Most bizarre sex-ed game ever

The Middlesex-London Health Unit in Ontario decided it needed a new way to reach high schoolers when it comes to sex education. And what do teenagers like more than video games? The result is quite possibly the most bizarre game ever, Adventures in Sex City.

Sounds awesome, right?! The game is just a True or False quiz about various sex facts. That part of the game is actually pretty good; it covers a lot of common misconceptions people have. But that’s not the strange part. Let’s meet the characters you get so select from the Sex Squad:

  • Wonder Vag “is a virgin, believes in true love and promotes abstinence until marriage.” She’s also a stereotypical blonde white girl.
  • Willy the Kid “was bullied as a child because he never grew taller tjem 4 feet, and is now sensitive to others who are different. He joined Sex Squad to prove size doesn’t matter.” Except that he’s drawn with a giant bulging package, and is black. Totally not stereotypical. Oh, and apparently his special power is “massive rock hard strength.” What?
  • Power Pap “is sexually active and is a strong believer in getting tested regularly. After a close encounter with a horrible STI, she was treated and now dedicates her life to testing and pap tests.” She also looks Latino to me, but I’m going to assume I’m looking way too into this and it’s not some message about race and sexual activity.
  • Captain Condom “was a scientist who constantly worked in his lab to create the perfect condom. Due to a freak accident, he is now half condom half man.” Oh scientists. What’s his special power, he likes people ejaculating inside of him?

But cheesy superheroes isn’t the bad part. “In the dark of the night, Sex City is in panic because of the terrible Sperminator whose sole mission is to infect all citizens with various sexually transmitted infections.” Gem over at Startled Disbelief has to best summary of this super villain:

The Sperminator is “a flying burly white guy in a Speedo and Mexican wrestling mask, with two giant penises for arms.”…The Sperminator spews STI-infected sperm onto your character, causing your character to utter phrases such as “Eww, that’s sticky!” or “Aagh, right in the face!”

While I still feel a bit confused after playing the game, I think Gem has a good point:

“That said, this isn’t really a game. It’s a true-or-false sex-ed exam with a really bizarre hook. I’m sure that’s the point: the designers want it to be so over-the-top ridiculous that people are clamouring to play it even though it’s a terrible game—and in playing it, these people might actually learn something. As terrible as the game is, I’m convinced that it will likely accomplish its goal.”

The only thing the worries me is the way they portray the Sperminator. I know it’s a silly game, but should we really be labeling people with STI’s as evil, horrible people who are purposefully going around trying to infect others? People with incurable STIs are still able to have loving relationships.

Anyway, appropriate advice for Valentine’s Day: don’t be a fool, wrap your tool. And go play that silly game.

Feminism at Purdue

My day started off a little rough. I missed the bus even though I was about 10 feet from the bus stop (Thank you, Mr. Driver), the walk to campus was freezing, and I was lugging our Darwin Day merchandise and poster along. I was hungry and tired. I plopped down on the bench, ready to zone out for an hour until my class, when my friend Mike thrust a newspaper into my hands.


It was the Purdue Review.

For those of you who aren’t Purdue students, let me explain. We have a sane, balanced, and fairly well done student newspaper called the Exponent. If the Exponent is Purdue’s journalistic Superman, the Purdue Review is Bizarro. It’s a extraordinarily conservative student newspaper that seems to take all of its ideology from Glenn Beck, Fox News, and teabaggers. Yeah, we’re talking about some good stuff, here.

It’s only printed a couple of times a semester (thankfully). To make it worse, one of my ex-boyfriends is on their staff, but that’s a totally different story. If I’m in for a good rage, I’ll grab a copy – but most of the time I ignore it to keep my own sanity. But now it was being thrust into my hands, and I couldn’t ignore the title: POL 222: Women, Politics & Public Policy.

The Purdue Review was going to tackle feminism? You know I’m too much of a masochist to ignore that.

