The Rudiments of Evidence
3 days ago
A gravity-defying illusion has won the 2010 Best Illusion of the Year Contest, held yesterday in Naples, Florida.Here's another. These things are SOOOO cool.
The visual trick involves a 3D construction of four slopes that appear to extend downwards away from a common centre (see video). When wooden balls are placed on the slopes, however, they bizarrely roll upwards as if a magnet is pulling them.
But the "Impossible Motion" illusion, created by Kokichi Sugihara of the Meiji Institute for Advanced Study of Mathematical Sciences in Kawasaki, Japan, is soon dispelled when it's viewed from a different perspective – each slope is actually sloping downwards towards a common centre.
We're fooled because we make the assumption that each supporting column of the object is vertical, and that the longest column in the centre is the highest. But in reality, the columns and slopes are angled to create the illusion.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
12 Year Olds Getting Bikini Waxes: Why Do Women Do Such Terrible Things to Their Vaginas?Find out for your very selves on Alternet, right now. (Okay, I'll admit it: I saw a link to this on FB, and thought: Google bait. This was just a cheap ploy for GOOGLE hits. So sue me...)
By Jennifer Armstrong
Pouring burning wax onto their genitals has become the norm for many women. Why?
When a Cosmo headline promises to help readers get a “sexy vagina,” you know we’ve gone wrong somewhere. Here, all this time, we’d thought that if we had just one inch of sexy on ourselves, it resided in our sex organs. We figured maybe, just maybe, the place where their penises go might turn men on. We thought perhaps the millions of males who paused their VHS tapes of the 1992 movie Basic Instinct at a certain moment when Sharon Stone uncrosses her legs for all the world to see a flash of her goods -- and the millions more who continue to search for this screen-shot online to this day -- might have been predisposed to like pussy. (Then again, that is a hot white mini-dress she wears; maybe they just appreciate the simplicity of the design.) What we’re saying is we didn’t realize it could be such a chore to sex up the part of us that performs the sex.
Oops, take that back: We did realize it. We’ve realized it since the late ’90s, when suddenly it wasn’t just porn stars who found it an every-day necessity to hire a lady to pour hot wax onto their genitals, then rip it allll off, to, you know, keep things tidy down there. Organized. Sexy. In fact, a startling number of us pledged complicity to this trend -- known by the seductive term Brazilian bikini wax -- for something so painful, given that, unlike porn stars and swimsuit models, we couldn’t even claim it as a tax write-off. Among women in American urban centers, this has even become the norm, as routine as a manicure-pedicure or highlights, more routine than a dentist appointment. It is no mere biannual affair, after all. Keeping your honeypot sexy takes dedication, darling.
The question: Why do we do this? And does every rip of the wax take a little bit of our feminism with it?
PADUCAH, KY (ONS)—Throughout his life, 22-year-old Matthew Leske has been a devout Christian, attending services three times a week at Holy Christ Almighty Lutheran Church in his hometown of Paducah, regularly participating in Bible-study devotionals with his mother and four sisters, and faithfully adhering to the dictums of his strict fundamentalist Christian upbringing.
Throughout his post-pubescent life, Leske has also, like all male humans, been gripped by an intense, all-consuming desire to ejaculate sperm, but has been unable to do so out of fear of incurring the wrath of God and suffering an eternity of agonizing punishment in the afterlife.
A part-time prep-cook and odd-job yardwork handyman when not volunteering as a Bible witness to local shut-ins and nursing-home residents, the young Leske has never had much time for socializing with members of the opposite sex. Nevertheless, last week, Leske announced his intention to marry fellow Christian Luann Ruth Perkins, also a member of Holy Christ Almighty, whom he met on a church-sponsored Luther League hayride two months ago.
Leske cited his irresistible desire to achieve sexual climax and ejaculate sperm without having to go to hell as the number one factor in his decision to propose marriage.
"I really want to discharge semen," he said. "I mean I really, really, really want to really bad."
Living his 22 years inviolate under strict fundamentalist doctrine, Leske has never ejaculated, for to do so outside the holy bonds of sacramental matrimony would mean non-negotiable, eternal punishment upon death.
"I don't want to go to hell," said Leske, explaining his decision not to engage in premarital ejaculation. "I am absolutely terrified of the burning and scorching of my impure, unclean flesh in the Lake of Fire; the prodding and stabbing by pitchforks wielded by demons; and, in particular, the unending, eternal torment in pits of boiling pitch as Satan the Deceiver laughs in sadistic glee."
