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May 10, 2006

Rent Lied, My Career Died


Clavin At work, I needed to find out how many minutes are in a year, so I naturally went to Google, having forgotten about those famous lyrics from "Seasons of Love."

While the answer "525,600" is right for a typical calendar year, Google returned an answer for the actual number of minutes in a year as 525,948.766.  Turns out, that is the exact length of time is takes the Earth to revolve around the sun, and nearly six hours more than Jonathan Larson wrote.

This explains why we add a leap day every fourth year, and the extra imprecision entailed in "almost six hours" means leap years will occur only in some years divisible by four.

Here's another strange piece of trivia: If you copy a Web URL that begins with "http" and paste it into the Windows calculator, it spits out the value of pi:


I found that one out by mistake.  But I'll have to remember it next time I need to figure out how big a pizza is.

May 09, 2006

The Lesbian Brain


More evidence for nature over nurtureShhhh, don't tell NARAL.

May 04, 2006

Junk Science


What is it with some people's almost pornographic obsession with Fox News Channel?  (Disclosure: I almost never get my news from television.  I don't much care for it.)

The Washington Post reports today on a "study" that purports to show that George Bush might "owe" his 2000 election victory to FNC:

"Our estimates imply that Fox News convinced 3 to 8 percent of its audience to shift its voting behavior towards the Republican Party, a sizable media persuasion effect," said Stefano DellaVigna of the University of California at Berkely [sic] and Ethan Kaplan of Stockholm University.

In Florida alone, they estimate, the Fox effect may have produced more than 10,000 additional votes for Bush -- clearly a decisive factor in a state he carried by fewer than 600 votes.

My, what a modest claim to make!  But it sounds to me like a textbook case of a "Post Hoc Fallacy."  Event B occurs after Event A; therefore, Event A must be the cause of Event B.

What kind of bullshit science is this, anyway?  Actually, it is a 51-page piece of bullshit science called "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting."

Admittedly, I have not yet read the whole paper.  And maybe the authors think I am supposed to be impressed and/or intimidated by things like this:


Or perhaps they want to lull me into submission with stultifying passages like: "The Fox News effect could be a temporary learning effect for rational voters, or a permanent effect for voters subject to non-rational persuasion."

But the fact remains that, nowhere in the "study" (to my reading) or in the related media reports have they established cause, only contemporaneousness.

The argument is that Fox News was the reason that people voted more conservatively.  But couldn't the opposite be just as true?  That is, couldn't Fox owe its existence to a rightward political trend that was already in progress?

Because FNC was created in 1996, why should I not claim that the "Republican Revolution" of 1994 was the "cause" of Fox News?  Only two years separated those two events.  What explains the electoral bath the Republicans took in 1998, only two years after the creation of Fox?

And how would the authors explain the countering effect of the measured left-leaning bias of almost every other media outlet, whose combined reach is infinitely greater than Fox?  The answer is, they don't, and their failure to do so makes their agenda all the more transparent.

Admittedly, it was a great way for DellaVigna and Kaplan to get publicity, especially among the vast numbers of reporters who loathe Fox.  But if a guy like me with only one college-level statistics course under his belt can see through them, why can't the WaPo?

April 07, 2006

He Blinded Me

Malbug_13"Science Guy" offends Texans with ... science.

Perhaps "Ur" Not Wiping Properly


Reported at Towleroad, completely unironically: "Scientists have discovered more rings around Uranus."

March 30, 2006

Where's Your Messiah Now?

Malbug_13A study finds that, when it comes to illness, the power of prayer is no damn good at best, and possibly deleterious, at worst.

In other news, researchers are still working to verify whether the Earth is 6,000 years old.

March 24, 2006

Damn, That Whiny Bastard Can Screw!

Malbug_13A study out of (the unbiased, I'm sure) UC Berkeley found that "whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity," while "confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests."

Meanwhile, GQ is reporting that "after numerous years of intensive research on both sides of the aisle—and sometimes in the aisle—I am here to report that Republican men (except the closet cases) are infinitely better to have sex with."

