Archive for the 'News' Category

News and Other Interesting Things

by Jason Stotts

1. Would the Candiru Fish Really Eat Your Genitals?

We’ve all heard the stories of “that fish” in the amazon that can even swim up your stream of urine and lodge itself in your urethra. But, is it true?

2. Are You Guilty of “Virtue-Signaling?”

Some people use moral outrage as a signal of their own virtue. This is a very interesting inquiry into this phenomenon and raises some very good questions.

3. The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb

This is something I’m definitely guilty of: I don’t always work hard enough to try to understand my interlocutors. It’s something I’m working on.

4. The Man Who Studies the Spread of Ignorance

Sometimes people try to purposefully spread misinformation to confuse issues. This is an interesting analysis of the phenomenon as well as a more general discussion of how people get information and form beliefs.

5. Objectivism vs. Anarchism 

Many people often assume that Objectivism is closely related to anarchism or is compatible with it. Harry Binswanger has an excellent article discussing why this isn’t the case.

6. The Rites of Manhood: Man’s Need for Ritual

Ritual is a way that we create meaning in life. When combined with a rational philosophy, it can help you to feel more meaning in your life.

News and Assorted Articles

by Jason Stotts

1. FDA Overturns 30-year Ban on Blood Donations by Gay Men

Well, sort of…

Yesterday, the FDA decided that gay men (or any men who have sex with men) are allowed to donate blood IF they have not had sex with a man in the last 12 months. I guess this is a step in the right direction, but given that tests can screen out any sort of STI’s (which not only men who have sex with men have, obviously), this is still a pretty thin attack on men who have sex with men.

2. Breasts No Longer Considered ‘Nude’, says AGLC

In Alberta Canada, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)  has ruled that breasts are no longer considered “nude”. Interesting.

3. Playboy’s Science Fiction

Did you know that Playboy magazine has a long history with the science fiction genre? Neither did I. This is a really interesting look at it.


by Jason Stotts

1. Circumcision May Cause Erectile Dysfunction

In case you needed one more reason to not mutilate your child.

Our new study published in the International Journal of Men’s Health showed that circumcised men have a 4.5 times greater chance of suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) than intact men, revealing what appears to be a significant acquisition factor. Robert S. Van Howe, M.D., M.S., FAAP and I found a surprisingly strong secondary finding between circumcision and ED in our survey of 300 participants (OR = 4.53, p=.0058). It was outside the scope of our article to delve deeper into this topic, but our finding does raise some questions: Are there other studies showing a similar connection? What could be the underlying cause?

Bollinger, D., & Van Howe, R. S. (2011). Alexithymia and circumcision trauma: A preliminary investigation. International Journal Of Men’s Health, 10(2), 184-195. doi:10.3149/jmh.1002.184

2. “Sex Offender” has Become an Absurdly Large Category

The number of things that people are calling “sex crimes” now has become absolutely absurd. The term “sex offender” should be reserved only for violent rape and pedophilia.

DAYTON — A Kettering woman convicted of promoting prostitution and labeled a sex offender after she drove a friend to what turned out to be a prostitution sting was granted judicial release after serving about seven months of an 18-month sentence. 

But Aimee Hart, 42, is continuing with an appeal of her fourth-degree felony conviction because she doesn’t believe she should have to register as a sex offender, which she did after she was released last month. Hart was found guilty during a December 2014 trial.

The Duke Porn Star

by Jason Stotts

I haven’t been writing as much as usual due to grad school (and working full time and finishing the book!), but I wanted to take a minute to say something about this current “scandal” about the Duke University freshman who is also a porn star.

I think it’s great that she is so secure in herself and her sexuality to be able to do porn and to enjoy her experience.  I also think it’s great that she’s given serious thought to her financial future and hasn’t saddled herself with more debt than she could expect to pay back in her lifetime.  Far from being a victim and exploited, I think she’s doing the right thing with her life and I expect that she will go on to live a healthy and happy life.

