Give it Up, Jackass: The Ladies Don’t Want to See Your A La Souvarov

Well, it looks like that month you spent growing a beard to impress the ladies (and your Williamsburg bicycle club) was for naught: turns out ladies are completely skeeved by beards. That’s right, hippie, your beard is off-putting. Yet many men still decided to deck their chin with a tuft of hair; explanations abound:

Science gives us various theories as to why men are able to grow beards, from protecting the delicate facial skin from sunlight to buffering blows to the jaw in a fight.

It is even suggested that a beard is a sign of a strong immune system. The theory goes that disease-carrying parasites thrive in body hair and so if a man can sport a beard without getting ill, he must be extra healthy.

Women are supposed to be drawn to strong, healthy men but previous research into whether beards are attractive has produced mixed results, so scientists from New Zealand and Canada decided to conduct their own research.

The study photographed 19 men with full beards (six weeks of solid growth), and photographed them while they made angry faces. The men then shaved and were photographed again; afterwards, scientists showed the before and after photos to a bevy of beauties who then rated the shaved men as more attractive.

Interestingly, the study, when conducted on men, seems to show that men prefer other men with beards; having a beard seems to confer a level of status upon a man. Women, too, rated the bearded men as having more presence, presumably because they were simultaneously afraid and excited by the angry, hairy visages.

While the study has a long way to go in establishing any sort of correlation, it would seem that the early results are in: dudes love other dudes with beards, and ladies prefer a clean shaven man. Or near to clean shaven; as one scientist who commented on the trend that women love a 5 o’clock shadow said, “It was almost as if women preferred a man who could grow a beard but hadn’t.”

The layers of meaning in that single bit of analysis beautifully sum up modern relationships.

So You’re Thinking About Going to College

Have you not been paying attention to the economy? Even people that go to good schools aren’t getting jobs–what the hell makes you think you’re so special? Oh, that’s right–you’re a millenial. Therefore everyone’s been telling you what a special snowflake you are for your entire life. Well then, I guess congratulations are in order. Congratulations for not paying attention to the world around you, and congratulations for deciding to take a tentative step toward doing something one day. That’s the kind of shit people praise you for, right?

In any case, you’ll need a handy checklist of things to think about in between status updates on Facebook or tweets about how you hate when Wikipedia doesn’t have an article that you need for a paper. So pay attention, snowflake!

1. Upsell your personal statement.

Yes, it’s possible someone might read this essay (if you beat the cut scores; otherwise, don’t bother), so you’ve got to do everything you can to improve your chances for admission. Luckily, that’s easy to do on a personal statement. Mix and match any of the following for a can’t lose admissions essay:

  • “My love of musical theater and Prada handbags has made life in Midland, Texas, very difficult.”
  • “Working in my parents’ restaurant between violin, piano, and ballet lessons was difficult to fit in, but I know it made me a stronger person.”
  • “And that’s why I’ll never forget the promise I made on my best friend’s deathbed; and one day I will hold that “Go Bulldogs” sign at the Harvard-Yale game in remembrance of her.”
  • “It was funny, really: who would have thought that a kid from Canton would create the year’s most popular smartphone app?”

2. Think about the costs.

Quite frankly, if you have to do this, you should not be attending college.

3. Have a school counselor help you begin your research.

What are you, an old? Use the fucking Internet!

4. Take your exams.

Test-taking is obviously the most important aspect of the college admissions process. Luckily, you’re part of Generation Special Snowflake, and so all you know how to do is take standardized exams; this will give you a leg-up in the race to the Ivy League. If you cannot afford to hire a test-prep coach, you should not be attending college. Because let’s face it, if you can’t spend a couple sawbucks on an SAT tutor than how will you afford black market Adderall during finals week? Back to cosmetology school, chump!

