Morning Constitutional – Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Good morning, folks. Justin Bieber might host Punk’d. Now, your morning constitutional:

In Afghanistan, the Taliban have started secret high-level talks with the Karzai administration.

It may take up to a year to clean up the toxic waste sludge that spilled and is afflicting at least seven towns in Hungary.

Neil Irwin: Why it doesn’t feel like a recovery: At 3% growth, we won’t achieve 5% unemployment until 2010.;

This Congress, the House of Representatives passed 420 bills that stalled in the Senate.

The Supreme Court today hears arguments in a case that should decide the freedom of protesters versus the privacy rights at funerals.

Colonel Mayele, a leader of a rebel group accused of committing mass rapes in Congo this summer has been arrested.

The costs of income inequality.

Cop shoots teen over baggy pants.

The owners of the Red Sox are buying Liverpool FC.

How is it even possible to waste water?

Do your “organic” eggs come from a factory farm? Probably.

A first grader gets a highway department to correct signage.

The irrational way humans interact with dentists.

Finally, 100 drunken women in British Columbia brawl over male stripper.

Faking It

From the Department of Blindingly Obvious Scientific Findings:

A hundred-plus page report, The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, came out recently, documenting self-reported information about the sexual activity and behaviors of thousands of adults and teenagers.  Among a myriad of results (some others are detailed here, there was this shocker:

About 85 percent of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64 percent of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. (A difference that is too large to be accounted for by some of the men having had male partners at their most recent event.)

Sigh.  Let me count the ways that this frustrates me.  Or rather, on whose behalf I am frustrated:

Meg Ryan in the infamous When Harry Met Sally diner scene

1) The fakers.  It’s no fun to feign enjoyment.  Faking orgasm is like the adult version of pretending to be Thrilled With The Terrible Present your well-meaning relative gave you for your birthday.  Only worse.  It’s like you and your significant other exchanged gifts, and you spent a lot of time and effort finding the perfect thing, and he loves it, but he got you a half-dozen half-dead flowers and a sad looking stuffed animal, and you have to pretend to be happy so as not to hurt his feelings.

2) The male partners.  This might seem counterintuitive, since presumably they’re the reason the fakers are faking.  But there are some problems with this premise.  First, there’s the chance they’ll catch on, which will probably be embarrassing for both people.  But worse than this is the fact that by pretending these guys are good at sex, the women are letting the guys keep thinking they’re great in bed and inflicting their unjust egoism on other ladies.

3) Which brings us to probably the most pitiable party, since they’re not at all a part of the fakery: the future partners of the guys.  It’s such a disappointment to encounter a man who is supremely, loudly, totally wrongly assured of his sexual prowess.  Really, it’s quite the letdown.  Usually, these sorts of egotisms I tend to blame (fairly or not) on the guy’s mother.  I’m sure this is sometimes inaccurate, but I’ve encountered several stereotypical Jewish American Prince types, guys who are almost *too* close to their mothers, who bask in parental adulation and seem inclined to agree with their moms’ assessment that they are really just the Nicest Cleverest Smartest Boys in the Whole World.  Ugh.  But the misplaced sexual egoism can’t be blamed on moms (hopefully)– part of it lies with the girls who fake their pleasure, leading the guys to believe that whatever half-hearted moves they made really got the girls going.  So seriously, ladies: you’re betraying the sisterhood when you moan your way to a fake orgasm instead of telling the guys the truth– that they aren’t doing it for you.

There are broader cultural issues at play, too.  I’ve long had a bone to pick with Cosmo, not just for their breathtakingly repetitive breathless headlines, but also for the content of those headlines, which always seem to revolve around the timeless theme of How to Please Your Man.  Excuse me, what?  You’re a magazine about sex FOR WOMEN whose content focuses almost solely on making sure guys are having a good time.  Isn’t that a little off?

Plus, gender equality notwithstanding, I do think women have an easier time deducing how to make sure men are having a good time.  It’s just more intuitive.  So why isn’t there a popular magazine for men devoted to the fine art of pleasing your woman?  Why is it that women are taught to be receptive to men’s pleasure to such an outrageous extent that they fake orgasms for the sake of not hurting a guy’s feelings?  Why can’t we acknowledge that maybe our feelings are hurt that after all the time we spent comparing notes with our friends and reading Cosmo in line at the grocery store, our partners don’t seem to have put half the time into figuring out what we like?

New York Times Columnist Line of the Day

If you’re one of the four-or-so frequent readers of this here blog, chances are you also occasionally check out the New York Times op-ed page. You may even know the names: Thomas “Friedman’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose” Friedman, Gail “The Colander” Collins, Nicholas “The Dark Crystal” Kristof, &c. This is a daily feature dedicated to these folks: one line that is either awesome, funny, insightful, intelligent, ridiculous, or utterly divorced from reality.]

Today’s is from Roger “Life of the Party” Cohen, whose column “Change of Perish” I really, really liked. He begins:

Before leggings, when there were letters, before texts and tweets, when there was time, before speed cameras, when you could speed, before graffiti management companies, when cities had souls, we managed just the same.

Morning Constitutional – Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Good morning, everybody. Zach Snyder’s directing the next Superman movie. Now, your morning constitutional:

An American drone attack in Pakistan has killed up to eight German nationals who were believed to be planning an attack in Europe. Meanwhile, France has arrested nine people and seized guns in anti-terrorism raids.

The U.S. military is pushing to rely far less on fossil fuels and more on renewable sources.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernnake may suggest the fed purchase more bonds in the near term, while urging congress to look to ways to reign in the long-term federal budget deficit.

