As'ad, the perpetually grumpy and endlessly industrious proprietor of the Angry Arab News Service,
claims that the Economist is the best of all the magazines.
That may be. In any case this week the Economist is running an especially interesting and wide-ranging article
on world population, and specifically the fertility rate, which in most places seems to be dropping, which is good news.
I was especially interested in China, because that country's middle name is "Population." I had been wondering what its ratio of men to women is, in light of the one-child policy that has been in effect there for some time and has led to quite a few Chinese putting their personal advantage ahead of common sense by going to extreme lengths to avoid producing girls, because they would greatly prefer boys.
It turns out to be just what I had feared, and as a result the Chinese are looking ahead to some tough times ahead, even though, according to this article, the result has been 400 million less Chinese on the planet than there would've been, and that is not to be sneezed at. But another result is that nowadays 118 Chinese boys are born to every100 Chinese girls, and that has led to predictions that in not too many more years there will be millions of Chinese young men who will look up suddenly and discover to their horror that the pickings for wives are short to almost non-existent, and that could lead to some serious turmoil in the streets.
And well there should be. No country needs that kind of surfeit of blustering, baboonish males. A preponderance of much better behaved women is much to be preferred in any country and maybe even in any situation.
This population imbalance reminds me of how, when I was in the military nearly 60 years ago, I discovered that if the guys I met there were any indication, the U.S. was -- and most likely still is -- filled with ignoramuses who believe some really weird stuff, near the top of which is their certainty that there is a severe gender imbalance in my hometown, the Nation's Capital. And these guys with whom I would have these arguments, trying to set their dumb-ass carcasses straight, didn't stop at any halfway reasonable figure, such as maybe the ratio was 105 women in D;C. for every 100 men. No, they would swear by all that was holy and right because by God they knew
! -- that there were five women to every one man in D.C. !
I would answer that if that supreme nonsense were true, then the streets downtown would be solidly lined with beauty parlors -- a situation that I had never noticed. But no one ever took my word for it.
Meanwhile, you have to wonder why, instead of the draconian one-child policy, why the Chinese didn't instead hit on some other idea, such as salting all their water supplies with some substance like saltpetre, concerning which, while I was in the military there were also not one but two beliefs going, which may or may not have been myths. One was that saltpetre cools down the libido considerably, and the other is that the Air Force cooks routinely laced our food with saltpetre. Doing away with all those Chinese girls while they were still in some sort of fetal stage or even shortly after birth, and who would otherwise have grown up into nice Chinese women was a collective crime scarcely to be imagined.
Of course I am one of those benighted males who will swear up and down to you with all the will in the world that he has never ever seen a bad-looking Oriental woman. But there you have it.