New blog post on CNN, is casual sex worth it? The post leaves the question open ended, but only after making a bit of a mismash about the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. Having a lot of casual sex increases the risk of catching an STD only because the you are more likely to encounter someone already carrying the disease, not because frequent or casual sex itself leads to contracting diseases. The risk during each encounter is actually the same. So whether you have one instance of casual sex or twenty, your risk each time is the same. Just like throwing a dice, each time there is still only a 1/6 change of throwing a 5. Just because you throw a dice 100 times does not change the probability of any individual throw.
It is quite easy to ask some one's sexual history before jumping into bed with them, and also to ask them to get a test done. It is also quite easy to get yourself regularly checked and thus if your have contracted something you can get treatment straight away. You can also read up, become knowledgeable about what can be carried, what the symptoms are and how it can be transmitted.
Additionally, it is not just intercourse that people need to be aware of regarding STDs. Some STDs can be transmitted via oral sex or simply kissing, most notably several strains of herpes virus. Any exchange of bodily fluid carries with it a risk, especially when it comes into contact with the mucosal membranes in the human body, i.e. the "skin" on our genitals and our lips, as these are more fragile than normal skin and are more susceptible to pathogen invasion.
Body fluids are also of concern when dealing with casual S&M play and the use of toys on more than one person. Cleaning the toys and dungeon equipment is thus very important, and relatively easy to do using chemical and/or heat sterilisation. With any fluid exchange it is also not just STD's that you need to be aware of, but pathogens such as MRSA and hepatitis are also a significant concern.
So is casual sex worth it? Sex is one of the most pleasurable things we can engage in and has numerous health benefits http://stress.about.com/od/generaltechniques/a/sexandstress.htm. Choice of partner It is entirely personal. It is no more moral or immoral than having sex with a long term partner/spouse. A long term partner will have a chance to learn what pleases you and thus the sex might be better in some respects, but there is also value in having different sexual encounters and learning new tricks or techniques or simply how much variation there can be in the human sexual experience.
An article from Scientific American discusses the debate about slowing down science.
And I agree with the arguments made about the "fast food" approach to science. having worked in Switzerland, UK and the USA I have noticed varying approached to science. The push for getting high impact publications in the shortest amount of time possible is dangerous as it can lead to misinterpretations of data and also high rate of post-doc burn out. The requirement to get things out now is driven by the increasing difficulty in scientific funding, especially in the USA. Working in other parts of the world, i encountered a much better work-life balance and while pressure was there, it was not crippling. perhaps it has just been the labs I have worked in, but prior to my appointments in the USA, I and the colleagues i had were primarily working on one project and making a lot of progress in a relatively short amount of time. We had other research to do, supervision of undergraduate students and teaching responsibilities, but the research on a single project meant that we we could do all the necessary background research which facilitated our data interpretations. Here, in the US, the two labs i have worked in have been completely different, with each of us having multiple projects of equal priorities, vastly slowing down our progress on any particular one. Yet, the pressure is on to continue to publish as if each project was our only one, which in turn leads to long hours over a sustained period of time and eventual burn-out and mistakes being made. It can also reach the point where the actual quality of the research is also diminished, leading to the necessity of retracting publications.
As mentioned in the article in a quote, Darwin took years to get around to publishing his work, constantly re-thinking and refining it. In today's science any post-doc doing that would simply be out of a job as funding would likely run out and not be renewed due to lack of "progress" (often judged by publications). in my opinion, these types of issues need to be addressed and slowing down science to give us researchers time to think and plan properly will, from my perspective, ultimately increase the speed of general scientific progression.
Another blog entry, retweeted by skepchicks, along the lines of victim blaming and the problems facing rape victims today. But only when they are female. This really bothers me. The continual claims made that only women are victims or are victimized. I tried to comment on the blog post itself but was unable to do so and as such am making a blog postingof my own.
