Tag Archives: sex

Best Of The Week

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Apologies to my readers for the lack of posts these past couple of weeks. I’m moving to London for grad school this weekend, so it’s been difficult to keep up with the blog, but mostly because I didn’t want to do a half-ass job for all of you who regularly keep up with Left and Center. I’m not sure what this blog will look like when I live in London. School will take up a considerable amount of my time, and the time-change will undoubtedly be an obstacle. What I imagine happening is that I’ll shift from a number of posts per day to one or two longer ones.

But back to the matter at hand. It’s been one hell of a week for news, and while I wish I could have written more, I’m happy about what’s been put out. The most popular post of the week was my reaction to where we now stand in regards to Syria: A Better Solution. Close behind in terms of traffic was my breakdown of Russian President Vladimir “KGB” Putin’s op-Ed in the New York Times, Putin, Troll.

Other popular posts (mostly because they were the only posts!) included The Astonishingly Bad Arguments For Another Middle-East War; Could This Kerry Gaffe Save Us From Another Middle-East War?; and, but of course, Forget The Pill, Meet The Pullout Generation.

Back soon.

Publius

(Photo: via wikicommons)

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A Better Solution

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In the march towards a congressional vote on military action in Syria, one thing became glaringly obvious: the Obama administration had run out of options, and leverage. Maybe Secretary of State John Kerry sensed it and knew exactly what he was doing when he offered Syria an olive branch on Monday. The terms were (and are) simple: give up your chemical weapons stockpiles. We don’t know if this was a strategic plan by Kerry, but we do know that it was accepted almost immediately by both Russia and Syria, and has become a far better solution to this whole saga than anything previous.

Military intervention was meant for one (double) reason only: deter the future use of chemical weapons, and make sure Assad can’t do this again. It was never meant to remove Assad from power, or substantially help the opposition — that would be “war”, according to the Obama administration. What this proposal from Russia/Syria/Kerry does is put these weapons under the control of the international arena — presumably some UN agency — therefore accounting for both deterrence and Assad’s capability to use chemical weapons. If the Obama administration has been honest all along, and chemical weapons have been the first and only reason to act, it couldn’t have worked out better.

Many are pointing out that, “we’re relying on Russia and Syria to carry this out? Fat chance.” They have a point. Maybe the plan will never be realized; but it’s still a better option than military intervention. Russia’s acceptance of the plan means we may see a Security Council resolution affirming this proposal — something that’s been missing all along. Russia wont veto a resolution they themselves proposed, and I doubt China would want to be the lone state standing in the way of a diplomatic solution.

Another pessimistic — but possible — take is that Assad will never agree to go through with this. Having chemical weapons is not an insignificant thing in the grander scheme of regional power politics, where Assad has to keep one eye on neighbors like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel, who want nothing more than a regime change in Damascus.

But even if Assad balks, the entire paradigm of this conflict has been altered for the better. If the United States feels forced to attack Syria if the proposal fails, they’ll probably do so with a UN resolution and a greater number of allies behind them — both pipe dreams on September 8. And if by chance Assad agrees to whatever the proposal ends up being, the U.S. will have averted a war, saved face, and accounted for Syria’s chemical weapons. Win-win-win.

On September 8, the United States stood completely alone. Domestic support was horrendous; the backing of the Security Council (and NATO) was nonexistent; Russia was becoming more vocal and dangerous; Iran was threatening retribution; and even Britain pulled support.

How strange would it be, then, if a simple gaffe by John Kerry ended up preventing another Middle-East war?

(Photo: Chair. Joint Chiefs)

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Forget The Pill, Meet The Pullout Generation

Suprise Yr Pregnant

Over at the Cut, Ann Friedman has a really great piece introducing us to something she calls the “pullout generation”, where large numbers of women — usually in their 30’s — are using the old school pullout method as their primary means of birth control:

These women describe a deliberate transition from the pill to the pullout. They buy organic kale and all-natural cleaning products, and so can’t quite get down with taking synthetic hormones every day. They are more driven by sexual pleasure — they see orgasms as a right, not a privilege — and hate the feel of condoms. They wouldn’t call themselves porn aficionados or anything, but they don’t think it’s demeaning to have a man come on them. They’re sick of supposedly egalitarian relationships in which they bear the sole responsibility for staying baby-free. They’re scared to stick an IUD up there, no matter how many rave reviews the devices get. And despite the fact that non-hormonal contraceptive options remain frustratingly limited, there are new tools at their disposal: With period-tracker apps, charting your menstrual cycle is no longer the domain of hippies and IVF patients. They know when to make him put on a condom. Plus, they can keep a packet of Plan B on hand at all times, ready and waiting should anything go awry.

