Transactional sex around Lake Malawi

As someone who shares a home with African cichlids, I clicked on a headline from NPR: “The Dark Secret Of Lake Malawi”. The story, however, turned out not to be about future aquarium pets:

“Sex for fish.”

That unlikely phrase is used in some lakefront communities in sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of the world where men catch the fish and women sell the catch to local customers.

Or if the supply of fish is low because of overfishing, several women may vie for a fisherman’s catch — and transactional sex may be used as a bargaining point.

The writer does not seem to have researched the question of whether commercial sex is more common around this lake compared to other parts of the same countries.


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Paternal leave increases income inequality?

Back in June, the NYT suggested that moms will be better off if taxpayers and childless workers suck it up to give more paid time off for “fathers”: “Sweden Finds a Simple Way to Improve New Mothers’ Health. It Involves Fathers.”

(Why the headline cisgender-normative assumption (during Pride Month!) that if the first parent of a child is a “mother” then the second parent will be a “father”?)

But which moms?

The study was done in Sweden (by the same author who found that court-ordered child support payments for the mother reduced fathers’ voluntary contributions to the child (monetary and time-invested) in roughly equal measures, thus leaving children no better off financially (and worse off from a personal contact point of view); the NYT did not consider this previous study to be newsworthy). Compared to any other country, the U.S. has a much higher percentage of children who grow up without a father, so maybe it is worth asking “For those children who actually do have a father, what is our best guess regarding the family income level?”

Asians have a low divorce rate and a higher-than-average income, so “Asian and high income household” would be one guess for characteristics of “kid with father”. On the other hand, Asians are not yet a large percentage of the U.S. population. So “White and higher-than-average income” is an even better guess.

Thus, the NYT proposed extra benefit targeted at women who happen to live with the father of their children turns out to be a benefit primarily for richer whiter women. Thus the newspaper that regularly decries income inequality ends up promoting a policy to increase inequality!

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Where does all of the soccer money go if not to the teams?

“Revenue Disparity Explains Pay Disparity Between Soccer World Cup’s Men And Women” (Forbes):

The men still pull the World Cup money wagon. The men’s World Cup in Russia generated over $6 billion in revenue, with the participating teams sharing $400 million, less than 7% of revenue. Meanwhile, the Women’s World Cup is expected to earn $131 million for the full four-year cycle 2019-22 and dole out $30 million to the participating teams.

The male/female/Iranian pay disparity isn’t as interesting to me as what happened to $5.6 billion ($6 billion minus the $400 million paid out to men’s teams). Someone other than the teams (management, owners, and players?) ended up with more than 93 percent of the revenue? Can this be true? Why wouldn’t the teams start their own league and bypass the folks who are skimming off 93%?

Maybe Forbes is being sloppy? And it is players who are getting 6.7 percent of the money while team owners and managers get most of the remainder?


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Why is the U.S. doing well in women’s soccer?

Some American women’s soccer players are in the news lately. They hate Donald Trump and are winning matches against Europeans.

The U.S. has never won a men’s World Cup (our dismal record).

Why is the women’s team able to prevail over other countries?

[Also, if the teams are drawn from citizens of the respective countries, shouldn’t the populous countries such as China, India, and the U.S. have a huge advantage? Why would the Netherlands or Sweden have a chance?]

Finally, what stops a country from sending in what had been their “men’s team” and saying “all of these players now identify as ‘women'”? How competitive would the 20th place men’s team be against the top women’s team? Has there ever been a soccer equivalent to the various tennis battles of the sexes? (a Chinese female star prevailed over Novak Djokovic in one of the last three matches)


  • a post quotingThe Elementary Particles by Michel Houellebecq: “He was starting to get pissed off about the world’s stupid obsession with Brazil. What was so great about Brazil? As far as he knew, Brazil was a shithole full of morons obsessed with soccer and Formula One.”
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LGBTQ+ as a hierarchy

Pride Month is over, but I am not quite ready to return my attention to Black Lives Matter and other social justice causes.

From a deeply closeted New York Deplorable (she runs a small business and therefore is unable to cheer for bigger government and higher taxes with appropriate enthusiasm):

I couldn’t help noticing that the purportedly Native American Two Spirit is at the bottom and therefore implicitly inferior to all of the white European ways of being LGBTQIA+ that are above. Also, Intersex is two notches better than Nonbinary. Who made that decision?

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Is it okay to take down our Pride flags?

June is nearly over and, with it, Pride Month.

On June 1, a church in nearby Concord, Massachusetts added a Pride flag of equal size to their permanent Black Lives Matter flag (parishioners are so interested in black lives that they elected to live in one of the whitest towns in the U.S.!).

Can they take the flag down this evening? If so, why? Is the LGBTQIA lifestyle something to be proud of only 1/12th of the time? If the point of Pride Month is to demand additional rights and privileges for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA, why is it okay to shelve those demands until June 2020? “The Struggle for Gay Rights Is Over” (Atlantic):

Identifying as gay, bisexual, trans, or “queer”—anything but straight—is, in some milieus, a new marker of cool. In one recent survey, less than 50 percent of 13-to-20-year-olds (all part of Generation Z) identified as “exclusively heterosexual.”

But if the goal is to drive this number down to 0 percent, why is it okay to put the campaign on hold for 11 months?

More importantly, is it okay to go to Chick-fil-A tomorrow? (Maybe they should have said that they were closing on Sundays during June in observation of Pride Month?)

