Sunday Links

Sunday, February 6th, 2011
  • So this image purports to be a series of composites of the average woman from various countries and ethnicities. I was struck by how attractive they all are. This makes some sense when you think about it from an evolutionary perspective. But I think it’s also a little surprising because it’s not how we typically use the word average.
  • Glenn Greenwald on another death at Gitmo.
  • This whole Kenneth Cole backlash is getting pretty ridiculous. The guy (or whoever writes his Twitter feed) wrote something crass and dumb. He immediately apologized for it. You’d be hard pressed to find a company more active in various social causes than Kenneth Cole. But as we learned with the Whole Foods debacle, the outrage mobs tend to live in the moment.
  • Hey, cut Bloomberg some slack! It’s isn’t cheap to prepare food that’s edible without using salt, trans-fats, saturated fats, or sugar.
  • The saddest Ebay auction photo you’ll see today.
  • Good on the ACLU for bringing this lawsuit. Here’s my question: Why haven’t the people at Signal who are responsible for this atrocity been criminally charged? If the ACLU is correct, there were a number of crimes committed, here.

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42 Responses to “Sunday Links”

  1. #1 |  Nemo | 

    Regarding the “average” woman: it’s fairly well known that if you merge a bunch of faces together you get a fairly attractive face. For starters, the merging eliminates a lot of the blemishes and asymmetry that we find unattractive.

  2. #2 |  dmoynihan | 

    +5 Internets for Bloomberg line.

    Take the rest of Super Bowl Sunday off.

  3. #3 |  FridayNext | 

    The link to that photo on eBay goes to a delisted item. Did you save the photo?

  4. #4 |  Psion | 

    Drat! Radley, it’s a bright and beautiful Sunday morning, and the saddest Ebay auction photo I’ll ever see has been taken down. I’m a regular reader of your site, and I just can’t cope with all this happiness any longer. Please … what was the photo?

  5. #5 |  Joe | 

    “the outrage mobs tend to live in the moment.”

    Not like you did not engage in a little of outrage yourself in the Limbaugh jackass Egypt journalist post below. There is absolutely nothing wrong in hearing some pundit bloviate and thinking to yourself or saying to others “what a jackass.” All people do that all the time. Hell, if we reflect on everything we say we could do the same to ourselves several times a day. It is mixing in the faux outrage on top of that that tends to be tedious.

  6. #6 |  Joe | 

    As for the composite photographs, we do not know how they were selected. I doubt that they represent an average for each country, but an average look of attractive women from each country.

    Not that there is anything wrong with that!

  7. #7 |  Gretchen | 

    I think age must have something to do with your first point. The average age of women in all of those countries can’t be around 21, as it appears from the photos. A quick search said that the median age of a Finnish woman, for example, is 42. Russia, 41.7. Israel, 30. Greece, 43.2. Germany, 45.2. So why do of these “average women” look like college sophomores?

  8. #8 |  Joe | 

    Gretchen is right, also average young women in their twenties.

  9. #9 |  John Harrold | 

    Having lived in Samoa for 2 years, I can say that woman is not ‘average’— i.e., what you would expect to get from a random sampling.

  10. #10 |  Joe | 

    The Signal case is strange. Why is the U.S. Government allowing the bringing in H-2 guest workers to work on welding and other related jobs in Mississppi and Louisana? Granted the events took place prior to the recession, but there were no U.S. workers available for those jobs? If what I suspect is true, Signal also circumvented the H-1/H-2 programs. Signal should also be prosecuted for abusing that federal program (and as we know a creative U.S. Attorney can find all kinds of criminal acts when you deviate from some federal program).

    But exploiting guest workers (and making 24 workers share two toilets), while very bad as alleged in that complaint and if true certainly worthy of significant civil damages and criminal punishment, is not what I would call an “atrocity.” Can we save that word for extreme evil and cruelty?

