11 July 2011


ONLINE DATING. I'm not a regular reader of The New Yorker. Its content seems pretty tightly focused on residents of Manhattan (though I'm probably generalizing scandalously). So I'm particularly grateful to Susan for sharing with me a New Yorker article titled Looking for Someone: Sex, Love and Loneliness on the Internet. While my in-progress novel takes a microcosmic, anecdotal approach to meeting people online, the article by Nick Paumgarten adopts more of an overview. He includes the history of Internet dating sites, some experiences from individuals who've used those sites, research into just how effective they are at bringing compatible people together successfully, and much more. It is a quick and entertaining read. Paumgarten cleverly presents several sites (Match.com, eHarmony, OK Cupid) with its own persona, and points out that none of them are actual "dating" sites, but rather places at which to meet people. In comparing the filtering algorithms, the clientele, and the philosophies of each site, he provides valuable information to those who may be dipping their toes in the water for the first time. The comparisons make sense (and provide comfort) to anyone who has used more than one service over the years. Whether you're looking for a life partner, a quick hookup, or serial entertainment, with persistence and an open mind you stand a better-than-even chance of finding your heart's desire. Well done.

DYING YOUNG. A new study provides further documentation for a phenomenon which many have noticed for years ~ both men and women in the world's richest country live shorter lives than residents of other developed nations (see the chart below). Not only that, the U.S. is falling further behind. One third of American adults are clinically obese, and another third are seriously overweight. We place fewer restrictions on smoking, have a higher infant mortality rate, and place the least emphasis on affordable, quality health care. It is that last risk factor which, if corrected, would have the greatest positive effect on the other risk factors. Health care in the U.S. is a scandal, with physicians and pharmaceutical corporations making money hand over fist, while more and more Americans simply cannot afford the astronomical costs of even basic healthcare. How sad, then, that Republicans were successful in eliminating or diluting key portions of President Obama's health care reform package.

But then, it is wealthy Republican politicians who have the most to gain financially from the status quo. According to the BBC News report, "If you have most health spending just going to a few people who have the best health care to begin with, that is hardly efficient. In a more unequal rich country [the U.S.], more doctors are working on things like plastic surgery. More dentists whiten teeth than fix bad teeth .... a more even distribution of wealth, even if the average were lower, could mean longer lives for everyone." Good luck convincing the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans who control between 80 and 90 percent of the nation's capital (and enjoy the best healthcare). For some perspective, here is a list of the risk factors contributing to our lower life expectancy ~

~ smoking
~ obesity
~ high blood pressure
~ high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
~ high dietary trans fatty acids
~ high salt intake
~ low dietary omega 3 fatty acids
~ high blood glucose
~ low intake of fruits and vegetables
~ alcohol abuse
~ physical inactivity

If you have only one or two factors, that's one or two too many. If you have more than that, a serious reevaluation of your life choices is urgent.


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