Archive for Table for One

Fingering the perp

If there’s a tragedy here, it’s that there’s a recognizable need for this product:

An undergraduate team at North Carolina State University might have just revolutionized your make-up drawer. The four students are working to develop a nail polish that changes color if it comes into contact with date rape drugs Rohypnol and GHB. That means that women who wear the new polish — dubbed Undercover Colors — could determine whether their drink has had an unwelcome ingredient added just by dipping in a finger.

The four-person company — all men, as it happens — has raised $100k in funding and continues to work on its product.

There is a downside, of course: this won’t work with rapists who use other drugs, such as strawberry daiquiris.

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Meet the (Chinese) beetles

Jack Baruth tells you the horrible story of Agrilus planipennis:

The Emerald Ash Borer is scheduled to kill eight billion trees in North America in the near future. As a country, we had no defense against it. The predators which hold the EAB under control in China haven’t made it into an iPhone crate yet. Every ash tree in this country and Canada will die. Eight billion trees. Eight billion, most of them mature. The Nature Conservatory says they will plant a billion trees by 2025. Well, for every tree you plant, the Chinese beetle will kill eight. We’re told that the rainforest is disappearing at a staggering rate. It’s something like two or three billion trees a year. In other words, this beetle is kicking the ass of the Global Corporate Rainforest Destroying Bush-Hitler Machine, all by itself.

And yet you’ll never hear about those eight billion trees outside of a special-interest magazine because it’s critical that we not pay too much attention to what we actually suffer as a country by sending all our manufacturing and applied science to a country full of people who, as a rule, view us as uncultured, depraved monkeys. It’s critical that the manufacturing keep leaving this country so the power and the influence shift to the politicians and the major blogs and the thought leaders in Silicon Valley. Once upon a time, the wealthiest county in the United States was Oakland County [Michigan], where the auto executives and the $100,000-a-year blue-collar overtime workers lived. Now it’s #61 on the list. Four of the five wealthiest counties in the nation now directly border Washington, D.C. You see how the power shifts when money stops coming from commerce and starts coming from quantitative easing.

But then, this isn’t necessarily about trees — or commerce:

When the trees crashed down I thought about some other things, some other people. You can love someone and have a relationship with them but the beetles can get in there, they can burrow, they can leave the bark untouched but the damage beneath is enough to kill. Then one day the bark falls off and you realize how long it’s been dead, how long you’ve been ignoring it, how long you’ve been hoping that spring would come and you’d see leaves, knowing in your heart that you would only see branches.

When I moved here I had twelve trees, a pretty fair number for a quarter of an acre. Now I have thirteen, but three of them are standing only because neither saw nor wind in adequate quantity has been provided, and, as Jack says, “Having trees cut down is more expensive than having them planted, by the way, the same way a divorce attorney is more expensive than a justice of the peace.” Yep.

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Recapture clause

Freshly spammed my way: a method to get one’s ex back.

No, really:

My system is rooted in behavioral psychology. By combining this with text messages to deliver the message, the result is a system that is so powerful, it has worked for more than 10,000 people!

Text messages are direct, non-confrontational, and can be responded to when it is convenient to the person you sent it to. They are especially effective when dealing with the situation in person, could be too risky.

Let Justin Sinclair, personal relationship expert, show you exactly what messages you need to send your Ex, and how to send them. You’ll be blown away when your Ex starts talking to you again and eventually asks to see you.

Believe me, if Jimmy Webb can’t do it, nobody can.

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Lose that boy

Don’t wait for it to happen on its own, either:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: He's going to die, help?

Taste considerations require this go below the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Super freekuency

This is worth the link just for the title — “On That List of Excuses for Not Having Sex Floating Around the Interweb” — but the discussion is not at all frivolous, and the last paragraph is highly quotable:

[A] mismatch must be seen as just that. There’s no right amount of sex to have, so someone agreeing to it three times a month must be accepted as much as someone wanting it several times a day or never at all. It just is what it is. A mismatch is a problem for both the person not getting as much as they desire, and for the person denying the request, but it’s only a problem at all if people hold sex in their relationship as more important than care, respect, and love. If you care enough, you can become attuned to one another’s needs. It might mean not asking even if you’re feeling it, and it might, for some people so inclined, mean doing things you’re not really into right now. Love isn’t about giving everything of ourselves to another person, though, or solving all their problems ourselves, it’s about caring about their issues enough to be there while they find their own way.

So there.

