Monday, June 30, 2008

Guns, Murders, and Suicides

This rather surprised me, I always expected homicides were much more common than suicides:

"Suicides accounted for 55 percent of the nation's nearly 31,000 firearm deaths in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There was nothing unique about that year - gun-related suicides have outnumbered firearm homicides and accidents for 20 of the last 25 years. In 2005, homicides accounted for 40 percent of gun deaths. Accidents accounted for 3 percent. The remaining 2 percent included legal killings, such as when police do the shooting, and cases that involve undetermined intent."


Saturday, June 28, 2008


The New York Times has a really good article today on birthrates, and how Europe is shrinking. This will be one of the most interesting stories to follow over the next few decades. A 1.3 birthrate, which parts of Europe have, is low enough for the population to cut in half over 45 years! Over my lifetime there is reason to expect Europe, and parts of Asia to have significantly lower populations than they have now.

I have mixed opinions on all of this. On the one side I certainly do agree with the idea that if we could reduce the worlds population to about a billion and hold it somewhere around there most people would be better off. A less crowded world makes environmental issues much less concerning and I suspect we would all have fun with the extra six times as much space per person. I am concerned though the richer countries having less children, than the poorer ones(and the same within countries) could lead to a shift in values away from science, and even more toward superstition. I would feel much more comfortable in a demographic shift where the children of the best educated and richest slowly replace those that are not. Since children typically resemble their parents that would preserve the mindset that built the modern world.
However science and capitalism are very strong forces. We see them taking over most of the world. They will most likely continue whatever the demographic picture is.

Friday, June 27, 2008

HIV, still a disease of gay men

A while back people were often saying that HIV would spread from a few small groups like prostitutes and gay men, and move into mainstream America. It was also supposed to become more common in females. Twenty five years after the disease started that is still very much not the case, and there is little reason to think it ever will be.

"Sex between men accounted for more than 97,000 new diagnoses over the six years, almost half of the total number, according to the C.D.C. report." Source

Among males only 11% of new HIV cases are from heterosexual sex! Not only that, but only 15% of heterosexually transmitted cases of HIV were White Males. Only 1.4% of HIV cases have been a white male who got it from heterosexual sex. Want to take bets on how many got it from unprotected anal sex with a prostitute? Unless you do something profoundly dumb, or get amazingly unlucky, as a straight white male HIV is really not a threat. At the same time 59% of new cases are from homosexual sex. Since 77% of cases are males that is a pretty damn huge chunk. As a homosexual guy you better be paranoid. The risk of this happening to you are huge.

As for women facing more risk. The statistics are pretty scary for Black women. 66% of women who get HIV are black. They have been steadily increasing in how common they are. This is probably because of black men getting arrested, having sex with men in prison, then bringing back HIV to their wife when they get out. As a whole though, the number of cases of HIV in women have been flat, or falling. From 9900 in 2001 down to 9300 in 2006.

As a white straight woman getting HIV isn't quite as unlikely as for a straight guy, but still only about 2.6% of HIV cases are a white woman who got it from a man. While it is even more politically incorrect to point out than most cases being gay guys, it is probably true that the significantly higher numbers of white women in marriages with black men than black women with white men has a strong effect on those numbers. In raw numbers there are about twice as many white women who got HIV from heterosexual sex as there are white males. So, there is more to be worried about, but nothing at all compared to what gay men, or black men or women face.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Second amendment

Wow, the supreme court is having quite a run, Striking down the DC ban on handguns today. To me this sounds pretty open and shut, what does the second amendment say if not that you can own guns?

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Many people try to point to the word militia to say that this right belongs to the state, not the people. To me this is absolutely absurd. After all, these militias they are referring to had just overthrown the government! In a very real sense the second amendment is ensuring that the people are always physically capable of overthrowing the government should it become so obviously corrupt than an overwhelming majority believe the violent overthrow and rebuilding of the government is the best option.

An earlier version of the second amendment makes this a little more clear:

"That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power."source

The militia they refer to is clearly not the national guard, or some similar state run army, but "the body of the people" The militia was actually defined in many, if not all states, as all the adult white males. So it seems reasonable this is what the founders intended. Now, they did want some state control over this militia, which is where the term "well-regulated" comes in, but it was often seen as a force to protect the states from the national government. There was some history in England of the government forcibly disarming some groups of the population. This was also something they wished to avoid as it made the oppression of that group easier.

