Chapter 11: Dating & Aristocratic Genes.

I wish there were a few rich widows around here.
You could probably advertise.  Having a little girl who can be dressed up and spoiled immensely should be a selling point.
We do have adverts on the 'net, but it doesn't work much.  I'm probably targeting the wrong market. 
I suspect that the net has yet to reach most middle aged people in this part of the world.  Respondents tend to be older (not so good with young children) or teachers (not rich) or both.  One older lady was going on about taking off-peak holidays and things like that.  I had gently to point out that schoolchildren are confined to school holidays, this is what makes the peaks.  I think she thought in terms of being a grandmother not a parent.
Someone once suggested I ought to go to Florida and become a kept man.
Why not?  You're cute enough.  Though the weather in Florida is horrible.
Well that's one good reason.  Gun law is another.  I must say cute is not an adjective that would occur to me to describe myself.  Maybe I should advertise myself as cute.
Men age better than women do.  I won't look as good at your current age as you do.
<blush>  I know I'm pretty lucky that way, and I talked in another place about how Lyudmila aged past me like I was standing still.  But she was ever critical of my weight (85-90kg),
How?  Why?  Unless you're four feet tall, I hardly think that's an unreasonable weight.  My husband outweighs you by about sixty pounds, and he doesn't even have to shop in weirdly large-size stores.  But then I'm in America, land of the Big Behinds.
Yes, I've noticed.  Why do they have to wear shorts too? I don't suppose I'm fat by American standards.
Hey!  I have a big American bottom.  The reason we wear shorts is it gets so freaking hot here.  Not hot the way it gets in Britain, where people start collapsing of heat stroke when it hits 23C, but hot as in 40C, with 80% humidity.  Personally, I feel it makes sense to wear something that covers one from head to toe, of very light-weight cotton, that's like a light dress, but most of the rest of us feel cooler in shorts.  I have enough sun damage for one lifetime; i don't feel the need for any more.
I've nothing against big behinds of any nationality per se, but there is no need to rub it in.  I would have thought a light dress or skirt, or even loose shorts would be cooler.  I just recall on visits to the States watching HUGE arses straining a pair of shorts almost to destruction as they waddled up to a burger bar, and wondering "Why do they do that?"  Usually female, men at least tended to wear loose ones which didn't look quite so ridiculous.  I presumed they thought it looked attractive, but I don't have a bum fetish.
That is what I have found.  Plus it looks so much better.  IMO, no one over 25 should wear shorts in public unless they are participating in a marathon or triathlon or  something.
and I feel unattractive because of that. 
You shouldn't.  It's not that important to women, and as long as you are not necessarily looking for Naomi Campbell, I don't think it will be a problem. 
You mean I should give up on Naomi?  Pity. :-)  I have always thought she sounds like a spoiled brat, but she is gorgeous. 
Actually I was more interested in Nigella Lawson, cookery writer, broadcaster and daughter of Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequor.  She was once voted the 3rd most beautiful woman in the UK, she recently lost her husband to throat cancer very publicly (he, John Diamond, was a journalist, documented the entire yucky story in his paper, and made a TV documentary of it to boot.) and has two small children.  Just my type.
Well, what are you waiting for?  Though Nigella... what would you call her for a pet name?
"Goddess" probably.  One of her books was called something like "How to be a domestic goddess."  Her father was Nigel, and rather self-important.  He claims he didn't name her after him, but nobody believes him.  I guess the guy who more or less single handedly engineered a crash of the London Stock Market has a right to feel important.
And to answer the first question, I don't like to get involved in competing with half a million other guys for the same prize.  Same reason why I don't do the lottery.  I did draft a letter of sympathy after her husband died, writing as one involved in cancer partner support, but reading it back felt it was intrusive and ripped it up.
Maybe I'm wrong.  There are thousands of guys in the UK who's partners died of cancer leaving young children, and the majority of them probably fancy her.  So hundreds probably wrote to her.  But by that reckoning thousands would be writing to a.s.c.b. and they don't, we get what, 3 or 4, from the whole English-speaking world, so my statistics must be off somewhere.  Maybe I'll rethink that.  I think the class barrier has something to do with it, its probably really because she's an aristocrat.
Well, I am, too, if you want to get technical about it.  Nana, my paternal grandfather's mother, was a baroness and never let anyone forget it.  (I tastefully never pointed out that perhaps it was exactly that behavior that caused Russia to become so uncomfortable for her.)
No, seriously, I think as an American I just utterly cannot understand a class barrier.  I don't want to put you down; I know it is real to you and it does make a difference, but I guess that's the difference in our upbringings.
I'm not sure whether it was really relevant or just a talking point. I don't think I really meant class was a sticking point, more just a handle for a cluster of things.
Russian aristocrats are different because the structures which supported their separation from the proletariat have failed and they are forced to mix with the rest of us.  
Yes, ha ha, and as far as I can see, they roundly deserved it.  One of Lyuda's college friends was the granddaughter of some military leader who led the Russian army in some great battle. There was a statue to him in the main square, but she never mentioned it, and when asked just said "Oh, I thought you knew."
That phenomenon happens quite a bit in University.  In the 80's my then girlfriend and I befriended a waitress in a pizza bar.  She was very pretty and intelligent, and turned out to be the daughter of the retired Persian PTT minister.  She was studying in the UK and had got stranded by the revolution in what had just become Iran.  She couldn't get money out and had to live on her own wits.
Another incident, a friend of mine had a far-eastern postgrad student (Malaysia maybe).  Something prompted him to check out a dictionary, and he found that what he thought was her first name actually translated as 'Princess'.  She was embarrassed when confronted and asked that it be kept quiet, but when she left she said "Do come and visit me sometime.  Address?, Oh just ask for me at the palace."
What a lovely thing to be able to say.
It has an olde-worlde ring to it.  It reminds me of getting faxes sent to the St Petersburg telegraph office in Russia.  My address was simply "Jackson, St Petersburg".  That made me feel important.  They had only just got the technology (in 1991!) and there was so little traffic that was all they needed.
Yes, I remember that.  I sent CARE packages, etc. to a friend in Latvia for several years in the late '80s and early '90s, and when the Berlin
Wall fell in '89 I was desperate to get in INSTANT contact with him.  I finally had to send him a telegram.  In it, I asked for a fax number.  His reply, among other things, was, "What?"
Speaking as a female, I'd rather be clasped to the bosom of a male with a fair amount of meat on his bones.  It's much more comfortable.  
Her point was that she would rather be clasped to my bosom than to my belly. She liked looking at a guy with a flat stomach and was disappointed that it wasn't on the menu any more. When one is lying spoon fashion, a beer belly fits neatly in the small of
one's back. 