Burning with a desire to ejaculate so overwhelming that it has threatened to dwarf even his love for Christ, Leske has, ever since puberty, researched the subject at length, discovering "five score and seventeen" different methods by which males can achieve ejaculation. Unfortunately, Leske said, not one of them is permissible under fundamentalist-Christian law.
"Homosexuality, masturbation, oral-genital contact, frottage, shoe fetishes, barnyard animals, leaning up against a washing machine on spin cycle—I could go on and on," Leske said. "I would have gladly tried any one of these, because, like I said, I really, really want to ejaculate. Regrettably, though, they are all punishable by eternal torment in the demon pits, so it was pretty much either get married or give up on ejaculating completely."
While Leske is greatly looking forward to marriage and the sweet release of sperm it will bring, he noted that even in holy wedlock, fundamentalist Christian doctrine limits permissible ejaculation to just one circumstance: sexual congress for the purpose of procreation.
"I'm going to want to start a family pretty much immediately," he said. "If I can get a raise and a second job, I figure I might be able to eventually support a family of as many as six or seven offspring. That means I should hopefully get to ejaculate seven times before I die. I know, you're thinking, 'That's not much.' But believe me, it will sure beat the heck out of what I'm doing now, which is not ejaculating at all."
Leske does admit to harboring some doubts about his upcoming nuptials. "What if Luann, never having seen a naked man before, is so frightened that she refuses to allow me to ejaculate?" he said. "Divorce would be out of the question, and I'd be trapped forever in a non-ejaculatory marriage. It will probably work out okay, though: Once she becomes my wife, I should be able to command her to do whatever I say, and, even if it's against her wishes, it will be her Christian duty to obey me."
No date has been set for the wedding, but Leske said he would like it to take place "as soon as humanly possible."
"I have opened my heart and mind to Jesus Christ, the Son of God the Father, my Lord and Savior in Heaven, who died on the cross for my sins, that I might be born again in His blood. And I yearn for the righteous power of the Holy Spirit to fill me with holy inspiration. But I also yearn—desperately yearn, yearn with indescribable longing, I mean really, really yearn—to ejaculate. If it were up to me I would prefer to ejaculate right now. This minute. No lie."
Be careful whom you call a Neanderthal. You may be one yourself. Or at least you may have Neanderthal ancestors.
That's the conclusion of a study being released Thursday that examined DNA extracted from Neanderthal bones more than 35,000 years old.
More Than A Handshake?
There's little question that modern humans and Neanderthals bumped into each other once upon a time.
"The archaeological record shows they overlapped between about 30,000 and 80,000 years ago," says David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School.
There was some fossil evidence that they may have done more than shake hands in passing, but the initial genetic evidence suggested otherwise.
"And so the big open question was whether they exchanged genes during that time when they overlapped in the Middle East and in Europe," he says.
To find out whether the two human species interbred, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, launched an audacious effort to sequence all 3 billion letters of Neanderthal DNA. As hard as it may be to believe, fragments of DNA can survive in bones that are more than 30,000 years old. New techniques can sequence those fragments, and new software can line the fragments up.
The main strategy for finding whether modern humans and Neanderthals exchanged genes was to compare the Neanderthal DNA with DNA from modern humans — some whose ancestors had remained in Africa, and others who had migrated to Europe, Asia and the New World. If the Neanderthal DNA was more similar to the non-African DNA, it would indicate that Neanderthals contributed their genes after the first modern humans migrated out of Africa.
Reich says that's what they found.
"The non-African is more closely related to the Neanderthal," Reich says. "Quite definitely. Highly statistically significantly overwhelming evidence that they're more closely related on average to Neanderthals."
In other words, Reich and his Leipzig co-authors are totally sure that Neanderthal genes found their way into modern humans when the two species intersected. They report their findings in the journal Science.
"The simplest possible explanation is that it occurred once," Reich says. "But it very easily could have occurred on multiple occasions. Perhaps it's likely that it occurred on multiple occasions."
Reich says it's hard to pin down exactly how much DNA Neanderthals contributed to modern humans. Reich says it's hard to pin down exactly how much DNA Neanderthals contributed to modern humans. "We estimate about 1 to 4 percent of the genetic ancestry of non-Africans is from Neanderthals," he says.
Ex-Gay Leader's Male Escort: Actually, We Did Have Sex
Rachel Slajda | May 6, 2010, 2:40PM
The male escort who accompanied George Rekers, a leader of the ex-gay movement, on a European vacation now says the two did engage in sex acts.