I don’t know your name, young porn star, but good luck! At least this section of the blogosphere is rooting for you!

h/t XOJane



The Rest of the Bettie Page Photo Shoot

by Jason Stotts

Have you ever seen the full Bettie Page photoshoot?  What about the nudes?

NSFW – The ‘Illegal’ Bettie Page Photos We Almost Never Saw (NSFW)

News and Interesting Links

by Jason Stotts

1. How Tisha Schuller went from environmental activist to industry champion

The very interesting account of one woman’s complete reversal on a very controversial issue.  For more real information about fracking, visit Alex Epstein’s Center for Industrial Progress at:

2. Pennsylvania Fracking Study Shows Chemicals Did Not Contaminate Water

On a related note: fracking does not contaminate water.

A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

3. At Supreme Court, victories for gay marriage

I should have blogged about this a month ago, but I was in Yosemite and I didn’t have any internet for a week.  This is a very wonderful and important step forward to treating gays and bisexuals as real people with real rights.

* Note: please don’t say “gay marriage,” the issue is really about same-sex marriage.  Also, every time you say “gay marriage” a bisexual disappears.

In striking down a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the court declared that gay couples married in states where it is legal must receive the same federal health, tax, Social Security and other benefits that heterosexual couples receive.

In turning away a case involving California’s prohibition of same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, the justices left in place a lower court’s decision that the ban is unconstitutional. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said he would order same-sex marriages to resume as quickly as possible.

4. Same-sex marriage becomes law in England and Wales

It’s nice to see that common human rights are being extended to same sex couples all around the world.

5. President’s family costs US 20 times what royal family costs UK

I knew Obama saw himself as royalty, I just didn’t know that he was costing us 20 times what the royal family costs! And that doesn’t even take into account the terrible effects he’s having on the economy.

6. 2 naked women caught swimming in ocean in Myrtle Beach, police say

It’s a good thing we caught these two criminal women who dared to want to swim naked in the ocean!  How dare they show their shameful bodies at midnight with no one around!  It is an affront to magical sky-friend!

But really, this is another instance of why it is so important that the law explicitly be for the protection of individual rights; because where there is no victim, there can be no crime.

7. When Lettuce Was a Sacred Sex Symbol

I just had no idea:

Lettuce has been harvested for millenia—it was depicted by ancient Egyptians on the walls of tombs dating back to at least 2,700 B.C. The earliest version of the greens resembled two modern lettuces: romaine, from the French word “romaine” (from Rome), and cos lettuce, believed to have been found on the island of Kos, located along the coast of modern day Turkey.

But in Ancient Egypt around 2,000 B.C., lettuce was not a popular appetizer, it was an aphrodisiac, a phallic symbol that represented the celebrated food of the Egyptian god of fertility, Min. (It is unclear whether the lettuce’s development in Egypt predates its appearance on the island of Kos.) The god, often pictured with an erect penis in wall paintings and reliefs was also known as the “great of love” as he is called in a text from Edfu Temple. The plant was believed to help the god “perform the sexual act untiringly.”

See also: The Lettuce of my Heart

8. Sex Addiction Does Not Appear To Be A Disorder, UCLA Study Says

I’ve long thought that the paradigm of addiction is completely the wrong way to think about issues regarding sex. This study shows that there are important neural differences between how the brain responds to this “addiction” and real chemical addictions.

The study involved 39 men and 13 women who reported having problems controlling their viewing of sexual images. UCLA scientist Nicole Prause and her colleagues monitored the volunteers’ brains while showing them erotic images.

“If they indeed suffer from hypersexuality, or sexual addiction, their brain response to visual sexual stimuli could be expected to be higher, in much the same way that the brains of cocaine addicts have been shown to react to images of the drug in other studies,” a UC press release on the study explained.

And yet, that did not happen. Instead of being caused by an actual disorder, hypersexuality may be a result of having a high libido, Prause said.

