November Links: The Dutch and sex, neekerbreekers, Gandalf or Dumbledore?, academia, a rare pair of political links, and more

* Solving America’s teen sex “problem:” The Dutch have dramatically reduced adolescent pregnancies, abortions and STDs. What do they know that we don’t?

* [Ann Patchett] Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore. It’s in Nashville, which probably isn’t geographically proximate for most of you. Her new novel State of Wonder is itself wonderful.

* Useful advice: Beware the neekerbreekers.

* An amusing search query that led someone to this blog: “how to respond to sexting”. Answer: in kind.

* Gandalf or Dumbledore? The winning poster gets facts wrong (The end of The Lord of the Rings does not see the world purged of all evil), but I like his style. He also says that Gandalf “shrugs it off LIKE A BOSS,” the latter bit referring a meme, but the phrase is slightly appropriate because Gandalf isn’t supposed to be a boss—he’s supposed to help the natives of Middle-earth, as it were, find and combine their own talents and strengths.

* Why academics should blog, which seems completely obvious to me.

* James Fallows: With Mitt’s Ascent, We’re Back to the ‘Mormon Question’, a very good post and one that changes what I think.

* Without comprehensive sex education, porn is the only solid information kids are getting about sex. File this under “obvious.”

* Trading Up:

When I left academia in 2008 to try to be a full-time writer, the last thing I was looking forward to was the commercial side of my new profession. Like every good leftist and many an academic, I looked on the market as evil, a place that would debase your values and suck out your soul if you gave it half a chance. But here’s what I’ve discovered in the last few years: I kind of like it a little.

At the very least, I far prefer the discipline of the market to the discipline of the disciplines. [. . .]

This is a trivial instance, but I saw far graver versions of it all the time: people who were blocked from getting jobs or keeping them, people whose work was rejected for publication (a body blow in academia, of course), and only because a single individual decided to stand in their way, a single human bottleneck, and often for motives that were purely personal, or self-interested, or just plain arbitrary.

* When did the GOP lose touch with reality? I’m not a tremendously political person but find it worrying when one of the two major political parties in the United States seems to have checked out of “facts,” especially when that party used to consider itself heavily fact-based.

* Slightly more on politics:

In fact, blame for the failure of the congressional super committee belongs with every American who failed to vote in the 2010 midterm election. Nothing encapsulates the dysfunction of American democracy better than the fact that we abdicate responsibility for governing our country (and running our economy) to a radical minority every four years out of laziness and, to a smaller extent, deliberate efforts by both parties to depress turnout they know will favor their rivals.

I do not see a path out of this dynamic.

* Someone found this blog through the search query “penis ass woman tattoo.” I wonder what he sought. . .

* “Beats” (the headphones) appear to primarily be a marketing phenomenon, but the Jesus figure in this video is wearing them.

Google engineer: What I learned in the war.

What does it take to put a past in porn completely to bed?

* Sentences to ponder, job market edition, although I’m not sure how much these anecdotes say about the job market and how much they say about the non-optimal moves of the individuals involved.

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