In fact, it’s not even necessary for the schedules to be out of sync for there to be a problem, as Woody Allen noted back in the day:

[Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?

Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?

Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.

Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

Never you mind why I’d remember this after, oh, thirty-seven years.

Oh, this is the list being referenced.

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We so ex-seitan

They told me it was a gag. It is nothing of the kind:

GlutenFreeSingles started when two health conscious friends, one with celiac disease and the other gluten intolerance recognized the need for a gluten-free dating community that focused on singles with similar dietary needs. By creating GlutenFreeSingles we hope to help the 3 million people who have celiac disease and those who are gluten intolerant find valuable information, self-improvement, and long fulfilling gluten-free relationships.

Jack Sprat was not available for comment.

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On finishing last

Top of Urban Dictionary for “Nice Guy Syndrome”:

A annoying mental condition in which a heterosexual man concocts over-simplified ideas why women aren’t flocking to him in droves. Typically this male will whine and complain about how women never want to date them because he is “too nice” or that he is average in appearance. He often targets a woman who is already in a relationship; misrepresenting his intentions of wanting to be her friend and having the expectation that he is owed more than friendship because he is such a good listener. He is prone to brooding over this and passive-aggressive behavior.

He is too stupid to realize the reason women don’t find him attractive is because he feels sorry for himself, he concludes that women like to be treated like shit.

I don’t suffer from this, because (1) I’m not all that nice and (2) “average” would be at least one rung beyond my reach. (On the classic 1-10 scale, I’ve always considered myself around a 3, though that stereotype about “distinguished” older men probably earns me close to 4-hood.) My dance card, however, is no busier.

Maybe it’s … docility?

It really is a cliché that “good girls like bad boys,” and has been as long as I’ve been alive.

But why?

I think it’s all tied up in what modern culture thinks is “good” in terms of masculinity. “Good” men are obedient, follow the rules, recognize authority, are non-violent, and, lately, acknowledge the innate superiority of women over them and their brutish, testosterone-fueled impulses.

In short, a “good” man is everything that would have gotten himself, his women, his family, and his tribe killed and eaten while the bulk of humanity’s genome was selecting for survival.

Something like the ’46 Giants, of whom Dodgers manager Leo Durocher scoffed: “The ‘nice guys’ are all over there, in seventh place.” And the fact that both the Giants and the Dodgers eventually fled to the Left Coast makes no difference, 68 years later.

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The heart wants what it wants

And those other parts have their own desires. A member of the Australian Parliament is under fire for describing exactly what she looks for in a man:

Jacqui Lambie, an Australian MP who shares the balance of power in the upper house, has apologised after declaring in a radio interview that she is looking for a partner who is “well-hung” and loaded with cash.

“They don’t even need to speak,” said Ms Lambie, a 43-year-old single mother of two.

In a radio interview in her home state of Tasmania, Ms Lambie told Heart FM that her ideal partner “must have heaps of cash and they’ve got to have a package between their legs.”

God forbid a man should say something like that about a woman, right?

(Via One Fine Jay.)

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Meanwhile in the background

Now I feel like I’ve been caught out:

Many older women complain about feeling invisible — no one turns a head when we walk into a room. As Linda Grant writes in The Thoughtful Dresser, “I have watched the eyes of men sweep a room and find that apart from the girl crossing her legs, over there, it is empty. After a certain age, women are invisible. Without a sexual stimulus, many men cannot process in the visual/conceptual portion of their brains that a woman is present.”

There is, I suspect, a reasonable chance that if the guy who just entered the room is actively searching for sexual stimuli, most of the women would just as soon not be noticed at all, at least by the likes of him. Then again, there are those who would argue that any man entering the room will first scan for eye candy before getting down to business, and I’m not in a position to offer myself as a counterexample, at least not honestly.

There exists a subversion of this trope in fiction, the most recent example I’ve seen being Jeanne Ray’s Calling Invisible Women (New York: Crown Publishers, 2012). In this novel, a fiftysomething woman literally vanishes, first piecemeal, then completely; but the men in her life — her husband, her son, the guys in the neighborhood — don’t even notice.

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They never outgrow the cheerleaders

I am aware that the ability to lure women half your age into the sack is highly prized these days, at least among men my age. And while I’d be lying if I said I never thought about it, I’d be damned embarrassed if I came off like this:

We met on a dating site. Dave was interesting, gentlemanly and bright. He held my hand and toured with me on long bicycle rides. He drove many miles to come to my door. He made meals for us both and ruffled my dog’s happy head. I was enticed and longed for the full knowing of this man. And so, we planned a weekend together. That’s when things got confusing, unspoken and just-not-quite there. We went to bed in a couple’s way — unclothed and touching — all parts near. Kisses were shared and sleep came in hugs. I attempted more intimacy throughout the weekend and was deterred each time.

