Re: More Lessons In Sex Work

1

As a former attorney general, Spitzer must have known all this.

Why, for gawd's sake? This seems like the argument that one's boss must understand all parts of one's job.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:29 AM
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Finally, there is tier 4, also known as the monogamous wife. They have only one client, agreed to through an exclusive contract. In addition to the monthly needs surcharge of tier 3, they also require full access to the john's financial resources.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:33 AM
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What are you, 60? Have people noticed the generational divide around jokes like 2?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:35 AM
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[quote]Have people noticed the generational divide around jokes like 2?[/quote]

You don't hang out with a lot of teenagers/twentysomethings these days, do you, O-dog?


Posted by: LRock | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:43 AM
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What, first wave feminism?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:44 AM
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Oh, wow, I fail at MT commentage.


Posted by: LRock | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:44 AM
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Tier 3 is getting into the territory of grande horizontale really, isn't it. Except possibly even more discreet. I wonder if such people pay taxes, and if so what they claim to have been doing to earn that kind of dosh.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:46 AM
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I googled "grande horizontale" and the third hit was, "MySpace Jobs- We couldn't find any jobs for grande horizontale."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:48 AM
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Lawyering.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:50 AM
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MySpace is a bit downmarket for ladies of such quality, SP.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:52 AM
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MySpace is a bit downmarket for ladies of such quality, SP.

So's lawyering.


Posted by: LRock | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:54 AM
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9: It's "consulting." It's always "consulting" when you want to hide something. Or so L&O teaches me.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 9:57 AM
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As a former attorney general, Spitzer must have known all this.

Whoa, whoa. Does that sound to anyone else like V-Tesh is saying that Spitzer wanted to get caught? How kinky.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:03 AM
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I was listening to All Things Considered on NPR last night, where the topic was All Things Spitzer. One of the guests was a woman that heads a sex worker help group in SF.

Her claims were fairly surprising - for instance, the fact that most prostitutes involved in "high-end" (scare quotes since I can't think of any way else to write this) prostitution are also involved in street-walking/other "not-so-high-end" forms of prostitution as well.

Really? It seems hard to imagine, but I have limited contacts with prostitutes. Actually, I do have a few acquiantances that do exchange sex for certain benefits - be it money, luxury goods, access to certain social circles, etc. For some reason I have a mental block in labeling them prostitutes. It just seems to happen between young, attractive guys and older, powerful, wealthy gay men.


Posted by: hunger_artist | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:07 AM
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Her claims were fairly surprising - for instance, the fact that most prostitutes involved in "high-end" (scare quotes since I can't think of any way else to write this) prostitution are also involved in street-walking/other "not-so-high-end" forms of prostitution as well.

Maybe those who are high-end prostitutes only get to interact with high-end clients once or twice a week, so they do less exciting work in their down time.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:08 AM
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That's just crazy stuff.

If someone is paying such huge quantities of money, and still waiting months to have sex for the first time, and then rarely having the act even after that... there's really nothing left to the service but the fact that the woman is willing to be very nice to you. What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year just to say nice things about you and be kind a few dozen times a year?


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:09 AM
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"High end" sounds like some kind of difficult position or weird kink.

"No high-end for me, thankyouverymuch!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:10 AM
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What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year just to say nice things about you and be kind a few dozen times a year?

The kind of asshole who likes the person being kind and saying nice things to know that he can buttfuck her any time he wants, whether she likes it or not.

A seriously evil asshole, that is.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:12 AM
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What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year just to say nice things about you and be kind a few dozen times a year?

I think this is the most interesting thing to come out of the Spitzer situation, that it illuminates the needs of some segment of the male population. Some of the guys who can pay for anything they want decide to pay for someone who will act like they accept them and like them without reservation. Yeah, they have to do some serious suspension of disbelief, but most people are good at that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:14 AM
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What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year

The kind that can afford it. As I understand it, there is a certain amount of natural overlap.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:15 AM
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What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year just to say nice things about you and be kind a few dozen times a year?

See here.

Of course, the price is just what somebody can afford.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:17 AM
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3: Take my commentariat... please!

One of my favorite generational divide "jokes" from back in the day was "We'd all drive Cadillacs if we could afford it." I guess the on-topic equivalent is that "We'd all use Tier 1 sex workers if we could afford it."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:23 AM
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If someone campaigns on a tier 1 sex workers gap, they have my vote.