To be fair she was even more disappointed with the degradation of her own offering, and criticised herself more than me.  She was forever struggling with weight and insisted on periodic diets and fasts which I felt were self-defeating.  She bought a wardrobe full of charity-shop clothes a size too small that she was "Going to wear when she lost weight."  We had a joke because once she was asked to answer a questionaire for the local  papers's 'personality of the week' column, and for "What would you like your epitaph to be?"  I suggested "Here lies Lyudmila, size 14, honest."  That is what they printed, but I resisted the temptation when actually ordering the headstone.  It was all a bit tongue in cheek, she gave her favourite occupation as "Ironing my husband's shirts."
Tee hee.  I actually like ironing.  It's like cleaning silver; you get instant results and it looks SO much better.
And you'd be amazed at the number of men who won't eat this or that because they're dieting.  I always say I enjoy cooking for men because they'll eat anything and love it, but that is more and more often untrue.  My brother now picks the beef out of my beef stew carbonnade, the poophead.  And my father won't eat dessert anymore.  God, I grew up learning to cook very high-fat, delicious food.  I may have to revise my entire cooking style.
I have never believed in dieting as a cure for anything.   I think my body knows what it wants to eat better than my mind does.  I have to have a damn good reason for telling it it's wrong. (Same as bringing up kids really)
I know I could fix it at a price in time and effort, but it is not enough of a priority right now and I'm not sure it ever would be.  British (but not Russian) women are mostly put off by beards.  I know that's easy to change but it would probably be making the wrong sort of statement to do so.  This has been me since I was 18 and I'm kind of attached to it.
Especially if it's hiding a weak chin, enormous wart or port wine birthmark in the shape of a chicken.  :)
I don't mind beards, personally, as long as food doesn't get stuck in them.  Also, if a male with a beard performs a certain sexual service upon one and then doesn't wash his face in the morning, all and sundry who pass one and him by know what he did to one last night.  (mortification)  Pardon the not-so-elevated tone, but it is a concern for many women.
I think we should draw a discreet line under that thread.  We usually liked to end lovemaking with a shower together, so it shouldn't have been a problem.
Actually I did once date a local rich widow, but she ended up marrying a much richer and older guy.  She was fun to be around, but more like a sister than a girlfriend.
Yeah.  I would take out print ads in things like Town and Country and Atlantic Review.  Assuming you want a rich American one.
Ulp.  I think I was playing a game, not making business decisions.  Ooh, sorry, I guess because I married in a business decision I think everyone else has the same evil intentions.  I certainly wasn't taking it so seriously as to put real money behind it.  OK to pay the odd 10 membership fee to a website, that's beer money being reused because I can't go out for a beer.  This is a different ballgame. You've opened a bag of worms here.  Maybe this is what they mean by a midlife crisis, but I think it has more to do with pushover from climb-out to level flight.
Up till now that sort of thing was out of the question.  There were debts to pay off and a business to restart, and expensive ads would classify as luxuries.  OK, now I've reached the point where I can have my life back, and such a decision would be -possible-.  I certainly hadn't thought the idea through in real terms, it was a bit like dreaming of space travel.  It probably isn't what I want anyway, but it does beg the question "What do I want?"

Several introduction agencies allow users to post ads for free, and only pay for introductions to other advertisers.  I did a piece of 'creative writing' to sell us, not pushy but it sparkled enough to show there was a brain behind it.  What I got was responses from journalists who made decent pen-pals for a while but that's all.  I suppose with hindsight that was predictable, and it was a compliment to my writing, but that wasn't what I was trying to sell.  I guess that was market testing, and it showed that this was not the way to do it.

The trouble with deciding what I really want is that it keeps changing. Most of the time I have wanted a companion of some sort, but this week I seem to be quite misanthropic and wonder why I should want anyone and what the hell is wrong with life as it is.  Sometimes I try to do a cost-benefit analysis.  With my marriage this was easy, you put Natasha in one scale pan and it tips that way whatever you put in the other.  The other costs and benefits of the marriage were irrelevant, I could always argue that I wanted a child and any shortfall was the price of getting one, and that covered a multitude of sins.
Now its harder.   I want an intellectual companion, but as we see such a person need not be physically local or emotionally unattached.  I can get most of that (eg) from writing to Catharine.  I need to resolve the practical problems of child-minding etc., but that can be a hired hand - I have Cindy to do that, at least for now.  What's left?  A mother-figure for Natasha.  A sexual partner for me.  Really that is all.  Money - not really, I never did care much about it - I'd rather have playtime.  I have enough, OK it's not a great deal and I have my cashflow crises now and again but there is not much of my life I would sacrifice to get more money.  I think the rich widow scenario would probably do more to impose restrictions than offer freedom.  Cindy? - I'm equivocal - she's young (35), quite bright, sexy, worldly, unattached, computer literate, not pretty, not healthy, not well educated and not interested.
'Another Lyudmila' ie a former-Soviet immigrant would be easy enough to get,  I even got an offer at the funeral. 
Oh, heavens, how creepy.  (Needing the gory details for no good reason) Was this from an actual woman-looking-for-mate or someone who knows a WLFM?  Or worse, from someone who runs an agency? 
OK, I'll have to admit to my little contribution to sluthood.
Alla was a predator in person.  She had been in UK, in Portsmouth, for a year on a fiancee visa but her intended had got cold feet.  Lyudmila had met her through Lubov Youssopova (whom I mentioned ages ago), I think Alla was couriering some money for her or v/v, I don't know more than that.  Anyway she had been to stay with us for a couple of weeks that summer.  I had to meet her at the station.  I asked Lyuda how to recognise her and Lyuda said "Oh, she's about 40, fairly nondescript, but she'll be wearing a canary-yellow jacket".  Of course she wasn't on the train expected, and when after about an hour and a half, a tall attractive titian haired lady with a stunning figure walked up to me, it was a little while before I noticed the yellow jacket. (The hair was dyed but the figure was natural).
Lyuda told me quite a lot about her, like she reckoned Alla was gold-digging, and that she was frustrated because she wasn't getting an effective sexual relationship with her fiancee who was, to be fair, about 60.  The fiancee phoned me a few times for support.  He seemed a reasonably nice guy, but totally naive in chosing and making relationships.
So when the funeral came she was still in UK and was of course on the guest list.  I suggested she stay and help sort out Lyuda's papers because I badly needed a bilingual assistant and she was at a loose end, having only a couple of weeks left on her visa.  So she came (her fiancee even paid the train fare) and was a great help.  She was of course hoping that I would be able to keep her and extend her visa, but the immigration authorities would not have permitted that anyway, and all else being equal I was not in any position emotionally or financially to take on another dependent (let alone dependent family - she had a 15yr old son in Russia) at that time.
I was not surprised six months later to hear she was now married to some guy in the Southwest UK, presumably someone she met while living there.  Good luck to both of them, I suspect they'll need it.
But if like Lyudmila it meant supporting her for the rest of her life physically and emotionally, then it probably isn't worth it. 
They (the former-Soviet women) seem so desperate, too.  I would feel slightly icky about it -- as if I were taking advantage of her -- even though, in reality, she would be taking advantage of me.  
Its a trade.  It is mutual supply and demand that is the binding force of relationships.  If both are taking advantage of each other then that makes a strong bond.
