August 16, 2004

The roots of, er, humanism

Posted by Curt at 12:18 AM | permalink | comment

“Few cultures have been quite so shamelessly vain and superficial in their worship of physical perfection as the Greeks.” —Tony Perrottet, author of “The Naked Olympics”

April 19, 2004

First they came for the bukkake fetishists

Posted by shonk at 11:28 AM | permalink | comment

As a follow up to “Get paid for watching porn,” my post from last week, check out The Misanthropic Bitch’s “Who’s Fucking Who?” While I disagree with her implicit premise that voting will do anything to drown out “the chorus of gibberish from America’s retarded senior citizens,” she aptly destroys the snide yammering about pornography’s “victims”:

Porn does not magically appear. Jenna Jameson DVDs do not swarm around you like a nest of hornets, slapping you around with gigantic jugs until you give into carnal pleasures. I’ve never come home to a television playing Amber the Lesbian Queffer on its own accord, nor have I answered a phone and heard a breathless woman tell me what she’d do to me for $2.95/minute.

One needs to be an active participant. And an active participant is not a victim. An active participant is a consumer.

One more thing to keep in mind: the people who are behind the new crackdown on porn, like the Concerned Women for America, won’t be satisfied with merely going after “deviant stuff”; they want mainstream targets, like hotel chains offering adult features on SpectraVision (what Bill Hicks called “hairy bobbin’ man-ass movies”). And, as TMB points out, it’s a slippery slope from there:

If innocent videos of pre-pubescent girls frolicking in swimsuits had a market, then — oh, I guess they do. Because anything can be made sexual, and if you start with the “deviant stuff,” it’s only a matter of time before they come for the Shannon Tweed flix on TMC.

Maybe it’s time to update Niemöller’s lament.

March 01, 2004

Your fingers are so sexy...

Posted by shonk at 02:44 AM | permalink | comment

Want to know how promiscuous your girlfriend is? Measure her fingers :

A McMaster University evolutionary psychologist has found the length ratio of a woman’s ring to index finger points to her sexual behaviour — from fantasies to the number of partners she might have.

(Link courtesy ibergus)

February 08, 2004

Gay Penguins

Posted by shonk at 01:29 AM | permalink | 2 comments

According to the New York Times, homosexuality is common among animals. Thank God; maybe cultural conservatives will finally stop yammering about how homosexuality is “un-natural” and, therefore, ought to be punishable by jail time. Incidentally, I would mention that this position is only one half of the silly argument from nature and the other half isn’t any more intelligent. As Paul L. Vasey, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge, points out:

For some people, what animals do is a yardstick of what is and isn’t natural. They make a leap from saying if it’s natural, it’s morally and ethically desirable. Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. To jump from that to say it is desirable makes no sense. We shouldn’t be using animals to craft moral and social policies for the kinds of human societies we want to live in. Animals don’t take care of the elderly. I don’t particularly think that should be a platform for closing down nursing homes.

Abiola gets a little more worked up :

Even if it could be established that homosexuality was rampant in other animal species, that would still tell us nothing about whether we as humans ought to endorse it: after all, cannibalism is rampant amongst animals too, but we refrain from giving it our approval. On the other hand, even if it could be shown that in no other species had homosexuality ever occurred, we would have no justification for ruling it out in our own - no other species builds skyscrapers, drives cars or watches movies, either. Rather than waste time and energy on a spurious appeal to an ill-defined concept of what is “natural” or otherwise, I think gay activists are better off taking the libertarian position: “it’s my life, I’m not forcing you to join me, so leave me alone.

Anyway, I personally couldn’t care less about anybody else’s sexual orientation (or “preference”, as seems to be the new buzzword), but I do have two questions. First off, how exactly do lesbian penguins have sex? Maybe I’m behind the times, but I was under the impression that penguin engineers hadn’t mastered the vibrating motor yet. Second, what, exactly, was this article doing in the “Arts” section? Surely the “Science” section (or “Politics” at a real stretch) would have been more appropriate to the content. Or were the Times editors trying to ensure that the article’s readership would be exclusively homosexual?