  11. #11 |  claude | 

    I think this was the EBay pic but i cant say for sure as i didnt see the original either.!CEtytQQBGk~$(KGrHqMOKpIE0U64y,NrBNSv6y!)CQ~~_12.JPG

    “We are selling 8 Beyblades, 2 of them light up. As you can tell they are not happy about this! They have been using their bathtub as a “battle arena” and Beyblades + Bathtub = Destruction!!! With the metal ones they managed to scrape the enamel off the tub, take a chunk of tub out and break off the soap holder. SO if you “win” this auction DON’T play with in a bathtub!!! We have recieved a quote of $500.00 to replace the tub, some tiles, and soap holder + labor of course! They had approxamently $125.67 in their piggy banks that will be going to toward the cost. We will use the profit from this auction towards the balance and then it is onto other toys!”

  12. #12 |  Standard Mischief | 

    Coral Cache link for above URL

  13. #13 |  Joe | 

    I left out the quotations when I replied: “Gretchen is right, also “average” young women in their twenties.”

    There is nothing average about those women. They have beautiful proportionate faces. They are all very attractive. More than the average.

    Not that people without perfectly proportionate are necessarily unattractive, it is just that we are instinctually drawn to a look that implies health and vitality.

  14. #14 |  Gretchen | 

    Also, this:

    Galton overlaid multiple images of faces onto a single photographic plate so that each individual face contributed roughly equally to a final composite face. While the resultant “averaged” faces did little to allow the a priori identification of either criminals or vegetarians, Galton observed that the composite image was more attractive than the component faces. Similar observations were made in 1886 by Stoddard, who created composite faces of members of the National Academy of Sciences and graduating seniors of Smith College.[1] This phenomenon is now known as “averageness-effect”, that is highly physically attractive tend to be indicative of the average traits of the population.

  15. #15 |  Joe | 

    Gretchen and Nemo explain it. Very interesting. Natural selection at work.

    But it is also interesting how humans can go out of their way to change their looks:

  16. #16 |  PeeDub | 

    average != typical. no single person is average. the average face will hide aging and imperfections. there was a science article years back where the “average woman” and “average attractive woman” weren’t that different. i can believe the claim quite easily.

  17. #17 |  PeeDub | 

    that was “Science”, the publication, not the generic term.

  18. #18 |  Pete | 

    saddest pic google cache for that listing


    plain link:

  19. #19 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I don’t care what NYers pay in taxes. The amount of waste they actively condone is amazing. They have union labor hand welding b-ball hoops full time. NY is not even remotely serious about budgets. But they sure beat that drum.

  20. #20 |  perlhaqr | 

    It would be interesting to see the “average” American woman. I realise they have “African-American”, but I’m basically going for an amalgam of all the different ethnicities that live here. :)

    Regarding the “sad ebay listing” that’s gone now, I wonder if, having gotten popular enough to start making the rounds, some /b/-tards bid it up to a trillion dollars and ruined the auction.

  21. #21 |  luvzbob | 

    ” They have union labor hand welding b-ball hoops full time. ”

    What do you expect? Robots welding b-ball hoops?

  22. #22 |  luvzbob | 

    Its also interesting that the average “south african” woman is apparently white. I don’t think so.

  23. #23 |  Phelps | 

    Hey, cut Bloomberg some slack! It’s isn’t cheap to prepare food that’s edible without using salt, trans-fats, saturated fats, or sugar.

    The problem is, you don’t even have that sop to fall back on. From what has been reported by people eating there, the meals are swimming in butter, cream and salt and sugar.

  24. #24 |  Sean L. | 

    The strangest thing about the ‘average’ woman image is knowing that none of those faces actually exist.

  25. #25 |  CharlesWT | 

    Decades ago, I read a science fiction novel (can’t remember title and author) in which humanoid aliens had been keeping humans under surveillance for centuries. When they decided to use a female operative for the first time, they surgically modified her face to be the average of female human faces in the hope she would blend in and not be noticed. She created male distraction and havoc wherever she went.

  26. #26 |  Victor Milan | 

    So how’d the average South African woman wind up looking white?

