30 August 2010

Also from the book

"While people sometimes describe sex as their most pleasurable act, time-management studies find that the average American adult devotes just four minutes per day to sex—almost exactly the same time spent filling out tax forms for the government."

It was a good book after all.

I'm pretty sure the difference between those two acts isn't captured by that statement. That is, that most American adults probably spend a good deal more than 4 minutes a day devoted in some fashion to sex, but this would include things like: crude sexual jokes or sexually inflected innuendos, sexual fantasies, pornography, possibly masturbation (not sure what definition they used as "sex"), reading about sex or sexual technique. Plus related acts like physical affection expressions, or purchasing or considering types of birth control or protection against sexual diseases, or the ethical quandaries of our sexual relationships in general. Given that about half of our time per day is spent daydreaming, one can safely assume that part of that time is devoted to sex in some manner. Just isn't counted as actual sex on the time-management scale.

By contrast, I'm almost certain nobody devotes a good deal of time imagining filling out forms for the government. Otherwise the people who design the forms and the regulations requiring them would probably have made better forms that took less time or obviated the need for filling them out by not passing silly rules governing everything.

I suppose this assumes that contemplating or daydreaming or fantastic acts of creativity are correlated with improving the quality of the actual acts or processes that we are contemplating. Its possible that people are reflecting, but reflecting on the wrong things when they do so, given that so much of our humor is based on the premise that most people are apparently bad at sex and that most people must stand in lines to fill out forms. I would suggest that perhaps more people need to reflect on the effect they have on others more often and that this would do one of two things
1) increase the amount of time with actual sex relative to imagining it (per day). This may or may not be a good utilitarian outcome. Though one could assume that actual pleasures are better than imagined ones and that actual pleasures could reduce the demand for imagined ones. Or could exist alongside each other rather than occupying more time per day with our sexual interests and pursuits.
2) streamline our bureaucratic processes and make it easier to devote a couple more minutes per day to far more productive works. Or recreation. For example, they could change the hours the DMV is open to times where most people could more freely access it rather than times where people must cram in their dealings with the government in between work and kids and school.
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