Posted by: hunger_artist | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:25 AM
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Yeah, they have to do some serious suspension of disbelief

This is what makes it difficult for me to accept the "$100,000 isn't a lot of money to these people" argument. Even if $100,000 becomes a piddling amount relative to one's wealth, you know it's a lot of money to the person you're paying, and that they require that much just to interact with you. The psychic price of having to pay someone for the illusion of sincerity seems like it would remain the same regardless of wealth.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:28 AM
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13- What, you think Spitzer could afford the time for that Tier 3 stuff? He's the governor, he doesn't have time for a woman to "date" him before he can have permission to fuck her.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:29 AM
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What could I possibly offer someone to get him to act like a lover, a mother, and a shrink all at once? I think I could spare about five dollars.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:33 AM
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12: And I'm in consulting.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:44 AM
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The psychic price of having to pay someone for the illusion of sincerity seems like it would remain the same regardless of wealth.

That's why the illusion has to include "I'd do you for free if I could only afford to, sweetheart".


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:51 AM
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What are you, 60? Have people noticed the generational divide around jokes like 2?

You should hang out with libertarians. It's all contracts, you know.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:53 AM
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What kind of asshole do you have to be to need to pay someone $100,000+ a year just to say nice things about you and be kind a few dozen times a year?

The kind of asshole who likes the person being kind and saying nice things to know that he can buttfuck her any time he wants, whether she likes it or not.

or alternatively the kind of person who has fallen in love with a prostitute who refuses to see you on any other terms. Do you people not read literature or something? The courtesan as a stock character almost always has this sort of relationship with her clients.

By the way, I reiterate past cautions on taking Venkatesh as an authoritative source of factual information. Based on nothing other than internal evidence (and I am still irritated by those spiral ntoebooks and the mysterious wage-earning no-commission drug dealers), there are a few "huh?s" here.

There is less of a paper trail.

how do you pay the same person a regular sum every month without the paper trail from hell?

I have heard of Tier 2 and 3 sex workers who vet prospective clients for months, sometimes hiring a private detective to see if the john is stable--psychologically and financially.

emphasis added. I have "heard of" debating society geeks who get laid all the time in Canada but never met one.

Flush with cash, these elite men routinely turn their prostitute into a second partner or spouse. Over the course of a year, they will sometimes persuade the woman to take on a new identity, replete with a fake name, a fake job, a fake life history, and so on. They may want to have sex or they may simply want to be treated like King for a Day.

so close to the plot of "Pretty Woman" as to be suspicious in itself.

In fairness to Venkatesh, his longer published stuff does have lots of caveats and concerns about whether he's getting any true picture or just repeating verbatim the self-aggrandising assertions of criminals - he's much better than Levitt at that. But you do need to make sure you're reading this stuff critically.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:53 AM
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LRock! Email me.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:53 AM
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The psychic price of having to pay someone for the illusion of sincerity seems like it would remain the same regardless of wealth.

They're rich guys that are used to paying for everything and having the world fall at their feet. This is probably no different, mentally.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:56 AM
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The psychic price of having to pay someone for the illusion of sincerity seems like it would remain the same regardless of wealth.

True, but odds aren't bad that this person is more sincere than everyone else in their lives, or at least they perceive it this way. I don't think it's as simple as acting.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:00 AM
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I think it is interesting that the more you do to make prostitution a positive transaction for both parties, the more it becomes like dating.

I bet if people started seriously thinking through their "happy hooker" scenarios, situations where prostitution is a legitimate and empowering form of work, so many changes would have to be made to the process that it would be indistinguishable from any other kind of relationship.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:02 AM
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I think soup's probably right.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:03 AM
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The psychic price of having to pay someone for the illusion of sincerity seems like it would remain the same regardless of wealth.

But it's become so much more normal to think of a psychologist as someone one can pay to listen and respond sincerely to one's long, drawn-out private matters. The transference is an important part of what you're paying for.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:06 AM
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I bet if people started seriously thinking through their "happy hooker" scenarios, situations where prostitution is a legitimate and empowering form of work, so many changes would have to be made to the process that it would be indistinguishable from any other kind of relationship.

A point made by "the 60 year-old's" joke, no?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:07 AM
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36: Right, I mean you pay a therapist for their professional help. But if you work with someone for a while, they probably come to like you and care about you.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:10 AM
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But if you work with someone for a while, they probably come to like you and care about you.

That's what you hope. Meanwhile, your money has paid for a nice bathroom renovation in their house.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:12 AM
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A point made by "the 60 year-old's" joke, no?

No, not at all. There's a difference between saying "making prostitution nice would turn it into dating" and "dating is just prostitution that has been made nice." I'm not saying that the process actually occurred--that all women's original role was to be prostitutes and they somehow negotiated their way up to wives. I'm just saying that if you let prostitutes negotiate to their ideal working relationship, they would probably end up demanding most of the things people get in healthy relationships.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:18 AM
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39: Oh, please don't be so cynical. There are all kinds of shrinks out there. It's probably paid their rent. They don't all make big bucks.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:23 AM
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Clergy get paid too, but that doesn't prevent their being friends with their parishioners--though there are obviously certain boundaries.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:24 AM
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That came out a little more cynical than I feel about it. Still, the money part of the therapeutic relationship is very real. You pay, the therapist listens with care. After you leave the therapist's office, the therapist listens with care to somebody else, or goes home to unwind after a long day of listening with care; you don't have to deal with any of that reality because you've paid for your hour, and the care that you got was enough.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:28 AM
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When I put my $1,000,000 check in the collection plate, I expect some blowjobs, BG.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:28 AM
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There's a difference between saying "making prostitution nice would turn it into dating" and "dating is just prostitution that has been made nice."

