Should you pursue mastery? | Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist

At some point, all first dates become the same. The beginnings of relationships are all the same, but deeper connections require understanding more and more about yourself to keep going. That’s what I think of mastery. […] It occurs to me that mastery is irrational. Pursuing it makes life more difficult and more interesting than people really need life to be. But people who are driven to mastery can’t stop. It’s either charming or boorish. I’m not sure which.

Should you pursue mastery? | Penelope Trunk’s Brazen Careerist

Marginal Revolution: Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot

Alex Tabarrok mulls over the recent OkTrends post on the Mathematics of Beauty.

I think there are certain types of beauty that greatly attract some men but repel others. Analagously, some people will pay hundreds of dollars for an ounce of caviar that other people won’t eat for free. The reason some people love caviar, however, is not that other people dislike it. Instead, it just so happens, that the thing that some people love is the very thing that repels others. We see the same phenomena in art, some people love John Cage, other people would rather listen to nothing at all. ;)

Now if we mix in this kind of beauty–beauty over which there are violent disagreements–with the kind that most people do agree upon (think Haagan-Dazs vanilla ice cream) then I suspect that it will appear that lower rankings increase messages. But what is really going on is that high rankings–conditional on their also being many low rankings–actually signal an extra strong attraction. Someone who tells you that John Cage is their favorite composer is telling you more than someone who says Aaron Copland is their favorite composer.

Marginal Revolution: Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot

Marginal Revolution: Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot

Alex Tabarrok mulls over the recent OkTrends post on the Mathematics of Beauty.

I think there are certain types of beauty that greatly attract some men but repel others. Analagously, some people will pay hundreds of dollars for an ounce of caviar that other people won’t eat for free. The reason some people love caviar, however, is not that other people dislike it. Instead, it just so happens, that the thing that some people love is the very thing that repels others. We see the same phenomena in art, some people love John Cage, other people would rather listen to nothing at all. ;)

Now if we mix in this kind of beauty–beauty over which there are violent disagreements–with the kind that most people do agree upon (think Haagan-Dazs vanilla ice cream) then I suspect that it will appear that lower rankings increase messages. But what is really going on is that high rankings–conditional on their also being many low rankings–actually signal an extra strong attraction. Someone who tells you that John Cage is their favorite composer is telling you more than someone who says Aaron Copland is their favorite composer.

Marginal Revolution: Sex and Statistics or Heteroscedasticity is Hot

Why Mars & Venus Collide (review: 3/5)

Why Mars & Venus Colllide is about stress and communication between men and women. Our modern lifestyle is breakneck-paced, relationship roles have changed, our responsibilities and stress levels grow as our time to deal with them decreases. Welcome to today, nothing new. So what do you do?
According to John Gray, the first step is to wake up and realize that men and women have different biochemistry going on, stress affects our chemicals in different ways, and we recover from stress and replenish ourselves in different ways. But we’re clueless: “Women mistakenly expect men to react and behave the way women do, while men continue to misunderstand what women really need.”

We each feel better when our personal chemical stockpiles are filled up. This is how it works: in a nutshell, women de-stress by talking, connecting, processing, sharing their ills—which restores oxytocin. Men de-stress by zoning out, shifting gears, detaching from the day’s troubles—which allows testosterone reserves to fill up again. These seem like competing solutions.

Women can’t just shut down and forget about it for a little while like men. Going ninja and crossing more items off the to-do list doesn’t work, either, because “in a woman’s brain there will always be more to do.” They need to talk—it’s biological. They’re wired to process and men need to respond:

Without understanding this, a man’s testosterone levels would drop when he passively listens to his partner’s feelings or her resistance to his action plans. Just listening to her feelings seems a no-win situation. When women talk about problems, men start to become restless, irritable, and then depressed… Men need to learn the art of listening without interrupting to solve her problems.

And when men convert to seeing attentive listening as a problem-solver in itself… then we’re on to something. Man gets the satisfaction of “doing something,” woman gets the satisfaction of being heard.

A man’s desire to make a woman happy is greatly underestimated by women, because women have such different motivations.

The rest of the book is about exploring these differences and finding sensible compromises that allow each partner to relax and emote in healthy ways. Gray paints with a pretty broad brush, but anecdotally, most of it squares with experience. I like this bit on the relationship scoreboard:

“At a subconscious level, a woman is always keeping track of how much she gives in contrast to how much she receives. When he gives to her, she gives him a point, and when she gives to him, she gives herself a point.” And this begins an extended and probably-not-intentionally hilarious section on how to “rack up the points on Venus,” even providing a “One Hundred Ways…” list that would be at home here on the internet.

He’s Just Not That Into You (review: 4/5)

I’m fairly open to reading ‘girly’ books every now and then (see my reviews of Heidi Klum’s Body of Knowledge, How to Walk in High Heels, and The Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend). A friend of mine got me to read He’s Just Not That Into You: The No Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys. It’s a quick, fun read, and I think both sexes could benefit from it.
Perhaps there are limits to the no-nonsense approach. Co-author Greg Behrendt (writing with Liz Tuccillo) doesn’t have a whole lot of room for forgiveness, but you have to admire that he takes happiness so seriously. If you don’t set your own rules, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. There’s a lot of motivational talk (you are beautiful, you deserve the best, etc.). But while the message is insistent, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously. The end-of-chapter “worksheets” are delightful parodies of the usual junk in self-help books.

Here’s a good bit on drug-addled relationships: “So, he’s always stoned when he’s with you… You’re going out with someone that doesn’t enjoy you at your full levels. That’s tantamount to him liking you better when you’re in the other room.”

So maybe he’s super busy with work and school and gets a little tense and lashes out: “I don’t care if he’s studying to become the next Messiah. There is no reason to yell at anyone ever, unless you are screaming ‘Look out for that bus!'”

On breaking up and futile waiting & wishing: “100% of men polled said that when they broke up with someone, it always meant that they didn’t want to go out with them anymore.” Cold, hard truth.

On resistance to marriage: “You are allowed to have aspirations for your future and to know whether the relationship you’re in is going to take you closer to those aspirations or be the demise of them.” And that’s just generally good life advice.