I Understand, General Petraeus

With apologies to the poet E.E. Cummings, Clinton told him, he couldn’t believe it. Schwarzenegger told him, he wouldn’t believe it. Spitzer certainly told him, and even General “Little Ike” Eisenhower told him, but he didn’t believe any of them.

What they told General Petraeus was to keep it in his pants. More accurately, they served as gonad-wrenching examples of what could happen if he failed to do so, even though ol’ Ike pretty much got away with his affair with Kay Summersby while she drove him around battleground Europe.

But I’m not here to condemn you, General Petraeus. I understand why you did it and, while we don’t talk about it in polite circles, all men pretty much know why, but if asked by their wives or their girlfriends, they’ll frown, shake their head, paw at the ground, and tsk tsk with the best of them while muttering something about poor judgment.

The thing is, we all know that judgment had nothing to do with it. Take it from me, a student of the hormone testosterone, judgment has nothing to do with sex. No, it was pure, unbridled, 4-star lust.

There’s a Yiddish expression I read in Portnoy’s Complaint that goes like this: “Ven der putz shteht, ligt her sechel in drerd,” which translates to “When the prick stands up, the brains get buried in the ground.”

And boy did you bury your brain, General, along with other parts of your anatomy.

But I get it, General, I get it. You have the same distractions and desires and wants that the rest of us have. Women don’t know this, might not be able to handle it, but on our deathbeds? Sure we probably think about how we should have spent more time with our family instead of working, but we’re probably also thinking about how it would have been nice if we’d had more sex with tasty little morsels that wore thong panties the color of M & Ms and Skittles.

It’s our nature, it’s our genetic makeup, it’s our testosterone, yet it seems we always have to make an apology for our biology.

But there were other factors, General, that contributed to your particular sexual Waterloo and made it much more complicated.  For one, you’re married and you broke your promise to your wife and you sure as hell didn’t want her to find out the way she did. It was undoubtedly painful for her and you’ll no doubt punish yourself for the rest of your life for this particular crime of passion.

Furthermore, adultery is against the military code of conduct, and even though you were retired when the affair began, it still comes off as unseemly. Likewise, the CIA doesn’t much care for it because there’s the notion that bedded men share secrets.  Maybe they do. The cold war Russians supposedly employed plenty of beautiful big-breasted agent provocateurs to coerce secrets out of sex hungry men.

Still, we know how it goes. You’ve practically got the status of a rock star, and there are suddenly, miraculously, all these inappropriately young, delightfully accommodating women around you who hang on your every word and read every book you suggest, who don’t know the Petraeus your wife knows, the human one who has smelly feet and snores and looks like he just weathered an Afghani sandstorm when he wakes up.

So your biographer turned your head, both the big one and the little one. You’ve no doubt been feeling old, and you wanted to flex a little sexual muscle to see if you still could, while you still could. Besides, in what’s perhaps the ultimate example of hubris, for you and probably 50% of the males dragging their manhood across terra firma, you probably thought you deserved it. Sure, it’s almost like nookie is just spoils of war, whether your war is an actual war or one fought in a boardroom.

Besides, you’ve been so super disciplined for your entire life that maybe you didn’t have much experience with temptation. The Middle East, while full of sun, sand, and in some cases, surf, is remarkably free of spring-break coeds participating in wet T-shirt contests.

You were ramrod straight for oh-so many years, and your will finally broke when that biographer started cooing and gushing and flirting.  Ah, General, you didn’t have a chance.

But letting your little head do the talking was the least of your problems. You’re a victim of our culture as much as anything else. We want our leaders chaste, vanilla, and devoid of love for anything but your wife, America, and perhaps a perky schnauzer.

Chances are if you were a general anywhere else, no one would have flinched. Any marital indiscretions would be between you, your wife, and your mistress(es).

Perhaps the worst reaction to our distaste for infidelity is what some scientists are proposing. They’re actually talking about a “cure” for infidelity, and it has to do with the hormone oxytocin, which is produced by the hypothalamus and promotes mothering, closeness, and, in women — when their nipples are stimulated — lactation. It also promotes stronger pair bonding, and scientists have suggested that it be administered to men to stop their philandering.

It would douse the desire for extramarital sex and instead flame the desire to cuddle. The mere whisper of this sort of thing makes my testicles recede.  These researchers should remember what crazy but often wise old philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said:

“Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you.”

A Petraeus devoid of life force, who wanted to cuddle instead of screw and fight, wouldn’t be much good to anyone.

So General, patch up your marriage, do what you think needs to be done to restore your reputation with the country, but try to take solace in the knowledge that a lot of us understand your motivations and don’t condemn you for them.

Oh, and if anyone tries to give you some oxytocin, stick a bayonet in his ear.

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I Must Kill Todd

Saturday morning. Coffee shop. Talking to Tom. Trying to have an all-too-rare meaningful conversation. Right on the cusp of maybe learning something about Tom, something that might even teach me about life and change me in a permanent way.

Then, like a conversational suicide bomber, some guy Tom knows, “Todd,” walks up to our table and interrupts. Starts talking to Tom about his kid’s school, and his affinity for “irreverent movies” like There’s Something About Mary. Mofo doesn’t even acknowledge that I’m there or that maybe he interrupted.

The guy must be a low-on-the-totem-pole crummy waiter at some restaurant. You have to know what I’m talking about, right? You’re there with your girlfriend, it’s romantic, and you’re about to, I don’t know, tell her you love her or propose or maybe ask if she’s up for a threesome or foursome when some waiter assaults your privacy, interrupts your conversation for the twentieth time and asks, “Are you done with that?” completely oblivious or, worse, unconcerned that he’s interrupted a highly personal moment.

If you’re like me, you want to stand up, grab him by his greasy shirt lapels, slam his back into the table, pluck his eye out with a coffee spoon, pour some of the sauce left over from your spicy chicken vindaloo into his eye socket, and stuff a rolled-up flatbread into his pie hole so his screams, in a case of poetic justice, can’t interrupt what you’re saying to him, which is, “Hey, shit for brains…a fucking decent waiter times his interactions with the patrons, got that? You don’t interrupt the conversation because we could be talking about something important, you self-absorbed, bread-crumb scraping cock bite!”

So that’s what I’m feeling when “Todd” interrupts.

Booger-Eating Buffoon

Unfortunately for my few surviving neurons, Todd continues to drone on:

“Man, that scene with the cum in her hair was so funny!”

That? That’s what you’re bringing to the table, fuck face? You interrupt us to talk about some movie from 10 years ago? Why not some jokes about Michael Jackson wearing one glove or molesting children? Why not an O.J. joke? Jesus, that piece of cultural trivia percolated through popular culture’s coffee maker for 10 years before it got to your fossilized funny bone and you decided to debut it now in the hopes of finding some fellow idiots who are simpatico with your ‘whacky’ sense of humor?

And then, bizarrely, Todd does a head-snapping conversational 180 and says he doesn’t plan on going to the art fair down the street. He doesn’t “need any more art” because, “I already have some art at home.”

Really? I suppose you don’t need any more books because you already have one at home. You fucking stupid, uncultured, booger eating, starched-shirt wearing, cultural buffoon. You know what I see when I look at you? You look like a walking, talking loaf of Wonder Bread from the 1950′s. You are to white breadedness what the 24-hour clock at the Greenwich Observatory is to all other clocks; other drab pieces of whitebread humanity use you to gauge and perfect their god-awful white breadedness.

Kill yourself, Todd. Kill yourself now. You’ll be doing the universe and me, particularly me, a favor.

My Testicle Resembles Tom Cruise

This is no good. I’m letting the memory of Todd’s interruption distract me from what I really want to write about. It’s best I go meditate. Go talk amongst yourselves while I find my macramé meditation underwear that were given to me by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. They help me meditate, but they’re a little problematic in that the holes in the hemp roping are a little too big, which, if I’m not careful, let at least one of my testicles slip out so that it looks like Tom Cruise’s head in that War of the Worlds movie where the aliens scooped him and his daughter up in a big net.

Time to chant my mantra.

Ayyyyyyingaaaaa….ayyyyyingaaaaa…ayyyyingaaaaaa…..

That’s better.

What I wanted to write about, what Todd, in a perverse sort of way reminded me of, is that true, meaningful conversation is terribly rare and that I, like a camel in the desert seeking water, am desperately searching for it.

I’ve paid special attention to how people communicate for years because I’m so hungry for real conversation. Sure, I’ll exchange quips and talk about politics and, if goaded sufficiently, talk about “what’s going on,” but I usually leave a conversation feeling like someone who just went through colonoscopy prep, hasn’t eaten in a day and a half, and walks his starving body into a fancy restaurant only to be fed a piece of steak that was about the size of a quarter. In other words, I’m still starved and I’m angry to boot and I leave a meager tip.

Through experience, I’ve assigned 3 levels of complexity to human conversation.

Level 1 Conversations

Level 1 is where 99% of humans spend their conversational life. Level 1 conversation involves the most superficial of superficial topics, things like what you did today, what foods you like, and gossip about how the girl behind the meat counter at the Piggly Wiggly soaks her tampons in vodka.  It’s also the lifeblood of Facebook.

Listening to it or reading it can make anyone whose IQ has a fighting chance of hitting 3 digits want to kill himself in some fantastic way with stage lights and fog, just to offset the dreariness.

Level 2 Conversations

Level 2 conversation is where people who think they’re smart and superior spend a lot of their time. Admittedly, it takes a wee bit of gray matter, but not too much. Level 2 often includes political discussions, current events, or maybe even theories espoused in some new book.

Moreover, the things discussed are based on beliefs rather than observations, and belief-based systems, I’ve learned, are dead on arrival. You can’t argue with beliefs, you can’t discuss beliefs. Beliefs are closed systems.

Level 2 conversations might even involve sports, if there’s any armchair quarterback analysis involved in the discussion. This level is also categorized by the almost complete lack of actual discourse. Each participant makes an assertion, often with a breathtaking degree of certainty, but it doesn’t matter because the other person usually doesn’t even hear him; he’s too busy waiting for that moving pie hole to close so he can utter his equally opinionated assertion.

No follow-up questions are ever asked, nothing is really learned, and each participant retires to their workplace or home, smug in their belief that they’re personally highly engaging and smart and worldly and how the person they talked to is so privileged to know them.

And, the Top of the Heap, Level 3 Conversations

Level 3 conversation is so rare that to mention it is to invite debate over its very existence. It requires the participation of at least two people who have innocent curiosity that’s backed up with accurate observations and clear thought. Just to be clear, innocent questions are those asked without ulterior motives, without a desire to be manipulative or deceptive.

