Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review (Bluetooth, touchscreen, and WiFi failures)


I decided it was time to shed the weight of a 17-inch laptop and also enter the brave new world of 2-in-1 folding laptops. Enter the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which I have used on two trips so far.

The machine’s biggest weakness is an inability to stay connected to a Microsoft Bluetooth travel mouse. The mouse worked fine with the five-year-old 17-inch machine. I tried a second example of the same mouse and suffered from the same disconnections after a few seconds (snapping the mouse closed and open would restore connectivity).

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 also has a finicky WiFi system. It would disconnect from a friend’s home router after about every 30 minutes of use, requiring a manual “disconnect” and then “reconnect.” After a driver update the problem seemed to be gone but then I closed the machine and opened it up the next morning. There was no WiFi connection and the machine couldn’t see any of the 12 or so networks in the apartment complex where I was staying.

I thought “well, maybe it isn’t so bad if I have no mouse because I have a touchscreen.” A couple of days later, the touchscreen failed completely. Dell support suggested unplugging the machine and using the power switch to drain power off the motherboard. That restored the touchscreen, but I still miss having a mouse. Why not plug in a wired mouse, 1970s-style? Dell decided that there shouldn’t be any standard USB ports on the machine so it would have to be done via a dongle. There is no reputable brand of wired USB-C mouse because anyone up-to-date enough to have USB-C would of course have a computer with functional Bluetooth. Eventually I decided to try a Logitech m557 Bluetooth mouse and haven’t seen any disconnections so far.

I’m not a big TV-watcher and haven’t found a real use for the tent mode. Nor have I really used the machine as a tablet because if I want to read a Kindle book I just use the iPhone 7 Plus. Still, I like the mechanical design much better than the Microsoft Surface Book.

Immigration, politics, and public finance in Ancient Rome


SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard describes Rome as perhaps the first great society of immigrants:

in one episode of the Aeneid, the hero visits the site of the future city of Rome and finds it already settled by primitive predecessors of the Romans. And who are they? They are a group of settlers under a certain King Evander, an exile from the land of Arcadia in the Greek Peloponnese. The message is clear: however far back you go, the inhabitants of Rome were always already from somewhere else.

As with the U.S., some of the immigrants arrived as slaves:

Roman slavery was in some respects as brutal as Roman methods of military conquest. But for many Roman slaves, particularly those working in urban domestic contexts rather than toiling in the fields or mines, it was not necessarily a life sentence. They were regularly given their freedom, or they bought it with cash they had managed to save up; and if their owner was a Roman citizen, then they also gained full Roman citizenship, with almost no disadvantages as against those who were freeborn.

The scale was so great that some historians reckon that, by the second century CE, the majority of the free citizen population of the city of Rome had slaves somewhere in their ancestry.

At a very rough guess there might have been between 1.5 and 2 million slaves in Italy in the middle of the first century BCE, making up perhaps 20 per cent of the total population.

Where would the Romans have come down on the question of refugees?

Edgy in a different way was the idea of the asylum, and the welcome, that Romulus gave to all comers – foreigners, criminals and runaways – in finding citizens for his new town. There were positive aspects to this. In particular, it reflected Roman political culture’s extraordinary openness and willingness to incorporate outsiders, which set it apart from every other ancient Western society that we know. No ancient Greek city was remotely as incorporating as this; Athens in particular rigidly restricted access to citizenship. This is not a tribute to any ‘liberal’ temperament of the Romans in the modern sense of the word. They conquered vast swathes of territory in Europe and beyond, sometimes with terrible brutality; and they were often xenophobic and dismissive of people they called ‘barbarians’. Yet, in a process unique in any pre-industrial empire, the inhabitants of those conquered territories, ‘provinces’ as Romans called them, were gradually given full Roman citizenship, and the legal rights and protections that went with it. That culminated in 212 CE (where my SPQR ends), when the emperor Caracalla made every free inhabitant of the empire a Roman citizen.

