Archive for November, 2010

Transfer Complete!

by Jason Stotts

I’ve now finished importing all of the old essays from my previous blogs A Rational Perspective (May 8th, 2005 — June 16th, 2007) and the original Erosophia (June 11th 2007 — April 1st, 2010).  Some of the old stuff is good, some of it is not so good.  It is interesting (to me at least) to see how much my writing has changed since back in the day.

If you want to check out the old posts, you can hit up the archives in the right sidebar or use the tags: “A Rational Perspective” and “Erosophia.Blogspot.”

Global Warming Continues to Fall From Grace

by Jason Stotts

In yet another heavy blow to the AGW camp, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) has announced that it is closing it’s doors.  According to the National Review Online:

Global warming-inspired cap and trade has been one of the most stridently debated public policy controversies of the past 15 years. But it is dying a quiet death. In a little reported move, the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) announced on Oct. 21 that it will be ending carbon trading – the only purpose for which it was founded – this year.

That’s a heavy blow to the AGW camp, since the CCX was to be the clearinghouse for the extorted money from people and business who had to buy “carbon credits” in order to offset their “pollution” from existing, err, I mean emitting CO2.

The Telegraph also has a very interesting write-up “What the Green Movement Got Wrong: Greens come to see the error of their ways” where they point out three major errors of the green movement:

Misanthropy. According to a veteran American Green, Stewart Brand, too many Greens believe “Nature good – humans not so good”. This approach is ultimately unpersuasive, since it is human beings you are trying to persuade. A policy focused on preventing human activity is one which defies human nature. Mark Lynas, one of the repenters, was shown in his younger days stuffing a custard pie into the face of the environmental sceptic Bjorn Lomborg. Now, he admits with shame, he was ”motivated by a sense of righteousness” which was self-regarding.

Exaggeration. If you say that the end of the world is nigh all the time, people start to disbelieve you. Paul Ehrlich talked utter rubbish about how the world would starve in the 1970s. A glorious clip showed a young but authoritative Magnus Magnusson explaining against a backdrop of artificial snow that “the new Ice Age” was upon us. Green activists give out the figure of 93,000 for deaths attributable to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. The figure favoured by the recent UN investigation is 65. The idea that there are only a few months or years left to save the planet is both so discouraging and so untrue that it disables the cause it is supposed to galvanise. “We have got some time,” said Tim Flannery of the Copenhagen Climate Council, with heretical courage.

Damage. The most powerful part of the programme was that arguing that the Green obsession with banning and preventing things has done actual harm. The refusal to contemplate nuclear power has encouraged more use of fossil fuels and therefore – if you believe the warmist theories – more adverse climate change. The banning of pesticides has led to the deaths of millions of Africans from malaria. The obsessive hatred of GM crops led, in 2002, to the Zambian government refusing US supplies of GM food sent to relieve its people’s starvation.

This may be the other ClimateGate shoe dropping on the fanatical green movement and hopefully it will spell the end of the religion of environmentalism.

Look, I’m for having a nice world, but we need to understand the the world/climate/nature is not intrinsically valuable and if environmentalists want to have a greater buy-in, they need to take the approach “let’s make the world nice because we live here and we’d like a nice place to live.”  That’s the kind of thing that even I might buy into.

“Is Your Laptop Cooking Your Testicles”

by Jason Stotts

Catchy title, right?  It’s the title of a new report by Reuters on the dangers to men from using laptops on their laps.

The researchers hooked thermometers to the scrotums of 29 young men who were balancing a laptop on their knees. They found that even with a lap pad under the computer, the men’s scrotums overheated quickly.

“Millions and millions of men are using laptops now, especially those in the reproductive age range,” said Dr. Yefim Sheynkin, a urologist at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, who led the new study.

“Within 10 or 15 minutes their scrotal temperature is already above what we consider safe, but they don’t feel it,” he added.

Although the report goes on to say that there is no identified health risk yet, that it does affect sperm quality and may be leading to reduced sperm count or impotence in men.

We should wait for more conclusive studies to be released before anyone starts panicking that they’re destroying their testicles, but maybe we men should be a little more wary of having our laptops on our laps.

A Future Without HIV?

by Jason Stotts

According to the BBC, a new article in Science may point the way to a future without HIV/AIDS.

The researchers carried out a genome-wide association study of the genetic make-up of almost 1,000 controllers and 2,600 people with progressive HIV.