I think we disagree about the extent of the gap, though by no means am I intending to disparage dating, or questioning your point about the actual history of dating or marriage.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:29 AM
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Ned, save your money and just sign up for altarboy duty.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:30 AM
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As I recall, Washingtonienne didn't really differentiate between those who merely treated her well and those who paid her cash money. This doesn't seem to me like an unnatural attitude to have for a certain kind of person.

For example:

One diary entry described a "married man who pays me for sex" as "chief of staff at one of the gov agencies, appointed by Bush." That man, she claimed, paid her $400 on Tuesday for sex, but she declined to provide his name to The Post, saying, "I'm not trying to ruin his life." (On her blog she identified all the men by initials.)
In the interview, she described the $400 payment as "more like a gift than it was paying for a service" and wouldn't say how much money she has made for sex. "I don't want the IRS banging down my door."

Likewise, I bet there are plenty of rich and powerful men who don't see any particular difference between prostitution and their normal modes of "courtship."

Lots of people (on both sides of such transactions) see money not as a superficial attribute, but as something fundamental and desirable. Physical appearance works the same way, in this regard. So does power, I bet.

The distinction between "superficial" attributes and fundamental ones is not all that simple. Ask ogged about makeup.

I don't know if high-level prostitutes enjoy their work (though some claim to), but certainly it's not unusual for men and women to be attracted to money on a very conscious level, and I don't doubt that the hookers' customers, by virtue of their ability to pay for companionship, regard themselves as being thus desirable.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:31 AM
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Clergy get paid too, but that doesn't prevent their being friends with their parishioners--though there are obviously certain boundaries.

It doesn't prevent their disliking or indeed loathing others of their parishioners, though it behooves them not to show it.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:34 AM
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48: Of course. And I met one priest who admitted that one doesn't always immediately like one's parishioners. Sometimes over time, the things one found annoying become almost endearing. This particular priest said that his relationship with his father had been the same way. I'm just saying that not all professional relationships are purely financial transactions.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:37 AM
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if you work with someone for a while, they probably come to like you and care about you.

Why couldn't this be true of a kept woman too?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:39 AM
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I think it could be, PGD. That's why I agreed with soup that it probably wasn't all acting.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:41 AM
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48:

Just look at Father Seromba in Rwanda!

That is almost incomprehensible.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:41 AM
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Clergy aren't special. They're liable to just as much depravity as the rest of us.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:44 AM
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Agreed. Plus, they have to act nice all the time so they dont get a release.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:44 AM
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Clergy should be given special dispensation to compete in the UFC.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:45 AM
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That's why I agreed with soup that it probably wasn't all acting.

Some say the best acting comes when one can tap real emotions and blur the line between acted and real response. Isn't that the Method Acting idea?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:51 AM
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People here seem to hang on to an idealistic view of dating relationships and marriage, where the occasionally-attained ideal goal is taken as typical. There are really a tremendous number of imperfect arrangements out there, and that's what most people end up with. I don't think prostitution should be roped off by itself in its own "fate-worse-than-death" / "ruined woman" area, segregated from all the other imperfect arrangements.

In my observation, sometimes arrangements entered into entirely practically turn out to be quite nice. people get used to one another, etc.

Yes, in today's world, prostitution is patriarchal, like every other fucking thing there is. Or to put it differently, money talks.

This also reminds me of the real hatred people have expressed for the idea of "settling", when actually that's what most people end up doing.

Yes, girls and boys, what your mate really wanted was a Hollywood sex god/goddess with lots of money who was very considerate and affectionate and interesting and good with children and easy to get along with and fun and good around the house. Instead, they settled for you.

I can easily see that at a certain point this kind of thing might seem nice, if you have lots of money and nothing more exciting to spend it on, and if you're not up to dating and marriage but just want to have some nice moments.

As for sincerity, I think there are a a lot of grey areas. Not all spouses and dates really like you as much as they let you think, and not every prostitute is thinking the whole time "This person is so horrible I couldn't have sex with him for less than $10,000".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:56 AM
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Bravo to 57 and acknowledging that life is mostly lived in the grey areas.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:12 PM
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I endorse 57.