It’s such a pile of crap that it’s not worth picking apart: just go read it or Mike’s critique, since he actually took that class. It’s just some conservative student whining about how political science classes are so liberal and us liberals push feminism on everyone. He tries to make these arguments okay by asserting he’s totally against husbands abusing their wives. What a stand up guy. I mean, how can you not like a guy who thinks this?

It need not be said that the points raised in the class are incongruent with traditional conservativism. The role of the mother has always been to take care of her family and maintain the household. Even in nature, the young need to be with the mother for a certain amount of time before they can go about on their own.

Dear Tyler Martin, if someone ever invents a time machine, I will pay out of my pocket for you and all of your conservative friends to zoom back to 1900, so you won’t have to worry about us wandering out of the kitchen or depriving you of our baby making machinery.

Anyway, after reading that annoyance, I had to go get some more change for the Darwin Day sale. As I was passing through the Stewart Center heading towards the bank, there were a bunch of tables set up for Valentine’s Day: Roses for sale, singing telegrams, creative writing majors selling love poetry (loved that idea). I was kind of oblivious, but someone stuffed a piece of paper in my hand.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!”

“You too,” I mumbled, continuing to walk by. I peered down at the paper in my hand and stopped dead in my tracks.FEMINISTS?!?!

I literally walked backwards a couple steps to the table.

“There’s a feminist group at Purdue?! When did this happen?!” I asked the young lady who had handed me the valentine.

“Recently. Hey, you’re Jen, right? From the Non-Theists? I know you, but you don’t know me, because I don’t really come to actual meetings. Sorry if that’s kind of weird.” Oddly enough, this happens so frequently that it’s no longer weird to me.But I seriously can’t explain how excited I was. During my freshman year I was a member of Purdue’s chapter of the National Organization for Women. We did lots of awesome events, my favorite being Sex on the Mall, a giant sex ed fair on Memorial Mall. The group fell apart when the president graduated, and I’ve been severely lacking in my feminism ever since.

Am I going to have time to go to meeting for a new club in the final months before I graduate? Maybe, but probably not. But the mere presence of this club means so much to me, especially after reading some anti-feminist bullshit. It was serendipitous. To see seven awesome looking ladies happily passing out sex ed information and condoms as valentines totally made my day. Oh, and apparently they liked my feminist glee so much that they gave me another valentine. Woo, double the fun.

So keep up the awesome work, Feminist Action Coalition for Today! Purdue needs your voice on campus. (Though hurry up and get a website so I easily send oodles of people your way!)

Happy Darwin Day!

Happy Darwin Day, everyone! This year the Society of Non-Theists had a fairly simple event, since we have so much other stuff going on. We just had our annual Darwin Fish fundraiser selling cool evolution oriented merchandise.
We sold a lot throughout the day, and made about 150 dollars! Woot! Now we can spend even more money on pizza. And the club members rejoice.

Of course, I’m not too surprised that our fundraiser did well. It does well every year, especially since we hold it in the LILY, the biology building.
I mean, can’t you just tell that’s the biology building, with that artwork in the background? The hands of God coming out of clouds and creating the first cells is totally a biologically sound theory…right?

Regardless of artwork that annoys the biologists, it was a good day for evolution. I saw a random person wearing a Happy Birthday Darwin pin, which made me super happy. I also got to briefly teach my honors freshman class about evolution! We’re learning about mutations and selecting bacteria that can survive in certain environments, so it was somewhat relevant. The professor asked if I would explain evolution to them, since I like it so much.

I have to say, I was really impressed. Everyone already understood the basics of the theory without the misconceptions. I specifically wore my Darwin Athletic Club: Survival of the Fittest t-shirt and asked them why it wasn’t really correct, and they got it right: that strength and endurance doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is fit – it’s reproduction that matters. They also asked extra questions about epigenetics and kin selection. I was really impressed for freshmen! The intro biology class has been updated since I last took it, and is a lot more evolution heavy – looks like people are actually understanding it now!

Not sure anything can make Darwin Day better than teaching our future scientists about evolution.