"The video is addressing victim blaming; a female experience. When over 90% of victims are female, it becomes such a statistical rarity (not impossibility, a rarity) that a man is victimized; male victims, who have not been brought up in a culture of being punished for their sexuality, are not within a society that shames them."
The video makes a good point of how people need to be aware of their surroundings and how some women feel about rape. But I disagree with the idea that women are afraid of being raped all the time and that men do not also take care of the situations they are in because of safety issues.
i take more issue with the blog posting itself. One of the problems about claims made like the one quoted above is that rape is not solely an issue for women, neither is the victimization of women following a rape. It may be that the author is restricting their claims to Western society, but such claims, unless qualified by statements of location, are not only misleading but they are harming individuals who badly need help. I would recommend this article, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jul/17/the-rape-of-men recently linked to in an earlier post of mine (http://www.skepticrainbows.com/1/post/2011/07/women-are-not-the-only-victims-of-rape.html), about male rape in regions of the world with high levels on conflict and their subsequent victimization.
I take issue with these types of claims for a number of reasons, even though I am female and have also been a victim. One of the issues is not only that the generalized statements seem to be from a particular cultural perspective, but also fail to take into account men in Western societies who may have been abused as children, with some claims as high as 1 in 5 male children (lower than the 1 in 3 female children, yes, but far from the 90% claim made in this blog) http://www.hccac.org/abuse/myths.html. Or does this not count?
I am not saying that many of the issues cited in the article are not relevant to feminists. I am saying issues such as rape and sexual abuse are issues for humanity, regardless of gender, and the claims made that seem to suggest otherwise quite rightly deserve criticism.
I came across this article earlier (Bug Girl tweeted it) about science writing.
I am interested in conveying how exciting science can be and I have a passion for it myself. It is a part of who I am and has taught me to be a skeptic, not taking things a face value but looking into the data and evidence behind any claims made. While this is not a science blog, it is a part of who I am and as such science discussions periodically come up on here. I linked to the article above as it raises certain questions that I thought it would be fun to answer. (This ended up being a long post so I will stick with this one for now).
The most surprising aspect is how complex cells and biological tissues or samples are at the molecular level. As we are able to see structures with ever greater accuracy and resolution, it brings up a whole host of interesting questions and concepts about the nature of biological processes. Minute changes that take place within protein structures can cause significant differences to molecular interactions and can result in a cascade of events leading to widespread effects that influence the entire organism. As we unravel more details about biological interactions and the tiny nanomachines that make up our cells and tissues, the more we can see how remarkable biology is and how unnecessary and, quite frankly, how ridiculous a deity really is. the deeper we delve, the greater the awe I experience and the beauty that I perceive in how amazing and unique each organism really is and yet at the same time, how linked we are by our evolutionary history to every other organism. I don't think words can ever really convey the majesty it all.
And that partially describes what I also find the most exciting. Each time a new sample is put under the microscope, it reveals an entire new world. You never know what to expect as nothing is ever like the depictions in textbooks or diagrams. Each time I look at the complex structures of a new sample it takes a while, from a few seconds to a few hours, to orient myself, to understand what it is I am seeing and how to navigate around and interpret it. I think it is similar to what is experienced when you travel to a different country. Everything is very different at first glance, the clothes might be different, the food, tastes, sights and sounds of the society around you. The topography and architecture will be different, you may be using different means of travel, and there are hurdles to overcome in working out how to find your way in this new culture. But after that initial strangeness, you soon realize that everything is fundamentally the same. Human societies may have different values, but the individuals that make up those societies are actually pretty similar at the basic levels. The cities and towns may look different but they still will have familiar features and functions. The excitement I feel when I look at a new sample is the explorer in me finding my way in a new environment.
There is another type of excitement. And that is when everything clicks into place. When you have been looking and analyzing or working hard on something for a long time, it may be years or decades of work, and suddenly it all becomes clear and you understand! It all clicks into place. That is a rare feeling but definitely an amazing one that I think is experienced by all scientists at one point or another and probably other fields as well.