It could mean someone young, bright and attractive, and possibly more children, but that doesn't seem terribly important now.  And I would have to weigh the immediate sexual attraction against the whole-life commitment, how long would I still want that, what happens if/when we get out of synch. if that is all that holds it together? Do I want to have teenage children when I am 70?  Would she have health problems?  A fraught scenario, tempting now but my imagination runs scared at the long term projection.  It -would- be a way of keeping up Natasha's Russian language skills.
Hmm.  Sounds as though you need an attractive Russian au pair, and let the chips fall where they may.
The chips tend to fall in the wrong places and stick there.  I had an 18yr old Russian student lodger for a month.  That was OK, but 18yr olds don't turn me on, and I doubt if I turn them on either.  I saw this as a female version of Artyom.  With an au-pair, even if I could find the space now Artyom is back, the chances are I would just find myself living with someone who was a complete irrelevance for an extended period.  Statistically I would have to do that several times before anything stuck, so it would take several years and the clock is ticking.
I do enjoy being in control of my life, I missed that while I was married. There is some satisfaction in setting a course out of the mess we landed in, seeing it through and now arriving at more or less the point I aimed at.Life is peaceful without her, but perhaps too easy.  I guess a holiday from demands doesn't hurt.
 Yes.  At this distance, I am proud of the way you and Natasha seem to have come through this terrible experience with everything more or less intact.  I think that's a tribute to your child-raising technique, and perhaps the level head on your shoulders.  I think you are entirely due some feelings of satisfaction.  You realize, of course, that this will all fall to sh*t when Natasha is 15.  (wide, evil grin)
Yes, I feel that even that degree of normalcy would be vindication.  I hope she is stunning and breaks lots of hearts - payback time!  Seven is a wonderful age and I am enjoying it while it lasts.  Old enough to talk to you, not old enough to talk back.  I wish she could stay seven for ever and ever.
Yes.  I have often said that I would consider being a mother if it could start at age six or seven.  I consider that the age where they become real people.
Thanks for listening.

Despite stories about inbred morons, weak chins etc., it strikes me that most people I encounter from privileged backgrounds have 'good genes', attractive, intelligent etc.  (It obviously shows in your generation.)  My only question is why can't it work the other way - I've got good genes, why can't I have a bit of privilege?  Not that I am not grateful for what I have, it -is- the most important part.
Do you think it's good genes, or do you think it's being able to take advantage of things which enhance one's appearance and intelligence?  Like being sent to the best schools, being sent to the dermatologist when one sprouts spots, being sent to the orthodontist when one's teeth start looking crooked...
These things all help I'm sure, but the best schools can't make an idiot intelligent, and its hard to fake good skin, which is something I particularly notice (possibly because, being short-sighted, girls' faces were in focus when kissing.), and hence carrying years well.
(Gasp!  You kept your eyes open during kissing?!?  You broke The Code!)
I wouldn't say "kept open", just "opened".  I do get bored easily and start looking around for something interesting to think about after a while. 
You were undoubtedly a weird teen boy. :)  The ones I messed with seemed quite happy to do nothing but have tongue in mouth.  I thought it was the girl's job to get bored.
Small things amuse small minds.  Not so much of the teen though, I didn't get many opportunities to practice as a teen.  Boys' school and all that.
I've always thought that was the problem with Britain.  No wonder you conquered the earth at one time:  your guys weren't tired from adolesence!
A mouth isn't that big a place to explore, especially with the limited reach of a tongue. :)
Limited reach?  Some people seem to be searching for my lunch, or at least my tonsils.  I must admit, though, that I think the role of the tongue when kissing is rather over-rated.  My sixth-grade biology teacher told us that the human mouth was the most filthy place on the body, and that has never left me, sadly.  My sixth-grade biology teacher is a whole different story.
What sort of aliens were you kissing?  I guess frog princes would have pretty long tongues. My husband.  He watches too much porn, and thinks it's sexy.
Did he turn into a prince?
Nope, he's still a frog.
I thought that kissing was a sort of innoculation against the viruses etc. that might later get transferred in more intimate exchanges of bodily fluids. Oh, and here I always thought it was payment for dinner and a movie.
Your sixth-grade biology teacher was not perhaps suggesting kissing another less than clean area at the other end of the alimentary canal instead, as a polite form of a common insult?
No.  I've heard it since.  He meant in contrast to a dog's or cat's mouth.  I believe we have more anaerobic bacteria in our mouths, even though we don't lick the same things the dogs and cats do (or at least, not as often as they do).
Mr. Pahl (Dr. Pahl, now) was a genius.  He had been almost finished with medical school when his wife got horribly sick and he quit so he could earn money.  He ended up teaching biology.  He was a trip!  We had horrible pop quizzes, called bombs.  His exams were called blitzes. 
That was the first year we dissected, and he threw the dissection animals at us when he was handing them out.  They were sealed in plastic bags, but it was still pretty gross and weird.  I was beaned by a fetal pig when my lab partner choked and missed it.
Have you ever seen those tremendously long, flexible antennas that some people put on their pickup trucks?  Mr. Pahl had one of those.  He called it his "nerd knocker."  If you weren't paying attention, you might hear a slight whistling noise and than CRACK that thing bashed the top of your desk.  I'm surprised he didn't put someone's eye out with it.  His aim was true, though.
I still have nightmares about his anatomy pop tests.  He had a skeleton hanging in the front of the room, and he would call you up IN FRONT OF EVERYONE and start whacking various bones with his nerd knocker.  You had to spit out the name of the bones as fast as he was knocking them.  He did the same thing with the muscles, AND we had to name insertion and exertion points.  I'm (or was) good at memorizing things, and I don't have much stage fright, so this didn't bother me TOO much, but still, the awful
Seven years later, I came back to Austin (where I was in college) with a horrible case of strep throat.  My roommate took me to the Student Health Center (otherwise known as the Quack Shack), where they took one look at me and ambulanced me to Brackenridge, the big hospital in the area.  Imagine my surprise and confusion when, through the clouds of delirium and
my 106 fever, Mr. Pahl's face swam into view!  He had, indeed, finished medical school and was in his residency for trauma medicine.  He said, "Catso!" (his nickname for me) "You grew tits!"  I was hospitalized there for four days, and he visited me each day.  What a sweet guy.  And what a prince of a teacher... after 26 years, I can still name most of the bones in the body on demand.
Yes, but idiot children can be put into expensive schools for life if one is rich, and you and I, who suffered through acne with only benzoyl peroxide available to us, would not BELIEVE the stuff that dermatologists have for it these days.  Really, at the first bump on Natasha's face, take her to one.  There's no need for her to have zits.
I do think these things tend to carry through impoverished generations - my father was brought up in poverty in inner city slums and left school at 14, and yet has had hardly any illness until now, and managed to get a Master's degree, partly as a consequence of post-war retraining.  He still looked good enough at about 55 that my girlfriend thought him fanciable.  That's not to say he had an aristocratic ancestry, we have no records beyond his parents, but it certainly suggests that nature had a bigger hand than nurture in his case, and a lot of the traits -do- inherit as his children show.
