Boing Boing 

Fertility interprets regulation as damage and routes around it

Here's the results from the first-ever survey of European fertility tourism:
Hundreds of women over the age of 40 are travelling to fertility clinics in Europe to try to get pregnant because NHS clinics in the UK will not take them, the first-ever Europe-wide study of fertility tourism shows.

The research shows considerable movement across Europe, with women seeking out procedures that are banned in their own country. Italian women are crossing the border in droves following tough legal restrictions on IVF imposed in 2004, while large numbers of gay French women bypass a ban by seeking treatment in Belgium.

NHS restrictions prompt fertility tourism boom

1964 Frederick's of Hollywood catalog


Flickr user What Makes The Pie Shops Tick? has posted a complete, high-rez) scan of the 1964 Frederick's of Hollywood catalog!

1964 Frederick's of Hollywood Catalog (Thanks, copyranter!)

Mind Over Ship: David Marusek's hyperfuturistic, hyperimaginative soap-opera

David Marusek's Mind Over Ship is the long-awaited sequel to his groundbreaking 2005 debut novel Counting Heads, and it was worth the wait.

Mind Over Ship returns to the awesomely weird and exciting Marusek future, where humanity trembles on the verge of transcendence, splintering into people, clones, avatars, AIs, temporary and permanent models (some made without the model-ee's consent) and a thousand other fragments. Each of these factions battles for the best deal it can get -- even as the individual members of each clade fight for their own personal best interests.

Mind Over Ship is so complex, with so many storylines and so many incredibly inventive premises, that it trembles on the verge of breakdown, acrobatically walking on a tightrope over the pit of too-weird. It's a book that demands and rewards attention, as it explores a hundred important philosophical questions about free will, destiny, bioethics, intelligence, and duty.

For example, there's the story of the betrayal of the cold-sleep deep-space ships, which are meant to be launching by the dozens to distant, unexplored stars (but which have been co-opted for use as space-condos in a hostile corporate takeover). This leaves their erstwhile owners -- semi-sovereign collectives of Jesus freaks, defective spare-organ clones of VIPs, fatalistic Ukrainian Chernorbyl survivors, and other disaffected groups yearning to breath the air of distant worlds -- out in the cold.

Then there's the biowar flu, "the 24-hour nonspecific grief flu," which causes its victims to feel, well, nonspecific grief for 24 hours, before their immune systems fight the bugs off. Or do they?

NASTIEs are nanoweapons, the scale of a dandelion seed, which take root and begin coopting nearby matter, sending out tree-like roots to seek out the raw materials to assemble themselves into "deadly weapons of mass destruction." The army that launched the NASTIEs disbanded sixty years ago, but the seeds still flutter on the wind, periodically dissolving whole housing complexes as cloned first-responders seek to disassemble them before they can realize their destiny.

Clones are in trouble -- different kinds of clones, provided by different workforce vendors, are all going through massive, wrenching existential trauma. Do they have "clone fatigue" that causes them to run against type? And of course, every clone wonders if his creators imbued him with "musts" (secret, tailored cocktails of trace minerals whose absence will kill a clone in short order) and "candy" (like "musts," except that these cocktails evince extreme ecstatic responses, acting as a powerful Skinnerian conditioning agent).

There's even weirder life in Mind Over Ship: a beheaded tycoon whose head is grafted onto a cloned baby's body; her mother, secretly alive, encoded in the modified brains of "panasonic" fish around the world. And then there's the lively media: nits and the nitwork, micro-, mezzo- and nano-scale spybots that form a ubiquitous surveillance grid around the planet, a grid that can only be avoided by taking powerful purgatives that destroy the artificial fauna populating your outer and inner self before passing through an airlock.

Marusek's hyperfuturistic, hyperimaginative soap-opera is a tour-de-force of imagination, philosophy, dark humor and humanity. Let's hope he writes the next one quickly!