Posted by: curses | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:26 PM
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57 seems uncharacteristically relationship-tolerant.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:29 PM
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Just restoring the balance. Among the imperfect arrangements are non-relationship and prostitution. And I don't even deny the actuality of perfectly wonderful marriages / relationships, but they're nobody's birthright and shouldn't be treated as the normal standard, any more than winning the lottery should be taken as the normal standard. (And you can tweak the odds and the percentage of the house cut on my lottery metaphor as much as you want, as long as you recognize that lots of people don't win.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:35 PM
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I don't think prostitution should be roped off by itself in its own "fate-worse-than-death" / "ruined woman" area, segregated from all the other imperfect arrangements.

I think I want to totally agree with that without somehow endorsing prostitution.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:45 PM
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I think it goes further than 61. There is no ideal relationship that would actually be perfect for everyone. Some people will be much, much happier in relationship that doesn't look much like a story-book marriage, and one of the problems is the cultural pressure to not explore this. This has nothing to do specifically with the sexual aspects, it applies to everything.

Some people hurt themselves for years trying to adhere to an ideal that doesn't work for them, and feeling they haven't got better options. It's rarely true.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:46 PM
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I didn't mean 63 to contradict Johns claim that most people settle. Clearly most people do, for some value of `settle'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:47 PM
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In other sex work-related news, it looks like Rhode Island's dumbass general assembly might decide to finally make prostitution illegal.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:47 PM
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I'd really hate to have to do it myself.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:47 PM
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To settle, BG? Or prostitute yourself?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:48 PM
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I didn't know that it was legal in Rhode Island. There's probably been an uptick in the amount of legal prostitutions since the advent of the internet.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:51 PM
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prostitute myself. I basically support decriminalization--maybe even legalization--but I don't entirely want it destigmatized. I don't want the women shamed, but I don't want anyone saying that you have to do it, if you can't find other work.

Settling is just part of life, though I'm not anxious enough to have kids to grab onto any old man.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:56 PM
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Rather interesting clarification from another article on the subject:

State law prohibits loitering for the purpose of prostitution, as well as harboring or transporting prostitutes. But the sale of sex indoors is not specifically banned.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 12:58 PM
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though I'm not anxious enough to have kids to grab onto any old man.

At your age I think you should hold out for a middle aged one, in the worst case.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:01 PM
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70: Yeah, basically streetwalking is banned, and so is running a brothel, but the law is written in such a way as to leave plain old indoor prostitution legal. This has been known to be the case for years, but there's never been a serious push by anyone but the state and Providence police to plug the loophole (because the police, apparently, don't have enough people to lock up as it is).


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:07 PM
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Middle aged would only be 8 years older, so it wouldn't violate the 1/2 plus 7 rule.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:07 PM
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What is the definition of "middle aged"? Mine is five years older than whatever my age is right now. This is of course getting increasingly implausible, but whatever.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:12 PM
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plug the loophole

What's the hourly rate for that?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:14 PM
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What is the definition of "middle aged"?

BG is 32, so it seems that she defines 40 as the cutoff.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:15 PM
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I too noticed the similarity to the therapist's role, especially since I've been puzzling lately (probably thanks to an In Treatment overdose last week) over how much I go for analysis and insight versus how much I go for the feeling that someone really cares about my inner life and well being--a feeling that remains an incomplete tonic given that I consciously know that she wouldn't be listening if money weren't changing hands.

The result is that I'm surprised at how sympathetic and understanding I am towards the wackier desires of these high end Johns. I too pay for emotional comfort and companionship. But who knows, maybe it is all about getting off on power for them, in which case I can't relate after all.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:15 PM
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That hurts, BG.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:16 PM
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Will, do you think you'll live to 100? Because if that's likely, I'll let you wait until you're 50 to call yourself middle-aged. It happens to all of us eventually.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:21 PM
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I demand the right to have sex with my therapist any time I want, just for the power trip

"therapists" I should say, I do seem to go through rather a lot of them


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:22 PM
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Does middle age immediately follow youth, or is there an intermediate stage? Because I'm starting to feel not so young.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:22 PM
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82

32 is not yet middle-aged?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:23 PM
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When do I become "young at heart"?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:24 PM
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Fine, I'm a developmentally delayed middle-aged woman.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:25 PM
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I'm feeling old today. I lost a preliminary motion that I should have won. In my humble opinion, the judge was clearly wrong. It doesn't hurt my case, but it would have been a knock-out blow for us.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:26 PM
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How old are they supposed to be in The Big Chill? That's got to be middle age. But Return of the Secaucus Seven is not.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:26 PM
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82: hell no!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:27 PM
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81. Yes there is, it just doesn't have a name. When I was 25 I could pogo to the Clash without looking like any more of a prat than usual. When I was 30 I wouldn't have dreamed of doing the equivalent, but I don't think I was middle aged - I could still do a days work after partying all night.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:32 PM
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Actually, I think there is a name for the years between youth and middle age: in your prime.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:33 PM
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Technically, if we go by the traditional "threescore years and ten" as the length of a typical life, middle age would be 35.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:34 PM
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I think there is a name for the years between youth and middle age: in your prime.