Sex columnist Dan Savage this week essentially agreed, writing: "People's political leanings, competence, and command of the English language tell us very little about their private sexual conduct. Indeed, one study in the mid '90s found that conservatives were, on average, kinkier than liberals."

We're assuming that liberals who want a good lay travel with a bag to put on their partner's head.

[Thanks, Alan]

March 20, 2006

Now If We Could Just Fit Details With a Plethysmograph

Malbug_13Queer Beacon writes that the new issue of Details is dredging up a 10-year-old study connecting homophobia with latent homosexuality by measuring penile responses to gay porn.

It's not enough that Details is the gayest magazine on the planet; now they're actively recruiting self-professed hets.

March 13, 2006

15 Gay Minutes




The Logo channel's homo influence over their CBS News buddies is finally starting to pay some dividends.

Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes last night explored the current state of thinking over what makes someone gay or straight.

Though no single factor was entirely predictive, there is a statistically greater chance that a man will be gay based on how many older brothers he has, and whether he is right-handed.  (Seriously!)

60minutes2It is also clear that "gender nonconformity," an early indicator of homosexuality, emerges at the earliest of ages.  Stahl interviewed a family that includes two 9-year-old twins, one of whom wears pink nail polish and is certain that he was meant to be a girl.  According to the mother, stark gender differences between the two boys emerged as early as 18 months old.

Stahl's piece relied heavily on the research of Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, whose work in the past has come under withering criticism.  But I found her report fascinating nonetheless, showing that we are probably both closer to and farther away than ever before from knowing the ingredients that ultimately go into one's sexual orientation.

[Watch video – 14:52, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 14:52, WMV format, low bandwidth]

March 10, 2006

Pink Is the New Blue

Rose Malbug_13It's not easy being blue.  I'm talking not about depression, or people who live in left-leaning states, but "blue," meaning "all things male."

I know, it's hard being a girl too, but there are unique pressures that come with being a boy.  At some point early in most of our lives, we stop becoming affectionate, emotive humans and instead adopt a facade of stoicism, distance and aggression.

Here!TV's series Sexplorations sexamined what has been deemed the "boy code."

It is no sexaggeration to say there is a dead seriousness behind the old sexhortation, "Big boys don't cry."  But the sextent to which these messages are internalized by children at very young ages isn't necessarily what you might sexpect.

Boys in the video as young as age 6 sexplained they clearly delineated ideas of gender roles.  For sexample, some talked about the sexpectation that they must "be tougher," or must sexercise.  One boy even sexposed his pining for the variety found in women’s wardrobes as compared to men’s.

The sexperts posited a variety of reasons for such gender roles, going so far as sexpounding on fears that anything less might weaken our competitiveness as a nation.

Could it be that the very sexistence of America rests upon perpetrating these constrictive stereotypes?  To concede such a point would be quite sexasperating indeed.

[Watch video – 14:08, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 14:08, WMV format, low bandwidth]

March 09, 2006

Are We Alone?

Malbug_13NASA prepares big announcement.  GLAAD poised to issue press release blasting under-representation of gay aliens.

January 27, 2006

Fuschia Alert!


Earlier this week, Josh pondered whether he was "gay enough."

One would think all he would have to do to get the answer is to look at whom he was snogging.  Nevertheless, thanks to modern technology, I now have definitive proof of my own gayness level:


I'm sure I would have scored even higher, were it not for that pesky language barrier.

[HT: Whiskey Wednesday]

January 19, 2006

Signed, Confused

I always intend to write something on transsexuality, but never quite get around to it. Perhaps in not doing so I'm betraying my own discomfort with the topic. Even when in a largely gay atmosphere - be it Boystown, a large group of gay friends, etc. - if the topic is broached, I shy away and twist around in my seat. Although it is almost a decade since I identified as gay, I continue to remain completely mystified by the T in the GLBT salad of sexual alliances.

There are many shades and variations in the sliding scale of human sexuality. We have all our own attractions, types, and emotional impulses when it comes to finding a partner. And yet, there is that bridge of understanding I cannot cross - the lopping off of body parts.

