~ Archive for April 29, 2005 ~

Fun facts about the Mongols from New Yorker


The latest New Yorker magazine has a story about the Mongols, under Hulagu, sacking Baghdad back in 1257 A.D.  There are some fun facts in the article such as that Genghis Khan was said to have had 500 wives and concubines.  Chris Tyler-Smith, a geneticist at Oxford University, has done Y-chromosome studies and estimates that roughly 32 million people today are descended from Genghis Khan and his harem.  Charity was not a big part of the Mongol system:

When anyone begged from [the Mongols], they replied, “Go, with God’s curse, for if he loved you as he loves me, he would have provided for you.”

No theodicy problem for Genghis and pals…

Life in West Los Angeles


Back in Boston now with a couple of tales from West Los Angeles and Montreal.

A friend who moved out there 15 years ago asked about some of the bright young MIT-graduate nerds she had known back in Boston.  These are guys in their mid-40s and nearly all struggling to find reasonably interesting employment as engineers.  They’re competing with recent graduates in their 20s for jobs paying less than $100,000 per year, which makes it tough to support a wife and kids given the high cost of living in the Northeast.  As my friend looked sad to hear this news I observed that “If they’d gone to law school they’d all be partners by now making, I guess, $300,000 per year.”  My friend lives in medium-sized house in a good neighborhood, has three kids in private schools, a nanny, cleaners, and a personal trainer.  Her response?  “Three hundred thousand per year?  Is that all that lawyers make back East?  How can anyone support a family on $300,000 per year?”

I asked a 17-year-old kid what he had done on his spring vacation from private school:  “A bunch of us went to St. Louis on a ***** company jet and went to the Final Four basketball games.  Then we got back on the plane to go to some parties in Manhattan.”  [company name elided so that any shareholders reading this blog don’t cry when they get their meager dividend check]

NPR did a segment this afternoon on a pregnant 13-year-old in Florida whose state agency guardians won’t let her have an abortion.  One of the experts interviewed said “there is no way that someone that young can consent to sex.”  This reminded me of a high school girl in Montreal who said “Newspapers complain that 13-year-olds are having oral sex.  Well, it was not too long ago that 13-year-old girls were married.”

Log in