That may sound like common sense, but it’s been my experience that during most discussions (Level 2), people ask questions like state prosecutors in that they usually know the response and the sole reason for asking it is to prove an assertion rather than truly find out something new about somebody.

Above all, Level 3 conversations explore meaningful topics

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say I’m talking about movies with a friend, and I happen to mention that one of my favorites is The Shawshank Redemption. In return, he might, in the unlikely event he gave a damn and wanted to really learn something about me, ask me what I liked about it.

If I were a regular, self-guarded schmuck who answers without thinking, I might say something about the plot, the acting, or maybe even the cinematography, which ultimately reveals nothing about myself.

However, let’s say this was the aforementioned Level 3 conversation and I really took the question (what did I like about the movie?) seriously.

I might have said that I admire the main character, Andy Dufrense, who despite having no freedom, decides life matters, because I’m almost the opposite – I have freedom, but I’ve half decided that life doesn’t matter. I’m more like Red, who’s been sidetracked by fear and cynicism, so in a way, I live in a prison of my own making.

I find myself hugely impressed at how Andy isn’t afraid of anything, how, despite his dire circumstances — life in prison without parole — he tried to make life better for his fellow prisoners. He developed a real friendship with Red – with lots of “Level 3″ conversations — and had the patience, courage, and foresight to burrow through a prison wall for 20 years with a small rock hammer as his only tool.

And it resonated with me how Andy, in concert with one of the closing lines of the movie, decided to “get busy living or get busy dying, a philosophy that Red also ended up adopting.

So in seeing that movie, I’m reminded of my shortcomings and what I need to do.

Now I assume that’s a little bit different than how most people might answer a question like, “What did you like about the movie?”

In my explanation, you (if you were listening) found out something about me and maybe something about you. We transcended bullshit. What’s more, I feel good because somebody asked me a question and listened to the answer without interjecting how the movie they really liked was Something About Mary.

If your sole purpose for having conversations is to satisfy your ego, convince yourself that you’re smart, or to just have fun, you could be dog paddling in a perpetual pool of self-absorption and in doing so, miss out on a lot. Level 3 conversations teach you about yourself, other people, about life, and in doing so, make your existence a whole lot more satisfying.

It’s a pity they’re so rare.

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Happy Dress Like a Whore Day

Poor, miserable Ashley.

It’s 4 AM and the alarm is sounding, just like it has five mornings a week for the last year and a half. If things go right, if she doesn’t have to wait too long for the shower to heat up; if she doesn’t spill any coffee on her blouse; if some idiot doesn’t ram a semi on the freeway and cause a 5-mile long traffic jam of rubbernecks, she just might get to work by 6 AM.

Ashley works as a customer service rep for an Internet shoe retailer. When someone can’t get the website to accept their gift code, or if some fat cow with poor reading comprehension in Bethesda wants to know if the extra-wide Mephisto sandals come in taupe instead of bone when the page clearly states that bone is the only shitty color available, they call Ashley.

It’s not exactly the kind of work she pictured herself doing. In fact, if in junior high, some gypsy palm reader had told her what her future had in store, she might have gotten serious about her studies. That, or maybe killed herself by inhaling next to Mr. Hickman, the smelly custodian.

But the future caught her unprepared. She grew up to be a female Biff Loman.

So from 6 AM to 3 PM, Pacific Standard Time, ‘Biffina’ answers the phone in the basement of the Internet shoe store. She’s a pretty girl, but you wouldn’t know it to see her at work. Her mousey brown hair is a little lank because most mornings she doesn’t have time to wash it and set it and poof it up with her Vidal Sassoon pro-vitamin infused mousse. Her dry eyes won’t accept her contact lenses that early in the morning, so she begrudgingly wears her thick, brown, tortoise shell glasses that she’s been meaning to update for the last five years or so.

She works in the basement and doesn’t interact face-to-face with the public, so she often wears sweats, or at best, some J.C. Penney, high-waisted old lady slacks.

Ashley sits in one of a half-dozen cubicles, each populated with another girl who pretty much feels the same way she does. Management doesn’t even know if any of them are alive. Neither does anyone else at the office who works on the floors above them.

But that was before the office Halloween party. She doesn’t know if it was the alignment of the stars, something she ate, or the subconscious influence of her favorite slutty Desperate Housewives characters, but Ashley decided to vamp it up a little with her costume.

She scrounged around her closet and found an old ballet tutu, a winged fairy getup she’d worn in a grade school production of Peter Pan, and some outrageous high-heeled “bedroom shoes” an ex-boyfriend had once sheepishly presented her.

She tore, cut, shortened, hemmed, and painstakingly tailored each abbreviated piece of fabric so that any one who might have assumed her ass had flattened out from all those hours of sitting would be proven terribly wrong; so that anyone who assumed her breasts were anything but amazingly perky would get an eyeful of gravity-defying reality.

She poofed her hair up to its genetic potential, slathered on enough lipstick and eye shadow to shame a Shanghai whore, and climbed atop her towering shoes. Hence was the “Customer Service Fairy” born.

The Dead Want Nookie

Other than having to hear, “I didn’t know we sold shoes like that!” from just about every guffawing drunken fool in management, she had an incredible, Cinderella-like night. She even thought about leaving one of her “slippers” behind as a symbolic joke, but she worried that someone would trip over the towering thing and break their neck, or maybe drive their Hummer over it and break an axle.

Management might not have known her before that Halloween, but they knew her now. Within 3 weeks of that night, she was made the manager of the Customer Service Department. Within 3 months of that night, she was a Vice President in charge of new accounts, all because she dressed like a whore on Halloween and got noticed.

She hadn’t slept her way to the top, but she sure as hell sexed her way up a few rungs.

But Ashley’s costume was actually pretty tame by modern Halloween standards. As any male who’s ever stuck his snout out the door on Halloween knows, the holiday miraculously transforms the entire world into a Copenhagen brothel. The Starbucks girl, the flight attendant, the receptionist, the cashier, all miraculously transformed into wanton sluts!

It’s glorious.

While women don’t generally sex themselves up on Halloween for occupational advancement, their real motives are fuzzy at best. Maybe you have to go back to the origin of Halloween to understand its evolution to chief boner holiday of the year.

It goes back to the Druids, a Celtic culture from Ireland and Britain and the holiday’s roots lay in the Feast of Samhain, which occurred on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic calendar. Of course, if you ever saw the Halloween movie — one of the sad few where Jamie Lee Curtis didn’t bare her breasts — you’d already know about the Feast of Samhain where the terrible killer in a hockey mask kills all the couples that fornicate out of wedlock.

Okay, Michael Myers wasn’t part of the original ritual, but Samhain did signify summer’s end and on that night the dead did roam the streets. Gifts and treats were left out to pacify the evil spirits, which would presumably lead to plentiful crops the next year. However, the dead soon got bored with candy corn, Mars bars, and those dreadful circus peanuts.

The dead, much like the living, want nookie. So women, in a valiant effort to erect the ectoplasmic and to ensure healthy crops, showed plenty of bare midriff and more cleavage than the Grand Tetons and perched themselves atop 7-inch heels, making their asses as easy to admire as a bowling trophy atop the credenza. Hence the holiday we know today.

That pistachio crop in California that went bad this past year? All because there weren’t enough stripper-wannabes on the streets last October. You women out there simply have to quit being so…damn…modest. Don’t do it for me, do it for the crops.

Dominatrices Unite!

Okay, I made some of that up. I’m really not sure why women sex it up so much on Halloween. All I know is that you don’t see women dressing up as nurses, nuns, witches, or flight attendants any more, at least not nurses, nuns, witches, or flight attendants that aren’t openly displaying neon-colored thongs and Wonderbras with heels so wonderfully high, a lot of men would have to back up 30 yards and get a running start just to jump up and graze the underside of one of their breasts with their outstretched hand.

This evolution of women’s costumes has been so abrupt and so wonderfully pervasive that it prompted comedian Carlos Mencia to rename Halloween,  “Dress-Like-a-Whore-Day.”

Even adolescent girls are wearing bare-midriff costumes with crude, built-in pre-fab breasts that probably make eerie spirit noises when adolescent boys squeeze them.

So what is it really that causes “good girls” to be so bad on Halloween? Why do women dress sexy while men dress like buttheads? Okay, so a straight man dressing “sexy” automatically elicits cries of “Hey, homo!” from his friends, but that still doesn’t explain why women embrace their inner whore.

New York Times writer Stephanie Rosenbloom tried to figure it out last week, interviewing a number of professors, authors, and wanna-be hussies.

“It’s a night when even a nice girl can dress like a dominatrix and still hold her head up the next morning,” explained Linda Scott, author of Fresh Lipstick: Redressing Fashion and Feminism.

Pat Gill, a professor of gender and woman’s studies at the University of Illinois thinks that showing off their bodies is a mark of independence and security and confidence,” prompting the author of the Times’ piece to wonder why gyms don’t have “get in shape for Halloween” specials.

A friend of mine, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sexuality, believes that Halloween provides the “perfect landscape” for women to “pool the power of seduction without the obvious downside of being a real whore.” (The downside being that they’d have to blow fat guys with scabby penises.)

Women who dress ultra-sexy are playing out “untenable urges that have been played out by women for the entire history of mankind,” he adds.

And the young girls dressing up? He says they don’t understand sexuality quite yet, but they do understand power, and adult men and women are inadvertently mentoring them into premature sexualization by telling them how good they look.

I buy into the power thing, but I think that’s only part of it. Little boys and girls dress like their heroes or role models for Halloween. For boys, this often means a superhero costume and for little girls, it’s often a princess, a nurse, or even the Tomb Raider.

While this urge to emulate your role models or fantasy figure doesn’t dissipate with maturity, conventional belief systems about what’s nerdy or gay don’t make it easy for most men to dress like a superhero any more. Besides, few of them have the build to pull it off. So instead they wear togas or beer-themed costumes.

Women, on the other hand, aren’t held back by anything, so they dress like hookers or strippers or sexually supercharged female convicts, police officers, or nurses. There’s no reason to tap-dance, or should I say pole-dance, around their true rationale. I think they dress like what they are or want to be, and most of the time, it’s a whore goddess.

To Swallow the Galactic Penis

I’m not saying these vixens necessarily want to have sex with undesirable men for money, but I think they do want sex and lots of it. They want to suckle the earth, swallow the galactic penis, and vaginally engulf Terra Ultra Firma.

As I’ve long maintained, most women are worse than males when it comes to sheer animal appetite, but society puts restraints on them.

In a lot of ways, Dress Like a Whore Day puts me in mind of the typical plight of many Japanese women, who are hugely repressed. They’re all Ashleys, or what Ashley used to be. But when the opportunity to cut loose arises, they do it with vengeance.

