Friday, 26 April 2013

It Is Spring and I Am Fat

Yikes. It is cold out this morning. Below zero again. We have been having some beautiful warm weather but not this morning. A temporary setback, to be sure, but an unwelcome one.

The snow has gone on my father's side lawn and on Tess' front lawn. That made for yard work over the weekend. I got Dad's yard raked and cleaned up on Sunday and Tess' on Monday. Now I have to wait for more snow to melt and the lawns to dry up so I can get the rest. Dad is too old for that chore now so I guess I get to do two yards this year. That wouldn't be too bad except Dad's is half an acre. The rest of Tess' won't be a snap either. We had to dig up the front lawn to fix a broken water pipe last fall. Now all those rocks have to be picked out of the ground, it will have to be raked, top soil brought in and raked and then it will have to be seeded.  I am already tired just writing about it.

All the work simply made it clear that while it may be spring I am fat and out of shape. Five years ago I got all the excess weight off and was in my best shape in years, Now all that weight is on again. I need to get serious this year about getting it off. I am too old to be carrying this much weight and I figure I only have one more year in which I can exercise enough to get it off. The trouble is, I hate walking in the cold and ... see above. Regardless, it is time to get to it.

Sunday Tess and I were invited to my middle daughter Amy's for Easter dinner. Amy is a great cook and it was a lovely meal and a great time with my family. Amy makes the world's best gravy. I wanted to drink it but limited myself to putting it on the turkey and potatoes.

Monday evening we were invited to a friend of Tess' for dinner. A very nice steak BBQ. The women stayed inside and jabbered in their language - Eimee is also Filipino. Her husband and I sat on the deck and drank beer. Life was the way it was supposed to be.

Last night my parents decided they wanted steak also so I did a BBQ for them. It was even better than the previous night. Tonight they will get roasted rosemary blue potatoes and roasted chicken. I'll have toast and cottage cheese as I start a diet. Not really but I need to start cutting back on meals. I am fat ... see above.
Tess and I are off to the coast for three days on April 20. Her mother is coming back again for the summer and let me tell you, I am thrilled about that.

Her brother and his husband were supposed to bring Nanay up but that folded. Then her niece and her boyfriend were going to bring her up but that went by the wayside. Then her nephew and his girlfriend were going to bring her but, no, now they can't. So we do it again. It is amazing how Tess' family can never do anything and it is always up to us. Tess has told her Mom we are done! When it comes time for her to go back down to the coast either someone comes and gets her or she stays. We are finished. No more Mr. Nice Guy and Mrs. Nice Woman. Everyone does their part from now on or it won't get done.

It is time to get on with my day. I have to go to the dump. I have a truck full of leaves, needles, dead grass and other lawn litter to dispose of.

Just So Long As Somebody Dies

The culture of death is at it again.

Just as long as someone dies, it seems.

Pro-choice ‘Mob Mentality’ Culminates in Death Threats against North Dakota Governor and North Dakota Legislators

Amidst multiple threats of lawsuits in North Dakota, new threats have emerged. According to “Stand up for Women ND”, a Facebook group created to oppose the new abortion legislation and personhood amendment in North Dakota, Governor Dalrymple is receiving death threats from pro-abortion activists after signing three anti-abortion laws passed by the North Dakota House and Senate.

After posting several negative comments about Governor Dalrymple, Stand up for Women ND stated, “We have received word that Governor Dalrymple is receiving death threats.” The post went on to plead with supporters of the anti-life cause to cease the criminal threats, closing with “We want stoic, respectful solidarity or we will not be taken seriously.” At the time of this press release the page did not express any concern for the life and health of Governor Dalrymple.

The death threats against the North Dakota Governor and pro-life North Dakota legislators come on the heels of threats of lawsuits in the state. A Tuesday article from RH Reality Check began by stating, “If the idea of long and expensive legal battles was supposed to dissuade North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple from signing into law some of the country’s most restrictive abortion measures, it didn’t work.”

Prior to the signing of the three anti-abortion bills, and prior to the passage of SCR 4009, a personhood amendment that will appear on the 2014 ballot, threats of a Planned Parenthood / ACLU lawsuit were rampant. Referencing millions of dollars in legal fees paid to Planned Parenthood in other states, the Grand Forks Herald ran an article acknowledging that a Planned Parenthood lawsuit could cost millions of dollars to taxpayers.

“Abortion is an act of violence against women and children, so death threats from pro-choice enthusiasts are not surprising,” stated Jennifer Mason, Personhood USA Spokesperson. “It seems that Planned Parenthood and the ACLU hope to deter any and all restrictions to abortion with the threat of multi-million dollar lawsuits - despite the fact that they already receive millions of dollars in taxpayer money.  Planned Parenthood exacts a terrible toll from women - their health, the lives of their children, and more – not to mention that if they file lawsuits in North Dakota they could be costing millions in additional taxpayer dollars. US citizens are fed up with paying Planned Parenthood."

