Monthly Archives: March 2009

Overheard at the gym

i-dde1c8caa6e13d5c182a0bdb6a1739a1-the_wave.jpgCheck it out.

I saw you working out on that new machine,” the personal trainer, folding towels at the counter by the locker room, was saying to some guy he knew. You see more trainers folding towels these days, what with the economy and all.

“The new machine?” was the reply.

“Yea. The wave.”

“The wave?! Oh, you mean the thing next to the Stair Master. The Hockey Machine.”

“… Ah, right…. the ‘Hockey Machine …”

The wave is a low impact aerobic machine that simulates shushing, like with skate-skiing. Apparently the guys like to call it the “Hockey Machine.” Which it isn’t It’s “The Wave”. It’s got a sign on it that says “The Wave” and everything.

Hockey machine indeed.

Can shoe size predict penis size?


OBJECTIVE: To establish if the ‘myth’ about whether the size of a man’s penis can be estimated from his shoe size has any basis, in fact. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two urologists measured the stretched penile length of 104 men in a prospective study and related this to their shoe size. RESULTS: The median stretched penile length for the sampled population was 13 cm and the median UK shoe size was 9 (European 43). There was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length. CONCLUSION: The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis.


Their methodology obviously … oh, never mind. It does not end here. The original cite has “Related Articles” that get even farther from reality.

I suppose we should be fortunate that they are not asking this question the other way ’round. For the benefit of shoe sales departments.

The Case Against Breast Feeding

i-cb812a3f2e5397b14898d2687d79cdda-Hortense-Breast-Feeding-Paul.jpgHanna Rosin paints breast feeding, in a recent item in The Atlantic, as a social requirement for the privileged, a “no-exceptions requirement” and a badge of being a good mother. She also examines the possibility that breast-feeding is ” … an instrument of misery that mostly just keeps women down.”

I dutifully breast-fed each of my first two children for the full year that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. I have experienced what the Babytalk story calls breast-feeding-induced “maternal nirvana.” This time around, nirvana did not describe my state of mind; I was launching a new Web site and I had two other children to care for, and a husband I would occasionally like to talk to. Being stuck at home breast-feeding as he walked out the door for work just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else.

Blacktating has a counter argument, as does BlogHer.

Rosin externalizes her own ambivalence about breastfeeding her child, to whom she feeds her milk part-time and enjoys the skin-to-skin contact, by blaming public health campaigns, volunteer organizations like La Leche League and a present day frenzy of parenting perfectionism for making her and other women feel guilty. Public health campaigns promoting breastfeeding seem then to have been designed as a means of making privileged, educated, literate, upper class women like Rosin feel bad about themselves for not mothering properly. Rosin makes them sound like an extension of the eugenics movement from the first half of the 20th century which in part sought to encourage reproduction of desirables by tying women to the hearth through pseudoscientific education and the glorification of all-things-motherly.

(See also the Feminist Breeder Blog)

Cold Blooded Animals + Warming Planet = Not Good


A new study warns that cold-blooded land animals like lizards and insects in the tropics may wither as the world warms. “Cold-blooded” is the layman’s term for ectotherms–animals whose body temperature is contingent on the surrounding environment, rather than internally regulated like that of warm-blooded creatures. They thrive in temperatures ranging from 68 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 40 degrees Celsius), above which they overheat. As the globe warms, researchers warn they may be forced to swelter in burrows and under bushes with little time to eat, find mates or rear young.

“Our models suggest that for many reptiles, the room to move may be pretty small,” says Rick Shine, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Sydney in Australia

Scientific American

What do we do about Michele Bachmann????

Well, I suppose we could go get guns and knives and bludgeons and just go KILL HER. That certainly would be a kind of ironic justice. But since we are all peace loving non violent types, I suppose we are going to have to make sure she does not win the next election. Whatever. But clearly, one way or another, we have to figure out a way to


Which is what the Replace Michele Bachmann Web Carnival is all about. The new, revived edition of this carnival is up and it is known as:

Revenge of Daughter of the Replace Michele Bachmann Blog Carnival

Submit your posts for future editions here or email them here.

From Graduate School to Prison: What is the rational argument for ELF or ALF?

i-c6846c4a885cf8ee56c99ef6487a05a3-john_flintnapping.jpgWhen I heard the news that day … Oh boy. I had received an email from a man whom I knew only as the father of a (now former) student. We had met once, a few years ago when his son graduated, and he gave me a very nice bottle of wine, which I shared with a select group of wine experts only last Christmas. The wine had aged well and was outstanding.

He gave me the wine as a gift for having “done so much for his son” while he, the son, was an undergraduate student. It was true. I had done a lot for the young man. I had many long conversations with him about lofty sciency concepts, and he took a couple of my classes, but mainly I had helped him out by setting him up with fieldwork opportunities in South Africa. This young man, whom I’ll call John, was one of a small number of undergraduates that I’ve either taken with me to the field or arranged to go to the field to work with my colleagues there. I am very very careful about which students I might bring or send to the field. I am so careful that sometimes I make the mistake of accidentally chasing away a student that I shouldn’t have chased away.1 John was carefully selected by me for this opportunity, as well as by a colleague of mine who also sent John off to the field (to a different continent).
Continue reading From Graduate School to Prison: What is the rational argument for ELF or ALF?

One-of-a-Kind Killer Whales Doomed by Exxon Valdez

Most of Prince William Sound’s animal populations will someday recover from the lingering effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. One, however, will not: a community of killer whales unlike any other in the world.

“It’s a separate population. Their genetics, their acoustics, are different from any other killer whales that we see in the north Pacific,” said Craig Matkin, director of the North Gulf Oceanic Society, who has studied the region’s whales for three decades.

Known to researchers as the AT1 pod, the whales’ home range fell within the 11,000 square miles of crude oil dumped by the ship when it ran aground on March 24, 1989. Nine of the pod’s 22 whales subsequently died, likely from oil ingestion — a blow from which the group, already struggling to cope with pollution and declining populations of the seals on which they rely for food, never recovered.

“It was the last nail in the coffin,” said Matkin.

Read the rest here