Youth culture

Youth Culture:

City Journal, having previously pondered young women who won't get married, now looks at young men who won't. The two articles posit a view of women who've decided they can go to college, "hyper-achieve" at jobs, and put off families until much later; and men who've decided to put off growing up until they're 30-something.

The problems they posit for this new arrangement are, for society, fewer children to grow up into the next generation; and for women, fewer men who are suitable mates. For young men, the only problem is that they're jerks, but they seem happy that way.

Before we engage in a thorough examination of the specifics of these articles, let me offer this analysis: what you see here is how post-feminist society has achieved a new equilibrium.

We read that women are getting the majority of college diplomas, 'hyper-achieving' (meaning achieving early), and then still wanting children -- but fewer, later. We read that men are taking on slower paths to the job market and obtaining fewer college degrees as a percentage. What does that mean?

What it appears to me to mean is this:

1) Young women have decided they want both a family and a career; so they "do" a career seriously-and-in-a-hurry, so they'll have time for the family too.

2) Young men recognize that the women are going to compete hard for promotions and such early, and rather than 'fight the girl,' which they've always been taught not to do, they let the girl win. Fewer go to college, so there will be more room for women in women-friendly careers (i.e., careers built around offices); more work in jobs most women didn't want anyway (such as construction or policing).

Then, around the 30s, the women start opting-out of the fast track, letting the men who did get degrees move up and marry them; and they start families at this point.

I think this indicates a sort of stability, in which most of these folks are getting what they really want: for post-feminist women, the chance at both a career and a family; for men, a longer period of freedom and play, and a softer landing into family and career. Young men now often only have to support wife and progeny for a few years until the wife will want to return to her (now more-balanced) career; so there will be two incomes, even if hers is no longer what it once was.

This two-income strategy also allows the children to be supported through college themselves, which is increasingly likely to be the case; and, in an economy that often requires workers to switch not only jobs but careers on occasion, allows for some measure of protection for a married couple, as each of the partners can support the family for a short transition period.

So, in other words, things are what they really ought to be.

As for the 'frathouse culture,' I prefer men of the old John Wayne stamp myself; but you won't get them by fretting over Maxim magazine. You'll get them only by setting an example. Young men of this type are vulnerable in that one respect: they recognize that they aren't really acting like men, and long for the respect and honor shown to true men. Show them the way, and some of them will follow.

Some won't, but being free, that's really up to them. In a Republic, they can be drunk or sober, just as they please.

UPDATE: More on this topic from K-Lo in a movie review; and she received a remarkable response from a reader, which she published. The two make good thought pieces to go along with the two from City Journal.


One of the Cooler Things I've Seen Lately:

StrangeMaps is neat. While this entry is for Daniel, everyone who hasn't seen it before should look at the Minard map.

Finally, some of you will appreciate this map of Hannover.

War is war is war.

LT G needs some sleep.



The last Republican candidate’s debate took place at the Reagan Library last night. For those of you with better things to do than follow these things let me summarize last night’s performance by the candidates: PATHETIC!

I have lost any shred of patience that I may have had with these ridiculous so called “debates.” To begin with I am sick and tired of these candidates carrying on about who is the most conservative or most like Reagan. Allow me to resolve this issue. NEITHER MCCAIN NOR ROMNEY IS CONSERVATIVE AND THEY BEAR NO RESEMBLANCE TO REAGAN!!!!!!!!!

Let me be very clear, American conservatism has historically been defined by its commitment to preserving the limited role of the federal government established in the Constitution. Part and parcel of this commitment to limited government has been an insistence on both a proper balance between state and federal power as well as a respect for the separation of powers between the different government branches. Limited government has been the first principal of American conservative thought from the beginning. Consequently, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Ronald Reagan constantly emphasized his commitment to limited government and state’s rights throughout his political career. However, neither McCain nor Romney ever mentions limited government and you can find no reference to this first principle of conservatism on either of their web pages.

To be sure, these two candidates will go on an on about lower taxes and reduced spending. While lower taxes and debt reduction are a good start they represent nothing more than temporary relief from the symptoms endemic to the metastasizing cancer of bloated government. Taxes and debt can, and almost certainly will, be raised by subsequent administrations as the size and scope of government increases. Look not to promises of lower taxes and debt reduction to provide a lasting defense to government intrusion. Those so called champions will ultimately fail.

