Forming is Jesse Moynihan's ultra-weird graphic novel about the creation of the universe, filled with cursing, inexplicable violence, grotesque sexual acts, and primitive and strange illustrations. Set in the "Third Age of Total Bullshit," the story tells the tale of powerful aliens who visit Earth in the time of giants, set up camp in Atlantis, and enslave the indigenous giants to mine rare minerals for the galactic empire. These aliens are also involved with Noah, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lucifer and the Archangel Michael, and a cast of personages more obscure and weird than any book of the apocrypha.
To understand Forming (assuming "understand" is the correct verb here), picture some lost Gnostic text translated by Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob) at his cussin-est, under commission by a delusional would-be cult-founder who cut his teeth on the work of Fletcher Hanks and who really liked drawings of weiners and boobies.
Moynihan walks a fine line between "weird" and "incomprehensible" and between "clever" and "dumb," and manages to stay on the right side of it through almost every one of these bizarre, demented panels. I can't say that I've ever read anything quite like this (though it did call to mind the weirder bits of The Incal). I'm glad I did.
Forming is published by London's NOBROW, whose books are fantastically well-made, beautifully cloth-bound and printed on high-quality, sustainably produced paper (they also publish the much-more-kid-friendly Hilda comics). It's a quality product.
Thing-a-day guy Noah Scalin sez, "Artist Betsy VanDeusen created this wonderful Star Wars-ified version of a classic Elvgren pinup as part of her yearlong daily project! You can see the rest of her work on her blog, and read a recent interview about her project on my own blog."
She explains, "Starting on 2/27/2012, and working through 2/27/2013, I intend to work on my art daily. It will all be tied in to the "Retro Pinup" theme somehow. The important thing to me is the daily practice of working. I'm not necessarily interested in creating "finished pieces" on a daily basis (Taking a work to completion may take the accumulated efforts of a week, a month, or more- if the piece demands it). I just have so many ideas that I never follow up on, and this project gives me the incentive and excuse to focus on those ideas on a daily basis."
Earlier this week, the Smithsonian National Zoo live-tweeted their most recent attempt to knock up a giant panda. You can read the whole thing at Storify. And, seriously people, you should read it. I originally intended to just post a short link to this, almost as a joke, but it turns out that the process of inseminating a giant panda is actually really interesting.
Besides the photos, which are great, and the revelation that it takes 15-20 people to properly oversee the process (insert obvious jokes here), the Storify contains a lot of neat behind-the-scenes details about what it's like to perform a medical procedure on a large animal. You'll also learn a thing or two about the panda reproductive process. Read the rest
Dr Petra Boynton has a very good critical essay examining the media coverage of a study that "proves" the anatomical existence of a G-spot.
The take home message is - there are numerous conflicting messages about the g-spot, many of them from papers with limitations, all recently published in the same journal - this is not cutting edge sex research nor the prime focus of what sex research is - this distracts us from the exciting and wonderful stories and studies within sexology – and people’s daily lives - this makes people anxious about their bodies, sexual experiences and sexual performance - it gives legitimacy for untested cosmetic gynaecological procedures to be promoted uncritically by the media - it implies orgasm is solely a physiological experience that is located in specific areas of the genitals (in cis women) - it suggests particular kinds of orgasm are superior to others or that you should train your body to orgasm in particular ways/locations - this discourages us to celebrate sexual diversity and pleasure in our genitals and elsewhere, and find what excites and arouses us
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.
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?
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.
Read the rest
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.
Read the rest
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?Read the rest
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.