Personhood USA decries all violence – in the womb or out of it.  “When the threat of lawsuits isn’t enough to force their agenda, it seems that pro-choice supporters think that death threats will accomplish their goals. These threats are deplorable,” continued Mason. “North Dakota legislators should not have to fear outrageous lawsuits for voting pro-life, nor should they have to fear for their lives.”

Don't Go Looking For the Easter Eggs


"People invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of truth but on the basis of what they find attractive."

~ Blaise Pascal


Friday, 5 April 2013

Song Saturday - April Love

Quote of the Day From A Marine Corp General

"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet." - Gen. J Mattis

Hoo Rah!

Life Is Difficult

I am nearly beyond exhaustion today.

My mother's health, which was spiralling into the ground the last time I mentioned it when she was gravely sick and not eating again and while father was in the hospital, did a sudden, unexplained, miraculous turnaround.

The day got out of the hospital she started getting better. By the second day I started hearing "I'm hungry" every half hour instead of the constant litany of "I don't want to eat." It was stunning. As she continued to eat a lot of her returned. She was laughing, making and getting jokes, moving a bit more. We had to run her to the doctors every couple of days because of the clots in her legs but she was on the road to getting better or as better as it gets with her and with her "mild cognitive dysfunction."

Then it all went to hell again. I noticed quickly she no longer snacked, then stopped drinking as much as she should but she was still eating meals even with not as much enthusiasm as before.

Come Saturday morning she got up as usual and promptly fainted and soiled herself. We have gone through these episodes many times in the last 4 years. This one was odd because she had been eating. Then two days later it happened again. And she was back to sleeping all the time, not eating, not drinking. She became argumentative and combative but we were able to get her to the doctor by using her clots as a subterfuge. She knows those have to be seen to. As soon as her doctor saw her he ordered her to the hospital for tests with instructions that the E.R. doctor was to make the call as to whether she went home or stayed.

The E.R. doctor was overwhelmed as test results started coming back in. To his credit he said he needed more than a family doctor could give her and called in an internal medicine specialist. He ordered her admitted. He weight was once again down to a shocking 75 pounds. She had a urinary tract infection. Her temperature was spiking. It appeared she might have pneumonia as well. They started her on IV antibiotics and forcing saline into her as she was, of course, badly dehydrated.

Last night she looked at deaths door. This morning when I got to the hospital she was dressed, sitting up, and looking a hundred percent better. She, of course, is making an effort to be released. I am fairly certain that is not going to happen today. The specialist said she wasn't going home until he was certain the infections were clearing up and that the shadow on her lung is indeed pneumonia and not cancer.

He says every thing else that needs to be done (colonoscopy, more scans, tests, and finding out why she won't eat can be done later out of his office. I would prefer he do it now. It is easier to get her to do things when she has no choice in the hospital.

The truth is I am sure there is something truly wrong with my mother and I suspect they will finally find it this time. If I was a betting person I would be betting her time is short and with the Alzheimer's it might be a blessing. But we will see. She is much more mentally alert this morning then she has been in some time.
Dad, as would be expected, is practically living at the hospital and he is exhausted. I expect him to collapse next.

Meanwhile, I am trying to live three lives. See Mom, look after Dad, run the house, be a father and grandfather, and get time with Tess. Maybe that is five or six lives. I am too tired to tell.

I did manage to get to the city yesterday to see my youngest daughter and to have snowball fights with three year old granddaughter Gracey. She lifted my mood.

So life is difficult at the moment. I am tired. I have little time to interact here. I have some posts t make but little time to get around to your postings at the moment. I hope you understand. If it is problem for you, blow me.

Chicken Adobo. Sarap.

Dinner tonight is chicken adobo, rice, and squash and beans cooked in coconut milk with onions and garlic. Sarap. Sarap means delicious, yummy.

Dessert is a fruit salad made from guava, papaya, mango, bananas, and strawberries. Sarap.

If you have never had chicken adobo you are depriving yourself of one of the world's best flavours. You can'adobo' anything, fish, seafood, beef, pork, whatever, but it is particularly good with manok, chicken, where the soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic combine with the chicken fatty to make a wicked good sauce.

Find a basic adobo recipe and play with it. You will love it. It is sarap.

Multiply Strikes From Beyond the Grave

Multiply strikes again.

Multiply may be gone but not without causing more grief on the way out the door.