The escort, dubbed "Lucien" by the Miami New Times, told the paper that Rekers paid him to provide daily massages, in the nude. The massages included Rekers' favorite move, Lucien said, which he dubbed "the long stroke."
"Rekers liked to be rubbed down there," he said. He originally said the two did not have sex.
Rekers, a Christian Right leader and Baptist minister, was on the founding board of the Family Research Council. He's also a member of the American College of Pediatricians, which believes homosexuality can be cured, and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. He's been paid tens of thousands of dollars by Florida and Arkansas to testify in favor of their bans on gay couples adoption children.
"It's a situation where he's going against homosexuality when he is a homosexual," Lucien told the New Times. The paper broke the story of their 10-day trip earlier this week. Rekers hired Lucien via the web site RentBoy.com (NSFW), an escort site. Rekers maintains that he hired the escort to simply help him lift heavy things during the trip, and has also reportedly said that he was trying to save him from his sinner's lifestyle.
Rekers, who has devoted much of his life to protecting children from homosexuality and other perceived sins, has two blogs on the subject: Professor George and Teen Sex Today.
He hasn't written on "Teen Sex," which is linked from his web site, since last year. Some excerpts:
On the dangers of porn:It all starts off with a quick glimpse of someone in a skimpy outfit, then leads to a night of online swimsuit photo viewing. However, this doesn't satisfy your sexual urge, so you venture on to soft-core porn images (and maybe a quick mpeg here and there). But yet you still crave more intense and explicit porn, which leads you to "stumble" upon hard-core porn sites. Eventually, the most explicit images do not satisfy you. You long for more and more extreme, however, it is never enough. You are hooked and keep coming back for more, whatever the cost.On a teenager who reportedly stabbed her older boyfriend for refusing sex:This news story raises a number of questions: Is it wise for a teen girl to pursue an unmarried sexual relationship with a man in his mid-30's? Why didn't she just leave him alone when he turned down her sexual advance? Would true "love" end up stabbing the person loved? Did she really want to "make love" or just have sexual gratification?
A board member of one of Rekers' groups, NARTH, told the Washington Post that he believes the "travel assistant" story.
Rekers "is a dear, kind man who has had poor health as he has aged and often finds it impossible [alone] to travel to professional conferences or meetings," he said.
KOMAKI, Japan — It's springtime in Japan and that means one thing.
Actually, two things. Penis festivals and vagina festivals.
It may sound like a sophomoric gag. But these are folk rites going back at least 1,500 years, into Japan's agricultural past. They're held to ensure a good harvest and promote baby-making.
Maybe they should hold more such festivals. Japan has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.37 children per woman), which experts blame on stagnant incomes and changing gender relations.
The center-left government that came to power last year hopes to make child-rearing more affordable with a $280 monthly stipend per kid.
Meanwhile, the festivals provide an economic shot in the arm for host cities, a party for foreign tourists and expats, and a chance for locals to let loose, too.
One of the best-known penis festivals is at Komaki City's Tagata shrine, about 45 minutes outside Nagoya, every March 15. In a neighboring village, a vagina festival is held the Sunday before that. This year, that was the 14th — meaning rare, back-to-back genital worship days.
At the Hime-no-miya grand vagina festival, parents dress up their kids, pray for healthy babies, and celebrate with sake, beer and snacks galore.
In the morning, children carry a small vagina to the Ogata shrine. Later, some 40 grown men strain under the weight of a massive vagina while carrying it to the shrine in the main parade. They're followed by two smaller vagina litters.
At the end of the day pink and white mochi (glutinous rice ball treats) are hurled into the crowd.
The penis festival the following day drew far more foreign and Japanese tourists — some 100,000, according to a festival brochure. Festival foreplay included much posing with wooden and candy penises. The main event is the parading of a two-foot by six-and-a-half foot long phallus carved from Japanese cypress.
Rik Lindhome and Kate Micucci sing "My Self Esteem's Not Low Enough to Date You" live at the Fake Gallery in Los Angeles. Song by Riki Lindhome. Download the song for free on my website: http://rikilindhome.com/
Brought to you by Billionaires for Wealthcare, a grassroots network of health insurance CEOs, HMO lobbyists, talk-show hosts, and others profiting off of our broken health care system. We'll do whatever it takes to ensure another decade where your pain is our gain. After all, when it comes to healthcare, if we ain't broke, why fix it?