It’s said that almost any gaijin, even a Dick Cheney, could easily get the wasabi fucked out of him on any given evening in Japan. The Japanese woman sees the gaijin as safe in that he’ll be gone in the morning, leaving her reputation unsullied. She can go back to being the dutiful little worker, the dutiful little daughter, and no one will know she spent the night screaming like Yoko Ono wearing a cold, brass, nipple clamp.

Halloween is a condensed version of the repressed Japanese woman’s after-hours adventures; a chance to throw off the shackles of repression and don some real shackles, maybe some nice, sexy, fur-lined ones.

I’ll readily admit that I might be overplaying the goddess whore angle. Maybe a lot of women are just like Ashley in that they’re using Halloween to lash out against boredom and normalcy; to stand out and be noticed, even if it’s only for one night.

Either way, we hugely appreciate it. And so do the crops.

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We Know Next to Nothing About Heart Disease

“The great secret, known to internists… but still hidden from the general public, is that most things get better by themselves. Most things, in fact, are better in the morning.”

—Lewis Thomas

I used to think that medical doctors were gods — all knowing and all-powerful. These men had power over life and death. They thought nothing of reaching into the underworld and grabbing the almost dead by their collars and pulling them back to the world of the living before they could be ferried down the river Styx.

I don’t think that way anymore.

I now realize that doctors are as flawed as the rest of us and the art they practice — medicine — is, despite what the magazines, newspapers, and doctors themselves tell us, a pretty primitive art. Furthermore, a lot of what lay people believe is bullshit that’s been served to us on a sterile spoon.

I’ve recently grown more convinced of this than ever.

The Big Quintuple By

A friend of mine underwent open-heart surgery this past fall and not just any open-heart surgery: his was the grand kabuki of heart surgeries, the quintuple bypass.

Amazingly, my friend didn’t have any of the traditional risk factors. His blood pressure was normal as was his cholesterol. He didn’t smoke, eat a high fat diet, or have high iron levels. In fact, he didn’t even have a heart attack.

Nope, his blockages had been diagnosed during a stress test and a subsequent heart catherization and these blockages, he was told, could dislodge at any moment and totally clog up his arterial plumbing, just as deftly and efficiently as if you dropped an Idaho potato into the toilet and tried to flush it.

He’s fine now and well on the road to recovery, but his doctors have given him some puzzling and often contradictory advice that prompted me to start digging, terrier-like, into cardiology. What I’ve found has got me totally freaked out. Among the things I’ve read is an eyebrow-raising book titled Open Heart by Jay Neugeboren.

It Is…How You Say? Bullsheet.

Neugeboren, an apparently healthy man in his early sixties with no overt risk factors associated with heart disease, after being repeatedly misdiagnosed, underwent major heart surgery. He too received a quintuple bypass. Luckily, he had four childhood friends, all doctors, who advised him and took care of him.

Given his near death experience, he began researching heart disease and unearthed mountains of disturbing information.

Consider first the issue of cholesterol. More than a third of individuals who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol. If you look at all the studies, you’ll find no evidence that lowering cholesterol prolongs life. Disturbingly, there’s a consistent and mysterious increase in deaths from other causes when you reduce cholesterol. And, get this, once you drop cholesterol below 180 mg/dl, the death rate increases.

Yet, every two years, experts from around the world meet and decide that the normal and accepted cholesterol level is lower than it was at the last meeting — without having any solid evidence to back it up.

Regardless of this lack of evidence, the cholesterol boogieman lives on.

By the early 1970′s, each biochemical step of the chain from dietary fat to cholesterol to heart disease had been mapped out, but the legitimacy of the claim as a whole has never been proven. The closest they’ve come is through a study in 1991 funded by the US Surgeon’s Office. They determined that if Americans cut the amount of saturated fat they ingested, they could delay 42,000 deaths each year. What does that mean? Well, if a woman who might otherwise die on her 65th birthday, after avoiding saturated fat her entire life time, might live an additional two weeks.

Of course, two weeks is nothing to sneeze at, because it might allow her to live long enough to find out if the father of Brook’s baby is really Bobby on The Bold and the Beautiful.

So where does the cholesterol myth originate?

You probably need to look no further than the drug companies that manufacture cholesterol drugs. A recent study involving the cholesterol-lowering drug cholestryamine (Questran) and 1900 patients found that out of those taking the drug, only 30 had a fatal heart attack. And the number of those not taking the drug that had fatal heart attacks? Thirty-eight.

Statistically, that means the cholestryamine, over a course of seven years, reduced the chances of having a fatal heart attack by less than half a percent. However, the drug company interpreting the tests found it preferable to say that cholestryamine reduced the chances of dying from a heart attack by 25%. Sure, 8 fewer deaths out of a total of 38 patient is indeed 25%.

As they say, there are lies… and then there are statistics.

But even if cholesterol does lead to severe blockages, these blockages cause at most three out every ten heart attacks. While doctors almost across the board used to believe that heart attacks were caused by a build up of plaque that would eventually rupture and cause blockages, that isn’t necessarily the case anymore.

So, You Like to Shoot Crap?

So what does cause heart attacks? It seems that if you combine all known risk factors such as high fat diets, cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, markers for inflammation, and diabetes, they explain only half the risk of developing atherosclerosis.

The answer most often given to explain this conundrum is that it’s likely genetic, which, according to Dr. Rich Helfant, a cardiologist and friend of Jay Neugeboren, is another way of saying, “We don’t know why these things happen.”

Some researchers think that these inexplicable cases of heart disease have to do with fetal environment and research seems to confirm their belief: babies with a larger head circumference and a higher birth weight have less chance of developing heart problems during middle age. Furthermore, babies who weigh less than 18 pounds at a year old have a middle-age death rate that’s almost three times higher than those individuals who weighed more than 27 pounds at a year.

Still, there’s got to be more to it than that.

Then there’s the problem of diagnosis. “Put a patient with even the slightest set of maladies in front of five doctors, and you might get five different diagnoses, five different prognoses, and five different recommendations for treatment,” explains Dr. Helfant.

A 1997 study involving 453 recent medical school graduates found that more than 20 percent of the time, the grads couldn’t identify common heart problems with a stethoscope. While that might not sound that bad given that the lay public probably considers the stethoscope archaic, this simple tool can be incredibly valuable in diagnosing heart problems.

While we seem to hold more technical diagnostic tools in high regard, the truth is much different. Neugeboren cites a British study that found that 75 percent of information leading to a correct diagnosis comes from detailed patient history; 10 percent comes from physical exam; 5 percent comes from routine tests; 5 percent comes from invasive tests; and 5 percent of the time no answers are found.

But perhaps, in one way, this epidemic lack of diagnostic success mentioned above isn’t as dire as it sounds because clinical trials that evaluate ways of treating heart disease are inconclusive. No, diagnostic ineptitude is dire in another way because whether a doctor recommends bypass surgery, angioplasty, drug therapy, or beating-heart surgery, the results are usually the same.

The sobering fact is that even if a patient receives what the consensus considers to be optimal care and treatment, there’s less than a 50 percent chance that the patient will live longer than he or she would have without the treatment!

Even common lab tests are woefully inaccurate. Consider the common blood test for cholesterol. Helfant explains that if you send a blood sample to two different labs, there’s a strong possibility that you’ll get two different results.

As an experiment, Helfant had the same lab repeat his cholesterol test on the same blood sample. The first time, the machine indicated that his total cholesterol was 152. The same sample tested a 176 mg/dl a few minutes later, a discrepancy of 17%.

“If I had had a 17 percent rise, say from 200 to 234, 34 points above what’s considered to be normal, and I’d been seeing all those ads about cholesterol and heart disease, I might have gone on a cholesterol medication for the rest of my life, and who knows what the side effects would be for me down the road since we have no long-term studies of what these medications will do to us,” said Helfant.

Neugeboren sums up this worrisome fact by writing, “The troubling news is that when a test is performed more often, the result is both fewer missed cases and more false positive results.”

I Have No Comfort to Give

What do all these false positives and missed diagnoses mean? Well, according to Dr. Stephen Oesterle, director of interventional cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, over 50 percent of angioplasty performed each year in the US is unnecessary.

That translates to over a hundred thousand needless and risky procedures every year. The other side of the coin is that some patients who really needed treatment are sometimes misdiagnosed and end up dying on a cold sidewalk somewhere.

Could there be something more at work in regards to some of these unnecessary procedures, something more sinister than simple ineptitude?

According to the January 2002 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, 9 out of 10 medical experts who make recommendations concerning the treatment of diseases like heart disease have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore, these ties are rarely, if ever, disclosed.

Similarly, many cardiologists and cardiac surgeons own stock in companies that make cardiac stents, surgical instruments, catheters, and drugs. All too often they’re also involved in the clinical trials that examine the efficacy of these products.

So where does that leave us? Doctors for the most part can’t agree on what causes heart disease. Sure, there are some statistical probabilities that point to the wisdom of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, but they don’t mean squat if you’re one of the 50 percent of men or 63 percent of women who die from heart attacks while not exhibiting any symptoms or strong risk factors.

Similarly, the “correct” treatment is often based on widely varying opinion, outdated science, and even corruption and greed.

The only thing that doctors and scientists seem to agree on regarding heart disease is that it’s a disease of inflammation. What’s common to just about everyone who dies of a heart attack is a large collection of the white blood cells known as macrophages. These macrophages collect around fatty deposits and they secrete enzymes that digest protein.

As you well know, the insides of blood vessels are made of proteins and in trying to eliminate the fatty deposits, the blood vessels are eaten away, made thinner, made more susceptible to rupture.

What surprised researchers, though, was that they found these macrophages in the arteries of vessels that had not ruptured — in presumably healthy arteries.

This indicated that the inflammation was systemic and not localized. This may be why aspirin — which reduces inflammation — seems to be so valuable in thwarting heart disease. It might also explain why some statins seem to work—-not because they lower cholesterol — but because they have an anti-inflammatory effect.

No doubt, if you’ve read this far, I’ve pierced the veil of cardiac invulnerability you might have once had. You thought your exercise regimen, along with your low-saturated fat diet and admirable blood pressure had bulletproofed you against a heart attack.

Unfortunately, it’s just not so. So what are we left with? The troubling knowledge that we could keel over at any minute, the anticipated embarrassment of having died from something so common as heart disease?

“Geez, I always thought the son of a bitch was healthy. Just goes to show you all that exercise was for nothing.”

