Todd Akin is sorry that he was sorry

Please, Republicans, welcome this man back into the fold, and make him a mouthpiece for the party. We are happy to see you drive women out of your camp. Todd Akin thinks there’s still a legitimate concern about legitimate rape.

"When a woman claims to have been raped, the police determine if the evidence supports the legal definition of ‘rape,’" Akin writes. "Is it a legitimate claim of rape or an excuse to avoid an unwanted pregnancy? Are the police warranted to take action against a crime or not?"

"In short, the word ‘legitimate’ modifies the claim and not the action. There have been women who have lied about being raped, as Norma McCorvey did before the U.S. Supreme Court. The infamous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 was based on a lie."

"My comment about a woman’s body shutting the pregnancy down," Akin adds in the book, "was directed to the impact of stress on fertilization. This is something fertility doctors debate and discuss. Doubt me? Google ‘stress and fertilization,’ and you will find a library of research on the subject."

Yes, sometimes women are bad and ignorant and dishonest, just like men. Sometimes people lie about being robbed in order to get the insurance money, too; that doesn’t mean we have such a cynical view of humanity that we dismiss all claims of theft as fraudulent.

I found his last challenge interesting, though. But don’t go to Google — that’s wide open and leads to a lot of garbage. I did his search on PubMed. It returns about 1500 peer reviewed papers on the subject, but the problem is that ‘stress’ has a rather specific meaning in biology, and it’s not about transient terror — it’s about relatively long-term metabolic changes. It’s also a big database, so it covers everything — plants, mice, insects, etc. So I narrowed the search to just humans, which gives me 136 results. That is not very impressive.

I browsed through them all. Some looked interesting:there’s stuff on the role of follicular antioxidants, how serotonergic modulation affects the stress response in zebrafish (they mention modulators developed for human research — they’re giving Prozac to fish larvae), issues in treating Jehovah’s Witnesses with in vitro fertilization, heat stress and DNA repair in sperm production, lots of stuff about oxidative stress, and surprising numbers of papers about the effects of stress on sperm in general. I guess sperm are just easier to work with. Maybe Akin should be arguing that stressed-out rapists are firing blanks? Nah, the research doesn’t support that, either.

I found one relevant paper in my search: Stress and anxiety do not result in pregnancy wastage, by Milad, Klock, Moses, and Chatterton, published in 1998. They were looking at the effects of the psychologically stressful process of IVF on fertility clinic patients. It has a small n of 40, so it’s not entirely conclusive, but the abstract concludes:

In conclusion, there is little association between psychological scores and physiological stress hormone concentrations. Also, it does not appear that high levels of anxiety and stress result in an adverse pregnancy outcome.

Again, these are studies of long term stress — we know there are effects of overwork, worry, lack of sleep, poor diet, and fear that cause metabolic changes in the body that can reduce the likelihood of reproduction. But that’s a far cry from suggesting that a single psychologically traumatic event can instantly shut down ovaries and prevent pregnancy, like a switch.

Also, a search on PubMed on the subject of stress and pregnancy turns up many more papers. It’s easy to conflate the two issues, and it’s certainly the case that metabolic changes occur and can affect pregnancy. But it’s also easy to send people off on a wild goose chase on a complex topic to confuse them.

So far, I haven’t found any peer-reviewed papers that support the Akin Hypothesis. I probably need to dig deeper into fringe journals.

Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα

Just to counter the repressive BS in the last post, here’s some news that it doesn’t have to be that way: 2,500-year-old erotic graffiti has been found on an Aegean island.

"They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions," said the Princeton-trained professor who found them while introducing students to the ancient island world of the Aegean. "They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself," he told the Guardian. "And that is very, very rare."

Chiselled into the outcrops of dolomite limestone that dot the cape, the inscriptions have provided invaluable insight into the private lives of those who inhabited archaic and classical Greece. One, believed to have been carved in the mid-sixth century BC, proclaimed: "Nikasitimos was here mounting Timiona (Νικασίτιμος οἶφε Τιμίονα).