Send an Atheist to Church

Next week the Society of Non-Theists at Purdue University will be having a fun charity event: Send an Atheist to Church. People will have the opportunities to raise money for charity and save our souls at the same time! How neat is that? Here’s all the relevant information, which can also be found on the Facebook event page (please spread the word!):

Thursday 2/18 & Friday 2/19
9:00 am to 4:30 pm
UNION ground floor tables (by Zia Juice & Starbucks)

The main goal of this event is to come up with a creative idea to raise money for a charity that everyone can agree is very important in our community. We also want to show that non-theists are open minded about religious ideas, and that we’re willing to learn more about other people’s faith. The way it works is as follows:

1. Make a cash donation – ALL proceeds go to Food Finders Food Bank of Tippecanoe County.
2. Choose what denomination of religious services you want us atheists to attend.
3. The more money donated in a denomination’s name, the more visits it receives.

Currently participating denominations include:
Baptist (Faith Baptist Church)
Episcopalian (Chapel of the Good Shepard)
Orthodox (Saint Alexis Orthodox Church)
United Methodist (Wesley Foundation)
Judaism (Purdue Hillel)
Buddhists (Purdue Buddhist Society)

If you see certain religions missing from our list and you know a place of worship (in the Lafayette area) that would like to participate, please let us know before Thursday and we will ad them to the list! The more, the merrier! It doesn’t have to be a Christian denomination – “Church” is used just for a catchy title.

Inspired by Hemant Mehta‘s book, I Sold My Soul on eBay

Anyone can donate, regardless if they’re a Purdue student, a member of a participating church, etc. If you can’t physically come to make a donation during the listed times, you can also make a check out to Food Finders Food Bank (be sure to note what denomination it’s going toward!) and mail it to:

The Society of Non-Theists
Stewart Center, Box #566
128 Memorial Mall
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2034

So if you really want me to go visit the Baptist church or something, send a check! Not only will it tickle me pink because it’s going to a good cause, but you’ll get a blog post out of every church service I have to attend.

This is our first year trying out this event, so I hope it goes well. We’ve had a little trouble getting churches to participate – a couple outright said no, but most are unresponsive. Hopefully if this is successful this year and we prove this isn’t some nefarious plan to interrupt their services, more places will trust us next year. I have to say, I’m really excited. I’ve never really been to church, and I’m curious to see what it’s like.

So, go spread the word! Donate! Wish us luck!

Woman’s Last Stand

I know my 10 Most Sexist Super Bowl Ads post got quite a bit of attention. And by “bit of attention” I mean hordes of anonymous trolls calling me a fat, ugly, lonely, humorless, overreacting, man-hating lesbian who needs to either get back in the kitchen or get back to blogging about topics that don’t make people uncomfortable. These comments really don’t phase me, since 1) Obvious trolls crack me up, 2) Misogynistic comments prove my point, and 3) My lesbian friends are super awesome, so I take that as a compliment.

To all of you who actually left civil and enlightening comments, whether they agreed or disagreed with me, I thank you.

Anyway, since the internet is way too serious of a place sometimes, I figured I would share this spoof of the Dodge Charger ad:

I’d put a bet on how many comments it’ll take for someone to call me a hypocritical misandrist*, but I just ruined that by stating it here, didn’t I? Oops.

*Sexism is bad, regardless if it’s targeted toward women or men. I’m not sure how many times I need to say that. Maybe I should put that in big bold letters above my banner for newcomers, so they don’t shit bricks every time I blog about sexism. Of course, watching them shit bricks is kind of fun.

Woman's Last Stand

I know my 10 Most Sexist Super Bowl Ads post got quite a bit of attention. And by “bit of attention” I mean hordes of anonymous trolls calling me a fat, ugly, lonely, humorless, overreacting, man-hating lesbian who needs to either get back in the kitchen or get back to blogging about topics that don’t make people uncomfortable. These comments really don’t phase me, since 1) Obvious trolls crack me up, 2) Misogynistic comments prove my point, and 3) My lesbian friends are super awesome, so I take that as a compliment.

