Tuesday, April 5th, 2022


Sex Post Facto

People are not having sex as often as they used to and that has led researchers down a path to figure out why. Zoe Heller in The New Yorker: How Everyone Got So Lonely. "The suspicion remains that young people are not as delighted by sex as they once were. Speculation about why this might be so tends to reflect the hobbyhorse of the speculator. Some believe that poisons in our environment are playing havoc with hormones. Others blame high rates of depression and the drugs used to treat it. Still others contend that people are either sublimating their sexual desires in video games or exhausting them with pornography."

Let's see. Can anyone think of anything that has changed human behavior over the last couple decades during which we've noted the decline in sexual activity? Come on. We know exactly what it is. We didn't stop getting off on getting it on. It's not that we're sick of sex, it's just that we found something better: The internet. It's fun, it's addictive, it's always available, it never has a headache. It's like sex without the cleanup. We don't even need to change into something more comfortable since we wear our pajamas all day long. It's almost laughable that we'd even consider any other factor. We can't walk across a busy intersection without staring at the internet. We used to make-out in the backseat of our cars, now we finger our phones while we're driving. We used to go to Motels to spice up our intimacy. Now we won't check in before we check out the WiFi speeds. Staring at your phone everywhere you go is the new public display of affection.

We play ignorant to this obvious and overwhelming factor driving our lowered sex drive because we don't want to admit we're participating in a never-ending tech orgy made up of twitchy, addicted, drones; slaves to the technology that we use all day for work and all night for fun. It's the ultimate office romance that's not only allowed, but encouraged. Your partner is always in the mood and going viral is a good thing. Having an emotional conflict? Just block the offender. Wanna break up? Just close your browser window, no hard feelings. And the taboo associated with being a sex addict disappears when you replace sex with the internet. Everyone is an internet addict.

"In 2018, nearly a quarter of Americans—the highest number ever recorded—reported having no sex in the past year." I spent the entirety of 2018 boning up on online product research for things I didn't need. Product research has become my most obsessive hobby. I prefer it to product use. Everyone can find their addiction online. But what about the romance? Tell Alexa to turn down the lights, open your laptop for mood lighting, hit play on Spotify's Barry White compilation, and break out the selfie stick. No fuss, no muss, no baggage. Your iPad is not gonna ball you out for cheating on it with your laptop. And there are no postcoital requirements because the internet is the new sex and with the internet, you never stop coitaling (unless your WiFi goes down, which is why I have two broadband providers).


Mysteryless Murder

"We have been talking about war crimes in the context of shelling, bombardment, and artillery attacks. Now they need to be investigated. But you could argue there was a military context, for example, to a building being hit. It's hard to see what was the military context of an individual lying in the street with a bullet to the head or having their bodies burned." The UN responds after Zelensky makes the case that Russians are killing for "pleasure" in Ukraine. More sanctions are on the way. Here's the latest from CNN and from BBC. In addition to the war crimes, 7.1 million people have now been displaced by the invasion.

+ NYT: Satellite images show bodies lay in Bucha for weeks, despite Russian claims. The question isn't whether the truth can be found, it's whether it still matters.

+ I got quite a bit of feedback on my post about Russian war crimes, the slippery slope of human behavior, and what it all has to do with America right now. " Of Monsters and Men

+ Zsuzsanna Szelényi explains How Viktor Orbán Built His Illiberal State. "I know that Americans are concerned about their democracy. Concerned—but perhaps confused about how democracy is destroyed, step by step. Well, I am Hungarian, and I can tell you what can happen."


Cunning Linguist

"He is still underselling his abilities. By his count, it is actually 37 more languages, with at least 24 he speaks well enough to carry on lengthy conversations. He can read and write in eight alphabets and scripts. He can tell stories in Italian and Finnish and American Sign Language. He's teaching himself Indigenous languages, from Mexico's Nahuatl to Montana's Salish. The quality of his accents in Dutch and Catalan dazzle people from the Netherlands and Spain ... How did he get this way? And what was going on in his brain? But also: why was he cleaning carpets for a living?" WaPo (Gift Article): The remarkable brain of a carpet cleaner who speaks 24 languages. "In a city where diplomats and embassies abound, where interpreters can command six-figure salaries at the State Department or the International Monetary Fund, where language proficiency is résumé rocket fuel, Vaughn was a savant with a secret." Most people in his home town of Washington speak only two languages. English and doublespeak. (Wait, maybe that counts as three languages?)


When Fox Leaves the Hen House

From Bloomberg: What If Fox News Viewers Watched CNN Instead? "Switchers were five percentage points more likely to believe that people suffer from long Covid, for example, and six points more likely to believe that many foreign countries did a better job than the U.S. of controlling the virus. They were seven points more likely to support voting by mail. And they were 10 points less likely to believe that supporters of then-candidate Joe Biden were happy when police officers get shot, 11 points less likely to say it's more important for the president to focus on containing violent protesters than on the coronavirus, and 13 points less likely to agree that if Biden were elected, 'we'll see many more police get shot by Black Lives Matter activists.'"


Extra, Extra

Don't Catch This Wave "There is still no guarantee that the next wave is nigh—but if it is, the U.S. is poorly positioned to meet it. Americans' motivational tanks are near empty; the country's stance has, for months, been pretty much whatevs." The Atlantic: America Is Staring Down Its First So What? Wave. (Over 26 million people in Shanghai are locked down due to a surge in COVID cases. This is, sadly, not over.)

+ The OK Coral: Wired: "Nearly half of these ocean ecosystems have been wiped out since 1950. One man is on a mission to reverse that—by speed-growing coral in hyperefficient nurseries." (I think this is a big enough issue that we should get second, and maybe even a third, person on it.)

+ Tarred Heels: "UNC had been 46-0 in the NCAA tournament when leading by double digits at the half, the longest streak in history. They're now 46-1." Kansas erased a 15-point halftime deficit to beat UNC, 72-69, and claim its fourth national title and first since 2008.

+ Alice in Blockchains: WaPo with a headline for the age: An ex-cop fell for Alice. Then he fell for her $66 million crypto scam.


Bottom of the News

Two 'stolen' notebooks written by Charles Darwin have been mysteriously returned to Cambridge University, 22 years after they were last seen. (This is an evolving story.)