Yes!  Absolutely.  That's why I think that aristocratic ancestry does not prove anything genetically.  Your dad is obviously one of nature's
aristocrats.  (Sorry... is there any more patronizing thing that I could have said than that?)
In the evolutionary model it would make him a benign mutation.
There is a picture of my grandfather in 1922, when he was eighteen or so, with braces on his teeth.  I didn't even know orthodontia was INVENTED then.  But it obviously was, and his mom obviously wanted to take advantage of it.
Personally, I think a lot of what seems to be nature's blessings on the  aristocracy is actually centuries of eating a variety of food, e.g. fruit brought in at great expense in the dead of winter, meat when no one else has it, etc.  When the rest of the people are surviving on bread and ale and the odd onion, of course the aristos are going to look prettier.  Tra la, off to get an MRI of my swanlike neck and shoulders.
Sure rich kids are taller and better proportioned than poor ones, but I don't think that carries over.  Naaah, that would be Lamarckian evolution, and we don't believe in that these days.  On one hand, generations of good health care may improve the genes a little, although I can't really see a mechanism for that, (more a matter of avoiding damage) 
I don't think it improves the genes, but, for example, a rich mama who eats better food during her baby's gestation is probably going to deliver a healthier baby than a poor mama who eats bread and water.
Sure. I vaguely recall a survey of, I think, grandchildren of women who were pregnant during the Leningrad seige which showed a statistically significant disadvantage in things like birthweight and early development.  While I can't remember the details, it definitely was suggested that deprivation during the -grandmother's- pregnancy can be a factor in the child's development.  So all is not quite so simple as we thought.
Oh, wow.  How very interesting.  (I'm not being in the least sarcastic.)  I must find that study somewhere.  Thank heavens for Google.
but on the other, being able to chose good-looking mates is going to have a much faster and more significant effect on breeding-in 'good' traits. 
Yes, as we now think that we know what all the "good-looking" characteristics mean as far as childbearing. 
Hmm, yes that obviously is not a direct correspondence.  I guess I am assuming that over generations the vaguaries of fashion will average out.
It's basic stuff, like healthy skin and teeth suggest health.  I know that a specific hip-to-waist ratio is what attracts men from many different cultures.  Can't remember exactly what it is right now. 
I've also read that blond hair is attractive to many cultures, as many people have light hair when they are young, and so blond hair looks young.  Also eye-liner... I've heard it explained that many young women have dark circles under their eyes, and so eye-liner is an attempt to look young. 
I thought it was from staying up late.  When I get overtired my eyes get such dark circles that one girlfriend said I looked like a panda.  I thought eye makeup was just to draw attention to the eyes and so the object of their attention.  Natasha has very dark eyes that look like all pupil.  They say that that is supposed to be sexy because pupil enlargement expresses interest.
Yes, hence the use of belladonna drops by ladies in the olden days. 
Some nature article or radio program recently pointed out that most animals don't have 'whites' to their eyes and (genetically) prefer to conceal the direction of their gaze.  How interesting.  I've never heard that, but it makes sense.  Humans are rare in using this information to communicate.  The article suggested that concealed gaze might make predators fear that they had been spotted before they actually had, but I don't think that adds up.  It works better the other way around, conceal the gaze and you camouflage the eyes.  Seeing eyes is a damn good way of finding otherwise concealed animals.  You put an eye, or even just a lens somewhere in an image and your eye/brain will find it ever so quickly.  It is deep-down recognised as a significant object.
Do you know about puffy sleeves?  I have read that men prefer puffy sleeves because they look like shoulders hunched in fear.  Is that weird or what?
Speaking of blond hair, I had about 1.5 cm of hair on my head in a boring, ugly taupe color.  I went to a salon yesterday, and had them bleach it white!  It looks really cool.  The girl who took my money told me I looked like a punk Mrs. Santa Claus.  (Remember, I have very ruddy skin and I'm plump.  I also smile a lot, like a dolphin.  It doesn't mean anything, but it's the natural shape of my mouth.  Ho ho ho.)
Yes, another confusing and inaccurate signal.  A smile is the best turn-on, I guess as an indication of interest, but it is very undirectional, and often has as much to do with the natural relaxed mouth shape as any intent, and I don't really see why it is so relevant.
Introspection suggests that physical attraction is a multi-level process, some features which attract at 50 paces are irrelevant at 50mm.  I don't know what the childbearing implications of a nice smile are.
I know 'received wisdom' is that men are supposed to be attracted to slim blondes.  Well sure, blonde hair catches the eye at a distance, but it soon becomes irrelevant, and it tends to be associated with sensitive skin. 
Huh.  Does the princess in The Princess and the Pea turn men on?  Not as far as I know. Here in the U.S., we associate red hair with sensitive skin.  How interesting. Well, yes I won't deny red-hair skin is even worse
 I once had a slim blonde vivacious girlfriend who at first seemed quite a catch, but she didn't turn me on one bit.   I really don't know why, her previous partner had been aroused if she so much as walked across the room.
The investment bank I worked for in Dallas was in a very tall building.  There was a very nice cafeteria on the fifth floor, with a jukebox in it.  I was good friends with a black woman who worked there.  We looked quite a bit alike, though our skins were different colors.  We were the same height, build, etc.  We even had similar faces!  The jukebox was right by the elevators.  We got in the habit of getting off the elevator, selecting the Theme from Peter Gunn, and then we would walk in step together all across the cafeteria to the salad bar, slightly vamping to the music. What a lovely image!
Trelia (the black woman I was and am friends with) still works there, and says guys STILL remember that.  And that was about thirteen years ago. 
Hmm.  Don't know why I included that, except it had something to do with men being aroused when women just walk across the room.  Sorry.  Just bragging on past glories.
It was a shame really because she was quite keen on the relationship.  And what childbearing benefit do anorexia or fair hair have?
I find that there is some conflict between the features that catch my eye and the ones that arouse me sexually.  Despite jokes about men undressing women with their eyes, I actually found it took quite a few years of undressing girls to get any idea how to predict what sort of 'dressed' looks would be exciting when undressed, and it still seems mostly a matter of luck.
Yes.  Bras, etc. seem to make a big difference.  There is a woman in the gym I use who has what I call National Geographic-style breasts: they're flat, long, hang down to her tummy, and point at the floor.  She wears a magic bra that gives her the pointy, looking-at-the-ceiling breasts of yer average fifteen year old.  She's got to be in her mid fifties.  I have a pot belly which is totally hidden when I wear a certain dress.  It's not fair... with men, it's largely WYSIWYG.  I mean it's not fair to men.  Women can disguise ourselves so well, and men can't, really.
Breasts.  Such a noticable indication of a woman's reproductive state. Instant triage immature/nubile/too late. 
I never thought of it that way, but you're absolutely right.  How we must have screwed up evolution, with our bras that support... our Cooper's ligaments are supposed to give out around 35 or so.