When I moved to Blogster I began bringing over old postings from Multiply and posting them here and at Blogger. I was very careful to make certain that when I brought over photo blogs or even blogs that contained a single picture that I was bringing over the picture and not just a link back to Multiply, Several people had warned me that Multiply was, in effect, keeping our pictures hostage and only the links were coming over. When you thought you were actually copying the picture you weren't.

I checked and saw that this was the case. Thus I was very careful. I even double checked by deleting all my material on Multiply and checking that it was still here and at blogger which would be the case if it was actually copied. All was well. I continued to copy and delete.

Now I see that the photos in those blogs have disappeared on the same day Multiply finally went dark. In spite of all my precautions the pictures were not copied. Multiply had only allowed the copying of a link and had even maintained that link even though I thought I had deleted them there.

Even in its demise Multiply was dishonest. Dishonest in not allowing me to copy my own damn pictures and dishonest by keeping them there even though I had deleted them.

I now have the pleasure of having to go through two blog sites, here and Blogger, correcting the mess this has created. This means going through hundreds of postings, nearly 1000 between the two sites.
Most of the photos will be lost. I cannot be bothered to find them on my hard drive and repost them. I will just edit them out. Some of the postings, quite a few, actually, were photo blogs. I will have to delete them. It would be far to much work to fix them except in the case of the photo blog I did of my daughters wedding which I can get back to the way it was.

This pisses me off more than I can express. It is not just the tremendous amount of work ahead of me, it is the lack of honesty from online companies who promise they will work with you forever and then quit. I have a lot of material at Google and they are a large and, seemingly strong, company but what it to say that tomorrow they do not eliminate Picasweb and with it everyones photos and the chaos it would cause to blogs.

I am completely disgusted with the entire online experience right now. I have been online since 1986 and that may have been the apex. It has all been down hill from there.

So, if I am not around much it is because I am fixing blog postings at two sites. Assholes.

Song Saturday - Wasn't That A Party

I had a certain Maine woman in mind when I thought of this. I won't name names.

The Weight of Smut

But of course it doesn't hurt anyone, right?

Mary Eberstadt

As the impressively depressing cover story “America the Obese” in the May issue of The Atlantic serves to remind us all, the weight-gain epidemic in the United States and the rest of the West is indeed widespread, deleterious, and unhealthy—which is why it is so frequently remarked on, and an object of such universal public concern. But while we’re on the subject of bad habits that can turn unwitting kids into unhappy adults, how about that other epidemic out there that is far more likely to make their future lives miserable than carrying those extra pounds ever will? That would be the emerging social phenomenon of what can appropriately be called “sexual obesity”: the widespread gorging on pornographic imagery that is also deleterious and unhealthy, though far less remarked on than that other epidemic—and nowhere near an object of universal public concern. That complacency may now be changing. The term sexual obesity comes from Mary Ann Layden,apsychiatrist who runs the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She sees the victims of Internet-pornography consumption in her practice, day in and day out. She also knows what most do not: Quietly, patiently, and irrefutably, an empirical record of the harms of sexual obesity is being assembled piecemeal via the combined efforts of psychologists, sociologists, addiction specialists, psychiatrists, and other authorities.

Young people who have been exposed to pornography are more likely to have multiple lifetime sexual partners, more likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the last three months, more likely to have used alcohol or other substances at their last sexual encounter, and—no surprise here—more likely to have scored higher on a “sexual permissiveness” test. They are also more likely to have tried risky forms of sex. They are also more likely to engage in forced sex and more likely to be sexual offenders.

As for the all-purpose cop-out that “all this shows is correlation,” it can be refuted as Dr. Johnson famously refuted the immaterialism of Bishop Berkeley—by kicking a stone. No one reasonable would doubt that there is a connection between watching sex acts and trying out what one sees—especially for adolescents, who rather famously and instantly ape the other influences on their lives, from fashion to drug use and more, as has also been copiously studied.

And this list is just one possible way of starting a conversation about the consequences of today’s novel sexual obesity. There is also the question of what the same material does to adults—about which another empirical record is also being amassed, and about which more will be said later in this essay. Pornography today, in short, is much like obesity was yesterday—a social problem increasing over time, with especially worrisome results among its youngest consumers, and one whose harms are only beginning to be studied with the seriousness they clearly deserve.

Parallels between the two epidemics are striking. Much like the more commonly understood obesity, the phenomenon of sexual obesity permeates the population—though unlike regular obesity, of course, pornography consumption is mostly (though not entirely) a male thing. At the same time, evidence also shows that sexual obesity does share with its counterpart this critical common denominator: It afflicts the subset of human beings who form the first generation immersed in this consumption, many of whom have never known a world without it—the young.

