On Lazy Self-Indulgent Book Reviews, a smart, to-the-point commentary on legalizing sex-work:
And, of course, I’m open to the question of whether legalization results in more trafficking (it seems to vary by country), and so on, but I’ve never heard a decent rejoinder to the idea that men and women can decide to have sex with each other for any, any random/shitty/nice reason they want (boredom, vengeance, lust, love, can’t afford movie tickets, hatred, etc.) EXCEPT for this one: one of those people has money to offer, and the other person needs the money...
And I’m particularly aggravated, when I support legalizing sex work, and people say triumphantly: “would you want your daughter to be a sex worker?” as though that should matter. I’d rather she not be a lobbyist, or work in a sweatshop, or a coal mine, or be a malpractice lawyer, either. But it doesn’t have a lot to do with me, either way, and if she were to do any of these things, I’d like her to be able to call the cops on someone attempting to take advantage of her, and be able to use Turbo Tax at the end of the year to report her income.
There’s a Big Thing On Legalizing Sex Work
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"With its complicated reproductive set-up, a female kangaroo can be perpetually pregnant. While one joey is developing inside the pouch, another embryo is held in reserve in a uterus, waiting for its sibling to grow up and leave."—This blog post with annotated image
on the inner workings of kangaroo ladyparts is one of many reasons we love science blogger Ed Yong
. Read the rest
Richard Florida on this fascinating map, produced by the Centers for Disease Control:
There is good news: teen births are at their lowest level in more than 60 years (10 percent lower than 2009, 43 percent below their peak in 1970). But the geographic variation is substantial. Teen birthrates are highest in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Arkansas, and New Mexico,. There are slightly lower concentrations in the neighboring states of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Arizona. New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts have the lowest rates of teen births.
The full CDC report details drops in most states (excepting North Dakota, West Virginia and Montana), with the sharpest drops in Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida and Rhode Island. Elsewhere the impregnations continue apace, with Kansas, Michigan and Arkansas posting less dramatic declines.
The teen pregnancy rate is highest in Mississipi and lowest in New Hampshire, the CDC said.
What will stop Conservative America's progeny from having so much hot, wild, bareback sex?
U.S. Teen Birthrates Are Down, But Still High in These States [The Atlantic] Read the rest
Tennessee and Arizona have been locked in a race to see which state can past the worst, most invasive, least constitutional anti-woman and racist legislation. In case you've lost track of which state is winning the race to the bottom, Skepchick provides a helpful scorecard. Arizona makes a strong showing, but I think that, for the moment, Tennessee is in the lead for most barbaric state in the union.
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Also this week, Tennessee senators approved an update to the state’s abstinence-only education policy – which, I should add, doesn’t work seeing as the state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country – which would outlaw the teaching of “gateway sexual activity.” I know what you’re thinking: what is this “gateway sex” all the kids are talking about? Is it as awesome as oral?
According to Tennessee legislatures, “gateway sexual activities” are kissing and hand holding. You know, things that small children do. Joyous things that bring us closer together, as humans. Ways we express affection every day. Evil.
The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding, and prohibit teachers from demonstrating such activities. I’m not really clear on whether that means a teacher would be fired for, say, kissing his wife when she picks him up at the end of the day. And what about the teachers of small children who need their hand held every now and again? Off limits? Again, unsure.
What I am sure about is that a bill effectively warning teens about affection is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard.
Panos Ipeirotis, who writes the aptly named "A Computer Scientist in a Business School" blog, describes how he made national news by unraveling a multimillion-dollar "clickfraud" enterprise that used hidden frames, pornographic traffic brokerages, clever misdirection and obfuscation techniques, traffic laundering, skimmed traffic, and other techniques from the shadier side of the Internet's ad-supported ecosystem to extract anywhere from $400K to $5M to date. The monetary losers were pornographic sites, but a number of high-profile "legit" sites were implicated, unwittingly used as "laundries" for the traffic. The scheme itself is awfully baroque, and Ipeirotis does an admirable job of laying it out, while introducing all these marvelously weird terms describing the modern practices of Internet grifters.
