An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

December 26, 2008

Snowmen Gone Wild

Filed under: funny — Tags: — Ethan @ 3:32 pm

This is utterly off-topic, but I did really enjoy the Smithsonian’s history of snowmen as pop-cultural icons for smoking, drinking and advertising laxatives. Be sure to check out the accompanying photo gallery for plenty of images of happy children assaulting snow-cops. Consider this my official holiday post.

h/t Boingboing.

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May 29, 2008

Good PR Indeed

After decades of running of being a terrible magazine, perennial Mad Magazine imitator Cracked has metamorphosed  into a sometimes funny, sometimes annoying web publication. Check out their 6 Most Badass Stunts Ever Pulled in the Name of Science, or at least the first page. No. 5, “Drs. Warren and Barry Marshall Drink Stomach-Eating Germs,” is one of my favorite semi-apocryphal science stories, second only to the laboratory urban legend about the undergrad who inadvertently overfilled an autoclave with still-frozen severed monkey heads.

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May 28, 2008

Newsflash

Filed under: funny,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Ethan @ 9:53 pm

Making cyborg monkeys that can perform complex tasks via robotic arms wired directly into their brains is NOT OK. Not only are these folks going to have PETA all up on their asses, eventually the monkeys themselves will take their terrible revenge. Consider this your preemptive ‘I told you so.’

Via Boing Boing.

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May 17, 2008

The Right Wing Says Soy Makes You Gay

Thanks to Bria for sending this my way. The article is old, but it’s some pretty amazing fear-mongering from a popular right-wing news blog thing. I’d never heard of ‘em before, but Wikipedia says it’s big. The guy says he’s warning parents about the risks of endocrine disrupters, but he gets it all wrong. For starters, apparently soy foods are the only source of estrogen mimics out there. Not biphenol-a, not DDT, not whatever DES might still be floating around out there. Just soy. Take a look:

Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That’s why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today’s rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products. (Most babies are bottle-fed during some part of their infancy, and one-fourth of them are getting soy milk!) Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t homosexual.” No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can’t remember a time when excess estrogen wasn’t influencing them.

So, what is all that hippy food doing to our children? He mentions the toll endocrine disruptor can do to one’s fertility, and the sharp uptick in cancer amongst people who have been exposed to synthetic estrogens (not naturally-occurring phytoestrogens, like those in soy) early in life. But all of that pales in comparison to the fear of effeminizing little boys. And, apparently, here’s not difference between beingintersex, being a ‘feminine male’ and being gay. No matter that the assertion that gay men have a testosterone deficiency/estrogen surplus was disproved the moment someone developed a handy way to test hormone levels. Giving gay men extra testosterone just makes them want to have more gay sex, since testosterone tends to up your sex drive.

Honestly, I couldn’t stomach reading all 5 parts. I have a short attention span, and I’d need to artificially extend it to wade through all that psudoscience. Plus I can’t even figure out who this guy’s misinterpreting, because all his citation either lead back to the home page of the site, or to a 404 error. Which I guess says it all.

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May 8, 2008

Global Warming Smackdown

Filed under: energy and climate change,funny,Uncategorized — Tags: — Ethan @ 8:58 pm

From the Wired Science blog, a group of climate scientists recently challenged their competition to a bet. On Realclimate.org, a group of 6 global warming believers offered 2500 Euros to the authors of a recent Nature paper if, by 2010, their global cooling hypothesis pans out. There was some serious smack talking in the offer:

That this cooling would just be a temporary blip and would change nothing about global warming goes without saying and has been amply discussed elsewhere (e.g. here). But another question has been rarely discussed: will this forecast turn out to be correct? We think not – and we are prepared to bet serious money on this. We have double-checked with the authors: they say they really mean this as a serious forecast, not just as a methodological experiment. If the authors of the paper really believe that their forecast has a greater than 50% chance of being correct, then they should accept our offer of a bet; it should be easy money for them. If they do not accept our bet, then we must question how much faith they really have in their own forecast.

I hope they take ‘em up on it. If the future of the Earth isn’t enough to keep your interest, maybe a large-sum professional wager can do it.

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Cocktail Party Bibliography: The Homophobia Study

Filed under: feminism,funny,gender,Uncategorized — Tags: , — Ethan @ 7:53 pm

For years now,  the UGA homopobia study has been one of my favorite pieces of social science, but I’ve never bothered looking it up before. A friend of mine’s dad worked on it, so I first got the rundown from her. Now, I’d like to sum it up for you, and give y’all the citation for the original article in case you want to look it up. I think I’ll do this from time to time, post a review/summary of a study I love or hate.

Long story short, this study looked at homopohbia in men, and asked the question we’ve all been thinking: are homophobic guys secretly into men?

The short answer is yes.

The researchers took a number of men (all white; I assume they didn’t want to bother controlling for cultural differences) who described themselves as fully heterosexual in preference and experience. They had the subjects fill out a questionnaire which asked them how they’d feel if they found out various people around them were gay, if a guy were to hit on them, etc. Using the results of that questionnaire, they chose  2  study group:  35  men who  were  homophobic, and a control group of  29  who did not have negative  emotional responses to  homosexuality.

Then, the hooked their volunteers up to a plethysmograph (a loop that fits around the penis and measures changes in its circumfrence, as a proxy for sexual arousal) and showed them porn. Both groups had similar responses to straight porn and lesbian porn, but there was a distinct gap in the way they responded to gay male porn.

The non-homophobic men were pretty bereft of hard-ons, with 66% having ‘insignificant’ arousal. Out of the remaining third, 10% were moderately aroused, and 24% had definite boners.

The homophobic men were much more into it. A mere 20% of them had insignificant changes in their penis metrics, while 26% were moderately aroused and a whopping 54% were definitely turned on. That’s some serious statistical significance.

What’s better, when the participants were asked later which videos had aroused them, all participants gave answers that matched the peter-meter measurements, with one major exception: the homophobic men consistently underestimated their response to the gay porn. Either they were lying, or they were in enough denial to not notice they  were turned on despite having their pants around their ankles and a bonerometer on their dicks. You be the judge.

Now, before the gloating goes too far, there’s a couple of points I want to cover. It’s possible, though less likely, that the homophobic guys got hard-ons because the gay porn made them nervous, or because a bunch of them were exhibitionists. Also, the study tells us noting about homophobic women. And lastly, I’d be interested in seeing a breakdown by religion–I want to know if people who are told by their clergy that gay folks are going to hell really internalize that message all the way to their crotches.

Anyway, I couldn’t find the article anywhere on the open web, so I’ll just give you the citation:

Henry Adams, Lester Wright Jr. & Bethany Lohr. “Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?”, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105 (1996), P. 440-445

Next time you find yourself arguing with a homophobe, you’ll have a handy trump card.
You can thanks me later.

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