re: sex before marriage

You, like so many parents including my own, say you hope your kids wait until marriage for sex. The reasons, I presume, go something like this: Sex is a big deal you should share with someone who truly cares about you. If you wait until marriage, you’ll reduce the probabilities of all sorts of downsides – unwanted pregnancies, emotional distress, abuse, and disease – while making sex maximally special and free from jealousy. I don’t disagree with any of that. I do, however, think it’s worth pointing out that undergirding the advice is the assumption that your children will find love and get married while they are young. Not an unreasonable assumption, especially for an older generation, but still an assumption that will not apply to bachelors/bachelorettes who simply can’t find a good enough match. Worse still, as time elapses, following the no-sex-before-marriage philosophy probably militates against the goal of getting married – the 20-year-old virgin who is “waiting” is viewed more positively than the 30-year-old who is “waiting.”

So, would you still offer the same advice if you 100% knew your kids would be unmarried at, say, age 30?


I’m now officially on Team Ursula, and I’m stunned that you and every right-thinking person isn’t with me.

First, I see no good reason to hold a fictional world where people live and speak underwater to arcane bits of American jurisprudence, so the whole “she’s a minor” point is trivial. More importantly, though, Ariel’s world clearly views minors differently since she gets to marry a grown man.

Then there’s your consternation about selling a body part. Indeed there are interesting discussions to be had regarding the sale of kidneys, assisted suicide, or, in this case, selling one’s voice, but it’s certainly not obvious that these acts are “immoral” and should be deemed illegal. But even if they were, we are back to a mere technicality taking down Ursula.

In Ursula’s defense, however, is a concept so robust most people – from legal scholars to the woefully uneducated – would uphold: your word is your bond. Thus, the hysterical, unethical reaction by Ariel and her companions (culminating in murder) is condemnable. Of sound mind Ariel signed a deal – she should have to live with the results instead of getting a bailout from her dad and future husband (future statutory raper, I should say).

Anyway, you are the man and I have learned much from you. I look forward to your next episode.

because it failed to properly address the most frequent objection I hear: “I’m not getting vaccinated because I’m not at risk. Covid is just another flu for someone like me, and I don’t get flu shots.” If you ignore pleas about “community responsibility,” their logic isn’t easy to defeat:

So yes, it’s quite sensible for my young, healthy friends to think Covid is “no big deal,” especially when speaking from a selfish perspective. Of course, there are bad outcomes other than death, but I’ve found those are less motivating once anchored to the You should be terrified of Covid (incorrect) narrative.

Furthermore, if a healthy person is skeptical of the vaccines for any of the reasons you discussed, 12,000 random deaths from vaccines (if true) represent a greater risk than 600,000 deaths concentrated among at-risk people. Additionally, it’s reasonable to expect that the side effects from the vaccine will be worse than contracting the disease. Most people in my circle who got the vaccine were knocked out for at least a day; most who got Covid were asymptomatic.

Lastly, some of these anti-Covid vaxxers (most aren’t anti-vaxx) happen to have a starting bias that’s less trusting of authority. When you rightfully point out the countless institutional failures during the pandemic, you see “exceptions” that reduce your priors while they see “rules” that validate their priors.

A tricky problem, indeed.

Anyway, you are the man and have positively affected my life more than any person I’ve never met. Thanks for all that you do.


My confusion began with a statement so divorced from reality that I reread it multiple times just to confirm I wasn’t missing something:

“From the start, public-health experts were unanimous in their prescription for combatting the spread of COVID-19: ‘Stay Home.'”

Claiming such a thing is synonymous with Donald Trump’s rightly criticized reality-is-what-I-say-it-is persona. If the experts really were so uniform, correct, and prescient, the continued rise of trust in “outsiders” wouldn’t be possible. I most certainly want our experts and institutions to be esteemed, and that’s why I’m concerned about an ongoing denial that anything is amiss. If problems and errors (like the obfuscation around masks) can’t be honestly addressed, people lose faith and turn to less scrupulous sources.

My other point of confusion registered as you rightly pointed out that companies utilize benefits to attract talent. You called paid leave “good economics,” which of course it is when it’s offered – the employer has determined that the employee’s output matches or exceeds the additional compensation cost. This conclusion assumes that employers make economically rational choices. And under that reasonable assumption, it’s also “good economics” when paid leave is not offered – the employer has determined that the employee’s output falls short of the additional compensation cost. In both scenarios, the employer is profit-maximizing by filling necessary roles without incurring unnecessary costs.


Action, Not Warm Thoughts

In a well-intentioned effort to increase tranquility, happiness, and fulfillment, the modern world is littered with exhortations to feel gratitude. Just think about how lucky you are. Just think about how much you have to be thankful for. Just think about the billions, literally billions, suffering through incredibly stressful existences.

As evidenced by a society seemingly no better than previous iterations at reaching an enlightened state, the exhortations aren’t doing much good. To be sure, if one is able to remember that things can always be worse, that moment takes on a different, possibly superior tenor, but that experience is stubbornly impermanent.

I posit that this conundrum is solved through determined action, since it is terribly unlikely to replace negative thoughts through thought alone. Thoughts lead to action and action defines character and on and on – I’m not saying anything original. Yet, I kept thinking about these concepts while watching you in xxxxxxxxx, thinking how people were going to take away the wrong lesson.


While listening to your enjoyable and informative conversation with xxxxxxxxx, I couldn’t help but think of the “cool kids” in high school. Those kids happen to like a band few have heard of and then, suddenly, that band becomes mainstream. Do the cool kids still gain “cultural capital” by listening to the now popular band? Of course not. So, they move on to the next unknown band all while making fun of the late adopters who are fans of a band that “sold out.”
I suspect this same dynamic would occur if your efforts to extend “cultural capital” to different groups succeeded. If, say, everyone got to experience exceptional art, experiencing exceptional art would no longer be “cool.” After all, if everyone has “cultural capital,” nobody has it, and that’s something competitive humans don’t generally tolerate.

I too share your (and Sports Illustrated’s) interest in noticing and understanding gender inequity. Perhaps just as fascinating, though, are instances where no such inequity exists, or the inequity is entirely reasonable, and yet a story of girls having an unfair time compared to boys is told.

Now, I had never heard of Olivia Moultrie before reading the enjoyable xxxxxxxxx So, I freely concede that you may know how Olivia and her parents face backlash in ways male childhood prodigies don’t. But judging by merely the journalism itself, I saw no such inequity and I’m curious if you reached an alternate conclusion.


Seek First to Understand

Mr. xxxxxxxxx,

Not since Marilyn Manson have I heard one of life’s keys so beautifully explained as you did in your recent conversation with xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx.


Medicare for All

subject: You are a smart, deep thinker about healthcare,

which is what made your interview with Pramila Jayapal so disappointing. 


I learned a lot in your piece today. So, thanks for that.

What most stood out to me was that the errors and inconsistencies you correctly identified regarding men and sex are errors that essentially apply to all humans on all topics.

Rationalization to maintain a positive self-image? Yea, we humans do that when we cheat, lie, steal or perpetuate anything else that we “know is wrong,” but that we, for reasons both conscious and unconscious, do anyway. (Most perversely, we tend to give ourselves the ultimate benefit of the doubt and never extend that same generosity to other people who commit identical acts: “They are bad people. I’m just a good person who one time did this one thing that made sense in the moment and is no way indicative of the ‘real me.'”)