Sunday, August 31, 2008

Soy Decreases Sperm Count!

Or does it? According to the Los Angeles Times a new study in the journal Human Reproduction has shown that men who consume large amounts of soy have up to 50% fewer sperm per ejaculation than men who do not eat soy. But the study was small, and previous research has shown the opposite effect: increased sperm count and quality.

I'm wary of soy for lots of reasons and this study, which asked men who were partners of women patients at fertility clinics (so, maybe not the most fertile dudes to begin with) what soy foods they chose to consume makes me even more skeptical of soy as a legitimate food choice. But soy shows up in virtually all processed foods available in the American repetoire, so chosen soy foods are but a small proportion of the soy people may actually consume.

We've written here before about vegans; if increased soy consumption does in fact decrease fertility, I think veganism is a problem that will work itself out the old-fashioned, evolutionary way.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Wait--Enzyte is a Fraud? No Way!

If you're alive and not deaf, surely you've seen and heard those super-catchy Enzyte commercials with the whistling jingle that evokes "The Andy Griffith Show" with its vintage aesthetic.

"Smiling Bob," the clown-ish guy who has taken Enzyte, a "male enhancement product," stands by the grill or delivers "presents" from his newly bigger "sack" at the office Christmas party with a plastic smile on his face.

Well, turns out that the company that sells Enzyte, Berkeley Premium Neutraceuticals, is a fraud. According to the Associated Press, the company's owner, Steve Warshak, was convicted of "93 counts of conspiracy, fraud, and money laundering." He apparently stole more than $100 million from customers. Also shocking: Warshak's mother was also convicted.

We've talked about "male enhancement" products here before; they're all fake. But I'm not gonna lie--the commercials are hilarious.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: "The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships"

Tonight I attended the world premiere of "The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality and Relationships" right here in Austin. I was invited by Bob Jensen, UT's resident feminist anti-porn scholar.

The film's title and narration promised an analysis of porn, sexuality, and relationships and it delivered on the first of the three. Obviously anti-porn, the film revealed the normally hidden class conflict of the porn wars by depicting articulate college students as the intelligently anti-porn interviewees and juxtaposed meaty, douchey guys standing in its favor. At least they interviewed Joanna Angel, one of my favorite porn stars who appears in Tristan Taormino's "House of Ass."

Relationships, or, more specifically, what effect (if any) porn has on them wasn't covered, either: I wish it had been. Sexuality wasn't dealt with much, except in that homosexuality and gay porn was noticeably absent.

When I encounter activists who would eliminate porn I [almost] ask aloud the question I'm always asking: "What about the fucking?" The hypothesis is that porn, because of its depiction of violence against women on film, heightens violence against women in real life. Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that no research has ever supported that claim, if violence does increase, doesn't sex go up with it?

If the goal is to eliminate violence against women by eliminating porn, what about the fucking? The judgment of the aggression and violence is clear, but not so on the sex that is portrayed. Should [educated, in the know academic types] eschew both violence and sex? Or at least, certain kinds of sex that the anti-porn crusaders find distasteful? The question of whether or not the sex that porn is portraying is okay when it doesn't appear on film isn't addressed by this debate.

Part of the instrument used by "porn content researchers" depicted in the film revealed the behaviors they deemed "violent and aggressive": spanking and gagging. First of all, spanking is Kink 101--a slap on the ass doth not a violent sex scene make. And gagging--have any of these researchers ever given anyone a blow job? Or eaten a popsicle? Sometimes you gag.

I know people--indeed, some of their questions have been answered right here on Go-To Girl, who enjoy, say, being slapped in the face during sex. Were their desires influenced by porn? Perhaps. But do they not have a right to engage in sex they find exciting, pleasurable, and consensual? Yes, they do.

I have encountered enough educated, sensitive, liberal types who secretly, guiltily long for sex that is aggressive, at times violent, and basically the antithesis of the feminist, peacelove ideology they were raised with.

Sex guilt is bad, no matter whether the source is conservative religion or liberal parenting.

PS--Not to mention that there is a profit motive behind porn control--the Promise Keepers offer filtered internet and an "internet accountability" service for $7.99 a month that lets you have the report of what you've been doing online sent to your wife, kids, or pastor. What better way to get men to sign up for your service than by convincing them that porn is bad and that they're helpless against its powers? I wonder what the Christian Spanking people think of it...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bush Will Implement Anti-Abortion Regulation

Remember a few weeks ago when the Bush Administration tried to redefine contraception as abortion? Well, language in the policy allowed employees with moral objections to refuse to provide services--including birth control--that may interfere with 'human life.'

