point or the single ones were finally starting to have economic stability/success and able to be attractive to younger women (mid to late 20s) I am not sure what the solution is to the problem.

    M3: I find this true and I am not sure what to do about. I went on a date on Tuesday to a fancy cocktail place. The total cost for four cocktails plus tip was 50 dollars. Doable but not on a regular basis. Yet as a guy, I feel like it would be very awkward and a killer to be constantly suggesting coffee first dates at 32 or asking her to chip in. This makes dating a rather exhaustive experience to me. I can’t keep spending money for first or second dates that fizzle out frequently. One of my best dating experiences happened a few years ago. I bought the first round of beers. The woman bought the second round of beers and said “I’m in grad school, you’re in grad school.” I loved the economic equality of her statement.

    A3: I have very mixed feelings about this whole college is not for everyone debate. On the one hand that is true and college/university is getting too expensive. On the other hand, I am a firm believer in education for the sake of education and do think that there is something important about having a well-educated and intellectually curious populace. Plus the idea of the college being the universal American experience seems a lot nicer than having the military be the universal American experience. Plus a sigh at the proud anti-Intellectualism (plus hypocrisy) when people like Rick Santorum (BA, JD, MBA) calls Obama snobby and elitist for wanting to make college more accessible and affordable. Willful ignorance and anti-Intellectualism are nothing to be proud of.

    • I went on a date on Tuesday to a fancy cocktail place. The total cost for four cocktails plus tip was 50 dollars. Doable but not on a regular basis. Yet as a guy, I feel like it would be very awkward and a killer to be constantly suggesting coffee first dates at 32

      Honestly, I’m not so sure about that. Keep in mind what you might be signalling in addition to the fact that you’re willing to high roll a first date. You might be signalling that you’re a high-cost cocktails kind of guy, who thinks a good time requires big expenditures and a fairly formal environment, and you might be signalling that you’re looking for a partner of the same type. Which, if you’re actually a coffee date kind of guy, sets up unrealistic expectations.

      I’m 48, and thankfully not in the dating game, but I’m a coffee-date over cocktails-date kind of guy. It seems to me if the cocktail date went well because the other party liked it, then you might be setting up a second date with someone who’s not really compatible; and if it doesn’t go well because the other party likes a lower-key environment, then you may miss out on a second date that might have gone well.

      There’s obviously a real temptation to impress, but it may be more beneficial in the long-run to signal the real you, to deter the incompatible and be recognizable to the compatible. I can say with complete truthfulness that the first time my wife and I met, neither of us was particularly presentable. She’d just woken up and I was dressed for work as a bike messenger–neither of us showered, me not shaved, etc. And yet we discovered a few points of compatibility quickly, even though it wasn’t a date, neither of us was looking for a date, etc. And what in retrospect was our first date wasn’t intended as a date, and if it had been a “real” date the beginning would have been, in my mind, a complete catastrophe (going the wrong way on the Muni and missing the Bart station; getting off in Berkeley and having no idea where to go; missing the first half of the basketball game), but we had a good time together.

      Give coffee a try. Even at my age, were I to be tossed back into the market, I’d rather look for someone who was as happy at a coffeehouse as a cocktail bar.

      [YMMV. The information provided here is not intended as dating advice, and has no warranty, express or implied.]

      • Those of us with low alcohol tolerance enjoy coffee more. Probably followed by a board game, or some such.

        • Well, that does highlight a problem–the risk of dating someone with a low alcohol tolerance. 😉

      • Fair points on signaling.

        I think the issue I have on coffee is that it seems like the “non-date” first date. And makes the stakes way too low. I’ve also done a million coffee dates. Coffee dates are when you are unsure that you want to be seen with someone at night. I’ve been on a lot of situations where I could get someone to commit to the afternoon for a few dates in a row but never to nighttime activity and then they break it off :/

        What is interesting in the dating game especially the on-line dating game is that men seem to have a much lower stake for when you should call up for a second date. My standard rule is if I enjoyed talking to someone and there did not seem to be too many awkward pauses, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a second date. Many of my guy friends seem to feel the same way. However, a lot of women seem to think that chemistry is something you can feel or not feel after a few e-mails or texts back and forth from on-line dating and an hour or two chat over coffee. Perhaps I am a bit odd but it takes me a bit longer to feel chemistry for a person.

        Also this date needed to be planned at the last minute because of the way particular on-line dating company runs the gimmick and the fact that I am heading east for two weeks starting tonight.

        And everyone I know who is in their 40s and married says that they are damn well glad to be out of the dating game and/or that they met their life partner before on-line dating existed.

        • On-line dating is a blessing and a curse. The really good thing about it is that its easier to find people to potentially date than it was in the past. You just need to log on to the site of your choice and find a couple of profiles that intrigue. The bad thing is that because its easier to meet people I think you get into the paradox of choice problem. A lot of people are quicker to reject because its easier to find people and they think that if they look a little more they can find their perfect partner.

          • I think Lee is correct here.

            Online dating sites were invaluable at keeping my dating life going, though none of the big hits of my life (Jule, Eva, and Clancy, for those keeping track) were met via online profiles on a dating site (though Eva bordered on that).