Mind Over Ship


Video of people watching porn


Robbie Cooper's "Immersion: Porn" builds on his earlier work making video-recordings of gamers playing their favorite games; only this time, it's people talking about their relationship to pornography intercut with amazing, intimate footage of their faces as they watch the porn they enjoy.

Video: Robbie Cooper: Sex, Sighs & Videotape

Immersion: Porn By Robbie Cooper | Video

(via Kottke)

Eliot Spitzer explains himself

In this brief but compelling Vanity Fair interview with Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former governor and attorney general of New York, the reporter repeatedly presses Spitzer to explain why he was having sex with a prostitute while campaigning against prostitution. Spitzer's responses are fascinating: it sounds like he had divided his life into two pieces, the values he believed in and the things that he was compelled by.

It reminds me of the scene in Stephenson's Diamond Age in which a neo-Victorian recounts, "Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy... Because they were hypocrites, the Victorians were despised in the late twentieth century. Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of the most nefarious conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves-they took no moral stances and lived by none."

"I'm not going to make excuses," he replied evenly. "Let me ask you a question: Is there a difference between politicians and anybody else? Or is it that the lives of politicians are so very public?"

"There is a difference, Mr. Spitzer. You were elected to a position of public trust."

"That's right," he conceded. "It's why I resigned without delay. Some said I could try to ride it out. But I didn't see it that way. What I did was heinous and wrong..."

"You knew the risks. Either you felt you were above the law or you had some kind of death wish."

His response was that neither was the case. "It's a story that has been repeated since our earliest days as a species. It's both obvious and not susceptible to an answer," he insisted. "Nonetheless, we are led down a certain path. It wasn't hubris or a death wish--but frailty, temptation, and common miscalculation."

Lunch in the Park with Eliot (via Kottke)

Delving into the psyche of men who buy exfoliant advertised for use after mother-daughter threeways

Sociological Images expertly dissects the new Axe exfoliant-for-men ad, which suggests that it's the perfect thing to use after sexual relations with "Jessica" and "Jessica's Mom":

The heterosexual male fantasy of being sexually serviced by two women is so common as to have become a cliché, but what about the less-frequently endorsed but still prevalent fantasy about those women being sisters (or better yet, identical twins!) or a mother-daughter pair? Is it simple attraction (i.e., if you're attracted to one woman in a family, it's likely you'll be attracted to other women who look/act like her)? Is it the taboo element? Or does the power to coerce women into an incestuous situation serve as it's own reward?

Still, Axe got one thing right with this product. When I think about a guy who would buy this sponge in the hopes of securing sexual relations with a woman and her mother, I can't help but think of him as a, well...tool.

Geez, what a tool!

Bugs getting it on

Webphemera has a great gallery of many species of insects making the beast with two backs, 18 legs and 96 eyes.

Insects In Flagrante (Thanks, RJ!)

No Girls Allowed: graphic novel of inspiring historical women who overcame societal limits by dressing as men

Susan Hughes and Willow Dawson's graphic novel No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure tells the story of six real-life historical woman heroes who defied the limits society put on them because of their gender, dressing as men and kicking ass (there are seven stories in total, but one of them, Mu-Lan, is likely mythological).

It's a great and inspiring read intended for young adults, and it runs from 1470BCE (the Egyptian Pharoah Hatshepsut) to the mid-1800s, and the stories will appeal to anyone who revels in tales of people who overcome the unfair limits others place on them. No Girls Allowed ties the quest for gender equality in with stories of racial and economic injustice, as with the amazing story of James Barry, a woman who lived her whole life as a man, becoming a young army surgeon who went on to lead controversial reform movements in South Africa and Canada, standing up for what was right in the face of punishment and even though she had so much to lose.

This is a great companion volume for Dignifying Science, a great graphic novel collecting the true-life stories of pioneering woman scientists. I'm putting it away to read to my daughter in a couple of years.

No Girls Allowed: Tales of Daring Women Dressed as Men for Love, Freedom and Adventure

Update: Tate sez, "Just saw you posted No Girls Allowed! Great book, thought you might be interested in the YouTube video we did on it--posted just last week as part of Whazamo--part of the same thing as the TCAF 2009 video."