Now, I can understand why people would wish the second amendment didn't exist. The proper thing to do therefore is repeal it. Pretending it doesn't protect an individuals right to own some very dangerous weapons is silly. I would much rather the abolition of the second amendment in a fair way, than just ignoring it. That sets a bad precedent.

"Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation"

PUBLIUS (Madison) - Federalist 46

Bill Gates

I think I now understand why Bill Gates is so rich. I however still don't understand why he was never able to do anything about it. It sounds like he got mired in a corporate culture, and was powerless to change anything, but I shutter to think of what it would be like without these rants.

The best part of that memo is his comment that "There's not a day that I don't send a piece of e-mail ... like that piece of e-mail. That's my job."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Drilling more oil wells

"Iraq is underexplored, with only 2,000 oil wells versus more than 1 million in Texas."

"Overall Saudi production has been falling since 2005, yet the number of rigs in use has tripled since 2004. Why is that? Some analysts believe the increased rigs are intended to compensate for declining production from Gwahar. Others argue that the Saudis are operating strategically, shutting their most productive wells as prices rose and opening smaller wells to better manage supply."source

This is something I wish more people would remember. Drilling more wells does not really mean more oil if there is not enough oil in the ground. We cannot just drill our way out of the problems in oil production.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Biological risks of teenage pregnancies

There are good reasons why people have pushed back having babies until later in life. Success in modern society takes a great deal more education than in previous years meaning teen pregnancy can make it difficult to avoid poverty later in life. However if you listen to people talk they act as if it is also a serious biological problem, as if teenagers are not yet mature enough to make babies. So, I decided to see what I could find in the way of statistics. These were actually fairly difficult for me to find, but ill show what I have.


This illustrates a theme in just about all of the numbers I saw. Teenage mothers are less biologically capable than mothers in their twenties. However in just about every biological measure they do better than mothers over 35, and often over 30.

I decided to take a look at pages trying to talk teens out of pregnancy, than chase data a little. One site claimed that teenage mothers were more likely to have children underweight than mothers 20-24. That struck me as really funny for some reason. It was clearly fudging the data to fit what they wanted, so I chased down some numbers for the percent of babies that were underweight.
Under 15: 11.6% 11.6%
15 - 19 : 7.6% 7.6%
20 - 24 : 6.2% 6.2%
25 - 29 : 5.9% 5.9%
30 - 34 : 6.4% 6.4%
35 - 39 : 7.9% 7.9%
40 - 44 : 9.9% 9.9%
45 and Above: 23.6% 23.6%

Sure enough, the statistic they claimed is true, but it ignores the big picture. Since most teenage mothers are 18 or 19 it really misses the point even more because past the age of 15 they have less problems than mothers over 35. The under 15 category is more likely to have unhealthy babies than the 35+ mothers, but that is not terribly surprising as a twelve year old is fairly obviously not biologically mature, and a fairly large proportion of mothers in that category will be that young.

Now, not having it broken down exactly it is hard to say exactly what age the risk drops to being equal, but because many birth defects like Down Syndrome become more common as mothers age I feel reasonably certain in making the claim that a 15 year old, and a 35 year old are about the same in terms of biological readiness to make babies.

Teenage pregnancy statistics are thrown way off because teenage mothers are poorer than the general population, and poorer people have worse medical care. When you standardize for that the case for teenage mothers being as biologically capable gets a whole lot stronger. The only study I am aware of to do this, looking at teenage pregnancies, and pregnancies to older women holding constant socioeconomic status, found that:

"If you compare Harlem teen moms to Harlem older moms, you find that the kids of the teen moms are actually less likely to die," she said. The reasons include the fact that, unlike older women, poor teenagers are generally not juggling jobs and have older relatives to help.

It can make sense for poor women to have children when they are quite young, Geronimus concludes, and any effort to change that ought to treat it as an economic problem, not a health education problem." Source

Now to push a little harder, and make the case that biologically young mothers are better than old(although I think all the data I saw was pretty identical in its view that 20-25 is about the optimal biological time to make babies).