I don’t have too much comfort to give. All I can recommend is that, if you’re ever faced with the prospect of cardiac disease, is that you find a doctor who listens carefully to your symptoms lest you be misdiagnosed with heartburn and sent on your way. I’d also recommend a second or third opinion from big-city, high-paid docs, even if some are corrupt.

As far as nutritional advice, I have to believe that avoiding saturated fats and trans fatty acids is still sound advice for everyone, but more than that, and given that heart disease seems to be a inflammatory disease, I’d recommend 80 mg. of aspirin a day (if you’re not at risk for hemorrhagic stroke), and 6 to 10 grams of fish oil a day, from wild sources (farm-raised fish have different fatty acid profiles).

Through my readings, both in the context of heart disease and nutrition in general, I think that fish oil and other anti-inflammatories are going to be the magic bullet against heart disease. I have to believe that. It’s a slender thread to hang my hopes on, but it’s better than nothing.

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Proof That Men Are Cursed

I really need to make it clear that Peter loved his wife. Loved her! I’m talking about gushy love! Nauseating baby-talk love!

He’d met her 4 years earlier while he was vacationing in Australia. He’d seen her at a coffee shop and was seized by a desire to shove the lovely two-legged female jumbuck in his tuckerbag and waltz her back to America.

They got married soon after and nine months and about one minute later, Patricia pezzed out two clones — one perfect male and one perfect female.

Peter loved the kids almost as much as he loved his wife. He loved his job, too, and he loved their Southern California home. And he had no complaints about their sex life. Peter thought privately that maybe Australian women were unique, kind of like the marsupials. Okay, so she didn’t have two vaginas, but damn if that little Aussie hardbody’s one solitary vagina wasn’t as good as two run-of-the-mill ones.

When passers by shouted out, “Hey Pete, how’s it going?” he always replied, “Terrific!” And unlike most people, he really meant it.

I Looked, And There was a Pale Ass, And It’s Owner’s Name Was Not Death, But Ashley

The dinner that Friday started out no different from any other (they always got a sitter on Fridays and went out to eat). Tonight it was sushi. Patricia looked great (she always did) in her little tangerine-colored shirtdress and matching pumps and Peter was buzzing after his second gaijin-sized Sapporo.

He’d just lifted a piece of maguro to his lips when he saw her get up from a table in the corner.

She was…incredible. While Patricia was dark, this girl had long blond hair that looked like spun silk. When she tossed her head to get the hair out of her eyes, he could swear it happened in slow motion like one of those shampoo commercials that promise fantastic hair — hair like this girl.

Suddenly, he understood those perverts with a thing for hair…what the hell do they call that? Tricho-something-philia. Whatever, all he wanted to do was wrap that glorious mane around his pecker and make a hair burrito.

Where Patricia’s body was athletic, this girl was lithe with a tiny little waist that just begged to be picked up and twirled around the room by something with an enormous erection that batted all her knickknacks and ceramic figurines off the shelves.

Everything about her was perky: perky breasts, perky ass, perky smile, and perky walk. She was wearing a summer dress decorated with big red flowers. While the short-sleeved bodice was tight and form fitting with a fashionable amount of cleavage showing, the skirt was short and loose but not so loose that you couldn’t see the tight outline of her singularly heart-stopping butt.

Neither was it so short that it betrayed her modesty (if she had any), but it bounced and slid tantalizingly against her tanned thighs as she glided out the door of the restaurant.

Just before she left, though, she turned towards Peter and smiled. He doesn’t remember for sure, but he thinks he stopped breathing when he saw her face full on.

Kind of Like Disney’s Bambi, But With Tits

Applying the word beautiful to these rare seemingly supernatural creatures isn’t totally accurate. Oh they’re wondrous to look at, but beauty is too delicate; a single blemish can destroy it.

Likewise, cute is too weak a word. Cute lacks the heart-stopping impact of beauty. Instead, this girl was the combination most deadly to the male heart; she was so cute she was beyond beautiful; she was cuteiful.

The eyes of this rare species are typically a little bigger than normal, while the nose is often, conversely, a little smaller than normal. The lips are usually full but the upper lip often has a slight, pouty, upward tilt. The cheekbones, though, are generally right out of classical sculpture.

It’s as if these girls were created from spec. A team consisting of Hugh Hefner and some Disney cartoonists drew up the blueprints and passed them on to the Almighty for a limited production run.

Peter hadn’t seen her for more than 15 seconds but he’d already lived an imaginary lifetime in her pants. Patricia had been fumbling with her chopsticks and trying to pick up a piece of ahi and hadn’t noticed a thing.

But it wouldn’t have mattered if she had. All Peter knew at that moment was that he’d give up anything to have the girl who’d just walked out of the restaurant. If someone had offered her to him for just an hour in exchange for his wife, kids, job, and home, well he’d have thought it was a pretty fair deal.

He had to fight the urge not to get up and follow her. What he’d have said to her, he had no idea. All he knew was that it was the most animal urge he’d ever felt.

Peter didn’t get up, of course. He went home with his wife and resumed his life, but for the next few weeks he was hugely confused. Was his love for his wife and kids so flimsy? How could his existence be so fragile as to be thrown into tumult by the brief sight of a goddess in espadrille sandals?

The 7-Year Itch

Too bad that Peter didn’t know what he experienced is pretty common to men. Granted, his experience was a little stronger than most, but certainly not unheard of.

Sooner or later, most of us get hit by what the Sicilians call “the thunderbolt,” that moment of instantaneous sheer lust that threatens to triumph over common sense despite a potential shit load of mess and heartache.

These Circes are everywhere, and you’d gladly let her turn your friends into swine if you could just have free access to that divine ass.

Peter’s case poses a slightly different problem since he’s married and thought that he was perfectly content. Obviously, men and women stretch the ties of matrimony all the time. Oftentimes there’d arise a strong compelling urge to stray, an itch if you will, after a set amount of time.

Back in the 50′s, psychologists referred to it as the “7-year-itch” because that’s typically the amount of time after marriage in which spouses would get bored with each other. The term even spawned a movie of the same name starring Marilyn Monroe as the psychosexual irritant.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in Germany, however, just released a study that suggests modern couples get bored with each other after only 4 or 5 years.

Apparently, there are now increased expectations of relationships and what a happy marriage should be like. According to Anastasia de Waal, head of family and education issues at Civitas, a London research organization, “In a climate of media-enhanced instant gratification, the stakes have been raised as mere contentedness is no longer enough in a marriage.”

Sure, what human with a Tivo or broadband access to Red Tube doesn’t have high expectations regarding passion or sex in general? Television, where everybody, even the nerds in The Big Bang Theory get laid by beautiful women, where average schmoes of both sexes can have a shot at Tila Tequila, where life is one constant orgasm with jism flying in the air like the issue from Moby Dick’s blow hole.

That Big Butt is Chock-Full of Healthful Fatty Acids

Speaking of sea faring creatures and lust, there’s a new study performed by scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Pittsburgh that suggests your choice of women might be determined by your thirst for omega-3 fatty acids.

Really. I’m not kidding.

It seems that women with a more extreme hip to waist ratio might have a posterior that was plumped up by omega-3s, and omega-3s are essential for proper brain development and ipso fatso, smarts. You lust after the women with the Vida Guerra butt because she’ll give you smart children who’ll win scholarships and get great-paying jobs and buy you a big bass boat for your trouble.

Chock-full of fatty acids!

At least that’s how the theory goes.

Of course, in the case of Peter, his lust for the blonde stranger may be his parent’s fault. There are fairly bulletproof studies that seem to confirm the existence of something called “name letter preference.” People are more likely to buy brands that begin with one of their initials.

The theory seems to hold for more important choices, like grades in school, professions, and even the strikeout ratio of major league baseball players. Researchers from the University of California and Yale found that you’re more likely to get C’s in school if you’re named Chris or Carl, while Barry’s and Andy’s are more likely to be on the Dean’s list.

Likewise, Davids and Denices might be statistically overrepresented in the field of dentistry and there are lots of Mikes in Memphis. Baseball players whose names start with a K — for the sport’s shorthand for a strikeout — tend to whiff at the plate more often.

While critics have tried damn hard to find flaws in these studies, they’ve yet to do so.

As such, Peter’s penchant for pussy might have more to do with the P in his name than anything else. And maybe it explains why so many guys named Bruce are gay, as B is for butt love.

The Laughter of the Damned

Okay, I don’t buy name letter preference or omega-3s as a factor in lust, but what constitutes lust, particularly the kind that struck Peter, isn’t really a mystery. He wasn’t unhappy with his wife and he wasn’t bored and he wasn’t — at least consciously — hungering for some variety.

As mentioned, anthropologists have long speculated that love, or at least strong pair bonding among humans, typically lasted only about 5 years. The theory is that the male — the protector — was supposed to stick around until the offspring was at least a little bit ambulatory and could scramble out of the way of a mastodon.

Fair enough, but there are no mastodons today, so men might feel more at ease about leaving a relationship early. Besides, he can now just plop the kid down in front of a TV that’s running an endless loop of Pooh or SpongeBob DVDs. Kid can’t get in much trouble if he’s sitting glassy eyed in front of the screen for a year or two.

Of course, after indoor plumbing (and regular bathing) was introduced, strong pair bonding was replaced by something called romantic love and couples ended up sticking together a lot longer.

I gotta’ think that prior to indoor plumbing and good ol’ soap and water, there was no post coital snuggling. There were no love poems. Who wants to write a love poem to a girl who smells like a sweaty fat guy’s navel lint?

And that’s probably what made the difference with Peter. Primitive evolutionary strategy might be telling him that it’s time to move on and plow some other fields, but evolutionary strategy didn’t account for romantic love. In Peter’s case, romantic love won out…at least for the time being.

It might have been the first time he felt the need to run after something in a flowing skirt, but it won’t be the last. He’ll suffer the same torment dozens or even hundreds of times before he dies. In simplistic terms, it’s just another struggle between the brain and the testicles.

So married or single, we deal with these disruptive urges by clenching our teeth and trying to laugh, but it’s not a heckuva lot different than the laughter of the damned.

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Why Men Like Breasts, or, “Tits Ahoy”

I know a woman who hasn’t paid cash for most household services in several years.  She prefers dealing in a fleshy currency that she only carries in one denomination – 36DD.

That’s right, whenever someone delivers a couch, fixes a leaky faucet, or pulls leaves out of her eavestrough, she offers to show them her tits in lieu of money.

Granted, there’s never any receipt and as such, no 30-day money-back guarantees on services, but all in all it’s economically advantageous to her and, in a small way, I think she’s doing her part to lift us all out of our economic doldrums.

After all, from what I can tell from her fitted T-shirts, her breasts are spectacular.

