Archive for February, 2010

"Excused Horrors"

by Jason Stotts

Back in November, Walter Williams wrote a piece called “Excused Horrors” that I meant to blog about, but it somehow got lost in the shuffle.  However, it was good enough that I still think people should take a look at it and think about Williams’s point.

Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 20 million of their own people and those in nations they conquered.

Between 1917 and 1983, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese.

[…] the reason why the world’s leftists give the world’s most horrible murderers a pass is because they sympathize with their socioeconomic goals, which include government ownership and/or control over the means of production. In the U.S., the call is for government control, through regulations, as opposed to ownership. Unfortunately, it matters little whether there is a Democratically or Republican-controlled Congress and White House; the march toward greater government control continues. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.

I’d like to point out that 138 million is almost seven times more deaths than the NAZI’s (National Socialists).

Kasidie Interview on Swinging with Susan Block

by Jason Stotts

For those who don’t know, I’m currently researching information on swinging for a larger essay I’m writing on the subject.  I put up an interview I did with a couple I know who is in the lifestyle called “An Interview with Swingers” followed by my first attempt at understanding an aspect of swinging called “Swinging: A Different Perspective.”  While researching for this essay, I also found an interesting swinging website Kasidie.com that runs Kasidie Magazine.  This publicaiton features some interesting articles, like the one I linked to a couple of days before “Interview on Swinging with Terry Gould.”  This interview they did is with sex educator and author Susan Block and she makes some really interesting points about Bonobos and human sexuality.

KASIDIE: I was hoping to talk to you about bonobos. I’m sure that most people have never heard of Bonobos Chimpanzees before. So when they hear you talking about chimps to swingers in the same sentence, they’re likely to ask, “What the heck is the connection?” For those who’ve never heard of bonobos can you talk about that a little?

DR. BLOCK: I love to talk about bonobos with swingers… it’s funny, because I also love to talk about swingers with primatologists.

KASIDIE: I thought you were going to say that you like to talk about swingers with bonobos!

DR. BLOCK: Well I tried, but Bonobos don’t speak English. They speak sign language but it’s hard to understand them completely.

KASIDIE: Too bad, because I’ve got some stories I could tell them!

DR. BLOCK: Yeah I bet you do! The primatologists are always very interested in human swingers because they look at bonobo behavior and say, “Wow, this is totally out of this world!” But as any swinger will tell you, it is not so out of this world. But anyway, let me explain Bonobos. Bonobos also called Pygmy Chimpanzees are a type of Chimpanzee. Much like common chimpanzees they are 98.8% genetically similar to humans. People say they might have the intelligence level of a 7 year old human. So there’s a lot of similarities between both common chimps and bonobo chimps and humans. One very big difference between common chimps and bonobos is that bonobos have a lot more sex. Bonobos really have sex all year round. Common chimps only have sex when the female is in heat like most other primates and most other animals. Bonobo females hide their estrus just like human females do, so they have sex all year round. The females also have genitalia that is rotated forward like humans, as opposed to behind. With common chimps and most other animals, the female genitalia is rotated towards the behind so they’re pretty much always having sex in the doggy style position… There is nothing wrong with doggy style… But the bonobos are able to do it in all different positions and they have a lot of sex face to face.

KASIDIE: Sounds like humans.

DR. BLOCK: That’s not all. Bonobo females often initiate sex. They have a lot of group sex. They have oral sex.They have masturbation. They might partner up for a few weeks or months, but they tend to have sex with all different members of the community. They have sex as a form of commerce, so to speak, like…”I’ll give you a blow job if you give me a banana.” They also – and this is most fascinating – they use sex to reduce violent tension. That is….”Don’t be upset. Come sit on my face.”

KASIDIE: Hmm… I’m going to use that line next time I get in an argument with someone.

DR. BLOCK: There you go! It works. I call it The Bonobo Way, Peace through pleasure. Certainly bonobos use it to reduce physically violent tension. But I think it works with human couples who just argue and fight. Sometimes a little bit of sex inserted in the right way, so to speak, really works. You got to be sensitive about it. Bonobos are incredibly sensitive creatures. They look deep into each others eyes like tantric sex practitioners. When they have sex they don’t look all over the place like a lot of humans do. They are also very attentive to each other’s needs, very caring. They might have a little bit of violence, it’s not like their completely non-violent. They’ve been seen biting each other. They’ve even bitten pretty hard, to the point of biting off part of a finger.

