Human Nature (and a 100GHz ‘scope)

This is not a security article in the conventional sense.

Still, it’s an extremely educational look at a somewhat darker side of human nature… the strangely symbiotic relationship of mutual exploitation that arises in the Odessa “mail-order bride” scene.

In a nutshell, men looking to do a bit of romantic arbitrage in Eastern Europe find the local beauties aren’t so eager to dash off and live as wives to 60-something Texas farmers as the men imagined… yet strangely the men enjoy being fleeced enough to make return plans.

I suppose it’s a form of extremely high-class role-playing prostitution.

An oscilloscope that does for electrical signals what PRISM does for communications — collects it all! DC to 100Ghz in a DSO, sampled at 240GS/s. Just the ticket for REALLY ultra-wideband work.

“Everything is possible; there are women who genuinely want to meet a man and emigrate,” says a foreigner living in Odessa who is well acquainted with the dating industry. “In the villages there are even more of them. But there are very few of them in Odessa, these days. Especially those who would be willing to marry a man in his sixties or seventies. They love Odessa, and they can make good money scamming these idiots. Why would they actually go through with it and move to some boring place in rural America?”[…]

On the penultimate night of the tour, a group of the men without pressing dates goes to Palladium, one of Odessa’s top nightclubs. Go-go dancers with their backs to the dancefloor make thrusting movements with rock-hard, oiled buttocks, as the men look on with a mixture of awe and confusion. “I haven’t been to a place like this for 30 years,” says Brian, a dishevelled British solicitor in his fifties, dressed for a Tuesday in the office and casting a beady eye over the pulsating dancefloor. He plans to return in a fortnight, and might propose to his new “girlfriend”, a 27-year old blonde model. “Perhaps it’s all a pack of lies. I don’t know. But I’ll be a few hundred quid down if it is. And maybe I’ll come back with a beautiful young wife. It’s a gamble worth taking.”

Indeed, as the tour winds down, even those men who were sent to the depths of despair by dates who did not show up, fleeced them, or led them on, are planning return trips to Ukraine. Some have already been more than once; one of them is on his 14th tour. For some of them, merely the fleeting hope of happiness seems to be enough, while others hold on to a conviction that next time it might just be different. It strikes me that the men have the logic of compulsive gamblers after an unsuccessful trip to a casino. They have played, they have lost, and they know that the chances of success are minimal, but they continue throwing money at it in the vague hope that maybe they will be the one for whom the right cards come up.

The day after the tour ends, I receive an email from Chris. On the final night he decided to go on a date with one of the women from the socials. As she spoke no English, the usual translator, with the standard hourly rate, also came along. He was determined to get her and her translator drunk, and find out the truth about dating in Odessa. “After several drinks my date miraculously learnt almost fluent English, and we debated how women here take financial advantage of the men that come on these tours,” he wrote. She told him that the men are effectively paying to sit at a restaurant with a beautiful woman. If they are naïve enough to think there is a romantic attachment, then that is their problem.

“I have come to the conclusion that there are no victims in Odessa,” Chris writes. “Only two opposing cons, both trying to get as much as they can out of each other.”

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