"We know that in ancient Greece sexual desire between men was not a taboo," added Dr Vlachopoulos, who returned to the far-flung island last week to resume work with a team of topographers, photographers, conservationists and students. "But this graffiti … is not just among the earliest ever discovered. By using the verb in the past continuous [tense], it clearly says that these two men were making love over a long period of time, emphasising the sexual act in a way that is highly unusual in erotic artwork. "

They weren’t just celebrating sex, but gay sex. All while the dour Hebrews were laying down nit-picking laws about what God allows you to do with your genitals.

I get email

Sometimes it is even informative. I was sent a data dump on official Catholic doctrine regarding sexual relations — it is rather revealing. I don’t recall requesting it, though, but sure, I’ll take it. And grimace.

I was informed of an inquiry you made some 7 months ago concerning the morality that must be preserved in the relations of the bed.

Church laws teach that spouses must fight against or quiet libidinal pleasure when they have relations or else they commit a fault for seeking to enjoy the libidinal pleasure. In Her laws and practices the Church has condemned the belief that spouses can have relations for lustful pleasure and not commit any fault or sin. The March 4, 1679 Holy Office decree on the errors of various moral subjects condemns spouses who have relations for libidinal pleasure. Canon Law 1013 teaches that the secondary motive for the marital act is mutual aid but does not mention mutual love or indulging in libidinal/lustful pleasure. Pope Pius XI’s Enyclical Casti Connubii’s teaching on the quieting of concupiscence rules out seeking to enjoy libidinal pleasure. He teaches that the purpose of marriage is the procreation and rearing of children and that the secondary purpose is companionship and friendship through the struggle of life. He also says couples should pray in order for God to help them conquer temptations. The Church Fathers are unanimous on the necessity to fight against lustful pleasure during intercourse. The Church Fathers teach that spouses sin when they have relations for lustful pleasure. And some compare it to using one another as whores and prostitutes:

Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 6:23:18: “The genital ['generating'] part of the body, as the name itself teaches, has been received by us for no other purpose than the generation of offspring.”

St. Jerome, Against Jovinian, 1:19, A.D. 393: “But I wonder why he [the heretic Jovinianus] set Judah and Tamar before us for an example, unless perchance even harlots give him pleasure; or Onan, who was slain because he grudged his brother’s seed.Does he imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children?”

St. Augustine, The Morals of the Manichees, 18:65, A.D. 388: “This proves that you [Manicheans] approve of having a wife, not for the procreation of children, but for the gratification of passion. In marriage, as the marriage law declares, the man and woman come together for the procreation of children. Therefore, whoever makes the procreation of children a greater sin than copulation, forbids marriage and makes the woman not a wife but a prostitute, who for some gifts presented to her is joined to the man to gratify his passion.

St. Augustine, Against Faustus, 22:30: “For thus the eternal law, that is, the will of God creator of all creatures, taking counsel for the conservation of natural order, not to serve lust, but to see to the preservation of the race, permits the delight of mortal flesh [i.e. the conjugal act] to be released from the control of reason in copulationonly to propagate progeny.”St. Augustine one of the greatest Church Fathers in Church History points to the fact that at times it does happen that a couple will climax. He points out that if this comes to pass and one did not seek it in any way: then there is no fault on the part of the couple. If for some reason the spouses or a spouse does reach the climax- which is the instant that the flesh is released from the control of reason and the flesh (body) at that moment follows commands of its own by moving involuntarily — it is not sinful when it occurs by accident. It must never be sought after and if it occurs when one does not seek after it — it is an accidental happening: and this accidental happening God permits for the sake of trying to procreate — and will not charge a person with sin who did not seek after it (i.e climax). Lustful pleasure must be hated with a perfect hatred. It does happen at times that men feel pleasure during the conjugal act. This is not sinful of itself but only when they don’t fight against it or if they seek it. If they seek pleasure and or if they don’t fight against it — they are guilty of the sin of Lust. A Manual of Moral Theology, by Rev. Thomas Slater, 1925, Chapter 2, The Capital Vices: On Lust: “Lust is an inordinate appetite for the pleasure which has its seat in the organs of generation. A wise and provident Creator has taken care that those actions which are most necessary for the individual or for society should be accompanied by great pleasure in order that they may be exercised more certainly and more readily. If there were no pleasure connected with eating and drinking, few men would trouble themselves about those necessary actions. The great pleasure felt in the act of procreation induces men to do what is necessary for the preservation of the race which otherwise would excite only shame and disgust. This, however, can only be done lawfully in wedlock. “