Well, they dropped the birth control language but the policy is a go. The Washington Post reports today that employees who object to the provision of abortion will now be officially protected by federal law. Why doctors, nurses, medical assistants, phlebotomists, or other clinic employees who object to abortion would work in an abortion clinic remain to be seen. But now we can all exhale since they will be 'protected' by the law lest they object to doing their jobs.

Here's my favorite part:
[Employees would also be protected if they objected to] referrals, training, and other arrangements for offending procedures. For example, an operating room nurse would assist in the performance of surgical procedures; an employee whose task it is to clean the instruments used in a particular procedure would be considered to assist in the performance of the particular procedure.
Seriously? Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, was quoted as saying:
[The regulation] focuses on abortion and focuses on physicians' conscience in relation to that.
So, let me get this straight. A federally funded clinic must allow staff the right to object to performing an abortion itself; the right to refuse to clean or prepare instruments to be used for an abortion; the right to refuse to train other staff in how to perform an abortion or related procedures; and the right to refuse to refer a patient to a facility where she can get an abortion.

Mike Leavitt must not be a doctor, because physicians only perform 10% of those tasks.

David Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of the nutso Christian Medical and Dental Association said:
We think it's badly needed. Our members are facing discrimination every day, and as we get into human cloning and all sorts of possibilities, it's going to become even more important.
If you have a strong stomach, take a look at the website for the CMDA. I've always had great dentists but I'm not sure if they would describe their work as "glorifying God." This part wasn't in the Post article, but this quote comes from the CMDA's own press release on the HHS policy:
If current trends of coercion are allowed to continue, patients will not be able to find physicians who share their life-affirming values.
So the CMDA is concerned for patients who, without interference by the federal government in the practice of medicine, will not be able to find physicians who share their 'life-affirming values' to...perform an abortion for them? What the fuck are they talking about?

Here's "first year medical student" Trevor Kitchens:
I am currently very interested in OB/GYN, but I am afraid of the relationship between this field and abortion. My concern is that I will start a residence and would subsequently be required at some point to give a patient the option of abortion, which I would refuse. My fear is that taking this stand would cost me my residence position.
Yes, Trevor, you're right. Try pediatrics. Or dentistry.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Times on the HPV Vaccine, Round 2

Today's article in the Times addresses the doubts some researchers have about the HPV vaccine's widespread use in the developed world. Read all about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Times On Merck's Aggressive HPV Scare Tactics

We here at Go-To Girl have been critics of the HPV vaccine since 2006, and today the New York Times featured a long article about the fast-track approval of Gardasil to prevent a disease that, frankly, isn't a big deal in the United States. The Times has done really thoughtful analysis about the hyper-aggressive "educational" (read: marketing) campaign Merck has done to create a total panic about a disease that barely kills anyone and for which a cheap, effective, and universally available screening tool (the Pap smear) already exists.

Below are highlights from the article; you can read my other pieces about HPV here.
Dr. Lippman at McGill [University in Canada]. “Some of our provinces are running out of money to provide primary care. I’m not against vaccines, but in Canada and the U.S., women are not dying in the streets of cervical cancer.”
Remember the flu vaccine shortage in 2005? That happened because the flu vaccine is so unprofitable that no manufacturer could be bothered to make it. Not so with the $130-a-shot HPV vaccine.
Vaccines were traditionally the orphans of the pharmaceutical world because they were cheap and not particularly profitable. But the two for cervical cancer are the latest in a wave of high-priced vaccines that have come to market since 2001, opening a lucrative new field.
And right here in Austin...
In Texas, Merck hired Gov. Rick Perry’s former chief of staff as a lobbyist, and contributed $6,000 to the governor and $38,000 to other legislators. Last February, Mr. Perry ordered that all schoolgirls be inoculated with Gardasil, a pronouncement that was overturned by the Texas Legislature, 181 to 3, a few months after the financial conflicts were revealed.
Women receiving the vaccine will need to shell out more money for a booster? What a shock. This is what happens when a for-profit company ventures into public health territory.
Dr. Harper said that in the data from Merck’s clinical trials, which she helped conduct, the vaccine was no longer protective after just three years in some girls. “The immunity of Gardasil will not last — that is dangerous to assume,” she said.
The nitty-gritty of why this vaccine makes no sense in the United States:
Cervical cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, with 500,000 new cases worldwide each year. But more than 90 percent of them are in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization; 274,000 women died of this cancer in 2006, nearly 95 percent in developing countries. Where there are Pap smear programs, few women die of cervical cancer. In the United States, it is responsible for 12,000 new cases a year and 3,600 deaths, most in women who did not get Pap smears, said Laurie Markowitz, head of the HPV working group at the C.D.C. (emphasis added)
And on the possibility of a whole new boondoggle--giving the vaccine to boys:
Said Dr. Raffle, the British cervical cancer specialist: “Oh, dear. If we give it to boys, then all pretense of scientific worth and cost analysis goes out the window.”
Just for clarification, boys don't have a cervix.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

RIP Issac Hayes: Sex Music has Lost its Patriarch

He's not R. Kelly, and his fuck-song language seems subtle nowadays, but Issac Hayes' music was, in fact, Sex Music in the grand tradition. Many of the songs had a decidedly "love" oriented tone, but fucking is the subtext in almost all of them. Each track has a long (in some cases, 3 minutes or so), scratchy guitar intro that alternately makes you want to dance or, you know, lay down.