KASIDIE: I was about to say that a little bit of biting during sex can be good… But that does sound excessive.

DR. BLOCK: What I’m saying is they can have problems. It’s not like they’re angels. The point is, bonobos have never been seen killing each other. And they’ve never done anything really deadly.

KASIDIE: So they don’t have crimes of passion?

DR. BLOCK: Not lethal crime. I guess what we’re saying is that these are not in another world from us. They are close to us and they show us the way. If they were completely non-violent I’d say, “Well, that’s impossible for human beings to be like that, we have violence ingrained in us.” Bonobos have violence ingrained in them too, but they use sexual passion to channel that violent energy away from brutality, and away from killing. In a kind of similar way I think S&M and bondage people channel their violent energy into a sexual activity. It’s not like they don’t feel the violent tension. They feel it and they may sometimes get out of hand with it, but they generally channel it. It’s the same energy that makes you want to have different partners. That is the energy that bonobos accept. It’s not like they don’t ever get jealous. I have seen bonobos get jealous and very upset about somebody having sex with somebody they wanted to have sex with… But they work it out. They accept that they are going to have sex with different people and that jealousy and other emotions come into play. They seem to have ways to work it out.

I recommend reading the entire interview here.

Natural Fake Breasts

by Jason Stotts

Back in December, the NYT ran an article called “Natural Breast Augmentation” on new techniques that are being developed to perform breast implants using live fat from other parts of the body.  The idea is that if you could get this fat to grow and survive, then the breasts would be bigger, but made of fat and not a synthetic material: it would be a “natural fake breast.”  The other plus is that the fat that goes to make the augmented breast comes from some other part of your body: so the part of your body that you want to be fat will get fatter and the part of your body that you don’t want to be fat will be trimmer.

I think this is a great idea and I hope that they pursue it and get it to the point where it’s a viable alternative to unnatural looking silicone breasts that seem to be so popular today.

At the October meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Dr. Khouri [Dr. Roger K. Khouri: plastic and reconstructive surgeon in charge of the Miami Breast Center] presented a long-term study that suggested liposuctioned fat was now a “viable alternative to breast implants.” It tracked 50 women, ages 17 to 63, for an average follow-up of 3.5 years. (For weeks, participants wore a cumbersome bra-like tissue expander at night that was created by Dr. Khouri to create a scaffolding for their fat.) The study, which Dr. Khouri plans to publish in a peer-reviewed journal, found that the procedure does not impede the reading of mammograms and that on average, 85 percent of transplanted fat survived to give patients natural-feeling larger breasts.

But the disadvantages cannot be discounted. It’s usually more expensive than implants, it takes a year to see how much fat survived, and breast volume can fluctuate with weight. Dr. Scott L. Spear, the chairman of the plastic surgery department at Georgetown University Hospital, has enlarged a patient’s breasts only to have the patient undo his handiwork by losing weight. “They decide to run a marathon and their breasts go away,” he said.

Interview on Swinging with Terry Gould

by Jason Stotts

I recently found a very interesting interview with Terry Gould, author of the book The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers.  His book is considered one of the most in-depth and honest accounts of the swinging community, from what I can gather in reviews and statements by people actually in that community.  I haven’t actually read the book yet, but after reading the interview, I think I will be getting it soon.  The interview was conducted by Kasidie Magazine, the official face of one of the larger swinging website Kasidie.com.

Kasidie: I often feel that a lot of this fear of swingers comes from a belief that swingers are going to somehow corrupt the rest of society. As if we’re trying to force our lifestyle on others… which has not been my experience.

Terry Gould: The swinger subculture is basically set up as a conservative institution. The misconception of the lifestyle by the straight world is that it’s just a vehicle for men to have sex with other women while their wives come along. But that’s not what it’s about at all. If it were about that, it would not have grown by such leaps & bounds over the last 20 years, penetrating all ends of the continent and Europe and Australia and doubling and tripling in numbers. Most people use it to spice up their own marriages. Most people will tell you that it wouldn’t be as exciting to just to go to these clubs alone to have mechanical sex with a stranger. They wouldn’t consider it a lifestyle if that was the case.

Kasidie: Your book talks a lot about women and their sexual “power”. I think you used the term “the insatiable female”. You said that a lot of our society’s sexual stigmas stem from fearing the full sexual potential of women.