“And calling the multitude together with his disciples, he said to them: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel, shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mk. 8:34-36)

Catholic Encyclopedia, “Lust, by Joseph F. Delany, 1910: “The inordinate craving for, or indulgence of, the carnal pleasure which is experienced in the human organs of generation.The wrongfulness of lust is reducible to this: that venereal satisfaction is sought for…. at any rate, in a manner which is contrary to the laws that govern marital intercourse.(Nihil obstat: Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur: + John M., Archbishop of New York.)

And within marital intercourse one must not seek for pleasure. If pleasure occurs accidentally: it is not a sin before God since it is something out of their control. The laws which govern the marital act demand that the act be consummated as quick as possible, with the lights off and the spouses fully dressed — with the only areas of their body needed for connection uncovered somewhat. In that short space of time: if the couple did not seek for pleasure then they are without fault even if they might have felt pleasure.

St. Thomas Aquinas condemns lustful kisses and touches for married and unmarried people alike as mortal sins in Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Q. 154, Art. 4:

Objection 2: Further,fornication is stated to be a mortal sin as being prejudicial to the good of the future child’s begetting and upbringing. But these are not affected by kisses and touches or blandishments. Therefore there is no mortal sin in these.”

[St. Thomas Aquinas]Reply to Objection 2: Although kisses and touches do not by their very nature hinder the good of the human offspring,they proceed from lust, which is the source of this hindrance:and on this account they aremortally sinful.”

That is why St. Thomas even rejects in the same section (Q. 154, Art. 1) as lascivious and unlawful “acts circumstantial to the venereal act, for instancekisses, touches, and so forth“. St. Thomas Aquinas writes: “We may also reply that "lasciviousness " relates to certain acts circumstantial to the venereal act, for instance kisses, touches, and so forth.” (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 154, Art. 1) And so it is clear that St. Thomas taught that all non-procreative and unnecessary indecent acts are sinful and against nature.

Oral and waste-organ stimulation is intrinsically evil and against the natural law

St. Barnabas,Letter of Barnabas, section 10:8, 74 A.D.: “Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Leviticus 11:29]. For he means, ‘Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouththrough uncleanness [oral s*x]; nor shalt thou be joined tothose impure women who commit iniquity with the mouthwith the body through uncleanness.’”

St. Augustine,The Good of Marriage, section 11-12, 401 A.D.: “But that which goes beyond this necessity no longer follows reason but lust…. they [must] not turn away from them the mercy of God….by changing the natural use into that which is against nature, which is more damnable when it is done in the case of husband or wife. Of so great power is the ordinance of the Creator, and the order of creation, that….when the man shall wish to use a body part of the wife not allowed for this purpose, the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman.”

Very simply the mouth and the organ of the human disposal system have a purpose. Nature tells us that God made the mouth for the intake of food and drink: and the human disposal system for the disposal of waste. Moreover nature tells us that if we begin to use the mouth and the human disposal system organ in improper ways then bodily infection or disease and death may be the result.

The mouth and the human disposal system were not made to stimulate the g*nital organs. Nothing could be more evident than this fact. Catholic Tradition and the Natural Law clearly teach us that oral and human disposal system organ stimulation are sinful lustful acts and deviant s*xual behavior. Those who promote such perversions or believe them to be not sinful are guilty of the mortal sin of heresy for denying the Natural Law and as such are outside the Catholic Church.

