aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Sex in the MRI
I passed on posting when it made the rounds a couple weeks ago, but referenced it tonight with friends who asked both why - “To find out whether taking images of the male and female genitals during coitus is feasible...” - and how:
The participants (pairs of men and women) were recruited by personal invitation and through a local scientific television programme. Respondents were invited to participate if they met the following criteria: older than 18 years, intact uterus and ovaries, and a small to average weight/height index. The experimental procedure was explained in a letter sent to respondents along with an informed consent form. Participants were assured confidentiality, privacy, anonymity, and the possibility of withdrawing from the study at any time. After written informed consent had been obtained, the participants were invited to come for a scan when the equipment was available on a Saturday.
The tube in which the couple would have intercourse stood in a room next to a control room where the searchers were sitting behind the scanning console and screen. An improvised curtain covered the window between the two rooms, so the intercom was the only means of communication. Imaging was first done in a 1.5 Tesla Philips magnet system (Gyroscan S15) and later in a 1.5 Tesla magnet system from Siemens Vision. To increase the space in the tube, the table was removed: the internal diameter of the tube is then 50 cm. The participants were asked to lie with pelvises near the marked centre of the tube and not to move during imaging.
Here are the images. In telling my friends I remembered, correctly, that the study depended on Viagra to succeed. One delicious detail I wish I had remembered is about the single couple that was able to, er, perform without it:
The reason might be that they were the only participants in the real sense: involved in the research right from the beginning because of their scientific curiosity, knowledge of the body, and artistic commitment. And as amateur street acrobats they are trained and used to performing under stress.
Wish I could think of something funny to say from the gay angle.
Giuliani’s new pals: Santorum & Reed
People keep saying Giuliani is liberal on social issues. I answer, “Everything’s relative.” In laying the groundwork for a presidential run, it looks like he’s distancing himself from any pro-gay positions:
On Tuesday, Giuliani appeared at a rally for U.S. senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a vocal opponent of gay rights, who has said that states should regulate homosexuality “the same as they regulate human sexual contact with animals.” Giuliani said of Santorum, “In any age you don’t have many leaders. Senator Santorum is one of them.”
Today we find that “Giuliani’s hugely popular among Georgia Republicans: A recent poll found he is their top choice for President, beating Arizona Sen. John McCain by 7 points.” What’s he doing with that poularity?
Possible presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani - who was just snubbed by fundamentalist Rev. Jerry Falwell - is headlining a fund-raiser for former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed.
Reed said Giuliani will appear at a May 28 lunch to benefit his run for Georgia lieutenant governor. Tickets go as high as $5,000, for the added perk of a photo-op with Giuliani and Reed.
“He believes they have common ground,” said Giuliani spokeswoman Sunny Mindel.
It seems literally impossible to me that this could work. I was talking recently to a pretty major figure in the religious right about the 2008 race for a freelance piece I’m working on, and he told me there’s just no way for Giuliani to generate any support at all from the party’s base. Even if Giuliani were to completely reverse course and embrace positions that he’s always opposed, religious-right voters would ask how such a transformation is possible, and would no doubt prefer a candidate who’d been conservative all along.
Michelle Malkin and the Dog Poop Girl
There has been at least one unpredictable side effect: fierce witch hunts. In a case that caused national soul-searching, a woman riding the subway with her dog last year refused to clean up after it defecated in the car. One angry passenger photographed her with a camera-equipped cellphone and later posted the photos. Soon, all of wired South Korea seemed to be on the hunt for ‘’Dog Poop Girl.’’ Several misidentified women were verbally attacked, and finally the woman herself was identified on the Internet and humiliated as the topic of countless online discussions.
I’m reminded of that passage because we’re in the middle of our own misbehaving moment right now. Michelle Malkin posted personal information then refused to take it down and now, apparently, one of my fellow lefty bloggers has posted hers.
I’m not going to get into the merits of either side of the argument, and choose to discuss instead how the situation illustrates the need for us to negotiate and establish the norms for our technologically enhanced information environment.
I believe we’re in an era of information promiscuity; that we have to learn the difference between “public” as in “not secret” and “public” as in “made easily accessible to the world.” This era will pass. But I like the South Korean model:
Such problems have led the government to consider curbing anonymity on the Internet, a proposal that has drawn strong opposition here. In another response, in February, the government released a 256-page ‘’IT Ethics’’ textbook for junior and high school students. Teachers are expected to spend 30 hours instructing from the textbook, whose chapters include ‘’Healthy Mobile Phone Culture,’’ and ‘’Protecting Personal Privacy.’’
I don’t kid myself that it will ever happen here. I’d like to see university administration and faculty work with students to address the issues raised by Facebook and MySpace. Whether they do or not I have more optimism for these young people working it out and establishing norms than I do for today’s bloggers.
Then again, maybe this is the process. But I like the tried and true idea of standards-setting, negotiating and establishing norms and “Best Practices” guidelines. I’d join and support and proudly display the seal of a non-profit blogger organization set up to develop some.
Most blog traffic is trash. I’ve written about it before, and it’s not exactly news. Everyone knows it. If you look at your stats, you’ll learn that half of your traffic--or a lot more than half--comes from search engines. People type in things like “nipple schoolgirl goat priest molasses,” and they end up at your site for ten seconds, and they leave, hopefully disappointed. Those people aren’t “visitors,” no matter how much you like to think they are. They’re just lost. And they don’t click ads. Even worse, you may be getting traffic because big bloggers link to you. That doesn’t make you a success. It makes you a pet, living on table scraps. When the scraps stop coming--when you say the wrong thing and stop toadying--those tasty scraps can stop coming, instantly, and then you find out how much readers really care about you.
Via James Joyner:
Graham’s larger point, that bloggers interested in making serious money from their writing should probably augment their blogs with freelance writing and/or pursuit of book deals, is almost certainly right. Blogging is often, to use Steven Taylor’s taglines, a first, rough draft of one’s thoughts. It gives writers a chance to flesh out things they’re thinking about and get feedback. It also helps build name identification. Only a lucky few will ever make a living just posting things on a blog, though.
My blogging is not to make money; I blog to engage in the public debate. But more, blogging for me is a deliberative process to document, develop and deepen my thinking. So my posts are not just the first rough drafts of my thoughts.
I have made a career of promoting the use of media by amateurs for civic engagement. When I started out the technology of choice was television; now it is more broadly defined and facilitated by the Internet.
That amateur civic engagement in the public issues of the day is, for me, the most important attribute of the blogosphere.