I suppose concealment is part of living in high population density, I'm not sure how that works.  It always intrigued me how, in the context of concealment a breast exposed or hinted at is so alluring, yet the charm is so quickly lost in a context of nudity.
As has been observed in European royal families over recent centuries, if they inbreed and maintain a small gene pool then there is negligible chance of it doing anything but decline however well fed. 
On the other hand, you have the Hawaiian chiefs who believed that their sisters were the only ones sacred enough to mate with, and ended up with seven-foot-tall godly-looking offspring.  I don't know how the Hawaiians managed it, as they came from such a limited genetic stock to begin with, and the Europeans commented on how fab and healthy they were at first contact.  I'm sure there were a lot of deformed babies sacrificed in the heiaus.
Wow. That would imply an exceptionally low mutation rate (on a volcano?!), or some very suspect sisters.  Or really bugger-up the theory.  I suppose it depends how long they had been doing it for, and how coherently. 
Well, legend has it that the people who were chosen for the long canoe journey were very large and very healthy, the cream of the crop so to speak.  And even though some of my Hawaiian siblings like to make out that we've been there since the beginning of time, archaeological finds indicate the first people there got there c. 800-1100 AD.  So we haven't really been there all that long.  Also, some ali'i (chiefs) didn't have sisters, some had sisters who didn't get pregnant, and some were gay.  The Hawaiian ali'i also had an elaborate wardship system, where likely-looking boys and girls got adopted into the family, so that MIGHT have had something to do with it, i.e. she may be called my sister, but she's actually from the other side of the island.
I think the suspect sisters is the most likely expanation.
I guess both are statistical samples of one, and are contradictory, so there is no conclusion and never should have been anyway.  Pity, it was nice to think that was why the last Tzar was such a prat.
Oh, I'm *sure* that's why he was a prat.  Well, that and the way he was raised. 
Look at the ancient Egyptian pharoahs... they did the get your sister pregnant thing, and a lot of archaeologists think that Akhnaton (I know I mis-spelled his name) was an example of that.  He was the one who tried to start a new monotheistic religion?  You know?   Anyway, he wanted his portraits done in a more realistic manner, and they show a very oddly shaped man.  There's a lot of speculation about what genetic problems he might have had.
Or what the artist had been drinking.  I didn't know that.
Harmful mutations greatly outnumber benevolent ones and this has to be offset by the 'natural selection' process.  Restricting the range of choice reduces the efficiency of this half of process.  That would suggest that the best way of advancing evolution is to have a well fed elite (protecting the chosen genes) having love-children with the masses (who generate a pool of mutations to select and add in).  But then we once knew that didn't we?  And it is inherent in the system that most people have to carry bad mutations.  They carry off the excess entropy of the system.
I think I just concluded that the genetically superior elite theoretically has to exist, that it is an integral part of evolution, although I hadn't realised that was where I was going.
There is some depth to explore there that I haven't thought through. ntropy requires that natural selection has to run just to stand still. What does this imply for the long term effects of our attempts to produce an egalitarian society?  Could it actually lead to a general evolutionary decline? 
All the intelligent people I know are always bemoaning the fact that the teenage welfare mothers who live on Fritos and Dr. Pepper are pumping out babies at a ferocious rate, and the women with Ph.Ds are not having any
According to my theory excess breeding shouldn't affect the standard of the 'protected core genes', they are just building the mutation pool.  It does not 'bring down' the genetic standard, if their progeny are rubbish they don't get inbred.  You're right, and we also have to remember that we are dealing with a second of time as far as evolution is concerned.  What they do with each other doesn't matter to the core (unless they start breeding with their sisters) because the genes get scattered randomly and the mutations mostly die out.  Only inbreeding really extends the gene's timeline.
The declining birthrate in the protected pool is more of a problem.  It gets  replaced, but I'm getting tired and can't figure out what with right now.
Someone figured from DNA analysis that we are all descended from one man about 50,000 years ago.  Not that there were no others about then, but only one still has surviving progeny.  The corresponding woman was older, I think 200,000.  I don't know if that is relevant but it sounds like it might be.
I think so, too.
(well, except for my sister, Dr. Fecundity.). 
Well there are exceptions.  Our friends Steve and Susannah have four children - he is an orthopedic surgeon and she is a GP.  Maybe something to do with his surname - Allcock.  Honest.
Oh, yeah.  Remember my post about my old boyfriend whose last name was Hathcock.  Ya gotta wonder what the fellows down t' pub thought of those last names when everyone was getting named.  I mean, we had nice normal names like Jackson, Small, Whitehead, Honeyman, etc., and Mr. Hathcock prances in the door.  Talk about people who might be perceived as prats.
Sounds like the old Monty Python spam sketch.  "Haven't you got anything without cock in it?"  "Well Hathcock's not got as much cock in it as Allcock." etc.
Radio 1's latest top DJ had been getting complaints about her constant references to male genitalia.  One comedian did a sketch along the lines of: "One more remark about pricks on air and you're fired" "OK I'll be good" (on air)"... Well thats the end of the show and this has been Sarah Cox."  "Right! That does it! You're out!"
I think that the child of an inner-city mother (chosen for beauty, which we now know means fertility and health) and an inner-city father (who is turning his considerable, though hidden, intelligence towards a life of crime, and thus can buy lots of presents for the mother) is NOT necessarily going to be stupid.  And if the little organism survives a pre-natal diet of crisps and sodas, s/he may be extra sturdy.
And s/he may get the mother's brains and the father's beauty, and have stunted growth due to smoking during pregnancy.
The logic is clearly against socialism, but I'm not clear about the effects of the current versions of "social capitalism" either. 
I don't know enough about it.  You can probably tell me if it's working in the U.K.  How about in Scandinavia?  I know they're all depressed and on the dole, but how healthy are their kids?
Working?  I don't think we've been doing it long enough to tell.  The only unexpected long term effect I can see here that relates to our welfare state etc. is the growth of single parent families and the exclusion of men from the parental role.
In Britain, in your ads and sitcoms , are men always shown as amusingly stupid?  That really bothers me. I have an aversion to sitcoms to the extent that I really don't know. 
I mean, I know that I am smarter than 99.32% of the men in the world (she said modestly),
You go to four significant figures?  
This still bugs me.  I figured you to be somewhere in the range 99.80 to 99.96.  Where do you get the 3?  Maybe it depends how you define smart.
Extensive research.  :)
You must meet some pretty smart guys then.  It does rather depend on how you define smart though.  I know smart when I see it, but it isn't always good educational or career achievement.  Maybe what I am measuring is something else.
but what are we teaching little boys when Mom is always the one with the right idea?  I think it feeds into the whole men-don't-grow-up thing.
This goes along with the black gangster role models.
I think Scandinavia is a pretty depressing place to have to live in the first place, before you put the people in.  It is very 'up against' nature.
