aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, March 13, 2006
The “Older Brother Effect”
The headline from Lesley Stahl’s 60 Minutes report the other day on the science of sexual orientation:
“The more older brothers a man has, the greater that man’s chance of being gay,” says [Northwestern University psychology professor Michael] Bailey.
Asked if that’s true, Bailey says, “That is absolutely true.”
If this comes as a shock to you, you’re not alone. But it turns out, it’s one of the most solid findings in this field, demonstrated in study after study.
And the numbers are significant: for every older brother a man has, his chances of being gay increase by one third. Older sisters make no difference, and there’s no corresponding effect for lesbians. A first-born son has about a 2 percent chance of being gay, and the numbers rise from there. The theory is it happens in the womb. [...]
“One of the things we’ve only found out lately is that older brothers affect a boy only if the boy is right-handed,” [Michigan State University’s Dr. Marc] Breedlove said. “If the boy is left-handed, if his brain is organized in a left-handed fashion, it doesn’t matter how many older brothers he has, his probability of being gay is just like the rest of the population.
Parenthetically I note that Dr. BREED-LOVE’s studies of breeding in rats - he gave Stahl “a crash course in rat sex” - implicitly question the role of love as well.
Right on Keanu!
Time was when Hollywood celebrities feared and fought accusations that they were gay.
KEANU Reeves seems to draw from the Zen-like calm of his most famous character, Neo in “The Matrix,” when he’s confronted with false tabloid reports about himself. When unfounded rumors surfaced that he’d “married” mogul David Geffen, the spotlight-eschewing superstar didn’t fly into a rage and call his lawyer, as many other movie stars would. “In that case, it comes down to making a judgment about being gay or not,” Reeves, who is straight, tells Playboy. “I try not to live my life by what other people say . . . People were gossiping about what the king and queen were doing way back when. It’s just human nature. We like talking about other people.”
Ian Ayres and Jennifer Brown, authors of Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, would be proud. Me too.
The number of cigarettes sold in the United States in 2005 fell to the lowest level in 55 years largely due to enforcement of marketing restrictions imposed on the tobacco industry, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) said on Wednesday.
According to federal tobacco tax figures, cigarettes sales slid 4.2 percent from 2004 levels in the largest one-year percentage decrease since 1999, the group said in a statement.
The attorneys general said 378 billion cigarettes were sold in the United States in 2005, the lowest number since 1951.
The Big News: Expanding Reportage
This is old, old news, and that’s the context I want to discuss it in. Shrinking news budgets, concentration of ownership, a reduction in local news outlets and “happy talk” formats have been happening since at least the 80s. My question is, in that long arc of history, are things getting better or worse?
My intuition says better, even as I fully agree with the study’s findings on public attitudes:
Over the longer term, to be sure, the general trend in public attitudes has been downward. We reviewed the data in our original report two years ago, but since the early 1980s Americans have come to view the news media as less professional, less accurate, less caring and less moral. Pollster Andrew Kohut has concluded, summarizing the data, that Americans increasingly believe that news organizations act out of their own economic self-interest, and journalists themselves act to advance their own careers.
Hello??? Does anyone want to deny those things are true? SMART PUBLIC!
Blogs are many things but among those things they are a response to the failings and frustration with the media. They will act (already are acting?) as a pressure on the media to move in directions it wasn’t going on its own.
Here are the study’s findings on blogs:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ A study of seven prominent blogs found they were among the closest to 24-hour media studied-one blog started posting at 3:07 a.m. and continued until 11:20 p.m. EDT.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ While bloggers were often posting about things read or heard in the mainstream media, often it was from a different angle or source, and we also encountered many new matters such as a scholarly debate over the concept of a “living constitution,” a recent blogger convention in Nashville, a controversy at Commonweal Magazine over the dismissal of the editor, thoughts from a group of Iranian bloggers who met with one of their presidential candidates.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Generally, bloggers were less focused on immediate and often transitory issues than the mainstream media studied (breaking news like the Cessna plane that mistakenly entered DC airspace and forced evacuation of the White House were minor items)
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ There was little or no of what someone would call reporting on the blogs-such as interviewing, document research, or serving as witness to events. Only 5% of the postings on these sites involved original research. Most were straight commentary.
Every one of those things is a good and important contribution to the media landscape. Even the latter finding of “only” 5% original research. There are a lot of blogs; 5% is a lot of original research!
I’m seeing this as the first time in decades that there has been any increase in original research. Not only does it maybe make up for the decline we’re seeing in the mainstream outlets, but it will likely prod them to do more on their own. After all, that is an area in which they can and should excel; how long will it take them to realize that and move in the right direction?
Gays should support abortion rights
The attack on the constitutionality of abortion rights is an attack on the right to privacy - the same constitutional right to privacy that in 2003 won us Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court decision that abolished sodomy laws in the United States. In the language of Roe v Wade, a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term was predicated on a constitutional right to privacy and that this “right of privacy” was “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy.”
Make no mistake about it. The people - be they right-wing religious leaders, conservative politicians or far-right ideologues - who want to dismantle a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term would be more than happy to begin rolling back the clock on all aspects of gay rights. They are not just looking at the barely-gained right to marriage equality, but to many other aspects of civil rights for gay people - the right to adopt children, the right to be foster parents, the right not to be discriminated against, as well as the right to simply engage in same-sex relationships. The preservation of abortion rights are the new line in the sand for gay rights.