Instagram echoes the grand themes of western art

Isn’t it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art? All that #foodporn is still-life; all those #selfies, self-portraits. All those vacation vistas are #landscape; art-historically speaking, #beachday pics evoke the hoariest cliché of middle-class leisure iconography. (As for the #nudes, I guess they are going on over on Snapchat.) [link]

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Casanovas and Casanovettes aren’t actually happy

In 2004, two economists looked into whether more sexual variety led to greater well-being. They looked at data from about 16,000 adult Americans who were asked confidentially how many sex partners they had had in the preceding year, and about their happiness. Across men and women alike, the data show that the optimal number of partners is one. [link]

Louis CK on why divorce is a good thing

“Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That would be sad. If two people were married and … they just had a great thing and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times.”

“I love being divorced. Every year has been better than the last. That is the only time I can say that [about my life]. By the way, I’m not saying don’t get married. If you meet someone, fall in love, and get married. Then get divorced. Get divorced! Because that’s the best part! It’s the best part! Marriage is just like a larvae stage for true happiness, which is divorce. Divorce is forever, it really actually is. Marriage is for how long you can hack it. But divorce just gets stronger, like a piece of oak. No one ever says, ‘Oh my divorce is falling apart. I just can’t take it.'” [link]

Justice is blind

“Black and Hispanic defendants are more likely to be held in jail before trial and more likely to be offered plea bargains that include a prison sentence than whites and Asians charged with the same crimes, according to a two-year study of prosecutions handled by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.” [NYT]

The young and sedentary

Over all, only 42 percent [of young people] were as fit as they should have been, given their age, and that percentage fell precipitously among girls. Less than 34 percent of the female participants had fitness levels that would set them within the healthy fitness zone, the testing showed, compared with about 50 percent of boys.

Ethnicity and family income played no discernible role in the volunteers’ fitness, according to the data. Those from affluent families were as likely to be out of shape as those from families below the poverty line.

The findings grew bleaker when researchers compared the fitness of the group in 2012 to that of similarly aged volunteers from 1999 to 2004. The average fitness of the boys and girls, they found, had declined by about 10 percent since 2004. [NYT]