It could very well be that she sometimes has to give more than just a peek at her boobs, but I’ll take her at her word that while the titty bank is quite friendly and ranks high in customer satisfaction, it’s much more difficult to get a loan from the pussy bank.

While I was amused to hear this confession, I wasn’t surprised. Men will do a lot to see some nice breasts when they’re in a line of work where they don’t expect to see such things, particularly when the breasts are free, unencumbered, and romping about in their native habitats.

It’s a given, right? Breasts are some powerful currency, completely immune from depreciation or an uncertain economy. Yet if you believe what I read in a column on Salon.com titled, “Cleavage’s Coming Out Party,” you’d think that women with ample breasts are held in disdain by society, no doubt the target of some group trying to curtail their voter-rights.

Blogger Julianne Escobedo Shepard, writing about last week’s Emmy Awards, couldn’t help but notice all the cleavage at the show:

“The amount of cleavage on display was not just a sexual statement but some kind of dare, an act of confrontational femininity that challenged viewers to reevaluate any preconceived notions they might have about breasts and their impropriety. As a chesty woman who has often been on the receiving end of sneers simply for wearing tank tops in the summer (can’t I live), let me just say: thank you, ladies of television, for putting it out there.”

In what breast-averse parallel universe have I been so cruelly deposited? Personally, I’ve never heard of anyone outside Al Qaida bad-mouth big breasts, yet here’s Shepard talking about some perceived fatwa against them.

She goes on to thank in particular actress Sofia Vergara from Modern Family, Morena Baccarin from Homeland, and big-bad Christina Hendricks from Mad Men, all of whom were wearing dresses that had most men thinking there might be something to this Emmy thing after all and maybe the Patriots and Ravens could get by without them for just this one night.

Shepard is particularly thankful to Ms. Hendricks for her big-breasted rebellion:

“That for every dis from the Fashion Police, she clocks another strapless gown into her wardrobe to floss her cleavage as defiantly as two fingers up.”

I don’t know how I failed to see it – Christina Hendricks is the Rosa Parks of tits. She will not, I repeat, not, take her awe-inspiring tits to the back of anybody’s bus! No sir, she will not just take one seat at the front of the bus but three, one for her steatopygous buttocks and one each for Malibu and Jambalaya, her two breasts!

Free the Hollywood Two! Free the Hollywood Two!

Man, if a woman who flashes some cleavage or neathage is giving the world two fingers; two big, bountiful, beautiful eff you’s, I have to disagree, vociferously disagree. In fact, in the spirit of your “finger” analogy, Ms. Shepard, I’m going to drop my pants and convey that I think breasts are number one.

If I can quote myself from an article I wrote a few years ago, “Big breasts…put a song in our hearts, a spring in our steps, and a happy bulge in our pants.

“Sure, some say that they’re environmentally unsound and making the bras that constrain them uses up too many petroleum byproducts, but big breasts are our God-given right as Americans. Keep your little Japanese or German subcompact breasts and give me some huge, environmentally unsound, oil guzzling American knockers that you can strap a kayak onto…

“…we Americans want big, stupendous, spectacular, awe-inspiring breasts as big as Texas, as broad as the plains of the Midwest, with purple nipples majesty….”

I still hold with that view, Ms. Shepard, although, truth be told, I think all breasts are pretty neato-keeno regardless of size, but when you write about people in this country discriminating against breasts, I’m thoroughly corn-fused.

Consider the article that was shared about a billion times on Facebook this past Tuesday. It was called, Breasts: The Real Reason Men Love Them, written by Larry Young, Ph.D., and Brian Alexander.

Granted, the article is filled with treacle about how 82 percent of women – not 81 or 83 – found it stimulating to have their nipples and breasts fondled, but it was solely because it triggered the hormone oxytocin, which, coupled with the effects of dopamine, made her feel the same kind of love connection towards the breast fondler as a mother feels with her breast-suckling child.

I don’t know about you, but Young and Alexander have really cock blocked my brain, at least temporarily. If I should get so lucky as to have my lips meet a woman’s nipple in the near future, I’ll be haunted by the thought that some primordial part of her brain thinks I’m just a 220-pound hairy-assed baby suckling at her breasts in hopes of triggering them to eject milk.

Despite the title of their essay, Breasts: The Real Reason Men Love Them, the authors don’t explain why men love breasts. For that tidbit, you have to buy their book. They’re like those unscrupulous marketers who send you spam that hints at some common household product that could kill you instantly, only you’ll have to subscribe to their newsletter to find out what it is. You’d just better hope you don’t fall prey to it in the meantime.

Phooey on you, Young and Alexander.

They do, however, go out of their way to try to refute one theory about why men love breasts that’s been pitched by evolutionary biologists, one that I happen to believe in.

All mammals, except humans, mate exclusively from the rear, and it wasn’t that long ago, historically speaking, that humans did, too.

Our relatives (not Uncle Bub and Aunt May necessarily, but much further back in time), along with current-day mammals, would periodically experience periods of estrus, where the buttocks, breasts, and labial lips would expand like so many party balloons. All that was missing were the words, “Hello, Sailor,” imprinted on their sides.

It was, and is, of course, a signal that the female is receptive to mating. Human females lost the need for estrus cycles when humans started living in villages and colonies. Reproduction was no longer determined by safety or the availability of food.

Mating, however, still took place from behind.  All the while, though, our brains were getting bigger, necessitating a larger skull. The female pelvis started getting bigger to accommodate these bigger baby skulls, which forced her thighs farther apart and her knees closer together. Consequently, she grew a bigger butt and new muscles to accommodate these structural changes. Likewise, the human female vaginal tract shifted from being horizontal to more or less vertical – at least when she was walking around on two legs.

In monkeys and apes, the vaginal tract remains pretty much horizontal all the time because they’re on all fours. Sperm doesn’t dribble out, regardless of what kind of monkey shenanigans the female engages in.

However, with this new-fangled human vaginal-tract angle, successful mating required that the female had to pretty much be on her back or the sperm would dribble down her leg and into her mastodon-fur sandals, causing them to make a squishy sound as she walked down to the river. The peculiar noise would alert wild boars to her presence and they would then eat her, cream pie and all.

Clearly, doggie-style sex was on the way out, but all that engineering had gone into making her backside so darn attractive. Evolution had to do an about-face and make the front of her body more appealing, so as time went on, breasts became permanently “swollen,” as they were copies of fleshy buttocks. The lips grew thicker and fuller on the face because they were copies of the red, red, labia.

Aided by the primordial instinct that told men that breasts were the new buttocks and lips were the new hoo-hah, frontal sex became the norm. Women’s reproductive tracts were kept vertical as the sperm, aided by gravity, hit gestational pay dirt.

Now I’ll readily admit that there are undoubtedly some intricate hormonal interactions going on in our brains that make breasts attractive, but you can’t discount the equally intricate and complex visual cues that breasts trigger in evolutionary biologists, in bloggers, and certainly people who clean out eavestroughs.

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Getting Some on the Side

Dead animals are usually regarded by birds, scavengers, and carnivores as the animal protein equivalent of manna from heaven, especially in Africa when there are just so many of them lying around and few government agencies to come bag them up.

Dead African rhinos, however, aren’t the protein feasts you’d think they are. Instead of being devoured by hungry lions, crocodiles, or birds that feed on carrion, the rhino carcass just lies there pretty much undisturbed. It’s the astoundingly thick hide that’s the problem; the skin is pretty much impenetrable by the run of the mill tooth or bill.

It’s the African equivalent of a hungry polar bear trying to get through an igloo to eat the soft, tasty, Eskimo-surprise inside.

As such, the rhino carcass putrefies.  It gets more and more bloated every day, and unless something somehow manages to puncture the rhino’s two-inch thick hide, it eventually blows up like a potpie that’s been left in the microwave too long.

Now human females may not know this, but our balls are sort of like that dead rhino in that they could easily explode unless there’s some sort of periodic release.

There’s even evidence to suggest it was precisely this type of explosion that led to the mine collapse that trapped those 33 Chilean miners a few years ago. Apparently, one of the more sexually naive miners, after studying a Chilean porn magazine filled with pictures of chicas desnudas, didn’t know how to satisfy himself in time to avoid catastrophe.

Blammo! Down came tons of rock, trapping the miners for 69 days. Prior to being lifted out, rescuers sent food, water, letters from family, but absolutely no goddam porn, lest the remaining rocks come tumblin’ down.

Luckily, this type of catastrophe doesn’t happen often, as most men are devastatingly skilled in the self-release area and know more ways to masturbate than a Ninjitsu assassin knows how to kill a man.

Okay, so I’m kidding (a little bit) about the balls. The balls may not explode like a moribund rhino, but they can turn lovely colors, blue mostly, and can churn and complain and much like Mount Krakatoa before it blew, issue forth hot magma warnings if they’re not properly drained on a regular basis.

The point is that in most healthy males, the sex drive is mighty strong and sex can’t come in enough variety or amounts. Given that, it’s easy to see how important fulfilling that sex drive can be to a marriage or relationship.

While it’s difficult to assess exactly how important sex can be to a relationship, two American economists, David Blanchflower and Andres Oswald, have tried to measure happiness through sexual fulfillment in monetary terms. They estimated that simply increasing sexual intercourse from once a month to once a week was worth about $52,000 a year.

In other words, boning or getting boned a few extra times a month was just as likely to make you as happy as your boss giving you an extra 52 grand a year.

One might presume, by extension, that if you throw in few blowjobs every month, it’s like the monetary equivalent of getting free dental care on top of that 52 thousand.

Sex columnist Dan Savage hasn’t assessed sexual fulfillment in terms of dollars, but he’s attempted to specify exactly what kind of sex is most fulfilling. He’s even got an acronym for it: GGG, which stands for good, giving, and game.

The long hand explanation is that people should be good in bed, give equal time and equal pleasure, and be game for anything within reason.

The concept of GGG – or at least the game-for-anything part — has even been validated in a recent study in the Journal of Sex Research. The study addressed sexual transformations, or changes people were willing to make for the sake of their partner or relationship.

The researchers asked 96 hetero couples about their sex lives and satisfaction levels and found that those that had the highest level of warm fuzzies had made the most sexual transformations, which included deciding to have more or less frequent sex, trying new activities, or anything else their (or your) twisted minds could come up with.

The study added to the growing body of research that hitherto monogamous couples are changing things up. Some are allowing their partners to engage in light petting with others, or even opting for threesomes or sex parties. Some couples have even transformed to the point of letting their partner have full-on relationships with other people.