Take, for instance, "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right," an ode from a married man to his (much younger) lover.
"Am I wrong to hunger for your gentle touch? ... Are you wrong to give your love to a married man?"
And then there's "Walk On By," the longest, most gut-wrenching breakup song of all time. It's 12 minutes of erotic, sexy, "Make believe you don't see my tears." Never has a man sounded so unbelievably sexy talking about crying uncontrollably.

Lastly (at least, in my iTunes library) is "Shaft,"about the "Black Private Dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks."

Let's not forget Hayes' contributions as Chef from South Park, wherein he mocked his own genre. "Chocolate Salty Balls" comes to mind first, but South Park wouldn't have had any sexiness at all if not for Chef.

I'll be listening to "Walk On By" all day.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Pill Alters Women's Mate-Selection

From a new article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, researchers found that women taking birth control pills preferred men with a "genetically similar scent." (MSNBC)

The researchers suggest that, because birth control hormones mimic pregnancy, that the brains of women who take them are put into a non-mate-seeking state and so don't choose men who smell "different."

I don't really know what this all means, but it's another reason in the litany of reasons not to take birth control hormones.

Let's review the side effects:
Weight gain
Loss of libido
And now impaired mate selection?
Enough already.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Your Ideal Sex Workshop?

Dear Readers, I need your help. If, hypothetically speaking, Go-To Girl were to offer you a set of workshops for men and women about pleasing their partners/having good sex/being good in bed/etc., what kinds of topics would you want to be covered in said workshop? I'm taking any and all suggestions.

Thanks in advance.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Best Bush Policy Ever:
Economic Stimulus Checks Used for Porn

Thanks to T for sending me this link.

According to the New York Times' Freakonomics blog, the Adult Internet Market Research Company, or AIMRco, pay subscriptions to adult websites increased 20-30 percent in the months following the distribution of Bush Economic Stimulus Package checks. In a survey of subscribers, a third "referenced the recent stimulus package as part of their decision to either become a new member, or renew an existing membership."

Apparently, the summer is normally a slow time for pay-for-porn sites, so this change is remarkable. Also interesting in AIMRco's statistics are that Friday nights are the most clicked days for porn sites; Sundays are the slowest.

I wonder if any of these people joined websites that feature dom/sub porn where an angry wife is punishing her husband for wasting their economic stimulus money on a porn site membership. Kinky.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bullshit Alert:
Bush's Last Minute

Anti-Birth Control Policy

From Thursday's Washington Post:

Just ahead of Congressional recess and no-news August, the White House has attempted to slip a completely outrageous policy through the Department of Health and Human Services. The new policy would provide "protection" for workers at federally funded health organizations who object to certain health services, like the provision of abortion or--here's the shocker--contraception, which is being defined in this policy as abortion.

Feeling crazy yet? Here's the brief:

The DHHS disburses federal funding to a variety of health care organizations, usually those that serve low-income people or specific health needs. Examples: dental clinics for those on Medicaid; immunization clinics for children who are required to receive certain shots to attend school; and, as is most relevant here, clinics that provide family planning services, like Planned Parenthood.

Federal regulations already prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion--either in the case of individual women using Medicaid to pay for an abortion OR a clinic receiving federal funds using those funds to pay for supplies or medical staff to perform abortions. Abortion services are paid for using state funds (if allowed by state law) or by private funding.

So since the use of federal funds for abortion services is already prohibited, why the new policy?

From the Washington Post:

The most controversial section defines abortion as "any of the various procedures -- including the prescription, dispensing and administration of any drug or the performance of any procedure or any other action -- that results in the termination of life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."

That definition would include most forms of hormonal birth control and the IUD, which most major medical groups believe do not constitute abortion because they primarily affect ovulation or fertilization and not an embryo once it has implanted in the womb. (emphasis mine)

Got that? The policy is on its face intended to protect employees who feel they must object to certain procedures or medications. Fine. But why in sam hell would someone who is opposed to birth control choose to work at a family planning clinic? That's right--they wouldn't. The purpose of this policy is to attempt to define contraception as abortion. Don't buy it.

Click here to send a nasty letter to your representative and tell them this policy is unacceptable.