Science of orgasm video

Mary Roach's TED Talk, "10 things you didn't know about orgasm," will have you scratching your, um, head, in amazement as you learn the particulars of pig-wanking, the delicate matter of explaining foreplay to royalty, and the business of measuring the human penis's muzzle-velocity.

Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm (via MeFi)

Apple says no Project Gutenberg for iPhone because some old books are dirty

Apple has rejected Eucalyptus, an ebook reader that facilitates downloading public domain books from Project Gutenberg, because some Victorian books mention sex (many of these same books can be bought as ebooks through the iPhone Kindle reader or purchased as audiobooks from the iTunes store). It's amazing to think that in 2009 a phone manufacturer wants to dictate which literature its customers should be allowed to download and read on their devices.
Thank you for submitting Eucalyptus -- classic books, to go. to the App Store. We've reviewed Eucalyptus -- classic books, to go. and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because it contains inappropriate sexual content and is in violation of Section 3.3.12 from the iPhone SDK Agreement which states:

"Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Please view the attached screenshot for further information.

Remember, Apple is also petitioning the government to make it illegal to install any application on your phone that they haven't approved.

Whither Eucalyptus?

Cthulhoid genitals of the 1940s sex-guide industry

Jen sez, "Amusing scans and illustrations from a 1941 guide to sex. For some reason, most of the glands and body parts they illustrate look like Cthulhu monsters. There's also an amazing chart of comparative clitoris sizes, with each sample sketch life-sized but looking like Popeye chins."

So, Dr. Keller claims his images make sex better. This one shows how nerves and glands dance the maypole around the brain.
Studies in Crap Unveils Picture Stories of the Sex Life of Man and Woman (Thanks, Jen!)

Rampant boobies to reign at Disneyland!

Disneyland and Walt Disney World will no longer pay dedicated toplessness-checkers to examine the photos snapped of riders and displayed at the end of the ride. Not enough flashers these days, apparently.
Disney confirmed Tuesday that it has reassigned employees at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure who watched for breast-baring riders because "actual inappropriate behaviors by guests are rare."

Disneyland spokeswoman Suzi Brown says the changes took effect Sunday at Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and California Screamin'.

Riders are photographed on the attractions and can then buy souvenir copies. Some have exposed their breasts in hopes that the picture would make it onto a photo preview screen at the ride's exit.

Disney Parks Stop Scans for Topless Riders (Thanks, Dan X!)

Bettie Page Art Show in LA, curated by Lenora Claire


Yes, Dorothy, it is true: the image at the top of this post is none other than the Queen of All Media, the controversialicious Perez Hilton, in drag as Bettie Page (photographer: Austin Young). Click on this link, if you dare, and ye shall see false bewbs exposed in the full, uncropped image (NSFW).

The lovely Lenora Claire, whose talent and bodacious curves were introduced to us by recent guestblogger Richard Metzger, shares word of an art show opening this weekend in LA in appreciation of the late Bettie Page. The image above is part of that show.

Lenora tells Boing Boing:

For me and for many women (and a few men) I know, our discovery of Bettie Page during our adolescence shaped our beauty aesthetic, as the black-banged beauty was our first introduction to the world of corsetry, sky high heels, and other important elements of our sometimes painful personal style. Over the years my tastes (and cup size) have evolved, but it's been joy to watch Bettie rise from counterculture cutie to full blown legend. After the nationwide success of my Golden Gals Gone Wild show which featured erotic art based on the Golden Girls and was featured on everything from NPR to National Enquirer, I knew I needed a follow up with some serious knockout appeal.

I'm thrilled to present Bettie Page: Heaven Bound which opens with a gala opening reception Saturday, May 2nd at the World of Wonder gallery in Hollywood and runs until May 29th.