To all of you who actually left civil and enlightening comments, whether they agreed or disagreed with me, I thank you.

Anyway, since the internet is way too serious of a place sometimes, I figured I would share this spoof of the Dodge Charger ad:

I’d put a bet on how many comments it’ll take for someone to call me a hypocritical misandrist*, but I just ruined that by stating it here, didn’t I? Oops.

*Sexism is bad, regardless if it’s targeted toward women or men. I’m not sure how many times I need to say that. Maybe I should put that in big bold letters above my banner for newcomers, so they don’t shit bricks every time I blog about sexism. Of course, watching them shit bricks is kind of fun.

Take the Blag Hag 2010 Census!

I like data. No, really. Whenever there’s something I can measure or perform statistics on, I do. I like to graph my weight over time, find correlations between silly variables like doucheyness vs. time spent dating a guy, and create networks that diagram which of my friends have kissed each other (it’s a frightening web).

Don’t worry, you don’t have to make out with anyone against your will. But I would like you to complete a short survey!

I’m mainly curious about some of the general demographics of my readers, what you guys like about the blog, and what I can do to improve it in the future. I figure now is a great time to start collecting this sort of data. My blog is creeping up on it’s first birthday, and I think it would be pretty neat to have a regular data set throughout my years of blogging. Wouldn’t it be cool to see how it changes over time? I didn’t ask as many questions as I could have because 1) I’m limited to 10 and 2) I didn’t want to annoy you guys. But I still like getting a general idea!

Feel free to post comments and complaints in this post as well, though I have allotted you a free response question on the survey if you’d like to make a completely anonymous comment. I promise this isn’t a nefarious scheme to sell your demographic information to some mega corporation – at most the data may be posted anonymously as a couple graphs in a later post.

So, please take the survey!

What we can learn from ancient human DNA

What can we learn about a person just from looking at their DNA? As our knowledge of genetics continues to grow, we may even be able to figure out what they look like. Research published in Nature looked at the genome of an ancient human using 4,000 year old hair that had been preserved in Greenland’s permafrost. From looking at genes that cause known traits, we can learn a lot about his appearance.

  • Male
  • Type A+ blood
  • Brown eyes
  • Darker skin
  • Stocky body
  • Dry earwax
  • Shovel shaped teeth
  • Thick, dark hair
  • Tendency toward baldness

Okay, as an aside: Who is the lucky artist who gets to draw a reconstruction of an ancient human, or the feather patterns on dinosaurs? Is this someone’s profession, or does a grad student do it? Maybe I can finally find a way to combine my art skills with my biology skills!

Anyway, it’s pretty cool that we’re able to learn about the actual physical appearance of someone just from their genes. Think about the implications in forensics cases when all that’s left is tissue that’s beyond identification. But that’s not the thing that made this paper Nature-worthy. All of these genotypes are very similar to modern Siberians, which tweaks our current understanding of human migration. Jerry Coyne summarizes it well over at his wonderful blog, Why Evolution is True:

Oh, and the really interesting result is this: the DNA suggests that the individual had components of genes still present in East Asian and Siberian populations, but not found in modern-day Inuits or people from South and Central America. This suggests that there were two separate invasions of North America from Asia: the one that gave rise to native Americans, South Americans, and modern Inuit on the one hand, and that leading to the presence of Saqqaq in Greenland. Those latter individuals probably came across the Bering Strait, and then, hugging the Arctic, made their way eastward across North America and then to Greenland.

That conclusion is of course tentative because it’s based on only this single genome. Still, based on the sequence, and the tentative phylogeny showing that this individual’s ancestors split off from the ancestors of their closest living relatives (the Chukchis of eastern Siberia) about 5,000 years ago, anthropologists may have to revise their conclusion that there was one invasion of North America from eastern Asia around 18,000 years ago.

Very neat stuff! Though I would like to see a study using modern humans to see how accurate these sorts of predictions are. Take maybe ten individuals with various phenotypes, sequence their genomes, have the researchers try to reconstruct their appearance without previous knowledge of what they look like, send it off to an artist, and see how close we can get! I’m not sure what profound result this would show other than if this method is useful or not – just seems like a really cool thing to try out. Can’t we do science for fun every once in a while?

