Don’t Be A Boob

userpic=blushingLet’s start the year right: let’s start with a news chum. Further, not just any news chum, but a subject sure to titillate. A chum that touches upon some of the issues of discrimination, diversity, and boundaries that I opine will be large in 2016.

Before I do, however, a word of introduction: I call these posts “news chum”, because I expect (or hope) for them to be like chum in shark-infested waters. Follow the links. Read the articles. Then comment with your opinion. Let’s get some discussion going. Perhaps these three articles will bloody the water some.

In any case, back to boobs:

  • The Impact of Boobs. LA Magazine is trying to draw attention to itself by rerunning some classic articles.  One of the most interesting is from 2002: an article from an editor who donned fake boobs to see how society treated her differently. A fascinating read (called “California or Bust”), she had some industry people construct a device that took her from an A cup to a D cup… and then watched for the reactions. They were, of course, predictable. To quote the article: “I’ve spent my whole life pretending breasts don’t matter. Part of me still wants to believe it’s true. I can make all the arguments, which basically come down to this: Women should be valued for their selves, not their shelves. Still, I have to admit, at the moment the breasts I’m toting feel like more than mere flesh. They feel like the source of all power.” Interesting read.
  • When is a Boob a Boob? I’ll note up front that the answer is not: “When they are elected to Congress?”. The question is a serious one, raised by a transgender fellow who is in the process of transitioning. He has been taking topless pictures of himself, and asking the question: When is the precise magical moment when the line is crossed and Facebook or Instagram considers the photo obscene? It really is a hard question. I’ve seen some theatre shows of late where men have been on stage topless, but they have had such sufficient quantity of man boob, you weren’t sure what you were seeing (or whether you wanted to see it). But that is publicly acceptable? Yet there will be some point in this fellow’s transition where what was previously acceptable no longer is. To me, it highlights this artificial distinction and prudery (that you, Mr. and Ms. Puritan) that exists in America. Truthfully, there should be no distinction.
  • Boobs and Bathrooms. The prudery in society is hitting the equality discussion large. And it is hitting us in the bathroom. Specifically, the bathroom is being used as the argument to shoot down equal rights in various areas. We’ve all seen this in action: We can’t legislate equality for transgenders: we’ll have men putting on dresses to go into the woman’s bathrooms. Yeah, right. As if people wander around the bathrooms naked (dressing rooms are potentially different matters). They forget the answer is simple: single user stalls, and single user dressing spaces.

All of these boil down to the same issue: an unspoken belief that men cannot control themselves. Large breasts serve as a benefit in plastic Hollywood because of the sexism of the male patriarchy in charge. Breasts cannot be visible on Facebook or Instagram because men will find them obscene or they will incite men into sexual acts (I don’t think I’ve women making the argument that seeing the breast of another women will incite sexual desire). We can’t have equality because that will imply mixed sex in bathrooms, and men will use it to spy on nekked women (hmmm, has that happened in the co-ed bathrooms in colleges?).

So, yes, this first news chum post of the year does boil down to its title: Don’t be a boob. Control yourself.

P.S.: Related to this, we have the whole question of Bill Cosby. My opinion on the subject is summarized by an image I saw on Facebook:  “He said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, …” But I’m still conflicted. On the one hand, we have Cosby as a womanizer (that is clear). On the other hand, we have the legacy of humor he provided: from wonderful non-sexist albums such as Wonderfulness to 200 MPH to the messages that came across on the Cosby show. How can we balance the disgust from one against the good of the other? In other areas, we’ve been able to separate the artistic legacy from the sexual misdeeds of the creator (Woody Allen, Michael Jackson) and in others we haven’t (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle). Will we be able to separate here?


Mothers Day News Chum Stew

Observation StewYou know you want to take your mother to dinner. But what will you talk about? Here’s a bunch of news chum stew items, accumulated over the last two weeks (I’ve been busy, what can I say) that might just do:

  • Size Matters. Here’s a great discussion topic for your mom… or for “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me”. A recent study has shown that, the larger your penis, the greater the likelihood that your wife will cheat on you. In particular, according to this study, every one inch longer penis increased the likelihood of women being involved in extra-marital partnership by almost one-and-half times. I think I’ll leave the subject at that and go on to the next subject…
  • Got Gas? Here’s some more useful information. Remember “Beans Beans They’re Good for the Heart”. Well, it turns out that lots of gas is a sign of a healthy biome in your gut. This reminds me of a joke from Jason Alexander. It seems there was this long married couple whose sex life was in the dumps (see item #1). The wife went to a sex counselor, who suggested they try 69. She came home and explained it to her husband. They got in bed and in the position…. and she ripped a good one. After the air had cleared, they tried it again… and she ripped another one. They were about to try it again when the husband said, “you think I’m going to do this 67 more times, you’re crazy”.
  • It’s the Place To Be. Yup, that Farm Living is the life for me. If this makes you think of Green Acres, you’re not along. There are plans for a Broadway stage play adaptation of the hicksville TV show originally starring Eddie Albert and Eva GaborThe rights to the property were acquired by director Richard L. Bare, who was one of the most prolific helmers on the original series, and by producer Phillip Goldfine through his production company Hollywood Media Bridge.
  • Cramming It In. Sony is working on new technology that will cram 3,700 blue-rays into a single cassette tape. Actually, that’s a little misleading — we’re not talking here about a C-60 or a C-90, but a specially designed cartridge. Still, the technology is intriguing: a whopping 148 GB per square inch, meaning a cassette could hold 185 TB of data. Sony uses a vacuum-forming technique called sputter deposition to create a layer of magnetic crystals by shooting argon ions at a polymer film substrate. The crystals, measuring just 7.7 nanometers on average, pack together more densely than any other previous method. The result is that three Blu-Rays’ worth of data can fit on one square inch of Sony’s new wonder-tape.
  • A Touching Story. Here’s a very touching story about a late night encounter in a supermarket, told by Mark Evanier.
  • Anything But Starbucks. A touching obituary for Herman Hyman, founder of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf chain. This chain, which roasts its beans in Ventura County, started in a small store on San Vicente Blvd in Brentwood in the 1970s. I think, in fact, that it started not far from my first condo.
  • Buildings Up, Buildings Down. Two interesting buildings in the news. First, the plans have been announced for the former furniture store space across from the Pasadena Playhouse. Should be an interesting project; it will be interesting to see how it changes the character of that area. In Las Vegas news, approval has been given to finally take down the Harmon. If you aren’t familiar with the Harmon, it is the oval blue-glass coated skyscraper next to the Aria and Vdara, across from Planet Hollywood and the Cosmopolitan. It was built wrong and is unstable, but they can’t implode it because it is too close to other stuff. They have to take it down piece by piece. Now if only they could do something with the Fountainbleau, which is an even bigger eyesore on the N end of the strip (where the Thunderbird once was).



Saturday (ummm) Gruel: Sex, Judaism, Surviving, and Carrie

Observation StewThis has been an even busier week than usual — I’ve barely had time to keep up with my RSS feeds and skim the LA Times. So I’ve only got a few items for you this week:

  • Not Tonight, Dear, I have a headache. In a scientific survey destined to end up on “Wait Wait”, scientists have shown that headaches impact a woman’s sexual desire much more than they impact the desire of men. Specifically, new research has shown that for female mice, bodily pain puts a serious damper on sexual desire, but pain-reduction can help restore libido squelched by physical discomfort. However, for men, the desire to have sex wasn’t dampened even if you kick them in the nuts. But is this really news?
  • It’s your shul on line 1… Here’s an article that every synagogue (and probably church) board member should read: What if your synagogue called and didn’t ask for money? The answer, not surprisingly, is that people are much more receptive. This goes to what a number of URJ leaders are saying these days: focus on building the relationship, and not getting the donations. When the relationship is strong, the donations will show up. Will temple boards listen, however, and pay this more than lip service?
  • Connections. Every week the Jewish Journal highlights a holocaust survivor (and I’ll note that this weekend is Yom Hashoah). This week, it was Frank Schiller. I’m not sure if I ever met Frank, but I did go to both camp and temple with Frank’s children, Gary and Vicky. Haven’t seen them in years, but I’d love to get back in touch.
  • La Mirada Season. Lastly, the La Mirada Theatre has announced their 2014-2015 season. It consists of “Good People“, “Late Nite Catechism Las Vegas: Sister Rolls the Dice“, “Billy Elliot” (the musical), a musical version of “Pride and Prejudice“, “Mary Poppins” (the musical), two special events (“Dancing with a Twist” and an Amy Grant concert), and the musical “Carrie“. Of these, “Carrie” is unique enough to get me to travel down to La Mirada. Already blocking it off on my calendar.



It’s Hot Enough to Fry News Chum

userpic=observationsIt’s Saturday. It’s lunchtime. It’s 105.7°F in the shade on the back porch. You know what that means — it is time to fry us up (on the sidewalk, ‘natch) some tasty News Chum, using those links we saved earlier in the week. Better eat it quick, before it spoils in the heat:

Music: Memories (Barbra Streisand): “My Heart Belongs To Me”


The Battle Continues

userpic=im-with-stupidThis morning, while reading the Romenesko blog, a fascinating article was cited: it asked the question of why women’s magazines are never placed in the “serious journalism” category. After all, general interest publications do serious journalism. Even GQ and Playboy are considered to do serious journalism.  But what about Vogue or other magazines aimed towards women? Why is there a general assumption they can’t do serious work. Once I read this article, other things on a similar theme just kept popping up.

For example, CNN had an article about the side effect of sexual abuse in the military — it is discouraging women for applying. In the case CNN cited, a mom actively discouraged her daughter from following her into the Army because she had been gang-raped when she was in the service. In other words, not only the officers and service members who are doing this abusing their authority and bringing shame to the military, they are also bullying qualified women — who might be great for the service — from applying. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Bullying is everywhere, when you look for it. US News has an article about the side effect of sibling bullying. It can be a source of lifelong depression and anxiety for the bullied sibling (just look at Tommy Smothers). Seriously, it raises into question whether sibling battles toughen a child…. or create problems later.