For more visit: http://www.billionairesforwealthcare.com
A CHRISTIAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. You keep one and lend one to your neighbor, with a small interest charge.
SOCIALIST: You have two cows. You look around for the neighbor who needs it most, and give one to them.
AN AMERICAN REPUBLICAN: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So what?
AN AMERICAN DEMOCRAT: You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office who tax your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money and buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous.
A COMMUNIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk.
A FASCIST: You have two cows. The government seizes both and sells you the milk. You join the underground and start a campaign of sabotage.
DEMOCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.
CAPITALISM, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows. They stampede and trample your neighbor.
BUREAUCRACY, AMERICAN STYLE: You have two cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, then pours the milk down the drain.
AN AMERICAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.
A FRENCH CORPORATION: You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
A JAPANESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them World-Wide.
A GERMAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.
A BRITISH CORPORATION: You have two cows. They are mad. They die. Pass the shepherd's pie, please.
AN ITALIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.
A RUSSIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.
A SWISS CORPORATION: You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
A BRAZILIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You enter into a partnership with an American corporation. Soon you have 1000 cows and the American corporation declares bankruptcy.
AN INDIAN CORPORATION: You have two cows. You worship both of them.
A CHINESE CORPORATION: You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported on them.
AN ISRAELI CORPORATION: There are these two Jewish cows, right? They open a milk factory, an ice cream store, and then sell the movie rights. They send their calves to Harvard to become doctors. So, who needs people?
AN ARKANSAS CORPORATION: You have two cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.
You see the challenge of presenting this "straight?"
What the hell is vaginal rejuvenation? Who would want their vagina bleached? Here's a list of the strangest ways to make your genitals meet the demands of the beauty industry.
What's wrong with your vagina? If you answered "nothing," you're probably wrong. According to the beauty-industrial complex, it's ugly, and it smells bad. But don't worry-- there's nothing that money can't fix.1. Problem: Your Vagina Smells BadIn the seventies, Massengill tried to marry feminism and its vaginal deodorant spray ("With Hexachlorophene") in an ad that declared the product to be "The Freedom Spray." It was "...the better way to be free to enjoy being a woman. Free from worry about external vaginal odor." Because you're going to need that time you used to spend worrying about your vaginal odor to flirt your way through the glass ceiling. Oh, and Hexachlorophene? It's a disinfectant that can be lethal when absorbed through the skin. In 1972, it was added to baby powder in France due to a manufacturing error and killed thirty-six children.
Solution: Vaginal Deodorant
In case you think vaginal deodorant is a relic of the past, just take a trip to the drug store. (I did, and I took notes. The staff of my local Walgreens is convinced that I'm both very thorough and that my vagina smells really bad.) There are several kinds of vaginal deodorants still for sale (Walgreens even manufactures a generic version). You can buy scented vaginal suppositories called Norforms in Island Escape and Summer's Eve Deodorant Spray in Island Splash. (Norforms contain something called Benzethonium chloride, which is also used as a hard surface disinfectant for fruit and classified as a poison in Switzerland. Exotic!) And you can buy FDS (Feminine, Discreet, Sensual) Spray ("For the woman who cares.") in a myriad of scents including Sheer Tropics and Fresh Island Breeze.
Because if you really cared, you'd make your vagina smell like a poisonous island.2. Problem: Your Vagina is DirtyDouching, the act of forcing a mixture of fluids up into the vagina with a tube and pump, was first promoted as a form of birth control (it doesn't work) and has continued to be used for vaguely medical reasons: to prevent STIs (sexually transmitted infections), to clean the vagina after menstruation and, of course, to rid it of that disgusting vagina smell. Douching has been repeatedly discouraged by the medical community, which not only doesn't attribute any health benefits to the act, but believes that it can actually harm women. A government Web site run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services discourages douching by answering a series of hypothetical questions, one of which is: "My vagina has a terrible odor, can douching help?" The answer: No. Get thee to a doctor.
Despite health concerns, manufacturers still churn out vaginal douches. Pick up a box of Summer's Eve Douche, and you'll find warnings that douching has been associated with PID (Pelvic Inflamatory Disease), ectopic pregnancy and infertility. Right next to the suggestion that women douche after their menstrual period, after using contraceptive jellies and creams and to "clear out any vaginal secretions." So basically, any time your vagina isn't as dry as a British sitcom.3. Problem: Your Vagina is Too LooseLet's face it. Nature really screwed up when it made the vagina. Never mind that that it accommodates the birth of a child or that it's fundamentally better designed than male genitalia. (Who wants to carry their most sensitive reproductive organs on the outside?) While nature was busy dishing out things like multiple orgasms, it forgot to make vaginas vice-tight. Luckily, plastic surgeons have stepped in to put an end to womankind's collective suffering.
