Archive for June, 2011

Australia and the Hatred of Sex

by Jason Stotts

Australia is in the news again as they continue to become more anti-sex and move to censorship in an attempt to suppress information in their country. After their China-esque firewall (see “Australia Following China’s Lead?“) failed, they’ve now pressured ISP’s to do the blocking themselves:

Starting next month, the vast majority of Australia’s Internet users will find their access censored, following a decision by the country’s two largest providers–Telstra and Optus–as well as two smaller ISPs (itExtreme and Webshield), to voluntarily block more than 500 websites from view. The decision from the two ISPs comes after numerous failed attempts by the Australian government to set up a centralized filtering plan. (via EFF)

Although these ISP’s are doing this “voluntarily,” the move comes after much pressure from the Australian government to censor pornography and websites related to it.  This has, ostensibly, been to reduce “child pornography” in Australia, which includes such things as adult women who have A-cup breasts, which the Australian government finds offensive and “child-like” (see my “Australia Hates Small Breasts“).  Frankly, I think that Australia is being offensive and that women should be openly revolting in Australia right now, especially those with smaller breasts who are being deemed no different than children.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this, but it looks like Australia is becoming a very un-free place to live.

New York Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

by Jason Stotts

In a move that makes them the sixth state in the union to do so, the State of New York has legalized gay marriage!  This is a victory for all advocates of individual rights and opponents of christianity and its hatred of humanity and human happiness.  New York joins: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, as well as Washington DC as being places where an individual’s sexual orientation does not prevent them from marrying the person that they love. (via BBC)

Egoism is the Antidote to christianity

by Jason Stotts

Whenever you’re approached by a christian who wants to convert you to their way of thinking just remind them of Luke 14:26: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”

Loving your life is the antidote to christianity and it’s vile hatred of life.

Father’s Day

by Jason Stotts

Note, I was originally intending to have this published on Father’s Day, but it wasn’t ready in time.

Today, on the day that we celebrate fatherhood and thank our fathers for bringing us into existence and raising us well, I think it makes sense to discuss what fatherhood is, and paternity more generally, and what defines it.  This post is dually motivated for me.  On the one hand I don’t consider the man who sired me to be my father.  On the other, I recently came across an example of a man who had no genetic connection to “his” child, but yet it seemed clear that he was her father.

In my own case, I haven’t spoken with my father in many years; in fact, it’s nearly been a decade.  There are all too many reasons for this, but suffice it to say that he has done some of those things that one cites when one is looking for an example of action that is so obviously immoral and loathsome that no one could object to it as an example of something foul.  To be even briefer, I don’t speak with him because he is a moral monster.  Because of this, even though I can’t deny that he sired me and that we share half our genes, I do not consider him my father.

On the other hand I recently met a man named Antonio who raised a daughter who was not genetically related to him.  From what I understand, he met her mother when she was pregnant and chose to marry her nonetheless and they raised her daughter together.  He later had two other children who are half-siblings with the first daughter, Miranda.  Now, just by looking at them, you would never think they were related.  They look nothing alike; in fact, he is black and she is white.  Yet this man seemed to be much more of a father to her, even though he was of no genetic relation, than my own biological father is to me.

So, there is something strange going on here.  A man who is genetically related to me is not a father, while a man who is not genetically related to Miranda is a father.  There must be something more to being a parent than a simple biological connection.  Indeed, such a connection doesn’t even seem to be necessary.

So, then question then is: what makes a father?  If mixing semen together with an egg isn’t enough, then what does it take to be a father?  More broadly, if imparting your genetic material and bringing a new human into existence is not enough to be a real parent, then what does it take?  What other thing might it be?

