atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#916: A link led me to another link, which led me to this.

An interesting comment on The Belmont Club's "daily roundup, which I was led to from here.

And later, in the same comments, comes this gem:
However we in the West also have what amounts to defacto polygamy. You've seen no doubt the Kay Hymowitz City Journal article about the young men who while away their time with X Boxen. Instead of marrying girls.

I am reminded of "Little Emperors." Except that young men mostly don't have the means, economically to afford the house and money to attract a mate. Young women seem to demand a differential, a higher income than their own, for a mate, and spend their twenties searching after the few high status A lister guys.

The explosion of breast implants among young women, cosmetics, etc. would seem to indicate a beauty arms race aimed at the few "suitable" young men. Meanwhile the age-peers seem to substitute with internet porn, X boxen, DVDs, and other diversions. I see a huge pattern though in resentment -- all those slasher movies with young women being slaughtered.

What I find interesting is that in the 1970's, that benighted decade, men in their thirties could buy houses. Not so today. Particularly around job centers.
This is some interesting, intelligent, and cogent analysis of modern-day culture in the US (and, one would think, probably Europe as well).

I would edit those statements a bit, though. "Young women seem to demand a differential, a higher income than their own, for a mate..." for example. They don't "seem to"; they do.

"...[I]n the 1970's, that benighted decade, men in their thirties could buy houses. Not so today." This is true. Three reasons:

1) Taxes. More Americans pay more taxes now than they did 30-40 years ago. A typical family of four expends about 35-40% of its income on various taxes, when you include everything from income taxes to sales taxes, license fees, service fees, energy and utility taxes, property taxes, etc; it's a greater percentage than every before in US history. The federal government alone consumes about 21% of the country's annual GDP.

2) Federal housing assistance. I mean the government programs which help people buy houses with loan programs and such. The housing bubble that is bursting right about now is the end result of several decades' worth of pumping more dollars into a market surrounding a fixed supply. More dollars chasing about the same amount of real estate leads to inflationary pressures on real estate.

3) Inflation. At the same time (1) and (2) have been going on, each dollar has progressively bought less each year. My parents' house cost $20,000 in 1966; in 2008 $20,000 might buy you a fairly nice car, if you buy carefully and don't go overboard on options. But I live in a town where you cannot buy a house for less than about $150,000, and cannot rent an apartment for less than $700 per month.

More income is taken in taxes; the cost of houses grew much faster than inflation; and the dollars are worth much less. End result, houses are bleeping expensive, both in relative and absolute terms. I couldn't afford to buy one even when I was working as a technical writer, a salaried so-called "professional".

The writer of this point is partially incorrect on one point: " in their thirties could buy houses. Not so today," he says. Men in their thirties can and do buy houses today: if they are in lucrative occupations. My brother, as a fledgling OB/GYN, bought a $300,000 house, in 1992. But the rest of us are pretty well screwed; if you don't earn a lot of money, if you have to tap tance around the paycheck schedule in order to make sure none of your checks bounce for rent, gas, electric, etc, you can pretty much forget about buying a house these days.

But back to the other point, the one about what guys and girls do.

For guys, these days, there is no point to getting married--none at all. Marriage leads to kids. She can divorce him for whatever reason, and the courts will give her the house and half of whatever else he's managed to assemble, and slap hefty child support payments atop that. Divorce courts don't care if they take so much of his after-tax income that he can't support himself, and these payments must continue until the last child is 18 years old. If he stops making payments--for whatever reason, even if he is financially unable to make them!--he becomes a "deadbeat dad", and can be put in prison.

These days, a guy can get the companionship of a woman without having to commit to her or worry about divorce--this is "free love" in action--and he would be foolish to submit to the legal liabilities to which marriage will subject him.

A lot of younger people have seen how well marriage works in the age of "free love", "no-fault divorce", and the "sexual revolution", and realize that without a strong sense of commitment the institution fails--and it primarily fails the man, who finds himself on the wrong side of the equation.

Women, of course, still want to marry; they still want to marry because there is no downside to it for them. At worst, they get out of the marriage with what they had when it began; otherwise they end up with a home and a guaranteed income (at least for a while) to augment whatever income they get from their jobs or careers. This is especially true of young women who marry rich--even with a prenup the divorce settlement is likely to be substantial.

And they won't settle for "second best" or even "third best", and a man who says, "Look, I'm not rich, but as long as we work at it, we'll do okay"--that man is out of luck. It shows even in the 40-something crowd; women who are themselves not getting any younger who want--who expect--a 35-year-old doctor to sweet them off their feet, and who are going to wait a long, long time for that to happen. (Read the first post in this thread on Pennock's Fiero Forum.)

* * *

As a capable "shadetree" mechanic, I look at this and groan or wince at each new picture. Particularly, ""I missed a shift on the freeway, heard a rattling noise, but just kept my foot on the floor anyway". And the one right below it. Jee-sus Christ.

Sometimes, when I read stuff like this, I realize that I honestly do not give myself enough credit. Maybe part of it is that the whole "tuner" mentality didn't exist back then, but when I had my first car I didn't do stupid crap like that. I did cosmetic things, yes--pulled the valve covers, wire-wheeled them, and reinstalled them, for example, and did the same for the air cleaner and added a "CHEVY" sticker to it--but I never did stupid crap like put 4 gallons of oil into the car or mucked up the engine trying to replace my spark plugs.

Part of it, of course, is that I was working on a 1975 Chevy with an all cast-iron engine; they're notoriously hard to damage without doing something egregiously stupid. But that's not all of it.

Once I went to put antifreeze in, grabbed the wrong jug, and dumped in used oil. Into the radiator. (I think I was 18 or 19 at the time.) I said bad words about this, and without starting the car got antifreeze and distilled water and immediately changed the coolant.

Once I forgot to put the oil drain plug in and dumped 4 quarts of fresh oil onto the driveway. I was under the age of 20 at the time.

I bumped the timing of the car a couple degrees and flipped over the air cleaner cap. It sounded a bit meaner and the engine liked the extra advance.

But for all of that, I never dug into things I knew I couldn't handle. I never tried tuning the carb myself, for example, and although I probably could have done it, I didn't change the shock absorbers when they needed it.

I did install speakers and an EQ/amp, and the system worked flawlessly until the day I stopped driving the car. I changed the alternator when it went bad. I did other maintenance on the car--probably more often than it needed it--including the aforementioned coolant change.

With cars--as it is with anything else--you have to know what your limitations are. If you don't know how to do something, don't assume you can do it until you've researched it. I wouldn't think of trying to rebuild a transverse transmission for my Fiero; I've read that section of the factory service manual and I know I don't have the tools required. (The set of tools you need costs about $1,000, and they work only for that specific transmission. For $1,000 I can have quite a nice rebuild done by an expert...twice.)

That's pretty much it.

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