Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why celebs marry young

Slate has an interesting article up, entitled "The Economic Logic of Marrying Young (If You're Miley Cyrus)". While most Americans, as with most everywhere else, choose to get married later and later, pop stars seem to defy that trend.
Once upon a time, men with high school degrees could obtain manufacturing jobs with solid wages and pensions that enabled them to marry and start families in their early 20s. Now, with the chances of nabbing a pension about as good as “winning the World Series,” as the Knot Yet study puts it, young blue-collar Americans can’t pay for a wedding, let alone a house and kids. But pop stars, of course, don’t have that problem. Nor do they, like middle- and upper-class women, need to worry about finishing college and working for several years before contemplating getting pregnant. They won’t be sacrificing a $10,000 annual bump in salary by marrying too soon; instead, they’re probably making more in their late teens and 20s than they’ll ever make again. And getting married might well help their brand. (Having a baby certainly will.) In other words, celebrities marry young not because they’re more mature than the rest of us (clearly) but because they have the means so much of America lacks. The move may be driven by youthful impulse, but it is also, in a strange way, logical. They’re just doing what so many of us would have (ill-advisedly) done as teenagers if we’d had loads of cash and legal independence from our parents: married our first loves.
I think that's partly true. But another reason is at least equally important, which I have observed in my time working with professional footballers, who also tend to marry young. A celebrity, particularly one seen as particularly attractive, gets to pick from the top of the dating tree. Someone in that position gets many more opportunities than the average person to hook up with someone, AND the perceived quality of those they are hooking up is higher. I say perceived quality, because celebrities get to date other celebrities, wealthy businesspeople, and people with model looks, which are societally-approved as high-calibre partner choices, even though those things are hardly guarantees of compatibility or nice personality. So if you are in the public eye and deemed to be attractive, you can have more access at age 22 to hot potential partners than the rest of us would have had by age 35. It's not surprising then if you decide that you have met the love of your life at 22. 

Of course, fast forward a few years, and you are still in the public eye and still married... those attractive potential partners are still around you. So it's no surprise that a lot of celebrity cheating and divorce goes on as well. It's not that celebrities are any worse than the rest of us at having relationships, it's just that they are presented with far more opportunities to screw them up.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On Pope Francis

So we have a new Pope. Pope Francis, also known by the rather cooler name Jorge Mario Bergoglio. And lots of people are unhappy that the new pontiff is not some shining light of progressivism. Pope Frankie is a conservative who staunchly opposes birth control, abortion and gay marriage.

And yeah, that's disappointing. But really, what do we expect? Of course a 76 year old man who has never ever had sex is going to have archaic views on sexuality. And no man is going to rise up to the head of an organisation like the Catholic Church without his peers ensuring he has the "requisite" views on those matters. So if you expect anything different, you probably just need to adjust your expectations. In opposing modern attitudes towards sex and sexuality, he's only doing what he's supposed to do as an upholder of the tenets of the Catholic faith. He's a dinosaur, but
being a dinosaur is a prerequisite for the top job. We should expect no less. Just as the new Pope is reputedly a champion of the poor; that's a great testament to the man's character, but at the same time, it should be a prerequisite of any man who claims to represent the ideals put forward by Jesus Christ.

What we ARE entitled to expect from him though, is to also uphold some other principles that the Catholic Church is meant to uphold, in theory. Primarily, that it's not acceptable to molest children, and it's not acceptable to turn a blind eye to those that do. This has been the most glaring failing of the Church in recent history, because it holds such a high standard on sexual morality for others when it comes to such trifling matters as masturbation and premarital sex, yet sets such a low standard when it comes to dealing its own priests' rather more egregious sins of sexually abusing children.

It's a shame that Frankie boy doesn't have more intelligent views on the nature of human sexuality, but I'm not particularly disappointed, because he's just following the official doctrine. And besides, most Catholics, at least in the developed world, are going to go on jerking off, having premarital sex and using condoms anyway. But I'm pretty sure there is nothing in the Bible that says it's okay to fuck pre-teen boys. So the bare minimum we should expect from the new Pope is that he puts an end to the culture within the Church of sheltering or excusing paedophilia.

I'd suggest he send out this simple questionnaire to priests around the world.

Question 1 of 1: You find out that a fellow priest has had sexual relations with a number of children in his parish. Do you:
A) Inform the appropriate religious AND secular authorities.
B) Recommend that he pray on the matter.
C) Have him moved to another parish.
D) High-five him and compare notes.

Score: If you answer is anything other than (A), then you are not qualified to be a human being let alone a priest.