Solution: Vaginal Rejuvenation
Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation is a trademarked phrase that refers to a practice developed and popularized by Dr. David Matlock, who's made several appearances on the E! channel's plastic surgery reality show, Dr.90210. Matlock and other doctors who carry out LVR claim that the $4,000 to $20,000 procedure makes women's vaginas tighter, thus increasing sexual pleasure.
But many doctors disagree. The American Urogynocology Society won't endorse it. And the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cautioned in a 2007 statement that women seeking "designer vaginas" should be "informed about the lack of data supporting the efficacy of these procedures and their potential complications, including infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia, adhesions, and scarring." Sexy!4. Problem: Your Vagina is UglyIf your vagina is tight enough (and let's face it, it's probably not) you've still got to deal with the labia. And by "deal with," I mean remove. Labiaplasty drastically reduces the labia, the protruding lips that surround the opening of the vagina. Why would you want to do this? Because your labia are "unequal," "elongated," "large," "irregular," "floppy," and "unfeminine." These are just some of the unflattering adjectives bandied about on the Web sites of surgeons who offer this procedure. Luckily, with the use of lasers and scalpels, your vagina can be made "prettier," "better proportioned," "youthful," and achieve "the true Playboy aesthetic look." How much will it cost you to make your labia proportional and feminine? About $5,000 or more.
Solution: Labiaplasty5. Problem: Your Vagina Tastes Bad
Solution: Vagina Mints
If your partner is reluctant to give you oral sex, it's not because of pervasive cultural belief that cunnilingus is complicated to the point of being impossible and that vaginas are inherently icky (thus the need to uncomplicate them and un-ickify them with, oh, say, labiaplasty) it's because your vagina tastes bad. Enter the Linger Internal Vaginal Flavoring, or Altoids for your vagina. Linger assumes you already feel bad about your nether regions, stating on its Web site that the mint-flavored pill "decreases self-consciousness" and tosses out the unattributed statistic that 72 percent of women feel self conscious about their taste and odor. Dubious marketing practices aside, the Linger mint isn't just a harmless, if asinine, oddity. Mother Jones magazine did some digging into the origins of Linger and discovered that the vagina mint is no different from a regular mint. In other words, it's made out of sugar. And putting sugar-based mint directly into your vagina is a recipe for a mint-flavored yeast infection.6. Problem: Your Vagina is the Wrong ColorMany women are under the impression that it's OK to have a vagina colored vagina. They're wrong, of course. They should be pink, and exceptionally so. What's a woman with a vagina colored vagina to do? Bleach it. Accomoclitic Laser and Wax Studio in Lakewood, Colorado, purveyors of an anal bleaching product called "Pink Wink," also sell something called Bleach Babe, a cream that promises to do away with the "natural discoloration surrounding the exterior of the vagina." Bleach Babe contains Kojic acid, the same ingredient that keeps salmon meat pink. South Beach Solutions sells a similar lightening product with Sodium hydroxide, which can also be found in drain decloggers and septic tank cleansers.
Solution: Vaginal Bleaching and Dying
If bleaching fails to render your vagina the color of a Barbie Dream House, you can try My New Pink Button, billed as a "Genital Cosmetic Colorant that restores the "Pink" back to woman's genitals." Because vaginas that aren't vibrantly pink are old and sad. My New Pink Button is meant to be painted onto the vagina (it comes in powder form and must be scooped up with a moist Q-tip like device) and lasts 48 to 72 hours. After which, one supposes, users must reapply in order to maintain the youthful status of their genitals.
I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.
I ordered a burger at McDonald's and the kid behind the counter asked, "Can you afford fries with that?"
CEOs are now playing miniature golf.
If the bank returns your check marked "Insufficient Funds," you call them and ask if they meant you or them.
Hot Wheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.
McDonald's is selling the 1/4-ouncer.
A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.
Dick Cheney took his stockbroker hunting.
Motel Six won't leave the light on anymore.
The Mafia is laying off judges.
Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.
Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh great!! The guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 trillion disappear!
I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Lifeline. I got a call center in Pakistan. When I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.