Culture

All the Single Ladies, Which is Everyone, Put Your Hands Up

America is now majority single-people for the first time in recorded history. Cue Beyonce!

Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report. That percentage had been hovering just below 50 percent since about the beginning of 2013 before edging above it in July and August. In 1976, it was 37.4 percent and has been trending upward since. … The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent, according to the economist.

This is great! The more single people there are, the more normal being single is and the less I have to worry about accidentally offending my friends who are dating by seeming either too excited about their romantic prospects or not excited enough, or somehow both at the same time. (Though I mean well, I am constantly messing up. In this way, having single friends is kind of like life!)

But now that we’re an early-Bridget-Jones-type singleton as a nation, what does that mean for us financially? Unencumbered folks have fewer young children to oversee, take out fewer mortgages, and so on. Since basically the only real downside to remaining independent is the fear and expense of dying alone, Bloomberg suggests investing in long-term care insurance while you’re still young because “in most of the U.S., a private room in a nursing home can cost more than $100,000 per year” (!!!) and after you hit 40 or 50, insurers are likely to decline you because you’re already too close to the chasm. Be clear about your end-of-life plans and choices. And enjoy your awesome DINKy lives! Don’t forget to babysit.

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Baby Carrots, Evil or The Most Evil?

POINT: Baby carrots are the devil, argues generally sensible dad writer Brian Gresko. They cost more, waste more, and perpetuate the fiction that our food does not come from the ground.

The name “baby carrots” seems apt, not just because they look like baby versions of carrots, but because they infantilize the consumer, who has only to open the bag and start munching without a care in the world.

And don’t get him started on juice boxes:

According to PBS Kids, juice boxes are built from six layers of paper, polyethylene plastic, and a thin layer of aluminum. They also, of course, come with plastic straws. The plastic in these packages will likely take at least 300 years to break down, though that’s a conservative estimate.

The contents of the boxes don’t get much better, as many juice brands are loaded with sugar. AsEveryday Health reports, sugary drinks lead to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and establish taste preferences for sweet beverages in young children that may get out of hand when they enter their teenage years. (On top of this, Dr. Oz caused a stir in 2011 when he found certain apple juices contained high levels of arsenic.) Kids who drink a lot of juice are avoiding healthier fluids like milk and water.

COUNTERPOINT: Fine, juice boxes, whatever, but baby carrots taste better than the regular kind. I don’t know why but they do! Is it the chlorine? Or the convenience?

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Paying for the Things You Never Fathomed You’d Pay For

I was at lunch with a friend a few months ago when he looked down at his watch and said, “Oh I just got a message from [so-and-so]—I’ll need to dash off in 15 minutes.”

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“How American Do Money” According to Russians Just FYI

Apparently we here in our shining city on a hill (the US), unlike Russians, don’t like gifts, or business associates showing up at our houses unannounced. At least we don’t according to a fascinating Mental Floss experiment in DIY translation:

It’s not easy to find out what the non-English speaking world thinks of us, as it is another unique peculiarity of Americans that most only speak one language. But Google speaks many, even Russian. So with Google’s help, I set out to learn more about американский этикет, or, Russia’s take on American etiquette. (Note: We welcome any translation help from Russian-speaking Flossers.) …

“Business gifts in the U.S. are not acceptable. Moreover, they often cause suspicion. Americans fear that they could be construed as a bribe, and in the United States that is strictly punishable by law.” (Национальные особенности этикета в США)

“Showing up at a business associate’s home uninvited in the United States is not acceptable. You may be invited to a picnic if you’ve known each other for several years and are social outside the office. As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty – ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.” (Деловой этикет по-американски)

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The End of Signatures at the Checkout Counter

I have three different signatures that I use:

• My full name in legible cursive, which I use when signing personal checks and legal documents
• An abbreviated version of my name, which I use when signing anything digitally
• A scribble, which I use when I’m signing receipts for various merchants

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How Joan Rivers Did Money

of course a woman who had spent her life attending the church of self-hatred would lash out at people like Lena Dunham, who has a Master’s degree in Not Giving a Shit.

