Richard Dawkins: Sex selection and the shortage of women: is science to blame?

A couple watch their baby inside a waiting hall at the Nanjing railway station, capital of Jiangsu province. [Reuters/2006]

In nature, the balance of males and females is maintained by natural selection acting on parents. As Sir Ronald Fisher brilliantly pointed out in 1930, a surplus of one sex will be redressed by selection in favour of rearing the other sex, up to the point where it is no longer the minority. It isn't quite as simple as that. You have to take into account the relative economic costs of rearing one sex rather than the other. If, say, it costs twice as much to rear a son to maturity as a daughter (e.g. because males are bigger than females), the true choice facing a parent is not "Shall I rear a son or a daughter?" but "Shall I rear a son or two daughters?"

So, Fisher concluded, what is equlibrated by natural selection is not the total numbers of sons and daughters born in the population, but the total parental expenditure on sons versus daughters. In practice, this usually amounts to an approximately equal ratio of males to females in the population at the end of the period of parental expenditure.

Note that the word 'decision' doesn't mean conscious decision: we employ the usual 'selfish gene' metaphorical reasoning, in which natural selection favours genes that produce behaviour 'as if' decisions are being made.

Interestingly, Fisher's reasoning remains intact, even in harem-based societies such as those of elephant seals, where a minority of males monopolise the females and the majority of males hang about as disconsolate bachelors. Read the rest

The Pill for guys? Don't hold your breath

Male contraception is like the nuclear fusion of safer sex—perpetually about 10 years away from commercialization. Sure, there's condoms and vasectomies. But if you want something a little less intrusive or a little less permanent, you're out of luck. Scientific American examines the possibilities that exist in the research pipeline, and why no male contraceptive has yet shown up in your local pharmacy. Read the rest

Yelp review for $8 billion Kansas Abortionplex (after the viral Onion article on same)

Remember the (fictitious, funny) Onion article "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex"? Now the famed Abortionplex is on Yelp. Free nachos and mojitos after your partial birth abortion, with a Yelp discount code! As noted in a previous Boing Boing post, many people believe the Abortionplex (and other Onion coverage) is real. I can't wait for the credulous Fox News coverage to kick in.

Here's one recent review:

Everyone loves Abortionplex, but true fans know that the real magic is found in the secret menu. A 2x3 lets you sandwich in movie screenings at the theater before, between and after ridding yourself of potential twins. An 8x8? Spend your day easily breezing from Octomom to Oscars noms. Hold the butter on that popcorn though - you're not eating for 9 anymore!

Tell your doc you want The Flying Dutchman if you want to squeeze your abortion appointment in between two pieces of meat, if you know what I mean, and let's face it, you always know what I mean.

But real pros know that nothing satisfies your hunger for an empty uterus quite as much as well as Animal Style. In this iteration of the classic abortion, after the doctor perfectly vacuums the contents of your uterus, she then fills it with a secret sauce filled with tiny unicorns which will trot around poking holes in your uterine lining and preventing zygotes from taking hold for at least 6 months. But let's face it, even if you're already filled to the brim with tiny unicorns and think you won't be abortion-hungry again for a while, you know you'll be poking around Abortionplex tomorrow on your lunch break.

Read the rest

Tapes show Italian priest lured teenage boys for sex, paid them with cocaine

Investigators examining tapped cellphone conversations between a Moroccan drug dealer and 51-year-old Father Riccardo Seppia (shown at left, in the red robe) found evidence of arranged sexual encounters with young boys, some of whom were paid for sex with cocaine.

"I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger," Seppia is accused of having said on the tapes. "Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues."

Seppia is a priest in a the archdiocese of one of the top advisers working with Pope Benedict XVI "on reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests." He is said to have boasted in the recorded cellphone conversations that local shopping malls were the best place to pick up boys for sex.

Investigators are also examining three confiscated computers: the priest allegedly looked for partners via chat as well.

More in TIME magazine.

(via New Civil Rights Movement, via Christopher Hayes) Read the rest

You've been a bad, bad sysadmin

"Handcrafted Fire-Colored Cat-5 Cable Flogger," Etsy user feralswirl, a mere $10. (via GeeksAreSexy via Jeff Simmermon) Read the rest

Osama bin Fappin'

Among the items Navy SEALs reportedly retrieved from Osama's Abbottabad compound: a porn stash presumed to have been viewed and used for pleasurable purposes by the world's most wanted terrorist. That visual I just stuck in your head? You're welcome.