Between Romney and McCain it is probably McCain that is most clueless on the issue of limited government. I say clueless because if he truly understands the implications of his campaign finance reform crusade to get money and influence out of politics he is intentionally flirting with fascism. Does that sound a little strong? Look at it this way: a cursory glance at the encyclopedic size of our tax code, let alone the ever-growing volumes of other federal regulations, provides a startling look at the way the federal government touches almost every aspect of our daily lives. This should come as no surprise since the government uses tax policy for social engineering purposes to affect desired outcomes. Consequently, groups of citizens from every walk of life regularly come together to petition government in order to protect themselves or benefit from this growing government intrusion. These groups of citizens are what McCain derisively refers to as “special interests” and whose voice he wants to muffle. However, these “special interests” include everyone from artists to zoologists.

Everyone has an interest that needs protection or influence from government that is special to them. There are no “special interests,” there are just interests. Since the government created this situation by extending its tentacles into every nook and cranny of our national life you can’t blame these groups or their lobbyists for trying to influence the outcome to their benefit. Nevertheless, this me-first power scramble and the influence peddling that results is hardly a positive development. However, the way to deal with this problem is not to clamp down on the citizen’s right to make his voice heard but rather to restrain the government intrusions that make such lobbying necessary in the first place. If the federal government did less then fewer people would waste time and money lobbying it. What McCain’s campaign finance law seeks to do is restrict the citizen’s ability to make his/her voice heard on these matters while doing nothing to restrain government reach and power. Consequently, power is dramatically shifted to the government (and incumbent politicians) at the expense of the citizenry. Political Schemes that strengthen the power of the government and weaken the 1st Amendment rights of citizens is anything but conservative.

I want to like McCain. I admire his heroic service as well as the courageous position he took in supporting the surge when so many weak-kneed Republicans were more interested in seeking political cover. However, I can’t help but be turned off when he advocates restricting speech without saying one word about shrinking government power and influence. The remarkably deaf ear that he turned to the public outcry against his illegal immigrant amnesty plan only deepens my concern regarding his demeaning attitude towards citizen speech.

I miss Fred Thompson!!!


A Winter Question:

They were so excited about the snow:

Traffic policeman Murtadha Fadhil, huddling under a balcony to keep dry, declared the snow "a new sign of the new Iraq."

"It's a sign of hope. We hope Iraqis will purify their hearts and politicians will work for the prosperity of all Iraqis."
What do you think they'll say about the hail?


Posting Bail:

Is it bad that the US uses bail bondsmen?

Other countries almost universally reject and condemn Mr. Spath’s trade, in which defendants who are presumed innocent but cannot make bail on their own pay an outsider a nonrefundable fee for their freedom.

“It’s a very American invention,” John Goldkamp, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University, said of the commercial bail bond system. “It’s really the only place in the criminal justice system where a liberty decision is governed by a profit-making businessman who will or will not take your business.”
While I'm always willing to hear good ideas, whether from Europe or anywhere else, I don't think we have an obligation to do something just because it's common in Europe. That said, just what do you do in Europe if you can't post bail?
Some [countries] simply keep defendants in jail until trial.
Oh, yes, that's a much better system. :P
Others ask defendants to promise to turn up for trial.
Um... what?
Some make failure to appear a separate crime.
OK, that makes sense -- but if they were going to run from the murder charge, how much is the extra 30 days really going to deter them?
Some impose strict conditions on release, like reporting to the police frequently.
Again, right -- "Sure, officer, I'll be right by your office." ("Swissair, thank you for holding.")
Some make defendants liable for a given sum should they fail to appear but do not collect it up front. Others require a deposit in cash from the defendant, family members or friends, which is returned when the defendant appears.
Which is fine; but that assumes the defendent or his family has the money to start with. Since poverty and crime are very often observed together, that system (unlike the evil profit-motive American system) denies the poor a chance at freedom while they await the trial that will decide if they are in fact guilty.

So why does the American system work like it does?
If Mr. Spath considers a potential client a good risk, he will post bail in exchange for a nonrefundable 10 percent fee.... Forty percent of people released on bail are eventually acquitted or have the charges against them dropped.
Which is to say that sixty percent don't. So, here's the business proposition: you put up 100% of the money, and your client pays you 10% of that sum in return. If he shows up, you get your money back; if not, you lose everything you put up. So, you're betting 10% against 100%.

Oh, and 60% of your clients are criminals.