I think it is clear that this other thing is how one goes about trying to be a parent.  Sometimes we choose to have offspring and sometimes we do not.  Either way, it is our next choice, the choice to take responsibility for a child and to rear them to the best of our abilities, that determines whether we will be good or bad parents, or whether we should even be called parents at all. Good parents and bad parents should be thought of as on a continuum and admitting of degrees, but without anything in the middle.  A parent that was only doing the bare minimum to keep the child alive, a “neutral” parent, should be considered a bad parent.  The category of “non-parents” we will restrict to people who are genetically related to a child, but who do such a monstrous job of raising their child that they should not be considered parents (thus, we’re excluding everyone else who is not genetically related to the child as simply irrelevant and not part of the category of “non-parent”).

The above distinction rests on the choice of how to raise the child and how well the parent does at this.  In terms of fatherhood, the question is whether the man did his best to raise his child and impart good ideas to him.  I also think that there are ways to fail in parenthood that are so serious that one should no longer be considered a parent.  No one would, or perhaps should, call a man a father who abused his children all his life and who had no real concern for them.  It may be true that this person is genetically related to the children, but he is certainly not acting like a parent.

For a very similar reason, I think it’s strange that some people who are adopted want to find their “real parents.”  I think that is a complete perversion of the idea of paternity and a desire for no more than to meet someone who is necessarily (biologically) connected to them.  But, isn’t it much better to have people who associate with you because they want to and love you, than who are merely related and who neither love you nor even care about you?  If your biological relatives give you up for adoption, they stop being your parents, even if that is the best choice for all involved.  Further, I think it’s clear that sometimes the best parents are not (genetically) related to their children at all.  If your adopted parents are good parents, then there is nothing to be gained by looking for one’s genetic ancestors, unless one merely wants to know about any history of disease in one’s genetic line, but even that can be ascertained by genetic testing now.

Ultimately, I want to argue that being a parent is not about a genetic relationship, but is more about raising a child and helping him to grow and be able to live a good life.  Whether a person is biologically related to the child is completely irrelevant (although a biological parent might have an obligation to raise his child well, born of his choice to have a child).  So, sometimes a man genetically related to a child is not a father and sometimes a man not genetically related to his child is a good father.

Sex Facts #1: All Men Start as Women

by Jason Stotts

Not everyone knows this, but all fetuses start out as more or less female until it is about 7 weeks old or so.  At that point, sex hormones cause the proto-female sex organs to close and begin to build the penis.

In the picture below, A and B are before sex differentiation.  C and E are of a fetus that develops into a male and D and F are of a fetus that develops into a female.  The line where the labia and related structures fuse together to form the scrotum and the penis is called a raphe and looks like a scar running from the anal opening to the glans (head) of the penis.  When it is on the penis, it is called the “penile raphe” and all men have them.  All men: Every. Last. One.

So, if you’re a man and you’ve spent years thinking you have a strange scar on your penis, think again.  It’s just where your labia fused together to make your man parts.

Assorted News

by Jason Stotts

I’ve been behind on a number of things recently, but I’m finally getting caught up.  These are some of the news stories that I’ve been meaning to blog about as they came up, but didn’t get a chance to yet.

1. Female Ejaculation: The Long Road to Non-Discovery

A very nice in-depth discussion of female ejaculation and some history of our understanding of it.

2. IUDs officially recommended for healthy women, teens

IUD’s are one of the most effective forms of birth control around.  They require no effort, no remembering to take a pill, and no worry that you don’t have it with you when you need it.  They are very inexpensive for the amount of time they work, 5-10 years, and have little to no side-effects.  If you are a sexually active woman, I highly recommend talking to your gynecologist about IUD’s or going to Planned Parenthood for a consultation.

3. The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Natural Selection and Evolution, with a Key to Many Complicating Factors

An interesting discussion of natural selection and homosexuality.  Awesome quote: “If natural selection is homophobic, it’s not particularly good at it.”

4.The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles

The story of Ramen noodles, the staple of the academic diet.

5.The Man Who Had HIV and Now Does Not

In an effort to save a man from Leukemia, they might have accidentally found a cure for AIDS.

6. The Revolutionary New Birth Control Method for Men

A viable form of birth control for men, that is 100% effective and has no known side-effects, may be coming soon.  It’s called RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) and it’s in the final stages of testing in India.