[Finally, why is it okay to have equal size flags for Pride and Black Lives Matter? Have the legal wrongs suffered by LGBTQIA Americans been equal to the wrongs suffered by African Americans? If so, shouldn’t there be reparations for Americans who identify as LGBTQIA or descendants of deceased Americans who identified as LGBTQIA (NYT, below, says “maybe”)? If not, shouldn’t the Black Lives Matter flag be larger or flown in a higher position?]


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Does a Pride flag mean EVERYONE is welcome?

A Facebook friend shared the following post from a Conservative Rabbi:

(i.e., a prime spot for a Black Lives Matter sign (in a nearly-all-white town, of course, with restrictive zoning to keep it that way) was taken up with a different victim group’s banner)

He added “We stand for radical hospitality. EVERYONE is welcome!”

Of course, I had to ask “Would someone who advocated for strict adherence to Leviticus 18 and 20 be welcome?” (see Wikipedia for “Orthodox Judaism generally prohibits homosexual conduct”)

There was a bit of back and forth, leading me to suggest an update: “everyone who agrees with us is welcome”

A righteous congregation member replied “Do you mean to suggest that the hypothetical conservative people you reference would be unable to respect that others have different moral perspectives from them, and would make a scene harassing others, causing them to be asked to leave?”

I refined the question: Okay, so the hypothetical person comes to the “EVERYONE is welcome” temple wearing a T-shirt reading “Follow Leviticus 18/20” on the front. On the back is “Outlaw abortion after a heartbeat can be heard”. On the head of this person is a red MAGA hat. The person is carrying (not on Shabbat, I hope!) Tefillin in a Trump Hotel laundry bag in one hand and a Reelect Trump 2020 tote bag in the other hand. Will this person be just as welcome as a person wearing a rainbow T-shirt?

A sincere congregation member: I imagine such a shirt might prompt conversation, and as long as all parties engaged in conversation in good faith, I have trouble believing Mr. T-Shirt Man (as I’m now thinking of him/you) would be asked to leave.

I asked how this would be different from a Catholic Church putting out a “Stop abortions now” (an issue on which Americans disagree) and saying “EVERYONE is welcome,”

The righteous response: a key difference is that the Catholic Church promotes a moral code that is anti-abortion, and presumably could even excommunicate members who have abortions. Therefore, such signage would be hypocritical. It seems that perhaps you are perceiving there are “two sides” that are mirrors of one another, but there are crucial differences between a Catholic or Evangelical church that says “abortion is immoral” and are working to criminalize abortion—but still say “all are welcome” — and a Jewish Temple or, say, a UU church that sees abortion as a medical procedure between a women and her doctor (but not going around and foisting the procedure on others) and welcomes all comers. The former groups are trying to control / legislate others’ behavior, but the latter groups are not.

I pointed out that the LGBTQ banner was sometimes unfurled in order to control and coerce others, e.g., preventing Chick-fil-A from opening restaurants, forcing the Colorado baker to make a same-sex wedding cake, or boycotting Israel (maybe they’d rather visit one of the anti-Israel countries in which homosexual acts are punishable by death?).

Me: Circling back to the original post, would your temple be equally welcoming to the Colorado baker who was the subject of the Supreme Court case as you would be to someone wearing a Provincetown Pride T-shirt? If not, it is inaccurate to say that EVERYONE is welcome!

Congregation Member 1: exerting pressure on corporations to change their practices is not the same as legislating the elimination of human rights for certain groups of people. Apples and oranges.

Congregation Member 2: you seem to say above that a flag representing “[Jewish] gays are welcome,” is a point of view?

Readers: What do you think? Does hanging a pride flag signal adherence to a political point of view and therefore tend to exclude people who don’t agree with that point of view (e.g., Orthodox Jews, observant Muslims, Catholics, etc.)? Or is it legitimately characterized as an “EVERYONE is welcome” sign?

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Schick razor blades: too sharp?

Happy Father’s Day!

This seems like a good time to wrap up the razor blade test inspired by Gillette’s Toxic Masculinity ad.

Side-by-side testing with multiple subjects and some female perspectives revealed that the Dorco Pace 7 is superior to Gillette’s latest and greatest 5-blade cartridges.

What about Schick? The present company is the result of a merger with Wilkinson Sword, the inventors of the modern razor blade. So they should know more about making blades per se than anyone else.

After testing the Schick cartridges that are compatible with Gillette handles and the Schick Xtreme 5 Pivot Ball system, my conclusion is that Dorco Pace 7 remains superior. The Schick blades may actually be sharper and possibly therefore better for certain skin types. At first it seems that the razor isn’t working because, unlike with Dorco and Gillette, there is no feeling of tugging. However, stubble is removed from one’s face so plainly the blades are working. I ended up preferring the Dorco and finding it easier to control.


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Why don’t all government contractors identify as women?

From “Should You Get Certified As A Woman-Owned Small Business?”:

Generally-speaking, if you’re thinking about working with the government in any way, then getting it’s worth at least looking into getting certified as a women-owned small business (WOSB). You can do this through the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce or another approved third-party certifier. The benefits of getting certified as a WOSB include being able to pursue public sector work and any “set-asides” the government has. Every year, the U.S. government aims to award at least five percent of its contract funds to women-owned small business.

A question for Pride Month: If a person currently identifying as a “man” owns and operates a small company (“small” for the Defense Department is fewer than 500 employees) that does business with the government, why not switch to identifying as a “woman” so that the company qualifies for favorable treatment as a Women-Owned Small Business?

The Federal set-asides for “women” were set up under a different conception of the term. With $17+ billion at stake, why not a trip to the DMV to ask for a change from male to female?


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