          • IMO, the decline of community organized courtship is overall a bad thing. Nearly all of my dates come from online dating and its not going exactly as I want, its rather frustrating. Most of the women I know in real life are attached so dating them is out of the question.

          • LeeEsq, I realize I’m now an old woman and all, but I think you’re going about this all the wrong way.

            What do you love to do? What are your hobbies and interests? Do you cook? Read? Make steampunk sculptures? Whatever it is; that’s where you should look to connect — connection over common interest.

            I don’t understand how things have changed so; why it’s so hard to meet people now. But I know that a smile of hello and showing genuine interest in someone still works for me (though I’m not looking for dates; and today’s my 33rd wedding anniversary.)

          • Lee don’t get discouraged. I was 42 never married tried online dating and didn’t really get any where though did meet some people who are still friends. zic may be on to something with the Steampunk thing. Met my husband when he came to the museum where I work to scout for sites for a steampunk photo shoot. We got married coming up a year ago (married on July friday the 13th 🙂

            Happy Anniversary Zic!

          • Zic,

            Some of it depends on how outgoing you are, and how much your interests involve things that have gender balance. I mean, I liked anime, comic books, and computers. There were… only limited opportunities to meet women that way. Though I did tend to do well at anime conventions, it was still very gender-imbalanced (once you removed the Sailor Moon crowd from consideration). But mostly, I am not a social person. Neither is my wife. It took mutual friends and a trip and being the only two single people there to make it happen.

            So I very much empathize with Lee. Who I think is right about community courtship. The Mormon machine was truly something to behold, in that regard. It’s one of those areas where it would have helped to be more religious than I was, and not Episcopalian when I did go to church. Not that church=community, but it’s one example.

          • zic, lets just say that yes I have interests that I pursue and I have met people that way but not anybody interested in me romantically.

          • Will, I can accept that. I hesitated to say what I did say, I have zero experience in dating now, compared to my total life experience. I’ve been married a very long time, and you should be joyful to hear that I married my husband when I was in my early twenties.

            But why I said what I said has value, or so I believe, so I’ll explain.

            Common interest provides opportunity to meet someone without the desperation of the hunt; rather then looking to find a mate, you’re doing something you already enjoy; something that you’re interested. Personally, I think people are at their most attractive when they’re deeply engaged in something they love. It removes a lot of the pressure and a lot of the awkardness.

            Second, and this is why I’m suspicious of on-line dating services in general, is how someone smells. If you like someone based on experience of shared common interest, and in proximity to that person find you’re happy with their scent, it seems a good thing. It’s indication of compatible chemistry.

            And LeeEsq., I if I implied you’re doing this wrong. I want you to be successful; to be happy. My old-lady blather can be ignored or not, as you choose. It just seems to me that focusing on things you like to do, finding groups of people to do them with, seems more likely to me. If only because it give you opportunity to find out how she smells before the first date.

          • Oy.

            LeeEsq, we were typing at the same time. Please forgive me, I should just mind my own business. I knew that, too. I’m sorry.

        • everyone I know who is in their 40s and married says that they are damn well glad to be out of the dating game

          That’s because we lack the energy of you young ‘uns!

          There’s also the problem of the pool. Consider who’s available at my age–mostly people who a) have never been married, either for a damn good reason or they’ve become embittered, or both; or people who are divorced, often with damned good reason or resulting bitterness, or both. I know women around my age who are fine people to be friends with, but as soon as I hear them mention their ex, I’m appalled and start thinking, “that could be me, if I ever got together with this person.” And while I probably notice it more from women, I’ve also noticed it men doing it a lot, too. So who, male or female, is eager to touch that? So I have a friend, divorced, late ’40s, bitter, who dates bitter women or to avoid that dates much younger women, and complains about their immaturity.

          Obviously not all never-married or divorced people are like that–I’ve had friends get married for the first time, with real happiness, in their 40s–but a lot are. So you begin with a smaller pool, and you have a much larger portion that is not as enticing as they might have been two decades previously.

          But, still, it’s true that for most people dating is difficult. It’s a sales job, and most people hate sales jobs.

          As to on-line dating, several of my friends who got married in their late 30s or 40s met online, and it seems to have worked really well for them. It’s got to be better than picking people up at a club after several drinks.

  8. Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that once we figure out cheap, efficient desalination and start using it on a large scale, we’re going to find that it creates all sorts of unforeseen environmental issues?

    • Oh, it probably will. But it’ll likely beat the alternative. Singapore completely desalinates, from what I understand. I wonder if any experiences there can give us a heads up on potential problems?

      • Perhaps I’m misinterpreting “completely desalinates”, but this page at their national water agency says they get 10% of their water supply from desalination. 40% imports from Malaysia, the rest appears to be from catching rainwater (it helps that they get almost 100 inches of rain annually). They’ve got a hell of a recycling program, too.

        The most obvious environmental threat would seem to be that, if the coastal cities get 100% of their water from desalination, somewhere upstream on the major rivers are people who will say, “Oh, then you won’t mind if we just divert 100% of the river water up here.” As in, if Southern California and Mexico can get water from desalination, then eventually the Colorado River pretty much stops where Arizona and Nevada make their diversions.