The show features over 20 years of Bettie-inspired work including stunning new watercolor images by the queen of pin-up Olivia (who I still can't believe I had the opportunity to pose for let alone work so closely with on the dream project) as well as Bunny Yeager who shot many of Bettie's most iconic images; Austin Young who shot beautiful images of myself and of celebs including Perez Hilton, Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira, and Jane Weidlin from the GoGo's as Bettie; Colin Christian who just completely blows my mind; and a slew of other artists I'm so proud to present. Since Bettie wasn't a traditional gal and neither am I, the opening night reception will feature a spanking machine complete with costumed cuties dressed as Nurse Betties to help you after your turn on our weapon of ass destruction, a photobooth by PoliteinPublic.com, celebrity guests such as Dita who will be attending but not performing, as well as Bettie's actual high heels on display and other exciting surprises. Hope to see you all there.

Below, Lenora spanking herself dressed as Bettie Page. (Thanks, Richard Metzger!)


Science Question From a Toddler: Insect Sex

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. A freelance science and health journalist, Maggie lives in Minneapolis, brain dumps on Twitter, and writes quite often for mental_floss magazine.

My friends' 3-year-old son, Will, asks, "Do cockroaches have a penis?" This turns out to be a surprisingly difficult question to answer.



First off, most basic sources will just try to give you some fluffy answer about how to tell a boy cockroach from a girl cockroach, which doesn't have anything to do with penises (or lack thereof) at all. In fact, apparently, the easiest way to sex your cockroach is to count the number of of segments on the underside of its abdomen, according to roach expert Joseph Kunkel, a biology professor at the University of Mass., Amherst. Girls have more segments. Boys have fewer

Second, there appears to have been a lot more research done on female cockroach reproductive anatomy. And for good reason: It is more noticeably freaky. Female cockroaches carry their fertilized eggs around in these pod-like sacks called ootheca. Some cockroaches will tote the ootheca around attached to their bodies until the babies hatch. Other species, however, simply drop the ootheca off in some hidden corner, where the babies can incubate safely while you beat their mothers to death with a shoe. Stumble upon enough ootheca in the basement, and its liable to be the first thing you take to the lab.

But, while useful, this information does not answer the young man's question. For that, I had to turn to Cockroaches, a 2007 book by William J. Bell, Louis Marcus Roth, Christine A. Nalepa, and (yes) Edward O. Wilson. Their description of the male cockroach junk helpfully explained why I'd been getting so much confusing (and conflicting) information from other sources. To wit:

A number of intromittent structures in the male cockroach have been called a penis ... Although these structures may be associated with the ejaculatory duct ... penis-like organs function in some capacity other than to convey sperm directly

So there you have it. Cockroaches: They have no penis. But they do have a lot of things that are frequently called a "penis". Many of these bits and pieces seem to actually be used for cockblocking, so to speak. Let me explain. Instead of the familiar-to-us method of copulation, male cockroaches produce a hard, little packet full of sperm, called a spermatophore, which they transfer into their favorite gal. But, unless it's her first time around the block, there's a decent chance that somebody else's spermatophore is already in there. A male cockroach has a better chance of passing on his genes if he can get rid of the competing sperm. Whether hooked, whip-like, barbed or spiny, those not!penis structures are likely used by male cockroaches to clear out rival spermatophores, according to the august authors of Cockroaches, the book.

Beach-bunny cockroaches provided by kthypryn.

Throbbing Gristle: What A Day. (Boing Boing Video shoot notes)

(Snapshots from the BBV Throbbing Gristle shoot by Chris Cooper).

Earlier this week, Boing Boing Video and Richard Metzger shot an interview with art-damage/industrial music godfathers Throbbing Gristle in Los Angeles. They're on a limited tour of the USA, with a show tonight in San Francisco, and dates scheduled in Chicago and Brooklyn (info on dates, venues, and tickets here).

The resulting BB Video is yet to come, but I wanted to share some notes, photos, and ephemera from the experience.