On Monday evening over the phone, I asked this man who had shared my bed for three nights running why we had not made love. “Your body is too wrinkly,” he said without a pause. “I have spoiled myself over the years with young woman. I just can’t get excited with you. I love your energy and your laughter. I like your head and your heart. But, I just can’t deal with your body.”

Dave is 55. Apparently he figures he’s still entitled to centerfold material. And this is what upset his applecart so:

I am a 59-year-old woman in great health and in good physical shape. I stand five-feet, nine-inches tall and weigh 135 pounds. I wear a size six in both jeans and panties, and my breasts are nowhere near my navel. In fact, they still struggle to make it full-up in a B-cup bra. My thighs are no longer velvet and my buttocks have dimples. My upper arms wobble a bit and my skin shows the marks of the sun. There is a softness around my waist that is no longer perfectly taut, and the pout of my abdomen attests to a c-section that took its bikini flatness — but gave me a son.

I should be in such shape, qualitatively speaking, at my age, which, you’ll remember, is only slightly beyond hers.

The manosphere would explain to me that Dave’s just exercising his Game, and maybe I’ll give him that. But the time to back off, I contend, is a long time before the third trip to the bedroom. And I have enough douchitude of my own to regret, thank you very much; you’re not helping.

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Because cradles were designed to be robbed

“Nabo-who?” asked a puzzled Twilight Sparkle:

“Vladimir Nabokov. Human writer from the last century. Best known for a smug little tale of foalcon.” He coughed on that last word. “Bastard was probably in love with her, too.”

“Underage filly?”

“Let’s just say she wasn’t on her way to earning her cutie mark, and leave it at that.”

That may have been the whole point for that bastard Humbert, who’d managed to convince himself — and maybe the girl — that there was something sweet and natural about their perverse relationship. It certainly fits with this guy’s worldview:

Ken Plummer is emeritus professor of sociology at Essex University, where he has an office and teaches courses, the most recent scheduled for last month. “The isolation, secrecy, guilt and anguish of many paedophiles,” he wrote in [1981's] Perspectives on Paedophilia, “are not intrinsic to the phenomen[on] but are derived from the extreme social repression placed on minorities …”

“Help, help, I’m being repressed!”

“Paedophiles are told they are the seducers and rapists of children; they know their experiences are often loving and tender ones. They are told that children are pure and innocent, devoid of sexuality; they know both from their own experiences of childhood and from the children they meet that this is not the case.”

“Hey, they’re already despoiled. Fair game, you know what I mean?”

Actually, I think I do. And I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t like what I think about it.

This is not, I hasten to add, a matter of universal agreement among the general run of tweedy academic pervs:

After a fierce battle in the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which produces it, a proposal to include hebephilia as a disorder in the new edition of the [DSM] has been defeated. The proposal arose because puberty in children has started ever earlier in recent decades and as a result, it was argued, the current definition of paedophilia — pre-pubertal sexual attraction — missed out too many young people.

Ray Blanchard, professor of psychiatry at the University of Toronto, who led the APA’s working group on the subject, said that unless some other way was found of encompassing hebephilia in the new manual, that was “tantamount to stating that the APA’s official position is that the sexual preference for early pubertal children is normal.”

Axes were duly presented for grinding:

Prof Blanchard was in turn criticised by a speaker at the Cambridge conference, Patrick Singy, of Union College, New York, who said hebephilia would be abused as a diagnosis to detain sex offenders as “mentally ill” under US “sexually violent predator” laws even after they had completed their sentences.

Because whatever else a kiddie-diddler might be, well, he certainly can’t be sick.

But perhaps the most controversial presentation of all was by Philip Tromovitch, a professor at Doshisha University in Japan, who stated in a presentation on the “prevalence of paedophilia” that the “majority of men are probably paedophiles and hebephiles” and that “paedophilic interest is normal and natural in human males.”

Come the revolution, the first ones with their backs up against the wall will be the idiots who claim that majority support legitimizes everything.