See also: Marty Klein‘s excellent essay “Why “Sexual Addiction” Is Not A Useful Diagnosis — And Why It Matters

9. Online pornography to be blocked by default, PM announces

In an ever-escalating battle with the US to see who can curtail the most rights of their citizens, the United Kingdom is planning on censoring the internet to block pornography. At first, it will simply be something that can be turned off (if you can figure out how).  Unfortunately, censorship always comes in small steps and must be resisted on principle. Once we have censorship, you can be damned sure the next thing to go will be criticisms of the government and rights immediately after.  Tyranny never arrives all at once.

10. Bono: Only Capitalism Can End Poverty

I never thought I’d be saying this, but Bono understands economics.

11. CDC Study Ordered by Obama Contradicts White House Anti-gun Narrative

Guns are just tools: they can be used to in self-defense or to commit crimes.  Luckily, most people are good and gun usage in our culture is primarily for good purposes, contra what anti-gun activists would tell you:

Obama had announced at the beginning of the year his push for three major gun control initiatives — universal background checks, a ban on “assault weapons,” and a ban on “high-capacity” magazines — to prevent future mass shootings, no doubt hoping that the CDC study would oblige him by providing evidence that additional gun control measures were justified to reduce gun violence. On the contrary, that study refuted nearly all the standard anti-gun narrative and instead supported many of the positions taken by gun ownership supporters.

For example, the majority of gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010 were due to suicide and not criminal violence:

“Between the years 2000-2010 firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearms related violence in the United States.”

In addition, defensive use of guns “is a common occurrence,” according to the study:

“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.”

Accidental deaths due to firearms has continued to fall as well, with “the number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents account[ing] for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”



Ayn Rand’s Anthem to Play in New York

by Jason Stotts


It’s no secret that Ayn Rand is one of my favorite authors and philosophers.  So, imagine my excitement when I found out that one of my favorite of her books is being made into a play!  Jeff Britting, who I first met  back in my interns days at ARI, has taken Anthem and adapted it for the stage.  Anthem is a really great book and is easily readable and the message is very easy to understand.  I don’t want to say too much about the story, because it’s a great story and it’s best to experience it yourself, but it’s set in a dystopian collectivist ideal world.

If you’re in New York, go see this play!  I would recommend reading the book first to really understand the play, but I’m sure it’ll be good either way. The website for the play is:

The press release is below:



Contact: Miller Wright / Justin Garascia at (212) 977-7800


The Austin Shakespeare theatre company will present the New York premiere of Ayn Rand’s novel ANTHEM. Adapted for the stage by composer Jeff Britting, archives curator for the Ayn Rand Institute, the production is to be directed by Ann Ciccolella, artistic director of the Austin Shakespeare theatre company. Previews are to begin September 25at the Jerome Robbins Theater at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City—opening October 4 for a limited ten-week run through December 1, 2013

ANTHEM is the story of a young man, EQUALITY 7-2521, who is born into a future world that has banished all individuality. Not satisfied with a world lighted by candles, EQUALITY fosters his love of discovery in an abandoned subway, a relic of the past. In solitude, EQUALITY rediscovers electricity and a new source of light. Above ground he meets and falls in love with LIBERTY 5-3000, committing a further “sin of preference.”

Originally conceived as a play while Rand was a Soviet university student, ANTHEM the book was written in America in the summer of 1937, during a break Rand took from the writing of her novel The Fountainhead. ANTHEM was published in England in 1938. Since its full American publication in 1961, the work has sold more than 5 million copies. As reported in 2010, ANTHEM was the most popular adult novel checked out of the New York Public Library system. The novel remains a favorite among youth and is the subject of the most popular high school essay contest in the world, with more than 19,000 entries annually. ANTHEM’s Off-Broadway staging coincides with the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the novel’s publication.

The principle ethical-political issue in ANTHEM—and of our time—is individualism versus collectivism.

Is the individual the primary element of society, or is the group the basis of society? The play poses the questions: Do individuals have the right to think and choose their own goals in life—and pursue their own happiness? Or do the wishes of society determine the goals of individual lives—and is service to others the primary moral obligation among men?