Next up, I solve climate change and the Palestine situation in three easy steps.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

"How Americans Live Today" - the awesome faux North Korean propaganda video

This is the video that had lots of news outlets thinking it was a real North Korean propaganda film about America. It's a hoax, of course. But despite being hilarious and ridiculous, it's believable because the North Korean government has a history of hilarious and ridiculous propaganda. So enjoy.

Pigeons and snow coffee : yummy.

Where are all the Asian men? (@ Peril Magazine)

I have another post up at Peril Magazine. It's about why Asian women significantly outnumber Asian men in some parts of Australia.
It should be noted that most groups of immigrants to Australia, including those from European countries, have a sex ratio that is either approximately equal or slightly weighted towards women by several percentage points. (Women tend to be more willing to move overseas for marriage; the greater expectation men face to be the breadwinner might be an obstacle in moving to a place with uncertain work prospects, as opposed to moving specifically for work.) By contrast, the figures from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are unusually weighted towards males. Those likely represent cultures that are highly patriarchal; not only are there already more males than females in those countries due to higher mortality and gender selection at birth, but it would be more accepted for men to leave home to travel than women. But the figures for Japan, the Philippines and Thailand are startling; there are around twice as many women as there are men immigrating to Australia from those countries.
Check it here.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Fish Spa", Chiang Mai, Thailand

Sit with your legs in a bath and use the internet while little fish nibble away your dead skin tissue. There are estimate to be around 3000 of these establishments operating in Thailand. However the practice has been banned in the US and recently the UK Health Protection Agency warned that it could potentially lead to transmission of blood-borne viruses. Is that just the nanny state in action, or a real health risk?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Why Asians don't vote Republican. It's not that complicated.

Interesting article and comments here about why the Republican Party has failed to capture the votes and imaginations of most Asian immigrants to the US.

As many have observed, many Asians come with a certain set of values that in theory would make them a shoo-in to vote conservative. Many Asian cultures, particular Indians, Chinese, Koreans and Japanese, are very aspirational, with strong beliefs in the importance of achieving status or material success through education and hard work. Yet these groups are some of the most solidly Democratic. Indian-Americans are the highest-earning ethnic group in the US, yet they are 4 times more likely to identify as Democrats rather than Republicans. Of the major Asian-American groups, only Vietnamese show a significant lean towards the Republican party. This is another example of how material self-interest is not always a dominant factor in how a group votes. Vietnamese are more working-class than the aforementioned groups, as unlike the others they have a foundation in the refugee experience rather than as skilled migrants. But that refugee experience seems to shape their voting patterns in a different way; having fled the Communist Party, they are drawn to the strongly anti-Communist Republicans.

But the Republicans are not merely the party of business and the free market. They are also the party of social conservatism, and therein lies the problem.

Bryan Caplan, focusing particular on Indian-Americans, thinks it's a matter of the Republicans showing them more respect, to the point of pandering. Right-wing race blogger Steve Sailer, in the comments, thinks it's the opposite: that white America needs to respect itself more, which will make groups like Indians and Hispanics want to associate with the white majority, rather than being drawn into the identity politics that are often characteristic of the Left.

But respect need not go as far as pandering. Asian-Americans are a group that will assimilate into the mainstream quite easily, given the chance. By comparison, the Repubs have a whole heap of historical baggage coming between them and African-Americans and Hispanics. Those groups are easily attracted by identity politics because conservative white America (for whom the Republicans are the mouthpiece) has constantly alienated them, even without trying. To win those groups over (especiall African-Americans), the conservative side needs to make serious gestures over an extended period of time, like an abusive husband trying to convince a departed wife that he's changed. But the Asian community does not have that same amount of historical baggage. All the Republicans need to do to win over a sizeable chunk of Asian votes is to show that they don't think there's anything inherently wrong with not being a white Christian.

Indians, for example, are largely Hindu, with Sikhs, Christians and Muslims making up the rest. Hindus assimilate into the mainstream more easily than Sikhs and Muslims, largely because their religion as commonly practiced does not make huge distinctions between believer and non-believer. But many don't feel at home in the Republican Party, largely because the party sees them as foreign and strange, and treats them accordingly. Muslims and Sikhs even more so. It is telling that the two Indian-Americans with the highest profile in the Republican Party have both converted to Christianity and Anglicized their names - Bobby (Piyush) Jindal and Nikki Haley (born Nimrata Kaur Randhawa).

I'm not a conservative and thus I can't say I want Asian-Americans to start voting Republican. But if the Republican Party can drag itself a little further out of its medieval xenophobic headspace in which the only good candidate is a Bible-thumping one, then it will start to see rewards. And that shift would be better for everyone.