Romans would probably not have been impressed by our cashflow-negative wars:

There were also important consequences for Rome itself of military success overseas. The literary revolution was only one part of it. By the mid second century BCE, the profits of warfare had made the Roman people by far the richest of any in their known world. Thousands upon thousands of captives became the slave labour that worked the Roman fields, mines and mills, that exploited resources on a much more intensive scale than ever before and fuelled Roman production and Roman economic growth. Bullion by the barrow load, taken (or stolen) from rich eastern cities and kingdoms, poured into the well-guarded basement of the Temple of Saturn in the Forum, which served as the state ‘treasury’. And there was enough left over to line the pockets of the soldiers, from the grandest general to the rawest recruit. There was plenty for Romans to celebrate. Some of the cash was ploughed into new civic amenities, from new harbour installations and vast warehouses on the Tiber to new temples lining the streets, commemorating the assistance of the gods in securing the victories that had brought all this wealth. And it is easy to imagine the widespread pleasure when in 167 BCE Rome became a tax-free state: the treasury was so overflowing – thanks, in particular, to the spoils from the recent victory over Macedon – that direct taxation of Roman citizens was suspended except in emergencies, although they remained liable to a range of other levies, such as customs dues or a special tax charged on freeing slaves.

Upset by today’s expensive elections and politicians pandering to the lowest common denominator?

Electioneering at Rome could be a costly business. By the first century BCE it required the kind of lavish generosity that is not always easy to distinguish from bribery. The stakes were high. The men who were successful in the elections had the chance to recoup their outlay, legally or illegally, with some of the perks of office. The failures – and, like military defeats, there were many more of those in Rome than is usually acknowledged – fell ever more deeply into debt. That was Catiline’s position after he had been beaten in the annual elections for the consulship in both 64 and 63 BCE. Although the usual story is that he had been leaning in that direction before, he now had little option but to resort to ‘revolution’ or ‘direct action’ or ‘terrorism’, whichever you choose to call it. Joining forces with other upper-class desperadoes in similar straits, he appealed to the support of the discontented poor within the city while mustering his makeshift army outside it. And there was no end to his rash promises of debt relief (one of the most despicable forms of radicalism in the eyes of the Roman landed classes) or to his bold threats to take out the leading politicians and to put the whole city to flames.

Plotting resistance to the Trumpenfuhrer?

If the assassination of Julius Caesar became a model for the effective removal of a tyrant, it was also a powerful reminder that getting rid of a tyrant did not necessarily dispose of tyranny. Despite all the slogans, the bravado and the high principles, what the assassins actually brought about, and what the people got, was a long civil war and the permanent establishment of one-man rule.

More: read SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

What’s the rationale for protesting against the sale of Ivanka Trump products?


While their counterparts in China, Korea, and Taiwan were studying semiconductor physics and integrated circuit fabrication, some of my neighbors were protesting the sale of Ivanka Trump products at a nearby T.J. Maxx.

I’m wondering what the rationale for this is.

Can it be environmentalism? I don’t see how. If the Ivanka-branded products are not sold and worn, additional clothing will have to be manufactured and then shipped from the factory to American retailers.

Can it be a desire to see a Communist-style purge of an entire family if the parents are guilty of heterodoxy? If so, does that conflict with American liberals’ cherished belief in disregarding genetics? If Ivanka is bad because her father is bad, is there a slippery slope via which if an ethnic or racial group in the U.S. exhibits low academic and career achievement then we should expect their children to exhibit low academic and career achievement, even absent prejudice? (see the book White Trash for how resistant Democrats in academia are to this thoughtcrime)

Is it simply to hurt the Trump family financially? How can that work when they already have $4+ billion?

Is it prejudice against women-run companies? They are protesting because they want people to buy clothing from a male designer and/or a male-led clothing brand? (In fact, I think the “Ivanka Trump” label is mostly a licensing arrangement with an established apparel company.)

Readers: What is the point of this?


