Porn? Too silly!

WATCH OUT boys and girls! It’s late night with the Blag Hag! Aka, I’ve finally cracked and it’s time to get to the dirty stuff. The rest of this night probably will be mildly NSFW, unless you don’t have to worry about curious coworkers peeping over your shoulder.

Why don’t women watch as much porn as men? I think someone finally got it right:

“For me, the real problem with most porn is its hokeyness — the ridiculous costumes, the awful cinematography, the ludicrous story lines, the terrible acting (not to mention how scary the close-ups sometimes look, how fake the boobs are, how some starlets really sound like injured animals…).”

One hundred percent agreed.

I’m not sure why it seems like guys don’t have a problem with this – they are the ones watching the majority of porn, after all. But silliness in porn drives me nuts. Even at peak horniness, an ugly pair of socks (why the hell are you still wearing them?), unrealistic people, fake moans, funky disco music, or cats walking by in the background will just ruin it for me. It’s not necessarily that I react in a disgusted way – usually it just distracts me. Sometimes it’s so funny that I keep watching to laugh at it instead of enjoying it the way Aphrodite intended. I’ve even wished there was a blog devoted to making fun of the ridiculous stuff in porn. I’d do it myself, but I kind of don’t want my name eternally associated with that.

So guys, enlighten me. How do you do it? Do you just not notice it in the heat of the moment?

This is post 34 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

I'm a scientist! Pt 5

So the previous project I described is what I worked on most of my junior year and is in the process of being transformed into a paper (which I’ll likely get to be first author on – huzzah!). What other lab work have I been doing recently?

This wasn’t even meant to be a full project, but really started out of curiosity (like all good science does). One of my professors, Prof W, was doing some collection in the krat’s breeding season (Novemberish) instead of our usual July. During his trapping he was lucky enough to discover some copulatory plugs.

What the hell are copulatory plugs, you ask? Basically it’s a secretion the male deposits during mating that hardens into…well, a plug that takes time to remove. This makes it harder for the female to mate with another male later for obvious reasons. Or to steal a good analogy from Wikipedia, it’s a biological chastity belt.

Most rodents and some insects use copulatory plugs but they’re still a bit of a mystery. There’s not much literature on them in rodents, and virtually none on kangaroo rats. So we thought, what the heck can we do these things? Hmmm, let’s chop them up and genotype them!

We cut the plug into four segments, so one segment 1 would be the most internal in the female, and segment 4 would be the most external. We digested the plug and extracted DNA, then genotyped the DNA using various genetic markers. We then compared the results for these markers to the genotypes of the females we retrieved the plugs from. The tricky thing here is that you have a mixed sample, something they have to deal with a lot in forensic cases. Think of a rape case – you may have a semen sample, but it’ll have DNA from the female in it too. How do you know which belongs to which when you’re looking at something on a screen?

This is an example of what you would see (each number represents an allele):

Female: 130, 142
Mixed sample: 130, 136, 138, 142

You know that 130 and 142 most likely came from the female, and the new 136 and 138 came from the male. So the male is 136, 138 right? Well…it’s a bit more complicated. Maybe there are two males, and one is 130, 136 and the other is 138, 142. Or maybe one is 136, 138, and the other is 138, 142. What if there are three males?

Thankfully, there are ways around this. One is by comparing the relative strengths of each allele (not going to explain that, sorry). Another is using multiple markers. Another is assessing the probability of the combination using statistics. And finally, you can use the exclusion principle – see what males absolutely cannot possibly have contributed those alleles, and see who’s left and how the puzzle fits together.

I think you can imagine that this project is the ultimate puzzle. It can be a pain in the butt deciphering everything, but it’s really rewarding once you crack the code. And what have we figured out so far? Well, we have a pretty good guess of what male contributed to the plug, and in some cases more than one male appears to have contributed to the same plug, with their contributions separated by location in plug. Aka, the male that got their first formed the most internal part of the plug, and the second male formed the most external.

And before I start talking too much about rodent sex, I’m going to leave the implications of that up to your imagination.

This is post 29 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

I’m a scientist! Pt 5

So the previous project I described is what I worked on most of my junior year and is in the process of being transformed into a paper (which I’ll likely get to be first author on – huzzah!). What other lab work have I been doing recently?