Continuing on this thread: Why do we find this acceptable, or at least think the victim deserved it? The Ferrett had an interesting supposition — it is because internally we think other people must be like ourselves. In other words, because we’re good and would never do bullying or physical violence unless provoked, we think others are the same and must have had a reason. Ferrett believes that we need to break that mindset: there are people who bully and are just violent — without provacation — just because that’s who they are. To put it in the context of a recent hit movie, it is because some people are just evil and bad.

Of course, some people are pure good. But even they can’t get a job in today’s world. Just look at the rejection letter Clark Kent received recently from the Daily Planet.

Music: Duets II (Tony Bennett, Josh Groban): “This Is All I Ask”


Followups: Sexism, Politics, and Garbage

userpic=chicken-and-eggToday’s lunchtime news chum brings together three topics that are all follow-ups to previous posts:

Music: On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Original Broadway Cast – John Cullum): “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)”


Damaging Effects

userpic=tortuga-heuvosIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I don’t just like to post links — I like to comment on the news, with preferably a minimum of 3 news items. I was staring at one of the articles I had saved when suddenly a theme came to mind that tied together with two other items in the news. All of these have to do with how women are seen: by men, by women, and by society, and the damaging effects that can have. Do excuse my errors in this; being a man, these are observations from the outside, and I might word things wrong.

  • Being a Boob. If you’ve been reading the news at all today, you know that Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy recently due to a high risk of breast cancer. Why was there so much attention? Surely, it wasn’t because all of the editors were concerned about women’s health (although that’s what they’ll claim). No, it is because articles about women’s breasts — especially a sexy celebrity — will attract the eyeballs of male readers. I, of course, read the comments and there is the usual number of trolls out there bemoaning Brad’s loss. I refer everyone to an excellent piece by The Ferrett on this, where he notes that the attitude of “Poor Brad” has the implicit statement that women are good for only one thing in a relationship: sex. Once that is gone, why have the relationship. For anyone really in a relationship, we know this isn’t true: we are with our partners for much more than sex: we love the person and the brain and the attitudes and the fun — and for that, we want the physical package to be healthy. True relationships don’t depend on breasts.
  • Getting the Look. Of course, one part of selling the “sex” (and perhaps the submissiveness) of women is marketing, and how characters are marketed to little girls. We’ve already seen Belle lose any nerdiness she had, and Disney was attempting it again with Merida from Brave. They were attempting to turn Merida into the typical princess, not the tomboy she was, and this got people upset. Of course, the good news (for now) is that it looks like the battle has been won.
  • Indoctrinating Them Early. Lastly (and the article that actually inspired this post), we have an article from CNN on the damaging effects of proms. The article details a number of items — cost being only one aspect … with most of them having to do with the message a prom sends. What are these messages? Conventional beauty is valued most. Straight is better. Valued girls are submissive, not assertive. Share everything.  These messages may not come through at all schools, but I’m sure for many they do (especially in more traditional areas).

It seems sometimes that the battle is hard, with the media sending the message that there is only one shape desired, and women are good for only one thing. Luckily, there are some men out there who haven’t swallowed that line: who love their partners because of who they are, not just what they look like or how they are in bed, and who realize that a relationship is more than just sex… it is finding someone who you truly connect with and will be there for… no matter what.


Sex in the News: We Got Surveys, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and the Average Face

userpic=tortuga-heuvosI’m eating lunch in an office that is half-unpacked, so today you get a news chum collection that I actually wrote up Tuesday night, and was just waiting to post. So off we go…

First, we have some surveys that are likely to show up on next week’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. The first survey deals with women’s preferences regarding men, and I’ve already mentioned this one earlier this week — the survey that showed that Australian women prefer men with bigger organs (and I’m not referring to the count of their pipes). Since there, there have been a number of good posts related to the subject; in particular, this post on the subject by The Ferrett. Boing Boing also had some interesting observations (note: includes CGI pictures), and points out some obvious facts most discussions miss.

The second survey is for the ladies:  This one notes that men prefer their women natural. In other words: there’s no need for a Brazilian Wax. Men prefer their women to look like women. Further, unwaxed may be healthier for the women as it reduces infection. Lastly, there is a survey out of France regarding the utility of brassieres. Oh, Peter Sagal… these surveys are calling you.

I’d also like to note that last week was Sexual Assault Awareness Week. The young men at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville took an interesting step in this battle. About 30 men donned high heels as part of the “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” event. This is the second year that SIUE has held the “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” activity and the eighth year that the university has observed Sexual Assault Awareness Week on its campus. Organizers said the shoe activity was designed to help men develop a sense of empathy toward the women in their lives. Walk A Mile in Her Shoes is a national campaign that was organized in 2001 was a way to build public awareness of sexual violence issues.

Lastly, here’s a little something Gene Spafford posted on Facebook: The Average Woman from Every Country. Basically, a photographer took more than 4000 photos of women from various countries, and then blended the results. I’m guessing there was some self selection for what the photographer considered beautiful, for the faces seem somewhat similar to me.

Music: Foggy Mountain Banjo (Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys): “Home Sweet Home”