Reuters reports that the adult material found "consists of modern, electronically recorded video and is fairly extensive." Snip:

The officials said they were not yet sure precisely where in the compound the pornography was discovered or who had been viewing it. Specifically, the officials said they did not know if bin Laden himself had acquired or viewed the materials.

Reports from Abbottabad have said that bin Laden's compound was cut off from the Internet or other hard-wired communications networks. It is unclear how compound residents would have acquired the pornography.

As fun as it is to make LOLs, it's worth noting that Reuters is the only organization to have reported this claim, based on anonymously quoted "officials." Previous details about the OBL operation have been mis-reported by the administration, and it's possible that this, too, is bogus.

[via Wired News] Read the rest

Best college sex ed class ever canceled after sex toy demonstration with naked lady

Northwestern University has canceled the rest of Prof. John Michael Bailey's popular Human Sexuality course and placed the teacher under investigation following a scandal over an after-class, optional sex toy demonstration in February. The toy involved was an "adult power tool" called a Fucksaw (NSFW link) and was demonstrated with a live naked lady and her boyfriend, neither of whom were students at the college.

Bailey's course will not be offered during the next academic year, said Northwestern U spokesman Al Cubbage on Monday. Bailey has also apologized.

From Fox Chicago:

According to guest lecturer Ken Melvoin-Berg, after the students were told that a couple would take part in a demonstration involving a sex toy, the students were warned about a half dozen times that "what was about to happen would be graphic."

With that, Jim Marcus and his fiancee Faith Kroll climbed on the stage in front of about 100 students and demonstrated the use of the motorized device with a phallic object attached to it, as students heard about issues such as safety and consent, Melvin-Berg said.

"It is probably something I will remember the rest of my life," said senior Justin Smith, 21, one of the students who stuck around voluntarily after class when students were told about what they were about to see. "I can't say that about my Econ 202 class and the material that I learned there," Smith told The Chicago Tribune.

Ken Melvoin-Berg narrated what was happening for the class. He operates the "Weird Chicago Red Light District Sex Tour."

The Daily Northwestern quoted Bailey as saying,"Sticks and stones may break your bones, but watching naked people on stage doing pleasurable things will never hurt you."
More: Daily Northwestern, Chicago Sun-Times, Fox Chicago, Chicago Tribune, Reuters. Read the rest

Nudist resorts reach out to the young and the naked

The Wall Street Journal reports that naturist getaways, feeling the hit from America's ongoing economic downturn, are aggressively marketing to younger newbie nudists. Tactics include "music festivals like Nudepalooza and Nudestock." (via Dr. Ruth) Read the rest

Porn industry STD testing clinic closes after data breach

The LA Weekly reports that AIM Healthcare, the "porn valley" clinic that tests sex performers for sexually transmitted diseases, has shut down and filed for bankruptcy. "We were told a privacy lawsuit challenging AIM's handling of patient records was the last straw for the clinic that was taken private and reopened in February following a December shutdown at the hands of state and county health officials." Read the rest

Company buys up 1.7 million 1-800 numbers, uses many for phone sex lines

AP reports that PrimeTel Communications has, for the last 13 years, been buying up every desirable 800 number on the market. They behave not unlike domain name prospectors who do the same with web addresses, only they convert many of these numbers into phone sex lines.

The company now controls 1.7 million toll-free numbers, which represent about 25% of all 800 numbers in the U.S. and Canada. Among them: 1-800-Metallica, 1-800-Cadillac, 1-800-Minolta, 1-800-Cameras, 1-800-Worship and 1-800-Whirlpool.

AP reports that the connection between the speculation activity and the phone-porn activity is this: A-1 Advertising, an actual phone sex business, shares a building, owners, and executives, with the company doing the 800 number buying. More:

Critics of the company say it isn't the sex that bothers them, but the acquisition of so many numbers. Bill Quimby, whose company,, specializes in helping businesses obtain easy-to-remember digits to connect with customers, said it can be a challenge to find a good match because PrimeTel has gobbled up such an outsized share of the supply.

"They started by getting numbers for phone sex, then getting good numbers in general, then they started taking all phone numbers," he said.

