Profiles in Adultery

I'm in the communication business.  I help you self-publish who you are, what brought you to an affair and then I give you the communication tools to communicate with other people who have done the same.  You can chat with them in real time.  You can have a fantasy date with them on our service.  You can send them an email message.  You can send them a virtual gift, a rose, a bottle of champagne, a necklace, whatever it is.  

I don't really have anything to do with the offline side of the business.  I'm not recommending hotels.  I don't get a bonus if they have one affair or 25 affairs. My role is relegated to the communication side of it, and so what I can tell you is who my typical user might be, what they look like from a perspective, but I don't necessarily know that there is a way to define success.  

I will tell you this, that infidelity clearly crosses both genders, every socioeconomic group, every ethnic group, even a variety of ages.  I think the typical Ashley Madison user on the male side is this: I don't want to use the word seven-year itch because I think that's been shrunk down to about a three-year or four-year itch.  And when you think about it that's very logical because that's when the first child tends to appear on the scene and so whether it's their wife's pregnancy or the first child being there their personal lives with their partner have dramatically changed.  I don't want to call it selfish either, but the amount of times that they're alone, their sex life, it's all different and a lot of people adjust to that really poorly. That's the first time they look and begin to wander. And so our site has a typical or fundamental male user.  

There are also a lot of men who are now facing an empty nest and they feel like they've done their major parenting and so now maybe they're taking this deep breath saying "Okay, maybe I'll do something for myself. For the last two decades I've done this, maybe an affair will make me feel good." And so we have a lot of men in that demographic.

On the female side it's really two groups. Single women make up 20% of Ashley Madison, women who are happy to be with an otherwise already taken man and they have their reasons for it.  They're looking for lifestyle, fun, sex, dinner, whatever, but not looking for the white picket fence or marriage at this time. And to them this works.

Then we have what I don't want to call a desperate housewife, but a housewife who has been married a decade.  If you asked her, her happiest time was when she was being courted, wooed, pursued.  That's why she got engaged and agreed to marry this individual.  Now there are no more dinner dates.  There are no more flowers being brought home.  There is no attention being paid when she changes her hair or her appearance.  She is lonely even within a marriage and that probably feels doubly lonely.

What she is looking for is a revalidation of her as an interesting person and object of desire. And to sign up to a service like Ashley Madison and have a half dozen men interested in meeting with her within the first week is that revalidation. Does it matriculate and morph into physical intimacy?  Of course it does.

Noel Biderman is the founder and CEO of Ashley Madison. 

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

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  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
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Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.

Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Climate change melts Mount Everest's ice, exposing dead bodies of past climbers

Melting ice is turning up bodies on Mt. Everest. This isn't as shocking as you'd think.

Image source: Wikimedia commons
Surprising Science
  • Mt. Everest is the final resting place of about 200 climbers who never made it down.
  • Recent glacial melting, caused by global warming, has made many of the bodies previously hidden by ice and snow visible again.
  • While many bodies are quite visible and well known, others are renowned for being lost for decades.

The bodies that remain in view are often used as waypoints for the living. Some of them are well-known markers that have earned nicknames.

For instance, the image above is of "Green Boots," the unidentified corpse named for its neon footwear. Widely believed to be the body of Tsewang Paljor, the remains are well known as a guide point for passing mountaineers. Perhaps it is too well known, as the climber David Sharp died next to Green Boots while dozens of people walked past him- many presuming he was the famous corpse.

A large area below the summit has earned the discordant nickname "rainbow valley" for being filled with the bright and colorfully dressed corpses of maintainers who never made it back down. The sight of a frozen hand or foot sticking out of the snow is so common that Tshering Pandey Bhote, vice president of Nepal National Mountain Guides Association claimed: "most climbers are mentally prepared to come across such a sight."

Other bodies are famous for not having been found yet. Sandy Irvine, the partner of George Mallory, may have been one of the first two people to reach the summit of Everest a full thirty years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did it. Since they never made it back down, nobody knows just how close to the top they made it.

Mallory's frozen body was found by chance in the nineties without the Kodak cameras he brought up to record the climb with. It has been speculated that Irvine might have them and Kodak says they could still develop the film if the cameras turn up. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they died on the way back down from the summit, Mallory had his goggles off and a photo of his wife he said he'd put at the peak wasn't in his coat. If Irving is found with that camera, history books might need rewriting.

As Everest's glaciers melt its morbid history comes into clearer view. Will the melting cause old bodies to become new landmarks? Will Sandy Irvine be found? Only time will tell.

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