I know.  I need to look at a globe.  I wonder how far north I am compared to you, for example.  I am going crazy right now, as it doesn't get dark until around 10:00 p.m. and then starts lightening up at 4:00 a.m.  I've lived pretty far south all of my life, and I need at least ten hours of DARK to sleep properly.  Oddly, I have no problems in the winter, when the sun rises at 7:30 a.m. and sets at 4:00 p.m.
I spent time in Leeds, though, and in Alaska, and short nights never bothered me there and then.  I think Leeds is further north than I am right now, and I *know* Alaska is.  Maybe it's chemo and unhappiness that are making this worse for me now.
We are about 54N, so yes we are north of you (being close to the 48th parallel) but not all that much.  According to my nautical almanac "Twilight all night" occurs above 56N, and I know it happens for about two weeks of summer in St. Petersburg/Leningrad (60N), known as the White Nights. Sailors define twilight, if memory serves, as the time between the first stars appearing and the horizon disappearing, being the period during which a sextant can be used to measure star positions.
I don't think they have a particularly good health record generally, and neither do we by European standards.  I don't know how that splits up into age groups.
Where I notice kids being physically different is in areas which place an emphasis on sports and physical education.  White South-African kids in Capetown all looked pretty fit, but you can hardly move for sports arenas there.  Most of the black kids didn't look so good though.  I've no idea what the general and long term health implications are.
And how interesting!  Here, black kids are ALWAYS better at sports than white kids are.  (Though I'm not supposed to say that.)  But they are... I mean, look at cheerleading competitions on ESPN.  The traditionally black colleges' squads do utterly amazing stuff.  I don't know about other sports; cheerleading and swimming and diving are really the only things I know a lot about.  There are not too many great black swimmers or divers, but I think that's because up until the last ten or fifteen years or so, the majority of black kids have not had access to pools.  I know that as they participate in the sport more, they're going to blow us slow pink people out of the water.
Well yes, but in SA the famous division between Black and White is really between Rich and Poor.  At least in laid-back places like Capetown, rich black people are perfectly welcome to socialise with whites.  There is a BIG divide and it has only a little to do with race.  The blacks underperform because they are seriously impoverished, unlike in America.  Easy.
Huh?  Most black people in the U.S. are impoverished.
I think we're talking a different planet impoverishment here.  They don't have minimum wage and things like that.  These guys live in shanty towns made out of corrugated iron and scrap materials and live on third-world income.  We still do see that, especially in the depths of Mississippi and Alabama.  That would be normal out in the middle of Africa in the poor states, but it seems kind of incongrous alongside western-style shopping malls and yuppie nightspots.  Yes, absolutely.  Sounds a lot like Manila.I guess it probably is.
This immense contrast in wealth leads to a terrible security problem.  Robbing the rich is a very lucrative business for the impoverished.  And more power to them!  Well yes, as long as I'm not the rich person.
When I was working there once a black factory worker I had working Saturday to help with machine installation asked me for a Rand for his busfare home because it was too far to walk and there were no other workers there to give him a ride.  That would have exchanged to about 15c US.  Here a bus would
charge you ten times that to go a mile.  Their 'buses' are clapped out 12-seater Toyota minivans, invariably overloaded, always breaking down, and run by gangs who have frequent territorial shootouts, which sometimes result in passengers getting terminated.  Of course there is a proper transport system for those who can afford it, ie whites.
There is also AIDS.  Near Durban, out in Zulu country, the works manager warned me (as a visitor's routine health-and-safety briefing) that about 60% of the factory workforce was HIV+.
Yes, due in part to a remarkably silly folk belief that you can rid yourself of HIV by having sex with a virgin.
What? I know the government was keen to believe HIV didn't cause AIDS because they couldn't afford -to- believe it, but that does take the biscuit.
It's all through South Africa and Swaziland, etc.  The men truly believe that if they have sex with a virgin, they will cleanse themselves of HIV.  Hence the horrific rape rates.
Have you seen the reports on Henan province in China?  65-70% of the total population there is HIV+, due to a corrupt blood-selling plan the government tried to place there around ten years ago. 
No but I'm not surprised.  Seeing the seams exposed in Russia made me realise that all government is corrupt, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.
They have a serious problem because in the interests of equality they can no longer give an elite education to a few (ie the whites), and bringing everyone to a mean level means that no-one gets a proper education any more and so there are few really skilled people coming up through the system, their economy is in trouble and it can only get worse.  It takes a long time to change these things even when the will is there.  Who teaches the teachers when you don't have any?
When I was a kid we were told that black people weren't as competitive at swimming as at other sports because they had a denser body structure and tended to sink, whereas we are bouyant by about an inch or so.  I have also heard that that is not true.  I never personally experimented with multiracial trial-by-water.  Do (racially) black witches float?
It's not true.  It was one of the canards promulgated to keep black kids out of white swimming pools.  As late as 1973, when I used to go to the city pool in the small Florida town where we lived (they had a high dive board, which the beach did not have), there were signs up saying that you couldn't swim there if you had any oil on your hair, as it would clog up the filters.  I later found out that wasn't true, either, and was a subtle way of keeping black kids out.  Horrible.
I daresay someone somewhere has done a PhD on it.  I know that SF stories have been written about it, but it hadn't occurred to me that it was a real danger, or even had a logical basis.
I'd be interested in seeing something that compares infant mortality rates for rich vs. poor people before the Industrial Revolution.  How would one establish that?  Parish records?  Did poor people have births and deaths recorded, too?
Yes I'm sure they did.  I don't know off-hand how far back universal recording of births, marriages and deaths goes here, but it is quite a long way.  'Ordinary' people can trace family trees back for quite a few generations through parish records.  I think there have been historical studies on infant mortality that could be researched.
Well, duh, yes, I am looking right at the genealogical research that my paternal grandfather did, and if I flip to the Luttrell family stuff, I can find Robert Luttrell, knighted 1361 in Kildare.  He was born 1311, and died 1370, so he was knighted fairly late in life and yet his birth information was still available.  God, what chemobrain makes me forget.  Interestingly enough, he and his wife, Margaret de Birmingham, started the horrible tradition of naming their eldest son Jericho.  I hope his friends called him Jerry.  BUT by 1562 the name has shifted to Jenico.  Huh.
So aloha pumehana.  I'm going to go check the mail and show off my new white hair to the guys who are resurfacing the parking lot.
Was there really a deBirmingham family?  It is hard to think of Birmingham existing before the industrial revolution, and in the hands of Norman barons to boot.  I suppose there must have been.
I guess so.  Grandpa's genealogy book says there was.  I think it's a very funny name, because to me Birmingham (Alabama) is, like, the armpit of America, and so to put a "de" in front of it makes me titter.
Back home after the MRI... now I gotta run out for my MUGA.
Well yes, Birmingham here is not that bad, but it has a very down-to-earth reputation as England's workshop, and it is hard to associate it with aristocracy.  On the other hand when my van broke down in Birmingham I had every confidence that it would get fixed properly even though I had to just drop it at the nearest garage.  If they can't fix cars in Birmingham they can't be fixed.  It was the centre of the munitions industry in the war, and the auto industry afterwards

Going to my parents for the weekend.  Theoretically I could keep up with my mail there but probably won't, its too complicated.