A spokesman for the FCC, David Fiske, would not comment on whether the agency had ever examined PrimeTel's activities but said the commission is actively enforcing rules on number hoarding. PrimeTel appears to have benefited by grabbing numbers associated with famous names, like 1-800-Beatles, or numbers that have recently been canceled but are still advertised widely.

Read the rest

Richard Metzger: How I, a married, middle-aged man, became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights overnight

Richard Metzger of Dangerous Minds (you may know him as founder of Disinformation, or as a BB guestblogger, or as the counterculture "Charlie Rose"), writes in with the odd story of a Facebook photo ban, and the media misinfo frenzy that followed.

Since just last Friday, the above photo, a publicity still from the popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders" has become the emblem of an utterly unnecessary Facebook scandal. One that's already gone international and one that I, personally, I am tangentially involved in. I say unnecessary because it never should have happened in the first place, but let me state this at the beginning of this for those of you--you know who you are-- who'll just read the first two paragraphs before zipping off to write something snarky in the comments: I do not personally believe that the Facebook corporation is in any way homophobic. Not even in the slightest. Okay?

Now that I've got that out of the way, here is what happened and why some people might think that they are:

On Friday afternoon, one of my fellow bloggers at Dangerous Minds, Niall O'Conghaile did a quickie cut-n-paste blog post about a "kiss-in" protest scheduled for that night in London at a pub where two young men had been asked to leave earlier in the week because they were kissing. You can read Niall's post here. He decided to use the above photo because he felt that it was inoffensive (Some outlets have reported that this photo came from the London "kiss-in" page on Facebook, but this is not true, it was Niall's choice and he found it on Google Images).

Read the rest

Playboy Mansion legionella outbreak traced to hot tub

Health officials in Los Angeles used blogs, Twitter and Facebook to track down the source of a legionella bacteria infection that sickened more than a hundred Playboy Mansion visitors. The verdict: "a whirlpool spa" at the iconic mansion. I think they mean the famed grotto (I've been there on a reporting mission once, fully clothed!), but the article doesn't specify. (LA Times) Read the rest

Why does Android marketplace link apps for gay men and apps for sex offenders?

Mike Ananny, a postdoctoral scholar at Microsoft Research and fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, writes in the Atlantic about a strange Android app discovery:

As I was installing Grindr on my Android phone yesterday, I scrolled down to take a look at the list of "related" and "relevant" applications. My jaw dropped. There, first on the list, was "Sex Offender Search," a free application created by Life360 that lets you "find sex offenders near you and protect your child ... so you can keep your family safe."

I was flabbergasted. How and why was this association being made? What could one application have to do with other? How many potential Grindr users were dissuaded from downloading the application because they saw this listed as a related application? In essence: Who did this linking, how does it work, and what harm is it doing?

(via danah boyd) Read the rest

Unicorn Pasties

Only $8, from (thanks, Susannah Breslin!) Read the rest

ICANN okays new .XXX domain

ICANN's Board of Directors today gave the organization's CEO permission to execute a proposed registry agreement for the .xxx sponsored top-level-domain with ICM Registry. Now, more than ever, the internet is for porn. (Domain Name Wire) Read the rest

NSFW science

The Skeptically Speaking podcast has a fascinating episode all about the science of semen. It includes a long interview with blogger Scicurious, covering some of the sex-related stories from her Friday Weird Science series. From post-sex selection of semen by females, to everything you ever wanted to know about testicles (42% of men hang lower on the left), this podcast has got it all. Read the rest

The koala says ...

So. That's the sound a koala makes. Huh.

It's not really very cute, is it?

But it does get the job done. Specifically, this is the call of the horny male koala—and this sound is such an effective mating technique that simply hearing it can cause female koalas to go into heat. (Insert your own Koala Justin Bieber joke here.) Scienceline explains the importance of koala "bellowing":

The timbre of a koala's bellow seems to have something to do with its size, age and androgen (a sex hormone) concentration. Older males bellow more, bigger males bellow longer, and those with more androgen have deeper bellows. One study found that when the male koala is 2-4 years older than the female, the mating is more likely to be successful, leading some to suggest that females use male calls to gage their relative sexiness.

Via Bora Zivkovik

Image courtesy Wikipedia user Quartl, via CC

Read the rest

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