It makes infinite sense. People are living longer, they remain healthy longer, they remain decent looking longer, and sex is far more accessible to everyone, rich or poor, than it’s ever been; so the prospect of sleeping with only one person for the duration of a relationship that could easily span several decades starts to sound not only repressive, but inhumane.

Paradoxically, two of the more puritanical nations that protect monogamy most jealously, America and Britain, also have divorce rates that are among the highest in the world.

If it’s true that these countries have the highest divorce rates, then it seems that the opposite would be true – that the more sexually liberal or progressive a country’s views are, the longer marriages should last, and that seems to be exactly the case.

In France, affairs are dubbed as adventures and they’re free of insinuations of cheating.  It’s estimated that 25% of French men and women are involved in an affair at any given time. In fact, the idea is so mainstream and conventional that they’ve even coined the happy time between 5 PM and 7 PM, when most men see their mistresses, as le cinq a sept (literally, “five to seven”).

When French President Francois Mitterrand died in 2009, his wife stood side-by-side at his coffin with Mitterrand’s mistress and their illegitimate daughter, with hardly a murmur from anyone in France, including his wife.

Man, you can have your Irish wakes and your Viking funeral pyres; I’ll take the wife and mistress weeping at your coffin funeral any day of the week.

Nordic countries may even be more progressive, as couples openly discuss “parallel relationships” within marriage. In Finland, almost half of men and almost a third of women have at least one significant parallel relationship. Despite all that Finnish philandering, marriage remains a respected institution.

Here in America (and Britain), though, lives and careers can be destroyed by even the whiff of adultery. In fact, protecting monogamy has almost become a cottage industry. Author Catherine Hakim, in her new book, Internet Dating, Playfairs and Erotic Power, says the following:

“People are coy about embracing sex for pleasure, stubbornly conflating sexuality with procreation. Armies of therapists and counselors who pedal their own secret agenda of enforced exclusive monogamy. This killjoy attitude frames affairs as deviant escapism and fantasies without merit for people who have failed to grow up.”

Just what is it about America that she finds these types of extramarital relationships so appalling? Consider that in almost every country where such surveys have been conducted, men generally want more sex than their wives do, or worse yet, more than their wives are willing to give.

If men aren’t being fulfilled, they have four choices. They can A) soldier about bravely, accepting what sexual good doggie scraps their wives are willing to give them, B) they can elevate masturbation to an art form, or C) they can opt for chemical castration, or D), they can have a affair.

Largely because of the Internet, option D has become increasingly viable, but options A and B seem to have large followings.

At least one visionary entrepreneur has cashed in on option D. Noel Biderman, a former attorney and sports agent, a happily married man and father of two, started the Internet company Ashley Madison after sensing a need in the market place.

Biderman saw that many Americans were involved in sexless marriages and even those that wanted to divorce were suddenly unable to because of a bad economy (divorce is expensive). For them, the prospect of having an affair through the convenience of the Internet could be mightily appealing, so Biderman took the two most popular baby names and invented a fictional proprietor/facilitator/pimp, “Ashley Madison”.

Ashley hooks up married people who want to have affairs, and today Ashley boasts about 3.7 million members, 70 percent of whom are men. (Among “active” members – those who have purchased credits to interact with others – the ratio is supposedly 1 to 1.)

The commercials are funny…at least to those they don’t directly apply to. For those they do apply to, they’re no doubt painful. One of them shows a man leaving his marital bed with his obese, snoring wife for the safety of the couch while a voiceover intones, “Most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman, but not when it’s every night for the rest of our lives.”

Despite its apparent popularity, Ashley Madison remains a rogue company, looked down upon with disdain by non-members. Even journalists reporting on the company have trouble keeping their moral editorializing out of their articles, and there, in that word, moral, lies the crux of the controversy.

It’s probably fair to say that America’s reluctance to embrace its sexuality is explained by the blanket term, morality, which is mostly defined by religion or even philosophy, both of which have throughout history come up with sets of rules about how we should live our lives so that we could live in a cooperative society.

Religion, however, used a carrot and stick approach to enforce its rules — pleasant immortality if you followed them and really, really unpleasant and hot immortality if you didn’t.

The trouble is, if you look carefully at it, morality, or doing the right thing, is defined by each culture in terms of its current ideas about what rules are in its best interest. It’s easy to see that these rules differ from country to country, from era to era.

Adultery is clearly “wrong” in some countries and okay in others. The age of consent varies wildly throughout the world’s many cultures. It’s even fine to kill a man in certain countries, provided the circumstances fit the bill.

While philosophy doesn’t play much of a part in dictating morality any more, religion certainly does, and it’s unlikely it’s going to ease up on sexuality any time in the near future.

But blindly following rather arbitrary rules about morality can exact a great price, and when faced with the statistics about divorce rates and happiness quotas, Americans, married or otherwise, might consider taking another, firm, hard, throbbing look at their own sexuality, their needs, the rules they follow, and at the very least, consider adopting a little more GGG, if only so we don’t have any more cases of exploding balls.

Sources:

1. “Science proves it: Dan Savage is right,” by Debby Herbenick, Salon.com, 9/12/12.

2. “The recipe for happiness? An enduring marriage and an affair with lots of sex,” by Catherine Hakim, excerpt from book appearing in Telegraph online, 8/31/12.

3. “Ashley Madison’s secret success,” by Meghan Daum, LA Times, 9/17/12.

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Symmetry and Beauty Equals Big Dough

It’s a huge trade off. On one hand, your slavish attempts at achieving symmetry through exercise and diet might very well weaken the human genome to the eventual point where all humans not only look like Larry King (even the females), but they also have his defective, heart-attack-a-month cardiovascular system to boot.

On the other hand, your goal of achieving symmetry might pay big personal dividends in the way of sexual and financial reward.

So make your choice: either give up exercising and save mankind, or selfishly pump away so that you can satisfy your pecker and your pockets.

Maybe you need some background info before you can make your decision. Very well.

We need to set the Time Tunnel to the University of New Mexico in the early 1990′s. There we find biologist Randy Thornhill and his beloved scorpion flies. Entomologists know scorpion flies as predatory insects that hang upside down from plants until some tasty sad sack insect wanders by.

Thornhill has just discovered something unusual about this odd insect. Unlike many animals that choose mates based on apparent superficialities like color, female scorpion flies get moist insect panties from symmetry — more specifically, the symmetry of a male scorpion fly’s wings.

To Thornhill’s amazement, females preferred symmetrical males even when they were hidden from view; evidently even their smell is appealing.

It seems that symmetrical wings signal that the male is extremely adept at catching prey and defending it from competitors.

Oh, but don’t misinterpret her ardor; it has has nothing to do with the hopes he’ll share some of his chitinous bounty with her. Instead it means the male has what Thornhill calls high “biological quality.”

Biological quality equates to excellent genes that he’d likely pass down to any scorpion fly offspring.

Symmetry, though, is a pretty difficult and rare state for any living thing.

When a living thing is conceived, it develops by neatly splitting cells. If every division were perfect, left and right sides would be mirror images, but it hardly ever works that way. Genetic mutations, pollution, and disease skew symmetry.

For instance, if you were to cut a photo of yourself in half, copy each half, reverse the image, and try to match up each half with its doppelganger, the picture would probably look very much different than reality. Exceptions are few and far between.

When it does occur, though, it’s a nearly unmistakable signal that the proud animal possessing such symmetry is healthy and as such, solid mating material.

Thornhill’s observations of scorpion flies made him wonder: could this reverence towards symmetry be universal in the animal kingdom? More specifically, could it be true of humans?

He started experimenting with the faces of the UNM students, manipulating them to make them either more or less symmetrical. Sure enough, male Lobos woofed their approval when they were shown pictures of symmetrical female faces. The female Lobos were similarly appreciative of symmetrical male faces.

That’s not too surprising, but Thornhill found that all aspects of body symmetry contributed to this attraction, right down to the lengths of corresponding fingers!

“It makes sense to use symmetry variation in mate choice,” explained Thornhill. “If you choose a perfectly symmetrical partner and reproduce with them, your offspring will have a better chance of being symmetric and able to deal with perturbations.”

Oddly enough, just as in scorpion flies, human symmetry seems to have a scent, too. Thornhill borrowed a bunch of sweaty T-shirts from a variety of men and asked women to sniff them and relay their impressions. The women found the scent of the most symmetrical men most desirable, especially if the women were menstruating.

In some cases, women didn’t report smelling anything on a particular shirt, yet something about the shirt piqued their libidinous interest.

“We think the detection of these types of scents is way outside consciousness,” explained Thornhill.

Symmetry, though, seems to have more far reaching effects than initial attraction. Thornhill and his research partner interviewed 86 couples and found that women with symmetrical partners were more than twice as likely to orgasm during intercourse. This in itself may be biologically significant because it’s thought that orgasm might make conception more likely as the orgasmic spasms of the female might usher the sperm into the uterus.

But what about things like health? Are symmetrical men healthier than asymmetrical men? Researchers at the University of Michigan sure think so. They asked 100 students to keep journals for two months. Those with asymmetrical faces suffered the most physical complaints ranging from insomnia to nasal congestion. They also reported more anger, jealousy, and social withdrawal.

Beyond pure symmetry, body and face shape also play a role in the general health and reproductive success of the human animal. Much of this is determined by endocrinological factors, but it’s not too big a deductive leap to assume that symmetry conveys health, which in turn conveys endocrinological efficiency.

As I’ve often discussed, men gravitate to a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.7, meaning that the ideal waist is 0.7 times that of the hips; in other words, an hourglass shape. Of course, just about anything from 0.67 WHR to 1.18 WHR is attractive to males.

Similarly, a WHR of 0.8 to 1.0 in men is most attractive to women.

This range of WHR is greatly determined by estrogen. If a woman produces the proper amount and mixture of estrogen, the WHR falls into the desired range. Conversely, if a man has the proper levels of Testosterone, along with low levels of estrogen, his WHR will presumably be in the desirable range.

People who fall into these ranges of WHR are less susceptible to cardiovascular disease and disorders in general, including cancer and diabetes. Women in this range have less trouble conceiving.

Consider, too, the effects of hormones on the shape of the male and female face. Higher levels of Testosterone in a male help develop a large lower face and jaw, along with a prominent brow. Having an oversized jaw turns out to be biologically expensive because the androgens required to pay for it tend to compromise the immune system.

However, in a female’s eyes, this large jaw is just an honest advertisement of the male’s health — if he can afford cosmetic, androgen-based features like a large jaw without getting sick, it follows that his immune system is iron clad.

Likewise, estrogen caps bone growth in a woman’s lower face and chin, making them relatively small and short with a smallish nose and fuller lips.