Hawaiians are happier than other Americans; are they also smarter?


Happiness and “well-being” research tends to rank Hawaii in the #1 spot among American states. Today let’s consider if Hawaiians are also more intelligent.

Let’s consider a Boston-area resident who will be happy to tell you how intelligent he is. He works 60-hour weeks and is trying to build up a nest egg so that he can do the following:

  • not go into work every weekday
  • spend a lot of time with friends and family
  • live in a warm sunny climate
  • go to the beach
  • snorkel
  • fish

In other words, his dream is to live like a Hawaiian on welfare. But if he were actually as smart as he claims to be, why did he spend 40 years slaving away in an office when he could have been in Hawaii living on welfare? (The public housing that I saw in Hawaii was wonderfully located, oftentimes walking distance to the beach or a school, and was sometimes brand new. There is presumably a waiting list but perhaps that can be shortcut by having a child? CATO Institute said that, in 2013, Hawaii offered a welfare family a package of benefits worth $49,175 per year or the equivalent of earning a pretax salary of $60,590 per year.)

Unlike in Manhattan, for example, the recreational pursuits of rich and poor are similar in Hawaii. The rich resident of Hawaii will have a much nicer house, of course, but there is seldom any reason to stay indoors.

If “Most Americans Are Unhappy At Work” (Forbes), why are we not forced to conclude that most Americans have less practical intelligence than a Hawaiian on welfare?

[The analysis should be similar comparing a Hawaiian with a job. I know a lot of folks in Massachusetts who say “I am doing X, Y, and Z because 5-10 years from now I hope to be doing A, B, and C.” Whereas Hawaiians who worked seemed to be content with their lives overall and weren’t living for the future.]


Attitudes toward work and child labor in Ancient Rome


SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard sheds some light on the world of work and child labor in the maybe-not-so-good old days.

Would a Roman have worked if he could collect SSDI, live in public housing, shop at the supermarket with EBT, and see a doctor on the taxpayers’ dime?

Cicero turned his scorn on those who worked for a living: ‘The cash that comes from selling your labour is vulgar and unacceptable for a gentleman … for wages are effectively the bonds of slavery.’ It became a cliché of Roman moralising that a true gentleman was supported by the profits of his estates, not by wage labour, which was inherently dishonourable. Latin vocabulary itself captured the idea: the desired state of humanity was otium (not so much ‘leisure’, as it is usually translated, but the state of being in control of one’s own time); ‘business’ of any kind was its undesirable opposite, negotium (‘not otium’).

Unfortunately there was no Welfare State 2000 years ago:

Cicero and most of the elite professed to despise wage labour. But for the majority of the urban inhabitants of the Roman world, as now, their job was the key to their identity. It was usually tough. Most people who needed a regular income to survive (and that was most people) worked, if they could, until they died; the army was an exception in having any kind of retirement package, and even that usually involved working a small farm. Many children worked as soon as they were physically capable, whether they were free or slave. Skeletons of the very young have been discovered in excavations with clear signs in their bones and joints of hard physical labour; one particular cemetery just outside Rome, near an ancient laundry and textile works, contains the remains of young people who obviously had years of heavy work behind them (showing the effects of the stamping and the treading needed in the treatment of cloth, rather than of skipping and ball games). Children are even commemorated as workers in their epitaphs. Modern sensibilities might hope that the simple tombstone in Spain of a four-year-old child, shown carrying his mining tools, was put up in memory of some young local mining mascot. Most likely he was an active worker.

