People with older smartphones unlikely to get dates

Buried in “Do Americans marry for love or money? Finally, an answer” (MarketWatch):

those who have older models of either smartphone are 56% less likely to get a date, according to a recent survey of more than 5,500 singletons aged 18 and over by dating site

It seems unlikely that the researchers adjusted for age, income, height, weight, etc., but it would be fascinating if the effect were robust after these adjustments!

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High school girl looks at LGBTQ in an incorrect manner

A friend’s daughter attends a suburban Boston high school in which political thinking is strictly orthodox. She threw a wrench into the works the other day, however, by wondering out loud to teachers who were using the term “LGBTQ” for the 500th time this semester: “If you call someone bisexual, doesn’t that imply that there are only two genders?”

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Grad school versus prison, quantified

From “Philip’s Guide to Grad School”:

Congratulations. You’re a grad student now at a prestigious research university. One of our colleagues was just like you once, an eager beaver starting his first semester in MIT EECS. Unlike you (I hope), Mr. John Beaver (not his real name) had pled guilty to a federal drug possession charge. During IAP he went home to appear before a judge and was sentenced to 1 year in prison (joining 2 million other Americans; we have the highest incarceration rate of any industrialized nation). He served his time and came back to MIT. In his final year of graduate school he was complaining about how much he hated his life, hated being poor, hated his thesis, hated his advisor, and hated MIT. His officemate, trying to cheer him up, noted “Well, John, at least it is better than being in prison, eh?”

John Beaver the grad student leaned back and reflected for a moment. Slowly he responded “… actually when I was in prison I had a lot more optimism and zest for life than I do now.

That was an anecdote. What about some data? 

“Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health:
Ph.D. candidates suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation at astonishingly high rates.”
(Atlantic) delivers.

A new study by a team of Harvard-affiliated researchers highlights one of the consequences of these realities: Graduate students are disproportionately likely to struggle with mental-health issues. The researchers surveyed roughly 500 economics Ph.D. candidates at eight elite universities, and found that 18 percent of them experienced moderate or severe symptoms of depression and anxiety. That’s more than three times the national average, according to the study. Roughly one in 10 students in the Harvard survey also reported having suicidal thoughts on at least several days within the prior two weeks.

… the payoff for all that stress may be wanting: A 2014 report found that nearly 40 percent of the doctoral students surveyed hadn’t secured a job at the time of graduation. What’s more, roughly 13 percent of Ph.D. recipients graduate with more than $70,000 in education-related debt, though in the humanities the percentage is about twice that. And for those who do secure an academic post, census data suggest that close to a third of part-time university faculty—many of whom are graduate students—live near or below the poverty line.

Drag this article out the next time someone brags about having been smart enough to get into a Ph.D. program!

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The Millionaires for Obama swap puzzles

From our town mailing list…

We just finished a 1000 piece puzzle and would like to trade it for another puzzle. You have one you are ready to give away?

Our puzzle is: Nevertheless She Persisted. A collage of sketches of women in history with some quotes.

The puzzle is great for folks with various skill and interest levels.
I worked on the easy colorful parts, and the more determined members of the family tackled the quite challenging background spaces.

Let me know if you?ve got a puzzle to trade…


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Pachinko novel: victimhood beyond the U.S.

It’s National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which, as it turns out is not devoted to reminding Americans regarding the importance of careful interpretation of radar data (see “The Man Who Tried to Stop Pearl Harbor”).

In keeping with the Japanese theme, today I will write about a popular-in-America novel: Pachinko. The book answers the question “What happens in a victimhood culture when it runs out of victims to feel sorry for?” with “We find victims within other societies.”

The book concerns the suffering of Koreans living in Japan during and after World War II. Let’s look at some samples…

For my Facebook friends of mediocre means who criticize Donald Trump for partying with various females:

You want to see a very bad man? Make an ordinary man successful beyond his imagination. Let’s see how good he is when he can do whatever he wants.”