Around 300 points were found to be associated with immune control of HIV, all in regions of chromosome six that code for HLA proteins.

Scientists were then able to pinpoint specific amino acids and identified the five in the HLA-B protein as playing the key role.

HLA-B is part of the process by which the immune system recognises and destroys virus-infected cells.

Part of the protein called a binding pocket “drags and drops” peptides from inside the virus onto the cell membrane.

These then mark out the cell for destruction by CD8 “killer” T cells in the immune system.

This means that if they can manipulate that gene to turn on in people in whom it is not active, so that they could produce the right kind of HLA protein, then these people’s bodies would seek out and destroy HIV on their own.  They would become immune to the virus.

Now, this is still a long way from becoming a reality, but the foundational research is beginning to come together and we may see and end to HIV/AIDS in our lifetime.

Housework and Female Arousal

by Jason Stotts

Most people don’t think of housework as having any ties to a woman’s sexual arousal, but perhaps they should.  A new theory called “choreplay” is making its debut and could have implications for the gusto with which men take to their chores.  The idea is very simple: women tend to be preoccupied with things that need to get done, in a way that men are not, and this preoccupation prevents them from relaxing and enjoying sexual pleasure.

Researchers in the Netherlands found that “the key to female arousal seems to be deep relaxation and a lack of anxiety.” In a study in which the brains of men and women were scanned during the process of sexual response using a technique called positron emission tomography (PET), the results showed that the parts of the female brain responsible for processing fear, anxiety and emotion reduce during sexual activity.

Men showed far less change in these areas of the brain. Says Dr. Gert Holstege, “What this means is that deactivation, letting go of all fear and anxiety, might be the most important thing, even necessary, to have an orgasm.” So what’s the lesson? If you want to turn a woman on, the key is to help her turn off—turn off her brain, that is—and that means helping her not worry: like about all the chores that still need to be done.

It would be interesting to find out whether the women were responding to the chore itself, or, as I suspect, that their partner doing chores signified their commitment to the relationship and to maintaining a partnership.  Frankly, sex is rarely so simple as “doing chores will get you laid,” although doing chores may be the proximate cause, the real cause is in how a woman views her relationship with her partner and whether or not she thinks that he is contributing.

EIther way, all men should take heed: that pile of dishes may just be a red light to sex tonight.

Hirsuties Papillaris Genitalis

by Jason Stotts

It’s interesting how ignorance is usually the biggest source of shame, whether or not we realize it.  Take, for example, the common condition hirsuties papillaris genitalis (HPG), sometimes also refered to as “pearly penile papules” or PPP. HPG is a condition in which there are small bumps on the coronal ridge of the penis (the outside edge of the head). [Picture]  HPG is not a STD/STI and it is not transmittable.  In fact, although we’re not sure how men get it right now, it may very well be genetic as the men who have HPG tend to get it sometime shortly after puberty, whether or not they are sexually active. HPG is not related to HPV (the human papillomavirus), genital warts, herpes, or any other STD/STI.

HPG is an asymptomatic condition and there are no known health risks associated with it.  HPG tends to be a lifelong condition and there is not known cure for it.  Although “cure” does presuppose it is a problem, and there is no negative effects on a man’s life from HPG.  One study puts the incidence of HPG as high as 48%, although according to eMedicine (by WebMD):

The incidence of pearly penile papules reportedly ranges from 8-48%. Several reports suggest an increased incidence of pearly penile papules in uncircumcised versus circumcised men (22% vs 12%, respectively). One study found an increase in frequency in black versus white men, in those circumcised (21% vs 7%, respectively) and uncircumcised (44% vs 33%, respectively).

With as many as almost half of all men having this condition, it’s surprising that more information isn’t available about it.  This, of course, is due to the men who do have it being so ashamed of it, that they are unwilling to talk about. Further, most of these men likely don’t even know that it has a name or that it is a common condition.  Their shame prevents them from looking into the matter.  This is ironic, because if they had looked into the matter, they would have discovered that they were not alone and what looked like it may have been a horrible disease is nothing more than a common condition, one with no negative effects.

I look forward to a day when information about sex and related matters is widely available and discussed without shame and guilt.  For those men out there that have HPG, let go of your shame over your body and accept that this is the way your penis is.  Just as there is a wide variance among labia, so too is there a wide variance in penises and instead of feeling shame over this, we should celebrate it as another sign of our individuality.