December 31, 2010

December 24, 2010

December 17, 2010

December 15, 2010

Not That I'm Cynical

Another appropriation from Information Is Beautiful (mouseover for punchline):

December 14, 2010

It's Like Rayayain On Your Wedding Day

This is an awesome opening gambit coming from a story on
The more someone claims to know, the less they generally do know. The problem is, the only thing worse than not having the right information, is walking around acting like you do.
So put that blackboard away, Glenn.

(The story itself is a collection of comma splices and non-sequitur platitudes that aim to dispel the "top nine myths about sex", and is barely worth talking about other than to complain about its comma splices and non-sequitur platitudes. Though I guess if you don't know "a wide variety in sexual appetite or level of libido exists" then you might want to check it out.)

December 10, 2010

December 09, 2010

The Answer Is: Yes

Is it just me, or does this headline sound like a line from a piece of modernist erotic poetry?

December 03, 2010

December 02, 2010

Grumble Grumble Grumble

From AOL ParentDish: Nothing Personal, Dad: Your Daughter's Not Calling Because She's Fertile
When a woman is, ya know, fertile, she wants a guy like Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp standing by.
This article is an exercise in exquisitely confusing use of innuendo. The "ya know" (thanks, Ms. Palin) and the italics around "fertile" (in the original, not my addition) seem to be suggesting that what the author really means here is "when a woman is horny". (That, and the mention of two sexalicious Hollywood hunkinators, both of whom are enough to make anybody fertile. Hubba hubba.)

On the face of things, then, I get it. Except that if you read on it turns out the author actually does mean fertile. Like, as in "able to conceive". So why the innuendo? Is it some kind of double-bluff? Is this author trying to cack-handedly inject "personality" into his writing in a lowest-common-denominator sort of way? Or is he just yet another example of somebody getting paid to say something interesting even though he doesn't have anything all that interesting to say, thus giving grist to the web's great Inane-o-Matic Content Generator?

Based on this next paragraph, I'm going to go with the latter.
Psychologists have already established how women appreciate manly faces, masculine voices and a certain amount of macho swagger when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest.
I'm sorry, when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest? What exactly does a frisky menstrual cycle look like? ("Oh, gee, honey, better get the leash! My menstrual cycle's trying to hump the mailbox again!")

Now, to transition from my predictable I-hate-mindless-blogging rant into my equally predictable I-hate-evolutionary-psychology rant. (Hidden after the jump, for those who don't care.)
…women appreciate manly faces, masculine voices and a certain amount of macho swagger when their menstrual cycles are at their friskiest.

It makes sense from a Darwinian perspective.

Now, a study out of the University of Miami says that's all true, except when the manly face and masculine voice belongs to the woman's father.
Oh, what a multitude of sins that single-sentence paragraph disguises! In this case, from a writerly perspective anyway, I actually have to hand it to the author for managing to boil down so many decades of dubious, pseudo-scientific theory into such a succinct seven words. Where to begin?

1. If you take as a starting point for your empirical experiment a concept like "masculine" — a word that can be defined as both "[objectively] relating to men" and "[subjectively] associated with how men should be" — then, duh, your results are going to be just a tiny bit fucking useless. What does it mean that an "average" woman is turned on by a picture of what a researcher deems a "masculine" face? From the strictest empirical point of view, the only thing you can definitively call a masculine face is one that belongs to a man; if you start imputing culturally contingent values of masculinity to subsets of those pictures, all you are really proving is that your test subjects and your test administrators share the same cultural values about what it means to be "manly". (Presumably if they'd conducted similar experiments a couple of hundred years ago, they would have concluded that women have a genetic preference for powdered wigs.)

2. This particular study was conducted by examining the cell phone records of forty-eight women over one billing period — and because women called their fathers less during the portion of that (one!) billing period that overlapped with the peak of their fertility, the researchers concluded that all women avoid their fathers when they're fertile. Never mind that the sort of woman who can call either of her parents' cell phones from her own cell phone is at best representative of a particular class of twenty-first century American family, and not (a) any other kind of contemporary family arrangement, or (b) the kind of evolutionary environment where this trait supposedly developed; never mind that this same study found that women in general talk less to their fathers on the phone anyway; never mind that there are a gazillion other potential reasons why a person might talk to another person more or less, fertile or not: this is clearly evidence that women are afraid of bangin' their dads.

3. Um, hello, can't you see that you are projecting a social taboo onto a putatively biological behaviour, here? Even if you could convince me that American women really do avoid their fathers when they're fertile, and that there's value in flattening human behaviour into biological imperatives like this — and you're not, at the moment — isn't it possible that years of anti-incest social conditioning have made women just feel plain awkward around their dads at the time of the month when they've supposedly got sex on the brain?


And now, finally, back to my I-hate-mindless-blogging rant:
Fertile women apparently avoid their dads like the plague. Literally.
"I'm sorry, Dad: either you talk to me from quarantine this week or you don't talk to me at all."