Monthly Archives: November 2013

Courtship 1: Traditional

In days of old young men and women would meet in various day-to-day situations (especially church). He might ask if he were permitted to call on her. If he didn’t ask, she might hint that he wouldn’t be turned away if he chose to do so. A traditional courtship began when he knocked on her parent’s door.

Information regarding suitable matches (according to age, social standing, and religious affiliation) was widely disseminated. Many people in the community were willing to take an interest and point out appropriate prospects. Not least among these people, of course, were the parents of the youngsters involved.

This system of “courting” was formalized among the middle and upper classes – the girls would wait at home for the boys to call. The two of them would spend time together in her parent’s home, chaperoned from a distance (an occasional peek through the open doorway). The two would talk about whatever interested them and the girl would evince more or less interest in each lad.

Among the lower classes the process was often less formal. A shopgirl might have a number of boys dropping in and hanging around during her working day. They would engage her in conversation whenever she had a spare moment. The results were similar.

Of course, each young man might be calling on several girls.

The girls and boys knew quite a bit about each other before they first sat down together. Through extended networks the girls would be sure to find out any flaws the boys had exhibited in their lifetime. A boy generally had to depend on his female relatives; they would hear things that “team woman” wouldn’t tell the men. Families protected the youngsters from spending time with inappropriate matches. The conversations (in the parlor, over the shop counter, or on daylight walks) primarily allowed the young people to find out if their personalities clicked, if they enjoyed spending time together.

After a period of time a young lady could expect to have a group of young men calling on her consistently. The young men in whom she showed little interest, and those not interested in her, would simply stop calling. The boys still calling thought she was a good potential wife.

Now it would be time to get serious. A girl would choose one or two boys that she preferred and intensify her indications of interest. She might even begin to speak a little more boldly – bringing up “hypothetical” questions about marriage, children, etc.

Eventually an agreement was reached with one of the boys that she would be amenable to a proposal of marriage. Before he actually asked her, of course, he had to talk to her dad. Presumably dad and mom had been vetting the boys all along, so permission would be granted.

This system worked, and worked much better than the current system of “dating.” Some girls might have been raised to think of themselves as princesses and be overly fussy about finding “Mr. Right.” Some fathers might even indulge their daughters by introducing them to visiting suitors. This could backfire since, without a solid local knowledge of the man’s reputation, he might not be what he seemed.

Some of the boys might have been under the impression that no local girl was good enough for them. They had the option of moving to the big city to seek their fame and fortune (and wife). Even in the big city they had to go through the same courting process. They rarely found anyone better than the girls back home.

Most young men and women married locally – though the pool of eligible mates might have seemed very shallow according to our modern standards. And those who did were generally as happy as anyone in their marriages.

The truth is that most young men and women who didn’t differ too greatly in their looks, upbringing, and religious preferences could marry successfully. That’s why arranged marriages worked so well for so many centuries.

Young people in those days were taught to have reasonable expectations about what it meant to be a good husband/wife. That was the most critical factor in “making a good match.”

Thoughts on Prepping

I came by my prepper credentials honestly – I inherited them. My dad was eighteen when the stock market crashed. My grandfather wasn’t around much, if at all, but dad managed to find work (not CCC government work) and go to college. When the “Great Depression” finally ended in 1946 he was thirty-five years old.* These experiences informed his worldview.

My mom was nearly a decade younger. She was a teenager during the worst years of the depression. Her dad was a federal employee, so she wasn’t greatly affected. She did, however, pick up the “vibe” of the period from the society around her.

I grew up in a household where canning, freezing, a huge garden, chickens, and “making do” were the order of the day. When I moved away from home at eighteen I, like all young men, thought I was indestructible. I gave no thought to planning ahead and being being prepared for possible disasters.

After I had children I became aware of the fragility of life—there’s nothing like caring for a helpless baby to teach that lesson. I began to make sure that we always had some food, fuel, firearms, and flashlights on hand – just in case. I also tended to become more aware of what was going on nationally and internationally. I had a misguided hope that I could be first in line at the grocery store.

Since then I’ve become more systematic in my preparations – though I have my doubts about the likelihood of a major disaster. I just think it’s a good idea to be able to survive for a couple of months without outside support. The city where I live, in Florida, hasn’t been struck by a major hurricane since the 1920s. That could change at any time; we could be isolated for many weeks. Readiness for such an event costs surprisingly little in money, time, and space.

This post is not intended to be a how-to guide. For that sort of information Google “prepping.” I encourage you to start out slowly and gently – don’t freak out! I got a chuckle a few months ago when I read that one of the major disaster preparation websites had managed to “successfully predict eleven out of the last one disasters.” People do tend to over-exaggerate the dangers.

One reason that I don’t give much thought to long-term prepping (besides my backyard garden) is because I have confidence that people will learn to work together – to rebuild society. After every disaster, economic collapse, or war people have always managed to rebuild a local society based on mutual cooperation. I have no doubt that any future major disaster – epidemic, war, economic collapse – will see the same thing happen. Besides, I have confidence in God and put my trust in his promises. he will not fail me (though I have failed Him).