Women must never wear jewelry, make-up, tattoos, body painting, and fingernails longer than one-eighth of an inch. Their hairstyles must never be ostentatious, they are not allowed to dye their hair, and they must wear a veil when praying or going to visit a holy place like a church or if they go to see an ecclesiastic. They must also have a veil when they hear a sermon in whatever place they might be. They are not allowed to wear transparent fabrics, laces, nets, organdy, nylon, etc and flesh colored fabrics. They are not allowed to paint their nails either. A violation of any of the aforementioned rules is mortal sin at best and heresy at worst. It is an abomination for women to wear pants. It is a heresy for which women were burned at the stake. Women must wear dresses and feminine apparel that covers them at least beginning from just below the pit of the throat to all the way half way below the knees (inclusive). As for the arms they must be covered with sleeves passing at least the half way mark after the elbows. Another issue is appropriate undergarments. In fact there are instructions for what type of knickers women are to wear and what fabrics to avoid under pain of mortal sin and possibly heresy. Since some fabrics are masculine.Also it is heresy and an abomination for women to wear pants. In fact St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on the mere suspicion of the heresy of wearing pants. She was falsely accused before and given a free pass twice but when the accusation happened a 3rd time she was killed (in the first accusation/trial there were some false witnesses who testified against her as well as the 2nd trial and so she already had a strike 2 strikes against her; false witnesses testified against her again for the 3rd trial). This particular heresy is called ‘the monstrous dress’ (difformitate habitus). For having 3 strikes against you would indicate to the judges of a relapse into heresy- for the accused.

Pierre Cauchon the Bishop of Beauvais was an unscrupulous and ambitious man who worked for the English and was the mover and shaker of the false accusations and trials against St. Joan who had defeated France. He and the English were determined to have her blood on some pretext. They were always sad when they failed upon the previous occasions to secure the death of St. Joan at trial. It is alleged a trap was deliberately laid by her jailers with the connivance of Cauchon (for this had happened before). Joan- either to defend her modesty from outrage or because her women's garments were taken from her or perhaps simply because she was weary of the struggle and was convinced that her enemies were determined to have her blood upon some pretext: once more put on the man's apparel (not wearing it but just covering herself with it like a bed sheet) which had been purposely left in her way.She was deliberately (illegally) put in a jail (in the Castle of Rouen) tended by male guards (profligate English soldiers) even though there was one much closer that catered to females (she bitterly complained of the indecent mistreatment she received from them before). She was also treated harshly being chained by her neck, hands, and ankles(for she had attempted to escape by desperately throwing herself from the window of the tower of Beaurevoir because of the unspeakably indecent activity of the men- the judges at her trial called this act of hers reckless). So in all there were 4 trials concerning St. Joan . The first one concerned her visions and then the last 3 concerned the accusation of her wearing men’s apparel/pants.

Sports undergarments suppress the bustline to a degree but are also unhealthy for daily wear, especially by women who are of childbearing age because they are made of elastic and suppress the delicate tissues and structures needed for nursing.

The size of the blouse is determined by the size of the bustline. That size, in turn, determines how wide to make the neckline and armholes and how far from the neckline the armholes should be. Example: If I were to wear a top one or two sizes larger than my size, the neckline would gape open in the front and not lay against my chest (unless it was a turtleneck) and the sleeve seams would hang down the upper part of my arm, giving me a baglady look and also allowing curious eyes to peer down my blouse when I bent forward or was lower than the onlooker, such as when genuflecting. Women who are amply endowed need supportive undergarments or else they suffer from back problems. These supportive undergarments must be constructed in such a way as to support the weight being held and therefore they give shape which you simply cannot avoid except by layering your clothes (a sweater draped over your top or blouse) which is impractical and dangerous to your health in a warm or hot climate and often does not solve the problem. The weight of the fabric, the style of the pattern, the size of the bustline, the style of the waistline and the undergarments all affect how a top/blouse looks upon a woman. This blouse has a nipped-in or tucked-in waist so you cannot expect it to hang straight down which would thus less emphasize the bustline. Also, if a top/blouse is tucked into the skirt (as opposed to hanging over it), the bustline is more emphasized. However, the point of drape is still the bustline.