The data about the immersion of young Americans in pornography are startling and disturbing. One 2008 study focused on undergraduate and graduate students ages 18 to 26 across the country found that more than two-thirds of men—and one out of every ten women in the sample—viewed pornography more than once a month. Another study showed that first-year college students using sexually explicit material exhibited these troubling features: increased tolerance, resulting in a turn toward more bizarre and esoteric material; increased risk of body-image problems, especially among girls; and erroneous and exaggerated conceptions of how prevalent certain sexual behaviors, including risky and even dangerous behaviors, actually are.

In 2004, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University reported that 65 percent of boys ages 16 and 17 reported having friends who regularly download Internet pornography—and, given that pornography is something people lie “down” about in surveys as well as in life, it seems safe to say those numbers underestimate today’s actual consumption, perhaps even significantly.

Finally, to connect the dots between “monkey see” and “monkey do,” a 2004 study in Pediatrics reported, in the words of its title, that “Watching sex on television predicts adolescent initiation of sexual behavior”—an ominous connection, given that Internet sex is vastly more realistic than anything available on television.

Even young people who don’t go looking for pornography are now routinely exposed—largely through incursions into popular media, including on phones (the “sexting” phenomenon), in video games, in pop music, and on television. A Kaiser Family Foundation study from 2005, for example, revealed that the number of sex scenes on television doubled between 1998 and 2005. The Foundation had previously noted that some 70 percent of youths aged 15 to 17 accidently came across pornography online. Even more startling, a 2006 Youth Internet Safety Survey of 1500 youths showed that one in seven reported unwanted sexual solicitation, and one in eleven reported being harassed online.

Yet another study confirms what many parents already will suspect: Most mothers and fathers know nothing about the online sexual experiences of their children.

But even this impressive array of data cannot answer a question almost as ubiquitous as pornography itself: So what? Why should people who are not part of that consumption even care about it? The varieties of the libertarian shrug extend even to those averse to it. Pornography indeed may be morally wrong, many of those people would also say (and of course major religions would agree); but, apart from the possible damage to the user’s soul, if you believe in such a thing, what really is the social harm of smut?

This lackadaisical attitude—this entrenched refusal to look seriously at what the computer screen has really wrought—is widespread. Religious people, among other people simply disgusted by the subject, understandably wish to speak in public of almost anything else. Closet users, and they are apparently legion, will probably already have stopped reading these words—or any others potentially critical of pornography—for reasons of their own; such complicity is probably the deepest font of omertà on the subject. And chronic users above all have their own fierce reasons for promoting the anything-goes-as-long-as-it’s-private patter—an interesting phenomenon about which more will be said further on.

And yet this hands-off approach to the matter of sexual obesity—this unwitting collusion of disparate interested parties masquerading as a social consensus—remains wrong from alpha to omega, as a new document signed by fifty experts from various fields and distilling just some of the recent empirical evidence, goes to show. Full disclosure: “The Social Costs of Pornography: A Statement of Findings and Recommendations,” just published by the Witherspoon Institute of New Jersey, was codrafted by Mary Ann Layden and me. Unlike other pieces of writing, however, this compendium summons no authorial joy and is not the work of one or two but rather scores of people. Most of them academics and medical professionals, they represent a true rainbow coalition of the spectrum: left and right, feminism and conservatism, secularism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It’s a collective attempt to render for the public good just some of the accumulating academic and therapeutic and other evidence oftheharm and devastation now traceable to pornography abuse.

Bursting through the academically neutral language, the studies, the survey data, and the econometrics were the skin and bones of the very human stories that went into it all: the marriages lost or in tatters; the sexual problems among the addicted; the constant slide, on account of higher tolerance, into ever edgier circles of this hell; the children and teenagers lured into participating in various ways in this awful world in the effort to please romantic partners or exploitive adults. This report, in sum, like the conference that preceded it, answers definitively the libertarian question of “So what about pornography?” with a solid list of “Here’s what”—eight documented findings about the manifold risks of warping the sexual template with pornographic imagery.

Reading work after work by the experts for the purpose of condensing and putting it into laymen’s terms felt at times like what might be called a labor of hate—hate for what pornography addiction does, for all corrupters and would-be corrupters of the innocent, and for the mistaken libertarian nonchalance that enables such continuing corruption.

Of all the untruths about this subject today that are belied by the factual record, I would like to focus here on just three of the most influential and reckless.

Pornography use is a private matter. Perhaps the queen bee of lies about pornography, this is also the easiest to take down. For while consumption of the substance may be private (or not, as airline travelers and library patrons and others in the public square have lately been learning), the fallout from some of that consumption is anything but.

Consider just a few examples from recent studies on people younger than eighteen. Adolescent users of pornography are more likely to intend to have sex and to engage in more frequent sexual activity. They are more likely to test positive for Chlamydia. Three separate studies have found among adolescents a strong correlation between pornography consumption and engaging in various sexual activities.