Terry Gould: At some level most men believe that their wives could behave very licentiously if given the opportunity to do so, and that’s why there’s jealousy and fear. Everything inside us comes down to us from millions of years of natural selection and evolution. If a biological trait served some purpose it stayed with us. If it didn’t serve a purpose it left us. One of the traits that women have is the ability to have multiple orgasms. Some women can have fifty orgasms.

Kasidie: I know some of those women!

Terry Gould: [laughs] Right, so why is that? Why does man have one orgasm at a time and women can have a train of them? There’s a postulate that at some point in our evolutional history were receptive to more than one partner. When you look at the biology of sperm, you discover that only 1% are design to fertilize the egg. So at some point in our past history, sperm were competing in the women and may the best man win. So at this time there was no such thing as natural female monogamy. There was no chastity belt that nature provided women and men were very aware of that. So they stayed near them to keep other men away so they could be sure that the child she bore was his. So this is why we have all these rules and male dominance today, because men didn’t want to end up raising someone else’s child.

Kasidie: So what is the inherent danger that people feel from swingers? Why the animosity?

Terry Gould: Well, it goes something like this: If people have control of their own sexuality, then that means they’re not under the control of society. From 6000 years ago we’ve had a controlling caste of rulers priests and scribes. The rulers are close to god, the priests sanctify their relationship with god, and the scribes write it all down in the text. The main preoccupation of these religious texts are sex. It’s like a relationship of a mafia boss to people on his block. He says to them: “You’ve done something wrong! I can punish you for it… but if you pay me I can speak to the big boss and he’ll absolve you of it.” So you have this relationship where sex is wrong. There’s a wrong way to have sex and a right way… and the right way is with one spouse, only in a certain way, and only for procreation. If you did it the wrong way, it means you’ve sinned and are going to hell. But you could get absolution from the rulers, priests and scribes if you paid them. People from the beginning of time were condemned to sin again and again and again.

Kasidie: So all this fuss about sex basically stems from a big money scam?

Terry Gould: People were told they couldn’t do something they had to do. Then they had to get absolution of their sin and were therefore constantly beholden to the very people who set these rules. So it was a perfect way to control everyone. And this still happens today, right down to our liberate world. When you walk in the supermarket you go down a virtual tunnel of popular magazines where all you see are all the nearly naked movie stars. Their sex lives emblazoned and celebrated on the covers yet when you turn to the advice columns inside, they tell us we should act in the exact opposite manner.

You can find the full interview here.  I recommend reading it in its entirety, it’s quite fascinating.
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Big Brother Disclaimer: if you click on the book link and purchase it, I will get some small amount of money.

The State of Washington has Officially Incorporated the Second Amendment

by Jason Stotts

In a landmark ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court of the State of Washington has officially incorporated the Second Amendment in their state!  This is amazing and sets a precedent for the upcoming SCOTUS case McDonald v. City of Chicago.
Here are some of the highlights of the opinion, the full text of which can be found on the Washington Supreme Court Website.  Note, I’ve bolded key passages in the text.
ANALYSIS

I. The United States Constitution Safeguards an Individual Right To Bear Arms and Applies to the States via the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause.

