Go Ahead and Raise Those Expectations, Ladies

2013-07-31 Dating

Melissa Langsam Braunstein thinks it’s time for ladies to raise their dating expectations. I agree. (Then again, I haven’t been on the dating scene for about a decade, so maybe that’s easy for me to say). The gist of Braunstein’s argument is that the hookup culture isn’t really giving (most) women what they want. For political reasons some feminists may disagree (acknowledging any difference between the sexes at all is bound to get you in trouble with at least one angry feminist somewhere), but I think this is by now sort of obvious for people without an ideological hill to defend.

What struck me as interesting, however, was her observation that when she went ahead and announced that she expected to be courted (to use an old phrase), she got results. She writes:

And the more I communicated that I expected to be treated like a lady, the more I found men eagerly rose to the occasion.

I’m going to go ahead and be stereotypical and say that Braunstein is on to something. Men like to accomplish things, but in a world that has thrown away the rules for courtship it’s increasingly hard for men to know what to accomplish. And the result is that too many quit trying.

Look, I’m not saying that women have an obligation to rescue men from the prison of their own low-expectations. Just that a little direction can be helpful, and that the more clear and widespread expectations for men are the more of them that will take it as an opportunity to rise to the occasion.


My John Scalzi Envy Deepens…

Art from Morning Star Alpha, which John Scalzi is writing.
Art from Morning Star Alpha, which John Scalzi is writing.

I’ve been following sci-fi author John Scalzi since his first novel (Old Man’s War) debuted back in 2005. He got a lot of favorable and well-earned comparisons to Heinlein (not to mention a Hugo nomination) for that book , which does a lot of things that I like: 

Read more

The Psychology of Anthony Weiner’s Photo Problems

2013-07-30 Weiner

With an odd blend of poignancy and frankness, Katy Waldman explains at Slate just how mistaken Weiner is if he thinks his, *ahem*, “self-portraits” are having their intended effect:

Is there anything more depressing than the crotch shot? Any other form of so-called erotic communication that telegraphs the same mix of loneliness and tawdriness? Amanda Hess finds Anthony Weiner’s newly-unearthed sexts boring. To me, they are more like the photos of oil-soaked birds that surface after a petroleum spill: greasy, helpless, and broadcasting a frantic need.

The rest continues in this vein and I think it’s worth the read precisely because it’s not trying to be funny. It’s a serious consideration of Weiner’s issues and, along the way, of what men so often get wrong about what women

(I’m sure there’s all kind of ridiculous fun I could have had with this headline, but I think I’ll just leave that to Matt Drudge. The self-portrait line is as far as I’m going to go.)

GMail’s New Inbox: Close, But Not Quite There

2013-07-29 New GMail Inbox

For those of you who use GMail, you may have noticed that your inbox has been changed. (For those of you who don’t, this post might not really be as enthralling as my usual fare.) Up until yesterday, I’d been using multiple inboxes which is a feature in Google Labs that lets you sort of set up more than one view of your inbox and then you can send different emails into different views using filters. It’s nice if you’re managing a lot of different kinds of email in one location, but it’s definitely not a finished product. For example: it only really works if you have your browser in full-screen on a high-resolution monitor.

The new feature that Google rolled out could be so much better. What they did is create categories for email (Primary, Promotions, Social, Updates, and Forums) and automatically send your incoming mail to the different categories so that you don’t see everything in your inbox. Thus, all those Facebook emails you get every time someone mentions you in a comment get diverted to your Social category, most of your spam that isn’t quite spam gets sent to Promotions, and then Updates handles things like daily news from various websites and even shipping notices for shopping orders. That’s how mine has worked so far, and it’s a great feature.

But there’s the problem: you can’t create your own tabs. I’d love to have a tab for all the emails I get related to a non-profit I’m working with and another one for the consulting I sometimes do on the side. I can designate one of the category tabs I’m not really using (like Forums), but you can’t even rename it and that’s just a little too hacky for me.

So, this is a really cool innovation for my inbox, but I’m disappointed that Google hasn’t offered any additional flexibility with it.

Too bad.