Only the offspring of the rich spent their youth learning grammar, rhetoric, philosophy and how to make speeches – or the less meaty syllabus, from reading and writing to spinning and music, offered to girls. Child labour was the norm. It is not a problem, or even a category, that most Romans would have understood. The invention of ‘childhood’ and the regulation of what work ‘children’ could do only came fifteen hundred years later and is still a peculiarly Western preoccupation. Their tombstones make clear how important work was to the personal identity of ordinary Romans. Whereas Scipio Barbatus, and others like him at the top of the social hierarchy, emphasised the political offices they had held or the battles they had won, many more people blazoned what they did as a job. More than 200 occupations are known in this way from the city of Rome alone. Men and women (or whoever commissioned their memorials) often summarised their careers in just a few words and images, with a job description and some recognisable symbols of their craft. Gaius Pupius Amicus, for example, an ex-slave and by trade a dyer of ‘purple’ – a notoriously expensive dye, extracted from tiny shellfish and according to law used only to colour cloth worn by senators and the emperor – proudly described himself as a purpurarius and had various items of his craft equipment carved on the stone. Other tombs displayed sculptured panels depicting the deceased in action at their job, from midwives and butchers to a particularly splendid seller of poultry.

More: read SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome

Local election issues in our rich suburb of Boston


Three people are running for two “selectmen” seats in our rich suburb of Boston. They came to a neighborhood gathering to campaign and take questions.

The first hot-button issue was whether our town should officially designate itself a “sanctuary city.” (My perspective is that our town is already a sanctuary city in that we welcome any undocumented immigrant with at least $2 million to spend on a house; I refrained from sharing this. See also “Sanctimony Cities”) None of the people at the neighborhood gathering could remember inviting an actual immigrant, documented or undocumented, to a dinner party, but they tripped over themselves to express support for the idea of providing sanctuary. One of the more realistic folks noted that it would be primarily landscapers who were illegal and we should plan acts of resistance if ICE showed up to round up illegals in our sparsely settled village (two-acre zoning minimum).

To a question about school quality and whether or not we should strive to unseat Lexington and Newton in the minds of house-shopping parents, immediately people talked about how we can’t possible match those towns because (1) they spend more money than we do, and (2) we have dark-skinned children in our schools from the METCO program. A town school committee member pointed out that we actually spend more money per student than Lexington and Newton. This web page says “The [Newton] METCO Program is open to all children of African American, Latino, Asian and Native American descent who reside in the City of Boston and volunteer to participate.” This web page says that “It is a voluntary integration program that provides a suburban public school education for African-American, Hispanic and Asian students from Boston. The Lexington Public Schools have participated in the program since 1968.” (See this post about schools in Finland for how a school with an above-average number of poor dark-skinned children tested above average; a teacher is quoted as saying that he tries to remain ignorant of students’ family background and situation.)

Nobody wanted to ask “Well, if these other towns spend less money and also have METCO, might it simply be holding ourselves to a lower standard?” On the other hand, fears were expressed that if we did somehow manage to drag ourselves up to the Lexington/Newton standard, families with children would flock to our town and the schools would become overcrowded (so we provide sanctuary for undocumented immigrants but we hope that they don’t have any school-age kids?).

Traffic was damned. Our roads are narrow, which makes them unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. But if we widen them cars will drive faster and it will become even more dangerous. Nobody asked “If we have two-acre zoning and almost everyone here is rich, why can’t we build dedicated and separated bike lanes and sidewalks like they retrofitted to Copenhagen?”

Valley of the Dolls: Divorce


Valley of the Dolls describes events taking place between about 1945 and 1965. and was published in 1966. How did the characters think about divorce?

The beautiful 25-year-old is divorcing her husband:

“For a smart girl, she did one very stupid thing. Seems she signed a little thing like a premarital agreement. If she wants out, she doesn’t get a dime. And she wants out. Won’t say why — just wants to unload him. So she’s got to work.”

What precipitated the lawsuit?