Far be it for me to advise women how to go about not getting pregnant, but if you’re one of the women who prefers the pullout method, just know that you’re playing with fire — and by fire I mean you’re putting way too much trust and credit in the hands of your male counterpart, who probably has the tendency to forget what to do when the end draws near. If you’re totally certain that you don’t want to have a baby right now, the pullout method should rank pretty low (and I mean at the bottom) on your list of acceptable birth control regimens.

(Photo: Anthony Easton)

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Best Of The Week

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I feel like in years to come, we’ll look back on events this week and wonder what we could have done, or argued, differently. I don’t know what will happen if we intervene in Syria. No one can know something like that. What I rely on instead is what little I know about regional history, past military interventions, sectarian violence and the great fallacy that is international law. But despite my furious objection to intervention, my heart breaks that so many innocent people have died — and will die. In a perfect world, we could act as guardian protectors for all those who cannot protect themselves. Provide justice from above. But this isn’t a comic book, and limited air strikes won’t make a bit of difference in the rate of death, turmoil and despair in that poor country. What will happen, I fear, is that we’ll be sucked into another war.

That means more death. More suffering. That’s what I’m opposing.

The most popular post of the week — unsurprisingly — was one of my many pieces on the subject: Syria Is Not Iraq. It’s Much Worse.

Other notable posts included Republicans Were Invited To Attend And Speak At MLK Ceremony. They Didn’t Show Up.; Did The Worst Chemical Weapons Attack In Decades Just Happen In Syria?; the hilariously contentious Starbucks Is Better Than Your Local Coffee Shop. Deal With It.; The Arguments For (And Against) Intervention In Syria; and finally, Boomers, Ye Be Warned: Millennials Are Not Anti-Politics.

More after the holiday.

Publius

(Photo: Chair. Joint Chiefs of Staff)

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Quote For The Day: “Exhumations”

What happened downtown / Los Angeles

“To live sanely in Los Angeles (or, I suppose, in any other large American city) you have to cultivate the art of staying awake. You must learn to resist (firmly but not tensely) the unceasing hypnotic suggestions of the radio, the billboards, the movies and the newspapers; those demon voices which are forever whispering in your ear what you should desire, what you should fear, what you should wear and eat and drink and enjoy, what you should think and do and be. They have planned a life for you – from the cradle to the grave and beyond – which it would be easy, fatally easy, to accept. The least wandering of the attention, the least relaxation of your awareness, and already the eyelids begin to droop, the eyes grow vacant, the body starts to move in obedience to the hypnotist’s command. Wake up, wake up – before you sign that seven-year contract, buy that house you don’t really want, marry that girl you secretly despise. Don’t reach for the whisky, that won’t help you. You’ve got to think, to discriminate, to exercise your own free will and judgment. And you must do this, I repeat, without tension, quite rationally and calmly. For if you give way to fury against the hypnotists, if you smash the radio and tear the newspapers to shreds, you will only rush to the other extreme and fossilize into defiant eccentricity.”

Christopher Isherwood, from Exhumations.

(Photo: Ryan Vaarsi)

Hat tip: Matt Sitman

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Best Of The Week

Relaxing at Venice Beach

It’s nearly the end of our first summer here on Left and Center, and we’ve quickly realized that August does indeed bring with it amazingly slow news-days. But I hope you’ll agree we still found some important things to discuss on this little blog.

The most popular post of the week doubled as one large capitulation from your Editor, one which I did not anticipate writing: Glenn Greenwald Vindicated, Surveillance State Out Of Control.

Other well-liked pieces included some baffling news out of the South, Louisiana Republicans Unsure If Obama Was More To Blame For Katrina Response Than Bush; our coverage of some seriously harrowing news from the Middle East, Did The Worst Chemical Attack In Decades Just Happen In Syria?; Two Opposing Views Of Bradley Manning’s 35 Year Sentence; a very welcome Study Which Finds That The More Sex You Have, The More Money You Make; and finally, the absurd fact that in the U.S., We Subsidize Religions To The Tune Of $83.5 Billion A Year.

Thanks for checking in, as always.

Publius

(Photo: Rafael Amado Deras)

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Quote For The Day: “Is It Real?”