I fail at sleeping

I’ve never been good at the whole “sleeping” thing. I take forever to fall asleep, I wake up frequently, I never feel well rested, I get sleepy throughout the day. It’s not the sort of passing insomnia caused by a stressful event or a particularly hard work load (though the later is more likely voluntary sleep deprivation, which I also sometimes do). My failure to get a good night’s rest has existed since literally as long as I can remember, probably since I was five years old.

My memories of insomnia as a little kid are kind of hilarious, in retrospect. As a kid I believed the mantra of “Parents can solve everything, therefor you should tell them all of your problems.” Oh childhood innocence. But it was rule I followed very closely, especially when I couldn’t sleep at night – which, unfortunately for my parents, was fairly often.

During one of my sleepless nights, I would slowly open the door to their bedroom and creep over to my dad’s side of the bed. Looking back, I am so amazed and relieved I never caught them in the middle of some hanky panky – probably because they quickly got used to me barging in on a fairly regular basis (sorry Mom & Dad – what else are kids for?). The exchange was always the same:

Me: Daaaddddy? … (if father did not awake, insert poking here)
Dad: *wakes up* huuhh what?
Me: I can’t sleep.
Dad: Grumble.

He would then take me downstairs to the couch, put on All Dogs Go to Heaven, and then wait until I fell asleep.

Yeah, my dad can’t stand that movie anymore.

Soon he was putting on the movie and leaving me there. And after that, my sleeplessness was met with “And what do you want me to do about it?” and I learned to go sleep on the couch without harassing my dad. (As an aside, my dad asked me recently why I always woke him up and never my mom. That’s because she was a much deeper sleeper, and I knew I wouldn’t get any help from her. Poor dad, suffering from child logic.)

I also used to sleepwalk a lot when I was little. Apparently I would go into my parents’ room babbling nonsense, one of them would tell me to go back to bed, and my zombie like self would listen. I still do minor sleepwalking-like things, but never actually walking around (with one exception). I’ve been prone to sleeptalking, especially when I’m having an angry dream. Sometimes I’m shouting so loud in my dreams that I’ll mumble it, much to the confusion of roommates and boyfriends. I’ll actually sleepcry more frequently than I’ll sleeptalk, which is simply bizarre upon waking.

But the thing I do most frequently is also the thing that freaks out roommates the most – sleepsitting. All I’ll do is sit straight up in bed and stare facing forward. I usually wake up after sleeping in this position for a while, think “Oh, I’m doing it again,” and then lay back down to go to sleep. I completely freaked out my first college roommate, who thought I was possessed or fucking with her when I did this one night. This almost always happens when I’m having a particularly stressful week, so I have no idea how chemicals are messing with my brain to produce this effect.

Even ignoring these bizarre sleep habits, I’ve never been a good sleeper. It usually takes me anywhere from a half hour to an hour to fall asleep, sometimes up to two hours on a bad night. It doesn’t matter how exhausted I am. Once I’m actually sleeping, I’ll still wake up at least twice a night, sometimes up to ten times; I’m not even sure if I know what it’s like to sleep without doing so. The only perk of this is that I always vividly remember multiple dreams from that night, and I frequently lucid dream (“Oh, hey, this is a dream. Time to fly around, weee!”).

Then I’ll usually wake up multiple times before the alarm goes off, frantically checking the clock. An hour left. 45 more minutes. 30 minutes. 20. 15. 10. 5. 2. It’s maddening. And when I finally wake up, I’m never well rested, and I’m lethargic and falling asleep throughout the day. The only mild solution I’ve come up with is allotting myself 10 hours for “sleep,” assuming I might actually sleep during 7 or 8 of those hours. Problem is, I’m an overbooked college student who hardly had eight hours to set aside for sleep.