7. The “Hooker Teacher” tells all

Slut-shaming is alive and well in America.

Rationalism Among Objectivists

by Jason Stotts

I was perusing this week’s Objectivist Blog Carnival when I noticed a post that sounded interesting: Benjamin Skipper’s “You Can Only Hate What’s *There*.”  Now, I was interested in this because I’m very interested in theories of emotion and this piece sounded particularly misguided by the title.  The piece didn’t disappoint.

The core argument is this:

What clarified things for me is remembering that only existence exists. That which does not exist cannot have an impact on reality, and anyone who claims to deal with things that don’t exist, such as supernatural entities, are only dealing with content within their mind. Since the thing doesn’t actually exist, they can’t interact with it, or even direct their emotions towards it.

This is one of the best example of rationalism I’ve encountered recently.  Consider the premise that “that which does not exist cannot have an impact on reality.”  That’s true, but only if you consider no more than the literal meanings of the words.  Consider the implication, though.  Ben thinks that believing in a god won’t have an impact on reality, since the god doesn’t exist.  History, of course, disagrees.  He also thinks that you can’t direct your emotions to something that doesn’t exist.  That’s also nonsense and, in fact, we do this all the time.

Consider this scenario: I think I hear something in the night and I become afraid that someone might be breaking into my house to do me harm.  I will feel fear and the object of my fear will be the person who wishes me harm.  Now, let’s say that I was mistaken that there was someone breaking in to my house, my fear will subside because it turns out there was no object of my emotion.  But, emotions do not need actually existing objects, they respond to beliefs, and we can have beliefs about all sorts of things, whether they exist or not.  In my example, my emotional response of fear was to the belief that someone might be breaking into my house, not the that fact that someone actually was.  As another example, I believe unicorns are creatures that look a lot like horses, but who have a single horn on their head.  This thought might even cause me some pleasure to consider what such a creature might look like.  However, unicorns do not exist.  Yet, I can still form beliefs about them and I can respond emotionally to my beliefs.  Just because I am “only dealing with content within [my] mind,” does not mean that I’m not having real emotions.  In fact, emotions only ever deal with things within my mind, beliefs, even if the beliefs are formed because of some fact of reality.  The object of an emotion is always a belief.

This rationalistic deduction is the kind of thing that leads nascent Objectivists astray and causes them to hold all sorts of crazy beliefs.  Rationalism is one of our most dangerous enemies as philosophers and we need to ward against this kind of thinking in all things.

Now, let this discussion not be taken as a general criticism of Ben or his blog as I don’t read it regularly and don’t know either way.  Let this also not be taken as a criticism of Ben himself, as it is not an ad hominem.  However, do take it as a complete repudiation of this post by Ben and, perhaps, also his understanding of emotions.

Sex Tips #9: It’s Only Kinky the First Time

by Jason Stotts

I think one major thing that a lot of people need to get past in order to make their sex lives better is the idea that kinky is the same as being bad or immoral.    It is not necessarily these things at all.  A “kinky” sex act is one that is just not very common.  It is something different than missionary sex and, therefore, it is “weird” or “unusual.”  But, some of the best things in life aren’t “usual” and who really wants their sex life to be mundane?

What sex acts you consider kinky really depends on your sexual repertoire, your past experience, and the society you live in.  In some society’s oral sex is very kinky (in others it is even forbidden or taboo).  For some people fisting is very kinky, for others it’s just something they do.  Generally, we tend to think of things as kinky when we’ve never done them before and when they’re outside of our general sexual boundaries.

I think that we need to be open to trying new things, even if they do seem kinky at first. After all, there are many things about which we were apprehensive before we tried them the first time and while some of these things we won’t end up liking, some of these things will end up being our favorite things we do.  Just because something is kinky isn’t a reason not to try it.  After all, things are only kinky the first time.  After that, it’s something just something that you’ve done before and maybe you liked it and maybe you didn’t.  But, there’s no way to know for sure until you try it.