(Those were jokes, dammit. Not very good ones, I’ll admit, but at least I tried to inject some humor. Don’t I get some credit for that?)

November 24, 2003

Weird Sex and Marriage.

Posted by shonk at 02:25 AM | permalink | comment

In the wake of Michael Jackson's latest run-in with the law, I'm sure many people have discovered this gallery of horrors which I ran across a couple of years ago. We all know that Mike's appearance has changed drastically for the worse in the last decade or so, but seeing this line-up of pictures really drives the point home that the dude is fucked up in the head.

If you're looking for marginally less disturbing imagery, you might want to check out this calendar, sold by the Kansas Anarchists. Their cover girl doesn't do much for me, but I can appreciate the irony of infoshop-type anarchists selling naked pictures for profit.

Since I'm on the topic of unusual sex (Michael Jackson and naked anarchists), I might as well mention briefly what has to be one of the oddest sexual disorders I've ever heard of. My only question is this: What is it about having 200 orgasms a day that's a bad thing? I'm not being sarcastic, since I can think of several possibilities, but I'm wondering which is the worst. Is it that orgasms become monotonous, so sex isn't exciting? The nervous tension of constantly being on the brink? Or it just too exhausting? I was, of course, amused by this:

American sufferer Jean Lund, 51, told The Sun that when she told her gynaecologist he said: "You're every man's dream."

Speaking of every man's dream, how about teenage girl-on-girl action? No, that's not a porn link, but rather a link to a news story about a high school girl who decided the best way to protest harassment of homosexuals by jumping on a cafeteria table, shouting "End homophobia now!" and kissing a female friend. I mean, talk about putting the cart before the horse. Protesting harassment of a group of people by manifesting one of the most hurtful stereotypes about that group (in this case, the idea that homosexuals are more libidinous than heterosexuals). I understand the value of shock, but you're not helping gays by stereotyping them as the sorts of rude people that interrupt other people's meals with their public displays of affection. And yes, I know it's not fair to pick on nave, innocent high school girls, but if Maddox can pick on pre-schoolers, I think it's only fair that I point out legitimate flaws in the sort of brain-dead "statement" protests that today pass for progressive activism.

As for gay activism, David Brooks makes an interesting case for why conservatives should support legalized gay marriage:

The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn't just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.
This comes on the heels of an argument that marriage is a sort of sacred glue, whereby people can escape from the "path of contingency" to the "path of fidelity". Brooks decries the fact that this opportunity to discard contingency (relativism?) in favor of morality is only open to heterosexuals:
Still, even in this time of crisis, every human being in the United States has the chance to move from the path of contingency to the path of marital fidelity except homosexuals. Gays and lesbians are banned from marriage and forbidden to enter into this powerful and ennobling institution. A gay or lesbian couple may love each other as deeply as any two people, but when you meet a member of such a couple at a party, he or she then introduces you to a "partner," a word that reeks of contingency.
That's all well and good, but as John T. Kennedy and Lynette Warren point out, it's institutional thinking:
If marriage is truly a sacred bond, as Brooks claims then what power can the state have over it? Why would you go to the state for the sacred? Why not simply marry your beloved and introduce him as your husband, the state be damned? Or else recognize that you are an Institutional Man. (my bolding was italicized in the original)
The lack of legally recognized marriage didn't stop this woman and it shouldn't stop anyone else.

This is actually something that I've given a fair amount of thought to. Traditionally, marriage has been almost entirely considered from institutional paradigms, be they religious or statist, but neither of these paradigms seems particularly relevant to me. I won't discuss the religious angle, but, as for the other, the simple question is this: "What business is it of the state who I marry?" Is there any good reason why I should have to get the state's permission to marry someone? Again, to quote Kennedy and Warren:

The Sovereign Individual argues instead, that one must simply evict the state from one's own marriage. Your marriage is not properly a matter of public debate so don't treat it as one. Take and keep private what ought to be private. And all of your life is your private affair.