Try as I might to reach that much-desired nirvana of tolerance, I freely admit to a very internalized revulsion to the thought of having one's cock removed and carry some doubt in the proposition that it's a mentally healthy impulse. It seems like self-mutilation to me, and I'm not necessarily certain it's behavior that ought to be encouraged.

What brought this to mind is the recent death of the pioneer of sexual reassignment surgery, Dr. Stanley Biber.

I know the standard GLBT line on the topic, and I'm not particularly interested. We're all unique snowflakes, and society shouldn't judge, and we must accept, etc. etc. etc. I'm with them on the whole non-discrimination plank, but the idea that castration is a good thing leaves me cold. I'm not seeing this.

The whole issue of operative transsexualism gives me a major case of the heebie jeebies. If someone called me a transsexualaphobe, they wouldn't be terribly off.

My challenge to readers: Someone explain why I'm very wrong in my thinking without relying on pamphlet talking points and generalities about tolerance. I'm all ears.

January 13, 2006

Bloody Discrimination

While performing the morning ritual of flipping through my feed-reader, I noticed Andy Towle link this story about gay activists protesting a South African ban on gay men donating blood. Andy (and gay activists) referred to the ban as "discrimination."

Gay men are banned for something, so it must be wrong, no?

Not so fast. In this article in the Advocate, a gay graduate student sets out to uncover the animus behind the ban on blood donations from gay men and discovers there is a valid scientific rationale:

What I found is that there is, in fact, good science to support these policies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the most recent U.S. study, conducted in 2003, men who have sex with men accounted for approximately two thirds of all HIV infections among men, although only 5% to 7% of men in the United States identify themselves as men who have sex with men. (Obviously their surveys underestimate the true number of men who have sex with men, but even accounting for this error, the data is overwhelming.) The CDC’s statistical models predict that if the criterion was relaxed to exclude only those who have had man-to-man sex in the past five years, the worst-case scenario would mean an additional 1,200 units of HIV-positive blood in the system—a potential disaster.

The entire article deserves a thorough reading for its honesty, concern for scientific facts, and this perfect encapsulation of the issue:

So, as is all too often the case, there’s a slippage between what my emotional gut told me and what scientific evidence suggests is the truth. The lesson there is to get the facts before leaping to conclusions based on our emotional reactions.

Emotionalism is fine sometimes, but not when scientific data are involved. Merely seeing a story and crying discrimination before we even bother to uncover the truth of a matter is bad for gays everywhere. Science must come before political agenda, otherwise we are little different from the ID nutters out there who wish to place their beliefs before empirical data.

December 26, 2005

Like They Do on the Discovery Channel



"Why do we need Logo," our commenters have asked, "when we already have VH1 and Bravo?"

Don't get me wrong, I've been a fan of Logo since their first minutes on the air, but we might as well add "Trio" to that list of gay-centric stations.

The cable netlet strutted its queer stuff recently in rebroadcasting "The Truth About Gay Animals,"a light-hearted documentary first aired in 2002 by BBC's Channel 4 and hosted by gay American comedian, Scott Capurro.

The program was made well before all of those famous queer penguins were discovered.  But there is still ample evidence for hot homo lovin' in the animal kingdom.

[Watch video – 9:07, WMV format, high bandwidth]

[Watch video – 9:07, WMV format, low bandwidth]

December 10, 2005

Politicized Psychology

Note: This post has been updated after the jump.

Instapundit recently linked to an article about the slippery categorizations currently being considered in psychiatry.

Mental health practitioners say they regularly confront extreme forms of racism, homophobia and other prejudice in the course of therapy, and that some patients are disabled by these beliefs. As doctors increasingly weigh the effects of race and culture on mental illness, some are asking whether pathological bias ought to be an official psychiatric diagnosis.

As Glenn rightly points out, homosexuality was itself considered a disorder deserving of psychiatric diagnosis not terribly long ago. As we now know, homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism are merely shades and hues on a broader, complex spectrum of human sexuality. Psychiatric diagnosis was less a function of objective psychology than social approval and disapproval being codified in official scientific interpretation.

