Sperm, sticks and downright douchebaggery

TIME recently posted a piece entitled A Dozen Random Goods & Services Selling Unusually Well Right Now.

A few were particularly notable to me.

American Sperm
In Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and many other countries, sperm donors are not allowed to be anonymous. U.S. donors are under no such obligation, which is why America has become the world’s largest exporter of human sperm. More than 60 countries now import American sperm.

While this does not necessarily appeal to me, it’s good to know that in a pinch, I might be able to earn a few extra bucks.

Breast milk is also a hot commodity, as I’ve pointed out to my wife more than once. “Maybe you can just keep pumping for a while after you’re done nursing. Sell it on eBay.”

This did not go over very well.  

Luxury Menswear—Purchased Online
A study from iProspect on the “Digital Affluent Male” estimates that there are 19 million rich American men who use the Internet regularly, many of them for shopping purchases: Approximately 40% of this demographic shops online at least twice a week and spends over $30,000 on e-purchases annually. Luxury menswear and accessories are among the most popular purchases of this group—a group whose favorite brands include Rolex, Louis Vuitton, and BMW.

Who are these men? 

And where along the path to manhood did these men decide that an enormous, expensive watch or a wallet worth more than the amount of money it contains is a good idea?

Manual Transmission Cars
Sales of cars with stick shifts have been so abysmal that a grass-roots movement to “Save the Manuals” has been launched. Perhaps the movement is working. USA Today has it that 6.5% of the new cars sold in the first quarter of 2012 were sticks. That’s much higher than the previous two years (under 4% in 2010 and 2011), and the highest rate since 2006, when 7.2% of new cars sold were manuals. This is despite the fact that only 19% of today’s models are available in stick.

This pleases me. I drive a stick and have done so for more than a decade. A girlfriend in high school taught me to drive a stick shift on her Nissan Sentra, and I have loved manual transmissions ever since. Not only does a stick give you more control in bad weather, but it prevents most people from borrowing your car. Recent surveys estimate that less than ten percent of Americans know how to drive a car with a manual transmission.

I’ve always enjoyed singular competence.    

Weird Rides to the Prom
Forget the trusty limo to the prom. To really stand out on the big night—a night that’s increasingly expensive, now topping $1,000 per family, on average—the Wall Street Journal reports that today’s high school attention seekers are opting to hire fire trucks, school buses, and even replicas of the “Dukes of Hazzard” General Lee and hand-pulled rickshaws to take them to the prom.

I attended about half a dozen proms in my youth. Happily, I grew up in a time when the world was still sane and parents did not feel the need to crystalize every moment of their child’s life through ostentation, ceremony and excess.

Of course, I was somewhat neglected, so perhaps this played a role, too.

I drove my mother’s station wagon, a Datsun B210, a Chevy Malibu, a Chrysler LeBaron and a Toyota Tercel to my proms. I also shared a limousine with two other couples.

Hand-pulled rickshaws and fire trucks are clear signs of douchebaggery.

A $450 Cookbook
Who would buy a 2,438-page cookbook that retails for $625? Apparently, lots of people. The Wall Street Journal recently described the amazing run of Modernist Cuisine, a five-volume cookbook that has been translated into German, Spanish, and French (more languages to come), typically sells for around $450, and has been snatched up by more 45,000 (and counting) food enthusiasts around the globe.

Obviously this is insane. But many food enthusiasts take themselves very seriously, and people who take themselves very seriously like to spend lots of money projecting their seriousness to the world.

I’m only disappointed that I didn’t think of it first. 

What surprises me, however, is how impervious the cookbook industry has been to the Internet. How have recipes not migrated online by now?

Please note that I’m not saying this should be the case. I’m just surprised that it has not happened yet.