The Second Amendment provides: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” U.S. Const. amend. II. The United States Supreme Court had not clarified whether the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms was an individual entitlement until Heller, the Court’s “first in-depth examination of the Second Amendment.” Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2821. Heller unquestionably recognized an individual right to bear arms and, in the process, rejected a collective right conditioned on militia service. “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited, just as the First Amendment’s right of free speech was not.” Id. at 2799. We must answer whether the Second Amendment applies to the states — an issue Heller explicitly sidestepped. Id. at 2813 n.23.
Incorporation is “[t]he process of applying the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states by interpreting the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause as encompassing those provisions.” Black’s Law Dictionary 834 (9th ed. 2009). The Fourteenth Amendment bars “any state [from] depriv[ing] any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. Under the original constitutional architecture the federal Bill of Rights protected only enumerated rights from federal interference. Barron v. Mayor of Baltimore, 32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 243, 247-51, 8 L. Ed. 672 (1833) (Marshall, C.J.). Today, however, the Supreme Court has applied nearly the entire Bill of Rights to the states through the due process clause. Duncan v. Louisiana, 391 U.S. 145, 149, 88 S. Ct. 1444, 20 L. Ed. 2d 491 (1968). Since 1897 the Supreme Court has progressively concluded most liberties protected by the Bill of Rights are incorporated. See, e.g., Chi., Burlington & Quincy R.R. v. Chicago, 166 U.S. 226, 17 S. Ct. 581, 41 L. Ed. 979 (1897) (holding due process clause prevents states from taking property without just compensation); Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652, 45 S. Ct. 625, 69 L. Ed. 1138 (1925) (incorporating First Amendment protection of free speech); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 60 S. Ct. 900, 84 L. Ed. 1213 (1940) (incorporating First Amendment protection of free exercise of religion).4 At this writing incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment is “virtually” complete. Pac. Mut. Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip, 499 U.S. 1, 34, 111 S. Ct. 1032, 113 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1991) (Scalia, J., concurring). [pp. 5-6]
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Although the Heller Court did not expressly consider incorporation of the right to bear arms, “that need not stop the rest of us.” Sanford Levinson, Comment, The Embarrassing Second Amendment, 99 Yale L.J. 637, 653-54 (1989). Lower courts need not wait for the Supreme Court to apply Duncan; the Constitution is the rule of all courts — both state and federal judiciaries wield power to strike down unconstitutional government acts.
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Gun ownership is an inexorable birthright of American tradition. “Americans who participated in the Revolution of 1776 and adopted the Bill of Rights held the individual right to have and use arms against tyranny to be fundamental.”8 Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right 55 (1984). Moreover gun ownership was a universal legal duty of American colonists. Joyce Lee Malcolm, The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms: The Common Law Tradition, 10 Hastings Const. L. Q. 285, 290-95 (1983).
Heller analyzed the Second Amendment from preratification to the end of the 19th Century, concluding the right to bear arms is an individual right. The Court began by noting the 1689 Declaration of Rights included the right to bear arms. Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2798. The Court added Blackstone, “‘the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation,’” id. at 2798 (quoting Alden v. Maine, 527 U.S. 706, 715, 119 S. Ct. 2240, 144 L. Ed. 2d 636 (1999)), considered the right to bear arms “a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation,” William Blackstone, 1 Commentaries 144 (2d ed. 1766). The right to bear arms therefore flows from the “absolute rights” of “personal security, personal liberty, and private property.” Id. at 140-41. The Federalist No. 46 describes “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation” from the viewpoint of a fundamental right to self- defense. The Federalist No. 46, at 296 (James Madison) (Clinton Rossiter ed., 2003). “By the time of the founding, the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects.” Heller, 128 S. Ct. at 2798. Heller severed the right to bear arms from service in a militia, foreclosing the only plausible argument against finding the right to be individual. 128 S. Ct. 2783. [pp. 8-9]
Accordingly we regard the history, lineage, and pedigree of the Second Amendment right to bear arms necessary to an Anglo-American regime of ordered liberty and fundamental to the American scheme of justice. It is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.
We have noted the individual right to bear arms under article I, section 24 may be broader than the Second Amendment but had not yet determined our provision’s distant reaches when the Court decided Heller. See City of Seattle v. Montana, 129 Wn.2d 583, 594, 919 P.2d 1218 (1996) (plurality); State v. Rupe, 101 Wn.2d 664, 706, 683 P.2d 571 (1984).16 Supreme Court application of the United States Constitution establishes a floor below which state courts cannot go to protect individual rights. But states of course can raise the ceiling to afford greater protections under their own constitutions. Washington retains the “‘sovereign right to adopt in its own Constitution individual liberties more expansive than those conferred by the Federal Constitution.’” State v. Gunwall, 106 Wn.2d 54, 59, 720 P.2d 808 (1986)
For the purposes of this case, it is enough that the state constitutional right to bear arms is clearly an individual one. [p. 20]
CONCLUSION
The Second Amendment right to bear arms applies to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. [p. 23]

California Set to Release Thousands of Prisoners

by Jason Stotts

The People’s State of California, in addition to being completely bankrupt, is now going to be forced to release thousands of prisoners.