The action starts with a 16-year-old who gets pregnant after having sex with a high-income married guy. There were no child support guidelines back in 1930s Korea:

“I am carrying your child.” He opened his eyes and paused. “Are you certain?” “Yes, I think so.” “Well.” He smiled. She smiled in return, feeling proud of what they had done together. “Sunja—” “Oppa?” She studied his serious face. “I have a wife and three children. In Osaka.” Sunja opened her mouth, then closed it. She could not imagine him being with someone else. “I will take good care of you, but I cannot marry you. My marriage is already registered in Japan. There are work implications,” he said, frowning. “I will do whatever I can to make sure we are together. I had been planning on finding a good house for you.”

Single motherhood was not a respectable lifestyle:

If he did not marry her, she was a common slut who would be disgraced forever. The child would be another no-name bastard. Her mother’s boardinghouse would be contaminated by her shame. There was a baby inside her belly, and this child would not have a real father like the one she’d had.

“It’s a difficult thing to be an unmarried woman, but to bear a child without a husband— The neighbors will never approve. And what will happen to this baby who has no name? He cannot be registered under our family name.”

A sickly Christian minister agrees to marry her and patch up the situation. They move to Osaka and that’s where a multi-generational cycle of ethnic minority victimhood begins.

They got off at Ikaino, the ghetto where the Koreans lived. When they reached Yoseb’s home, it looked vastly different from the nice houses she’d passed by on the trolley ride from the station. The animal stench was stronger than the smell of food cooking or even the odors of the outhouses. Sunja wanted to cover her nose and mouth, but kept from doing so. Ikaino was a misbegotten village of sorts, comprised of mismatched, shabby houses. The shacks were uniform in their poorly built manner and flimsy materials. Here and there, a stoop had been washed or a pair of windows polished, but the majority of the facades were in disrepair. Matted newspapers and tar paper covered the windows from inside, and wooden shims were used to seal up the cracks.

Rents are actually kind of low compared to modern-day Manhattan:

“It can’t be that expensive to live here,” Isak said. He had planned on renting a house for Sunja, himself, and the baby. “Tenants pay more than half their earnings on rent. The food prices are much higher than back home.”

Times were tough on both sides of the Sea of Japan after World War II:

“Every day, for every one boat that heads out to Korea filled with idiots wanting to go home, two boats filled with refugees come back because there’s nothing to eat there. The guys who come straight from Korea are even more desperate than you. They’ll work for week-old bread. Women will whore after two days of hunger, or one if they have children to feed. You’re living for a dream of a home that no longer exists.”

There was nothing great about being part of the Korean community within Osaka, so it made sense to move to LA:

A girl normally hard to win over, Yumi admired her teacher, whom all the students called Pastor John. To her, John represented a Korean being from a better world where Koreans weren’t whores, drunks, or thieves. Yumi’s mother, a prostitute and alcoholic, had slept with men for money or drinks, and her father, a pimp and a violent drunk, had been imprisoned often for his criminality. Yumi felt that her three elder half sisters were as sexually indiscriminate and common as barn animals. Her younger brother had died as a child, and soon after, at fourteen years old, Yumi ran away from home with her younger sister and somehow supported them with small jobs in textile factories until the younger sister died.

To her, being Korean was just another horrible encumbrance, much like being poor or having a shameful family you could not cast off. Why would she ever live there? But she could not imagine clinging to Japan, which was like a beloved stepmother who refused to love you, so Yumi dreamed of Los Angeles.

The Pachinko parlor is always fun, though…

It was fair to say that almost everyone at the parlor wanted to make some extra money by gambling. However, the players also came to escape the eerily quiet streets where few said hello, to keep away from the loveless homes where wives slept with children instead of husbands, and to avoid the overheated rush-hour train cars where it was okay to push but not okay to talk to strangers.

The reason that a book about Koreans in Japan is titled “Pachinko” is that ethnic Koreans supposedly dominated this industry.

Divorce and custody laws were not reliably favorable to the mom in 1970s Japan:

The spring before her thirty-sixth birthday, when she was still married and living in Hokkaido, Etsuko had seduced another one of her high school boyfriends. She had been having a series of affairs for almost three years with various men from her adolescence. What amazed her was how difficult it was the first time but how effortless it was to have all the others that followed. Married men wanted invitations from married women. It was no trouble to phone a man she had slept with twenty years ago and invite him to her house for lunch when her children were at school.