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Console the lonely

In fact, right on top of the console, if necessary:

Here’s a sobering statistic for you: according to this study, almost 16% of midwestern college students have had sex while driving (SWD), and nearly half did so while driving at speeds of 61-80 mph(!). And no, these numbers didn’t include masturbation. As you might guess, SWD was reported by more men than women, and usually consisted of oral sex, although 11% of SWD participants had actual intercourse. Amazingly, none of those surveyed reported having an accident, though 1.8% “nearly had a crash.” I guess there’s not much else to do during those long boring drives through the cornfields?

Well, yeah, but at least they’re not texting.

(Via Fark.)

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Burning not too bright

Meanwhile in Albany, the concern over Big Game grows:

State legislators in both houses have passed a bill banning people from posing for photos while hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers in New York state.

Manhattan Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal explained that she introduced the legislation to increase safety at traveling circuses and county fairs that allow the public to get up close and personal with their big cats.

Which is a major problem in New York, what with, um, two tiger-related incidents at such exhibitions in the past ten years, suggesting that there might be ulterior motives for this measure:

But the Upper West Side Democrat acknowledges proudly that the bill would also destroy a trend now prevalent among users of dating apps — men snuggling with tigers in reckless attempts to look brave or cuddly or, even more implausibly, both in their dating-profile photos on online services like Tinder and OKCupid.

Remember when a woman could point and laugh, and that was the end of it? Now apparently she has to have the Assembly backing her up.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Something about unlimited support

There are actual alpha males, and then there are males who imagine that they’d be alpha if only they had [obviously absent characteristic]. I suspect this guy of being one of the latter:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why doesn't Bill Gates have a hotter wife?

To amplify:

I mean he’s a multi billion dollar inventor. Basically all the hottest women would want him. Why doesn’t he have a hotter wife and why have he never had one who is hotter?

Melinda Gates headshotThis assumes two things: that guys with multiple billions are as a matter of course expected to land someone in the Leggy Supermodel class, and that when they don’t do so, it’s a matter of interest to the rest of the world. It would never occur to this guy that Bill Gates might have won the heart of exactly the woman he wanted.

Besides, as anyone who’s ever worked at Microsoft undoubtedly knows by now, you can’t force an upgrade on someone without causing major heartbreak, or at least a major pain in the hindquarters.

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One or two lumps?

Make it three, and keep your sexist remarks to yourself:

Sweetness is code for feminine. It’s code for not being able to handle “reality” and having to cover it up. Because people really need to read that much into a desire to eat or drink something that tastes good/actually listen to your palette when it says that you do or don’t like something.

There is an odd cult of masculinity around things that taste like shit and being able to eat things that taste like shit and/or hurt you when you eat them (cinnamon challenge anyone?). Oddly, putting oneself in situations that require pain or discomfort is seen as good and manly and powerful and strong, whereas actually doing things you enjoy is seen as girly (unless it’s eating a steak which gets a pass because killing things and eating their flesh is also manly). And for that reason, eating things that are sweet is considered feminine. It’s delicate, because only weak ladies feel the need to consume things that go down easy.

I have long suspected that said “cult of masculinity” originally coalesced around a group of guys who couldn’t tell you which end of a stick of butter you shove into the toaster. (How big this group is, I’m not sure, though it’s surely not insubstantial.) By general cultural agreement, the Confirmed Bachelor lives on an indiscriminate diet rivaled only by the jackal’s, which explains that part of his beer belly that isn’t actually attributable to beer. But this, too, is a stereotype.

Food is an important cultural signifier. We use it to communicate our values (see veganism and vegetarianism), to communicate our in-groups (through ethnic food or family traditions), to bond with each other (group meals), and to communicate how we fit into the world (eating disorders are a good example of this, but many people choose their food to signify what kind of a person they are). We don’t often look to food consciously as a way to reveal our prejudices or assumptions, but it’s woven into every day of our lives (even when we’re not eating it).

Or, as I once said:

Nobody eats arugula for the taste. It’s a status indicator, pure and simple. If you could get it in a salad at Wendy’s, no one would pay however many dollars a pound for it.

Why, yes, I think I will have another strawberry daiquiri.

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)

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Here agenda, there agenda

Jack Baruth on that Elliot Rodger thing:

The media wants to use the Elliot Rodger thing to beat up on the manosphere, because they despise the manosphere. Female Twitter users want to use the Elliot Rodger thing to let their friendzone beta orbiter male friends know, in no uncertain terms, that they consider them to be borderline rapists. Nobody’s tagging George Clooney or Channing Tatum in these posts, because most of these woman would welcome whatever attention George Clooney or Channing Tatum threw at them, for the same reason that I wouldn’t be offended by anything Kate Winslet said to me in person, as long as it was Kate Winslet talking to me in person.