"Normal."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:35 PM
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I could still do a days work after partying all night.

I've recently lost this ability, which made my middle-aged status much more real to me. That, and my back going out for the first time, which was a preview of the debilitation that comes with genuine old age.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:38 PM
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Technically, if we go by the traditional "threescore years and ten" as the length of a typical life, middle age would be 35

I turned 35 the day before yesterday, and I hate you all.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:41 PM
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I could still do a days work after partying all night.

I have never really been able to do this. I guess that I was middle-aged at 17.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:42 PM
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Huh, Gonerill and I are almost exactly the same age. And if you add up the ages of us two middle-aged folks, we're almost as old as John McCain.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:44 PM
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Thirty-five happy returns of the day, Gonerill.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:46 PM
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And if you add up the ages of us two middle-aged folks, we're almost as old as John McCain.

In the general election campaign, you should sell hisnhers tees with this on.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:46 PM
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which was a preview of the debilitation that comes with genuine old age.

The only effective way to avoid this that I know of is to treat your body very badly as a youth. That way you've had ongoing pain issues since you were 18 or whatever, and it won't sneak up on you.

Otherwise, yeah, this is really annoying.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:47 PM
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95: she broke up with you a day after your birthday? That's cold!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:48 PM
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Now what did I come in here for.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:48 PM
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I said almost exactly, Sifu.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:49 PM
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That is the framework I was working within, yes.

She broke up with you on your birthday? Damn!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:50 PM
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Happy birthdays, old men. Your blinkers are on, by the way.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:51 PM
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I could still do a days work after partying all night.

At this point, I don't even know *how* to party all night. I guess that means I'm not just middle aged, but genuinely *old*.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:53 PM
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The criterion isn't: could you still do a days work after partying all night. The criterion is: do you?

If you never did, this doesn't count against you necessarily.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:55 PM
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If you never did, you were always already middle-aged.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:57 PM
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I turned 35 the day before yesterday, and I hate you all.

Aw, cheer up, Gonerill. You have five whole years before you turn 40!


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:57 PM
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The years between 35 and 40 are tough years.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:59 PM
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I used to be extremely fun, not so long ago. It is possible that grad school is just grinding me down and the instant I have a real job, I'll enjoy a second youth. I'm counting on it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:59 PM
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If you never did, you were always already middle-aged.

Right, Bave, that's why I was saying that I was middle-aged at 17. On some level I've been 30 since the age of 7 anyway.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:59 PM
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If you never did, you were always already middle-aged.

Right, Bave, that's why I was saying that I was middle-aged at 17. On some level I've been 30 since the age of 7 anyway.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 1:59 PM
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Sorry for the double post. Safari tells me that the busy server may have dropped the connection.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:01 PM
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Double posting is a sign of senescence.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:02 PM
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the instant I have a real job, I'll enjoy a second youth. I'm counting on it.

You're thinking about leaving academe?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:04 PM
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A real job as an ass't prof, AWB? I wouldn't.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:05 PM
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107 is really not helping.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:05 PM
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108: That hurts, will.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:09 PM
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I turned 35 the day before yesterday, and I hate you all.

Fuck, you're less than a year older than me? WTF have I been doing with my life?

Huh, Gonerill and I are almost exactly the same age.

Ah, okay, now I feel better about myself.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:12 PM
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And a fun thread about paying for intimacy and sincerity has somehow become a whinge fest about aging. C'mon, people! Melissa from Hoboken in the linked article is 38 and making $120,000 a year for letting some law partner masturbate onto her twice or thrice a month! Your best years are yet to come!

Except for you, Will. I hope you saved those tips instead of blowing them all on expensive shoes, medallions, and leather pants.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:13 PM
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Melissa from Hoboken in the linked article is 38 and making $120,000 a year for letting some law partner masturbate onto her twice or thrice a month!

I suppose I should be glad that I relate to this in a purely metaphorical sort of way. Perfectly, but in a purely metaphorical way.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:16 PM
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Technically, if we go by the traditional "threescore years and ten" as the length of a typical life, middle age would be 35.

Surely the average lifespan is longer than when people still said "threescore."

Many people in my family, on both sides, have lived well into their nineties. My grandfather died a month before his 99th birthday. I'm pegging 48 for middle age.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:17 PM
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Oops, sorry, Po-Mo. Didn't mean to interrupt your prostitute fetish.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:19 PM
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C'mon, people! Melissa from Hoboken ... is 38 and making $120,000 a year for letting some law partner masturbate onto her twice or thrice a month! Your best years are yet to come!