When Austin Shakespeare produced Jeff Britting’s adaptation of Ayn Rand’s ANTHEM in 2011, the show generated sold-out and added performances.  Theatergoers came from other parts of the United States and abroad, and audiences were intrigued enough to participate in lively post-show discussions. Austin Shakespeare looks forward to the transfer engagement Off-Broadway at the Baryshnikov Arts Center which will comprise an entirely New York City-based cast. With a background very involved in music, Mr. Britting has incorporated a unique underscore throughout the production, making it an innovative theatrical experience for the limited ten-week engagement.

Ann Ciccolella is artistic director for the Austin Shakespeare theatre company, Ann has directed: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Noel Coward’s Design for Living, Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman, and Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart. Also Shakespeare’s: Macbeth, Much Ado about Nothing, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale and a Bollywood-inspired Twelfth Night for Austin Shakespeare in the Park. As a director at Zachary Scott Theatre, Ann directed: Cabaret, The Vagina Monologues, Full Gallop, Closer, Master Class, and Misery. Also for the annual Summer Musical in Zilker Park, she staged Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Other Austin directing credits include: Hedda Gabler, and Other People’s Money, as well as productions of her scripts as a playwright. Before moving to Austin, Ann served as associate director for Shakespeare on Wheels, from the University of Maryland Baltimore County for three years. For ten years, she led the Renaissance Theater Company as artistic director, producing and directing in New York and along the East Coast with shows ranging from Oedipus Rex to Cyrano de Bergerac. A frequent guest lecturer at the University of Texas department of Theatre and Dance, Ann is a graduate of NYU in dramatic literature, history of theater and cinema.

Austin Shakespeare is the only professional classical theater company in Central Texas. A nonprofit professional theater company, Austin Shakespeare operates under an Actors Equity Small Professional Theater contract.  A Resident Company of the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin Shakespeare presents a season of plays by Shakespeare and other playwrights. This season includes The Belle of Amherst, based on the life of Emily Dickinson, and Shakespeare’s Othello and As You Like It.

Jeff Britting is the archives curator for the Ayn Rand Institute. He holds a B.A. degree in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, where he attended the university’s first course on Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. He is the author of Ayn Rand, a biography in the Overlook Illustrated Lives Series published by The Overlook Press in February 2005. His essays “Adapting Anthem: Projects That Were and Might Have Been,” and “Anthem and the ‘Individualist Manifesto’” are included in Essays on Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”, edited by Robert Mayhew (Lexington Books in 2005). He associate-produced Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, a 1997 Academy Award Nominee for Best Documentary Feature. He managed the Ayn Rand Archives from 1997 through 2011, when he began the first systematic preservation and arrangement of its Ayn Rand Papers and special collections. Mr. Britting also associate produced and composed the incidental music for the first stage production of Rand’s play Ideal. His special interests are music and drama.

ANTHEM  starts previews September 25 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Jerome Robbins Theater in New York City. Opening on October 4 Anthem will run through December 1, 2013. Tickets will be available through: or through Ovation Tickets at 866-811-4111. The Baryshnikov Arts Center is located at 450 W 37th St between 9th&10th Avenues. Ticket prices range from $50-$69.

RIP: Exodus International

by Jason Stotts

I never thought I’d see the day when a christian group as ignorant and bigoted as Exodus International would close its doors.  But, happily, today is that day:

The leader of a large Christian ministry that claims to offer a “cure” for homosexuality apologized to the LGBT community and announced on Wednesday that the organization is shutting down.

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, announced the decision on the group’s website and issued a formal apology, saying he was “profoundly sorry” for the pain some within the organization caused.

The group was founded in 1976 and now has more than 200 branches, churches and counselors, according to NBC News. Those within the group claimed people could overcome homosexuality through prayer and therapy.

But psychiatric and medical groups have said that the movement, also known as reparative therapy, is unfounded in science and can be harmful, NBC reported. The American Psychiatric Association said 15 years ago that the therapy could cause depression, anxiety and self-depressive behavior in patients. (US News)

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas like christianity ruin lives, while good ideas make the world better.  It’s this kind of thing that should be motivation for us to continue the good fight and to realize that real change is possible in our lifetimes if we work hard enough.