        Myself, I look at what large-scale desalination is likely to do to per-capita energy consumption, and wonder where the BTUs/kWhs are going to come from.

        • Most likely, I misinterpreted what was said about Singapore.

          I suspect that there are enough environmentalists and enough apparent danger of cutting the river off before it reaches California that the environmentalists would be able to prevent that. They’d let the Mountain West depopulate first. Of course, the Mountain West might have something to say about that, but they’re outnumbered. I’d expect the environmental danger to have to do with ocean sea life, somehow. That, I don’t think the environmentalists would be able to prevent.

          I see the primary human problem of mass-desalination would be the difficulty getting any of it to the highlands. I suppose that’s the point where you’re crossing your fingers and hoping that there’s enough river water (and/or that the environmentalists lose in the previous paragraph).

          I am something of a power optimist, though I can see why a power pessimist would consider massive desalination to be a problem.

    • No way dude, it’s going to save us.

      Oceans rising, eh?

      I drink your ocean! I drink it up!

    • We can probably just mandate that food that uses salt use sea salt.

      It’s all-natural.

  9. [M3] I told my kids “About the time you’re serious about someone, if you’re thinking about moving in with them or anything of that sort — involving money — do a credit check on them.”

  10. Another issue with the college experience essay is that it makes every school seem like a large Frat Party where most people are not really engaged intellectually.

    My undergrad was not like that.

    • You’ve referred to your undergrad before. Do you mind telling me what school it was?

      • I’ve mentioned it in some threads. Vassar.

        Small liberal arts colleges for the win!

  11. E2-Spend the money on rail-based transit and clean energy research.

  12. P2: I’m pleased that an 18-year-old can do work like this. I’m even more pleased that it was a young woman, as the science and engineering fields are still far too hostile to females. OTOH, I note: (a) supercapacitors are not new, you can even buy them from hobby electronics parts places, (b) most of the write-ups make little technical sense, (c) in one of the write-ups, she thanks a college professor for access to the nanotech lab, which somehow seems to run counter to the spirit of a science fair (ie, not everyone has access to expensive equipment), and (d) until there’s a reviewed paper, it’s hard to tell if either the materials or the production process are novel. There’s a lot of serious money being poured into supercapacitor research these days. It’s possible that she has something novel, but it’s unlikely.

  13. Wow. So much to criticize in that Schwyzer piece:

    Many people who concede that older men’s obsession with younger women is disillusioning and destabilizing insist that the sexual choices of men like Johnny Depp are driven by natural imperatives. That’s not quite what the science shows. Research on age disparate relationships does find a biological case for older men choosing slightly younger women; a 2007 study of 11,000 Swedes found that the most fecund men were those with partners six years younger than themselves. The strategic reproductive benefit of choosing a younger woman diminished as the age gap widened.

    There are a number of problems both with this study and with Schwyzer’s analysis of it. First, our genes are the product of our environment in the past, not the present. Human reproductive habits have changed so radically in the past millennia, centuries, and even decades that there’s not necessarily any connection between which traits and preferences conferred reproductive fitness today and which did so in the past. People nowadays tend to have the number of children they want, not as many as they can.

    That is, the claim is not that men prefer younger women because it gives them a reproductive advantage today, but rather that modern men prefer younger women because those who did so in the distant past had greater reproductive fitness and passed on that trait. Feminist who doesn’t understand the fundamentals of evolutionary psychology feels qualified to criticize it. Story at eleven.

    Aside from that, the study was biased to produce these results. They looked at men between the ages of 45 and 55, who had not had children with more than one woman. So a man who married a 20-year-old woman at the age of 25 and is now 50 will have had 25 years to have children. But a man who marries a 20-year-old woman at the age of 35 and is now 50 will have had only 15 years to have children.

    Finally, since the study was limited to men who had had children with only one woman, it says nothing about the optimal reproductive strategy for a newly-single 50-year-old man. Under these conditions, marrying a 44-year-old woman is clearly unlikely to maximize reproductive fitness, even if that were the goal.

    Men who chase younger women aren’t eroticizing firmer flesh…

    The ability of feminists to cram so much bullshit into a single word is impressive. Eroticizing. As if it were a choice—an act of will—rather than a natural and involuntary response.

    …as much as they are a pre-feminist fantasy of a partner who is endlessly starry-eyed and appreciative.

    Your average middle-aged schlub, maybe—in part, at least, though physical attraction plays a huge part. But Johnny Depp is a pretty awful example of this. If you’re Johnny Depp, you can easily find a woman of any age who is going to be endlessly starry-eyed and appreciative.

    That said, stripping away Schwyzer’s sinister spin, I think there is something to this. Girls in their late teens and early twenties really are, in general, more pleasant. They’re sweeter, more cheerful, and more energetic. There are exceptions, of course, but they do very much prove the rule by contrast. I’ve met women in their forties who act that way, and while I’m not really attracted to them, they are a joy to be around.

    None of which is to say that I object to the idea that older men shouldn’t compete with me. But I reserve the right to change my mind later.

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