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Posts Tagged ‘sex’

Canada’s sperm shortage and related matters

Posted by Richard on September 3, 2009

Mark Steyn was the "undocumented guest host" today on the Rush Limbaugh Show. I listened to a bit of it at lunch, and he totally cracked me up. It seems that Canada is suffering from a sperm shortage. The entire nation of 30 million people has only 33 sperm donors.

I figured Steyn had probably written a funny column about that. But before I got around to looking for it, a friend had sent me the link. It's quintessential Steyn — brilliant writing, wicked humor, and groan-inducing word play sprinkled with enough serious truths to make it more than an amusing trifle. Canada's sperm shortage, you see, was created by the government:

… Apparently, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it illegal to pay donors for sperm. I mean, it wasn’t even the usual Canadian Wheat Board-type racket whereby you’d only be able to sell your seed to the Canadian Sperm Board at a price agreed upon by representatives of the federal-provincial Semen Commissions. Instead, they just nixed the whole deal, and, once Johnny Canuck found out he wasn’t going to be remunerated, virtually the entire supply dried up.

As a result, this once proud Dominion now has to import sperm. According to CTV, 80 per cent of Canadian women who conceive through donor sperm are getting it from the United States, mainly from men in Georgia and northern Florida. Canada’s future is now in American hands.

You know how it is: you wait ages for a good sperm story and then they all come at once. It seems there’s also a shortage of the stuff in Sweden. But, in contrast to Canada, this is caused not by government intervention in supply but by a surge in demand, from Swedish lesbian couples anxious to conceive. Inga and Britta had been trying for a child for ages but nothing seemed to work. Then it occurred to them this might be because they’re both women. So they headed off to the sperm clinic, whereupon the Sapphic demand ran into the problem of male inability to satisfy it. There appear to be higher than usual levels of non-functioning sperm.

Don’t worry, I’m not being Swedophobic in mocking the watery emissions of Nordic manhood. It’s a widespread problem: “Concern As Sperm Count Falls By A Third In UK Men” (the Daily Mail, 2004). … Still, even for a demographic doom-monger such as myself, you could hardly ask for a more poignant fin de civilisation image than a stampede of broody lesbians stymied only by defective semen, like some strange dystopian collaboration between Robert Heinlein and Russ Meyer set in a world divided into muff divers and duff donors.

 Read the whole thing . Then delve deep into the 490+ comments — really, it's worth it. Some are unintentionally funny, and others are intentionally funny (a call for a "cash for spunkers" program). Some add useful information and insights (another cause of Canada's problem: their courts have held sperm donors liable for child support!). And some are just good comments:

george: I'm shocked that anyone alive today is still able to write like this.

Kevin: The idea that sexual freedom is the only freedom left is met by an immediate cry to censor. Who said Irony was dead?

reliapundit: liberty without natural law isn't libertarianism; it's libertinage.

the postmodern left has rejected natural law and embraced moral and cultural relativism.

these people want a paternal state in which the parent supplies food, shelter, clothing an allowance but also let's them stay out all night uses drugs sleepo with anybody and anything and not be required contribute a penny to household expenses or work doing any hopusehold chores.

iow: postmodern lefists are the functional equivalents of teenagers.

I think reliapundit is onto something. In my experience, we are simply awash in mature adults who are the functional equivalents of teenagers. And the vast majority of them are leftists.

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The hands of a mathematician

Posted by Richard on May 25, 2007

Researchers at Britain's University of Bath are bravely exploring the subject that cost Harvard President Larry Summers his job. Fortunately for them, the link they've discovered between math ability and sex is indirect, so they may be spared the full wrath of feminists.

It seems that prenatal hormone exposure helps determine whether you're more likely to be literate or numerate, and your hands give you away:

A quick look at the lengths of children's index and ring fingers can be used to predict how well students will perform on the SAT, new research claims.

Kids with longer ring fingers compared to index fingers are likely to have higher math scores than literacy or verbal scores on the college entrance exam, while children with the reverse finger-length ratio are likely to have higher reading and writing, or verbal, scores versus math scores.

Scientists have known that different levels of the hormones testosterone and estrogen in the womb account for the different finger lengths, which are a reflection of areas of the brain that are more highly developed than others, said psychologist Mark Brosnan of the University of Bath in England, who led the study.

Exposure to testosterone in the womb is said to promote development of areas of the brain often associated with spatial and mathematical skills, he said. That hormone makes the ring finger longer.

Estrogen exposure does the same for areas of the brain associated with verbal ability and tends to lengthen the index finger relative to the ring finger.

