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Catching monotone

BY BEAU ELLIOT | APRIL 20, 2010 7:30 AM

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A Penn State study, according to the BBC, has found that women prefer men with monotone voices — that is, voices that don’t vary much in pitch.

The BBC, by the way, used Clint Eastwood and George Clooney as examples. I think, even if you’re one of those misguided souls who disagrees with me about nearly everything, you’d have to admit that Eastwood and Clooney have some other things going for them besides monotone voices. But whatever.

There might be some problems with the study, if you’re into picking nits. (A nit, according the American Heritage Dictionary, is either “The egg or young of a parasitic insect” or “A unit of illuminative brightness equal to one candela per square meter, measured perpendicular to the rays of the source.” I hope that clears up any confusion.)

(And trust me — you do not want to read the definition of a “candela.” Well, unless you’re a physicist or a chemistry professor. The 1040 tax form with subaddenda A, B, C, and F is far less confusing.)

One such nit about the study — and I’m trying my best to remain perpendicular to the rays of the source — is the relatively small sample size: 111 guys. Not to mention that they all attend Penn State and are therefore Nit-tany Lions. (Well, at least that’s what the BBC story implied. Or maybe, in my attempt to remain perpendicular, I’m inferring that. Hmm.)

Another such nit is the 111 people studied were all guys. Yes, guys. No women. Maybe it’s just me, but if I wanted to study what type of men heterosexual women prefer, I’d ask women. Call me old-fashioned.

And how, you ask, did the study figure out what women preferred by asking guys? It studied the guys’ voices, then quizzed the guys about the number of sexual partners they had. And they self-reported that number.

Aha. Another nit lifts its lousy head. (Or its candela.) I’m a guy. I know all about guys self-reporting the number of their, um, partners. How to put this politely. Let’s just say that truth is not exactly the point of the exercise.

But just in case the study is right — guys, you’ve been warned.

He said in a firm, monotone voice.

Speaking of taxes, not that we were, exactly — although people overestimating when they tell you what they had to pay is somewhat similar to overestimating the number of you know what.


Anyway, speaking of taxes, April 15 was the income-tax deadline, which meant that there were dozens of Tea Party anti-tax, anti-big government rallies. (Have you ever seen anyone actually drinking tea at a Tea Party rally? Me, neither.)

At one such rally in Boston, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party’s favorite millionaire, said, “We need to cut taxes so that our families can keep more of what they earn and produce and our mom-and-pops then, our small businesses, can reinvest according to our own priorities.”

What’s interesting about this, as Gail Collins of the New York Times has pointed out, is that Gallup reports that 45 percent of the tea partiers have incomes under $50,000. And, as the Tax Policy Center tells us, 47 percent of Americans didn’t have to pay any income tax — couples with two children earning less than $50,000.

This, by the way, is thanks to various programs including tax credits for working families introduced by President Obama. You know, the socialist in the White House who wants to raise taxes on everybody so we can have a huge government the size of France’s.

Of course, France’s government is far smaller than the U.S. government, but whatever.

And then there were the Tea Party protesters outside the Kennedy Space Center on April 15 who were demanding, among other items, that the Obama administration spend more on the space program. As the NPR reporter put it, these tea partiers want, yes, more government spending.

Bigger government for them, smaller government for the rest of us.

It’s enough to make you long for a nation of monotone voices.

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