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At this point, we now know how this person makes money. Clearly, there is click-fraud: the scammer is employing click-fraud services to click on the pay-per-click ads "displayed" in his parked domains. If some of the ads are also pay-per-impression, he may also get paid for these invisible impressions that happen within the 0x0 iframe.
Why the parked domains though? Why not doing the same directly within the porn site? The answer is simple: Traffic laundering.
What do I mean by "traffic laundering"? First, the ad networks are unlikely to place many ads within a porn site. On the other hand, they have ad-placement services for parked domains. Second, the publishers that get the traffic from the parked domains see in the referral URLs some legitimately-sounding domain names, not a porn site. Even if they go and check the site, they will only see an empty site full of ads.
Hashi, a 17-year-old sex worker, embraces "husband" (known as a "Babu") inside her small room at the Kandapara brothel in Tangail, a northeastern city of Bangladesh.
Many young and inexperienced prostitutes have "lovers" or "husbands" who normally live outside the brothel occasionally taking money and sex from them in exchange for security in this male dominated society. She earns about 800-1000 taka daily ($9.75 - $12.19) servicing around 15-20 customers every day. Hashi is one of hundreds of mostly teenage sex workers living in a painful life of exploitation in Kandapara slum's brothel who take Oradexon, a steroid used by farmers to fatten their cattle, in order to gain weight and appear "healthier" and more attractive to clients. Picture taken March 4, 2012.
Here's a longer Reuters story about the plight of young prostitutes in Bangladesh, and the phenomenon of using this drug to enhance sex appeal.
The news item is a few weeks old, but I stumbled on it today while researching the origin and side effects of a steroid my oncologist is giving me during chemotherapy. Surprise: It's the same drug. I never knew breast cancer patients had so much in common with cattle and Bangladeshi child sex workers.
(REUTERS/Andrew Biraj) Read the rest
Here's an interesting fact about sexual dimorphism: On average, if you were born a male, your hands are a little bit different from those of someone who was born a female. Most men have a pointer finger that is a little bit shorter than their ring finger. Most women have a pointer finger that's about the same length as their ring finger, if not a little longer.
People have noted this differences between the sexes for centuries. But what's it mean? Truth is, we really aren't sure yet. But it is correlated to a lot of awfully interesting things. In fact, some scientists think "the finger thing" (as I like to call it) is a hallmark of prenatal hormone exposure. Because of that, in the scientific literature, you'll find lots of examples of studies that try to find a connection between the finger thing and seemingly disparate traits, such as sexual orientation and gender expression.
We talked about the finger thing on a recent episode of the Sex is Fun podcast—what it's all about, what fingers could be telling us about people, and why it's maybe all just a bunch of hooey. Take a listen!
Also, for the record: My right hand has lady fingers. My left hand does not. How about you?
Sex is Fun
Image: Hand, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from teleyinex's photostream Read the rest
On How to Be a Retronaut, a collection of military STD posters from the end of WWI and through WWII.
Update: These appear to be drawn from a larger set at Mental Floss.
Military STD Posters, 1918-1945
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In the WSJ, Jeff Yang reviews "Seeking Asian Female," Debbie Lum's documentary about white guys romantically fixated on Asian women—specifically, one white guy, and his quest to marry the Asian lady of his dreams. The film debuted this week at the annual SXSW festival in Austin, and follows the story of Steven, "a 60-year-old, twice-divorced white male with an uncanny resemblance to Aussie actor Geoffrey Rush and a case of yellow fever bordering on the terminal."
Steven’s quixotic mission to find and marry a “young Asian bride” had already taken up years of his life and cost him thousands of dollars in memberships to online matchmaking sites like Asian Friend Finder and international “introduction services” that promised to connect him with the “cherry blossom” or “sunshine girl” of his dreams.