There has been a lot of research into what exactly allows people to live longer, in particular I am referring to scientists looking at people who have lived to be 100 to see if there are biological differences. One of the shocking findings they had was that babies born to mothers under the age of 25 were more than twice as likely to make it to 100 years of age. Now, I wouldn't bet my life on this study just because I have an inherent distrust of epidemiological studies, but the odds are in favor of this turning out to be correct. Notice how they did not put a lower end on that age range? At the time these babies were being born teenage pregnancy rates were far higher than today so you can bet a large percentage of those mothers were under 20.

The socioeconomic case on the other hand is quite good. We rightly should be telling high school students that they should wait to have babies until they are economically more stable. It just bugs me to see people make it sound like the evidence here is a whole lot stronger than it is. Biologically teenagers are well constructed to make babies, and the reasons they shouldn't are entirely based on the particulars of our society. If marriages of 15 year olds were stable, and you only needed an 8th grade education(much like the United States just a century back) there would be no moral problem with the pregnancy pact story that for some odd reason is all over the media.

Monday, June 23, 2008


And now for some useless information. It is illegal to sell sushi in America unless it has been previously frozen. In the case of deep water fish it is not a terribly big deal, but in the case of Salmon not doing it is quite likely to give you parasites. You might expect it to be a huge quality issue, and it often is, however when cooled quickly to -70 using liquid nitrogen it is not something people can distinguish in blind taste tests.
One question that has come up again and again in the history of science is, when and will we be done? Do we eventually reach the end of the ability of humans to understand our world? or is the universe simple enough to understand. So far it has paid to be an optimist, but I do often hear things that make me think the end is near. This century was supposed to be the century where biology rises in knowledge and importance, yet it actually seems to be getting less productive. The last decade has been one of decreasing returns in the biomedical industry:

"Only 17 new molecular entities were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2007, a fall from 53 in 1996." Source

Moore's law is also coming up on an end, although predicting the end date is a game of fools. We do know transistors will remain bigger than atoms, that is a sharp limit on what we can do. Now, we clearly have enough science to go around for my lifetime, but it will be interesting if when I am retired science will manage to continue to find new discoveries at anything like the rate it is.

One event

I am almost ready to make a rule. If the media talks about one event, than it probably means the statistics are such that similar events have become rare enough to talk about, rather than the events becoming more common. For example, a few years back they really pushed talking about several young white girls kidnapped. Was it because kidnapping rates had increased? No, they were lower than they had been in years. The media could finally report all the stories that they would have been flooded with earlier. I have seen similar stories about church burnings, and school shootings among other things.

Another great example is teen pregnancy. The media has been flooded with reports from some high school where 17 girls got pregnant. A sign of social decay? No. A sign teen pregnancy rates are about the lowest they have ever been. Leaving the media with nothing left to do but try to pick out sensational events, rather than report about how much we have been improving. Two decades ago the story wouldn't have been unusual enough to report. 17 pregnancies at a 1200 person school is high, but not that high.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Alcohol Poisoning

I ran into an interesting web page the other day. Death Rates from various causes of accidents. This is a good way to check if something is a reasonable risk, or hysteria. Of course, accidents make up a fairly modest number of deaths. The previous list claimed 151 268 in 2000, compared to the total number of deaths in America which was 2.4 million. That makes accidents a mere 6% of deaths. However as a young male, they are one of the biggest risks I face.

A few numbers on that list shocked me. Probably the most surprising one was Alcohol Poisoning. Now, Alcohol does increase the risk of a small number of cancers, and certainly increases the risk of drowning or getting in a motor accident. However the risk of Alcohol poisoning is remarkably small, 302 deaths in 2000. Your life-time odds of dying from this are 1 in 12 thousand! Compare that to a 1 in 3 chance of dying from heart disease, or a 1 in 5 chance of dying of cancer. This is something I always assumed was a pretty big risk, that cannot even beat the risk of freezing to death(742 deaths in 2000) or drowning in a bath tub(341 deaths)

The only chances of death by accident that you face more than a 1 in 1000 chance of dying from are:

Being a car occupant is unsurprisingly quite dangerous. About 15 thousand deaths in 2000, giving it a 1 in 242 chance it will be how you die.

Pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle, 1 in 610 deaths

"Other and unspecified land transport accidents" 1 in 212

Falling down. This is hard to interpret because under falls most of them do not list how they fell. "Other fall from the same level" seems to be the most common. All falls combined add up to a 1 in 269 chance that you will die from them. As a young person you really don't face much risk here unless you do a lot of rock climbing. Mostly this is old people with weak bones.

Poisoning by "Narcotics and psychodysleptics [hallucinogens] n.e.c" 1 in 583, at 6 000 a year these are a lot more dangerous than alcohol.

Poisoning by "other and unspecified drugs medicaments and biologicals" 1 in 763.

Suicide actually beats most individual accident methods as a way people die. Not sure I would classify it as an accident but that is a 1 in 122 chance of being how someone dies.

Assault by firearm is pretty shockingly high on this list. 1 in 331 deaths. So is another category of murder they label "Other and unspecified means and sequelae" 1 in 861. I assume that means you get beaten to death with a fork, or some other murder by a random object. Really, almost all of that is in social groups where crime is common, so you are pretty safe in this case.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


More on the subject of how much worse previous generations were:

"alcohol use among high school students has fallen dramatically. The Monitoring the Future surveys conducted by the University of Michigan show that in 1991, 81% of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders had had at least one drink in their lives; by last year, the figure was only 58%. Roughly 47% of this cohort had been drunk at least once in 1991; in 2007 only 38% had ever been drunk. On college campuses, meanwhile, the ranks of nondrinkers are rising steadily. In 1980 only 18% of college students surveyed for Monitoring the Future said they had not had a drink in the past month; by 2006 the proportion had risen to 35%."

It is also true that there is a sizable minority that drinks a great deal more than in the recent past. The linked article makes a pretty good argument that our drinking laws caused a polarization in drinking between those who drink a lot, and those who don't drink.

Cell phone

Well, it looks like my suspicions when I got my iphone are correct. Owning anything valuable enough for someone to keep when they find it is a dumb thing for me to do. As of now the phone is missing, not taking incoming calls, and no sign I will ever see it again. My best bet is it fell out of my pocket when I was getting into my car at Lowes, but their lost and found doesn't have it.

Friday, June 20, 2008


It is pretty rare I hear about a different idea in the alternative energy world. This struck me as pretty clever however, although I cannot vouch for how good of an idea it actually is.

We all know that it takes energy to remove salt from water. It is less obvious you can do the reverse to make energy. Essentially you use the pressure created when one side of a membrane is fresh water, and one side is salt water to run a turbine. That is probably unclear to most people reading this so I should go on explaining but it is easier to link this article it does a fairly good job of explaining it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Virus Traps

This is a fairly old idea, but it is clever enough that I thought I would pass it on.

Red Blood cells have no nucleus and therefore lack the metabolic pathways necessary to pass along a virus. For this reason, viruses typically don't mess with them and choose other cell types. They do so by attaching to cell surface receptors only found on other cell types. For example HIV attaches to CD4 on the surface of T cells. It is however possible to genetically alter red blood cells to have a whole bunch of CD4 on their surface. Any HIV that enters these cells will not be able to reproduce.

Therefore injecting a whole bunch of altered red blood cells into a person would lead to much of the HIV entering cells it cannot reproduce in. The blood cells would act as a trap for viruses substantially lowering the amount of HIV in the blood. This is still speculation at this point, but it works on a virus in mice.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Apparently it is now possible to create diamonds with essentially identical physical properties to natural diamonds. Here is a great article on the subject. The way things are going I half expect the space shuttle to be pure diamond in fifty years. That is a material that because of how common its basic materials to construct are, and how hard it is could really change the world.

Oh, and a great quote from the article I linked:

"Natural diamonds aren't particularly rare. In 2006, more than 75,000 pounds were produced worldwide. A diamond is a precious commodity because everyone thinks it's a precious commodity, the geological equivalent of a bouquet of red roses, elegant and alluring, a symbol of romance, but ultimately pretty ordinary."

""There was a copper age and a steel age," Bryant says. "Next will be diamond.""

Monday, June 16, 2008

Still Falling

And it continues

"The median home sale price in six Southern California counties was $370,000, down from $505,000 a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems. DataQuick said that was the biggest annual decline it has recorded since it began tracking prices in 1988.