While the ideal female forehead is high, growth of the brow is stymied, thus allowing for the eyes to be more prominent. According to a 1993 study that involved numerous composite photos, the ideal 25-year-old woman had a 14-year-old’s full lips and an 11-year-old’s delicate jaw.

Part and parcel to these androgens that start surging through a girl’s body when she hits puberty is the nearly 35 pounds of reproductive fat around the hips and thighs. In reproductive terms, this fat represents the nearly 80,000 calories it costs to sustain a pregnancy, and the curves it provides are a signal or gauge of reproductive potential.

It seems clear that symmetry and body shape pay dividends in the mating game, but they also seem to correlate with high intelligence.

Mark Prokosch, Ronald Yeo, and Geoffrey Miller, also from the University of New Mexico, correlated body symmetry with performance on intelligence tests. People with symmetrical bodies or symmetrical faces rated more highly on “general intelligence,” or “g”.

They performed better on tests of spatial awareness and language. While the tests weren’t conclusive by any stretch of the imagination, the results were definitely statistically significant.

Dr. Daniel Hamermesh of the University of Texas is one of the leading researchers on beauty and success. An economist rather than a biologist, Hamermesh has collected evidence to support that beauty is indeed related to success and that, all else being equal, it might be a legitimate business strategy to hire the better looking job applicant.

A little over ten years ago, Hamermesh presided over a series of surveys that showed that ugly people earned less than average incomes while beautiful people earned higher than average incomes. He even determined that the “ugliness penalty” for men was –9% while the “beauty premium” was +5%.

Surprisingly, the ugliness penalty for women was just -6% while the beauty premium was only +4%. This varies from nation to nation and culture to culture. In Shanghai, for instance, the numbers for men are –25% and +3% for men and –31% and +10% for women.

Given the evidence, it appears almost certain that symmetry pays high premiums in mating and career. Still, you have to question the existence of all those beautiful bubbleheads whose sole reason for existence seems to be flashing naked body parts for the enjoyment of men. Likewise, there appears to be no shortage of bona fide dumb blonds traipsing around shopping malls.

I have an idea, but it’s based more on personal observations and conjecture more than anything else. I believe that the “beauty premium” is much higher in the teen years. The bimbettes in question achieved such a high social status among their peers early on that all their needs were met.

Life, even at such an early age, had become a free pass as there are always plenty of horny, desperate men around to foot the bill for everything and anything in the hopes of a sexual reward.

Thus there was no need for these physically gifted mammals to pay attention in school or to study. Any innate intellectual abilities they might have had from having high “biological quality” was stifled. Hence, they didn’t need to develop any practical intelligence; their brains stagnated while their physical symmetry flourished.

The same thing applied to symmetrical men, who, because they were often bigger and more muscular, gravitated towards sports and social interests more than educational ones. They too, never had the need to acquire any practical smarts.

While both groups might still have had superior mental abilities, they remained ignorant and thus were never able to utilize their smarts.

But forget the adolescents; here’s the conundrum. Given our knowledge of exercise and nutrition, we can fairly easily manipulate our God-given symmetry, thus giving the appearance of higher biological quality.

The same, of course, is true for women.

Likewise, with cosmetic surgery, asymmetrical members of either sex — repositories of inferior genes — can be made to look like genetic thoroughbreds.

And what of the supposed alluring scent of symmetrical men? Well, we now have soaps, body washes, and various scents and colognes that might even mimic those alluring scents.

The point is, natural selection is being thwarted. Beings of lower biological value are “passing” as beings of higher biological value and they’re being allowed to pass on inferior genes. Generation after generation will get progressively weaker, unhealthier, and, well, uglier.

You might be skewing and screwing nature. You might be artificially attracting superior, symmetrical females who’ve been deceived by your efforts. Worse yet, you might be mating up with females who are just as guilty of monkeying with their innate desirability (or lack thereof) as you!

Now before I start to sound (more) like some advocate of Nazi-style Social Darwinism or eugenics, I’m not advocating selective breeding. (Mostly because I’d likely get left high and quite literally dry.)

I only bring it up as an interesting point. If indeed man is living longer, it’s because of advancements in medicine, better knowledge of health and eating, and better hygiene — not necessarily because of superior genes being passed on.

Hence the hypothetical choice I offered at the beginning of the article. It was made mostly to be provocative, but I still think it’s a valid point. Naturally, no one’s going to take it upon himself to remain celibate because he’s presenting a genetic package that’s not what it appears to be.

In fact, given the alleged financial and sexual benefits of making yourself appear to be of higher biological value — either through training, diet, or plastic or cosmetic surgery — it seems valid if not downright savvy to do so.

Flabby? Get thee to a gym. Skinny? Ditto. Got a nose that looks like it was lopped off a bust of a Roman senator? Get a nose job. Female with pancake breasts, a droopy ass, or invisible cheekbones? Lay it on; lay it all on. Next to a good education, it’s probably the best financial investment you can make.

Superficial? Hell yes, but we’re lying to ourselves if we don’t agree that a large part of the world functions on beauty. Thus was it ever, thus it shall ever be.

After all, we’re still animals and biology rules.

That, of course, leaves out “inner beauty” and genuine happiness and integrity and honor and all the other truly great things that make life worth living, but those are the topics of a great many more essays.

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I Know How I’m Going to Die

Most men don’t know how they’re going to die. I do.

Oh, I don’t know when, or the exact circumstances, but I pretty much know my death will happen in the following way:

I might be driving along the ocean shore, maybe on the first sunny day of spring. Subconsciously I’ll be aware of the metaphor presented by the season: new birth, a new beginning. My spirit will soar as I contemplate all the possibilities of life.

I’ll smile, look at the sun, and declare that life is good.

Then I’ll see her. She’s blonde in my imagination but when it really happens, she might have auburn hair, jet-black hair, or red hair. Hell, she might even be bald.

Regardless, she’ll have a body that’s as tight as Mr. Scrooge’s purse: long legs, a taut belly, and breasts the size of honeydew melons but twice as tasty.

She’s got on some of those low-slung jeans, but not just any low-slung jeans. If, as it seems, the clothing manufacturers are competing against each other in a type of hip-hugger jeans space-race to see who can go lower than the next company, this pair of jeans is the equivalent of an unprecedented manned mission to Mars. In fact, when she turns around, you can easily see the twin fleshy moons of Phoebus and Demos cresting over the stonewashed 100% cotton horizon.

In other words, they is one humdinger of a pair of low-slung jeans.

But I’m driving! My car is heading west but she’s walking east. I follow her with my eyes. I’m powerless to look away. Ultimately, I’m looking behind me, trying to hold the vision of that glorious mammal as long as possible.

I hear the horns honking but my penis is doing the driving now. He’s deaf and not only that, he’s terribly nearsighted and he doesn’t even bother to give a hand signal when he turns. He wouldn’t stand a chance of getting a permit even though he’d no doubt take a fine driver’s license photo.

As the car crashes through a barricade and plummets off a cliff into the ocean, the only thing that crosses my mind is that I can no longer see the modern day Circe who has drugged me with the sight of her body.

My car sinks to the bottom but I don’t try to get out of my car because I’m still thinking about her. I’m only vaguely aware of a bald and bloody Hari Krishna guy sticking through my windshield and I drown.

My car and body stay there because recent budget cuts have made salvage operations fiscally imprudent. Years later, the car is covered with algae and a wide variety of mollusks. Fish swim in and out of my skull, which has become a real-life version of the little plastic skeleton at the bottom of the guppy bowl that’s on my desk. My watery grave becomes a favorite hangout for scuba divers.

And so it shall be.

I’m just puzzled that my future death scenario doesn’t happen more often, but a lot of men I know just don’t look. I can be walking down the street with a friend and some glorious piece of cooz–one that labored long and hard that morning to look bewitching–passes by. I’ll do a head jerk and run into a streetlight while my friend will continue on his way, unaware that a bit of musky scented heaven has traipsed by.

Maybe I’m oversexed but I don’t think so. I think I’m normal, or what normal used to be. Only I never thought about it much until recently.

Two of my friends, both in their forties, hang out with a lot of teenage girls because in addition to being trainers, they’re both surfers. They tell me that the number one complaint these girls have is that guys their own age don’t have any sex drive.

At first I was dumfounded, but then I started to see that it made sense. Most of the guys in their late teens or early to mid-twenties dress like little boys. They’re wearing baggy shorts that come down to their knees, ratty-ass T-shirts that profess their love of some American piss-water beer, and backwards baseball caps.

As such, I guess I’m not surprised that they’re not that horny because any one who wants to get laid isn’t going to make that his regular uniform.

Another friend of mine has a 17-year-old son. He’s 6’5″ and still growing, only he weighs about 130 pounds; a soft 130 pounds, if you can imagine that. He doesn’t have a hair on his body and he’s not interested in girls.

I told his parents that he’s got the symptoms of delayed puberty. His body doesn’t produce Testosterone, the Testosterone doesn’t aromatize to estrogen, and thus estrogen isn’t around to cause his growth plates to fuse, allowing him to grow ever taller.

They sent him to the doc and his T levels came back a tick above 200 ng/deciliter, which is woefully low for almost any man, let alone a boy his age. Unfortunately, the whack-job of a doctor told his parents that the boy’s Testosterone levels are normal.

But the point remains, here’s yet another young man who’s not exhibiting “normal” character traits or “normal” physiological traits.

It makes me think we’re on the cusp of a real endocrine crisis in America. But if this problem is epidemic, what the heck is causing it?

The first thing that popped into my mind was diet. I’ve watched some of these young guys eat and over the years I’ve had some of them send me food intake logs. The most telling feature of their diet is a criminal lack of protein. Some of them average 30 grams a day but that’s not hard to believe when you look at what they eat. Most of them subsist on French fries, pizza, Captain Crunch cereal, 20-ounce mugs of root beer, and a few Chicken McNuggets.

It doesn’t take a nutrition genius to note that this “diet” is lacking vegetables, healthy fats, or pretty much anything that would fuel a hamster, let alone a young man.

Granted, some of them eat regular lunches at school, but that’s where we might find another clue. Many school lunch programs now use soy filler and soy seems to lead to decreased levels of Testosterone and in general, interferes with reproductive capabilities.

A few weeks ago, a man from Texas wrote me a letter about soy. He works as a prison guard and he told me that they replace up to 40% of the meat in the inmates’ food with soy. “It keeps them docile,” is how he explained it. I haven’t been able to prove or disprove that bit of info yet, but if it’s true, it might give credence to my school lunch program theory.

While diet may explain why a lot of young men have weak or nonexistent sex drives, it doesn’t explain why a lot of older men are running on fumes.