The exceedingly well-documented social costs of adolescent sexual activity, alongside the health costs now accumulating, alone torpedo the refrain that Internet pornography use today is “private.” Now consider a few more findings concerning adults rather than kids. At a November 2003 meeting of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (comprising the nation’s top 1600 divorce and matrimonial-law attorneys), 62 percent of the 350 attendees said the Internet had played a role in divorces during the last year. In especially germane research not yet published, economists Kirk Doran and Joseph Price are examining data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to assess the negative impact of pornography on other aspects of marriage. They report that, among individuals who have ever been married, those who say they’ve seen an X-rated movie in the last year are 25 percent more likely to be divorced and 13 percent less likely to identify themselves as “very happy” with life in general.

Divorce, as everyone knows by now, is associated with a variety of adverse financial and other outcomes as well as with problems for children and adolescents affected by it. Here too, private behavior is clearly exacting public costs.

Yet with all due respect to the social science, not everyone needs it to know that pornography is more than just a private thing. Imagine your teenage daughter walking down the beach. Half the men on it have been watching sex on the Internet within the last few days, and half have not. Which ones do you want watching her? How can their “private” behavior possibly be said to be confined to home, when their same eyes with which they view it travel along with them everywhere else?

Pornography use is a guy thing. It only bothers women. In fact, some of the saddest and most riveting testimony on this topic concerns exactly this: the harm that pornography consumption can do to men immersed in it.

Consider the insights of Pamela Paul, a reporter for Time magazine, who interviewed in depth more than 100 heterosexual users of pornography, 80 percent of them men, for her 2005 book Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. This book—the best yet written in laymen’s terms about the impact of Internet pornography on users themselves—is remarkable for several reasons. Just one is the unforgettably sad portrait that emerges, sometimes unwittingly, from habitual users themselves. “Countless men,” she summarizes from the interviews, “have described to me how, while using pornography, they have lost the ability to relate to or be close to women. They have trouble being turned on by ‘real’ women, and their sex lives with their girlfriends or wives collapse.”

The same point has been echoed by medical authorities including Norman Doidge, a doctor specializing in neuropsychiatry and author of The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. Treating men in the early to mid-1990s for their pornography habits, he found it a common refrain that many were no longer able to have intercourse with their own wives. “Pornographers,” he concludes, “promise healthy pleasure and relief from sexual tension, but what they often deliver is an addiction, tolerance, and an eventual decrease in pleasure. Paradoxically, the male patients I worked with often craved pornography but didn’t like it.”

At least some of the shame and disgust that users sometimes report to therapists may be due to another phenomenon well documented about chronic pornography use: habituation and tolerance. Just as heavy drinkers and drug users over time require higher doses of substances to achieve the same effect, so apparently do some chronic users of pornography come to require harder-core and edgier material. From another of Pamela Paul’s descriptions: “Men . . . told me that they found themselves wasting countless hours looking at pornography on their televisions and DVD players, and especially online. They looked at things they would once have considered appalling—bestiality, group sex, hard-core S&M, genital torture, child pornography.”

This same descent into the particular pit of knowing that one is doing something wrong, and still being unable to stop oneself, echoes through other accounts by clinicians of what they hear from some patients. In a widely read article in the London Spectator in 2003, British writer Sean Thomas courageously catalogued his own such descent, including into terrain that will not be described here. As he concluded, Internet pornography “revealed to me that I had an unquantifiable variety of sexual fantasies and quirks and that the process of satisfying these desires online only led to more interest.”

But self-loathing is hardly limited to the most extreme cases. Recently, National Review Online ran an anonymous and widely discussed essay called “Getting Serious About Pornography.” Its author, a mother of five, detailed and deplored pornography’s role as she saw it in the destruction of her marriage. The result was an outpouring of impassioned e-mail—including from some people exploring their own use of pornography and its impact on their own lives. As one military man put it with unusual candor in a particularly poignant (also anonymous) e-mail to the editor:

I absolutely agree it is damaging. It damages my respect for my wife, and she has done nothing to deserve that damage. It damages my self-esteem and respect for myself, because I know it is not helpful to our life, to our marriage, to our love. . . . It reduces my satisfaction in a wonderful woman. It makes me yearn for things that I should not want. It is disruptive to my inner peace. I don’t like myself when I’m looking at porn. I don’t like the way I feel about myself when I’m looking at porn. . . . But I can only do without it about six months. . . . It has been an endless cycle.

Or as Roger Scruton put it memorably at the Witherspoon conference, summarizing the philosophical aspect of this particular form of sadness that this new form of obesity can bring: “This, it seems to me, is the real risk attached to pornography. Those who become addicted to this risk-free form of sex run a risk of another and greater kind. They risk the loss of love, in a world where only love brings happiness.”