Leave the institution of marriage to the Institutional Man.

Now, I recognize the fact that, within the current context, there are practical reasons for obtaining a legally-sanctioned marriage. Two acquaintances of mine who think along the same lines as I do who had been together for years got legally married because doing so improved their college financial aid packages considerably. Similarly, in the case of couples with different nationalities, getting married might help considerably in maneuvering the bureaucratic hellhole of immigration restrictions. So I'm not saying there aren't good reasons for obtaining a legal marriage, but most of the ones I can think of, like the ones listed above, are relevant only to a relatively small number of people. From my perspective, at least, in most cases the costs of making your private life public are greater than the benefits of obtaining that institutional stamp of approval.

There is, of course, one objection that I haven't addressed yet. That is, of course, the contractual nature of marriage. Institutional marriage serves as a sort of standardized default for solving any number of issues that arise from failed marriages. However, even aside from the fact that this default standard is seriously flawed, especially as regards child custody and asset distribution, the fact of the matter is that smart people get pre-nups. The advantage to this (one still available to people not legally married) is that the expectations and ramifications associated with the marriage are explicitly considered ahead of time and personalized to each unique situation, rather than implicitly trusted (should anything go wrong) to a generic, homogeneous, impersonal legal boilerplate. I think the relevant 90's buzzword is "empowering".

November 18, 2003

Eros ex Mathematica

Posted by shonk at 01:45 AM | permalink | comment

Someone (doubtless a grad student with way too much time on his hands) has seen fit to generate these vaguely erotic algorithmic images. And, as if we needed anymore proof of the geekiness of the blogosphere, the link is making the rounds like a transvestite hooker with a crack problem.

What I find amusing is this disclaimer:

The images in this room are created entirely from mathematical algorithms. If you find them offensive in any way, all I can say is that beauty (or obscenity) is in this case most certainly in the eye of the beholder.
First off, who would find this stuff offensive? I mean, sure, it all looks vaguely like stylized genitalia, but no moreso than, say, your average Georgia O'Keefe painting. More seriously, I take issue with the assurance that these images were generated "entirely from mathematical algorithms". Not that I want to argue that they weren't, but rather to ask: what digital images aren't? That is to say, if I had a scrap of artistic ability and decided to make images of breasts, vaginas and penises in Illustrator, I would really, at the fundamental level, be inputting mathematical algorithms and instructing the computer use them to generate the desired images. After all, the algorithms used to generate the linked images didn't pop out of thin air: some person had to think up the algorithms, instruct the computer to use those algorithms to generate an image, manipulate the algorithm to produce flesh tones, etc. The point is, this gallery is different from Illustrator porn not in the underlying concept, but only in the degree of abstraction.

Does that mean art is mathematics? Or that mathematics is art? Well, probably both. But that's another discussion.

November 04, 2003

The Beating Hearts of Policy Wonks

Posted by Curt at 06:58 PM | permalink | comment

First the Bolshevik babes, now this. In sooth, ideology hath never been so lightly worn nor so well...

October 18, 2003

Coffee Gets You Up

Posted by shonk at 12:24 AM | permalink | comment

Following up my Goin' to Pot post, new research indicates that coffee makes you more fertile by, get this, making sperm swim faster. Which was exactly the thing marijuana supposedly does to sperm which makes you infertile. Now, I'm told that I'm too skeptical and that it's probably just that coffee makes sperm swim a little faster, while pot makes them swim a lot faster so that they burn out too quickly, but consider this: Argentina grows coffee. Hence, the government there (which I imagine helped fund the research) has some financial incentive to view faster sperm in a positive light, since it might encourage more people to drink coffee. Buffalo is state-funded, and almost certainly has grants from the ONDCP or some other government anti-drug organization to study the effect of drugs on physiology, so they have a financial incentive to portray faster sperm in a negative light, since that might discourage people from using marijuana. I don't mean to say that these incentives definitely played a role in how the research was interpreted, but the possibility certainly exists.