Grainy Toy Rabbit-- Still Shot

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

(Photo: Alyssa L. Miller)

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Study Finds That The More Sex You Have, The More Money You Make

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According to a new study from the Institute for the Study of Labor at the University of Bonn, if you’re getting laid, you’re probably getting paid too:

We estimate that there is a monotonic relationship between the frequency of sexual activity and wage returns, whilst the returns to sexual activity are higher for those between 26 and 50 years of age. In addition, heterosexuals’ sexual activity does not seem to provide higher or lower wage returns than that of homosexuals, but wages are higher for those health-impaired employees who are sexually active. Over-identification tests, robustness checks, falsification tests, as well as, decomposition analysis and sample selection modelling enhance the study’s strength. Contemporary social analysis suggests that health, cognitive and non-cognitive skills and personality are important factors that affect the wage level. Sexual activity may also be of interest to social scientists, since sexual activity is considered to be a barometer for health, quality of life, well-being and happiness.

Now, the study is limited to the Greek population in 2008, so I guess keep that in mind. But if the Greeks are — and there’s no reason they shouldn’t be — reflective of the rest of humankind, then the results do indeed correlate that sex and wages rise together. None of this means that if you just get laid more, you’ll make more — you still have to put in the work. But if you want to be happier — happiness leads to more productivity, and more productivity leads to more money — why not work on those old pick-up lines again?

Ahem .. hello, ladies.

(Photo: Via Wikicommons)

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Best Of The Week

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The most popular posts of the week both had to do with the saddening swell of violence and terror in Egypt this week: Violence Erupts In Egypt — Reactions & Analysis, and my follow up piece Egypt Quickly Descending Into Hell.

Other highly circulated pieces included Californians Use Less Electricity Than Everyone Else — Here’s Why; our brutal and effective Photo Of The Day: “Not All Violence Is Physical”; and whether or not it’s time to mark The End Of The Art Gallery?

Just a few recommendations, in case you missed them: Is Washington In A Post-Policy Moment?; my thoughts on why Obama’s Economic Approval Rating is so terribly dismal; Here’s How Little The Public Knows About The Deficit; and a small defense of Edward Snowden, Time To Give Credit Where Credit Is Due.

For good measure, also check out Rep. Steve King’s latest racist rant. Good luck with that Hispanic vote.

See ya!

Publius

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Best of the Week

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I’ll be away for the weekend — taking a little vacation to celebrate my brother’s upcoming wedding — so we’re rounding up a bit early this time. The most popular post of the week was Some Russian Perspective for the American LBGT Community.

Other selected posts included The Economy of Low Expectations, Ben Stein Really Wants You To Appreciate Richard Milhous Nixon, Hawaii To Offer Its Homeless Population One-Way Tickets Back To The Mainland, Manning Found Not Guilty Of “Aiding The Enemy”, and finally the expected but still mind boggling Republicans Reject Obama’s “Grand Bargain” Tax Proposal Sight Unseen.

Thanks for reading, more next week.

Publius

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Best Of The Week

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The most popular post of the week — and consequently the most read post during any week long stretch — was my polemic against our president and his plan to arm Syrian rebel groups, entitled Buckle Up America, We’re About To Enter Another War.

Other popular posts included the Latest Conservative Plan To Derail Obamacare The Most Sinister Yet, a funny but important report which found that Only Old People Watch Fox News Anymore, the unfortunate but expected details exposed in Rep. Steve King, Cantaloupe Calves, And The GOP’s White Racial Panic, my defense of centrism in Does “The Center” Still Exist, and finally in response to the inane hoopla surrounding the birth of a baby, I lamented American awe of the British House of Windsor in A Royal Fetishization.

See you all Monday!

Publius

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Porn On Demand

PM talks to staff at Quinton RCC

David Cameron picked the perfect time — while everyone was fixated on a certain baby — to unveil a really weird, sweeping piece of legislation throughout Britain where citizens will be unable to access online pornography, unless they give up their ISPs and ask the government for the privilege. For Cameron, the campaign is all about “how we protect our children and their innocence”:

The fact is that the growth of the internet as an unregulated space has thrown up 2 major challenges when it comes to protecting our children. The first challenge is criminal and that is the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet. The second challenge is cultural; the fact that many children and viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very early age and that the nature of that pornography is so extreme it is distorting their view of sex and relationships.

The first challenge I can buy, although I’m not sure that it’s enough of a problem to warrant a sweeping bill of censorship. As for the second challenge, Britain must have a real problem of children watching porn, but again, is censorship the only viable solution left?

