Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari  (2015)

Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari  (2015) ($15, link)

“The brain is the best algorithm,” Fisher argues.

Having read a number of relationship books before it, Modern Romance wasn’t groundbreaking, and I wasn’t surprised all that much by data or original thoughts. Nonetheless, it was worth my time – especially if I return to the dating world [2015].

The authors start with a brief history of older marriages and relationships from the US: we used to be satisfied with companion love, having had only a few options in a partner. Today, we suffer from dozens – or millions – of options, and we know from psychological research that in human decision making, more is certainly not always better.

Thus we have created internet-based technological services to help us find a partner. And since the world, and our beliefs, have changed, this technology is good. However, it has its consequences. It has turned some below-average guys into acting like charming, perfect studs; it has overwhelmed many females, and even males, to the point of apathy; and it continues to delude:

“No compelling evidence supports matching sites’ claims that mathematical algorithms work,” they wrote.

…and as such, these sites should be used as introductory services! “Have faith in your ability to size someone up in person.” Ansari says in his final paragraphs. It’s easy for me to say, “Duh!” but hard for many teenage- and early twenty-something’s to internalize.

Unfortunately, the concept of “a perfect soul mate” is likely to do more harm to anyone trying to find this elusive partner than it will help anyone actually be happier. As I’ve read before, happiness is largely about managing expectations. The problem is the idea of the ideal:

That’s the thing about the Internet: It doesn’t simply help us find the best thing out there; it has helped to produce the idea that there is a best thing and, if we search hard enough, we can find it. And in turn there are a whole bunch of inferior things that we’d be foolish to choose.

Notably, everyone (anecdotally, but still!) says they prefer honesty in rejection…yet nobody is actually honest when they reject another person. Ansari’s explanation seems perfect:

If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that, however bizarre, we actually prefer to be lied to. If someone lies and says they are dating someone or they are moving to another town soon, you don’t feel rejected, because it’s no longer about you. This way, our feelings aren’t hurt and we aren’t left confused or frustrated by silence or “pretend to be busy” issues. So I guess what I’m saying is the next time someone asks you out and you aren’t interested, the nicest thing you can do is write back: “Sorry, can’t do dinner tomorrow. I’m leaving on a secret mission with the space program! When I return to earth, I will have barely aged at all, but you’ll be seventy-eight years old. I just don’t think it’s a good time for me.”

A similar area of psychology Ansari discusses is that we do not know what we really want in a partner. I suppose an algorithm or service that took data cross-referencing personality data on couples, time together, and overall happiness just might have a shot at finding correlations, but unfortunately it seems like we’re a long way from that.

They also write about another psychological point: cheating and being faithful. Technology makes it easier to cheat, some on Reddit argue, but it doesn’t make it more difficult to be faithful. Likewise, we should understand that a single fuck or blowjob shouldn’t ruin a years-long relationship. I’m excited to see how American culture changes over the next few decades – and even more excited to be part of changing it.

In early sections, the authors give some good advice on how to craft an ideal profile picture, some minor suggestions for profile information (and the better suggestion to not waste too much time on the text parts of profiles and communication), and how to message prospects. He presents great psychology on why we play the I’ll-text-you-back-in-twice-the-time-you-waited-to-text-me-back games!

The authors later spend a little time in Japan, Argentina, and France (I think?), writing about a few of the differences, and on topics like snooping, sexting, and the like.

He also hits on Sherry Turkle’s argument, that kids – college kids especially – are “losing their ability to have spontaneous conversation,” not using those parts of their brains, and opting instead to craft perfect text messages and emails. The human species is in a sad state, and I hope this generation has its leaders who rebel against these alarming trends, remaining human!

The best relationship tips were to continue doing exciting things – exactly those to help make first dates seem more exciting and increase attraction between couples. But the book wasn’t much on information on retaining relationships. As such, Strauss’ The Truth will almost certainly be the next related book I read – if not the next nonfiction book I read.

Stilll, for this “modern” “snowflake” generation, this might be the best book to start with, because a) it gets them reading, and b) it’s comedic.

My full highlights (34p) are worth reviewing every year or so.

A 5 Step-Plan for the Financial Future of The United States, or: Why Killing All the Baby Boomers Just Might Save Us [satire]

Do not read this webpage. This is satire. If you do not know what satire is, stop here and leave immediately. If you do know what satire is, leave anyway, as you and readers like you are even more dangerous. The comments on this web page are not intended to provoke, stimulate, or encourage any violent or negative behavior towards the elderly, humans, animals, or even ants. No ants were squashed in the writing of this satirical post. Proceed at your own risk.