It is a sin for women to wear pants (even those designed specifically for females) or drive cars. It is a sin for girls to wear lace underwear. The rationale is the preservation of Catholic Dignity. For Pope St. Pius X said. “There is only one human dignity: and that is Catholic dignity.” NFP: A Birth Control Deception 68 mins

It is amazing that the Catholic Church lasted for any length of time at all, but then I started thinking…women have always been a major proponent of religion, including Catholicism — they accepted these rules. In a world where men had total power and rape was a constant risk with little recourse for justice, and what sex there was was entirely focused on the man’s pleasure, a collection of rules that strongly discouraged sex might be seen by women as an important way to protect other aspects of their autonomy. If putting on the Armor of God means admitting that you are corrupting filth, well, that might be a small price to pay to get relief from abuse, and to have an institutionally supported way to fight back against those base, depraved men who want to touch your dirtybits.

This is what you get when the dudebros run rampant: women find repressing sex altogether more appealing and a more viable strategy than trying to find respectful partners.

The sexbots are everywhere!

After that short post yesterday pointing out the abuse of photoshop to distort women’s bodies, I was briefly harangued by a loon who announced that I obviously did not understand the concept of sexual selection.

women’s bodies today are changing due to sexual selection whether you like it or not. Humans use tools to sculpt their bodies into appealing forms, so it’s not just left to inherent biological changes. And, women are abiding our wishes whether you like it or not. As biologists say, evolution is merciless. So why all the whining?

Actually, I do understand sexual selection quite well. I fail to see how making images of bodies plastic with photoshop is an example, or how you leap from manipulating pixels to how we can “sculpt…bodies into appealing forms”. Perhaps he thinks it is a kind of sympathetic magic, that if you paint a picture of a woman with balloon breasts and a wasp waist, women will simply comply with your wishes?

I am also impressed with the obliviousness. Sexual selection works both ways — has he ever wondered why some men are obsessed with women’s body parts, wanting them to be a certain size and shape? Exactly who’s brain is being sculpted by nature here?

I should also introduce him to the concept of the supernormal stimulus, the idea that a species can evolve to respond to a triggering stimulus that can be inappropriately strengthened by an exaggerated stimulus. This isn’t necessarily a good thing; for instance, Lorenz found that birds would enthusiastically nurture large fake eggs at the expense of their normal-sized real eggs, which at least isn’t a serious concern in nature, usually (although cuckoos can take advantage of it). There’s also the serious concern about human diet: give a person the choice of a twinkie or a carrot, and guess which one will be most attractive?

Or we could talk about RealDolls, these “life-like” (more like corpse-like) full-sized rubbery plastic dolls with conveniently compliant orifices. Is that an example of “sexual selection”? I suppose you could make a case for it, although it’s not affecting women, but rather selecting out males who waste their time in futile coupling with an infertile assortment of artificial stimuli — futile in both the sense that reproduction will not occur, nor will any bonding with another human being.

Besides, apparently those RealDolls are over-engineered. Simpler models will do the job just fine.

According to a Murfreesboro Police Department report, an officer was dispatched to the bar, where a witness said that Hutton walked to the ATM and “pulled down his pants and underwear exposing his genitals.” Officer M. Rickard added, “Mr. Hutton then attempted to have sexual intercourse with the ATM.”

After his encounter with the ATM, Hutton “then began to walk ‘nude’ around the bar thrusting his hips in the air,” Rickard reported.

Behold the latest generation of sexbot!


Is that an example of selection? Or just a case of drunken disinhibition exposing the simpler driving machinery of the male sexual urge?

South Dakotans are obsessed with anal sex

I always suspected as much — they’re a bit strange over there, 40 miles to my west. Steve Hickey, one of those state legislators in Sioux Falls (and a Republican, of course) was compelled to write a long screed ranting about the public health dangers of gay sex by this event:

Hickey told TPM on Wednesday he was driven to write the letter after Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz, a lesbian couple from Rapid City, S.D., announced their intention to become the first state residents to challenge its gay marriage ban. The couple was married on Saturday in Minnesota in a wedding that was officiated by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, setting the stage for South Dakota to become the 29th with a marriage equality court case.