Maybe their problem is more of a sociological/psychological thing. Men haven’t had much reason to act like men for the last generation or two so their balls have become vestigial, as useful, or useless, as the appendix or pair of tonsils. Might as well get rid of the balls altogether. Maybe we wouldn’t fear bicycle seats so much.

I know that personally it would help me a bunch. One of my nuts rides considerably lower than the other and as a result, whenever I run, I veer to the left so much that I can’t run in anything but a wobbly circle. Used to be hell trying to run down and out pass patterns or chase after a bus.

Women themselves might be playing a role by unconsciously using Testosterone-depleting decorating tactics. Anybody who’s ever spent the night in the slammer has most likely wondered why the walls are sometimes painted pink. Similar to the old soy-in-the-food trick described above, the color pink keeps inmates psychologically castrated.

So what do you think happens when you let the average woman decorate your house or apartment? That’s right, pastels run amok. Not only that, but the bedroom gets filled with teddy bears, souvenirs of Disney Land, and all manner of porcelain knick knacks.

You couldn’t get an erection in a room like that if you freebased a kilo of Viagra and Megan Fox came up behind you, stuck her finger up your ass and blew gently on your balls. That’s why hookers rarely have to swipe stuffed animals off a floral-print bedspread before they service a customer. They know all that crap isn’t conducive to lustful sex. Besides, it’s hard to get man-goo off a Teddy Bear.

So sure, who needs all that Testosterone, it just mucks things up.

I really don’t know what the answer is, or whether it’s a problem that even needs to be addressed. I remember the movie, “Little Big Man,” where an Indian tribe who referred to themselves as the “human beings” adopted and raised the Dustin Hoffman character. Certain members of the tribe were referred to as the heemaneh. They were decidedly feminine and hung out with the women, weaving blankets and decorating with beads. When the braves rode off to do battle, the heemaneh stayed home.

Maybe that’s what we’ve got going on here. Certain members of our “tribe” are, for whatever reason, a little low on Vitamin T. As such, these heemaneh don’t notice beautiful women or step to the forefront when masculine tasks are called for. I’ve got no problem with that, as long as a few of us are left intact to revel in, or participate in, the things that are traditional to men.

So no, I don’t really care too much if the heemaneh flourish. After all, someone’s got to be around to tidy up after the rest of us crash through the barricades and plummet into the ocean.

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Is Semen Good for Women?

I know that it’s more fashionable to disseminate bad news nowadays, but every once in a while I like to spread some joy — spread it all thick and generous like a hungry fat boy making a liverwurst sandwich.

You ready? Here it is:

Researchers at Yellowstone National Park have concluded that contrary to conventional wisdom and popular belief, bears are not attracted to menstruating women.

Do you realize the implications? That means that all you campers out there can now go enjoy the outdoors with your menstruating wife or girlfriend and no longer have to tie her high up in a tree at night like Katniss from The Hunger Games to protect her from bears.

No longer will you have to rig up a complicated pulley system that allows you to hoist S’mores up to her perch on an oak branch. No longer will the forest echo from her plaintive cries about bugs and bats.

It turns out the whole thing was a misinterpreted instance of causality. Most experts on bears and female menstruation trace the origin of the myth back to 1967 when grizzlies in Glacier National Park ate two women, one of whom was having her period and the other who was carrying tampons, but after looking at hundreds of attacks by grizzly bears and black bears, park specialists concluded that the bears are more interested in seafood, seal oil, and alcohol (mostly beer) than they are in used tampons.

Thirteen percent of the bears did end up eating tampons, though, but they may have been some of the same bears that were drinking the beer and, as anybody who’s ever seen that video of a drunken David Hasselhoff eating a cheeseburger knows, alcohol makes you eat strange and disgusting things.

And the women who got eaten in 1967? They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. That, or they were having shrimp cocktails, sipping Bud, and wearing seal musk oil behind their ears.

Unfortunately, this report isn’t all hard-ons and rainbows because the researchers did conclude that polar bears are indeed attracted to the scent of menstruating women, so you’d best take that into consideration if you’re planning on taking a menstruating woman along with you on an arctic camping trip this upcoming Labor Day weekend.

There’s another less obvious downside to this story. Now women – who no longer have to fear special consideration by bears — will have one less reason to need men. They won’t need men to hoist them up into the trees and they’ll now be able to sit comfortably next to the fire on terra firma and make their own S’mores. Granted, that exception pertains only to menstruating women, but regardless, the list of reasons why women don’t need men is getting increasingly long.

We used to feel comfy, if not smug, knowing that at the very least, women needed us for baby birthin’ and such. However, thanks to technology, women don’t even need us for that anymore, but when you look at it from a historical/biological perspective, we really never played that big a part in reproduction anyhow.

Consider that all we contribute to the birth of a new human is less than 3.3 picograms of DNA. After that initial, infinitesimally small gift, the resulting fetus mooches off the mother’s minerals and oxygen to grow and develop and gets all its subsequent nutrition, energy, and immunities from its mother.

Then, when the baby is muscularly cajoled through the birth canal, it’s swathed in billions of bacteria that are essential to the baby’s skin, digestive system, and general health. If, as most babies do, it breast feeds, it receives all its water, fats, sugars, proteins, and immuno factors from its mother’s milk.

The father, essentially, has given nada. You want to know how little in substance man has contributed to the species? If you added up all the male DNA contributed to the human species since the first Homo sapiens was born about 107 billion babies ago, it would add up to less than a pound of genetic material.

You know what else weighs a pound? A box of Coca Puffs. A salami. A few S’mores.

O death, where is thy sting?

But even that comparatively pitiful contribution is at risk now. Consider that if all men died tonight, “mankind” could continue on quite comfortably. There’s plenty of frozen sperm around the world and all a woman would need to impregnate herself is a turkey baster, a comfy recliner, and one of those Twilight DVDs with that hunky Edward for atmosphere.

Sure, our ghosts could experience some schadenfreude by reasoning that the frozen sperm will eventually run out or that the sperm gelato will get freezer burn from being stored too close to the frozen peas, but our malicious satisfaction wouldn’t last for long because geneticist J. Craig Venter recently proved that the female part of sexual reproduction, the egg, can’t be manufactured or replaced, but the male part, the sperm, can.

That means that all you’ll eventually need to keep popping out babies is a female egg.

Beyond that, there’s even a book coming out next month named The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, in which author Hanna Rosin asserts that women don’t want or need husbands. They do, however, still get an itch for sex once in awhile, and that’s where we come in. Rosin even asserts that it’s women who have perpetuated our hook-up culture where women just use us to fill their vile, libidinous needs.

One passage in her book describes boyfriends as “too greedy” and relationships as “too involved.” Some of the women interviewed in the book “just wanted to study or hang out with friends or just be ’100 percent selfish.’”

And so the hook-up culture has grown and thrived. What was undoubtedly started by devious, hands-rubbing-together men to exploit contraceptives and the hip notion of sexual liberty without commitment was commandeered by women to grant themselves sexual life, sexual liberty, and the pursuit of sexual happiness, among other things like careers and cute little convertible cars and bitchin’ shoes.

So they call us up in the middle of the night, cajole us into coming over to pleasure them, and then dismiss us without so much as asking about our day. Okay, so that doesn’t sound so bad, but you can’t deny how using men just for sex is an eye-opening social bellwether.

Blogger Amanda Marcotte, who wrote about this female hook-up phenomenon in Slate, suggests that men might do well to come into a relationship with fewer demands; to become a ‘value add’ to the lives of girlfriends instead of something that needs constant ego-stroking and cleaning-up after.

That makes sense to me and it’s the kind of thing I talk about in my books, but it’s doubtful it’s going to happen any time soon. Besides, the traditional role of men is facing other changes.

I probably don’t even need to get into how female college graduates are outpacing men and the notion of men as breadwinners is getting to be sort of cute, kind of like letting 5-year-old Junior help daddy, or in keeping with the theme of this article, mommy, change a tire.

So where does that leave us? Women don’t need us for reproduction, they don’t need us to be breadwinners, they don’t need us for love and companionship, and they don’t need us to protect them from bears. And the sex thing? Hrummph. Let’s not flatter ourselves — there are some amazing vibrators on the market.

Maybe we can take solace in the latest resurgence of the research article that just won’t die. This story surfaced about 10 years ago and I’m guessing that head-starved editor-types keep reposting or republishing it in the hopes that it’ll cause female writers and interns to start performing flash mob blowjobs, but there it was again last week, making the rounds:

Semen is ‘good for women’s health and helps fight depression.’

I’m sure you’re familiar with it by now, but I’ll give you rundown just in case. A survey study conducted by The State University of New York found that semen contains chemicals that elevate mood, contain at least three anti-depressants, increase affection, and induce sleep.

Therefore, women who swallow or practice unprotected sex are much, much happier and can concentrate better and perform better on cognitive tasks. They also immediately acquire the strength of a rhino, the ability to field dress a deer and solve the Rubik’s cube puzzle simultaneously, and awake abruptly in a fluid-filled vessel, only to be rescued by Morpheus and learn that they, along with the entire human race, have been enslaved so that aliens can use our body heat and electrical activity as an energy source.

Conversely, women who don’t swallow Vita-jizz are depressed and no doubt destined to live out their dreary lives selling extended warranties on in-window air conditioning units out of a pre-fab office shed in the CostCo parking lot that they share with a fat guy who has an antagonistic relationship with bathing.

Okay, I made up some of that stuff about semen — not all of it, some.

I don’t know how many women are buying into this study, but it’s not too big a leap to imagine that some of them are. It sounds great for guys, but I wonder if it sort of erases some of the sexiness out of the whole thing.

Cum shots have always been known as the “money shot,” in porn, and leaving it out of a video is almost tantamount to its real-life parallel, i.e., having sex without completion. But now, the money shot that usually left the female sex partner looking like Carrie after the prom — only with semen instead of pig blood — acquires an almost clinical aura.

Instead of sending a crude lightning bolt at the reptilian portion of our brain, the money shot makes us think of health, not too far removed from those Jamie Lee Curtis yogurt commercials for constipation.

Okay, I’m exaggerating and looking a potential gift horse down its inviting mouth. After all, anything that could lead to more sex is a welcome thing to most men, and if the study is true, it gives us proof, that in at least this one area, we’re still useful and needed.

References:

Pappas, Stephanie, “Bears Not Attracted to Menstruating Women,” LiveScience, August 25th, 2012.

Hampikian, Greg, “Men, Who Needs Them?” The New York Times, August 25th, 2012.

Marcotte, Amanda, “Women Want Hook-Up Culture, Slate, August 23rd, 2012.

“Semen is ‘good for you’,” The Sun, August 23rd, 2012.

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