Kate: You’re easily the least attractive man I’ve ever met.

Jack: Couldn’t agree more. Why don’t we have dinner and you can tell me what exactly about me is so repulsive. I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Then again, from my first post on the subject: “I am George Farking Clooney next to this guy.”

Then again again, Kate Winslet has never said a word to me, and I operate under the assumption that she’s not going to.

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Just felt right

So Erin Palette was in the shower — no, I wasn’t watching her, get your mind out of the gutter — and this question popped into her head:

Given that humans are primarily a visual species, and that sexual attraction is at least partially based on aesthetics — I have to wonder if bisexuality and/or asexuality is more common among the blind.

I don’t really expect an answer, but I’d be thrilled if someone actually knew something about this.

I don’t know anything about this, to be sure, so I’m tossing it up over here to see what you guys think.

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Mr. Rodger’s neighborhood

Surprisingly, the population is fairly dense, for several definitions of “dense.”

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From the Boo Fricking Hoo files

If anyone here thought I might be just this side of pathetic, what with my occasional bursts of frustration regarding my perennially empty dance card — well, I am George Farking Clooney next to this guy.

Background:

A drive-by shooter went on a rampage near a Santa Barbara university campus that left seven people dead, including the attacker, and seven others wounded, authorities said Saturday.

The gunman got into two gun battles with deputies Friday night in the beachside community of Isla Vista before crashing his black BMW into a parked car, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Deputies found him dead with a gunshot wound to the head, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether he was killed by gunfire or if he committed suicide, he said… Although the suspect’s name has not officially been released, CBSLA reports that his name is Elliot Rodger, son of film director Peter Rodger, as was confirmed to them by the family of the alleged suspect.

And, well, you just heard from Elliot Rodger, alone in his BMW, musing about how horrible it is that women just aren’t attracted to a murderous, self-obsessed loner — and then, later, plotting his revenge.

In that second video, he describes himself as “the true Alpha Male.” Trust me on this: the true Alpha Male spends no time brooding over virginity, especially his own.

See also this dork going berserk in a Pennsylvania health club. Um, guys? There is nothing that says you’re entitled to a woman’s attention. Nothing. The girls I know (caution: small sample) consider that attitude to be an automatic disqualifier unless you have something else going for you. For now, you’re just a column in the newspaper, unless Guinness decides to hand out a World Record award for Balls, Bluest. I suspect, though, that they don’t award these things posthumously.

Update: Further thoughts here.

Update: Deleted video link, since the video has been pulled from YouTube.

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Yeah, like that’s gonna happen

“Make women want you,” said the come-on, so to speak. This showed up as a bogus pingback; WordPress, as it does lately, disclosed that there really was a page with something like that as the title.

I decided to look at it. It’s on Blogspot, there’s only the one post, and it consists of several paragraphs of questionable how-to-get-the-girl advice, interrupted a couple of times by a big DOWNLOAD NOW! box. It is implied that there’s a PDF under that link. There isn’t. Instead, it’s a fairly stock-looking phishing lure.

This thing came to me from 23.94.99.70, but I suspect that copies of it are scattered all over Botsylvania.

Addendum: A few hours later, there came an email spam offering me a “Love Spell.” I suspect such a thing would take more magic than can be packaged in a mere executable.

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Kindred spirits, once removed

I was perusing the logs Sunday afternoon, what with Monday coming up and Monday meaning yet another list of strange search-engine queries to be posted, and I discovered an incoming link from wizardchan.org.

In the wake of 4chan, I tend to be somewhat cautious around anything -chan, but curiosity would not leave me alone, so I went to the source, and found this explanation:

Wizardchan is a Japanese-inspired image-based forum (imageboard) for male virgins to share their thoughts and discuss their interests and lifestyle as a virgin. The name of our website is inspired by the term wizard, a meme of Japanese origin that means 30-year-old virgin. In contrast to other imageboards, Wizardchan is dedicated exclusively to people who have no sexual experience and may be NEET or hikkikomori.