Two lesbians getting married drove him to think horrible thoughts about anal sex. That doesn’t even make sense. If he’s going to rant about the public health risks of sex, he ought to know that it is lesbians who have the safest sex lives.

Here’s his wretched letter in full. The comments are full of praise for his brave stance.

A One Way Alley for the Garbage Truck

Rep. Steve Hickey, District 9, Sioux Falls

Consider this an open letter to the medical and psychological communities in South Dakota. The subject is homosexuality, which is about to be a front-page topic for the next few years in our state. I’m asking the doctors who practice in our state, is the science really settled on this issue or is it more the case that you feel silenced and intimidated?

Certainly there are board-certified doctors in our state who will attest to what seems self-evident to so many: gay sex is not good for the body or mind. Pardon a crude comparison but regarding men with men, we are talking about a one-way alley meant only for the garbage truck to go down. Frankly, I’d question the judgment of doctor who says it’s all fine.

South Dakota docs, it’s time for you to come out of the closet and give your professional opinion on this matter like you capably and responsibly do on all the others. Somehow the message we are presently getting from the medical community is that eating at McDonalds will kill us but the gay lifestyle has no side effects. Truth be told it seems self-evident the list of side effects would read far longer than anything we hear on a Cialis commercial.

If many are indeed wearying of our religious community leading on these morality issues, and believe also those of us in the legislature should butt out too, it’s time for the medical community in our state to be honest with us. If you don’t speak up, this issue will be decided by five unelected judges on the Supreme Court regardless of what states like ours have decided by public vote.

This indeed is a matter of being on the wrong side of history considering that historically, homosexuality has been a notable marker of the downfall of past civilizations, not their rise. It’s not hate for a physician to speak up about something that is harmful to human health. It is not unloving to tell people you don’t have to have sex with and marry someone to love and be loved by them. As one who performs marriages and counsels couples as part of my professional life, marriage is the last thing I’d recommend to someone who simply wants to be loved and legitimized. What do other health care and mental health professionals in our state really think?

The South Dakota High School Activities Association is presently considering changing the rules to accommodate transgender kids. Forty-one percent of those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria attempt suicide, that’s twenty-five times the rate of the general population– certainly tragic and urgent but not a word from the medical and psychological communities? So really, we are letting our basketball coaches sort it out while ACLU lawyers look carefully over their shoulders!?

Letting boys play girl sports is not the starting place to fix the suicide problem or the very real daily struggle these students face dealing with something they have been handed in life. Society is broken and people have broken identities. Is it really best for us to break down the one remaining thing that has been working in society to try to fix the broken in our midst? And does it really even do that, or does it merely put them in more places exposing them to additional painful ostracization all the while transferring serious anxieties to other innocent and impressionable ones in those locker rooms? We need to have compassion but there are unintended consequences to consider too.

Before we let lawyers and judges decide this for our state and override the will of the people in the 2006 election, I issue a call to the medical and psychological communities and associations to weigh in publicly and timely on the matter of homosexuality and the human body, psyche and family, particular kids.

I thought his ignorance and his fascination with one specific sex act was amusing, until I read the part where this asshole has the gall to use transgender people’s suicide statistics as a blunt instrument to imply there’s something wrong with them, rather than with the poisonous haters like him who make life miserable for them. There is something deeply wrong with society, and it’s represented by the smug Steve Hickeys of the world, not the tortured kids in our schools who are bullied by the bigots.

But otherwise, he’s picking the wrong target. If anal sex repulses him, he shouldn’t do it, but he should also think about who is doing it. Anal sex is the least common sexual activity between gay men — oral sex and mutual masturbation are much more common. Meanwhile, among the majority heterosexual population, about 25% have had anal sex at least once, and 10% do it regularly. If you’re looking for the common link in anal sex, it isn’t homosexuality: it’s the possession of a penis.