Hoping to break the strong Yen and a decades-long deflationary cycle, the Bank of Japan has cut rates as low as zero percent in hopes of spurring inflation.

President Obama supports a broad simplified rewrite the corporate tax code paid for by removing loopholes.

Many Tory activists prefer Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg to many of their own ministers.

Nixon’s failed attempts at ‘poisoning the press.’

Plans to expand passenger rail are being threatened at the state level by Republicans running for governorships. A new study has shown that America’s continuing prosperity is threatened by a total lack in investment in transportation infrastructure.

Are the Democrats making a comeback?

A federal court judge in Georgia caught buying drugs for a stripper.

Finally, Tasmania is promoting its convict heritage.

America's Next Top Jesus Sculptor

(Good?) News from Ohio, folks.  The long wait for the replacement Jesus statue may finally be winding down, says Darlene Bishop, co-founder of the Solid Rock Church outside of Cincinnati whose “Touchdown Jesus” statue burned down in a freak (or God-sent?) lightning strike back in June.  According to Bishop, the field of potential savior-portrayers has been narrowed down to 5, and a decision will likely be made sometime this month.

The new portrait won’t be an exact replica of the old one.  Rather than a bust, the new one will likely be a full-body sculpture, and it might not even be in “touchdown” pose.  Importantly, this time the church plans to use different materials, perhaps Indiana limestone, than the former, extremely flammable wood & styrofoam combo.

Okay, it’s not much news, but this Ohio reporter will keep abreast of any (hopefully more interesting) developments, in deference to her Midwestern roots/ in recognition of the fact that for whatever reason, her previous posts on the subject have been among her most popular on V&V.

New York Times Columnist Line of the Day

If you’re one of the four-or-so frequent readers of this here blog, chances are you also occasionally check out the New York Times op-ed page. You may even know the names: Thomas “Friedman’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left to Lose” Friedman, Gail “The Colander” Collins, Nicholas “The Dark Crystal” Kristof, &c. This is a daily feature dedicated to these folks: one line that is either awesome, funny, insightful, intelligent, ridiculous, or utterly divorced from reality.

Today’s is from Ross “Do That Thing” Douthat, who gives the president some sage Republican advice in his column “A Man for All Factions,” writing:

If Obama wants to save his presidency, he may have to do it the old-fashioned way: not by transcending his party’s divisions, but by uniting his supporters around their common fears.

The many moments of Rick Sanchez

On Friday, CNN went ahead and sacked show-host Rick Sanchez, a day after he called Jon Stewart a “bigot” and suggested that—yes, he really did—that CNN is run by Jews:

“I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah.

Well, I’m surprised he’s lasted this long, really. His show, “Rick’s List,” wasn’t that great, and he hasn’t really shied away from saying ridiculous things in the past. In fact, in memoriam of a forgettable news-casting career, here’s a nice little anthology of his odder moments:

Morning Constitutional – Monday, 4 October 2010

Good morning, folks. Ghost’s Hotspur beat my Lions this weekend (Estes’s Blues won too, but that was shady). Now, your morning constitutional:

Interest groups are spending five times as much on this midterm election than they did in 2006, they’re more secretive about the spending than ever, and Republicans are getting seven times as much money than Democrats. Health insurance companies are especially throwing money towards the Republicans.

Even as small businesses have had a hard time getting credit, large corporations have borrowing large amounts of cash very cheaply, but are not spending or investing it, and instead are holding on to it for when the economy improves.

A rush of midnight grocery shopping shows that many customers are stretching the limits of their paycheck cycles.

Strangely, welfare has absorbed relatively few Americans who have been hurt financially from the recession.

English biologist Robert G. Edwards, the pioneer of in vitro fertilization, has won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.

As the new term for the Supreme Court opens today, the newest justice, Elena Kagan, will recuse herself from almost half of the term’s cases due to her previous role as the government’s solicitor general. How the Roberts court has shifted hard to the right, and how the court has disguised its conservatism.

Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle is pressing third-party candidate Scott Ashjia to quit the race.

Brazil’s ruling party candidate Dilma Rousseff won the most votes in Sunday’s presidential election, but will face a run-off because she was not able to garner a full majority of the vote. If elected, she will be Brazil’s first woman president.

A new study shows that teen-aged Americans are more responsible about condom use than adults.

More states are allowing guns at bars.

Finally, man wins lottery twice.

Weekend Roundup

  • I’m reading Freedom, and it’s way better than The Corrections, which I read and promptly forgot pretty much the entire contents of.  Yeah, I know, pretty novel for me to rave about Jonathan Franzen’s latest, but there you have it. It’s quite riveting.  I always forget, though, when I embark on a Serious Contemporary Novel, how such books never ever have happy endings (or beginnings or middles, typically).  Sometimes this bums me out.  Like, there’s enough true sad stuff without having to spend one’s leisure time reading about fake sad stuff.
  • I watched The Social Network, and it was not as great as I thought, but I did go in with high expectations.  Which is to say, I thought it was great, but not in the zeitgeist-capturing movie-of-the-year way it’s been made out to be by The Critics. Great acting (second to last step to EGOT for Justin Timberlake?), and snappy Sorkin-y dialogue.  And it’s a fascinating story, whether or not it’s accurate.
  • This is a first for me, I think: I got called “bad-ass” for something to do with alcohol.  I happened to invent a very delicious and very strong drink which consisted of ice, Jim Beam, and absinthe.  Did i mention it was delicious?