Did you have a good time?  Did you get to go do some adult stuff with Natasha stashed neatly in the bosom of the family?
I think, though, that most children are naturally brilliant.  Hang on here.
In the U.S., we don't do I.Q. testing before third grade. (Eight-year-old kids.)  Why not?  Because when you do I.Q. testing and assessment inkindergartners and first-graders, you wind up with too many false positives.  Everyone appears to be brilliant.  
I am a natural contrarian when it comes to things like eugenics.  I say, what if everyone is brilliant to start out with, and it is only the successful kids who learn what the educational system expects of them who appear to be brilliant twelve years later?  What if there's something intrinsically wrong with the way we educate?
I think there undoubtedly is, and even more with what we test for.  But it is the same for everyone so why should it cause variations?  What exactly do we want out of education anyway?  If we just want (ourselves or our kids) to be more competitive and have more life chances then it is just an arms race and it would be much cheaper to hobble the opposition (cf ABM treaty) than to compete. 
Yup.  A lot of loud African-American advocates say that that is what we are doing here, by putting images of cool black hooligans in front of black kids as role models.The problem of course is that society is not closed (unless you consider the whole world) and hobbling only particular parts of the opposition isn't very democratic. 
Here we also have the interesting and sad situation where kids are being educated to tests.  People are always railing about how poorly schools work, and the only way we can think of to assess that is test scores, and funding goes to schools with the best test scores, so kids are being taught specifically how to take the test.  And nothing else.
That is a subject of the election campaign currently in progress here.  Last term Labour campaigned on "Education, education and education" as its three top priorities.  A listener's letter to Radio 4 suggested that with hindsight it should have been "Examination, examination and examination".
Yes.  In Washington State, though, exam results are tied to high school graduation.  I wouldn't think that was so bad, except the tests are based on a college-bound curriculum, and let's face it, not everyone is going on to college.  So what happens to the girl who can't pass algebra and wants to be a beautician and isn't taking college-bound classes?  She fails the test, can't get a high school diploma, and thus can't get licensed as a beautician.  She's doomed to a life of minimum-wage jobs.  99.54449 of all jobs in the U.S. require a high school diploma.
You mean you have to pass ALL subjects to get ANY paperwork? Yup. Crazy!
That sounds silly, worse than our old discredited 11+ exam that at age 11 divided kids between leaving school at 15 (or 14 in my Dad's day) or continuing education to 18 and possibly on to university.  In Dad's days there was really no way back if you failed.  He failed it and was doomed to boring semi-skilled jobs until he was rescued by the war.  He got made an officer when they got desperate enough to drop the requirement that officers had to be able to ride a horse!  He entered the army as a worker and demobbed as a professional.  A strange transformation.
Now there is no division through high school, then you take maybe 5 subjects at GCSE and get a separate certificate for each one.  Then you can leave, or if you get I think 3 C's or better you can stay on and do maybe three subjects at A (advanced) level, again a separate certificate each, and an
adequate achievement here, maybe 3 C's again, will get you into University. Failing to make the grade generally drops you out of mainstream education, but you can continue with Further Education colleges (to A level) evening classes or full time at your own expense, and the Open University - distance learning in your own time.  They've changed the grading schemes occasionally but I mean passes graded A-E, so C's are median level.  The net result is everyone gets some sort of certificate to say they can do something, so there is no hard cut-off and there is no disproportionate penalty for having one 'bad' subject.
Also they have addressed the college-bound curriculum problem.  A-levels particularly were like that, so they introduced a parallel system, NVQ - National Vocational Qualification, which has the same status as A level but is oriented toward a non-academic curriculum, intended for students who want
higher education but do not intend to continue to university.  Of course there is some problem there - parents want the kids to go to university come what may and so often won't let them commit out at that stage.  Artyom would probably have done better in the NVQ thread, but his mother would have been horrified.
Is there any great benefit to a closed community as a whole from educating it as a whole?  Does it make anyone happier?  Does that make me an anarchist, a vandal or a hooligan?
In my experience most kids are pretty bright, but certainly there are amazing variations in development stages - eg being a late/early
walker/talker etc does not seem to have any particular implications in later life.  I'm not sure how much of intellectual development also comes in surges like this, and so gives misleading indications of potential, and how much it is a process that has to have sustained stimulation to progress. 
Yes.  At the age of five, I invented communism.  My uncle reminded me that I came up with Judah Folkman's angio-genesis theory of cancer fighting when I was ten, and my grandmother was dying of cancer.
Well done.  The only thing I can remember inventing for myself at that age, in the first flush of abstract thinking, was logarithms to the base of two. On the other hand I was oddly lucky that none of my close relatives died before I was 30.
I know many, many girls who were brilliant in elementary school and then got stupid once they got interested in boys. Yeah, blame the men! :) 
Maybe educators need to be trained to recognize surges in development like this, and kids need to be given a lot of extra attention and teaching when this happens.  Of course, that would mean much smaller class sizes, much more funding for education, all these things that we know will never happen because Raytheon doesn't make educational materials.
But isn't that just arms-racing again?  It would be nice to come up with a new low-cost way of teaching that exploits the childs desire to learn, adventure learning, design a stimulating environment that is mostly self explanatory, needs minimal teacher support and allows kids to progress at their own speed in their own direction.  Now that would be real progress, but you can't easily examine it so it doesn't appeal to governments, especially control freaks like Blair.  There is unfortunately a real danger
of exploitation by minority groups the content of education isn't visible to the parents - we've been there with teaching gay relationships as normal, left wing extremism and various silly political correctnesses (leading to a kid who, when asked what colour the sky was, answered "colour doesn't matter").
'Edutainment' computer games often try to achieve this sort of goal, but in my experience fail dismally.
 I am pretty sure both are present, and that intelligence will stop developing once a level has been reached which satisfies life's demands.  (Corrolary - religion causes stupidity!)  
You get no argument with me there.  I'm also interested in the manifestation of mental illnesses, in cultures all over the world, that have to do with religion.
It is not only knowing what the education system wants, but also being motivated to provide it. 
Yes.  I strongly believe that most kids should get out of high school and then not go straight to college, but should work, travel, etc.  I know that I was much more motivated and interested in what I was learning when I was in grad school at the age of 30, rather than when I was an undergraduate at the age of 18.  Then I was just interested in learning how much I could drink without falling over sideways.
I went through most of my admittedly somewhat privileged schooling dragging along the bottom for lack of interest.  It was only towards the end that I actually happened to get my head pointing the way 'they' wanted for a while.  In my final year at high school (A-Level exams) I got 12.5% in my (internal) chemistry exam at Christmas and 75% in the real thing in June.  In the interim I had got interested in the potential profits of making mind-altering drugs at home.  Of course I never did make any, but it got me reading the text books, and of course if I actually -want- to learn something, I absorb it like a sponge with afterburners, at around five times the 'normal' rate.  I went through University sideways - I learned a lot and made enough of a gesture toward  including bits of the curriculum in what I learned to get a 2-2.  Mostly I was learning about computers and programming, but the curriculum was physics & electronics.  Computers were PLAY, not work.  Oddly I had no interest in transferring to a computer course, I still wanted to find out how the universe worked, as well.