Metzger is a super-mega-otaku fan of TG, and covered their legacy extensively through Disinfo publications and video releases. My knowledge is nowhere near as comprehensive as his (he's even stumped TG members with knowledge of early songs they've forgotten!). But I have been fascinated with them since I was a teenager, when a friend in a punk squat loaned me a beer-stained copy of V. Vale's 1983 RE/Search book about industrial culture.

When I phoned TG's manager Paul Smith on Monday to ask for permission to shoot for Boing Boing Video, I explained that I believed TG were the cultural ancestors for much of the "mutant" culture we explore here on Boing Boing. Sappy but sincere. Without their early experiments in nihilistic machine song we would not have "industrial music." The projects that split off when TG first disbanded -- Chris And Cosey, Coil, Psychic TV -- only expanded their cultural footprint. Countless acts owe them a huge genetic debt -- everyone from Einsturzende Neubauten to Skinny Puppy to NIN to Aphex Twin to Radiohead to every other act you're likely to type in the comments.

COUM Transmissions, the experimental performance art collective which preceded Throbbing Gristle, was responsible for legendary shock-events so extreme, they'd make Tubgirl, Goatse, and the Two Girls with One Cup blush.

The TG show we witnessed (and shot for BBV) this week reflects less of that shock, anger, and taboo-bombing, and was almost entirely instrumental. More moody, doom-y, Faustian. But the physically overwhelming sounds "took the meat off the bones," as Metzger put it. And it was fucking amazing.

Tuesday night's performance was a reprise of a live, improvised soundtrack TG composed for the 1980 Derek Jarman film In the Shadow of the Sun (you can watch a snip of the original version here).

"These people are the wreckers of civilisation", said conservative Member of Parliment Nicholas Fairbairn back in 1976. He was talking about Throbbing Gristle. During the BBV interview, we talked about what it's like to go from being "wreckers" of culture to being celebrated as cultural heroes. We talked about Twitter and Flickr. Gen asked what the difference is between blogs and websites, and announced s/he'd recently acquired her first Blackberry.

Ruth has some snapshots of the shoot and the soundcheck here. TG member Chris Carter is on Twitter here, and his photos are on Flickr here -- don't miss this incredible photoset of historic "lost and found" TG photos. TG member Cosey Fanni Tutti is on Twitter here. Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is here. And Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson is here.

Some archival interviews I've been reading and re-reading, as we edit the interview: This one with Cosey, about her art and her explorations of the sex trade (for her, one and the same). And this amazing interview purportedly from 1978, by an Australian reporter for NME, which was apparently never published in NME. This article in Artlurker by Federico Nessi. And this review of a box set in Artforum.

Thee Boing Boing Video episode(s) are "coum-ing" soon.

(Special thanks to Richard Metzger, to Boing Boing Video's production crew, and friends who helped along the way: Ehrich Blackhound, Ruth Waytz, Chris Cooper, Jason Louv, Suzan Jones, and Greg Chong, to name a few. Very special thanks to Paul Smith, and to the members of Throbbing Gristle).

Chris Carter of Throbbing Gristle: Illustration of Twitter/Flickr/BoingBoing recursive meta-bombing

Christian fundamentalists hijack Singaporean feminist group

AWARE, a 25-year-old Singaporean women's right organization, recently found itself in turmoil after a coup orchestrated by conservative fundamentalist Christians who signed up in large numbers just before the annual general meeting, then elected a new executive that immediately purged the organization of all its traditional leadership down to the subcommittee chairs.
AWARE held its annual general meeting (AGM) on 28 March 2009. There were over 100 people present. Of them, about 80 had only joined the organisation between January and March, one to three months before the meeting. Nine out of 12 executive committee (EXCO) places, including four Office Bearer positions, went to newcomers, who were voted in by wide majorities. There are wide-ranging suspicions that this "leadership grab" has been orchestrated by a well-organised group who do not share AWARE's values and who are seeking to use the name and the resources of a well-respected institution to further their own agenda. These concerns have been expressed not only by onlookers, but by older members of Aware...

