Friday, 3 May 2013

07:26 – Let me rephrase that. Some months ago, I said that a nice young couple had moved into the house across the street from us and three houses down. As it turns out, maybe not so nice. The paper reports this morning that the husband has been charged with sexually molesting a student and is in jail on $500,000 bond. I’ve spoken to the wife only once, briefly, and Barbara has never spoken to them at all.

It’s probably just as well that we never see them when we’re out with Colin. It’d be awkward to run into her. I mean, what could we say? We’re sorry to hear your husband’s in jail for raping a student. Oh, well. I suspect that house will be on the market again shortly. The wife probably can’t afford the mortgage on one salary, and even if she could she certainly wouldn’t want to live here, with everyone knowing what her husband is accused of doing.

The girl in question is 15 years old, and there’s been no suggestion that the sexual activities were anything other than consensual. He’s only 24, and a first-year teacher. As I’ve said with regard to other similar cases, if he’s guilty, he should be fired under the no-fucking-the-students rule and never be allowed to teach again, but prosecuting him on multiple felony counts seems a bit excessive unless he in fact coerced the girl.

09:08 – Reflecting on what’s happened to our neighbor, I’m again struck by how little credit women give men for their generally excellent behavior. The simple fact, rooted in biology and instinct, is that all heterosexual guys–from boys just past puberty to old men on their death beds–really, really want to have sex with every attractive young woman they encounter. Any guy who denies this is either lying or deluding himself. Three million years of evolution has created this biological imperative: all men want to impregnate as many women as possible, thereby spreading and immortalizing their own genes.

The disconnect exists because women’s reproductive interests are diametrically opposed to those of men. A man’s part in reproduction takes five minutes. A woman’s part takes nine months. Plus the 18 years or more that it takes her to nurture her new baby to maturity. So, ideally, men want to have sex with as many different women as possible every day, while a woman wants one man who will stay with her to aid in child rearing.

The other thing is that men don’t want to have sex with just any women. They want to have sex with attractive young women. The age of the man doesn’t matter. It’s all about the age (read fertility) of the women in question. Biologically, an attractive young woman is attractive precisely because she’s fertile. It’s a subliminal thing for men. We generally don’t understand at all why a particular woman is attractive. But studies have shown that men are subconsciously evaluating the suitability of women for reproduction, subconsciously judging things like their hip/waist/bust ratios and so on. And, while we think of pheromones as something that apply to insects and “lower animals”, we humans are just as subject to pheromones as any other animal. It has been established beyond question that men find women most attractive when the women are ovulating. How can we tell? Because, subconsciously, we recognize that these women smell fertile.

And that brings up the second disconnect. Women think it’s unfair that, regardless of their age, men remain sexually attractive to women, and in fact many women find older men more attractive than younger ones, while men are sexually attracted to young women. It’s no coincidence that the vast majority of men find women in their teens and 20’s most attractive. It’s because women of that age are in by far the most fertile period of their lives. Women’s fertility begins declining when they’re in their late 20’s, and declines precipitously after age 35 or so. But neither women nor men are to blame here. We’re both simply acting on instinct. The wonder is not that some men stray in favor of younger women. The wonder is that most of us don’t. Most of us are well-trained to act against our own instincts, and women don’t give us nearly enough credit for that. As Anonymous famously observed:

Hogamus Higamus
Men are Polygamous
Higamus Hogamus
Women Monogamous

Until very recently, women were realistic about this phenomenon. When a husband strayed, the wife generally didn’t divorce him. She made him aware that he’d been a very bad dog, and hit him on the snout with a rolled-up newspaper. She reserved her ire for the Other Woman, whom she called a home-wrecker. She understood that it wasn’t her poor husband’s fault. He couldn’t help himself. It was the other woman who deserved all the blame, so the wife would confront her and claw her eyes out. That’s biology.

09:29 – Oh, yeah. Here’s a working link to that video that Barbara sent me yesterday. She originally sent me a WMV file rather than a link, but apparently some of my readers are having trouble viewing that file.

It’s a TV commercial, which I generally hate on principle, but I have to admit that this one was creative and well done. Speaking of things I generally hate, I see that Netflix streaming has replaced the butchered version of Coupling with the original, full-length episodes. Ordinarily, I’d refuse to watch any TV series with a laugh track, but I made an exception for Coupling. Mainly because I’m usually too busy laughing myself to pay any attention to the laugh track.

This series (the original British version, NOT the pathetic US knock-off version) gets my vote as the funniest TV series ever. Funnier than Black Adder, even. I’ve been re-watching an episode or two after I knock off for the day and am waiting for Barbara to get home from the gym. Last night, I watched S2E1, which had to be the funniest TV episode ever. I then watched S2E2, which had to be the funniest TV episode ever.

10:56 – Today, I’m making up three different types of antibiotic test paper for the life science kits: neomycin sulfate, penicillin G potassium, and sulfadimethoxine. These test papers are commercially available from BD and other suppliers, but they’re ridiculously expensive for student use. Home Science Tools, for example, sells a set of eight 1/4″ (6.35mm) discs, two discs of each of four antibiotics, for $3.95. That’s $0.50 per disc. Or, even worse, about $1.56 per square centimeter. Or they’ll sell you vial of 50 discs of any of the four antibiotics for $11.50, or $0.23 per disc.

The main reason these tiny test discs are so expensive is that they’re intended for medical/diagnostic use. The antibiotic concentrations are very precise and tightly controlled, and BD and other suppliers always have to build in a lot of margin to cover legal costs if they’re sued. But this is gross overkill for student lab sessions.

We do everything we can to keep the costs of our kits as low as possible, and this was a clear case of something we could do. Make our own antibiotic test papers. The antibiotic concentrations are the same for all three of our test papers: about 100 micrograms per square centimeter, accurate to maybe 10% either way. That’s more than accurate enough for school science labs. This in contrast to the BD discs, which have different concentrations for different antibiotics. (That’s because serum levels are an important consideration for human treatment; the achievable concentration in blood serum varies from antibiotic to antibiotic. For our purposes, we’re actually better off having the same concentration for each antibiotic, so that students can compare apples to apples when they determine which antibiotics are most effective for different types of bacteria.) And, rather than supply the papers as tiny discs, we’ll supply a 2.25×3″ piece of each paper. That’s about 43 square centimeters of each. That’s enough for at least 50 tests with each type of antibiotic, and at a small fraction the cost of using the BD discs. The students can punch their own discs with a standard paper punch.