It’s only pictures of consenting adults. Unless it is computer simulated, pornography is never only about pictures. Every single person on the screen is somebody’s sister, cousin, son, niece, or mother; every one of them stands in a human relation to the world.

The notion for starters that those in the “industry” itself are not being harmed by what they do cannot survive even the briefest reading of testimonials to the contrary by those who have turned their backs on it, among them Playboy bunnies (including Izabella St. James, author of Bunny Tales). It is a world rife with everything one would want any genuinely loved one to avoid like the plague: drugs, exploitation, physical harm, AIDS.

Nor can that defense survive the extremely troubling—or what ought to be extremely troubling—connections between pornography and prostitution. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has notably taken the lead in investigating and throwing light on the sordid phenomenon of “sex trafficking,” both here and abroad. Yet trafficking, as the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have both noted, is often associated with pornography—for example, via cameras and film equipment found when trafficking circles are broken up. Plainly, the reality of the human beings behind many of those images on the Internet is poorer, dirtier, druggier—and younger—than pious appeals to “consenting adults” can withstand. Is this world really what the libertarian defenders of pornography want to subsidize?

Once again, who even needs all that social science? Perhaps the most telling response to the “pictures” defense is rhetorical. Ask even the most committed user whether he wants his own daughter or son in that line of work—and then ask why it’s all right to have other people’s daughters and sons making it instead.

Several experts have also noted one more interesting phenomenon that most people who have ever written on this thankless subject will verify: Telling the truth about pornography is practically guaranteed to elicit malice and venom unique in their potency from its defenders.

This aspect of sexual obesity too, I believe, tells us something of note. Blogging recently about the subject on National Review Online, for example, Kathryn Jean Lopez remarked in public about the quality of the torrent of emotional e-mails her comments provoked. Many of them, she reported, were “terrifying.” Cathy Ruse, who worked on the issue of pornography during the mid-1990s for the National Law Center for Children and Families and again later for the Family Research Council, reports similarly: “I have been involved in various public policy debates in the United States for twenty years and I have never encountered anything like the pornography debates. . . . I have never experienced attacks that were so abusive and personal, including angry ranting messages on my home telephone and horrible e-mails.”
Such unique vituperation, which has so far gone unremarked in any public discussion of pornography despite the fact that it is commonplace, demands inspection in its own right. In fact, it may be the surest proof altogether of just how addictive Internet pornography can be. Although academic experts may continue to battle over exactly what is meant by “addiction,” surely the tremendously defensive response in the public square by itself settles the question to any reasonable person’s satisfaction. What does it tell us that, when faced with any attempt to make the case that this substance should be harder to get than it is, some reliable subset of defenders can be counted on to respond more like animals than like people? If such is not the very definition of addiction, what is?

All of which goes to show that there is nothing alarmist whatsoever in arguing that we ought to be alarmed about the first generation raised on Internet pornography. In speaking on college campuses about other issues lately, I have been struck by how many students—usually, though not only, girls—have come up afterward and confided their view that pornography use is the number-one factor warping relations between the sexes these days. I have also heard at least a few boys confide that it’s hard to find girls on campus who have not themselves been drawn in to some form of the pornographic subculture—via “sexting,” say, or in the effort to please previous boyfriends, or in the deliberately provocative pictures of themselves on Facebook and elsewhere.

What, if anything, can be done about this other obesity epidemic? For starters, we could use a campaign that might promise to do to pornography what was ultimately done to tobacco—a restigmatization based on the evolving record of fact. What’s needed is nothing less than the kind of leadership that turned smoking, in the course of a single generation, from cool to uncool—one eventually summoning support high and low, ranging from celebrities, high-school teachers and principals, counselors, former users, and anyone else who knows they belong in the coalition of the willing on this wretched issue.

Perhaps when the First Lady concludes her campaign against “regular” obesity, she or someone else of similar public stature can spare time for this other epidemic, too. After all, uninviting though these dirty waters may be, the reward for tackling this epidemic could be profound. For amid the squalor, the unhappiness, and the rest of the bad news about sexual obesity, the bad news isn’t the only news there is—not at all.

“Where sin abounded,” as Paul’s Letter to the Romans has it, “grace did much more abound.” The empirical record shows that too, though it may not yet be an issue of academic study. After all, just look at the tremendous effort that goes into attempts to break the habit. Look at the energy fueling all those attempts to repair the damage done—the turns to counseling, the therapists, priests, pastors, and others working in these awful trenches to help the addicted get their real lives back. Look at the technological ingenuity too—the new software, the filters, the countercultural and uphill efforts here and there to thwart pornography’s public crawl.