I am disinclined to mock these guys, having been within shrieking distance of “been there, done that”; my own period of activity, so to speak, was the middle third of my life, and nothing much happened on either side of it. And the discussion thread in question (which links to this page here) is a bit more thoughtful than I had anticipated. These are not generally vindictive souls, though you can hear the frustration from time to time; their rules seem eminently reasonable. (Compare to, say, this ill-tempered wretch.) Still, I wonder how I managed to miss this site, and “You can’t read everything,” while true, isn’t much of an explanation.

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Poster boy for mansplaining

“How dare a mere girl drive something I want?”

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why do women buy the most expensive model of cars?

To elaborate:

I just saw a girl in an SRT-8 Jeep, I do a lot of driving for work and notice women never seem to buy base models of cars. Guys tend to get what they can afford. Is it because women have other people making their payments or do they just not mind making a $1,000 a month payment for every option available?

Green’s obviously his color.

For ten points, what is the probability that this guy has ever had a second date?

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As close to forever as it gets

Jack Handey once explained how it is that swans so often stay with a single mate:

I don’t think it’s that big a deal. First of all, if you’re a swan, you’re probably not going to find a swan that looks much better than the one you’ve got, so why not mate for life?

And roughly 95 percent of them do. But there’s one species that makes swans look comparatively slutty:

In his new book, The Thing with Feathers, Noah Strycker says albatrosses have a knack for coupling. “These globe trotters, who mate for life and are incredibly faithful to their partners, just might have the most intense love affairs of any animal on our planet,” he writes.

The courtship, you may be sure, is methodical and time-consuming:

For a long while they will dance with several partners, but gradually — it can take years to pick the right partner — they will find a particular favorite. Together those two continue to refine their steps, until, having “spent so much time dancing with that specific bird … that pair’s sequence of moves is as unique as a lover’s fingerprint.”

Now they are ready to mate.

It has taken 15 years to decide on a partner, but having decided, albatrosses don’t switch. “It will generally stick faithfully with its mate until one of them dies, which might not be for another fifty years.”

And here’s the part that should embarrass those of us who claim to be higher up on the food chain:

[T]hey don’t see each other that often. When at sea, couples don’t hang together. It’s too easy to get separated. “So even the most committed partners habitually spend months at a time alone, without knowing what their mates are up to.”

They don’t build nests every year. Often, they’ll wait for two. But when the urge is on them, somehow they both manage to return to the nesting site at roughly the same time “almost as if the date were prearranged” and they settle in.

Wholly admirable, especially in view of the fact that you don’t get wafers with them.

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The dreaded Friend Zone

By now, you know the territory, or at least you’ve figured out the map:

Venn diagram detailing location of the dreaded Friend Zone

One Christopher Tognotti, evidently a full-time resident, decided to cry into a HuffPo microphone about it:

You’d be shocked how easily the thought I really like you as a person but I’m not attracted or interested in dating you can be conveyed with just the flicker of an eyelid.

Trust me, I wouldn’t be shocked. I know this land like the back of my hand.

Perhaps you’ve heard this story before, of a self-proclaimed “nice guy” who feels miffed by the romantic inattention of a close female friend. But assumptions that the alleged “nice guy” may be making — feeling aggrieved, maybe even angry, that she couldn’t be more open-minded, or see how great a couple they’d be — fall perilously short of anything describable as “nice.”

Vehemently complaining that a woman is dating somebody else instead of you hinges on the assumption that she’d want to date you otherwise. I understand the impulse, even the drive to convince oneself that such a romance could flourish.

Self-described “nice guys,” as a rule, have a tendency to fall back on that old saw about women being attracted only to bad boys | douchebags | asshats [select one or more]. It does not occur to them that the problem is not in the stars, but in themselves, that they are underachieving.

Robert Stacy McCain suggests that it’s an act, not of desperation, but of sheerest cynicism:

The problem is not their superficiality, but his.

He’s basically a stalker, a romantic voyeur, dishonestly using the “friend zone” as an excuse to get close to women in a non-sexual context, secretly hoping that he can then exploit this proximity to convert a girl friend into a girlfriend. But when he finally works up the gumption to express his secret purpose, not only are his overtures unwelcome, but his female friend feels understandably betrayed: If she had known his interest in her was erotic, she never would have let this pitiful scrub into her “friend zone” to begin with.

One might reasonably ask if there’s any substantive difference between Mr Tognotti, author of that wail, and yours truly, author of several dozen such. Well, there’s one that comes most immediately to mind: I know who’s to blame for my predicament. And unlike Tognotti, I don’t, in McCain’s phrase, “overestimate my range”:

Suppose a guy’s overall attractiveness — including all possible factors, including income, personality, etc. — is 5 on a scale of 10.