Jeez, 108 was right: the next 5 years really are going to be nasty.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:20 PM
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107 is really not helping.

Come on, 40 is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, being 40 is better than being 35. I get to remind myself every day that I have ten whole years before I turn 50! That's like, a million years from now!!*

* one million to the power of -5, to be exact


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:27 PM
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Melissa from Hoboken in the linked article is 38 and making $120,000 a year for letting some law partner masturbate onto her twice or thrice a month!

Doesn't this roughly describe a lot of corporate law jobs?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:29 PM
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124: 40 is in the rearview mirror, youngster. OTOH, my s-i-l turned 49 yesterday but is showing scary signs that she may not make 50, which sort of puts a different spin on the whole round number birthday thing.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:32 PM
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my back going out for the first time

If this happens to you when you're 25, or 20, does one consider themselves old, prematurely, or just unlucky about that? I think it says a lot which way someone goes in that.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:32 PM
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Some would say If this hasn't happened to you by 25, you're not playing hard enough. Of course some would say all sorts of crazy shit.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:34 PM
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my s-i-l turned 49 yesterday but is showing scary signs that she may not make 50

Sorry to hear that, NPH.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:36 PM
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my s-i-l turned 49 yesterday but is showing scary signs that she may not make 50

Yikes. I hope she'll be OK.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:39 PM
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129. Thanks. The good news is that we've been scared before and had things go better than expected, and her quality of life is pretty good, but damn does cancer ever suck.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:40 PM
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Doesn't this roughly describe a lot of corporate law jobs?

Better hours for somewhat lower pay... But same idea really.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:41 PM
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NPH, we've been going through this recently too. It really does suck. As you note, sometimes things go better than expected. Best luck with that.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:44 PM
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132: Um, not necessarily lower pay, either.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:46 PM
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Thanks. I really didn't mean to derail the thread, just musing about how we look at aging. And part of aging is that you accumulate more bad things that have happened or are happening to people close to you, which sucks, but not as badly as having the bad things happen to you.

So all in all, I plan to welcome 42 when it rolls around next week. Maybe I'll go re-read Douglas Adams or something.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:48 PM
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And best of luck to you, too, SB.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:50 PM
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135: It's a good point. We tend to think about the physical effect of aging, but there are unavoidable emotional/psychological ones too. For example, it's not unlikely that a person can make it through to young adulthood without ever losing someone very close to them. Under normal circumstances it's pretty hard to carry through middle age though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 2:52 PM
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Cancer is one of those things that makes God seem to be some kind of vicious sadist.

A big change with aging is that you're calmer about everything and have more perspective. It's nice in some ways, but it's also part of the great winding down toward death. Death is the ultimate state of calm perspective.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:05 PM
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My mother had an incurable but painless cancer which left her alert but increasingly weak, and she explicitly and unironically stated that it wasn't a bad way to go at all.

"Painless": they gave her 30 percocet (or something) in September, and there were 29 left when she died in November. Most healthy people would use more than that, given the opportunity.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:08 PM
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The shift in perspective is true. My closest friend died of it (cancer) when we were kids, and it gave me a pretty reactive sense of what it meant. That, and the the process wasn't pretty, involving all the sorts of drawn out last-ditch efforts your more likely to try with a 12 year old than a 50 year old, I guess.

But the thing is, this stuff isn't `supposed' to happen to kids, and that colored everything going on around him. It took me a long time to realize that. Knowing some survivors also showed me that it wasn't an inevitable spiral into a messy death, something that merely reading the statistics on didn't seem to really sink in.

The point is, although that gave me a front-row center view of what it was like to die, I don't think the whole mortality as part and parcel of a life really sunk in until years later. Not the simple fact of it, but what it actually meant. I still had the standard kids feeling of immortality, it was just coupled with a bit of a chip on my shoulder and an extra distrust of hospitals. Some things just take time, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:16 PM
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125: Isn't the joke that people get into all kinds of demeaning or degrading jobs because they pay better than coveted jobs that are, to borrow LB's phrase, indoors, with no heavy lifting? Like that scene in "Office Space" where the recovering crack addict selling magazines door to door turns out to be a former software engineer, perfectly healthy, who started selling magazines because he couldn't stand the cubicle and now makes about as much as he did before. Or a dozen other scenes in that movie as well, really.

I read a science fiction novel where an ex-hippy goes on a lecture about how money really just amounts to the right to inflict pain on other people. It was treated almost completely as a joke, and I'd say it mostly is a joke in the terms he puts it, but still, there's a reason why the rat race has a bad name.

At least, this is what I tell myself every time my younger sister gets a work co-op or a job during her summer vacation that pays better than what I'm making now, three years out of college.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:17 PM
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But it's become so much more normal to think of a psychologist as someone one can pay to listen and respond sincerely to one's long, drawn-out private matters. The transference is an important part of what you're paying for.