5. Visit a campus and see what it’s like to be an annoying undergraduate.

Determining where you’d like to spend four years is no easy task, especially on the basis of a weekend visit. And if that weekend visit included a party, that task becomes all the more difficult, because let’s face it, who would turn down the University of Bierundboobsen? Nevertheless, strive to make your choice as objective as possible; you don’t want to end up going to some second-rate state school just because you got laid at a tailgate party (go Warhawks!).

You’ll Be Happy to Know that Wall Street Bonuses Saw Only a Small Decline

Yes, as you struggle to pay rent, and those student loan payments from a state university (ha! loser!) prevent you from ever qualifying for a mortgage, you’ll find some cause for optimisim that the world is not a terrible place when I tell you that Wall Street bonus packages saw only a small decline this year:

Total payouts to finance industry employees in New York are forecast to drop only 14 percent during this bonus season, according to a report issued on Wednesday by the state comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli. By comparison, profits plunged, falling 51 percent.

Interesting that while profits saw a sharp decline, bonuses did not; presumably, it’s all that “top talent” that the firms are always talking about–we wouldn’t want to fire anybody responsible for a 50% decline in profits, now would we? That guy knows what he’s doing!

Sadly, that 14% drop translates into real hardship:

The average bonus was $121,150, down just 13 percent from the previous year as the headcount shrunk. In 2006, the year before the financial crisis, the average investment bank employee took home a bonus of $191,360.

But the comptroller’s estimates, which do not include noncash compensation, may not give the full picture of this year’s bonus season.

But it seems as though there’s good news after all! Noncash compensation such as stock options were not tallied in the report! Increasingly, banks are offering stock as an alternative to cash bonuses. This move could work out well if the company performs admirably in the long-term, which is ostensibly the reason for offering the option at all (the other reason is that Morgan Stanley caps their bonuses at $125,000).

So, America, the next time you seethe with populist rage, just remember that Wall Street is making sacrifices, too. It’s hard to to get away with killing homeless prostitutes when your bonus declines by 14%.

Hipsters Will Now Ruin Your Dad’s Favorite Hangout

I know how it is: you’re sitting with some friends in a gin bar, wearing your finest flannel and skinny jeans combo, your Ray-Ban eyeglasses freshly polished and your sweet Aramaic tattoos catching the dim light just right, when suddenly, it breaks. The hipness floods out; too many people who look like you; and also, gin sucks! The tipping point has killed this gin joint, and your tattoos are going to have to find a new place to cool their incomprehensible heels. Well, look no further my trend-spotting, ukelele-playing twee bearded hero: the Elks lodge is over that next hill.

Just a year ago, the sight of 20- and 30-somethings inside Seattle’s Elks lodges — places long known for secret meetings, bingo games and square dancing — was fairly uncommon. Membership in fraternal clubs across the nation has been plummeting for decades.

But the Elks club is cool again in Seattle.

Yes, it would seem that hipsters are now going to ruin your dad’s favorite social spot. Just listen to what Jesse Calixto had to say upon discovering the Queen Anne Elks Lodge in Seattle:

“I didn’t think it would be as cool as it was,” said Calixto, 29, who lives on Capitol Hill. “You think of these things as stuffy retirement homes, but when I showed up it was this awesome building that has so much potential. It was a great party.”

That’s right–it was a great party. Cheap drinks, great views, and actual membership criteria (be a God-fearing American, and also have a friend in the club) to keep the riff-raff out! It’s a place where you can actually turn someone away! Not like some shitty gin bar where they’ll let any asshole wearing a polo shirt hang out. Polo? Has he never heard of Obey? Also, that Kelly Kapowski shirt hasn’t been cool for weeks. But I digress.

Elks clubs, with long plummeting memberships, are naturally pretty excited about this new wave of members. And since Elks clubs perform a variety of community services, this will undoubtedly be a win for whatever community chooses to allow hipsters to join their clubs.

Sadly, it will not be a win for your dad, who will simply not understand how to wear flannel ironically, or say with any feeling the phrase “I loved Lana Del Rey before she was cool.”