Why is it important? Science is a path to knowledge. Microscopy is another tool of science that links hypotheses to conclusions and the innovations stemming from conclusions via the process of data collection. I work in an array of different subjects with the underlying specialty in microscopy. I am an expert in the techniques I employ rather than in the subject I study. I help other researchers that are subject specialists in using these tools to answer the questions they have without the need for them to spend 10 years or so reaching my level of experience and technical skill. In this collaborative manner more research can be done, more knowledge gained and greater eventual benefit achieved than could be reached if we all worked as individuals. It is furthering our collective knowledge and as such, it is as important as any other endeavor for gaining information about ourselves and the world we live in.
The Web can be a difficult place to navigate for those with disabilities, but it can be done with a variety of web accessibility tools. However, many sites are not compatible for those tools, including mine (i had free online software check the site for compatibility and it fails on a number of different levels). This creates a problem, as I do not want to contribute to these issues and yet I am not up to speed on coding, i use a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) to help create my site. It does a good job, but not on compatibility it seems.
So... I am looking into it. I may add a page where all the info on the site is presented in Word or PowerPoint documents, as it is much easier (from my perspective) to make them compatible than it is my site. However, I will make every effort possible to adapt the site as necessary to make it more compatible.
For those who are not aware of these issues, please check out this link http://theness.com/roguesgallery/index.php/skepticism/skepticism-and-disability-by-chris-gonz-blinko-hofstader/
It is worth bearing in mind that the web is a powerful tool, but is blunted if certain sectors of society cannot access the content. I appreciate this being brought to my attention. I would be interested to hear from anyone with advice on this and how to adapt the site accordingly.
Fine example of the effectiveness of peer review and the corrective process in science. It can be tough getting published and very hard when additional results show that you may be wrong, but that IS the process of science and why it is one of the only real mechanisms we have to gain knowledge about reality (in contrast to faith). A paper was published in Science, revealing some very interesting data and conclusions about human longevity and genetic markers that could indicate your life-span. However, the peer-process of publishing in science took effect and flaws in the study were quickly revealed, causing the authors to re-assess their conclusions and eventually withdraw their paper and seek publication elsewhere, following revision.
Since when has religion done that? How often do faith based assumptions get re-examined in the light of new evidence and are kept regardless? I would have a lot less contempt for established religions if they did do this and for the followers of faith that claims a knowledge of the world in contradiction to established evidence.
With all this advice floating around about how guys should behave if they want to get laid, the do's and don'ts of male to female courtship, I thought I, being the fount of all knowledge and having the ability to speak for all women, everywhere (and we all know that women get to dictate to men how they SHOULD behave, after all, we are the ones holding the key to the magical gates of every female vagina and this prize is ONLY awarded to those males deemed worthy and subservient enough to female demands and or emotional perceptions at any particular moment) should grant you all the gift of my bountiful knowledge....
Ready for it?
OK, end sarcasm, I couldn't keep it up. :)
Guys, you are going to have to wait a long time for that of information, because in reality there is no right or wrong way to approach women (providing you respect any rejection of said approach and physical boundaries, once a women says NO you DO have to respect that). You see, we are all different. Something that all the bloggers focusing on "educating" or otherwise being condescending to the poor men who "just do not get IT" seem to forget. Different approaches work with different women just as they would with men.
Nature forms around certain building blocks, the Fibonacci sequence being one of them. This beautiful video shows it quite clearly.
The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers. it starts with 0 and 1. By adding the most recent two numbers together you get the next result, so in the first instance you get 1. The sequence thus far is 0, 1, 1. By adding the last two number this time you get 2. 0, 1, 1, 2.... The sequence continues to be generated in this manner. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 etc.
However, while it is interesting that some biological specimens do conform to the Fibonacci numbers, not all patterns in biology do, it is not an underlying sequence that determines biological structures! It is simply an example of one of the patterns humans make of natural phenomena. This page in particular does a really good job of debunking that particular myth.
