When my wife Jean was doing family medicine, many of her patients were smart, accomplished, kind and financially-secure women over 50 who had given up finding a mate because none existed.
“Have you tried dating online?” Jean would ask. Their eyes would roll and they would practically spit: “I would never do that. It’s so demeaning.”
Many of these women have turned out the lights on this issue. There are no men out there, so why waste your time looking? Just create a rich life where you don’t need them. Didn’t Gloria Steinem say a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle? Or you can select men for different uses, the way you would a spice from the kitchen cupboard.
But Jean and I know a number of women who have not only found companionship online, but wall-banging, shrieking love. They learned the unwritten rules of putting themselves out there in the virtual world, just as we’ve all had to do in the real world. True, for every prince there are 10 toads. But I’d take those odds if I thought they would bring me a mate to share my old age with.
The fact is, we boomers are not only big in number, but long in the tooth. The marketplace sees the potential here, and last week The Economist wrote about how ageing singles are turning to new ways to find a partner. Of course there are dating apps like Pair, where half of their 100 million users are over 50. In fact, there are now so many dating sites for ‘mature’ people that Forbes has a Top 10 list.
But the most advanced country for matching aging singles is China where 210 million people are 65 or over, up from 160 million five years ago. They use live-streams with a host who plays the role of a doorman, a match-maker and a bouncer. One host has more than half a million followers. Let’s listen in. “The man, who must be in his 70s, says he has money, even a pension and a house. The similarly-aged woman looks unimpressed. Across a phone connection, they are sizing each other up. But the host senses a lack of interest and, with the tap of a button, the connection is cut. The set-up is generally the same: elderly singles can flick through different ‘rooms’ on their phones, checking out other prospects. If one catches their eye, they can request to join the room. When two people hit it off, contact details are exchanged and the host receives a fee.”
As Albert Einstein said: “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”
1. Whatever happened to airline food? One reason is, if food in economy is dreadful, you’ll be tempted to pay for business class. But think about the last time you flew in business class. Was the meal really that good, or did what you paid for it twist both your taste and your memory? Years back, Qantas did away with business class on its 50-minute flight from Sydney to the capital of Canberra. The politicians and businessmen were up in arms. Bring back business class! So Quantas did, knowing that these men would pay $350 more for a warm omelette than a cold muffin.
2. Russians off the rails. Maybe screaming is a good strategy to get more from life. Last week, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, claimed Russia wasn’t giving his troops enough ammunition. So he threatened to pull them out of Bakhmut by Wednesday, which would quickly return the embattled city to Ukraine. He got his way. By Monday, they got more ammo, and as of this morning they’re still there.
Meanwhile, in the same way Robert Moses, who didn’t drive, created an empire of freeways grid-locking New York, Vladimir Putin, who doesn’t drink, has created an empire of vodka.
3. Mr. Trump, do you recognize your wife? Unless he’s dementing, the former US President has elevated confusion to an art form. And now, for a slightly more elevated video performance.
4. How to save one of the last truly wild places on earth? Buy it. That’s what Kris and Doug Tompkins did and National Geographic has made a movie of that amazing tale.
5. A zoological view of three global events. The first is the Met Gala which raised $17.4 million (on an annual budget of $300 million) to support the Metropolitan Museum in New York, but which has always been about the costumes. The second was, of course, the Coronation of King Charles, which cost $125 million to support Brand Britain, and which was also really about the costumes. And the third was the Westminster Kennel Club where the Best in Show was Buddy Holly, a petit basset griffon Vendéen, or PBGV.
6. Want a big job? Get a degree in storytelling. That’s Scott Galloway’s advice to anyone looking to succeed in the world of work today. Not many places teach that yet, though, and majoring in English means choosing one of the least popular concentrations on campus (in my day English was the most popular). There’s also the threat from AI that its tools could lead to the end of a human society centered around language. As Venkatesh Rao points out, “there is no good reason why these models have to communicate with words. It’s a short step from there to unmediated human-to-human interaction.” Then again, maybe the antidote is Extreme Reading.
7. Going on a diet? Here’s an amazing thing: the best diets based on actual medical evidence. Blending a family? Have them watch The Sound of Music.
8. How to cut homelessness, and not. The Toronto Star’s Linda McQuaig has discovered that Toronto officials believe the best way to pack more people into homeless shelters is not to build more shelters or beds, but to reduce the number of inches between beds. She has a better answer: do like the Finns who have virtually eliminated homelessness.
9. Making everyone like you on Zoom. The largest-ever database of how we interact on Zoom holds lessons for us all. “A scant 30- to 70-millisecond delay in Zoom audio disrupts whatever neural mechanisms we use to get in sync with one another, the magic that creates true dialogue.”
10. Baroque Music from the Greatest Movies of All Time. You’ll hear it on Saturday June 3rd at Koerner Hall in Toronto, performed by Polina Osetinskaya, the renowned Russian pianist and human rights advocate. You can enjoy a 10% discount on any ticket you buy over $60 from now until June 3rd. Just key in Promo Code: RAMSAY10.
11. What I’m liking. The music at Charles’ coronation, especially Pretty Yende singing Sacred Fire and The Ascension Choir singing Alleluia.
And of all the interviews Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather of AI,” is giving on the perils of artificial intelligence, one of the best was on CBC’s As It Happens.
GROUP TRAVEL FOR PEOPLE
WHO DON’T DO GROUP TRAVEL
Here are the trips RamsayTravels is hosting in the coming months.
Jean and I invite you to come with us on any (and all) of them.
You should join our happy band of gentle adventurers because…..? …..the sights and tastes and lessons and sweet surprises on these trips are exceeded only by your fellow travelers who are doing the same thing.
So, in order of appearance…
May 25-28, 2023 – Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland.
October 2-10, 2023 — Bicycling and the Kardamyli Literary Festival in Greece.
February 25 – March 9, 2024 — Lindblad Expedition to the South Pacific.
May 29 – June 5, 2024 — Northern Italy under Sail, aboard the Sea Cloud II.
September 2-9, 2024 — Lindblad Expedition with Wade Davis to the Great Bear Rainforest.
Just e-mail Bob Ramsay at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Thanks for coming this far with us.