Four must read books: None boring, all important … well, maybe 3 of 4
Love in the Time of Algorithms by Dan Slater
Can serial online dating change the dynamics of relationships, commitment, sex, monogamy and marriage? The author did some research so this is not just an Internet babble book. And if you want a précis there’s a good article in the Atlantic magazine that covers the essence of the premise.
Slater posits that the increase in online dating is causing a decrease in commitment between the sexes. However, he also says, “The future will see better relationships but more divorce.” It’s more of a “maybe yes,” maybe no” proposition than anything and sounds more like it’s still up to the individuals involved – some things never change. But there are some interesting insights and if you happen to be into online dating then it’s a must read.
The Atlantic article refers to an industry survey, “How Has Internet Dating Changed Society?” The survey produced the following conclusions:
- “Internet dating has made people more disposable.”
- “Internet dating may be partly responsible for a rise in the divorce rates.”
- “Low quality, unhappy and unsatisfying marriages are being destroyed as people drift to Internet dating sites.”
- “The market is hugely more efficient … People expect to—and this will be increasingly the case over time—access people anywhere, anytime, based on complex search requests … Such a feeling of access affects our pursuit of love … the whole world (versus, say, the city we live in) will, increasingly, feel like the market for our partner(s). Our pickiness will probably increase.”
- “Above all, Internet dating has helped people of all ages realize that there’s no need to settle for a mediocre relationship.”
Alex Mehr, a co-founder of the dating site Zoosk, was interviewed by Slater and Mehr disagrees, saying, “Online dating does nothing more than remove a barrier to meeting. Online dating doesn’t change my taste, or how I behave on a first date, or whether I’m going to be a good partner. It only changes the process of discovery.
For the rest of the story, read the Atlantic article and buy the book.
Forget Paul Krugman’s politics, he gets it. And explains it oh so simply
If you are sick and tired of hearing the talk show gobbledygook and political bullshit about the American economy and the “debt crisis,” then read Paul Krugman’s latest book: End This Depression Now! Some biased, low-information people ignore Krugman because he definitely speaks from the left side of the ideological stage but they are making a mistake. He’s much too bright to be ignored just because you might watch the tragedy-comedy of American politics and economics from the right wing of the theater. And if you have heard Paul Krugman on any of the Sunday morning yammering “roundtables,” you know he’s the smartest guy in the room. A renowned economist, Princeton professor, Nobel laureate (2008) and New York Times columnist, Krugman tells it in the simplest terms and says, “Now is the time for the government to spend more, not less, until the private sector is ready to carry the economy forward again – yet job-destroying austerity policies have instead become the rule.” He shows how policies of austerity in Europe have made things worse and, “The strange thing is that there was and is no evidence to support the shift in focus away from jobs and toward deficits … Where the harm done by lack of jobs is real and terrible, the harm done by deficits to a nation like America in its current situation is, for the most part, hypothetical. The quantifiable burden of debt is much smaller than you would imagine from the rhetoric, and warnings about some kind of debt crisis are based on nothing much at all.”
Many say George Saunders is the best short story writer in America – Canada too. Sorry Alice Munro
Those who like him rave about him. They say if you want to slip inside the brains and bowels of humanity, touch reality and laugh, ache and cry, then read George Saunders’s latest book, Tenth of December. He is said to be Mark Twain, Saul Bellows, Gore Vidal, Monty Python and the Simpsons, all in one. A master storyteller. Critics stumble over themselves trying to express the emotional experiences that he unearths through his stories. They say the satire takes you from raw and pointed to warm and poignant and covers the heart and soul of the human landscape – lifting you from the burning sadness of reality to the compassion of humanity. There’s no question every story has a ferocity of language and feelings that leaves you somewhere between gravity and goodness. In the acknowledgements Saunders writes, “Goodness is not only possible, it is our natural state.” And his characters expose it in its most unfettered form, whether it is in “Sticks,” a brilliant two-page work of art or “The Semplica Girl Diaries,” a somewhat weird tale that apparently took Saunders twelve years to write. Maybe he should have spent thirteen years working on this one – I’m just saying.
If you enjoy fiction that runs on the edge of reality – and above it, under it, around it – and if you like “different,” then buy this book.
The history of the penis in a book of fun, facts, myth and metrics
Here’s a book that doesn’t really measure up, but it does deliver some funny puns and odd insights, from God to Kinsey. And one of the great quotes comes from an ancient Greek: To possess a penis, Sophocles said, is to be “chained to a madman.” The promotional material states that the book “examines the schizophrenic relationship between man and this madman and the joint relationship this odd couple has with the female sex. God’s Doodle is the tale of the penis and the ups and downs of history.” It will make you laugh and give you some water cooler talking points. In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Hickman said, “If there’s a God, he’s a bit of a sadist when it comes to sex because he’s really made something of a mismatch.” And when it comes to the Kinsey Reports and the big question of “size,” Hickman says, ” … any of these figures are “lies, damned lies and self-measurements.” Here are a few facts – or myths – for when you’re hangin’ out at the water cooler:
- 3 to 5 inches – average flaccid penis, according to Masters and Johnson
- 5 to 7 inches – erectile median, according to the Kinsey Institute
- 1 inch – the shortest erection Alfred Kinsey encountered
- 10.5 inches – the longest erection Kinsey encountered
- 10 inches – what many American men believe is an average erection, according to the Kinsey Institute
- 13.5 inches in length and 6.25 inches in circumference – the largest penis ever medically verified; published in the Atlas of Human Sex Anatomy, 1949
- 2.5 inches and under – what earns you the moniker “micropenis” from the medical profession
- 5.8 inches – average erection according to 2001 Lifestyle Condoms, which carried out a large-scale study (tape-wielding nurses measured 300 volunteers)
- 1.5 inches or less – average erection of gorillas and orangutans
- 3 inches – average erection of the chimpanzee, which shares 98 per cent of its DNA with the human male
- 42 per cent – of respondents who would opt for a 10-inch penis and annual salary of £10,000 over a 3-inch penis and £100,000 annual earnings, as surveyed by Cosmopolitan magazine