Tough break, dad. Now get the hell out–there’s pinball to be played and PBRs to be enjoyed. And is that a vintage High Life sign? Cool.

Finally, Universities Will Stop Discriminating Against White People

Yes, the long years of discrimination against white people in higher education may be coming to an end as the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear an affirmative action case. The case could have far-reaching implications for the future of education:

Both supporters and opponents of affirmative action said they saw the announcement — and the change in the court’s makeup since 2003 — as a signal that the court’s five more conservative members might be prepared to do away with racial preferences in higher education.

The consequences of such a decision would be striking. It would, all sides agree, reduce the number of African-American and Latino students at nearly every selective college and graduate school, with more Asian-American and white students gaining entrance instead.

At last, white people and Asians will be allowed into college. Believe me, if you’ve ever walked around the campus of a certain unnamed elite university in Boston (well, not in Boston, but nearby–no, not Tufts) then you know how difficult it is to spot white people or Asians. Diversity shall return at last!

This case originated in Texas (the cradle of American civilization), where a disappointed white girl couldn’t get into UT. Apparently, Texas reserves spaces for the top 10% of the high school graduating classes at their public universities; it’s a race-neutral policy that theoretically has the effect of providing diversity because Texas communities are relatively homogenous. Alas, poor Muffy–excuse me, Abigail (so much better!)–Fisher did not make the cut. And so she went into the general population, where apparently her white heritage did not give her the advantage that she thought she deserved:

Ms. Fisher’s argument is that Texas cannot have it both ways. Having implemented a race-neutral program to increase minority admissions, she says, Texas may not supplement it with a race-conscious one. Texas officials said the additional effort was needed to make sure that individual classrooms contained a “critical mass” of minority students.

I would argue that Ms. Fisher is confused (which is not surprising, since she was not in the top 10% of her class) as to the nature of the policies; because one has the concomitant benefit of racial diversity does not in fact make it a policy of affirmative action.

Not surprisingly, conservatives are happy to hear that decades of disenfranchisement and systemic social inequalities will possibly be eliminated from consideration in the admissions process:

“Any form of discrimination, whether it’s for or against, is wrong,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who added that his daughter was applying to college. “The idea that she might be discriminated against and not be admitted because of her race is incredible to me.”

Yes, no doubt Hans von Spakovsky’s precious little snowflake was in immediate danger of losing her spot at an elite American university because of her race.

It’s unlikely that the Supreme Court will uphold the federal court’s decision, which means that affirmative action in college admissions is likely to be severely weakened, if not altogether eradicated.

I just hope that the decision comes in time to protect Hans von Spakovsky’s daughter. Poor girl–settling for a safety school like Brown or Cornell would be so hard on her!

Obama is the Best Republican President Ever

For a while now I’ve been convinced that Republicans dislike Obama for at least two reasons: the first is because many of them are racist assholes. The second, and I believe more salient, reason is simply because Mr. Obama is a far better Republican president than any of their hopefuls would be. Consider the following:

  • Obama has been fairly friendly to resource development interests: Chopping down trees? Check. Drilling for oil? Check. Water resource development? Check.

And now, best of all, Obama is offering to lower the corporate tax rate. Yes, you heard that correctly, although I don’t know why you’d be surprised; did you skip the bulleted talking points?

The administration plan to revamp a corporate code that is widely derided as inefficient and anticompetitive has been in the works at Treasury for two years, and is a priority of Mr. Geithner. Yet he has been preoccupied with crisis management, and is unlikely to see the project through since he plans to leave office after this year.

The proposed overhaul “will help level the playing field for businesses and allow the government to collect needed revenue while promoting economic growth,” Mr. Geithner told a Congressional committee last week, without details.