When Steven is first introduced, Lum says in voiceover that “the first time I visited him in his own home, I had to fight the urge to leave.” We can immediately see why. A giggling Steven, addressing Lum as she ascends the stairs, shouts a hearty hello while waving her in: “Welcome! Welcome! Your hair looks cute! You look very Chinese, with the bangs…and you know I like that!”
Read the rest here. Trailer below.
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I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with reveling in being drenched in a near-continuous stream of fresh, boozy urine, but if that's the way you're kinked, it seems rude to spirit away the yellow stuff without informed consent
: "Listen mate, this is gonna sound totally insane, but I’ve just gone for a piss in the urinal and I could’ve sworn I saw an eyeball looking up from the hole." (Thanks, Ben!
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ThinkProgress Video put together a supercut video capturing no fewer than 70 recent examples of Rush Limbaugh's repulsive and hateful obsession with Sandra Fluke. "She's having so much sex, it's amazing she can still walk!" Read the rest
A Tumblog of Greatness: kitties and titties (NSFW). Contains nudity, both female and feline. Not for kids, or for adults browsing the web while at work. BB mod Antinous points out that they omitted one obvious image (that one's safe for work). (thanks, Tara McGinley) Read the rest
In the Vintage Ads LiveJournal group, a contributor called Noluck-Boston is currently digging up a fantastic set of cheesecake/pin-up fruit crate labels of yesteryear. Here's Foot-High Melons, and On Rush Vegetables.
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Surfing the Gnarl is the latest volume in PM Press's wonderful Outspoken Authors series: a collection of slim, handsome chapbooks curated by Terry Bisson that combine essays, stories and interviews (I've previously written here about the Kim Stanley Robinson volume, as well as my own).
This one is devoted to one of the world's happiest and most mutated happy mutants, Rudy Rucker, the prolific mathematician, computer scientist and psychedelic transreal science fiction writer. Rucker's addition to the series is a very worthy one, with two very weird, characteristically ruckerian stories. The first, "The Men in the Back Room at the Country Club," is a quintessentially transreal story, a kind of shaggy dog piece that outweirds itself with every successive sentence, playing what Rucker calls a "science fiction power-chord" in the guise of an alien invasion tale. The second story, "Rapture in Space," is a drugged out sex story about the slackers who use a robo-caller-driven Ponzi scheme to finance the world's first orbital pornography video, and it, too, is a perfect capsule of what makes Rucker Rucker.
In between these stories is an essay, "Surfing the Gnarl," which posits a theory of literature that ties approaches to fiction in with the mathematics of complexity and randomness, and is an illuminating piece of literary critical thinking. As with the other volumes in the series, this one concludes with an interview between Terry Bisson and Rucker, in which Rucker is his charmingly oblique and uncompromising self on subjects from the history of cyberpunk to the nature of the universe. Read the rest
This Valentine's Day, enjoy a classic essay by Annalee Newitz about celebrating differently-defined love.
(image: Shutterstock) Read the rest
Dr. Jen Gunter, who is an OB/GYN and a pain medicine physician, writes a harrowing account of receiving a patient who has undergone an unsafe abortion, and is bleeding to death:
On the gurney lay a young woman the color of white marble. The red pool between her legs, ominously free of clots, offered a silent explanation.
“She arrived a few minutes ago. Not even a note.” My resident was breathless with anger, adrenaline, and panic.
I had an idea who she went to. The same one the others did. The same one many more would visit. A doctor, but considering what I had seen he could’t have any formal gynecology training. The only thing he offered that the well-trained provers didn’t was a cut-rate price. If you don’t know to ask, well, a doctor is a doctor. That’s assuming you are empowered enough to have such a discussion. I was also pretty sure his office didn’t offer interpreters.
I needed equipment not available in an emergency room. I looked at the emergency room attending. “Call the OR and tell them we need a room. Now.” And then I turned to my resident. I was going to tell him to physically make sure a room, any room, was ready when we arrived, but he had already sprinted towards the stairs. He knew.
Read the entire account here: Anatomy of an unsafe abortion.
Required reading in this year of presidential elections in America, in which so many candidates would have us return to the dark era in which abortion was illegal. Read the rest