[the cuckolded husband] threw her out, and she made her way to her sister’s house. Later, the lawyer said it would be pointless for her to try to get custody of the children since she had no job and no skills. He coughed in what seemed like politeness or discomfort and said it would also be pointless because of what she had done. Etsuko nodded and decided to give up her children, thinking that she would not trouble them anymore.

Children of divorce were not expected to thrive:

This was how life had turned out. Her oldest, Tatsuo, was twenty-five years old, and it was taking him eight years to graduate from a fourth-rate college. Her second son, Tari, a withdrawn nineteen-year-old, had failed his college entrance exams and was working as a ticket collector at a movie theater. She had no right to expect her children to hold the aspirations of other middle-class people—to graduate from Tokyo University, to get a desk job at the Industrial Bank of Japan, to marry into a nice family. She had made them into village outcasts, and there was no way for them to be acceptable anymore.

The divorcée daughter graduates from teenage prostitute to adult prostitute, but the pachinko executive’s son remains in love with her. He goes off to college the U.S. Many of the complex plot points are resolved when a character commits suicide out of shame, e.g., learning that his real father is a gangster.

In the Acknowledgments, the author explains some of her process:

Sadly, there is a long and troubled history of legal and social discrimination against the Koreans in Japan and those who have partial ethnic Korean backgrounds. There are some who never disclose their Korean heritage, although their ethnic identity may be traced to their identification papers and government records.

Then in 2007, my husband got a job offer in Tokyo, and we moved there in August. On the ground, I had the chance to interview dozens of Koreans in Japan and learned that I’d gotten the story wrong. The Korean Japanese may have been historical victims, but when I met them in person, none of them were as simple as that. I was so humbled by the breadth and complexity of the people I met in Japan that I put aside my old draft and started to write the book again in 2008, and I continued to write it and revise it until its publication.

If you’re curious about Asia, the book is interesting. For me, though, the most interesting part of the book is how Americans have embraced it.

More: Read Pachinko.

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George H.W. Bush survived being #MeTooed by dying?

While alive, George H.W. Bush made the news for being a child molester: “Woman Says George H.W. Bush Groped Her When She Was 16: ‘I Was a Child'” (TIME, 11/13/2017). Also a Presidential butt-squeezer: “George HW Bush accused of groping woman while president” (Guardian, 11/26/2017).

Now that he is dead and buried, the #MeToo angle seems to have died with him. Current media stories don’t say “Former President and accused groper…”

If Les Moonves were to drop dead tomorrow, would his “transactional sex” in the workplace (nytimes) be forgiven/forgotten?

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Cash value of spinning victim narratives

“Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.” (nytimes):

Bryson Sassau’s application would inspire any college admissions officer.

A founder of T.M. Landry College Preparatory School described him as a “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded” student whose alcoholic father had beaten him and his mother and had denied them money for food and shelter. His transcript “speaks for itself,” the founder, Tracey Landry, wrote, but Mr. Sassau should also be lauded for founding a community service program, the Dry House, to help the children of abusive and alcoholic parents. He took four years of honors English, the application said, was a baseball M.V.P. and earned high honors in the “Mathematics Olympiad.”

The narrative earned Mr. Sassau acceptance to St. John’s University in New York. There was one problem: None of it was true.

If we believe the New York Times, America’s victimhood culture has progressed to the point that one can use a victim narrative to get into college just as one needs a victim narrative to earn asylum or refugee status (see “Asylum Fraud in Chinatown: An Industry of Lies,” from 2014 when the NYT apparently thought that caravans of asylum-seekers were not a boon to the U.S.).

I wonder if Mr. and Mrs. Landry should switch to the immigration industry:

To many T.M. Landry families, tuition is not cheap — about $600 a month, or $7,200 annually. Mr. Landry’s annual salary has averaged about $86,000

Our local public school burns through nearly $25,000 per year per student. Even the lowest level workers should enjoy total comp of more than $86,000 (salary, pension, health insurance, etc.).

My favorite part of this story is that the admissions bureaucrats at the fancy schools bought it all.