This wasn’t even meant to be a full project, but really started out of curiosity (like all good science does). One of my professors, Prof W, was doing some collection in the krat’s breeding season (Novemberish) instead of our usual July. During his trapping he was lucky enough to discover some copulatory plugs.

What the hell are copulatory plugs, you ask? Basically it’s a secretion the male deposits during mating that hardens into…well, a plug that takes time to remove. This makes it harder for the female to mate with another male later for obvious reasons. Or to steal a good analogy from Wikipedia, it’s a biological chastity belt.

Most rodents and some insects use copulatory plugs but they’re still a bit of a mystery. There’s not much literature on them in rodents, and virtually none on kangaroo rats. So we thought, what the heck can we do these things? Hmmm, let’s chop them up and genotype them!

We cut the plug into four segments, so one segment 1 would be the most internal in the female, and segment 4 would be the most external. We digested the plug and extracted DNA, then genotyped the DNA using various genetic markers. We then compared the results for these markers to the genotypes of the females we retrieved the plugs from. The tricky thing here is that you have a mixed sample, something they have to deal with a lot in forensic cases. Think of a rape case – you may have a semen sample, but it’ll have DNA from the female in it too. How do you know which belongs to which when you’re looking at something on a screen?

This is an example of what you would see (each number represents an allele):

Female: 130, 142
Mixed sample: 130, 136, 138, 142

You know that 130 and 142 most likely came from the female, and the new 136 and 138 came from the male. So the male is 136, 138 right? Well…it’s a bit more complicated. Maybe there are two males, and one is 130, 136 and the other is 138, 142. Or maybe one is 136, 138, and the other is 138, 142. What if there are three males?

Thankfully, there are ways around this. One is by comparing the relative strengths of each allele (not going to explain that, sorry). Another is using multiple markers. Another is assessing the probability of the combination using statistics. And finally, you can use the exclusion principle – see what males absolutely cannot possibly have contributed those alleles, and see who’s left and how the puzzle fits together.

I think you can imagine that this project is the ultimate puzzle. It can be a pain in the butt deciphering everything, but it’s really rewarding once you crack the code. And what have we figured out so far? Well, we have a pretty good guess of what male contributed to the plug, and in some cases more than one male appears to have contributed to the same plug, with their contributions separated by location in plug. Aka, the male that got their first formed the most internal part of the plug, and the second male formed the most external.

And before I start talking too much about rodent sex, I’m going to leave the implications of that up to your imagination.

This is post 29 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

I'm a scientist! Pt 2

If you want to read some news articles about my lab’s research, here are some links:

Scientists are learning more about big birds from feathers
Study shows animal mating choices more complex than once thought
Sex lives of wild fish: genetic techniques provide new insights
Random picks better than complicated process in gene indentification
DNA from feathers tells tale of eagle fidelity
Road losses add up, taxing amphibians and other animals
Study rules out inbreeding as cause of amphibian deformities
Genetically modified fish could damage ecology

Speaking of our amphibian road kill project…to give you an idea of how bad it gets, here’s the carnage on a road in West Lafayette after it rains:The town literally has sweepers that come through and remove all of the frog bodies. Thousands die after a single rainfall.

This is why road planners need to talk to biologists before building a major road that bisects a marsh.

This is post 22 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

I’m a scientist! Pt 2

If you want to read some news articles about my lab’s research, here are some links:

Scientists are learning more about big birds from feathers
Study shows animal mating choices more complex than once thought
Sex lives of wild fish: genetic techniques provide new insights
Random picks better than complicated process in gene indentification
DNA from feathers tells tale of eagle fidelity
Road losses add up, taxing amphibians and other animals
Study rules out inbreeding as cause of amphibian deformities
Genetically modified fish could damage ecology

Speaking of our amphibian road kill project…to give you an idea of how bad it gets, here’s the carnage on a road in West Lafayette after it rains:The town literally has sweepers that come through and remove all of the frog bodies. Thousands die after a single rainfall.

This is why road planners need to talk to biologists before building a major road that bisects a marsh.

This is post 22 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Married to a porn star? You're fired

A town manager in Florida was fired for his connections to porn – not making his own, but being married to someone who did.

Wait, what?

“Scott, who married Anabela in October, was fired at an emergency meeting Tuesday after the mayor and council members learned the nature of her employment. Scott, the town manager for 15 months, was unanimously voted out, terminated with six months pay.