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Early Bird Special

A friend of mine recently told me about a new Sunday ritual of his: He and his girlfriend like to have a late breakfast, and then they skip lunch and have a dinner at 5:30 p.m. at a place of their choosing. There is never a wait, no matter where they want to go, he explains, and they get to be home at a reasonable hour before starting the workweek.

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Hacking ‘Kim Kardashian: Hollywood’ for Unlimited Money Made Me Lose My Moral Compass

“Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” was introduced to my iPhone earlier this summer after my already-addicted friend told me that I had to play it “to get a good laugh.” Let me be clear, we both love the Kardashians unironically; love their unabashed business tactics, their penchant for body-con dresses, their general candor and their adorable, growing flock of children. I could write a dissertation in defense of the entire K-empire if someone would permit me to.

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Let’s Argue About Prostitution

Sex work produces some unexpected fringe benefits. For instance, according to this article in Hazlitt about a proposed bill restricting classified ads for escorts in Canada, it supports print media at a time when little else will, and as well as other industries.

sex work ads contribute crucially to the health of print media. And the less secretive publishers are about this relationship, the better they seem to do: the Grid is dead, but NOW—despite a defiantly untrendy design—is holding strong. … There is no question that online advertising has transformed the sex industry, but in fact, ads for sexual services are far from endangered, and appear in print publications as diverse as the Toronto Sun and the New York Review of Books (which runs them alongside personals ads). …

Sex work supports economies beyond publishing. It’s likely that businesses in the hotel, transportation, and tourism spheres will be hurt by the bill, too. “The sex industry is huge, especially when you consider that it’s not just sex workers, but everyone involved with them—clients, drivers, porn consumers, sex bloggers… the list goes on and on,” says Carolyn, an agency escort in downtown Toronto (her name has been changed on request, to protect her anonymity). “Our clubs bring in tourists, our lived experiences sell books and magazines, and sex workers buy food and clothes and cars and houses just like everyone else. But we don’t talk about that. We’d rather have this illusion that sex workers are different from non-sex workers, and that what we do isn’t real work.”

“It’s hard to admit that sex work isn’t just happening in certain zones or neighbourhoods, and that any normal person you see around could be a sex worker,” she continues. “I think if people were to realize that, it would be much harder to criminalize and dismiss us.”

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Born in the USA — on a Commune in Tennessee

Erika Anderson writes about being born on The Farm, the commune in Tennessee made famous by midwife Ina May Gaskin – and led, in “counter-cultural” but still patriarchal fashion, by Ina May’s husband. (#BanMen) What is a personal reflection about the pros and cons intentional living in the rural south doing in Vanity Fair? Who cares? If you’ve ever been curious about small-scale socialism, this is an essay for you:

Life on the inside had its charms and quirks. A Farm store operated like community-supported agriculture; I remember each house getting a box of cooking oil, Ajax, a bar of soap, margarine, salt, and seasonal vegetables, except most couldn’t supplement these with trips to a grocery store. Noodles and peanut butter were forbidden treasures for us, things my dad might buy with his weekly allowance to feed his masonry crew, since anyone who worked off The Farm had additional, necessary privileges.

While we were growing up, there was no refrigeration, but there were telephones and a laundromat. To get in line, you placed a call first thing in the morning so you could wash clothes for your entire house, which might hold a single family or 50 people. “It was a lot like calling in to win a prize at a radio station,” my mom told me, laughing. ““You are caller number four!’” Within minutes, all 15 spots would be full.

While men worked in the fields, or off The Farm to earn money, women had weekly or biweekly “house days.” One or two women would look after the kids in their home, make meals and do the laundry if they could. Then they would spend the other days of the week working in the community, outside the home. “I got to have a varied life,” my mom has said. “That was one of the things you missed when you moved away. But it was the only thing you missed.” That and friends, who had all but become family.

There’s also Lauren Groff’s novel Arcadia, about communal New York State living in the ’60s, if you want more.

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