The last time the median was lower was in March 2004, when it was $364,000."

In the Bay area things are falling slower, but still pretty dramatically without sign of slowing.

" Properties priced below $513,218 plummeted about 33 percent since February 2006. In contrast, medium-priced houses, between $513,218 and $756,420, declined 22 percent while high-priced homes, above $756,420, fell just 6.8 percent."

California Grasses

Dead grass. That is what you mostly see when you look at a hill in California at this time of year. One little known fact is that this is nothing like what the grasslands looked like five hundred years ago. At that time deep rooted grass plants stayed green all year. This however didn't last long at all when Mediterranean grasses showed up. Quickly these grasses were almost completely replaced with ones from Europe that only grow in the Winter.

I heard about this a long time ago, but never bothered to look up a picture of what the state looked like at this time of year before Europeans. Well, here it is:


Small patches of grasses surviving hundreds of years grew somewhat spread out. In the winter wildflowers grew between these patches.

If I ever have any land in California I would likely try to grow some of these. It is fairly easy to buy seeds and, while planting them looks like a fair amount of work, once they are established they are the least work of just about any plants you can grow since they are well adapted to the environment here.

Another history of California grasses if you are interested.

Cancer and Diet

Usually articles on science in the popular press are pretty bad. Robert Weinberg, possibly the biggest name in cancer research, has an interesting article on diet and cancer in newsweek though. Essentially the point is something is wrong in the western diet, or possibly lifestyle, that is causing many of the worst types of cancer.

Since we don't really know what it is it is really quite hard to adjust against it. However avoiding heavily processed foods that didn't exist a century ago is probably a good starting point.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Houses and old people

The degree of generational cluelessness in the housing debate never ceases to amaze me. So many people treat high house values as if they are an unambiguous good. However cheap housing means more people can own homes, young people can own homes sooner, and older people are only really hurt if they are downsizing or took out a loan they are unable to pay off.

The quote that brought me back to this subject:

"Unlike the Bush administration, Mr. Obama also supports aid to localities to help them buy up foreclosed properties — a proposal that the president wrongly portrays as a handout to lenders or speculators. Actually, it is a way to protect communities from a buildup of unsold homes, which pummels the value of surrounding homes."

From the looks of it I would say Bush is right here. The parts of the country with the highest foreclosure rates are where home speculators ran the most rampant. Many of them are sitting on homes with no good exit plan. While saying they deserve it is probably a bit harsh, I certainly am not going to lose any sleep over them. Any plan buying up these homes would most certainly bail out a great many of them. There is no way to argue that the plan wouldn't do as much for home speculators as for any other group.

Even worse is who gets hurt by this plan. The tax payers who own homes benefit from the plan. However those without homes only get more expensive housing to go with their higher taxes. Those smart, poor, or young enough to not get caught in the housing bubble at the top are now supposed to subsidize the gains of the older and better off? Even worse, the housing bubble is in Florida and California more than anywhere else. This means any federal government plan is also poor states subsidizing rich states.


I went to the store the other day with the idea of trying to see how easily I could follow one of Michael Pollan's rules from In Defense Of Food. The rule of not buying anything with more than five ingredients. The concept is fairly simple, if someone other than you is mixing the ingredients it is in their best interest to ignore how healthy the food is. Adding lots of sugar or fat is both cheaper, and tastes better. Even most "health foods" are unhealthy processed foods with one or another vitamin added to try to cover up for what it lacks. For this reason another of his rules is never buy a food that has a health claim.

Anyways, with how I eat most of this is fairly simple. Fresh and canned vegetables and fruits fit fairly nicely under this rule. Same with beans and eggs. I was doing well until I got to the bread section. I always assumed that bread is all pretty much the same, assuming it is whole wheat and not white bread. Apparently not. It is pretty impressive how long the list of additives that goes into all bread is. For example usually with any product you can count on a product without corn syrup being somewhere. I don't think I found any.

