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February 21, 2013

95% of Americans have sex before marriage, and it has been this way for 60 years

There was never a mythical golden age of American sexual restraint (unless you count Kink.com, zing!). Americans have always been a frisky lot. Premarital Sex Is Nearly Universal Among Americans, And Has Been For Decades
The vast majority of Americans have sex before marriage, including those who abstained from sex during their teenage years, according to “Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954–2003,” by Lawrence B. Finer, published in the January/February 2007 issue of Public Health Reports. Further, contrary to the public perception that premarital sex is much more common now than in the past, the study shows that even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly nine in 10 had sex before marriage. The new study uses data from several rounds of the federal National Survey of Family Growth to examine sexual behavior before marriage, and how it has changed over time. According to the analysis, by age 44, 99% of respondents had had sex, and 95% had done so before marriage. Even among those who abstained from sex until age 20 or older, 81% had had premarital sex by age 44.

February 14, 2013

Calculator: What is the living wage where you live?

This is response to Obama wanting to raise the minimum wage to $9 and declaring it a victory. Where I live, a single person with no kids needs to make at least $11.51 an hour. That's without kids. With kids it's $23.22 an hour--for a single parent. This is why proposing a national minimum wage doesn't exactly make sense. Different parts of the country have different economies. The cost of living in San Francisco is much higher than say the Ozarks. Pegging the minimum to inflation is a good idea--or better yet to an index of key prices that affect the lives of the poor like staple groceries and gas. What is it where you live? Living Wage Calculator - Living Wage Calculation for Oakland city, Alameda County, California

February 11, 2013

A thorough and fascinating essay on the history of pasta

No, the Chinese did not invent it. To sum up this marvelous article--which has fantastic detective work: pasta was invented during the Golden Age of Islam. Probably in Persia sometime before 579 CE. It spread to the rest of the world slowly, because you need durum semolina to make real pasta. But with the Arabic conquest of Southern Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries, pasta was introduced into local cuisines Saudi Aramco World : Pasta’s Winding Way West
Local legend has it that when the Arab conqueror of Sicily, Asad ibn al-Furat, landed with his fleet on the southern shore of the island in 827, one of his first orders of business was to muster up food for his troops. Quickly surveying the local resources, Asad’s cooks caught sardines in the harbor, harvested wild fennel, currants and pine nuts from the surrounding hills, and combined them all with an ingredient then unknown in Europe, which the invading Arabs had brought with them in the holds of their ships: pasta. Today, pasta con sarde, or pasta with sardines, is one of Sicily’s signature dishes. Yet as legends go, this version of how pasta became a staple of Italian cuisine is far less familiar than the tale of Marco Polo’s supposed discovery of noodles in China in the 13th century—a tale that has been subject to more spin than a forkful of spaghetti. In the first place, Polo actually wrote in his account of his travels that the noodles he ate in the Orient were “as good as the ones I have tasted many times in Italy,” and likened them to vermicelli and lasagna. Second, there are commercial documents recording pasta shipments and production in Italy long before Polo’s journey. Most convincingly, scholars have pointed out that the whole story was a deliberate fabrication published in the late 1920’s by editors of The Macaroni Journal, a trade publication of North American pasta manufacturers. . . . Italians were eating pasta long before they had a collective noun for it. Pasta is a word that comes to us unchanged from the Latin one that meant “paste,” “dough” or “pastry cake.” It was itself a loan word from the Greek for a collation of grain and water that was sprinkled with salt—pastos—that itself comes from another Greek word, passein, “to sprinkle.” The earliest written use of the word pasta, in the modern sense, came in 1584, in a guide to organizing banquets written by Giovan Battista Rossetti, head steward of the Duchess of Urbino. Prior to this, pasta was more commonly referred to by its particular shapes. Among the most popular—all made by hand—were gnocchi (dumplings, from noccio, “a knot of wood”); lasagne (“sheets”); vermicelli (“little worms”); tagliatelle (ribbon-shaped strips or “cuttings,” from tagliare, “to cut”); tortellini (“little pie”) and ravioli, whose derivation is uncertain, but which was referred to as early as 1100 as raviolo and described a century before that by Ibn Butlan as sambusaj, indicating possible culinary (if not lexical) origins in Persian dough-wrapped meats. . . .