Naturally, since it’s Obama, there’s going to be trouble with congressional morons–sorry, Republicans–over the rate. They’ll likely seek a 25% rate, and they’ll definitely want the loopholes and subsidies to stay in place. Because that’s how American corporations pay next to nothing in income tax, despite bitching about how high our tax rates are.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with revamping the tax code to make it equitable and competitive. But since “equitable” and “competitive” are not synonymous with “fattening a rich asshole’s bank account,” it’s not likely that we’ll ever see anything of the sort.

Catholics Hate When You Force Your Beliefs on Them While They’re Forcing Their Beliefs on Others

Alas, it would seem that both irony and logic are lost on Catholics, because while the Church bemoans the health care mandate that would only ask them to provide health care services to their employees (God forbid!), they are slowly taking over some of the nation’s hospitals and quietly doing away with contraceptive services that are not aligned with Church doctrine. Luckily, this is mostly a problem for women, and who gives a shit about them? Clearly not Catholics.

Thankfully, at least a few doctors expressed concern:

Some doctors fear they may not be able to do what’s best for patients, forced to wait to treat a woman who is miscarrying, for example, or to send a rape victim elsewhere for an emergency contraceptive.

The restrictions at any given hospital may not be clear. “Women simply don’t know what they’re getting,” said Jill C. Morrison, senior counsel in health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center.

While some might argue that options exist (the woman in desperate need of immediate treatment could always take her whorish ass to the hospital across town), these arguments become problematic in rural communities where the only option is a Catholic hospital. Moreover, one-sixth of all admitted patients were admitted to Catholic hospitals. Freedom of choice is hardly free when you lack options.

Abortions are not the only issue, either; apparently, sterilization procedures such as tubal ligation (and presumably vasectomies) also run afoul of doctrine. The community of Rockford, Illinois has resisted a plan by the Sisters of the Order of St. Francis to consolidate their hospitals because this procedure stands a chance of elimination. According to Dr. Ronald Burmeister, a retired obstetrician, it “would just be an inconvenience to the patient and the physician, who has to make life-and-death decisions.”

There is, however, some hope–one large western Catholic hospital organization decided to restructure and operate some hospitals as secular institutions; thus, those hospitals would not have to follow Church doctrine and could presumably decide to offer contraceptive and sterilization services (as well as in-vitro fertilization, which the Church also opposes).

Obama, let this be a lesson to you: Catholics, and in fact most Christians, hate when you force your secular beliefs on them while they’re trying to force their beliefs on others. It’s just not cool, man–leave them alone while they try to turn America into a nightmarish theocratic state.

Democratic republics make the baby Jesus cry.

Pork: Now With 50% More MRSA!

Researchers and activists have long been concerned about feeding animals antibiotics, and the meat industry has long defended the practice and claimed that studies do not prove that doing so increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

But in a recent study scientists demonstrated how a pathogen could make the leap from humans to pigs, gain resistance, and then leap back:

Price and colleagues in 19 countries did whole-genome analysis on a Staph strain called CC398 and 88 closely related variations. CC398 is a so-called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that emerged within the past decade in pigs and has since spread widely in cattle and poultry as well as pigs.

The genetic analysis allowed the study authors to trace the lineage of the livestock bug back to its antibiotic-susceptible human ancestors. Price says it shows beyond doubt that the animal bacterium jumped back into humans with close exposure to livestock.

Perhaps the most disturbing news is the prevalence of MRSA in American pork products: nearly 50% of sampled U.S. pork contained the antibiotic resistant “pig MRSA.”

Naturally, the American Meat Institute–the lobbying group, not the gay bar–maintains their position that “informed scientists and public health professionals acknowledge that the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans is overwhelmingly an issue related to human antibiotic use.”

Wouldn’t you think, AMI, that if overuse of antibiotics in humans is problematic, that overuse of antibiotics in livestock would also be problematic?

Oh, wait, I forgot about the simple fact that cash trumps logic. Now pass me those pork rinds.

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