Oliver Wright breaks down the plan:

Under his proposals, by the end of next year all households will have to “opt out” of automatic porn filters, which would come as standard with internet broadband and cover all devices in a house. Possession of the most extreme forms of adult pornography will become an offence, while online content will have the same restrictions as DVDs sold in sex shops. To tackle child abuse images, search engines have been told they will have to redact results from specific searches, while anyone accessing websites shut down by the police for containing such images will see a message warning them that what they were doing was illegal.

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Best Of The Week

Trayvon Martin shooting protest 2012 Shankbone 5

Sorry it’s taken until the end of the day on Sunday for your weekly installment of Best Of The Week, but just like Bukowski, “my ambition is handicapped by my laziness”.

Unsurprisingly, most popular post of the week — and in terms of traffic, ever — was my initial reaction to the Zimmerman Trial verdict, Not Guilty, followed by Cato’s Got Jury Duty? Consider This, the rather unkind polemic Liz Cheney Really Is The Worst Thing In The World, and my take on the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history Here’s Why Detroit Failed: Reactions And Analysis.

Some other popular posts were UCLA Study Finds That Sex Addiction Is Not A Disease, The Moral Dilemma Of Abortion, and finally Does Culture Make A Difference For P.T.S.D In Soldiers?.

(photo by D. Shankbone)

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UCLA Study Finds That Sex Addiction Is Not A Disease: You’re Just Horny!

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I have two so-called “controversial” theories that people have actually gotten angry with me over. The first is that obesity is not an illness — you just like eating. The second is that sex-addiction is the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard — you’re just horny.

UCLA just proved my second theory right:

Actors Tiger Woods, Russell Brand and David Duchovny all blamed their copious amounts of sex on a disorder: sex addition.

But UCLA researchers say sex addiction does not appear to be a disorder, according to their study, which appears in the current online edition of the journal Socioaffective Neuroscience and Psychology.

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.

According to CBS, “sex-addiction” affects 16 million Americans. Well now it affects zero Americans because it’s not a real thing. Hurray science!

Here’s the actual abstract for you nerds:

“Modulation of sexual desires is, in some cases, necessary to avoid inappropriate or illegal sexual behavior (downregulation of sexual desire) or to engage with a romantic partner (upregulation of sexual desire). Some have suggested that those who have difficulty downregulating their sexual desires be diagnosed as having a sexual “addiction”. This diagnosis is thought to be associated with sexual urges that feel out of control, high-frequency sexual behavior, consequences due to those behaviors, and poor ability to reduce those behaviors. However, such symptoms also may be better understood as a non-pathological variation of high sexual desire. Hypersexuals are thought to be relatively sexual reward sensitized, but also to have high exposure to visual sexual stimuli. Thus, the direction of neural responsivity to sexual stimuli expected was unclear. If these individuals exhibit habituation, their P300 amplitude to sexual stimuli should be diminished; if they merely have high sexual desire, their P300 amplitude to sexual stimuli should be increased. Neural responsivity to sexual stimuli in a sample of hypersexuals could differentiate these two competing explanations of symptoms.”

(photo by flickr user Jean Koulev)

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Best Of The Week On Left And Center

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It was quite a heavy week of reporting here on Left and Center, but we gladly stayed away from writing anything about the Zimmerman Trial, and instead focused on the news. As always, the vast majority of the traffic went to the homepage, which is what I always intended with this blog.

Your favorite posts from this past week were a Massacre In Cairo: One Step Closer To Civil War, my polemic against Republican inaction and indifference titled Conservatives Don’t Give A Damn About Governing, Cato’s timely piece written more than a week past about Why The Farm Bill Mattered, my take on the importance and difficulties in Comprehending Evil, and a rather distressing and callous story out of one of our more tiny states where Iowa’s All-Male Supreme Court Says It’s OK To Fire A Woman If You Really Want To Sleep With Her.

Other notable posts included Koch Brothers To Launch Huge Misinformation Campaign Against Obamacare, my argument of the vital and usually overlooked impact of labeling something as what it is in Edward Snowden And The Difference Between Prosecution And Persecution, some thoughts regarding a really groundbreaking yet controversial college financing plan entitled Everything You Need To Know About Oregon’s “Pay It Forward” College Program, and finally our double dose of wonkish charts: the first showing that the U.S. Is Ranked 28th In Health Care Outcomes, and the second proving Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of Flying, Ever.

A wonderful weekend to you, dear reader. More on Monday.

Publius

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