“Mother, why do you think I ran? Just before we were to go to Italy, I found out he had no money.” “What do you mean? I saw the pictures in the papers! The diamond necklace, the mink coat. . .” “The necklace belongs in his family. He bought me the mink, but I think he got it free for the publicity we gave the furrier. He had a whole floor at the Waldorf, but a wine company was footing the bill. He was like a good-will ambassador for them. His title is legitimate — very royal — but he hasn’t a dime. They lost everything when Mussolini took over. They have some horrible big castle outside of Naples. I could live there, scrounging among the international set, wearing the family jewels . . . living in genteel poverty. I was lucky I found out in time. He told me he was rich because he thought a beautiful American wife would be an asset over there. After we were married I learned the bitter facts. Then he started telling me of some rich Italian wine merchant I had to play up to — go all the way if the guy wanted me. Mother, he was a high-class pimp, when you get down to it. I was lucky to be able to keep the mink coat.”

A rising star in her early 20s plans a divorce in hopes of an upgraded husband and the conversation gives her friend and idea:

“I got to get fitted for another diaphragm. Twice last month Mel didn’t pull out in time. That sonofabitch is trying to get me pregnant.” “I thought you wanted children.” “Not with him. I’m gonna unload him.” “Neely!” “Look, he’s a drag. Honest, Jennifer, he’s changed completely. He has no incentive. I talked it over with The [movie studio] Head, and he agrees. Mel just gets in the way. He insisted I shouldn’t lose weight, kept yelling I was fine just as I am. But now that I’m losing weight I’m getting the real star buildup with some glamour. See, Mel is in a rut. He’s small time, and he won’t get with it and change. But I gotta be careful. See, there’s community property out here. Mel could claim half of everything.” “What will you do?” “It’s all being worked out.” She lowered her voice to a real whisper. “The Head is seeing to it that Mel gets a big offer in the East. With one of the top publicity offices. I’ll make him go. The Head is going to fix it, have him caught — you know — with a girl. And I’ll get the divorce.” “Neely, you can’t!” “Well, what can I do? I hinted at divorce last week, and you know what he did? He started crying like a baby. He said he couldn’t live without me. Is that a drag? I need a man who tells me what to do, a guy I can lean on, not one who leans on me. And all I’d ever have to do is get knocked up by him and then he’d never leave, not even for New York.”

Jennifer thought about Mel as she drove home. She suddenly wondered how Tony felt about her. Was she a drag, too? If Tony didn’t get the picture she was going to insist they go back to New York. He could do the radio show from there. But he would get the picture. She knew he would. And she’d be stuck here. Soon Tony would start feeling about her like Neely felt about Mel — if he didn’t already. There would be stars playing opposite him in pictures, and young starlets chasing after him. How long could she go on sitting like this? She was almost twenty-seven, and soon it would begin to show. . . . She almost went through a traffic light as the idea hit her. Why hadn’t she thought of it before? A baby! She would have a baby! It would bring Tony closer to her, and she’d have something to occupy her thoughts. Something to love. Oh, God, how she’d love it . . . they’d be so close. It would be a girl, it had to be! And she’d be a wonderful mother. She was exhilarated when she got home. It would be her secret. She dressed with great care for the party. She would start her new project tonight!

Lawyers we interviewed told us that the selling of abortions had begun in the U.S. in the 1990s (see the “History of Divorce” chapter and “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”). But the book contains an offer by Tony’s sister and minder:

Her eyes shot to Jennifer’s waistline. “No coffee. Let’s cut the social crap and get to cases.” Jennifer held onto her smile. “And what does the case happen to be?” Miriam’s eyes narrowed. “Is it really Tony’s baby?” “Wait till you see it,” Jennifer snapped. “I’m sure it will be the image of him.” Miriam got up and began to pace. Then she turned to Jennifer and said, “How much do you want to get rid of it?” Jennifer’s stare was icy. “Look, if it’s money you want, I’ll give it to you,” Miriam said. “I’ll give you a big settlement. In writing. And you can also have the thousand a week without the baby. Just get rid of it.” Jennifer felt confused. “Does Tony know about this? Is this what he wants?” “No, Tony don’t know I’m here. I told him I was going to Chicago to see his radio sponsor and make a better deal. I’m here on my own, to plead with you, before you get in your fourth month and it’s too late to get rid of it.” Jennifer’s voice was low and tense. “You know, Miriam, I never really hated you until this moment. I always thought you were selfish, but at least it was for Tony. Now I know better. You’re evil.” “And you’re the All-American Mother!” Miriam snorted. “You’re just dying to walk in the park pushing a baby buggy, I suppose?”