  27. #27 |  Joe | 

    #26 | Victor Milan | February 6th, 2011 at 7:37 pm
    So how’d the average South African woman wind up looking white?

    Frankly can’t that program take various racial and ethnic groups and still do an “average”? Apparently not.

  28. #28 |  Joe | 

    I thought Kenneth Cole’s comment was mildly funny. I do not think he has anything to really apologize for. There is no way you could possibly take his comment as a serious one. But it is weird how you think Cole gets a pass because he is “active in social causes.”

    Here are the top ten celebrities on giving to charities:

    1. Oprah Winfrey, $50.2 million.
    2. Herb Alpert, $13 million.
    3. Barbra Streisand, $11 million.
    4. Paul Newman, $10 million.
    5. Mel Gibson, $9.9 million.
    6. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, $8.4 million.
    7. Lance Armstrong, $5 million.
    8. Michael Jordan, $5 million.
    9. Eric Lindros, $5 million.
    10. Rush Limbaugh, $4.2 million.

    I am not sure why Bill Gates does not count, but I congratulate all of them for their generocity. But under your criteria Radley, why doesn’t Limbaugh get a pass too?

  29. #29 |  RWW | 

    Another day, another good argument for open borders.

  30. #30 |  Gretchen | 

    Not to speak for Radley, Joe, but I would suggest that maybe it’s because Kenneth Cole made one tweet in questionable taste, whereas Limbaugh has made a multi-decade career out of spewing lies and hateful bullshit. Just maybe.

  31. #31 |  Les | 

    The difference between what Cole did and what Limbaugh does regularly is fairly apparent. Cole made a promotional joke about a revolution in progress. Limbaugh has a long history of lying, being bigoted, and being a hypocrite.

    I, too, commend him on the charity he’s given, but it doesn’t change his long history of very negative behavior.

  32. #32 |  Gary Chartier | 

    This is typical of Cole’s humor. I don’t think he’s got anything to apologize for. Limbaugh’s persistent mean-spiritedness, his willingness to target individual people, and his support for government brutality put him in a different category.

  33. #33 |  Eric H | 

    I know a girl from Kazakhstan that looks almost exactly like the average Uzbek in that first link.

  34. #34 |  Windy | 

    What about Amerinds? And just a composite of all ethnicities of Americans like someone else asked?

    As for S. Africa, isn’t it mostly white? If so that would account for the outcome.

  35. #35 |  Les | 

    @34, Actually, only about 10% of South Africans are white.

  36. #36 |  Joe | 

    It is perfectly okay to think Rush Limbaugh is a jackass because you disagree with him. But what Radley did was go that extra step of faux outrage because he made a joke and then retracted it. The outrage is not about the joke, it is about the speaker. Demostrated by the next thread where Radley defended Cole because of who the speaker os. My point is simple, if you feel the need to go after Rush, go after Rush. Limbaugh’s joke about the reporters given the context was really a non-issue, just like Kenneth Cole’s joke was a non-issue.

  37. #37 |  Jozef | 

    Interestingly enough, the composite image is a little different from what I’ve seen before. This is the image I’ve seen: same faces, except the South African is black.

  38. #38 |  MattJ | 


    I would guess that Bill Gates didn’t make the list because whoever created it doesn’t consider him a celebrity. The people who are on the list are famous without regard to their wealth – entertainers and sports stars. He’s a businessman whose fame derives from his wealth.

    There are probably lots of ‘famous because they are rich’ people who would be on that list if the listmaker defined celebrity to include them.

  39. #39 |  Dan Danknick | 

    It’s too bad that eBay auction was removed – I’d like nothing more than to see Michael Bey buy those Beyblades and pay with a Transformers-themed money order.

  40. #40 |  Zeb | 

    Who the hell is Kenneth Cole?

  41. #41 |  Joe | 


  42. #42 |  Bob | 

    Any chance you could provide the link to the site where you first saw the original image of the representative women from around the world?

    It’d be interesting to read up more on this.

    Besides, proper attribution is always nice, right?