Clearly, hormone exposure correlates with the sex of the fetus. Boy fetuses are likely to be exposed to higher levels of testosterone than girl fetuses (their little testes start making it). But both are exposed to estrogen from the mother, and the amount seems to vary quite a bit from pregnancy to pregnancy. So, boys are more likely to end up with longer ring fingers (and more spatial/math aptitude), while girls are more likely to end up with shorter ring fingers (and more verbal aptitude).

But some boys have shorter ring fingers (because they were exposed to more estrogen) and some girls have longer ring fingers (because they were exposed to lower levels of estrogen and/or higher levels of testosterone).

And some kids with short ring fingers really like math and do well at it, while some with long ring fingers do poorly for one reason or another. Aptitude is part of the puzzle, but it's not the whole story.

In any case, whenever feminists bristle at discussions of these differences, I have to wonder at their insecurity and lack of perspective. Shouldn't they celebrate the evidence that women are naturally better communicators, more literate, and better at abstract thought?

Men and women are different, all the way to the tips of their fingers. Can you digit? 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The shifting meaning of child

Posted by Richard on October 16, 2006

Just about everything worth saying regarding former Rep. Mark Foley (and a lot not worth saying) has been said already thousands of times. But, since I’m a bit of a language pedant, allow me a bit of a rant. A Google search for "foley pedophile" (minus the quotes) returns 1,860,000 hits. The first few pages of results suggest that the vast majority of those hits accuse Mark Foley of pedophilia. And that’s simply wrong.

From Psychology Today’s Diagnosis Dictionary (emphasis added):

Pedophilia is considered a paraphilia, an "abnormal or unnatural attraction." Pedophilia is defined as the fantasy or act of sexual activity with prepubescent children. Pedophiles are usually men, and can be attracted to either or both sexes. How well they relate to adults of the opposite sex varies.

From the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (emphasis added):

Pedophilia is a paraphilia that involves an abnormal interest in children. … Pedophilia is also a psychosexual disorder in which the fantasy or actual act of engaging in sexual activity with prepubertal children is the preferred or exclusive means of achieving sexual excitement and gratification. …

Britannica Online says pedophilia is a (emphasis added):

…psychosexual disorder in which an adult’s arousal and sexual gratification occur primarily through sexual contact with prepubescent children. The typical pedophile is unable to find satisfaction in an adult sexual relationship and may have low self-esteem, seeing sexual activity with a child as less threatening than that with an adult. Most pedophiles are men; the condition is extremely rare in women.

And Wikipedia helpfully describes the origin of the term (emphasis in bullet item added):

The term paedophilia erotica was coined in 1886 by the Vienna psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his writing Psychopathia Sexualis.[3] He gave the following characteristics:

  • the sexual interest is toward children, either prepubescent or at the beginning of puberty
  • the sexual interest is the primary one, that is, exclusively or mainly toward children
  • the sexual interest remains over time

Mark Foley seems to have been attracted to and exchanged sexually explicit instant messages with one or more males who were (depending on whom you believe) either 17 or 18 years old. Now, the parents of a 17-year-old boy undoubtedly consider him their child, and the law may treat him as a child in some ways (or as an adult, if he’s committed a crime). But biologically, boys and girls who are 16 or 17 are fundamentally different from boys and girls who are 7 or 8.

[Note to readers getting angry: I’m not defending Foley’s lecherous and contemptible behavior. I’m just saying it’s not pedophilia.]

Are there gray areas? Of course. Kids mature at different rates. There are some 13-year-old girls who are barely beginning puberty and others who are quite physically mature. But that’s no reason to lump someone attracted to boys or girls in their mid to late teens in with the guy who gets turned on by little kids on the elementary school playground. Because of sloppiness or legal/political considerations, people are using the word pedophile for both those categories, and as a consequence, we’re losing the ability to make an important distinction.

Interestingly, a news story from Sunday suggested that the blurring of that distinction — and the insistence that a 17-year-old is a child — is either recent or selectively applied. Former Rep. Gerry Studds, whose name came up quite a bit during the Foley brouhaha, coincidentally died on Saturday. Here’s how the AP described the scandal involving Studds having sex with a boy of 17:

In 1983, Studds acknowledged his homosexuality after a 27-year-old man disclosed that he and Studds had had a sexual relationship a decade earlier when the man was a congressional page.

At the time, Studds called the relationship with the page, which included a trip to Europe, "a very serious error in judgment." But he did not apologize and defended the relationship as a consensual one with a young adult. The former page later appeared publicly with Studds in support of him.

So in the 80s, actual sex with a 17-year-old was a consensual relationship with a young adult and not a big deal. But today, just talking sex with a 17-year-old is child molestation on such a monstrous and horrific scale that having been even vaguely aware of it without calling the cops is unforgivable.

Maybe it’s the New Puritanism. Can we blame Focus on the Family?

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