While racism and homophobia should be condemned in our larger society as potentially poisonous component parts of modern ideologies, it is fair to question whether or not our current (and correct) disapproval of these behaviors rises to the level of medical and scientific codification.  Mental illness is a seriously stigmatic label, implying neurological and biological disfunction in an individual.

However, as Dan (who blogs as GayPatriotWest) notes, extreme bias as a psychiatric classification would necessarily have to extend beyond our own levels of disdain for beliefs beyond social acceptability if it were to be a truly honest and objective area of study.

. . . I’ve seen a few cases of conservatives whipped into a lather at the mere mention of those dread liberals. If pathological hatred of one social group is a mental disorder, then shouldn’t we also consider pathological hatred of one’s political adversaries as a similar disorder? That type of hatred seems to be on the rise in recent years.

Continue reading "Politicized Psychology" »

December 06, 2005

Near, Far, Glug Glug Glug

Malbug_13Scientists discover that the stern of RMS Titanic likely went down in just five minutes – a quarter of the 20 minutes previously thought – and barely enough time for Celine to get through that first dreadful chorus.

December 03, 2005

Why We're Gay?

Just in time for Christmas dinner and all the attendant, "I don't think you're really gay," bickering across the table (just my family?), I came across this long article from August on the possible causes of homosexuality. Clip it, save it, choose your favorite passages for holiday ammunition. Some highlights:

In May, Swedish researchers reported finding important differences in how the brains of straight men and gay men responded to two compounds suspected of being pheromones - those scent-related chemicals that are key to sexual arousal in animals. The first compound came from women's urine, the second from male sweat. Brain scans showed that when straight men smelled the female urine compound, their hypothalamus lit up. That didn't happen with gay men. Instead, their hypothalamus lit up when they smelled the male-sweat compound, which was the same way straight women had responded. [...]

They found that while straight men were aroused by film clips of two women having sex, and gay men were aroused by clips of two men having sex, most of the men who identified themselves as bisexual showed gay arousal patterns.


The entire article is very much worth reading.

h/t Ace

November 30, 2005

So Long, Corky

It was a fleeting happiness, reading a random article about the decrease in children born with Down's syndrome. In a three second span of naivete, I thought to myself, "Interesting. How have they done it? Gene therapy in the womb? A new class of drugs?"

No, we're simply aborting them.

So it goes with a recent article in the Washington Post, a chilling display of Brave New World language with full-on Gattacan sensibility. Read the sub-headline. Women are not aborting children with disabilities, they simply "make decisions."

As a gay man, I exist in a class of people who arguably possess the least stake in the abortion debate. As a result, I tend to steer clear of the issue, considering myself mildly pro-choice, but drawing the line at infanticide. Leave the scissors for arts and crafts, people.

However, as science, genetics, and early fetal detection methods are developed and perfected, we find ourselves on the outer rim of a future world where homosexual activists will find themselves waking up one day and asking, "My god, what did we just do?"

Continue reading "So Long, Corky" »

November 21, 2005

Designed Completely Without Foresight

Balloon Juice brings us this story of Evangelical students schooled in Intelligent Design having their "biology" class credits rejected by California public universities.

Mr. Young, his teachers and his family fear his beliefs may hurt his chance to attend the university. They say the public university system, which has 10 campuses, discriminates against students from evangelical Christian schools, especially faith-based ones like Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, where Mr. Young is a senior.

Mr. Young, five other Calvary students, the school and the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents 4,000 religious schools, sued the University of California in the summer, accusing it of “viewpoint discrimination” and unfair admission standards that violate the free speech and religious rights of evangelical Christians.

Taking a gander at some of the evangelical, ahem, science texts, it's little surprise.

Still, I share Mr. Young's disappointment. Had I known my own university wouldn't accept the credits, I never would have enrolled in AP Alchemy as a junior in high school. I was always a bit crap at it to begin with. I could never get my Philosopher's Stone to work properly during the exams. Not my fault, though. They never specified pencils weren't a suitable source for the lead to gold conversions. How the hell was I supposed to know number two graphite resulted in tinsel? Still, to this day, I'm dead useful during the holidays. So perhaps it wasn't a total loss.