To survey that multifaceted record of struggle, fledgling but growing by the day, against the also rapidly growing empirical record of the beast’s harms, is to grasp a truth about this new obesity beyond the ridicule of the jaded or the vituperative recriminations of those still in the pit. It is to see redemption. It is to spy hope in a place where desperate people need it most—and plenty of it, too.

Mary Eberstadt is a contributing writer to First Things, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and author of The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Sorry, Lady Gagme. You Are Wrong

Seems Lady Gaga was wrong. Of course anyone with an IQ greater than a turnip knew that already but the world is, it seems, inhabited by a lot of turnips these days.

For everyone else there is this:

November 6, 2009

Trayce Jansen, Ph.D.

In May 2009, the Alameda Unified School Board was considering the adoption of a new curriculum for K-12 that would promote acceptance and normalization of homosexual and transgender behaviors under the guise of anti-bullying. A group of concerned parents asked me to review and comment on the proposed curriculum and its impact on children. Despite the evidence of potential harm, and over the strong objections of many parents, the board adopted the proposed curriculum.


I’m a licensed psychologist in the State of California with a clinical and forensic practice. I also sit on the Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Adolescent Health for the American College of Pediatricians. Over the last decade, I’ve thoroughly surveyed the professional research literature related to sexual orientation and children. In my professional role as a psychologist, I’ve authored several articles intended to clarify complex research findings for the public, as well as testified in various courts of law regarding those same issues.
I was asked to review the proposed Alameda Unified School District curriculum addressing sexual orientation and gender identity and author a statement regarding its impact on children. The opinions I express are based on a thorough knowledge of the professional research literature as well as my experience as a licensed psychologist.


Decades of research confirm that sexual orientation and gender identity are not inborn but are primarily shaped by environmental influences during childhood and adolescence. The proposed school curriculum will affect the sexual preference and gender identity formation of some children exposed to it because it teaches that all sexual and gender variations are equally acceptable. Sexual preference and gender identity formation are fragile developmental processes that can be disrupted and altered by environmental influences such as the lessons in the proposed school curriculum.


Many people continue to believe that sexual orientation is inborn, although that is not true. Extensive, worldwide research reveals that homosexuality is predominately influenced by environmental factors. For instance, recent large-scale studies compared rates of homosexual behavior in sets of identical twins. If homosexual behavior were inborn, every time one identical twin was homosexual, the other identical twin would also be homosexual 100% of the time. But this is not what the research revealed. Rather, every time one identical twin was homosexual the other twin was homosexual only 10% or 11% of the time. Homosexual behavior is clearly not genetic.

In fact, an accumulation of extensive research utilizing millions of research subjects finds that environment, not genetics, is the main factor in the development of non-heterosexual behavior. (To review these research studies see references 1-4 listed below).


For a well-known example of the environmental effect on sexual behavior, consider ancient Greece and Rome where male homosexuality and bisexuality were nearly ubiquitous. That was not so because men in those societies were born with a “gay gene,” but because human sexual behavior is malleable and culturally influenced.

Research reveals that the more an environment (including the school environment) affirms, endorses, or normalizes homosexual or bisexual behavior the more of those behaviors there will be in that environment. The proposed curriculum would teach children that it doesn’t matter with whom one has a romantic or sexual relationship. Such a lesson will lead some children to engage in homosexual relationships they might never have considered were it not for the school’s social endorsement. In fact, we’re already seeing a general increase in non-heterosexual behavior as a result of the media’s affirmation.


Sadly, the research is also clear that individuals who adopt non-heterosexual lifestyles are more likely to suffer from a host of negative outcomes including psychiatric disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts, domestic violence and sexual assault, and increased risk for chronic diseases, AIDS, and shortened lifespan. Schools should not affirm and thereby encourage young people to adopt lifestyles more likely to lead to such devastation. (To review these specific studies see references 5-10 below).


The proposed school curriculum also teaches that transgendered lifestyles are a healthy and acceptable alternative to the norm. That is not true. Many transgendered individuals suffer from a psychiatric disorder known as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder in need of psychological treatment. The proposed curriculum encourages transgendered behavior by teaching, for instance, that males who dress, behave, and live as females are completely normal. A boy with a strong, persistent desire to be a girl requires early intervention and psychiatric treatment, not school lessons teaching the normalcy of a transgendered lifestyle. Children should not be encouraged by their schools to question, doubt, or otherwise reject their inborn gender. Such a message is extremely detrimental to the psychological and physical well being of children. (For a thorough understanding of Gender Identity Disorder, see reference number11below authored by world-renowned GID experts).