# The new president, Josie Lau and 5 other Exco members belong to the same church, Church of Our Saviour. Given this, it is very likely, in our view, that they have acted in concert to take over AWARE. We do not know why as they have refused to disclose their reasons to either members of AWARE or to the press and this makes us even more worried. They, or persons whom they have been associated with, have written homophobic letters to the press. While that is their personal conviction to which they are entitled, we do not want AWARE to be made into a vehicle for any hidden agenda.

# Josie Lau, was in charge of the DBS Charity Drive in support of Focus On The Family, US-based Christian organisation that is opposed to abortion and equal rights for sexual minorities. This created a controversy last year which was well-documented.

# 160 members, including former AWARE committee members and founder members, petitioned for an extraordinary general meeting to consider a vote of no confidence in the New Exco on the basis that the New Exco has not acted and is not acting in the best interest of AWARE; does not appreciate or share the values of AWARE and does not have the requisite experience of carrying out AWARE's work or is otherwise inadequate to further AWARE's objectives. An EGM will be held on 2 May 2009.

WHAT HAPPENED (via IZ Reloaded)

High School Teacher Recounts "Sexting" Ordeal That Ruined His Career

danah boyd tweet-points to this "chilling story of educator in a sexting mess," and says "We should all be horrified by the prosectors' obsession with 'sexting'." Ting-Yi Oei, the Virginia high school teacher in question, is male. All charges against him have since been thrown out of court. But as in the case with Julie Amero, that final acquittal doesn't erase the personal and professional damage caused -- nor does it make up for the reckless tech-stupidity of prosecutors and school officials involved in the case.

Ting-Yi Oei's "sexting" witchhunt story begins about a year ago, when a fellow teacher told him about a rumor that some teens at the school were texting naked self-portraits around to one another.

I called a student I thought likely to have such a picture into my office. In the presence of the school's safety and security official, he quickly admitted that he did. He pulled out his phone and showed us an image of the torso of a woman wearing underpants, with her arms crossed over her breasts. Her head was not in the picture. The 17-year-old student claimed not to know who the young woman was or who had sent him the photo.

I immediately took the picture to the principal, who instructed me to transfer it to my office computer in case we needed it later. Being unfamiliar with camera features on cellphones, I asked the school's technology resource teacher for help, but he didn't have an immediate solution. The student then said that he could text the picture to my cellphone. That left the problem of getting it to my computer, whereupon the boy said that I could send the picture to my school e-mail address.

In hindsight, of course, he could have sent it directly to my computer himself. But it never occurred to me that my actions could be regarded as suspect: I was conducting a legitimate school investigation with children's welfare in mind, and I did so in the presence and with the full knowledge of other school officials.

I interviewed more students with the security specialist, but we found no more pictures and were unable to identify the woman in the photo. We concluded that she probably wasn't a student at the school. I reported our findings to the principal and assumed that the matter was closed.

I left the building quickly that day -- the start of spring break -- to join my wife, Diane, at a doctor's office to discuss her upcoming surgery for a potentially malignant tumor. I told her about the sexting photo, but we had other things on our minds. When I returned to school two days after break ended, I confronted a new problem: The boy with the photo on his cell was now in trouble for having pulled a girl's pants down in class (another teen phenomenon known as "flagging"). I informed his mother that I was suspending him, and in the discussion I also told her about the earlier incident. She was outraged that I hadn't reported it to her at the time. She called me at home that night at 10 p.m. and again at 7 a.m. the next morning, agitated and demanding that the suspension be revoked and threatening to involve an attorney. I told her as calmly as I could that the suspension was for the deliberate act of pulling down the girl's pants. A couple of days later, after an appeal hearing with the principal and me, she shouted at me, "I'll see you in court!"

The story quickly takes a turn for the surreal. Soon, the teacher who claims he sought only to protect the kids he taught was himself charged with possession of child pornography. Read the rest of the saga here: My Students. My Cellphone. My Ordeal. (Washington Post)