The utterly maddening thing, however, is that I sleep fine when I shouldn’t be sleeping. On the rare occasion that I nap (I try not to, since I know it makes sleeping at night even worse), I will be out like a light and go into super deep restful sleep. If I’m a passenger in a car, I can’t keep my eyes open and I’ll be gone no matter how uncomfortable the situation (I blame this on my parents – when I was little, they’d drive me around to get me to fall asleep). If I’m sitting at the back of a giant boring lecture after getting 3 hours of sleep, I have no problem microsleeping while managing to not drool all over the desk, snore, or be distracted by the lecture (I know, naughty Jen).

But it seems like the second I lay down in a real bed, I’m wide awake. It’s worse when there’s something I have to wake up for in the morning, but it’s still not perfect on weekends. I’ve never harassed doctors about it, since their general reply (and the reply of others) is that I’m just stressed and anxious.

…Okay, which is totally true.

Regardless, it’s still annoying. I know there are a thousand tips I could be following to get better sleep. Exercise (ha), going to bed at the same time (haha), eating at regular times (uh, I’m a college student?), avoiding caffeine (the only thing keeping me functional during the day), and staying away from the computer before bed (ahahahahahaha). Maybe I’m doomed to my sleeplessness because of my lifestyle. Maybe my constant sleep deprivation is the cause of my sarcastic, mildly cranky personality – aka, the source of all my blogging inspiration – so I don’t actually want to cure it.

At least I can rest easy…well, rest easier knowing that mild to moderate insomnia is associated with increased longevity. I can be sleep deprived even longer!

EDIT: I forgot to include my one sleepwalking exception! This happened maybe a year ago-ish. I had been watching way too much Food Network on TV, and had a hilarious sleep walking episode. I “woke up” semi-conscious, thinking I was participating on Iron Chef. My bed was the prep station and my desk was the stove top. I literally got up and started moving my blankets around, thinking they were food, and then walking back and forth to my desk. The strangest part was that I was semi-lucid during all of my hallucinations, which is why I remember this episode. The whole time I was thinking nonsense like “Man, this food is so hard to cook because it’s not really food, it’s blankets. Wait, what? Oh well, must keep cooking.” At one point my imaginary Chairman demanded cookies, so I literally walked over to the bathroom and stared at the toilet paper. “This isn’t cookies, this is toilet paper. But he wants cookies. Can the toilet paper be cookies?” Eventually I woke up enough to realize that I was playing imaginary Iron Chef, and I walked back to my bed and went to sleep.

The brain is an amazing organ.

EDIT 2: Damn, apparently I already blogged about my Iron Chef sleepwalking. I have no new material, folks. Oh well, go there if you want a more detailed and hilarious description of my sleepwalking.

When art meets biology: Caddisfly jewelry

No, this isn’t jewelry in the shape of a Caddisfly – sorry, entomologists. It’s actually quite stranger than that: the Caddisfly larva are the artists!You need to know a little bit about Caddisfly life history to completely understand what’s going on:

Caddisflies have aquatic larvae and are found in a wide variety of habitats such as streams, rivers, lakes, ponds, spring seeps, and temporary waters (vernal pools). The larvae of many species make protective cases of silk decorated with gravel, sand, twigs or other debris.

They usually look something like this:Then artist Hubert Duprat got an idea:

Having been in the past a naturalist he knew that the larvae are remarkably adaptable: if other suitable materials are introduced into their environment, they will often incorporate those as well. So in the early eighties he started to collect the larvae from their normal environments and took them to his studio. There he gently removed their own natural cases and put them in tanks filled with his own materials, from which they began to build their new protective sheaths. When he began the project, he only provided the caddis larvae with gold flakes. Since then, the larvae have enjoyed various semi-precious and precious stones, including turquoise, coral and lapis lazuli, as well as sapphires, pearls, rubies, and diamonds.

Isn’t that neat? I know some people would be a little grossed out owning jewelry that was once an insect’s armor, but I think it’s pretty cool. Sometimes art created by nature is just as beautiful as art created by a human.(Via sex, art, and politics)