Jacques Lacan at one point decided that all the talking and transference and whathaveyou were probably counterproductive and that what made the patients really feel that they were taking control was the decision to spend a large proportion of their income on dealing with their issues. He therefore adjusted his practice to this end, refusing to see patients and demanding that they simply posted the cheques through his letterbox.

Surely the average lifespan is longer than when people still said "threescore."

yes but the improvement is almost entirely due to improved child mortality, thank god or the life annuity business would be even more fucked than it actually is. The only people who have ever lived past 90 in statistically significant numbers are Japanese women born in 1910. Which some people think makes the mortality tables a bit dodgy at the top end.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:22 PM
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The only people who have ever lived past 90 in statistically significant numbers are Japanese women born in 1910.

That can't be true, unless by "statistically significant" you mean "more than half the population".

In one county in New Jersey, the typical Asian woman does live past 90 (Link: Asians are ~ 10% of the county's population.) But less than a majority would still be statistically significant.

Poor white people in Lake Wobegon are the healthiest non-Asian Americans. Goddamndest stat I ever saw, as if concocted by Garrison Keillor. (When my mother died at 87, she was the fourth oldest out of about seven obituaries).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 3:55 PM
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Wait till you get into your sixth decade and get to watch large numbers of people you knew and loved drop dead in an astonishingly short time. One of my oldest friends died of COPD two weeks ago; two weeks before that, another died of pulmonary fibrosis. Last year was no better. It's not pleasant.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:04 PM
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that county has a population of about a million doesn't it? assuming that means 50,000 Asian women, you're still probably not getting more than 500 90-year-olds, which is nowhere near enough to build a mortality table off.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:15 PM
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Not even 150 comments to get from high-end prostitutes to Asian grannies in New Jersey. We are a sad, sad lot.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:22 PM
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Are you people drunk? Is your secret identity as overly-literal AIs been revealed? "Middle aged" means 50. It doesn't mean life expectancy/2.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:29 PM
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I guess we're failing to communicate. So what you're saying is that the only group large enough to be statistically significant which lived, on the average, past age 90 is Japanese women born in 1910? Rather than that there is no definable group, large enough to be statistically significant, which had a statistically significant proportion of its population living past 90?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:33 PM
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Basically, the only people who have lived, been the subject of a census, died in the presence of statisticians and generally done the necessary to be the subject of actuarial tables.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:35 PM
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"Middle aged" means 50. It doesn't mean life expectancy/2.

We're just going by the definition implied by BG in 79.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:36 PM
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(by the way, this isn't pure pedantry, it's quite important in a number of contexts to do with pensions. A lot of the more apocalyptic views about the long term sustainability of pension arrangements are at least partly driven by assumptions about increasing average longevity of retirees. These are all based on the standard mortality tables, which are pretty good as pieces of actuarial science or statistics. But the underlying data gets really thin as you go up the age pyramid (and of course, a disproportionate amount of the costs are accounted for by the longest-lived pensioners), and I really do think that there is room to doubt (on grounds of diet alone) whether the current generation of retiring Americans are all that similar to Japanese women born in 1910).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:39 PM
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If we switched to Di's definition, teo, the only person here who wouldn't already be middle aged would be you.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:40 PM
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147 -- No, 55. Maybe 57: I'll let you kow in 5 years. What's "old"?


Posted by: NĂ¡pi | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:43 PM
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The starvation 1910-1946 was good for them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:51 PM
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153: I say that middle age starts at 40, but you're not "old" until you hit 80.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:55 PM
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I dunno about middle-aged, but I decided a couple of years ago that I was now officially matronly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:56 PM
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I decided that I'm officially a grown-up. And that it's terribly overrated.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 4:59 PM
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That's BS, LB.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:03 PM
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151

"(by the way, this isn't pure pedantry, it's quite important in a number of contexts to do with pensions. A lot of the more apocalyptic views about the long term sustainability of pension arrangements are at least partly driven by assumptions about increasing average longevity of retirees. These are all based on the standard mortality tables, which are pretty good as pieces of actuarial science or statistics. But the underlying data gets really thin as you go up the age pyramid (and of course, a disproportionate amount of the costs are accounted for by the longest-lived pensioners), and I really do think that there is room to doubt (on grounds of diet alone) whether the current generation of retiring Americans are all that similar to Japanese women born in 1910)."

If not enough people live past 90 (or whatever) to have good data on their future life expectancy then not enough people live past 90 (or whatever) to have much effect on average pension costs.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:24 PM
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I decided that I'm officially a grown-up.

I like this. Somehow even when I was 35, I didn't identify as a grown-up. I'm not sure when the words first came out of my mouth: "Well, I am a grown-up, after all," and then a bemused realization that I didn't seem to mind it, perhaps because being treated like a child has always driven me up the wall. Now I get to say, "Sorry, but actually ...."