Normally, when you take a serious risk with a large sum of money, you expect a pretty good potential return on your investment. In return for the risk that you'll lose everything, you expect a reasonable profit.

The fellow in the article says it costs $50,000 a month to run his business; that apparently does not include the actual money he has to come up with, as he invests around $13 million a year in bonds. If he's paying $600,000 a year in costs, but is clearing 1.3 million, that leaves him with $700,000 profit on a $13 million investment: not 10%, but around 5%.

That's not really running away with the bank. And it sounds like, compared to other systems cited by the NYT, you've got a system that works better for the government ("Promise you'll come back for trial") and the poor ("Sure, you can go -- if you can prove you've got the money to pay the fee for nonappearance").

Meanwhile, it's not that hard to find a much safer investment that'll give you a 5% return.

I don't know -- it sounds reasonable to me. I'm just not seeing the villiany.


Totten: "The Final Mission"

Michael Totten has a piece up on Marines training the Fallujah police. We (that is, not me and Totten, but just those of us here at the HQ) were talking about how much Fallujah has changed just last night. They're doing 5k races out there, PTing in the streets with no armor, etc. (Apparently the third place winner ran with his pistol; which is pretty good, for coming in third.) That said, I didn't realize that we'd reduced force presence by 90%, however.

It's a good thing that Totten is so famous for his accuracy and fairness. Otherwise, I wouldn't believe his characterization of this:

The Marine Corps runs the American mission in Fallujah, but some of the Police Transition Team members are Military Police officers culled from the Texas National Guard. “We're like the red-headed stepchild of units,” one MP told me. “We're from different units from all over Texas, as well as from the Marine Corps.”

One Texas MP used to be a Marine. “I decided I would rather defend my state than my country,” he said jokingly. “But here I am, back in Iraq.”
"Jokingly," eh? Sure. :)


Thanks, UGA:

A tragically non-ironic article from Red and Black, by the fittingly named Ms. Queen:

Before this semester, I had overlooked the most fundamental political issue: myself. I, as a woman, have been historically oppressed since the beginning of time and yet this issue has been completely overlooked, not just by myself, but by society as a whole.

However, thanks to my women's studies course I have been given a new set of eyes, a feminist lens through which I now see the world.
UGA charges about fiven thousand dollars a year for this service; and thanks to the HOPE scholarship, that means that I myself am likely a contributor.

You won't find any surprises in the article itself; it's just depressing to discover that the schools are still plugging this same line into people. You'd have thought that Women's Studies would have moved on past "That jerk, Pat Robertson said..." and "Men don't have to worry about their hair!" Oh, and "You can't divorce your abuser because you'll end up on welfare!", in a society in which divorce rates run about 50% and women earn the majority of college degrees.

Maybe we can get a bill through the Georgia Legislature to restrict the HOPE Scholarship to traditional arts and sciences.

Pills, pills

Pills, Pills:

Reason magazine is ready for them. Quite ready:

Owens posits this case: You have developed some nagging doubts about your partner's fidelity. Although you sometimes think your doubts are irrational, you remember certain lingering looks at parties, and your happiness is spoiled. You're not the sort to hire a private detective, but you have heard of a new pharmaceutical, the anti-doubt pill, Credon. Credon lulls your suspicious nature, but doesn't make you gullible to car sales people. It works only in the context of intimate relationships. The manufacturer does warn that Credon has sometimes generated excessive trust between lovers. So off you go to "The Pharmacy of the Future" for Credon.

Once there, the conscientious pharmacist confirms that Credon does usually work, but asks if you've considered alternative treatments. For example, why not take the new anti-possessiveness pill Libermine? Patients using Libermine don't care if their partners have an occasional fling. Or why be a couple at all? Solox, the emotional independence pill, enables patients to have a wide and emotionally satisfying circle of friends but liberates them from the tedium of having only one intimate partner. Owens then posits that the price of Credon is about as much as for a candy bar, while Libermine and Solox costs as much as good bottle of wine. So on what grounds do you choose among these options?

Owens suggests that one response might be that it's "normal" to want to be in relationship. The pharmacist reminds you that people born with extra Solox in their brains are just as "natural" as people without it. Surely you would agree that such free spirits should not be regarded as somehow inadequate. Another response is that taking Libermine would so change you that you wouldn't be you anymore. Of course, the whole point of taking Credon is to change you so that you, in some respects, aren't you anymore.

