John Wayne Gacy – the “green” serial killer

August 7, 2009

The New York Times eco-blog headline “Having Children Brings High Carbon Impact” seems almost tailor made to create a flame out between those who believe reproduction is divinely mandated and those advocating radical population control. As the study notes in language that might be judged less scientific than sermonizing,

“Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions. A person’s reproductive choices must be considered along with his day-to-day activities when assessing his ultimate impact on the global environment.”

Literary theorists will surely marvel at the switch from gendered language to gender “neutral” language, and the attendant ambiguity: is it the man’s job to refrain from increasing his carbon legacy or the woman’s? Either way, the press release from Oregon State University tried to play down the sense of moral reproach to those who who  fail to count their children in terms of carbon emissions.

“The researchers make it clear they are not advocating government controls or intervention on population issues, but say they simply want to make people aware of the environmental consequences of their reproductive choices.”

But turning to the comments section under the Times blog, one finds the logic of balancing reproductive choices against the environment pushed to its grisliest conclusion. As the poster A3k noted an hour after the article went up:

“Of the serial killers I’m aware, John Wayne Gacy was the greenest. His victims were young, so he snuffed out many years of carbon consumption. He could have only been greener by targeting females.”

Let’s hope that thinking about the carbon cost of children stops with virtual craziness.


August 3, 2009

A newly released survey confirms that napping is one of America’s favorite hobbies. The Pew Research Center Social and Demographics Trends survey has found that one-third (34%) of adults in the United States nap on a typical day.

The survey consisted of responses from 1,488 adults. According to the report:

“These findings are based on responses to a question in a wide-ranging survey about aging that asked people if they had engaged in each of 10 different activities in the past 24 hours — among them driving a car, getting some exercise, going shopping, watching television, using the internet, praying and taking a nap.

Who naps the most? Here are a few highlights:

  • Individuals who exercised in the past 24 hours (37%)
  • Those who had trouble sleeping the night before (41%)
  • People who make less than $30,000 a year (42%), and those who make over $100,000 (33%)
  • Those dissatisfied with their financial situation (40%)
  • Men over age 50 (41%)
  • Adults over 80 years old (52%)
  • Those who reported being “not too happy” (46%)

The survey also showed differences in napping among races. 50% of African Americans reported taking a nap in the past 24 hours compared to 32% of whites and 33% of Hispanics.

Men and women under the age of 50 are about equally likely to nap (35% compared to 34%). The survey found parents are just as likely to nap as those without children, and napping is equally popular among single and married people. It also doesn’t matter where you live in the US. Those who live in rural areas nap as often as those who live in the city.

To find out more, the report can be found here.

The New York Times shrinks Dublin

September 22, 2008

Dublin, as New York, is both a city and larger political and geographic entity, in this case the term is county rather than state but the reach is the same. And within the city, there is the colloquial “city,” the inner historic and commercial center, and the outer residential areas.

In the New York Times “Portrait of Dublin as a boomtown” (an unfortunate description given that the year began with predictions of recession), David Amsden, the Times intrepid cartographer, confuses all:

“No matter how large its economy, Dublin remains a city still very much defined by its actual size: to even call it a city, in fact, is something of a misnomer. A million people live inside Dublin’s official borders, which are such that you can literally walk anywhere in about half an hour.”

Even the most fleet of foot flâneur would be unlikely to cover more than two miles in 30 minutes, which means, according to the Times, one million people live in four square miles. This would make Dublin one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with 250,000 people per square mile, on a par with Mumbai and Hong Kong (New York by comparison has 83,000 people per square mile – and it has skyscrapers). While not physically impossible – each Dubliner would have approximately 111 square feet to him or herself at ground level – it is practically impossible given the low aspirations of most buildings.

For the record, Dublin County is 356 square miles, of which Dublin City occupies approximately 45.5 square miles; the population for the county is 1,186,159, while the number of whom live in the city proper is 505, 379, according to 2006 preliminary census figures (Source, Encyclopedia Britannica, and the fact that I grew up in Dublin).

Look Who Isn’t Getting It On

November 11, 2007

Trevor Butterworth

Gina Kolata finds the math that makes men more sexually active than women doesn’t add up… more

Originally published August 13, 2007

Time Out Does a Number on Single Women in New York

November 9, 2007

Maia Szalavitz

Recently, Time Out New York sent a wave of panic through the city’s single women by reporting in its cover story that there are 185,000 more single women than men here. The article cited National Geographic, which had analyzed census figures. To make the numbers even scarier, the package cited excesses of women in college compared to men.

But this is a false comparison as college enrollment figures are not measures of population: there may be fewer men enrolled in college, but among the college-age group, there is no shortage of men compared to women. And the census figures actually do not include people living in dorms.

Basically, the excess of women is due to the fact that men tend to die at younger ages than women do. If you look at the male/female numbers in the younger age groups, in most, there are significantly more men. For example, there are 211,590 men aged 18 and 19 in the NY Metro area – but only 201,282 women.

The disparity may also reflect shorter lifespans and excessive incarceration among men of color: in the white non-institutionalized population, men actually outnumber women even in the 35-44 age group, but in the whole non-institutionalized population, the male/female ratio is skewing female by that age.

That is certainly a story – but not one that can be represented on a magazine cover by a giant, young, single white woman taking Manhattan!

Originally published July 9, 2007


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