I would urge Mr Hickey to rewrite his screed to instead demand that doctors come out of the closet and speak out on the self-evident health risks of having sex with someone who has a penis.

He could also throw in something about how his religion venerates vaginas that are either untainted by the intrusion of a penis, and/or are one way exits for babies. He should specifically mention the Virgin Mary as the perfect example of how god intends that that pathway is best as a one-way street.

Although, do you really believe Mr Hickey is at all motivated by his concerns for the health of his gay constituents? I don’t think so.

Gamifying and scientifying your sex life, badly

There’s a new app called Spreadsheets. This is not new; there are millions of apps, and 95% of them are crap. Spreadsheets purports to use the accelerometer and microphone in your smartphone to measure your sexual performance — a kind of fitbit for sex (do not tell my wife, she’s already slightly obsessed with her fitbit stats).

I find the whole idea a little weird, and have zero interest in the thing, but whatever floats your boat, ‘k? But here’s what I find offensive and stupid: calling the noise from these smartphone stats a study of sex duration in America. It’s basically a sex toy that will be used sporadically and idiosyncratically, and you’re not going to get anything that could be called “information” out of it. Case in point: look at the data on intercourse duration.


That makes no sense. Why would you even expect variation to fall in the arbitrary boundary lines of the states? For instance, the part of Minnesota where I live is, culturally and geographically, very similar to the Dakotas, yet somehow I’m supposed to believe that there’s some kind of remarkable transition in sexual behavior over there? Why? Show me the variance in the data. Give me a somewhat finer grained breakdown. What these data show is that what they’re measuring is patternless and random.

The one message I take from that figure is this: dudes, your app doesn’t work.

Ow, cringing

Yikes, this is an awkward story. A teaching assistant mailed her students personal, nude photos of herself instead of homework answers. If it was a genuine mistake, and I assume it was, I feel for her — she’s going to get some unfortunate student feedback.

But to everyone giggling over it, I would say, grow up. Adults are sexual beings. They will have sex lives; they aren’t going to sacrifice that so students can pretend they’re all alabaster statues. This was an unfortunate error, but it doesn’t mean she’s something unusual: educated people, like your professors, tend to have rather adventurous and interesting sex experiences. They just don’t usually expose them.

But most of my cringing is reserved for the commenters at the link who are making much of the fact that the woman was of Asian descent, and are throwing around jokes built on offensive stereotypes. There is no shame in a person having sex. There ought to be quite a bit of shame in being a bigot.

Stephen Fry meets a ‘reparative therapist’

Gentle bemusement and delicate debunking ensues.

The question I always want to ask these people is whether the reverse is possible: whether with the right psychological tinkering, they themselves could be switched from heterosexual to homosexual. They always seem to be so certain that their conventional sexuality is such an intrinsic and essentialist part of their identity, yet the premise of their therapy is that sexuality must be so much more fluid.

The inconsistency of Hamza Tzortzis

This is an interesting clip of Tzortzis first rebuking Lawrence Krauss for his lack of an objective morality in admitting that there are certain conditions under which he could not condemn incest, and then, in a different debate, Tzortzis defending sex with children and rationalizing the lack of a taboo in the Qu’ran against it.

It’s so hypocritical, and so lacking in a rational morality. Krauss’s argument has a clear foundation in mutual consent and a lack of harm; we should not prohibit private actions of consenting adults that do not cause harm to others.

Tzortzis tries to claim that the Qu’ran uses similar principles in accommodating sex with children, by claiming that it should only be done when the child is physically and emotionally ready. But he ignores the concept of consent, and in fact flouts it when one of his points in favor of some cases of child marriage is that the father was willing to give away the child. And of course he doesn’t bother to mention the disturbing fact that he’s not discussing cases of kids exploring their sexuality together (I suspect he’d be dead set against that), but of grasping old men taking ownership of little girls and using them as sex toys.