The proposed curriculum will cause sexual confusion and may disrupt the sexual preference and gender identity development of some children. And it’s also completely unnecessary. Anti-harassment, teasing, and bullying curriculums can be taught without specifically identifying every circumstance in which such behaviors are unacceptable. Children should be taught that ridiculing and harassing others for any reason is cruel and unkind and will be swiftly and appropriately punished. Schools can teach a simple message of zero tolerance toward such behaviors without harming children whose sexual preferences and gender identities are still developing.


The Alameda Unified School District’s proposed curriculum addressing sexual orientation and gender identity will influence impressionable children and perhaps alter their still developing sexual and gender identities. As such, it will increase confusion and the likelihood children will engage in and adopt homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered lifestyles. The sexual and gender identity development of children is fragile and vulnerable to disruption. Therefore, schools should not adopt any policy that could upset the delicate balance of routine child development.

Sexual preference and gender identity are predominately influenced by environmental factors and develop throughout childhood and adolescence. Teaching children that all sexual- and gender-related behaviors are equally desirable will increase the number of children who depart from the norm and engage in those behaviors. And it also will lead some children into lifestyles that increase the likelihood they will suffer from psychiatric disorders, physical illnesses and shortened lives. Moreover, if the goal is simply to teach non-harassing, non-bullying behavior, the proposed curriculum is not even necessary. Such tolerance can be taught with basic lessons in empathy and kindness, supported by rules and punishments for those who disregard them.
I strongly urge the Alameda Unified School District Board reject the proposed curriculum addressing sexual orientation and gender identity, as it is not in the best interest of its students.

Trayce L. Hansen, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist
PSY 16380

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Big Beautiful Honkers

I saw two sets of big honkers today. They were beautiful.

Okay, get your minds out of the gutter. I am talking Canada geese winging their way north. The geese are always a harbinger of spring. I am afraid these two skeins are in for a rough go. The lakes are still solidly frozen and the fields covered in ice. I don't know what they are going to eat for the next few weeks.

Tess and I were in the grocery store a while ago. I caught someone waving to me out of the corner of my eye. It was three year old grandson Zephyr sitting in a cart while his mom shopped. I went over to talk to him and he shyly gave me a doughnut hole from a box he had opened while they were shopping. His little hands were grubby and dirty and God only knows where they had been or what germs they held but when a three year old shares his treats with you then you accept it and eat it with all the grace you can muster.

Tess is cooking deep Filipino tonight so I am going to have the leftover ragu I cooked last week and put in the freezer. I eat Filipino but not deep Filipino. If there are eyes in the soup pot looking up at me I pass. I will eat the eggplant she is cooking. She fries it in onion and garlic and egg. Yea, I know. Eggplant. That doesn't matter anyway. When your woman shares her food with you then you accept it and eat it with all the grace you muster. It looks like grey paste but it tastes quite good.

Gathered some old photos today. One of my mom with her older sister who died. They look to be 10 and 11. The other was a picture of my father and his older brother with their father who was dressed up i his postal uniform. Dad looks three. I scanned them at a high resolution then took them to the photo shop and had them enlarged, printed, and framed. Then I dropped them off. No reason other than I love them. And they loved the pictures but were just reserved enough that I know that when Tess isn't around I will get the lecture about spending money on them. I will have to give them the lecture about when you get a gift you accept it with all the grace you can muster.

Grace. We all need to give it more often. More grace, less politicians.

How Come?

How come one match can start a forest fire but it takes an entire box to start a camp fire?

How come the early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese?

How come we fight fire with fire and the fire department uses water?

How come stealing an idea from one person is plagiarism but stealing ideas from many people is research?
How come?

Peter the Wolf

When I was a young child my grandfather had a second hand and antique business. It was housed in a huge, old dairy barn that had been converted to an antique store and it was jammed to the rafters with ancient treasures. There were separate rooms (stalls) for different collectibles: books, records, dishes, etc.

He had begun the business, and continued to stock it, with the simplest of means. He also ran a trucking business and advertised in local businesses that he did attic cleanings and haul aways.

Those old Maine attics were filled with antiques and most people had no idea their worth. They just wanted them out of their attics and my grandfather, the Yankee genius that he was, was all too happy to charge them to haul away their 'junk' while saving the best to sell to antique collectors.

A lot of items found their way to me in the form of endless presents" Lionel train sets, antique toys, children's books, and records.

One of those that was given to me was a recording of Peter and the Wolf narrated by Boris Karloff. It was the recording shown below. Oh, how I wish I still had the record. It was an old 78 RPM in heavy, thick vinyl and would be worth a fortune now.

In any event, this classic edition of Peter and the Wolf is well worth your time to listen to. Enjoy.

A Great Photograph

This is a great photograph. In fact, it is my favorite of the year so far.

Rest in hell, Hugo.