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The Mother of All Christmas Tree Stands

Despite having parents who are variously Jewish and former Soviet, our kids insisted on a Christmas tree this year. I started off with a basic steel American-made stand that required tightening four bolts. The 7′ tree sagged sideways and seemed at risk of being pushed over.

It was time to try German engineering: Krinner Tree Genie Tree Genie XXL Deluxe Christmas Tree Stand. These stands are around $100, which means that Home Depot won’t carry them in the store (Americans refuse to pay up for decent quality!), but I think they’re worth at least double what they cost.

The construction quality of this device is truly awesome. It is designed for trees up to 12′ high and weighs 18 lbs. before 2.5 gallons of water goes in, so the tree is truly rock-solid. No matter what the kids get up to they will not be able to knock a tree down onto Mindy the Crippler.

Everyone who appreciates engineering and Christmas should have one of these!

(Separately, when people ask if the kids speak Russian I reply that “Their Russian is so good that I’m having them call up Vladimir Putin to find out who the next Supreme Court justice will be.)

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White mayor of Boston wants to see more African Americans selling marijuana

I was too lazy to plug the phone into the Honda Odyssey and listen to an Audible lecture (on ancient Mesopotamia, by a professor who formerly played bass for the band that became the Bangles) on a recent short drive. The classical radio station was running a pitch for dollars so I switched to NPR talk radio. It was a call-in show with the white mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh.

The topic was recreational marijuana shops (“cannabis” for enthusiasts), which about 70 percent of folks in Massachusetts voted to legalize, but which neighborhoods within Boston now seek to exclude. (our town held a special meeting to exclude such enterprises, after previously voting for legalization statewide).

What the white mayor was most passionate about was that “people of color” be adequately represented among the owners and employees of the forthcoming marijuana retailers.

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Flying private aircraft in the Middle East

From Professional Pilot magazine, “Middle East: A trip to this region can be a straight-forward, easy and rewarding experience for the well-prepared operator.”

With todays longer range aircraft, many smaller airports – and those in less secure areas – are used much less frequently for tech stops. LUX (Luxor, Egypt), CAI (Cairo, Egypt), BEY (Beirut, Lebanon) and ADE (Aden, Yemen) are now often bypassed.

The UAE has become a predominant tech stop venue for corporate operators transiting this region. MCT (Muscat, Oman), DOH (Doha, Qatar) and BAH (Bahrain) also remain popular tech stops. ISPs say Saudi Arabia also works well for efficient fuel uplifts within the region.

Iran turns out to be the sweet spot!

Saudi permits can be arranged quickly, visas and sponsor letters are not required for tech stops, and efficient airway routings are available. For GA tech stop purposes, however, there are only 3 Saudi locations that are normally used: JED (Jeddah), RUH (Riyadh) and DMM (Dammam). Iran, on the other hand, has over 300 airports available to GA, and presents a plethora of good tech stop and crew rest opportunities with generally efficient ground services, say ISPs.

Don’t show up in a Gulfstream G280, built by Israel Aircraft Industries:

If you have Israeli citizens onboard, your aircraft was built in Israel or if your GA operation is flying out of Israel, you’re generally not welcome in this region – other than ops to either Jordan or Egypt.

Watch out for missiles…

Syria has basically become a no-fly zone, particularly for N-registered operators, as a result of ongoing military activity.

Operators are advised to stay above FL260 when overflying the Sinai region of Egypt, while the eastern side of the Black Sea has become problematic as many airways push you into eastern Ukraine, which is a no-fly zone.

Fuller suggests caution when planning routings through the Middle East region. “It seems like 50% of the countries in this region have had reports of missiles going through their airspace over recent years,” he says. “Route of flight and overflight permits can be significantly impacted by no-fly zones, restricted airspace and SOPs of the particular flight department.”

But we’re getting a return on our multi-trillion-dollar investment in the Iraq War:

Previously, special permission had been needed to overfly Iraq but this situation has recently changed. “Iraq airspace opened up earlier this year and N-registered aircraft may now overfly the country with few restrictions,” says Williams. “Above FL260, all airways are available for GA overflight although not all operators are comfortable with doing this.”

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