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:30 PM
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LB NB BG's BS.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:31 PM
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Dsquared was saying that data about the older age groups is thin partly because birthdates are not verifiable, etc. He conjectures that there really won't be a lot of 90 year olds, though extrapolations from some tables, based on inadequate data, make it seem that there might be.

Or maybe I'm wrong.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:33 PM
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I couldn't decipher the NB in Tweety's stream of initials, but all I meant to say is that it's absolute bull shit that you look matronly, LizardBreath.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:33 PM
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I have a few recent ancestors who made it to 97-102. So for me youth is 0-33, middle age is 34-66, old is 67-99. 100+ is gravy. Right now, I am in the middle of middle age.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:40 PM
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164: Would have been better if you'd ended the comment with a "motherfucker." If you've got it--here reasonable claims of longevity--flaunt it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:42 PM
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If not enough people live past 90 (or whatever) to have good data on their future life expectancy then not enough people live past 90 (or whatever) to have much effect on average pension costs.

James, mate, are you all right? This is a piece of reasoning almost as bad as your earlier "the market remains fine and needs no government intervention; those cries you hear are only from all the actual people in the market".

Life expectancy at retirement is rising. There weren't lots of people in the past who could expect to be drawing a pension for 25 years, but (if the current generation of retirees follows the mortality tables) there will be a lot of such people in the future. Life expectancy at retirement is certainly rising; the debate is between the mainstream who think it's going to keep rising, with quite disastrous consequences for the financial viability of the industry, versus the sceptics and denialists like me who think the increase is going to tail off a lot quicker because the current retirees don't eat healthy diets with lots of fish.

It is of course, a totally academic debate for me; the mortality tables for overweight Welshmen with diabetes and thyroid cancer in the family tree are very well established indeed, so I am more or less sure to be a net contributor to the annuity industry.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:49 PM
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163: NB = `note well' ?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:50 PM
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If LB is a matron, then matron's the new hott.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:50 PM
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There may be enough mercury in fish now to solve the problem for the insurance people.

Old Japan had an incredibly frugal diet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 5:59 PM
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166

"Life expectancy at retirement is rising. There weren't lots of people in the past who could expect to be drawing a pension for 25 years, but (if the current generation of retirees follows the mortality tables) there will be a lot of such people in the future. Life expectancy at retirement is certainly rising; the debate is between the mainstream who think it's going to keep rising, with quite disastrous consequences for the financial viability of the industry, versus the sceptics and denialists like me who think the increase is going to tail off a lot quicker because the current retirees don't eat healthy diets with lots of fish."

According to this over a million people over 90 are collecting social security but this still accounts for only about 4% of social security's cost. So the increases in costs are primarily driven by increases in life expectancy for people who die before 90.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 6:16 PM
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167: Nota Bene didn't seem quite right in context.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 6:32 PM
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171: I was trying to fit a fairly circumscribed form.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 6:38 PM
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Having met LB, I can attest that 156 is utter nonsense.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 6:53 PM
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So the increases in costs are primarily driven by increases in life expectancy for people who die before 90.

James! For once I agree with you. The problem (in terms of costs, I mean) isn't that lots of people are living well into their 90s. It's that lots of people are living well into their 70s and perhaps early 80s (instead of dying at 67 or 68 or so).


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 7:05 PM
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Damn. It's always embarrassing catching myself fishing for compliments. But I got a decent haul, so thanks, guys!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 7:22 PM
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No problem, ma'am.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 7:51 PM
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174: And lots of those costs are incurred in the very last few months of insanely intensive care of lost causes. If my kids do that to me (despite all the discussion we've had about it) I'm gonna come back and haunt them!


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 7:51 PM
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LB, if you can't count on your imaginary internet friends, then who needs enemies? Or, uh, something like that.

What's funny about this blog is that a thread will go from sex to death in very short order, without even a cursory glance at the possibility of marriage and babies as some sort of stopgap measure. I guess Emerson's no-relationships advocacy is working.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 7:52 PM
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I guess Emerson's no-relationships advocacy is working.

Evangelizing, not advocacy. There is one relationship, and only one relationship, and that's the No Relationship, and Emerson is it's prophet.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 8:00 PM
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And lots of those costs are incurred in the very last few months of insanely intensive care of lost causes.

Retire to Oregon!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 8:14 PM
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I'm gonna come back and haunt them!

Don't tell your kids or they'll never take you off life support.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 10:27 PM
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I'm pretty sure that when I met you, LB, I said something like "omg I would never have guessed because you look about 15."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 03-13-08 11:12 PM
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Emerson is it's prophet.

Its.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 03-14-08 11:44 PM
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