And for those seeking some peace and relaxation this Monday morning, here is another beautiful video from the same creators of the video above. Based on an Escher woodcarving and something I found to be quite relaxing earlier today.
I am a Switch, something I am perfectly happy and comfortable as. However, this particular orientation seems to cause confusion and claims that switches cannot be happy in long term Dominant/top or submissive/bottom roles neither can we be authentic in those positions (an argument that has been made directly to me).
What is a Switch? A Switch is a person who can engage with either top/Dominant/Master or bottom/submissive/slave positions. The degree to which each Switch can engage and embrace these positions varies between individuals. I think some definitions are required at this point, at least, how I define these terms.
Top and bottom. These are physical positions. A Top applies sensation to the bottom. These positions have nothing to do with power exchange and a Top can be submissive to the Dominant bottom. For example, a male sub may pleasure his female Dominant by bringing her to orgasm with his mouth, thus applying a sensation to his Domme, but in no sense has the power exchange been affected. Top and bottom scenes usually involve some form of sadism and masochism, but not always.
Dominant and submissive are positions within a power exchange relationship. The Dominant takes a leadership role and the submissive acquiesces to the Dominants lead. This power exchange can take place for the duration of a scene, at particular points in a relationship or be 24/7. D/s is completely separate from sadism and masochism and its incorporation into the dynamic depends on individual choice. Negotiation is a key part of the D/s dynamic.
Master and slave (I am being non-gender specific here, Masters can be male or female) dynamics take the power exchange to another level and are usually 24/7. M/s is a subset of the D/s dynamic and the positions are Dominant and submissive, but instead of solely relating to the relationship between the two individuals, the Master also takes on the position of mentor, teacher and guide, controlling all aspects of the slaves life that He/She wants and needs to control. M/s relationships may or may not involve a sexual component/attraction and range from married couples through to a power exchange relationship where there is no sexual interest from either party. There is often a contractual agreement between Master and slave that is periodically renewed and protocols that reinforce the dynamic.
How can a Switch be drawn to any one position? Would we always not long for what we do not have?
I can only speak for myself and from what I have observed in others. It comes down to communication. I don’t think that any one person can fullfill the needs of any other, which is why we have friendships and close relationships with more than one person. It may be entirely possible to find a partner that would also want to switch, or find a partner that is ok with having open or some form of poly relationships, the latter being my situation. It may also be possible that the switch can be happy in a relationship with one dynamic and gain satisfaction from job or activities with friends or casual scenes. The switch may not even need to express the other side of themselves. One thing that is clear, communication about desires and a ruthless honesty with oneself is necessary for both sides of the partnership, in that way everyone is informed and can make the best decisions.
Can we be authentic in any one particular relationship position? Yes, absolutely. In the same way any individual can be authentic.
What determines what position we make take?
This varies, I think, but for me the side of the dynamic depends on the interaction I naturally have with any particular individual. That is the best way I can express it. It is not something I deliberately chose, with some people I naturally am more submissive and with others I am Dominant. I do not switch with individuals, once the dynamic is in place it does not change. I cannot submit to someone I feel Dominant towards, but I may be able to bottom to them.
In our lives we all take on numerous roles and have a variety of relationships. I think it is almost impossible to find someone who is a slave to everyone they encountered or is Master to everyone they encounter. We all have bosses that we must obey, with the consequence of losing our job. If not bosses, there are law enforcement officers, medical Doctors, flight attendants, security guards all of whom we must obey. Parents cannot be submissive to their children, at some level they must take charge. It is no different to how I perceive more intimate relationships. Some people will only accept the dynamic in one direction for their romantic relationships, and that is their choice. If the preferred dynamic is not in place they are not interested. Others, us Switches, are comfortable with either dynamic in our personal lives. It does not mean we are less a sub/slave/bottom or Dom/Master/Top than anyone else. We are just happy either way.
Excellent news that the US military's discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that barred openly gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women from serving in the miltary (although supposedly permitting them to serve only if they hid who they are) has been repealed. Another step towards ending LGBT discrimination!
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!