Another day, another 'relationship' piece in the NY Times - this one talking about researchers who are using sophisticated algorithms to help people find their soulmates , and making millions of dollars without having to deal with peer review. The thing that disturbed me, reading the article, was that I wasn't thinking "maybe that's what I should do to find a partner" as you'd expect from someone with a love-life as non-existent as mine; I was thinking "maybe that's what I should have done my dissertation on". Clearly the claims of Love are no match for the trials of the Proposal Defense .
I can't help thinking, by the way, that these personality match things are pretty scary. Never mind how much they increase the probability of your finding a mate. Just think of the self-revelation involved. There you are thinking you're this amazingly suave, charming person, and then suddenly you're on this boring date and you realize that this dull, opinionated, thoroughly unattractive person sitting across the table from you is the closest match to your own personality type, selected from among millions of potential candidates by a scientific, time-tested process. It's like the dating service of Dorian Gray.
I'd try it myself, except that if these algorithms are even slightly accurate I'd end up going out with some short-sighted frumpette who'd speak exclusively in haikus, refuse my suggestion to catch a movie because there were no Swedish films playing, guzzle six cups of espresso, get hysterical because the coffee shop was playing music composed in (horrors!) the twentieth century and because (gasp!) there were other people around, throw pepper in the face of the three year old at the next table and commit suicide in the ladies room halfway through the date, leaving behind a note that said that she was secretly lesbian. All of which would be pretty romantic, actually, except that I'm not into necrophilia (certain short stories notwithstanding).
Oh, and did you hear about the PhD student who came up with the absolutely infallible algorithm to identify potential couples? Apparently he could have made it really big, but he picked the wrong adviser.
 Actually, I toyed with the idea of developing an instrument that would help identify compatible couples myself at some point (it was first year, I'd been taking classes on designing and validating questionnaires, constructing scales, etc.) then decided I'd rather start a blog. Somehow I knew that the temptation to prevent Dan Brown fans from getting together and mating would be too much for me. With great power, etc.
 On the importance of capitalizing key terms to achieve the proper poetic effect, see Lewis Carroll, as quoted by A.E. Stallings here (scroll down to the bottom of the post)
 And for those of you who think I use too many endnotes, check out this short story over at the Guardian. So there.