Monday Morning Mormon Madness: Sin

2013-07-29 MilgramToday at Times And Seasons I went back to Grossman’s On Killing for a second post. This time I used his model of wartime atrocity as a vehicle for exploring sin. The short version? Acts we consider sinful are generally committed under some degree of mitigating circumstance, such as partial coercion and ignorance, and so in a sense are less important than our reaction to our own behavior after the fact. It’s at that time that we choose to either protect the ego by rationalizing our bad decision–and thus fully internalizing the implicit immorality of the action–or “lose ourselves” and sacrifice the ego in order to reject sin.

For the most part, we choose the former, unfortunately, and in so doing construct our own individualized Hells.

Edit: Nate pointed out that I left off the link the first time around. Oops! Here it is.

Fear the Future: Car Hacking

2013-07-25 Forbes Car Hacking

Forbes has a rather alarming article about all the fun ways two researchers (funded by DARPA) have found to hack your car:

As I drove their vehicles for more than an hour, Miller and Valasek showed that they’ve reverse-engineered enough of the software of the Escape and the Toyota Prius (both the 2010 model) to demonstrate a range of nasty surprises: everything from annoyances like uncontrollably blasting the horn to serious hazards like slamming on the Prius’ brakes at high speeds. They sent commands from their laptops that killed power steering, spoofed the GPS and made pathological liars out of speedometers and odometers. Finally they directed me out to a country road, where Valasek showed that he could violently jerk the Prius’ steering at any speed, threatening to send us into a cornfield or a head-on collision. “Imagine you’re driving down a highway at 80 ,” Valasek says. “You’re going into the car next to you or into oncoming traffic. That’s going to be bad times.”

Read more

Japanese Commuters Tilt Train to Free Woman


NPR reports that when a woman fell between the train and the platform, “about 40 commuters and railroad employees worked together to tilt the 32-ton subway car enough to one side so that she could be pulled to safety.” Always nice to be reminded that people do good things, too. (I’m not sure how, but the woman only suffered minor injuries.)

NYT Remembers How to Say “No”

Anthony Weiner Holds Press Conference As New Sexting Evidence Emerges

After growing increasingly frustrated with Mark Sanford’s successful return to politics, I was grimly resigned to watching Anthony Weiner set a new low for what we’ll tolerate from our politicians. It seemed more and more like what is often taken as a willingness of American citizens to forgive wayward politicians was morphing into limitless permissiveness. Imagine my surprise, then, when the New York Times, finally told a politician “no”:

At some point, the full story of Anthony Weiner and his sexual relationships and texting habits will finally be told. In the meantime, the serially evasive Mr. Weiner should take his marital troubles and personal compulsions out of the public eye, away from cameras, off the Web and out of the race for mayor of New York City. [emphasis added]

Now, I would have preferred this to have come before Weiner had to hold another press conference and apologize again for even more sexual impropriety, this time from months after he resigned from office for the last (publicly known) round of sexting, but it’s comforting to know that there’s still some limit to what the NYT Editorial Board will tolerate from our elected representatives. On the other hand, this might no really be so much as a stand against immorality as a stand against sheer idiocy. A man with this little self-control and common sense shouldn’t be trusted with neighborhood dog-catcher, let alone mayor of New York City. Then again, the NYT does specifically call out his “arrogance” and question his integrity, so I’m going to remain optimistic call this one a win.

I want to emphasize that I really don’t have anything against Weiner. I believe in forgiveness. But it’s a joke to apply that to cases like these. I wasn’t personally wronged or hurt in any way by his absurd actions, and so it’s not a question of forgiveness, but of a willingness to hold our elected representatives to a minimal standard of decent human behavior. To me it actually doesn’t matter if Weiner has learned his lesson or not (which is where I disagree with the NYT). It’s not a question of justice so much as a question of properly aligned incentives. When we allow politicians to lie, cheat, and abuse their offices and then take them back we’re creating an environment where those who lie, cheat, and abuse their office are going to flourish. It’s not about punishing the wrongdoer so much as it’s about discouraging future wrong-doing.

Eliot Spitzer is probably enjoying this, but I have a hard time begrudging him that. At least he had the sense to start his political comeback running for comptroller instead of mayor.

And, on a final note, can we maybe have Cubicle Guy take over the Weiner campaign?

2013-07-24 Cubicle Guy