The firing came after Anabela, who goes by the stage name Jazella Moore, was recognized by an editor of an online adult entertainment publication after a photo of the couple on the Fourth of July parade was published in the local paper.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker said, “Our issue is the situation town was put in in terms of how effective we can govern and whether or not it this was going to serve as a distraction for that, and we felt like it would.””

It would be wrong for a town council to fire someone because they had been in porn, but it sadly wouldn’t surprise me. America has such Puritan values when it comes to sex, especially using sex to make money. But firing someone for being married to a porn star? Does any connection to porn automatically make someone unfit to perform his or her job? What if it had been Scott’s sister; would he still be to blame?

If this is really all there is to the story, I hope someone offers this man a job.

This is post 19 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Married to a porn star? You’re fired

A town manager in Florida was fired for his connections to porn – not making his own, but being married to someone who did.

Wait, what?

“Scott, who married Anabela in October, was fired at an emergency meeting Tuesday after the mayor and council members learned the nature of her employment. Scott, the town manager for 15 months, was unanimously voted out, terminated with six months pay.

The firing came after Anabela, who goes by the stage name Jazella Moore, was recognized by an editor of an online adult entertainment publication after a photo of the couple on the Fourth of July parade was published in the local paper.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Larry Kiker said, “Our issue is the situation town was put in in terms of how effective we can govern and whether or not it this was going to serve as a distraction for that, and we felt like it would.””

It would be wrong for a town council to fire someone because they had been in porn, but it sadly wouldn’t surprise me. America has such Puritan values when it comes to sex, especially using sex to make money. But firing someone for being married to a porn star? Does any connection to porn automatically make someone unfit to perform his or her job? What if it had been Scott’s sister; would he still be to blame?

If this is really all there is to the story, I hope someone offers this man a job.

This is post 19 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Rejected blog topics

First, I want to thank everyone for all the questions and topics they’ve suggested for the blogathon. They’re all great – a lot are too good for me to answer in a half hour, so I may have to save them for later.

Though I did get one question a while back in response to my Evolution of Penises piece that was…well, didn’t quite make the cut:

“Anyway, I found the part about fake sperm of interest… I know it was conducted for the experiment, but I’m wondering what would be the medical ramifications if a woman placed the fake sperm in her vagina as a way to trick her mate into thinking that she had had sex with another man. I don’t know, perhaps she or her mate has a cuckold fantasy. I wonder if it would be safe provided the lady used a douche afterwards… your medical thoughts/opinions?”

First, … …….. ………………….. wtf?

Second, I’m not a doctor, not even a med student, so I’m not so sure I should be the one you’re going to for medical advice.

Third, that being said, I don’t think putting a flour concoction up your vagina is a great idea. Sounds like a yeast infection waiting to happen, or at the very least, a horrible mess.

Finally, douching is bad for you. I know that much. So I guess if you have a cuckolding-fake-sperm-fantasy, you may want to find another way to acting that one out.

I actually got that email right after “poop” had followed me on twitter. Just a day full of laughs!

This is post 8 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.

Galapagos Tortoise Gets His Freak On

…That title is what happens when I’m listening to dance music in order to stay alert. Anyway.

90 year old Galapagos Tortoise, Lonesome George, may soon be a daddy.

“No wonder they were amazed – a team of scientists have been doggedly coaxing the sullen creature to mate since 1993, when they introduced two female tortoises of a different subspecies into his pen. Until now, George, the last known Pinta Island tortoise had shown little interest in his companions.”

There…there are too many possible jokes to make about this! Here, choose your favorite:

a) But with the advent of Pfizer’s new Tortoise Viagra, there’s now hope for George.

b) Unfortunately for the species, Lonesome George has finally come out as being homosexual. His main keeper isn’t surprised.

c) 90 year old virgin? But who could resist a face like this?

“But at age 90, George, now said to be in his sexual prime, was finally spurred into action.

…Galapagos Tortoises, among the species Charles Darwin observed to formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century, were hunted for their meat by sailors and fishermen to the point of extinction, while their habitat has been eaten away by goats introduced from the mainland.”

It always saddens me when people do something so extraordinarily stupid, and then we have to desperately try and fix it a hundred years later. Of course, that seems to be a prevalent pattern in human history. Good luck, George!

This is post 7 of 49 of Blogathon. Pledge a donation to the Secular Student Alliance here.