It is not like it was an ingredient list of healthy sounding things either. Here is an example I found on a random blog that looks about like what I seemed to see:

Enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, whole wheat flour, high fructose corn syrup. Contains less than 2% of the following: yeast, wheat bran, bleached oat hull fiber, vital wheat gluten, salt, soybean oil, dough conditioner, acetylated tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides, calcium sulfate, ammonium sulfate, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, potassium iodate, enzymes [amylase]), cracked wheat, sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate, caramel color (contains sulfites), refiners syrup, dried honey, mineral oil. Contains wheat.

Of course everything we eat is a mixture of chemicals, but if I had to bet I would say most whole wheat bread isn't a whole lot better than white bread. Looking at Wikipedia I found a page that sums up the situation pretty well. It is easy to manipulate recipes to make what isn't remotely whole wheat bread look and label like the real thing. For example the ingredient list above starting with enriched flour pretty much means it is not whole wheat bread.

Monday, June 9, 2008


I was swimming around in a lake yesterday. It was a fairly small man-made lake in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As lakes go this was a fairly clear one, I could at least see my feet when standing straight up in deep areas.

Anyways, I found this small pier in about 12 feet deep water. I had planned on jumping off the pier. I swam under it first though. When you are in the shade, water becomes a lot more clear because surface reflections don't obstruct your view as much. I was able to clearly see the bottom even though it was fairly deep. To try to see better I held onto the pier and held my body still. With the water now flat and calm a dozen or so Bluegill ranging in size from about two to eight inches swam up to me.

All of a sudden I feel a sudden prick on my back. This was so unusual that I yelled something and jumped forward in shock. I look behind me to see what did it, expecting some water bug or leech. Nothing. Just more Bluegill. Did I just get bitten by a fish? About a minute later it happened again, once again on my back. So I called over Jared and Crystal. Sure enough, they left Jared alone but Crystal got bit probably a dozen times. At one point I even got one to repeatedly bite the tip of my finger.

I have spent a lot of time in water, but this was the first time I was bitten by a fish. Usually they are too busy hiding. Also I had about a fifteen inch largemouth bass get within about a foot of me. Freshwater fish really can be quite fearless. I think I understand why spearfishing is not legal in most freshwater places...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The kids are fine

Despite nearly every measure about how young people are doing being significantly better than their parents generation, people love to talk about how bad young people are in America are. I therefore will pass on a quote I ran into in an article today pointing out how much worse the teenagers of the 70s, and 80s were than todays.

"The proportion of teenagers reporting having sexual intercourse rose steadily through the 1970s and 1980s, fueling a sharp rise in teen pregnancy. The trend reversed around 1991 because of AIDS, changing mores about sex and other factors. At the same time, more sexually active teens started using condoms and other contraceptive measures. Together, the trends have pushed the U.S. teen pregnancy rate to historic lows."


There is some signs of this trend reversing but that doesn't change the basic point. Anything from IQ, to College Graduation rates, to teen pregnancy or murder rates todays youth run circles around their parents.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Every so often I hear women complain about a double standard with cheating. Guys are more likely to get away with it. This is probably true, marriages are more likely to end because of the wife cheating than the husband. This is a double standard. What I have rarely heard is someone mention the obvious and say why this is the case. Why is a husband less likely to forgive his wife than the other way around?

If I was giving advice to a guy who was being cheated on while married it would be different from what I would give a girl. As a guy you stand to lose a great deal more. This might sound strange, but it is fairly certain to be true. This becomes pretty obvious when you consider the possible results. Lets say the wife gets pregnant. Under the current law in all but (last I checked) two states the husband is legally the father. Who is the genetic father is meaningless. Therefore the guy pretty much has two choices, pay child support for the next 18 years on a kid that isn't his, or stay with her and pretend the kid is his.

There is a huge legal movement around to try to change things, I suspect the law will catch up to genetic tests sooner or later...

In the reverse situation the wife faces nowhere near as bad a situation. If she makes more than her husband, and they stay married, some of her income might be legally forced to go to the kid, and clearly some of her husbands money will be siphoned away so it clearly is a situation she would want to avoid. However if they get divorced she has no legal obligation whatsoever.

Therefore if the husband cheats the wife may as well wait around a bit and see what happens. Perhaps things will get better, and the worst case scenario isn't as bad for her. If the wife cheats however the husband has every reason to get out of the marriage as fast as he can and not risk her getting pregnant.