An abortion cost $1000 in 1947, $10,762 in 2016 dollars:

She never gave Anne or Henry any reason for her sudden decision. She found the doctor by herself, a nice, antiseptic-looking man in New Jersey. There was a clean operating table and an efficient nurse. It cost a thousand dollars. The nurse jabbed her arm with the needle — sodium pentothal, it was called, and it was a greater sensation than even Seconals. When she woke, it was over. Two weeks later it was as if it had never happened. Her waistline returned to normal and she flew to Mexico for the divorce.

More: Read Valley of the Dolls

Maui tourism tips


If you want to spend most of your time on a hotel’s beach or at a hotel’s pool, I recommend the Wailea area rather than Kaanapali, which is more crowded and less relaxing, though better for long walks on an actual beach. The price differences are negligible. The Four Seasons Wailea is considered the best hotel on the island by experienced Maui tourists and if you factor in the square footage of the rooms and the lack of a “resort fee” tacked on, the price may actually be less than what other hotels charge. If you book through you’ll get a free room upgrade and an included buffet breakfast (about $100 for two people otherwise).

[We learned that the hotel bar is at its liveliest on Monday and Tuesday nights and that local women enjoy coming there to meet visitors, a mixture of corporate convention attendees and folks willing to pay $800 per night from their own pockets. We asked why locals would bother driving down from Lahaina, considering that Hawaii has a surplus of single men and is 9/50 when states are ranked by male:female ratio. “Women say that there are plenty of guys, but they want someone with more ambition and a better career,” was the answer. (What happens if the bar encounter turns into a pregnancy? About $72,000 per year in tax-free cash under Hawaii’s child support guidelines.)]

If you want to be on the go, I suggest staying in an off-the-beach hotel or condo near downtown Lahaina. If you can walk down to the marina there you’ll never be bored. You can use the money that you saved from not staying in a resort to take a submarine ride, a day trip to Lanai, a snorkel trip to Molokini, a whale watch, etc. You can enjoy the crazy huge banyan tree every day (planted only in 1873; one look at this tree and you’ll realize what awesome job security a landscaper has in Hawaii).

Staying in Wailea and want to snorkel around Molokini? Go through the surf to get on the Kai Kanani. Their sunrise trip is usually nearly empty so you can wait for a morning when the wind and waves seem light and then drive directly to the boat to hop on at 6:15 am. The nearest competitors will require you to drive in a car for about 30 minutes and then drive back down to where you started in the boat for about 30 minutes.

All of the helicopter tour operators are in a row at the main airport (follow signs for “heliport”) so maybe stop in and pick a tour after you get your rental car. I suggest going as early in the morning as possible and on a day when the winds are forecast to be calm. Wind+mountains = turbulence. It won’t be unsafe but it might be uncomfortable. Even if I weren’t a helicopter nerd I would suggest a helicopter as the best way to see Hawaii. A lot of the most beautiful areas are inaccessible by road.

Every local’s favorite burger joint: Cool Cat Cafe in Lahaina.

If you need to cover a wall with a tropical flower painting: Anna Keay.

If you love old maps and high-quality reproductions of old maps: Printsellers in Lahaina.

Note that Maui is not immune to the “vog” pollution coming out of the volcano on the Big Island. If you insist on blue skies and clean air, check the volcano activity level and consider booking on Kauai or Oahu instead.

Meet for coffee near Vail, Colorado this week?



I’m packing up for a trip to visit friends at the Arrowhead mountain (near Vail, Colorado). Is anyone out there living or skiing who wants to meet for coffee? If so, please email  philg at . Thanks in advance.