As a general rule, a 5 male’s romantic prospects are seldom going to include women who would rank as high as an 8. The best such a guy can realistically hope for is to catch a 7 in a vulnerable moment and if he doesn’t want to be hopelessly lonely while waiting for that lucky shot to come along, Mr. 5 would be wise to seek companionship among females ranking 5 or below. The very nature of Chris Tognotti’s “nice guy” complaint tells you that he’s not playing that way.

Faced with these daunting odds, I opted for the only rational choice: I gave up hope altogether. And I feel better, though admittedly not to the extent I’d like.

(Venn diagram via Notre Lien Quotidien.)

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Look away

Not so far away, there’s a blonde in her middle sixties who can rock tight contemporary jeans better than the teenager up the block. She is, of course, spoken for. Even if she weren’t, though, I have no business even mentioning it.

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Quote of the week

The first truth about sex, says the Nightfly, is that it unites people:

Physically this is indisputable; as one moves through the physical to the mental and spiritual, it becomes easier to hide and mislead on this basic fact, but couples themselves know better. In fact, sex is often enough the result of couples who catch each other’s attention for other reasons. In situations where the physical is the primary motive, these other motives for spending time together frequently arise; those couples without these other bonds nearly always dissolve. Sex also frequently leads to couples preferring each other to anyone else, and both expecting and promising exclusivity — a thing that could not happen if the physical bond were the only one to consider, since there are always times where one or both partner is unavailable sexually. Also, sexual attraction naturally leads to people pairing off in as beneficial a match to themselves as they can arrange: not necessarily where the greatest sensual delights lie, either. Nor is satisfaction in a lover’s relationship exclusively gauged by those couples as the greatest degree of physical sensation. And it all leads to family units that people are willing to defend to the death against all comers. A happy home is something worth protecting, and not surprisingly people will speak up about and oppose proposals destructive to that happiness — whether the family or the proposal are liberal or conservative. People with families to protect unite across political and social strata to do it.

Of course, there are those who resist the very idea of progressing to the spiritual:

This is a major protection from all the other nonsense peddled as alternatives to healthy and fully-realized humanity. Society can hardly be remade along statist or Marxist lines with that sort of thing going on. Thus the major thing to do is to destroy families … a tricky proposition.

Then again, if you’ve promised your heart to the state, at least you’ll have a chance to be faithful: no one worth having will stand in your way.

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It’s always 306.7 somewhere

Gee, and I thought it was because she was, um, smart:

[T]he iconic librarian’s desexualizing dress and hairstyle was intended to allow her to move freely and invisibly through the male public sphere. Under the conquering gaze of the man-as-dominator, though, this desexualization only serves to highlight the sexuality thus contained. Just as the North African woman was assumed to know secrets of pleasure far beyond those of The West (secrets worthy of being hidden), the sexy librarian is seen as not just a woman underneath, but a super-sexual being, a “freak”, a “wild one”. She is a prize to be taken, a treasure to be captured, an exotic animal barely tamed beneath her bun and shapeless cardigan.

If I’ve learned anything in a lifetime — and I’m prepared to argue that I haven’t — it’s that looking at the cover is at best a half-assed way to judge a book.

(We will not discuss the highly fictional dalliance with a librarian that I wrote about a couple of years ago.)

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Zillaficationary

Something identifying itself as “MatchZilla” wandered into my email box yesterday to advise me of the favorable attention to be given me by one “DaisyChixha3.” This struck me as rather unlikely, since they said “Daisy” was twenty-six years old, and you may be certain that I have no business messing with twentysomethings. (I wasn’t particularly adept at it during the period when I was most likely actually to have business messing with twentysomethings, but that’s another story.) This was followed shortly by a pitch for “PixiePie0t,” twenty-three.

There is, or was, a MatchZilla out there, but it has nothing to do with dating:

MedZilla.com, a leading Internet recruitment and professional community that targets jobseekers and HR professionals in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and science, just launched a user-friendly program that eliminates the task of having to enter keywords to search for matching resumes or jobs. “MatchZilla” does the searching with pinpoint accuracy directly from a posted ad or resume, according [to] Frank Heasley, PhD, MedZilla.com President and CEO.

Such an operation would have no reason to want to find me a date.