California state and local officials, already reeling from budget cuts and public-safety layoffs, are struggling with a federal order to release about 40,000 inmates to reduce prison overcrowding and bracing for the impact on their communities. (WSJ, see also Reuters)

That means that while the state is cutting its police force dramatically, it is also going to release 40,000 prisoners.  This, of course, is a great combination…for criminals.
At the same time, the state refuses to go to “Shall Issue” for Concealed Carry of Weapons (CCW) permits, and operates by “May Issue” at the discretion of the county Sheriff.  Unfortunately, this is hardly any better than “No Issue” in many places.  Some sheriffs even go so far as to deny any application for a CCW permit on the grounds of self-defense.  For example, one of the bigger counties in southern California is Riverside County and their Sheriff has this to say in his CCW application packet:

VALID DEATH THREATS OR HARRASSMENT ARE THE ONLY CRITERIA WHERE ISSUANCE OF A CCW PERMIT WILL BE CONSIDERED FOR PERSONAL PROTECTION. THE RIVERSIDE COUNTY SHERIFF DOES NOT ISSUE PERMITS TO “PROVIDE A FEELING OF SAFETY” OR TO ALLEVIATE A “FEAR OF VICTIMIZATION”. (Riverside Sheriff’s Office) [Note: it appears in the original in all caps and bold]

What, then, is the function of being able to carry a concealed weapon if not for self-defense?

So, not only will there be thousands of criminals released, there will also be less police, and the citizens will not be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves.  Looks like California is going to be a fun place to be very shortly.

An Interesting Cartoon

by Jason Stotts

I just got a chain e-mail with the following cartoon that purports to be from a 1934 edition of the Chicago Tribune.

In case you can’t read it, the “Plan of Action for the U.S.” is:

Spend! Spend! Spend! Under the guide of recovery – bust the government – blame the capitalists for the failure – junk the constitution and declare a dictatorship.

I almost think Obama is using this as his playbook.

Bisexuals?

by Jason Stotts

The always interesting Violet Blue (obviously her real name) has a new post up about bisexuality and how it can be hard to be bi in today’s world.

Understanding bisexuality is not as straightforward as being straight, and while understanding queerness of any stripe engenders compassion and tolerance, it’s more commonly understood than bisexuality. Not to say that people who look at bisexuality and say that bis are confused should get a pass because bisexuality is a slightly more nuanced sexual orientation. As a girl who practices bisexuality (practice makes perfect) yet is primarily straight, and as someone who certainly “passes” for straight in the outside world, it’s a refreshing piece that’s worth reading even if you’re not bisexual. I live in this world as a straight girl, and I’m a happy one. But also speaking for myself, it’s confusing to navigate being bisexual. Painfully so. I don’t understand why I feel the way I do, and until only recently, none of my boyfriends have really tried to understand either. I don’t have an explanation as to why I fall in love with men and want that as my lifelong commitment, but that I also unflinchingly desire female lovers in my life.

She links to a recent essay in The Guardian called “Bisexuals: Putting the B back in LGBT” where the author has this to say:

I’m constantly baffled by the exclusion of bisexuals. I blame bad science, or rather bad scientists. Every year it seems there’s a new study on “what makes people gay”. Oddly, this is expected to be an on-off switch, and the researchers look in the genes, or the brain or the length of fingers for a sign that one set of people will be queer, now and for always, and another proving the rest will remain 100% straight. It takes a special kind of rigidity of outlook to construct a survey on finger length and decide beforehand there’s no middle ground. They then say everyone’s “straight, gay or lying” but for that to be true there would have to be an awful lot of liars out there. The last Observer poll on sexual attitudes showed that 4% of people – one in 25 – identified as homosexual, and half as many again identified separately as bisexual.

But this sort of thinking fuels the mythical status of bi people. People are quick to tinker with the definition of bisexual until it’s not something anyone would willingly pick for themselves. Bisexuals are supposed to be equally attracted to men and women – always androgyny, but never to trans people – and always at the same time. They supposedly need to have identical amounts of sex with both, and don’t notice the differences between them (which might get painful in bed, I reckon). We’re all told bisexuality is a phase that everyone goes through and grows out of, and no one’s a “proper” bisexual, even though “everyone’s bisexual really”. Bisexuals are depicted as the monsters spreading Aids, and breaking the hearts of partners inevitably cast aside for a different gender. Who’d want to be bi!

Oddly, the only people not confused about bisexuality are the bisexuals themselves, with groups like The Bisexual Index advocating a clearer definition – they simply suggest anyone who is attracted to more than one gender should consider identifying as bi. It’s not about amount of attraction either, just as simply preferring lettuce to liver doesn’t make you a vegan.

For my own sake, I am sympathetic to their problems with being bi.  People seem to be completely stuck in rigid categories of “straight” or “gay” and cannot open their minds to see that our sexual orientation is on a continuum.  For a fuller account of my views on bisexuality, see my essays: “On Bisexuality“, “Kinsey and Sexual Identity“,  and “Bisexual Species“.