This doesn’t mean that I’m blind to the fact that modern American society has a dearth of people who can take care of themselves. I do have a plan in case of hurricane, massive blackout, or the closing of banks and ATMs. We will hunker down for a few days or a week – fully prepared to defend ourselves as necessary. I will do nothing to call attention to my house – no generator and no smells of cooking food (unless my neighbors are barbecuing).

Very few people are so weak or lacking in resources that they will die from thirst or hunger in a week. Those with a tendency to panic or criminality, however, will tend to expose themselves. After the waiting period it will be time to re-engage with my neighborhood–see how we can begin to help one another and to trade with one another. That’s where society will begin its rebuilding.


*World War II did not end the depression. It merely replaced poverty for some with rationing for almost everyone. (Go back)

The Billion-Dollar Question: What Attracts Men?

Over the past couple of months I’ve been exploring a corner of the Internet called the “Manosphere.” This is a rather loosely-knit collection of blogs that have one thing in common: they are opposed to modern feminism.

A subject that comes up frequently is the idea of female attractiveness – what physical features make a man want to approach a woman and get to know her. While there are some differences, most of the bloggers (male and female) have similar opinions. Their opinions, however, are often questioned by pro-feminist writers and commenters. The feminists (male and female) have very different opinions of what constitutes beauty or attractiveness.

It occurred to me that none of these opinions, Manosphere or Mainstream, are really worth much. The writers don’t have any “skin in the game.” They aren’t risking their own money or livelihoods when making their statements. Is there a group of people who consistently risk their own money on their opinion about what men find attractive?

The answer, as you’ve probably guessed, is the motion picture industry. Here we see tens or hundreds of millions of dollars being put at risk. When a major studio makes a movie aimed at a primarily male audience they are gambling that they have some idea of what appeals to men. Lets look at the female leads in a few such movies. Remember, the studios expect young men to freely spend their money to see these movies.

I’ve selected four films, off the top of my head, that I’ve personally seen. Yes, I like Sci-Fi.

Let’s start off with the iconic adventure film – Star Wars. The female lead is, of course, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. Leia is the quintessential “damsel in distress” (with a blaster). Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox did pretty well out of this franchise! I guess they made some good choices.


Moving up a few years in time we have Blade Runner. Sean Young plays the part of Rachael, an artificial human who doesn’t realize that she isn’t a real person. She’s also a damsel in distress who lends a hand with a large caliber weapon.

Bladerunner Sean Young

Those first two were science fiction; another genre enjoyed by the guys is the war movie. I selected Enemy at the Gates. Rachel Weisz plays a soldier in the Stalingrad militia during the Nazi siege. In true Soviet fashion, nobody really saves anybody. Miss Weisz’ character, Tania Chernova, is not a damsel in distress – until she gets hit by shrapnel and almost dies.

Enemy Rachel Weisz

Now you might object to the preceding films as being a little too “highbrow” for the typical male. So let’s pick one of decidedly lower quality. Dredd is a near-future science fiction dystopian police shoot-em-up. Its minimal character development goes well with its lack of plot. There is no romance – the male lead is more like a robot than a human being. The female lead, Cassandra Anderson, is played by Olivia Thirlby. She’s a rookie Judge (police officer) being evaluated by the experienced Judge Dredd. This is the perfect movie for a drunken guy’s night out.

Dredd Olivia Thirlby

OK, those are my choices, picked more or less at random. Let’s consider what all of these female characters have in common. Please note that I’m only concerned with characteristics amenable to change without surgery.

Starting from the top we (obviously) have hair. Anderson has the shortest hair – not quite shoulder length, but with a feminine style. Princess Leia has the longest hair – about shoulder blade length. In the third Star Wars film (Episode 6) her hair is nearly waist length.

One: Hair should at least overlap the collar. Longer is good.

Now let’s look at their faces: there are two points here. Most of them aren’t smiling in these shots but their expressions are soft in repose. There’s no hardness—even thought that’s quite unrealistic in a couple of these movies. Hey, whatever sells tickets! The other similarity is the makeup—not a whole lot.

Two: A gentle expression or a smile, indicative of a positive attitude.

Three: Apply makeup with a light touch.

Here’s a controversial one – weight. None of these characters is either chubby or emaciated. The picture of Judge Anderson is from a very brief shot in the movie. The rest of the time she’s wearing armor zipped up to her chin. But even under the armor you can tell that she’s slender.

Four: Body fat should be In the “amateur athlete” range.

Finally, there are three surprising “no-nos” that each of these characters has avoided:

Five: No revealing clothing. “Slutty” in public isn’t good if you want to be the leading lady.

Six: No visible tattoos. Not one.

Seven: No visible piercings – not even earrings!

This last point shocked me, so I also checked out Natalie Portman in Thor, Radha Mitchell in Pitch Black, Kirsten Dunst in Spiderman, and Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark and in Animal House. No visible earrings. An interesting exception is Princess Leia in her slave outfit. She has pierced ears with gold hoops. When she gets back into normal clothes, however, the earrings are gone. Interesting, no?

Please remember an important distinction: I’m not talking about actresses here, but the characters they portray. I don’t care if the actress herself has 1/4” hair, 2 square feet of tattoos, and needs a body double. The character she portrays is what counts.

I freely admit that this is not a scientific survey. But these four films together cost over $200,000,000. That’s a lot of money to lay on the line. I suspect the producers and directors knew what they were doing. Perhaps the ladies should keep these points in mind.