This phase-two summary outlines a 5-step program to save the financial health of the United States. It does involve the legal authorization and later killing of American citizens, so must be treated as highly CONFIDENTIAL, but is still in the development phase. Authorization would be required, senior citizens killed, corpses transformed into crop fertilizer, agriculture across the U.S. improved, and benefits would percolate throughout the economy. It is an all-inclusive plan and touches many sectors, but for reasons of sensitivity, reader caution is urged.


  1. Authorization from Congress to kill anyone over 65.
    • Legislation must first be passed in Congress for this measure. A constitutional amendment is recommended, but not necessary. This national legislation would make legal the killing (honorable, of course) of anyone over 65 legal for purposes of reducing their generation’s population and easing the financial crisis of the country. Legislation must be simple and powerful but contain all requisite details, such as the age above which should be killed, who must do the killing, how to proceed when seniors resist, and other such major details.
    • Employed workers over 65 years of age, such as active politicians, might be exempted. Other issues must be decided, like execution spots within the continental U.S., various phases, and how to inform the generation of their mandatory sacrifice. The President would be given full authority to execute the final plan; indeed current President Trump would surely take pleasure in the disposal of most of his generation.
    • Rhetorical thoughts: Should savings’ and other financial accounts of this generation be redistributed to their families, the federal government, or diverted elsewhere?
    • Explanations to seniors’ could be given (i.e.: “Your generation shall return to the earth from whence it came, just a bit ahead of schedule this century.”), but may simply delay the process, and legislation should avoid making this a requirement.
  2. Perform the Executions
    • Care must be taken to execute seniors swiftly, before unrest and societal problems occur.
    • Lethal injection should not be used over ethical concerns being discovered of late, and electrocution might cause other issues. Both might permanently damage tissues for later steps. Firing squad is recommended to preserve the majority of bodily tissue for decomposition. Considering the state of healthcare, the decline in contentment and “life quality” for seniors, and typical cognitive decline in hospital settings, death by firing squad is likely an act of kindness for many seniors. Most should be appreciative, although many may be slightly anxious during their final moments. Security should not be ignored.
    • While an execution of 75 million seniors may seem like a simple project on paper, great care must be taken in planning. Citizens must be executed close to “grinding” plants and stations (see below) in order for bodies not to decay, and care must be taken to avoid jams in pipelines during the execution- and grinding-processes. The conventional meat industry in the U.S. should provide the necessary equipment, but personnel selection may be challenging. Volunteer programs should be incentivized, although traditional volunteer-based programs, such as the military and Peace Corps, may not suffice.
  3. Grind Bodies Into Mulch
    • Human bodies decay rapidly, but this fact must be used to the advantage of the nation. While the “baby boomer” generation is not the healthiest from a nutritional perspective, their ground, decaying bodies would indeed contain respectable stores of certain micronutrients, and without question, large stores of protein, fats, and other molecules. Since such bodies already contain bacterial colonies, and this “mulch,” as it shall now be referred to, could be used as an agricultural fertilizer for crops nationwide. It must be noted that such protein-rich mulch would contain respectable stores of NPK and other highly sought after fertilizers, along with other lesser known trace elements, including but not limited to lithium.
  4. Use Mulch As Soil Fertilizer
    • Crop selection is critical. Corn, for example, is overgrown in the U.S., raw consumer demand has flatlined, and likely has little need for such a nationwide supply of quality fertilizer. However, raw grasses, such as spinach (direct to consumer) and other grass-products (such as that eaten by the growing “grass-fed beef” industry) are recommended, but research must be done to determine the optimal mulch-to-harvest ratio of various potential crops.
  5. Reap the Harvest and Benefits
    • Government spending falls as benefits for seniors’ decline and execution/fertilizer program draws down.
    • In 2-4 growing seasons (short enough to be measurable within typical election cycles) crop quality and productivity will increase notably. Prices should remain stable (or actually rise) for farmers by increased demand (meeting supply) for high-quality nutrition by the public, especially considering the patriotism involved in buying such important crops.
    • Each year after the program, as the effects of mulch decline with soil turnover, farmers will incorporate modern technology and processes to maintain crop output levels and demand (in the first few “harvest” years, as they might be called), mix ideas from modern science, and increase public interest into farming overall. Increased focus on agricultural, one of the most important sectors of the USA, should continue for decades.

The economy is stimulated, healthcare costs are down, and doctors are free to focus on helping those of us who still contribute to our nation: the young people.

Quite literally, this plan is democracy in action with every forkfull of grass-fed beef and raw organic spinach. Fruit, too.

“Mmmm, thanks, Grandma! Delicious!”

Posted 18 May 2017