Curiously, there is a blog using this name which is, if not exactly replete with babes, certainly not keyword-oriented either. A click of the About page brought me to someone labeled as “Alexa Prince,” “passive investor in several private corporations and LLC’s located in New York City, Long Island, N.Y. and also in Washington, D.C.,” definitely older than 26 and better than decently pretty, but still not within my grasp.

And also curiously, the real MatchZilla trademark was evidently abandoned after a couple of years, so it’s not like Ms Prince is just asking for a Cease and Desist order.

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Sexist hardware

It wasn’t planned that way, of course:

In the fall of 1997, my university built a CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) to help scientists, artists, and archeologists embrace 3D immersion to advance the state of those fields. Ecstatic at seeing a real-life instantiation of the Metaverse, the virtual world imagined in Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, I donned a set of goggles and jumped inside. And then I promptly vomited.

I never managed to overcome my nausea. I couldn’t last more than a minute in that CAVE and I still can’t watch an IMAX movie. Looking around me, I started to notice something. By and large, my male friends and colleagues had no problem with these systems. My female peers, on the other hand, turned green.

Clearly, further experimentation was called for:

I created scenarios in which motion parallax suggested an object was at one distance, and shape-from-shading suggested it was further away or closer. The idea was to see which of these conflicting depth cues the brain would prioritize. (The brain prioritizes between conflicting cues all the time; for example, if you hold out your finger and stare at it through one eye and then the other, it will appear to be in different positions, but if you look at it through both eyes, it will be on the side of your “dominant” eye.)

What I found was startling [pdf]. Although there was variability across the board, biological men were significantly more likely to prioritize motion parallax. Biological women relied more heavily on shape-from-shading. In other words, men are more likely to use the cues that 3D virtual reality systems relied on.

And that word “biological” is there for a very specific reason:

Scholars in the gender clinic [in Utrecht] were doing fascinating research on tasks like spatial rotation skills. They found that people taking androgens (a steroid hormone similar to testosterone) improved at tasks that required them to rotate Tetris-like shapes in their mind to determine if one shape was simply a rotation of another shape. Meanwhile, male-to-female transsexuals saw a decline in performance during their hormone replacement therapy.

The spiffy new Oculus Rift may compensate for this — or it might not. I’ve never seen one, and for that matter I never was any good at rotating random polygons. I’m thinking, though, that of the various differences between the sexes, this is one of the more easily minimized.

(Swiped from Erica Mauter’s Facebook page.)

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Kith and mannequin

As I understand things — and it’s no secret that my fashionista credentials are barely above size zero — you’re not supposed to notice the model, only what she’s wearing. So this perplexes me somewhat:

I recently participated in a forum discussion about beauty. In that discussion, it became apparent that some participants — a small subset, admittedly — felt that runway models were the ultimate definition of feminine beauty. Not one possible definition — the definition.

This makes sense only if the prettiest girl in your world looks like a twelve-year-old boy. Now there’s nothing in the world wrong with looking like a twelve-year-old boy — I did, back when I was a high-school sophomore — but if your tastes in women run in this direction, I suggest there’s a possibility that you’ve overlooked something somewhere.

Of course, it may be something simpler than that:

I suspect that these men might have been dreaming about the actresses who depict models in movies, rather than the actual models. They also seemed reluctant to accept the idea that those women may not look, when they step out the front door to get the paper in the morning, precisely the same way that they look in movies and magazine covers.

Or, as Cindy Crawford once said: “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.”

This being March, which comes right after February, which means the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue — let’s face it, February’s not much use for anything else — some of these chaps may have just recently bought into the illusion that the girls just plop down on the beach and shutters are squeezed. (After all, they’re not reading the articles; they’re just looking at the pictures.)

But this is more worrisome:

What struck me was the idea that there is a single definition of feminine beauty, and any other beauty is not merely different, but inferior. That women who don’t strive for this particular brand of beauty are failing to make the most of themselves and resigning themselves to a miserable man-free existence, and that men who don’t want this specific kind of beauty in a woman, who want something else, are deluding themselves, or “settling”, or so weird that they don’t count statistically.

Or worse, betas who have no hope of corralling the most desirable women, according to the traditional instruction of game.

I, of course, have long since been consigned to one of the lower-down Greek letters. And my own definition of beauty is, I suppose, fairly close to standard, though it is also legendarily flexible. And by now I think I’m past all those biological imperatives: the genes have been passed on, fulfilling whatever duty was required of me.

Besides, I am possessed of a tiny sliver of discretion: should A look better than B, it profits me nothing to mention it to A. Or, for that matter, to B.

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