Maybe I should ask my Dad, he did his Masters in Child Psychology.
Yes!  Print out this discussion and ask about it!
Well I did.  Mum wanted to see how people use this medium, how we do quoting, threading etc. and asked me to leave her the printout, so sometime I'm going to have to explain all the other threads that are in there. Hmm.
I didn't really think I was going to get far with this, because Dad has been so hazy lately, and his concentration was completely shot.  However this new pacemaker has made a dramatic difference, he seems years younger, and his mind works as well as ever. 
I noticed that even when my grandfather was acting very senile, you could ask him a medical question and he would snap out of it and become The Famous Doctor Halpern for a while.  Then he would slide back into senility.
He did that, he could answer a question about his work or his experiences, but it was always the same answer, he couldn't discuss an issue or consider new data.  Now there is a sense of intelligence behind the data.  I'm glad we don't have to face senility for a while.
Memory retrieval seems to be a very different process from analysis.  I know when I am tired, or otherwise functionally degraded, it is the analysis part that goes first.  This feels in some way related with the problem that almost brought me to a standstill last year.  It is something to do with the processing overhead of switching tasks; if I start doing a task, and come to an obstruction, needing some other data or equipment to proceed, then I immediately lose concentration and feel tired.  I would expect to just put this task on hold and begin the one needed to facilitate it, but it isn't that easy.  This is particularly noticable if I have a lot of tasks outstanding with a lot of interlocking requirements.
This is analogous to the way computer operating systems work, so perhaps the people who designed job schedulers conciously or unconciously mimicked the way the mind works, or maybe its convergent evolution, i.e. there is only one good way to do it.  What would happen to a computer given a lot of tasks with interlocks would be that as soon as one task blocked, it would return to the scheduler.  This would scan the list of outstanding tasks rating each one for run-ability and priority.  Obviously if this list is long and complicated it takes longer to scan, so the administrative overhead goes up. Also if you have a high rate of task suspensions due to interlocks or due to pre-emptive tasks (like meeting Natasha from school) then the overhead goes up again.  It is notorious among systems programmers that this process is very critical, you reach a certain threshold and performance really crashes because queues build and the queue length itself degrades throughput even more, accelerating queue growth.  (On the highway, as traffic flow increases through an obstruction, transit time initially remains constant, then increases to a value proportional to the flow rate as cars begin to
tailgate, then increases at a rate proportional to the flow rate as queues build up.)
When I realised this was happening to me I just had to take an axe to the list of things I was trying to do, and let some things go hang to cut down the suspension rate. I guess it worked.  Then I had to explain this to the tax inspectors as the reason why my tax returns were late, and as an excuse why they should not fine me for this misdemeanour.  Somewhat to my surprise they accepted it and cancelled a 400 fine.
Throughout this time I had no problems recalling information from years back, but I completely lost the ability to do memory stunts like remembering phone numbers.  I used to be able always to remember one of Lyudmila's friends' number because I had noticed it was  3x5cubed, 3x4cubed (375192).  I still knew that, but I wouldn't have spotted it then.
It was fun to have conversations with him, where previously it had been hard work.  He says he had been reckoning on maybe a couple of years life left and was winding down, but now he does not see any immediate limit and feels he could take on doing something new. 
Yeah, and the taking on of something new might keep him alive and intelligent for longer.  
My maternal grandmother (the only grandparent still alive when I was born) was sharp as knives right up until she died at 92.  She attributed this mainly to the bridge club, she played twice a week without fail.
He has also just got his memoirs back from the bookbinders.  I had edited them and printed out  few copies for him on a laser printer.  These he sent to a local book-restorer to be hand-bound because the quantity was too small for a serious printer to be interested.  They have come out nicely.
The visit left me feeling on a high.  Everything is conspiring to boost my self confidence.  Business is going turbo.  Correspondence with Catharine begins to throw sparks, and I haven't been -there- for the longest time. 
Yay for Tim!  And yay for the universe, cooperating for a change!  
It does that if you kick it hard enough.
Now switching emotional navigation to 'absolute' - it has been locked on 'inertial' for a record time, nearly two years. ]

The relevant bits of the conversation, from memory:
Q: Would you agree that development of intelligence comes in spurts like growth?
A: Yes, and it is very unpredictable when the spurts will come.  You really need the teacher to be aware of the individual progress of each child and to give him tasks accordingly.  Of course that means much smaller classes than we have at present.
Ha!  I was right.
Q: So the value of intelligence tests as a predictor of achievement is limited.
A: Pretty useless really.  What I think children really need in various subjects is a set of graded exercises that they can chose and take up at their own pace.
Q: Like the colour coded reading books Natasha has at school - she can chose any book from the purple shelf.
What if she wants to choose a book from a more advanced group?  May she?
I don't know, it's never come up.  She probably could, but she'd just ask me to read it to her.  If she can cope with the books in her group then she moves up to the next group anyway, it is progress related not age related.
A: Well, yes, but more detailed really, and covering subjects other than reading.  I was working on this toward the end of my career, you remember those science books I collaborated on with 'Uncle Arthur', that was the idea of those.  They came back and asked me to do more, but I didn't want to
because I had retired.  It seems to have been quite successful and they are still selling, I got another royalties cheque the other day.
(Well, maybe since he's feeling so spiffy, this is a good project to get involved in.)
Q: What do you think of the idea that you only develop intelligence as far as you need to, once life stops throwing you problems you can't handle, you stop learning?
A: Well, I think that if you have to survive you develop the skills you need.
Q: What do you think about the idea of 'adventure learning'?  If you can create an environment that a child can safely explore and learn as he goes, then you don't need much teacher input.  I realise that this is difficult to achieve, but it would represent a terrific saving once created.
A: Sounds good.  Maybe you should write about it.
Q: How much value do you think there is in educating the population as a whole?  I mean, it is easy to see that an individual benefit from being educated above his peers, but if you educate all the peers as well that is nullified.  Do you think we are really just racing with each other to no avail?
A: If no-one was educated we wouldn't have the skills to maintain our civilisation.
Q OK, I accept there is a basic level that is needed, and perhaps that we need -some- people to be more highly educated, but do the majority really benefit from the levels we apply today?
A: I think people get more out of life if they are educated to appreciate it.
He also mentioned that he felt that a formative factor in his own ability was being left to fend for himself at 17 when his mother died (of BC actually).  His father had died in WW1 when he himself was still a baby, leaving his mother to bring up five children on her own, and before there was any proper social security system.  However it was clear to me from what he said that at that age he had already been exceptionally observant and self-disciplined.
No doubt.  Your average nose-pickin' teen can't go on to achieve what he has done.