So why not flip a coin? Would that mean that the choice doesn't matter any more to you than choosing between two brands of coffee? Surely one's emotional state and the state of one's most intimate relationship should matter more than choosing between Bustelo and Starbucks.
Reason's summation is that "trial and error" will determine the best choice -- not for you, obviously, but for society as a whole, eventually. So really, a random choice may be the best way to go.

Or let the market decide, and just pick the cheap one.

Anyway, you'll be happier regardless, right? Whether you just believe your spouse is not cheating, or you are happy for him or her to cheat, or you just walk away and never care about them again... as long as you feel better, that's what matters.

Is it not?

Hell on Earth

Hell on Earth:

I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for the unfortunate subjects of China just now.

The snow struck as tens of millions of Chinese head home to celebrate the Lunar New Year, starting on February 7 this year, straining trains and planes even in normal times.

At the main rail station in Guangzhou in the relatively warm commercial far south, 170,000 people crammed together waiting for trains that cannot leave because of electric trains stranded downline, Xinhua news agency reported.

By the end of Monday, a backlog of 600,000 waiting for trains from the city was expected. Television showed green-uniformed anti-riot troops ready to keep order around the station.
I've traveled by train in China during the runup to the Lunar New Year. It's astonishing. Somewhat more than half of China's billion-plus population just... gets up and moves. And then they move back in a few days. If you've ever flown at Christmas, imagine that pain times ten.

And that's in a good year, without the snowstorms.

This has pretty much got to suck.
The government has not announced deaths due to freezing in homes. But homes south of the Yangtze River generally do not receive central heating and are not built for such icy weather.
That's true too. We sealed up our little hovel with layers of plastic bubblewrap over the windows and doors, laid down rugs over the cracks in the floor, and made candles out of fish oil and strips of cotton cut from the wife's underwear. Fortunately, the place was so small that you could actually generate enough heat out of some homemade candles to keep from freezing to death.

Yeah, good times. Take a moment to think warm thoughts for those poor folks.

Intel cells

Rifle-company Intel Cells:

Once again, the Marine Corps leads the way. The databasing/sharing concept is the most important one. Companies, like any other military unit, have seams with other units -- they control a given area, but the enemy moves in and out of that area. What happens here matters across the way, and vice versa. Better sharing is critical.

Too, analysis tends to get better with experience, but added responsibility and distance degrades the benefit. The G2 section normally is better at recognizing patterns and important details than the S2, because its members have more experience with it. They have a problem in being responsible for a lot more areas, so they can't focus down on any given area except periodically. They have an additional problem in being distant: instead of dealing with the area eyes-on, day in and out, they're often learning by reading reports. Even the best report leaves out a lot of information that you get by being there, and looking things over -- information that may not seem important now, but that might be later.

Adding extra eyes to your data can compensate for that to a certain degree. If you have two guys with less experience looking at the data, they may still both miss the pattern; but it's better than just one guy. And the closer you get to the grunts on the ground, the more you'll be drawing on patterns they've seen playing out. They've got all that 'extra' information that isn't captured in their reports, the stuff they saw or heard that didn't seem important or relevant at the time -- but that can come out when they get together and compare notes with the company across the way.

Better sharing across companies, as well as up-and-down between organizational levels, has the potential to substantially improve predictive analysis on the ground. The Corps is doing something smart here; but that's what we expect from the Marines.


The Flounder Principle:

InstaPundit today links back to something he wrote that I missed before, on 'the Flounder principle.' It's a remarkably useful concept where politicians are concerned.

This is a good time of year to think about it, too. Right now is the time when politicians are making deals and endorsements, and then getting out and promising us stuff -- either campaign promises of their own, or promises about the other politicians they're endorsing.

As always, the question to ask yourself is, "Why should I believe a word of this?" If there's not some very good reason why, it's probably not going to happen after election day.

Just remember: when you find yourself on the same side as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, it's probably time to check your six and your compass.

I mean, it's going to happen once in a while, because like all politicians they adopt any position that is useful to him for a moment. Just recognize it as a warning sign, and take a second to be sure you're really where you want to be -- and check whether anyone is slipping something up on you.

Not that endorsements are a great way to make up your mind about a candidate anyway. Otherwise, we'd all be voting Huckabee.

After all, Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink. Once, Chuck Norris visited the Virgin Islands: now, they're just "the Islands."

At least, so I've heard.