Posted by: CJ | February 13, 2010

Links To Make You Think

These are some links I’ve found that are making me think.

1. Eric Barker has a fun, fast to read post about what to look for in a marriage partner. Unlike most other posts one sees about this, his ideas are based on what numerous psychological studies on various relationship topics seem to imply. He gives a few general principles. (The terminology is, unfortunately, quite traditional heterosexual. That seems to happen when people discuss general principles gleaned from large sample psychological studies. Most people are boring and indoctrinated with someone approximating a traditional viewpoint.)

  • Find someone who you idealize and who idealizes you.
  • Marry somebody with high self-esteem.
  • Women who want husbands involved in their children’s lives are generally happier marrying a male of higher socioeconomic status. Apparently this also is correlated with smarter children and wives having more orgasms.
  • Involuntary celibacy is less likely if you marry someone who is not sexually submissive. (The original phrased this as guys will have fewer issues with this is they marry a female who is not sexually submissive.)
  • Conscientiousness and neoroticism together apparently contribute to longer, healthier relationships.
  • Trust your instincts on whether someone is likely to cheat on you. They have a decent chance of being right.
  • Everybody is happier when the wife is better looking than the husband is.

I’m certainly not endorsing those viewpoints. Merely mentioning them as food for thought.

2. A post on farms by Kung Fu Monkey. Here’s a good excerpt.

This will just break Neil’s heart, as he does see me as a champion of fighting regionalism, but this CNN piece (from over at Atrios) is the sort of thing that, Jesus H*. Christ on a crutch, gives me a headache. They send a reporter to literally Middle America, and surprise, discover that they don’t much care for them Hollywood movies. Suuuurrr-prise!

But one chunk of this report, to me, is symptomatic of a larger issue that grinds my molars.

ANDERSON: We stopped by the Lebanon [Kansas — ed.] hotspot, Ladow’s Market, where one local told us Hollywood just can’t relate to a farming way of life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They’ve never been back in here to know what it’s like to actually have to make a living doing this.

You know what, Unidentified Male? You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to have to make a living farming. NOBODY DOES.

For chrissake, only 17% of Americans live in rural settings anymore. Only 2 million of those people work on farms or ranches (USDA figures). Hell, only ten percent of the average farm family’s income even comes from farming anymore (did you know that? I didn’t. Funky). The median age of the United States is 37. I am more than willing to point out that the agriculture industry is a crucial, nay vital part of the American economic infrastructure generating a sizable amount of the GDP. But why in the name of John Deere’s Blood-Soaked Wood-Chipper Gears, every time I hear a news report on what “real Americans” think do I wind up watching some farmer in their fifties and sixties bitch as they survey the blasted plains landscape behind them, and not only that, somehow their cultural observations are assumed to have more relevance than anyone else’s?

This is only half-rant. The honest question is, what in the American character keeps us returning to this completely false self-image? Seriously, how did we get to a point where this report may as well have started: “Hi there, Carol, we’re about to talk to people twenty years older than the average American living a lifestyle less than one in five average Americans live … to find out what the average American thinks” and somehow nobody blinks an eye?

There are four times as many Americans living in urban than rural areas. There are four times as many people sucking back coffee in New York city alone than make a living farming. According to the Burea of Labor, there are just as many people employed in Architecture and Engineering as farming, hell, 3 million people working in Computer and Mathematical jobs. But when one of these “What does America think about culture” pieces comes on, do I ever see a mid-30’s software engineer onscreen bitching about having to download BitTorrents of “The IT Crowd”? Fuck and no.

Four million people in the US play World of Warcraft. And yet, do I ever hear:

ANDERSON: We stopped by the gates of Ogrimmar in Durotar, on the east coast of Kalimdor, where one local told us Hollywood just can’t relate to the level-grinding life.

UNIDENTIFIED ORC: They’ve never been back here, questing Razormane or Drygulch Ravine, y’know … or farming for Peacebloom and Silverleaf. They’re out of touch.

No. No I do not.

Hell, I grew up in Massachusetts, and we didn’t go around nodding and saying “This is the very birthplace of America both geographically and ideologically, those idiots in Kansas have no idea what being a real American is, like we Commonwealth bastards.” One would be considered insane. Whatever connection people in rural America have to the “idea” of America is the exact same as mine — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They are public documents, accessible by all (well, for now), and last time I checked the versions printed in textbooks in Kansas didn’t have special magical ink and secret clauses not included in the versions handed out in the Northeast urban great city of Philadelphia where, if we remember, the damn things were actually written.

To be clear, I have not shied away from calling some of my fellow Americans “fuckwits”. But that’s because of what they say and do, not because of where they live. I believe in the democratic principles of idiocy. This is a nation of self-made people, where you know a man by his actions. Just, sometimes, those actions prove him a fuckwit. Sorry.

I generally agree with him.

3. Ryan Avent has a post thinking about growth in the US and its relation to education and R&D spending. I am unsure what to think.


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