Eccentric Flower:200906/Son of Linkage

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Son of Linkage

Divers diversions, some serious, some silly.

A link on what probably should happen in societies where women are scarce, and what actually happens.

I paraphrase (and fail to do justice to the excellent discussion above): Ideally, in a society where women are in demand, women get empowered because it essentially becomes a market where they get to set the rules. In practice, though, historically, the evidence shows that what happens is that in such environments, the odds of women being treated as property are higher. Not good.

Of course I have my theories about this, and as you might guess if you know my biases, they're pretty ugly.

Personally, if I were in charge of cosmic justice (aren't you glad I'm not?) I would say that China has made its own bed and needs to suffer for it. Even if you prefer boys (and I will not do the rant on the "boys are social security; girls marry off and become someone else's" culture that led to the situation in the first place; let's just take it as read) - as I say, even if you prefer boys, surely half a brain would show you that deliberately creating a huge population imbalance is not a good idea. But no. Apparently there is not half a brain at work here.

My idea of justice here would be a huge die-off; that is, China should be made to suffer problems replacing its population because of the lack of women. I propose a lot of young men get to become old men without offspring and, ideally, die miserably with fatal cases of blue balls. But it doesn't work that way, because men and their seed-spreading imperative will just club their way to finding something to stick their pecker into whether you like it or not. Or, maybe worse. Several people in comments to the link above noted that one problem with a huge army of restless boys who can't find ladies is that they are ... well, a huge army ... and when they get restless they invade things and cause trouble.

When are we going to get to the point where we can do away with the need for boys? No, I'm not talking about showing a preference for girl children - that would be just as stupid as the situation China's created, the way we work now. But when do we change the basic way we reproduce or think about reproduction? I swear to god, parthenogenesis would solve so many problems. Or perfect those sex changes and enforce them, so we get a population that has about the right ratio - say, about fifty workers to a drone.

Yes, I know worker bees don't have sex. I've chosen those terms to make a point: The older and meaner I get, the more I think that male humans serve about the same purpose as male farm animals, and like smart farmers, you don't keep any more of them around than you need to. One ram and one backup ram and all the other boys go to freezer camp. One rooster. One bull - for all the cows in the county.

Of course my rhetoric is deliberately inflated, and my mood Swiftian ... but my god, have you ever seriously thought about all the trouble a two-gender system has brought us throughout history? Really. Sit down and make a chart. After population pressure, maleness and its attendant social tics - the genetic legacy whereby the only way men can improve the odds of propagating their genes is to spread their jism around as widely as they can, and the psychological ramifications of that fact - has brought us more violence and hate and unrest and distrust than any other factor in the world - and, frankly, one could make the case that if maleness weren't what it is, population pressure would become less of an issue too. (That might be wrong, though. There are lower life forms which are essentially single-sex which, given a chance, will reproduce themselves right out of the ability of their food supply to support them. I'd like to think it would be different in higher life forms, but that could be optimistic of me.)

It's an inefficient system. Oh, mind you, it served its purpose - we needed to evolve it in order to encourage shuffling of the genes, to improve diversity. Monoculture bad. But we've had quite a while; you would think that we could have come up with something better by now.

Scott Rosenberg explains why charging for online content is not a good idea, especially in the case of dying newspapers trying to make their web sites turn a profit for them. This echoes things I've already said elsewhere, but it's nice to hear it from someone with more credentials than I have:

Sadly, however, I submit that most of us in the "charging for content is a bad bet for newspapers" camp are coming at this from the perspective of bitter experience. We are grizzled veterans of this argument. We have Been There and Done That. We aren't grave-dancing; we're saying, "Maybe you don't want to fall into that grave that almost swallowed us."

During my time at Salon we tried every online revenue strategy you can imagine: Gate off some of the content. Gate off all of the content. Don't gate any content but ask users for cash to join a premium program. Slate tried a subscription program well before us. Many others followed. Yes, there are differences between such sites and local newspapers. Yes, 2009 is different from 2000-2002. But the fundamental lesson remains: you can get some revenue from readers, and there's nothing wrong with trying; but if in doing so you cut yourself off from the rest of the Web in any way, you are dooming yourself to irrelevance and financial decline. Don't make your content less valuable at the instant you're telling people it's going to cost them more to get it.

Of course, my personal opinion is that these words will do no good, not because people will ignore them, but because there is desperation in the air and the sites can't think of anything else to try. Ads on websites don't work either. I say again: Unless you are in a business that has a physical product to vend online, you cannot make money online. In other words, the people who have an information product online - from news stories to web comics - are either losing money or they are making money from selling souvenirs on the side (e.g. Questionable Content making its money mostly from T-shirt sales). Vending information online does not work.

By the by, the commenters on that link above make the important point - not only does putting up a paywall not work, but it sets you back years in public perception. As someone who is dealing right now with the relatively modest task of convincing an exceedingly tiny audience that content barriers to my work have actually lowered, I can vouch for this.

Heady stuff, eh? OK, time for silly then. As relief.

"And the nominees are, a bunch of people you don't know and Angela Lansbury!"

Kymm does her walkthrough of the Tony awards - which really should be changed so they admit that they're about musicals, because honestly, you could watch the Tonys every year and not realize that sometimes there are plays on Broadway where people don't sing and dance. If you like Broadway excess you will probably like her recap. If you hate Broadway excess (oh, me, sir, me, sir!), you may like it even more.

And here's an XKCD which really is horrendously geeky, but what are you gonna do? It made me laugh.

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as I say, even if you prefer boys, surely half a brain would show you that deliberately creating a huge population imbalance is not a good idea. But no. Apparently there is not half a brain at work here.

I point out, purely for the sake of argument, that people don't make decisions like that on a "what's best for the country" basis, but on a "what's best for me" basis. Given a society that prizes males that highly above females and a state that enforces a one-child limit with draconian vigor, you're going to wind up with this sort of result.

It's going to be interesting to see how China (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, India) decide to refocus their excess males. Apart from a rather strong encouragement of emigration, if I were Russia, I would be very worried indeed. They've got the opposite problem -- rampant depopulation across the board -- and there's going to be all that oil-laden Siberian expanse with so very few people in it...

-- 20:06, 8 June 2009 (BST)


I find

"People don't make decisions like that on a 'what's best for the country' basis, but on a 'what's best for me' basis"


"Apparently there is not half a brain at work here"

to be roughly synonymous statements in this context. If we can't occasionally work toward a greater good, what was the point of becoming a highly evolved mammal in the first place?

The underpinning of this gripe is that I wouldn't be such a misanthrope if we were better-evolved. I mean, we're still pulling crap that was rookie mistakes for Neanderthals.

-- 20:18, 8 June 2009 (BST)


I mean, we're still pulling crap that was rookie mistakes for Neanderthals.

And we et 'em all up, too, so you can see how well enlightened non-self interest worked out there!

Also, having now seen Kymm's entry, I want to write something called "The Rage of the Gays."

-- 20:26, 8 June 2009 (BST)


The comments at volohk are a truly elegant conversion of several modes of mass transportation into a single physical location. It's not like watching a train wreck; it's *better*. I can't look away.

-- 20:43, 8 June 2009 (BST)

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