Valley of the Dolls: Sex Outside of Marriage


Valley of the Dolls describes events taking place between about 1945 and 1965. and was published in 1966. How did the characters think about sex outside of marriage?

No character condemns another for having sex outside of marriage and hardly any characters seem to refrain from the opportunity of having sex outside of marriage.

“Then that’s it!” Neely screamed. “She’s just using you to get Gino.” “That’s not true. She was warm and friendly even before I arranged the date. She had me up to her apartment —” Neely grinned. “Maybe the old war horse is turning queer in her old age.” “Neely!” “It happens. Listen, some of those big stars — especially broads like Helen who like sex — they get so fed up with the cold shoulder from men that they turn to women for their, kicks. There was this faded movie star who played at a nightclub with us, and —” “Neely, Helen is absolutely normal!” Neely yawned. “Okay, I won’t fight you on that. She’s got too big a reputation for being man crazy. She’ll lay anything in pants. She’s always been known for that. That’s how she lost her first husband. He came home and found her doing it with a gangster she had gone with way back.”

“Who wants respect? I want to get laid!” Anne’s gasp was audible, but Helen went right on. “Look, angel, when you’ve been around as long as I have, you’ll know that’s the only way a guy shows you he’s hung on you.” “You can’t mean that, Helen. In fact it’s just the opposite.” “Opposite my ass! How else can he show it?” “By taking you out, spending time with you — having fun together.” “Are you kidding? In my book, if a guy digs you he wants to jump in the feathers with you. Even that bastard Red Ingram, my last husband — why, he leaped on me the first night we met. After we got married he slowed up a little, to maybe three, four times a week. Then it got to once a month, then nothing. That’s when I put detectives on him and found he was cheating on me.”

Are there practical reasons to have sex outside of marriage?

“How can you be cold in that coat?” He looked meaningfully at the new beaver [the beautiful 25-year-old] was wearing. She patted it affectionately. “You were an angel to give it to me. It’s really warmer than my mink. But I’ve got to get some sleep.” “Let me come up with you,” he begged. “You were with me last night, Robby.”

She got undressed, dropping her clothes carelessly on the chair. Maybe she would let Robby stay tomorrow night. She could do with a new evening gown. She wrinkled her nose. He was so unattractive and he breathed so hard. But she needed some clothes, and men who looked like Robby were always generous. They had to be.

She stroked the beaver coat — one night with Robby. That’s what a great body was for, to get things you wanted.

Can one get paid for dating and being engaged?

“… Any time you put up with a man’s company when you can’t stand him you should have something to show for it. Sell it.” [advising her chaste friend not to return an engagement ring worth years of salary]

Gay men are referred to throughout the book in terms that would be politically incorrect today, but homosexuality per se is not condemned. A relationship between two women just out of high school:

They became lovers the first night. Although Jennifer had been startled at the proposal, she felt no revulsion; in fact, she was even a little curious. Maria was still the exalted school-girl heroine. And Maria’s logical explanation removed any taint of abnormality. “We like one another. I want to make you know about sex, to feel thrilling climaxes — not let you learn about it by being mauled by some brutal man. We are doing nothing wrong. We are not Lesbians like those awful freaks who cut their hair and wear mannish clothes. We are two women who adore one another and who know about being gentle and affectionate.”

Jennifer remained in Spain over a year. She met many eligible men. A few were passable, but Maria kept a hawklike watch on all her activities. They were always chaperoned by one of Maria’s aunts. Maria repelled all advances and saw to it that Jennifer made no progress. Jennifer grew desperate. Maria’s possessiveness was stifling. For the first time she understood her mother’s fear of poverty. Money bought freedom; without it one could never be free. In Spain she could live luxuriously and wear beautiful clothes, but she belonged to Maria. If she returned to Cleveland she faced a different kind of imprisonment — marriage to some third-rate man who would also demand the use of her body. Whichever way you looked at it, without money you were someone’s captive.

More: Read Valley of the Dolls


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